November 19, 2011
Describing the US-India defence ties as "strong and growing," a top US official has told lawmakers that the civil nuclear deal between the two countries would lead to increased defence trade.
"The civil-nuclear cooperation agreement was a landmark agreement that significantly transformed the US-India bilateral relationship," Mark Lippert said during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination as the Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.
"The agreement has also deepened the level of trust between the United States and India that will have positive effects on DoD interests and will hopefully lead to greater military-to-military cooperation and increased defense trade," he said.
If confirmed, Lippert said he believe US priorities for this relationship should be focused on increasing maritime security cooperation, expanding the military-to-military ties and deepening cooperation on defence trade and production.
"Additionally, I believe there is potential for cooperating on counter-proliferation, collaborating on humanitarian assistance and disaster response, dealing with piracy, cooperating on counter-terrorism, greater intelligence sharing on common threats, and working towards stability in Afghanistan and the broader Indian Ocean region," he said.
Observing that a close and continuing security relationship with India will be important for security in Asia and for effectively managing Indian Ocean security in the 21st century, Lippert said the US and India have a range of common security interests that include maritime security, counter- terrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
"Over the past decade, there has been a rapid transformation in the US-India defence relationship. What was once a nascent relationship between unfamiliar nations has now evolved into a strategic partnership between two of the preeminent security powers in Asia," Lippert said.
"Today, US-India defense ties are strong and growing. Our defence relationship involves a robust slate of dialogues, military exercises, defense trade, personnel exchanges, and armaments cooperation. Efforts over the past ten years have focused on relationship-building and establishing the foundation for a long-term partnership.
"The strong ties between our two militaries reflect this," he said, adding that the US remains committed to a broad defence trade relationship that enables transfers of some of their most advanced technologies.
Responding to questions on Indo-Pak relationship, Lippert said it good to see both nations make progress on outstanding issues.
In early November, Pakistan's Cabinet approved extending Most Favored Nation trade status to India.
Subsequently, India and Pakistan's Prime Ministers met on the sidelines of the recent South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in the Maldives, where they heralded a "new chapter" in their relationship.
"I understand there will be talks soon on nuclear and conventional confidence-building measures, which will be critically important. I am pleased that both nations continue to engage with each other, and I am hopeful that confidence building measures are able to take root to promote a greater level of trust between the two countries," he said.
TNN Nov 17, 2011
THRISSUR: Kadavallur Anyonyam, an annual Rig Veda contest involving scholars from two vedic schools, Thirunavaya Brahmaswam Math and Thrissur Brahmaswam Math, began on Wednesday at Kadavallur Sree Ramaswamy Temple, situated near the border of Thrissur and Malappuram districts.
K C Venugopal, union minister of state for power inaugurated the Anyonyam. He said, "Concepts of Vedas should reach the public. Conducting Anyonyam of this kind will help us understand the relevance of Vedas in Indian culture". He also said discrimination in learning the Vedas should be eliminated.Presiding over the function, Mahakavi Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri said, "More opportunities should be created to help people from all religions and communities learn Vedas and this will ensure the survival of Vedas. People should come forward to study it."Akkitham is the president of Kadavallur Anyonya Parishad, which is organizing the annual contest with the financial aid from Kochin Devaswom and Guruvayur Devaswom Boards. Anyonym is the final examination of vedic scholars in these institutions.
They will exhibit their proficiency in Rig Veda in the contest.Around 50 practitioners from both the schools will take part in the contest, which will be held for ten days. The contest is held in two sessions -- 'Varamirikkal and Jata or Rata'. Slokas from Rig Veda will be chanted for eight days and slokas from Sama Veda and Yajurveda will be chanted on last two days. Anyonyam used to be held in Kerala till the temple Entry Proclamation in 1936 . It was revived in 1989. 'Kadannirikkal' and 'Valia Kadannirikkal' titles will be conferred on the winners. But, only one practitioner was conferred with 'Kadannirikkal' after Anyonyam was revived .
If Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari is intelligent, he would realise the damage that has been caused to the credibility of the state of Pakistan by Mr.HussainHaqqani, the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, by his naivete in trying to use the services of MansoorIjaz, a controversial US businessman of Pakistani origin, for conveying to Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chairman of the USJoint Chiefs of Staff, a request to rein in Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff, in return for some quid pro quos promised by Haqqani on behalf of “his boss”.
2. In this highly murky case, we have only claims and denials----with most of the claims coming from Ijaz and most of the denials coming from the Pakistani side. Apart from a belated admission that the Admiral did receive a memo relating to Pakistan, US Government sources have refrained from any comments in the matter.
3. There is as yet no smoking gun on the basis of which anyone can be hung ----not even Ambassador Haqqani--- but there are enough indicators regarding the utter naivete of the Ambassador which could ultimately burn the credibility of Zardari himself and drive a further wedge between him and the Army.
4. The entire L’AffaireIjaz originated in the days after the US commando raid in Abbottabad on May 2,2011, that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. There was apparent nervousness among those close to Zardari that an Army humiliated and enraged by the success of the US raid, might turn its wrath against Zardari, who was generally perceived to be soft and sympathetic to the US interests in matters relating to the campaign against Al Qaeda.
5. Rightly or wrongly, there was an apprehension thatKayani might try to have Zardari removed. It was against this background that the Ambassador, who was then( May 9,2011) on a visit to London, contacted Ijaz, who was then on a visit to Monaco, and sought a meeting with him in London. The rest of the sordid affair followed from there.
6.Ijaz prepared the memo or non-paper in his hand-writing on the basis of what Haqqani dictated to him and had it delivered to Mullen through an American intermediary.In his statements and interviews, Ijaz has clearly admitted that he never knew or had never met Mullen, that he had used an American intermediary to have the memo reached to him, that the memo is in his (Ijaz’s) handwriting and that the contents were dictated by Haqqani.
7. Ijaz has not said anywhere that he knew that the contents had the approval of Zardari. He only says that Haqqani gave him to understand that the contents had the approval of “his boss”.
8. One could understand the fears in the Pakistani civilian leadership--- particularly at the level of Zardari--- regarding a possible threat from Kayani in the wake of the Abbottabad raid. One could also understand their anxiety to seek the intervention of Admiral Mullen to have any threat from Kayani neutralised before it materialised.
9. There were various diplomatic and tactful ways of doing this----by directly taking up the matter secretly and informally with their contacts in the US Administration. It was amazing that instead of doing so, the matter was taken up through the intermediary of a Pakistani origin businessman with dubious credentials without paying any attention to the need for deniability. When you put down anything in writing---whether it is signed or not---you damage the deniability.
10. The only saving grace in the entire episode is that there is no evidence to implicate Zardari himself, but there is enough evidence to implicate the Ambassador. After carefully reading all the available evidence in the matter, my own conclusion is that it was a rogue initiative by an over-anxious or over-enthusiastic Haqqani, which has gone horribly wrong.
11. The Pakistani Army would be justified in feeling enraged against the Ambassador and in expecting that action would be taken against him. By failing to act against him and by trying to cover up the matter, Zardari would be further damaging his credibility in the eyes of not only his Army, but also large sections of the Pakistani public. It would create serious suspicions about the soundness of Zardari’s judgement in sensitive matters such as this.
12. Could there be a coup staged against Zardari by Kayani on this issue? Pakistan of today is not the Pakistan of 1999 when a small group of Amy officers loyal to Pervez Musharraf then out of the country staged a coup against Nawaz Sharif. They were confident that the judiciary would validate their coup. Today’s judiciary in Pakistan is more independent than that of 1999. Kayanican’t be confident that it would support him.
13. Moreover, Kayani would know that a coup or even an attempted one would create instability and damage his reputation as a General who wants to avoid politicisation of the Army. He will exercise pressure on Zardari to get rid of the Ambassador, but would not go beyond that.
14. Even the Americans would be embarrassed by the present controversy which shows the civilian political leadership and bureaucracy and its judgement in poor light. (20-11-11)
( 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SORBONNE75)
November 18, 2011
Quite recently the most anticipated project of the world power industry has begun operating — the Nord Stream gas pipeline. On November 8, Russian gas supplies to Europe started. The project will help decrease Russia’s reliance on transit countries and provide stability and safety for gas deliveries. The Nord Stream pipeline runs along the seabed of the Baltic Sea, from Vyborg (Leningrad region) up to Greifswald (Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) and connects Russian gas fields with European consumers.
Everyone understands how significant the Nord Stream is, but t the same time, no gas pipeline can operate without a stable gas feed. That is why the Nord Stream project should be reviewed in the integrated manner in terms of both logistics and resources.
Gasprom’s gas transportation system will ensure gas feeding to the Nord Stream. Initially, the Yuzhno-Russkoye field in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District will be used as a resource base, later Shtokman’s resources will be used for the same purpose as well.
Resource Base is the Way to Success
With regard to reserves, the Yuzhno-Russkoye oil and gas condensate field is the one of the Russia’s largest. Its total volume exceeds 1 billion cubic meters of gas and 40 million tons of oil.
The project is international, and the field is being developed by three shareholders: Russia’s Gazprom; German Wintershall, a 100-percent subsidiary of BASF; and E.ON Ruhrgas E&P, a 100-percent subsidiary of E.ON group of companies.
The Yuzhno-Russkoye field was discovered in 1969 by the Urengoi Oil and Gas Exploration Expedition. However, in Soviet period the field’s development was suspended. It started a new life in 2004 after Gazprom had defined the procedure to bring the field into operation using the project’s financing.
In 2006, works on the field infrastructure had been commenced and in October 2007, the actual gas production began. Also in 2007, the field officially went into operation and Gazprom’s CEOs stressed the field’s significance for Russia’s gas production. At the inauguration ceremony Gazprom’s BOD chairman Alexei Miller stated: “Start of the Yuzhno-Russkoye’s operation is the most important event in Gazprom’s business life in 2007. This is a striking example of implementation of the company’s consistent policy aimed at the increase of its production capacity and formation of reliable reserves to ensure stability and safety of gas supplies to both local and international markets.”
Today, the Yuzhno-Russkoye field has reached its estimated capacity in terms of production volumes. As of 2009, its annual gas production amounts to 25 billion cubic meters and this production level is not expected to decline in the next 10 years.
After the Nord Stream commissioning, Severneftegazprom’s responsibility with regard to maintaining the field’s production level increases given the company’s important role as the provider of a resource base for the gas pipeline.
Implementation of Innovations
The Yuzhno-Russkoye field was brought into operation and reached a commercial gas production level at the earliest possible date – in less than two years, given that the infrastructure had been built from scratch. One may say without exaggeration that innovative process solutions used for the project are the most advanced ones: to ensure gas production stability, for all stages of the project the state-of-the-art control systems with the latest generation hardware and software have been employed.
A complex gas treatment plant is the highly automated complex equipped with a modern Russian and foreign equipment combining modern precision technologies, automation and project solutions.
Control systems are equipped with special instrumentation, telemetry complex and software which enable to provide operative control of all processes, maintain optimal parameters of the equipment’s operation, instantly warn about problems, and prevent contingency and emergency.
Technical solutions employed at the Yuzhno-Russkoye field have to boost up productivity, efficiency and reliability of equipment as well as reduce additional expenses and negative impact on the environment.
The field’s booster station used to compress the formation gas employes four Ural gas compressor units, each equipped with electric drive gas blowers, magnetic levitation systems and dry gas seals. Severneftegazprom became the first one among Gazprom Group’s companies to employ such equipment. Innovative solutions are used in the systems which control operation of gas wells and of gas gathering line headers and also in the systems for gas dehydration and tank gas metering.
At the well they also constructed a captive power plant which is equipped with self-contained gas turbine units and which provides generation of total power and this power plant is also distinguished with a high operational reliability while having good thermal performance, environmental, technical and economic characteristics.
High Technologies Overcome Difficulties
The main gas reserves (over 600 billion cubic meters) of the Yuzhno-Russkoye field are concentrated in the Cenomanian deposits which are considered to be normal in terms of their recoverability. Moreover, about 30 percent of total gas reserves occur in the Turonian gas reservoir. They are estimated as hard to recover reserves due to reservoirs’ low permeability, variability of their extension, small gas flow rate, low reservoir temperatures and abnormally high reservoir pressure. That is why, to efficiently develop the field, experience and technologies pertaining to development of hard-to-recover reserves are needed.
Severneftegazprom was the first in Russia to start development of Turonian gas deposits. Moreover, previously neither Russian nor Western companies attempted commercial development of such deposits in Western Siberia.
Development of Turonian deposits drilling straight holes is deemed inefficient and economically unsound. Given the above stated, the company’s experience in drilling a multilateral subhorizontal well is truly unique. The motherbore of the multibranch well has the system of well completion intended for separate operation of equipment at separate pipe strings. Such system of parallel tubing completion enables to perform the works on development and exploration separately in every well bore. Besides, this technology gives a separate access to the motherbore and to a branch hole of the well, thereby increasing the well’s productivity and the volume of produced gas.
Severneftegazprom invited the best Russian and Western specialists to work on the project: the well had been constructed under the project developed jointly with TymenNIIgiprogaz. Gazprom bureniye and Halliburton became the main drilling contractors.
In 2011, successful work resulted in drilling of the first multilateral well in Turonian reservoir. The well is currently in test production, and tests continue. However, they have already yielded good results: on May 12, 2011 the first Turonian gas was produced from the well. The well’s estimated production rate has been set at the level of 197,000 cubic meters per day. By the year-end, Severneftegazprom plans to connect it to the existing gas-collecting network of Senomanian wells.
Commercial gas production from the Yuzhno-Russkoye’s Turonian gas reservoir is expected to start after 2020. However, today the company is already laying down the foundation to ensure the long-term success.
Severneftegazprom is one of the largest gas producing companies in the RF. It is an international, Russian-German joint project in the gas production industry. As for the company’s shareholders, Gazprom is the main one (50 percent + six registered ordinary shares). The other two shareholders are BASF SE with 25 percent (three registered ordinary shares) + three privileged shares without the voting right, and E.ON AG, also with 25 percent (three registered ordinary shares) + three privileged shares without the voting right.
Severneftegazprom provides an example of efficient Russian-German cooperation, joining Western technologies and Russian experience pertaining to operation in severe climate.
In 2011 the company celebrated its 10th anniversary and showed outstanding performance specially mentioned by both shareholders’ and international industry’s representatives.
Stanislav Tsygankov, General Director, Severneftegazprom:
It is a great honour for our company and for me personally to participate in such a large-scale global project as Nord Stream. Any resources will be of no use without a developed transport infrastructure. Similarly, the infrastructure becomes useless without sufficient resources. That is why projects of this kind, where every link is important, may be considered integrated.
Currently, the Yuzhno-Russkoye field has reached the estimated gas production that ensures stable gas supply for the Nord Stream. The future may offer us many plans, projects and initiatives, and I am convinced that all of them will be implemented through the efficient teamwork, support of our shareholders and partners, as well as maintenance and improvement of our technological base.
Nov 12, 2011 14:56 Moscow Time
The Nord Stream offshore gas pipeline came into operation this week. Running along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, the pipeline will supply gas direct to European consumers.
Nord Stream runs from Portovaya Bay in Russia’s Vyborg to Greifswald in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. The 1,224-kilometer pipeline consists of two parallel pipes and its capacity is 55 billion cubic meters a year. The pipeline will hit its intended capacity after the commissioning of the second line in 2012. For now, the second line is 70% ready. Nord Stream holds a particular significance given that the gas deficit in EU countries will reach 200 billion cubic meters by 2030.
President Medvedev has described the Nord Stream pipeline as important for European security.
"The launch of Nord Stream marks a significant step in relations between Russia, the EU, Germany and a number of other countries which participated in the project. In the long run, it will bolster security in Europe, including in the energy sector, particularly amid the current economic difficulties."
The pipeline brings economic benefits to 26 million households and is environmentally-friendly. It is subject to fewer duties and taxes and it doesn’t use compressor stations, which makes it possible to cut maintenance expenditures and reduce carbon emissions. Opponents of the project argued that Nord Stream carries environmental risks, a Russian energy expert Dmitry Lyutyagin recalls.
"Some EU countries expressed concern about the project’s failure to comply with a number of environmental requirements. At the same time, they claimed that the Nord Stream gas supply system would make Northern Europe dependent on Russian gas. They were concerned about energy security and the project's environmental risks."
The Nord Stream project underwent a thorough scrutiny for compliance with all international requirements: it runs along the Baltic sea bottom, bypassing munition dumps from the Second World War. Each line consists of more than 100,000 steel pipes, each weighing 24 tons. While the pipes’ diameter remains the same, the thickness of their walls varies depending on the operational pressure. Nord Stream guarantees safety at all levels, Director of National Energy Institute Sergei Pravosudov says.
"Nord Stream is currently the longest offshore gas pipeline in the world. It was built on the basis of advanced technology and guarantees maximum security."
From the outset, it became clear that such a sophisticated project would require the combined efforts from several countries in order to succeed. The Nord Stream AG consortium comprises Russia’s Gazprom, which has 51% of the shares, the German BASF SE/Wintershall Holding and E.ON Ruhrgas with 15.5% each, and the Dutch Gasunie and French GDF Suez, each having 9%. Each of the partners invested in the project according to their respective share in this enterprise. All in all, shareholders accounted for 30% of total investment in Nord Stream. The remaining 70% was raised by banks. The banks have found the project lucrative, Sergei Pravosudov says.
"The project will surely yield profit. Gazprom is supplying gas and companies in Europe are buying it. We have guarantees from both suppliers and buyers."
The banks that finance the project stake on its participants, Dmitry Chizhov, President of the Russian Gas Union, says.
"The banks that invested in Nord Stream did not study its feasibility report. Members of Nord Stream AG provided the guarantees. In the assessment of the banks, the project is lucrative for Russia, which supplies gas, and for buyers in Europe."
By linking Russia’s and Europe’s gas supply systems, Nord Stream will mark a new chapter in Russia-Europe partnership. Europe is fully aware that Nord Stream will give it access to Russian gas reserves in the north. For this reason, the project is exempt from the requirements of the discriminatory Third Energy Package. The Nord Stream project follows general economic laws to the letter: we offer the goods, you buy them. Why waste time?
In the note, Raja claims that Chidambaram as finance minister gave his nod to the dilution of stake in Unitech and Swan Telecom. It claims that this happened in the presence of the prime minister.
In the letter dated November 5, 2008, Raja wrote: "Since some misleading articles are written in the media about the issuance of new licenses and spectrum allocation, more specifically in the case of Swan Telecom and Unitech Telecom, the matter was discussed with honourable prime minister and honourable finance minister as I observed in a press conference at Chennai."
"In the meeting honourable finance minister clarified that dilution of shares to attract foreign investment for business expansion did not amount to sale of licence and as such these companies did their share dilution as per corporate laws," the note says.
At the time of selling stake, both Swan Telecom and Unitech Telecom did not have any assets other then licenses which they had acquired. Both Swan Telecom and Unitech Group were allotted a license each for around Rs.1,600 crore.
Months later, Swan sold 45 per cent of equity to Etisalat for a whopping Rs.4,200 crore. Unitech almost instantly sold 60 per cent of its stake for Rs.6,200 crore to Telenor. Stake sales by these companies at such high prices clearly showed how the government sold licenses at throwaway prices.
The special court had earlier directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to provide documents related to "equity dilution" by telecom operators that were allotted telecom licenses in 2008 to Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy, who also happens to be the main petitioner in the case.
Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/2g-scam-raja-chidambaram-unitech-swan-telecom-stakes/1/160528.html
New Indian Express
Last Updated : 18 Nov 2011 12:37:23 AM IST
Our policy towards Pakistan, as the SAARC summit at Maldives last week showed, is stuck in the double grooves of hope and good faith. We think that India and Pakistan can turn a 'new chapter' in their relationship and believe in the good faith of Pakistan’s leadership in translating their peaceful protestations soon into policy.
'Trust but verify' applies well to disarmament negotiations where intentions can be believed but actions are inspected on the ground. With Pakistan this approach can be relevant to the terrorism question, where Pakistan’s anti-terror claims can be verified by inspecting the ground infrastructure of terrorism through agreed mechanisms. But what is pertinence of verification to the composite dialogue on normalising bilateral relations without linkage to terrorism?
We believe we can build a relationship of trust with Pakistan through a soft and yielding approach. This might make sense if we are largely responsible for blocking the bilateral relationship and acting in ways calculated to make our neighbour feel insecure. We would need then to change course and encourage Pakistan to lower its defensive barriers and react positively to our re-assuring overtures.
Reality is different. It is Pakistan’s Kashmir fixation, the militarisation of its thinking towards India and its use of terrorism that lie at the root of our adversarial relations. Unless there is a fundamental reorientation of Pakistan’s thinking and policies towards India our placatory approach will not produce the results we are looking for.
There is not much evidence of any strategic shift in Pakistan’s thinking on relations with India. Statements of intentions by Pakistani leaders by themselves do not constitute evidence. The Pakistani prime minister may have made reassuring statements to us over four or five meetings, but if results are lacking what value have they? All countries try to give a peaceful and principled public face to their diplomacy, but Pakistan excels in the art of saying one thing and doing another in service of a cause and an ideology centred on confrontation with India.
We have to see some irreversible ground actions by Pakistan on issues of primary concern to us. We should not interpret some tactical shifts induced by immediate compulsions as a fundamental reappraisal of attitudes towards us. Is Pakistan slowly burying the Kashmir issue because it is losing salience internally? Has the military-civil equation there changed to the point that the military’s grip on the country’s India, Afghanistan and nuclear policies has been loosened? Are extremist and terrorist outfits within Pakistan losing ground and the threat of terrorism instigated by jihadi groups targeting India receding durably? If the answers to these questions are negative or far from clear then prudence demands that our policies rest on the firm rock of reality than the soft soil of hope and desire.
On terrorism, the Americans now accuse the ISI of using militant groups as its veritable strategic arm, both against Afghanistan and India, and call Pakistan, as we have long done, an epicentre of terrorism. When the Americans are ratcheting up pressure on Pakistan on the terrorism issue we are unable to capitalise on this diplomatically favourable development because we have been de-emphasising the centrality of this issue to our own fence-mending efforts with Pakistan. If we give terrorism subordinate importance at the bilateral level, we are hardly in a position to add our voice to third party complaints against Pakistan’s conduct.
Not wanting to get involved in the latest US-Pakistan spat because of America’s unclear policies towards Pakistan is one thing, but is there reason to throw diplomatic lifelines to the latter when its international isolation is growing? Why do we counsel the US and Pakistan as our two friends to settle outstanding issues because tensions in our region harm our economic development. Doesn’t the outstanding issue of terrorism concern us and is our region otherwise quite peaceful? With the Americans exposing Pakistan’s double dealing on Afghanistan we state that Pakistan has a positive role to play in that country. If US frustration has compelled it to expose Pakistan’s terror links, our much longer sufferance at Pakistani hands through terrorist violence obliges us, ironically, to deflect attention away from this core problem so that our dialogue with Pakistan is not impeded.
It is a gratuitous diplomatic gift to Pakistan to project its prime minister as a “man of peace”. It unnecessarily burnishes the peace credentials of the top political leadership of a country that remains hostile to us. It makes that leadership look responsible and well-meaning just when its international reputation is getting sullied for ineffectiveness if not double-dealing. There has been nothing dramatic in Gilani’s public positions on India that merits the accolade given to him. On the contrary, as a patriotic Pakistani he has dutifully resorted to the usual Pakistani hard line positions on India-related issues whenever required. Because General Kayani who wields real power in the country cannot be described as a man of peace, we are praising Gilani to make a distinction between the 'peaceful' civilian leadership and the belligerent Pakistani armed forces, a differentiation that serves well the Pakistani establishment in their double-game with India of limited engagement and enduring confrontation. In any case, what good is Gilani as a man of peace if he cannot deliver peace?
Gilani’s handling of the Pakistan government’s confused decision to grant India MFN status hardly does credit to him as a leader boldly committed to peace with India. If the armed forces were backing this decision which lobby made Gilani announce that the Cabinet decision was not to grant MFN status but begin negotiations with India to lead to this happy outcome? Meanwhile, we have lifted our objections to the EU granting textile concessions to Pakistan at the expense of India and others in violation of WTO provisions. At Maldives, while announcing special tariff concessions to LDCs under SAFTA, we have unilaterally extended them to Pakistan even when it has not implemented the SAFTA agreement vis-a-vis India. We have made two unrequited gestures to Pakistan to earn its goodwill even as Pakistan is shilly-shallying with the grant of MFN status.
The problem is not with our vision of peace with Pakistan, it is with our strategy of realising it. Peace cannot be won with concessions.
(Views expressed in the column are the author’s own)
Kanwal Sibal is a former foreign secretary
AHMEDABAD: Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Saturday said he will soon register an FIR with CBI on the issue of black money stashed in foreign countries. This would help him obtain letter rogatory from a court and his organization then can directly approach foreign countries to get details of funds stashed, he said.
"After studying the laws on how to get details of black money stashed abroad, my organization, Action Committee Against Corruption in India, has decided to go to CBI office on November 28 and register an FIR on the issue," Swamy said.
"For filing of an FIR, we do not require names... we can only say that the unnamed people have committed a crime against the country by stashing black money in foreign banks. If the CBI would not file a complaint, then we will approach a court to direct the CBI to file it," he said. "Once the complaint is filed, we will approach a local court and obtain a letter rogatory for the purpose. That will be then presented in the court in Switzerland and that country's government to obtain details of Indians whose money is stashed their," Swamy added.
"We will follow the process in other countries also where there is banking secrecy. We are planni pti
Reacting to a 2G note written by former telecom minister A. Raja to then telecom secretary in November 2008 highlighted by Headlines Today, Swamy said, "I think there is one crucial paragraph in the note you have shown which I can testify is a genuine note because it's there in my file that I got from the CBI."
"Raja says let this telecom commission also consider this. Now the telecom commission proceedings, the minutes all further prove that it is the finance ministry which was pushing for this share dilution concept."
"Here are two companies, real estate companies. They don't have a single tower, they don't have any telecom equipment. They get a license. And two very well-established, even if they are black-listed, foreign companies want to buy shares of this company which are a paid-up capital of small amount and has no assets except spectrum license."
"This is a sham transaction in the name of share dilution. This is not a question of bringing a foreign direct investment. It is a question of how to get their hand on the license which otherwise they could have never got because they are black-listed," Swamy said.
He claimed that this act of then finance minister P. Chidambaram comes under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).
"So the note has actually pointed out the dilemma of Raja. The prime minister got concerned so he wanted a meeting and it is Mr Chidambaram who was the author of this whole thing. And that's where the provision of Prevention of Corruption Act starts," he said.
Swamy expressed surprise at why the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was acting like an ostrich in this case.
November 17, 2011
New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) A total of 140 out of the 241 members of the Rajya Sabha claim that they have no financial interests, despite owning assets running into crores of rupees, said an election watchdog Thursday.
The financial interests, which have to be declared by an MP within 90 days of his election, include income as directors of companies, controlling shares, regular salaries, paid consultancies and professional engagements.
These have to be declared by the members before participating in any discussion related to their interest, and are also to be kept in mind while appointing the members to any parliamentary standing committees.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also declared no financial interests, but has assets worth more than Rs.4 crore.
'It is strange how one can have huge assets and no financial interests,' said Anil Bariwal, national coordinator of National Election Watch (NEW).
An analysis of data on MPs' financial interests received from Rajya Sabha by NGOs NEW and Association for Democratic Research (ADR) showed a large number of them having share or control in private firms or enjoying financial gains from firms or other professions.
ADR and NEW founder member Trilichan Sastry said: 'Leave alone declaring conflict of interest, there is not even enough transparency to make it public'.
The activists could get the information only two and half year after their first right to information application, and after the information commission issued a notice to Rajya Sabha secretariat.
The activists said some of the MPs showed huge assets in their declaration to the Election Commission.
The highest asset holder among those who said they had no financial interest is Congress's T. Subbarami Reddy of Andhra Pradesh, with total assets worth Rs.258 crore. He is followed by Congress's Karan Singh, with assets worth Rs.57 crore. Bharatiya Janata Party's M. Venkaiah Naidu holds assets worth Rs.7 crore.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni of the Congress also figures in the list of those who declared no financial or pecuniary interests. She declared assets worth Rs.17 crore.
The information showed 28 Rajya Sabha MPs get paid for directorship in various companies with the highest amount being received by Vijay Mallya at Rs.39.45 crore annually.
He is followed by Naresh Gujral of Akali Dal who gets Rs.4.5 crore and Congress' Vijay Darda who gets Rs.4.54 crore annually.
Under the category of shareholding of controlling nature, 33 MPs have declared they have financial interests.
Congress MP Anil Lad has shareholding in the highest number of 27 companies, followed by his party's Vijay Darda with shareholding in 21 companies and Mallya with 12 companies.
For Lok Sabha, no such list of interest is maintained.
'Conflict of interest and money power is a deterrent for democracy, but the Indian parliament is lacking in transparency on the matter of financial interests of its members,' said Bariwal.
'We have written to Lok Sabha speaker to have a list of interests for the members, but we are still waiting for a response,' he said.
The the MPs who declared the highest remuneration - cumulative of directorship, regular remunerated activity and professional engagement - include Congress' Abhishek Manu Singhvi who leads the chart with Rs.50 crore per annum, followed by Mallya with Rs.41.4 crore, Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Arun Jaitley with Rs.10 crore, BJP's Ram Jethmalani with Rs.8.41 crore and Gujral with Rs.4.79 crore
An article in a British paper last month by Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman with political connections in Washington, has taken a toll of the civilian government of President Asif Zardari in Islamabad. The irony is that it was written to strengthen Mr Zardari against encroachments by General Ashfaq Kayani.
Mr Ijaz claims that shortly after the US Navy Seal raid to extract OBL from Abbottabad on May 2, the Zardari government felt threatened by General Kayani and sought out Mr Ijaz to convey its insecurity to Admiral Mike Mullen, the then Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff and avowed "friend" of General Kayani, to fend off a possible coup. Accordingly, with the help of a top Pakistani diplomat close to President Zardari, Mr Ijaz drafted and dispatched a secret "memo" portraying the Pakistani military as being part of the problem rather than the solution to America's dilemma in Afghanistan. Interestingly, the "article" also paints the Pakistani military in negative light and exhorts the Obama administration to start wielding the stick instead of offering carrots to it.
One might have expected the Pakistani media to focus on several critical questions raised by the memo. First, what was the nature of the threat faced by President Zardari from his army chief that compelled his diplomatic envoy to seek American help in warding it off? Second, what was the Pakistani government's need to specifically seek out Mr Ijaz to do the needful when direct and confidential contact already exists between the two governments? Third, why is the Pakistani military such a "problem" for the strategic interests of both governments?
But these issues have largely gone begging. Instead, such is the poverty of philosophy, the Pakistani media has trained its gun sights on the Pakistani diplomat and elected government who are both charged with "conspiring against the state". This is an extraordinary statement that reverses the established order of the Pakistani constitution. The civilian government is duly elected and all organs of the state are constitutionally subservient to it. But in this formulation "one" organ of the state, the military, has been substituted for the "whole" of the state and an elected and legitimate civilian government has been made subservient to it! Instead of the military conspiring against the elected government, it is the government that is charged with conspiring against its own military.
In the event, it isn't surprising that the military has turned the tables on the civilians once again. Mr Ijaz has been compelled to reveal all in order to prove his credibility but the irony is that he will never again be taken as a credible and confidential interlocutor by anyone. The finger is pointed at Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to Washington, as the diplomat in question and the military has demanded his head. But the irony is that President Zardari will only weaken himself further by cutting his most articulate and friendly link with Washington.
The military has been gunning for Hussain Haqqani for over a decade. He ran afoul of General Musharraf in 2002 for his critical newspaper columns in Urdu and English. So he decamped to the US where he wrote his seminal book on the unholy historical nexus between the Mosque and Military in Pakistan. After he was appointed Ambassador to Washington in 2008, the military embarked upon a campaign to defame him.
He was accused of acting against the "national interest" by manipulating the insertion of "pro-democracy" clauses in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation that committed $7.5 billion to Pakistan over five years as a "strategic ally." He was blasted for enabling CIA operatives to get visas despite the fact that authorisation for over 90 per cent duly came from the Pakistan Foreign Office/ISI or the Prime Minister's secretariat. He was criticised for pledging an impartial and public investigation into how OBL came to be lodged in Abbottabad when the military was insisting there would be no more than an internal secret inquiry at best. And he was painted as an "American agent" for recommending a pragmatic and responsible Af-Pak and US-Pak foreign policy.
The writing on the wall was clear when Imran Khan thundered against Mr Haqqani in Lahore last month and Shah Mahmood Qureshi demanded an inquiry against him for "conspiring against the state". Both are inclined to do the military's bidding.
The core questions remain. Was the military complicit or incompetent in "A'affaire OBL"? What was the nature of its disagreement with, and threat to, the Zardari government following "Operation Geronimo"? How was Mansoor Ijaz manipulated by various Pakistani protagonists? A third series of questions has risen for the umpteenth time. Is the constitution subservient to the military? Is an elected government answerable to the "state"? Should an unaccountable military or elected civilians define the "national interest"?
The fate of Asif Zardari's PPP and also that of Nawaz Sharif's PMLN, the two mainstream parties that majorly represent the Pakistani voter, hinges on answers to these questions.
Whether you call it "blogging" or "blawging," writing for social media is scary, even for lawyers.
Most members of the bar are used to spending many billable hours polishing anything they will present or publish. The misplacement of an apostrophe or an innocent typo can mean death and ruin even to the fiercest litigator. In a medium where formalities are eschewed almost as a badge of honor, lawyers may find it difficult to make the transition from brief writing to blog posting, but don't worry: we've got you covered. After all, we're teaching you how to hack martindale.com Connected.
Why Should Lawyers Blog?
There are many reasons why you may be considering blogging, despite your busy day. I spoke to popular blogger and lawyer Mark Herrmann about this subject on a podcast last month called Sex, Drugs, and In-House Counsel: Mark Herrmann Goes Above The Law. You can listen to it here.
For those of you who don't know Mark, he built a successful niche blog on The Drug and Device Law Blog which attained 40,000 readers per month. He then began writing for the number one legal blog in the world, Above the Law, on a column called "Inside Straight" about his experiences now that he went in-house. The difference? Above the Law gets about 40,000 readers per hour!
Some of the benefits we discussed on the podcast regarding lawyers blogging were:
- Subject Matter Expertise - writing a daily or weekly blog requires that you stay current on updates in that area. If you are a looking for an excuse to spend time surfing the Internet for the latest or even pretending to be an investigative reporter (which in some sense you are) then doing a blog may be for you.
- Exposure and Building Your Profile - there is a discussion going on right now in the Thought Leadership for Lawyers group on Connected about whether it is in a law firm's best interest to encourage lawyers to build their profile at the firm, when it is likely they will leave soon after. Developing people costs money in training and other expenses. Want to develop your people at a huge discount? Start a blog and let them become a main contributor responsible for content and readership. They will build their profile while your firm builds a marketing asset.
- Marketing Asset - okay, nice segway into this third point, but that's exactly what a blog is (among other things), a marketing asset. It is a place you can point current and potential clients to that is going to be more interesting (hopefully) than your boring law firm website. The blog is also a place you can interact with them and create dialogue. In short, it has the ability to support the building of the firm's profile, which is why we invest in marketing assets in the first place, right?
- Clients - let's face it: if your are in the business of law it's all about getting more clients. Most clients either ask a friend about which lawyer to use or ask Google (which is also their friend). When you blog daily, that raises your profile in the eyes of Google. When attached to a law firm website, the blog provides much needed "Google Juice" so you will rank higher in results for search terms relating to your posts (there are plenty of tricks to packing posts with search terms which I'll discuss in a later post as well).
"It sounds great Mike," you say, "but how do I get started?" I'm glad you asked.
The best place to get started with any project, (and yes, blogging is a project), is with some planning. The follow template provides 7-questions that should help you define what your blog is about and what direction to take it in. Try to answer this as completely and simply as possible.
Blog Planning Template for Lawyers
- What are your goals in blogging (establish expertise among peers, attract clients, SEO, etc.)? What does success look like?
- Who is your ideal reader? What problems are they facing and can you give any guidance via the blog? How can you take this a step further and connect emotionally with what they are going through?
- What digital assets does the firm currently have (articles, white papers, recordings or video, etc.)? Are there opportunities here to repurpose (republish sections) and promote those via the blog?
- What is your schtick going to be, i.e. what makes your posts special besides the subject matter that will create a raving fan base?
- Do you have any promotion channels for the blog posts (of course you do, but I want to know what you have thought of!)? Some suggestions include: Twitter, attaching post titles with links to email signatures, email newsletters, etc.
- Are you familiar with copywriting basics (blogs are not briefs ... they should not be boring)?
- Attention getting headlines
- Problem solving and issue raising
- Linking and tagging
- Using images
- Break up long posts with lists and subheads
- Finding your voice - who will be the personality of the blog? Will you have multiple authors? I always think blogging works better when you tie a post to an individual rather than a firm.
Notice I don't list anything about tools or the Connected blogging platform. That is because tools are the easy part. Knowing what you are going to build is much more difficult. Think about it: if you are going to build a house, do you really care if I hand you a Bosch or a Black and Decker drill? No. As long as the tools work and can build what you are working towards they are fine. The same thing applies here.
Is your firm currently planning to launch a blog, and if so, what is it about? If not, what is stopping you? If you already have a blog, what tips can you share that have worked for you?