May 08, 2010

BALOCHISTAN: Gilani assures Mengal of addressing Baloch grievances

The Baloch Hal News

KARACHI: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, on Saturday said that government would do its best to address the grievances of the people of Balochistan, reported the official news agency.

Gilani was talking to media after holding an hour-long meeting with seasoned Baloch leader Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal here at his residence. Mengal was the first eve elected chief minister of Balochistan in early 19703. When his government was forcefully removed by late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a deadly war of resistance had been initiated by Baloch tribesmen which was brutally crushed by the country’s strong military.

The Prime Minister said that his meeting with Sardar Ataullah Mengal was long overdue and this time he took the opportunity to meet him.

He said that Sardar Ataullah Mengal briefed him about the problems of the people of Balochistan which included the issue of missing persons as well as under-development of various areas of the province.

The Prime Minister assured that the federal and provincial governments would make joint efforts for the development and prosperity of the people of Balochistan.

He further said that he would also ask the Chairman of the Implementation Committee of the Parliament, Senator Raza Rabbani, to meet the Baloch leaders as well as elected leaders of Balochistan to apprise them of the benefits of provincial autonomy extended through the enactment of the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

When asked about his meeting with other Baloch leaders, the Prime Minister categorically said that he was prepared to meet all the political leaders even those living abroad as and when they return to their homeland.

In the same context, he mentioned that during the tenure of his government not a single political leader or worker has been sent to jail.

With regard to the issue of target killings, he said that he had already instructed the Ministry of Interior to work out the modalities for the security of the citizens.

Sardar Ataullah Mengal thanked the Prime Minister for taking out time to meet him and to listen to his point of view.

Sardar Ataullah Mengal specially mentioned that Baloch people are as good Pakistanis as the people of other parts of the country.

As regards the problems of people of Balochistan, he stated that he has informed the Prime Minister about the problems and he would be looking forward for some visible change.

http://thebalochhal .com/2010/ 05/gilani- assures-mengal- of-addressing- baloch-grievance s/



The Agence France Presse (AFP) has quoted Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, as warning Pakistan in a recorded TV interview for the CBS Channel to be telecast on May 9,2010, that it would face " very severe consequences" if a terror plot like the failed Times Square bombing of May 1 was traced to that country. She said:"We've made it very clear that if -- heaven-forbid-- an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences." However, she added: "We've gotten more cooperation and it's been a real sea change in the commitment we've seen from the Pakistan Government.We want more. We expect more."

2. Her warning has received greater attention in India than in Pakistan. The lack of an impact in Pakistan could be attributed to two reasons. Firstly, a careful reading of her remarks shows that her so-called warning is not with reference to the failed attempt by Faisal Shahzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, on May 1,2010, to cause an incendiary car bomb explosion in the Times Square of New York, but with reference to any future attack that might be successful. What she meant was that if there was a successful attack in future and the investigation traced it back to Pakistan, it would face severe consequences. Secondly, comments emanating from White House spokesmen, Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, and Gen.David Petraeus, the head of the US Central Command, after the May 1 attempt show continued appreciation of the operations mounted by the Pakistan Army against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the Swat Valley of the Khyber-Pakhtunkwa province and in South Waziristan and seek to project the Pakistani co-operation against terrorism in positive colours. Mrs.Clinton also projected it in positive colours, but added a warning as to what could happen in future. The White House and the Pentagon have refrained from uttering any such warning.

3. This has been interpreted by the Pakistani authorities as indicating that Islamabad continues to enjoy the support of the White House and the Pentagon despite the unsuccussful attempt by Faisal. The Pakistani reaction to the identification of Faisal as the perpetrator of the attempt has been typical. Firstly,to assure all co-operation to the US in the investigation of the case. Secondly, to round up about about 20 persons in Karachi, Peshawar and other places, including four alleged members of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). Thirdly, to point out that Faisal is an American and not a Pakistani citizen and hence causes for his radicalisation are to be found in the US and not in Pakistan. And fourthly, to start releasing those arrested one after the other on grounds of lack of evidence. The ultimate outcome of the investigation at the Pakistan end is zero.

4.Cases detected in the US during the last two years or so show a trend which should be of concern to the US. Individual Muslims resident in the US, most of them of Pakistani origin, have been going to Pakistan in small groups to assist the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban in their operations in the Af-Pak territory. Their original intention when they left the US for Pakistan was not to indulge in acts of terrorism in the US Homeland. They wanted to attack US nationals and interests in the Af-Pak region.Al Qaeda, the myriad Talibans in Pakistan and Punjabi terrorist organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the JEM and the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri with whom they came into contact in Pakistani territory, played them back into the US.

5. What, in effect, these organisations told the American Muslims was: "We can handle the jihad in the Af-Pak region. You will better serve the cause of Islam by going back to the US and starting a jihad in the US Homeland. We will give you the necessary training for this." This has come out very clearly in the testimonies in the US case against Najibullah Zazi, a US resident of Afghan origin, and two others, who had been motivated by Al Qaeda and the JEM to mount an attack in the New York subway system similar to the Madrid bombing of March 2004 and the London bombing of July,2005.

6. Al Qaeda, the Talibans and their associates have been trying to turn these US Muslims going to Pakistan in the hope of fighting in the Af-Pak region into surrogarte jihadis who will fight for them in the US Homeland. US officials and non-Governmental analysts have been playing down the threats of the TTP to indulge in reprisal attacks in the US Homeland on the ground that the TTP has no known presence in the US and does not have such a long reach. The TTP and others are not trying to create a presence for themselves in US territory, but are trying to manipulate American Muslims going to Pakistan to wage a jihad to go back to the US and wage a hihad in the US Homeland instead,

7.The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Police in different US cities have till now succeeded in thwarting the attempts of these surrogate jihadis. Luck has also favoured them. But so long as more and more surrogate jihadis keep coming back to the US after having been motivated and trained in the training camps in Pakistani territory, there will always be a danger of one or more planned attacks being successful.

8. This danger will continue to confront the US so long as the jihadi infrastructure in Pakistani territory continues. The US has to act pre-emptively against the jihadi infrastructure instead of acting only if there is a successful terrorist strike in the US Homeland launched from Pakistan. All US warnings and admonitions have no effect on the Pakistani authorities because of their conviction that the importance of Pakistan for US policies in Afghanistan would protect Pakistan from any reprisals by the US and that anyhow, whatever the State Department might think and say, the Pentagon would oppose any action against Pakistan.

9. This conviction in the minds of the Pakistani leaders has to be removed and the Pakistani Army made to act against all jihadi infrastrcture whether directed against India, the US or anyone else and wherever it is located--- whether in North Waziristan, the Khyber-Pakhtunkwa province, Punjab, Sindh or Balochistan. Unless this is done now, more and more surrogate jihadis will keep going back to the US to start a jihad in the US Homeland. There is a need for a clear-cut enunciation of the US policy articulated by President Barack Obama himself. (9-5-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-Mail: )

Conflict in Yemen Fueled by Tribalism, Religious Conflicts

Cover: Regime and Periphery in Northern Yemen: The Huthi Phenomenon

For nearly six years, the government of Yemen has conducted military operations north of the capital against groups of its citizens known as “Huthis.” In spite of using all means at its disposal, the government has been unable to subdue the Huthi movement. Along with southern discontent and al-Qa'ida-inspired terrorism, the Huthi conflict presents an enduring threat to the stability of Yemen and the regime of its president. This book presents an in-depth look at the conflict in all its sociocultural, political, and military aspects. Basing their research on a wide variety of sources, both Western and non-Western, the authors provide a history of the Huthi movement and its origins in the Zaydi branch of Islam. They discuss the various stages of the conflict in detail and map out its possible future trajectories. In spite of a recent ceasefire, the 2009-2010 round of fighting, featuring Saudi involvement and Iranian rhetorical condemnation of Saudi-Yemeni actions, points to the conflict becoming transnational and increasingly sectarian. These developments run contrary to the interests of the United States and its friends in the region, as they seek to combat al-Qa'ida-related threats and build Yemeni capacity

Armed conflict between the government of Yemen and an opposition movement in the nation's north has spilled across its borders into Saudi Arabia, posing a potential threat to U.S. interests, according to a study issued today by the RAND Corporation.

For nearly six years, the government of Yemen has conducted military operations north of the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, against groups of its citizens known as Huthis. The Huthi movement is based on the family of the same name, native to the Sa'da governorate in the north.

The Yemeni government has been unable to subdue the Huthi movement, even though the conflict pits a conventional military force against small groups of Huthi fighters. In the fall of 2009, Saudi Arabia intervened as numbers of Huthis came across its porous border with Yemen, bringing a major U.S. ally into a regionalized conflict. This surge in violence coincided with growing al-Qaida visibility in Yemen, particularly after the Yemeni-dominated al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula sponsored the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

"The Huthi conflict has distracted the Yemeni government from partnering with the United States in countering real threats to America and its allies," said Barak A. Salmoni, lead author of the study and a political scientist with RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Only by resolving this conflict will Yemen improve its capacity to combat al-Qaida and salvage a crumbling economy. Continuing the conflict makes Yemen a U.S. policy liability."

Involvement by Saudi Arabia may distract that nation from more important matters, such as regional and global terror, Salmoni said. Despite accusations of Saudi Arabia meddling in its neighbor's affairs, the threats posed by both Huthis and al-Qaida members may prompt Saudi Arabia to intervene again in the future.

Likewise, Yemeni and Saudi claims of Iranian support for the Huthis raise regional tensions, complicating U.S. policy on Iran. The challenge now, Salmoni said, is to prevent further internationalization of the Huthi conflict, while getting regional countries to support strategies to curb the conflict.

The RAND study presents an in-depth look at the history of the military conflict between the government of Yemen and the Huthis, including the sociocultural, political and military aspects up through the most recent February 2010 truce.

The Huthi family is part of the Zaydi branch of Islam, which is theologically between Sunnism and Shi'ism. Influenced by Arab Sunnism, the government of Yemen has accused the Huthis of having ties to Shi'ite backers like Iran, while the Huthis charge that the Yemeni government follows policies dictated by extreme anti-Zaydi Sunnis inspired by Saudi Arabia.

The Huthis are opposed to the Yemeni government's political, economic and religious policies, but a critical factor in the conflict stems from the government of Yemen never having been able to fully rule all of its territory. Divided into northern and southern republics, the unified Republic of Yemen didn't even exist until 1990.

The absence of any real governmental control, combined with the rural and isolated conditions of northern Yemen, has given rise to an alternate system where tribalism and Zaydism regulate society and political conflicts.

Despite anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rhetoric, the Huthis have not targeted Americans or U.S. facilities and equipment, and share with the United States some of the same enemies in the region, including intolerant, expansionist Wahhabism and authoritarian state systems. However, as the conflict continues to drag on, the conflict between the Yemeni government and rebels increases the chances that other regional actors will be drawn in, distracting them from issues of core concern to U.S. interests, according to the RAND study.

The study, "Regime and Periphery in Northern Yemen: The Huthi Phenomenon," can be found at Other authors of the study are Bryce Loidolt and Madeleine Wells.

Research for the study was conducted within the Intelligence Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies and the defense Intelligence Community.

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About the RAND Corporation

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A natural power: Challenges for Australia's resources diplomacy in Asia

A natural power: Challenges for Australia's resources diplomacy in Asia

Monday, 3 May 2010

This report, authored by Richard Leaver and Carl Ungerer argues that Australia’s role as a stable, low-cost supplier of key commodities to the emerging great powers of Asia, China and India, gives Canberra a greater diplomatic bargaining tool than previous governments have been willing to acknowledge.

The report makes four key recommendations:

• Australia should reassess the idea that commodity marketing is a purely commercial issue that should be removed from state intervention
• Australia should immediately raise the current bilateral discussions with China on a free trade agreement into a ‘strategic economic dialogue’ that would aim to produce acceptable principles for foreign direct investment as well as greater stability in iron ore trade
• Australia should then seek to broaden that bilateral dialogue into a global campaign directed against speculation in commodity markets
• Australia should move to deepen our strategic partnership with India through the direct sale of uranium.

Nuclear Disarmament and the Challenges Facing Obama

Iranian Diplomacy is an international relations and foreign policy research center, founded and based in Tehran in 2007.

Every five years, signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) gather to review the status of the treaty, put forth recommended amendments, and discuss its future prospects. But this year’s conference may have a different implication for its attendees, as it is held at a time when U.S. President Barack Obama has set himself a nuclear mission.

Since his arrival in the White House, Obama has evinced an interest in international security in general, and nuclear security specifically. And in doing so, he has chosen a different path from that of his predecessor George W. Bush, supporting a multilateral approach that will ultimately serve the national security concerns of the United States.

To have a better understanding of Obama’s plans for international nuclear mechanisms, a look at some of the efforts he has made so far seems necessary:

1. Improving ties with Moscow is regarded by Obama as a prerequisite to improving global security. Since January 2009, when Obama started his term as the new U.S. president, Washington has pursued closer engagement with Moscow. The U.S. president met his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, ahead of the London G20 Conference. The two parties discussed nuclear disarmament and shortly after, released a joint statement centered on international security. Obama’s April 2009 speech in Prague further elaborated his approach towards international security and Russia’s role in its dynamics. Global security has gradually turned into the lynchpin of U.S.-Russia ties, culminating in the signing of the START II treaty.

2. The Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in mid-April was the first post-World War II conference to witness a gathering of world leaders in such large numbers. In two years, a sequel to the conference will be held in South Korea, paving the way for the development of an international nuclear material control system most likely headed by the Americans.

3. To advance his disarmament cause, Obama has returned to existing international institutions. The Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva is one of these institutions, which during Bush’s presidency had become paralyzed by a stubborn American delegation, unable to develop new treaties. Obama’s new and different approach, however, has invigorated CD and new disarmament conventions are about to be developed and implemented.

4. Unlike during the Bush era, the NPT has now become the primary source for prompting the international community towards disarmament. Nominally at least, the NPT has newfound value in the eyes of the United States. American officials are now not even frowning at Article VI of the treaty—which states that each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament—or at the Treaty in general (and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control).

Perhaps wishing to be known as one of the “celebrity” U.S. presidents, Obama sees himself bestowed with a historic mission. His health care bill, which registered his name beside the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, is the domestic equivalent of his international agenda. Multilateral efforts on the international scene, though, do not appear to be any easier than overcoming bipartisan politics in Washington.

Challenges for Obama are more than a few. The key stumbling block: the record of the nuclear powers (first in line the United States itself) involves dual standards when it comes to Israel. Is Obama ready to force Israel to join the NPT? If the U.S. president demands to be a legitimate patron of nuclear disarmament, he must engage Israel to that end, an almost Sisyphean task considering the unique nature of Washington-Tel Aviv relations.

Kazem Sajjadpour is a university professor and Iran-U.S. affairs analyst.

Moscow to Assist Venezuela in Urban Planning


Mérida, May 7th 2010 ( – On Thursday, Venezuela moved forward on an urban planning and development deal with the mayoralty of Moscow to help improve the water, electricity, and housing systems in Venezuela’s sprawling capital, Caracas.

During a meeting in Caracas, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzkhov signed a letter of intent to finalize a “Plan for City Development and Modernization of Urban Infrastructure” by September as part of the ongoing bilateral cooperation between Venezuela and Russia.

The head of the capital district of Caracas, Jacqueline Farías; the mayor of Caracas’s Libertador Municipality, Jorge Rodríguez; the minister for culture, Francisco Sesto; and the ministers for public works and housing, Diosdado Cabello, participated in the meeting.

Russia’s delegation included Russian Ambassador Vladimir Zaemsky, the head of the Moscow Urbanization Department, Alexander Kosovan, and the director of the Russia’s largest state-owned water and wastewater services company, Mosvodokanal, among other officials.

Caracas bears the mark of the OPEC nation’s unequal, oil export-driven growth during most of the Twentieth Century, particularly a stark contrast between the city’s wealthy elite sectors and its extensive slums where the majority poor live.

Mayor Luzkhov said his delegation came to Venezuela “not only to learn about the situation in Caracas but also to become part of a working group to help with the elaboration of a work plan.” He said that in the past, Moscow also had a vast poor population living in inadequate housing with few services, and that the city is willing to share its experiences in overcoming these problems.

President Chavez said the plan would start with an investment of $500 million in public housing, to be drawn from state oil company profits and a national budget surplus. Chavez said construction would begin in a 30 hectare (74 acre) plot near the military Tiuna Fort in Caracas.

Chavez added that the project would help Venezuela’s poor turn their “shacks into homes,” a reference to the name of a five year-old public housing plan that has provided for tens of thousands of Venezuela’s poor but failed to solve the national housing shortage, which some estimates place at more than 2 million.

Mayor Luzkhov said Caracas could also learn from Moscow’s water system. “The aqueduct system in Moscow is the biggest in the world. Therefore, we should take advantage of those experiences to make proposals to solve the water problem,” he said.

Meanwhile on Thursday, the Venezuelan National Assembly approved a credit of 400 million bolivars for water and waste treatment in cities nation-wide. 332 million bolivars will go to programs for the management of solid waste in Caracas’s largest slums, including 23 de Enero, La Vega, Caricuao, and Antimano. The rest will be distributed to state water companies to renovate reservoirs, build aqueducts and tubing for water distribution, and construct water purification plants, according to government sources.

Last year, Venezuela announced that 94% of its population had access to potable water, placing the Caribbean nation among the few countries to have fulfilled the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal for clean water access. However, the government says access to water is only 60% in rural areas, and economic growth continues to put pressure on water systems nation-wide.


Another major agenda item on Thursday was Venezuela’s electricity shortage, which was triggered by an extended dry season that debilitated Venezuela’s dams, from which the country draws nearly three-quarters of its electricity.

Electricity Minister Ali Rodriguez said on Thursday that heavy rains in April reversed the downward trend in water levels at the nation’s largest dam, El Guri. Since the rains passed, however, the water level has dropped to a new critical low of 248.22 meters.

To narrow the gap between energy supply and demand, the Venezuelan government has rapidly expanded thermoelectricity production over the last six months and established conservation measures that reduced nation-wide consumption by 2.5% in the first three months of this year.

This allowed the consortium of regional electricity companies, which were nationalized in 2006, to suspend energy rationing to most of the country, although some unscheduled blackouts continue to occur.

During Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Venezuela on April 2nd, the Russian energy company INTER-RAOUES agreed to build a 200-500 megawatt plant in Venezuela to help satisfy the demand, which has grown by more than 41% over the past ten years.

Meanwhile, two similar large-scale, natural gas-powered thermoelectric generators are being constructed at the nation’s largest steel plant, SIDOR, which itself consumes an estimated 800 to 1,000 megawatts, almost six percent of the country’s total demand.

During Thursday’s meeting, Chavez said the planned urban development projects would begin in Caracas and then be expanded to other urban centers. Leaders from both nations also discussed plans to build monuments to the heroes of the Russian Revolution of 1917 in Caracas, and to Venezuela’s independence heroes Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Miranda in Moscow.

Venezuela previously signed an agreement with the administration of former London Mayor Ken Livingstone to exchange urban planning expertise for £18 million worth of discounted Venezuelan fuel for London’s public bus system. The deal was scrapped in January by conservative Mayor Boris Johnson, who replaced Livingstone.

In related urban planning news, Venezuela’s state-controlled Social and Economic Development Bank of (BANDES) announced a credit of $167 million for the expansion of the metro system in the western city of Maracaibo by six stations

US New Air Force Combat Systems Officer Course opens at Navy base

by Capt. John Severns
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

5/7/2010 - PENSACOLA NAVAL AIR STATION, Fla. (AFNS) -- Air Force aviator training took a step into the 21st century May 5, when the inaugural class of Combat Systems Officer students began training here with the 479th Flying Training Group.

As they sat down in classes and began a new year-long training program, the CSO students became part of a fundamental transformation of Air Force training that started in 2002, when then Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper ordered a re-design of Air Force navigator training.

"With the CSO, we are taking the best of three programs: navigator, electronic warfare, and weapon systems officer, and combining them into a single training pipeline that will produce skilled, effective aviators able to meet the needs of combatant commanders," said Col. Richard Murphy, the 12th Flying Training Wing commander, at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

The CSO students being trained at Pensacola are part of a new generation of aviators as was envisioned by General Jumper nearly eight years ago. Rather than specializing as navigators, weapon systems officers or electronic warfare officers, CSOs will be trained in a common set of core skills and will be responsible for a high degree of airmanship to include advanced air operations, electromagnetic spectrum exploitation and aircraft weapon systems employment, said Lt. Col. Jason Werchan, the 479th FTG deputy commander.

After graduating, CSOs will often serve as mission commanders, working with the aircraft commander to maintain situational awareness of their environment and successfully complete their mission, whether they find themselves flying on a fighter, bomber, special ops, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or mobility platform.

The common skills gained at the new training will help prepare CSOs to fill any of the roles that were once filled by navigators, WSO or EWOs.

The training course that the new CSO students will attend includes some major changes, one of which is a significant increase in hands-on flying, Colonel Murphy said.

"The CSO of the future will hand-fly the aircraft during training on certain profiles," the Colonel said. With increased airmanship. They will know how to react at critical phases of flight to any kind of change in the environment or new developments in the mission.

"The ultimate goal is to create a more situationally aware CSO," Colonel Murphy said.

The CSO course at Pensacola will include 38 sorties in T-6 Texan II and modified T-1A Jayhawk trainers. These T-1 aircraft are uniquely modified platforms that are tailored to meet the specific multicrew training requirements of the CSO mission.

The T-6 training will focus on crew resource management, aircraft handling, aerobatics, low-level navigation and instruments. After completing that phase, students will move on to training in theT-1, where they will incorporate electronic warfare skills, advanced navigation, and air to air intercepts into actual aircraft training missions.

For training on the ground, CSO students will conduct 40 missions in T25 advanced navigation/electronic warfare simulators. These simulators are able to replicate the unique operational capabilities of aircraft across the service that a CSO might someday fly.

The 479th FTG became the 12th FTW's newest group in October, when it started operations in Florida as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Committee directive to relocate Air Force navigator training from Randolph AFB to NAS Pensacola, where the Navy conducts its Naval Flight Officer training. With the stand-up of the new group, nearly 35 percent of the 12th FTW is now located in Florida to include over 120 civil service maintainers.

"With so much of our wing now operating at a geographically separated location, communication and leadership are more important than ever," Colonel Murphy said. "We want our students to know, wherever they may be going through training, that they are still part of the 12th Flying Training Wing."

Greek General Strike Turns Tragic

When ISN Security Watch wrote seven weeks ago that ‘Brussels Fiddles While Athens Strikes,’ the Neronic allusion was intended half in irony, half as warning: This week Athens burned; and it is not yet even summer, the season known in southern Europe for wildfires, Robert M Cutler writes for ISN Security Watch.

By Robert M Cutler for ISN Security Watch

On Wednesday, three people died in Athens when a bank was set on fire in the course of furious popular protest - the third one-day general strike in as many weeks - against the austerity measures agreed by the Greek government with Brussels and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which the country’s parliament was making ready to ratify into law.

This tragedy follows monthly one-day general strikes since the start of the year, which have since April become weekly with next week no exception.

The taproot of Greek torment

Remarks made by a civil servant in the Greek Finance Ministry during an interviewgiven anonymously to a BBC correspondent are revelatory. Explaining first that “Greek people are willing to contribute and make sacrifices[, … b]ut first of all they want to stop political corruption [and] see the people responsible for this … brought to justice,” he confided further: “We knew for years in the ministry about the wrong figures being shown to the world about our GDP and our debt. We protested to our seniors but again no one would listen. We are very unhappy about it: taking to the streets is really our only option.”

Indeed, the main burden will fall on broad strata of the population who are not responsible for the economic policies that created the current situation. Among other measures, the retirement age will be raised and there will be large cuts in public pensions; taxes will increase and public services will be reduced or privatized. It is a palpable sense of unfairness that drives the popular discontent.

The most highly qualified members of the European financial elite have been caught out by the rapidity with which events have developed. As recently as six weeks ago, the president since 2005 of the Eurogroup (as the ministerial meeting of finance ministers of countries using the euro is called) Jean-Claude Juncker, who has also been Luxembourg’s prime minister for the last decade and a half and its finance minister for two decades until last year, stated to the press his confidence that Greece would not need any of the more modest help then being designed.

Into the labyrinth

Towards the beginning of this year, figures in the range of €20-30 billion were mentioned as the proper amount of a rescue package, later raised to €30-45 billion, but nothing was done at the time. In the event, the package finally agreed amounts to no less than €110 billion and brings in the IMF, an eventuality that the Europeans had earlier excluded. Yet these events were not unforeseeable; it did not have to be like this.

As Elisa Parisi-Capone, senior research analyst at Roubini Global Economics (RGE), told ISN Security Watch, even though the problem was recognized as one of potential insolvency of the state rather than just not having enough cash on hand, “an early disbursement of liquidity assistance would have prevented market uncertainty and contagion from spreading out of control, and it would have bought more time for an orderly resolution.”

Parisi-Capone underlines that it would have been even “better to use official resources to absorb the collateral damage of a debt restructuring” rather than to help out private investors, since doing the latter “will eventually not prevent an unavoidable debt restructuring.”

Moreover, “if the planned fiscal adjustment under [the adopted plan] fails to materialize, [then] there might not be enough funding left to implement” the strategy that RGE consistently advocated as ‘Plan B,’ namely, the pre-emptive restructuring of Greece’s debt to give the country more time to pay it off. Plan B would use the dedicated funds “to stave off an inter-bank run and prevent contagion to other periphery countries.”

Banking, the nerves of finance

One of the seldom-mentioned elements linking the Greek crisis with other countries in the eurozone periphery is that Portuguese banks are overextended in Greece, and Spanish banks are overextended in Greece and Portugal. Thus there is the danger of the effects of the crisis rebounding. And this issue is technically separate from others such as the finance crisis among Central and Eastern European EU members who do not use the euro, where Austrian banks happen to be overextended.

Indeed, stabilizing the banking system is key. A fascinatingmap of interconnections of indebtedness shows just how and why. Yet that map does not show still further interconnections.

Parisi-Capone mentions that, “given the large market share of Greek subsidiaries in Bulgaria, Romania and Albania, stress on Greek bank liquidity would likely have an adverse effect on the ability of Greek banks to maintain stable financial services to foreign subsidiaries.”

So far as Greece is concerned, the current €110 billion package covers the maturing debt and additional deficit funding needs from now to end 2012. Parisi-Capone explains that “under the joint agreement the first disbursement will occur on 19 May when €8.5 billion in bonds mature. July and October see further refinancing needs of about €2 billion each. In 2011, March, May and August see funding spikes.”

But this is the first act and not the final. Recent bank analyst estimates of the hypothetical financing needs necessary to support Portugal and Spain, should the same conditions apply to them as to Greece, reach figures over €450 billion (this table is in euros), and already reports circulate of Spain seeking help in the range over €280 billion, although the country’s prime minister denies it.

Robert M Cutler is a senior research fellow at the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University in Canada.

KASAB: 'Death sentence will take time’

May 09 2010

‘Death sentence will take time’

Ujjwal Nikam, the special public prosecutor for the 26/11 trial, has been involved in several other high-profile cases, including the 1993 bomb blasts case. In an
interview with Umesh Mohite, he talks about different aspects of the 26/11 trial — the verdict, the evidence and the nature of the crime itself.

Q. How will you differentiate between the 1993 bomb blasts and the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks? In your view, what are the major factors that make the two cases different?
A. In the 1993 bomb blast case, Indians were involved. There, the motivating factors were different, such as religious feelings. Tiger Memon, Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and others from the underworld were involved in it, but there wasn’t really a direct international connection. But in case of 26/11, there was an international connection — Pakistan’s involvement. While the 1993 bomb blasts were a result of an outburst of strong emotional and religious feelings, what happened in November 2008 was a calculated, pre-planned attack, devoid of any religious or emotional sentiments.

Q. What was the difference between the two trials?
A. The difference is in the number of people accused in the two cases. In the bomb blast case, there were 123 accused, of whom 100 were convicted. In this case, there was just one terrorist who was caught, apart from two Indians — Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmad. Another difference is that in this case, I have been the only prosecutor handling the trial. But in the 1993 bomb blast trial, the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) had the upper hand, and they had their own prosecutors and officers and other personnel. In this case, I prepared the documents on my own, I alone filed the formal affidavits of the witnesses, and led the prosecution.

Q. You say that this was a crime committed against the society. But then, by its very definition, every crime is a wrong committed against the society and hence punishable, unlike cases under the Tort law, which is a wrong committed at a personal level and which can be compensated. How then would you differentiate this crime from others?
A. Every crime has a different motive. Some crimes are committed for pecuniary gains, some are committed out of rage, some have extraneous motives or personal enmity. But in this case, the differentiating factor is that there was no personal enmity between the accused and the victims, or, for that matter, between the accused and the nation. The attackers’ only motive was to kill everyone around them, without any reason. That’s why I refer to the Sanskrit subhashit that says those who kill others for their own interests are called manav rakshas, demons in the form of human beings. The poet of this subhashit also said that he was at a loss to describe someone who kills for nothing. I too have no words to describe such an act.

Q. You have been a part of many important trials. Which of these do you think was the most important one so far?
A. This was by far the most important trial I have been in. Here, a foreign country actually waged war on us through terrorists. I personally call this a proxy war. So, to convict an accused in such a case was always going to have international ramifications.

Q. What about the others who were involved in this conspiracy to wage the war? What should be done about them?
A. All the 35 accused are part of the conspiracy that was hatched in Pakistan much before the terror attack started on November 26, 2008. Kasab named 20 such persons in his confessional statement. We have already issued Red Corner Notices and non-bailable warrants against them. Kasab’s arrest was important from this point of view. If he had not been arrested, there wouldn’t have been a confessional statement, and we would not have been able to prove anything against Pakistan.

Q. When you start a trial, how you go about it? What kind of aim do you set for yourself in a trial? Did you set any such aim for yourself in this trial?
A. In any trial, my primary aim is not just to get the court to punish the accused, but to go to the very root of the crime. My goal is to find out whether the accused indeed committed the crime, and if yes, then to bring them to justice.

Q. The court acquitted the two Indians who were accused. What do you think went wrong? Do you agree with what the court said, that the quality and quantity of evidence against them was not convincing?
A. Our courts still carry on the British legacy. It is very important that the court appreciates the evidence that is there. But this court’s verdict is not the final verdict. We do have certain legal options to challenge the verdict.

Q. How important was Kasab’s arrest? Was all the money and manpower spent over him really necessary?
A. Absolutely necessary. Kasab’s arrest is extremely important, and it was absolutely imperative to protect him. Through Kasab, we can expose the terrorist activities of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, and throw light on terrorist activities in Pakistan. If Kasab had not been arrested, we would have had no proof and Pakistan would never have accepted its involvement in the terror attack. Now, Pakistan has been compelled to take action and try the other offenders in court.

Q. How long will it take to actually implement Kasab’s punishment? Do you think the legal process in cases where terrorists are involved should be speeded up?
A. We are a democratic country and our justice system is based only on the rule of law. Therefore, we have to go through the usual legal process that is valid for any other trial, where every accused has a right to prepare an appeal. I think it will take another six months for the high court to uphold the punishment given by the special court, if it agrees with the awarding of capital punishment. Then another few months for the appeal in the Supreme Court, not to mention the final mercy petition to the President. This is, of course, if he files all the above. I think implementing the death sentence will take some time.

Q. Do you think that the media has any role to play in such a trial?
A. The media has a very important role to play, and they did it very well. Because of the media, the common man got to know how the trial was taking shape. The media also played the vital role of a watchdog, helping to ensure that things are carried according to the law.

Q. What is the next stage of the trial? Is there a chance that Kasab can be extradited, as Pakistan has been demanding, and can the other accused Pakistanis be brought to India?
A. It is high time that Pakistan accepts its role in terrorism. I can’t fathom its logic in continuously demanding Kasab’s custody! Section 403 of the Pakistani Criminal Procedure Code says that once a criminal accused is convicted of a charge, he or she cannot be tried for the same offence again, to avoid double jeopardy. So now that Kasab has been convicted, how can Pakistan try him again for the same charge? It is a fallacy — a complete eyewash. I think Pakistan is doing this as part of a strategy. They know that he cannot be handed over, and so they will simply say that they cannot prosecute him since India didn’t hand him over to them.
With regard to the other accused, since we don’t have an extradition treaty with Pakistan all we could do was issue Red Corner Notices and warrants for their arrest through the Interpol.

Q. How did your family helped you through this entire trial? What did they feel when Kasab was declared guilty?
A. My family is not quite happy since I have been spending most of my time at work away from them. They know that even after this trial is completed, there will still be some other trial. But they are always with me. I had a talk with my wife after the conviction and she asked me how the court could let off the two accused Indians. She wanted me to be fully successful, you see. But I explained everything to her and she sympathised with me.

Mauritius wants greater Indian role

Pranay Gupte

We want India to assist us in our sustainable economic development efforts, says Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Rashid Beebeejaun.

— Photo: Pranay Gupte

Ahmed Rashid Beebeejaun: Indian companies are welcome but they should be more present and more forceful.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Rashid Beebeejaun says that Mauritius wants greater participation by Indian companies in developing the infrastructure of this island-nation.

“Our bilateral relations have always been excellent, but we feel that there's much more room for collaboration,” Mr. Beebeejaun said in an interview with The Hindu on Friday at his modest office in the capital city of Port Louis. “We expect more interest from our friends in India in setting up enterprises here.”

Besides strengthening the infrastructure of this Indian Ocean country of 1.3 million people, Mr. Beebeejaun said Indian companies could assist in such fields as renewable energy, shipping, electricity generation, and sewage-treatment.

“I can personally assure you that Indian companies will be welcome in Mauritius,” the 75-year-old Deputy Prime Minister said. “But they should be more present, and more forceful. Certainly, all Indians who come here are made to feel at home. But that's only the first step. The second step is that we want them to assist us in our sustainable economic development efforts, and deliver. But hardly any Indian firms are showing much interest so far.”

Mr. Beebeejaun suggested that foreign direct investment from Mauritius into India “could possibly increase”. The current FDI figure of nearly $12 million annually is the highest of any country in India, and more than three times that of the next biggest FDI provider, the United States.

On trade

The FDI from Mauritius is not necessarily indigenous money but funds routed from other sources that take advantage of this country's liberal tax regulations. India, however, does not figure high on the list of countries from where Mauritius imports consumer and other products. India annually sends about $200 million worth of such goods, including cotton, to Mauritius — barely 10 per cent of this country's total imports. Imports from China exceed $500 million, and more and more Chinese tourists have also been coming here in recent years.

Mr. Beebeejaun spoke a day after winning a tough race in the election for the 60-member Parliament. The three-party alliance led by Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam obtained 41 seats, while 18 went to the leftist Mouvement Militant Mauricien, and one was wrested by an Islamist candidate.

The Deputy Prime Minister looked fit and surprisingly relaxed for a man who had just completed a brutal political campaign. In that campaign, he was maligned by Muslim opponents as not being a faithful Muslim.

Mr. Beebeejaun said he was not bothered by “false and malicious” accusations.

“Some Muslims resented the fact that I did not say that I was a Muslim first and foremost,” he said. “I am first and foremost a Mauritian. I am a man of deep personal faith. I practise my religion. But I believe in sharing universal values. I believe in nation building. I participate in all national functions. I attend Chinese festivals, I attend Hindu festivals, I attend mass at churches. I feel enriched by such exposure to my country's diversity and religions.”

“Mauritius is one place where we celebrate our differences,” Mr. Beebeejaun said. “As in India, Hindus and Muslims and Christians and others live together under the banner of one nation. Those who seek divide us pollute minds and create groundwork for an undesirable legacy.”

He was alluding to the communalism that has long characterised certain sectors of Mauritian society, where nearly 50 per cent of the population is Hindu, followed by other communities such as Creoles, Christians, Muslims and whites of French descent known as Francos.

“We seek to build in Mauritius a nation where every component of society feels part of the national spirit,” Mr. Beebeejaun said. “I belong to a government that represents all our people, and not any one single community.”

Indeed, Mr. Beebeejaun added, Mauritius could point proudly to the fact that, as a nation, it had acquired a reputation for being non-ideological and nonpartisan. Noting the many friendships of his friend and boss, Prime Minister Ramgoolam, with world leaders of different political persuasions, Mr. Beebeejaun said the non-partisanship of Mauritius in world affairs offered it “independence and flexibility”.

On the international scene

There are reports that these elements may be utilised by Mauritius to amplify its voice on the international scene, perhaps through the establishment of a centre for the global south. Such a centre could consist of a think tank on strategic communications and public diplomacy, and also focus on promoting cross-cultural understanding.

While Mauritius has maintained non-partisanship sine its independence from the British 42 years ago, it has also sought to strengthen economic links with other developing nations, particularly in Africa, West Asia, and Asia.

In recent years, Asian giants such as China and India have figured large on the Mauritian radar. China is building an industrial city here to assemble consumer and other goods for re-export to Africa and Europe. Indian leaders visit Mauritius frequently, and Prime Ministers Ramgoolam and Manmohan Singh are known for their warm rapport.

Asked how concerned he was that the growing Chinese economic presence in Mauritius is reportedly irritating India, Mr. Beebeejaun said: “Our relationship with China is not at the expense of India. We believe in friendship and cooperation with all countries who demonstrate good will toward Mauritius.”

May 07, 2010

National Mission for Manuscripts to publish 'Soundarya Lahari'

Bangalore May 6: National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) has created a database of over three million manuscripts scattered all over the country, Director NMM, Prof Dipti S Tripathi said today.

Talking to newspersons here after inaugurating a workshop on 'Importance of Kadatas and Its Conservation' organised jointly by Karnataka State Archives and NMM here today, Prof Tripathi said creating a database of over 3 million manuscripts was an herculean task.

She said that while NMM was continuing its job on creating database on ancient manuscripts, paintings and books which not only reflects country's history, heritage and culture, was not indulged in dissemination of knowledge contained and concealed in the database.

She said as a first step NMM had planned to publish the Sanskrit manuscript 'Soundarya Lahari' originally scripted by Adi Shankara, praising the almighty for having created the universe and its creatures. The publication of Soundarya Lahari containing 100 'slokas' would be done in three languages including English, Hindi and Gujarati. The original script on 'Soundarya Lahari', which was in Sanskrit was handed over to NMM from a Gujarati citizen and hence it was also being published in the local language, she said.

The NMM had chosen to publish the facsimile version of'Bhagawat Purana' dated to Moghul period which was scripted in Persian language, she said.



Najibullah Zazi , a 25-year-old Afghan citizen with permanent resident status in the US, was arrested by the USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in September 2009 on a charge of belonging to an Al Qaeda motivated and trained cell, which was allegedly planning suicide bombings in the New York City subway system. He pleaded guilty along with one of two other co-conspirators. The third co-conspirator did not plead guilty. The case is reserved for judgement in June.

2.According to the prosecution, the three had planned to attack the subway system at the instance of Saleh al-Somali, Al-Qaeda's head of external operations, and Rashid Rauf, who was described by the prosecution as an Al-Qaeda operative. Rashid Rauf, who was reportedly killed in a US Drone (pilotless plane) strike in North Waziristan in November,2008, belonged to the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) of Pakistan and was related by marriage to Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the JEM.

3. Zarein Ahmedzay, a 25-year-old former New York taxi driver, one of the three co-conspirators, who pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, claimed the three had bought ingredients to make explosives similar to those used in the July 7 2005 bombings in London which killed 52 people on three tube trains and a bus. Ahmedzay told the court that he travelled to Pakistan with Najibullah Zazi and Adis Medunjanin in the summer of 2008. They went to a training camp in North Waziristan and volunteered to join the Taliban and fight the US forces in Afghanistan, but were told they would be "more useful if we returned to New York City... to conductoperations."Asked by the judge what kind of operations, he said: "Suicide-bombing operations.” Zazi told the court:"During the training, al Qaeda leaders asked us to return to the United States and conduct a martyrdom operation. We agreed to this plan." It was reported on April 13,2010, that a fourth suspect in the case----not yet named as a co-conspirator---had been arrested in Pakistan and that the US authorities were trying to get him to the US for interrogation.

4.Rashid Rauf, who motivated them, was from a Mirpuri family of Birmingham. The Mirpuris are the Punjabi-speaking residents of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). He disappeared from the UK in 2002 after the British Police suspected him in connection with the murder of one of his relatives in Birmingham. On August 9, 2006, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) claimed to have picked him up from a house inBhawalpur, southern Punjab, which he had bought after coming to Pakistan in 2002. The Pakistani authorities claimed that he was in close touch with Al Qaeda and that it was his arrest that gave them an inkling regarding the imminence of the plot of a group of jihadi extremists based in the UK to blow up a number of US-bound planes. The discovery of the conspiracy and the arrest of many UK-based suspects of Pakistani origin were then announced by the British Police.

5.Despite his alleged involvement in the August 2006 plot to blow up a number of US-bound planes with liquid explosives, the Pakistani authorities avoided handing him over to the British Police for interrogation. The Government of Pakistan told a court on October 30, 2006, that Rashid Rauf had been detained under the Security of Pakistan Act. A Rawalpindi Anti-Terrorism Judge, Justice Safdar Hussain Malik, passed orders on November 21, 2006, approving his judicial custody in the Adiala jail. This ruled out his early transfer to the British Police for interrogation. He escaped from custody under mysterious circumstances on December, 16,2007, while being taken back to jail from the court. Many alleged that the ISI had allowed him to escape to avoid pressure from the British Police to hand him over for interrogation.

6. Quoting an unnamed senior Pakistani security official, an Islamabad datelined report of the Agence France Press (AFP) stated as follows on November 22, 2008: "The alleged mastermind of a 2006 transatlantic airplane bombing plot was killed in a US missile attack in northwest Pakistan early Saturday (November 15, 2008) .The transatlantic bombing plot alleged mastermind Rashid Rauf was killed along with an Egyptian Al-Qaeda operative in the US missile strike in North Waziristan early Saturday," a senior security official told AFP. The Al-Qaeda operative killed in the strike was identified as Abu Zubair al-Misri, the official added. He and the Egyptian Al-Qaeda operative were killed along with at least two other militants in a US drone attack on the house of a local tribesman in the village of Alikhel, part of a district known as a stronghold for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, officials said. The missile strike came days after another US drone attack which killed six rebels, including an Arab Al-Qaeda operative. That attack prompted Taliban militants based in the rugged tribal territory bordering Afghanistan to warn of reprisal attacks across Pakistan if there were more strikes by the US. "

7.According to the “Daily Telegraph”,Rauf had been suspected of involvement in almost every significant terrorist plot in Britain since his escape to Pakistan in 2002, including the explosions of July 7, 2005 in London, the failed attacks of July 21, 2005 in London and the plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic.He was also behind an alleged plan to attack shopping centres in Manchester during Easter 2008.

8.Maulana Masood Azhar used to be a leader of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), a founding member of Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front For Jihad against the Crusaders and the Jewish People formed in 1998. Its then Amir, Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, was a signatory of bin Laden’s first fatwa calling for attacks against the US. Azhar had fought as a member of bin Laden’s group in Somalia in the early 1990s. In 1994, he entered India and was arrested by the Police and kept in custody in Jammu & Kashmir. He was one of those released by the Government of India in December,1999, to secure the release of the passengers of a plane of the Indian Airlines hijacked by the HUM to Kandahar to demand the release of Azhar and others. After his return to Pakistan from Kandahar, Azhar developed differences with Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, left the HUM and formed his own organization in January 2000 called the JEM. bin Laden failed in his efforts to patch up the differences between the two. He then switched his support from the HUM to the JEM.

9. The JEM was very active in J&K and was suspected of involvement in the attempted attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi on December 13,2001. Unlike the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), which never indulges in an act of terrorism in Pakistani territory and against Pakistani targets, the JEM has been involved in acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory. It was suspected of involvement, along with Al Qaeda, in the two unsuccessful attempts to kill Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi in December,2003.It supported the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in its operations against the Pakistan Army in the Swat Valley and then in South Waziristan. It is now believed to have its training camps in NorthWaziristan along with those of Ilyas Kashmiri of the 313 Brigade.

10. Since Rashid Rauf joined it in 2002, the JEM has been training members of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK. The Zazi’s case was the first indication that it may be training jihadi volunteers from the US too. As part of the investigation into the attempted incendiary attack in Times Square of New York by Faisal Shahzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, on May 1,2010, four suspected members of the JEM in Pakistan are reported to have been detained by the Pakistani authorities. Among those detained is one Muhammed Rehan, a suspected associate ofShahzad who allegedly has links to the JEM. According to a senior Pakistani official, Rehan made possible a meeting between Shahzad and at least one senior Taliban official. He alleged that Rehan drove Shahzad on July 7, 2009, to Peshawar. They also went to the Waziristanregion, where they met with one or more senior Taliban leaders.

11. The suspected involvement of the JEM in the training of Faisal, if proved correct, would indicate, in the wake of its involvement in the motivation and training of the Zazi cell, a possible link between the members of the Zazi cell and Faisal. It would also indicate the possibility that like Zazi, Faisal was not acting alone. The JEM is becoming as worrisome as the LET as a surrogate of Al Qaeda using angry elements in the Pakistani diaspora for acts of terrorism not only in the UK as it had done in the past, but also in the US now. ( 7-5-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-Mail: )