Monday, 31 December 2012

Killers on Rampage in Pakistan

Cellular phone use was suspended on Friday (11.00 to 18.00 Pakistan Standard Time) in Karachi (capital of Sindh province) and there were indications of a possible suspension in Peshawar (capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province) in Pakistan. Though, no major incident took place on the day killers started their rampage on Saturday.

While the news of killing of personnel from law enforcement agencies has already appeared in Eurasia Review, according to details available in the local media, kidnappers killed 21 of 23 law enforcement personnel in the wee hours of Sunday.

 Personnel from the law enforcing agency were shot dead in a cricket ground near Peshawar’s Jan-e-Khawarr area. These were kidnapped on Thursday after attacks on two posts by militants in the provincial capital. The attackers were wearing uniforms of security forces and were armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons.

The spokesman of Therik-e-Taliban for Dara Adamkhel, Mohammad Afridi, has informed a Karachi based newspaper by phone that his group had carried out the attacks.

The government was seeking the help of local tribal elders to rescue the kidnapped officials and a local Jirga was conducting dialogues with the militant group but the talks did not succeed.

In another incident, 15 people have been killed and several others injured after three passenger buses came under attack in Mastung’s Dringarh area of Balochistan. The intensity of blast is evident from a photograph placed at the website of Geo television aired from Karachi.

Initial reports suggested that a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into the bus. The explosion occurred when the buses, carrying Shia pilgrims from Taftan in Iran to Quetta, reached Mastung. Shias regularly travel to Taftan onwards to perform pilgrimage. One of the buses caught fire as a result of the intensive explosion and was completely destroyed whereas the two other buses also suffered partial damage.

A blast in Peshawar on Sunday injured one person. No casualties or major damage was reported after the blast. The blast occurred at the gate of Shama Cinema near Bacha Khan Chowk in Faqirabad area of Peshawar.

In another incident in the provincial capital of Balochistan, gunmen riding motorcycles opened fire and killed four policemen. The attackers sprayed bullets at police on a routine vehicle patrol.

It may be recalled that Balochistan, rich in oil and gas, is plagued by sectarian violence, a tribal insurgency and attacks by Taliban militants. Gun and bomb attacks frequently target police and security personnel in Balochistan.

In the provincial capital of Sindh, Karachi at least six people were killed when in explosion ripping apart a passenger bus parked near the Karachi Cantonment Railway Station on Saturday evening.

The blast completely destroyed the bus. There are reports that five people have been killed and at least 48 injured in the blast, some of them said to be in critical condition.

To outsiders these incidents may not look connected, but the purpose is common, weaken Pakistan and plunge the country into anarchy.

Therik-e-Taliban is notorious for undertaking attacks on sensitive installations and people belonging to security forces/law enforcing agencies. The latest attempts are also aimed at terrorizing people before Chelum of Imam Hussan, they have attacked Ashurra procession in D. I. Khan.

Killing in Mustung is part of an ongoing genocide of Shias by the perpetrators getting funds from outside. This faction even does not consider Shias to be Muslim, and call them Kafir. This killing is often attributed to a Balochistan based banned outfit Jundullah. This group also undertakes attacks in Iran. Their leader Abdul Rehman Riki was hanged in Iran, after his chartered plane going over Iranian air space was asked to land.

The latest round of blasts and targeted killing in Karachi is attributed to two separate factors: the genocide of Shias and ‘an attempt to free Karachi from the hostage of MQM’. However, residents of Karachi categorically reject both the phenomenon.

Three of the political parties PPP, ANP and MQM, which are also part of the ruling coalition, are of the consensus that groups getting funds and arms from outside are responsible for the killing in Karachi. Some of the critics even go to the extent that a proxy war is being fought in Pakistan.

This article was published in eurasiareview on December 30, 2012 

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Pakistan a victim of Geopolitics

Since independence Pakistan has remained the focus of global and regional powers. The country is termed a natural corridor for trade ‑ including energy products ‑ gateway to Central Asia and landlocked Afghanistan. There is a perception that often regimes are installed and toppled in Pakistan by the super powers to achieve their vested interest. This is evident from cold war era to occupation of Afghanistan and from love and hate relationship with India to creation of Taliban (phantom now having many offspring).

At present Pakistan is facing extremely volatile situation, which has become a threat for its own existence. Fighting a proxy war for United States in Afghanistan for nearly four decade has completely destroyed the economic and social fabric of the country. Pakistan is suffering from the influx of foreign militant groups getting funds and arms from different global operators.

Analysts say over the years Pakistan has been towing foreign and military policy of the United States, which has often offended USSR, China, India and Iran. Therefore, one needs to analyze Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan, India and Iran, enjoying common borders with the country. It may not be wrong to say that at present Pakistan doesn’t enjoy cordial relation with none of these countries.

Pakistan helped Afghans in averting USSR attack. After the pullout of USSR forces Afghanistan plunged into civil war. It was often alleged that Pushtoons were supported by Pakistan and Northern Alliance was highly annoyed. After 9/11 Pakistan was made to fight Taliban under the US dictate. As the time for withdrawal of Nato forces is getting closer Pakistan once again faces a precarious position.

When British Raj left the subcontinent in 1947 it left a thorn, Kashmir. Since independence India and Pakistan have been living in constant state of war, spending billions of dollars annually on the purchase of conventional as well as non-conventional arms and have also attained the status of atomic powers. However, both the countries suffer from extreme poverty. There seems no probability of reconciliation between the two countries because of presence of hawks on both the sides. Even the trade relations could not be normalized due to Kashmir dispute as Hindus are not ready for another division of Hindustan on the basis of religion.

Pakistan and Iran have enjoyed the best time till toppling of Shah’s rule as both the countries were under the US influence. Iran has been persistently enduring economic sanctions for more than three decades after the Islamic revolution. Pakistan is suffering from severe energy crisis but not allowed to construct Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline or even buy Iranian crude oil under food for oil program. Iran has often complaint that certain outfits, most notorious being Jundullah, having its base in Balochistan province of Pakistan, are involved in cross border terrorism.

Pakistan also faces a difficult situation when Saudi Arabia, under the US pressure asks it to do or not to do certain things. One such example is Saudi Arabia promising to meet Pakistan’s oil requirement if it opts not to buy Iranian oil. There are also allegations and counter allegations that Saudi Arabia and Iran are supporting Sunni and Shia factions in Pakistan. This point is being highlighted by referring to sectarian killings. However, Pakistanis have no doubt that killing is being done by those who are neither Sunni nor Shia. This point got credence when it was discovered that Taliban involved in attack on Peshawar airbase had tattoos on their bodies.

Till today, Pakistan offers the shortest and cost effective route to landlocked Afghanistan, leading to Central Asian countries. Gwadar deep seaport has been constructed in Balochistan province with the financial and technical assistance of China. India often raises its concerns on Chinese presence along Pakistan’s coastal belt. However, India is not only constructing Chabahar port in Iran but also road and rail links up to Central Asia via Afghanistan.

Pakistanis completely fail to understand the duality of US policy. India was asked to withdraw itself from Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project and also rewarded nuclear technology in return. On top of that it has not been stopped from building port and supporting infrastructure in Iran. Some experts say all this is being done to construct an alternate route once the objective of creation of greater Balochistan is achieved. This new country will be created taking one slice each from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The level of US pressure on Pakistan can also be gauged from the fact that President, Asif Ali Zardari, on the eleventh hour, cancelled his visit to Tehran and went straight to UK. The new date of his visit to Iran has not been announced as yet. This reminds Pakistani’s of a similar cancelled visit of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to USSR and he instead went to United States.

It is also on record that Chinese experts working in Pakistan have often come under attack to make them leave Pakistan. Chinese experts working on Gwadar and Thar coal projects have been repeatedly attacked. At one stage it was feared that Chinese will completely withdraw their support for Thar coal mining and power plant.

China has also complaints that some extremist Muslim groups are trying to create disturbance in one of its province bordering with Pakistan. It seems these attempts are made to disrupt trade being done through this land route.

This article was published in eurasiareview on December 27, 2012 

In response following comments have been received:

Ram Iyer
I am an Indian and to be honest met many Pakistanis and very nice people/friends. Similar life, culture, thought process and history. May be some difference in some aspects, which can happen within India between Tamilian and Punjabi (different food, practices, interests) but same nation.

Pakistan needs a deep breath to bunk its 60 year old thinking and re-think. It will have short term pain but absolute long term gain. Wean away from US gradually using nation first policy using calibered adjustments. Build silent bridge with India, Iran, CIS, Russia and ramp up China relationship. Silence on India border and some consistent visit to India from broad spectrum and be blunt/frank on sincerity of change.

If India don’t want another Western invasion of life, then it need to bring that good big brother steps to give sustained multi-year multi-billion dollar aids to all nations around India to grow and grow together. Else, it will be more like nation lost in dreamland than a big growing nation along with China.

Syed Karim
Pakistan is a victim of misguided policies by its rulers. Until recently, Pakistan used terrorism as instrument of state and resorted to asymmetrical warfare against its archenemy India.
Mr. Kazmi stated that “fighting a proxy war for United States in Afghanistan for nearly four decade has completely destroyed the economic and social fabric of the country”. The reverse is true; Pakistan continues to provide logistic support to the Afghan Taliban and is engaged in a proxy war against the United States. The duplicity of Pakistan was exposed to the world when Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 in a raid by the US Navy Seals in Abbottabad near a military garrison; Pakistan was caught sheltering and harboring the al-Qaeda leader. Pakistan played with fire and is now suffering the consequences.

Mr. Kazmi alluded to “some extremist Muslim groups” in Balochistan harassing Chinese experts in Balochistan. Actually, these are Baloch nationalists fighting for autonomy; rulers of Pakistan are dismissive of their demands and call them “miscreants” or “misguided elements”.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

What is the reality of Taliban?

Lately, politicians have come under sever attack of banned outfit Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the party hard-hit is Awami National Party (ANP). There have been regular attacks that included attempt on the life of its chief Asfand Yar Wali Khan and killing of other party members.

The latest is the assassination of Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a senior provincial minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province; he has received threats in the past. Police officials confirmed that at least eight other people, including a police SHO, Bilour’s personal secretary and ANP workers were killed in the blast that took place near the famous Qissa Khwani Bazaar of Peshawar.

Bashir was bother of Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, a federal minister. One can recollect Ghulam declaring a reward of Rs10 million for the person who kills those responsible for the recently released film about Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH).

As is the practice local media has started blaring reports that the TTP has accepted responsibility of Bashir’s killing. According to a post placed on the website of a newspaper the proscribed TTP has claimed the responsibility for a suicide attack.

A post on the website of a television channels says TTP’s spokesman for Dara Adamkhel and Khyber Agency, Mohammad Afridi has informed a suicide bomber belonging to his group had attacked the minister.

It was also stated that the TTP had set up a new ‘revenge wing’ and leaders of the ANP and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were the prime targets of his group and the attack had been carried out to avenge the killing of an `elder’ of militants, Sheikh Naseeb Khan.

President Asif Ali Zardari and all prominent political leaders of the country have deplored the suicide attack at the ANP meeting. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has announced to observe one-day national mourning and said flags would be flown at half-mast on Sunday.

The KP provincial government has announced a three-day while the ANP called for ten-day mourning in honor of the deceased leader. ANP’s Balochistan chapter has called for a strike in Quetta on Sunday. They also have announced to observe three-day mourning in the province.

ANP is coalition partner in the federal and provincial government with PPP and MQM. While PPP and government of Sindh have announced one day each, MQM called for three-day mourning.

No condolence or condemnation message has been issued by from PML-N leader, the ruling party of Punjab till posting of this blog. Leaders of religious parties are also mum.

Karachi was likely to witness some unrest and the day opened with an attack in which at least six persons including the policemen and recruits were injured. The blast took place this morning near Khawaja Ajmernagri police headquarter.

Lately, the TTP has been accepting responsibility of killings and blasts in Pakistan and these reports come from which claim to have received calls from the spokesman of the banned outfit, mostly residing at ‘unknown locations’.

A few points demand immediate deliberations: 1) why media is prompt in announcing the claims of any terrorist attack? 2) Is TTP a reality or phantom created by intelligence agencies both local and foreign? 3) Who is proving arms and funds to these groups? 4) Why the miscreants want to plunge the country into complete anarchy?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Bleak outlook for Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline

Failure to complete Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline in five decades can be termed the biggest tragedy for the two neighboring countries, one rich in energy and other suffering due to its paucity. The two counties enjoyed extremely cordial relationship with the United States, till the monarchy was toppled in Iran.

While Pakistan has been fighting a US proxy war in Afghanistan for the last four decades, it was neither allowed by the super power to go ahead with IP project nor was it treated at par with India when it came to offering ‘nuclear technology for civilian use’.

While peeping into the history may have many surprises for those who still believe that the pipeline will be constructed, one can safely infer that unless US-Iran relation improves it is ‘hoping against hope’.

Last minute cancellation of visit of Pakistani president to Iran to meet Malala Yousufzai in UK has put the last nail in the coffin, removing that may take decades.

This reminds Pakistanis another horrendous mistake of fifties when visit of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to USSR was cancelled and he instead went to United States, for which the country had to pay a huge cost.

In the post Islamic revolution era, relationships between Iran and United States have deteriorated because of imposition of economic sanction on the country for more than 32 years. Experts don’t expect any change and hoping that any improvement is day dreaming.

On the contrary some of the conspiracy theories suggest that one day Iran will be punished for not bowing down before the US pressure. A proxy was initiated in Syria more than 20 months ago and another test was conducted through Hamas-Israel encounter but seems the time is not ripe to undertake US-sponsored attack on Iran.

Lately, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said President Asif Ali Zardari would soon visit Iran and the gas pipeline project would be completed in given time frame. She also said Pakistan and Iran have been enjoying good relations and the present government has further strengthened its ties with the neighbor. However, a closer look at the timeline should remove any ambiguity, if it still prevails.
  • The idea was conceived in mid 1950s, the project was conceptualized in 1989, the discussions between Iran and Pakistan started in 1994 and a preliminary agreement was signed in 1995.
  • Later on Iran made a proposal to extend the pipeline from Pakistan into India and February 1999, a preliminary agreement was signed between the two countries.
  • In February 2007, India and Pakistan agreed to pay Iran US$4.93 per million British thermal units.
  • In April 2008, Iran expressed interest in the People's Republic of China's participation in the project. In August 2010, Iran invited Bangladesh to join the project.
  •  In 2009, India withdrew from the project over pricing and security issues, and after signing a civilian nuclear deal with the US in 2008. In January 2010, the US asked Pakistan to abandon the project
  • On 15 April 2012 it was reported that Saudi Arabia was willing to offer an "alternative package" to Pakistan if the country abandoned its cooperation with Iran.

Imposition of new economic sanctions on Iran clearly suggests that the country is denied the right to export crude oil only to keep Arab producers happy and create a justification for Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline sponsored by the United States.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Tattoos on the body of attackers on Peshawar Airport

Experts have been advising the Government of Pakistan (GoP) to pull itself out of the proxy war being fought in Afghanistan. If the purpose of attack on Afghanistan was to kill the phantom called Osama bin Laden, the game was over a year ago. 

Now the struggle is to keep in power a puppet government headed by President Hamid Karzai and create justification for keeping troops in Afghanistan, till the ground is prepared for undertaking an assault against Iran.

Pakistanis clearly understand the difference between good and bad Taliban and also the reality of its offshoot, Therik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Certainly the bad Taliban are those who are still fighting against occupying US-led Nato forces. Those are also against cultivation of poppy in Afghanistan.

Good are those Taliban which are helping Nato forces and also giving protection and facilitate the drug trade. Therefore, being a Muslim is not a reason to join the clan of booty collectors, who still prefer to call themselves Taliban to fool the innocent and simple Afghans, still considering them Mujahideen, ensuring supremacy of Sharia rules.

This point became crystal clear when the dead bodies of those who undertook attack on Peshawar airbase were shown to media. Presence of tattoos on the bodies of those killed has given a new dimension to the investigators. Very large tattoos engraved on the back of two foreign fighters read “angel of death” and “Satan” which certainly has no meaning for a Muslim.

Taking a quick account of some of the incidences taking place in Pakistan clearly suggests “Perpetrators are not Muslims but operating under the disguise of Taliban. The sole objective of these perpetrators is to fragment Pakistan on the basis of language, religion and even sects, initiate civil war and plunge the country deep into civil war. 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Sit in against Shia genocide in Karachi

Numaish Chorangi at Karachi in Pakistan seems to have become Tehrir Square.  It is one of the unique displays of commitment and solidarity that a sit in against killing of Shia in Karachi now surpass 34 hours. The sit in, which began after Friday prayers, continues as the protesters refused to disperse, calling it a sit in for an indefinite period.

Strangely mainstream media is not giving enough coverage of the event but regular updates and photographs are being posted at social media. The point most emphasized is gathering of women and children in such a large number despite chilling nights.

One of the posts says, “Amazing sit in protest going on at Numaish Chorangi against Shia Genocide since the last 32 hours or so, was there for a good 3, 4 hours, wish people from all communities can join in to support a call against injustice concerning humanity and our country, even for just 10 minutes”.

On Saturday Karachi gave a deserted look. Fear and panic that began spreading in the city on Friday evening failed to deter the demonstrators. Young men riding motorcycles forced closure of shops and markets. Life in Karachi remained at a standstill as public transport remained off the roads.

The participants are present at Numaish Chorangi. It looks Incredible because hardly so many women come out to protest. According to some eyewitnesses the number of demonstrators exceeds 50,000. These people are demanding an operation against the banned outfits killing Shia.

Shias are being targeted regularly by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan; the latest attack was at Ashura procession in D I Khan. In the prevailing conditions gathering of such a large number of people demonstrates strength of their faith.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Geopolitics fueling Pakistan's energy crisis

A closer look at post fall of Dacca era indicates that the strategic plans followed by the successive governments in Pakistan were dictated from outside. From super powers to multilateral lenders and from locals seeking power to policy planners followed strategic plans that were not in the larger interest of the country.

One of the latest evidences is that President Asif Ali Zardari skipped his visit to Tehran and went to UK to meet Malala Yousufzai. He was scheduled to stopover in Tehran to sign some important agreements pertaining to Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. There is a consensus in Pakistan that the pipeline has not become reality only because of opposition of United States.

Examining the power sector alone supports this perception. Everyone knows that Pakistan enjoys enormous potential to produce 40,000MW electricity from hydel plants. In the earlier days country succeeded in constructing three dams/hydel plants i.e. Warsak, Mangla and Tarbella. The plan was to complete one dam in a decade. Mangla was completed in mid sixties and Tarbella in mid seventies but then no more funds were made available for contraction any mega size das after Kalabagh Dam project ran into controversy.

Over the years also came a paradigm shift in the policies of multilateral donors. They decided not to lend more funds to WAPDA and encouraged contraction of fossil oil based thermal power plants by the private sector. Pakistan faces double edged sword as more than 75% of total power generation capacity is oil based and oil prices are hovering around US$100/barrel. It the recent past oil price also touched record level of US$147/barrell.

Pakistan is blessed with natural gas but turmoil in Balochistan affects drilling of new wells in the province. Fortunately reasonably large oil/gas reserves have been discovered in Sindh but excessive reliance on gas has led to present gas crisis. Gas can’t be produced from some of the mega fields discovered lately due to ongoing litigation.

Little has been the progress on exploitation of Thar coal, capable of producing 50,000MW electricity over the next half a century. Over the years enough funds were not allocated for the construction of required infrastructure and lately Chinese working in the area were forced to stop their work.

The latest controversy about the quality of Thar coal and process of mainlining seems to be driven by groups having vested interest. While things were moving smooth for establishing mine-mouth power plant, entered a group insisting of coal gasification process. Though, the available data suggests coal gasification technology can’t be used for commercial purposes, this group is insisting on release of millions of dollars for the deployment of economically unviable technology.

Some of the groups are also suggesting exploitation of other sources of energy i.e. introduction of E-10 and granting sugar mills IPP (independent power plant) status. The entire required infrastructure is present in the country but oil lobby is opposing this, it knows very well that going for E-10 and granting sugar mills IPP status will hurt its interest.

Some experts also say that much of the hype about shortage of gas is aimed at creating a justification for the import of LNG and creation of LNG handling infrastructure. Earlier Rental Power Plants (RPPs) melodrama was created that fizzled out due to credible evidence of massive corruption.

Monday, 10 December 2012

US pressurize Zardari to skip Iran visit

According to Financial Times, the visit of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to Tehran to seal a US$1.5 billion gas pipeline deal was unexpectedly cancelled due to extreme pressure from the United States. The news has been received in Pakistan with extreme disgust and some of the quarters term it an attack on country’s sovereignty.

Pakistanis are fully aware that Iran has offered hundreds of millions of dollars to finance the long-delayed gas pipeline and Iranian stance has offended United States. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president visited Islamabad last month to offer the financing. It was said to be just the first installment. There were also clear indications that if Pakistan show determination and seriously go ahead with this project it could get more money.

Reportedly President Zardari skipped his visit to Iran on some flimsy excuse. While President House official sources said the Iran trip was not on the itinerary but it looked all certain that he would stop over in Tehran on way to UK, France and Turkey as he was expected to sign some agreement pertaining to Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Earlier on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesman Farhatuallah Babar had confirmed to IRNA that President Zardari will visit Iran on December 7 for talks on bilateral and regional issues.

Many Pakistanis wanted President Zardari to go to Iran to sign this crucially important agreement. They are losing patience due to inordinate delay in implementation of the project primarily because of stiff US opposition. The agreement was to be inked between Tehran and Islamabad during the November visit to Pakistan by Iranian President Ahmadinejad but was differed due to text of contract not being ready.

It sounded like a big joke that the President met Malala Yousafzai, a 14 year old peace activist, who is being treated at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in UK rather than stopping over in Iran. Critics termed the visit an unprecedented gesture by the president because he did not have any diplomatic engagements in the UK other than meeting Malala.

Pakistan is keen in going ahead with the project. Dr. Asim Hussain, Advisor to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources has recently visited Tehran to finalize text. He met several Iranian officials, including President Ahmadinejad. A delegation of Iranian oil industry experts also visited Islamabad early in November to discuss the agreement on the payment of a $250mln loan to Pakistan to fund the project.

In addition to the investment, Iran is also due to build the Pakistani part of the multi-billion-dollar pipeline. A special team has been set up in the Iranian oil ministry to specify the method of investment and credit line for the pipeline on Pakistani soil.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

United States Fueling Iran Arab Animosity

There exists an overwhelming perception that Gulf States like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are deeply worried about Iran and ask the United States to take care of the problem.  The usual causes of conflict are cited to be Sunni-Shiite divide, Iranian subversion, its support for Hezbollah, and omnipresent fear about Iran's nuclear energy program.  United States has been successful in creating these fears and also doing well in projecting Iran as a growing monster that can eat Arab monarchs.

Reading an article of Stephen M. Walt printed in Foreign Policy reveals that oil producing Arab countries are keen in keeping oil prices high to finance budgets in a period where heightened social spending and other measures are being used to insulate these regimes from the impact of the Arab Spring. According to the IMF, these states need crude prices to remain above U$80 a barrel in order to keep their fiscal house in order. 

The Article also discusses the potential interest of Saudi Arabia that wants to keep Iran in the doghouse, so that Iran can't attract foreign companies to refurbish and expand its oil and gas fields and also make it more difficult for Iran to market its petroleum in the global markets. It is but obvious that if UN and other sanctions are lifted and energy companies start operating freely in Iran, its oil and gas production would boom, overall supplies would increase, and the global price would drop.

If this happens Iran can emerge a more formidable power in the Gulf region but lower oil and gas prices would make it much harder for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to stave off demands for political reform through social spending. Saudi Arabia could cut production to try to keep prices up, but that would still mean lower overall revenues and a budget shortfall.

When one hears how worried the Gulf states are about Iran, and how they support the efforts to keep tightening the screws, remember that it's not just about geopolitics or historical divide between Sunnis and Shiites or between Arabs and Persians. It is only to keep inflow of petro dollars high but why should United States be conniving with Arabs?

However, Stephen forgot to mention one point.  By keeping Iranian threat high United States is able to sell more arms to Arab countries. It is on record that United States is the biggest arms seller in the world and Arab monarchies are the major buyers, Saudi Arab being the biggest buyer.

Diverting attention of Arabs towards Iran also helps in saving Israel. At a recently held conference some of the Arab countries termed Iran a threat bigger than Israel. In the latest bid of the United State is fully supported by Arabs to topple government in Syria, and earlier in Libya. Over the years Arabs have been giving charity to Palestinians living in refugees’ camps but not supporting in the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Absurdity and Terrorism

One often feels that most of the statements regarding terrorists, their game plan and involvement of third hand are nothing but acceptance of the fact that perpetrators are smatters than people working for law enforcing agencies. One also gets the feeling that mantra of involvement of ‘third hand’ is only to close the file rather than taking the pain to investigate, round up the criminals and giving them exemplary punishment. One of the conspiracy theory is that ‘militants, to be precise perpetrators, are embedded in law enforcing agencies. If that is the reality, one does not know who can establish government’s writ.

To begin with one point has to be made very clear that putting the blame on external forces is accepting failure of the law enforcing agencies. If perpetrators can just walk into Pakistan from any neighboring country and manage to reach as far as Karachi, it is a big question mark on the performance of more than three dozens of intelligence agencies operating in Pakistan. This also highlights the inherent weakness of the surveillance system. While one could find police collecting ‘Bhatta’ on main arteries, roads and even streets, one completely fails to understand why the criminals can’t be intercepted? May be the police is keener in collecting the booty rather than checking the movement of criminals.

Same goes for the arms, which is pouring into Karachi in tons. It is said that that arms are made in United States, dissolved USSR and India as well as from smaller arms factories operating in the tribal areas. The influx of most lethal and modern arms into Karachi also raises question about the performance of law enforcing agencies. Politicians often demand de-weaponization of Karachi but hardly bother to find out how the weapons reach Karachi. One of the suspicions is that trucks and trawlers carrying goods for northern parts of the country bring the arms to Karachi.

Another conspiracy theory is that vehicles taking Nato supplies to Afghanistan carry the arms on their return journey. Some of the cynics even to the extent of saying that a large percentage of arms, meant for distribution among various groups operating in Afghanistan never leave Pakistan. There are ‘rent a weapon’ operators located throughout the country and carrying arms while crossing border or moving from one city to another is not necessary. These vendors are located in the heart of most thickly populated areas having concentration of different ethnic groups. It is also alleged that residents of the areas are also used as ‘human shields’ and often personnel of law enforcing agencies are hesitant in entering these areas.

A closer watch on the recent happenings and working of rebel groups has established beyond doubt that their sponsors provide them funds as well as arms and also give them training. If rebel groups in Syria have anti aircraft guns and missiles, possession of similar equipment by perpetrators in Pakistan just can’t be rules out.

It is suspected that various militants groups operating in Pakistan get support from external sources. It may not be wrong to say that a proxy war is being fought in Pakistan. The missions include from establishing supremacy of Shariah laws to liberation of oppressed groups and from creation of independent Pakhtunistan to Greater Balochistan. One of the outfits ‘Jundullah’ wears different caps. In Pakistan it is said to be working for the liberation of Balochs and in Iran it is fighting against Shias, who have usurped rights of Sunnis.  

Courtesy: The Financial Daily

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Israel must be brought back to its original size

The latest announcement of Israel to build 3000 new settlement homes on occupied land is a slap on the face of international community that has just recognized Palestine State, accepting the philosophy of two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine. The latest announcement once again proves that Israel is a usurper and also responsible for any realization by Palestinians.

If the international community, particularly United States wants Palestinians to behave diligently,  they must asked Israel to stop construction of settlements of occupied land also bring Israel back to its original boundaries demarcated at the time of creation of a state for the Jews.

Israel's moves serves as a harsh reminder to Palestinians that while they now have a state on paper, most of it remains very much under Israeli control. "This is a doomsday scenario," Daniel Seidemann of Ir Amim, a group that promotes coexistence in Jerusalem, said of the building plans.

Israel's decision also embarrasses the United States, which was among just nine countries in the 193-member General Assembly to vote against accepting Palestine as a non-member observer state. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland criticized the Israeli announcement. "These actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or achieve a two-state solution," she said.

Among the projects is an expansion of Maaleh Adumim, known as E-1. Successive US administrations have pressured Israel not to build in E-1 because it would effectively cut off east Jerusalem from the West Bank, and split the northern part of the territory from the southern part. "E-1 will be the death of the two-state solution," said Seidemann, referring to the establishment of a state of Palestine alongside Israel.

Tzipi Livni, Israel's former foreign minister and chief negotiator with the Palestinians warned that "The decision to build thousands of housing units as punishment to the Palestinians only punishes Israel ... (and) only isolates Israel further."

Following Israel's decision to accelerate settlement building, however, Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian leadership was studying its options. He would not elaborate. Erekat accused Netanyahu of "defying the whole international community and insisting on destroying the two-state solution."

The UN endorsed a Palestinian state in territories Israel captured in 1967. Abbas has said he is ready to negotiate the final borders with Israel, provided Netanyahu drops his refusal to use the 1967 lines as a starting point. Abbas asserted Friday that a Palestinian demand for a settlement freeze ahead of negotiations still stands.

On the Israeli side, compromise on settlements seemed unlikely. Netanyahu is seeking re-election two months from now at the helm of a Likud party turned more hawkish since primaries earlier this week and in an electoral alliance with an ultra-nationalist pro-settler party.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Shia mourners attacked again in D I Khan

Ashura procession in D I. Khan, a city close to Afghan border faced blast today, causing six deaths and serious injuries to fifty persons. 

Mourners were attacked yesterday in which nine persons were killed. 

The blast took place despite claims of foolproof security system.

 It is being reported that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have been used in both the incidents.

 While people have faith in the security forces, there are growing suspicions that perpetrators have been supplied state of the art devices by foreign forces.
The objective is to prove that the government is helpless before perpetrators. 

Friday, 23 November 2012

Panetta’s Mantra

While addressing a think tank US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta has once again said “In order to really have a secure Afghanistan, ultimately Pakistan is going to have to take responsibility for taking on these terrorists and eliminating the safe havens.

” “Realistically, what chance will the US strategy have to succeed in 2014 if more of the safe havens aren’t dealt with more stridently than they’ve been to date?” he was asked.

This is not something new; over the years the United States has been saying that restoring peace in Afghanistan depends on the commitment of Pakistan to fight the terrorist. Instead of stopping incursions from Afghanistan, Pakistan is often accused of providing safe sanctuaries to those who are fighting with the occupying forces.

May be the time has come to find explanation for basic questions:
1)       Why Afghanistan was invaded?
2)       Why United States wishes to keep its forces there?
3)       Why should Pakistan fight a proxy war of the United States?

There is growing realization in Pakistan that if USSR had attacked Afghanistan for a passage to warm waters, United States invaded the country to takeover production, trade and logistic of drug. At present Afghanistan is termed the largest producer of opium in the world.

There are also growing suspicions that troops are being kept there for two reasons 1) provide safe heavens for optimum growers and refining laboratories and 2) a built up to assist in case United States succeeds in convincing the world to attack Iran.

If it is clear that Nato forces are in Afghanistan for achieving motives other than maintaining peace or for the development, Pakistan must pull itself out of this proxy war without further delay.
It is on record that United States creates a conflict, supply funds and arms among fighting groups only to keep its arsenal factories at full capacities.

The most recent examples are Iraq, Libya, Syria and the latest demonstrations against Egyptian President for calling Israel a terrorist country.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Jirga approves action against criminals claiming to be Taliban

In my last post it was mentioned that Taliban have taken people living in various areas hostage and are also using them as ‘human shield’, this point has been substantiated by some news reports. 

Reportedly, the local Taliban and elders of Uthmanzai tribe have formed a joint lashkar to take action against those elements, who are involved in target killings, kidnappings and attacks on security forces.

The 100 men strong lashkar was formed at a jirga held at Anghar Kallay near Miramshah. The jirga was attended by Taliban and Uthmanzai elders. “Kidnappers, terrorists and those involved in attacks on security forces should leave North Waziristan Agency immediately,” the jirga decided unanimously.

The jirga authorized the lashkar to launch an action against criminals, kidnappers, target killers and those, who were attacking security forces. The decision was taken keeping in view the growing incidents of kidnappings, and killing of tribal elders and attacks on security forces during the past few weeks. Recently, two tribal elders — Malik Mashar Khan and Malik Noor Din Darpakhel — were targeted killed.

The term Taliban was used first time for students of Madarsas who decided to initiate Jihad (Holy War) against the USSR army. Those who were against occupation of USSR and also against the presence of US led Nato forces in Afghanistan. These people have been joined by thousands of revolutionaries who term United States the biggest terrorist and wish to cause dent by attacking strategic installations and Nato soldiers.

Those fighting against the US have been termed Bad Taliban and those serving its interest are called Good Taliban, but the fact remains that the real Taliban hate the occupiers the most and inflicting huge losses to Nato forces. Those protecting the US interest kill innocent people and take pride in claiming the responsibility only to defame the real Taliban fighting against the occupiers.

To justify occupation of Afghanistan, United States is funding people and proving them arms and maintaining state of war. One of the reasons for the recent upsurge in incidents of killing and sabotaging is that the time has come to pull out the troops. United States wish to keep troops in Afghanistan till the time it attacks Iran.

Taliban Mujahideen or Mercenaries

Going through the most recent uttering of Taliban and taking responsibility of killing of people belonging to Shia sect of Muslimsin Karachi and Rawalpindi, leaves no doubt that they are coldblooded mercenaries. 

Though, they claim to be fighting Holy War (Jihad), their acts completely negate teachings of Islam. Anyone who propagates that killing of people who are not directly involved in fighting with Mujahideen is permissible is misinterpretation of Islam.

The history proves that Taliban were trained, provided funds and weapons to fight against USSR army that had invaded Afghanistan. It may be unfortunate that after 9/11 they have to fight with those who have been taking care of all their needs. The United States has also divided them in good and bad categories only to achieve its ultimate objective, prolonging its stay in Afghanistan.

Good Taliban are those who are helping the Nato forces to achieve certain objectives and bad Taliban are those who are demanding more money and when they don’t get it they retaliate. It also appears that now the war is not for imposition of Shraih but collection of booty. Afghanistan is world’s largest opium producing country and United States its biggest buyer, the largest number of drug addicts live in United States.

One can also recall that Taliban announced that they were coming to Karachi to free its people who are hostage of MQM. This was in retaliation of the campaign sponsored by the MQM and proposed referendum. Taliban knew that Muharram is the best time to attack Karachi and they could use Shia Sunni split. Residents of Karachi had rejected this point of view decades ago.

May be Taliban don’t know that largest number of Sabeels (water serving points) and largest quantity of Taburuk (eatables for the mourners) is distributed by Sunnis, who join Shia in reminding the world of the most brutal act of assassination of Grand Son of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions.

Over the years many had attempted to stop Majalis (gatherings to remember killing of Imam Hussain and his companions) and Jaloos (processions) but in vain. Taliban’s claim that they would follow the footprints of their ancestors is nothing but an attempt to create split, when Muslim need unity the most.

AT this point in time Gaza needs the largest number of people to fight Israel, which has expanded many times the area allocated for it. Therefore, they should go to Gaza rather than killing innocent citizens of Karachi.

If they don’t do this, people will be right in assuming that the Taliban are ‘B’ team of CIA. They are in Pakistan and waiting for an opportunity to invade Iran and in the mean time weakening the country which has supported them the most in the past.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

US join Israel against Iran and Syria

National security adviser to President Barack Osama talked to his Israeli counterpart on Monday for talks on Iran's nuclear program and the civil war in Syria. The meeting, which was only disclosed after it happened, came amid concerns that time is running out for diplomatically defusing the standoff with Tehran.

National Security Adviser Tom Donilon met with Israel's Major General Yaakov Amidror for consultations on Iran, Syria, and a range of other regional security issues. US National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a written statement. "These meetings were the latest in a series of regular, high-level consultations between the United States and Israel, consistent with our strong bilateral partnership, and part of our unshakeable commitment to Israel's security."

Israel was drawn into the fighting in neighboring Syria for the first time on Sunday, firing warning shots across the border after an errant mortar shell landed near an Israeli military installation in the Golan Heights. While Israel appeared eager to calm the situation, its response was a potent reminder of how easily the Syrian civil war — already spilling across borders with Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan — could explode into a wider regional conflagration.

Israeli officials threatened even tougher retaliation if attacks persist. They fear that the instability in Syria over the past 19 months could spill across the border into Israel, particularly as President Bashar Assad's grip on power grows increasingly precarious. Israel has little love for Assad, who has provided refuge and support to Israel's bitterest enemies through the years. But the Syrian leader — and his father before him — have kept the frontier quiet for nearly four decades, providing a rare source of stability in the volatile region.

In recent weeks, incidents of errant fire from Syria have multiplied, leading Israel to warn that it holds Syria responsible. Israeli officials believe most of the fire has come from Syrian government forces, although they think it has been inadvertent and not been aimed at Israel. "We understand this was a mistake and was not meant to target Israel, and then that is why we fired a warning shot in retaliation," said Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a military spokeswoman. Defense officials said an anti-tank missile was fired, and there were no reports of casualties in Syria.

"We understand this was a mistake and was not meant to target Israel, and then that is why we fired a warning shot in retaliation," said Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a military spokeswoman. Defense officials said an anti-tank missile was fired, and there were no reports of casualties in Syria.

Yiftah Shapir, an analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies, a Tel Aviv think tank, said neither Israel nor Syria has an interest in allowing Sunday's hostilities to spin out of control. "I see the warning fire as an attempt to prevent any escalation," he said. "In Israel, no one wants a war with Syria or even an attempt to intervene in the events. The only thing that worries us is a spillover by this form or another. So I think it's a warning 'Take care.'"

Officials have repeatedly warned that Assad may attack Israel in a final act of desperation if he fears his days are numbered. Israel also fears Syria could fall into the hands of Islamic extremists or descend into sectarian warfare. Another lingering fear is that Syria's chemical weapons and missile could fall into the hands of its Lebanese ally, the Hezbollah guerrilla group, or other anti-Israel militants if Assad loses power. There are also concerns that Syria could become a staging ground for attacks by al-Qaida-linked groups battling Assad.

Courtesy: The Financial Daily