October 01, 2010

The Kyrgyzstan polls

Rajeev Sharma
Saturday, September 25, 2010 AT 04:30 PM (IST)

The elections are important for all the major powers in the world

The October 10 elections in the Central Asian nation Kyrgyzstan are fraught with strategic overtones. In contrast, hardly anyone ever noticed the July 2009 elections in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan polls mean a lot for various stakeholders in the region: for India (whose only foreign military base is in Central Asia -- Tajikistan); for Russia (which has been pursuing an aggressive keep-off approach for Central Asian region which Moscow considers its backyard); for the United States as Kyrgyzstan is the latest nation state around Russia where Washington has recently lost a great deal of diplomatic and strategic clout to Moscow; and for China (which has dramatically increased its sweepstakes in the region over the years, much to the consternation of Moscow).

India has not been maintaining one embassy and four consulates in Afghanistan for nothing -- the United States is the only other country where India is currently maintaining five diplomatic missions in one country. India looks at Afghanistan’s importance not only from its traditional Pakistan prism but also from the futuristic strategic leverage that Central Asia promises. Afghanistan is the door to Central Asia, precisely why China too has been upping its ante for gaining its access to the region just when the US is preparing to exit.

Russia hasn’t forgotten how it was shortchanged by the US which nibbled into the Central Asian cake in the name of the international war against terror in the wake of 9/11. The US military bases are still not out of the region and the chances are that they never will. Against this backdrop, Russia signed a military pact with Kyrgyzstan on September 24 that would mean a sure shot expansion of Russian military presence in Kyrgyzstan for arms and cash. Significantly, Russia’s lease on its military bases in Kyrgyzstan is to last 49 years.

The deal was signed after intense negotiations between the two sides. A Russian military delegation led by Col. Gen. Valery Gerasimov, deputy commander of the armed forces general staff, has been camping in Kyrgyzstan since September 19, holding talks with its Kyrgyz defence counterparts. The deal would allow Russia to create a unified base structure in Kyrgyzstan and consolidating Russia’s four military facilities in the country -- an air base in Kant, a naval training and research centre at Lake Issyk-Kul, and seismic facilities in the Issyk-Kul and Jalal-Abad regions -- under a single, joint command. Russia also announced a $50 million aid package for Kyrgyzstan to keep it solvent.

The US has been concerned about the Russian resurgence. Kyrgyzstan was the latest nation state around Russia to fall from the US perspective. After much turmoil over several months, former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted by a Russian-backed uprising in April 2010. Russia obviously must be mighty pleased to see the back of Bakiyev, who had been trying to walk a diplomatic tightrope in his eventually failed attempts to counterbalance Russia and the US. Bakiyev had been using the US transit centre at Manas, a key logistical hub in Kyrgyzstan for US operations in Afghanistan. His clever diplomacy was aimed at pitting Moscow and Washington against each other to get more money out of both. Russia successfully installed a friendlier interim government led by Roza Otunbayeva. Washington could not do anything more than helplessly watching the events unfold as Bishkek had requested Moscow to increase its military presence in Kyrgyzstan after widespread racial violence broke out again in June in the southern regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad.

India has a deep strategic interest in Central Asia. This has gathered all the more urgency as China has made forays into this region. China has substantially upgraded its involvement with Central Asia in the past few years through Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan figures prominently in the Chinese chessboard for Central Asia. China plans to build a transnational highway from Pakistan through Afghanistan to Central Asia.

China has been keeping a watchful eye on the US-Russian rivalry in the Central Asian strategic space. However, Beijing has assiduously refrained from pursuing as aggressive diplomacy in the region so far as Washington and Moscow are doing. The Chinese policy makers have taken the regime change in Bishkek in their stride, as reflected by a comment of the government-owned "China Daily" that the regime change in Bishkek "will not hurt ties with China." Beijing’s official line is as follows: "No matter which party is in power, it will value China-Kyrgyzstan relations." China is all set to become Kyrgyzstan's number one economic partner, with bilateral trade with this country of just five million people hitting the $10 billion mark recently. In contrast, the India-Kyrgyzstan trade volume is almost one-hundredth of the China-Kyrgyzstan trade.

Ayodhya judgment could have security implications: Expert

The Ayodhya judgment can add to the list of perceived or real injustices in section of Muslim youth, noted security expert and rediff.com columnist B Raman has said.

Talking to
rediff.com about the likely repercussions of the Ayodhya judgment on internal security issues of India, he said, "The younger elements in organisations such as the Student Islamic Movement of India and the Indian Mujahideen [ Images ] will see the judgment as another instance of injustice against the Muslims. Their anger and motivation could increase."

"I do apprehend more acts of terrorism by them. There will be no communal riots like the one that the country saw after the demolition of the Babri Masjid [
Images ], but incidents of reprisal terrorism could increase," Raman noted.

While talking about the administration's capability to counter such acts, he said, "Normally, the administration is capable of taking care of it. But it will be difficult to prevent sporadic acts of terrorism when anger increases in the community."

On diffusing the anger in the community, the security expert said, "Economic measures like more jobs etc will not help when the increased anger is due to perceptions of wrongs against the Muslim community.
The government should seek the cooperation of the elder members of the community to soften the anger of the younger elements."

Changing face of Russo-Pakistan ties

By MV Kamath


If Afghanistan will get Russian help, why would it want aid from India which would now have to face a Moscow-Kabul-Islamabad entente? But will a Russian-Pakistan relationship help in resolving Indo-Pakistan conflict? With Russia present once again in Afghanistan in a big way, would Pakistan be able to treat Afghanistan as a place to fall-back in case of a conflict with India?

IS Russia slowly but noticeably turning away from India for a more profitable relationship with Pakistan, unbelievable as it may seem? Is India’s tilt towards the United States slowly pushing Moscow to improve its relations with our immediate and hostile western neighbour, at our cost? For over half a century, during the Cold War and after, the Soviet Union and later Russia has stood by India, but now, it seems, the situation is perceptibly changing. It has now been brought to the notice of Indians by a remarkable expose in The Hindu (September 9) by a Russian correspondent, Vladimir Radyuhin which must wake up India from its political slumber.

The story is that early in August, this year, President Medvedev of Russia hosted a quadripartite summit, by inviting leaders of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan to a Black Sea resort Sochi, for high-level discussions. Pakistan was represented by Asaf Ali Zardari. And what is the significance of this meeting? One, Moscow has decisively moved to de-hyphenate its relations with Delhi and Islamabad. Two, it has shown that Russo-Pak relations have been promoted to the highest-presidential-level. And three, that Moscow has overcome its former reluctance to develop full-fledged relations with Islamabad. These are ominous developments. Delhi remains stunned.

As Radyuhin remarks: "Little wonder then, that even after three weeks after the Summit, there has been no reaction from New Delhi". What has made Moscow do a turn-around in its relations with Pakistan? Radyuhin himself provides the answer. It is, he says, the realisation that seeing Islamabad as part of the region’s problems does not help to advance the Russian goal of playing a bigger role in the region". Moscow’s current belief is that "Pakistan must be part of the solution". Pakistan has so far had two powerful friends: the United States and China.

In order to fight India, from the beginning, Islamabad agreed to be the running dog of American imperialism. That paid Pakistan handsomely, in terms of money and material. It went overboard to obey Washington’s dictat and has now realised that this has only landed it in the soup.

The United States is now the most hated country in Pakistan and Zardari has to find a way out. For a long time, to balance US interests, Islamabad courted China, which willingly gave its support because it had its own ulterior motives. In the first place, it wanted to encircle India and cultivating Pakistan was a sound decision from Beijing’s point of view. Secondly, it wanted direct access to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf and a friendly and purchaseable government in Islamabad was to China’s advantage. China has helped build Gwadar port in Baluchistan and can, in no time, send its forces from Zinjiang in Central Asia to Gwadar in 48 hours.

Now Moscow has woken up. In olden times Britain had tried to keep Russia away from the Indian Ocean-and succeeded. Now Britain is no longer in the picture. The United States by its unscrupulous high-handedness has not only humiliated Pakistan but has made it a victim of the very forces US helped raise for throwing Soviet forces out of Afghanistan -the jihadis. For Pakistan, closer cooperation with Russia would be more paying then continued subservience to Washington-and forget the painful past.

To gain Pakistan’s goodwill Russia has promised to aid in two major projects: One project-CASA (Central Asia South Asia) 1000, involves the export of electricity from power-rich Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The other is a motorable road and a railway from Tajikistan to Pakistani across the Wakhan border in extreme northeast Afghanistan, thereby giving Pakistan direct access to the markets of Central Asia and Russia, while Tajikistan-and Russia-will get access to Pakistani ports, a dream long entertained by Russia.

It is suggested that China, too, will stand to gain, as the road is likely to be linked with the Karakorum Highway, connecting Pakistan with China’s Xinjinag region. That should slowly make US help irrelevant to Pakistan. What is significant is that Russia may go still further and become a donor of economic, social and military-political security for Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan-the ultimate irony! Understandably, Russia has a good reason to help the Islamic trio: it will clear the region of US and NATO forces. Already, it would appear that Dimitry Medvedev has renewed his country’s offer to re-build about 140 industrial and infra-structure projects in Afghanistan which the Soviet Union had originally set up during its decade-old military interception.

The deal may be worth one billion dollars, but it may help Moscow to get access to Afghanistan’s oil, gas and minerals. The investment would be eminently worthwhile. Russia’s come-back, in the circumstances, may also help persuade some two lakh Soviet-educated Afghans who had fled the Taliban to Russia, to return to their motherland.

What would this mean to India? It is too early to come to any conclusions. If Afghanistan will get Russian help, why would it want aid from India which would now have to face a Moscow-Kabul-Islamabad entente? But will a Russian -Pakistan relationship help in resolving Indo-Pakistan conflict? With Russia present once again in Afghanistan in a big way, would Pakistan be able to treat Afghanistan as a place to fall-back in case of a conflict with India? Alternately, will Russia be able to get Pakistan out of its anti-India mind-set and help set up peace at last in the Indian sub-continent? That is anybody’s guess.

Writes Radyuhin: "The Sochi Summit has dimmed India’s hope of gaining a strategic foothold in Tajikistan. India and Russia had planned to jointly use the Ayni airfield which India helped to renovate, but Indian presence there looks doubtful now, in the context of the emerging Russia-Afghanistan-Tajikistan axis. India will of course, remain Russia’s close friend and strategic partner but it will have to learn to live with the new Russian- Pakistani bonhomie, just as Russia has taken in its stride India’s entitlement with the US".

What seems obvious is that a whole new political equation is emerging in Central Asian sub-continental politics with consequences yet to be clear. With Pakistan likely to slip out of US control, Washington may wish to be courting India. Delhi would be wise to keep its distance from the US. Russia would still be its best bet, as it has been all these years. We don’t need to be America’s cat’s paw in South Asia.

If NATO actions justified in historical Afghanistan, then why not in artificial Pakistan?

Prof. Naela Quadri Baloch
Baloch Republican Party

Pakistan is a jail for all nations chained in its artificial boundaries, Balochs and Pashtuns are facing massive killings, abductions, torture, rape and all forms of war crimes by Pakistan the chokidar serving imperialist interests in the region that kills and sells its own citizens. Pakistan proudly declared itself as partner for NATO actions in the region and supplied every thing it could, if these operations are justified in Afghanistan having a destined status in history, then why not in this artificial Pakistan for the same reasons? But Pakistan’s record of heneous crimes has already crossed all limits. An artificial country that is known as hatchery and nursery for terrorists, that is offering its territory to signatories of CTBT for testing of nuclear weapons, that is acting as sales agent of nuclearisation in the region, it interferes& interrupts neighbor’s sovereignty and why not deserve the same? Pakistan has worst record in list of world’s human rights organizations for its violations of national and international laws and extrajudicial killings of political opponents.

An artificial country that has occupied historical territories and resources of nations like Balochs, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Siraikis all demand freedom. Recent over load of rain waters were turned towards population of these oppressed nations just to assure safety of infrastructure of occupiers, causing deaths and displacements of millions. There are many more reasons for UN and international community to intervene and check what is going on in this boundary of war crimes called Pakistan and decide how to control this serious threat to the security of the globe, humanity and civilization.

September 30, 2010



Mr.Leon Panetta, the Director of the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), arrived in Islamabad on September 29,2010, for talks with Lt.Gen.Shuja Pasha, the Director-General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He was also scheduled to meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani and Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff ( COAS).

2. Ever since he took over as the head of the CIA last year, Mr.Panetta had been periodically visiting Pakistan for talks with Pakistani leaders and officials on action against Al Qaeda, the Afghan and Pakistani Talibans and other affiliates of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistani territory. He has also been utilizing these visits for discussing with his own officers based in the Af-Pak area the operations of the Drones (pilotless planes), which are co-ordinated by the CIA.

3. His latest visit is, therefore, not a matter for surprise. However, it has assumed more than the usual significance because of indicators that the Jalaluddin Haqqani network, which has been the bete noire of the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, has been operating increasingly from new sanctuaries in the Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). This area, which has seen some bloody fighting between the Shias and the Sunnis during the last two years, has not been the focus of the intensified Drone strikes, which have been confined to North Waziristan ( an estimated 64 strikes this year) and South Waziristan (an estimated six).

4.Because of the sensitive Shia-Sunni angle in the Kurram Agency, the US has till now left the responsibility for action against the Taliban sanctuaries in the Agency to the Pakistan Army, which has been claiming to have mounted ground and air strikes against them. Despite the Pakistani claims, there has been no reduction in cross-border raids into Afghanistan by well-trained elements of the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani network, from sanctuaries in the Kurram Agency.

5. It is dissatisfaction with the operations which the Pakistan Army claims to have launched in the Agency which has resulted in the decision of the NATO forces in Afghanistan to exercise the right of hot pursuit against the Taliban and Haqqani network elements fleeing back into the Kurram Agency after ambushing/attacking the NATO forces in Afghanistan. This hot pursuit is being exercised in helicopters and not through ground operations. In one such hot pursuit this week, a Pakistani checkpost came under fire from a NATO helicopter resulting in the alleged death of three Pakistani security personnel.

6. According to well-informed Pakistani sources, one of the purposes of the latest visit of the CIA chief is to remonstrate with the ISI and Pakistani Army officials over their failure to act against the sanctuaries in the Kurram Agency and caution them that continued inaction or inadequate action by the Pakistan army could force the US to extend its Drone strikes to the Kurram Agency.

7.According to the same sources, the US continues to be unhappy with the Pakistani inaction in North Waziristan and inadequate action in South Waziristan. The stepped-up Drone strikes have disrupted the functioning of Al Qaeda from North Waziristan, but have not had much of an impact on the operations of the so-called 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), another Uzbek group, which has been drawing followers from persons of Turkish origin, including Kurds, living in Germany.

8. Ever since the publication of some cartoons of the Prophet by a Danish paper in 2005, Al Qaeda and its associates based in Pakistan’s tribal belt have been exploring ways of mounting terrorist attacks in reprisal against Western targets in Europe. Ilyas Kashmiri has been playing an important role in this regard. Evidence of his role in looking for opportunistic attacks on behalf of Al Qaeda in Europe came from the interrogation of David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), who was arrested by the FBI in October last year.

9. His interrogation brought out that he had helped the LET in preparing the groundwork for the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai and was similarly helping Ilyas Kashmiri in preparing the groundwork for terrorist strikes in Denmark. In fact, Ilyas Kashmiri was reported to have told Headley that he controlled operational assets in Europe whom Headley could use without having to depend on the LET for the European operations.

10.A Press release issued on January 14,2010, by the Public Affairs Division of the US Justice Department had said as follows: “Headley allegedly traveled in January 2009, from Chicago to Copenhagen, Denmark, to conduct surveillance of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper offices in Copenhagen and Aarhus and to videotape the surrounding areas In late January 2009, Headley traveled to Pakistan and met separately to discuss the planning with Abdur Rehman and Lashkar Member A. In February 2009, Abdur Rehman allegedly took Headley to meet with Kashmiri in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. During the meeting, Kashmiri allegedly indicated that he had reviewed the surveillance videos made by Headley and suggested using a truck bomb in the operation. Kashmiri further indicated that he could provide manpower for the operation and that Lashkar’s participation was not necessary, the indictment alleges. Subsequently, in March 2009, Lashkar Member A advised Headley that Lashkar put the newspaper attack on hold because of pressure in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, according to the charges. In May 2009, Headley and Abdur Rehman met again with Kashmiri in Waziristan and Kashmiri allegedly directed Headley to meet with his European contacts who could provide Headley with money, weapons, and manpower for the newspaper attack. In late July and early August 2009, Headley traveled from Chicago to various places in Europe, including Copenhagen, attempting to obtain assistance from Kashmiri’s contacts and, while there, made approximately 13 additional surveillance videos, according to the charges.” ( My comment: Abdur Rehman is a retired Major of the Pakistan Army, who was acting as a cut-out between Headley and Ilyas Kashmiri)

11.The Islamic Jihad Union or Group (IJU), an Uzbek group based in North Waziristan and closely allied to Al Qaeda, has some followers in Germany among persons of Turkish origin as well as white German converts to Islam. Some arrests were made in Germany in August-September 2007 in connection with investigations into the activities of the IJU and its suspected plots for terrorist strikes in Germany against German as well as American targets.

12. The Norwegian police announced on July 8,2010, the arrest of three men suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda on charges of preparing terrorist attacks. One of them is a Norwegian citizen of Uighur origin. The other two are permanent residents in Norway of Uzbek and Iraqi-Kurdish origin. Two of them (the Uzbek and the Uighur) are reported to have been arrested in Norway and the third (Iraqi-Kurd with a permanent residence permit of Norway) in Germany. The Norwegian police had been keeping them under surveillance for investigation for about a year. The arrests appear to have been made even though the investigation was incomplete because of the leakage of the news about the investigation against them to the media. They apparently decided to arrest them before the media came out with the news. Media reports indicated that the arrested persons were suspected of involvement in plots for terrorist strikes in Norway and of having links with some terrorist suspects under investigation in the US and the UK.

13. The latest reports emanating from the US and the UK about the alleged plans of Al Qaeda to mount Mumbai-style terrorist strikes in the UK, France and Germany have come in the wake of these developments relating to the use of Headley by Ilyas and the arrests in Norway and Germany. The same sources as mentioned above say that the US feels that the ISI has been dragging its feet in taking action against Ilyas and his contacts in the Pakistan Army. Sections of the Pakistani media have been alleging since 2008 that Ilyas had served for some time as a commando in the Special Services Group of the Pakistan Army before drifting into the world of terrorism. He, therefore, enjoys protection from the ISI. Like the Haqqanis father and son, Ilyas is another valued operational asset of the ISI, which uses the Haqqanis in Afghanistan and Ilyas against India.

14. Growing indicators of the role which Ilyas has been playing as facilitator for the Euopean operations of Al Qaeda and its Uzbek associates have made the US step up pressure on the ISI for neutralizing Ilyas and his 313 Brigade. The sources say that this is another important reason for the visit of the CIA chief to Pakistan.

15. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier articles cited below:

(a). Article of September 18,2010, titled HAQQANI NETWORK IN PARACHINAR at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers41%5Cpaper4047.html

(b).Article of July 9,2010, titled “Al Qaeda In Norway” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers40%5Cpaper3915.html


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

'Book fair will put Sanskrit in a modern context'

The World Sanskrit Book Fair is expected to promote modern Sanskrit Literature and showcase the learning of the language based on new methods and approaches. The fair will be held in the city from January 7-11, 2011. Mallepuram G Venkatesh, vice-chancellor of Karnataka Sanskrit University, gave more details on the fair in an interaction with DNA.

What is the idea behind the World Sanskrit Book Fair?
In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Sanskrit book fair will provide the opportunity to understand the traditional cultural systems in India in a modern context. Sanskrit literature provides a link between modern and traditional texts. Modern science and ancient science can be combined to understand many issues and Sanskrit texts facilitate this. Hence, it is once again gaining popularity, because of the spread of Indian knowledge systems. While there are numerous language fairs that are held, why shouldn’t we have a Sanskrit Fair?

What can people expect to see at the World Sanskrit Fair?
Recent publications will be on display. Important cultural texts from Indian languages will be translated into Sanskrit. We have texts from all the states of the country; we will translate them into Sanskrit. Sanskrit universities, academies, Oriental research institutions, NGOs and publishers are taking part in the fair.
How will the Karnataka Sanskrit University contribute to the fair?

The Karnataka Sanskrit University will release a journal, Karnataka Sanskrita Adhyanam (in English-Karnataka Sanskrit studies), which will be published half-yearly. Ten books on shastric traditions will be released. There will also be seminars and discussions involving eminent scholars.

Is this a way to revive the language, literature and view from a narrow perspective?
The study of Sanskrit is important and through the fair we want to spread awareness about Sanskrit traditions and literature. About 35,000-40,000 students are currently studying Sanskrit which includes high school, pre-university and degree students. We are trying to move away from the narrow perspective the language has.

BALOCHISTAN:Tethyan Copper plans to invest $3.2bn in Reco Dig

QUETTA: Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan plans to operate a world class copper and gold mine with 2.2 billion tonnes economically mineable reserves by deploying a cutting edge technology at Reco Dig, Chagai, Balochistan as a joint venture with the Balochistan government with initial $3.2 billion foreign direct investment over four years.

“We have submitted a feasibility study to Balochistan government and are having talks with the provincial government to conclude an agreement which will result in take-off for the project in next four years,” TCCP senior project geologist Asadur Rehman told a group of journalists who visited the site of project, 70 kilometres north west of Nokandi. “Balochistan will get 25 percent profit plus royalty. Balochistan government will invest 25 percent in construction, development of project.”

He said if an agreement was signed with the Balochistan government, TCCP- Barrick Gold Corporation and Antofagasta Minerals of Chile-will export condensate copper and gold through Gwadar port through 682km buried pipeline from Reco Dig to Gwadar at prices quoted on the London Stock Exchange. TCCP has so far invested $214 million in Reco Dig project. He said estimated payable metal production at Reco Dig over about 56 years of mine life is 22 billion pounds of copper and 13 million ounces of gold. It has an average grade of 0.5 percent copper and 0.3 grammes gold per tonne.

Pakistan cuts NATO supply line after border firing

By CHRIS BRUMMITT and DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writers Chris Brummitt And Deb Riechmann, Associated Press Writers16 mins ago

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan closed the Khyber Pass supply route for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan after a coalition helicopter attack mistakenly killed three Pakistani soldiers at a border post Thursday, raising tensions in a vital relationship for both Islamabad and Washington.
A lengthy ban on supply trucks would place intense strain on the U.S.-Pakistani relationship and hurt the Afghan war effort. But that was seen as unlikely, as neither Islamabad nor Washington can afford a meltdown in ties at a crucial time in the 9-year-old war.
Briefly closing the route would serve a different purpose — a timely reminder by Pakistan of the leverage it has over the United States in Afghanistan just as the American-led coalition there is under growing public and political pressure to show success.
The blockade left 150 trucks lined up along the fabled Khyber Pass carrying fuel, military vehicles, spare parts, clothing and other non-lethal supplies for foreign troops. Pakistan's other main route into landlocked Afghanistan, in Chaman in the southeast, stayed open.
While NATO and the United States have alternative supply routes into Afghanistan, the Pakistani ones are the cheapest and most convenient. Some 80 percent of the coalition's non-lethal supplies are transported over Pakistani soil after being unloaded at docks in Karachi, a port city in the south.
It was the third time in less than a week that NATO choppers in pursuit of militants behind attacks on coalition bases have crossed over the Pakistani border and fired on targets. Pakistani officials had warned after the earlier strikes that they would stop allowing NATO convoys if it happened again.
The NATO attacks follow a recent surge in missile strikes by CIA drones at Taliban and al-Qaida militants taking shelter in Pakistan out of reach of U.S. ground forces.
While the Pakistani leadership has quietly accepted drone strikes over the last three years and even provides intelligence for some of them, closing the border crossing was a clear signal it will not compromise on allowing foreign troops or manned aircraft inside its territory.
"We will have to see whether we are allies or enemies," Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said of the border incident, without mentioning the decision to close the border.
The move shows Pakistan's deep sensitivities over foreign forces on its doorstep. While nominally allied with Americans against the shared threat of Islamist militants, polls show many Pakistanis regard the United States as an enemy. Conspiracy theories abound of U.S. troops wanting to invade Pakistan and seize its nuclear weapons.
The spike in drone attacks this month — and the NATO's apparent increased willingness to attack targets on the border or just inside Pakistan — could be a sign that the coalition wants to try to expand its reach inside this country. Militants behind attacks in Afghanistan have enjoyed relative safe haven in Pakistan.
Thursday's strike took place soon after dawn on the border between Pakistan's Upper Kurram province and Afghanistan's Paktia province.
NATO said its aircraft entered Pakistani airspace and engaged a target just across the border in self-defense after receiving ground fire.
The Pakistani army said two approaching NATO helicopters fired on a post 200 meters (656 feet) inside the border. Its border force returned fire with rifles. Then the choppers rocketed the position, killing three officers and wounding three others, the army said.
NATO expressed condolences to the families of the dead soldiers and said both nations would investigate the incident.
Several hours later, Pakistani officials reported another rocket strike by NATO helicopters about nine miles (15 kilometers) from the first one, causing no damage or injuries. The army statement did not refer to that incident.
Pentagon officials said they were trying to clarify exactly what happened and were talking to the Pakistani government. The U.S. Defense Department said it was too soon to know what impact the border crossing closure would have.
"We expect this matter to be resolved through continued dialogue," spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said.
The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is poorly defined and the terrain is rough. In 2008, 11 Pakistan border troops were killed when a U.S. plane mistakenly bombed them. That same year, U.S. helicopters and Pakistani ground troops briefly traded fire, causing tensions to spike for several days.
Frontier troops wear uniforms that resemble the traditional Pakistani dress of a long shirt and baggy trousers, which could make it hard to distinguish them from ordinary citizens or insurgents.
NATO said the closing of the Torkham border crossing, the busiest entryway for NATO and U.S. goods into Afghanistan, had not strained the coalition's supply operation.
Both the Khyber Pass and Chaman routes have occasionally closed for several days in recent years after major militant attacks on the road or disagreements between truckers and authorities. Pakistani security forces protect the convoys.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told visiting CIA director Leon Panetta that Pakistan was "profoundly concerned" about the helicopter incursions and the increased drone strikes. "Pakistan being a front-line ally in the war against terror expects its partners to respect its territorial sovereignty," he said, according to a statement from his office.
Moeed Yusuf, from the United States Institute of Peace, a Washington-based think tank, said Pakistan's reaction indicated it felt that the coalition in Afghanistan was trying out a more aggressive strategy on the border and had not informed Islamabad.
He thought a major rift in ties between Islamabad and Washington was unlikely because they need each other too much.
The United States has few options but to rely on Pakistan's help in Afghanistan and in the fight against al-Qaida, while Islamabad cannot survive without foreign assistance. It too does not want to see Afghanistan descend into chaos, destabilizing Pakistan.
"If relations erupt right now, both Pakistan and the United States lose out on what they have been trying to achieve," Yusuf said. "Their relationship is too important to allow it to be derailed by border issues."
Riechmann reported from Kabul, Afghanistan. Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Matiullah Achakzai in Chaman, Hussein Afzal in Parachinar and Pauline Jelinek in Washington, D.C. contributed to this report.

Competition heating up for EU intelligence chief job


14.09.2010 @ 09:25 CET


EUOBSERVER /BRUSSELS - Eight candidates have declared an interest in becoming the permanent head of the EU's most sensitive security organ, the Joint Situation Centre (SitCen).http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Situation_Centre

French diplomat Patrice Bergamini, who was recently appointed as SitCen caretaker manager by EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton, is in a strong position to lobby for the €15,000-a-month permanent post, advertised by Ms Ashton earlier this month.

The new SitCen director will have to keep the trust of member states' security services while being loyal to Brussels (Photo: EU Commission)

His caretaker role is limited to giving political direction to the intelligence-sharing bureau and to liaising with Ms Ashton and EU ambassadors, however. SitCen's day-to-day operations are being run by a French intelligence officer from inside the bureau, who is to step down in February.

The director of Austria's Federal Agency for State Protection and Counter Terrorism, Peter Gridling, is also in the running, EUobserver has learned. British, German and Italian candidates from diplomatic and security backgrounds have come forward as well.

The new SitCen chief will have to keep the trust of EU member states' security services, which supply classified information to the bureau, while remaining loyal to Brussels rather than to his national capital, a contact familiar with the recruitment process said.

"If the EU's head of delegation in Beijing hears that SitCen has written a report about China and he says: 'I need it now. Send it by fax.' You would have to say: 'No. It's coming by pony and it will take three weeks.' A security breach would be an automatic death sentence for SitCen [in terms of co-operation with national services]," the contact said.

"He will need to do some things which need to remain between SitCen and Ms Ashton and which don't get transmitted straight back to one of the [EU] capitals. For example, if there is a pre-conflict situation where the EU might be able to play a role, she might need advice on how to go about this, all of which would have to take place before she takes a proposal to member states."

The new SitCen chief will have a grave responsibility.

"You can imagine the impact it might have had on EU support for the Iraq war [in 2003] if SitCen had reported there were Weapons of Mass Destruction. Or, if it now says something on Iran," the contact added.

The new appointment comes at a dynamic time for the 10-year-old bureau.

SitCen will from 1 December become part of the European External Action Service (EEAS) under Ms Ashton's command. The heart of the bureau's work - the classified-information-sharing cell, which is composed of intelligence officers seconded from 12 'old' EU member states and five countries which joined the EU after 2004 - is unlikely to change.

Its team of open source analysts is to be enlarged, however. An organigram circulating in the EU institutions indicates that SitCen's existing unit of 15 analysts is to be joined by six staff from the European Commission's Crisis Room. The move is designed to combine SitCen's human resources - its open source analysts between them speak Arabic, Chinese, Farsi and Russian - and the Crisis Room's IT expertise.

SitCen's information security branch is to be merged with its European Commission counterpart and split off to become a separate EEAS department. SitCen currently operates the so-called Coreu system used by member states to circulate non-public EU documents, while the commission's New Communications Network handles its links with EU delegations abroad.

Ms Asthon's intelligence hub will also use more images from EU government-owned satellites, namely France's Helios and Pleiades systems, Germany's SAR-Lupe and Italy's Cosmo-SkyMed, on top of existing data from US-owned commercial satellites. The EU member states' "spy" satellites can be moved more quickly to look at, say, a Syrian nuclear reactor or a North Korean rocket launch site. They also charge less for images at a time of penny-pinching on the EU budget.

Who does what?

The EU's recent handling of the Pakistan floods indicates that Ms Ashton and SitCen will concentrate on human-made conflicts and the political dimension of natural disasters. Aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva is meanwhile staking out her turf on the humanitarian relief side of natural catastrophes.

Ms Georgieva is considering changing the name of her Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), the commission office responsible for co-ordinating EU member states' aid efforts, into the "Commission Centre for Crisis Response." The CCCR would stand alongside Ms Ashton's new-model SitCen, which she has dubbed the EU's "single crisis response centre" in talks with member states.

Ms Georgieva is also drafting proposals, due in late September or October, to create an EU rapid-reaction force for natural disasters. The project has the support of French commissioner Michel Barnier and centre-right French MEPs, such as Arnaud Danjean.

"The discussion is still very fluid," an EU official said, referring to the Ashton/Georgieva division of labour

Terror Threats and Alerts in France

Created Sep 30 2010 - 03:55

September 29, 2010



In a dispatch from Pyongyang, the Capital of North Korea, the Government and Chinese Communist Party controlled Xinhua news agency of China reported on September 29,2010, that a one-day conference of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) held on September 28, 2010, had taken the following “significant decisions” regarding the party leadership:

Kim Jong Il, who had served as the General Secretary of the Party since October 1997, was reelected to the post.
It elected a 124-member Central Committee, which included among others, Kim Jong-il himself, his 27-year-old youngest son Kim Jong Un ( pronounced Kim Jong-Woon) and Kim Kyong Hui, the 64-year-old sister of Kim Jong-Il.
At a plenary session of the new Central Committee, attended by Kim Jong Il, the party's innermost leading core, the Presidium of the Politburo of the WPK Central Committee, “came into being”. Beside Kim Jong Il there are four other senior members in the Presidium, known as the Standing Committee of the Politburo, including Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK, and Ri Yong Ho, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA). Choe Yong Rim and Jo Myong Rok would be the other members of the Presidium. The Politbureau includes these five members of the Presidium plus Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Yong Chun, Choe Thae Bok, Yang Hyong Sop and eight others. The alternate members include Jang Song Thaek, Kim Yong Il and 13 others. Kim Jong-Un has not been elected to the Polibureau, but his aunt Kim Kyong Hui has been.

Also at the Central Committee meeting, Kim Jong Un was elected to the 19-member Central Military Commission.
Kim Jong Un will serve as one of the two Vice-Chairmen of the powerful commission, headed by his father. Ri Yong Ho will be the other Vice-Chairman. A day earlier, Kim Jong Il had issued an order in his capacity of the supreme commander of the KPA promoting Ri Yong Ho to the rank of Vice- Marshal and Kim Jong Un to that of General, a rank below Vice- Marshal and above Colonel- General.
In the amendments made to the WPK Charter, "the duties of a party member and the contents of the work of party organizations at different levels are comprehensively revised and supplemented." The revision also adds a new charter to the current charter regulating the party's logo and flag and further stresses the need to strengthen the party's leadership over the civilians as well as the military. The participants in the conference were convinced that the modifications "will provide a sure guarantee for strengthening and developing the party ... and victoriously advance the revolutionary cause."
In a report seemingly indicating that the WPK conference has concluded, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that the conference "was held with success in Pyongyang on Sept 28" and that "Kim Yong Nam made a closing speech."

2. The Xinhua dispatch added: “The historic gathering was the third of its kind in the party's history and the first in 44 years. Outside the country, the international community is also closely watching the development in the DPRK, as the country is trying to secure a peaceful international environment for its economic development and has recently repeated its intent to resume the Six-Party Talks for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Contributing to the wariness of international players are the high tensions that have clouded the region since the March sinking of a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors. Seoul accuses Pyongyang of torpedoing the vessel and has since carried out several military drills with the United States off the Korean coast, while the DPRK denies any involvement and has repeatedly warned that the "provocative" exercises would threaten regional security. “

3. According to the Wikipedia, the Conference also re-constituted the National Defence Commission as follows:

* Chairman: Marshal of the DPRK Kim Jong-il (1993-)
* 1st Vice Chairman: Vice Marshal of the KPA Ri Yong-ho, Chief of the KPA General Staff
* 2nd Vice Chairman: General of the Army Kim Jong-un
* Assistant Vice Chairmen:
o Chang Sung-taek, Secretary, WPK Administrative Department. He is the husband of Kim Kyong-Hui.
o Vice Marshal of the KPA Kim Yong-Chun, Minister of the People's Armed Forces
o Vice Marshal of the KPA Ri Yong-mu
o General of the Army O Kuk-ryol, Secretary, WPK Department of Operations
* Members of the Commission
o General of the Army Ju Sang-song, Minister of People's Security
o General of the Army Kim Jong-gak, 1st Deputy Director, KPA.
o Colonel General U Tong-chuk
o Jon Pyong-ho, Secretary of Military Industries
o Ju Kyu-chang, 1st Deputy Secretary, Department of Military Industries
o Paek Se-bong, Chairman, WPK 2nd Economic Committee.
o Pak Myong-chol , Councillor of the Commission.

4. The Xinhua dispatch, which was based on the press releases issued by the KCNA, did not report the reconstitution of the National Defence Commission. The National Defense Commission (NDC) of the State, which is different from the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the WPK, is defined by the 1998 constitution as “the highest guiding organ of the military and the managing organ of military matters.” The chairman of the NDC controls the armed forces. It is responsible for the management and direction of all military affairs and defense projects under the commission's authority. The NDC, though nominally under the Supreme People's Assembly, is the highest state body, with ultimate executive power (including responsibility for the armed forces) resting with its chairman, Kim Jong-il. It takes all decisions relating to nuclear and missile development.

5. The Central Military Commission is an organ of the WPK and is responsible for coordinating the Party organizations within the Korean People's Army. Its full and official name is the Commission for Military Affairs of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea. Its functions are similar to those of the Communist Party of China's CMC. In addition to Kim Jong-il and Kom Jong-Un, the Commission has another 16 members, including Kim Yong Chun, Kim Jong Gak, and Jang Song Taek.

6. The elevation of Kim Jong-un to the rank of a General and his election as a member of the Party Central Committee and as one of the two Vice-Chairmen of the NDC of the State and the CMC of the party clearly places him in a position to succeed his father as the ruler of North Korea. Kim Jong-il suffered a stroke in August 2008 and has reportedly been in poor health since then. Since January last year, the South Korean intelligence agency and media have been saying that after the stroke Kim Jong-Il had decided to groom Kim Jong-Un as his successor after superseding his two elder brothers and as the first step towards this, a special party conference would entrust him with important responsibilities relating to the State and the Party.

7. They have been proved right. However, there are still certain questions to which even the well-informed South Korean Intelligence agency and media do not have answers: Why did Kim Jong-il send Kim Jong-Un to Switzerland for three years of schooling? According to one unconfirmed report, all the three brothers had done part of their schooling in Switzerland. Did Kim Jong-Un study in China too, where Kim Jong-Il was himself educated? What impact his three-year stay in Switzerland have on his thinking? Would his exposure to the Swiss society, political system and economy have any influence on his policies? Would he gradually open up North Korea and take it on the road to economic liberalization and eradicate its image of a “rogue state” and a “state of concern”?

8. Kim Jong-Un was reportedly in Berne, the capital of Switzerland, from the age of 12 to 15 studying in the local international school where he was, according to some media accounts, enrolled as the son of the chauffeur of the North Korean Embassy in Berne. He returned to North Korea in 1998 and subsequently attended the Kim Il-sung Military University. He was reported to have accompanied his father to China in August 2010. Apart from that, it is not known whether he had ever stayed in China and if so, in what capacity.

9. The fact that China itself may not be well informed about the happenings in the North Korean Government and Party became evident from two factors. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was earlier this year reported to have dismissed South Korean and Western speculation that Kim Jong-Il had decided that Kim Jong-Un should succeed him. Chinese newspapers such as the “Global Times” have often been reporting on North Korea on the basis of South Korean and Western speculation.

10. Chinese views over what could happen in North Korea after Kim Jong-il were reflected in a “Global Times” article of September 28, which said: “Despite varied versions of the successor choice and to which post the figure will be elevated to at the meeting, some analysts are dismissing the possibility of political chaos as a result of such a transition, saying the country won't undergo any significant policy change that could pose downsides on the security situation of the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia. A stable North Korea is in China's national interests, regardless of who will be the next leader, experts say. Some cautious analysts also suggested that Jong-un's ascendancy could still be undone by political infighting, The New York Times reported. Xu Baokang, an expert on Korean Peninsula issues, told the Global Times that "any major shifts in its existing economic, social or foreign policies look impossible to take place." "North Korea's policies will remain to be strictly in line with Kim Il-sung's ideas. Intensive speculations in Western media that Pyongyang is likely to adjust its policies dramatically are incorrect," he said, adding that North Korea "can't endure risks stemming from major reforms." While predicting that the north will be politically stable, Lü Chao, a researcher of Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that "China supports North Korea to be part of the international community, and the Chinese side will actively create favorable conditions so as to help the North get rid of its isolated situation in the world, which also serves China's national interests."

11.Will Kim Jong-un be able to consolidate his position and emerge as the unquestioned leader of North Korea? The answer to this question will depend on how soon his father leaves the political scene----either due to death or poor health. If his father manages to continue in power for some years, that could enable Kim Jong-Un to consolidate his position in the Army and the Party. If his father leaves earlier than expected, he may find it difficult to deal with his potential adversaries in the army and the party. Among his adversaries will be his two superseded brothers and Chang Song-Taek, the husband of his aunt, who is today reputed to be the second most powerful man in North Korea after Kim Jong-il. Other Army officers may not like working under a 27-year-old person with very little exposure to the army and the world of diplomacy. Any infighting in the party and/or the army could lead to an active Chinese involvement in internal politics to prevent the country coming under the influence of elements not well-disposed towards China.

12. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier articles cited below:

(a). Article dated August 27,2010, titled “Chinese Concerns over North Korea & Vietnam” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers41%5Cpaper4002.html

(b).Article of August 31,2010, titled “Visit of Kim Jong-IL to China---An Assessment “ at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers41%5Cpaper4013.html


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