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Archive for November, 2012

A year on, Afghan ‘girl-in-green’ revisits Ashura massacre site

 In a brave gesture of defiance against suicide bombers, Afghanistan’s “girl-in-green” on Saturday revisited the scene of a Shiite Muslim holy-day massacre that made her image world famous.Tarana Akbari,now 13, was pictured screaming in horror among piles of bodies moments after a suicide bomber killed 80 people at last year’s Ashura day ceremonies at a Shiite shrine in Kabul.

On Saturday, dressed in an identical green satin tunic which she made herself after discarding the bloodstained one she wore last year, Tarana attended Ashura day ceremonies at the same shrine.

The day before, police announced that they had arrested two Taliban insurgents with suicide vests who planned to attack the Shiite worshippers.

“I’m not scared,” Tarana told AFP as she sat with her sisters in their spartan home in Old Kabul ahead of the ceremony. “I know there will be danger but I will go back there anyway.

“After the shrine I will go to the graveyard to pray for my brother who died and other members of the family.”

Tarana’s only brother — aged nine — was among many of her relatives killed in last year’s blast, and Tarana and her two sisters were wounded. She was the only one of the children who went back.

Despite her brave words, Tarana wrung her hands anxiously and the mood in her home was more one of preparing to go into battle than attend a religious ceremony.

But her spirits lifted and her shy smile returned with the excitement of dressing up in her new clothes before she set out hand-in-hand with her father, Ahmad Shah, for the 10-minute walk to the shrine.

It is a place that haunts her nightmares.
afghan_girl_massacre_ashura_pullitzer_295.jpgThe image, taken by AFP photographer Massoud Hossaini, was splashed on front pages worldwide and won the Pulitzer prize this year.

“I go back to that place in my dreams. I see my brother and the man (the bomber). I always repeat that scene in my dreams,” Tarana said.

Security was tight, with many streets blocked off and heavily armed police on rooftops and along the approach roads, and even Tarana was frisked before being allowed into the ceremonies.

Once among the throng of worshippers, including young men whipping their bare backs into a bloody mess in a traditional mourning ritual, Tarana’s step faltered and she and her father stopped in a small sheltered spot.

A plastic chair was found and she sat quietly, tension showing in her face and her brown eyes growing increasingly sad with each passing minute.

After half an hour, she and her father, having shown their refusal to be cowed by suicide bombers, left to visit the graves of her brother and other relatives on a bare and bleak hillside overlooking the city.

When the Sunni Muslim Taliban ruled in the 1990s before being ousted by a US-led invasion in 2001, minority Shiites suffered brutal persecution, but sectarian violence has been rare in recent years.

Shiites, who make up roughly 20 percent of the Afghan population, were effectively banned from marking Ashura in public under the Taliban.

Ashura commemorates the killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), near Karbala by armies of the caliph Yazid in 680 AD.

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The Peoples Republic of China : A Pakistani Perspective

The Peoples Republic of China

China’s Economic Model

pak china flag 400

Dr Farrukh Saleem,

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com
Sunday, November 25, 2012
From Print Edition The News Pakistan Daily

Q: What is China’s economic model?

 

A: China’s economic model is export driven. In order to keep the world’s largest labour force – some 780 million Chinese – employed China must export $1.9 trillion worth of goods and services. China uses a variation of the old ‘Japanese model’ that revolves around value addition to raw material and the export of finished products.

 

Q: Who are China’s trade partners?

 

A: The United States is China’s largest export market (roughly 25 percent of all Chinese exports are bought by the Americans). The EU is the second largest importer buying some 17 percent of China’s exports.

 

Q: What are the two main weaknesses of China’s economic model?

 

A: First – China’s growth model is completely dependent on the US and the EU. Second – China’s exports are completely dependent on the South China Sea and the East China Sea. To be certain, all commercial sea lanes around China are completely controlled by the Seventh Fleet of the United States Navy.

 

Q: What about income inequalities in China?

 

A: China’s export-led growth model has led to an urban-rural/coastal-inland income disparity of over 300 percent in favour of China’s urban population. Currently, around 500 million rural Chinese continue to survive at under $2 a day. This income disparity has been behind 180,000 recorded ‘mass incidents’ in 2010 including strikes, demonstrations and protests (a ‘mass incident’ in China is defined as “at least 15 participants”). In 2006, there were 90,000 ‘mass incidents’ (figures on ‘mass incidents’ are maintained by Nankai University, a public research university based in Tianjin).

 

Q: What is China’s security model?

 

A: Internal security is the responsibility of 2.3 million active-duty personnel of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and 1.5 million personnel of the People’s Armed Police (PAP). External security is configured around “four non-Han Chinese buffer states of Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet.”

 

Q: What is the primary responsibility of the PLA?

 

A: The primary responsibility of the PLA, as well as the PAP, is internal security. The PLA is the ultimate guarantor of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) hold over undiluted power. The PLA, as a consequence, has little or no capability to project Chinese power into foreign lands (that’s unlike the United States Armed Forces that are almost exclusively configured to project American power into foreign lands).

 

Q: Why are rich Chinese leaving China?

 

A: According to the Bank of China, 46 percent of Chinese with assets of more than 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) were “either in the process of emigrating, or were planning to do so.” In 2007, less than 300 rich Chinese applied to emigrate to the US. Last year, a 10-fold increase was recorded when 2,969 rich Chinese applied to emigrate to the US. The three top concerns are: security of assets, fear for the future and education of their children.

 

Q: What about China’s demographics?

 

A: China is aging – 119 million Chinese are now over 65. By 2014, two years from now, China will be the only country in the world with 200 million elderly people. All this means a large, economically non-productive population – really bad news for future economic growth.

 

P.S. Some of the above concepts were first laid out by George Friedman of Strategic Forecasting.

 

Capital suggestion

An Opinion

Michael T.Clare 


If you want to know which way the global wind is blowing (or the sun shining or the coal burning), watch China. That’s the news for our energy future and for the future of great-power politics on planet Earth. Washington is already watching—with anxiety.

Rarely  has a simple press interview said more about the global power shifts taking place in our world. On July 20, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol,told the Wall Street Journal that China had overtaken the United States to become the world’s number-one energy consumer. One can read this development in many ways: as evidence of China’s continuing industrial prowess, of the lingering recession in the United States, of the growing popularity of automobiles in China, even of America’s superior energy efficiency as compared to that of China. All of these observations are valid, but all miss the main point: by becoming the world’s leading energy consumer, China will also become an ever more dominant international actor and so set the pace in shaping our global future.

Because energy is tied to so many aspects of the global economy, and because doubts are growing about the future availability of oil and other vital fuels, the decisions China makes regarding its energy portfolio will have far-reaching consequences. As the leading player in the global energy market, China will significantly determine not only the prices we will be paying for critical fuels but also the type of energy systems we will come to rely on. More importantly, China’s decisions on energy preferences will largely determine whether China and the United States can avoid becoming embroiled in a global struggle over imported oil and whether the world will escape catastrophic climate change.

How to Rise to Global Pre-eminence

You can’t really appreciate the significance of China’s newfound energy prominence if you don’t first grasp the role of energy in America’s rise to global pre-eminence.

That the Northeastern region of the young United States was richly endowed with waterpower and coal deposits was critical to the country’s early industrialization as well as to the North’s eventual victory in the Civil War. It was the discovery of oil in western Pennsylvania in 1859, however, that would turn the United States into the decisive actor on the global stage. Oil extraction and exports fueled American prosperity in the early twentieth century—a time when the country was the planet’s leading producer—while nurturing the rise of its giant corporations.

It should never be forgotten that the world’s first great transnational corporation—John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company was founded on the exploitation and export of American petroleum. Anti-trust legislation would break up Standard Oil in 1911, but two of its largest descendants, Standard Oil of New York and Standard Oil of New Jersey, were later fused into what is now the world’s wealthiest publicly traded enterprise, ExxonMobil. Another descendant, Standard Oil of California, became Chevron—today, the third-richest American corporation.

Oil also played a key role in the rise of the United States as the world’s pre-eminent military power. This country supplied most of the oil consumed by Allied forces in both World War I and World War II. Among the great powers of the time, the United States alone was self-sufficient in oil, which meant it could deploy massive armies to Europe and Asia and overpower the well-equipped (but oil-starved) German and Japanese militaries. Few realize this today, but for the architects of America’s victory in the Second World War, including President Roosevelt, it was the nation’s superior endowment of petroleum, not the atom bomb, that proved decisive.

Having created an economy and military establishment based on oil, American leaders were compelled to employ ever more costly and desperate measures to ensure that both always had an adequate supply of energy. After World War II, with domestic reserves already beginning to shrink, a succession of presidents fashioned a global strategy based on ensuring American access to overseas petroleum.

As a start, Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf kingdoms were chosen to serve as overseas “filling stations” for US refiners and military forces. American oil companies, especially the descendants of Standard Oil, were aided and abetted in establishing a major presence in these countries. To a considerable extent, in fact, the great postwar strategic pronouncements—the Truman Doctrine, the Eisenhower Doctrine, the Nixon Doctrine and especially theCarter Doctrine—were all tied to the protection of these “filling stations.”

Today, too, oil plays a critical role in Washington’s global plans and actions. The Department of State, for example, still maintains an elaborate, costly and deeply entrenched military capability in the Persian Gulf to ensure the “safety” and “security” of oil exports from the region. It has also extended its military reach to such key oil-producing regions as the Caspian Sea basin and western Africa. The need to retain friendly ties and military relationships with key suppliers like Kuwait, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia continues to dominate US foreign policy. Similarly, in a globally warming world, a growing American interest in the melting Arctic is being propelled by a desire to exploit the polar region’s untapped hydrocarbon reserves.


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Pakistan’s Sectarian Violence can be End?


On November 20th and 21st 2012 terrorists rocked four Pakistani sensitive cities (Karachi, Rawalpindi, Quetta and Peshawar). In this militancy at least 30 individuals killed and over 60 individuals injured Suicidal blasts at the occasions of 20 November 2012 President, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has strongly and PML(N) Chief Nawaz Shrief have condemned the bomb blasts in Rawalpindi and other cities. They also expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the unfortunate incident. The Prime Minister directed the concerned authorities to immediately start relief operation and provide best medical treatment to the injured. He directed the concerned authorities to investigate the incident and submit a report in this regard. Bomb disposal squad is trying to defuse the hand grenades.

Sectarianism caused disharmony in the area. People emigrated, lost their livelihood and even their lives. According to Ahmar (2008) the sectarian conflict in Pakistan is unique in the sense that it has both internal and external dimensions.

Still remember those days’ people of Sunni and others sects used to arrange “Sabeels” and food stuffs (soft drinks) at the roads sides on the Day of “Ashura” in the routes of Muharram procession. Similar sort of arrangements used to be carried out by all sects at the occasions of Milad-un-Nabi on 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal (third month of the Islamic calendar) also known as the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. For more than a quarter of a century of Pakistan’s existence, both Shi‘as and Sunnis have lived in peace and harmony. There were small frictions between the two communities, yet the level of tolerance was maintained by the two sides. Things however began to take an ugly turn when violence and terrorism was inducted in the sectarian conflict in Pakistan resulting in the deaths and injuries of thousands of people.

Frequent clashes between the two sects left hundreds dead and thousands injured, including Iranian diplomats, senior state functionaries and important religious leaders on both sides. The recent sectarian strife has engulfed even those areas, which were previously unaffected, largely because of the interference of hostile agencies and emergence of organized terrorists group along sectarian lines. Besides target killing, this group now hit even ordinary members of each other sects, whenever and wherever they find it operationally convenient. The problem, therefore, is no more of an occasional nature or limited to isolated localities rather it has now become a national concern with serious implications for the state and society.

Anyhow, the ongoing blasts wave in the month of Moharram is prinking few questions in my mind are now that; what went wrong in our society, why we became hyper enemies of each other, why Muslims are killing each other, why Islamic countries are using Pakistan as their killing grounds, why Pakistani religious leaders are reluctant to condemn openly?, Why we have become intolerant to each other?, can we promote religious harmony in our society?.

The recent sectarian strife has engulfed even those areas which were previously unaffected, largely because of the interference of hostile agencies and emergence of organized terrorists group along sectarian lines. In this regard CIA, RAW, Mossad, MI-6 and intelligence agencies of certain Islamic countries’ hands seem to be involved in promoting violence due to their own vested interest in Pakistan. The blasts waves in Pakistan reveal that foreign sponsored elements have been activated with a view to spread sectarian violence in Pakistan at the occasion of “D Eight Conference”. Reportedly, foreign hostile intelligences have planned try to do more blasts in the ‘Mujalis”, procession and Mosques to fuel the ongoing blasts wave.

In short, there is a need to show solidarity to fight back the terrorism. The political and religious leaders should condemn the anti-Pakistan elements and their sponsored those are being played in the foreign hands and giving life losses to the peaceful and innocent citizens. Moreover it is high time that unity and brotherhood amongst various sects is the need of hour especially at this moment when Pakistan is facing multi-dimensional external as well as internal threats. The only way out of present adverse situation is; to be vigilante, tolerate, unite and respect others religions and faiths with a view to defeat terrorism in the country. Government of Pakistan should also take steps in creating religion and regional harmony through education, improving and elevation of poorer people of the country.

The writer can be approached through zameer36@gmail.com

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US Using Bad Info for Drone Strikes Like It Did for Detainees

November 24, 2012

Just as it did in Afghanistan and Iraq, the CIA and U.S. military act on bad intel when designating targets for drone attacks.

As when the United States greased the skids for war with Iraq, it’s ratcheting up tensions with Iran by disseminating misinformation about nuclear weapons. The United States has also failed to learn from other mistakes in the Iraq, as well as Afghanistan.

Remember how the United States offered rewards to the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq for intelligence on insurgents? That only resulted in populating prisons such as Bagram and Guantánamo with legions of innocents. It seems that in their haste to unearth terrorists, the U.S. military and the CIA had failed to vet their informants. With an eye for the main chance, Iraqis and Afghans saw informing as a way both to cash in and rid their communities of neighbors who’d crossed them, for whatever reason. no matter how trivial.

Using an occupying army to assist you in ridding yourself of local enemies is a time-(dis)honored tradition. One would think that, by this point in history, the military and intelligence agencies would be alert to manipulation. Presumably a perceived need for live bodies to fill quotas over-rode their wariness. Now we see this mistake repeated in designating drone-strike targets.

The landmark report Living Under Drones, released in September by the Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic and the Global Justice Clinic at NYU School of Law, quotes author Tom Junod. In a piece for the AugustEsquire titled The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama, he wrote (emphasis added):

The US detained the “worst of the worst” in Guantánamo for years before releasing six hundred of them, uncharged, which amounts to the admission of a terrible mistake. The Lethal Presidency is making decisions to kill based on intelligence from the same sources. These decisions are final, and no one will ever be let go.

By “decisions to kill,” Junod means drone strikes. Not only is the CIA using bogus intel for drone strikes as it and the military did to net terrorist suspects, it may also be paying Pakistanis to mark houses as targets by depositing computer chips nearby. In addition, GPS’s are attached to cars to turn them, too, into drone fodder.

The report also quotes Clive Stafford Smith writing for the Guardian.

Just as with Guantanamo Bay, the CIA is paying bounties to those who will identify “terrorists.” Five thousand dollars is an enormous sum for a Waziri informant, translating to perhaps £250,000 in London terms. The informant has a calculation to make: is it safer to place a GPS tag on the car of a truly dangerous terrorist, or to call down death on a Nobody (with the beginnings of a beard), reporting that he is a militant? Too many “militants” are just young men with stubble.

Smith reveals another dynamic. Imagine that a Pakistani who contacts the CIA isn’t motivated by the desire to avenge a neighbor for failing to pay back a loan, or something similar. If he’s only in it for the money, why risk fingering a Taliban commander? If discovered, he and perhaps his family would find themselves on the murderous end of Taliban revenge.

To give the CIA some wiggle room, perhaps it assumes it won’t be provided with bogus info because potential informants would fear the CIA demand return of the money if the lead turned out to be false or that it would even detain them. But, as the NYU-Stanford report indicates, the CIA or U.S. military rarely investigate the aftermath of drone strikes to determine whether civilians were killed.

Perhaps then the CIA assumes that informants would be loath to turn in innocents for fear of reprisal from the families of those killed. When deciding who to finger, though, informants may be targeting victims whose families lack the wherewithal to take revenge. Or, with what, in effect, is an astronomical sum to them, informants may factor in paying retribution money to the families of those killed.

The longer this type of cynical use of indigenous peoples continues, the further one’s respect for the CIA diminishes.

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Let there be 16 Provinces in Pakistan


One of the biggest hurdles in the way of good governance and fair distribution of funds in Pakistan is the awfully less number of provinces. One of the most overriding priorities for any government in Pakistan is to create minimum 16 provinces in order to broaden the scope of development and nation building.

While the existing four provinces should each be portioned into three or four smaller units or provinces, the Fata region, the Northern states of Chitral, Swat, Hunza, and Dir, should beconverted into provinces as well. Themore there would be administrative units, the more the governance would become efficient and decidedly development oriented.

 The existing four provinces are like four states within a state. These four elephantine administrative units create regional and provincial friction bordering on hatred. Ever since the creation of Pakistan, one of the overriding snags in the way of coveted national cohesion and unity are these mega provinces that vie and remain at loggerheads with each other. With a separate language of each province, the four separate nationalities look conspicuously distinct. Besides it creates communication barriers between the people with less or no knowledge of the national language Urdu.

Once the question of creation of more provinces is addressed, the stability of Pakistan can be guaranteed. Otherwise the clash of interests would keep the center and provinces in mutual bickering and feuding. The break-away feelings and insurgency that is going on in Balochistan can be nailed and quelled, once and for all, if the constitutional obligation of devolution of powers to the provinces is fulfilled.

At present provinces of Balochistan, Sindh, NWFP, harbor a host of grievances against Punjab that range from taking more share of funds to the undue use of water. There are simmering feelings of discontent and aversion against Punjab because of the army whose bulk comes from Punjab. Punjab is the target of complaints and grudge of other provinces for being a privileged province as was West Pakistan compared to the former East Pakistan.

East Pakistan’s cessation (for Bengalis independence) could have been averted if the Eastern wing of Pakistan was fairly and equitably treated. Similar kind of specter and danger of disintegration looms over Pakistan now, which can be warded off, if more provinces are carved out of the existing ones.

The fruits of devolution of powers are universally known for balanced and effective development of both rural and urban areas of a country on one side and the backward and advanced areas on the other. In big units as we have in Pakistan, the major chunks of funds go to those cities or towns from which the politicians or the members of the parliament come. Even otherwise in Pakistan, the rural development has mostly remained neglected because most of the development funds are spent in the urban areas.

Bangladesh that separated from the West Pakistan in 1971, despite being much smaller in area (148000 sq km to 796000 sq miles of Pakistan) has 6 provinces and 64 districts. Bangladesh has a system of distribution of resources and funds for development that is much transparent, grass root and effective than Pakistan because the money is spread over more administrative units and therefore is spent on a vast area. India has 28 provinces (states) and 610 districts. Besides, there are seven union territories. Under the States Reorganization Act of 1956, the states were reorganized on linguistic basis.

The United States of America is one country where such a remarkable model for division of powers is in vogue. The 50 states (provinces) are almost independent in running their local governments even having direct trade with outside world. This model can be followed in Pakistan as far as possible.

Pakistan has four big federating units and 127 districts. The social and civic development remains largely confined to the big cities. The people have to travel all the way to the provincial capitals to meet the assembly members at a big financial cost and wastage of time.

As such even after 60 years of its existence, it is devoid of highways between major cities and an efficient railway system. The people suffer from poor, inadequate or deficient civic utilities. The political chaos takes it spillover toll on the quality of life. The availability of sustained potable water and power, disposal of solid waste, health, education, orderly traffic and good transportation that are components of good city management and a smooth civic life have remained unrealized. The quality of life in Pakistan is abysmally low.

Unfortunately, due to rampant corruption and lack of effective accountability, the funds are misused and misappropriated. The development projects sometimes exist on the paper only. The quality of work on building roads and other projects in Pakistan is woefully inferior. The oversight and strict compliance of codes and regulations are more often than not, violated and breached with connivance of the bureaucracy and government officials.

The scams and scandals, the nepotism and favoritism in doling out contracts, permits and lucrative licenses are given mostly to the party members, friends, and kith or to those who grease the palms of the members of the officialdom, bureaucracy and the parliament members.

Each province would not wait for the four provincial capitals for sanction of funds for development.

With the creation of smaller provinces, the people would be able to take independent decisions, have sense of participation and commitment and socio- political freedom, tackle their problems be it law and order or building roads and dams. With more courts in the new provinces the perennial backlog of pending cases could be speedily decided.

The long standing demands of many regions with common language and ethnic bonds such as Siraiki belt and Hazara could be met by converting these areas into full fledged provinces. The population of Hazara region wants to separate from the Pushto speaking parts of NWFP (now Pakhtunkhwa Khyber) because their language is Hindko, a mixed dialect of Pushto and Punjabi. Ethnically they are hugely different from the Pashto speaking areas. Siraiki speaking people want to have a separate province because they look different from both Sindh and Punjab as for their language and culture is concerned.

Such considerations as common folklore, common language or dialect, common ethnic and cultural milieu and administrative efficiency should be kept in view in creating more provinces.

The provincial autonomy once given would relieve the center of the bureaucratic over-lordship. The function of the center would be to make policy decisions and with the coordination of the provinces implement these. The shifting of most of the ministries to the provincial domain would alleviate enormous administrative and financial load on the center.

More provinces will lessen the prevailing acrimony, mutual apprehensions and tensions between the four provinces. It would readily assuage the sense of deprivation and discrimination nursed by the smaller provinces against the big province which in this case is Punjab. Such a monumental change would catapult the much coveted paradigm of good governance in Pakistan. Such a landmark decision would undoubtedly put Pakistan on the road to economic prosperity and socio- political stability and forestall the breakaway tendencies.

The PPP government deserves huge applause and due credit for passage of the 18th amendment in 2010. It was a giant step that among other revolutionary changes has abolished the concurrent list of 47 subjects. These subjects were the sordid legacy of the British imperial rule and had kept the autonomy of the provinces host and vulnerable to the interference by the central government.

However, the division of Pakistan into more provinces has to yet to be undertaken. The 18th amendment has taken care of the transfers of powers to the provinces. But to make use of those powers fruitfully, the creation of more provinces is imperative. Such a momentous measure would also put an end to the mutual bickering between the four provinces.

Note: It is revised text of my previous article on the same theme.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat

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