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Thursday, 12 November 2009

Are China and India Slipping Into a Cold War?

You have to go to a tropical paradise to find the latest front in the brewing cold war between China and India.
On the southernmost tip of the Maldives lies the island of Gan, a tiny patch of coconut palms and powdery white beaches. It was here that Britain set up a secret naval base in 1941, building airstrips and vast fuel tanks to support its fleet in the Indian Ocean during the Second World War.
The RAF then used it as a Cold War outpost until 1976, when the British withdrew and the officers’ quarters were converted into a resort called Equator Village.
Now, 33 years later, India is preparing to reopen the base to station surveillance aircraft, helicopters, and possibly ships, to monitor Chinese vessels in the Indian Ocean. Under a deal signed in August, India is also installing radar across the Maldives, linked to its coastal command.
Both countries publicly deny that the move is aimed at Beijing, but privately admit that it is a direct response to China’s construction of a giant port at Hambantota in nearby Sri Lanka.
The plan is also being seen as the latest move in a low-level, but escalating struggle for economic and military supremacy between Asia’s two emerging giants. This week the flashpoint is their disputed Himalayan border, as China protests over the Dalai Lama’s visit to a northeastern Indian state that it claims. But they are also competing over naval control of the Indian Ocean, resources and markets in Africa, strategic footholds in Asia — and are even in a race for the Moon.
“It doesn’t have the same proportions as the Cold War,” said Alexander Neill, head of the Asia programme at the Royal United Services Institute, a research centre. “But there is potential for this to spiral out of control. Allies of both countries need to think carefully about the consequences of this rivalry.”
Relations were cordial for the first decade after India’s independence in 1947, and the founding of communist China in 1949. They quickly deteriorated, however, when the Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet in 1959 and was granted refuge in India. China then humiliated India in 1962 when its troops briefly occupied the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh and seized the region of Aksai Chin. Beijing also began to provide aid and weapons to Pakistan — India’s rival.
In the past decade, the frost had been thawing as bilateral trade expanded from $3 billion in 2000 to $51 billion last year — the two even began joint military exercises.
Yet this year, things have taken a sudden turn for the worse as China seeks to project its economic and military clout, and a more assertive India tries to respond. Militarily, India frets over China’s recent efforts to improve infrastructure around its frontiers and force a compromise on the disputed border. It also worries about China’s plans to develop a “blue water” navy capable of protecting trade routes through distant waters, including the Indian Ocean.
India feels particularly threatened by China’s “string of pearls” strategy, building ports in Burma, Sri Lanka and Pakistan that could be used by its navy. Beijing is concerned that a nuclear deal finalised last year between India and the US, was designed as a counterbalance to China. The deal not only lifted a ban on India buying US nuclear supplies, it also opened the door for India to take part in joint military exercises and buy billions of dollars of US weaponry.
“Since 1962, I think Chinese strategists have basically decided that they can deal with India on their own terms,” said Evan Feigenbaum of the Council on Foreign Relations, an American research centre. “But when you introduce the United States into that equation, it introduces all kinds of uncertainties. I think we’re in for a period of India-China tension.”
Economically, the competition is most intense in Africa, where India and China are vying for resources and markets in a rerun of the “Scramble for Africa” by colonial powers.
China began courting African nations a decade ago, offering investment and trade in exchange for soft loans and development aid with no political conditions attached. But India is catching up fast, pledging $5 billion in credit and hundreds of millions of dollars in financial help at an inaugural India-Africa summit last year. At stake is not just access to industrial raw materials, but support for India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, which China opposes. India is also trying to make up lost ground in South, South-East and Central Asia.
China has been trying to negotiate a friendship treaty with Nepal to replace the one that has tied the country to India since 1950. Beijing’s growing clout in Bangladesh was highlighted last week when armed police closed a photo exhibition organised by Tibetan activists. India has poured $1 billion in aid into Afghanistan, while a Chinese company has invested $3 billion in a giant copper mine in the country. Technologically, the contest is playing out in a 21st-century Asian version of the Cold War space race. India launched its first unmanned lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, last year and plans to land a man on the Moon by 2020. China sent its first taikonaut into space in 2003, and plans its first manned lunar mission by 2024.
Yet the most fundamental source of rivalry is also the most abstract: the relative merits of Indian-style democracy and Chinese-style autocracy. Although neither promotes its political system, they are seen as rival models for the developing world. And if this is the “Asian Century”, as many agree, then it will be defined to a large extent by that ideological contest.

Blackwater and the Limits to Outsourcing Security

As the Obama administration struggles to find a policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, private contractors have emerged as the latest concern. Pakistan objects to the role assigned to DynCorp in providing security to U.S. diplomats, with accusations that U.S. contractors are setting up an intelligence network and have “roughed up” Pakistani civilians. One of DynCorp’s local subcontractors has been raided and its owner arrested. This follows revelations over the summer that employees of the company formerly known as Blackwater were the go-to guys when the C.I.A. set up a covert program to assassinate al Qaeda leaders. Less spectacular, but no less troubling, is the news that Blackwater (now rebranded as “Xe”) continues to play a role in assembling and loading the C.I.A.’s Predator drones at hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Last year, the C.I.A. director, Michael Hayden, told Congress that contractors employed by the C.I.A. had waterboarded detainees.
Debate over these issues tends to focus on criticism of the private military and security industry, with analogies to mercenaries and harsh words about the dogs of war. But a more appropriate challenge would be to the governments that pay the contractors.
For the most part, governments have shown little interest in in regulating this industry. The most energetic at the international level has been Switzerland, working with the International Committee of the Red Cross. The “Swiss initiative” culminated in a document that essentially reiterates existing obligations under international humanitarian law of states, companies and their personnel.
The most aggressive at the domestic level has been South Africa, which adopted legislation aimed at ending its troubled history of mercenarism — but which inadvertently threatened to end the careers of 600 South Africans in the British armed forces and made even humanitarian work in conflict zones legally precarious.
Meanwhile, debate has been led by the companies themselves. Much as Blackwater changed its name in an attempt to leave behind some of the negatives associated with it, so the industry is responding to market pressures to separate legitimate from illegitimate activities.
These three approaches — general guidelines for conduct, criminalizing certain behavior, and cultivating the legitimate market — are important components of a regulatory framework. But the Blackwater assassination scandal suggests the need for this to be complemented by a prohibition on outsourcing certain public functions entirely.
In fact, U.S. law forbids the outsourcing of ‘inherently governmental’ functions, though a definition of what that covers is maddeningly hard to find. This is partly because the U.S. attitude to privatization is radically different from the European understanding. In Europe, there is a debate over whether public functions should be transferred to private actors. In the United States, the question is framed as whether certain functions should be public in the first place.
In the United States, then, the ‘inherently governmental’ label operates not as a protected area of public interest so much as an increasingly narrow exception to the presumption that all aspects of government should be considered for privatization. This has undermined accountability and justified some terrible policies.
There are two basic reasons why certain functions should never be outsourced. First, it would make effective accountability impossible — as in the case where a program operates in secret and has the potential for abusive conduct. Second, if the public interest would require oversight by a governmental (and therefore politically accountable) actor. Both situations would apply to many of the programs considered here — leaving aside the question of whether assassinations and waterboarding should be allowed at all.
The first is really a legal argument for the possibility of accountability. Allowing the delegation of covert action to private actors undermines even the limited checks on intelligence operations. That may, of course, be the point: It is clear that no one intended the assassination program to be made public until Leon Panetta, President Obama’s director of the C.I.A., was briefed on it four months into his tenure. He sensibly terminated the program, briefed Congress, and successfully blamed the whole thing on his predecessors.
The second argument is a political one. It accepts that even in a democracy it is sometimes necessary to push at the limits of law to deal with threats. But such actions can only be justified if they are linked to the democratic structures they are intended to protect.
A workable definition of “inherently governmental” would cover the exercise of discretion in actions that significantly affect the life, liberty, or property of private persons. Such a definition would prohibit the Blackwater assassination program and severely restrict the role of contractors in interrogations.
Unfortunately, debates about the U.S. reliance on contractors tend to focus on questions of cost and periodic outrage at corruption. Last year a consensus appeared to be emerging that contractors should not be in charge of “enhanced” interrogation, but this seemed to be driven by the fact that each of the alleged torturers cost the U.S. taxpayer about double the salary of a Federal employee.
Even the assassination program failed to start a meaningful debate on what should and what should not be outsourced. At the very least, the responsibility to determine what is and is not ‘inherently governmental’ should itself be an inherently governmental task.
Simon Chesterman is director of the New York University School of Law Singapore Program and the editor, with Angelina Fisher, of “Private Security, Public Order: The Outsourcing of Public Services and Its Limits.”

Yemen denounces Iran's 'interference'

The Yemeni government on Wednesday lashed out against what it described as Iranian "interference" in its affairs, escalating tensions in a civil conflict pitting Yemen's army against Shiite rebels that has drawn in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, and raised fears of a regional proxy war.
"We affirm that Yemen categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs by any party whatsoever," a Foreign Ministry spokesman told the government-run Saba news agency. "Yemen also rejects any attempt by any party to represent itself as the protector of sons of the Yemeni people." 
The comments came a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki publicly warned that countries in the region should not intervene in Yemen's internal affairs. "Those who pour oil on the fire must know that they will not be spared from the smoke that billows," Mottaki declared in what many viewed as a veiled threat by the Shiite theocracy to Saudi Arabia's Sunni rulers. 
Saudi Arabia launched an offensive last week inside Yemen after Shiite rebels, known as Hawthis, staged a cross-border raid, killing a Saudi border guard and briefly seizing Saudi territory. Saudi fighter jets crossed the 930-mile border with Yemen and bombed the rebels' northern mountainous havens. On Tuesday, Saudi officials said the kingdom had imposed a naval blockade on northern Yemen's Red Sea coast to prevent weapons from reaching the rebels, who accuse Saudi Arabia of backing Yemeni forces against them.
The Hawthis, who are named after their leader's clan, have been fighting the Yemeni government since 2004, but the fighting has escalated dramatically in the past three months. Saying they are marginalized politically and economically, the rebels are seeking a greater religious voice for their Zaydi brand of Shiite Islam. Yemen's Sunni-ruled government says the rebels are trying to turn the nation into a Shiite state.
Yemen has accused Iran of funneling arms and providing financial backing to the rebels, but the Yemeni government has not provided evidence to support the assertions. The rebels have insisted that they receive no support from Iran or any other foreign powers.
The fighting has displaced about 175,000 people in Yemen's northwest Saada province, according to the United Nations.

"Your presence in the region is not good for peace."Ms. Clinton

Pakistanis make their anger with the American policies very clear

After three days of America-bashing that Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, endured during her recent visit she must have carried back interesting baggage - some realistic and troubling assessments about how Pakistanis look upon the war on terror that America has imposed on them and the region. If she is honest, she will report to President Obama the disdain that exists in Pakistani streets for America’s thoughtless policies and heartless actions that have brought death, destruction and suffering.

She experienced this firsthand when a tribesman from FATA, where the Pakistan Army is fighting to dislodge TTP militants who engage in terrorist activities in Pakistan and where American drones kill hundreds of innocent men, women and children, when he said to her point blank:

"Your presence in the region is not good for peace."

Clinton was here for first hand assessments of ground realities important for Obama’s future Afghan war strategy now under review. She wanted to know the mood of the people, prospects of survival of their man in the presidency amid public uproar against him on a variety of issues and reading the mind of Pakistan’s military, which remains the key player in matters related to defence and the Afghan war, much to America’s chagrin.

Washington has, in the past, turned a deaf ear to sensitivities and opinions from Pakistan’s civil society and the media about its heavy-handed, counter-productive, insensitive policies that generated public distrust and anger which eventually turned into hatred for America. Obama administration, like others before it, relies for decision-making on Washington-based neoconservatives, military hawks, war mongering intellectuals, short sighted diplomats and the so called `experts’ who are either unaware of ground realties, or hide unpleasant facts and tell the administrations only what they want to hear or perpetuate their own distorted visions.

This failure to understand the world outside their own frontiers and driven by their ‘super power arrogance’, successive administrations after the Eisenhower era, arbitrarily imposed their will on others, which earned them ill will and created enemies. The US began to lose the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan after 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. People, who at one time looked upon the US as a symbol of hope began to distrust it as an unreliable ‘ally’.

Today, as polls indicate, the US is hated in Pakistan for a consistently high level of unreliability, unfriendly policies, patronage of dictators and corrupt and inefficient rulers, interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs, its readiness to take advantage of Pakistan even at the cost of Pakistan’s security and disregard of Pakistan’s interests while allying itself with its arch enemy India. In this backdrop, Hilary’s visit comes as a breath of fresh air. One does not expect a policy change but she can at least give a correct input to her administration in relation to Pakistan.

Clinton later told CNN that she anticipated the "pretty negative situation" in Pakistan, but she said "I wanted to have these interactions. ... I don't think the way you deal with negative feelings is to pretend they're not there ..."

She did well to broaden the scope of her visit by meeting a cross section of civil society. Even though she was sheltered from adverse public opinion, with participants carefully screened, yet they challenged her on sensitive issues such as drone attacks, mammoth new embassy, suspicious activities of Blackwater now believed by many to be behind devastating bomb attacks, violations of local law by American marines, American plans of denuclearizing Pakistan, its support to anti Pakistan elements in Afghanistan and FATA, its collusion with India, etc. While she did give forthright answers to some, to many an awkward and probing question Clinton had no answers. “… [T]his issue is between the leadership of two sides. So let’s not to discuss this here,” was her typical evasive line.   

When Clinton sought support for the Afghan war, in no uncertain terms was she toldby a woman journalist: "We are fighting a war that is imposed on us. It's not our war. It is your war. You had one 9-11. We are having daily 9-11s in Pakistan."
And when her contention that the U.S. and Pakistan face a common enemy in ‘terrorism’ was publicly rejected, Clinton admitted that "we're not getting through.”
In a country where 90% people oppose this war, where the Afghan Taliban (not TTP) are regarded as national resistance to American occupation and where the fallout of the war turns their lives upside down, this answer is perfectly legitimate. Polls indicate there is no support for religious extremism and Al Qaeda is not believed to cause bloodshed. On the contrary the belief is that American sponsored militants from FATA (TTP) commit these heinous crimes which are then pinned on Al Qaeda. “Winning public support is critical for Al Qaeda to succeed. Why then would it shed blood and alienate people”, asked a tribesman.

The critical media coverage about American policies caused a frustrated Clinton to retort that the US would respond “aggressively” to the misreporting by Pakistani media. When this drew an immediate response from the media’s spokesperson who said: “We should understand the actual message behind her statement…..”, the US embassy in Islamabad rushed to quickly issue a statement that Clinton was not making any threats. “It has been taken wrong. The word aggressive doesn’t mean that US will take any action…”

Clinton’s meeting with General Kayani, Pakistan’s Army chief was significant. The general’s influence on the presidency is well understood. Also Pakistan Army is the custodian of nuclear assets, seizing which is widely believed to be America’s key objective. The meeting was aimed to figure out General Kayani’s response to upcoming war strategy, in which Obama would most likely want Pakistan Army to play a role, and the security environment. She must have also tried to make sense of President Zardari’s position in view of the increasing confrontation that he faces from the Army on security issues.

Zardari and his team, who touted the insensitive Kerry-Lugar Bill which drew scorn within the country, were openly rebuffed by the Army when it publicly asked for a review of unacceptable clauses, after behind-the-scene messages were ignored by Zardari’s men. Washington’s demand for indirect veto power over promotions and appointments to senior ranks set off alarm bells in the armed forces, and rightly so.

A female MNA, Marvi Memon, who refused to meet Clinton, said in an open letter: “…. there are patriotic Pakistanis who will defend the soil before accepting your policies of creating a US fiefdom in Pakistan. As a young parliamentarian, I would only welcome you to Pakistan once we have evidence of your shift in policy so that Pakistan is dealt with as a sovereign country.” 

In her meeting with prominent tribesmen in the NWFP, which bears the brunt of the Afghan war, she heard the same hostile message: Pakistanis do not want American friendship due to its policies, despite offer of a multi-billion-dollar aid package.
Clinton’s earlier criticism of Pakistan’s failure to get Al Qaeda leadership had generated negative headlines. Softening her tone, she told a group of women: "…… the U.S. would very much like to see the end of the Al Qaeda leadership. And our best information is that they are somewhere in Pakistan, and we think it's in Pakistan's interests, as well as our own, that we try to capture or kill the leadership of Al Qaeda,"
But Clinton’s call to locate and eliminate Al Qaeda leadership was rejected for lack of evidence. On the contrary it raised questions: Why after seven years of disinterest in eliminating Al Qaeda leadership by Bush, has Obama administration taken up the cudgel now? Is he seeking in Al Qaeda an objective for the war, which he has been accused of not having. Why is America with its technology and intelligence incapable of pinpointing the location of Al-Qaeda leadership to Pakistan for eight years? Is Al Qaeda being used as a pretext to launch attacks in Balochistan like FATA and Afghanistan?
Pakistan has consistently denied Al Qaeda’s presence on its soil and has challenged the Americans to point it out if they believe it is here.
Recent call for air attacks on Al Qaeda leaders in Quetta by Anne Patterson, the intemperate US Ambassador in Islamabad in ‘her imperial hubris’ (to borrow a phrase from Eric Margolis) lends credibility to the belief that America intends to destabilize Balochistan after having done that to FATA and NWFP. Active Indian support to Balochistan Liberation Army, a rogue insurgent outfit headquartered in Tel Aviv, with fundraising address in Washington, is well known. American drone attacks would only supplement Indian effort.
If Clinton kept an open mind and made some sense of the criticism she heard, she should have drawn some important conclusions.

One, there is enormous pent up anger against decades of manipulative American policies to exploit Pakistan. Two, Pakistanis intensely dislike American intervention in their internal affairs, including manipulations of removing and installing governments. Three, no government in Islamabad can survive for long that serves as a door mat for the Americans. Four, Pakistanis would aggressively reject policies that serve American geopolitical interests in this region that threaten Pakistan’s stability and security.

The al Qaeda connection?

NWFP was hit by another terrorist attack on Tuesday afternoon when a suicide bomber blew up his car in Charsadda bazaar. More than 30 people were killed and nearly 100 others injured, including several women and children. It was the third suicide bombing since Saturday in the battle-ridden province. Suicide attacks have become a routine occurrence during the past few weeks all over Pakistan, especially in NWFP. A spate of terror attacks in recent days is obviously a backlash against the military operation in South Waziristan against the militants. According to a Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman, the militants have retreated from various areas in South Waziristan as part of their war strategy and its fighters will launch a guerrilla war once the Pakistani military enters deep into all areas of South Waziristan. If the Taliban have actually managed to retreat from South Waziristan, they have either gone to North Waziristan or crossed the border into Afghanistan. When the Pakistan army was deployed for the first time since independence in FATA in 2004, the US and Pakistan agreed upon a hammer and anvil strategy whereby the US-led NATO forces were playing the role of the hammer in Afghanistan while the Pakistani forces played the role of the anvil in our tribal areas. The roles have reversed now. Successive military operations against the local Taliban have crippled their organisation, which is why they could now be crossing the border to safeguard their interests. The alarming factor is that the ‘anvil’ is nowhere to be seen as the NATO forces have vacated more than half a dozen key security checkposts on the Afghan side of the Pak-Afghan border opposite South Waziristan. In these trying times when Pakistan is in the midst of a civil war, the international community needs to come forward and help it. Instead, the NATO forces are leaving the door open for the TTP to cross over to the Afghan side without any repercussions. This would obviously undermine the military operation.

The Afghan Taliban, on the other hand, have strongly denied any association with the TTP’s campaign, strategy or tactics. Afghan Taliban commander Abdul Mannan condemned suicide bombing and termed it un-Islamic and wrong to target innocent people in blasts. He said the Afghan Taliban leaders have not crossed the border and are not hiding in Pakistan, but are targeting coalition and NATO forces from Afghan soil. With these remarks coming from the Afghan Taliban, it seems as if there is some other force helping the local Taliban and from the pattern of suicide bombings, it could well be the al Qaeda network. It is quite apparent that the TTP is getting massive funding from some source and proper training to carry out successive terror attacks all over Pakistan. The al Qaeda leadership has on a number of occasions declared war against the state of Pakistan, which makes it all the more probable that this global terror network could be supporting the TTP in its fight against the state of Pakistan.

The military is trying to eliminate the militants from the tribal region but it seems as if the country does not have enough funds for the purpose. This can be gauged from Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s statement that the government is now using development funds for the capacity building of law-enforcement agencies in a bid to improve security. If al Qaeda is actually helping the local Taliban, it is not only alarming for our country but for the whole world. Fighting the militants on this scale requires heavy-duty finances; it is time the international community, especially the US, rises to the occasion and helps Pakistan in this common cause. Peace and stability in this region, once achieved, will translate into peace all over the world. *

Second Editorial: The Maoist threat in India

The Maoist revolutionary movement is increasingly posing the most serious internal threat to India’s present order since independence. Resurrected from the unlikely soil of the defeated Naxalite movement of the 1960s and 70s, the Maoists have not only regrouped, in the words of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, they represent a critical challenge to India’s much vaunted democracy. In a ‘red’ arc stretching from West Bengal down to Andhra Pradesh, enfolding en route such states as Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand and infesting in all nine states, the Maoists, albeit divided into at least four factions, have found a modicum of unity and cooperation for the task of waging a guerrilla struggle for the rights of the downtrodden and marginalized and for the creation of a socialist state.
The threat is by now acute enough to prompt calls for transferring some Indian troops deployed since long in Indian Held Kashmir to the Maoist-hit states. The call came from Home Minister P Chidambaram, but unfortunately for him and the police and paramilitary forces battling the Maoist guerrillas, has been turned down by the Defence Ministry. The ministry and army headquarters are reluctant to accede to the demand that Rashtriya Rifles battalions be involved in direct action against the Maoists entrenched in the forests of the ‘red’ arc. The home minister’s view, in the light of the mixed record of the police and paramilitary forces in combating the insurgency, is that the army will have to get involve d sooner or later, such is the growing alarm over the spread and consolidation of the Maoist revolutionary wave. The military has so far held firmly to its position that the army should only be used as a last resort for internal security matters. However, an army commanders’ conference last month has responded to the home ministry’s request by suggesting deployment of the newly raised 120 paramilitary battalions before seeking a role for the army. Further, the army has suggested the establishment of a national anti-Naxal operations training centre under the supervision of the army and the appointment of military advisers of the rank of brigadiers and major generals for the affected states.
Although talk of a gradual withdrawal of some troops from Indian Held Kashmir has been in the air for some time given the decline in the level of militancy in the area, to be replaced by police and paramilitaries, the military seems to be going slow on this policy, partly perhaps because of tensions with Pakistan since the Mumbai attacks, partly because the record of neither the military nor the police and paramilitary forces in quelling the insurgency in Indian Held Kashmir smells of roses as far as human rights are concerned. It is unlikely the Indian high command would seriously contemplate pulling some of its forces out of Indian Held Kashmir so long as relations do not improve with Pakistan and, even more significantly, the recent dialogue offer to the dissident parties in IHK, which has received a mixed response, does not show signs of promise of a political settlement with those demanding the right of self-determination.

President Zardari suspected of graft in sale of submarine

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has once again been accused of having received millions of dollars in kickbacks from the sale of three French submarines to the Pakistani Navy way back in 1994. In addition, investigators say the non-payment of the full amount of the agreed kickbacks may have led to the murder of 11 French nationals in a 2002 terrorist attack in the city of Karachi.
A French newspaper daily Liberation has claimed having acquired documents that allegedly show that during the second tenure of her wife Benazir Bhutto as the prime minister, Asif Zardari had received $4.3mn in kickbacks from the sale of three Agosta 90 submarines for 825mn euros (currently $1.237bn). The daily claims that these documents were sent to the Pakistani National Accountability Bureau (NAB) by the British authorities in April 2001 and indicate that Zardari received several large payments into his Swiss bank accounts from a Lebanese businessman, Abdulrahman el-Assir, in 1994 and 1995. According to the report, a former executive of the French naval defence company DCN, French authorities chose el-Assir to act as intermediary in the deal. He allegedly deposited a total of $1.3mn in Zardari’s bank accounts between August 15 and 30, 1994, one month before the submarine contract was signed, and then $1.2mn and $1.8mn one year later.
According to DCN employees who testified in the 2002 Karachi terrorist attack investigation, the kickbacks to Pakistan in the deal totalled 10% of the purchase amount, with 6%, or $49.5mn, going to the military and 4%, or 33mn euros, being funnelled to political circles. In 2001,a former Pakistani Navy chief-of-staff Mansour Ul-Haq was arrested for his part in the deal and forced to repay $7mn, the daily says. Legal proceedings against Asif Ali Zardari were dropped in April 2008, several months before he was elected president. However, the fact remains that Zardari, the husband of the assassinated former Pakistani president Benazir Bhutto was imprisoned from 1997 to 2004 on corruption charges unrelated to this affair.
The ongoing investigation in Paris into the May 8, 2002, terror attack that killed 11 DCN employees in Karachi may shed new light on the submarine purchase and his part in it. According to the French paper, the magistrate looking into the bombing has rejected the theory that it was the work of Al Qaeda. He is now considering the possibility that it was carried out by Pakistanis, either because only 85% of the agreed kickbacks to politicians had been paid or because of negotiations carried out by French authorities to sell submarines to India, Pakistan’s enemy.
However, the Pakistani authorities have strongly refuted the daily Liberation story. ‘This is actually new regurgitation of an old story which was already contradicted by French President Mr Sarkozy on July 11 this year as ‘untrue’, ‘malicious’ and ‘mischievous’. It is part of a media trial of PPP leadership which we condemn and dismiss with the contempt it deserves,’ Presidential Spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the other day in an official statement. Commenting on the report, the spokesman said the purchase of equipment by the armed forces of Pakistan was done through a proper competitive process under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence.
‘Mr Zardari was neither the president nor the prime minister nor the defence minister when the submarines referred to in the news item were purchased. The then ‘Admiral’ responsible for this purchase was investigated by the National Accountability Bureau. But no allegation of misdoing could be established by the investigation authorities against Mr Zardari,’ the spokesman said. Regarding the allegation about the killing of French nationals in Karachi, the spokesman said that President Zardari was in prison in 2002 when the unfortunate incident took place.
‘This indicates the motive behind leveling such baseless allegations against the Pakistani President. How can a person in prison arrange such high-profile killings,’ he added. ‘Allegations of kickbacks and involvement in the killing of French nationals against the person of the president are, thus, highly unfortunate and seem to be part of a malicious campaign launched against the head of state of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,’ the presidential spokesman said.
It may be recalled that in 2003, an Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) had found two men linked to a jehadi group - Harkatul Mujahideen Al Alami - responsible for the murders, although they have since been acquitted by the Sindh High Court due to a lack of proof.

We support the Indian naxals, concede Nepal Maoists

Just a day after the Nepalese media revealed about the close nexus and recent secret meetings between the two Red brothers (Maoists) from Nepal and India in an undisclosed location in India, a senior leader of Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) has openly admitted that his party has extended full cooperation and support with Indian Maoists.
Speaking at press meeting, a Maoists-affiliated journalists association in Bara district of central Terai, on Sunday, party secretary CP Gajurel said, “We have extended our total support to the Indian Maoists Party, which has been enlisted as terrorist outfit by the Indian government, for their ongoing armed movement.”
According to a report carried out by the Rajdhani Daily, a Nepali national daily in Nepal, Gajurel, however, did not elaborate on whether their support was just a moral one or with arms as speculated by the Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, recently.
The former chief of former rebels’ foreign relation bureau Gajurel who had spent three years jail term in Chenai a few years ago, is the first Maoists leader who applauded the Indian Maoists’ armed insurgency publicly.
Two days ago, the Rajdhani Daily had revealed about the secrete meeting held between the UCPN-M team led by central committee member Indra Mohal Sigdel alias Basanta and Indian Maoists leader Kishanji in an undisclosed place in India while Sigdel was in four-day India tour from October 8 to 11.
Meanwhile, the Maoists leaders and cadres launched their scheduled protest program of picketing the offices of local bodies - village development committee and municipalities - across the country on Monday.
Though the Maoists protests was largely peaceful it affected the normal life as it paralyzed the daily services that have to be delivered by the concerned offices.
In another political development, Maoists chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda, held meeting with Nepali Congress President and former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on Monday afternoon at the latter's residence.
According to a source close to Koirala, Koirala urged the Maoists supremo to call off the protest programme and sit for a dialogue. He also urged Prachanda to let the Parliament session that has been obstructed by them for the last three months and allow the government to endorse its fiscal budget.
In response, Prachanda said the ruling coalition partners should allow the Maoists to take up the most controversial resolution regarding the “so-called” unconstitutional move carried out by the President Dr Ram Baran Yadav on May 3 by retaining the sacked chief of army staff Rookmangud Katawal.
Meanwhile, Nepalese Finance Minister Surendra Panday has said the government was not in condition to provide monthly salary and perks to government officials and parliamentarians, including the prisoners from mid-November. 

Malkanagiri (Orissa), November 2
A hardcore Maoist, allegedly involved in many crimes, including looting of EVMs in the last general elections, was arrested in Orissa’s Malkangiri district.

Superintendent of Police Satyabrata Bhoi said Balabhadra Madhi (30) was picked up during a combing operation by the CRPF and Special Operations Group (SOG) in Salimarikuanda forest in the Kalimela area while moving in a suspicious manner yesterday. During interrogation it was found out that Madhi is an area commander of the Maoists.
He was involved in EVM looting, vehicle burning and booth capturing and other Maoist activities during the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections held in April this year, Bhoi said.
Meanwhile, the Balimela-Chitrakonda road, which connects Andhra Pradesh with Orissa had been blocked by the Maoists putting boulders and felling trees near Chidrakonda Ghat in protest against the planned anti-Maoist operation of the government.
As a result, Chitrakonda remained cut off from the district headquarters town since yesterday, the police said.
The Maoists also demanded withdrawal of the CRPF from the district and asked the people to make their proposed Orissa bandh successful on November 4 and 5

current Sino-India tensions lead to repeat of 1962?

The two South Asian neighboring countries - India and China are presently locked in verbal and aggressive postures. This has raised apprehensions among some quarters that the present Sino-India tensions can lead to repeat of 1962.
China does not recognise the 1914 McMahon Line agreed between the British and the then Tibetan rulers and claims 90,000 sq km of territory, that includes nearly all of Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. India and China fought a deadly war in 1962 during which thousands of people perished on both sides. 
Besides, Arunachal Pradesh, China  also disputes the border in mountainous Ladakh region of Kashmir. China has also repeatedly objected to India’s refuge to Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama, whom China accuses of fomenting trouble in Tibet.
Of late there has been hard posturing from the Chinese side. The Chinese army carried out series of incursions in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim besides its air force was accused by Indian government of violating the Indian air space.  The Chinese government recently objected the visit of Buddhist spiritual leader, Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh.
Dalai Lama was on five-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh during which he said that China is unnecessarily politicizing his visit.
Reacting to Dalai Lama’s visit Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said his country was strongly dissatisfied with India for allowing him to visit the disputed region.
“India had ignored requests to halt the trip to Arunachal Pradesh by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. The Indian side disregarded the solemn position of China in allowing the Dalai Lama to visit the disputed area of the eastern section of the China-India border region," Qin told a regular news briefing in Beijing on Tuesday.
Beijing has accused Dalai Lama of trying to poison the neighbours' relationship  and trying to undermine China.

In another development, a researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, Hu Shisheng,  in a report published in China’s state-run newspaper Global Times said that India seems to have forgotten the lessons of 1962 war.
“India may have forgotten the lesson of 1962, when its repeated provocation resulted in military clashes. India is on this wrong track again. When the conflict gets sharper and sharper, the Chinese government will have to face it and solve it in a way India has designed,” Hu said.
The Chinese comments on the 1962 war have evoked strong reaction from Indian government. “India has come a long way since 1962. Talks of India not learning a lesson are silly,” India’s  Junior Foreign Minister Shashi Tharoor said.
Slamming the Chinese media for its ‘jingoism’, the Indian minister said the Chinese media there is being irresponsible in escalating tensions. “The history does not repeat itself that easily”.
On Dalai Lama’s visit, he said, “The Buddhist spiritual leader is free to travel anywhere in India. He has to visit his flock as he sees fit”.
The present tension prevailing between India and China has worried the political observers. They feel that China facing economic depression may resort to ‘military adventure’ against India. “There is every probability that China, which is facing domestic pressure owing to economic depression, may carry out small scale military adventure against India,” said a political science teacher of University of Kashmir, highest seat of learning in Kashmir.
Terming the threat from China as ‘real’, he said the present Chinese political situation is not a good omen for Indian government. “The Chinese government is having a closer relationship with India’s arch foe, Pakistan and is also building roads and water projects in Pakistan administered Kashmir, which India claims to be its territory. China may open second front for India and this will be tricky situation for world’s largest democracy,” he said.
The former Indian National Security Advisor, Brajesh Mishra in a recent interview to an Indian television channel said, “Since 1962 we have two fronts – one is China and the other is Pakistan. But then, the two have never worked together. In 1962, we fought a war with China, then in 1965 and 1971 with Pakistan. Then Kargil happened in 1999. But now both these fronts are simultaneously striking a hostile posture. These two nations are now trying to surround India.”
He claimed that India is not in a position as far as defence preparedness is concerned to defend even one of these fronts. “I think, we should equip our forces as soon as possible. Our forces should be properly equipped. We are not doing enough in this regard at the moment and I am afraid that in the next five years we might get a bigger jolt than ’62.”
Some retired Indian army men in Kashmir also feel that India needs to beef up its defence preparedness to counter any threat from China and Pakistan. “We have to be ready for any sort of eventuality. The enemy should not catch us off-guard,” said a retired army officer. (The author is a journalist based in Indian administered Kashmir and can be reached at: fayazwani123@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )

S-300 missile deliveries to Iran under review

Russia is still considering the possible deliveries of advance air defense systems to Iran and will not freeze the contract as a concession to the United States, a government official said. Russia signed a contract with Iran on the supply of S-300 air defense systems to the Islamic Republic in December 2005. However, there have been no official reports about the start of the contract's implementation since then.
"The issue of S-300 deliveries [to Iran] is still under discussion. There are some technical and other problems," said Konstantin Biryulin, deputy director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation.
The possible deliveries of S-300 missiles to Iran have aroused serious concern in the West and in Israel.
The official denied media speculations that Russia could freeze the Iranian contract in exchange for Washington's decision not to place interceptor missiles in Poland and a missile tracking radar in the Czech Republic.
"I do not understand why there is so much media frenzy over the deliveries of S-300 to this region...Russia has the right to decide on its own whether to deliver these systems to any country which is not under the UN Security Council's sanctions," Biryulin said.
He also denied the link between recent talks on delivery of S-300 systems to Saudi Arabia and the Iranian contract. Media reports earlier speculated that Russia could sell S-300 to Saudi Arabia instead of Iran to compensate for potential financial losses.
"If Saudi Arabia asks us to deliver S-300s, we will consider the request without linking it to other countries. Russia has never delivered military equipment to a country while hurting the interests of another country," the official said.
The latest version of the S-300 series is the S-300PMU2 Favorit, which has a range of up to 195 kilometers (about 120 miles) and can intercept aircraft and ballistic missiles at altitudes from 10 meters to 27 kilometers.
It is considered one of the world's most effective all-altitude regional air defense systems, comparable in performance to the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot system.
Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi urged Russia on Wednesday to fulfill its contract on the supply of S-300 air defense systems to Iran.