Iran-Pakistan pipeline

It is quite understandable that Mr Zardari felt the project to be of great benefit to Pakistan; for the Iranian gas would go a long way towards meeting the energy requirements of Pakistan where the people have to go through a trying experience of loadshedding lasting for hours on end every day. Mr Zardari was also received by Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who stressed that the project must go ahead despite the US opposition.
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Taking her usual pro-America line, in her latest article ‘Not a perfect world’ published in a daily, the writer airs her depressing views about Iran-Pakistan pipeline, saying it is in the headlines again, but for the wrong reasons, and wrong reason, according to her, is that the United States and its pack of hunting dogs, the western countries, are after Iran.

In her self-assured manner, she declares signing of the agreement a political gimmick by the Peoples Party, just to gain some extra votes which the defiance of the United States in the prevailing anti-America public mood will bring. However, further down in her article, she says “The pipeline could also help Pakistan pursue an independent foreign policy, rather than base all decisions around the contours of its relationships with China and the US. The ability to prioritize domestic concerns is a strong sign of political maturity and stability.”

She agrees that the construction of pipeline could generate some employment in Balochistan while it could also help us generate another 4,000 mw of power the absence of which is increasing unemployment. She also declares that IP pipeline is more feasible than the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, and later says “the IP pipeline seems unfeasible for the same reasons as Tapi.” I think she should make up her mind as to what she wants to say instead of just contradicting herself, and confusing the readers as to what message she wants to convey.

Her statement “Western opinion is turning against sanctioning rogue nations” while indicating an opposition to sanctions in the West, is highly objectionable as it implies that the nations subject to sanctions now or before are rogues while the Western nations are all angels. She seems to have completely forgotten imperial history of the Western nations, what Western invaders did to the indigenous population of United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, in short wherever they set their foot. Even in recent times, their conduct in Vietnam and Iraq is right before us, qualifies them as nothing but thugs, scoundrels and murderers of the worst kind. As a matter of fact, two of the oldest disputes, Kashmir and Palestine, which have remained unsolved for more than half a century, and which are responsible for major terrorist activity around the world, including 9/11, are creations of these Western angels. It was Britain that gave the Muslim-majority areas with access to Kashmir to India and established Israel as a thorn in the flesh of Palestinians.

It is also the unqualified support of US and the West that has made Israel the monster it has become which continues treating Palestinians with contempt, subjecting them to ridicule, humiliation and worst forms of human rights violations in their own land illegally occupied by Israel. On the basis of their conduct, these Western nations hardly qualify for the high regard in which she seems to hold them.
Her opposition to Iran-Pakistan pipeline is mainly due to the threat of sanctions but she herself admits that opinion in the West is turning against sanctions because it creates ill-feelings against them. We also know that the US has given exemption to some countries from sanctions and since the US and NATO countries need economical, short supply route through Pakistan for getting most of their supplies in Afghanistan and they will need this just as much while evacuating from there, Pakistan is in a strong position. She could also have suggested that if Pakistan stood firm, there is every possibility that the US would give Pakistan a waiver. However, she feels more comfortable pleading Americans’ case with us, as well as trying to frighten us of disastrous consequences that could follow through defying the US.

The writer says “Finally, Pakistan can’t be sure that the US won’t impose tough sanctions, which could lead to a reorientation of US-Pakistan relations from engagement to isolation, with Washington simultaneously taking a zero-tolerance stance against Pakistani militancy. In response, Pakistan would likely take on a spoiler role in Afghanistan. Such policy shifts would undermine regional stability and forever snuff out the possibility of Islamabad and Washington having anything more than a transactional relationship.

She forgets that our relations with the US have always been nothing but transactional and most of the time, the US ditched us at times of our extreme need, and the pattern is likely to continue, rather get worse in future. In the present round, Americans apologized for their conduct earlier and promised to be different this time but actually proved worse than before. The Abbottabad raid and the killings at Salala post, with refusal even to offer a proper apology hardly show an inclination to ‘engage.’

This time, the whole western gang came up with a promise to help us. The ‘friends of democratic Pakistan forum was launched with great fanfare but fizzled out and we do not even hear of it any more. It was the same with the US. During meetings with the US, various sub-committees were formed to provide us specialist help in various fields, but the committees never progressed beyond promises and in due course, died their natural death. 

Even the project ‘reconstruction opportunity zones’ which was supposed to provide $ 150 million a year for five years for development in FATA was cancelled. Abandoning us, the US is busy courting India which it wants to prop up as a leader in the region, and as a US partner in its ultimate war with China.

This naturally puts us in the enemy camp, based on America’s ‘with us, or against us’ policy. I am rather surprised that despite America’s past and present conduct with us, anyone could even dream that we could have anything but purely transactional relationship with the US: a transaction in which we are sure to end up as overall losers. The $ 70 billion loss which we have incurred due to our association with the US war on terror is far greater than the total aid we received from the US from 1947 up till now and the nearly 40,000 soldiers and civilians killed come on top of that.

Declaring Pakistan’s recent strong moves on the Pipeline project as election stunt, she says “The problem with pre-election stunts is that they are often shelved the moment elections are successfully contested. And that is especially true in this case since Pakistan can’t afford to build the pipeline. Sadly, this counterproductive stunt will distract from more viable domestic measures to address the energy crisis, including reducing energy theft, improving infrastructure to prevent inefficiencies and developing Pakistan’s local gas fields.”

She has completely ignored the strong possibility that the badly-bruised Peoples Party, which could not manage to get simple majority while it had the benefit of ‘sympathy’ votes is unlikely to fare any better due to its worst performance during the last five years. Moreover, some other parties, which boycotted elections last time, like Jamaat-e-Islami and a much strengthened Tehreek-e-Insaf are also in the field now, while MQM is also planning to field its candidates throughout Pakistan. Dr. Tahirul Qadri is also expected to announce participation in the general election by his Pakistan Awami Tehreek, about which he has promised to make a definitive statement in his address in Rawalpindi on March 17. So, even if announced as an election gimmick, Pakistan Iran pipeline project is likely to be pursued vigorously by other parties which are likely to form the next government.

Our partnership with Iran could also speed up additional projects like 1,000 mw Taftan-Quetta transmission line, 400 mw Gawadar power supply project, Noshki-Dalbandin highway and up-gradation of Quetta-Taftan track in addition to establishment of a refinery in Gwadar.

Also, going for the IP pipeline and pursuing other ‘ viable domestic measures’ suggested by the writer are not mutually exclusive options act both have to be pursued to meet the ever-increasing energy needs.

As for the unrest in Balochistan, it is a threat not only to IP pipeline, but also to continued existence of Pakistan as a viable state and has got to be dealt with in a coordinated manner along with law and order problem elsewhere in the country. With Chinese coming to Gwadar, more employment opportunities will be created in the province, and the two countries together will bring the Balochistan situation under control, and soon: this has got to be done, and will be done. With so many new, enthusiastic entrants in the political field now, things can not remain the same like they they did in the past.
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By S.R.H. Hashmi

Thank You For Reading

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Saudi /Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’Love-in’

Pakistan’s Hazaras, a prosperous, moderate community who found refuge after brutal crackdowns in Afghanistan, are again living in fear as they suffer record levels of sectarian violence. Overwhelmingly Shias, the roughly 550,000 Hazaras in Quetta are descendants of migrants from Afghanistan, where the community opposed the 1996-2001 Taliban regime but has since prospered._______________________________________________

The Wahhabi were founded by Abd al-Wahab (1703-1791) who claimed that the teachings of Mohammed had been corrupted by decadent influences. He argued that the faith should return to the purity of the Islam of the first two centuries. After his expulsion from Medina Wahab formed a relationship with the Saud tribe. The Saud’s went onto conquer Arabia. By 1811 they had established control and created a capital in Riyadh. Wahhabism became the favoured version of Islam. The Saudi reign was challenged by the Ottoman Empire on two occasions. The last was made famous by the film Lawrence of Arabia. This was to mark the beginning of a strange friendship between the West and Islamic fundamentalism. The British formed an alliance with the Saudi’s to defeat the common enemy, Ottoman Turkey. The result was the restoration of the Saudi dynasty in Riyadh and the re-establishment of the Wahhabi sect.

However, not all is well in the relationship between the Saud royal family and Wahhabi clerics. Wahhabism is puritan in outlook and shuns the ostentatious display of wealth. As oil money began to spoil and corrupt the royal family Wahhabi clerics began to declaim the corrupting influence of the West. There is now deep division within the Saudi society between the supporters of religious orthodoxy and the supporters of a more pro-western stance. 

The Deobandi are named after a Muslim seminary founded in the Indian city of Deoband in 1866. This sect arose largely in response to the perceived corruption caused by the influence of Hindu syncretism and Sufi mysticism. They were also violently opposed to British rule. Like the Wahhabi it seeks to return to a purer version of Islam. For this reason the Deobandi are sometimes incorrectly referred to as Wahhabi. 
When Pakistan and India split during the partition Deobandi radicals became influential in Pakistani politics. It is the Deobandi who founded the madrassas, the religious schools that were the source of the Taliban, Taliban simply means ‘student’. 
The important point to remember is that both of these sects arose as a reaction to the belief that Islam had been corrupted by outside forces, and they arose before oil had been discovered in the Middle East.
As mentioned the Saud royal family are the patrons of Wahhabi sect. The Wahhabi sect has had a powerful influence throughout the Islamic world. Many rich Saudi’s regard it as their religious duty to support the efforts of the clerics. This has included the private and public funding of a network of charitable organisations. These organisations helped fund Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan and helped fund Bashir’s school in Indonesia. A proportion of this money has also helped fund Osama bin Laden‘s activities, pursued in the name of Wahhabi religious zealotry
The common Muslims of the subcontinent have been moderate and the general body of both Sunnis and Shiites has lived in peace. Not so long ago people following the Sunni doctrine used to be seen atop rooftops witnessing Ashura processions. At some places, they also used to set up water dispensers for the mourners. Despite their doctrinal differences, the common Muslim did not consider others heretics or apostates. These are now things of the past.
The Saudi influence in Pakistan and the adoption of extremist demands has led to the unhindered growth of extremism. The country started depending on Saudi Arabia for financial assistance and even involved it in its political matters. The dependence of Pakistan on Saudi aid had a price tag about which the common Pakistani had no idea. The price tag was the total freedom to the Salafi doctrine to set up their religious schools or madrassas without any government oversight over the syllabi. That resulted in the exponential growth of this doctrine, which had a comparatively inclusive strain of Sunnis as a majority. It was conveniently forgotten by those allowing them uncontrolled growth that the Salafis had no tolerance for dissent and had all but wiped out any dissenting doctrine from areas under their political dominance. General Zia’s active support for this doctrine forced Iran to involve itself to assist the Shiites fight the onslaught on them and this made things more complex. Sectarian killing started in his era as a result of operations by militant organisations he let form and the country has since suffered. While in the past there has been some retaliatory activity by the aggrieved, it is fortunate that they have concluded retaliation to be self-consuming, and in the recent past, sense has prevailed and their reaction has so far remained restrained and civil.
The majority of students from madrassas where the dissident is taught is a heretic and thus deserving death have become the backbone of extremism in Pakistan. When terrorist outfits began operating in this part of the world, these very people sympathised with their activities and offered them political support. When subsequent to the terror attacks on the US, Pakistan started its war on terror, it did not concurrently start the prerequisite of zero tolerance for extremism that was necessary for a successful campaign against terror. The covert political support for terror outfits has, therefore, succeeded in dividing the public reaction to acts of terror, as is evident from the Malala incident where a section of society was made to smell a conspiracy, thus making the reaction weak.
February 22 marked the day when Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, the founder of the infamous Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), and the ideological godfather of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) — the radical group that has accepted responsibility for the recent killings of the Hazara Shiite minorities in Quetta — was assassinated by suspected Shiite militants in 1990. As the nation mourned the sad events of February 16, 2013, when the Hazaras were attacked yet again in Quetta and more than 90 innocent lives were lost, a twitter post stated, “Ghar ghar Jhangvi utthe ga, Tum jitne Jhangvi maro gay” (A [Haq Nawaz] Jhangvi will emerge from every home, how many Jhangvis will you assassinate?). The twitter message further stated that February 22 was to be remembered as ‘a grand event of the martyrdom’ of Maulana Jhangvi. The message clearly showed that Pakistan’s problem of religious intolerance.

Based on a strict Deobandi interpretation of  Islam, the discourse of the LeJ, i.e. ‘the army of [Maulana] Jhangvi’, revolves largely around the themes of purity and purgation, being especially critical of Shiite views. A central aspect of it is takfir, i.e. declaring members of any Muslim group to be infidels, casting them outside the fold of Islam, and at times, going up to the extent of pronouncing them ‘wajib-ul-qatl’ (deserving of death). This then gets connected to the concept of jihad having become obligatory to put the specific group to death. In June 2011, the LeJ issued a pamphlet against the Hazaras in Balochistan in which all these themes were vividly visible. Words like ‘kafir’ (infidel), ‘naapak’ (impure, unclean) and ‘Pakistan is the land of the pure [only]’ clearly showed the worldview of the LeJ vis-à-vis the Hazara Shiites. The pamphlet announced that the Hazaras would be targeted and killed by the LeJ.
An interesting, and much revealing couplet in a poetic tribute to an anti-Shiite activist published by Sipah-e-Sahaba reads, “He became a devotee of the Companions [of the Prophet (sallallahu alehi wassalam)], and took a ticket to paradise.” In a complex struggle involving religion, history, territory, identity and politics, Pakistan battles against her Frankenstein’s monster of religious intolerance and militancy through largely superficial, negligent and hypocritical measures. Sadly, in a society where tickets to heaven, and hell, are easily available, innocent people will keep on dying at the hands of the violent, self-appointed, soldiers of God. It seems that the monster is here to stay.
The war against terrorism, which is actually the war for preserving the soul of Pakistan, cannot be won unless there is zero tolerance for the cancer of extremism that is consuming us. Doing this requires a catharsis by all institutions that wield power so that mistakes made in the past are identified and corrective action initiated with the single purpose of recreating Jinnah’s vision. The constitution grants to the people freedom of religion under Article 20 (a), which guarantees that “subject to law, public order and morality every citizen shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate his religion”, and guarantees equal protection to all people under Article 25 (1). These rights have only been selectively granted. This has resulted in extremism getting further strengthened. Dialogue between people of differing faiths has been killed and people have been left at the mercy of extremists. The reversal of extremism requires that Articles 20 (a) and 25 (1) are implemented in letter and spirit so that the people learn to live in a world where differing faiths co-exist and form the habit of logical discourse. Under no compulsion should the fundamental rights of citizens of any faith be made hostage to expediency. Additionally, hate speech should be strictly monitored. Giving Takfiri edicts and teaching them at madrassas must be banned and offenders punished. Police has a presence in all settled areas and know fully well the places where such words are spoken. They should be made to do their work and the menace tackled at its source. The security apparatus should be made to understand that extremism is the country’s worst enemy and made to act accordingly. They need to realise there is nothing like a ‘good’ extremist.
It is no more a matter of Pakistan’s image. The survival of the country is at stake. Any delay in implementing the policy of zero tolerance for extremism will cost Pakistan heavily and God forbid may force some to take action that may be suicidal for it.

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Pak Political forces join hands in disaster management

Floods hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,Sindh,Panjab,Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan showing no sign of mercy.

The top political leadership of the country joined hands on Saturday to cope with the worst ever floods in the country and agreed on setting up a body to raise funds for the rehabilitation of flood victims.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Pakistam Muslim League-N (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif, while addressing a joint press conference after a meeting here at the PM House, expressed deep shock and grief over the wide scale devastation that displaced around 20 million people and caused losses of billions.

The two leaders expressed the resolve to work together for the rehabilitation of the flood-affected people.

Prime Minister Gilani said he also telephoned Asfandyar Wali of Awami National Party (ANP) and would continue to contact other leaders to gain their support for a national cause.

“The calamity demands of us that all political parties rise above their differences to jointly cope with the disaster,” Gilani said.

He said the government has decided to set up a body to transparently collect and disburse the funds amongst the provinces judiciously, as per the damage assessment.

The prime minister said the members and details of the new body would be announced in a few days and would have the credibility and trust of the entire nation.

Gilani said the members of the new body have not yet been finalized, but amongst those on the list could be Rana Baghwan Das, Fakharuddin G Ibrahim, Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid etc.

Gilani said the government would not have any favourites in the fund raising body and anyone may join it for a noble cause.

Gilani said the government has mobilised entire resources for the rescue and relief efforts and would continue to work with all the stakeholders for the rehabilitation.

He said both he and Nawaz Sharif stood together to help the people who not only lost their homes, but also all means of livelihood.

Nawaz Sharif said he had witnessed the “unprecedented devastation” caused by the floods. There was a need to unite the nation, without indulging in any point scoring, he added.

He said he had visited several flood affected areas and seen for himself the scale of destruction, which was not possible for any government to handle on its own and all the people would have to work together to confront the crisis.

He suggested formulation of an independent authority to raise funds, to conduct damage assessment and transparently distribute the funds for the rehabilitation efforts.

Nawaz Sharif said he together with Prime Minister Gilani would tour the entire country to raise the funds, without having to get assistance from abroad.

“We will not beg to the world to help us. If any country wishes to extend help, it may do so, but we have the ability to handle the calamity on our own.”

He said every effort would be made to ensure complete transparency in the working of the body.

He said the situation demanded that no distinction was made between the government and the opposition in reaching out to the flood affected people and to raise and disburse the funds.

The PML-N leader said the nation would have to render sacrifices to help their brethren in need. He said the federal and provincial governments too would have to cut down drastically their expenditures to cope with the challenge.

Sharif said he believed that according to his estimates the damages ran between 300-400 billion rupees.

Prime Minister Gilani said the federal and the provincial governments would have to drastically cut down their expenditures to raise funds.

Regarding cut in recently increased salaries, Gilani clarified that the raised salaries would not be cut.

He said the meeting of the Council of Common Interests would be summoned soon to evaluate the situation and suggest ways and means to generate funds and cut on expenses.

When asked about his meeting with the PML-N leader, Prime Minister Gilani said it was decided that the political parties sit together and formulate a body that is headed by a credible team which can generate funds.

Nawaz Sharif appreciated the “positive” gesture of the prime minister in swiftly responding to his suggestion and said together they can help in the rehabilitation effort.

The prime minister said the government would also ensure that in future there was no construction in the waterways.

To a question about closure of some channels in Karachi, the Prime Minister said he has directed the Pemra Chairman to ensure that no channels are blocked. He said the government fully believed in freedom of media and would not let anyone impose any restriction.

The PML-N leader when asked about any chance of his meeting with the President, Sharif said, “please do not sabotage. Let the process move forward.”

Prime Minister Gilani said he had apprised the president about his forthcoming meeting with the PML-N leader.

Gilani did not agree with a question that the earthquake affectees were still awaiting relief and said he was personally monitoring the projects of Earthquake Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, which was doing its job.

Regarding operation of foreign agencies and military personnel in the affected areas, Gilani said these were working with the permission of the government in specific areas. He said in practical terms the United States has given the highest amount of aid to Pakistan for the flood victims.

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Pakistan looking towards its nation to own her

Pakistan was not born in a day. Neither its birth was accidental. In fact Pakistan was born out of a necessity that embodied strenuous struggle of its founding leaders.Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who was bestowed upon the title of Quaid-e-Azam,was in fact at the spirit behind the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of the then united India.

Faiz Al-Najdi

 Why was then the necessity of creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India?
 This is the question that has remained at the centre of the debate till date. Many writers have dwelt upon this subject issue. Many politicians, of the past and the contemporary ones, have also opined on the same. There could be varying opinion, but the reason at the centre stage was to ensure that the Muslims of the then India would not be exploited by the Hindu majority once the British rulers had left. It is no secret that Jinnah was the ardent supporter of and proponent of the idea of a united India. For this very reason he was often called as the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. But Jinnah knew very well that once India was independent, the Muslim population would be overwhelmed by the Hindu majority. It would thus open gates of exploitation, discrimination and hence injustices to the rights of the Muslim minority in this new country. It is also a fact that many open and back door diplomacy to ensure Muslim rights had failed and that is why Jinnah finally was convinced that there was no way out but to plead and fight the case for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the then India. This idea was definitely opposed both by the British and the then Hindu leadership. However Jinnah was determined to reach the goal. This goal was thus not a cake-walk. Millions had to pay through their lives on both sides of the divide to finally get this new homeland for the Muslims.
 A new country – Pakistan – thus appeared on the World map on 14th of August 1947.
 Ever since this new country is looking for the day when its inhabitants would become one Pakistani nation and thus come forward and own her. Pakistan was created in the Muslim-majority areas of the then united India – namely, Punjab, East Bengal, Sindh, Balochistan and the North Western Frontier Province. The Pakistan thus formed had the ethnic population of the Punjabis, Bengalis, Sindhis, Balochis and Pathans. A new ethnic dimension was added as a result of the mass migration of the Muslims from the Muslim-minority regions of the then India. They were essentially the refugees or popularly called as the Mohajirs.  They spoke Urdu which later became the national language. As a result of this distinct ethnic divisions and the complex situation resulting thereon, the Pakistanis now are everything other than being a Pakistani. The borders between the provinces became holy and Pakistan thus became a federation with a distinct, loud and separate identity of the four nations added to it the fifth one of the Urdu speaking migrants from India, who mostly settled in Karachi. Unfortunately this, the idea of five distinct and separate nations based on languages that they spoke, also remained an official line from Islamabad often propagated as such in both print and electronic media.
 Then came the religious leaders. Interestingly almost all of them had remained diehard opponents of the idea of creation of a new country for the Muslims of India called Pakistan and had given tough time to Jinnah during the Pakistan movement. However, after the creation of Pakistan they all jumped onto the bandwagon and began to harp on yet another new dimension. That was of the Muslim identity. They rallied on the idea that we were Muslims first and anything else later.
 As a result over all these years, we became Muslims first followed with the Punjabis, Bengalis, Sindhis, Balochis, Pathans and Mohajirs. We were never allowed to become Pakistanis and hence we did not become one. Till date we remain everything else except Pakistanis.
 The poor country Pakistan is desperately waiting since 14th August 1947 to see if its inhabitants would come forward and call themselves Pakistanis and thus own their country Pakistan.
 In short the apathy is that as of today, Pakistan remains without Pakistanis. That is, Pakistan is still looking towards its inhabitants to become one Pakistani nation and to come forward and own her.
 History is witness to the fact that primarily as a result of this indifference from the very inhabitants of this country one wing – East Pakistan – was lost. Other factors not withstanding but it is also a fact that East Pakistan became Bangladesh on 16 December 1971 solely due to the rise of the Bengali nationalism.
 We now are seeing a similar situation in Balochistan and Sindh. Also, after renaming of NWFP (North West Frontier Province) as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a sharp rise in demand for further provinces, on the lines of ethnicity and language, has also been noticed. To name a few are Hazara Province, Seraiki Province, etc. If these two become new provinces then it would be very difficult to suppress the demand for Karachi as a separate province from Sindh.
 It is clear that all of these above would open a Pandora’s box on secession of areas and regions from the existing provinces and carving out of new provinces. It is hard to predict at this moment whether this would be boon or bane for Pakistan.
 However looking at the overall situation in the country today, especially the mood of the people of Pakistan, it is very clear that the very stability & integrity of the rest of the remaining parts of this wonderful country is being threatened. Unfortunately some politicians are also trying to capitalise on this rising trend of demand of new provinces based on ethnic and language. Hardly do they think that they are playing with fire    
 Pakistan today thus stands threatened not by the external forces but unfortunately by its enemy within – that is, by the Pakistanis themselves who are seen to be hell bent on breaking up this country into further pieces.
 God protect this beautiful country of ours!

Thoughts on Independence Day

Nation is observing today the 63rd anniversary of the Independence Day at a time when the country is faced with what is being described as the worst natural disaster in 80 years. Regardless of whether these were triggered by global warming, climate change, the Al Nino factor or lack of planning, the crash floods have so far washed away more than 300,000 houses in all the four provinces. While the Met Office has been forecasting more rains and renewed fury in rivers and canals, from 15 to 20 million flood-affected people are battling for survival on treetops, rooftops and crumbling river embankments. Special Corps Commanders’ Conference in Rawalpindi has, for the first time in the history of independence, cancelled today’s military parade and the planned aerial display on September 6, the Defence Day. COAS General Ashfaq Parvaiz Kayani pledged that money saved thus would be spent on the rescue and relief of the marooned countrymen. About 55 military helicopters are already making sorties in the interior Sindh, Punjab and KP. Instead of adoring the images of the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the philosopher-poet Allama Sir Mohammad Iqbal, the media is promoting the image of a half-naked villager wading in the snake-infested, chest-deep water. Television directors have shoved aside the videos of national songs sung with the typically ecstatic abandon by Mehdi Hassan and Noor Jehan. They prefer to take live the images of rain-soaked anchorpersons persuading the reluctant villagers to climb down the make-shift bedding they have tied to nearby cluster of trees. Popular images of Hadeeqa Kayani and Humaira Arshad have been replaced by the glum faces of Met Office doomsayers. Rescue and relief efforts suffered a setback on Friday when an overloaded boat capsized near Larkana in Sindh thus drowning 30 of the persons on board. Meanwhile, BBC showed a huge US ship full of American marines and helicopters arriving in the Karachi seaport. Generally speaking, the remarks even if partly true were not probably well-received but the special Afpak representative of the United States of America, Richard Holbrooke, taking advantage of the situation said that if all the aid was coming from Washington, where on earth the Friends of Pakistan and the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) actually were. When tsunami hit parts of southern India some years back, New Delhi flatly refused all offers of aid from the West. However, the context being qualitatively different, Islamabad has said that it immediately needs $500 million to cope with the crisis. Donor fatigue and trust deficit may have been the factors responsible for the phenomenon but television talk show hosts have been quoting sources in the National Bank of Pakistan as saying that barely four million rupees have arrived in the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
Apart from deducting two-day salary of its employees, the government has imposed two to five percent flood surcharge on imports and products manufactured indigenously. The decision-makers expect the surcharge to fetch Rs150 million. Before December 16, 1971 when East Pakistan was part of the homeland, devastating floods hit what is now Bangladesh. The then government introduced a six-paisa flood surcharge on the sale of every litre of oil fuel. With the passage of time, the floods receded and the eastern wing seceded but the surcharge later became part of the oil price and the motorists have been paying it up to August 14, 2010. Secretary health, Punjab, is no poet but listening to a flood-affected Seraiki poet in an on-the-spot television show near Multan the other day, he was reminded of fairly appropriate lines: Kis jagah per band baandhain mashwaray hotay rahay; cheekhta chingharta pani saron per aa gaya! (Futile consultations continued as to where the embankment should be put up. Meanwhile, the roaring flood waters rushed in and submerged the masses).

Asif Ali Zardari visit China as nuclear deal advances

Islamabad looked to Beijing to counter to Indian influence.

China said on Tuesday that it will host Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for top-level talks in early July, but would not say whether a controversial nuclear energy deal between the two nations will be discussed.

Zardari is a regular visitor to China, and his next trip from July 6 to 11 will include meetings with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news conference.

The announcement of the visit follows signs that China is moving forward with long-discussed plans to build two nuclear reactors at Pakistan’s Chashma atomic complex, expanding a project that has worried Washington and India. [ID:nTOE65N02E]

Two Chinese nuclear companies this month signed a contract to cooperate in construct the third and fourth plants at Chashma, building on China’s rule at the complex in Punjab province. Pakistan faces severe power shortages.

Qin did not directly answer reporters’ questions about whether the deal will be discussed during Zardari’s visit.

“Both sides will exchange views on how to advance friendly cooperation in all areas, and also on international and regional issues of shared concern,” said Qin.

Mounting indications that China will proceed with the reactor expansion in Pakistan, troubled by militant groups, have stirred international misgivings, especially in neighbouring India and the United States, who have their own nuclear energy deal.

The United States said this month it wanted clarification from China on the proposed plants.

Pakistan and India are rivals, and both possess nuclear weapons and stay outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Islamabad has looked to Beijing to counter to Indian influence. In past decades, Chinese expertise was crucial to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, experts widely believe.

The proposed China-Pakistan nuclear energy deal was discussed last week by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a body of 46 governments that seek to control access to their nuclear fuel and reactor technology to prevent the spread of atomic weapons.

The Chinese spokesman Qin said that any nuclear cooperation with Pakistan should not worry any other countries.

“Cooperation between China and Pakistan for the use of nuclear energy fully conforms with the international non-proliferation undertakings assumed by both countries and is entirely for peaceful purposes,” he said.

(Reuters)

Nuclear Factor in International Relations and the “Iranian Problem”

The international politics is increasingly revolving around the nuclear theme. A meltdown of the regime set by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was absolutely predictable. Due to its discriminatory character, the Treaty could not prevent the “horizontal proliferation”, the process which turned Israel, India, Pakistan, N. Korea, and South Africa into nuclear-armed countries. There can be no universally acceptable explanation why some countries are entitled to possess nuclear weapons while others are not.

Asserting its global primacy, the US has dealt several severe blows to the non-proliferation regime.

The first blow was dealt by the US withdrawal from the 1972 missile defense treaty.

The second blow was the adoption of the new nuclear doctrine which set a lower threshold for the use of nuclear arsenals and practically gave them the role of battlefield weapon rather than means of deterrence. The Financial Times wrote recently that Obama’s disarmament initiatives are essentially a tactic of countering the Iranian propaganda. Calling for total nuclear disarmament, Washington has reinforced its positions in the intricate game of nuclear diplomacy played out in the UN. Pretending to believe in the possibility of full and global disarmament is an indispensable element of the Western hypocrisy.

The third blow was dealt to the non-proliferation regime by the US when Washington recognized India’s de facto status of a nuclear-armed country.

The fourth blow came as NATO and US declared the whole world a zone of their vital interests and increasingly started to rely on force in international politics. It is clear after Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq that for the countries regarded as rogue by Washington possessing nuclear arms is the only way of safeguarding themselves against “democratization” backed by cruise missiles and bombers. N. Korea, for example, faced notably fewer threats since withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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The international politics background at the moment is extremely unfavorable from the standpoint of coordinated anti-proliferation activity.

1. On the one hand, nuclear arsenals are a “superweapon” the use of which would entail catastrophic consequences. On the other, the “superweapon” can serve as a key instrument of pursuing national (or group and particular) interests. We are witnessing two colliding global tendencies as the nuclear disarmament is underway but countries increasingly employ nuclear arsenals to accomplish national objectives.

2. Due to the collapse of the Bretton-Woods system and to the global crisis which erupted in 2008 the US dollar – the main pillar of the US primacy – is sustained solely by the US military potential. The arrangement motivates other countries to become nuclear-armed powers.

3. The raise of Asia over the recent years makes the West worry about the possible mushrooming of nuclear armed countries. The West would be happy to go on exploiting underdeveloped countries and consuming the lion’s share of the world’s natural resources “unconventionally”, while securing its right to do so with the help of “conventional” warfare in show-like remotely operated and risk-free combat.

4. The widening “geopolitical gap” between the Muslim world and Israel makes the latter rely on its nuclear stockpile as the means of last resort in security affairs. The policy automatically renders the problems of denuclearizing Pakistan and ensuring non-proliferation in the Middle East unsolvable .

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The “Iranian problem” puts serious obstacles in the way of adopting an internationally coordinated horizontal non-proliferation program. Iran, a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory, is confronted with a kind of “guilt presumption”: it is forced to prove its innocence on various counts. Washington invokes the Iranian nuclear program to justify its support for Israel, and Israel cites Ahmadinejad’s militant rhetoric to exact the support from the US, indicating that it can attack Iran’s nuclear installations unilaterally.

Iran signed the Nuclear Non-pProliferation Treaty and – with certain limitations – hosted international inspections during which the IAEA discovered no evidence implicating the country. A rational interpretation of the situation should have prompted the West to focus on diplomatic leverage in dealing with Tehran and to make it cooperate in tightening control over the circulation of nuclear materials and know-how.

Instead, the West attempts to corner Iran and perpetually threatens it with sanctions, thus reinforcing the domestic positions of Iranian radicals.

The overall result is that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty does not work. The agreement is discriminatory, reeks of hypocrisy, and is overloaded with various exceptions from general rules. In the case of the Middle East, the US-British hypocrisy is shocking – to preserve peace it allegedly takes maintaining the nuclear hegemony of Israel, the country that refused to sign the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty, and punishing Iran, the country which joined it. In likewise cases, comments are unnecessary.

Playing a risky game on the grand chessboard and meeting with no resistance from Russia, the US led the situation to a zugzwang, a situation where any move creates further problems.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Victor Kovalev

Corresponding member of Military Science Academy, Strategic Culture Foundationexpert

This article was published in International Affairs magazine