September 01, 2012



The conviction of 31 of the accused in the NarodaPatiya massacre case of Gujarat by a special fast track court has to be welcomed for two reasons despite the fact that the case has not yet reached its logical conclusion with all avenues for appeal exhausted. Ninety-six people,mainly Muslims, were massacred by the accused during the communal conflagration of 2002 in Gujarat.The convicted have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.

2. The fact that some prominent Hindutva personalities of the Gujarat unit of the BJP were among those convicted would indicate the high-level of involvement of BJP personalities in the instigation, if not the commission of the massacre.

3. The conviction and heavy sentencing have to be welcomed by all right-thinking persons because the case clearly shows that the rule of law ultimately prevails in the country and that the courts will not tolerate massacres of members of the religious minorities by the religious majority.

4. The second reason for welcoming it is that it will send a reassuring message to the minorities that the law of the land makes no distinction between the religious majority and minorities while dealing with wrong-doings of a heinous nature.

5. I have pointed in many of my writings since the Indian Mujahideen (IM) made its appearance in 2007 that some of the Muslim youth belonging to the IM claimed to have been driven to jihadi terrorism by what they perceived as the unfair criminal justice system towards the Muslims.Hopefully, the NarodaPatiya judgement will transmit a clear message to the Muslim youth of the country that our criminal justice system is not prejudiced against them. More such judgements will help the Police in de-alienating the Muslim youth.

6. From what I have read in the media, there is no credible evidence to show any complicity of sections of the ShriNarendraModi administration in the massacre.There might have been individual instances of negligence and reluctance to act firmly because of the involvement of some Hindutva leaders, but from this, one cannot allege any complicity of the Modi administration.

7. ShriModi continues to be immensely popular among the Hindus of Gujarat and the Gujarati youth because of his contribution to economic development without large-scale corruption and improvement of governance. One has to concede that Gujarat remain the best administered State in India today.ShriModi is bound to reap the benefits of his record in the elections to the State Assembly due towards the end of this year.

8.But the details of the massacre of Muslims as they came out from the trial, the involvement of some Hindutva top-guns in the massacre and the fact that the massacre took place under ShriModi’s watch are bound to add to the feelings of disquiet about ShriModi’sacceptability as a pan-Indian and all-communities leader in other parts of India where emotional attachment to ShriModi does not play the same role as in Gujarat.Many people in other parts of India admire his record as an administrator and concede his remarkable contribution to the economic progress of his State. At the same time, they are reluctant to accept him as a national leader.How uncertain will be his pan-Indian acceptability became evident from some of the reservations expressed recently by ShriNitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar.

9.The style of the online blitzkrieg adopted by his die-hard followers in India and abroad reminiscent of the methods of the Nazi stormtroopers, continues to add to the disquiet.I have been drawing attention to these Storm-troopers and their obnoxious methods marked by abuse, invectives and intimidation since last year. I have been repeatedly pointing out that these Stormtroopers, claiming to act on behalf of ShriModi, have been doing a tremendous disservice to his future and may come in the way of the wider acceptance sought by him. I have repeatedly urged that he should openly dissociate himself from them and condemn their methods. He has not done so thereby giving rise to an unfortunate suspicion that he may be politically benefitting from them.

10. The echoes of the court judgement and the reverberations of the intimidatory and grossly abusive methods of the Stormtroopers will be felt increasingly across the democratic societies of the West. ShriModimight have been welcomed in South-East Asian societies, but in the western societies the question marks over his head will remain despite the recognition by sections of the Western media of his undoubted administrative acumen and economic management.

11. ShriModi has every right to aspire to be the next Prime Minister of India, but his acceptability will not improve unless he rids himself of the support of the online Stormtrooper elements.Till he does so, he will remain quarantined in Gujarat. ( 1-9-12)

(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)

‘Talebanisation on the rise in Balochistan’

Rehan Siddiqui / 1 September 2012

KARACHI — The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has claimed that Talebanisation was growing in the country’s largest and troubled Balochistan province and its capital Quetta has become a haven for militants.

The latest report by the HRCP on Balochistan came after a mission visited the province from May 15 to 19 to assess the impact of recent measures taken by the government with respect to the province, and to hear suggestions from stakeholders on a way out of the crisis.

“Talebanisation is growing in several areas and, unlike in the past, religious fanaticism is not merely being exported to the province from elsewhere — it is now being bred in Balochistan,” the report said.

It also reported that a growing network of seminaries has contributed to inflame sectarian tensions and militant training camps are reported in the province while the government’s strategy to quell the unrest in the province has largely failed.

The mission, during its stay in Balochistan, met members of the executive, representatives of political parties, civil society organisations, relatives of missing persons, religious and ethnic minority communities, businessmen, lawyers, journalists, teachers, students and senior government officials.

According to the report, the situation in Balochistan, in many fundamental respects, has not changed since HRCP’s last fact-finding mission to the province in 2011. Enforced disappearances continue in the province as does the dumping of bodies and impunity for perpetrators.

Frontier Corps and intelligence agencies are generally believed to be involved in enforced disappearance; in some cases their involvement had been proved beyond doubt, the report says.

Target killings and crime on the basis of religious and ethnic identity has grown, the report says, adding that the continued persecution of the Hazaras is as ruthless as it is unprecedented.

The report also pointed out that there is a popular feeling that the national media has abandoned Balochistan and has not given the province adequate coverage and journalists in the field feel threatened from the security forces, militants and insurgents.§ion=international

August 30, 2012

'Global Indian Business Meet 2012'

The 'Global Indian Business Meet 2012' will be held from September 20 to 23 and will see participation from business leaders, entrepreneurs, knowledge experts and investors of Indian-origin from around the world.

 Don't Miss:

Balochistan turning into a safe haven for militants: Report

By Our Correspondent

Published: August 31, 2012

LAHORE: Talibanisation is growing in several areas of Balochistan and security forces might be patronising militants, turning Quetta into a haven for militants, according to the fact finding mission of the Human Right Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Balochistan.

The HRCP mission had visited the province from May 15 to 19 to assess the impact of the recent measures taken by the government for Balochistan and to take suggestions from stakeholders to come up with a way to end the lingering crisis in the province, culminating in the report released on Thursday.

The report observed that religious fanaticism was not being exported to the province from outside, rather it was being bred within Balochistan. A burgeoning network of madrassas was contributing to the aggravation of inter-sect tensions. It stated that militants have managed to establish training camps in the troubled province.

According to the findings, there are multiple layers of violence and tensions prevailing in Balochistan. The crime wave engulfing urban parts of the province, its main highways is either a mark of collusion or utter incompetence of the authorities. The government, law enforcement and security agencies have completely failed to deal with militants, insurgents, and other criminal elements. NGO workers fear abduction, and development agencies have abandoned the troubled area.

The chief minister, the report noted spent most of his time out of the province, and the provincial government has not only failed but also conducts its meetings outside the province.

The report further says that kidnapping for ransom has become a profitable enterprise in the province and perpetrators have never been arrested or tried. The provincial home minister once claimed that cabinet members were involved in criminal activities but no action has ever been taken. Target killings and victimisation on the basis of religion and ethnicity has grown. Hazaras are still being persecuted ruthlessly. Numerous people believe that if perpetrators would have been brought to book, killings wouldn't have augmented with time.

Members of the mission were shocked at the glut and easy availability of sophisticated firearms in the war torn Balochistan. It questions on how huge quantities of weapons were passing through a series of check-posts when common citizens were stopped even if detected of carrying a knife. The mission noted that the government could have stopped the free flow of arms if sincere efforts would have been taken previously.


The report concluded that the government's strategy to counter these forces had failed. However, the reported offered a general opinion that if there is genuine will and commitment from the authorities to find solution to issues faced, the numerous challenges could be addressed.

Commenting on how the mission collected facts and arrived at the conclusions that it stated, they explained having met members of the executive, representatives of political parties, civil society, organisations, relatives of missing persons, members of the religious and ethnic minority communities, businessmen, lawyers, journalists, teachers, students, and senior government officials.

On the efforts made by the government to redress the situation, the report noted that the situation had failed to improve since HRCP's last fact-finding mission in 2011. The province, it noted, is in a mess with enforced disappearances, cases of dumped bodies and impunity to the perpetrators.

It also noted that the Frontier Corps and intelligence agencies are generally believed to be involved in enforced disappearances of people. In some cases, their involvement has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The police too are not trusted. Instead, the people put more faith in the Levies force since they comprises of locals.

There is a widespread feeling that media has abandoned Balochistan; it didn't give it the coverage it deserved. Media failed to report the shutter down strikes witnessed in the area. The truth is that journalists feel threatened from the security forces, militants and insurgents, the report revealed.



The NAM Summit in Teheran (August 26 to 31) provides an occasion for some general reflections on the movement, its salience today and India's role in it. For those who have always decried the movement for spurning the camp of democracy and freedoms, dismissing it as a collection of countries that still cling in varying degrees to sterile and outmoded habits of thinking is easy.




For others who believe that nonalignment was the right political and moral choice between two excessivley armed blocks intent on self-aggrandizement under the facade of ideology, there is lingering nostalgia for the heydays of the movement. For still others, while the movement's nomenclature may appear disconnected from post Cold War international realities, its spirit of conserving independence of judgment and freedom of choice for its members remains relevant.


Indian commentators who sneer at nonalignment because its rationale has disappeared with the end of the East-West polarization do not scoff at NATO's continued existence even after the Soviet Union's demise, not to mention its expansion numerically and operationally. NATO is now formally present in our neighbourhood in Aghanistan. If India does not discard its nonaligned affiliations completely and, at the same time, supports the continued presence of NATO in our region, by what logic is the first deprecated and the second endorsed?


The Cold War's end has not eliminated the fundamental distortion plaguing the post-1945 world- its excessive domination by the West. For developing countries the Soviet collapse brought no relief in terms of strengthening multilateralism, more democratic international decision making, more respect for the principle of sovereignty of countries etc. On the contrary, democracy, human rights and western values in general became tools for further consolidating the West's grip on global functioning. The immediate result was US unilateralism, sidelining the UN, doctrines of pre-emptive defence, regime change policies, military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan etc. Despite the huge costs these policies imposed on their protagonists, the open military intervention in Libya under the so-called right to protect and the covert one in Syria show that geopolitical domination remains the central driving force of western policies.


NAM, never too united because of external political, military and economic inducements, finds its solidarity unglued further because today many developing countries feel less attached to its agenda because of their improved economic condition ascribed to globalization and the self-confidence gained from a perception of a shift of global economic power towards the East  The West has also encouraged the Least Developed Countries to differentiate their problems from other developing countries, and by projecting the emerging economies as a separate category, developing-country solidarity has been further impaired.




The western policy of sanctioning and isolating specific developing countries for their geopolitical defiance has resulted in greater activism by some countries within NAM to resist the West's "imperiousness". This has created the perception that NAM has slipped into the hands of anti-western diehards, diminishing thereby its international image.The West is questioning the credibility of a movement chaired today by a country it reviles like Iran.


NAM has lacked internal cohesion because many member countries are militarily tied to the US in various ways- military aid, regime protection, military bases etc. Egypt has been the largest recipient of US military aid. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the Phillipines are NAM members. The current connivance between Islamic Gulf regimes/Arab League and the West to topple a nationalist, secular Syrian regime, totallly ignoring the Israeli dimension, shows how politically confused NAM has become. That NAM in its majority voted against Syria in a recent UNGA resolution underlines this further.




India's own experience of NAM in areas of its core national interests has been most unsatisfactory, which is enough reason to shed any undue sentimental or ideological attachment to the movement. India's NAM leadership did not shield it from US/western technology-related sanctions for decades; in the 1962 conflict with China, NAM did not  back India's position; on Kashmir, India has had to lobby within the movement against attempts at interference; it received no understanding from NAM on its nuclear tests and the sanctions that followed etc. India has therefore no obligation to support any individual NAM country on problems it confronts internationally and should be guided solely by what  is best for its own interests.


While extracting whatever is possible from it, India should treat its NAM membership as merely one component of its international positioning. While being clear sighted about NAM's limitations, for India it is nonetheless diplomatically useful to mobilize the movement to counter one-sided, inequitable western prescriptions on key issues of trade, development, intellectual property rights, technology, environment, climate change, energy etc, and  build pressure for consensus solutions.


If the US/West, despite their attachment to alliance-based politics, actively explore partnerships with India on issues of shared interest, India, despite its antipathy for military alliances and its "nonaligned" predilections, should have no difficulty in responding positively if it is in our national interest. There should be no tension between our reaching out to the West and the value we carefully place on our NAM links.


The writer was India's Foreign Secretary

August 29, 2012



In its judgement of August 29,2012, upholding the death sentence passed on AjmalKasab, the sole surviving perpetrator of the terrorist strikes carried out by Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in Mumbai from November 26 to 29,2008, the Supreme Court has made some observations on the role of the media, particularly the Indian TV channels, in covering the terrorist strikes.

2.These observations have been made as Obiter. The legal dictionary defines an obiter as “ Words of an opinion entirely unnecessary for the decision of the case. A remark made or opinion expressed by a judge in a decision upon a cause, "by the way", that is, incidentally or collaterally, and not directly upon the question before the court or upon a point not necessarily involved in the determination of the cause, or introduced by way of illustration, or analogy or argument. Such are not binding as precedent.”

3.Thus, the observations made by the court are not a pronouncement of a judgement or legal determination on the possible responsibility of the media. Those are the passing observations made by the court during its review of some visual/audio recordings seen by it while examining the appeal ofKasab against the death sentence.

4. It is evident that the observations relate to the coverage of the Indian TV channels as a whole. They do not relate to the coverage of any particular channel. It would, therefore, be unfair to blame any individual TV channel as referred to by the court. It has not made any individual reference.

5.However, a perusal of the court’s observations would show that it has been strongly critical of the TV coverage as a whole. Even earlier, the criticism had been voiced by many, including this writer, that due care and caution was not taken by the TV channels in their live coverage, thereby enabling the masterminds of the LET co-ordinating the terrorist strikes from their control room in Karachi, to have some idea of the deployments and planned actions by the security forces.

6. Normally, in Western countries even an obiter is used by the relatives of the victims to file a suit for damages against the media found wanting in the observance of care and caution, provided the obiter is with reference to the role of a particular channel.

7. As a first step, the relatives of the victims in Mumbai should examine the transcripts cited by the court in order to see whether any of the clips from the transcripts could be linked to the telecasts of any particular channel. Only if they are able to do so, they may be able to consider jointly with the relatives of all victims the possibility of a suit for damages against the particular channel identified as the telecaster of the clips cited by the court. This will be a pains-taking process which may or may not produce satisfactory results.

8. Simultaneously, it is important for a high-power task force of TV professionals to examine the obiter along with the clips cited in it and make suitable recommendations regarding the live coverage of terrorist strikes in future.

9. Most of the terrorist strikes in India are in the form of explosions. The question of live coverage of such incidents does not arise. There have been instances of live coverage of exchanges of fire between the security forces and the terrorists in the past too. Two examples that come to mind are the terrorist strike at Charar-e-Sharif in Jammu and Kashmir in 1995 and the joint action by the Punjab Police andthe National Security Guards in 1988 against some Khalistaniterriorists who had taken shelter in the Golden Temple in Amritsar. In those days, there were no private TV channels and hence the police did not face any problem.The print media co-operated with the police by avoiding any sensational coverage.

10. The 26/11 strikes were the first commando-style terrorist attacks in Indian territory outside J&K. The plethora of private TV channels which had come into existence by then added to the operational difficulties of the security forces due to the non-observance of due care and caution in their live coverage.

11.In addition to the initiation of precautionary measures by the channels themselves, it would also be useful for the National Police Academy in Hyderabad to hold periodic seminars with the participation of journalists and police officers on the TV coverage of terrorist attacks. Some case studies could also be discussed during these seminars such as the difficulties faced by the German security forces in 1972 during the Black September terrorist strike on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Unwise coverage by private TV channels allegedly added to the difficulties of the local police. (29-8-12)

(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)

Gwadar port to be taken over by Chinese

Gwadar port to be taken over by Chinese company: Minister informs Senate body

August 29, 2012 TAHIR AMIN 0 Comments

The Port Singapore Authority (PSA) has decided to leave Gwadar Port due to non-handing over of allocated land required by the Authority for making the port fully operational, according to Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Khan Ghauri.

"The denial of land at Gwadar Port forced PSA to leave the port, which will be taken over by a Chinese company," the Federal Minister informed the Senate Standing Committee on Ports and Shipping that met with Sardar Fateh Mohammad Hassani in the chair here on Tuesday.

It was agreed in the MoU signed with PSA that the government would provide the required land to make the Gwadar Port fully operational, which was in the possession of Pakistan Navy and Coastal Guard. However, that commitment did not materialise, which led PSA to leave the port, said Ghauri, adding that the government had issued an NoC to PSA in this regard, which was going to sell its shares to a Chinese company.

Hassani said that due to government''s mistakes, PSA was going to leave the port and if corrective measures were not taken the Chinese company could also follow suit. The Committee recommended that GPA, Pakistan Navy, Coast Guard, Balochistan government and Planning Commission should resolve the land issue in three weeks and report to the committee. It further recommended that as an alternative, Pakistan Navy should take the available 300 acres of land from government of Balochistan and vacate 584 acres of land at Gwadar Port.

Pakistan Navy (PN) officials informed the committee that the PN was a legal and legitimate owner of 584 acres of land at Shamba Ismail Gwadar, which was allocated to PN against payment by the Government of Balochistan for Defence/operational purposes. However, PN land at Shamba Ismail was made part of Gwadar Port Development Plan without its consent. Hence, Ministry of Ports and Shipping had been pursuing the case for the transfer of PN land to GPA since long.

The Ministry also took up the case with Prime Minister in 2008, who after thorough scrutiny of records, finally approved the retention of land at Shamba Ismail by PN. However, only 30 acres of land for the rail/road link from Gwadar Port to Free Zone/Container Freight Terminal was to be spared by the PN. Therefore, the PN''s possession of Shamba Ismail land has been well before Gwadar port project was launched, according to the PN.

In lieu of the land at Shamba Ismail, the government of Balochistan had offered two pieces of land at Pishukan and Shabi Tehsil to PN. Later in January 2012, the Prime Minister constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Balochistan to resolve the issue. Subsequently, a feasibility study of both pieces of land was carried out by the PN and land offered at North Bay of Pishukan was considered suitable for the PN. The PN also conveyed that the size of alternate land should be approximately 1000 acres instead of the offered 584 acres and that the PN would retain 84 acres of land at Shamba Ismail.

As a future course of action, M/o P & S is requested to undertake necessary action in line with PN stance on the issue. PN being the legal owner is in the possession of the land at Shamba Ismail since 1980 and this land is essentially required by the PN for Defence/operational purposes due to its strategic location. However, PN may consider handing over the land to GPA in the greater national interest provided suitable alternate land meeting all essential PN requirements was offered, PN officials told the committee.

Chairman Gwadar Port informed the committee that the government of Pakistan had decided in year 2002 to construct Port in Gwadar due to its naturally sheltered location from south - westerly monsoons. The main objectives for development of the port were trans-shipment, transit trade, Gwadar industrial development and Gwadar city growth.

Under a Financial arrangement with the Government of China, the port was constructed at an estimated cost of $287.8 million. The Chinese government made a $220.26 million contribution to the project. M/s Arthur D Little prepared a Master Plan of the Port and identified Strategic Zones and Land Bank requirements for the next 35-50 years.

He further said that in February 2007 through a concession agreement with PSA Gwadar Pte Limited, which is a subsidiary of PSAI, the management, operations, maintenance and development of Gwadar port were transferred to the concession holder for a period of 40 years under the ''Landlord'' concept. GPA''s share in Gross Income was calculated as follows: PSA Gwadar International Terminal Limited 9%; Gwadar Marine Service Limited 9% and Gwadar Free Zone Company Limited 15 %.

The chairman said that after taking the possession of Port as a concession holder, the PSA installed two Gantry cranes, 200 meter of single rails and one Sub-Station. In accordance with Schedule-5 of the Concession agreement, the PSA was bound to invest US $775 million for the development of port, which did not materialise, he added.

The construction of East Bay Expressway on East Bay of existing Gwadar City had been proposed to link the Gwadar Port with existing Makran Coastal Highway, he said and added that the Port, at present, was connected to Coastal Highway through existing city road due to which city population as well as Port cargo traffic faced huge problems. According to him, the existing city road is designed only for city traffic and it is unable to be used for heavy port traffic. During the Port Operations the road is totally congested with the traffic and there is high risk of accidents due to low capacity of the road for bearing the heavy port traffic. There are also observations of the city government as well as existing population of the city for the shifting of heavy port traffic to some other places. Due to prevailing law and order situation in the country as a whole and especially in Balochistan, the existing road is insecure for port traffic.

The 584 acres of land allotted to Pakistan Navy at Shamb-e-¬Ismail Gwadar is to be transferred to GPA. The Prime Minister has constituted a committee headed by the Chief Minister of Balochistan, which held a meeting under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Balochistan in March 2010 to resolve the issue. Pakistan Navy consented to vacate the 584 acres of land at Shamb-e-Ismail Gwadar, and requested for an alternate piece of land at Pishukan having an adequate sea frontage.

In this regard, the last meeting was held in April 16, 2012 at Gwadar chaired by the Commissioner Makran Division. Both parties agreed that 584 acre of land at East Bay Gwadar allotted to Pakistan Navy would be transferred to GPA and in lieu thereof around 1000 acres of land, both government and private, will be allotted to Pakistan Navy at Pishukan as identified by the concerned naval authorities. The revenue authorities the Gwadar have indicated the price of land to be around Rs 744 million, which would be required to be paid by GPA in this respect, the chairman informed the committee.

China set to take over reins of strategic Gwadar port in Pakistan

Agencies : Islamabad, Wed Aug 29 2012, 14:29 hrs

China appears all set to take over the reins of Pakistan's strategic Gwadar port in Balochistan with the Singapore Port Authority (SPA) and its partners intending to pull out of a 40-year management and development contract.

The SPA and its partners, the National Logistics Cell and AKD Group, have been allowed to quit the project after the government failed to transfer 584 acres at the mouth of the port that are currently in the possession of the Pakistan Navy.

"We have not been able to meet contractual obligations and resolve land issues. As a result they (SPA and its partners) have gone under duress and we issued them a no objection certificate yesterday to give up their contract," Ports and Shipping Minister Babar Khan Ghauri told a meeting of the Senate's Standing Committee on Ports and Shipping yesterday.

"Now the Chinese will take over Gwadar Port," Ghauri said.

He indicated that China will invest USD 10 billion to develop the port in Balochistan and manage its operations but did not give details.

After its development by the Chinese government at a cost of USD 288 million, Pakistan's only deep sea port was handed over to SPA under a 40-year agreement in February 2007.

The army-run National Logistics Cell and AKD Group of Karachi were party to the agreement, which covered the management, operations, maintenance and development of the port.

Ghauri said that while many people in Pakistan blamed international players for unrest in Balochistan and competing regional port operators for the lack of progress in the Gwadar port, it was "shameful" that a friendly foreign operator had to leave the port because of the navy's "changing positions" on vacating land despite a clear decision by the government.

He said the armed forces should not behave like "real estate companies" and realise that the land belonged to Pakistan.

Ghauri warned that if the 584-acre plot at Shamba Ismail was not immediately vacated by the navy and transferred to the port, even the Chinese would not be able to develop the project as a deepwater trans-shipment port.

The Chinese had turned down a request to take part in the bidding for operations of Gwadar before the agreement was signed with the SPA but they were now interested in the project, he said.

The three services had been allotted 25,000 acres to vacate land for the port but the navy had changed its position, he said.

The navy sought Rs 10 million per acre for land which it had purchased at Rs 180 and then demanded an alternative plot of 1,000 acres. It then increased the demand to 1,615 acres and finally to 2,200 acres, Ghauri said.

These demands were unacceptable and the Balochistan government is ready to provide 584 acres to the navy, he said.

The committee's chairman Fateh Mohammad Hassani said he had "reservations about the Chinese" as they had taken out white gold from the Saindak Copper-Gold Project by bribing two officials of an export processing zone.

There was no record of the extraction and the contract of the Chinese firm had been extended, he said.

A navy representative claimed the land issue was not the cause for SPA quitting the Gwadar project.

He told the committee that land at Shamba Ismail had been under the control of the navy since 1980 and it had been included in the port project without any consultation with the navy.

He said the land is important from a security point of view and its importance had increased after the recent attack on the Kamra airbase.

He said the premier had allowed the navy to retain the land in 2006 but it was ready to vacate it if it was provided 1,000 acres free of cost with an opening to the sea.

Balochistan's senior member for revenue told the committee that the navy was adopting contradictory positions and increasing its demand for land to 1,615 acres.

The committee asked the navy, the Balochistan government, the Ports and Shipping Ministry and Coast Guards to complete the transfer of 350 acres to the navy in three weeks and hand over Shamba Ismail land to Gwadar Port.

Otherwise, the committee would ensure that the land is surrendered under the Land Revenue Act to the provincial government.

China to take control of Gwadar Port

Published: May 21, 2011

China will take control of Gwadar Port.

Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said that China has agreed to take control of operations at the Gwadar Port.

In a statement issued after his visit to China, the Defence Minister said that China will take over control of the Gwadar Port Authority once the contract with the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) expires.

Former president Pervez Musharraf had given management and operational control of Gwadar Port to PSA in February 2007 for a period of 40 years.

However, Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani sought cancellation of the agreement through the Supreme Court.

Mukhtar also revealed in his statement that Pakistan has requested China to give it a 4400 tonne frigate on credit basis.

China also agreed to equip the Pakistan Air Force with the latest FC 20 aircraft.

The Geography of Iranian Power by Robert D. Kaplan

August 29, 2012 | 0900 GMT


By Robert D. Kaplan

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from Robert D. Kaplan's new book, The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate, which will be released Sept. 11.

The most important facts about Iran go unstated because they are so obvious. Any glance at a map would tell us what they are. And these facts explain how regime change or evolution in Tehran -- when, not if, it comes -- will dramatically alter geopolitics from the Mediterranean to the Indian subcontinent and beyond.

Virtually all of the Greater Middle East's oil and natural gas lies either in the Persian Gulf or the Caspian Sea regions. Just as shipping lanes radiate from the Persian Gulf, pipelines will increasingly radiate from the Caspian region to the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, China and the Indian Ocean. The only country that straddles both energy-producing areas is Iran, stretching as it does from the Caspian to the Persian Gulf. In a raw materials' sense, Iran is the Greater Middle East's universal joint.

The Persian Gulf possesses by some accounts 55 percent of the world's crude oil reserves, and Iran dominates the whole Gulf, from the Shatt al-Arab on the Iraqi border to the Strait of Hormuz 990 kilometers (615 miles) away. Because of its bays, inlets, coves and islands -- excellent places for hiding suicide, tanker-ramming speed boats -- Iran's coastline inside the Strait of Hormuz is 1,356 nautical miles; the next longest, that of the United Arab Emirates, is only 733 nautical miles. Iran also has 480 kilometers of Arabian Sea frontage, including the port of Chabahar near the Pakistani border. This makes Iran vital to providing warm water, Indian Ocean access to the landlocked Central Asian countries of the former Soviet Union. Meanwhile, the Iranian coast of the Caspian in the far north, wreathed by thickly forested mountains, stretches for nearly 650 kilometers from Astara in the west, on the border with former Soviet Azerbaijan, around to Bandar-e Torkaman in the east, by the border with natural gas-rich Turkmenistan.

More on Iran

Challenges of an Israeli Airstrike on Iran

How Power Shifts in Syria Will Change Iranian Politics

Energy Export Alternatives to the Strait of Hormuz

A look at the relief map shows something more. The broad back of the Zagros Mountains sweeps down through Iran from Anatolia in the northwest to Balochistan in the southeast. To the west of the Zagros range, the roads are all open to Iraq. When the British area specialist and travel writer Freya Stark explored Lorestan in Iran's Zagros Mountains in the early 1930s, she naturally based herself out of Baghdad, not out of Tehran. To the east and northeast, the roads are open to Khorasan and the Kara Kum (Black Sand) and Kizyl Kum (Red Sand) deserts of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, respectively. For just as Iran straddles the rich energy fields of both the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, it also straddles the Middle East proper and Central Asia. No Arab country can make that claim (just as no Arab country sits astride two energy-producing areas). In fact, the Mongol invasion of Iran, which killed hundreds of thousands of people at a minimum and destroyed the qanat irrigation system, was that much more severe precisely because of Iran's Central Asian prospect.

Iranian influence in the former Soviet republics of the Caucasus and Central Asia is potentially vast. Whereas Azerbaijan on Iran's northwestern border contains roughly 8 million Azeri Turks, there are twice that number in Iran's neighboring provinces of Azerbaijan and Tehran. The Azeris were cofounders of the first Iranian polity since the seventh century rise of Islam. The first Shiite Shah of Iran (Ismail in 1501) was an Azeri Turk. There are important Azeri businessmen and ayatollahs in Iran, including current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself. The point is that whereas Iran's influence to the west in nearby Turkey and the Arab world has been well established by the media, its influence to the north and east is equally profound; and if the future brings less repressive regimes both in Iran and in the southern, Islamic tier of the former Soviet Union, Iran's influence could deepen still with more cultural and political interactions.

There is, too, what British historian Michael Axworthy calls the "Idea of Iran," which, as he explains, is as much about culture and language as about race and territory.1 Iran, he means, is a civilizational attractor, much like ancient Greece and China were, pulling other peoples and languages into its linguistic orbit: the essence of soft power, in other words. Dari, Tajik, Urdu, Pashtu, Hindi, Bengali and Iraqi Arabic are all either variants of Persian, or significantly influenced by it. That is, one can travel from Baghdad in Iraq to Dhaka in Bangladesh and remain inside a Persian cultural realm.

Iran, furthermore, is not some 20th century contrivance of family and religious ideology like Saudi Arabia, bracketed as the Saudi state is by arbitrary borders. Iran corresponds almost completely with the Iranian plateau -- "the Castile of the Near East," in Princeton historian Peter Brown's phrase -- even as the dynamism of its civilization reaches far beyond it. The Persian Empire, even as it besieged Greece, "uncoiled, like a dragon's tail ... as far as the Oxus, Afghanistan and the Indus valley," writes Brown.2 W. Barthold, the great Russian geographer of the turn of the 20th century, concurs, situating Greater Iran between the Euphrates and the Indus and identifying the Kurds and Afghans as essentially Iranian peoples.3

Of the ancient peoples of the Near East, only the Hebrews and the Iranians "have texts and cultural traditions that have survived to modern times," writes the linguist Nicholas Ostler.4 Persian (Farsi) was not replaced by Arabic, like so many other tongues, and is in the same form today as it was in the 11th century, even as it has adopted the Arabic script. Iran has a far more venerable record as a nation-state and urbane civilization than most places in the Arab world and all the places in the Fertile Crescent, including Mesopotamia and Palestine. There is nothing artificial about Iran, in other words: The very competing power centers within its clerical regime indicate a greater level of institutionalization than almost anywhere in the region save for Israel, Egypt and Turkey.

Greater Iran began back in 700 B.C. with the Medes, an ancient Iranian people who established, with the help of the Scythians, an independent state in northwestern Iran. By 600 B.C., this empire reached from central Anatolia to the Hindu Kush (Turkey to Afghanistan), as well as south to the Persian Gulf. In 549 B.C., Cyrus (the Great), a prince from the Persian house of Achaemenes, captured the Median capital of Ecbatana (Hamadan) in western Iran and went on a further bout of conquest. The map of the Achaemenid Empire, governed from Persepolis (near Shiraz) in southern Iran, shows antique Persia at its apex, from the sixth to fourth centuries B.C. It stretched from Thrace and Macedonia in the northwest, and from Libya and Egypt in the southwest, all the way to the Punjab in the east; and from the Transcaucasus and the Caspian and Aral seas in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea in the south. No empire up to that point in world history had matched it. Persia was the world's first superpower, and Iranian leaders in our era -- both the late shah and the ayatollahs -- have inculcated this history in their bones. Its pan-Islamism notwithstanding, the current ruling elite is all about Iranian nationalism.

The Parthians manifested the best of the Iranian genius -- which was ultimately about tolerance of the cultures over which they ruled, allowing them a benign suzerainty. Headquartered in the northeastern Iranian region of Khorasan and the adjacent Kara Kum and speaking an Iranian language, the Parthians ruled between the third century B.C. and the third century A.D., generally from Syria and Iraq to central Afghanistan and Pakistan, including Armenia and Turkmenistan. Thus, rather than the Bosporus-to-Indus or the Nile-to-Oxus scope of Achaemenid Persia, the Parthian Empire constitutes a more realistic vision of a Greater Iran for the 21st century. And this is not necessarily bad. For the Parthian Empire was extremely decentralized, a zone of strong influence rather than of outright control, which leaned heavily on art, architecture and administrative practices inherited from the Greeks. As for the Iran of today, it is no secret that the clerical regime is formidable, but demographic, economic and political forces are equally dynamic, and key segments of the population are restive. So do not discount the possibility of a new regime in Iran and a consequently benign Iranian empire yet to come.

The medieval record both cartographically and linguistically follows from the ancient one, though in more subtle ways. In the eighth century the political locus of the Arab world shifted eastward from Syria to Mesopotamia -- that is, from the Umayyad caliphs to the Abbasid ones -- signaling, in effect, the rise of Iran. (The second caliph, Omar bin al-Khattab, during whose reign the Islamic armies conquered the Sassanids, adopted the Persian system of administration called the Diwan.) The Abbasid Caliphate at its zenith in the middle of the ninth century ruled from Tunisia eastward to Pakistan, and from the Caucasus and Central Asia southward to the Persian Gulf. Its capital was the new city of Baghdad, close upon the old Sassanid Persian capital of Ctesiphon; and Persian bureaucratic practices, which added whole new layers of hierarchy, undergirded this new imperium. The Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad became more a symbol of an Iranian despotism than of an Arab sheikhdom. Some historians have labeled the Abbasid Caliphate the equivalent of the "cultural reconquest" of the Middle East by the Persians under the guise of Arab rulers.5 The Abbasids succumbed to Persian practices just as the Umayyads, closer to Asia Minor, had succumbed to Byzantine ones. "Persian titles, Persian wines and wives, Persian mistresses, Persian songs, as well as Persian ideas and thoughts, won the day," writes the historian Philip K. Hitti.6 "In the western imagination," writes Peter Brown, "the Islamic [Abbasid] empire stands as the quintessence of an oriental power. Islam owed this crucial orientation neither to Muhammad nor to the adaptable conquerors of the seventh century, but to the massive resurgence of eastern, Persian traditions in the eighth and ninth centuries.7"

As for Shiism, it is very much a component of this Iranian cultural dynamism -- despite the culturally bleak and oppressive aura projected by the ruling Shiite clergy in these dark times in Tehran. While the arrival of the Mahdi in the form of the hidden Twelfth Imam means the end of injustice, and thus acts as a spur to radical activism, little else in Shiism necessarily inclines the clergy to play an overt political role; Shiism even has a quietest strain that acquiesces to the powers that be and that is frequently informed by Sufism.8 Witness the example set by Iraq's leading cleric of recent years, Ayatollah Ali Sistani (of Iranian heritage), who only at pivotal moments makes a plea for political conciliation from behind the scenes. Precisely because of the symbiotic relationship between Iraq and Iran throughout history, with its basis in geography, it is entirely possible that in a post-revolutionary Iran, Iranians will look more toward the Shiite holy cities of An Najaf and Karbala in Iraq for spiritual direction than toward their own holy city of Qom. It is even possible that Qom will adopt the quietism of An Najaf and Karbala. This is despite the profound differences between Shia of Arab descent and those of Persian descent.

The French scholar Olivier Roy tells us that Shiism is historically an Arab phenomenon that came late to Iran but that eventually led to the establishment of a clerical hierarchy for taking power. Shiism was further strengthened by the tradition of a strong and bureaucratic state that Iran has enjoyed since antiquity, relative to those of the Arab world, and that is, as we know, partly a gift of the spatial coherence of the Iranian plateau. The Safavids brought Shiism to Iran in the 16th century. Their name comes from their own militant Sufi order, the Safaviyeh, which had originally been Sunni. The Safavids were merely one of a number of horse-borne brotherhoods of mixed Turkish, Azeri, Georgian and Persian origin in the late 15th century that occupied the mountainous plateau region between the Black and Caspian seas, where eastern Anatolia, the Caucasus and northwestern Iran come together. In order to build a stable state on the Farsi-speaking Iranian plateau, these new sovereigns of eclectic linguistic and geographical origin adopted Twelver Shiism as the state religion, which awaits the return of the Twelfth Imam, a direct descendant of Mohammed, who is not dead but in occlusion.9 The Safavid Empire at its zenith stretched thereabouts from Anatolia and Syria-Mesopotamia to central Afghanistan and Pakistan -- yet another variant of Greater Iran through history. Shiism was an agent of Iran's congealment as a modern nation-state, even as the Iranianization of non-Persian Shiite and Sunni minorities during the 16th century also helped in this regard.10 Iran might have been a great state and nation since antiquity, but the Safavids with their insertion of Shiism onto the Iranian plateau retooled Iran for the modern era.

Indeed, revolutionary Iran of the late 20th and early 21st centuries is a fitting expression of this powerful and singular legacy. Of course, the rise of the ayatollahs has been a lowering event in the sense of the violence done to -- and I do not mean to exaggerate -- the voluptuous, sophisticated and intellectually stimulating traditions of the Iranian past. (Persia -- "that land of poets and roses!" exclaims the introductory epistle of James J. Morier's The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan.11) But comparison, it is famously said, is the beginning of all serious scholarship. And compared to the upheavals and revolutions in the Arab world during the early and middle phases of the Cold War, the regime ushered in by the 1978-79 Iranian Revolution was striking in its élan and modernity. The truth is, and this is something that goes directly back to the Achaemenids of antiquity, everything about the Iranian past and present is of a high quality, whether it is the dynamism of its empires from Cyrus the Great to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Who can deny the sheer Iranian talent for running militant networks in Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq, which is, after all, an aspect of imperial rule!); or the political thought and writings of its Shiite clergy; or the complex efficiency of the bureaucracy and security services in cracking down on dissidents. Tehran's revolutionary order constitutes a richly developed governmental structure with a diffusion of power centers; it is not a crude one-man thugocracy like the kind Saddam Hussein ran in neighboring Arab Iraq.

Again, what makes the clerical regime in Iran so effective in the pursuit of its interests, from Lebanon to Afghanistan, is its merger with the Iranian state, which itself is the product of history and geography. The Green Movement, which emerged in the course of massive anti-regime demonstrations following the disputed elections of 2009, is very much like the regime it seeks to topple. The Greens were greatly sophisticated by the standards of the region (at least until the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia two years later), and thus another demonstration of the Iranian genius. The Greens constituted a world-class democracy movement, having mastered the latest means in communications technology -- Twitter, Facebook, text messaging -- to advance their organizational throw weight and having adopted a potent mixture of nationalism and universal moral values to advance their cause. It took all the means of repression of the Iranian state, subtle and not, to drive the Greens underground. (In fact, the Iranian regime was far more surgical in its repression of the Greens than the Syrian regime has thus far been in its own violent attempt to silence dissent.) Were the Greens ever to take power, or to facilitate a change in the clerical regime's philosophy and foreign policy toward moderation, Iran, because of its strong state and dynamic idea, would have the means to shift the whole groundwork of the Middle East away from radicalization, providing political expression for a new bourgeoisie with middle-class values that has been quietly rising throughout the Greater Middle East, and which the American obsession with al Qaeda and radicalism obscured until the Arab Spring of 2011.12

To speak in terms of destiny is dangerous, since it implies an acceptance of fate and determinism, but clearly given Iran's geography, history and human capital, it seems likely that the Greater Middle East, and by extension, Eurasia, will be critically affected by Iran's own political evolution, for better or for worse.

The best indication that Iran has yet to fulfill such a destiny lies in what has not quite happened yet in Central Asia. Let me explain. Iran's geography, as noted, gives it frontage on Central Asia to the same extent that it has on Mesopotamia and the Middle East. But the disintegration of the Soviet Union has brought limited gains to Iran, when one takes into account the whole history of Greater Iran in the region. The very suffix "istan," used for Central and South Asian countries and which means "place," is Persian. The conduits for Islamization and civilization in Central Asia were the Persian language and culture. The language of the intelligentsia and other elites in Central Asia up through the beginning of the 20th century was one form of Persian or another. But after 1991, Shiite Azerbaijan to the northwest adopted the Latin alphabet and turned to Turkey for tutelage. As for the republics to the northeast of Iran, Sunni Uzbekistan oriented itself more toward a nationalistic than an Islamic base, for fear of its own homegrown fundamentalists -- this makes it wary of Iran. Tajikistan, Sunni but Persian-speaking, seeks a protector in Iran, but Iran is constrained for fear of making an enemy of the many Turkic-speaking Muslims elsewhere in Central Asia.13 What's more, being nomads and semi-nomads, Central Asians were rarely devout Muslims to start with, and seven decades of communism only strengthened their secularist tendencies. Having to relearn Islam, they are both put off and intimidated by clerical Iran.

Of course, there have been positive developments from the viewpoint of Tehran. Iran, as its nuclear program attests, is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the Middle East (in keeping with its culture and politics), and as such has built hydroelectric projects and roads and railroads in these Central Asian countries that will one day link them all to Iran -- either directly or through Afghanistan. Moreover, a natural gas pipeline now connects southeastern Turkmenistan with northeastern Iran, bringing Turkmen natural gas to Iran's Caspian region, and thus freeing up Tehran's own natural gas production in southern Iran for export via the Persian Gulf. (This goes along with a rail link built in the 1990s connecting the two countries.) Turkmenistan has the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves and has committed its entire natural gas exports to Iran, China and Russia. Hence, the possibility arises of a Eurasian energy axis united by the crucial geography of three continental powers all for the time being opposed to Western democracy.14 Iran and Kazakhstan have built an oil pipeline connecting the two countries, with Kazakh oil being pumped to Iran's north, even as an equivalent amount of oil is shipped from Iran's south out through the Persian Gulf. Kazakhstan and Iran will also be linked by rail, providing Kazakhstan with direct access to the Gulf. A rail line may also connect mountainous Tajikistan to Iran, via Afghanistan. Iran constitutes the shortest route for all these natural resource-rich countries to reach international markets.

So imagine an Iran athwart the pipeline routes of Central Asia, along with its sub-state, terrorist empire of sorts in the Greater Middle East. But there is still a problem. Given the prestige that Shiite Iran has enjoyed in sectors of the Sunni Arab world, to say nothing of Shiite south Lebanon and Shiite Iraq -- because of the regime's implacable support for the Palestinian cause and its inherent anti-Semitism -- it is telling that this ability to attract mass support outside its borders does not similarly carry over into Central Asia. One issue is that the former Soviet republics maintain diplomatic relations with Israel and simply lack the hatred toward it that may still be ubiquitous in the Arab world, despite the initial phases of the Arab Spring. Yet, there is something larger and deeper at work, something that limits Iran's appeal not only in Central Asia but in the Arab world as well. That something is the very persistence of its suffocating clerical rule that, while impressive in a negative sense -- using Iran's strong state tradition to ingeniously crush a democratic opposition and torture and rape its own people -- has also dulled the linguistic and cosmopolitan appeal that throughout history has accounted for a Greater Iran in a cultural sense. The Technicolor is gone from the Iranian landscape under this regime and has been replaced by grainy black and white. Iran's imperial ambitions are for the time being limited by the very nature of its clerical rule.

Some years back I was in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, from whose vantage point Tehran and Mashad over the border in Iranian Khorasan have always loomed as cosmopolitan centers of commerce and pilgrimage, in stark contrast to Turkmenistan's own sparsely populated, nomadic landscape. But while trade and pipeline politics proceeded apace, Iran held no real magic, no real appeal for Muslim Turkmens, who are mainly secular and are put off by the mullahs. As extensive as Iranian influence is by virtue of its in-your-face challenge to America and Israel, I don't believe we will see the true appeal of Iran, in all its cultural glory, until the regime liberalizes or is toppled. A democratic or quasi democratic Iran, precisely because of the geographical power of the Iranian state, has the possibility to energize hundreds of millions of fellow Muslims in the Arab world and Central Asia.

Sunni Arab liberalism could be helped in its rise not only by the example of the West, or because of a democratic yet dysfunctional Iraq, but also because of the challenge thrown up by a newly liberal and historically eclectic Shiite Iran in the future. And such an Iran might do what two decades of post-Cold War Western democracy and civil society promotion have failed to -- that is, lead to a substantial prying loose of the police state restrictions in former Soviet Central Asia.

With its rich culture, vast territory and teeming and sprawling cities, Iran is, in the way of China and India, a civilization unto itself, whose future will overwhelmingly be determined by internal politics and social conditions. Unlike the Achaemenid, Sassanid, Safavid and other Iranian empires of yore, which were either benign or truly inspiring in both a moral and cultural sense, this current Iranian empire of the mind rules mostly out of fear and intimidation, through suicide bombers rather than through poets. And this both reduces its power and signals its eventual downfall.

Yet, if one were to isolate a single hinge in calculating Iran's fate, it would be Iraq. Iraq, history and geography tell us, is entwined in Iranian politics to the degree of no other foreign country. The Shiite shrines of Imam Ali (the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law) in An Najaf and the one of Imam Hussain (the grandson of the Prophet) in Karbala, both in central-southern Iraq, have engendered Shiite theological communities that challenge that of Qom in Iran. Were Iraqi democracy to exhibit even a modicum of stability, the freer intellectual atmosphere of the Iraqi holy cities could eventually have a profound impact on Iranian politics. In a larger sense, a democratic Iraq can serve as an attractor force of which Iranian reformers might in the future take advantage. For as Iranians become more deeply embroiled in Iraqi politics, the very propinquity of the two nations with a long and common border might work to undermine the more repressive of the two systems. Iranian politics will become gnarled by interaction with a pluralistic, ethnically Arab Shiite society. And as the Iranian economic crisis continues to unfold, ordinary Iranians could well up in anger over hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by their government to buy influence in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere. This is to say nothing of how Iranians will become increasingly hated inside Iraq as the equivalent of "Ugly Americans." Iran would like to simply leverage Iraqi Shiite parties against the Sunni ones. But that is not altogether possible, since that would narrow the radical Islamic universalism it seeks to represent in the pan-Sunni world to a sectarianism with no appeal beyond the community of Shia. Thus, Iran may be stuck trying to help form shaky Sunni-Shiite coalitions in Iraq and to keep them perennially functioning, even as Iraqis develop greater hatred for this intrusion into their domestic affairs. Without justifying the way that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was planned and executed, or rationalizing the trillions of dollars spent and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the war, in the fullness of time it might very well be that the fall of Saddam Hussein began a process that will result in the liberation of two countries; not one. Just as geography has facilitated Iran's subtle colonization of Iraqi politics, geography could also be a factor in abetting Iraq's influence upon Iran.

The prospect of peaceful regime change -- or evolution -- in Iran, despite the temporary fizzling of the Green Movement, is still greater now than in the Soviet Union during most of the Cold War. A liberated Iran, coupled with less autocratic governments in the Arab world -- governments that would be focused more on domestic issues because of their own insecurity -- would encourage a more equal, fluid balance of power between Sunnis and Shia in the Middle East, something that would help keep the region nervously preoccupied with itself and on its own internal and regional power dynamics, much more than on America and Israel.

Additionally, a more liberal regime in Tehran would inspire a broad cultural continuum worthy of the Persian empires of old, one that would not be constrained by the clerical forces of reaction.

A more liberal Iran, given the large Kurdish, Azeri, Turkmen and other minorities in the north and elsewhere, may also be a far less centrally controlled Iran, with the ethnic peripheries drifting away from Tehran's orbit. Iran has often been less a state than an amorphous, multinational empire. Its true size would always be greater and smaller than any officially designated cartography. While the northwest of today's Iran is Kurdish and Azeri Turk, parts of western Afghanistan and Tajikistan are culturally and linguistically compatible with an Iranian state. It is this amorphousness, so very Parthian, that Iran could return to as the wave of Islamic extremism and the perceived legitimacy of the mullahs' regime erodes.15

1 Michael Axworthy. A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind, Basic Books, New York, 2008, p. 3.

2 Brown. The World of Late Antiquity, p. 163.

3 W. Barthold, An Historical Geography of Iran, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, (1903) 1971 and 1984, pp. x-xi and 4.

4 Ostler, Empires of the Word, p. 31.

5 Axworthy, p. 78.

6 Philip K. Hitti, The Arabs: A Short History, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1943, p. 109.

7 Brown, pp. 202-03.

8 Hiro, Inside Central Asia, p. 359.

9 Olivier Roy, The Failure of Political Islam, translated by Carol Volk, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1992 and 1994, pp. 168-70.

10 Roy, The Failure of Political Islam, p. 168.

11 James Morier, The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan, John Murray, London, 1824, p. 5 of 1949 Cresset Press edition.

12 Vali Nasr, Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It Will Mean for Our World, Free Press, New York, 2009.

13 Roy, p. 193.

14 M. K. Bhadrakumar, "Russia, China, Iran Energy Map," Asia Times, 2010.

15 Robert D. Kaplan, The Ends of the Earth: A Journey at the Dawn of the 21st Century, Random House, New York, 1996, p. 242.

Read more: The Geography of Iranian Power by Robert D. Kaplan | Stratfor

Indian Americans should stand united, exhorts Rao

August 29, 2012 08:41 IST

India's [ Images ] Ambassador to the United States, Nirupama Rao [ Images ], who immediately visited with the victims and families of the Sikh worshippers in the aftermath of the horrific massacre perpetrated by the white supremacist Wade Michael Page in the gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on August 5, has exhorted the Indian American community to shed their differences of regionalism, ethnicity, religion, and unite to project a concerted front to protect itself from any future violence and discrimination.

Rao, who was the guest of honour at a gala banquet on August 26, organised by the Indian American community organisations of the Greater Washington Metropolitan region under the aegis of the National Council of Asian Indian Association to celebrate India's 65th anniversary of its independence, told more than 300 guests, including scores of Sikh Americans, senior State Department officials, senior state and local officials and legislators, "A few weeks ago, I was in Milwaukee, in Wisconsin, soon in the aftermath of the tragic shooting at the Oak Creek gurdwara, and I want to again extend my heartfelt sympathies to our Sikh brothers and sisters."

"I know that they have suffered a great deal," she said, and noted that "I saw the shock, the grief, writ large on their faces when I went to Oak Creek, and my heart really bled for them and I was so moved by that experience."

Rao said, "This again, is an opportunity for all of us to come together to consolidate. We are not just Sikh Americans, or Gujarati Americans, or Telugu Americans, or Malayalee Americans, or Kashmiri Americans."

"We are Indian Americans, and we must understand that," she added, to sustained applause.
Rao argued that "strength derives from those numbers, as in any democracy -- the larger the numbers, the larger the voice. So, we should understand that this is the time for us to speak up together against violence, against any feeling that we have that we are not being treated properly."

"This is a country -- America -- that upholds the rights of the individual, it celebrates enterprise, it celebrates talent, and all of you have flourished in this country for that reason," she said.

Thus, she reiterated, "Take strength from that and I am sure that as we saw, the manner in which the administration reacted to the tragedy in Oak Creek, it was very, very heartening, very encouraging."

Rao pointed out, "President Obama [ Images ] spoke out, and the administration reached out to the Sikh community in the aftermath of the tragedy."

She also recalled that in addition to Obama expressing his sympathy and condolences and lauding the contributions of Sikh Americans and declaring that they have enriched the United States and are a vibrant part of the fabric of America, he had also spoken with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] over the tragedy "and he spoke of the importance that the United States attaches to its relations with India."
Among the six worshippers who were killed, two were Sikh Americans, and four were Indian nationals working in the temple, including two priests.

Rao said, "I saw the warm sentiments expressed in the Independence Day greetings that President Obama sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and it spoke volumes, spoke so eloquently, about the strength and the importance and the validity of the India-US partnership."
"So let us take strength, let us take encouragement and let us draw sustenance from this fact -- the fact that this relationship has grown so much in strength and meaning, over the past few years," she said.
At the outset, Dr Sambhu Banik, the master of ceremonies, requested the audience to stand "and observe a moment of silence to pay our respects to our Sikh brothers and sisters, who lost their lives at the hands of a racist white supremacist hate-monger in the gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin."

Assistant Secretary of State, Robert Blake [ Images ], the Obama administration's point man for South Asia, who was the keynote speaker, and followed the remarks of Rao, also at the outset of his speech, said, "Let me take a moment to honour the memory of the victims of the tragic and senseless attack on the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin earlier this month."

He said, "As President Obama noted in his call with Prime Minister Singh [ Images ], the Sikh community is an essential and vibrant part of the American family."
Blake added, "As we celebrate and toast this evening, we should also remember those innocent victims, and our hearts are also with the families and friends of the temple, and with the Sikh community all over this country and all over the world."
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC

August 28, 2012

Softpower! India?

As US newspapers struggle, while China tries keeping its film industry afloat, Indian cultural output is gaining in strength.

Arjuna Wijaya - Jakarta

Despite its problems, it is a safe bet that India’s hard and soft powers are likely to rise in the coming times. If India can combine the two successfully, it will be a “smart power”.Springing Tiger by Joseph Nye

India Stacks Up

Half the world follows Indian religion and culture – China (Buddhism), Indonesia (considering that Mahabharata is their national epic and their use of Sanskritic names), entire South East Asia (except Philippines, which was first Spanished and then Americanised) and of course, India. What makes the Indian success remarkable as a major soft power centre is that this status has been acquired without significant military cost or economic expenditure.

Archaeological artifacts have turned up in at Altyn Tepe (in modern Turkestan), in Babylon and Turkey (Boghazkoi) – in the period of 2000BC. This pulls back the date of the Indo-Aryan civilization to 3000-4000 BC – which Euro centric historians are reluctantly agreeing to. These new dates show the spread of Indian culture, 2000-3000 years before the rise of Rome.

Which country has the largest number of universities?

University & Higher Education

USA stands at No.2. with 5000 universities and colleges. India at 8000 universities and colleges is way ahead. This becomes remarkable when you consider the time frame. Much like the Indian ramp up in software (from a software minnow to leadership status in a short span of 10 years).

This huge infrastructure has been built up in a short span of 60 years of post colonial existence. In this build up, quality has suffered. The Indian challenge in the next 25 years is to further build on this size – and importantly to build on the lack of qualitative edge. These challenges are relatively easily addressed – and the cost implications are minimal.

My estimate – a US$ 2 billion investment will do the trick.

Ekta Kapoor - Writing Indian Media Rules

Ekta Kapoor - Writing Indian Media Rules

TV Programming

Bruce Springsteen released a song some time back – 57 channels and nothing on! 57 seemed like a good number then and India had 6 channels. Today the Indian TV industry supports more than 600 channels and there are 400 more channels in the offing – awaiting governmental clearances.

Indian TV studios churn out news in more than 10 languages, with an entertainment library which is now more than 10,00,000 hours of programming. With all these new channels and expansion, in 2007 FY, an estimated 5,00,000 hours of programming will be produced. India is global leader by a vast stretch. Europe by comparison is a toddler – and the only other comparison with India is USA.

And the interesting thing is the divergence from the Western business model - and the lack of success of Western content.

The World’s Largest Movie Industry

It is not Mumbai. No, it is not even Hollywood. Telugu film industry catering to a small market makes more films in a year than Mumbai or Hollywood does.

Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh is India’s largest city – without a history of colonial rule. The Nizam state was not ruled by the British India – and had its own currency, legal and administrative set up. The three biggest administrative reforms were initiated by leaders who originated from this state. The pre-1950 ruler of the Hyderabad State was the Nizam of Hyderabad – HEH Osman Ali Badshah. Reputedly, at one time the richest man in the world, very frugal, he wore repaired sherwanis and re-lit half smoked cigarettes. While decadent nawabs made a mess in London and Paris – the Nizam worked at making his state an economic front-runner in India.

Indian Movie Masala Fare

Indian Movie Masala Fare

The World’s Largest Music Industry

India has the world’s oldest living tradition in music.

India releases more music, in more languages, than any other country in the world. Compared to India’s music tradition of 3000+ years (at least), Western Music is about 400-500 years old. Most are aware of modern music – but the scene in classical music is still very vibrant.

Bhajans from Mirabai, Tulsidas, Surdas of 500 years ago, continue to sell in volumes and are in demand. Thyagaraja’s and Dikshitaar’s compositions in Telugu, 300 years old are still mainstream music. Compare this to the Western classical music, itself originating from the Romany Gypsy music. Western classical music has become a fringe music tradition, while India’s Bhakti geet is alive and vibrant.

The Largest Publishing Industry In The World

India again has more newspapers, books and magazines than any other country in the world – in more languages. Our closest contender is USA.

The Power Of Indian Music

The Power Of Indian Music


A few years ago, an American writer, Joseph Nye (Dean, Kennedy School, Harvard; former Assistant Secretary of Defense) created a new term – Softpower. This term has become quite popular and has earned itself a place in Wikipedia. His book (Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics; by Joseph S. Nye) was a success and today that term is used often and easily. A Google search throws up more than 18 million items under soft power.

Nye says (I wonder if he realises his cynicism) -

“Soft power is the ability to get what you want by attracting and persuading others to adopt your goals. It differs from hard power, the ability to use the carrots and sticks of economic and military might to make others follow your will. Both hard and soft powers are important in the war on terrorism, but attraction is much cheaper than coercion and an asset that needs to be nourished”.

Nye says that the USA is world’s largest soft power – based on its attraction to outsiders due to its movies, music, books, TV, education, et al. Analysts worry about the rise of the Chinese soft power.

India has long been a soft power!

Without the cynical use of soft power (because it is cheaper); without wanting to make others follow our will and the ability to use carrot and sticks! Will they ever change? Will we ever learn!

Points Of Interest

  1. Indian prowess as a soft power – A small change in the regulatory environment – and poof! We achieve global scale.
  2. All these scales and volumes have been achieved without Government subsidies and support.
  3. These strengths flow from centuries of tradition.
  4. External influences and aggression has not dimmed these instincts and abilities.

Not in the manner that the West has used it – India can use its soft-power as a humanizing element.

Will India wake up.