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Showing posts from November 25, 2007

Balkanization, Not Talibanization, is the Real Threat Facing Pakistan Yousuf Nazar - 12/1/2007 Pakistan’s establishment and sections of its media have perfected the art of projecting the most irrelevant topics as national issues of paramount importance. Uniform is one such example. Some newspapers even published comments to the effect whether it was the beginning of a drastic transformation. Really; transformation to a completely failed state from a ‘failed state’? Another general? So what? Hitler was not from the Army. He never really wore a general’s uniform. So he never had to take it off. But that did not alter the fact that he was a dictator whose third Reich led to Germany’s worst defeat and complete destruction. Ayub Khan took off his uniform in 1962 but ruled for another seven years as a military dictator without many problems. He was the most ‘moderately enlightened’ of all generals. He introduced private enterprise to the Army as well as to his family. He wore fine d

Bush handed blueprint to seize Pakistan's nuclear arsenal

· Architect of Iraq surge draws up takeover options · US fears army's Islamists might grab weapons Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark Saturday December 1, 2007 The Guardian Pakistani paramilitary forces holds an alleged suspect during a crackdown operation against militants near Mingora in northern Pakistan, Friday, November 30, 2007. Photograph: Mohammad Zubair The man who devised the Bush administration's Iraq troop surge has urged the US to consider sending elite troops to Pakistan to seize its nuclear weapons if the country descends into chaos. In a series of scenarios drawn up for Pakistan, Frederick Kagan, a former West Point military historian, has called for the White House to consider various options for an unstable Pakistan. These include: sending elite British or US troops to secure nuclear weapons capable of being transported out of the country and take them to a secret storage depot in New Mexico or a "remote redoubt" inside Pakistan; sending US

Ukraine will have to pay more for Russian gas

19:41 | 30/ 11/ 2007 MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti economic commentator Oleg Mityayev) - Gazprom is likely to raise gas prices for Ukraine in 2008. On November 27, the Russian energy giant agreed to buy Turkmenistan's gas at a higher price, and this sparked the rumor that the gas price for Ukraine would be raised since Gazprom resells Turkmen gas to Ukraine. However, the agreement Russia and Ukraine are initially preparing already stipulates a higher price. The leaders of Turkmenistan and Gazprom agreed on November 27 to raise the price of Turkmen gas from $100 per 1,000 cubic meters in 2007 to $130 in the first half of 2008 and to $150 in July-December 2008. Immediately afterward, Uzbekistan also expressed a desire to raise gas prices for Russia, and Gazprom will most likely have to agree since energy prices have been growing in the world year on year. Gazprom intends to raise its prices for gas supplied to Western Europe from $250 to $300-$400. Gazprom is supplying Central Asi

Making Sense of Venezuela’s Constitutional Reform

December 1st 2007, by Gregory Wilpert – The Venezuelan government's effort to create "21st century socialism" is moving ahead full-steam with the December 2nd constitutional reform referendum. While tensions and confusion about the reform are rising in Venezuela, it is important to realize that this reform will mean both less and more than most outside observers seem to think. That is, as usual, many pundits, such as from the Venezuelan opposition and from so-called international experts, are painting a picture of a Venezuela that is about to finally slip into "Castro-communism," a picture that could hardly be further from the truth and that has been falsely predicted for Chavez's entire presidency of now nine years. While there are negative or not-so-good aspects of the reform, which for the most part involve giving the president some more powers, the Venezuelan president, even after the reform, is still does not have as much institu

Modi , messiah of growth Shapar: The village council office in this western Gujarat hamlet tells a story. It's at the heart of the change visible through much of the state. That is where Chief Minister Narendra Modi began chipping away in his ambitious governance makeover. "Before Modi's time, no one came here. The building was in ruins; it didn't even have a door. No one cared for the panchayat," said 20-year-old Charuda Bhikku Karamsi, showing off his workplace in Shapar village. Karamsi works part time for the panchayat. He gets Rs 1,000 a month as a "gram mitra" (friend of the village), one of four such positions in Shapar. His job is to inform people of the development schemes they could gain from, and help them do the paperwork. The innovations have many takers. "The Congress wouldn't be able to do in 50 years, the work that Modi has done for us in five years," declared Rajesh Bohda, 3

Romney's quandary

Oxford Analytica Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney faces a major strategic dilemma this week, when he decides whether to publicly address the issue of his Mormon faith. With the Iowa caucuses drawing near, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is threatening to overcome Romney's perceived financial and polling advantages there. A key bloc of Republican voters Romney is courting -- conservative evangelicals -- are very wary of his Mormon beliefs. He faces an uphill battle to assuage their fears. Pride and prejudice The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), as the Mormons call their institution, is one of the most rapidly expanding Christian sects in the world. There are nearly three million self-identified members of the Church in the United States and close to 13 million members globally. Church teachings emphasise traditional gender and family roles, which has helped promote a rapid expansion overseas. While other Christians deem many Mormon beliefs

Muslim in India : Quick Snapshot

(i) Muslims in the Indian Foreign Service constitute 1.8% of the total. (ii) 60517 Muslims are in security agencies like CRPF, CISF, BSF, SSB . (iii) Muslims in central and State Public Sector undertakings constitute 7.2% of the employees for the units reporting. (iv) The percentage of Muslims amongst OBCs in the country is 15.7 . Source: Parliament of India (Q&A), Ministry of Minority Affairs

India's Security board chief for China pipeline

Satish Misra Tribune News Service New Delhi, November 29 In a major move to make country energy secure, chairman of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) Mahraj Krishna Rasgotra today called for concerted efforts to develop solar energy in a big way and proposed the idea of building a pipeline from Central Asia through China instead of the pipelines through Iran, Afghanistan and Baluchistan. In his inaugural address to 6th Petro India 2007 conference , Rasgotra lamented that “very little has been done in the area of solar energy” and said “we should take the lead instead of the US”. “We should bring in researchers from abroad also and do some solid work”, Rasgotra said adding that India should spend at least $1 billion per year for five years to harness solar energy as an alternative. Pleading for bigger investments in exploration to increase domestic production considerably, Rasgotra, a former foreign secretary and now president of the Centre for International Affairs of

Attrocities against Hindus in Pakistan : Question raised in Indian Parliament

Source : GOVERNMENT OF INDIA MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS RAJYA SABHA UNSTARRED QUESTION NO 1084 ANSWERED ON 29.11.2007 HINDUS IN SINDH PROVINCE . 1084. SHRI JAI PARKASH AGGARWAL Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:- (a) whether Hindu population in the Sindh province of Pakistan are living under the threat of terror and the number of incidents of kidnapping of Hindus have increased throughout the province; (b) if so, the reaction of Government thereto; (c) whether Government had or are considering to have any dialogue with Governments of other countries including Pakistan to curb increasing crimes against Hindus; and (d) if so, the details thereof ? ANSWER THE MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS (SHRI PRANAB MUKHERJEE) (a)-(d) The Pakistan press has been carrying reports of violence including kidnapping against citizens of Pakistan belonging to minority groups. Human Rights Commission of Pak

General Kiyani's appointment has US nod

REDIFF Wilson John Lt General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani -- a Punjabi officer from the famed Baloch Regiment, till recently the vice chief of Army Staff and Inter Services Intelligence chief, pro-US, and an old India hand -- recently took over from General Pervez Musharraf [Images] as Pakistan Army's 14th chief of Army Staff. The chain-smoking, reclusive general is the first director general of ISI to head the Pakistan Army. Kiyani's appointment as the chief of Army Staff has Washington's nod. He is certainly not a part of Musharraf's inner coterie. Kiyani's appointment could be seen as part of the US grand strategy to pass off democracy on Pakistan with Musharraf as the civilian president and a civilian prime minister. Kiyani has done three courses in the US, including one at the US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth. He is known to the top brass in Pentagon, a clear reference to which was made by a US State Department spokesperson that

CIS : Gas War Forebodings

28.11.2007 Igor TOMBERG At last, the Turkmen leadership has announced a 30% raise of the gas price for Gazprom. It seems that the Russian “gas establishment” reacted to the news with a sigh of relief. First, Ashgabat’s requesting its share of the ballooning gas revenues was a long-expected move. Secondly, as of today $130 per 1,000 cu m is a fairly moderate price ($150 was anticipated just recently). Finally, there seems to emerge at least some certainty in the Turkmenistan-Russia-Ukraine price chain. Besides, now a higher gas price for Ukraine is entirely justified. As for specific figures, so far there is no clarity. The $160 per 1,000 cu m declared earlier by Ukraine’s president V. Yushchenko is merely a suggestion and not yet a contract number. The actual price can just as well make $180 depending on the composition and the party spectrum of Ukraine’s government and Naftagaz top management. Truly speaking, prices are not the only contentious issue in the relations between Russia an

Truth about Cluster bombs Anti-personnel land mines have been banned in many countries under specific legal instruments for several years, notably the Ottawa Treaty and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Yet cluster weapons -- which spew thousands of bomblets over a wide area, many of which remain unexploded for years and are therefore likely to kill and maim indiscriminately -- are not yet banned by any international treaty and are considered legitimate weapons by some governments. The use of the bombs has come under growing criticism from Canada and the European Union, as well as from humanitarian groups who argue that the weapon inflicts severe suffering on civilians. Lebanon, South-east Asia -- especially Laos and central Vietnam's former demilitarised zone -- Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq are all areas peppered with unexploded ordnances. Efforts are being made to bring about a moratorium on the use, production and tra

Russians in Central Asia: How Many?

Strategic Cultural Foundation Aleksandr SHUSTOV The launch of the state programme of repatriation of Russians from the former Soviet republics to the Russian federation in 2006 posed the question: what can their number be? The Central Asia has an especial role to play among other countries and regions where there are “foreign” Russians. By the time of the break-up of the USSR the second largest Russian community after Ukraine lived there. From 25 million Russians who found themselves out of the Russian Federation 9.5 million lived in the Central Asia, including 2/3rd in Kazakhstan (6.2 million) and 1/3 in the Central Asian republics (3.3 million)1. The history of migration of Russians into this region that was first officially referred to as Central Asia in 1990, dates back several ages. Russians began to settle in Northern Kazakhstan, which before the 1917 Revolution was known as the Steppe Province, in the late 16th century, and in what was then known as the Middle Asia in the mid-19