June 20, 2008

Pakistan's Democracy Derailed : A conversation with Ahmad Faruqui

USF Center for the Pacific Rim
San Francisco, CA
Mar 5th, 2008

Pakistan's Democracy Derailed a conversation with Ahmad Faruqui.

Will Pakistan implode, taking with it nuclear armed missiles? This time there is no search for weapons of mass destruction Iraq style. In this case they have been tested, then hidden. Pakistan's leader at the time of the 1947 partition with India hoped for a secular democracy.

Instead we find a military dictatorship with an out-of-control intelligence service that U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson used to arm Afghan 'freedom fighters' that included the Taliban. Along with its ally al-Qaeda, the Taliban has regrouped in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier. With the recent assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the chance of President Musharraf staying in power, even out of Army uniform, is not good.

Does democracy stand a chance? If not, what does this mean for U.S. policy toward this critical ally in South Asia? - USF Center for the Pacific Rim

Prosperity and Inequality: Debates in India and China Keynote Address by Kemal Dervis

The New School
New York, NY
Mar 27th, 2008

Prosperity and Inequality: Debates in India and China Keynote Address by Kemal Dervis
India and China are emerging as major players in the global political economy of this century, having enjoyed record growth rates for the past five years. Yet each faces major social and economic challenges. Both countries are dealing with growing social unrest, widespread poverty, and rising energy needs in a world market shaped by dwindling oil supplies.

China's growth is creating massive disparities between its urban and rural sectors, resulting in protests against state authority and restless migrant populations. Citizens face a steady degradation of public health due to runaway industrial growth, while capitalists chafe against the state's tight control of the market. In India, the epidemic of suicides among farmers and episodes of violence against minorities have cast doubts on the benefits of wholesale economic liberalization, unfettered foreign investment, and growth, which are also being challenged by the rise of judicial activism and of an active, vocal civil society.

The India China Institute at The New School, now in its third year of sponsoring fellowships, public debates, and research collaborations between experts in India, China, and the United States, is hosting "Prosperity and Inequality: Debates in India and China," a major conference exploring these issues. Participants in the conference, including our own fellows from all three countries as well as experts on urbanization, globalization, and growth in India and China, will discuss Chinese and Indian urbanization and wealth formation, the social and political risks associated with skyrocketing growth in two massive agrarian societies, alternative designs for development in each society, and the quest in both societies for a "third way" of development that combines the virtues of socialism and capitalism without sacrificing democracy and grassroots inclusion - The New School

INDIA: Cash rewards enhanced on 474 wanted Maoists

Mohammed Siddique 20/6/2008 2:33:59 PM(IST)

Hyderabad: To step up the pressure on the banned Naxalite outfit the Communist Party of India-Maoist, the Andhra Pradesh government has announced cash reward worth lakhs of rupees for information on 474 Maoist cadres. The wanted activists include underground extremists, senior members of the central committee and squad members.

The list, issued by the government recently, includes 87 new names.

The government has announced a reward of Rs 12 lakh for party general secretary Muppal Lakshman alias Ganpathy and 12 other members of the central committee. Members of the provincial committee and special zone committee carry a reward of Rs 10 lakh each.

A reward of Rs 8 lakh has been declared for alternate committee members and Rs 6 lakh for the regional committee members. The district and division committee members will carry a reward of Rs 5 lakh, and information about area committee, action committee members and commanders will fetch a reward of Rs two lakh.

The reward will be paid to the informants if the information provided by them helps in nabbing the wanted extremist. But in case the extremists themselves surrender, the cash reward will be given to them, in accordance with the policy of rehabilitation for surrendered Naxalites, the order said.

The new list has been approved and released by the government following a letter by the state''s director general of police, seeking revision of the list and a hike in the rewards for certain Naxalites, in tune with their current rank in the organisation.

Of the 1,133 extremists in last year's list, 71 were arrested, 83 killed in encounters and 284 surrendered.

While 68 others were inactive, 44 names were repeated in the absence of particulars about their full identity.

The reward scheme and offer to give the money to the surrendered Naxalite has proved highly successful in the anti-Maoist drive. While it helped the police and intelligence agencies in receiving information from the informants, it also encouraged a lot of Naxalites to surrender, a police officer said.

The new list has been announced at a time when the CPI-Maoist has been almost wiped out in most parts of Andhra Pradesh. Its presence is now restricted to the forest areas bordering Chattisgarh and Orissa.

This article published in rediff.com

Cash rewards enhanced on 474 Maoists

The Hindu
Special Correspondent

387 of them figured in the earlier list announced last year

--Rs. 12 lakh cash reward on Central committee members

--Rs. 10 lakh on State committee members

HYDERABAD: The State government has announced enhanced cash rewards on the heads of 474 underground Maoists based on their elevated ranks.

An order issued by the government on Thursday said 387 of the 474 extremists figured in the earlier rewards list announced by it last year. The remaining 87 were cadre identified later.

The government had last year announced rewards on the heads of 1,133 extremists. Of them, 71 were arrested, 83 killed in encounters with police, 284 surrendered, 68 identified as inactive and names of 44 others got repeated in the absence of their full identity particulars at the time of proposals being sent for inclusion in the list. The remaining 196 were unidentified. All these 746 names were deleted from the list which left 387 cadre untraced.

The rewards were announced at the rate of Rs. 12 lakh on Central committee members, Rs. 10 lakh on State committee members, Rs. 6 lakh on regional committee members, Rs. 5 lakh on district secretaries and military commanders, Rs. 3 lakh on district committee members, Rs. 2 lakh on area committee members and dalam commanders, Rs. 1 lakh on deputy commanders, Rs. 50,000 on platoon members and Rs. 20,000 on dalam members.

June 19, 2008

Cybercrime gets political

Intel Brief: Cybercrime gets political

The so far very successful use of Russian and Eastern European based botnets for political purposes is likely to increase.

Intel Brief by Travis Senor for ISN Security Watch (19/06/08)

It is likely that the use of Russian and Eastern European "botnets" (large quantities of malware-infected computers) for political purposes will increase, due to their low cost, the difficulty in tracing their owners and their ability to give a voice to those with limited resources.

These political purposes include influencing candidate poll numbers, attacking opposition websites and shutting down national infrastructure networks.

Currently, cybercriminals conduct these attacks using denial of service (DoS) methods, which overload a computer network with inbound signals and cause it to shut down. Arbor Networks, a global network security company, found that many of the world's DoS attacks originate in Russia and Eastern Europe, based on their network tracking data.

In April and May 2007, an extensive denial of service attack brought the nation of Estonia, one of the most wired countries in the world, to a virtual standstill. Banks, news websites, utility networks and even networks in the Prime Minister's Office ceased to function.

The attack likely originated from within Russia as its root internet protocol (IP) addresses led back to Moscow and was in response to Estonia relocating a memorial dedicated to fallen Soviet soldiers. It is widely believed that the Russian government was complicit in the attack, "renting" the services of botnets to carry it out. This attack lasted for approximately one month, and demonstrated the potential of a political DoS assault.

Since the attack on Estonia, other politically motivated cyberattacks have appeared in Eastern Europe.

Jose Nazario, a researcher for Arbor networks, traced political DoS attacks over the last quarter of 2007 back to Russian sources.

In September 2007, the website of the Ukrainian Party of Regions, the part of then-Ukrainian prime minister Viktor Yanukovych, was the target of a denial of service attack during his re-election campaign. That December, botnets attacked the website of former chess grandmaster and anti-establishment Russian politician Gary Kasparov.

While these attacks currently focus on Eastern Europe, some have already taken place in the US, and it is likely that they will spread.

In October 2007, a Ukrainian botnet carried out a large spam campaign in support of then-presidential candidate Ron Paul. This bot artificially inflated Paul's online support, by spamming online poll results and message boards with votes and comments in his favor. His seemingly massive internet support translated into widespread mainstream media coverage. While having a limited scope, this was the first botnet that explicitly attempted to influence a US presidential election.

According to Josh Corman, security strategist for IBM's Internet Security Systems, these botnets are capable of "taking down candidate sites, sending a whole bunch of free advertising or free smear campaigns, and potentially having an impact on who becomes a presidential candidate or who was successful on fundraising."

While these politically motivated attacks are still in their infancy in the US, current botnet technologies exists that are capable of causing serious damage to US cyberinfrastructure. US internet security researchers warn that bigger politically motivated DoS bots are likely on the way.

In May 2008, the General Accounting Office released a report stating that the Tennessee Valley Authority, the US' largest power company, was especially vulnerable to a cyberattack. A DoS attack on this network would leave approximately 8.7 million people without power.

These botnets are an attractive weapon for political activists, and even national governments, as they are relatively cheap to operate. Potential users can rent Russian botnets, such as the DoS bot "Black Energy," for as little as US$40.

Bot attacks also do not require very high technology to carry out. A computer that is several years old is capable of taking down a state-of-the-art machine or network.

Additionally, DoS botnets do not have to be very large to be effective. A botnet of just a few dozen infected machines can launch a successful denial-of-service attack. These costs are far smaller than acquiring tanks, bombs or other conventional weapons to achieve a political effect.

Denial-of-service botnet attacks also leave very few "digital fingerprints" making it difficult to trace an attack back to its source. IP addresses are forgeable, making it look like an attack originated elsewhere.

Lax law enforcement in the region also makes it easy for hackers to develop and spread the malware, software that links the computers in the botnet with each other, without detection.

According to Gadi Evron, an internet security specialist for Virginia-based Beyond Security, "On the [i]nternet, things move very fast and in many cases in ways that current laws and treaties don't cover. The current system as it is right now is close to useless for this purpose whether in the ex-Soviet states or not."

Political denial of service attacks also generate a high amount of visibility.

The attacks on Estonia were major international news for their duration and several weeks afterward. DoS attacks in the Ukraine, on Kasparov and to a lesser extent the Ron Paul bot also generated media coverage. This effect allows individuals or groups lacking a large amount of resources to make a highly visible political statement, one that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

Mercyhurst-ISN intelligence briefs offer foresight into issues that are likely to dominate news headlines and policy agendas. The briefs are a joint initiative of the ISN and Mercyhurst Institute for Intelligence Studies and are composed and referenced using open sources.

Gas shortages in the Gulf


Wednesday June 18

Gas demand in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is outstripping supply, and threatens to put a brake on industrial development. With regional disputes hampering the construction of pipelines some GCC states are turning to liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports as an alternative.

The GCC states have significant reserves of natural gas, accounting for 23.6% of the world's total proven reserves. Yet, with the exception of Qatar, where natural gas development has raced ahead as an export industry, the other GCC countries have largely prioritised oil development over gas.

This is now changing, owing to growing domestic demand for gas as feedstock, driven by investment in the refining, petrochemical, fertiliser, metals and other industry sectors, underpinned by oil revenues. Industrial investments and broader economic growth have also increased power demand, as has the need for new desalination plants to increase potable water supply.

Unless import facilities are developed, domestic industrial expansion remains dependent on the ability to expand domestic gas and power supply. Yet despite the abundance of natural gas in the region, this is not proving easy, as disputes over borders and pricing have frustrated cooperation.

The shortage of gas in the UAE is most acute in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where fast economic growth has seen power demand accelerate. Both cities have attempted to import gas from Iran, but territorial disputes have blocked progress.
Oman has a large surplus of produced gas, but owing to its export commitments, it requires additional gas to sustain its industrial development.
Despite its substantial gas reserves, Kuwait expects to become a net importer soon. Having long neglected gas in favour of oil, the country has developed its first gas from non-associated gas fields in the north of the country.
In the long term, Qatar's role as a regional gas supplier is set to increase. However, the inability to conclude and implement regional pipeline agreements is likely to limit gas as a feedstock and source of power for local industrial development, necessitating further LNG imports as a stopgap and potentially increasing interest in nuclear energy.

Gazprom after Medvedev


Gazprom holds its annual general shareholders' meeting this week, its first since former Chairman Dmitry Medvedev was elevated to the Russian presidency. The unremarkable Viktor Zubkov -- an ex-tax inspector and former prime minister -- has succeeded Medvedev at the helm of Gazprom and can be expected to emphasise continuity over change for the energy conglomerate.

Shareholders should be pleased with the distribution of dividends following Friday's meeting, as it has been a banner year for Gazprom:

It has agreed to develop the Shtokman field, extending Russia's presence into the potentially lucrative Arctic region;

Improved its long-term prospects by starting to develop the second phase of the Sakhalin project; and

Moved ahead with South Stream, a strategically important pipeline that would transport Russian gas to Europe.

Yet Gazprom must also contend with how it will continue expanding operations, especially towards a wary West. Last week, Chief Executive Aleksei Miller predicted a catastrophic 'deindustrialisation' of Europe should the EU disallow the Russian energy behemoth from entering the European market on favourable terms.

Such threats are unlikely to endear Gazprom to European decision-makers, and suggest that the firm's strategy would benefit from further refinement. However, this week's meeting may not aim to resolve these critical issues. Gazprom has gone to great lengths to make its shareholders' meeting publicly accessible, even providing streaming video of the event via its website. The meeting will therefore be a show of strength and solidarity -- signifying little, but providing Moscow with a means of trumpeting the success of Russia's flagship state organisation.

INDIA : Pranab’s China visit a fiasco

By Ravi Shanker Kapoor

What does Mukherjee do? According to a news report in The Indian Express, “For his part, Mukherjee chose not to counter it.” This is typical of a UPA minister: the territorial integrity of his country is questioned, but he does not react; during his visit, he is not properly treated and attempts are made to slight him, but he does not retaliate. Lest the commies back at home take offence.

There is nothing certain in the world except two things—China’s nefarious designs against India and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s obtuseness in combating, even recognising the existence of, such designs.

For the nth time, China accused India of not addressing the “boundary issue, particularly the Sikkim area,” which, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi claimed, his country had been administering the area under contention since the 1890s. He made all sorts of claims and statements in his meeting with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to China. In a case of ulta chor kotwal ko daante (the thief rebuking the police chief), Yang is said to have told Mukherjee that the Indian government was not getting accurate reports. According to him, there was a “difference” in the reports being sent by Indian “border patrol” and what was finally reaching the government.

And what does Mukherjee do? According to a news report in The Indian Express, “For his part, Mukherjee chose not to counter it.” This is typical of a UPA minister: the territorial integrity of his country is questioned, but he does not react; during his visit, he is not properly treated and attempts are made to slight him, but he does not retaliate. Lest the commies back at home take offence.

It is now a well-established fact to all but the gullible that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is Beijing’s most effective public relations manager in our country. As former diplomat G. Parthasarthy wrote in The Times Of India (June 9), “In its 2004 election manifesto, the CPM has advocated talks between India and Pakistan for a ‘denuclearised environment’ in South Asia. This CPM formulation would result in India acceding to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by the back door and in China to becoming the only nuclear weapons power in Asia. Interestingly, this formulation coincides with what China has constantly advocated since 1998… The communists alone continue to waffle on Chinese border claims and maintain that it was India and not China that was guilty of aggression in the 1962 conflict!”

This is not the fulmination of a retired diplomat; all over the world, experts are veering towards the view that Beijing is ardently working to undermine India’s interests. As Lisa Curtis of the US-based Heritage Foundation wrote recently, “China’s policies toward South Asia revolve around its desire to manage India’s emergence in a way that protects its positions on the Tibet and Taiwan issues and ensures its continued access to critical energy assets.” Beijing’s shenanigans against India are quite obvious. Further, the shenanigans are part of a pattern.

Michael A. Ledeen, Freedom Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, speculated in 2002 that “China may be something we have never seen before: a mature fascist state.” This is the most appropriate description of the Asian giant.

Three months ago, he wrote, “Recent events there, especially the mass rage in response to Western criticism, seem to confirm that theory. More significantly, over the intervening six years China’s leaders have consolidated their hold on the organs of control—political, economic and cultural. Instead of gradually embracing pluralism as many expected, China’s corporatist elite has become even more entrenched.”

China as a mature fascist state is indeed something unprecedented. It is different from fascist Italy and Nazi Germany as its hegemonistic ambitions are not driven by frenzied emotions and fervent rhetoric; nor is Chinese imperialism dependent on the megalomanias of any Mussolini and Hitler. Dictators have changed: communist Mao was replaced by Deng, and now we have Hu. Ideologies have changed from extreme agrarian Marxism to ‘pragmatic’ cohabitation with capitalism. But the goals have remained unchanged: to grow as a major global power.

One of the natural corollaries of Chinese imperialism is: keep India down militarily, politically, and economically. Notice the pattern: it has helped Islamabad build nuclear weapons; it supplies arms to Pakistan. For instance, in 1992, China supplied Pakistan with 34 short-range ballistic M-11 missiles.

Significantly, Pakistan is not the only South Asian nation that Beijing uses against us; it wants to encircle us, in every sense of the term; it wants to keep India entangled in its own neighbourhood. According to Lisa Curtis, “China uses military and other kinds of assistance to court these [i.e., South Asian] nations, especially when India and other Western states try to leverage their assistance programs to encourage respect for human rights and democracy.”

As emerging economies, the energy needs of both India and China are increasing. Both countries are also competing in the international market to get hold of hydrocarbon reserves. “Energy competition between India and China is also reflected in their assertions of naval power. As India reaches into the Malacca Straits, Beijing is creating a ‘string of pearls’ surrounding India by developing strategic port facilities in Sittwe, Burma; Chittagong, Bangladesh; and Gwadar, Pakistan to protect sea lanes and ensure uninterrupted energy supplies,” wrote Curtis.

While China is busy in all sorts of odious activities, the UPA regime is trying to make it sure that the traitorous CPM’s sensibilities are not hurt. So Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on June 10, “There is enough space for the two countries to mutually cooperate and develop, while remaining sensitive to each other’s concerns.”

Such are the inglorious certainties of life during UPA rule.

(The author works with The Political and Business Daily)

BALOCHISTAN : Airport and Cantt projects force Gwadar locals out

Daily Times , Pakistan

* ‘Land worth Rs 2m/acre being sold for half the price’

KARACHI: The local Baloch of Gwadar are being forced to evacuate their homes by a land clearing group allegedly backed by the government that wants to take over their land, said office bearers of the Baloch Promotive Action Committee Gwadar while addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday.
The committee’s presidents, Madiha Baloch and Elahi Buksh, said that the people of Gwadar have been residing on the land in question for centuries but now were being asked to leave without a substantial alternative. “The recent action taken by a group for the possession of their land is totally unjustifiable. Where will they go, leaving their ancestral lands? The government should provide them with alternative land or compensate them with an amount of money that is worth their land,” said Baloch.

The land in dispute is Grandani, South and Western Darbela, Ziarat Machhi of union council Sarbandar. “We were told that the land is intruding the boundaries of the new airport and cantonment area; the locals have to move somewhere else,” she said, adding that those who tried resisting the actions of the group trying to clear the land have been charged, and cases are being registered against them for refusing to accept the small amount of compensation being offered.

Baloch stressed that the committee is not against the construction of an airport or a cantonment area, but its priority is to provide the residents of the area with alternative land or proper compensation. The office bearers also claimed that the revenue department officials have been involved in such malpractices as changing the name and ownership documents with fake ID card numbers and selling the land, pocketing the money in the process. They demanded that the “supposedly people-friendly government take action against the injustice being faced by the people of Gwadar”.

The office bearers of the committee also alleged that the Revenue department has changed the records and land survey reports and no official records such as maps, names and survey numbers are available. They also claimed that big political figures such as a former chief minister of Balochistan, the heads of two major political parties based in the Punjab, possess a major portion of the land in Union Council Sarbandar.

“The ancestral land has already been sold after the records were changed,” claimed Baloch. “Some of the old settlers returned to their lands to find they did not exist.” The price of the land is two million rupees per acre but the government declared its rate one million rupees. “The Revenue department sold the same land to a builder and the land mafia from Karachi for 50,000 to 150,000 rupees depending on the location,” he added. staff report

DG NAB gets notice on interference in Gwadar
The News , Pakistan

Thursday, June 19, 2008
QUETTA: A division bench of the Balochistan High Court here on Wednesday issued notices to the Director General, National Accountability Bureau, Balochistan, and DG Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) for October 28 on a petition on alleged interference of the NAB authorities in private land affairs in Gwadar.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice Amanullah Khan and Justice Akhtar Zaman Malghani, issued the notices after preliminary hearing of a constitutional petition filed by the chief executive officer, Gwadar Builders (Pvt) Company Limited, submitting that the company had purchased about 229 acres of land and that the DG GDA had issued an NOC and approved layout plans for launching housing and commercial schemes in name of Globbiz Avenue Phase-I, II, III & IV in the Gwadar port city.

He stated that the DG NAB, Balochistan, issued a notice in sections of the local press wherein he declared the Globbiz Avenue schemes from Phase-I to IV as fictitious and bogus and the company as fake on June 10, 2008.

The petitioner further stated that he had contacted the NAB authorities and told them they had no right to publish such notices as the company was not fake. Also, he was the legal owner of the properties as the competent authority had already issued an NOC to the company in Gwadar.

He prayed to the court to declare the act of the DG NAB i.e. interference in the company's affairs, beyond the scope of the NAB Ordinance-1999 and restrain the DG NAB, Balochistan, from interfering in the company's matters, including the Globbiz Avenue from Phase-I to IV. The next hearing of the case will be held on October 28 next.

Focus on Balochistan

The Post , Pakistan
June 19 , 2008

Mohammad Jamil

For some time, Pakistan government has been laying emphasis on the development of Balochistan and has taken practical steps in this direction. Centrifugal forces and nationalists that have not weaned from the poison of sham nationalism aspire for independence, and focus of Pakistan’s enemies’ is on destabilising the country, as after the completion of Gwadar deep-sea port Balochistan will become the trading hub and energy corridor, which will further enhance Pakistan’s strategic importance. On website American Chronicle, Dr Shamsaddin, in a brief write-up on June 13 under the caption ‘Liberate Balochistan’, has tried to stir debate on Balochistan. He is a historian and political scientist and author of 12 books and thousands of articles, as per his profile displayed on the internet. He wrote: “Baloch of the Diaspora organised a manifestation in Canada (Toronto Manifestation) in order to attract attention of the world towards abhorrent human rights’ violations that are daily taking place in various parts of the divided Balochistan, especially in Pakistan and Iran.”

This is a prelude, and then he has produced a text of the press release or what he said a comprehensive feature, summarising the plight of multi-divided and tyrannised Balochistan issued by Aziz Baloch captioned as ‘Vancouver Rally Report’. Aziz Baloch referred to the repression and oppression on the people of Balochistan starting from the 1973 military operation, claiming that 5,000 Baloch were killed. He accused the Pakistan army of killing Nawab Akbar Bugti and Balach Marri. He then condemned detonation of nuclear devices on May 28, 1998, claiming that it destroyed the region and the region is faced with the worst draught. He went on to narrate that there have been five military operations under General Pervez Musharraf’s watch causing death and destruction in Balochistan.

After Akbar Bugti was killed, Baloch leader Sardar Khair Buksh Marri in an interview had described his killing as a target killing. He had expressed concern and fear for the life of his son Balach Marri, because the government had the ‘mistaken notion’ that Marri was the epicentre of all anti-state and terrorist activities. Balach Marri was an ‘icon of resistance’. He called it an untimely ‘mode of resistance’ and criticised Akbar Bugti for not having adopted it in the early days. There is a perception that Marris have taken their revenge, because when Bhutto launched anti-insurgency operations in the 1970s, Akbar Bugti was the Chief Minister of Balochistan. He had waged a bloody war against Marris and Mengals, who had declared Bugti as a traitor to the cause of Baloch independence. According to press reports, Akbar Bugti was killed when he had left his area and was ensconced in Marri area, as Marris had undertaken to protect him. As regards Balach Marri, he was killed in Afghanistan in mysterious circumstances; even anti-Pakistan forces could have done it to stir crisis in Balochistan. Hence, Pakistan government or army cannot be blamed for his death.

The people of Balochistan had waged struggle ever since the British left in 1947. There could have been justification for their protest and struggle when they were under strong centre and unitary form of government in the 1950s, but when One-Unit was done away with and complete provincial status was restored in 1969, the struggle should have ended. However, the long dormant crisis of Balochistan erupted into a brutal confrontation with the centre in 1973, when late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto tried to establish educational institutions and construction of roads in Balochistan. Late Bhutto was of the view that Baloch sardars were the main obstacle to the progress of the province. The insurgency, however, lasted for four years from 1973 to 1977.

Musharraf government and then subsequent governments that came into being after 2002 elections seemed to have realised the fact that the only way to eliminate the sense of alienation among the smaller provinces and to guarantee the unity and stability of the country was to ensure equitable development. This is, indeed, the only way that people of the four federating units with their languages, customs and traditions could find true participation and expression through unity in diversity. Not that other provinces were much developed at the time of partition of the subcontinent, the fact remains that Balochistan was completely neglected during the British Raj. After the creation of Pakistan, it continued to suffer due to the lopsided policies of successive governments.

It was unfortunate that the central government and Baloch sardars were on collision course. The logical conclusion of course was death and destruction on both sides. For the last four years, miscreants had been active and many a time damaged gas pipeline in Bugti area causing huge losses on replacements and repairs. Once rockets were fired during President Musharraf’s rally in Kohlu, which was, indeed, a provocative act. More than three years ago, a bi-partisan parliamentary committee was formed to resolve the issue, but members of the opposition did not participate in the proceedings on one pretext or other. The opposition, instead of participating in the dialogue to make a positive contribution wished to draw political mileage from the conflict. President Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Secretary General Mushahid Hussain had quite a few rounds of negotiations with Akbar Bugti but to no avail.

The fact, however, remains that sardars are as much stubborn and arrogant as any government can be. One could see them on TV channels taking pride in challenging the writ of the state. During the last few years, terrorists’ activities have increased causing loss of life and property. The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) had accepted the responsibility for landmine blasts, killing of the Chinese engineers and bomb explosions at various places in Balochistan. It is also true that various governments in the past balked at the implementation of provisions of provincial autonomy enshrined in the Constitution, thus strengthening the centrifugal forces, and providing them opportunity for fanning provincial disharmony. Similarly, matters of the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, Concurrent List and Council of Common Interests (CCI) were not addressed for years. This is the time that the government and the nationalists should have a dialogue for the welfare of the people of Balochistan, as confrontation and violence can only exacerbate death and destruction.

The writer is a freelance columnist

June 18, 2008

India’s role in Sukhoi project questioned

Source: LiveMint.comK. Raghu

Bangalore: India is yet to begin work on a futuristic technology demonstrator plane, a single-seat, fifth-generation fighter it is jointly developing with Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau, that will take to the skies for the first time in 2009.

Some analysts are questioning the contribution of Indian aerospace research and development (R&D) engineers to the programme, given that the aircraft’s design specifications have already been decided and the first flight is set for next year.

Futuristic technology:The Sukhoi 30, part of the Indian Air Force fighter jet fleet, on display at the Aero India 2007 air show in Bangalore. India and Russia are working jointly on its advanced variant. (Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Bloomberg)In October, India and Russia signed an agreement for the joint development and production of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft, or FGFA, making a commitment to sharing resources and work equally. A team of officials from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, or HAL, the country’s military plane maker, was in Moscow in late May for discussions on the estimated $4 billion, or Rs17,160 crore, project.
“We are (still) talking about the price and investment costs,” said one person familiar with the development who did not want to be named because of the sensitive nature of the project. “(Also) the more we delay, the less work we will get. That is a fact.”

The fighter plane will havea so-called swept-forward wing—which increases an aircraft’s agility and gives it the stealth feature to reduce risk of detection by radar. The (technology demonstrator) aircraft being built by Sukhoi will use the engines, systems and avionics of the previous generation Su-30 plane.

“If something is going to come in one year, where could we have participation?” asked former air chief marshal S. Krishnaswamy. “That actually has a negative impact on our own R&D people and laboratories.”

Another former Indian Air Force (IAF) official, air marshal B.K. Pandey, said, “If the prototype is already decided, there is nothing original that Indian aerospace industry can contribute to the programme.”

A person familiar with the programme’s development said India would bring in its expertise in carbon-composite technology used in HAL’s Dhruv advanced light helicopter and Tejas light combat aircraft, both of which are homegrown programmes. Russian, Indian firms will make an equal number of planes during the development phase

Once the technology demonstrator flies next year, Russia will work on developing more than six two-seater prototypes of the stealth fighter. Indian engineers will contribute to the design of the front fuselage, build composites for better stealth features and work on avionics.

“Once the front fuselage undergoes a change (to accommodate two pilots instead of one as in the technology demonstrator), the aircraft lift conditions will change, wings will change. This is where our learning will become useful,” said the person familiar with the development.

The new aircraft would be nearly a third lighter than the Su-30 and be able to fly longer than conventional fighters, besides possessing the stealth features. The aircraft is expected to be ready for induction in the Indian and Russian air forces by 2018.

HAL has in the past produced, under licence, Russian aircraft such as the MiG 21, which forms the bulk of the IAF’s strike fighter fleet. IAF also has in its inventory the Su-30 MkI, the India variant of the fourth-generation Russian fighter with avionics built by an India-led team which HAL will make under licence in the country.

The new Indo-Russian fighter is being designed to carry weapons in its fuselage, making it similar to the Joint Strike Fighter of the US.

While the components and systems would be built equally at the Komsomolsk-na-Amure Aircraft Production Association in Russia and HAL facilities in India, the engines would be made at a factory of NPO Saturn, the Russian engine maker. Both plane makers would build an equal number of aircraft during the development phase.

“Why did Russia want India to join (the programme)? Because they want money, they want (the) market,” said Pandey, a former head of IAF’s training command in Bangalore. “If we can get transfer of technology, HAL (will be) assembling the aircraft, then IAF has to buy the planes. So, they have an assured market”.

A majority of the planes in the IAF’s fleet are of Russian origin, with the rest from the UK and France. Although indigenous military plane programmes have been undertaken by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, or DRDO, and HAL, the Armed Forces remain dependent on imports.

India has floated a global tender to buy 126 multi-role combat aircraft that could cost a minimum of Rs42,000 crore, evoking the interest of aerospace companies such as Lockeed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. of the US. It also plans to buy nearly 250 light- and medium-weight helicopters.

The Tejas fighter, conceived as a replacement for the ageing Russian-built MiG 21, is at least two years behind certification as it needs to achieve the so-called air staff requirements, or ASR, the standards set by IAF before induction. The military plane unit of Boeing has been asked to assist the Aeronautical Development Agency in certification of the LCA by 2010.

DRDO is now scouting for a foreign partner to build an engine for the Tejas fighter, after its unit Gas Turbine and Research Establishment failed to deliver the Kaveri engine even after nearly two decades of development.

India goes to war in space

By Sudha Ramachandran

The Chinese space programme is expanding at an exponentially rapid pace in both offensive and defensive content. There is an imperative requirement to develop joint structures in the Indian armed forces for synergising employment of space assets," Gen Kapoor .

Source: ASIA TIMES ONLINE , June 18th 2008

BANGALORE - India's defense forces will be keeping an eye on yet another frontier - outer space. An Integrated Space Cell, which will be jointly operated by the country's three armed forces, the civilian Department of Space and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been set up to utilize more effectively the country's space-based assets for military purposes and to look into threats to these assets.

Announcing the setting up of the Integrated Space Cell, India's Defense Minister Arackaparambil Kurian Antony said last week that it was being established because of "the growing threat" to India's space assets. "Offensive counter-space systems like anti-satellite weaponry, new classes of heavy-lift and small boosters and an improved array of military space systems have emerged in

our neighborhood," the defense minister pointed out, stressing that these need to be countered.

Although its existence was announced only recently, the Integrated Space Cell has apparently been operational for several months. It functions under the Integrated Defense Services headquarters of India's Ministry of Defense.

Unlike an aerospace command, which is service-specific, that is, where the air force controls most of its activities, the Integrated Space Cell envisages cooperation and coordination between the three services as well as civilian agencies dealing with space.

India's army, air force and navy will work together in the Integrated Space Cell, coordinating with each other in utilizing space-based assets. "What the Ministry of Defense is aiming at is 'jointness of operations'," Lawrence Prabhakar, associate professor of political science at the Madras Christian College in Chennai told Asia Times Online.

The defense minister's announcement comes about 16 months after India's then chief of air staff, Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi, told the media that India was "in the process of setting up an aerospace command to exploit outer space by integrating its capabilities". Training of "a core group of people for the aerospace command" had started, he said.

That announcement came less than a month after China used a medium-range ballistic missile to shoot down one of its own aging satellites, a Chinese Feng Yun 1C polar orbit weather satellite that it had launched into orbit in 1999. With that, China displayed to the world that it had the technology to knock out a satellite in space, expertise that only two other countries - Russia and the United States - have.

While the idea of an aerospace command was mooted by the Indian Air Force in the late 1990s, it does seem that the growing display of Chinese military might in space prompted India to act towards taking the first steps to dealing with the looming threat. Antony's reference to the threat posed by "military space systems in the neighborhood" to India's space assets indicates that the China factor was an important consideration in Delhi setting up the Integrated Space Cell.

While the China factor might have hastened the decision, there are broader reasons behind its setting up. "With the army, the air force and the navy relying on space-based communication satellites for reconnaissance, surveillance or operations and the Indian armed forces adopting a joint doctrine that enhances greater lateral integration between the three services, an Integrated Space Cell has become a necessity," Prabhakar said. Besides, "Such a cell is an organizational initiative, essential to the operational requirements of space-based assets for dual civilian-military operations and applications."

India's assets in space are considerable. Its space program has extended beyond launching satellites to plans to send unmanned and manned missions to space and then to the moon. Its space scientists are even eyeing Mars. Its achievements in launching satellites are formidable. In March this year, ISRO set a world record when it placed 10 satellites in orbit in a single mission.

India's expertise in building and launching satellites, and that too at a fraction of the price offered by other countries - India's satellites are 40% cheaper than its European and US competitors - has propelled it into a major commercial player. Its satellites bring in big money. Antrix, ISRO's commercial arm, earned more than US$153 million for the year ended March and it expects to corner 10% of the world market in the next few years.

Besides the foreign exchange, Indian satellites have contributed considerably to India's development objectives, including mass education, weather forecasting, disaster management and communications.

The satellites are a vital link in its defense as well. "The country's defense operations involve space-based sensors that would enhance force-multiplier effects of defense systems and are pivotal to guidance of India's ballistic missiles," Prabhakar said.

Its communication network would be broken, its security severely jeopardized and its capacity to defend itself against aggression damaged immeasurably if its satellites were to be knocked out. "India needs to protect or shield these satellites against killer satellites which Russia, China and the US possess."

And it is not just the hostile intentions of other countries that pose a threat to India's space assets and therefore its security. Debris in space is as lethal as an attack.

It is to look into the kind of threats and challenges that India's space assets face that the government has set up the Integrated Space Cell. "A long-term goal of the cell would be to robustly integrate space and ground operations for civilian and military objectives," said Prabhakar.

India's expression of its intentions to set up an aerospace command and its announcement of the Integrated Space Cell has raised concern in some quarters that India is entering the arms race in space.

Such fears might be premature, given that the Integrated Space Cell is at a very rudimentary stage. "India is just putting in place a very minimal budget initiative that will take several years to develop," argued Prabhakar.

"Besides satellites in space, India's space architecture of offensive and defensive systems are yet to be conceived, built and deployed," said Prabhakar, pointing to the different kinds of satellites, space-based laser systems, space stations and ground-based laser stations for offensive space operations that the "space superpowers" - the United States, Russia and China - have.

In the event of their satellites being knocked out by enemy action during a crisis, the US, Russia and China have the capability to launch substitute satellites into space at short notice. The US can move its satellites from one orbit level to another, higher level to escape being taken out by an enemy anti-satellite system (ASAT).

India can program a satellite launch only on a programmed sequence basis and not on short notice for rapid launches to replenish lost satellites, Prabhakar said. "India doesn't have even preliminary capability to defend its satellites," he said, adding "it will take another 15 to 20 years or more before India can put these systems in place."

For all its impressive achievements in building and launching satellites, India is decades away from establishing a fully-operational aerospace command. It has formidable capability in building satellites. It is now trying to find a way to defend them.

Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.

A Maturing China-Africa Relationship

Op-Ed story
The Seoul Times

By Hany Besada
CIGI Senior Researcher

China and Africa build a new partnership on old ties. This file photo is the 58th Anniversory of the Founding of the People's Republic of China.

Last week, Japan pledged more than $1.9 billion to Africa over the next five years. The announcement was made on the first day of a timely Japan-Africa summit in Yokohama. Japan's Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, promised a further $4 billion in soft loans over the same period to help improve infrastructure on the continent, and a $2.5 billion fund through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, designed to expand his country's investment in Africa. This comes hot on the heels of increased pressure, both internally and externally, for Japan to expand relations with Africa, given the recent media frenzy surrounding China's ascendancy in Africa in recent years. With Japan lagging far behind China in its trade and investment efforts in Africa, this announcement is seen as a concerted effort to answer critics with regard to the country's waning influence in, and commitment to the continent's development since the early 1980s.

Japanese leaders know all too well that they will have their work cut out for them if Japan is to catch up with India, let alone China, in terms of the total volume of trade and investment in Africa. India, following closely in the footsteps of China, announced a $500 million grant for development, a further $5 billion in credit to Africa, as well as a formal agreement, comprising 131 projects, reportedly worth over $10 billion. These announcements, made at last month's first India-Africa Forum Summit, reflect New Delhi's eagerness, not only to deepen its engagement and raise its profile with the resource-endowed continent but, more importantly, to catch up with to China, as the latter is tightening its foothold on the continent.

China's involvement in Africa has elicited strong concern from its Asian neighbors, but also criticism, not only from the West, but from Africa as well. Indeed, many in the West, and increasingly in Africa, are questioning the motives behind China's extraordinary level of interest in the world's poorest region.

In recent months, Chinese investments have sparked controversy and public protests over alleged poor working conditions and low pay by Chinese firms in both Zambia and Namibia. Moreover, Chinese companies have been accused of selling very cheap, inferior consumer goods, which have left local entrepreneurs at a major disadvantage. This has sparked public outcries in a number of states, particularly those less endowed with mineral resources. In Lesotho, local street vendors attacked Chinese-owned businesses in November 2007. They threw rocks and chanted anti-Chinese slogans, accusing Chinese investors of colluding with government to force them out of the city center of the country's capital, Maseru.

Critics are pointing out the potential long-term negative impact of China's growing economic interest in Africa. They argue that Beijing's demand for African oil exports and other raw materials inevitably helped to perpetuate Africa's reliance on oil exports. In so doing, it further prevented the growth of more labor-intensive industries, such as agro-business and manufacturing.

It comes as no surprise then that, in recent months, Chinese leaders have come to defend their policies in Africa and tried to counter arguments that their engagement in Africa had resulted in more harm than good. In a bid to improve its standing as a responsible economic partner in Africa, China has recently agreed to co-operate and work with Western institutions, such as the World Bank, to develop aid projects on the continent. In December 2007, Chinese diplomats met with Western donors in Kinshasa to try and co-ordinate their development schemes.

In Sudan, China played a vital role in convincing Khartoum to allow an UN-African Union hybrid peacekeeping force being deployed in Darfur. China was severely criticized in the past for not putting pressure on the government of President Omar al-Bashir to put an end to the conflict in Darfur – a region which claimed the lives of more than 300 000 Sudanese, with two million others displaced. Beijing even sent some 275 military engineers to be deployed in the region. In southern Africa, China ordered a ship, stranded on the coast, back in April 2008, following a refusal by South African dock workers to unload the military cargo of the ship, destined for Zimbabwe's autocratic regime of Robert Mugabe.

It would seem at first glance as though Beijing's behavior and its policies in Africa could indeed be evolving and maturing, given the increased scrutiny these have commanded in Western media, and the negative publicity that China would like to avoid in the weeks leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Whether this is indeed the case or not, two points should be reiterated with regard to China's engagement with Africa.

In the first place, China's more active engagement with Africa is part of its continuing emergence as a truly global player and, as such, it is no different from what major powers do traditionally. Beijing has acted and behaved no differently from the way European powers did decades and centuries ago. Secondly, China's global and regional diplomacy pursues multiple objectives, just like that of all great powers, resulting in tension between values and interests at both national and global level. China can no more be expected to subjugate its commercial and strategic interests than Western powers have done in their African/global policies.

Hany Besada is Senior Researcher and Program Leader, Health and Social Governance at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, Canada.

Exporting the Asian miracle to Africa

Japan's Africa conference last month was the latest in a series of events demonstrating growing Asia-Africa ties, but can Asia help pull Africa out
of poverty?

By Adam Wolfe for ISN Security Watch (17/06/08)

More than 40 African heads of state or government traveled to Japan for the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development last month. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda pledged to double Japan's aid to Africa by 2012, provide soft loans and technical assistance to improve and expand Africa's infrastructure, and create a new fund within the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to direct investments to Africa.

As a symbol of Africa's importance to Japan, and what must be a record of some sort, Fukuda spent 10 hours in a series of 15-minute meetings with each African leader over the course of the event.

If Fukuda felt exhausted after the meetings, then the African leaders must have felt this even more intensely: The Tokyo conference followed the India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi the previous month and the November 2006 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Beijing.

Access to commodities and Africa's 53 votes in the UN are the main motivations for the string of African trade summits in Asia. But Asia's competition for African resources may well help pull the continent out of poverty.

Asia courts Africa
Africa's trade with Asia has grown dramatically since 1990. From a very low base, Africa-Asia trade has grown to a level nearly even with Africa's traditional trading partners, the US and Europe. If the current trends continue, Asia will quickly surpass Europe and the US to become Africa's largest trading partner.

Of the Asian powers, China has received the bulk of attention for its investments in Africa and the political policies it uses to protect these investments. Since 2000, China-Africa trade has grown from about US$10 billion to US$73 billion last year. The tremendous growth comes mostly from extraction industries in Africa and Chinese low-cost consumer goods, but in recent years there have been movements toward value-added goods on both sides of the relationship.

One of China's competitive advantages has been its willingness to take on greater risks than other firms would in Africa. This gives them access to regions out of the reach of western firms. A Chinese firm is exploring for oil in Somalia, despite the on-going crisis there. Others are working in the Republic of Congo, the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, and most notoriously, in Sudan. The firms have been able to achieve such a reach because the Chinese government often assumes the risks through state-sponsored insurance policies.

Where competition with western firms would be more direct, the Chinese government has provided soft loans and debt relief to governments like Angola and Nigeria. This been a source of criticism from western governments and governance organizations. It is widely believed that a US$2 billion loan from China allowed Angola to avoid implementing the terms the International Monetary Fund would have imposed. Angola is now China's largest supplier of oil.

Still, despite the tremendous growth in trade, Africa's relationship with China has been rocky. Even in Angola the government has shown its resentment for the tendency of Chinese firms to import labor from China rather than hire locals. Last year, the Angolan government canceled a deal with Sinopec to build an oil refinery in Lobito, a US$3 billion project.

As criticism toward China's role in Africa grows louder, India and Japan both have been quietly growing their trade volumes with Africa. India-Africa trade has grown from US$967 million in 1991 to US$20 billion in 2006. Japan-Africa trade rose more than 16 percent last year to US$26.4 billion.

India's foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa is actually higher than China's, with India's cumulative FDI flows at US$1.8 billion at the end of 2004 and China's at US$1.3 billion in 2005 according to the World Bank's Harry G Broadman.

The nature of India's investments is different from China's as well. Indian firms are more integrated into African economies and work with local firms throughout the production cycle, whereas Chinese projects tend to be vertically integrated operations with Chinese control of every step in the process.

Still, India's investments in Africa come under some of the same criticism as China's. India's state oil company owns a 25 percent stake in a major Sudanese oilfield, and India's government has been equally reluctant to tie investments to political reforms.

While Japan's trade volume with Africa is higher than India's, it was less than half of China's last year. This may explain some of the lavishness of the Tokyo conference - Japan feels it has been slow out of the gates in Africa.

In the past two decades, Japan's relations with African countries have largely mimicked those of the US. Now it seems Japan may be following the lead of China and India, using foreign aid to help bolster bilateral trade and investments by private firms.

In this sense, Fukuda's pledge to double Japan's aid to Africa (which had fallen by 40 percent from its 1995 peak anyway) is not as significant as setting up a US$2.5 billion fund to help Japanese firms invest in Africa.

An Asian development model for Africa?

Fukuda's opening address at the Tokyo summit raised a point that is often cited in discussions of Africa-Asia trade. Little more than three decades ago Africa and Asia had comparable GDP per capita rates. Now, of course, the figures are dramatically different.

Chinese, Indian and Japanese leaders all talk about exporting the Asian development model to Africa, and see Asia-Africa trade as an important component in pulling Africa out of poverty.

Conditions in Africa suggest the time may be ripe for such a transformation. The number of armed conflicts in Africa has fallen from about 40 in 2002 to fewer than 20 today, according to the Human Security Research Group.

Africa's GDP has grown by more than 5 percent annually since 2004, and it expanded by 6.7 percent last year. Inflation, though up recently because of higher food prices, has also come under control for most of the continent (with Zimbabwe as a glaring exception).

However, Asia's investments in Africa are highly concentrated in the oil- and mineral-rich countries of Angola, Nigeria, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Sudan and Equatorial Guinea. Part of the reason the Asian tigers succeeded was because they could not rely on commodity exports to attract foreign reserve. Asia's reluctance to invest in oil-importing countries in Africa does not bode well for Africa's development as a whole, and does not lead to the conclusion that Asia will export its development model.

Still, Asia's focus on Africa may be more helpful in other ways.

Quite often in the past African extraction projects simply went to the first western firm that offered to set up shop, and there was little competitive bidding. Even where Asian firms do not get the concessions from African governments, they help to drive up the price for the western majors, ensuring a bit more money flows into Africa's economies. Also, as Africa becomes more integrated into global supply chains, more opportunities will open for African service firms.

In this way, Asia's summit diplomacy may well help pull Africa out of poverty.

Adam Wolfe is a freelance writer living in New York. He blogs regularly at On Political Risk.

QUOTE OF THE DAY : On Gazprom by Zeyno Baran

"No Western company has the kind of partnership with its state as Gazprom has with the Kremlin. No Western country or company would build pipelines with such political calculations. None would undertake commercially unviable projects. We are dealing with a situation where normal competitive market principles simply do not work. It is imperative the Europeans recognize it and start taking steps accordingly; we are invariably dealing with a state-sponsored organization that has turned gas pipelines into a geopolitical tool." --Zeyno Baran

OIL, OLIGARCHS, AND OPPORTUNITY: ENERGY FROM CENTRAL ASIA TO EUROPE Committee on Foreign Relations The United States Senate June 12, 2008 Zeyno Baran Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Eurasian Policy Hudson Institute

Geopolitics of Gas: Nabucco vs. South Stream


OIL, OLIGARCHS, AND OPPORTUNITY: ENERGY FROM CENTRAL ASIA TO EUROPE Committee on Foreign Relations The United States Senate June 12, 2008 Zeyno Baran Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Eurasian Policy Hudson Institute

On gas, the challenge is bigger due to the nature of natural gas as a tradable commodity—there is no global market, and the construction of costly pipelines effectively locks consumers into a prolonged contract with producers. This means that Moscow can more easily manipulate dependence into political and economic leverage. Natural gas is vital to the economies of many European nations—and the fuel’s primacy is growing. The prospect of being forced to pay a higher price for that gas, or even having the supply of that gas curtailed, can exert a powerful influence on a country’s domestic and foreign policies. Thanks to US support for Caspian-Europe direct gas connection, BTE has already been build, and its extension to Greece began operation in November 2007. The Turkey-Greece pipeline has enabled gas from Azerbaijan to flow all the way to the EU free from Russian control. Construction will soon begin on an extension of the Turkey-Greece connection to Italy, named the TGI pipeline. Meanwhile, the Nabucco pipeline has become a litmus test for the ability of the EU and the US to complete a project that is a stated priority. Nabucco (named after Giuseppe Verdi’s opera) is intended to have a capacity of 31 billion cubic meters that will enter Europe through Turkey. The pipeline will traverse Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, terminating in Austria at that country’s Baumgarten gas storage and distribution hub. It was originally introduced by Austria to bring mostly Iranian gas to European markets; now it is backed by the US to transport Caspian and Iraqi gas to European markets. I will briefly discuss Iraqi gas later. Iranian gas for Nabucco is still occasionally discussed, especially by Austria, but until relations with Iran settle down, it is all but pointless to even discuss this option. Even after talks begin, it will take quite some time for Iran to develop its gas fields such that it will have sufficient gas to export—currently it is unable to produce sufficient gas for its own domestic needs. After recognizing that Nabucco and TGI would break their monopoly of transporting Caspian gas to Europe, the Russian leadership took several steps to undermine them. At first, the Kremlin wanted Gazprom to be included as a partner to have Russian gas transported via these pipelines. However, it faced opposition since the move would have annulled the raison d’ĂȘtre of these projects. Putin was also eager for a second gas pipeline connection to be built from Russia to Turkey, called Blue Stream II, in order to reach the Turkish market first and keep Caspian gas out. In other words, there was a race for the Turkish market. Having learned from its experience with Blue Stream I, which I will explain shortly, Turkey did not want to—once again—undermine the Central Asia-Europe gas vision by reaching another major agreement with Russia. Turkey thus made clear its continued commitment to the work with the US, EU and its Central Asian partners. When it became clear that Nabucco could not be derailed in Turkey, Russia moved to bypass it by piping into Bulgaria directly, and from there Greece. So, in June 2007, Gazprom came up with a massive subsea pipeline project, the South Stream pipeline. Although the details of this venture are yet to be solidified, it is clear that South Stream, with a planned capacity of 30 bcm, will be one of the world’s largest and most expensive pipelines ever built. Estimates of cost vary, but most analysts predict it would cost twice as much as Nabucco.

The signing of the South Stream pipeline project took place in Moscow between Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and outgoing Russian president Vladimir Putin
on April 29. Former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi was offered the chairmanship of the project by Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and Eni head Paolo Scaroni, mirroring former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's appointment to direct Gazprom's Nord Stream pipeline. Prodi was previously head of the European Commission, and his support would be essential for the pipeline’s success, given that there is growing unease in Brussels and Washington about Gazprom’s expansion into Europe. So far, he has declined to take the position. South Stream targets the same markets and utilizes almost identical routes to Nabucco. In fact, three of the five countries along Nabucco’s route are also part of South Stream’s intended route. The pipeline would cross the Black Sea to Varna, Bulgaria. From there, South Stream will split into two smaller spurs: one heading West through Greece, beneath the Ionian Sea and into Southern Italy; and the second heading North through Serbia and Hungary, terminating at Austria’s Baumgarten storage facility. There may also be additional lines constructed to Northern Italy via Austria and/or Slovenia.

Baumgarten is critically important in Russian strategy. Austria is involved in both Nabucco and South Stream, and both pipelines will bring gas to Baumgarten. In January, Austria’s partially-state-owned energy company OMV signed a deal giving Gazprom 50 percent ownership in Baumgarten. As we know by now from other such partnerships Gazprom has formed over the years, the 50 percent would not mean equal partnership—Gazprom, and thus the Russian state, would in reality have a much bigger say. The growing OMV-Gazprom partnership is important, especially in light of OMV’s desire to take over Hungarian MOL, which is the only privately owned company in the Nabucco consortium.4 Austria will thus become a Russian partner in Europe and serve as the clearinghouse for gas coming to Europe. Furthermore, Gazprom just last week announced that Austria and OMV would be joining South Stream and that an intergovernmental agreement will soon be signed to appoint OMV as South Stream coordinator for Austria. Putin had previously offered Hungary the chance to become such a “hub,” but the government refused—in part because of strong US opposition. Similarly, when Putin offered Chancellor Merkel such a “privileged partnership,” she made clear her position to side with her EU allies. Gazprom is making sure it has maximum flexibility in extracting the best deal for itself by having several options to get to its key markets. For example, even with strong Austrian partnership, it will construct a South Stream spur to Slovenia, and thus negate the possibility of Austrian leverage over the gas route. If problems were to emerge in Austrian-Russian relations, Gazprom could then re-route exports to northern Italy via Slovenia.
4 The pipeline consortium is equally owned (16.67% each) by Austria’s OMV, Hungary’s MOL, Turkey’s Botas, Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz and Romania’s Transgaz and Germany’s RWE

No Western company has the kind of partnership with its state as Gazprom has with the Kremlin. No Western country or company would build pipelines with such political calculations. None would undertake commercially unviable projects. We are dealing with a situation where normal competitive market principles simply do not work. It is imperative the Europeans recognize it and start taking steps accordingly; we are invariably dealing with a state-sponsored organization that has turned gas pipelines into a geopolitical tool.

Engaging Destiny's Daughter-- MAYAVATHI


The chorus is getting louder by the day with even Mulayam Singh’s fixers and brokers finding the muse to engage in some literary flourish. If that was not enough, you since have Paswan that permanent fixture in every Union Cabinet since V.P. Singh singing the same tune.

They may not like her, but they can hardly ignore her.

They are hurling the ultimate Dalit insult if there ever was one - she has turned “Manuwadi”, whatever the hell that means.

The bottomline is Mayawati holds the key to the next Lok Sabha one way or the other. She may not have the numbers to form a government. She may not even have the credibility to be trusted for support to form a government. But she may just about have enough numbers to be the biggest party pooper since Jayalalitha in 19951-1996.

So now that she has been described as the BJP’s B-Team, Offstumped examines the question of how exactly should the BJP engage Destiny’s Daughter - Mayawati in the run up to the next Lok Sabha ?

3 things have emerged about Mayawati as she has matured over the years.

#1 - She is no quitter.

Like Jayalalitha she is in it for the long haul. She has proven to be more than a match for Mulayam in the akhara of UP politics. Her recent win in UP is proof of enough.

#2 - She thinks big.

This is where she breaks ranks with Jayalalitha. She has a pan-Indian ambition or vision for her role in politics including that ultimate achievement - first Dalit Prime Minister, that too a woman at that.

#3 - She makes smart adjustments.

This too is a break from Jayalalitha. Where Jayalalitha can get very stubborn and hung up thus boxing herself into a corner. Mayawati has demonstrated the ability to do the reverse - make adjustments to allow her more room to manouver as well as box her rivals. Her ability to expand her social coalition with a “sarvajan” focus as well as her push for a trifurcation of Uttar Pradesh must be seen in this light.

All of the above and the social causes Mayawati espouses make her a fitting candidate to replace the Congress as the primary pole to the Left of Indian Politics.

This reality means there cannot be an overt engagement between the BJP and BSP for it would not serve either’s interests while confusing the base of either party on their intentions.

But Mayawati needs help to get where she needs to get to displace the Congress and occupy the primary space to the Left of the political divide. That help can be provided without any formal engagement by putting rest her anxieties and insecurities while treating her as a worthy rival.

Offstumped Bottomline: The best course for the BJP would be to not just publicly deny any understanding with Mayawati but to start talking her up as the natural inheritor of the Congress’ social coalition as the UPA disintegrates and the Congress faces up to the incompetence and increasing irrelevance of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

Soros's New Hostile Takeover:The Democratic Party

This article appears in the June 20, 2008 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
by Jeffrey Steinberg

On Dec. 20, 1998, in the midst of his murderous speculative rampage against the currencies of Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, and other targeted Asian nations, George Soros appeared on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes," to explain and defend his behavior. Confronted by interviewer Steve Kroft about his experiences as a youth in Hungary, under the Nazi occupation, Soros freely admitted that he posed as the "adopted godson" of an official of the Nazi-occupation government, and helped in the confiscation of Jewish properties.

"Kroft: And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.

"Soros: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made.

"Kroft: In what way?

"Soros: That one should think ahead. One should understand and anticipate events and when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a very personal experience of evil.

"Kroft: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

"Soros: Yes. Yes.

"Kroft: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.

"Soros: Yes. That's right. Yes.

"Kroft: I mean that's—that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?

"Soros: Not—not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't—you don't see the connection. But it was—it created no—no problem at all.

"Kroft: No feeling of guilt?

"Soros: No.

"Kroft: For example that, 'I'm Jewish and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be there. I should be there.' None of that?

"Soros: Well, of course I could be on the other side, or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was—well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in markets—that if I weren't there—of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would—would—would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the—whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. I had no role in taking away the property. So I had no sense of guilt."

In an earlier television interview on the same subject, Soros was even more blunt about his role as a Nazi collaborator in the Holocaust. On April 15, 1993, Soros appeared on WNET-TV and declared, "When the Germans came in," his father explained to him that, "This is a lawless occupation. The normal rules don't apply. You have to forget how you behave in a normal society. This is an abnormal situation. And he [Soros's father] arranged for all of us to have false papers, everybody had a different arrangement. I was adopted by an official of the ministry of agriculture, whose job was to take over Jewish properties, so I actually went with him and we took possession of these large estates. That was my identity. So it's a strange, very strange life. I was 14 at the time."

In point of fact, Soros's adopted "godfather" served under Nazi Waffen SS Gen. Kurt Becher, who ran what was euphemistically called the Economic Department of the SS Command, which oversaw the extermination of 500,000 Hungarian Jews. In his famous book Perfidy, an indictment of the Jews who colluded with the Nazis in order to survive, Ben Hecht described Becher's Economic Department, in more graphic terms than did Soros. The Department was in charge of looting the properties of Hungarian Jews, in "removing the gold fillings from the millions of teeth of the dead Jews; in cutting off the hair of millions of Jewesses before killing them, and shipping bales of hair to Germany's mattress factories; in converting the fat of dead Jews into bath soap, and in figuring out effective methods of torture to induce the Jews awaiting death to reveal where they had hidden their last possessions."

A psychiatrist might diagnose someone who went through such an experience, yet felt no remorse, no guilt, and actually boasted that it shaped his strategies as a ruthless, and very successful speculator, as a sociopath. Such clinical diagnosis aside, the simple fact is: Soros has devoted his entire adult life to the looting of the powerless, on behalf of the British financier oligarchy that sponsored his post-war career as one of the first of their offshore hedge-fund speculators. He asserts that morality has no place in the market, and that, if he had a conscience, he could never have succeeded in amassing his billions.

The 'Hostile Takeover' of America
As a matter of policy, Soros's Quantum Fund has never accepted money from any American investors—in order to stay outside the reach of U.S. government investigation. He operates in such locales as the Dutch Antilles and Switzerland, yet much of his ill-gotten gains have been devoted to what some of his colleagues jokingly refer to as the "hostile takeover" of America.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Soros poured tens of millions of dollars into the campaign to legalize drugs—marijuana, heroin, and even crack cocaine. Soros refers to this as the "open society," a lawless domain in which the only dictum is "harm reduction." Soros's dope legalization policies follow the model of the British East India Company, which waged two Opium Wars against China, during the 19th Century, to impose drug addiction on the population—for British profit and social control.

Soros's latest hostile takeover target is the Democratic Party, and over the past eight years, Soros and a gang of fellow billionaires have come pretty close to achieving their goal.

Starting soon after George W. Bush's inauguration as President in early 2001, Soros poured a reported $18 million into passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law (Soros has continued to be a major donor to McCain's Reform Institute), which placed a cap on "soft money" donations to the political parties, but left open a loophole, allowing nominally independent groups, referred to as "527s," to take unlimited donations. Soros began buying up the first generation of 527s, including outfits like MoveOn, ACT (America Coming Together), and Media Matters. Soros also played a pivotal role in the 2004 candidacy of Howard Dean, who bombed as a Presidential candidate, but was rewarded for his access to Soros loot with the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, after John Kerry's loss to George Bush in November 2004.

From that perch, Howard Dean waged a ruthless campaign against candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 primary elections—in tandem with Soros's Democracy Alliance, a secretive billionaires club, that pooled its money to take over and run a "vast leftwing conspiracy" of 527s, PACs, and think tanks, that has replaced any Democratic Party constituency organization.

In the meantime, Soros found his legion of honest Bush-haters, in groups like MoveOn and ACT, to be useful tools in his further grimy speculative binges. Following the Kerry defeat, MoveOn, the Center for American Progress, and other progressive groups on the Soros dole, targeted Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, the giant oil and defense contractor that was profitting mightily off of Bush and Cheney's Iraq imperial misadventure.

The barrage of attacks on Halliburton drove the company stock down, from a peak of $40 down to $26—at which point Soros began buying up Halliburton shares. Between the third quarter of 2005, and the fourth quarter of 2006, Soros bought 2 million shares of Halliburton, at an average price of just over $31.

As the media attacks on Halliburton—in part, driven by Soros's anti-Bush/Cheney and anti-war zeal—died down by late 2006, Halliburton shares quickly rebounded. By early 2008, with Halliburton shares nearing $50, Soros had made an estimated $40 million in clear profit, making him one of the larger Bush-Cheney war profiteers.

Pak-US Relations: Musharraf and Collateral Damage

Source: South Asia Analysis Group

by Bhaskar Roy

Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani Army General with 99 lives may finally start riding into the sunset unless his mentor and benefactor President George W. Bush throws in another life line to him. This is not unlikely, but miracles, though rare, are not unknown.

According to a Pakistani newspaper, US Ambassador in Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson has said that the United States wanted an honourable exit for President Pervez Musharraf, that the time had now come for the United States to see beyond President Musharraf, but added that the United States was not apologetic on the policy towards President Musharraf. Most Pakistanis would hope the US means what their Ambassador said, but that does not mean the problems would evaporate. An abscess called terrorism festered for a long time has turned malignant. None of the parties involved can honestly wash their hands off the responsibility for this situation. The cure will take a long time even if all work honestly, which is again questionable.

The bombing of a Pakistan Frontier Corps (FC) check post of Mohamand tribal area on Afghanistan’s border last week by US aircraft vitiated an already tense situation. Eleven FC personal including an officer died in this attack which was primarily targeting Taliban insurgents escaping to the Pakistani side after a foray inside Afghanistan. The Pentagon defends its action. There have been expressions of regrets from US Defence Secretary for the loss of life of Pakistani soldiers. It is collateral damage in a rightful cause. But the feeling of the Pak army was not assuaged, yet.

Bush and his hawkish team from the State Department, pentagon and intelligence may have gone for an overkill in Pakistan. Since the February 18 Parliamentary elections in Pakistan which rendered President Musharraf weak there has been an immense pressure on him from most political parties and people to step down. The US establishment appeared nervous. Despite demands from the US media, some think tanks and even congressional representatives on Bush to cut loose Musharraf, the President reacted in his typical manner.

It would be insulting to American intelligence to presume that they did not know Musharraf was playing all sides. The execution of an American journalist like Daniel Pearl, or the bombing of a Church in Islamabad, killing an American diplomat by anti-American jehadis could be covered by expressions of indignation and anti-terrorism rhetorics. The fact was, Musharraf delivered Al Qaeda terrorists periodically when things got hot. It did not matter if all those terrorists handed over to the USA were high level Al Qaeda operatives or innocent suspects. No matter, they helped fill Guantanamo Bay prison or GITMO or the Bagram jail. It helped the American President’s war on terror in the path of success, and kept his support high among the American people. Getting Al Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden or Ayman Al Zawahiri went on to the back burner. Taliban Amir Mullah Omar was almost forgotten.

What the Americans missed, however, is Islamic terrorism and tribal loyalties in the Asian landmass are very different from the terrorism they have faced in other parts of the world. The Al Qaeda leadership and experts are not uneducated blind crusaders. They have engineers, doctors and people from other disciplines. They have gone back to history to create a cause which, they believe in. Tribes have special loyalty and honour codes, and hold their history, culture and religion very dearly. One can’t bribe warlords with money and weapons. They will take both but very rarely honour the payments of a non-believer, a kafir. There are many other reasons especially the perception that Muslim land has been exploited by the West. These are some of the reasons why the war against the kind of terrorism the West is facing is so difficult to win in a short time. Other ways and means need to be found.

Further, terrorism centered in and around Pakistan consists of a mixture of terrorists of West Asian, North African, Afghan and Pakistani origin, some given sanctuary and protection by the authorities in Pakistan and some created for a political war of attrition against Indian.

The American mistake has been, and will continue to be for some more time to come, to differentiate between terrorists that directly threaten the US and Western Europe, and those who do not. Otherwise, Washington would not have taken so long as 2008 to take some definite action against the Lashkar-e-Toiba created by Pakistan’s ISI.

For a time, Musharraf played all these terrorist organizations like puppets tied with strings to his fingers. Till some of the puppets started turning into demons.

There is no evidence to suggest if Musharraf had any strategy to kill the demons. The terrorists were attacking the heart of the country, and the people had turned against Musharraf. The rise of the voice of the people against Musharraf should have been read earlier in Washington. Normally, military dictators have come and gone in Pakistan and the people carried on with their lives. The choice was between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. This time, however, the civil society was up against Musharraf.

President Bush’s much publicized telephone call to President Musharraf putting the US power behind him seriously hurt both Musharraf and the USA. The recent US defence and intelligence assessments creating a reason for US forces to go inside Pakistan to combat the militants in the tribal regions suggested Washington had no faith in the new popularly elected government. Then came the air strike in Mohamand.

The statement from the Pakistani Army spokesmen condemning this as “completely unprovoked and cowardly act on the FC post” charging the strike had “hit the very basis of co-operation and sacrifice with which Pakistani soldiers have been supporting the coalition in the war against terror” is an unprecedented reaction from the Pakistani army.

The incident will pass. There will be apologies and handshakes with more US assistance. But the scar is unlikely to heal soon.
The FC comprises mainly of personnel drawn from the frontier areas which include Pashtoons. They operate in the region because Punjabi military personnel are disliked in these areas. The FC is still functioning, somewhat reluctantly, here because many a times they are fighting their own people in a war they perceive they are fighting for America. Therefore, an American strike on the FC is considered a betrayal and a punishment. Hence, the Army spokesman had to come out with such a scathing statement against the US forces. The first requirement was to pacify the FC personnel.

Pakistan just cannot afford a revolt in the Frontier Corps. The cost would be too heavy to bear.

It would be advisable for the USA to go easy on Pakistan for the moment. Musharraf needs to go, no matter how. But the new Pakistan government, the army and intelligence would have to be more responsible. The USA has responsibility here. Assisting the Pak armed forces with F-16 aircraft and enhancing its naval capabilities do not help counter-terrorism efforts. It must be understood by all parties that all terrorists are terrorists. They do not remain fixed to government given targets for ever.

But there is no easy way out for Pakistan on the Taliban and Al Qaeda fronts. If the Pakistani government and the army can isolate the terrorists and militants with a permanent deal with Tribal leaders who opt for peace and their own culture it could open a way for success. In agreement with these tribals the Pak army may be able to concentrate on the militants from the Pakistani side and work with the Afghan army and the international forces from the Afghan side, to squeeze out these elements.

But this is easier said than done. Even, if half the recent study of the US think tank the Rand Corporation is to be believed, there are elements in the ISI, both serving and former, who continue to advise, inform and aid the Taliban forces. Credence to half of the Rand report is stated here because the think tank is funded by the Pentagon, and the Pentagon’s track record of fudging intelligence is now well known. On the other hand, the ISI has evolved into a rogue government within the Pakistani government, funding itself from narcotic and gun running trade in collusion with Afghan war lords and the Talibans. The Director General of the ISI would not know everything that is going on in his organization, which is also armed.

There is no elixir for Pakistan. One element that the government can use is the people’s power. But no Pakistani government, whether military or democratic have shown any serious inclination to work with the people.

The road ahead is arduous, but all depends on the army and the politicians.
(The author is an eminent analyst with many years of experience. He can be reached at grouchohart@yahoo.com)

June 17, 2008

India to Invest $3 bln in Iranian Block

TEHRAN (FNA)- Indian Oil Corp., along with other state-run Indian oil firms, is eyeing a $3 bln project to develop the gas find in Iran's Farsi block, a senior company executive said.

The companies submitted the commerciality report for its gas find in the Farsi block to the Iranian government last December.

Indian Oil and its partners in the project - Oil India Ltd. and ONGC Videsh Ltd., the overseas arm of state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corp. - have a service contract for the Farsi block.

Indian Oil and ONGC Videsh own 40% interest each in the block and Oil India holds 20%. The development of this block, which has estimated reserves of 12.8 trillion cubic feet of gas, may cost $3 billion, said the executive.

"So far, we have invested $90 million (for exploration) and if we are allowed to develop the field, we would be investing around $3 billion," he said.

The consortium is now waiting to get approval from Iran to develop the field and produce gas, and the project could take three to four years.

Under their current service contract, the companies will earn at least 35% returns on their exploration investments made so far in the block even if they don't get to develop the field, he said.

The block also holds in-place reserves of more than 1 billion barrels of "very heavy" crude oil of 14 degrees API, he said.

The consortium will likely submit the commerciality report for the crude oil find within this month, the executive said.

Indian Oil will start drilling in one of its three exploration blocks in Libya early next year, he said. The company had two exploration blocks in Libya and was recently awarded a third block.

Indian Oil, which has been hunting overseas to secure term liquefied natural gas supplies to fuel its proposed terminal in India, has started informal negotiations with at least four countries, the executive said.

"We have started informal dialogue with Papua New Guinea, Australia, Algeria and Egypt for LNG," he said. Indian Oil and Petronet LNG Ltd. are jointly seeking LNG from projects in these countries, he said.

"Most LNG projects that are coming up by 2012 have already tied up customers...we are looking at projects that come on stream after that, from 2014," he said.

The company has put its planned LNG terminal project in India on hold until it can secure term supplies, he said. "The LNG has to be tied first before we can start construction