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Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Corruption Scandal: PPP Minister buys £4.3m flat in London

A top federal minister of the cabinet of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was quite recently the target of frequent lethal attacks in the National Assembly.
(NA) in its last session on account of his alleged wheeling and dealing, is said to have purchased a multi million pound six bedroom luxury flat in the heart of London.
Many Pakistani politicians do own flats in the Central London, including Rehman Malik and others. Now, this PPP minister is the last, not the least, addition to the list of a privileged class of politicians who own house or flat in London. Nawaz Sharif too owns a residential building at the Park Lane, facing the Hyde Park.
The huge house located adjacent to the Marble Arch area of London, has been purchased at a total cost of £4.3 million and the money was said to be transferred through a money exchange dealer based in F-10 Markaz. The money dealer whose name starts with “I” is said to have sent this huge money through illegal channels. The minister is said to have paid cash to buy this property instead of seeking any mortgage from some local bank, as it is usually done in Great Britain. Sources said that no mortgage was sought and the amount was paid in cash only to hide the identity of the minister who was buying the flat.
The political sources in London claimed that the money was sent in instalments through Hundi business, therefore the transfer of this money was not traced by the concerned agencies. The sources claimed that the minister could also face the serious charges of “money laundering” as he had sent the money in huge amounts through illegal channels instead of using the normal banking channels.
The sources said the minister, who is a member of PPP Central Executive Committee, had been visiting London quite frequently when Benazir Bhutto used to summon the meetings of his party men in 2007. The minister who used to live with some of the party people in London at their flats, was searching for a small flat since 2007 but his limited financial resources did not allow him to buy a flat there. The minister had also visited many places of London to find out a flat along with his political friends. The sources said the minister was always interested in buying a flat in London and he always talked with his friends how to buy a flat. His lifetime desire was fulfilled when he became a minister in the PPP government and he started minting money.
He was the only minister in the PPP government, whose stories of corruption had started making rounds in Islamabad. He even came under fire in the national media and the NA, but he always denied these reports and even vowed on Quran to establish his innocence. But, no one believed in his vows, which are very common in Pakistan to deceive the gullible general public.
The minister, who belongs to the suburbs of Islamabad, was so infamous in taking bribe and commissions in the deals that at one stage his name was at the top of those ministers who were set to be replaced and given some other insignificant ministry. However, Prime Minister Gilani, despite several vows to change this minister, never found a chance to reshuffle his cabinet. Rauf Klasra.

Ishrat Jahan was killed in fake encounter in Gujarat"

In yet another major setback to the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat, Ahmedabad metropolitan magistrate S.P. Tamang, has ruled that the incident in which Ishrat Jahan and three others were killed in June, 2004, was yet another case of "fake encounter."

In his 243-page hand written report on the encounter, Mr. Tamang has named the then "encounter specialist" of the Gujarat police, D.G. Vanzara, and others as accused in the "cold blooded murder" of the teenaged girl and three others.

Mr. Vanzara and several other policemen are already in jail in connection with the Sohrabuddin case which the State government confessed before the Supreme Court was a case of "fake encounter."

A special three-member team of top police officers of the State appointed by the Gujarat High Court for a fresh investigation into the Ishrat Jahan encounter is seized of the matter.

Claiming that Ishrat and three others were killed in fake encounter by the police officers for their personal interests, get promotions and gain appreciations from the Chief Minister, Mr Tamang appended a list of top police officers running into about two pages who he held responsible for the fake encounter.

Besides Mr Vanzara and his then deputy in the Crime Branch police, N. K. Amin, who along with Mr Vanzara was also arrested in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, the list includes the then Ahmedabad police commissioner, K. R. Kaushik, the then chief of the Crime Branch, P. P. Pandey, another alleged encounter specialist Tarun Barot and a host of other senior police officers.

Mr Tamang’s report said the Crime Branch police "kidnapped" Ishrat and three others from Mumbai on June 12 and brought them to Ahmedabad. The four were killed on the night of June 14 in police custody, but the police claimed that an "encounter" took place on the morning of June 15 near Kotarpur water works on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

The rigor mortis that had set in clearly indicated that Ishrat died between 11 p.m. and 12 midnight the previous night and the police apparently pumped bullets into her body to substantiate the encounter theory.

It said the explosives, rifles, and other weapons allegedly found in their car were all “planted” by the police after the encounter.

The police had then claimed that Ishrat, a resident of Mumbra near Mumbai, and three others Javed Sheikh, a convert son of Gopinath Pillai of Kerala and two Pakistani citizens Amzad Ali Rana and Jishan Jauhar were connected with Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and were coming to Gujarat to assassinate Mr. Modi to avenge the 2002 communal riots.

Indian uranium diplomacy

Energy-starved India, armed with permission to buy atomic fuel from around the world after the end of a three-decade ban, is courting new partners alongside old friends in its global hunt for uranium.

The strategy, spelt out in a government paper published last week, will see New Delhi reach out to Mongolia, Namibia and Kazakhstan besides traditional allies like Russia in its search for the ore that is refined into nuclear fuel.

At present, India gets less than three percent of its energy from atomic power, but aims to more than double its current capacity to 10,000 megawatts by 2012.

Though India's own uranium deposits are estimated at 70,000-100,000 tonnes, ‘it is too little when considering the huge energy needs’ of a fast-developing country with a billion-plus people, S.K. Malhotra, a spokesman for the department of atomic energy, told AFP.

‘The quality of ore is also not very good, which is why we need to import.’

Attempts to find new domestic deposits and recover existing ones have also been slow due to red tape and opposition from environmental lobbies and other groups.

Evidence of New Delhi's ‘uranium diplomacy’ kicking into gear came last week when India hosted Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and signed a pact enabling uranium sales to India as well as investment in Namibian mining.

The southern African country is ranked among the top producers of uranium behind Canada, Kazakhstan and Australia, with output representing about 10 percent of the world's production.

Indian President Pratibha Patil also made a week-long visit to the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan and to long-term ally Russia -- a supplier of nuclear fuel that has also been involved in the construction of atomic power plants in India.

‘Tajikistan is looking for partners in uranium mining and India sees this as an opportunity,’ a senior government official told AFP.

India has already signed nuclear fuel import pacts with France and Russia.

The moves follow India clinching a landmark accord with the United States last year resulting in the removal of a 34-year-old embargo on sales of civilian atomic technology.

India also obtained a rare exemption from the 46-member Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) that controls global atomic commerce allowing it to buy nuclear fuel and power plants to boost its electricity production.

The NSG normally restricts such sales to countries that have signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which India has not, though major supplier Australia has said it will keep its export embargo in place.

‘Australia understands India's security needs and wants to be a partner with provision of coal and liquefied natural gas,’ said Australian Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard in India last week as she defended the ban.

But New Delhi reaped the first tangible benefits of the end of its pariah status last week with the restart of the 20-megawatt Rajasthan atomic power station using uranium concentrates from France.

The plant in western India is one of 17 operating reactors in the country but had been shut for about a year due to a critical shortage of fuel.

A foreign ministry official noted that Indian endeavours to close deals on uranium dovetailed with its policy to have a mix of energy sources including solar, hydro and nuclear power besides oil, gas and coal.

‘India's energy requirements are so huge we need to tap all sources. Just because we are looking for nuclear fuel does not mean we have abandoned the search for oil and gas assets. These strands run concurrently,’ he said.

But the hunt for resources is a challenge because strategic and economic rival China has repeatedly outbid India in Africa, Central Asia and Myanmar.

In Namibia, for example, India will face competition from Chinese, Russian and Western companies who are also interested in the country's rich deposits as governments around the world invest in nuclear power.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expects that at least 70 nuclear power stations will be built around the world in the next 15 years.

‘It's a challenge for Indian diplomacy to see that the civilian nuclear programme is kept on track,’ said former foreign secretary Shashank, who uses one name.

India-USA Strategic partnership

NRO: Jahanaam Naseeb Maan

Khareed o Farookht ka Bazar : An article by Orya Maqbool Jaan

Threat to NATO supplies and Baluchistan game plan

At least 15 oil tankers, trailers and containers caught fire in Chaman on Sunday night after a blast in a vehicle carrying supplies for Nato forces in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of vehicles have been stuck in the border town over the past two days because of suspension of traffic between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

According to sources, the powerful explosion took place in an old tanker parked near the Chaman bypass. The tanker caught fire which spread and engulfed other vehicles.

“Flames of the fire can be seen from miles. About 15 vehicles caught fire after the powerful explosion in a tanker,” official sources said, adding that efforts were under way to save other vehicles.

A police official said heavy gunfire was heard in the parking area before the blast.

Police sources said the explosion might have been caused by a bomb placed under the tanker carrying fuel.

Fire-tenders could not control the blaze till late in the night.

According to the police sources, an earlier attempt to blow up an oil tanker had been foiled by defusing a bomb.

Meanwhile, movement of goods between the two countries remained suspended with vehicles stranded on both sides of the border.

Negotiations between Pakistani border authorities and Afghan traders provided no result because Frontier Corps officials refused to allow trucks carrying fresh fruit and other goods into Pakistan without proper inspection.

Sources said the negotiations continued for two hours.

FC officials said that in view of the possible illegal movement of weapons, drugs and people they could not allow trucks into Pakistan without proper checks.

On April 4, authorities in Quetta had found 50 bodies and 60 unconscious Afghans crammed in a container.

Afghan traders said that trucks carrying fresh fruit should be exempted from checking.

The sources said that Afghan border officials had not contacted Pakistani officials in Chaman to discuss the issue.

Afghan officials, in the meanwhile, have stopped entry of all kinds of vehicles from Pakistan.

“Around 500 trucks and trailers loaded with Nato supplies are waiting in Chaman for the opening of the border,” the sources said.

Transit goods could not be loaded onto trucks at the Chaman railway station because of the border closure.

A large number of trucks are waiting for the opening of border on the Afghan side in Spin Buldak.

The Chaman Chamber of Commerce and Industry has expressed concern over the situation and called upon the Pakistani and Afghan officials to take urgent steps to resolve the issue.

Gunaahon Ki Nahin Jati Hai Aadat Ya Rasoolallah : Owais Raza Qadri

Qadyani in karachi

China’s military advantage over India

The difference between China’s official words and actual deeds could lead to another conflict with India similar to the one in 1962.

First, China does not like India’s emerging status as a global power. Second, it is paranoid that if India completes its planned military purchases in the next five years, conquering and humiliating it would remain a distant dream. Third, China wants to grab the town of Tawang, birthplace of the current Dalai Lama, on the Indian side of the Tibet border. This is a symbolic Chinese ploy to let the Tibetans know who their real masters are.

China began a massive military exercise in mid-August called “Stride 2009,” deploying 50,000 troops in areas far from their home bases for live-fire drills. According to analysts, the exercise shows China’s readiness to respond quickly to unrest in any part of the country. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of China’s infrastructure, which allows the quick deployment of troops hundreds of miles away. The program culminates on Oct. 1, China’s 60th anniversary.

China maintains 30-40 divisions of reserve forces in its central provinces. But Tibet and the Indian border are outside this area of quick deployment, linked by a single rail line built on permafrost. While the exercise sheds lights on China’s reserve force, it is not India-specific yet. Still India, lately busy on the Pakistan border, may need to alter its defense posture.

China’s former leader Deng Xiaoping put the border dispute with India on the back burner in 1978. But he made an agreement with India that both countries would maintain a standstill in the Himalayas and avoid military build-up.

The promise held until 1998, when China began improving its military infrastructure in the Himalayas and building multiple missile bases. But it did not increase its ground forces, which stood at 200,000 soldiers.

India also kept its bargain and did not add a single soldier to its 30,000 in the east and 20,000 in the west. India even held off building new roads and improving infrastructure in its border areas. In hindsight that was a mistake.

Recently, China’s building of an intercontinental missile base at Delingha, north of Tibet, has set alarm bells ringing. Most of Russia and India are within its missile range, and being far from Taiwan keeps it sheltered from the U.S. gaze.

In the past 30 years India has held 13 high-level talks with China on the demarcation of the border, the last one in July this year. Each proved fruitless. China wants the Tawang tract and will not talk about vacating the Akash Chin plateau in Kashmir.

To make its point it has begun building more roads, missile bases and airfields in addition to its existing military infrastructure. It is also encouraging Nepal to enter into a free trade treaty, giving the Chinese an excuse to add more roads and possibly a rail link to bring them closer to India.

Tibet has become more restive in the past ten years. Last year’s pre-Olympic riots blew the lid off China’s tight security when its 200,000 force had to be split between law and order and border guard duties. While China marginally increased the force during the riots, India augmented its force only slightly. Now its military strength in Tibet is insufficient to conquer India or the Tawang tract, although border skirmishes remain a possibility.

India has its own evaluation of the China threat. A decision to engage China through diplomatic channels between 2001 and 2005 produced no results, so India decided to go for a military build-up. Eight mountain divisions trained to fight in the Himalayas will be augmented by two more, and an additional 60,000 ground troops will be sent to the east closer to Tawang and to the state of Sikkim. Also, some 20,000 additional troops will be added to the current strength in the west in Ladakh.

Three airfields lying derelict in the east and three in the west have been activated. A major airbase only 200 miles from the Tibetan border will be upgraded to serve India’s premier Sukhoi fighter. This airfield is a major threat to China’s rail link. India has also initiated other road-building activities. One will connect Ladakh with the rest of India via Manali-Rohtang. Another will connect Itanagar, capital of Arunachal Pradesh state, with neighboring Assam.

These developments could effectively neutralize China’s current advantage. Besides, Indian troops are much more capable in jungle and mountain warfare than they were in 1962. India’s conflict with Kashmir in Kargil in 1999 has presumably shown China that Indians cannot be beaten on the ground as easily as they were in 1962.

China won the 1962 battle with India by indulging in classic Chinese warfare tactics – confusing the enemy with conciliatory signals. On the ground, India had incompetent generals leading a brave bunch of soldiers. Additionally, Chinese soldiers had an advantage with their Soviet copies of German-designed submachine guns called “burp guns.” The rapid-fire submachine guns overwhelmed the Indians, who were carrying World War II Lee Enfield rifles.

Things have now changed; India’s current assault rifle is comparable to China’s and India’s generals have learned the art of war.

India will receive new military hardware in the next five years. Its newly commissioned nuclear submarine will be fully operational by 2012 or 2013, and the Russian aircraft carrier on order is expected to join the Indian navy. Indian-made light combat aircraft and imported medium combat aircraft will be operational in squadron strength.

All this hardware, plus ultra-light artillery fit for action in the Himalayas, will soon become operational. By 2014 India will have twice its current firepower and ten times that of 1962.

So China is planning a new strategy that includes cruise-missile attacks on the Indian heartland and confrontation on the high seas. The biggest threats to India are missiles launched from Tibet and China’s naval armada in the Indian Ocean.

Chinese cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 miles launched from Tibet and intermediate-range ballistic missiles launched from Delingha are big threats. India’s industrial heartland and military bases lie within their range, and new guidance systems make the missiles highly accurate. There is no known defense against a massed attack by some 200 cruise missiles. India’s only hope is that they would miss their targets after traveling 600 miles over the Himalayas.

China is depending most on its naval armada in the Indian Ocean. It has a surveillance station off the Myanmar coast and a newly built naval port in Gawdar, Pakistan. Both are militarily significant. But India counters this advantage with its naval base at the western mouth of the Gulf of Malacca on Andaman Island.

If an overconfident China decided to test Indian resolve by creating an incident, India could retaliate by capturing China’s surveillance base off the Myanmar coast. This could escalate hostilities, but China would risk losing its oil supplies if it stepped up the conflict.

It is pointless for China to wage war with India. Instead, the two countries should engage in greater trade and business, which can bring more prosperity. An unsuccessful invasion of India would be a terrible loss for the Chinese.

Chinese incursion in Ladakh