June 06, 2008

BALOCHISTAN : Sanaullah Baloch resigns as Senator


By IRFAN BUKHARI submitted 4 hours 13 minutes ago
ISLAMABAD - BNP's Senator Sanaullah Baloch Friday tendered his resignation to Chairman Senate Mohammedmian Soomro after his sentimental speech at the flour of the Upper House against military operation in Balochistan.

Advisor to PM on Interior Rehman Malik in response requested the Chairman Senate to hold the resignation for a week, as the government wanted to convince Balochistan National Party's (BNP) central command to withdraw the decision.

In his fiery speech, Sanaullah, who has been in nineteen-month long exile, harshly condemned the military operation in Balochistan, the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti and the detention of Akhtar Mengal.

He said that loyal Baloch were being labelled as Indian agents. "When helpless Baloch community raises its just voice against the injustice being meted out against it, the government wants to subside its cry with the power of the guns," he added.

He said that Balochis were as patriot to the country as Punjabis, Pukhtoons, Sindhis and Seraikis. "The reaction of Balochis against injustice is termed as mutiny," he said, adding that the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti was an act of extreme cruelty.
Sanaullah flayed the committee constituted by the previous government and said that it was nothing but just eyewash. "As the rulers sitting in Islamabad don't trust upon patriot Balochis, in the same manner, Balochis too have no confidence in them," he noted. He stated that military operation in Balochistan had brought mammoth miseries for the local people and compelled them to migrate from their ancestral lands.

He said that the lands in Balochistan were being allotted to foreigners to convert Baloch nationals into a minority. Assailing the role of secret agencies Sanaullah Baloch said that the highhandedness of spy agencies was further fuelling the fire. "These secret agencies pick the innocent people from their houses and torture them," he said and continued, "Such acts of cruelty are aggravating the hatred among Balochis against the federation, as they think that agencies take such actions on the direction of the Centre".

Leader of the House in the Senate Raza Rabbani, while agreeing to the sentiments of Sanaullah Baloch, said that such acts of barbarism were the part of Musharraf's dark regime. "I admit that in the long dictatorial rule of Pervez Musharraf, Balochis were deprived of their legitimate economic and political rights," Rabbani stated.
He said that the coalition government had taken the first step of reconciliation with Baloch people. "PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has apologised with the people of Balochistan to forward the agenda of peace and reconciliation in the country," he said. "I, Raza Rabbani on the flour of the House, apologises with Baloch people for the injustices of the past," he stated. He requested Sanaullah Baloch to take his resignation back.

Endorsing the sentiments of Senator Sanaullah Baloch, Mushahid Hussain Syed said, "As a nation we should apologise Balochis". He said that the efforts of PML-Q to settle the controversies between the Centre and province were sabotaged by a section of establishment that had adopted hawkish and confrontational approach to resolve the issue. He said that Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was a great Pakistani and a great patriot. "We agree with the incumbent government over settling of Balochistan security issue through dialogue, as gun is no cure for any problem," he added.
Mushahid said all the political forces should learn a lesson from the creation of Bangladesh. "Our committee report on Balochistan that we had been prepared after thorough consultations with all political forces of the province is a good roadmap and should be used by the government," he observed. He said that Balochistan needed a healing touch and requested Sanaullah Baloch to reconsider his resignation.
Senator Professor Khurshid Ahmad, Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Senator Azam Swati, Senator Ilyas Bilour and Senator Abdur Rahim Mandokhel in their speeches argued that military operation in Balochistan was no answer of political problems rather it was complicating the situation. They requested Sanaullah Baloch to withdraw his resignation.

Don’t turn Balochistan into Bangladesh


View from Press Gallery

Saturday, June 07, 2008
By Mohammad Malick

ISLAMABAD: Senator Sanaullah Baloch of BNP (Mengal) saddened other members and the galleries by announcing his resignation within a day of his return to the house after a forced 18-month exile. He had been on the run from authorities on charges of treason, sedition etc registered by the previous Musharraf-led regime. If barely 36 hours back he had touched hearts with his passionate pleading for the Balochistan cause, his parting serenade today was nothing less than a stinging slap on the face of the civil-military establishment whose convoluted and self-serving approaches continues to rip apart the very fabric of our federation.

Of course the heavens shall not fall with the resignation of a senator from Balochistan, but then heavens never fall anyway. It's just that the magic starts fading slowly until one day it's a heaven no more. Countries are no different. They all start as heavenly havens, but some ultimately lose the magic. We haven't reached that stage fortunately, but the fading of the magic has definitely started.

That is why the symbolism of Senator Sanaullah's resignation must not be lost on us. For the hawks sitting in Rawalpindi, it may appear a welcome disappearance from the scene of another rebel rousing Baloch. Probably even viewed in the same vein as the hundreds of other Baloch lads who have been missing from the scene for months now. But to any caring Pakistani, Sanaullah's resignation should be the alarming removal of another prudent Baloch leader from the political mainstream, a forced abdication of the democratic parliamentary process wherein lies the real panacea for all our national ills.

Maybe Senator Sanaullah or his party did even take help from some foreign powers including India during their tough times, we really don't know. But if the establishment can certify the patriotic credentials of Altaf Hussain, who allegedly publicly described the creation of Pakistan as the "biggest blunder in the history of mankind" in a ceremony in India (of all the places), then why a different yardstick for Sanaullah and his lot who at least insist that they want to stay a part of Pakistan, who at least proclaim that breaking Pakistan would be the greatest blunder and not its making.

As Senator Sanaullah also emphasized in his farewell speech, federations can only survive and thrive if all the federating units and its people are treated fairly, equitably, and most important with dignity. Pakistan is only as strong as its provinces, and a province is only as strong as its populace. Remove one brick and the whole structure starts crumbling. But try explaining this to that particular mindset that only believes in first creating a conflict and then to resolve it through more conflicts. The result ñ an escalating orgy of violence.

That this negative approach was not the figment of Sana's imagination was also vouched for by Senator Mushahid Hussain, who had been a key member of the famous Shujaat Committee on Balochistan. Senator Mushahid told the house that the committee's conciliation-driven resolution approach was initially favoured by the then General-President Musharraf but then "somehow" the hawkish view prevailed and the entire exercise was brought to a naught.

Trust Prof. Khursheed, however, to mince no words as he too was a member of the same committee. He angrily told the house that the recommendations and the efforts of the committee were thwarted by none other than the duo of President Musharraf and then PM Shaukat Aziz. Talk about long-term damage to Pakistan and one is never surprised to find the contributions made by the shameless Citi banker.

But the real issue is not about who did this and who didn't do that. The issue is that Balochistan is our largest province, with the smallest population. It is the energy house that powers the nation and yet its people are the most disempowered. To borrow Senator Sanaullah's words, "it would be a fatal mistake to view it as merely the energy backbone of the country, it's also its political backbone". A sense of urgency must prevail in dealing with the Balochistan issue. It's time we stopped talking about Balochistan and started talking to its people. To all and sundry without making distinctions on the basis of our own likes and dislikes. It is time to stop being a hostage to preconceived biases and notions. The only thing that should be missing from Balochistan is the understandable sense of deprivation, and not its young angry men driven into a militant reaction against persistent discrimination. It's time to bring the people down from the warring hills.

What Sanaullah desired as starting points for addressing Balochistan's grievances are nothing compared to what largess has been shown to many other political groups, including the mafias masquerading as political outfits. He wanted a long overdue apology by the rest for the injustices meted out to Balochistan for the last 60 years. Who would argue with that?

He implored for the cancellation of all land allotments made between 2002-2005 to members of the civil-military establishment; paying of a small compensation of say Rs 50,000 to internally displaced families of the military operation; diverting funds spent on establishing and conducting military activities towards the socio-economic development of the province; treating Balochistan on criterion other than merely on its population numbers; preventing the demographic reengineering of the province etc., and similar other demands with none being ridiculous or impossible to contemplate.

Senator Sanaullah's resignation is a poignant reminder that an increasing number of politically secularist elements are being forced into donning the robes of hard-line reactionaries not because they don't want to talk, but ironically because Rawalpindi is not willing to listen. It's time for the political leadership in Islamabad to play its role in setting right the wrongs done by Rawalpindi. After all it's not a matter of politics but of the future of the country. As the other Baloch Senator Kamran Mustafa warned, "the other day there was a delegation from Bangladesh sitting in the visitor's gallery of the house, and if we don't resolve matters, the next could be from Balochistan". We now have the option of charging Senator Murtaza for sedition or to put our federation in order. The choice should not be a difficult one for Islamabad.

"Made in USA" scientific innovation on the decline

Jerry Sheehan


The last three years have seen increasing concern over the scientific and technological competitiveness of the United States vis a vis other industrialized and developing nations. These concern reached a zenith in 2006 with the publication of “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future” by the National Academies of Science.[1]

Examining any number of objective metrics shows that the “times are a changing” when it comes to scientific discovery: A) PhDs in Science and Engineering: By 2010 the European Union will grant roughly 2 PhDs in Science and Engineering for every one American PhD [2]. B) Scientific Publications: Since 1998 there has been an increase in scientific publications with international co-authorship with the EU, Japan, China, and Asia becoming increasingly prolific. C) Patents: American inventors in 2002 accounted for 52% of all patents granted in the United States. However, foreign patent applicants grew from 44% (1996) to 48% (2003) [3].

While there are numerous reasons for these changes (increasing population size and focus on science and engineering in China and India, more supportive basic research agenda, tax credits, etc) the conclusion that scientific and technological innovation will become more globally distributed seems certain.

The decentralization of technological and scientific innovation poses clear economic challenges for the United States. As Adam Segal noted in his 2004 article “Is America Losing its Edge” in Foreign Affairs: “For 50 years, the United States has maintained its economic edge by being better and faster than any other country at inventing and exploiting new technologies.”

One of the primary reasons this competitive edge existed was because basic research conducted in American Universities was transferred quickly to from the lab bench to the marketplace by industry. There exists a unique synergy between public research and private sector markets in the United States that can perhaps best be demonstrated by looking at the interaction and leveraged public and private sector investment that occurred from 1965 to 2000 in the area of information technology (see attached graph from National Academy of Sciences, 2003).

So, what are the likely impacts of growing decentralization of scientific and technological innovation?

First, in the short term that there will be an almost xenophobic reaction to the loss of primary production of scientific discovery in the United States that will manifest itself in concern for national security. As the Task Force on American Innovation led by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich noted “A robust research portfolio is a necessary part of a national security strategy that relies on knowledge and technology to keep the United States safe in a dangerous world.” These concerns will lead to short-term increases in research funding domestically but these will be tempered by the Iraq war, record budget deficits, and the entitlement crisis.

Second, American Universities will become increasingly involved in international scientific projects and global research partnerships. This trend will become increasingly dynamic as global problems such as climate change become crisis on the research agenda at the same time that new research talent is being produced in Asia and India.

Third, and most importantly, the American marketplace will need to develop new mechanisms for benefiting from technological innovations that are not produced in the American marketplace [5]. In these regards, the United States still appears to have a competitive edge in understanding how basic academic research can lead to applied research with industry. Increasingly, as seen in the recent King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) recruitment efforts, American universities will be targeted not just for their academic skills but also for insight into how to build sustainable models for technology transfer.

[1]NAS Gathering Storm Report, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11463
[2] Richard Freeman, National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2005.
[3]+ [4] National Science Board, National Science Indicators, 2006
[5] Richard Freeman, Does Globalization of the Scientific/Engineering Workforce Threaten U.S. Economic Leadership, July 2005, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=755693

Forecast: From Brain Drain to Brain Circulation

Tue, 10/23/2007 - 11:10am — Alex Soojung-Ki...

The 20th-century phenomenon of 'brain drain', of scientific and engineering talent emigrating from developing countries to North America and Europe, is likely to be replaced by 'brain circulation', in which globally mobile scientists and engineers work for shorter periods in a wider range of countries.

Science and engineering have been mobile activities for some time. In the last few decades, much of the world's scientific and technical migration has consisted of movement between developed countries, and from the developing to the developed world, or, as it has come to be known, 'brain drain'. But in recent years, a new pattern of 'brain circulation', pioneered by Taiwan and South Korea, has emerged. In brain circulation, students or young scientists go abroad for training or to start their careers. They build professional networks with colleagues in multiple countries and use these networks both for professional advancement and to help build research programs and the scientific infrastructure of the home country. Some of these scientists eventually emigrate back home, while others become permanent expatriates but with permanent ties to their countries of birth.

The brain circulation phenomenon has been driven by two major trends:

The growing appeal of developing countries as destinations for research and entrepreneurship. Some of the 20th century's largest exporters of scientific talent are becoming more attractive places to build scientific and technical careers. Some countries that have sent large numbers of graduate students abroad, such as China, are developing domestic graduate programs. Taiwan and South Korea bring back more than 80% of the students who receive PhDs in the US. Some statistics indicate that much reverse migration of Chinese, Indian, and Taiwanese scientists has been driven by pursuit of entrepreneurial opportunity. Some of these scientists are starting businesses, attracted by the same factors that have driven the outsourcing movement -- a skilled workforce, low labour costs, and low overheads. Chinese and Indian engineers who made careers in Silicon Valley have played a key role in the growth of their home countries' IT sectors. And while 20 years ago being Indian or Chinese offered little competitive advantage in the Valley, today it is seen as an indicator of useful global commercial and professional connections.

The slow flattening of labor markets in science and technology. Korean multinationals have recently had notable success recruiting senior scientists and engineers who built careers in the US and Europe, exemplifying the advantages of flatter labor markets for scientists and engineers. In some countries, brain circulation has allowed smaller companies to attract talent superior to what they otherwise could acquire (or afford). Mid-level Japanese and Korean companies have a difficult time competing with corporate giants like Sony and Samsung for graduates of elite national universities; they find it easier to recruit PhDs. Japanese companies now employ thousands of Chinese, Indian, and Taiwanese expatriates; Korean companies have turned to China and Russia for engineering expertise.

A smaller portion of the brain circulation phenomenon consists of world-class Western scientists being recruited to developing countries, or non-Westerners returning home with plans to build world-class institutions. In the former case, Singapore and South Korea have both recently aggressively recruited American and European Nobel laureates to their universities and research institutes. Many emerging countries and niche scientific players have demonstrated considerable interest in attracting Western researchers."

This will be enabled by:

"Efforts to boost innovation and to draw closer links between science and the marketplace
Aging of the European, American, and Japanese populations, and the relative youth of populations in developing countries, which could create a demand in traditional scientific metropoles for foreign talent"

Early indicators include:

"The return of 4,900 Chinese scientists from abroad to Beijing's Zhongguancun Science Park in the late 1990s and early 2000, starting some 1,800 new companies by 2002
Increase in PhD production in China from fewer than 200 in 1986 to more than 7,000 degrees granted in 1999
Organization by Brazilian-born brain scientist Miguel Nicolesis, a neuroscientist at Duke University in the US, of a neuroscience research institute in the Brazilian state of Natal
Relocation by a small number of European scientists, mainly in the field of biological sciences, to developing countries"

What to watch:

Eminent scientists move from elite American and European universities to institutions in the developing world.
The number of international scientists training in American and European universities declines

David Rothkopf: Influence of the World’s Super-Rich

World Affairs Council of Northern California
San Francisco, CA
Apr 17th, 2008


Members of today's "superclass" have achieved unprecedented levels of wealth and power. Each of them is one in a million as they number six thousand on a planet of over six billion.

According to David Rothkopf, globalization expert and author of Superclass: The Global Elite and the World They Are Making, members of the superclass run our governments, our largest corporations, the powerhouses of international finance, the media, world religions, and, from the shadows, the world's most dangerous criminal and terrorist organizations.

Arguing that they control globalization more than anyone else, Rothkopf questions whether their influence feeds the growing economic and social inequity that divides the world?

Furthermore, what happens behind closed-door meetings in Davos or aboard corporate jets at 41,000 feet? Conspiracy or collaboration? Deal-making or idle self-indulgence?

David Rothkopf joins the Council to answer these questions and draw back the curtain on a privileged society that most of us know little about, even though it profoundly affects our everyday lives - World Affairs Council of Northern California

Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making E-mail

By David Rothkopf
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March 2008


Each one of them is one in a million. They number six thousand on a planet of six billion. They run our governments, our largest corporations, the powerhouses of international ?nance, the media, world religions, and, from the shadows, the world’s most dangerous criminal and terrorist organizations. They are the global superclass, and they are shaping the history of our time.

Today’s superclass has achieved unprecedented levels of wealth and power. They have globalized more rapidly than any other group. But do they have more in common with one another than with their own countrymen, as nationalist critics have argued? They control globalization more than anyone else. But has their in?u-ence fed the growing economic and social inequity that divides the world? What happens behind closed-door meetings in Davos or aboard corporate jets at 41,000 feet? Is it conspiracy or collaboration? Deal making or idle self-indulgence? What does the rise of Asia and Latin America mean for the conventional wisdom that shapes our destinies? Who sets the rules for a group that operates beyond national laws?

Drawn from scores of exclusive interviews and extensive original reporting, Superclass answers all of these questions and more. Taking us from the corporate boardrooms of America’s most powerful companies to a dinner meeting with Russia’s most notorious oligarch, from the secretive meetings of the Trilateral Commission and the Bohemian Grove to China’s upstart Boao Forum for Asia, David Rothkopf draws back the curtain on a privileged society that most of us know little about, even though it profoundly affects our everyday lives. This is the ?rst in-depth examination of the connections among the global communities of leaders who are at the helm of every major enterprise on the planet and who control its greatest wealth. And it is an unprecedented examination of the trends within the superclass, which are altering our politics, our institutions, and the shape of the world in which we live.

About the Author

David Rothkopf is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment, he has written Running the World: The Inside Story of the NSC and the Architects of American Power, published numerous articles on America's role in the world, and directed the efforts of the Carnegie Economic Strategy Roundtable. He is also president and CEO of Garten Rothkopf, an international advisory firm specializing in emerging markets investing and risk management related services. Previously, Rothkopf was founder, chairman and CEO of Intellibridge, a firm offering open-source intelligence and advisory services on international issues, after serving for two years as managing director of Kissinger Associates. Rothkopf also served as deputy under secretary of commerce for international trade policy in the Clinton Administration.

The rise of the superclass

Source : SALON

Are Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch, the pope and Osama bin Laden part of a new global power elite that may make traditional governments obsolete?

Editor's note: This story has been clarified since it was originally published.

By Laura Miller

Read more: Books, Laura Miller, Reviews, Book reviews

March 14, 2008 | In the first chapter of David Rothkopf's "Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making," the author quotes Mark Malloch Brown, a British minister of state and former deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, recalling what it was like to walk with his wife through a reception in New York for the World Economic Forum. The WEF puts on the famous annual meeting of business leaders, political figures, NGO heads, scientists and other movers and shakers, nicknamed after the small Swiss alpine town where it takes place, Davos. After crossing the room and shaking countless manicured hands in the process, the couple turned to each other and marveled that "we walk though the Davos party and know more people than when we're walking across the village green in the town we live in."

Brown is far from the only one who could tell such a tale. "Davos man" is an epithet coined by the conservative scholar Samuel Huntington to describe the very specific type that attends the conference. These are people who, as Huntington wrote, "have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite's global operations."

Not everyone Rothkopf writes about in "Superclass" is a Davos man, but despite his efforts to remain impartial toward "the global power elite" he describes, you can tell that the elect milieu of the WEF gives him a palpable thrill. The book opens with a scene of the author making his way through the town's frozen streets, recognizing CEOs, oil company executives and Harvard professors on his way to a fondue restaurant. Suddenly, he's greeted effusively by a bestselling inspirational writer with whom he has been trading e-mail: Paulo Coelho, "an icon of the global literary scene"! (The literary scene? I don't think so, though Coelho certainly is a publishing phenomenon.)

Rothkopf's credible, if not especially original argument in "Superclass" is that over the past several decades a "global elite" has emerged whose connections to each other have become more significant than their ties to their home nations and governments. They schmooze regularly at conferences like Davos, go to the same schools, serve together on corporate and nonprofit boards, and above all do business with each other constantly -- to the point that they have become a kind of culture in themselves, a "class without a country," as Rothkopf puts it. Furthermore, these people are "the new leadership class for our era."

A former undersecretary of commerce in the Clinton administration and an officer in an assortment of "advisory" firms (including Kissinger Associates, run by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and the consulting company Rothkopf himself founded, Garten Rothkopf), Rothkopf is an insider of sorts, well enough connected to sit in on meetings of power brokers without quite being one himself. He also writes Op-Eds on international affairs for major newspapers and is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, positions that require the display of some critical distance. "Superclass" isn't as condemnatory as Naomi Klein's anti-globalization manifesto "No Logo," let alone the conspiracy theorizing of "The Iron Triangle," Dan Briody's exposé of the Carlyle Group, but it doesn't merely fawn over its subjects, either.

Rothkopf announces that he and his researchers have identified "just over 6,000" people who match his definition of the superclass -- that is, who have met complicated (and vaguely explained) metrics designed to determine "the ability to regularly influence the lives of millions of people in multiple countries worldwide." These include heads of state and religious and military leaders -- even the occasional pop star, like Bono -- but the core membership is businessmen: hedge fund managers, technology entrepreneurs and private equity investors.

Money alone doesn't cut the mustard. A fabulously wealthy widow living out the end of a quiet life isn't in the superclass; you must not only possess power, but also freely exercise it. Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, is the paradigm: In addition to running a huge private equity firm, he sits on the boards of a half-dozen cultural foundations and belongs to a laundry list of forums and councils, including the WEF. (He also granted Rothkopf a lunch interview at the Four Seasons Grill Room, as the author takes pains to inform his readers.)

The pope is a member of the superclass, as is Osama bin Laden, who can undoubtedly claim influence over current international affairs, even if he sometimes lives in a cave. The Russian illegal arms dealer Viktor "Merchant of Death" Bout is a member, as are Rupert Murdoch and Bill Clinton, who, while no longer commander in chief of the world's remaining superpower, nevertheless heads the Clinton Global Intiative, a brand new dynamo in the area of international philanthropy.

Rothkopf's outlook on these players is roughly Clintonian. He believes in capitalism as an engine for prosperity, but he's leery of the free-market gospel that dictates that "market reforms" ought to be imposed on faltering economies whatever the social and political costs. "It is true," he writes, "that governments have been unable to do much of what they should do to improve the welfare of their people, and in a vast number of cases markets have done much more." But the "free-market" moniker is misleading, since such a thing doesn't really exist. All markets are tweaked by governments to some extent, and what the preachers of the free-market religion never acknowledge is that their own favorite case studies are surreptitiously finagled to benefit the already rich.

Taking a dinner party at the home of Chile's finance minister, Andres Velasco, as an example, Rothkopf describes his uneasy response to the oligarchs around him. He realizes that they embrace the market-oriented philosophy of the "Chicago Boys," Milton Friedman's University of Chicago disciples, but only so long as the attendant suffering is limited to Chile's lower classes. They quietly resist reforms that might nibble away at their iron control of the nation's industries. "While many of the most powerful people in the country embrace 'progress,'" Rothkopf observes of Chile, "they use their energy and political capital primarily on behalf of the changes that benefit them most directly. Elites in Chile have implicitly or explicitly resisted the changes that might create more competition, more entrepreneurship, more access to capital for the poor and middle classes." As a result, though Chile is touted as Latin America's great economic success story, profound inequities in its society have gone comparatively unchanged.

"Superclass" makes a case that today's elites are an improvement on those of the past: Instead of inherited aristocracy or sheer military might, power is more likely to go to the smart, ambitious and hardworking. Membership is fluid to an unprecedented extent, with new people muscling their way into the inner circle and slackers dropping out of the bottom all the time. Still, as Rothkopf points out, the ranks of this elite are overwhelmingly older males of European descent who graduated from prestigious Western colleges. Critics have been complaining for years that Davos is too Eurocentric, one reason why the Boao Forum for Asia was started for Eastern financial honchos in 1998.

Above all, like anybody else -- in fact, more than anybody else, given the obsessive, often narcissistic energy required of moguls, politicians and would-be messiahs -- these people are self-interested. However gifted, they should not be allowed to operate in a vacuum. The difficulty is that most of them exercise their power transnationally, while laws and regulations are confined within the borders of nation-states (which Rothkopf, in classic Davos-man style, regards as doomed). "We must resist the temptation to reflexively attack elites," he writes, since human societies need leaders and this is an able bunch, but elites ought to be more accountable to the millions of people whose lives they affect. Otherwise, as history (and the current upsurge in religious extremism) shows, they may provoke a violent and chaotic backlash.

Nevertheless, the likelihood of a world government forming to handle the situation is remote -- not while nation-states have any life left in them to defend their sovereignty. International institutions -- the U.N., especially, but also the IMF and the World Bank -- are weak, or weakening, and are hemorrhaging credibility. The answer, according to Rothkopf, is not global government, but "governance," fewer formal agreements and mechanisms among international entities. The registration and management of Internet domain names (via a collection of organizations) is one example of this sort of governance, orderly and helpful in a way you wouldn't automatically associate with Rothkopf's ominous-sounding definition of the term: "Fulfilling government roles with mechanisms" that "lack the full traditional power, authority or mandates of governments."

Yikes! Rational as it may sound to set up such systems, they just aren't directly answerable to the populace at large -- they're undemocratic. Of course, as several of the superclass muckety-mucks Rothkopf talks to complain, most of the officials who are democratically selected by the masses don't really understand -- and perhaps aren't even capable of understanding -- the complex global issues that need to be negotiated. American congressmen, senators and even presidents know how to get elected by capitalizing on delusional fears of gay marriage and illegal aliens, but their constituents don't demand that they master high-level economic or scientific concepts. Chances are, the voters haven't even heard of those concepts, let alone formulated opinions on them. How can even the superclass be accountable to a public that can't (or won't) comprehend what they do?

Still, Rothkopf insists that elites ought to look out for the disadvantaged. "If the global decisions that take place out there only serve the powerful," he writes, "and many of the people making the decision are not elected or chosen by the people, the average person is going to recognize they have less influence. So it won't just be unfair, it will produce a backlash." One such "backlash" is the administration of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, a leader characterized by Rothkopf as part of "the global network of antiglobalists." Chavez has made political theater out of taunting and thwarting the global elite. No wonder one of the book's chapter sections is titled "Is a Crisis Inevitable?"

Rothkopf's idea is that the superclass ought to be smart enough to foresee any such crisis and head it off by doing more to make the currently disenfranchised feel like "stakeholders" in the new global order. The superclass should recognize that "order and legitimacy are the allies of both business and those who seek social stability." Furthermore, I suppose, they should put pressure on fellow members who step out of line with this program. The upside to the "closely knit" connections between the globe's top players is that, like any community, they can use exclusion and ostracism to punish those who misbehave.

This is a tall order indeed. Of course, the power elite are not entirely indifferent to the world's problems. The Davos conference often spotlights issues like poverty in Africa and global warming, and high-profile charities such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative suggest that at least some of the superclass feel obliged to step in where national governments have failed to do anything substantive. Deciding on how best to gentle the masses, how to settle on standards of global economic conduct and how to enforce those standards won't be easy, though. Fortunately for the superclass and anyone seeking to work with them, there are consulting companies like Garten Rothkopf ("an international advisory firm specializing in emerging markets investing and risk management related services") to turn to!

In the concluding pages of "Superclass" it becomes increasingly difficult to dispel the impression that you have just read what amounts to a 380-page business card. Many recent nonfiction books on "current affairs" are little more than that. Organized around a catchy concept and extensively researched by underlings, they win their authors jobs in think tanks and speaking engagements at corporate workshops and conferences -- all of which pay much, much more than anyone can expect to make on a book. There are a handful of important ideas in "Superclass," it's true, but many of them have been gleaned from other, more original thinkers. There are also a lot of facts and statistics, presumably gathered by Rothkopf's assistants.

The other thing that you'll find in "Superclass" is names, lots and lots of names. At times, Rothkopf's breathless citing of notables, accompanied by the banal details of their C.V.s and hobbies, made me waspish enough to mutter an old saying of indeterminate origins: Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about things and small minds talk about people. Yet, to be fair, people are among the things that Rothkopf has to offer his clients, specifically his knowledge of and acquaintances among the very superclass he celebrates and scolds. One thing "Superclass" assiduously demonstrates is that whatever the mistakes of the global elite, Rothkopf has been around to witness a few of them firsthand.

This explains why "Superclass" lacks the one thing that would probably guarantee it a spot on the bestseller list: the actual names of the 6,000 members of the superclass, as defined by Rothkopf's criteria. The list exists, Rothkopf assures his readers, but publishing it would be "an exercise in futility." CEOs lose jobs and retire, tycoons suffer financial setbacks and even get thrown in jail. Therefore, "the day after it was published," the list "would be obsolete."

Besides, Rothkopf sniffs, "publishing such a list immediately generates debate about who's in and who's out, and obscures the bigger issues involved." This shows a surprising degree of high-mindedness in a book that is significantly occupied with mini-profiles of the rich and powerful, whom they know, how they operate and where they eat lunch. If printing the list coarsens the conversation, then why compile it to begin with? If, as Rothkopf intimates, the list was a necessary part of the book's research yet publishing it would nevertheless be a detriment to the project, then why mention it at all? Why let drop the tantalizingly specific number of 6,000 names?

Despite his demurrals, I'm sure there are at least a few conversations that Rothkopf would not regard as fatally cheapened by the sharing of his list of the rich and powerful. To the contrary, those conversations would no doubt be very expensive indeed, taking place between Garten Rothkopf and the clients who pay for its consulting services (which surely cost more than the $26 cover price of "Superclass"). In the end, this might be the most important message contained between the covers of "Superclass": David Rothkopf's got the list, and you know where to find him.

State of women in Balochistan


In spite of being commonly liberal, politically conscious, and culturally well-endowed, resource-rich Balochistan is Pakistan's least-developed province with high rates of infant and maternal mortality, poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition.

Although are suffering due to the inflexible culture, customs and practices throughout Pakistan women, there is a larger story to tell about the state-sponsored discrimination against women in Balochistan.

From the beginning Islamabad has outrageously tried to cover up its ill-conceived and discriminatory policies by blaming the Baloch themselves for their appalling state. However, facts and findings on health, education, communication, political empowerment and economic development clearly indicate that human development in Balochistan has been deliberately ignored by successive central governments, to gain strategic benefits out of the vast and geostrategic location of the province and its immense resources. Women are discriminated against in the country at large. But in Balochistan they are discriminated against by state. They have no access to enabling opportunities required for the empowerment of women in any modern and civilised society.

Under Article 25 of the Constitution, and of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), women are entitled to a number of economic and social rights, such as rights to food, social security, housing, education, an adequate standard of living, and healthcare. But policy commitments have hardly been translated in to practice.

The endless military operation, internal displacement, disappearances, intimidation and the prolonged Baloch-Islamabad conflict are hitting hard the already deprived women in the province. Central government discriminatory policy is not only resulting in slowdown of gender empowerment but its effecting overall social and economic development process in province.

The most devastating consequence of underdevelopment in any society is a high fatality rate. Balochistan has highest infant and maternal mortality ratio (MMR), compared to that many Asian and African underdeveloped countries. For example, the MMR in Karachi is 281 compared to 673 in rural Balochistan. Pakistan's chief planning health officer told IRIN in June 2007 that "the maternal mortality ratio is 650 per 100,000 live births in Balochistan - nearly two times the national average,".

The increasing rate of preventable maternal mortality is a symptom of the larger social injustice of discrimination against women and violation of women's human rights. Thousands of avoidable maternal deaths each year indicate the government's unfaithfulness to domestic and international laws. The expert has indicated the basic lack of safe drinking water and sanitation as major cause of infant and maternal mortality in the province. The Pakistan Living Standard Measurement Survey (PSLM), 2004-5, identifies sharp a interprovincial disparity with regard to access to safe drinking water. Reports state that 52 per cent of the population in Balochistan uses wells and open ponds for drinking water, compared to three per cent in Punjab, 13 per cent in Sindh and 35 per cent in NWFP. Balochistan's women played a vital political and human rights role during the current conflict in the province. The Baloch Women's Panel very bravely organised a number of protests, rallies and sit-ins in front of the press clubs in Quetta, Karachi and Turbat against arbitrary arrests and for the release of missing Baloch activists.

Despite being a signatory of major international conventions, Islamabad continues to ignore the basic rights of women to education in Balochistan. Planned discrimination remains to deprive the majority of girls the right to knowledge in Balochistan.

Access to all levels of education is crucial to empowering women and girls to participate in economic, social and political life of their societies. Education unlocks a woman's potential, and is accompanied by improvements in health, nutrition, and well-being of their families. The PSLM survey reported alarming regional disparity in education sector. According to the survey only 27 per cent of the students in Balochistan complete primary or higher education, compare to 64 per cent in Punjab. The increasing dropout rate is due to the unavailability of middle- and high schools.

Islamabad is totally inactive and ignorant about the need to reduce or remove the interprovincial gender disparity and bring the neglected women of Balochistan at par with rest of the provinces. Interprovincial gender inequality in employment sector is unspeakable. According to State Bank of Pakistan's 2005-06 report Balochistan and the NWFP have the highest rate of female unemployment rate of 27 per cent and 29 per cent, compared to seven per cent and 20 per cent for Punjab and Sindh.

A large number of women's vocational and training centres in Punjab make women more capable and confident to qualify for market jobs. Punjab has 111 women's vocational institutes, however Balochistan has only one. Due to the lack of girls' schools in the province only 23 per cent rural girls are lucky enough to be enrolled in primary as compared to 47 per cent in rural Punjab. In fact, acute poverty at the margin appeared to be hitting hardest at women. As long as women's access to healthcare, education, and training remain limited, prospects for improved social status of female population will remains bleak.

The Social Policy Development Centre 2005 report discovered that the percentage of the population living in a high degree of deprivation stands at 88 per cent in Balochistan, 51 per cent in the NWFP, 49 per cent in Sindh and 25 per cent in Punjab. According to poverty-related reports the percentage of the population living below the poverty line stands at 63 per cent in Balochistan, 26 per cent in Punjab, 29 per cent in the NWFP and 38 per cent in Sindh.

No development policy could succeed unless it is based on the needs and participation of people in the process. In Balochistan's case, what people need is socio-economic development, political empowerment, clean drinking water, electricity, practical education, basic health facilities, proper roads and infrastructure connecting rural towns to the main centres. But central government is doing the opposite. The Baloch are subject to extreme discrimination. No state in the present era singles out its citizen on the basis of region and ethnicity. The regime in Islamabad must respect Baloch rights and stop its systematic discriminatory policies.

The writer is a senator. Email: balochbnp @gmail.com
Thursday, April 17, 2008

From the New Middle Ages to a New Dark Age: The Decline of the State and U.S. Strategy

From the New Middle Ages to a New Dark Age: The Decline of the State and U.S. Strategy

Authored by Dr. Phil Williams.

Security and stability in the 21st century have little to do with traditional power politics, military conflict between states, and issues of grand strategy. Instead they revolve around the disruptive consequences of globalization, declining governance, inequality, urbanization, and nonstate violent actors. The author explores the implications of these issues for the United States. He proposes a rejection of “stateocentric” assumptions and an embrace of the notion of the New Middle Ages characterized, among other things, by competing structures, fragmented authority, and the rise of “no-go” zones. He also suggests that the world could tip into a New Dark Age. He identifies three major options for the United States in responding to such a development. The author argues that for interventions to have any chance of success the United States will have to move to a trans-agency approach. But even this might not be sufficient to stanch the chaos and prevent the continuing decline of the Westphalian state.


INDIA : Economic Terrorism and Energy Security


The inevitable happened with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delivering a “Jaanam Samjha Karo” speech to the nation to explain away the fuel price hike.

Before we get to the fuel price hike, it is rather strange that the Prime Minister should face the nation cutting a sorry figure pleading for better understanding. It paints a pathetic image of a surrogate not in control. What this nation needs is a Prime Minister who can demonstrate the courage, conviction and leadership to face the nation and speak the truth before the fact rather than make lame excuses after the fact.

If you cannot prepare the Nation to rally around you on tough decisions in peacetime where you have the luxury to choose the pace and timing of the decision, then how can the Nation trust you to make tough choices when externalities are forced upon this Nation without warning ?

This leads us to the subject of this post. In an election year the primary opposition BJP predictably has seized the political opportunity to take the UPA Government’s mismanagement of the economic by calling it “Economic Terrorism”.

So far so good. But the manner in which the BJP is seizing upon this cause is not inspiring confidence or credibility.

Demanding that the fuel price hike be rolled back, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday said it would hold demonstrations in every district headquarters in the country on Thursday.

The BJP’s lack of homework on the subject is embarassing.

Mr. Rudy, however, did not respond to a question whether the BJP would freeze the prices of petroleum-based products, irrespective of the international crude price, if the party came to power in 2009. Nor did he answer queries on the National Democratic Alliance government’s record in price increase

As the lead editorial in the Indian Express points out there is no correlation between populism and popularity, a profound truth well understood and explained by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in his campaign to win the Assembly elections.

Offstumped Bottomline: If the BJP sees itself as the natural beneficiary of the “aam admi’s” angst over the state of the economy merely by organizing street protests against the fuel price hike then the “aam admi” deserves better.

Unless the BJP has a prescription for ensuring sustainable Energy Security to India its petrol price hike rollback protests lack credibility.

Can you spell out your vision and strategy for securing India’s Energy interests Mr. Advani ?

ISLAMIST TERRORISM IN INDIA: Needs strong political will to combat it

By R. Upadhyay

(The views expressed are his own)

Like all the earlier terror attacks in the country, Jaipur blasts also ridiculed our political class particularly the ruling coalition that is responsible for nation’s security and protection of the lives of its citizens. The dust raised by them in their blame-game pointing finger at each other also settled down. By and large whenever there is a terror attack, the ruling party condemns the terrorists for their ‘cowardly’ actions and brags that their evil design in dividing the people on communal lines would never succeed. However, the terrorists, while proving our political class wrong continue their preparation for the next attack. They courageously faced the bullets of security personnel only after killing some of them and are regarded as Islamic martyrs in the history of the political mission of Islam. Regarding widening divide between the two major religious communities, there is no doubt that after every terror attack the widening gap of mistrust between the two is increasing. Post-Godhra backlash in Gujarat was the result of their success. Unfortunately, instead of developing some effective mechanism for nation’s security and protection of innocent lives from the advancing wave of jihadi terrorism, political parties exploit the national tragedy only for consolidating their vote bank.

M. K. Narayanan, National Security Advisor and former Director, Intelligence Bureau expressed his views time to time that hundreds of sleeper cells of terror living in various Muslim localities in the country are often activated by the terrorists. His statement which must be based on some hard intelligence suggests that Muslim localities are the fertile ground for settling of terror cells. Narayanan however, did not point out the centres of the production of these cells although he must be aware that the institutions teaching the ideology like Islamist extremism and Taliban have been producing thousands and thousands of these cells every year since Independence. After passing out from the institutions which are known as madrasa, the sleeper cells start living in Muslim localities. Now the question arises – why Muslim localities are the fertile ground for the nursery of sleeper cells? The answer lies in the history of Islam in India. There is a widespread impression all over the world that the ideology of radical Islamism is behind all the terror attacks. It is also said that radical Islamists have divided the entire human race between Momins (Followers of Islam) and Qafirs (infidels). They have also divided the political world map between Darul Islam (The land of Islamic political power) and Darul Harb (the land of war). At the same time They have also defined the duty of the Momins either to convert the Qafirs to Islam or to kill them and to establish Darul Islam in Darul Harb through jihad (Holy war).

It is a known fact of Indian history that Islam entered into this sub-continent not as a spiritual mission but as a political conquest. Right from Mohammad bin Qasim in 712 A.D. to Babar in 1526 all the Muslim invaders used Islam only as a slogan for power–seeking mission and established their rule by killing thousands of innocent people, distributed the hapless captive women among the Islamic warriors and enslaved the men as permanent unpaid servants.

So long India was under Muslim rule it was Darul Islam but after its collapse it became Darul Harb. Since Momins were duty bound to restore Darul Islam in India after the sliding decline of Muslim rule and its subsequent end rule in the sub-continent, all the Islamists from Shah Waliullah to Mohammad Ali Jinna launched a movement for restoration of Muslim rule by using Islam as a war cry. In between, all the Islamic institutions/organisations propagated the ideology that ‘Islam is the only solution’, ‘Islam lies in the glorious past’ and ‘Islam is in danger’. With mass support of the Muslims, the Islamists succeeded in separation of a geographical territory from this Darul Harb and created Darul Islam named as Pakistan. Those who stayed back in amputated India however, were not comfortable in the new democratic polity as it was not Darul Islam. Therefore, taking advantage of the new political environment they revived their movement through madrasa education to Muslim proletariats, produced sleeper cells and carried forward the legacy of the same power-seeking mission of their predecessors. After coming out of madrasas these semi-employed and under employed youths settled in various Muslim localities as sleeper cells and became permanent assets for the cause of Islam. The terrorists while spotting the required number of talents activate them for use in terror attacks.

The Islamist terrorism as we see today was initially sponsored jointly by USA, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in late seventies of the last century to meet their respective strategic interest in defeating Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Islamist establishments from all over the world supported the move and transported a sizeable number of jehadis to fight against Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the name of Islam. However, after the withdrawal of Soviet Union, Pakistan with a view to meet its own strategic interest exported these jobless jehadi genies to India under the command of ISI. Indian Islamists on the other hand worked as agents of Pakistan in activating the sleeper cells already settled in Muslim localities.

It is a known fact of contemporary history that Pakistan, an immediate neighbour and born enemy has been exporting terrorism to India as a part of its national strategy of ‘thousand year war’ against the latter.. From Liyaqat Ali to Musharraf, Indian leadership were befooled in dialogues and dialogues and in between India had to face three major wars sacrificing thousands of its soldiers. It is now engaged in proxy war of terrorism by activating the sleeper cells and instead of any tough action against it Indian leadership believes only in reaction by issuing routine statements.

Since Islamist terrorism is linked to the political struggle for restoration of the institution of Khilafat, the jehadis had no problem in penetrating into India where Ulema had already launched a protracted movement for the same goal of converting it into Darul Islam and have been dictating the direction of hard-line Islam to their community members for over last 150 years. Mullhas are therefore not opening their mouth against any terror attack. They broke their long silence against terrorism for the first time by organising anti-terrorism conference at Darul Uloom Deoband only on last February 25 but did not utter a single word against Osama bin Laden, the main surviving leader of terror world. As expected, their criticism of terrorism had no effect on the jehadi genies and Jaipur blast within two months of the conference proved it. Genies are already out of bottle and it is difficult if not impossible for their creators to bring them back in the bottle. Terrorists have in fact issued warning to the Ulema for their criticism of terrorism.

Why did the Government fail to neutralize the breeding of sleeper cells is another question. There is a saying that it is easy to wake up a sleeping person but very difficult to wake up a person who pretends sleeping. Similar is the case with our political class in tackling the problem of terror attacks in the country. They understand the problem which is the pre-requisite of finding a solution. They are fully aware of the solution to the unhindered growth of Islamist terrorism but they lack political will. Are they not aware that after 9/11 there was not a single terror attack in USA? Ironically, in India even after terror attack on Parliament House, the country’s leadership allowed the repeat of terror attacks in different parts of the country. This proves that the Government is not serious for any hard action against the terrorists. Publicly declared ‘Muslim first policy’ of the Prime Minister, indefinite delay in execution of a dreaded terrorist like Afzal who was involved in parliament house attack even after the very clear verdict of Supreme Court, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s statement defending the delay on the plea that how an Indian prisoner Sarvajeet in Pakistan could be got released if demand for execution of Afzal could be implemented, collective double-speak, left dominated media and human right activists coming in defense of terror accused have not only emboldened the terrorists but also worked as a covering fire for them in their fight against the Qafir-majority state. After terror blasts in Jaipur, Rajasthan Chief Minister wanted guidance from the centre for deportation of unauthorized Bangladesh nationals in the state and got a reply to round them up and put them in “Transit camp”.

Encouraged with the soft stand of the centre, apologists of Islamism like Jamal Ansari, an academic and political commentator, Aligarh Muslim University has defended the Muslim infiltrators from Bangladesh by pronouncing that “they have rights in India” (Pioneer dated May 25, 2008). Similarly some professors of Jamia Milia Islamia and others are found propagating an amusing theory that the terror attacks of 9/11 were the outcome of the conspiracy hatched by the “Christians of America and the Jews of Israel” (Ibid). Since there is no law in India to tame such academics, they may even propagate that all the terror attacks in India are the outcome of a conspiracy of Hindu nationalists with the support of America.

By and large the Muslim leaders and intelligentsia are found to be of silent onlookers after terror attacks. They come out openly for the rights of the community and organize aggressive demonstrations against Danish cartoon of their Prophet but they have no time for expression of similar anger over the jehadis, who cannot succeed in their operation without local support. Is it not their duty under article 51 of constitution to take initiative in flushing out sleeper cells from Muslim localities?

Absence of nation-centric security policy, strong political will, honest security agencies, honest media and honest co-operation from people are the main reason behind the growth of Islamist terrorism in India. Unfortunately, power-centric policy overriding the national security priority has become the main ingredient of Indian politics. For the vote-seeking political class national security and life of people are not a priority. Their first priority is political power. Accordingly, they are playing the politics of minoritism, which is a safe and easy bait to attract the Muslim voters en bloc during election. On the other hand taking advantage of this weakness of political hawks, the Islamists nourished the sleeper cells without any resistance from the ‘secular’ government and nursed them into a permanent asset for future jihad with a view to achieve their objective to restore the institution of Khilafat and bring back Islamic rule in this country.

Constitutional ban on propagation of Islamism which has a direct or indirect bearing on growth of terrorism, complete ban on funding from any foreign countries for promotion of Islamism, fixing up responsibility on the local leaders of Muslim localities to flush out the sleeper cells, ban on divisive teachings in all religious institutions, modification in Evidence Act by fixing the onus on the suspects to prove their innocence in terror related cases, immediate detection and deportation of unauthorized Bangladesh nationals, tough law with special court for speedy trial of terror cases and sufficient guard against misuse of anti-terror law could be some of the possible measures, which could be applied for effective solution to terror problem. Constitutionally protected special law for curbing terrorism is the need of the hour but the ruling party will have to ensure freedom to the agency in application of this law. With nation-first policy without any distinction for minority or majority community there should be no political interference in the working of the old or new law and order machinery. Above all, strong political will without linking it with vote bank politics is the only remedy to curb this menace. Any remedial measure without strong political will to solve the problem of terrorism will be a futile exercise.

Now the Prime Minister has proposed for a federal investigating agency exclusively to combat terrorism. It is however, rejected by the opposition and some of the non-congress state governments. In fact there is no harm in having an agency as suggested provided it is allowed to work independently without any political interference. But what is the guarantee that the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister whose publicly declared policies will allow this federal agency to flush out sleeper cells from Muslim localities?

Islamist terrorism has maligned and defamed the Muslim community as a whole and as such it is the responsibility of the Muslims and only Muslims to take the lead in fighting this global menace without any pre-condition if they really want to bring peace and stability in the country. To prove that Islam is a religion of peace needs the lead from the Muslim leaders only.

(The Author can be reached at e-mail ramashray60@rediffmail.com)

Bangladesh: Emerging Political Scenario

SOurce: SAAG

Guest Column by Dr. Anand Kumar

(The views expressed are his own)

The ongoing mass arrests in Bangladesh have baffled everyone. These arrests started seventeen days after the ban on political activity due to emergency was lifted in the country. It was expected that after allowing political activity government will take similar actions to facilitate the electoral process ultimately leading to electioneering in the country. But the mass arrests in the name of deteriorating law and order condition in Bangladesh goes against this and makes the political situation very fluid.

The claim of declining law and order has been promptly refuted by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Nur Mohammad. He on the other hand stated that the arrests across the country were a regular one and was launched with a view to further improve the situation. He also claimed that no 'wholesale arrest' is being made. The police chief's comment contradicted with that of the home adviser, who earlier defended the ongoing countrywide arrests as an operation to check deterioration of law and order ahead of the elections. There is little doubt that arrests are related to the possible elections, but they seem to have more to do with problems faced in negotiation with the two top ladies who have been former prime ministers. They have reportedly refused to accept a conditional release.

Meanwhile, BNP has also asked its party leaders and cadres to prepare for an agitation. It seems they are also expecting trouble in the release of Khaleda and are preparing for this likely upcoming battle with the caretaker government. These mass arrests are probably meant to blunt the edges of this agitation.

The four-party alliance which faced some difficulty after the end of their term, have once again come together. So after almost two years, situation is nearly same as it was in October 2006 when power was handed over to the first caretaker government. Seeing the difficulty of the caretaker government in taking actions against her, Khaleda has now become more assertive. The caretaker government could not take the cases against her to its logical conclusion. It seems they tried to do too much in a very short period in their crackdown against corruption which actually allowed big fish like Khaleda and Tarique Rahman to escape with little harm to their reputation. Bangladesh in the meantime has been unfortunate to face a natural calamity in the form of cyclone Sidr. Their problems have been further compounded because of the global food crisis. The large undereducated masses of Bangladesh are unable to understand these complexities. Now there is a grave possibility that their miseries could be used by the political parties especially the four- party alliance to start an agitation against the government.

It seems the caretaker government was also expecting trouble from the side of a section of the army. General Moeen backed caretaker government took unprecedented actions after taking over. This kind of thing has never happened in the history of Bangladesh. Though he acted almost always in the interest of his own country, it was not to the liking of the four-party alliance who wanted to take Bangladesh in a different direction. It was also not liked by the powers outside the country who were able to act freely during the four-party regime. Hence an effort was made to tarnish the image of General Moeen and the caretaker government. A section tried to propagate that General Moeen and the caretaker government were acting at the instance of others and had other aspirations.

Within the Bangladesh army there had always been a group opposed to the spirit of Liberation War. It was possible that officers following this kind of ideology could have created trouble. Revival of the “spirit of liberation” had already made them uncomfortable.

In these circumstances a reshuffle in the Bangladesh army was in order. To consolidate his position within Bangladesh army General Moeen removed two top-ranking army generals from key positions. Principal staff officer (PSO) lieutenant general Masud Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury, considered the second most powerful general in the military, has been transferred to a low-key post of commandant of the National Defence College. Major General Abdul Mubin, the general officer commanding of the 24 infantry division based in northeastern port city of Chittagong, was appointed as the new PSO. While, NDC commandant Lieutenant General Abu Tayab Mohammad Zahirul Alam has been appointed as the new Bangladesh envoy to Australia, the area commander of the northeastern Bogra was transferred to replace Mubin in Chittagong. Masud Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury and Zahirul Alam were among the senior four generals whose positions were upgraded in May last year.

Lieutenant general Masud Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury was the most powerful General in Bangladesh army after General Moeen. He had held the crucial command of Nine Infantry Division based in suburban Savar during last year's proclamation of the state of emergency and installation of the current interim government. Moreover, he is also a relative of Begum Khaleda Zia. In an agitation like situation in Bangladesh, there was a possibility that Generals like him could have gone against Moeen. The reshuffle in the top brass of the army was brought in to pre-empt this possibility. It will also consolidate the hold of General Moeen. The changes came two months after President Iajuddin Ahmed extended the tenure of Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed by an year.

In the political circles of Bangladesh and in media there is also the talk of national government. It seems that national government could also be one alternative if some of the major political parties decide to boycott the elections. Given the track record of political parties in Bangladesh the proposal of national government is not such a bad idea. There seems to be a general agreement in Bangladesh that the actions taken by the caretaker government have been for the betterment of the country. Only thing they now desire is that the same approach could be continued under a democratic government, so that their political rights are also protected. In this effort, the national government could be middle path between a democratic government and a military backed caretaker government. But the problem is, four-party alliance which has a very different agenda may not agree to it.

This proposal was suggested by the Gono Forum leaders. They also proposed a review of the constitution. In their pre-poll dialogue with the caretaker government they felt that a post-election national unity government would ensure a non-partisan commitment to good governance. They also proposed a four-point set of reforms including removal of black money, violence, militancy and partisan state mechanisms to ensure that the next elections are free, fair and credible.

There has also been a talk of “national Charter.” But Awami League and BNP leaders have opposed any government move to formulate a national charter, saying they would not sign such a charter. This view was made public at a roundtable on 'Relevance of Formulating the National Charter and National Security Council in Overcoming the Present Political Crisis', organised by Pro-People's Movement at the National Press Club. The political parties however did not rule out the necessity of forming the National Security Council, but felt that this was not necessary at the moment.

The caretaker government probably thinks that signing of this kind of charter would set agenda for the new elected government. It will also act as check and make things difficult for the new government in case it wanted to revert back to the old days of corruption and lack of accountability. Last but not least it will ensure that a political witch-hunting will not take place when the new government comes. In case both the mainstream political parties accept the national charter, it will automatically mean that they have accepted all the actions of the caretaker government as legitimate and justified. This will leave little room for vindictive actions.

The rule of the caretaker government in Bangladesh is entering into a very important phase where they would have to hold the elections and hand over power. The political dialogue has started and a parallel dialogue is being held with the civil society members. But this has so far not helped to sort out issues with the two main political parties in Bangladesh whose participation is very important for holding a meaningful election in that country. The caretaker government could not succeed in its minus-two theory. Now everything would depend on what conditions of the caretaker government Hasina and Khalida would accept. The civil society of Bangladesh including its business leaders are also in a dilemma. They do want elections, but they do not want to go back to a chaotic and confrontational political climate. They want an election which will result in smooth transition of power. In the prevailing conditions where a stalemate has been reached between the caretaker government and the two mainstream political parties, a solution is possible only if both the sides show some flexibility in their stated positions. A rigid stand would lead the country to a situation of political chaos. Most importantly, this breakthrough has to come soon as the elections announced are due in December this year.

(The author can be reached at e-mail: anandkrai@yahoo.com)

South Stream pipeline may carry Azerbaijani oil

16:13 | 05/ 06/ 2008

MOSCOW. (Political analyst Ilgar Velizade, Azerbaijan, for RIA Novosti) - Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller has made a surprise proposal during his short stay in Baku. The press release of the Russian energy giant says he has proposed buying Azerbaijani natural gas at market prices under long-term contracts.

Analysts immediately concluded that Russia needs Azerbaijani gas for the South Stream pipeline, under construction to pump Central Asian gas to Europe.

Baku is currently hosting the 15th International Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference. Judging by the number of participants, which keeps growing every year, global interest in Azerbaijan's energy resources is increasing. This year, 380 companies from 33 countries are attending the forum.

They are analyzing the recent statements by the Azerbaijani leaders about the country's huge energy resources, trying to determine if they will be enough for the current projects.

President Ilham Aliyev has said oil production in Azerbaijan will grow to 60 million metric tons (441 million bbl) by 2009 from 50 million metric tons in 2008, and that the country has enough natural gas to satisfy domestic requirements in the next 100 years.

Experts say that Azerbaijan has 1.5 trillion cu m (52.95 trillion cu f) of prospected gas reserves, including at the Shah Deniz offshore deposit in the Azerbaijani part of the Caspian Sea, with recoverable reserves of 1.3 trillion cu m (45.89 trillion cu f) of natural gas.

Azerbaijan annually consumes 10-11 billion cu m (388.3 billion cu f) of gas.

Foreign policy priorities today largely depend on the direction of export pipelines. Therefore, such projects as the Nabucco pipeline, designed to deliver natural gas from Central Asia to the EU via Azerbaijan and Turkey, bypassing Russia, is a political rather than an economic project. Remaining an outsider in this event means losing instruments of influencing the situation in the given region.

Miller's sensational proposal is evidence of Russia seriously considering ways to regain its positions in the region as an active strategic player. Russia's former tactic of an observer who underestimates the growth potential of the region has apparently not succeeded.

Russia's largest private oil producer LUKoil has left the South Caspian region and gas exporters soon followed in its footsteps, weakening the country's economic positions there.

Therefore, Miller's visit to Azerbaijan can be interpreted as an attempt to change the energy transportation policy in the region to suit Russian interests. On the other hand, it may also point to the intention of the Vladimir Putin government to focus on foreign economic policy.

Rovnag Abdullayev, president of Azerbaijan's State Oil Company, said: "We will use the most profitable routes to export gas," choosing between the Nabucco pipeline, the Trans-Adriatic pipeline and Gazprom's proposal.

Azerbaijan has not initiated any new pipeline projects lately. At the beginning of the year, President Aliyev made a statement signifying that the country would not initiate new energy transportation routes, like other countries are doing, because it wants to stay away from political quarrels between superpowers and other centers of power. Azerbaijan will limit its international role to participation in projects supported by the international community.

This position suits the West and Russia, though some people interpret Gazprom's proposal as a trick. According to them, Gazprom has proposed buying Azerbaijani oil in order to draw its attention away from the Nabucco project and therefore hinder its implementation.

Others see it as a public confirmation of Azerbaijan's considerable reserves. Another argument is Iran's interest in buying oil from the Shah Deniz deposit, in which Naftiran Intertrade Co (NICO) holds a 10% stake.

But probably neither interpretation is the truth: Gazprom is considering possibilities of participating in promising gas projects in the South Caspian region, notably the second stage of the Shah Deniz project, which will start operation after 2012 when production should grow to 20 billion cu m (706 billion cu f).

Gas export is expected to grow at this stage and the South Stream, which should be commissioned by 2013, could be used to transport Azerbaijani gas to Europe.

As for competition between Nabucco and South Stream, there will be none when both pipes carry Azerbaijani oil.

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

Soviet weapons proved ineffective in Arab hands

19:10 | 05/ 06/ 2008

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti correspondent Andrei Murtazin) - The shortest Arab-Israeli war, the Six-Day War, broke out on June 5, 1967. It lasted until June 10 when the Arabs were comprehensively defeated.

This was when Israel seized the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Arabs retrieved part of these lands, notably, the Sinai Peninsula, 15 years later. Others, such as the Golan Heights and Palestinian territories, are a subject of multilateral talks that have made little progress thus far.

Why did the Arabs suffer such an overwhelming defeat? The Egyptian and Syrian Armies were not ready for war, although their high-ranking generals, particularly from Egypt, were confident in their ability to erase the "Zionist formation" from the face of the Earth.

Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser himself gave the Israelis a casus belli. On May 18, the Egyptian government addressed the UN Security Council with a request to withdraw peacekeepers from the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, who were stationed there in 1957. UN Secretary-General U Thant agreed, and the troops were pulled out in no time.

On May 22, their positions were occupied by the Egyptian military. On May 28, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran (Gulf of Aqaba) to Israeli shipping, and to vessels from other countries that supplied strategic commodities to the Israeli port of Eilat. Israel considered this act a tacit declaration of war, and dealt a pre-emptive blow.

Although it may seem paradoxical, some Israeli media published a stage-by-stage plan of attack on the Arabs several days before the war. However, the Arabs did not believe them.

The Voice of Israel and the Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli force would attack Egyptian bases at 4 a.m. on Monday, June 5; it would be followed by a ground offensive, and by the evening of June 6, the Israeli troops would reach the Suez Canal. This scenario was 90% accurate (the attack was launched at 8.30 a.m.). Both Egypt's intelligence and army command knew about the plan. How could they have ignored such information?

In the early hours of June 5, an Israeli attack destroyed 400 aircraft of the Egyptian Air Force in one go. They were simply bombed on the airfields. Soviet military specialists, who trained Egyptian pilots near Cairo, rushed to the Cairo-West Air Base. They were ready to fly the intact aircraft and fight, but were stopped by the Egyptians.

Russian Oriental studies expert, Anatoly Yegorin recalls: "When X-hour struck, our guys wanted to go to the frontline, but the Egyptians objected: 'This is our war, and we should fight it ourselves.' They delayed the return of our military to the place of their service. Not a single Soviet serviceman took part in the Six-Day War."

Indeed, Soviet military specialists, whose responsibility under contract was to train Arabs, had no right to take part in hostilities.

In the Six-Day War of 1967, Soviet weapons proved to be ineffective in Arab hands.

During parades, or aerobatic performances, Egyptian pilots displayed their skills, but when it came to real fighting they forgot everything they had learned. They did not have combat experience.

Communications is another major reason for the Egyptian Army's defeat. At the lowest level, it had Soviet communication equipment, whereas the general headquarters and the command had bought communication systems in the West, and they were completely under U.S. control.

Yegorin recalls: "At the X-hour, the Americans (their ships were located 14 miles away from Egypt in the Mediterranean) switched off all communication lines linking the general headquarters with the Sinai-based troops."

In other words, the United States, an Israeli ally, simply paralyzed the Egyptian forces at the right moment.

Egyptians made one more major mistake during the war. While retreating from the Sinai Peninsula, the Egyptian Army abandoned 450 functional tanks. Tank crews jumped out of their combat vehicles and ran to the Suez Canal in order to get to the other side. "They could have retreated in these tanks until they reached the canal," Yegorin said, "but they were getting out of tanks, leaving them, and running." As a result, in those six days, Israel lost 776 officers and men, and Egypt, more than 11,000.

Most historians believe that Egypt's defeat was caused by political rather than military reasons. Many high-ranking Egyptian generals, who were educated in the West, were extremely displeased with Nasser's "pro-Kremlin" orientation. They attempted to get rid of him by engineering Egypt's defeat in the war in the hope that the United States, which backed Israel, would not leave Arabs on their own.


Soviet weapons proved effective in the next 1973 Arab-Israeli War, when Egyptians crossed the Suez Canal, and attacked the Bar-Lev Line. The results of this war are common knowledge. The Egyptian Army had every chance to score a full military victory over the enemy, not just receive a moral triumph. But Anwar Sadat, who replaced Nasser, stopped the offensive.

The political results were rapprochement with the United States, Camp David and a peace treaty with Israel. Sadat exchanged a military victory for a political one. This was the end of the "romantic era" in Egyptian-Soviet relations. But even now, 40 years after, the Egyptian Army still has Soviet weapons.

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

EU: Rethinking the arms exports code

Elements of the EU's Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, adopted in 1998, are in dire need of revision to match present day realities, writes Saferworld's Roy Isbister for ISN Security Watch.

Commentary by Roy Isbister for ISN Security Watch (06/06/08)

The 1980s were dark days for European arms transfer controls. With no regional coordination, EU members practiced individual, and largely secretive, ways of managing their arms exports. When it came to light that some member-states had been complicit in arming both sides during the Iran-Iraq war there was a public outcry: the EU's house needed putting in order.

In June 1998, the EU adopted the world's first regional conventional arms transfer control agreement, The EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. This politically binding agreement aimed to set 'high common standards' for EU member-states exporting arms and set out eight criteria that must be considered before an arms transfer is approved.

At the time 'the Code' was ground-breaking, but 10 years on it is beginning to show its age.

The need for a 'Common Position'
Currently, the Code is a political agreement: Member states are under no legal obligation to follow the standards it sets – although some have introduced it, or parts of it, into their national legislation. However, a redraft of the Code completed in 2005 did see the (largely identical) text rewritten as a 'Common Position' which, if adopted, would oblige member- states to ensure their national legislation was consistent with its requirements.

Changing the status of the Code in this way would raise the possibility of legal challenges to export licensing decisions. It would also help promote high standards for transfer controls beyond EU borders as candidates for accession would be obliged to ensure their national law complied with the Common Position under the EU's acqui communautaire – the body of EU law to which aspirant states must adhere.

However, continued opposition from France has blocked the adoption of the Common Position. France has used the issue as a bargaining tool in its efforts to lift the EU arms embargo on China – a strategy which, since late 2006, has left them increasingly isolated in their opposition. But until member states can reach a consensus, the Code will remain only a set of political guidelines.

Addressing globalization
The ongoing globalization of the defense industry involves the complex movement of components, kit parts and sub-assemblies around the world. Companies also increasingly make use of overseas subsidiaries or license the production of their designs to manufacturers that are located outside the EU.

This shift to a more complicated pattern of production and export makes regulation all the more challenging. Unfortunately, the aging Code was designed to deal with more straightforward license applications and is struggling to cope with the realities of 21st century arms manufacture and business practices.

As a result, in the last decade EU military equipment has repeatedly found its way via third parties to states the EU would probably not otherwise supply.

For example, German engines copied by a firm in China are now included in armored vehicles supplied to the Democratic Republic of Congo, North Korea, Sudan and the military regime in Myanmar (Burma). Although the German company exported the engines with the agreement that they would only be used for civilian purposes, the Chinese firm reverse engineered the technology and used it to produce their own versions.

In South Africa, UK-headquartered BAE Systems holds a 75 percent share in a company which manufactures armored vehicles and has exported them to Guinea, Indonesia, the Ivory Coast, Nepal, Rwanda, Serbia and Uganda. Had a company attempted to source such transfers directly from the UK, it is unlikely that all of them would have been approved.

Manufacturers in Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK have all supplied advanced components to the US which were then incorporated into weapons systems and platforms such as F-16 fighter jets and Apache attack helicopters before being exported to Israel.

Although these complex webs of ownership and association, production and incorporation of components present difficult challenges for the EU's arms transfer control regime, it is critical that the EU shifts gears to reflect this strategic reality. If the Code is to fulfill its aim of preventing 'the export of equipment which might be used for internal repression or international aggression then sophisticated and robust mechanisms must be built into the Code to help it meet these contemporary challenges.

A birthday wish
At its inception, the Code represented a fundamental shift in the way the EU managed its arms exports and was frequently the benchmark against which other regional agreements were measured.

However, times change and the Code needs to change with them. A politically binding agreement is no longer enough. Neither is one that fails to take into account the realities of globalization.

The EU's transfer control system exists to prevent the irresponsible and unregulated export of arms which fuel conflict, contribute to violations of human rights and undermine sustainable development. The occasion of the Code's 10th birthday provides a perfect opportunity for EU members to look afresh at how the Union can best ensure the Code fulfills, and continues to fulfill, this purpose. They must grasp this opportunity with both hands.

Roy Isbister is Head of Arms Transfer Controls for Saferworld, an independent, international NGO which works to prevent violent conflict and promote cooperative approaches to security. Saferworld has released a paper analyzing the EU Code of Conduct which can be found here

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not the International Relations and Security Network (ISN).

June 05, 2008

US security: blunt response


The European Commission this week is reviewing a proposal by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that would require all EU visitors to the United States to register their details on a US government database at least 72 hours prior to departure. The proposal, which would not come into effect until January 2009, would impact millions of business and leisure travellers each year. While the scheme is well intentioned and designed to address a real security risk, it suggests that DHS still has not managed adequately to apply risk management principles to counter-terror policy.

DHS's latest proposal is designed to address concerns within the US intelligence community that international terror groups may use the US 'visa waiver' programme -- which applies to the citizens of many EU members -- to smuggle extremist operatives into the United States. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has characterised the plan as a high-tech solution to this threat, which would preserve the waiver scheme, while ensuring that US entrants are adequately scrutinised.

However, there are a number of serious objections to the plan:
Business irritant. Although registration under the scheme would cover multiple US trips by individuals over a 24-month period, it will still inhibit last-minute business travel.

Tit-for-tat. If the Commission determines that the screening process qualifies as a 'visa', it could impose a similar requirement on US visitors to the EU.

Unfriendly. It will contribute to the widely held sense, internationally, that Washington is less welcoming to overseas visitors.

Ethnic profiling? If various passengers with common Arab or Muslim names find themselves excluded from admission to the United States, there is certain to be a negative media storm, further undermining Washington's image overseas.

However, the main problem with the proposal is that it adopts a heavy-handed solution to a problem that defies easy resolution. It is unlikely that the proposed screening system -- or even the reinstitution of a visa requirement -- would be able to prevent terrorists from entering the country. If instituted, the scheme would merely force al-Qaida or associated groups to recruit prospective terrorists with 'clean records' -- a fairly easy countermeasure. In return for this negligible security gain, it would generate very significant additional economic and political costs. This violates the most basic risk management principles.

Bureaucratic overkill
DHS has been a serial offender, in this respect. Recent failures to adequately cost security measures include:

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) has progressively tightened security measures along the US-Canadian border -- including the imposition of a passport requirement. The delays this has caused to bilateral traffic are estimated to cost the Canadian trucking industry alone approximately 290 million Canadian dollars ($286 million) each year. The costs in other commercial delays, compliance fees, lost just-in-time delivery traffic, and reduced leisure travel easily run into the billions of dollars.

The Department's $1.699 billion Homeland Security Grant Program for the 2008 fiscal year requires states to use at least 25% of the award to address the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Again, IEDs are a real potential terror risk in certain major cities. However, forcing small, Midwestern cities to spend funds on these measures is likely a waste of taxpayer funds.

Unwieldy mandates and poorly costed grants are a problem endemic to the federal bureaucracy, and not confined to DHS. However, DHS must take care, lest its counter-terror measures cause nearly as much economic and political damage as they are intended to prevent.