Pakistan Election: What will happen? – Voice of Karachi Blog

Pakistan Election: What will happen? – Voice of Karachi Blog.

 

Election as a primary democratic norm of the culturally final political setup heralds the things to be changed in line with what people suits. It provides a viable opportunity to the public to revolutionize the regime if not fulfilling their much-needed requirements. Nevertheless, it also testifies the public qualification for rightly estimating the candid and caliber of a political party to lead the system. Correspondingly, it demonstrates how the democratic norms are manifestly being observed in a country.

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Saudi Arabia and terrorism are twins – Voice of Karachi Blog

Saudi Arabia and terrorism are twins – Voice of Karachi Blog.

The U.S. (Los Angeles Times) published a study on the role of Saudi Arabia in terrorism, in which it stated: Saudi Arabia was a source of funding Al-Qaeda and providing it with fighters, where 15 out of 19 of those who implemented the September 11 operation were Saudis. The article adds: “Now, the group called Al-Qaida in Iraq is the biggest threat to Iraq’s security”. The newspaper published an article by the journalist Ned Parker stating that 45% of all foreign fighters who were attacking civilians and members of the Iraqi security forces are from Saudi Arabia.

Sanjay Dutt’s punishment & Hindutva mindset

India’s top court upheld the death penalty on Thursday for a mastermind of the country’s deadliest series of attacks and ruled Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt who bought weapons from the bombers must return to jail.

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The son of a Hindu father and Muslim mother,Sanjay Dutt said the weapons were necessary in order to defend his family during the Hindu-Muslim rioting of 1993 which had followed the destruction by Hindu zealots of the Babri mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya.

 

Supreme Court of India maintained Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s punishment and ordered to send him jail. Sanjay Dutt is a famous and well-known name of Bollywood and he is on the list of superstars of Bollywood.


The actor was charge that he had some dealings with the criminal who were involved in Mumbai bomb blast on 12 March 1993. There were 12 bomb blasts from 1:33 PM to 2:40 PM which killed 257 people. The apex court said that conspiracy to target India’s financial capital was hatched by Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon and it was executed with the help of Pakistani authorities.


Indian court and agencies have traditionally leveled allegation that Pakistan and its spy agency ISI played a vital role in imparting training to the accused which “materialized” in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. The supreme court bench consisting of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said that Dawood Ibrahim and other absconding accused along with Yakub Memon, awarded death sentence in the case, “were archers and rest of the accused were arrows in their hands”.


The accused were provided with “green channel facility” in Pakistan, the apex court said and also noted that they entered Pakistan from Dubai and received training from ISI which took them out of Islamabad airport without observing any immigration rules. The court, on perusing the evidence, said a large number of convicted and absconding persons received training in making RDX and using automatic weapons like AK 56 rifle and hand grenades in Pakistan.


Confessional statements of the accused make it clear that the management of the training was under the hands of Dawood Ibrahim and others, the bench said.


Purpose of revealing whole verdict of Indian Supreme Court in the case of Mumbai blasts was to show the bias and hate against neighboring Pakistan and Indian Muslims. In fact the Hindutva mindset is prevailing all over India particularly in ruling political elite, establishment and armed forces. Earlier, Young Kashmiri Afzal Guru has been hanged after conducting an unfair trial that was condemned all over the world.


Top Bollywood top Muslim star was recently thrashed out by extremists Hindu dominate media once while giving an interview to In the Outlook Turning Points magazine, Shahrukh said “I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India.”


Salman Khan has also been convicted for 1 year and 5 years for poaching of two Chinkaras at Bhawad and one Black Buck at Ghoda Farm (Mathania) in the intervening nigh of 26-27 September, 1998 and 28-29 September, 1998 respectively.


In 2008 prominent Indian actress, Member of Parliament and renowned social activist Shabana Azmi in an interview with local TV, Azmi said with a tinge of bitterness: ‘I cannot get a house in Mumbai. I wanted to buy a flat in Mumbai and it wasn’t given to me because I was a Muslim and I read the same about Saif Ali Khan.’


Notably, Sanajay Dutt is a son of film actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis Dutt, made his acting debut in 1981. In fact extremists Hindu did not believe that Sanajy is from their community being a son of Nargis Dutt.


Thus discriminatory actions against Muslim in all the revealed court trials became inbuilt phenomena of major pillars of India. RAW is a manipulating agency in all the cases against Muslims.


On the other side, Indian court failed to take actions against a Hindu Col Prohit, former RAW’s agency agent who has blasted Samjhauta Express through bombings in 2007. What a true face of secular Indian.

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By Zaheerul Hassan

 

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Afghanistan’s stability is the Pakistan”s survival

 Americans want constant chaos in Pakistan come what may for the last six decades. It’s due the fact that Americans want the area stretched between Bay of Bengal to Baltic Sea leading to Europe disconnected economically through anarchy in Pakistan. If the Americans don’t do it, they would ultimately lose the control over 3/4 of the world. Relaxation of trade between India and Iran and China and Iran in the US/UN sanctions on Iran is not without reason in this context. That’s exactly why President Asif Ali Zardari, who had foreseen this duplicity a long ago, had to move fast to get the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline started and completed by the exit of US-led NATO forces by the end of 2014 from Afghanistan. The President Asif Ali Zardari had already taken the regional powers into confidence in this regard and will work more on it. The president Zardari has to work most on TAPI gas pipeline project in which Afghanistan is the corridor as well. Pakistan’s economy has become precariously dependent on energy and the energy is the dire need of teeming poor Pakistanis at the moment.

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The pre-partition Pakistan is no different from the post-partition Pakistan as far as independence of its people is concerned. We won a territory, in 1947, from British and Hindu majority but not freedom. We, on the other hand, added internal colonizers after the external one.

Due to lack of resources, knowledge and industry, we had two choices. First, we could build ourselves socially, technologically and knowledge-wise by taking help of USSR. Second, we could keep pre-partition social and economic structures intact, and for day to day survival take financial help of USA, the emerged sole super power, after WWII.

Our indigenous tribal and feudal politicians and Muhajir leadership were never willing to share politics and power (democracy) with the poor people of Pakistan. Same was desired by the USA. So, our leadership chose the second option of USA to survive. For the first decade the leadership survived due to the bureaucracy and without any constitution of our own. Afterwards, army ruled the country with the help of civil bureaucracy for another decade. Hunger, homelessness, economic and social poverty and ignorance multiplied for common Punjabis, Pukhtoons, Sindhi, Balochs and Bengalis. These ethnicities would have been better off, had they been part of India where tribalism and feudalism was abolished and social democracy was the system of governance after independence.

Thus, we replaced British with Americans as external rulers and added civil-military bureaucracy as internal colonizers. Extreme poverty compelled the majority of people of East Pakistan, Bengalis, to win freedom from West Pakistan to form Bangladesh in 1971. To save the rest of Pakistan the ruling elite (civil-military bureaucracy and tribal/feudal lords) made the country’s first unanimous constitution in 1973. The constitution is the mixture of mutually exclusive systems: Islam, Socialism and democracy. The numeric strength of civil-military bureaucracy increased with the decrease in territory after the formation of Bangladesh. The involvement of Arabs was also increased in Punjab due to Islamic character of the constitution. USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan, 1979, increased the role of anti-communist Arabs and Americans more in our state and society for USA-backed Afghan Jehad.

Socially, we became more divided and poorer. Centuries old tribal moral clash, sectarianism, between Shia and Sunni surfaced due to the Sunni-Wahabi influence of Arabs. Economy went to the hands of mafias related to drugs, weapons and smuggling of other goods.

Military not only remained part of such economy but multiplied it forming cartels involving even basic industries related to sugar, wheat, cement etc. by the end of the rule of last military dictator Gen. Musharraf. Intermittent so-called democratic governments came and were sacked untimely in 1990’s but nothing changed for better as the governments had positions just, with power still rested with civil-military bureaucracy. 9/11 changed the world, so did the Pakistan. People got space for their power in governance. Gen. Musharraf failed to meet the interests of USA-led NATO forces engaged to eliminate Taliban from Afghanistan and bring stability there due to China and Russia’s pressures. So, Americans preferred democracy over dictatorship to meet its interests in Afghanistan. Elections of 2008 and NRO, after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, must be seen in this context. This is exactly where the Arabs and American interests diverged as far as Afghanistan is concerned. Arabs involvement depends on the post 2014 situation of Afghanistan when NATO and majority of American troops would have gone from there.

The Americans are going to stay for a long time in Afghanistan even after the NATO and majority of their troops leave by 2014. The first phase of their stay has been for bringing about stability and building institutions and infrastructure, and the second phase will be to expand their economic and strategic interests in the region. In this regard Americans have taken into confidence Russia, the Central Asian States, China, India and even Iran except Pakistan. Americans have assured them that no kind of terror will be supported or tolerated anymore in the region.

Americans want constant chaos in Pakistan come what may for the last six decades. It’s due the fact that Americans want the area stretched between Bay of Bengal to Baltic Sea leading to Europe disconnected economically through anarchy in Pakistan. If the Americans don’t do it, they would ultimately lose the control over 3/4 of the world. Relaxation of trade between India and Iran and China and Iran in the US/UN sanctions on Iran is not without reason in this context. That’s exactly why President Asif Ali Zardari, who had foreseen this duplicity a long ago, had to move fast to get the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline started and completed by the exit of US-led NATO forces by the end of 2014 from Afghanistan. The President Asif Ali Zardari had already taken the regional powers into confidence in this regard and will work more on it. The president Zardari has to work most on TAPI gas pipeline project in which Afghanistan is the corridor as well. Pakistan’s economy has become precariously dependent on energy and the energy is the dire need of teeming poor Pakistanis at the moment.

Pakistan and Iran can manage the required finance 7.5 billion US$ by bartering our rice with Iranian petroleum on which we spend more than 12 billion US$ annually. India is doing such with Iran already. Americans, in reaction, cannot give green signal to army to take over the country as Pakistan will not be united within a month and the regional fall out of that will never be tolerated by the regional powers- China, Russia and India. Americans cannot tolerate to lose their multi-billion US$ investment in Afghanistan. And this is what Americans know well and will not dare finance anymore military coup in Pakistan. Our devastating obsessions of ‘strategic depth’ instead of economic depth led us to extreme poverty, strategic death and extreme international isolation as no country likes to engage us economically except Iran which needs to sell its petroleum products to survive desperately, given the US backed UN sanctions.

The bureaucrats and generals with the help of judges have treated the teeming millions of poor Pakistanis in the absence of true politics and democracy pathetically. It’s pertinent to mention here that 85% of civil-military bureaucracy is Punjabi ethnically and they ruled 35 years directly and 25 years indirectly consuming almost all what poor people of Pakistan gave the state in the form of taxes. The required politics and political direction is now here very much here to go back never again. The upcoming general elections will be the decisive election between the democratic and dark forces of destruction. The people have always voted for politicians, not generals.

The futility of two referenda by Gen. Zia and Gen. Musharraf respectively are the enough of proof in our political history. The people, now, know that in these dictatorships the dark forces of destruction were developed and distributed within and without the country. 

The religious/sectarian politics of Arabs in Pakistan and American duplicity towards the development of Pakistan are over now.

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By Muhammad Shoaib Akif

 

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Sino-Russia Relations

The plane of China’s newly elected President Xi Jinping has touched doen in Moscow’s Vnukovo airport marking the beginning of his maiden trip overseas. The fact that the Chinese leader is visiting Russia so soon after assuming presidency is a testimony to the importance the Asian giant places on its relations with Russia.

Newly elected Chinese President Xi Jinping starts his visit to Russia, the first leg of his four-state visit since he became the new President earlier in March. During his state visit to Russia, Xi Jinping will announce the opening of the Chinese Tourism Year in Russia. He will also deliver a speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Over the years, China-Russian relations have undergone robust development. Bilateral trade has amounted to 88 billion U.S. dollars in 2012, an 11.2-percent increase year-on-year. On the world stage, China and Russia have strengthened their strategic coordination facing intricate global and regional situations. President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia this time is expected to promote both countries’ pragmatic cooperation in energy, trade and people-to-people exchanges.

China has become Russia’s largest trade partner for the second year in a row. The two countries see a rise in investments and a boost of energy, regional and border cooperation.

So what is the focus of President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia this time? And how can China and Russia advance their already robust relationship?

Pak rejects alleged involvement in 1993 Mumbai blasts

The son of a Hindu father and Muslim mother,Sanjay Dutt said the weapons were necessary in order to defend his family during the Hindu-Muslim rioting of 1993 which had followed the destruction by Hindu zealots of the Babri mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya.

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Pakistan has categorically rejected reports by Indian media regarding the judgment of the Indian Supreme Court implicating Pakistani government agencies in the deadly Mumbai blasts which killed 257 people in 1993.

A spokesman for the Pakistan’s Foreign Office “categorically rejected any insinuations pointing to the involvement of the Government of Pakistan or any of its agencies in any such activity,” said a press statement issued Thursday.

A number of Indian news outlets reported the Indian Supreme Court as ruling that Pakistan and its intelligence agencies were complicit in the attacks.

The Times of India reported the apex court as concluding that Pakistan and its spy agencies “played a vital role in imparting training” to the accused in the case. It quoted the court as saying that the conspiracy was “hatched by Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memom” and “executed with the help of Pakistani authorities.”

The court said “the accused were trained in bomb making and to handle sophisticated weapons in Pakistan,” ZeeNews reported. NDTV quoted the court as ruling that the “ISI was involved in the blasts”.

“Pakistan is itself a victim of terrorism and has rendered immense sacrifices in the international fight against this menace,” said the Foreign Office.

“Pakistan has on numerous occasions offered cooperation to India in fighting terrorism through laid down bilateral mechanisms.”

The Pakistani Foreign Office added that a “detailed response could only be given once the (Indian Supreme Court) judgment had been studied in its totality.”

It added that the country remains committed to engaging with India “in a constructive, sustained and result-oriented dialogue process.” Famous Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt was also one of the accused to be sentenced to a five-year jail term Thursday in the case.

Meanwhile, India’s top court upheld the death penalty on Thursday for a mastermind of the country’s deadliest series of attacks and ruled Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt who bought weapons from the bombers must return to jail.

The judges handed down a five-year term for the actor Sanjay Dutt for possessing illegal weapons bought from gangsters accused of orchestrating the bombings. Dutt has already served 18 months but is currently out on bail.

India’s top court upheld the death penalty on Thursday for a mastermind of the country’s deadliest series of attacks and ruled Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt who bought weapons from the bombers must return to jail.

Yakub Memon, brother of the alleged main plotter and fugitive Tiger Memon, was the only one of 11 convicts to see his death sentence upheld by the Supreme Court for his role in the 1993 blasts which killed 257 people in Mumbai.

The judges also handed down a five-year term for Sanjay Dutt for possessing illegal weapons bought from gangsters accused of orchestrating the bombings. Dutt has already served 18 months but is currently out on bail.

The son of a Hindu father and Muslim mother, Dutt said the weapons were necessary in order to defend his family during the Hindu-Muslim rioting of 1993 which had followed the destruction by Hindu zealots of the Babri mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya. 

Announcing the sentences, Supreme Court judge P Sathashivam said the Memon brothers and another suspect, Dawood Ibrahim, “were archers and the rest of the appellants were arrows in their hands”.

“They were the architects of the blasts,” Sathashivam, one of two judges presiding over the case, said.

The remaining convicts who had appealed against the death penalty saw their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

The attacks on March 12, 1993, were believed to have been staged by Mumbai’s underworld in retaliation for anti-Muslim violence that left more than 1,000 dead in the city a few months earlier.

Yakub, an accountant by profession, his brothers Essa and Yusuf and sister-in-law Rubina were all convicted for their involvement in the serial blasts at 13 different locations. The Bombay Stock Exchange, the offices of the national carrier Air India and the luxury Sea Rock hotel were among the targets. Executions are only carried out for “the rarest of rare” cases in India but President Pranab Mukherjee has rejected a number of mercy pleas in the last few months, ending an unofficial eight-year moratorium.

Dutt, who was appealing against an original six-year term, spent 18 months behind bars before being bailed in 2007.

During a police raid, investigators uncovered a pistol and an AK-56 rifle which were part of the consignment of weapons and explosives. Dutt, a one-time heavy drug user who has a reputation as one of Bollywood’s bad boys, had admitted buying the weapons but insisted they were only meant to protect his family.

The 53-year-old in a statement said he “respected” the court’s verdict. “I have already suffered for 20 years and been in jail for 18 months. If they want me to suffer more I have to be strong,” he said.

“I am heart broken because today along with me, my three children and my wife and my family will undergo the punishment,” he said in the statement. “I have always respected the judicial system and will continue to do so, even with tears in my eyes,” he said and added that he was also “shattered and in emotional distress” following the court’s order.

The actor shot to fame in the mid-1980s in a string of action movies in which he performed his own stunts, earning him the nickname “Deadly Dutt”.

Dutt’s first wife died of cancer while his second marriage, to a model, ended in divorce. He married for a third time in 2008.

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Indian designs to destabilise SA – Voice of Karachi Blog

Indian designs to destabilise SA – Voice of Karachi Blog.

Although peace and brinksmanship cannot co-exist in the modern era, yet India seeks to destabilise South Asia through its aggressive designs.

In this regard, in its report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) disclosed on March 20, 2012, “India is the world’s largest recipient of arms…India’s imports of major weapons increased by 38 percent between 2002-06 and 2007-11.”

New Delhi’s military is acquiring a slew of new equipments from combat aircraft to submarines and artillery. It is currently finalising a deal with France’s Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Rafale fighter jets in a contract worth an estimated $12 billion.

On November 2, 2010, US agreed to sell India the most expensive—the new F-35 fighter jets. In a report to the US Congress, the Pentagon said, “We believe US aircraft such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)…to be the best in the world”, referring to the radar-evading F-35 jet. India also decided a major purchase of US F-16 and F-18 fighters. The Pentagon’s sales to India included C-17 and C-130 aircraft, radar systems, Harpoon weapons and specialized tactical equipments. Besides acquisition of arms and weapons from other western countries—especially Israel, America is a potential military supplier to India. It signed a deal of civil energy technology with India in 2008, and lifted sanctions on New Delhi to import nuclear technology. Besides, New Delhi is also working with Russia on developing a fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

In recent years, India has bought reconnaissance aircraft from US aerospace major Boeing worth 2.1 billion-dollars, medium range missiles for 1.4 billion dollars from Israeli Aerospace Industries, and signed an upgrade service contract with the Russian Aircraft Corporation to upgrade its MiG 29 squadrons for 965 million dollars. Several deals are planned for the near future including one of the largest arms contracts of recent times—11 billion-dollar project to acquire 126 multi-role combat aircraft.

It is mentionable that after 9/11, both India and Israel which had openly jumped on Bush’s anti-terrorism enterprise are acting upon a secret diplomacy, targeting Pakistan China and Iran. In this context, Indo-Israeli secret diplomacy could be assessed from the interview of Israel’s ambassador to India, Mark Sofer published in the Indian weekly Outlook on February 18, 2008. Regarding India’s defence arrangements with Tel Aviv, Sofer had surprisingly disclosed “We do have a defence relationship with India, which is no secret” and “with all due respect, the secret part will remain a secret.” With the support of Israel, New Delhi has been acquiring an element of strategic depth by setting up logistical bases in the Indian Ocean for its navy.

It notable that on October 15, 2010, under the Pak-China pretext, the then Indian Army Chief Gen. VK Singh had openly blamed that China and Pakistan posed a major threat to India’s security, while calling for a need to upgrade country’s defence. Indian former Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor had also expressed similar thoughts.

Defence experts opine that taking the concept of a two front war, India has launched an ambitious military buildup plan, along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in state of Arunachal Pradesh and Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir near Pakistan.

On the one hand, India has been emphasising the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to normalise its relations with Pakistan, but on the other, Indian soldiers crossed over the Line of Control in Kashmir on January 6, 2012 and attacked a Pakistani check post, killing one Pakistani soldier and injuring many troops. Besides, Indian troops shot dead two Pakistani soldiers on the LoC on January 10 and 15.

In this respect, the Pakistani Foreign Office summoned the Indian High Commissioner and lodged a strong protest on the repeated and unprovoked attacks on Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani foreign secretary also asked India to “thoroughly investigate the repeated ceasefire violations along the LoC by Indian troops”, reiterating the offer to hold an independent inquiry through the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which India flatly refused.

In order to justify its open aggression, India concocted a fabricated story of accusing Pakistan of killing and beheading its two soldiers in the same area of the LoC. Despite the fact that Pakistan’s civil and army spokesmen have denied Indian baseless allegations, but, Indian top officials, the opposition party and media have perennially been launching a blame game to distort the image of Pak Army and Pakistan. In this context, on January 14, Indian Army Chief Gen. Bikram Singh threatened to retaliate against Pakistan for the beheaded soldiers. While, recently, there have been blatant violations by Indian troops, targeting some other Pakistani soldiers, which have given a blow to the ceasefire of 2003 along the LoC.

Meanwhile, some Kashmiri freedom fighters attacked the camp of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Srinagar on March 13, 2013, and killed five Indian soldiers. Two freedom fighters also lost their lives in the incident. Next day, Pakistan rejected the statement of Indian Home Secretary RK Singh who allegedly said, “Prime facie evidence suggests that the militants who attacked the members of the Central Reserve Police Force were from across the border, and were probably from Pakistan.”

However, Indian defence expenditures have no bounds. India is expected to spend $80 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its military. Arms deals in India have often been mired in controversy with allegations that companies have paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to Indian top military officials. In this respect, media disclosed on March 14, this year that India’s former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi has been booked on charges of corruption and conspiracy in a VVIP chopper deal. Detectives raided his home on March 12 as part of an investigation about bribery paid to secure a $748 million contract for 12 Italian helicopters.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its FIR revealed that Tyagi and his three cousins were bribed 4, 26 000 euros to swing the contract for Anglo-Italian firm, Augusta Westland. The FIR shows as evidence a letter written by the retired air chief marshal in 2005, in which he approved scaling down the flying height of the helicopters from 18,000 feet to 15,000 feet. The concerned Italians admitted that the Tyagi family was paid 100,000 euros in cash for the 12-helicopter deal, and the CBI claims almost half a million euros were paid to the Tyagi brothers.

The CBI also indicated that in addition to the 100,000 euros in cash, it has tracked two payments, one of 1, 26 000 euros between August and October in 2004 and another of 200,000 euros in February 2005.

In 1980s, the government of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi collapsed over charges that the Swedish gun manufacturer Bofors paid bribes to supply Howitzer field guns to the Indian army. Following the Bofors scandal, India banned middlemen in all defense deals. Nonetheless, the case is a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government which has been buffeted over the past year by a string of corruption scandals ahead of national elections scheduled in the first half of next year.

It is mentionable that in May 1998, India detonated five nuclear tests, and also compelled Pakistan to follow the suit. The then Defense Minister George Fernandes had also declared publicly that “China is India’s potential threat No. 1.” New Delhi which successfully tested missile, Agni-111in May 2007, has been extending its range to target all Chinese cities. Now by setting aside peace-offers of China and Pakistan, New Delhi has entangled the latter in a deadly arms race.

While international community has been making strenuous efforts for world peace in wake of global financial crisis and war against terrorism, but India has initiated deadly nuclear arms race in South Asia where people are already facing multiple problems of grave nature. Majority of South Asian people are living below the poverty level, lacking basic facilities like fresh food and clean water. While yielding to acute poverty, every day, some persons commit suicide.

By ignoring regional problems and resolution of Indo-Pak issues, especially thorny dispute of Kashmir, Indian rulers state that they do not have any belligerent policy. But, it becomes a big joke of the 21st century, reminding a maxim, “armed to the teeth, but no enemy”, if we take cognisance of Indian aggressive designs, aimed at destroying South Asian peace and stability, giving a wake up call to other regional powers.

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By Sajjad Shaukat

British tourist injured fleeing India sex attack

The attack comes just three months after thousands took to the streets in nationwide protests following the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi. The victim, a physiotherapy student died from internal injuries after being savagely assaulted by six men. One of her alleged attackers was found dead in his prison cell in New Delhi on Monday.

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The facade of an Indian hotel, where a British tourist reportedly jumped from in an attempt to escape a sexual assault,
A female British tourist was admitted to hospital after jumping through a hotel window yesterday over fears of a sex attack in the Indian city of Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, police said. The victim, who was not named but was in her early 30s, suffered leg injuries when she leapt from the first floor after two men tried to enter her room in the Hotel Agra Mahal at around 4:00 am. “She got frightened so she ran to the other end of the room and jumped out of the window,” Pawan Kumar, superintendent of police in Agra, told AFP.
Another officer who was with the victim in hospital said she had earlier rejected the hotel manager’s overtures offering a massage. He then returned with a second man and attempted to open the door to her room with a key, the officer said. Swaranjeet, deputy superintendent of police in Agra, who only uses one name, said that one person had been taken into custody on charges of harassment.

The victim had suffered a ligament fracture in one leg but her injuries were not serious, Swaranjeet told AFP. “But she is very scared and has cancelled her plans to keep travelling in India. She just wants to return home,” she added. A member of staff at the hotel, who would not give his full name, said the manager had merely tried to wake up the victim in time for an early morning train. “We don’t know what she thought but she jumped out of the window of her room,” said the staff member. Last week, a Danish tourist Judith Jensen has a long list of don’ts to help her feel safe during her holiday in India.

She won’t hail a taxi off the street, she won’t stay in an obscure hotel and she won’t go out after darkall decisions made in response to the growing reporting of sexual crime in the country. “I have read and heard so much about rape in India that now I feel this persistent sense of danger,” Jensen, 42 said as she walked through a popular market in downtown Delhi. The tourism ministry’s ubiquitous Incredible India marketing campaign has helped boost the number of foreign visitors over the past decade to around 6.6 million a year-albeit still way behind the likes of China and Malaysia. But that push is now hampered by a growing sense that India is simply not a safe destination, particularly for women.

The fatal gangrape of an Indian student in December shone a disturbing light on the levels of sexual violence and a series of subsequent attacks on foreigners have added to the sense of unease.

On Friday night, a Swiss tourist was gang-raped while on a cycling holiday in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. Her husband was tied up by the gang who are also accused of stealing a laptop, a mobile phone and 10,000 rupees ($185). On the same night, a group of men in a city near Delhi briefly kidnapped an Indian male executive working for the French engineering giant Alstom.
Other incidents reported since the December bus gang-rape include that of a South Korean student who said she had been raped and drugged by the son of the owner of the hotel where she stayed during a holiday in January. A Chinese woman working in Gurgaon, a town bordering the Indian capital, was also reportedly raped by an acquaintance last month.
Indian officials say there is no need for alarm, pointing out that foreigners are victims of crime the world over and the vast majority of visitors experience no safety problems. But travel advice from a host of countries stresses the need for visitors to take care. An advisory from the Swiss foreign ministry, issued before Friday’s attack, urged men and women visiting India to travel in large groups and with guides. The US State Department’s website warns female travelers to “observe stringent security precautions” and “avoid travelling alone in hired taxis, especially at night”.
Britain’s foreign office updated its advisory for India last week, saying that “women travelers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men”. In a notorious case five years ago, 15-year-old British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling was raped and left to die on a beach in the tourist resort of Goa.
Jensen, who stands out in an Indian crowd with her blonde hair, recalled how she spent a carefree week backpacking around southern India a decade ago. But now, travelling with her 10-year-old daughter, it is a different story with her husband texting her several times a day to check up on their safety. “There is no question that these stories will have an impact on foreign visitors,” she said. “Women will prefer to visit other places like Singapore or Bali or Thailand, where safety is not such a big concern.” At the Delhi office of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, executive director Gour Kanjilal said it was unfair to portray India as dangerou.

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IP gas pipeline and the US

Pakistan must realize now that it should reform its foreign policy by showing less dependence on the West. There must be a shift in our foreign policy towards the eastern blocs, which are emerging as potential economic alliances. Pakistan has many options of alignment available to it and being a sovereign state, it has a fundamental right to serve its national interests than foreign pragmatisms. Therefore, no country has the right to interfere into Pakistan’s internal affairs that are in the interests of the country and could mitigate economic sufferings of its people.
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Despite US opposition, the 
$ 7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline or the Peace Pipeline is going ahead as planned. The Peace Pipeline initially had three players — Pakistan, Iran, and India — but the latter decided to part from the project in 2009 to avail the US nuclear deal. The Peace Pipeline will help Pakistan end its growing energy crisis that has put its economic wellbeing at stake. Pakistan’s economy is operating below par, which is affecting productivity, causing declining exports, and widening the balance of payments deficit. The Peace Pipeline is a major step forward for Pakistan at a time when its textile and fertiliser sector are showing a decline in output. With long and unexpected power outages, the industrial sector is in peril, which is why the business community has shown feelings of joy and relief over the project.

Iran will soon complete constructing its end of the pipeline; however, the construction of the 780 kilometre section of the pipeline on the Pakistani side will cost Islamabad nearly $ 1.5 billion. Washington never accepted the Peace Pipeline project and had its reservations over the initiative. Even though Pakistan will overcome its energy needs with Iran’s support, the latter’s nuclear ambition compelled the US to oppose the project.

Pakistan is eager to complete the pipeline in due time. However, the US doubts if Pakistan can finance the project. Moreover, analysts believe that the US will impose sanctions on Pakistan for defying Washington’s directives and siding with a country having a nuclear plan that worries the west. In addition, Pakistan might face US sanctions as mentioned in the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act, which allows the US government to ban imports from any non-American company that makes an investment of more than $ 20 million a year in the Iranian oil and natural gas sector.

Even though the Peace Pipeline is expected to provide benefits to Pakistan, it also has an underlining political motive. Analysts view that Pakistan’s ruling party will use the gas pipeline project to amass votes and create a positive public image in the upcoming elections. People are wondering why the government went ahead with the project with only a few days left remaining before the dissolution of the assemblies. Even with a political motive in place, the Peace Pipeline will benefit the state and the credit goes to the president and his team for sealing the deal. Construction on the $ 1.5 billion pipeline is scheduled to be completed by December 2014. If the project goes according to plan, Iran will supply 21.5 million cubic metres of gas per day from its gas field in South Pars to Nawabshah. This will solve Pakistan’s energy crisis and revive industry that fell prey to power outages.

The US not only opposed the project but also suggested Pakistan an alternative pipeline route from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and to India. Iran andPakistan never accepted the replacement route. Furthermore, India’s presence in the project would have kept both Pakistan and India on the verge of a war-like situation, which would only destabilise the South Asian region. The Peace Pipeline will begin transporting gas to Pakistan from December 2014. However, with the project already marred with delays, the final deadline is yet to be decided.

Prior to the inauguration of the Peace Pipeline project, the US State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland said, “If this deal is finalised for a proposed Iran-Pakistan pipeline, it would raise serious concerns under our Iran Sanctions Act. We’ve made that absolutely clear to our Pakistani counterparts.”

The US may impose sanctions on Pakistan for engaging in business-related activities with Iran. According to the Congressional Research Report, Iran is prohibited from selling technology or equipment that aids its energy sector. In addition, Iran lacks the authorisation to conduct business dealings that involve gas or fuels of any type with any country.

Even with the US closely monitoring the proceedings of the Peace Pipeline, President Asif Ali Zardari is hopeful for the many advantages the gas pipeline will bring to Pakistan and views it as a win-win project for Iran and Pakistan. Addressing the gathering at the inauguration ceremony, the president said, “The completion of the pipeline is in the interest of peace, security, and progress of the two countries. It will consolidate the economic, political and security ties of the two nations.” Pakistan’s Foreign Office is repeatedly asserting that Pakistan will not face any opposition from the US and believes that the US will show more understanding on this issue. Only time will tell if Washington comprehends the causes that led Pakistan to go ahead with the Peace Pipeline.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad views the Peace Pipeline as a symbol of resistance against western domination. In the post-9/11 era, Pakistan became a major ally of the US in curbing extremism. However, the Peace Pipeline could put Pakistan in a heap of trouble. Pakistan cannot afford any aggressive diplomacy from the US at a time when foreign aid is crucial for its survival.
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By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

The writer is a Karachi-based journalist who writes frequently on regional issues with focus on South Asia (Daily Times)

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