December 31, 2007

Welcome 2008 saying "NO" to lip service on Anti-Terrorism

http://offstumped.nationalinterest.in/

I assure you that the Government of India will take all necessary steps to safeguard the fundamental rights and liberties of all sections of our society and protect their religious freedoms as enshrined in the constitution. Please be assured that we will not tolerate any efforts aimed at disturbing the communal harmony or secular fabric of our country

That was the Prime Minister’s response to a letter addressed to the Prime Minister by Mrs Gladys Staines, whose husband was killed in Orissa a few years ago, expressing anguish at the recent incidents in Orissa.

So as the Prime Minister welcomes the new year expressing anguish and concern to a foreigner with promises of zero tolerance it is important to pay attention to how much time the Prime Minister has actually spent all through 2007 in expressing anguish and concern to victims of Terrorism and what specific promises of Zero Tolerance did he make to the kith and kin of these victims.

The Press Information Bureau Lists 13,500 press releases with references to Manmohan Singh.

Only 361 of these have anything to do with relation to Terrorism, Terrorists or Terror in general.

Only 15 of these with any reference to the victims.


Offstumped has analyzed each of these 15 releases to see if the Prime Minister had ever written to anyone expressing anguish and concern and if he ever made any promises of zero tolerance.

Offstumped could not find a single instance.

So here is a Prime Minister who can find time for the Haj Goodwill Team, who can find time tolose sleep over Haneeff in far away Australia, who can find time to write to Gladys Staines but has no time to express any anguish and concern to any of the victims in the multiple attacks of mass terror during his nearly 4 years in office.

But then what can one expect from a Prime Minister who believes in merely paying lip service to Anti-Terrorism every year on 21st May 2007.



SAY NO TO LIP SERVICE ON ANTI-TERRORISM

Silent Jindal jolts university


http://www.telegraphindia.com/1071218/jsp/frontpage/story_8682190.jsp
- Governor sticks to policy of Indians at arm’s length
K.P. NAYAR

Bobby Jindal


Washington, Dec. 17: The bodies of the two Indian students murdered on the Louisiana State University (LSU) campus last week are expected to be repatriated to Hyderabad on Tuesday or Wednesday, notwithstanding a complete lack of support in the case by the incoming state administration headed by Indian-American Bobby Jindal.

Three-and-a-half days after the bodies of Komma Chandrasekhar Reddy and Allam Kiran Kumar were discovered in Reddy’s campus apartment, till the time of writing, Jindal has not issued a statement condoling the deaths or nudging investigators into action to solve the case.

This is despite the fact that Jindal campaigned against crime as the number one issue for his election as governor in October and devotes several pages of his transition site to this problem in Louisiana.

LSU officials privately express disappointment that the incoming governor has not telephoned the university’s chancellor or any other official to express support for the institution at a time when it is receiving bad publicity in the US and abroad.

For many officials, this is particularly galling because until now they considered Jindal as one of them after he served as president of the University of Louisiana System for two years from 1999, overseeing the education of 80,000 students a year.

Besides, the incoming governor’s transition offices are within sight of the Edward Gay Apartments, where Reddy and Kiran were murdered.

Jindal’s indifference to the crime in his virtual backyard is in line with his policy, ever since he entered public life, of deliberately distancing himself from India and Indian American issues.

Right from the very first reception by Indian Americans in his honour on Capitol Hill after he was elected as a US Congressman in 2004, Jindal has made it clear that he considers his brown complexion merely as an accident of his birth. Jindal’s attitude, Indian Americans here recall, is in marked contrast to the attitude of another US state governor, Virginia’s Tim Kaine.

In April this year, after a shooting on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Kaine cut short a trip to Japan, cancelled an imminent visit to India and declared a “state of emergency”, enabling him to immediately deploy state personnel, equipment and other resources for investigations.

Jindal, though he is still governor-elect, could have called for at least a fraction of similar action because crime is a problem that is eating into the innards of Louisiana’s social life.

Although 32 students were killed in Virginia, Kaine, unlike Jindal, took great care to be solicitous about the victims of Indian origin at Virginia Tech and their families.

When relatives of murdered and injured Indians arrived in Washington from abroad, Kaine spurned offers from the Indian embassy here to transport them by limousine to Blacksburg.

Instead, he sent a plane to take them to Virginia Tech and housed several of them during their traumatic days through the autopsies and funerals.

It is not as if Jindal has been sleeping at the wheel in the three days after Reddy and Kiran were killed.

During the weekend, Jindal announced that he had collected nearly $1.4 million from 236 individual and corporate donors for celebrations planned around his swearing in as governor on January 14.

Yesterday, his transition team announced an inaugural ball to celebrate the swearing-in. It will be preceded by a luncheon for state legislators, an inaugural family festival in the afternoon and a prayer service, the governor-elect’s spokesperson Melissa Sellers was quoted in the Louisiana media as saying.

Unlike Jindal, LSU authorities, after their initial insensitivity in announcing that the campus murders had provided an “opportunity” for the university to test its new emergency text-message system, have been extremely helpful and sympathetic, according to Indian students on the campus.

Meanwhile, Indian officials Alok Pandey and K.P. Pillai helped speed up the procedures associated with autopsy and embalming of the dead bodies, which normally take much longer in murder cases here.

The two officials have been asked to stay put in Baton Rouge and be available round the clock to relatives of the crime victims and other Indian students.

Balance of world power is changing rapidly

Many wished and believed a decade after the Cold War ended that the future world would be a multipolar one. But at the same time, they also believed that as the overwhelming superpower, US hegemony would persist for at least another 50 years or even longer.

But recent years have shown that this is not the case. Affected by economic globalisation and the pursuit of profit maximisation, and pushed particularly by “borderless information” and “hi-tech’s invisible hand”, the progress of world multipolarity has not been slow, but has accelerated in recent years.

Changes in the international balance of power have taken place faster than some American “futurists” had expected. Who would have ever imagined that China and India could develop at such surprising speed? Who would have thought that China’s (official) foreign exchange reserve could jump to be the world’s No. 1? Who would have thought that Russia would regain its great power status so rapidly?


After the quick rise of “BRIC” (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), 2007 has witnessed the emergence of “VISTA” (Viet Nam, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey, and Argentina).

According to statistics, the foreign exchange reserves of developing countries make up three quarters of the world’s total. Three (China, Russia, and India) of BRIC are all “tycoons” in this area. Emerging countries’ proportion in the world economy has increased from 39.7 per cent in the early 1990s to 48 per cent last year.
Apart from China’s impressive speed, the annual economic growth rate of India has been maintained at six to seven per cent over the past decade, and is expected to be 8.5 per cent this year. Both China and India rank among the top three most attractive investing countries in the world (the US is obviously the other one).
Russia has also been enjoying rapid growth in the past seven years, with an annual GDP growth rate of 7.8 per cent and gold exchange reserves of $404.8 billion. More than $200 billion in debt left by the break up of the Soviet Union has almost been repaid. The country has returned to the list of the world’s top 10 biggest economies. Seeking to be among the top five by 2020, Russia’s GDP per capital may reach $30,000 by then.

Among the five VISTA countries, the annual GDP of Viet Nam has increased 8.7 per cent this year compared to 2006. The country has now become a leading one for trade and investment in Asia.

The total value of external trade of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) exceeded $1.4 trillion in 2006, and its total domestic trade value was about $340 billion. The goal of forming an Asean Community will possibly be realised before 2015. The value of trade between China and Asean is expected to be $190 billion this year. The establishment of the China-Asean Free Trade Zone is accelerating.

Having become the biggest exporter to the Japanese and South Korean markets, the value of trade between China and Japan has exceeded $200 billion, and that between China and South Korea $160 billion. Conspicuous growth was also seen between China and the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Russia.

Some international economic groups have pointed out that the world economy is experiencing its biggest transformation since the Industrial Revolution. Economic centres have been shifting from the developed world to emerging markets in Asia, East Europe, Middle East, and Latin America. BRIC and VISTA are changing the economic structure of the world. These factors are persuasive.

Obviously, it cannot be said at this stage that BRIC, VISTA, and some other states have become “polars” of the world. But it is an irreversible trend. It also cannot be said that the US, which still dominates international markets, has lost its leading position. But it is a fact that it is going “down hill”, and shrinking in relative power.

These changes, continuous and historical, will significantly affect future international relations. In another development, regional conflicts and wars are likely to continue and intensify because the nature of the global strategy of the US will remain unchanged. The US, whether under the Republicans or the Democrats, will continue to be the main antagonist. At the same time, the development of the international and regional situation will not change according to the whims of Washington. Under such circumstances, contradictions and conflicts are virtually inevitable and are likely to crop up from time to time.

If dealt with inappropriately, it could likely lead to wars. Currently, there is no shortage of international hot spots ~ the “Horn of Africa”, Iran-US, and America’s deployment of anti-ballistic missiles in some East European countries. The number of such hot spots will tend to increase in the future, a cruel reality that none of us want to see.

Conclusion: Development of the international situation requires China to fully make use of the strategic opportunities though tough challenges still exist.
President Hu Jintao’s report to the 17th Party Congress gives a better answer on to how to cope with such a situation. Hu’s words of “constructing a harmonious world”, is highly welcomed by the international community, and has “brought China and the world closer”.

However, we should be prudent and modest, enhance our sense of urgency and never lose our head. Now some people with ulterior motives are singing a “song of praise” for China on the international platform, and are even advocating that “China, US jointly lead the world”. Some domestic media and “experts” are also espousing the belief that China is getting ready to “lead the world”.

China’s long-term strategic principle is peaceful development. We should maintain a balance between the two and avoid overly stressing any of them. Policies and strategies are the lifeblood of our diplomacy, yet we should not confuse their roles. If we do so, we will face a significant loss in the future.

China Daily/ANN

(The author is a researcher on international relations based in Beijing)

Indian oil firms to map bigger global footprint

http://www.hindustantimes.com
New Delhi, January 01, 2008
First Published: 01:06 IST(1/1/2008)
Last Updated: 01:08 IST(1/1/2008)


The government would have to do a delicate balancing act as it seeks to thrash out a politically acceptable and economically prudent solution to dangerously high global crude oil prices.

In the immediate future though, the government is unlikely to increase the prices of motor fuels. With the ruling alliance suffering reverses in state elections, the petroleum ministry has decided to evolve a consensus among the allies before considering a marginal increase in the prices of petrol and diesel and a reduction in excise duty.

Analysts, however, are asking the all-important question: how long can India avoid a pass-through of global crude prices into the domestic market?

A targeted GDP growth rate of over 9 per cent implies a four-fold increase in India’s energy requirement over the next 25 years, which is a significant challenge for the country, consulting firm KPMG said in a report on India’s energy outlook recently.

Analysts believe that the coming year could see more Indian public sector oil behemoths acquiring overseas assets as the government grapples to augment supply.

Signs of these can already be seen with Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) planning major forays in Africa. The government has been seen as making efforts to broaden the supply base both internally and externally. It is intended to diversify the fuel basket by increasing shares of natural gas, hydro and even nuclear energy, an analyst with KPMG said.

Within the government, a view is emerging about linking movements in global prices to those of domestic retail prices.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia favoured increasing prices of petroleum goods due to the steep hike in global crude prices that was nearing a staggering $100 a barrel.

“If the oil prices remain high on a sustained basis it will have to be passed on to the consumers. I don’t believe capping oil prices is a good way of controlling inflation,” Ahluwalia said recently. The Indian crude oil basket is hovering around $89 a barrel.

Oil marketing companies Indian Oil Corporation, BPCL and HPCL are currently losing over Rs 240 crore per day on the sale of petrol, diesel, domestic LPG and PDS kerosene.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also called for an urgent need to address the problem of mounting subsidies in food, fertilisers and petroleum and asked cabinet colleagues to ponder over the implications of the subsidy bill of over Rs 1,00,000 crore being spent this year.

Why Did U.S. Intelligence Expel MI-6 Agents From Afghanistan?

Dec. 30, 2007 (EIRNS)—Senior Afghan government officials have told reporters that two MI6 agents were expelled from the country last week, at the behest of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), after they were caught funding Taliban units. The two alleged MI6 agents, Mervyn Patterson and Michael Semple, left Afghanistan on Dec. 27, on charges that they posed a threat to the country's national security. Patterson worked for the United Nations, and Semple worked for the European Union. Both men were Afghan specialists, who had been operating in the country for over 20 years. An unnamed Afghan government official told the London Sunday Telegraph that "this warning," that the men were financing the Taliban for at least ten months, "came from the Americans. They were not happy with the support being provided to the Taliban. They gave the information to our intelligence services, who ordered the arrests." The Afghan government source further added, "The Afghan government would never have acted alone to expel officials of such a senior level. This was information that was given to the NDS [National Directorate of Security] by the Americans." In 2006, U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan had loudly protested the British decision to withdraw troops from Musa Qala, opening the door for a Taliban takeover of the region, in a deal with local tribal leaders.

The London Times today added that, when Patterson and Semple were arrested, they had $150,000 with them, which was to be given to Taliban commanders in the same Musa Qala region. The Times added, "British officials have been careful to distance current MI6 talks with Taliban commanders in Helmand from the expulsions of Michael Semple, the Irish head of the EU mission, and Mervyn Patterson, a British advisor to the UN." The Telegraph had reported that the claims that the CIA was behind the expulsions "will reinforce perceptions of a rift between the U.S. and its international partners in Afghanistan, including Britain."

Not surprisingly, nowhere in the British press coverage has there been any suggestion that the MI6 machinations with Taliban may have any connection to the assassination this week of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. In an article scheduled for publication in the Jan. 4, 2008, issue of Executive Intelligence Review, and in a statement already posted on the LaRouche PAC website, Lyndon LaRouche charges that British intelligence, acting on behalf of Anglo-Dutch financial interests, was behind the Bhutto assassination, as part of a global "Operation Chaos," driven by the onrushing global financial crash, not by any events in South Asia per se. In an accompanying EIR analysis, Ramtanu Maitra documents British plans to break up Pakistan, and create a separate entity in the Northwest Frontier Province and Waziristan regions of Pakistan, which border on Afghanistan and Central Asia.

INTERVIEW : Russian Deputy economics minister on on the structure of Russian energy exports

31/ 12/ 2007
http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20071231/94740748.html

Deputy economics minister shares views on the structure of Russian energy exports

At the end of 2007, Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Kirill Androsov expressed satisfaction with the course of the year. In an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta, he outlines the main developments.

How is the structure of Russian petrocarbon exports currently changing? Is there any move away from crude?

Producers will export crude as long as it is more profitable to do so, and the profitability of the domestic petrochemicals market in Russia remains lower than crude export revenues. In this situation there is little reason to build refineries in Russia.

But this reasoning holds only so long as there are enough petrochemicals on the domestic market. As far as I know, some 230 million metric tons of oil out of the 492 million metric tons produced in Russia are refined in this country. Of the total, 50% is used in the domestic market, with the rest exported.

That situation is gradually changing. The profitability of the export market is becoming less than that of the local Russian market. This is encouraging companies to invest in refining activities.

Indeed, the state has several tools for regulating this process. For example, it can limit the consumption of low-quality fuel by enforcing the Euro-2 and Euro-3 standards for oil. It can also grant excise privileges for higher-quality fuel, which would provide a further incentive for deeper conversion. A recent significant step was the decision to cancel duties on imported high-tech refinery equipment.

Which companies in particular are chosing to do this?

Both TNK-BP and Rosneft have plans to considerably increase capital investment for the modernization of oil refineries.

But the government has to make oil refining and the production of high-quality fuels profitable. As far as I'm concerned, I think we'll come to a point of no return in the next two or three years, when you will see a substantial increase in investment in Russian refineries.

Is the cancellation of import duties on equipment temporary?


No. Duties have been cancelled on a permanent basis for any equipment that is not produced in Russia.

What effect do you believe this will have?

Principally, that the export of high value hydrocarbon products will now increase.

How strong is political influence on your work at the Ministry?

The year 2007 was different from the previous three years. The elections to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, in early December greatly influenced the dynamics of the government's work, especially its adoption of the three-year budget before autumn. It also encouraged the introduction of fundamental laws, which we tried to pass in the first half of the year, so that parliamentary hearings would not be influenced by politics.

What, in your opinion, are Russia's main economic achievements over the past year?

First I would say, the initial public offerings of Sberbank and VTB bank. Then there is the merger of Sovkomflot and Novoship into the United Shipbuilding Corporation; the creation of the AirUnion airline alliance; and the successful sale of Elgaugol Coal. These may appear to be localized achievements, but each one will, I believe, have lasting benefits in terms of developing competition in all sectors.

If we are to speak about legislation, then we should mention the bill we passed to establish the Development Bank, and indeed the establishment of the bank itself. We have also launched an investment fund which will provide similar long-term benefits to the country.

Here we have already made agreements to fund four projects and work is underway in two of them. Then we have held four concession tenders. And, by the end of the year, we also expect to begin operating the Petrochemicals exchange. These are real, important and substantive milestones.

The interview was conducted by Evgeny Arsyukhin.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Bye-bye Tora Bora, hello subprime mortgages

By Leon Hadar

The conventional wisdom de jour in Washington, D.C. can be summed up in a catchphrase popularized by Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid!”

The former Arkansas governor was challenging then president George H.W. Bush, who had led the United States into a military victory against Saddam Hussein during the first Persian Gulf War, criticizing Bush senior for focusing too much attention on foreign policy as opposed to dealing with the economic recession of the early 1990s. Clinton and his aides were suggesting that American voters were sick and tired of Iraq, the Middle East, and other global policy issues and wanted the election campaign to concentrate on the economy.

According to pollsters and pundits, it’s déjà vu all over again at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, with the aftermath of another Persian Gulf War, the U.S. economy entering a recession, and Democrats seeming to have a chance of regaining the White House. The promoters of this conventional wisdom insist that Iraq, the Middle East, and foreign policy issues have been pushed aside as issues in the 2007 presidential race. Bye-bye Tora Bora, Mesopotamia, Persia. Hello, subprime mortgages, troubled hedge funds, and a collapsing dollar. Out: Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice. In: Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson. Potential war presidents Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Rudy Giuliani are history. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Mike Huckabee, the rookies, are the future.

Peter Beinart, an editor of The New Republic and senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, and one of the Washington-Boston corridor’s leading “liberal imperialists” -- I can’t wait for the “religious atheists” -- started the “conversation” in a column in the Washington Post. He noted that Iraq wasn’t a major focus during recent Democratic and Republican presidential debates. Hence, according to Beinart, who like many other liberal imperialists could be described as an early cheerleader of the Iraq War who later apologized but is now pro-surge…: “In the biggest surprise of the campaign so far, the election that almost everyone thought would be about Iraq is turning out not to be.”

American voters, as in the aftermath of the Cold War and Persian Gulf War I, are beginning to switch off the global-affairs channel and, against the backdrop of rising economic problems, are focusing on domestic bread-and-butter issues. So it’s not surprising that “It’s the economy, stupid!” is being invoked again. But this time it might not work for the Clinton running for office. Indeed, candidates like Clinton and Giuliani, who were running for president by accentuating their policy experience and their ability to deal with global threats like international terrorism, seem to be losing ground in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other states to the inexperienced Obama and Huckabee.

Beinart agues that this change is happening because the surge is supposedly working and “not as many people are dying” in Iraq. Neoconservative columnist Charles Krauthammer concurs with his buddy on the left and argues that the many, many other great foreign policy successes of the Bush administration -- such as the nuclear accord with North Korea (and) the Annapolis “peace conference”… -- are making us all feel that in the spirit of the holidays, it’s peace on earth and goodwill to all. In fact, Krauthammer, pontificating on Inside Washington, suggested that the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran… was actually a victory for Bush’s strategy and that in any case, the NIE makes it less likely that the United States and Iran would go to war…

New York Times columnist David Brooks, another former Iraq War booster and current surge enthusiast, employing the historical analogy of the electoral defeat of WWII British Prime Minister Winston Churchill by Clement Attlee in 1945, described the current campaign for the White House as a “postwar election”, contending that the American people are “exhausted” with the war and changing from “a war mentality to a peace mentality.”

Well, this End-of-Iraq perspective doesn’t sound either as earthshaking as the End of History thesis or as profound as the Clash of Civilizations theorem. But to paraphrase Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, in a city where Beinart -- not unlike Krauthammer and Brooks -- is considered to be a Big Man of Ideas, it’s just the paradigms that may be getting smaller.

Now, I’ll be first to applaud any news that U.S. troops are withdrawing from Iraq, that Washington is promoting a diplomatic bargain as part of an opening to Tehran, that we’ve finally captured Osama bin Laden and his gang and have no need to maintain Pakistani Gen. Pervez Musharraf as an ally, that we’ve adopted a benign neglect approach to the never-ending ethnic and religious struggles in Palestine, and finally, that the political elites in Washington are engaging in a debate on how to start reducing U.S. military intervention in the world. Under such conditions, the American public’s renewed preoccupation with the economy would make sense, and the notion that the next president should know more about financial “securitization” and SPVs (special purpose vehicles) than about asymmetric warfare and WMD (weapons of mass destruction) would prove to be more than just a figment of pundits’ imagination.

Indeed, thanks to the ultimate spin perpetrated by Beinart and company, the American public seems to be taking seriously the media events seemingly staged by the Bush administration -- Middle East “peace” talks at Annapolis; Musharraf “taking off” his military uniform -- by breathing a huge sigh of relief and launching a search for another folksy Arkansas governor to put in the White House.

But this fantasy may be another example of the disdain felt by the elites in Washington toward the American public. It assumes that the American people actually buy into the tall tales being told by Bush and Rice. Such whoppers include: that the short-term and limited tactical achievement of the surge would bring about long-term political reconciliation between Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds in Iraq, so that U.S. forces can return home; that one day of scripted televised events in Annapolis would lead to Israeli-Palestinian peace, which would permit U.S. presidents to invest less energy in Mideast diplomacy; that Pakistan is cooperating with Washington in the struggle against Al-Qaeda, which suggests that the radicals are in retreat there and in Afghanistan; and that the Bush administration actually knows what it is doing vis-à-vis Iran. In fact, there is no sign of any move toward political accommodation in Iraq; there is simply less violence in some parts of Iraq where ethnic cleansing has already been accomplished. Palestinians and Israelis are not going to make peace anytime soon; if anything, the Palestinian political groups Fatah and Hamas would need to resolve their own differences before they could deal with Israel. And the situation in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan remains as explosive as ever.

The majority of Americans may not be geostrategic thinkers, but they probably understand that thanks to Bush, the broader Middle East has become more unstable and threatening to U.S. interests. Most of the polls that I’ve seen indicate that while Americans applaud the efforts of the U.S. military to reduce violence in Iraq, they remain skeptical about the chances for national reconciliation there. More importantly, they continue to regard the Iraq War as a major strategic mistake and want to see U.S. forces out of Iraq as soon as possible. And there hasn’t been any major change in Bush’s low approval ratings on foreign policy and the economy. What did happen was that the current economic woes, in the form of home foreclosures, credit card delinquencies, and rising gas prices, can be felt by most Americans in a more direct, immediate, and personal way than the continuing fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan -- a reality that would have changed if the military draft would have been reinstated.

In short, Americans have concluded that Bush will be leaving them not only with the messes in Iraq… Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere that are being translated into enormous human and financial costs, but that another part of his legacy will be the troubled U.S. economy -- expanding budget, trade, and current-account deficits, a housing market crisis, and a failing financial system -- not to mention the declining value of the dollar and the rising costs of energy. In a way, foreign policy and the economy are not separate policy issues. After all, the growing deficits have been driven by the mushrooming spending on U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, which has had a major impact on global energy prices. These deficits that pay for the American Empire are being financed by China, which is emerging as the top geo-economic and geopolitical U.S. competitor. At the same time, the weakening dollar diminishes the U.S. geopolitical leverage vis-à-vis allies and rivals. You don’t have to be an economic expert to figure out how the financial problems facing America are intertwined with its foreign policy failures.

It seems that Americans are finally beginning to recognize that maintaining a gigantic welfare-warfare state is a costly proposition. And indeed, the presidential candidate who frames the debate in such a way will be in a better position to win the race to the White House.

Leon Hadar, a Washington-based journalist and contributor to the International Relations Center’s Right Web (rightweb.irc-online.org), is author most recently of Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East (2006).

Occupied Somalia

Tehran Times

By Gwynne Dyer

It is exactly a year since Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, fell to Ethiopian troops (28 December), and the occupation has been one of the most brutal on record. The resistance started at once, and Ethiopian counter-insurgency tactics are not gentle.

As early as last April, Germany’s ambassador to Somalia, Walter Lindner, wrote a public letter condemning the indiscriminate use of air strikes and heavy artillery in densely populated parts of Mogadishu, the systematic rape of women, and even the bombing of hospitals. By now, the Ethiopian army’s attempts to terrorize the residents of Mogadishu into submission have driven 600,000 of them -- 60 percent of the population -- to flee the city.

The Ethiopians and their local allies indignantly deny these figures, but they come from the United Nations aid coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche, and the makeshift camps along the roads leading away from Mogadishu are there for all to see. It is, says Laroche, the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa, worse even than Darfur. But “since it is in Somalia, no one cares.”

You will notice that some of the phrases used above do not appear in the agency reports about Somalia. The wire services do not talk about an Ethiopian occupation of Somalia, and they refer to the local Somali collaborators as the “transitional federal government” (TFG). This is mainly in deference to the United States, which organized and backed the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia.

The curse of Somalia is the clan system. It is the main point of reference for most Somalis, and it really became a crippling burden when long-ruling dictator Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. In the pre-independence days and the early years afterwards, the clans were able to unite against their Italian and British colonial rulers, but in 1991 they had to create a new government without an external enemy. They couldn’t do it.

As the clans fought it out in the streets, the whole infrastructure of an organized state collapsed. By 1992 American and United Nations forces arrived to help the millions of famine-stricken refugees, but they were only drawn into the inter-clan fighting as well, and by 1994 they had all withdrawn, leaving Somalia to anarchy and civil war for the next decade. But in fact most of the country was fairly stable under the control of one clan or another, with only the Mogadishu area still a battleground between rival clan warlords.

This did not greatly inconvenience the United States, which developed a keen interest in the politics of the region after the atrocities of 9/11. At first the U.S. just made deals with the various warlords to ensure that no jihadi fanatics created a base there. But it got more upset when an organization called the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) drove all the warlords out of Mogadishu in 2006 and gave the capital its first taste of peace and good government since 1991.

The UIC was actually created by prominent merchants from the locally dominant Hawiye clan who wanted a safe environment in which to do business. The “Islamic” aspect of it was mainly there to provide a rallying point that other clans could identify with, though that obviously also attracted a certain number of earnest and bearded young men. Some of them, unfortunately, favored a rhetorical style that triggers a knee-jerk reaction in jittery post-9/11 Americans.

The people of Mogadishu, enjoying their first taste of normality in fifteen years, overwhelmingly supported the UIC, but the United States decided it must be overthrown. To do the job, Washington turned to its close ally Ethiopia, Somalia’s perennial enemy. The Ethiopians, who have no interest in a stable and strong Somalia, were happy to oblige -- and for diplomatic cover, the U.S. could use the “transitional federal government” of Somalia.

The TFG had been created in Kenya in 2004 under UN auspices. Each of the major clans (Hawiye, Darod, Dir and Rahanweyn) appointed 61 members to a “parliament” while all the minor clans shared 31 members between them. The “parliament” then chose a president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. It was the fourteenth attempt since the overthrow of Siad Barre to create a Somali government.

The TFG set up in the town of Baidoa in early 2006, and promptly went to war with the Union of Islamic Courts that controlled the capital. Since it had only about 5,000 soldiers of its own, the TFG depended from the start on far larger numbers of Ethiopian troops to do the actual fighting. Large numbers of government members resigned as it became clear that the TFG had fallen into the hands of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Ethiopians, but a force of about 20,000 Ethiopian troops (with some U.S. air support) fought its way into Mogadishu a year ago.

With the occupation of Mogadishu, the interval of peace ended, and the past year’s fighting has driven more than half the city’s population into flight. The TFG has been permanently discredited by its link to the hated Ethiopians, but it will probably take more years of war to end the occupation, and a lot more Somalis will die. All because they called it the Union of Islamic Courts.

If only they had called it the Union of Buddhist Courts. Or Protestant Courts. Anything but the “I” word.

LTTE shifting base to TN

CHENNAI: AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa on Sunday said the LTTE was looking at Tamil Nadu as a future base as their strength was getting weakened in Sri Lanka.

"As all party leaders in Tamil Nadu, except me, are ready to welcome the LTTE with a red carpet, the atmosphere is conducive for the banned outfit to shift its base to the state," Jaya told journalists at the party headquarters.

With law and order being pathetic because of a "weak" (DMK) Government, this is an alarming and disturbing development, she cautioned.

The stand taken by the State and Central Governments regarding the Tigers is different from what is happening in reality, she charged further.

On the one hand the government warns of strong action against people supporting the LTTE but on the other, pro-LTTE rallies are permitted.

Supply of materials and commodities to the Tigers continues as well, she said.

Commenting on the statement of the National Security Advisor that the LTTE was not trying to infiltrate into India, Jayalalithaa said: "This is a sad state of affairs. People in responsible positions in the government are trying to deceive people. They show scant regard to maintaining law and order."

Stating that the AIADMK government had banned Maoists, Jayalalithaa said that re-emergence of naxalites in the southern districts showed the shoddy handling of the law and order mechanism.

Criticising Chief Minister M Karunanidhi for issuing a statement that he would continue to distribute free Colour TV sets, Jayalalithaa said, "He is behaving like emperor Nero who played his fiddle when Rome was burning."

It is irresponsible for a Chief Minister to concentrate on the free CTV scheme when people are in need of flood relief, she charged. (Indian Express)

Kandhamal incidents caused by "Dalit Christians" demand for ST status

BACKGROUND
Kandhamal and Bauddh districts were carved out of the Phulbani (or what used to be called the Bauddh-Kandhamal) district during the last decade. There were about 75,800 Christians (constituting 8.8% of the total population) in the composite Phulbani District in 1991, and this number has risen to 118,200 (constituting 11.6% of the total population) in 2001.

While carving out the Kandhamal District, it seems care was taken to ensure that it encompasses almost all the Christians of the erstwhile composite district. While Kandhamal has 118,000 Christians constituting about 18.2% of its total population, the Bauddh district has only 239 odd Christrians left in it.

As per the 2001 Census, the Scheduled Tribes constitute about 52% of the 6.5 lakh population of the Kandhamal District. The Scheduled castes constitute about 19% of the population.

Now, it is said that more than 60% of the Christians are from amongst the Pana community who are classed as Scheduled Castes. They also speak the language Kui, the language of the local Kui tribes. Since these converted "Dalit Christians" are not entitled to the Scheduled Caste status, a demand has been made on behalf of the Christian organisations to get them recognised as Scheduled Tribes. Why are they so keen on this new tribal identity for Pana Christians?

Well, it so happens that the founding fathers of the Indian constitution and the leaders of independent India were delightfully vague on the definition of Scheduled Tribes, especially when it came to the crucial question as to whether converts to Christianity would continue to be clased as Scheduled Tribes. The large scale conversion in the northeast decided the issue by default in favour of the converted Christians. Now, it is very hard to find a non-christian amongst all those who hold positions reserved staatutorily for Scheduled Tribes, eventhough Christians do not even constitue one-tenth of the 8.5 crore Tribal population in the country.

There has been widespread resistance from the entire tribal population of Kandhamal to this disingenious demand for recognising Pana community as Scheduled Tribes. In fact, several protests and clashes have been reported in the last few months ( See for instance the following report of September 2007:
http://www.hindu.com/2007/09/22/stories/2007092252750300.htm )

Sri Padmanabh Behara, former minister in Biju Patnaik's Government who had to resign on this issue, is a Pana himself. he seems to have supported the Christian sponsered move for getting Panas recognised as a Scheduuled Tribe. The report below seems to indicate that he has now rescinded from that position.



Quota fuel to communal fire
Soumyajit Pattnaik, Hindustan Times

Phulbani, December 31, 2007

The demand for reservation added fuel to the communal fire, which had engulfed Kandhamal district in the last few days. Under the existing rules, people belonging to Scheduled Tribes (ST), who converted to Christianity, continue to enjoy the reservation benefits meant for STs. But the same does not apply to members of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) who converted to Christianity.

After conversion, SCs are deprived of reservation benefits. The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, issued by the President under Article 341 says: “No person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.”

Of the more than one lakh Christians in Kandhamal district, 60 per cent have converted from SCs and they are locally called Pana Christians. But the Pana Christians speak the Kui language like tribal Kondhs. Because of this linguistic affinity with tribals, Pana Christians have been demanding ST status. They have based their demands on the Presidential Order of 2002. This has been opposed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) as well as some prominent political leaders of Kandhamal who bank on Hindu tribals to sustain their support base in the area. Of Kandhamal’s total 6.48 lakh population, 51.96 per cent are tribals.

The district administration is yet to make an official estimate of the loss caused to particular communities in the clashes. But preliminary reports suggest the Pana Christians have been targeted the most.

In 2002, the President issued an order, which mentioned Kui in the ST category. After the order, Pana Christians are demanding a correction of their Record of Rights (RORs). In the RORs, Pana Christians want their ST status to be mentioned, while the Orissa government is interpreting the presidential order differently.

Taradatt, commissioner- cum-secretary of the ST and SC Development Department, issued a clarification on September 18, 2007 to all district collectors. The clarification said, “It is a well-known fact that Khond/Kond/Kandha tribes in Orissa speak Kui. It will not be permissible to include all Kui language speakers as Scheduled Tribes.”

VHP state general secretary Gouri Prasad Rath told Hindustan Times, “If Pana Christians are demanding ST status because they speak Kui, there are people from general castes who speak the language. If speaking Kui is the only yardstick for ST status, it should be uniformly applied.”

Former steel and mines minister Padmanav Behera, who resigned from the state cabinet on Friday said: “Under no circumstances, can the Kui-speaking Panas be given ST status.”

Former Orissa Minister Behara a Pana Christian

TRUTH BEHIND CHRISTIAN - HINDU CLASHES


Padmanabha Behara, the former Minister in Orissa Government who was trying to wangle Scheduled Tribe status for the Panas is actually a (Pana) Christian. That really is the crux of the whole story.



http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1142438

The ongoing clash in Orissa between the Christians and Hindus has resulted in steel and mines minister Padmanabha Behera, who hails from this district, getting the sack. Now, the Kui tribals and Pana Christians are up in arms against each other. Behera is a Pana Christian.

Gandhian award to a “Naxalite”! JOKE OF THE YEAR



PUCL activist Dr. Binayak Sen in detention was honoured with gold medal
(Ch. Narendra)
http://www.mynews.in/fullstory.aspx?storyid=1608
Publication Date 31/12/2007 8:18:15 PM(IST)


Dr. Binayak Sen, General Secretary, People''s Union Civil Liberties (PUCL) - Chhattisgarh has been given the prestigious RR Keithan Gold Medal instituted by the Indian Social Science Congress at the SNDT University, Mumbai on December 29, 2007 in recognition of his service to the community.

The Award was given at a function chaired by Dr. B N Mungekar, Member, Planning Commission, and Chairperson of the Indian Academy of Social Sciences, and received by his wife, Dr. Ilina Sen, on his behalf who also made the acceptance speech.



Dr Binayak Sen was kept in the prison since seven months by the Chhattisgarh government. He was arrested on May 14, 2007 under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2006 (CSPSA) which gives the state sweeping powers, for allegedly being in contact with a naxalite leader who is in jail.



The Award was instituted in the memory of the noted Gandhian activist R. R. Keithan by the Academy. The Citation given to Dr. Sen mentions that: "the Academy recognizes the resonance between the work of Dr. Binayak Sen in all it's aspects with the values promoted by the Father of the Nation.


Photo: Dr. Binayak Sen, besides doing stellar work in the fields of public health, is a strong proponent of peace and has repeatedly condemned naxalism as he did violence of any type

In bestowing the Award on him while he is incarceration and unable to receive it personally, the Academy expresses it's solidarity with people's movements and defenders of human rights. In so doing, it would like to recall what Gandhiji refer to the true meaning of Swaraj. 'The real Swaraj will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but by the acquisition of capacity by all to resist authority when abused'. "

According to PUCL Chhattisgarh unit president Rajendra Sail, the irony of the situation was that while the BJP led State Government in Chhattisgarh has falsely implicated Dr. Sen under the anti-democratic and Black Law called CSPSA for allegedly assisting the 'naxalites". However, the highly reputed association of Social Sciences in India had conferred on him this prestigious Award in recognition "for his lifetime association with people's movement for health and justice and equity".

According to the citation, "His work offers fresh and radical interpretation of Gandhiji's core concerns, and his present personal predicament is a poser to all who profess and practice similar ideals. He has rendered a valuable service in the spirit of antyodaya to those of our people whose lives are at the margins of our consciousness, while also creating with them opportunities for their development in the truest human sense of the term".

The Citation states categorically that Dr. Sen, a pediatrician by training, graduated as one of the top students from one of our most prestigious centers of medical education and research, the Christian Medical College, Vellore. His social concerns were evident early in the work in his M.D. thesis, which was on malnutrition, and his prize winning essay on Medical Education, which addressed the gulf between the healthcare needs of our people and the present system of medical education.

Rather than use his professional skills as a passport to personal success in urban India or abroad, Dr. Sen took the dusty road scarcely traveled by people of his ilk to rural India, to parts of rural Madhya Pradesh and present-day Chhattisgarh, which have absorbed his energies since then."

Dr. Sen maintains that these meetings occured with the express written permission of the state. The State is yet to provide a single credible piece of evidence or a specific charge. A graduage of CMC Vellore, Dr Sen is a public health/social activist of repute, he has been working in Chhattisgarh on health, social and human rights issues for over 25 years.

He is responsible for stellar contributions to the cause of healthcare for all in Chhattisgarh including setting up the Shaheed Hospital for Mine Workers in Dalli Rajahara and the establishment of the Mitaneen program, a pioneering model putting the Village Health Worker at the forefront of rural healthcare.

Dr. Sen during his PUCL work brought to light the human rights situation in Bastar and Dantewada districts of the state, where a civil war like situation has been prevailing, even as the state propped up by providing money and arms, an organization called the Salwa Judum to supposedly counter the attendan naxalism.

In a petition submitted to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Dr. Raman Singh, prominent citizens and civil society activists expressed their deep disappointment at the rejection of bail for Dr. Binayak Sen, by the Supreme Court of India.

More than seven months since his arrest on vague and unsubstantiated charges under a draconian law, the State of Chhattisgarh is yet to produce any semblance of evidence against Dr. Sen and continues to drag its feet at every opportunity.


NAXALWATCH READERS : We wish to refresh your memory that On December 10, 2007 , Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhan and D K Jain DISMISSED the bail petition of medical practitioner and PUCL activist Binayak Sen .Mr.Sen filed a bail petition in the apex court after the same were turned down by first by the Sessions Court and later by the High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur

Justice Ashok Bhan said: "It did not agree with the grounds raised by Sen for enlarging him on bail."

COURIER MAOIST DOCTOR : The police claimed that they had recovered letters in possession of one Piyush Guha that established that he was acting as a courier for the Naxalite movement

Supreme Court Bench
"You are emphasising too much on PUCL. This does not mean that you are immune. This also does not mean your are not associated with banned activities,"

STATUS : Police have documentary evidences which will soon be brought up before the special court at Raipur where a chargesheet has already been filed against him before a chief judicial magistrate



This was evident several times during the last seven months, most notably when the government only brought charges, which at best can be described as baseless, on the 89 th day of his arrest, barely meeting the 90 day limit.

Even as the State holds Dr. Sen with no credible case or evidence against him, the actual naxalite problem has only worsened in recent weeks and months. The recent escalation of violence and rise in death toll as well as the security breach in Dantewada prison, being the latest events in an increasingly violent state. Innocent people of Chhattisgarh continue to suffer even as the situation worsens.

Dr. Binayak Sen, besides doing stellar work in the fields of public health, is a strong proponent of peace and has repeatedly condemned naxalism as he did violence of any type.

In the petition, the prominent citizens demanded that Dr. Sen be immediately released and all cases against him be dropped. They urged that the Chhattisgarh Government take immediate steps to restore peace and end the violence by the naxalites as well as the Salwa Judum.

They asked the State Government end its support of the Salwa Judum immediately and the Government should looks after the interests of all citizens of Chhattisgarh including understanding the underlying reasons why the naxalite movement is gaining strength in regions of the state.

Numbers on Gujarat’s wall

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/255991.html

Arun Jaitley

Posted online: Monday, December 31, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST


The past few days witnessed the results of elections to the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assemblies. The Bharatiya Janata Party won convincingly in both states. There was, however, a fundamental difference between them. Himachal witnessed a routine election where the government in power lost on account of anti-incumbency against it. The general practice of the electorate is to vote out an unpopular government. Unhappy people do not repeat in power those who cannot govern well. Globally, more governments in power lose elections than they win them. An opposition party, when it comes to power on the strength of an anti-incumbency, claims credit for its victory. These victories are easier since they require the opposition to merely channelise the discontent against the government. The net aggregate of the discontent is the shift in the popular vote which influences the results.

What is significant is the Gujarat result, because no leader in independent India has been as criticised by a section of the media as much as Narendra Modi. It does little credit to the credibility and influence of the national media since Modi’s credibility in Gujarat is inversely proportionate to the attitude of a section of national media towards him. Modi and Gujarat’s people have made an effort to take the state out of the developments of 2002. Therefore, 2002 continues to be an issue outside Gujarat rather than within. Post-2002, Gujarat has witnessed a concentrated effort at economic development. Economic and political infrastructure has grown. It is one of the foremost states in manufacturing. Its agriculture income, thanks to greater availability of water and power, has grown several times. Its road network has been traditionally good. The challenge of water scarcity and inadequate power has been conscientiously addressed. The 11 per cent GDP growth here has benefited its population, enriched the government and enabled it to spend more on social sector schemes. The scheme to incentivise girl’s education, curtail infant mortality, empower tribals and fishermen have been highly successful. Modi not only implemented the schemes but held conferences of stakeholders attended by several lakhs to explain them their implications.

Gujarat saw in Modi a leader who was scrupulously honest. He was bold and not willing to be cowed down by criticism. His decisiveness and ability to implement decisions was directly contrary to the prime minister’s weak and indecisive approach. His emphasis on security enhanced his acceptability. His charisma was not in the abstract but based on a huge credibility emanating from his integrity, decisiveness, boldness and administrative skills. In a political era marked by anti-incumbency mandates, he took the risk to contest an election on a pro-incumbency platform. Those hoping that he would lose had proclaimed that no CM who had implemented power sector reforms has ever won. Modi converted the ailing Gujarat Electricity Board with a deficit of Rs 2,200 crore into a profit-maker. The power sector discipline enforced by him enabled the board to supply three-phase electricity for much longer durations. This increased farm and industrial incomes and enabled household industry to grow.

The larger message of the Gujarat election to the country is clear. If a leader has credibility, his record is good, his integrity standards are high, he can win and win again. It is this credibility that constituted Modi’s charisma and resulted in a positive vote. Of course, party cadre also deserve their share of credit. The Congress has not won an election in Gujarat since 1985. The BJP has consecutively won five assembly elections in Gujarat. The first, in alliance with Janata Dal, and the next four on its own. It is the strength of the BJP organisation, coupled with Modi’s leadership, that became an unbeatable combination. It’s this that successfully defied the might of the Central government, the combined campaign of the UPA, the sabotage by rebels and the belied hopes of a large section of the media.

An analysis of the Gujarat result reveals that the BJP’s victory margin over the Congress has increased beyond 2002. In 2002, the BJP led by 9.5 per cent votes. The lead this time is 11 per cent. A larger lead has resulted in fewer seats essentially because of the uneven size of the constituencies and the large BJP vote being concentrated on winning seats. In percentage terms, the victory margin in Saurashtra is 9 per cent; north Gujarat 9 per cent, south Gujarat 14 per cent and, surprisingly, in central Gujarat, the BJP has lead the Congress alliance by 10 per cent. Despite the 10 per cent lead in central Gujarat, the BJP got fewer seats than the Congress because of ‘wasted votes’. The margin of victory in BJP seats was very high and the margin of defeat in others, narrow.

Why is it that the national media refused to gauge the public mood and BJP’s 11 per cent lead almost uniformly spread across four regions? This is because of an oppressive environment that a section of the media felt it could create. Fair reporting was considered a journalistic sin since it would report a Modi win and hence the rule was to misreport. This resulted in a bandwagon effect which essentially involved acceptance of every theoretical proposition propounded by BJP rebels, some of whom had become ideological guides for the Congress. A ‘K’ factor was invented. The BJP would be routed in Saurashtra because of the revolt of the Patels, the Kolis and even the farmers. On the ground, no such factors seriously existed. Even if there was a mild slippage of Patel votes it was more than compensated and in fact enhanced by the OBC vote, Kshatriya vote and Modi’s credibility. The Soharabuddin speech was deliberately interpolated to include sentences like “This is what I did — what is wrong with what I did” and “Soharabuddin got what he deserved”.

Even the going rate of illegal satta market was misreported on the front page of a newspaper. I seriously believe the credibility of a section of the national media is at stake. Not merely because Gujarat’s people chose not to be guided by it but because of this deliberate perversity. Media organisations which claim to have its own in-house ombudsmen would surely take note of this.

Psephologists also suffered credibility jolt. The admission of some — that the raw data favoured Modi but factoring in improbables like fear and over reporting landed them in error — raises a fundamental question. Are we being guided by participatory psephologists? A participant in a political process may well want Modi to lose. But can the participant sift the data and reach an anti-Modi conclusion on the basis of these improbables? Being dissatisfied with the results on various opinion and exit polls, I decided to conduct an exit-poll through a professional agency, purely for my party’s understanding. Its conclusions were close to the final results.

If the Himachal and Gujarat results are taken in totality, the big picture could be disturbing for the Congress. It has lost all the major elections in 2007. There is not a single positive of the Central government that the party is able to propagate in the state polls. The personality of the PM or his performance are of no political consequence in the polls. The belief in the invincibility of the Gandhis has taken a beating. There are very few major states that the Congress continues to govern. If it loses state after state, it will affect its aggregate tally in the next Lok Sabha. After all, Lok Sabha polls are a net aggregate of state polls.

As 2007 comes to an end, it has thrown up two political winners in the year. Undoubtedly, Mayawati and Modi were two big winners this year. Both have proved it is your support base with your constituency and people that matters. Both defied the chatterati and worked endlessly in their constituencies.

The writer is BJP’s party general-secretary and ran the party’s election campaign in Gujarat

editor@expressindia.com

The Modi charisma


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/
30 Dec 2007, 0154 hrs IST,
SWAPAN DASGUPTA

An amusing feature of the editorial class is its ability to shift tack shamelessly. Till 10 am last Sunday, Narendra Modi was portrayed as the Indian equivalent of the Great Satan; by 10:30 am he was being projected as a future prime ministerial candidate who would nevertheless fail because "Gujarat isn't India".

In the US, presidential hopefuls unknown to the East Coast Establishment are invariably pelted with snooty condescension -- remember how Ronald Reagan was vilified? As someone who was abruptly catapulted from one-roomed anonymity in Delhi's Ashoka Road to the chief minister's bungalow in Gandhinagar six years ago, Modi is an outsider to the Indian Establishment.

Unlike the Gandhis, he doesn't have 'connections' in the right places and unlike many BJP leaders he hasn't bothered courting respectability. Modi doesn't release coffee table books on polo and nor does he have a favourite London restaurant to boast of. A workaholic who sleeps only four hours and who is crazy enough not to have taken even a day's holiday in six years, Modi revels in his distance from the frivolity of high society.


It is this aloofness and refusal to be co-opted by the beautiful people that make him a delicious target of those who think they were born to rule. Socialites have been wilfully discourteous to him; he has been called a "mass murderer" and an "ugly Indian" to his face; and rookie pundits have suggested that he can be bribed into supporting the nuclear deal with an American visa. The know-alls have even suggested that Modi can be tamed and "corrupted" by the trappings of success. "Modify your image," they have advised him, "and we'll take another look at you."

So far Modi hasn't budged. He has unsettled the Establishment because he is undaunted by hypocritical political correctness and persists in calling a spade a spade. It is said that this bluntness is actually hate-speak couched in code. If so, it is a code the voters have easily deciphered and identified with. The BJP used an old Barry Goldwater slogan in one election advertisement: "In your heart you know he is right." It struck a chord.

Modi has been accused of arrogance by many, including those who are ostensibly on the same side. In practice this has meant the dogged refusal to bend the rules to facilitate special favours. Modi has shown that good politics lies in not allowing cronies to cream off taxpayers' money; and that good economics involves zero tolerance of waste and inefficiency.

The Indian electorate is inherently schizophrenic. One side of it wants lollipops and freebies; another side of it yearns for a tough, no-nonsense and scrupulously honest politician. Modi has tried to get the patriotism of the voter to prevail over his selfishness. He has succeeded because he has come to personify courage and integrity. The day he succumbs to either fear or temptation he is politically neutered.

The Gujarat model is not in conflict with the Bharat model. What has clicked in Gujarat is a leadership style built on innovation, dedication and a resolute defiance of a compromised Establishment. A Modi folklore has been created around an Angry Middle-aged Man with a 56-inch chest.

It has corresponded with subliminal perceptions of good leadership. And the Gujarat voter is no different from the Indian voter.

Modi has aroused great expectations. His political opponents will want him to be confined to Gujarat forever; the Establishment wouldn't mind him in Race Course Road as long as he removes some of his vital organs surgically.

Let's hope Modi stays the course. Let's hope he injects politics with a dose of freshness.

December 30, 2007

The Planned Killing of Benazir Bhutto

This article appears in the January 4, 2008 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

by Ramtanu Maitra

The gruesome killing of Benazir Bhutto in the evening hours of Dec. 27 in Pakistan's garrison town of Rawalpindi is yet another step in the process of weakening, and eventual break-up, of Pakistan.

Despite the crocodile tears shed in Washington and London over Bhutto's assassination, it was a disaster waiting to happen and therefore, was altogether expected. Those who believed, naively, that Bhutto's mission was to reinstate democracy in Pakistan and put its usurpers, the Pakistani military, in the background, do not realize why she was inserted into the scene, which was already rife with violence. The truth is that the British imperial circles, with their stooges in Washington, set up Bhutto's execution, to advance their scheme to break up Pakistan, and create chaos throughout this strategic region. (See Lyndon LaRouche's statement on British role.)

Bhutto, no doubt, was a mass-based political leader, but she was a woman (an excuse used by the puppet Islamic jihadists to commit violence against a person), and she was goaded into the scene by the United States—perhaps now the most hated nation among Muslims in general—to serve Washington's purpose, which was to put the Pakistani military on the defensive and force it to share power with a democratic politician. According to the master strategists in Washington, that is the best of both worlds—the Pakistani military stays friendly, while the United States shakes off its guilt of backing a military dictator.

It is not known what transpired in the telephone call between U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Benazir Bhutto that led to Bhutto's decision to return. What promises were made will not be known unless Rice can shake off the national security garb and tell the truth. The one who knew, and could tell others, is gone.

The 9/11 event had enticed a weak-in-the-head Bush Administration to embark on a journey, the path of which was paved by the British colonialists. The vestiges of British colonial aspirations exist not only at Buckingham Palace, but even more so in the power of the intrigue and secrecy-ridden City of London.
Britain and the Muslims

The partition of India, and the formation of Pakistan, a Muslim nation, by the British Raj, was not done because the British liked Muslims. They had slaughtered them by the thousands in 1856, when the Hindus and Muslims joined hands under the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, to drive out the firenghee (white-skinned foreigners). Those who remember that untold part of the history of the Indian independence movement, talk of the piles of bodies lying in the streets of Delhi slaughtered by British soldiers. Most of them, like Benazir Bhutto and her colleagues who died on Dec. 27, were Muslims. The Muslims were "traitors" aspiring to reinstate the "despicable" and "corrupt" Mughal dynasty, London screamed.

The key to the British Empire's financial success was its ability to manipulate Islam. The British Empire-builders eliminated the Islamic Caliphate, created nations out of deserts, eliminated some nations, and partitioned others to create Islamic nations. Britain was aware that the oil fields of Arabia would be a source of great power in the post-World War II decades. The western part of British India bordered Muslim Central Asia, another major source of oil and gas, bordering Russia and Muslim Afghanistan. British India also bordered Islamic Iran and the Persian Gulf—the doorway to the oil fields of Arabia. In order to keep its future options open, Balochistan, bordering northeastern Iran, and the tribal Pushtun-dominated areas bordering Afghanistan, remained as British protectorates.

So, when the break-up of British India was planned by Churchill and others, Balochistan was not a problem. The problem was the Pushtun-dominated North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which was led by a pro-Congress Party leadership, and had voted in the last referendum before partition, to join Hindu-majority India.

What London wanted was that the large Hindu-dominated India must not have common borders with Russia, or Central Asia. That could make it too powerful and, worst of all, energy independent. Pakistan was created by the gamesmen in London because they wanted a weak Muslim state that would depend heavily on the mighty British military. The Cold War period held this arrangement in place, to the satisfaction of the British. The Kashmir dispute, triggered from London to cut off Indian access to Afghanistan, served the British policy-makers well.


But the post-Cold War days are different. China is rising in the north and seeking entry into the Persian Gulf and Central Asia through the western part of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. China has a long-term plan to build, and build, and build, infrastructure in this area, to bring resources into its vast but thinly populated western sector that extends from bordering areas of Kazakstan under the shadows of the Tien Shan mountains in the West, to the Shaanxi province deep inside China.

What is the connection of this history to the gruesome incident that happened in the darkening shadows of Liaquat Ali Bagh in Rawalpindi? It is important for the Pakistanis, as well for the other citizens of the Indian subcontinent, to know and assimilate.

Britain wants another partition of Pakistan. Whether Washington wants it, or not, it is playing second fiddle to this absurd policy. This time, a new nation is supposed to emerge—a weak and disoriented nation, born out of violence, just like the partition of British India. This nation will consist of Pushtun-dominated North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and Balochistan—all situated west of the Indus River and bordering he British-drawn disputed Durand Line that allegedly separates Afghanistan from Pakistan.

Why Bhutto?

The purpose of inserting Benazir Bhutto into the scene, after eight years of self-imposed exile, at a time when law and order had completely broken down, and even the Pakistani military was coming under serious attacks from the Islamic militants, was two-fold. The first objective, which Bhutto achieved in no time, was to put the Pakistani military on the defensive and generate demands in the street for the military to get back to barracks.

It is understood by the majority of Pakistanis, that despite the corruption that envelops the military, it is the only force in the nation that could, in the short term, maintain law and order, and fight the secessionists.

Once she put the Pakistani military on the defensive, Benazir did not become irrelevant. She became the designated qurbani (sacrifice). The killing of Benazir Bhutto has already unleashed domestic violence. In the midst of grieving Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) activists and workers, who feel betrayed and orphaned, will be the killers whose objective is to challenge the military and postpone the Jan. 8 elections. They would provoke the military to shoot at the people.

It is to be noted that the international Islamic radicals, who dip heavily into the British and other foreign intelligence sources, have infiltrated over the years into the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the lower echelons of Pakistan's military. That makes the task of keeping Pakistan together even more challenging.

The death of Bhutto was a step to breaking up Pakistan. She, however, wanted to unify the country. The Pakistani people must see to it that her death was not in vain.

Pakistan: The Post-Bhutto PPP


AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
December 30, 2007 | 1826 GMT

Source: STRATFOR


Asif Ali Zardari (left) and Bilawal Zardari, the husband and son of slain former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto

Summary

Bilawal Zardari, the 19-year-old son of slain former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has been named the new leader of her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, will co-chair the group. Given Zardari’s reputation for corruption and relative unpopularity, and Bilawal’s inexperience, the PPP is going to have trouble maintaining its position as Pakistan’s largest and strongest opposition force.

Analysis

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Dec. 30 held its first leadership meeting to decide its future in the wake of the assassination of leader and former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto’s will appoints her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, as her replacement. However, during a press conference the same day, Zardari declined the post and instead appointed the couple’s son, 19-year-old Oxford student Bilawal Zardari — whose name will be changed to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari — as PPP chairman. The party’s central leadership committee has ruled that Zardari will serve as co-chairman. At the press conference, Zardari also said that the PPP has decided to run in the planned Jan. 8 parliamentary elections.

By participating in the polls despite Bhutto’s death and the major riots sparked by her killing, the PPP is attempting to take advantage of the current political climate, in which there is a greater degree of support and sympathy for the party than before. Meanwhile, the second-largest party, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, has reversed its boycott and said it will participate in the polls.

It is unclear at this point whether these elections can or will take place on time. The government of President Pervez Musharraf has come out in favor of delaying them and already has issued reports intended to justify pushing them back until at least March — with some within its ranks even suggesting postponing them until after the month of Muharram. Muharram begins in approximately 10 days is known to be fraught with significant Sunni-Shiite violence, which could compound the country’s problems, given the unrest and insecurity there.

Musharraf prefers to postpone the elections because of the growing public perception that elements within the country’s intelligence establishment, together with the PPP’s militant and political opponents, were responsible for Bhutto’s death. The pro-Musharraf faction of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) is fearful that anti-government sentiment, which has gained momentum in the aftermath of Bhutto’s assassination, could deliver it a political defeat. The party wants to delay the vote in order to block the possibility of a PPP victory, as well as any further weakening of the ruling PML and the Musharraf regime that accusations of foul play might bring.

Though the PPP’s political capital currently is increasing, its leaders realize that Bhutto’s death has created a major leadership void. There has never been a PPP without a Bhutto at the helm. When the founder of the party, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was executed in 1979, his wife took over as chairwoman — though Benazir Bhutto, who served for a long time as the party’s co-chairwoman because of her charisma and youth, exercised the real power.

The appointment of Bhutto’s son as chairman and her husband as co-chairman is the party’s attempt to retain the Bhutto dynasty’s leadership — which it needs to sustain itself as Pakistan’s largest political force. This is the reason for naming Bhutto’s young son to the post and the insertion of “Bhutto” in his name. However, given Bilawal’s youth and political inexperience, Zardari likely will be the effective leader until his son completes school and matures.

But Zardari alone cannot lead the party, especially since he also has little experience as a leader. (Others always have had more prominent leadership roles in the PPP than his, even during Bhutto’s term as chairwoman, and Zardari also spent a long time as a political prisoner and had some health issues.) He also has a reputation for corruption. Therefore, Zardari will share power with Bhutto’s chief deputy, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who headed the PPP while she was in exile. Fahim’s presence at the press conference speaks volumes about his major role in the party. Zardari was never a candidate in the scheduled Jan. 8 parliamentary elections, and it is not clear whether he will run now. This means that, in the event of a PPP victory, Fahim could once again lead the party’s parliamentary group and even become prime minister.

Ultimately, this multi-person leadership could bring with it internal disagreements and weaken the PPP. However, for now, the party plans to participate in the upcoming elections — regardless of when they are held — in order to gain the maximum possible from the recent tragic circumstances



PROFILE

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/000200712302242.htm

Bilawal - A profile

Bhutto, who narrowly escaped an assassination bid on October 18 in Karachi, in her will named her husband Asif Ali Zardari to lead the party, but he gave the responsibility to his son, a party official said.

Bilawal, the eldest of Bhutto's children, is described as a fitness freak and a keen sports enthusiast. He is a black belt in Taekwondo and also loves swimming, horse riding, squash and target shooting.

In a rare interview to a Pakistani daily three years ago, he said he regretted that he could not play cricket because of the "circumstances in which my family had been put".

Bilawal spent his childhood with his two sisters Bakhtawar, 17, and Asifa, 14, in Dubai and London after his mother went into self-imposed exile.

He did his 'O' levels from the elitist Rashid School for Boys in Dubai and served as a vice-president of the students' council there. He joined Oxford soon after turning 19.

Asked about joining politics when he was 15, Bilawal said, "We will see, I don't know. I would like to help the people of Pakistan, so I will decide when I finish my studies.

"I can either enter politics, or I can enter another career that would benefit the people," he said.

Bhutto fiercely guarded her children's privacy and kept them away from the prying eyes of the media.

But like his mother, whom he doted on, Bilawal has spoken about Pakistan's problems which he said could be solved if there democracy in the country.

"I think there wouldn't be such a problem if a dictator doesn't come and take over after every couple of years. That contributes to backwardness and poverty. Democracy is the only way out. The founder of Pakistan believed in democracy. He did not believe in dictatorship, and Pakistan was not founded for that. So there shouldn't be a dictator," Bilawal aid. "About the justice system, I don't know how well it is working over here, but my father has been in prison for eight years and has not been charged with anything, nor has anything been proved," he told a local daily three years ago.

Bilawal also passionately spoke about the "cooked up cases" against his father Asif Ali Zardari, who spent eight years in jail.

"He (Zardari) is the only politician in Pakistan who has been kept behind bars for eight years. It is not only a crime against him, it is a crime against me and my family, who have been robbed of our father's company and guidance when we needed him," Bilawal said when he came to meet his father after a four year gap.

Asked whether he would like his father to be free through a deal with the government or would you like him to be exonerated by the courts, Bilawal's response was: "He should come out with honour. If there is a deal going on, then why a deal after all the fake cases?" Bilawal also spoke about his two younger sisters. "My middle sister (Bakhtawar) doesn't talk about it (about Zardari being in jail) a lot but my younger sister (Asifa) asks me and I tell her that we have to be strong and one day he will be free and will be with us." Zardari was released in November 2004 after spending eight years behind bars.

On his mother, Bilawal said, "She tries to find time for us whenever she can. I think she is doing a good job as a mother, even though being very busy."

BHUTTO : Grotesque feudal charade

My heart bleeds for Pakistan. It deserves better than this grotesque feudal charade

By Tariq Ali, Pakistan-born writer, broadcaster and commentator
Published: 31 December 2007

http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/article3295851.ece


Six hours before she was executed, Mary, Queen of Scots wrote to her brother-in-law, Henry III of France: "...As for my son, I commend him to you in so far as he deserves, for I cannot answer for him." The year was 1587.

On 30 December 2007, a conclave of feudal potentates gathered in the home of the slain Benazir Bhutto to hear her last will and testament being read out and its contents subsequently announced to the world media. Where Mary was tentative, her modern-day equivalent left no room for doubt. She could certainly answer for her son.

A triumvirate consisting of her husband, Asif Zardari (one of the most venal and discredited politicians in the country and still facing corruption charges in three European courts) and two ciphers will run the party till Benazir's 19-year-old son, Bilawal, comes of age. He will then become chairperson-for-life and, no doubt, pass it on to his children. The fact that this is now official does not make it any less grotesque. The Pakistan People's Party is being treated as a family heirloom, a property to be disposed of at the will of its leader.

Nothing more, nothing less. Poor Pakistan. Poor People's Party supporters. Both deserve better than this disgusting, medieval charade.

Benazir's last decision was in the same autocratic mode as its predecessors, an approach that would cost her – tragically – her own life. Had she heeded the advice of some party leaders and not agreed to the Washington-brokered deal with Pervez Musharraf or, even later, decided to boycott his parliamentary election she might still have been alive. Her last gift to the country does not augur well for its future.

How can Western-backed politicians be taken seriously if they treat their party as a fiefdom and their supporters as serfs, while their courtiers abroad mouth sycophantic niceties concerning the young prince and his future.

That most of the PPP inner circle consists of spineless timeservers leading frustrated and melancholy lives is no excuse. All this could be transformed if inner-party democracy was implemented. There is a tiny layer of incorruptible and principled politicians inside the party, but they have been sidelined. Dynastic politics is a sign of weakness, not strength. Benazir was fond of comparing her family to the Kennedys, but chose to ignore that the Democratic Party, despite an addiction to big money, was not the instrument of any one family.

The issue of democracy is enormously important in a country that has been governed by the military for over half of its life. Pakistan is not a "failed state" in the sense of the Congo or Rwanda. It is a dysfunctional state and has been in this situation for almost four decades.

At the heart of this dysfunctionality is the domination by the army and each period of military rule has made things worse. It is this that has prevented political stability and the emergence of stable institutions. Here the US bears direct responsibility, since it has always regarded the military as the only institution it can do business with and, unfortunately, still does so. This is the rock that has focused choppy waters into a headlong torrent.

The military's weaknesses are well known and have been amply documented. But the politicians are not in a position to cast stones. After all, Mr Musharraf did not pioneer the assault on the judiciary so conveniently overlooked by the US Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, and the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband. The first attack on the Supreme Court was mounted by Nawaz Sharif's goons who physically assaulted judges because they were angered by a decision that ran counter to their master's interests when he was prime minister.

Some of us had hoped that, with her death, the People's Party might start a new chapter. After all, one of its main leaders, Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Bar Association, played a heroic role in the popular movement against the dismissal of the chief justice. Mr Ahsan was arrested during the emergency and kept in solitary confinement. He is still under house arrest in Lahore. Had Benazir been capable of thinking beyond family and faction she should have appointed him chairperson pending elections within the party. No such luck.

The result almost certainly will be a split in the party sooner rather than later. Mr Zardari was loathed by many activists and held responsible for his wife's downfall. Once emotions have subsided, the horror of the succession will hit the many traditional PPP followers except for its most reactionary segment: bandwagon careerists desperate to make a fortune.

All this could have been avoided, but the deadly angel who guided her when she was alive was, alas, not too concerned with democracy. And now he is in effect leader of the party.

Meanwhile there is a country in crisis. Having succeeded in saving his own political skin by imposing a state of emergency, Mr Musharraf still lacks legitimacy. Even a rigged election is no longer possible on 8 January despite the stern admonitions of President George Bush and his unconvincing Downing Street adjutant. What is clear is that the official consensus on who killed Benazir is breaking down, except on BBC television. It has now been made public that, when Benazir asked the US for a Karzai-style phalanx of privately contracted former US Marine bodyguards, the suggestion was contemptuously rejected by the Pakistan government, which saw it as a breach of sovereignty.

Now both Hillary Clinton and Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are pinning the convict's badge on Mr Musharraf and not al-Qa'ida for the murder, a sure sign that sections of the US establishment are thinking of dumping the President.

Their problem is that, with Benazir dead, the only other alternative for them is General Ashraf Kiyani, head of the army. Nawaz Sharif is seen as a Saudi poodle and hence unreliable, though, given the US-Saudi alliance, poor Mr Sharif is puzzled as to why this should be the case. For his part, he is ready to do Washiongton's bidding but would prefer the Saudi King rather than Mr Musharraf to be the imperial message-boy.

A solution to the crisis is available. This would require Mr Musharraf's replacement by a less contentious figure, an all-party government of unity to prepare the basis for genuine elections within six months, and the reinstatement of the sacked Supreme Court judges to investigate Benazir's murder without fear or favour. It would be a start.

INDIA : Azamgarh to host Islam’s largest global meet

Anurag Singh
Expressindia.com ; Dec 29, 2007

Sherwan (Azamgarh), December 28 Ever imagined 300 hotels, 14 dispensaries, a hospital, four towers of cellular service providers and a perfect accommodation for lakhs of pilgrims at a single village?

Not a poll promise, it is just the scene at Sherwan, a nondescript hamlet in this corner of Uttar Pradesh.

The village has turned into a makeshift pilgrimage for Muslims who will gather from December 29 to 31for the Alami Ijtema (the largest international congregation) of global Islamic movement Tablighi Jammat.

The jammat is likely to be attended by devouts from across the globe, including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the UK, France and Canada.

“I cannot give the exact figure, but we are expecting the around 15 to 20 lakh people. This congregation is basically to judge the effectiveness of the Tablighi Jamaat, whose network preaches Islam across the world,” said chief coordinator of the Ijtema, Dr Anwar Ahmad.

Similar congregations were held in Jaunpur, Allahabad and Barabanki in the 90s.

The sprawling area houses 250 Unani and modern medicine practitioners, who will man the dispensaries. Besides, a 10-bed makeshift hospital has also been created at the Ibnesina Tibiah College.

Arrangements for drinking water, electricity and transportation have also been made.

The village, just 2 kms from underworld don Abu Salem’s native Saraimeer and 10 kms from Rani Ki Sarai — home to Mohd Tariq (arrested in connection with the November 23 serial blasts) — however, has no room for strangers and shutterbugs.

An army of young volunteers is there to ensure that no stranger sneaks into the 40-lakh square feet arena, especially after sunset.

“No stranger is allowed without the permission of Ijtema authorities. The media will be allowed to cover it only with the permission from organisers and that too on an assurance that no photographs will be taken,” said Mohd Arif Sherwani, a volunteer.

Like Arif, people from several parts of the country, including a businessman from Bandra (Mumbai), Niyaz Azmi and Abdul Majid, Unani doctor from Bhopal, are rendering service for the success of the congregation.

Tight security is in place in wake of the allegations that Jamaat has links with terrorists, including British car bombing suspects Kafeel and Saebeel.

Azamgarh District Magistrate Vikash Gothaliwal told The Indian Express that a round-the-clock vigil is being maintained.

The Destabilization of Pakistan

by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, December 30, 2007


The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has created conditions which contribute to the ongoing destabilization and fragmentation of Pakistan as a Nation.

The process of US sponsored "regime change", which normally consists in the re-formation of a fresh proxy government under new leaders has been broken. Discredited in the eyes of Pakistani public opinion, General Pervez Musharaf cannot remain in the seat of political power. But at the same time, the fake elections supported by the "international community" scheduled for January 2008, even if they were to be carried out, would not be accepted as legitimate, thereby creating a political impasse.

There are indications that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was anticipated by US officials:

"It has been known for months that the Bush-Cheney administration and its allies have been maneuvering to strengthen their political control of Pakistan, paving the way for the expansion and deepening of the “war on terrorism” across the region.

Various American destabilization plans, known for months by officials and analysts, proposed the toppling of Pakistan's military...

The assassination of Bhutto appears to have been anticipated. There were even reports of “chatter” among US officials about the possible assassinations of either Pervez Musharraf or Benazir Bhutto, well before the actual attempts took place.
(Larry Chin, Global Research, 29 December 2007)

Political Impasse

"Regime change" with a view to ensuring continuity under military rule is no longer the main thrust of US foreign policy. The regime of Pervez Musharraf cannot prevail. Washington's foreign policy course is to actively promote the political fragmentation and balkanization of Pakistan as a nation.

A new political leadership is anticipated but in all likelihood it will take on a very different shape, in relation to previous US sponsored regimes. One can expect that Washington will push for a compliant political leadership, unoncewrned with the National Interests,, which will serve its interests, while concurrently contributing under the disguise of "decentralization" to the weakening of the central government and the fracture of Pakistan's fragile federal structure.

The political impasse is deliberate. It is part of an evolving US foreign policy agenda, which favors disruption and disarray in the structures of the Pakistani State. Indirect rule by the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus is to be replaced by more direct forms of US interference, including an expanded US military presence inside Pakistan.

This expanded military presence is also dictated by the Middle East-Central Asia geopolitical situation and Washington's ongoing plans to extend the Middle East war to a much broader area.

The US has several military bases in Pakistan. It controls the country's air space. According to a recent report: "U.S. Special Forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan, as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counterterrorism units" (William Arkin, Washington Post, December 2007).

The official justification and pretext for an increased military presence in Pakistan is to extend the "war on terrorism". Concurrently, to justify its counterrorism program, Washington is also beefing up its covert support to the "terrorists."

The Balkanization of Pakistan

Already in 2005, a report by the US National Intelligence Council and the CIA forecast a "Yugoslav-like fate" for Pakistan "in a decade with the country riven by civil war, bloodshed and inter-provincial rivalries, as seen recently in Balochistan." (Energy Compass, 2 March 2005). According to the NIC-CIA, Pakistan is slated to become a "failed state" by 2015, "as it would be affected by civil war, complete Talibanisation and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons". (Quoted by former Pakistan High Commissioner to UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Times of India, 13 February 2005):

"Nascent democratic reforms will produce little change in the face of opposition from an entrenched political elite and radical Islamic parties. In a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the Central government's control probably will be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi," the former diplomat quoted the NIC-CIA report as saying.

Expressing apprehension, Hasan asked, "are our military rulers working on a similar agenda or something that has been laid out for them in the various assessment reports over the years by the National Intelligence Council in joint collaboration with CIA?" Ibid)


Continuity, characterized by the dominant role of the Pakistani military and intelligence has been scrapped in favor of political breakup and balkanization. According to the NIC-CIA scenario, which Washington intends to carry out: "Pakistan will not recover easily from decades of political and economic mismanagement, divisive policies, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction," (Ibid) .

The US course consists in fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including the territorial breakup of Pakistan. This course of action is also dictated by US war plans in relation to both Afghanistan and Iran.

This US agenda for Pakistan is similar to that applied throughout the broader Middle East Central Asian region. US strategy, supported by covert intelligence operations, consists in triggering ethnic and religious strife, abetting and financing secessionist movements while also weakening the institutions of the central government.

The broader objective is to fracture the Nation State and redraw the borders of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.



Covert Support to Balochistan Separatists

Pakistan's extensive oil and gas reserves, largely located in Balochistan province, as well as its pipeline corridors are considered strategic by the Anglo-American alliance, requiring the concurrent militarization of Pakistani territory.

Balochistan comprises more than 40 percent of Pakistan's land mass, possesses important reserves of oil and natural gas as well as extensive mineral resources.

The Iran-India pipeline corridor is slated to transit through Balochistan. Balochistan also possesses a deap sea port largely financed by China located at Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea, not far from the Strait of Hormuz where 30 % of the world's daily oil supply moves by ship or pipeline. (Asia News.it, 29 December 2007)

Pakistan has an estimated 25.1 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven gas reserves of which 19 trillion are located in Balochistan. Among foreign oil and gas contractors in Balochistan are BP, Italy's ENI, Austria's OMV, and Australia's BHP. It is worth noting that Pakistan's State oil and gas companies, including PPL which has the largest stake in the Sui oil fields of Balochistan are up for privatization under IMF-World Bank supervision.

According to the Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Pakistan had proven oil reserves of 300 million barrels, most of which are located in Balochistan. Other estimates place Balochistan oil reserves at an estimated six trillion barrels of oil reserves both on-shore and off-shore (Environment News Service, 27 October 2006) .

The Balochi resistance movement dates back to the late 1940s, when Balochistan was invaded by Pakistan. In the current geopolitical context, the separatist movement is in the process of being hijacked by foreign powers.

Balochistan's strategic energy reserves have a bearing on the separatist agenda. Following a familiar pattern, there are indications that the Baloch insurgency is being supported and abetted by Britain and the US.

British intelligence is allegedly providing covert support to Balochistan separatists (which from the outset have been repressed by Pakistan's military). In June 2006, Pakistan's Senate Committee on Defence accused British intelligence of "abetting the insurgency in the province bordering Iran" [Balochistan]..(Press Trust of India, 9 August 2006). Ten British MPs were involved in a closed door session of the Senate Committe on Defence. (Ibid).

It would appear that Britain and the US are supporting both sides. The US is providing American F-16 jets to Pakistan, which are being used to bomb Baloch villages in Balochistan. Meanwhile, British covert support referred to by Senate Committee essentially serves to weaken the central government.

The stated purpose of US counter-terrorism is to provide covert support as well as as training to "Liberation Armies" ultimately with a view to destabilizing sovereign governments. In Kosovo, the training of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was in fact entrusted to a private mercenary company, Military Professional Resources Inc (MPRI), on contract to the Pentagon.

The BLA bears a canny resemblance to Kosovo's KLA, which was financed by the drug trade and supported by the CIA and Germany's Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND).

The BLA emerged shortly after the 1999 military coup. It has no tangible links to the Baloch resistance movement, which developed since the late 1940s. An aura of mystery surrounds the leadership of the BLA.




Baloch population in Pink: In Iran, Pakistan and Southern Afghanistan

Washington favors the creation of a "Greater Balochistan" which would integrate the Baloch areas of Pakistan with those of Iran and possibly the Southern tip of Afghanistan (See Map above), thereby leading to a process of political fracturing in both Iran and Pakistan.

"The US is using Balochi nationalism for staging an insurgency inside Iran's Sistan-Balochistan province. The 'war on terror' in Afghanistan gives a useful political backdrop for the ascendancy of Balochi militancy" (See Global Research, 6 March 2007).

Military scholar Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters writing in the June 2006 issue of The Armed Forces Journal, suggests, in no uncertain terms that Pakistan should be broken up, leading to the formation of a separate country: "Greater Balochistan" or "Free Balochistan" (see Map below). The latter would incorporate the Pakistani and Iranian Balochi provinces into a single political entity.

In turn, according to Peters, Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) should be incorporated into Afghanistan "because of its linguistic and ethnic affinity".

Although the map does not officially reflect Pentagon doctrine, it has been used in a training program at NATO's Defense College for senior military officers. This map, as well as other similar maps, has most probably been used at the National War Academy as well as in military planning circles. (See Mahdi D. Nazemroaya, Global Research, 18 November 2006)

"Lieutenant-Colonel Peters was last posted, before he retired to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, within the U.S. Defence Department, and has been one of the Pentagon’s foremost authors with numerous essays on strategy for military journals and U.S. foreign policy." (Ibid)



Map: click to enlarge


It is worth noting that secessionist tendencies are not limited to Balochistan. There are separatist groups in Sindh province, which are largely based on opposition to the Punjabi-dominated military regime of General Pervez Musharraf (For Further details see Selig Harrisson, Le Monde diplomatique, October 2006)

"Strong Economic Medicine": Weakening Pakistan's Central Government

Pakistan has federal structure based on federal provincial transfers. Under a fderal structure, the central government transfers financial resources to the provinces, with a view to supporting provincial based programs. When these transfers are frozen as occurred in Yugoslavia in January 1990, on orders of the IMF, the federal fiscal structure collapses:

"State revenues that should have gone as transfer payments to the republics [of the Yugoslav federation] went instead to service Belgrade's debt ... . The republics were largely left to their own devices. ... The budget cuts requiring the redirection of federal revenues towards debt servicing, were conducive to the suspension of transfer payments by Belgrade to the governments of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces.

In one fell swoop, the reformers had engineered the final collapse of Yugoslavia's federal fiscal structure and mortally wounded its federal political institutions. By cutting the financial arteries between Belgrade and the republics, the reforms fueled secessionist tendencies that fed on economic factors as well as ethnic divisions, virtually ensuring the de facto secession of the republics. (Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, Second Edition, Global Research, Montreal, 2003, Chapter 17.)

It is by no means accidental that the 2005 National Intelligence Council- CIA report had predicted a "Yugoslav-like fate" for Pakistan pointing to the impacts of "economic mismanagement" as one of the causes of political break-up and balkanization. "Economic mismanagement" is a term used by the Washington based international financial institutions to describe the chaos which results from not fully abiding by the IMF's Structural Adjustment Program. In actual fact, the "economic mismanagement" and chaos is the outcome of IMF-World Bank prescriptions, which precipitate indebted countries into extreme poverty.

Pakistan was subjected to the same deadly IMF "economic medicine" as Yugoslavia: In 1999, in the immediate wake of the coup d'Etat which brought General Pervez Musharaf to the helm of the military government, an IMF economic package, which included currency devaluation and drastic austerity measures, was imposed on Pakistan. Pakistan's external debt is of the order of US$40 billion. The IMF's "debt reduction" under the package was conditional upon the sell-off to foreign capital of the most profitable State owned enterprises at rockbottom prices .

Musharaf's Finance Minister was chosen by Wall Street, which is not an unusual practice. The military rulers appointed at Wall Street's behest, a vice-president of Citigroup, Shaukat Aziz, who at the time was head of CitiGroup's Global Private Banking. (See WSWS.org, 30 October 1999). CitiGroup is among the largest commercial foreign banking institutions in Pakistan.

There are obvious similarities in the nature of US covert intelligence operations. The latter are often synchronized with the IMF-World Bank macro-economic reforms. In this regard, Yugoslavia's federal fiscal structure collapsed in 1990 leading to mass poverty and heightened ethnic and social divisions. The US and NATO sponsored "civil war" launched in mid-1991 consisted in coveting Islamic groups as well as channeling covert support to separatist paramilitary armies in Bosnia and Kosovo.

A similar "civil war" scenario has been envisaged for Pakistan by the National Intelligence Council and the CIA: From the point of view of US intelligence, which has a longstanding experience in abetting separatist "liberation armies", "Greater Albania" is to Kosovo what "Greater Balochistan" is to Pakistan's Southeastern Balochistan province. Similarly, the KLA is Washington chosen model, to be replicated in regards to the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).

The Assassination of Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi, no ordinary city. Rawalpindi is a military city host to the headquarters of the Pakistani Armed Forces and Military Intelligence (ISI). Ironically Bhutto was assassinated in an urban area tightly controlled and guarded by the military police and the country's elite forces. Rawalpindi is swarming with ISI intelligence officials, which invariably infiltrate political rallies. Her assassination was not a haphazard event.

Without evidence, quoting Pakistan government sources, the Western media in chorus has highlighted the role of Al-Qaeda, while also focusing on the the possible involvement of the ISI.

What these interpretations do not mention is that the ISI continues to play a key role in overseeing Al Qaeda on behalf of US intelligence. The press reports fail to mention two important and well documented facts:

1) the ISI maintains close ties to the CIA. The ISI is virtually an appendage of the CIA.

2) Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA. The ISI provides covert support to Al Qaeda, acting on behalf of US intelligence.

The involvement of either Al Qaeda and/or the ISI would suggest that US intelligence was cognizant and/or implicated in the assassination plot.

Global Research Articles by Michel Chossudovsky