Saturday, 30 March 2013

Establishing peace in Afghanistan

With the withdrawal of Nato forces from Afghanistan fears of another civil war in the country are being expressed. Ironically Hamid Karzai was installed and supported by the United Sates but now a scenario is being painted of growing distance between the two partners.

Has heart and mind of Karzai changed or he is trying to create an illusion that he is the best friend of Afghans?

One should never forget that Karzai’s rule is only because of the US support; else he rules only a small part of country. Some cynics even go to that extent of saying that he is President of Kabul not of Afghanistan.

One of the questions often asked is, can an Afghan think like a normal person? Most regrettably the reply is in negative because the country is persistently in the state of war for more than four decades.

Those born and brought up under the prevailing situation think about killing the enemy before he kills them. The level of mistrust is very high because of presence of double agents, working simultaneously for Taliban as well as Nato.

Since other sources of income have virtually vanished due to the horrendous war, loyalties can be purchased with money.

It is not a secret that Afghanistan has once again emerged as one of the largest producer of poppy; hundreds of labs are also operating in the country. For the safe transfer of drugs millions of dollars are paid as transit free to clan chiefs.

The rule is simple either you join the party or be prepared to die because the business has to continue as usual. Previously it was said that power corrupts people but the new term is you can corrupt anyone and everyone by paying money.

It is also on record that soldiers belonging to certain countries are hardly attacked because they take good care of people living in the area. They have help in building schools and hospitals, improving logistics and even generating electricity.

A question remains, why do Afghans hate Nato soldiers in general and US troops in particular?

The reply is simple ‘they consider Nato soldiers occupiers’ and also believe that the entire drama has been staged to get control over their resources.

Everyone knows that Afghanistan is reach in fossil oil, gas, minerals and above all precious metals. Afghans also believe that instead of creating job opportunities for people everyone is made to fight for his survival, just by killing others.

No doubt Afghans are simple Muslims and don’t like what the Americans have been trying to teach them. They have their own norms and anyone trying to violate these is disliked. The situation often gets real nasty because they are told to do certain things which their society doesn't approve.

In fact various groups have been created and are being supported by the neighboring countries. Oldest and the most amicable relationships have been between Afghanistan and Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iran.

People living in these three countries have been moving freely and conducting trade. One could still recall the days when Pak rupee was used as second currency in Afghanistan.

However, lately Indians are also trying to prove that they are friends of Afghans but also using them against Pakistan, the way United States has used Afghans against Iran.
In this race some of the Central Asian countries have also joined, especially using Afghans living in Northern areas against Pakistan and Iran.

Therefore, establishing peace in Afghanistan will not be possible unless all these stakeholders join hands and also learn to differentiate between friends and foes.

Being a landlocked country Afghans has to come at terms with Pakistan rather than towing the Indian agenda of establishing its hegemony in the region. 

Thursday, 28 March 2013

 Pakistan: Fear of terrorism during polls

Many quarters are expressing fear of terrorist attacks during forthcoming general elections. Terrorist has already issued a threat to ex-president Pervez Musharraf who has come back to Pakistan. Earlier some of the Baloch leaders had warned of bloodshed and even killing of clan leaders. The ex-interior minister has been issuing such warnings but often failed in rounding up the perpetrators. 

It has been highlighted repeatedly that Pakistan does face threat from external forces but the real cause of concern is 'embedded enemies' that often occupy key positions.

There are politicians who act as viceroy of regional and global super powers. No one can deny presence and support to the perpetrators by the personnel of law enforcing agencies. And above all the perpetrators develop their hide outs in areas having ethnic concentration and use people as human shields.

The proof of involvement of external forces can be gauged from the delay in installation of caretaker set up. This reminds one of the posts placed on Facebook. "There is so much concern about the names who will be there for 90 days, who would also not be allowed to make some of the strategic decisions as those are prerogative of elected assemblies but there has been least concern about those who will participate in the general elections".

Some of the critics may say, "We don't read every statement posted on Facebook" but these are people who also can't read 'writing on the wall'. When the attention of these elements is drawn towards writing on the wall, most of them ask, where is the wall?

In fact these self proclaimed experts suffer from the worst myopia and can't see beyond their nose. As against this, many of the external elements that have interest in the region are adamant at exploiting Pakistan's positions.

One can say only with great regret that Pakistan's strategic location has become its biggest enemy. All those who wish to establish their hegemony in the region want the rulers to remain subservient.

Among all the countries United States has the largest interest and one of its proofs is the statement of US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson. Ambassador has said lately that his country has no desired outcome from the May 11 elections in Pakistan but stressed on the need for strengthening democracy in the friendly nation.

In a discussion on US-Pakistan relations at a Washington think-tank, Olson observed that there has been a strategic shift in Pakistan's policies towards India and Afghanistan.

The ambassador said both the United States and Pakistan recognized that in the past they had a relationship that tended to go in cycles, "from periods of excessive enthusiasm to periods of neglect". But both sides now wanted to avoid this and take the relationship to a more stable footing and on an even keel.

 However, responding to another question on the region's energy needs, the US ambassador said, "What we would like to see is for the energy supply to run through Afghanistan and through Pakistan to the Indian market."

In the same breath he reiterated that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is sanctionable under the Iran Act. "We've had a duty to warn our Pakistani friends that the pipeline that's under consideration is likely to be sanctionable under US law.

 Some of the cynics take this as a warning that if the rules go ahead with the pipeline. Pakistan could not only face economic sanctions but political turmoil, similar to the one faced by the Morsi government in Egypt.

Some even go to the extent that due to poor law and order election may be deferred up to three years, till Nato withdrawal is complete.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

US and Israel accused of cyber attack on Iran

I am pleased to post here a story published in eurasiareview. This is one of the proofs that United States and Israel were involved in cyber attack on Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant. The time has come to initiate investigations against these two countries for committing war crimes.

A group of 20 law and technology experts has unanimously agreed that the Stuxnet worm used against Iran in 2009-2010 was a cyber attack. The US and Israel have long been accused of collaborating on the virus in a bid to damage Iran’s nuclear program.

While those accusations against Washington and Tel Aviv have never been confirmed by either government, a NATO Commission has now confirmed it as an “act of force.”

Last year anonymous government officials came forward to tell The New York Times that researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory, which is overseen by the US Department of Energy, passed technical information to Israel regarding vulnerabilities in cascades and centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

That information, it is believed, was used to design the Stuxnet worm that set Iran’s nuclear program back an estimated two years.

“Acts that kill or injure persons or destroy or damage objects are unambiguously uses of force,” according to the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, which lead author Michael N. Schmitt said was written to outline “how does existing law apply to cyberspace.”

Schmitt told The Washington Times that “according to the UN charter, the use of force is prohibited, except in self-defense.” Under the guidelines detailed in the Manual, the concept of self-defense could include “anticipatory self-defense,” which would allow a nation an act of aggression in the event that it perceives a threat as imminent.

The 20 experts were drawn from around the world and took three years to complete the 300-page manuscript, which they were careful to note was not an official policy decision by NATO.

They disagreed over whether the Stuxnet attack qualified as an “armed attack,” which would constitute the beginning of wartime aggression that, under the Geneva Convention, could be followed by the use of force.
“We wrote it as an aid to legal advisers to governments and militaries, almost a textbook,” Schmitt told The New York Times. “We wanted to create a product that would be useful to states to help them decide what their position is. We were not making recommendations, we did not define best practice, we did not want to get into policy.”

US officials have continued to deny American involvement in the attack, but the timing specified by the anonymous sources coincides with an order from President Bush authorizing an increased information exchange with Israel over Iranian nuclear facilities.

During a 2009 conversation with The New York Times, an American official said any secret action against Iran would classify officially as “science experiments.”

Saturday, 23 March 2013

US must accept its defeat in Syria

Some of the readers may find this particular blog a little different from those I have posted since June last year, around (80) eighty so far. As you can gather from my profile and other posts available on Google I am an economic analyst, who mostly covers Pakistan’s economy. This pushed me first to political economy then to geopolitics in the region and now to most horrendous imperialism of super powers.

The bottom line is that super powers create their hegemony by lodging and dislodging governments in countries which they consider important for enhancing their economic superiority, controlling energy and other mineral resources and above all creating conflicts so that their armament factories can operate over time.

They have been abusing the word democracy the most, because most of their ‘obedient servants’ are dictators; even though some of them claim to be elected representatives. These rulers can be termed ‘viceroys’ of the colonial era because of being subservient to external powers rather than looking after the interest of their own people.

Going through previous blogs one can also understand my point of view that United States has been fighting a proxy war in Syria. Rebels are improvised type of CIA agents and touts getting funds and arms from the United States. This fact also becomes evident when one reads US newspapers and listens to television networks.

The ongoing suggestions from elected US representatives, who own or have substantial stake in energy trade and armaments manufacturing, are the worst warmongers. They have sold the largest quantity of arms to Saudi Arabia and many other countries which even don’t have regular army or any face threat from any country.

Warmongers have completely brainwashed Saudis who now consider Iran a bigger threat as compared to Israel. The situation has not changed a bit from signing of Camp David agreement, which led to assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. However, some fears aroused when it was proved that Israeli army is no more invincible. That brought the change in US foreign policy and various uprisings were initiated in Arabian Peninsula, Middle East and North Africa, all aimed at installing new viceroys. 

Some of these may have yielded favorable results for the United States but many led to anti-US groups becoming the rulers. This led to second wave of toppling and installing in which Syria remains the biggest thorn, not because of its military might but because it is believed to be the first defence wall of Iran. In other words for demolish Iran, fragmentation of Syria is a must as all the attempts to create any uprising in Iran have failed.

And finally the cat has come out of the bag with the initiation of discussion regarding direct US air assault on Syria, this time once again the reason is ‘possible use of chemical weapons’. One can still recall that the prime reason for attack on Iraq was also ‘presence of weapons of mass destruction and allegations of use of chemicals weapons by Saddam Hussan, both of these allegation proved hoax calls.

Billions of dollars of tax payers have been used in these aimless wars and if one also adds Afghan, the amount runs into trillions of dollars. Despite spending this enormous amount, killing of hundreds and thousands of innocent men, women and children, sabotages are taking place everywhere in the world.

I am also concerned because of the hostilities growing in Pakistan’s neighborhood. Iran has been enduring economic sanction for more than three decades, war is being fought in Afghanistan for more than four decades and Pakistan and India are living in a constant state of war since independence.

Over the years India and Pakistan have spent trillions of dollars on accumulation of conventional, non-conventional arms and even atomic capabilities. It is true they can wipe out each other in seconds but what will they achieve? May be a huge piece of baron land and millions of crippled people but this is not the way of life. They should join hands and work for the prosperity of their people and if India has to grant independent status to Kashmir, it is worth doing as compared to accumulating arms.

Now I address my readers from United States directly and ask a question. Your country is the oldest democracy of the world. I strongly believe that you spend a lot on welfare of humanity and my mentor is Bill Gates. Have you ever asked your elected representatives why they are spending tax payers’ money on war rather than spending it on the welfare of US citizens?

Aren’t there any poor in the US? Is every US citizen one as rich as Cheney, Bush, Obama and other legislative members who are suggesting direct attack on Syria, because it is a threat for the US and the world?

Remember, no one is threat for the world except the war mongers. Please act before the world plunges into the third world war.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Celebrating Pakistan Day

Like every year the citizens are celebrating ‘Pakistan Day’ with great fervor. Politicians have issued loaded statements and tried to convince that the country is at crossroad and facing a bleak outlook.

In the alternate media all sorts of comments have already started appearing and regular media will print and broadcast all sorts of message today, which are customary.

However, the nation has a right to ask all, including themselves, are we behaving in the manner any patriotic citizen should behave?

The reply is simple but harsh; no one is behaving like a true patriotic Pakistani. At the best all of us are busy in achieving our selfish motives. The nation has reduced to highly fragmented groups and the sole motive remains how to maximize the wealth.

Majority of people belonging to lower strata is still patriotic but the higher one goes in the hierarchy, he/she becomes self centered and the only objective becomes, maximizing wealth, no matter how.

With due respect political leaders have failed in developing consensus on the name of caretaker prime minister, is it is not the height of apathy or self centeredness?

They have not been able to find a person who could assure that he/she would protect their interest in the best possible manner. If PML-N is never tired of saying PPP leadership is the most corrupt, it has supported this regime for five years only to remain in power in a province, which has 65% of total population of Pakistan.

In 1940 on this day Muslims of the subcontinent agreed to create a country where their rights would be protected, as they feared Hindus being in majority would exploit them.

Now most of the elites and even citizens are busy in looting and killing their own fellow citizens. This prompts a question, are the perpetrators Pakistanis? Unfortunately, the reply is no, else they should not be indulging in such activities.

Though, one hates to say it seems that agents of yesteryear East India Company have become active once again and are buying the soul and spirits of those who are ‘saleable commodities’.

This is not new such stories can be found in the history around the globe that foreign invaders have been doing this and they are once again active in Pakistan.

Many be the new generation does not have the slightest idea of what sort of sacrifices their forefathers had given in achieving independence from the British Raj.

Even after independence they have been giving scarifies but rulers have been accumulating wealth and transferring into foreign accounts.

It is often said that Pakistan’s accumulated debt exceeds US$50 billion but very few people may know that amounts kept in foreign banks is even ten times of this amount. If all this looted money is brought back into Pakistan it will be enough to give free education, medical care, building roads and bridges, power plants and dams and even the citizens will not have to pay any tax for rest of the lives.

This sounds like a fairy tale but it is the harsh reality on which every Pakistani has strong belief.

However, pulling out this money from foreign banks poses the real problem. At no stage these countries will be willing to give this money to Pakistan because, ultimately they will confiscate it. They have done this with many rulers, underworld kings and their own touts.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Pakistan: Installing an Interim Setup

One completely fails to understand why is installing a caretaker taking extraordinarily long time? A caretaker government is put in place to oversee fair, free and transparent general elections in the country. There is a growing perception ‘Too many hands are spoiling the curry’.

One wonders why no consensus can be developed on a person in a country that has a population of nearly 200 million people? It seems completely frustrating that those made responsible for finalizing the name of caretaker prime minister could not agree on one name.

Isn't a single trust worthy person in the country or an alien will come and occupy the PM House and rule the country during this interim period?

To be honest there are millions of good people in Pakistan who have the capacity and courage to run this country, which is often termed a failed state, even better than those who claim to be the whiz kids.

Though, I hate to say this but just can’t resist without saying this, “They are unable to agree on a name, which has the qualities of being ‘the most obedient servant'.

Ironically, they have pressure from inside as well as outside, which is an undeniable reality. Though, many may not accept but the name has to be acceptable to political leaders, establishment, National Security Council and the list may continue.

Added to this is the pressure from United States which also wants a man of confidence, simply because withdrawal of US-led Nato forces has started from Afghanistan and soldiers and hardware has to pass through Pakistan.

Selection of an interim government would have been much easier had there been no groups having vested interests. The situation becomes real difficult because Uncle Sam has to play the most decisive role.

Some of the fanatic Pakistanis may ask, what could be the potential role of the sole surviving super power in the politics of a third world country suffering from too many contentious problems?

However, only those who have seen planes of President Zia ul Haq and Air Chief Musif Ali Meer blowing up can see the gravity of the situation and repercussion of any decision that offends imperialists and warmongers.

Pakistan is not alone, such accidents have also been taking place in other countries, just to remind killing of Indra Ghandhi and her sons in India, Shaikh Mujeeb in Bangladesh, Qaddafi in Libya, Mrs. Aquino in Philippines and Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan and the list can continues.

It is also difficult to refute that 'change of regime movements' in many countries of Middle East, North Africa and other regions are also funded by the external elements.

The much talked about 'rebels' are provided funds, arms and media coverage by the 'embedded journalists'. The point to be remembered is that those nations which were strong i.e. Vietnam survived even the worst assaults because of their unity.

Pakistan's enemies have already fragmented the nation into ethnic and sectarian groups. The killers are killing people belonging to different groups, only to show that Pakistan is plunging deep into anarchy.

Though, those having vested interests are also playing the same mantra, general public can still identify the perpetrators. The only regret is that law enforcing agencies often fail in arresting the perpetrators and even if a few are rounded up, most of the accused are acquitted due to lack of evidence.

General public often feel that politicians have common objectives, top most being coming into power. In case they fail to get enough votes, they level rigging charges.

Citizens often complain that 'undesirable' candidates are elected. However, they tend to forget that on Election Day either they go for picnic or prefer to stay at homes, but just don’t bother to cast their votes.

The result is obvious, parties that can pull out voters from their home, offer them food and transport often succeed in filling the ballot boxes.

Unless the educated elites that prefer to keep quiet and take no part in demonstrations and sits in, convince tehmselves to exercise their power, the business will continue as usual. 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Pak-US Relationships: Shifting Paradigm

With the caretaker setup being installed, there is an urgent need to revisit Pakistan-US relationships. Analysis of the prevailing situation has becomes all the more important as critics seem to be divided into two distinct but opposite groups, one saying United States need Pakistan's support and second trying to prove that Pakistan needs US support to overcome internal and external threats facing the country.

However, both the groups strongly believe that musty relationship could prove detrimental for both the countries. After the commencement of withdrawal of US-led Nato troops and other hardware from Afghanistan, there is need for safe passage and speedy and cost effective movement.

No one can deny the fact that Pakistan offers the most cost effective route. Therefore, it is suggested that United States must avoid any encounter with the groups that consider it 'Occupier of Afghanistan'. However, the main concern remains fusty relationship between the US and Karzai administrations.

In such a prevailing scenario there are growing fears that some of the Afghan warlords may intensify their attacks on Nato troops and even on Afghan forces. One of the positive points is that both the US and Pakistan governments are trying to improve relationship by removing the irritants.

However, commencement of work on Pakistani portion of Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline has been taken by the US administration an act that makes Pakistan liable for imposition of economic sanctions. Most of the experts are of the consensus that since Pakistan needs to overcome its energy crisis US administration must not oppose this project.

The pipeline offers a reliable and cost effective solution for Pakistan’s looming energy crisis that is adversely affecting its economy and GDP growth rate. Experts are also of the consensus that an economically strong Pakistan can help in maintaining peace and also ushering economic activities in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of Nato forces.

Any adverse decision can intensify anti-US sentiments and imposition of economic sanctions on Pakistan could lead to poor law and order situation that may delay general elections in the country. Any unrest in Pakistan can also cause disruption in the movement of Nato troops and hardware through Pakistan.

Over the years Pakistan has been able to weed out militants and contain their movement across the border and any lapse could prove fatal for the three stakeholders: Nato, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Unfortunately, support of the rebel groups in Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and Syria has proved beyond any doubt that United States has been supplying funds and arms to the groups. Now it is also being said in Pakistan that United States is supporting those militant groups that are busy is creating ethnic divide and sectarian killing.

In fact there is complete consensus that those undertaking sabotage activities and killing people are funded by the external elements and often fingers are pointed at United States, India and Israel.

Some of the quarters have been demanding that United States should provide extra funds to Pakistan for purchasing arsenal to secure its common borders with Afghanistan and India.

As against this, there is a growing realization that improving relationship among Pakistan, Afghanistan and India is more important than accumulating arms. Living constantly under state of war and spending billions of dollars has yielded no result. The time has come to develop better understandings among these countries to ensure more spending on the welfare of people.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Iran Pakistan gas pipeline: Another point of view

I am pleased to place this article published in eurasiareview Its title is Iran Viewpoint: Washington Angry over Tehran-Islamabad Gas Pipeline Agreement. It has been originally printed in Iran Review, a Tehran-based site that claims to be independent, non-governmental and non-partisan and representing scientific and professional approaches towards Iran’s political, economic, social, religious, and cultural affairs, its foreign policy, and regional and international issues within the framework of analysis and articles.

The final phase of the Iran – Pakistan gas pipeline project, which is to be built on the Pakistani soil, was launched in a ceremony attended by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, on Monday, March 11, 2013. The first section of the pipeline, which runs over 900 kilometers from Iran’s Assaluyeh region to the city of Iranshahr in Sistan and Baluchestan Province had been inaugurated about one and a half years ago. Construction of the second section of the pipeline with the total length of 120 km, which runs from the southeastern Iranian city of Iranshahr to Pakistani border, started last year. The last tranche of the pipeline on the Pakistani soil is expected to be finished in the next two years.

This project is of high significance to both countries. Construction of a pipeline for the export of Iran’s natural gas to its eastern neighbor is of special importance to Islamabad because Pakistan is facing serious energy crunch. The problem was even worse during this winter when some Pakistani cities experienced power cuts which at times lasted up to 18-20 hours a day. In addition, many Pakistani plants, especially those related to the country’s textile industry, had to shut down their operations as a result of sever energy shortage. When looked at from this viewpoint, it is clear that the gas pipeline from Iran will be able to guarantee long-term and secure energy flow to Pakistan.

On the other hand, in view of special conditions of Iran and the sanctions which have been imposed against the Islamic Republic during the last year, the country has been facing difficulties for selling its energy resources. As a result, this pipeline will help Tehran to go around sanctions and will be of serious help to Iran under the existing economic conditions.

In addition to long-term economic benefits which Iran is bent on achieving through presence in global energy markets, the pipeline is of high importance to Iran from a political viewpoint as well. The West, especially the United States, has been putting pressure on many countries to dissuade them from concluding oil and gas contracts with Iran. They had also put tremendous pressures on the governments of India and Pakistan to make them abandon the energy deal with Iran.

It was due to the high importance of the project that Iran was even ready to give concessions to Pakistan to go on with the construction of the gas pipeline. As a result, the Islamic Republic accepted to grant 500 million US dollars as credit in loan to Islamabad to be spent on the construction of pipeline by Pakistan. Before that, the two countries had differences over this issue, which were resolved through the final agreement.

Due to the above facts, the pipeline project can get the two neighboring countries engaged in a very important project which will not only serve the interests of both countries, but will also have an obviously positive impact on bilateral relations between Tehran and Islamabad.

Despite all the above facts, the pipeline had been originally designated as the “Peace Pipeline” because it was supposed to be built through cooperation among Iran, Pakistan and India. However, despite extensive plans and a whole decade of negotiations, the project was finally aborted. So, why the project is currently being implemented in the absence of India?

In reality, India initially agreed to the project, but it finally abandoned it for two major reasons. The first reason was that the Indian officials did not want the pipeline to cross through Pakistan soil. The Indian officials were concerned that in case of possible future tension in relations between Islamabad and New Delhi, Pakistan may use the pipeline as a means of putting pressure on India by cutting off the gas flow.

Therefore, India proposed that the pipeline should be built under the sea. Indian officials noted that the pipeline may run on the ground up to the Iranian border with Pakistan in Gwadar region of Iran’s Chabahar city. Thenceforth, the pipeline was supposed to go under the sea and continue toward the Indian city of Mumbai. Implementing the project in that way would have been both too costly, and needed cutting-edge technology which was not available even to India and could be only provided by a few European countries and the United States.

The second reason which dissuaded India from taking part in the project was that New Delhi would have to pay a transit fee of about 350 million dollars per year to Pakistan for the transit of gas while India was by no means willing to boost the economic strength of its rival neighbor. Therefore, India was very hesitant about taking part in the project due to the aforesaid reasons.

Of course, the United States’ opposition and Washington’s pressure on New Delhi to abandon the project also influenced India’s decision. Although this does not mean that India’s decision has been totally influenced by the US pressure, in reality, the contract signed between the United States and India according to which Washington is supposed to build 13 nuclear power plants for India had greatly increased India’s doubt about being part of the Peace Pipeline project.

The Indian officials reached the conclusion – on the basis of a loss and benefit estimate – to give priority to their national interests and go on with the agreement they had already signed with the United States at the cost of withdrawing from the Peace Pipeline project. This, however, does not mean that the issue of the Peace Pipeline has been forgotten for good and ever in India. The Indians look at it as an open case which may be followed up in the future in order to forge a deal with Iran over its natural gas resources. At any rate, it should not be forgotten that as a result of very rapid economic development in India, the country’s demand for energy is very high and that demand is sure to skyrocket in the future.

Therefore, I believe that the Indians will first take that concession from the United States and then they will enter into a deal with Iran on the basis of their national interests. In doing so, they will conclude the pipeline contract with Iran in order to extend the Iran – Pakistan pipeline up to India and take advantage of Iran’s natural gas resources.

Of high importance in this regard is the close rivalry between India and China. It is noteworthy that China has made hefty investment in Gwadar region. Therefore, in case of a good opportunity and if a suitable price is offered for gas and the project’s cost seems feasible, China might be willing for the pipeline to further travel to Tibet by crossing Karakoram Mountains.

This will be a problem for India in the long run as its rival will be able to take advantage of the pipeline. This is especially true as China’s need to energy continues to soar in coming years. Therefore, India is sure to strike a deal with Iran in the long run over the latter country’s gas resources. In the short term, however, India will stay away from the project as long as the United States has not built the aforesaid nuclear power plants for India.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

US can’t afford to antagonize Pakistan

Over the years Pakistan has been fighting proxy US war in Afghanistan, not because of any love for Afghans or even to please the super power. It has been dragged into it and one could sum up the negotiations in before US assault on Afghanistan in one sentence ‘either you are with us or with our enemies’. At that time Pakistan had no option but to bow down as India was ready to join the US crusade. By that time Pakistan was also facing enduring economic sanctions for undertaking ‘nuclear test in 1998 and the probability was that refusal to join the war may also lead to air strikes on Pakistan’s sensitive installations.

On this Monday, Iranian Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari jointly inaugurated the work on the of 780-km Pakistani segment of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline in the Iranian port city of Chahbahar. The point to be noted is that in this city India is constructing a sea port which is also being linked with Central Asia via Afghanistan on which the United States has never raised any objection. In fact it may be said that India is doing this under the instructions of United States which wants an alternative route, other than through Pakistan.

As I have said earlier United States is once again following .carrot and stock policy’. Victoria Nuland of the US State Department on one hand warns Islamabad that its cooperation with Tehran falls under the Iran Sanctions Act, which means that Pakistan may face a ban on its transactions through American banks and that U.S. military and other aid to Pakistan may be curtailed. She also plays the mantra that the US administration is willing to offer other alternatives, but little has been done to date.

Pakistan is rightly demanding its treatment at par with India, if it has to quite Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, this could be done on only one condition supply of nuclear technology for civilian use. The US has offered this to India in exchange for deserting the gas pipeline project.

This morning I got another inspiration after reading an article in eurasiareview quoting Russian analyst Maxim Minayev of the Civic Society Development Foundation on the matter. He said “I don’t think that Washington will cut its military aid to Islamabad as long as the Afghan campaign continues. The aid is meant to strengthen Pakistan’s defense capacity, particularly against radical Islamist groups. Speaking about Pakistani-US relations, one should bear in mind the potential of those who oversee them in the White House, namely US Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joseph Biden. I think that such players will manage to create additional opportunities for the White House in terms of minimizing the impact of the Pakistani-Iranian pipeline project”.

In his view impositions of sanctions may have the opposite effect. If Washington curtails political and military cooperation with Islamabad, the latter will move to expand ties with China. That’s not what the White House wants. There will be a general elections in Pakistan in May with the ruling Pakistan People’s Party facing a tough challenge from the Muslim League-Nawaz led by ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Both the parties are campaigning on the promises to ease the country’s energy crisis that has reduced its GDP growth rate to around 2.5%. Therefore, any party that wins majority or form coalition government, its first priority will be to resolve looming energy crisis.

In fact President Asif Ali Zardari has won hearts of Pakistanis once again by transferring control of Gwadar port to China and commencing work on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Any effort by the United States to create hurdle in smooth working of these two projects could raise two popular demands: 1) Pakistan should immediately pull itself out of US proxy war and 2) stopping movement of Nato supplies through Pakistan with immediate effect. I hope the US government just can’t afford either one.

I also tend to agree with Russian Orientalist Sergei Druzhilovsky. He believes that the project will go ahead, no matter who wins the election. All the more so that Iran has already built its 900-km segment of the pipeline and hopes to extend it into India. For Pakistan, gas transit means handsome profits. The latter circumstance must have outweighed the alternatives proposed by Saudi Arabia and the United States. Last May, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar made clear Islamabad would not yield to pressure over the pipeline.

Pakistan needs gas to keep its thermal power plants running and industries operating at optimum capacity utilization. Last but not the least Pakistan has a right to demand that the United States should first impose economic sanctions on India for buying oil from Iran, constructing Chahbahar seaport and rail and road network in Iran.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Pakistan makes two bold decisions

Lately, Pakistan has made two very bold but strategic decisions, which will never be liked by regional and global super powers. These are: 1) transferring management of Gwadar port located in Balochistan to China and 2) ground breaking and initiating work on Pakistani side of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.

This ceremony was jointly performed by Pakistani and Iranian presidents. Both presidents were accompanied at the ground-breaking by delegations comprising ministers, top officials as well as representatives of several Arab states.

While Pakistanis have appreciated both the decisions, certain quarters within and outside Pakistan are extremely announced. In fact the opponents just don't want the two neighbors to enjoy amicable and mutually beneficial relationship.

Among the opponents United States is at the top and many of the countries from Arabian Peninsula are also playing the US mantra. Some of them even term ‘Iran a bigger threat as compared to Israel’. These countries are extending full support to the United States to crush Iran by imposing sanctions and continuing ban on export of its oil. Iran is among the top three largest oil producing countries.

One can understand hue and cry of India on the transfer of management control of Gwadar port to China. The reason is simple; India has invested billions of dollars on the construction of Chabahar port, rail and road links up to Central Asia via Afghanistan.

If Gwadar port becomes fully operational importance of Chabahar port would be undermined to a large extent. However, this was known to India when it initiated the project. However, developing an alternate route up to Central Asia via Afghanistan was considered a must and India was fully supported by the United States in this endeavor, at no stage India was even warned of possible sanctions.

Withdrawal of Nato combat soldiers, armaments and other sensitive equipment has started through Pakistan, which is not liked by India because no traffic is being diverted to Chabahar port.

In such a scenario involvement of Indian intelligence agencies in any sabotage activities in Pakistan can't be ruled out. Repeatedly, it has been established that the perpetrators are neither Taliban nor the members of any other militant outfits.

Those who attacked Peshawar airbase were certainly not Taliban and so were those who attacked Mehran Naval base in Karachi. Similarly, burning of houses of Christians was also an act of those who want the international community to show that minorities are not safe in Pakistan.

It is on record that parts of many Muslim countries have been axed to create countries for minorities. These groups are already busy in creating disturbances in Bangladesh.

Pakistan's enemies know well that its economic activities can only be brought to grinding halt by creating unrest and disrupting economic activities.

Completion of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and construction of mega oil refinery at Gwadar will establish Pakistan as energy corridor.

China certainly has economic interest because using Gwadar port will reduced the distance to less than 2000km from existing around 6,000km. This will not only help in saving billions of dollars freight but also ensure security of the products being carried.

Many of the countries, including United States and India don't approve this arrangement. Pakistan will not only get access to energy supplies but will also be able to earn millions of dollars as transit fee.

On top of that Pakistan will also be able to offer efficient and cost effective transit facilities to Afghanistan, which will undermine importance of India.

Over the years and during the war on terror Pakistan has been meeting energy requirement of Nato forces. As such Afghanistan has no oil refinery and it is likely to remain dependent on Pakistan for many years to come.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

 Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline ground breaking

Arrangements have been made for the ceremony that would mark the start of work on Pakistani portion of Iranian-Pakistani gas pipeline. This is over 780 kilometer long and ran into snags due to pressure from the United States and difficulties in mobilizing funds. This portion of pipeline is estimated to cost US$1.5 billion and Iran has promised to provide one-third or US$500 million. The portion of pipeline on the Iranian side has almost been completed.

Pakistani leadership is showing determination and made it clear that it would complete the venture. The country seems to be enjoying support from China and Russia on this issue as since last two years Pak-Russia relations have entered in new phase and China is Pakistan’s old dearest friend. Lately, President Zardari has said Pakistan is a sovereign country and has the right to pursue projects in national interest and does not intend to offend anyone

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will jointly inaugurate the pipeline construction work today (Monday). The ceremony will be held in the Iranian coastal city of Chabahar. Both the presidents will also sign an accord for 400,000 barrel per day capacity oil refinery to be established at Gwadar. Some of heads of states and other dignitaries also expected to attend the ceremony.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan has said,"We are not in a fix, we are very clear about it that the pipeline is in our national interest being an energy deficient country," Khan said, while hoping that the US would show "more understanding" on Pakistan's decision to go ahead with the pipeline. "Yes, we know about their concerns but hope our friends, including the US, will understand our economic compulsions," said Khan.

Brushing aside concerns and pressures of the United States, the spokesman said the whole world should realize that the project was being commissioned purely to meet economic needs of the country and was being executed by two sovereign states.

“The government is initialing this important project in view of the energy requirements. The project will bring economic prosperity, provide better opportunities to the people and help defeat militancy,” he said.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Iranian clergymen protest
against massacres of Shias in Pakistan

On Saturday, a large number of Iranian clerics and seminary teachers and students staged a demonstration in Tehran to condemn the recent bloody massacres of Shias in Pakistan.

Violence against Shia Muslims has escalated in various parts of Pakistan over the past few months. Since the beginning of 2012, hundreds of Shias have been killed in the country.

In the latest terrorist bombing targeting Shias, a suicide bomber attacked Shia Muslims as they were leaving a mosque in the Pakistani city of Karachi on March 3, killing at least 45 people.

The Iranian clerics called on the relevant international organizations to take the measures necessary to end violence against Shia Muslims in Pakistan. 

The demonstrators chanted slogans “Rise up Muslims; Pakistan is in flames,” “Any Muslim’s silence is betrayal of the Quran,” “Down with Israel,” and “Down with the United States.”   

 State Inspectorate Organization Director Mostafa Pourmohammadi delivered a speech at the demonstration in which he said, “Today, in Pakistan and other countries, women and children who are mourning and saying prayers are attacked.

Bombing attacks occur in Iraq and war rages in Syria… They also attack us, carry out assassination, and make threats to force us to back down and stop… (But) today, thanks to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Islam is going up the ladder of growth and progress, and the situation is in our favor.” 

Remember killers has no religion

Pakistanis strongly believe that the ‘imported militants’ who claim to be the true Muslims are the worst enemies of Muslims and the agents of enemies of Islam. They are adamant at killing people to plunge the country into anarchy and ultimately into the civil war. Their sole objective is to kill people.

Over the years they have been killing Shias and Sunnis to create an impression of sectarian rift, which no Pakistani is willing to accept. They have also tried linguistic divide. They collect booty and indulge in kidnapping for ransom only to collect money to buy arms. They also get funds and arms from outside.
This evening I had gone to a family friend’s house for the condolence of his grandfather. 

When I reached home two news reports virtually shattered my nerves, first a blast at a mosque in Peshawar and second burning of houses of Christians in Lahore. News reporters may give these killings and burnings any angle but it is brutal and media must say in loud and clear words that killers are not Muslims and must be punished.
According to initial report in the explosion inside a mosque in Peshawar at least five people have been killed and 29 others injured. The blast took place inside the mosque and the device was planted near the front row of the congregation and people were getting ready to pray when the blast occurred.

Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, has been the site of several terrorist attacks in recent months. The city is surrounded by tribal regions where Al Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban militants are said to have hideouts.

In another incident an enraged mob torched dozens of houses located in a Christian-dominated neighborhood of Lahore. Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families have fled the area.
The mob attacked the houses in Lahore, Punjab’s capital following allegations of blasphemy against a Christian man. It appeared that the man had been falsely accused of blasphemy but the police was forced to register a case to placate the mob, a local police official said.

Speaking to a private television channel, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the accused was in police custody. Sanaullah said all those involved in the arson would be arrested, adding that his government would try to rehabilitate the affected Christian families.

Rana Sanaullah is not alone, president, prime minister, chief ministers, governors and even political leaders issue such stereo type statements, and no culprit is arrested or punished. All are acquitted by honorable courts because of lack of evidence.