November 12, 2011



Slowly and steadily, the Army-propped civilian regime in Myanmar headed by President TheinSein and Aung San SuuKyi, the democracy icon, are coming to terms with each other to avoid a confrontation and to pave the way for a Government, which would enjoy her support from outside, if not association, and thereby enjoy a greater credibility in the eyes of the people.

2. The Government has not imposed any restrictions on her travels outside Yangon. Despite this, she has been avoiding any travels, in an attempt not to create any embarrassing law and order situation for the Government. The change ---whether in her tactics or attitude to the Government--- figured in a question posed to her during her weekly radio interview on November 8,2011.Her reply was interesting.

3.She said: “ I would like to clarify that it is not true that I have made trips around the country whenever I was released from house arrest. In 1995 and in 2000, when I was released for the second time, I never made trips around the country, because of restrictions. Between 2002 and 2003, I did make trips around the country. But this time, since my trip to Pegu, although I have thought about making trips around the country I have been unable to do so because there is a lot of work to be done in Rangoon. Plans have already been made for the NLD to distribute rice to the flood victims as much as possible. I think that it would be better to distribute rice in this manner than to spend money to travel across the country.”

4. Similarly, questions are being asked by sections of the people as to why she is not opposing the construction of the gas pipeline from the Arakan area to Yunnan in China. She had strongly opposed on environmental grounds the construction of a big hydel project by a Chinese company in the Kachin State. Her opposition combined with the opposition from the Kachin leaders and people forced the Government to suspend the project, leading to protests from Beijing.

5. The gas pipeline project too is being opposed by the local people on various grounds such as payment of inadequate compensation for the land acquired for the project , taking the gas away to China instead of utilising it for the benefit of the local people and environmental damage. Despite this, she has not been as active in opposing the gas pipeline project in the Arakan area as she was in opposing the hydel project in the Kachin State.

6.She was asked about it during her weekly radio interview of October 28. In another interesting reply, she said: “Although one cannot say that a nationwide boycott (of the pipeline project) could not happen, I don’t think it would be easy. But it is necessary for the whole country, including the government, to be aware of matters that are really giving trouble to the people. Only then will we be able to find solutions to such issues. However, while we are protecting the interests of the people, we must at the same time be aware of—and take care to maintain—good relations with our neighbouring countries.”

7. The gas pipeline being constructed is more important to the Chinese than the suspended hydel project. It is designed to carry not only gas found locally, but also gas brought from the Gulf by Chinese tankers in order to reduce the Chinese dependence on the Malacca Strait. SuuKyi has been avoiding any opposition to the gas pipeline project lest it add to the difficulties already being faced by the Government in its relations with China after the suspension of the hydel project.

8. In carefully calibrated steps, she and the Government have been trying to pave the way for her election to the Parliament, which seems to be the present priority of both.An amendment to the law on political parties, endorsed by President TheinSein on November 4, removed the condition that all parties must agree to "preserve" the country's 2008 constitution.

9.In a significant interview to the “Yangon Times”, KhinAungMyint, the Speaker of the Parliament, who used to be the Director of Public Relations and PSYWAR in the Ministry of Defence, was quoted as saying: “I recognize the result of the 1990 election, which the NLD won with a vast majority of the votes.The results cannot be reversed and I have no intention to do so.”

10.On November 8, a spokesman of her party the National League For Democracy (NLD) announced after a meeting at her residence in Yangon that more than 100 senior members of the party would meet at Yangon on November 18 to decide whether, in view of the change introduced by the Government, the NLD should re-register itself as a political party. Though he did not say so, its re-registration would make it, including SuuKyi, eligible to stand for election to the Parliament. The speculation is that there is already an unwritten understanding between her and the President that a bye-election would be held before the year-end in which she could be elected.

11. What one has been seeing is a recognition of the victory of her Party in the 1990 elections by the Government. In return, she has agreed not to question the validity of last year’s elections to the present Parliament under the supervision of the Army. The NLD has apparently agreed to end its boycott of the present Parliament and the Government has agreed to pave the way for the election of some NLD leaders, including SuuKyi, to the Parliament.

12. What then: Will SuuKyi and her party work from outside the Government or will they join the Government? An answer to this question is not yet available. She said in her November 8 radio interview: “If the people are active and enthusiastic, the government will also become active and the country will develop. If all of you are active in this manner, the road toward political change will be smooth, and our cooperation will be more effective.”

13. Co-operation and national reconciliation and not political confrontation seems to be her objective. As part of this, she is prepared not to create any more difficulties for the Government in Myanmar’s relations with China. It is clear that she does not want to support the movement of the people of the Arakan region against the Chinese gas pipeline to Yunnan and the construction of a modern port at Kyaukpu to transport gas brought by Chinese tankers from the Gulf to Yunnan. (12-11-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

November 11, 2011

CHINA: A comment picked from TOI

Not much will be achieved by talking about Pakistan in China. The Chinese are cool-headed, low-on-emotion but at the same time organized and disciplined people. We have to put it across to them in the language that they will understand. If they try to encircle India, we should forcefully reciprocate by encircling them. Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Burma, Kazakhstan and Mongolia are all open candidates who would love support against the dragon.

If they try to pamper Pakistan and use it as a lever for weakening India (which the West has been doing for a long time), then we should similarly encourage and develop military-economic relations with Vietnam & Taiwan. If they blabber about Kashmir, we should rake up Tibet all across the world.

SIMULTANEOUSLY – and this is important, we should encourage the Chinese to understand that they are far better off breeding friendship and warmth with India, than creating bad blood. For that we should build economic, social, cultural and religious (the Chinese are weak on this) relationships. However, to attain the above we need strongly nationalist, practical, courageous, incorruptible and committed political leadership – not a pack of wimps. In Narendra Modi we can see glimpses of such leadership.

Of emperors and kings :China’s state-owned enterprises are on the march

Nov 12th 2011 | from the print edition

WHEN China joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in December 2001, many people hoped that this would curb the power of its state-owned enterprises. Ten years on, they seem stronger than ever. President Hu Jintao can expect to hear about this at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit this weekend. Hillary Clinton, America’s secretary of state, has warned stridently of the dangers of state capitalism. A Congressional report released on October 26th railed against the unfair advantages enjoyed by state-owned firms and lamented that China is giving them “a more prominent role”.

Indeed it is. In a new book called “China’s Regulatory State”, Roselyn Hsueh of Temple University documents how, in sectors ranging from telecommunications to textiles, the government has quietly obstructed market forces. It steers cheap credit to local champions. It enforces rules selectively, to keep private-sector rivals in their place. State firms such as China Telecom can dominate local markets without running afoul of antitrust authorities; but when foreigners such as Coca-Cola try to acquire local firms, they can be blocked (though this week China did approve Yum! Brands’ bid to acquire Little Sheep, a Chinese restaurant chain).

In the dozen or so industries it deems most strategic, the government has been forcing consolidation. The resulting behemoths are held by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which is the controlling shareholder of some 120 state-owned firms. In all, SASAC controls $3.7 trillion in assets (see chart). The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) calls it “the most powerful entity you never heard of”; though it does not always get its way. Some state-owned firms have powerful friends and are hard to push around.

In some ways, SASAC aims to modernise its enterprises. Peter Williamson of Cambridge’s Judge Business School points approvingly to the steel industry. China was once littered with small, uneconomic steel firms; SASAC has urged them to merge, creating three “emperors” and five “kings”. That, says Mr Williamson, means there are enough steel firms to foster competition at home; yet they are big enough to venture overseas. What the government’s plan lacks, however, is any idea that private steelmakers might compete, in China, with the emperors and kings.

According to the Congressional report, state-owned firms account for two-fifths of China’s non-agricultural GDP. If firms that benefit from state largesse (eg, subsidised credit) are included, that figure rises to half. Genuinely independent firms are starved of formal credit, so they rely on China’s shadow banking system. Fearing a credit bubble, the government is cracking down on this informal system, leaving China’s “bamboo capitalists” bereft.

Those who argue that state-owned firms are modernising point to rising profits and a push to establish boards of directors with independent advisers. Official figures show that profits at the firms controlled by SASAC have increased, to $129 billion last year. But that does not mean that many of these firms are efficient or well-managed. A handful with privileged market access—in telecoms and natural resources—generate more than half of all profits. A 2009 study by the Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research found that if state-owned firms were to pay a market interest rate, their profits “would be entirely wiped out”.

One reason is that state firms must pursue the state’s aims, which include many things besides making profits. David Michael of BCG observes that the government forces state firms to shoulder all manner of extra costs. For example, when coal prices shot up recently, the country’s energy giants were not allowed to pass the hikes on to consumers. When the China Europe International Business School asked its senior alumni at state-owned firms about their biggest headaches, many grumbled about official meddling.

Still, Mr Michael, who served as one of the only foreigners on China Mobile’s advisory board, believes SASAC deserves some praise. The group runs management-training courses, benchmarks firms against international standards and establishes codes of conduct. Following recent scandals involving Chinese firms overseas, it issued an edict in July restricting the use of derivatives by the main state-owned firms. And SASAC is now pushing the biggest of its charges to appoint boards of directors.

Yet Curtis Milhaupt of Columbia Law School insists that such reforms are “not where the action is”. In a new paper, he examines how exactly China’s big state firms are controlled, and reaches troubling conclusions. Regardless of whether a state-owned firm is listed in New York, has an “independent” board or boasts a market-minded chairman with a Harvard MBA, he finds that the strings always lead back to a core company that is in the tight clutches of SASAC. He thinks genuine market reform will come only when state firms venture abroad en masse and have to adapt to global norms.

A recent ruling in Europe may prove a straw in the wind. Earlier this year, an attempt by Sinochem, a state-owned chemicals firm, to enter into a joint venture to make antibiotics with DSM, a Dutch firm, attracted the attention of the European Commission’s antitrust authorities. They decided to scrutinise not just Sinochem itself but all of SASAC’s empire. The deal was approved anyway, but this may have set an important precedent

India doubles solar-power installation target as industry booms

November 10, 2011

Bloomberg: Natalie Obiko Pearson

India expects to have 10 gigawatts of solar power capacity by 2017, more than double what it initially targeted, as the industry ramps up quicker than predicted.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy plans to award permits for as much as 10,000 megawatts of grid-connected solar plants by 2017, up from its initial target of 4,000 megawatts, Bharat Bhargava, a director at the ministry, said at conference in the southern city of Hyderabad. It’s also doubling its target for off-grid solar plants to 2,000 megawatts, he said.

“Based on present trends, 10,000 megawatts is achievable,” Bhargava said. India’s total solar installations reached 125 megawatts as of the end of October, he said. That’s more than double the 50 megawatts that the country had in June.

Asia’s third-largest energy consumer provides a bright spot for solar panel makers facing plunging margins and slowing growth. Developers of projects that generate electricity from the sun in Europe, the world’s largest solar market, are unable to get bank financing to start new plants, leading demand for panels to fall 10 percent short of expectations this year, Ole Enger, chief executive officer of Norway’s Renewable Energy Corp., said in an interview last week.

Interest from solar power developers exceeded the amount of available capacity on offer by more than seven times for India’s next auction of permits, Bhargava said. The ministry has received 218 applications seeking to build 2,500 megawatts of solar plants.

The ministry is only awarding 350 megawatts in the second auction due to be completed this month. Winners of that round will sign power purchase agreements by Dec. 31 and complete the plants by January 2013, he said.

(The views expressed above are the personal views of the author)

T. Cherian, Consul General of India at Mazar-e-Sharief passes away

November 11, 2011

Consul General of India at Mazar-e-Sharief Shri T. Cherian expired yesterday, having succumbed to serious head injuries, due to a fall at his residence. He was quickly shifted to the ISAF (German) hospital at Mazar-e-Sharief and given necessary medical assistance, but could not be revived due to brain haemorrhage and severe internal bleeding. His mortal remains are being flown back to India toady

The External Affairs Minister Sh. S M Krishna has condoled the untimely demise of Mr. Cherian, a devoted and competent officer who was serving his nation with dedication. He is survived by his wife and two children.

New Delhi
November 11, 2011

Manufacturing History – Euro Style

After ravaging North and South Americas, Europe laid its hands on Inca, Maya gold which financed European conquests across the world. By 19th century, Europe had defeated most military leaderships in the world.

Faced with new standards of barbarity, the newly enslaved and oppressed found new leaders to confront the West. In Haiti, the slaves freed themselves after defeating the French, Spanish and English armies that tried to re-enslave them. In India, wars and battles raged continuously –forcing the British to surrender their American colonies. Soon after the London Expo of 1851, the British had toface a bloody war in Indiawhere hundreds of thousands of Indian soldiers, waged war, led by a determined alliance of leaders.

In the midst of this, ranging from the majestic Mayan achievements and of the Incas in Andes, to the spirit of the Haitians, to the ancient and continuous traditions in India, the Europeans found a barren cultural cupboard at home.

To fill up this cupboard, the West has been on a campaign of cultural dacoity for the last 2 centuries now. One of the first places to start was Greece.

Is Greece a symptom or the effect of Euro-currency problem? (Cartoon by Clay Bennett; from The Chattanooga Times Free Press; source and courtesy - Click for source image.

Is Greece a symptom or the effect of Euro-currency problem? (Cartoon by Clay Bennett; from The Chattanooga Times Free Press; source and courtesy - Click for source image.

Modern Greece has little in common with Pericles or Plato. If anything, it is a failed German project.

The year was 1832, and Greece had just won its independence from the Ottoman Empire. The “Big Powers” of the time — Britain, France and Russia — appointed a Bavarian prince as Greece’s first king – Otto. He arrived in his new kingdom with an entourage of German architects, engineers, doctors and soldiers — and set out to reconfigure the country to the romantic ideal of the times.

The 19th century had seen a resurgence of Europeans’ interest in ancient Greece. Big names such as Goethe, Shelley, Byron, Delacroix and many other artists, poets and musicians sought inspiration in classical beauty. They marveled at the white marble and solemn temples of Hellas, and longed for a lost purity in thought, aesthetics and warm-blooded passion. Revisiting the sensual Greece of Orpheus and Sappho was ballast to the detached coolness of science or the dehumanizing onslaught of the Industrial Revolution.

Otto saw to it that modern Greece lived up to that romantic image. Athens, at that time a small hamlet of a few goatherds, was inaugurated as the new national capital. The architects from Munich designed and built a royal palace, an academy, a library, a university and all the beautiful neoclassical edifices that contemporary Greek anarchists adorn with graffiti. There was no Sparta in Otto’s kingdom, so a new Sparta was constructed from scratch by the banks of the Eurotas River, where brave Lacedemonians used to take their baths. Modern Greece was thus invented as a backdrop to contemporary European art and imagination, a historical precursor of many Disneylands to come.

Despite the Bavarian soldiers who escorted him, King Otto was eventually expelled by a coup. But the foundations of historical misunderstanding had been laid, to haunt Greece and its relations with itself and other European nations forever.

No matter what Otto may have imagined, the truth was that the brave people who started fighting for their freedom against the Turks in 1821, had not been in suspended animation for 2,000 years. Although their bonds with the land, the ruined temples, the living Greek language, the names and the myths were strong and rich, they were not walking around in white cloaks wearing laurels on their heads. They were Christian orthodox, conservative and fiercely antagonistic toward their governing institutions. In other words, they were an embarrassment to all those folks in Berlin, Paris and London who expected resurrected philosophers sacrificing to Zeus. The profound gap between the ancient and the modern had to be bridged somehow, in order to satisfy the romantic expectations that Europe had of Greece. So a historical narrative was put together claiming uninterrupted continuity with the ancient past. With time, this narrative became the central dogma of Greek national policy and identity.

Growing up in Greece in the 1970s, (one) had to learn not one, but three Greek languages. First, it was the parlance of everyday life, the living words people exchanged at the marketplaces and in the streets. But at school, we were taught something different: It was called “katharevousa” — “cleansed” — a language designed by 19th-century intellectuals to purify demotic from the cornucopia of borrowed Turkish, Slavic and Latin words. Finally, we had to study ancient Greek, the language of our classical ancestors, the heroes of Marathon and Thermopylae. We were supposed to learn “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” in the original, by heart, in case some time machine transported us back to Homeric times. As it happened, most of us managed to learn none of the three, ending up mixing them in one grammatically anarchic jargon that communicated mostly the confusion of our age.

Greece – a country designed as a romantic theme park two centuries ago, propped up with loans ever since, and unable to adjust to the crude realities of 21st-century globalization. (via Modern Greece’s real problem? Ancient Greece. – The Washington Post; parts excised for brevity; few link words in brackets supplied).

November 10, 2011

Sack Sagarika

Dan Rather, an internationally acclaimed journalist, was the first to break the assassination of John F Kennedy. He also covered Watergate and many wars. In 2004 he ran a report about military records of George W Bush using documents which later turned out to be forged. Rather did the morally right thing, he quit CBS in 2006. His only fault was that he hadn’t fact-checked the story and the documents, although there is still no concrete evidence that the documents were unreliable. That was probably a rare mistake from Rather in career spanning over five decades. What does it say about journalists in India who continue to not only hold on to their jobs but continue to sermonise the nation as if their character were soaked in the purest of waters?

We first had Barkha Dutt, the Radiagate hero, stringing along a lobbyist and indulging in power-brokering who continues to moralise the nation. We now have Vir Sanghvi, another Radiagate hero, who now claims the tapes were doctored and he is innocent. This is the same brazenness with which politicians hang on to office despite being tainted with acts of corruption. If I have consistently maintained that a corrupt media is more dangerous to democracy than corrupt politicians then the media doesn’t stop providing more evidence to that belief.

Most Indian businesses are family-run and owned. But it is a common practice among many corporate entities to not employ two or more members from the same family, at least not in the same department. There is no particular reason behind this practice except for the belief that all the acts of the members may not be free from prejudice if they were from the same family. And what if your spouse also happens to be your boss in a news media enterprise? It then makes it all the more likely that sometimes even trash can be passed off as journalism. In all the posts on this site I have never once referred to Sagarika Ghose as the wife of Rajdeep Sardesai. I have always referred to her as the deputy editor. However, now I do believe the deputy editor must go. That any other Managing Editor in the seat of Rajdeep Sardesai would not tolerate the outright rubbish that Sagarika churns out so frequently. The latest one really has to be the last straw. That Rajdeep himself has a lot to answer for is another story.

Media is not a private body as the Editors Guild would have the Standing committee on Lokpal believe. The power to influence people, opinions and even elections is not in the private domain. There is a strange streak in Sagarika Ghose that leads her to believe that people are idiots and can be fooled all the time. That there are ordinary people and there are elites and she stands independently as an observer. Her boss should have repeatedly told her that she was part of the elite. On 9th November on her programme ‘Face the nation’ Sagarika ran the debate “Sri Sri on 4 day yatra in UP: should spiritual leaders take part in anti-corruption campaigns? FTN 10pm”. There were a few usual panellists along with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Except, SriSri wasn’t there!

First of all, the clear answer to SG’s question is anybody in this country is free to run a campaign against corruption at any place and at any time of his or her choice. Sagarika doesn’t have any moral business to question the rights of SriSri. This country’s values have been built on the spiritual cleanliness which outsiders find easier to recognise than people like Sagarika. The right question would now be: Does Sagarika have any moral right to continue as a journalist?

Sagarika Ghose conducted the debate as if SriSri were live on the programme and was responding to the comments made by other panellists. That wasn’t all, when panellists made a comment she even turned to SriSri to seek his response. What was being used was footage from a previously recorded interview with SriSri and suitably edited to make it appear as if he was responding live. This is nothing short of blatant mischief and fraud on the viewers. This is something CNN-IBN’s Cyrus Broacha does on his comedy show where the viewers are aware of the interviews being fake.

Some days back SG ran a debate on whether Justice Katju, the new PCI chairman, should apologise for calling journalists “uneducated”. I hope she now realises what exactly Katju was referring to. Not done with that, she frequently passes judgements on judges of High courts and Supreme Court some of which may actually be an act of contempt. In a recent article, ‘The Elite’s on trial, here is what she wrote:

The 2G trial too is one of India’s “million mutinies”. The overthrow of bail jurisprudence, the CBI’s failure to provide comprehensive evidence so far, the many weaknesses of the case beyond its rhetoric, have been highlighted by several legal experts. It is no longer even clear how much “loss” there was to the exchequer, with the CAG’s R1.76 lakh crore figure now being systematically questioned. Yet the 2G accused, before the trial, before proof of the money trail, appear to already have been declared guilty”. This not only reflects her terrible lack of understanding of the law but it also appears the article was written without a thorough scrutiny of the judgement by Judge O.P.Saini which denied bail to Kanimozhi and others. She probably implies that Indians simply want to hang the rich regardless of evidence or sense of justice.

I have said often that it’s not possible to hide in the tech-age. Faster than she could say SriSri people on Twitter quickly pointed out the recorded interview of SriSri being misused by Sagarika on her programme. She later tweeted that it was a bug and that FTN will carry a full apology to the viewers and to SriSri. I believe one can apologise for a mistake or an error. This was neither a mistake nor an error but wilful deception. The apology can pass but if Rajdeep Sardesai has any moral decency left in him he has to let his deputy editor go. Willingly perpetrating a fraud on the viewers is not a mistake that can be covered up by an apology. It is far too serious a crime. It is time for Rajdeep, the Managing Editor, to sack Sagarika.

PS: Those who missed the episode on CNN-IBN can watch it here on

Killing of Three Hindus in Shikarpur: Fill the Besant Hall Road against Religious Intolerance

Killing of Three Hindus in Shikarpur: Fill the Besant Hall Road against Religious Intolerance

Press Release

Hyderabad: Paigham-e-Sindh Forum, Movement for Peace & Tolerance, Pakistan Peace Coalition and Woman Action Forum condemning the brutal murder of three innocent Hindus in Shikarpur has announced ‘Fill the Besant Hall Road against Religious Intolerance’ rally in front of early 20th centaury Theosophical Society’s interior Sindh’s centre Besant Hall in Hyderabad on Monday November 14, 12:00 PM.

Representatives of the forums Punhal Sariyo (Sindh Harri Porihyat Council), Zulfiqar Shah (Institute for Social Movements (ISM), Jabbar Bhatti (Indus Institute for Education & Research), Amar Sindhu (Woman Action Forum), Zahida Detho (Pakistan Peace Council), Mohammad Ali Shah (Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum), Mustafa Baloch (Strengthening Participatory Organization), Suleman G Abro (Sindh Agriculture and Forestry Workers Coordination Organization), Shehnaz Shidi (South Asia Partnership Pakistan), Jami Chandio (Centre for Peace & Civil Society), Dr. Ashothama (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan), Shuja Qureshi (Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research), Masood Mahesar (Research & Development Foundation), Sikandar Brohi (Participatory Village Development Program), Javed Soz (Sindh Community Foundation), Murad Pandhrani (Prbhat), Mahesh Kumar (We Journalists), Iqbal Mallah, Kashif Bajeer (SPARC), Ghaffar Malik (SDS), Asghar Leghari (Laar Human Development Program), Shaheena Ramzan (Bhandar Sangat), Dr. Haider Malokani (Green Rural Development Organization), Akbar Dars (Civil Society Support Program), Adam Malik (PPC), Shaukat Memon (Indus Rural Development Organization), Mansoor Dahiri (Dharti Development Society) and others demanded the government to take immediate actions for detention of the culprits and ensure security to the Hindus, Christians and other minorities in the province.

In a statement the civil society representative have said that the killing seems to be a targeted action that is potent threat to the composite and harmonious environment of Sindh. They showed their deep concern over the increasing intolerance in Sindh particularly in flood hit northern districts of the province where tribal conflicts and weaponization have been major challenges to the law and order, peace and human security.

They said that the victimization and harassment of Hindus through kidnapping, murders and forced convergences since last decade in Sindh has left no other option to the minority community then that of migrating from Pakistan.

They demanded that provincial and federal government should ensure the security to the minority in Pakistan particularly in Sindh, which houses a larger number of Hindus, Christians, Zoroastrians, Bihais and others.

They said that this is the high time when political parties, broader civil society, enlightened religious scholars and media should act together to prevent such insanity in the interfaith tranquil province of Sindh.


Punhal Sarriyo, PSF, 0332260557

Zulfiqar Shah, MPT, 03334648881

Amar Sindhu, WAF, 03003033095

Zahida Detho, PPC, 03083902297

Baseer Naweed
Senior Researcher

Sign our Petition: Stop Disappearances in Pakistan
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Unit 701A Westley Square,
48 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong,
Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR China
Tel: (852) 2698 6339 Ext 113
Fax: (852) 2698 6367
Mob: (852)6402 5943

Skype: baseer.naweed



This may please be read in continuation of the following articles of mine bearing on the same subject:

(a).My paper of March 15, 2011, titled "Is it Possible to Visualise A Shared Future for India & Pakistan?" at

(b).Article of March 31,2011, titled “India-Pakistan: Re-Discovering Each Other” at

( c ).Article of June 27,2011, titled “Introspection in Pakistan: Will it Endure?” at

(d). Article of July 9,2011, titled “INDIA-PAKISTAN: LEARNING TO LIKE EACH OTHER” at

( e ). Article of July 27,2011, titled “INDIA-PAKISTAN: A Breath of Fresh Air”at

(f ).Article of October 24,2011, titled “Chopper Release Speaks Well of Gen. Kayani”at


During his visit to Pakistan in December,1996, Mr. Jiang Zemin, the then Chinese President, made a speech titled "CARRYING FORWARD GENERATIONS OF FRIENDLY AND GOOD-NEIGHBOURLY RELATIONS AND ENDEAVORING TOWARDS A BETTER TOMORROW FOR ALL" in Islamabad on December 2, 1996.

2.He highlighted five points which, according to him, governed China's foreign policy towards the South Asian countries. He explained one of these points in the following words: "We should look at the differences or disputes from a long perspective, seeking a just and reasonable settlement through consultations and negotiations while bearing in mind the larger picture. If certain issues cannot be resolved for the time being, they may be shelved temporarily so that they will not affect the normal state-to-state relations."

3.Even though he did not make any specific reference to India or Pakistan, his highlighting this point was widely interpreted in Pakistan as a hint to it that it should emulate China, which has not allowed its long-standing border dispute with India to come in the way of the development of economic and other relations between the countries. It was seen as an advice to Pakistan that while negotiating with India on the Kashmir issue, it should not allow it to come in the way of normal economic and other relations with India.

4.Ever since Pakistan became independent in 1947, successive Governments have been following a policy of not agreeing to a normalisation of trade relations with India till the so-called Kashmir dispute was resolved to mutual satisfaction. While the Pakistani authorities always cited the pending Kashmir issue as standing in the way of normal trade relations, another reason was their fear that their industries might not be able to compete with their Indian counterparts if trade was normalised.

5.It was reported at that time that Mr. Jiang had raised this point more explicitly with the Pakistani authorities and suggested that Pakistan should emulate China's example by normalising its trade relations with India without allowing them to remain frozen till the Kashmir issue was resolved. They reportedly did not accept his advice.

6.Pakistan's past policy on the question of normalising its trade relations with India consisted of the following:

( a ).Not reciprocating India's action in granting the Most Favoured Nation Status to Pakistan till the Kashmir issue was resolved.

( b ).Allowing a strictly limited bilateral trade only in respect of certain commodities included in a positive list without accepting India's suggestion of having a limited negative list mentioning commodities which cannot be traded and allowing restriction-free trade in respect of all commodities not figuring in the list.

( c ).Not allowing Indian investments in Pakistan.

( d ).Not allowing banks to open branches in each other's territory.

7. Signs of a new thinking in Pakistan on the question of moving towards a normalisation of trade relations with India despite persisting differences on the so-called Kashmir dispute became evident during the third round of the bilateral talks on economic co-operation held by the Commerce Secretaries of the two Governments at New Delhi on August 2 and 3, 2007.

8.The meeting reportedly took a significant decision to work for an increase in the value of the bilateral trade from US $ 1.7 billion as it was in 2006-07 to US $ 10 billion by 2010. Among other important decisions taken were allowing specified banks of the two countries to open branches in each other's territory, expanding the trade basket, improving transportation links, reducing tariffs and mutual technical assistance in capacity building.

9. It became obvious that even while continuing to stick to the stand that there cannot be a normalisation of trade relations till the Kashmir issue is resolved, the Pakistani authorities had started quietly allowing a movement towards a de facto normalisation. De jure restrictions, but de facto normalisation seemed to be the direction in which the bilateral economic relations started moving.

10. This trend towards a normalisation of economic and trade relations between the two countries seemed to have lost momentum after the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, when attitude towards each other became hardened once again. Since the beginning of this year, there are again signs of a thaw despite continuing Indian dissatisfaction over the perceived slowness of the Pakistani authorities in taking action against the Pakistan-based masterminds of the 26/11 terrorist strikes and renewed Pakistani concerns over perceived Indian activism in Afghanistan---which seemed to have moved from the economic to the military field.

11. This thaw became evident during the meeting in March last between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and YousefRazaGilani at Mohali in Punjab in the margins of the World Cup Cricket semi-final between the teams of the two countries and the subsequent meeting between Foreign Ministers S.M.Krishna andHinaRabbaniKhar at New Delhi in July last.

12. This process of thaw has since resulted in two positive moves by the two countries. The first is the reported decision of the Government of Pakistan to grant the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India without linking it to the progress in the bilateral talks on the Kashmir issue. The reported decision is yet to be formalised, but what is significant is that there are no signs of any opposition to it from the Pakistani Foreign Office and the Army. In the past it was the opposition from Pakistan’s Foreign Office and the Army that stood in the way of a forward movement on this issue. The economic Ministries of the Government of Pakistan had been in favour of this since 1996 onwards.

13. The lifting of opposition to the grant of the MFN status by the Army is a tentative indication that it has started looking at India through a less hostile prism. It is important to encourage any sign of new thinking in the Pakistani Army by taking the first steps towards building a military-military relationship by inviting Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff, to visit New Delhi at the invitation of his Indian counterpart. I have been advocating this for quite some time and reiterate my continued support for it.

14. The second significant move has come from Dr.Manmohan Singh during his meeting with Mr.Gilani on November 10,2011, in the margins of the SAARC summit in the Maldives. “The Hindu” has reported that Dr.Singh said that India had decided to move towards a Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan and a liberal visa regime for Pakistani nationals. His announcements were apparently meant to reassure Pakistan that its decision to grant the MFN status to India would have economic dividends to it.

15. Apart from the Kashmir issue, past Pakistani reluctance to grant the MFN status to India had strong economic reasons too---namely, its fears that the MFN status would be more beneficial to India than to Pakistan and could reduce Pakistan to a position of economic dependence on India. It is important to remove these fears from the mind of Pakistan.

16. Pakistan continues to take a rigid stand on one economic issue of considerable interest to India---- that is, the right of transit through Pakistani territory of Indian goods moving overland to Afghanistan. This rigidity might continue for some time till the fears in the minds of Pakistan regarding the implications of India’s strategic relations with Afghanistan are diluted. We should not allow this to stand in the way of a forward movement in respect of other economic and trade issues.

17. The SAARC summit provided an opportunity for meetings between the Foreign Secretaries, Foreign Ministers and Prime Ministers of the two countries. Even in the absence of any substantive movement on the question of Pakistani action against anti-India terrorists operating from its territory, one is gratified to note the evolution of a new vocabulary between the two countries, which highlights the positive more than the negative and which reflects a budding feel good atmosphere in the relations between the political leaderships and civilian bureaucracies of the two countries.

18.This feel good atmosphere is yet to percolate to the armies and intelligence agencies of the two countries. There are as yet no signs of any dilution in the ranks of the die-hard hawks in the analytical communities of the two countries. It is important to bring the Armies, the intelligence agencies and analytical hawks on board if this feel good trend is to be sustained and strengthened.

19.The only way of doing this is by encouraging greater interactions at different levels. Nothing like personal interactions to reduce suspicion and distrust. In this connection, I reiterate what I wrote after the Mohali meeting between the two Prime Ministers.

20. I wrote as follows: “ To prevent an attempt to derail the "re-engagement" process by elements which are against it, it is important that the "wide-ranging conversations" initiated at Mohali are kept moving forward by the two Prime Ministers by taking an early decision by our Prime Minister on his acceptance of the invitation from Gilani and by quick follow-up on the visits of parliamentary delegations.The goodwill and the benign interest in each other generated by the World Cup cricket semi-final was taken advantage of by our Prime Minister to make the "re-engagement" and "re-connecting" process possible. He should readily accept the reported suggestion of Gilani for a friendly cricket match between the two teams in Pakistan in the near future and visit Pakistan to keep this process of strategic discovery of each other going forward.” (11-11-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )