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Old Saturday, March 10, 2007
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Hello,i have just gathered few of the impotant topics likely to come in 2007 css. here i share these with u. this is a collection of dawn opinions . this the effort of mine for those who aspire their future in best shape.good luck for 2007.
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Implications of Cheney’s Mideast tour
By Maqbool Ahmed Bhatty
RATHER than moving towards a resolution, the crises in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan have become further complicated. US Vice-President Dick Cheney recently toured the Middle East as American military build-up proceeded in the same manner as it did before the pre-emptive attack on Iraq in 2003.

The UN Security Council is likely to consider a second resolution on Iran’s defiance of the first one that called for a cessation of uranium enrichment activities. Though Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has underlined the US commitment to a diplomatic solution, Vice-President Cheney insists all options remain on the table. This scenario can be viewed as an elaborate exercise to build up pressure on Iran, but the regional situation appears to be spinning out of control as neo-con influence appears to be dominant once again.

Israel is again resorting to strong-arm tactics, as evident from the occupation of Nablus and the resumption of repressive measures against militants. Meanwhile, there has been hardly any effort to build on the Makkah agreement, brokered by Saudi Arabia, between the warring Palestinian factions.

Cheney’s tour of the region was aimed at reviving the assertive response to the 9/11 terrorist attack. Despite the growing domestic disapproval of the Iraq war, undertaken by President Bush and the neocons to dominate a strategic and resource-rich region, and signs of unpopularity within the region, the US hawks want to demonstrate their resolve to defeat terrorism and militant manifestations of Islam.

If one remains focused on the Middle East and takes note that the land of Palestine that has witnessed conflict and confrontation for nearly six decades is sacred to all three revealed religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, one is somewhat discouraged by this approach.

Tragedy, bloodshed and suffering have come to pass despite the existence of the UN. As Israel came on the map through a resolution of the UN, that was pushed through by its main backer, the US, and was then built into the most powerful country in the region, the world body was manipulated in a manner contrary to its principles and the purposes of its charter. Terrorism emerged as the balance of power was overwhelmingly with those who usurped the rights of the native population.

Perhaps 9/11 was the ultimate form of protest against injustice. As injustice, both political and economic, persists, the weak and deprived of the world are driven to despair that can take the form of suicide or terrorism. Our planet is getting overpopulated, so that many regions suffer from lack or essentials. An excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is producing global warming that requires a collective response.

The Middle East region has been in the “arch of crisis” since the Second World War. The creation of Israel by collusion between Britain and the US gave birth to one trouble spot that shows little sign of return to normalcy as the Jewish state, with total US support, seeks to dominate the region. The large number of mini-states and sheikhdoms created in the region have remained a chessboard of power polities on account of their strategic location and rich oil reserves.

While Europe largely stabilised after the two World Wars, the scene of economic and political contention shifted to Asia. Even the focus of Cold War rivalry shifted eastwards with proxy wars fought in Vietnam and Afghanistan.

Some other disputes, left to fester by departing colonial powers notably that over Kashmir, led to conflict and confrontation between the two largest states in South Asia, namely India and Pakistan. The fact that both became overtly nuclear in 1998 drove them towards a peace process that also figured in the global trends unleashed by the 9/11 events.

Since the start of 2007, President Bush has undertaken to announce a revised strategy in Iraq, including fresh initiatives in the region as a whole. But the fundamental US aims and military commitments have not changed. The one significant departure is that the Iraqi army and police are being given a greater role, but the projected increase in the number of US troops in Iraq by about 21,500 and the appointment of new US field commanders means there is no target date for a withdrawal which will presumably begin in a phased manner after victory is achieved.

The US is already showing two different faces in the region, one stressing diplomacy, that is represented by Condoleezza Rice, and the other that underlines continuity of the post-9/11 thrust for dominating the region, reflected in the tour by Dick Cheney. The Republican contender for the 2008 presidential election, Senator John McCain, supports the augmentation of US forces to achieve victory, whereas the Democrat candidates seek to exploit the disenchantment of US public opinion over the Iraq venture.

The Iraqi government is showing readiness to interact with all its neighbours, including Iran and Syria, which have indicated their willingness to cooperate with the regime in Baghdad. US policy is showing a divided approach. Israel, whose influence can be a decisive factor in decision-making in Washington, insists upon treating Syria and Iran as hostile, and much of the talk of a US pre-emptive strike is being fuelled by Tel Aviv.

However, Iran and Syria are not allies of Al Qaeda, and the US has agreed to attend a meeting of neighbours of Iraq called by the government in Baghdad. This meeting will discuss security issues. But, at the same time, the threat of military pre-emption is being maintained, with a second US aircraft carrier strengthening Washington’s offensive capacity. Even Condoleezza Rice insists that Iran must stop its uranium enrichment or face additional sanctions.

Even in Palestine the US will not back the roadmap solution as long as Hamas keeps refusing to recognise Israel, while Israel keeps attacking Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

The US attitude towards the sectarian issue has been ambivalent. As Saddam Hussein’s power base was in the Sunni triangle, the US had received support from Kurds in the north and the majority Shias in the south following its occupation. However, US support to Israel alienated many Shias, and the risk of a Shia-dominated Iraq succumbing to Iranian influence was realised.

The Sunni rulers of many Arab countries, notably Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, have also expressed alarm over the rising influence of Shia powers. The US is therefore inclined to capitalise on the sectarian divide, and Pakistan appears to be playing a role to activate the OIC though it opposes use of force against Iran.

The resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan has created problems for Pakistan which is blamed for “not doing enough” to stop incursions launched from its territory. Cheney even threatened to intervene. With terrorist incidents taking place in Pakistan and the heartland of the Muslim world involved in a dangerous game involving the US and Nato, we have to tread carefully and also safeguard our national interests.

National unity and support for sovereignty and independence remain a necessity. Although Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad occasionally issues provocative statements, his recent visit to Saudi Arabia was well-timed to prevent the sectarian card being played against the Muslim world. It is an important neighbour with which we should maintain close contact.

We have been active diplomatically, as evident from tours by the president and prime minister, and the OIC foreign ministers’ meeting we hosted in Islamabad. Our strategic as well as economic interests demand that peace and stability prevail in the Middle East as well as in South Asia.

Moves on energy chessboard

By Syed Mohibullah Shah

THE much talked-about Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project has finally turned the corner. In February, Iran and Pakistan resolved the most difficult issue of pricing in Tehran, and soon, thereafter, India indicated its agreement also. This has opened the door to follow-up developments.

Much of the credit for this breakthrough goes to Iran for attractively pricing the gas for the project. By reducing it by 30 per cent from its earlier price, Iran has sweetened the deal for both countries. For Pakistan, the project has added attraction. Apart from meeting its growing energy needs, Pakistan would also pick up from India about $1.5 in transit fee for every million British thermal units transported through pipeline to that country.

The seven-billion-dollar, 2,100-kilometre IPI pipeline would turn out to be the largest cross-border investment in this part of the world and an important milestone in building regional energy security for South Asia. But the moves on the energy chessboard are also generating several cross currents and it would be a litmus test of our economic diplomacy to protect and implement this important project.

For over 100 years since the oil industry was born in and around the Caspian Sea region, its consumption markets have largely remained in industrialised Europe and the US. With production and consumption being so far apart, the oil industry developed a worldwide market and infrastructure for linking oil production with consumption.

But the markets in the 21st century have come closer to the producers and there is a marked difference in the games now being played out in the energy world. Much of Middle Eastern oil is committed through long-term arrangements to countries that became industrialised early. But as Asia industrialises, its rising energy demands are bringing Central Asia into the centre of an intensified competition. Energy security is occupying centre-stage not only for the old but also the newly industrialising countries.

Accessing Central Asia’s vast energy resources has been a frustrating exercise for many years. Central Asia has remained landlocked, geographically and politically. Bounded on the north by the Arctic Circle and on the east and west by a vast expanse of land distances, its attractive opening was always through outlets on the south – through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The attractiveness of the southern route can be established from one simple fact: both producers and consumers of energy through this route stand to benefit from $1-2 per barrel of oil supplied. For gas consumers, this equation becomes even more favourable. But apart from the one window of opportunity that opened for Pakistan in 1995-6 and was then quickly shut off, accessing Central Asian energy across the southern route has remained blocked by US opposition to Iran and the violence in Afghanistan.

Energy pipelines from Central Asia to Europe and beyond through Russian and Turkish ports and to Japan and China across the steppes, cannot meet the rising demands of both markets. The pressure on opening the southern route through Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan has been increasing. How long can the energy-starved world wait for conditions in Afghanistan to become stable and peaceful to access Central Asian energy through that country? Increasingly, both, consumers and producers are getting favourably inclined towards accessing these enormous energy resources through Iran.
During its meeting last year in Shanghai, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) had also discussed the idea of an “energy club” of its members – since between themselves and along with the observer states of Iran, Pakistan and India, the SCO constitutes a regional market of large energy producers and consumers. The Soviet-era oil and gas pipeline system linking with Central Asia has been added, upgraded and expanded to the European markets and beyond. Since the early 1990s, China has also embarked upon laying an extensive network of pipelines for taking that energy eastwards for meeting the needs of its fast-paced industrialisation.
The northern loop of an Asian energy system has thus been taking shape. But the southern route in this energy infrastructure had still been missing. It is against this background, that the strategic importance of the IPI project becomes obvious. It is the first project that links Central Asia with South Asia through the umbilical cord of energy passing through Iran. It is tempting to give a place to the IPI in the strategic moves being made on the global energy chessboard. If Pakistan also becomes a transit route for Iranian-Central Asian oil and gas resources flowing into China, it would finally connect the southern and northern loops of an Asian energy system. If that happens, it would be a tectonic move on the energy chessboard.
Similarly, Nato leaders also discussed in their summit meeting in Latvia last November the formation of a “gas Nato” geared towards safeguarding the energy security of Nato members. European concerns were heightened after disputes cropped up over the pricing of Russian gas supplies to Ukraine and the consequent depletion in pipeline supplies onwards to West European markets. Some big energy companies from the US and Europe that are already pumping energy from the Caspian basin and Kazakhstan are also looking towards developing southern routes for transporting Central Asian energy through the Gulf and Arabian sea ports to markets worldwide.

Pakistan would be experiencing first-hand what it feels like to lie in one of the centres of gravity of these strategic moves on the energy chessboard. There would be many a slip between the cup and the lip to stall or spoil opportunities along the way -- from confidence-building to consortium-building to technical, operational, project management and other important issues as the IPI pipeline moves ahead to become a reality on the ground.

The most important consideration for our strategists and decision-makers should be to keep our routes open for accessing Central Asian energy. Despite various forecasts coming out of foreign think-tanks, predicting the results of moves being made on the energy chessboard is mere fantasising. It is not in Pakistan’s interest to have its western borders prone to violence and instabilities of one kind or the other. The conditions in Afghanistan are not totally in Pakistan’s control but improving these in Balochistan is entirely in our hands; and the price of a peaceful resolution of disputes is miniscule compared to the costs of locking ourselves out of the scenario of energy sources for future development.

This is no idle concern since a similar opportunity of an oil pipeline from Iran to Pakistan in the early 1980s was allowed to fall through because Gen Zia did not want to do business with Islamic Iran while fighting his version of jihad in Afghanistan. The external environment today isn’t all that different from what it was a quarter of a century back, but repeated assertions by the Pakistani leadership raise hopes that this time our diplomacy will demonstrate the skills and maturity needed for promoting our energy security needs while maintaining a friendship with the US.

If the IPI project is successfully implemented, it promises to be the harbinger of many other cross-border projects that have been kept on hold by investors. The biggest beneficiary would be none other than Pakistan but it would also test the mettle of our economic diplomacy.

The writer is a former head of Board of Investment and federal secretary.

Russia’s re-emergence
By Javid Husain
IF there was any doubt about Russia’s recovery from the strategic dislocation that it had suffered as a result of the Soviet Union’s defeat in the cold war and its disintegration, it was removed by the denunciation of Washington’s unilateralist and militarist approach by President Vladimir Putin at the international security conference at Munich on February 10
Criticising the US for its attempt to force its will on the world, Putin observed, “The US has overstepped the limits in all spheres — economic, political and humanitarian — and has imposed itself on other states…. One-sided illegitimate action hasn’t solved a single problem and has become a generator of many human tragedies, a source of tension…. This is very dangerous. No one feels secure because nobody can seek safety behind the stonewall of international law.”

This is, indeed, heady stuff in marked contrast with the rather submissive style of the statements by Russian leaders during the 1990s when Russia was passing through a difficult transitional period in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, the Russian leader’s complaint about Washington’s unilateralist policies was not entirely new. There were earlier signs during the past few years that Moscow was losing patience with the US tendency to try to impose its will on others in pursuance of its global hegemonic agenda.
The establishment of Sino-Russian strategic partnership was one consequence of this development as both China and Russia sought closer ties to safeguard their security interests in the face of the US expansionism. On July 2, 2005, the join communiqué issued in Moscow after the summit meeting between Presidents Hu Jintao and Putin denounced “the aspiration for monopoly and domination in international affairs”. In August 2005, the two countries launched their largest joint military exercise in modern history to send a political signal to Washington.

The outburst by the Russian President at Munich was the latest manifestation of Moscow’s growing unhappiness over US policy of unilateralism and Nato’s expansion close to Russian borders. In his Munich speech Putin also criticised US plans to set up missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. Earlier, at a press conference in Moscow on February 1, Putin had vowed that Russia’s response to these plans will be “asymmetrical but highly effective”.

Russian officials had rejected Washington’s position that the missile defence systems would guard against potential attacks from Iran and North Korea as missile trajectories from these two countries did not go over Poland and the Czech Republic.

Putin’s visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan, which followed his Munich address, reflected Moscow’s determination to play once again an active role in the Middle East, thus posing a challenge to the virtual US stranglehold over the region. Significantly, the Russian president offered to help Saudi Arabia develop nuclear energy and pledged to enhance cooperation with the Islamic world. He also announced plans to launch six information satellites for Saudi Arabia.
In Qatar, he mooted the idea of a gas cartel on the lines of Opec. After his talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on February 13, Putin accused the US of using Russia as a “threat” to secure funds from Congress for its military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for its anti-missile programme in Europe. He recalled that a weak earlier US Defence Secretary Robert Gates had characterised Russia as a potential military threat to the US. He further stressed that “For Russia, the Middle East is strategically important.”

On February 19, General Nikolai Solovtsov, head of the Russian strategic missile force, threatened that if the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic allowed the US to site a missile defence system, “the (Russian) strategic missile force will be able to aim at these installations.” He also underscored that if a political decision was taken to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Russia could easily restart production of medium-range missiles.

This writer had the personal experience of witnessing the newly assertive tone of the Russian statements at Manila on February 6 at the second meeting of the ARF Experts and Eminent Persons (ARF EEP’s) where the Russian representative ruled out the use of force for settling the issue of North Korea’s nuclear programme and urged that too much pressure should not be applied on Pyongyang in finding a negotiated settlement.

However, he did acknowledge the gravity of the North Korean nuclear proliferation issue for security in Northeast Asia thus accepting the need for the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.(The agreement with North Korea to that effect was arrived at a few days later).

The strengthening of the Russian economy is perhaps the most important factor responsible for the increased confidence that Moscow is showing in its dealings with other major powers. Undoubtedly, the rise in oil prices has played a significant role in the revival of the Russian economy. With GDP growth rate of 5.9 per cent, foreign exchange reserves exceeding $250 billion, GDP estimated to be $ 1.14 trillion, the highest gas reserves in the world, proven oil reserves of 60 billion barrels and well-known capabilities in defence production, Russia is well-poised to flex its muscles in international politics.

Moscow feels that the West led by the US has taken advantage of its weakness in the post-Cold War period to expand its power and influence at Russia’s expence, especially in Eastern Europe. It is also apprehensive of the inroads that the US and Nato have made into the Caucasus and Central Asia. Predictably, therefore, Russia and China called upon the US in 2005, from the forum of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, to close its military bases in Central Asia. Thus, President Putin’s outburst against the US at Munich was merely the latest manifestation, at the highest level, of Moscow’s growing disquiet over Washington’s expansionist and unilateral tendencies.

What is worth noting is that Russia’s growing economic strength and technological prowess provide it with the wherewithal to demonstrate in practical terms its uneasiness over the US designs and pursue an independent foreign policy worthy of a great power as was evident from the outcome of Putin’s recent visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan. The signal which is coming loud and clear from Moscow is that it is no longer prepared to be pushed around by the US.

While the re-emergence of an assertive Russia is an important development with far-reaching strategic implications for the world order, it needs to be seen in proper perspective to assess its true significance. The fact of the matter is that Russia lags far behind the United States in all indicators of economic and military power. The US, with a GDP of $ 13.98 trillion, GDP per head of $ 46,280 and unmatched military capabilities, enjoys overwhelming superiority over Russia. The Russian economy still suffers from serious structural flaws. Besides, there is also a question mark about the stability of the Russian political system.
Therefore, while Moscow is pursuing an increasingly assertive role in international politics, its ability to pose single-handedly a serious challenge to the US global domination is severely circumscribed. The same is true of China despite the phenomenal growth that its economy has witnessed since 1980, raising its GDP to $ 3.01 trillion. However, the two, by combining their military and economic capabilities, can be a formidable adversary for the US. This is the driving force behind the growing strategic partnership between Moscow and Beijing.
It all also leads one to the conclusion that the days of a unipolar world are numbered if not already over. This was the message sent by the foreign ministers of Russia, China and India at their meeting in New Delhi on February 14. The emerging world order will be marked by multipolarity with several centres of power, including the US, China, European Union, Japan, India, Brazil and ASEAN.
There is no denying the fact that it is critically important for Pakistan to maintain its friendship with the US. However, in view of the emerging multipolar world, it must avoid putting all its eggs in the American basket, thus, limiting its foreign policy options in the future. Instead, it must expand the manoeuvrability of its foreign policy by developing relations with the different emerging centres of power in a carefully balanced manner.
The weakest link in our foreign policy right now is Pakistan’s relationship with Russia which suffered in the past because of its linkages with the West during the Cold War and the support to the Afghan jihad against the Soviet occupation. There is an urgent need for Islamabad to build bridges of understanding with Moscow to overcome the mistrust and bitterness of the past and usher in a new era of friendship and cooperation with that great power.

There would be obstacles and occasional hiccups on the way but it must not be deterred by them especially as Russia has expressed the desire to enhance cooperation with the Islamic world. This strategic imperative is dictated not only by the growing power and strength of Russia but also by the demands of Pakistan’s friendship with China, which is the linchpin of its foreign policy, in view of the fast developing Sino-Russian strategic partnership.

The moot point is whether Pakistan leadership has the courage and the sagacity to pursue such an independent and balanced policy which, above all, requires a government enjoying domestic political legitimacy and popular support. Going by the past experience, Pakistan’s well-known pre-disposition in favour of the US, its heavy dependence on the US in political, economic and military fields, the known inability of its policymakers to see further than their noses and the questions about the legitimacy of the present government, it remains to be seen whether it would be able to chart its foreign policy on those lines.

Energy Crisis and Pakistan

An energy crisis is any great shortfall (or price rise) in the supply of energy resources to an economy. It usually refers to the shortage of oil and additionally to electricity or other natural resources.
The crisis often has effects on the rest of the economy, with many recessions being caused by an energy crisis in some form. In particular, the production costs of electricity rise, which raises manufacturing costs.
For the consumer, the price of gasoline (petrol) and diesel for cars and other vehicles rises, leading to reduced consumer confidence and spending, higher transportation costs and general price rising.

Future and alternative sources of energy
Some experts argue that the world is heading towards a global energy crisis due to a decline in the availability of cheap oil and recommend a decreasing dependency on fossil fuel. This has led to increasing interest in alternate power/fuel research such as fuel cell technology, hydrogen fuel, biomethanol, biodiesel, Karrick process, solar energy, tidal energy and wind energy. To date, only hydroelectricity and nuclear power have been significant alternatives to fossil fuel (see Future energy development), with big ecological problems (residues and water spending). Hydrogen gas is currently produced at a net energy loss from natural gas, which is also experiencing declining production in North America and elsewhere. When not produced from natural gas, hydrogen still needs another source of energy to create it, also at a loss during the process. This has led to hydrogen being regarded as a 'carrier' of energy rather than a 'source'.
There have been alarming predictions by groups such as the Club of Rome that the world would run out of oil in the late 20th century. Although technology has made oil extraction more efficient, the world is having to struggle to provide oil by using increasingly costly and less productive methods such as deep sea drilling, and developing environmentally sensitive areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The world's population continues to grow at a quarter of a million people per day, increasing the consumption of energy. The per capita energy consumption of China, India and other developing nations continues to increase as the people living in these countries adopt western lifestyles. At present a small part of the world's population consumes a large part of its resources, with the United States and its population of 296 million people consuming more oil than China with its population of 1.3 billion people.
Efficiency mechanisms such as Negawatt power can provide significantly increased supply. It is a term used to describe the trading of increased efficiency, using consumption efficiency to increase available market supply rather than by increasing plant generation capacity.

Energy Crisis In Pakistan.

Energy resources have depleted! Whatever resources are available are simply too expensive to buy or already acquired by countries which had planned and acted long time ago. Delayed efforts in the exploration sector have not been able to find sufficient amounts of energy resources. Nations of the world which have their own reserves are not supplying energy resources anymore; only the old contracts made decades ago are active. Airplanes, trains, cars, motorbikes, buses and trucks, all modes of transportation are coming to a stand still. Many industries have closed due to insufficient power supply. Price of oil has gone above the ceiling. At domestic level, alternate methods like solar, biogas and other methods are being tried for mere survival.

The above is a likely scenario of Pakistan and around the globe after 25 years. A pessimistic view, but realistic enough to think about and plan for the future. But are we doing anything about it? Lets have a look at the current energy situation of Pakistan and the world.
Pakistan’s economy is performing at a very high note with GDP growing at an exceptional rate, touching 8.35% in 2004-05.In its history of 58 years, there has been only a few golden years where the economy grew above 7%. This year official expectations are that GDP growth rate will be around 6.5 – 7.0%. For the coming years, the government is targeting GDP growth rate above 6%. With economy growing at such a pace, the energy requirements are likely to increase with a similar rate. For 2004-05, Pakistan’s energy consumption touched 55.5 MTOE (Million Tons of Oil Equivalent).

The energy consumption is expected to grow at double digit if the overall economy sustains the targeted GDP growth rate of 6% by the government. Pakistan’s energy requirements are expected to double in the next few years, and our energy requirements by 2015 is likely to cross 120MTOE. By 2030, the nation’s requirement will be 7 times the current requirement reaching 361MTOE. Pakistan’s energy requirements are fulfilled with more than 80% of energy resources through imports.

On the other hand, international oil prices have not only broken all records but are touching new highs, with every news directly or indirectly affecting the black gold industry. Moreover, speculators all around the world expect oil prices to touch $100 per barrel in medium term. With concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, terrorist issues in Nigeria and high economic growth in China & India and their ever rising energy requirements, oil prices don’t see any another way but to shoot upwards.
What is the government doing to ensure a sustainable supply of energy resources for economic growth? What strategic steps are being taken to acquire energy resources in future? Is private sector willing to invest in Pakistan’s oil industry? What are the incentives being offered to the foreign players to continue working in the exploration sector? What hurdles are stopping other big players around the world to enter Pakistan? What is the role of gas distribution companies so far? Are the citizens of Pakistan being robbed by energy giants with ever rising utility bills? What should be the real price of petroleum, kerosene and other oil products in Pakistan? When will the nation have “load shedding free” electric supply? Have we been able to make long term contracts with the countries to provide uninterrupted supply of energy resources? Will the government be able to provide enough sources to the citizens for a sustainable economic growth? Have we lost the race for acquiring maximum energy resources for future survival?

Pakistan: Power crisis feared by 2007

The country may plunge into energy crisis by the year 2007 due to rising electricity demand which enters into double digit figure following increasing sale of electrical and electronic appliances on lease finance, it is reliably learnt Thursday.
“The country may face energy crisis by the year 2007 following healthy growth of 13 per cent in electricity demand during the last quarter, which will erode surplus production in absence of commissioning of any new power generation project during this financial year,” informed sources told The Nation.
As per Pakistan Economic Survey 2003-04, electricity consumption has increased by 8.6 per cent during first three-quarter of last fiscal year. However, a top level WAPDA official maintained that electricity demand surged up to 13 per cent during last quarter.
The survey said household sector has been the largest consumer of electricity accounting for 44.2 per cent of total electricity consumption followed by industries 31.1 per cent, agriculture 14.3 per cent, other government sector 7.4 per cent, commercial 5.5 per cent and street light 0.7 per cent.
Keeping in view the past trend and the future development, WAPDA has also revised its load forecast to eight per cent per annum as against previous estimates of five per cent on average. Even the revised load forecast has also failed all assessments due to which Authority has left no other option but to start load management this year, which may convert into scheduled loadshedding over a period of two year, sources maintained
.The country needs a quantum jump in electricity generation in medium-term scenario to revert the possibilities of loadshedding in future due to shrinking gap between demand and supply of electricity at peak hours.
According to an official report, the gap between firm supply and peak hours demand has already been shrunk to three digit (440 MW) during this fiscal and will slip into negative columns next year (-441 MW) and further intensify to (-1,457 MW) during the financial year 2006-07.
The report maintained that the difference between firm supply and peak demand is estimated at 5,529 MW by the year 2009-10 when firm electricity supply will stand at 15,055 MW against peak demand of 20,584 MW.

Chairman WAPDA Tariq Hamid at a Press conference early this year warned about the possible energy crisis and stressed the need for ‘quantum jump’ in power generation. The experts say it could only be possible through a mega project of hydropower generation, otherwise the gap between firm supply and peak demand will remain on the rise.

They said the power generation projects, which are due to commission in coming years are of low capacity and will not be able to exceed the surging demand of the electricity.

They say no power generation project will commission during this fiscal year and the total installed capacity of electricity generation will remain 19,478 MW to meet 15,082 MW firm supply and 14,642 MW peak demand.

Giving details of projects, the sources said Malakand-lll (81MW), Pehur (18MW) and combined cycle power plant at Faisalabad (450MW) are planned to be commissioned during the year 2007. Mangla Dam raising project would also add 150 MW capacity to the national grid by June 2007. Besides this, Khan Khwar (72MW), Allai Khwar (121MW), Duber Khwar (130MW) and Kayal Khwar (130MW) are expected to be completed in 2008 along with Golan Gol (106MW) and Jinnah (96MW). Moreover, Matiltan (84MW), New Bong Escape (79MW) and Rajdhani (132MW) are expected by 2009 while Taunsa (120MW) is likely to be completed by 2010.
Sources say WAPDA has also planned to install a high efficiency combined cycle power plant at Baloki (450MW), which is expected to be completed by 2010. In addition of these, power plant 1 & 2 of 300 MW each at Thar Coal with the assistance of China are also planned for commissioning in 2009, sources said. Moreover, efforts are also under way with China National Nuclear Corporation for the construction of a third nuclear power plant with a gross capacity of 325 MW at Chashma, they added.

When contacted, a WAPDA official said there is no power shortage in the country at present as the Authority still has over 1,000 MW surplus electricity. However, he admitted that the shortage may occur in the year 2007 and onward and said the Authority will utilise all options including running of IPPs plant at full capacity to avert any possible crisis.

About the system augmentation to bring down line losses, the official said the Authority would spend Rs 3.5 billion on augmentation of distribution lines this fiscal while another Rs 5 billion will be consumed on transmission lines. “We have been negotiating Rs 9 billion loan with a consortium of local banks to upgrade and augment the power transmission system,” he disclosed. The official further said that five new transmission lines of 220-KV would be installed by the end of 2004, that would ensure smooth supply to the consumers. He expressed full trust on present transmission and distribution system and said it could easily sustain the load of total installed power generation in the country
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Old Saturday, March 10, 2007
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Aspects of re-election
By Syed Sharfuddin

THE Constitution of Pakistan lays down three clear requirements for the office of president. The first is that he will be elected. The second requirement is that he should hold office for a term of five years. The third requirement is that he should not be eligible for re-election after remaining president for more than two consecutive terms.
The first requirement (the source of the current president’s power), in the event of his non-election, derives from the democratic mandate he received from the people of Pakistan in the referendum of April 2002 in which he was the sole candidate. The president subsequently received a vote of confidence by the parliamentary electoral college through a special session of each House of parliament and each provincial assembly in January 2004. Neither of these actions could satisfy the election requirement stipulated in Article 41 of the Constitution until this article was given a soft landing by adding clauses (7), (8) and (9) through the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) act 2003. Thankfully, these clauses are valid only for the current term of the president’s office.

On the second requirement, there is a great deal of confusion over when it began and when it would expire. This is because General Musharraf has been in power for more than seven years and has worn several hats during this period, including that of president.

The establishment view is that the current term of president began on November 16, 2002, and is set to expire on November 15, 2007. The next president of Pakistan should be chosen by the assemblies some time between September 15 and October 15, 2007.

As former Supreme Court judge Wajihuddin Ahmad’s recent appraisal of the Constitution has shown, there are several intentional or residual anomalies in Chapter 1 of Part 3 of the Constitution. When the time comes to invoke these in the application of law, these are most likely to lend themselves to political interpretation instead of standing on their own legal ground.

Like the act pertaining to the president’s holding of another office, the current parliament can be called upon to give legal cover to a political interpretation of how the issue of the term of president and his re-election is to be presented to the nation. Given the record of past legislation, it is most unlikely that the parliament will deny the government what it wants.

So how can politics influence a debate which is purely a matter of law? The previous occupiers of this post have not left a healthy precedent to guide the nation in this regard.

There are a number of models to choose from if past performance, or the lack of it, is to be taken as a guide. The original 1973 Constitution provided that the president shall be elected by members of parliament in a joint sitting, and that elections would determine the beginning of the term of president.

The Constitution (Eighth Amendment) 1985 changed this procedure. While introducing an expanded electoral college which was a positive development, it also ensured that only General Ziaul Haq and no other person became president of Pakistan on the day of the first meeting of parliament in a joint sitting summoned after the next elections to the Houses of parliament.

A third model is the 2003 development which amended the 1973 Constitution substantively, except the three areas which the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its judgment of May 12, 2000, prevented the government from altering. General Musharraf’s constitutional advisers seem to have borrowed a leaf from the Eighth Amendment when they drafted the additional clauses 8 and 9 of Article 41 as amended by the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) act 2003. According to clause 8 of Article 41, General Musharraf is deemed to have been elected to hold office for a term of five years from the day he received a vote of confidence in parliament. Since this vote of confidence was taken on January 1, 2004, his term of office should be deemed to begin on this day and should be deemed to expire on December 31, 2008, thereby requiring the next president to be elected or re-elected some time between November 1 and December 1, 2008.

This interpretation is not only legally defensible but also politically feasible. It would enable General Musharraf to oversee an election which is devoid of election boycotts, dissolution of any provincial assemblies and negative publicity and which removes opportunities where parliamentarians demand a share in the already expanded cabinets or other powerful positions in the country in return for favours exchanged.

At this delicate point in Pakistan’s “disciplined” and still nurturing democracy, the political leadership cannot afford to take too many chances at one go but play them each at its own pace.

The prospects for the forthcoming parliamentary elections to go smoothly as planned by the election commission for 2007, and for their results to be acceptable to all political parties without any major disputes (assuming elections are fair and violence-free) will be brighter if these elections are kept separate from the issue of the president’s term of office in 2007.
The mathematics of calculating the president’s current term of office is not as simple as it sounds. The official version of the term having begun on November 16, 2002, can be disputed on two additional counts. General Musharraf could be deemed to have started his term as president from the day he removed President Rafiq Tarar and entered upon his current office by taking an oath on June 20, 2001.

General Musharraf’s term can also be deemed to have started from the date of the referendum of April 30, 2002, which gave him an overwhelming popular mandate to continue as president. No parliamentary decision can stand in the way of the people’s direct mandate, especially if they have spoken through a formal election exercise such as the referendum.

The supporters of November 16, 2002, date as the start of the president’s term point to the fact that it was the date when General Musharraf relinquished the office of chief executive and took an oath as president of Pakistan.

However, if it is the oath which is the point of law for starting the term of president, which is indeed followed in other democracies such as exemplified by the ruling of the supreme court of Sri Lanka on former President Kumaratunga’s case, then the president stands on a weak ground because of his earlier oath of June 20, 2001.

Counting his term from the beginning of the date of the first oath, General Musharraf has already completed his first term. If the point of distinction is relinquishing the office of chief executive, it can be equally argued that he still holds another important and potentially more “powerful” office which he has not given up yet.
Taking this argument further, one can build a bizarre case for counting the president’s first term from the date he will relinquish the post of chief of army staff and retain only the office of president of Pakistan.
An interesting feature of the president’s term compared to the term of the assemblies that elect him through a parliamentary electoral college is that if the election of the next president cannot be held for reasons stipulated in the Constitution, the present incumbent’s term does not come to an end automatically and can continue until the general election of the next assembly. However, for this condition to be met, the assemblies need to run out their life or be dissolved prematurely before their term. The general has already claimed credit for allowing the current assemblies to run their full course.The interpretation that the president’s term of office does not end in 2007 gives General Musharraf the advantage of benefiting from this constitutional provision as well, should this be necessary in the interest of stability and the smooth running of democratic institutions.

Whatever the outcome of the debate on the start and finish of the first term of the office of president, the government should avoid the temptation to bring any quick-fix legislation which further complicates the process and is deemed to be yet another violation of the spirit of the Constitution and the rule of law. Only political farsightedness can keep the magicians away from writing and re-writing our laws again.

The writer is a former special adviser on political affairs to the Commonwealth Secretariat, London.

Nuclear bargaining

THE "Action Plan" on North Korea's denuclearisation issued on Tuesday by the "six-party" talks in Beijing offers the advantage of focusing, initially, on a single and relatively modest exchange.

Within 60 days, the North Korean regime is to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor and reprocessing plant under the monitoring of international inspectors, who would return to the country after a four-year absence. In exchange the North is to receive 50,000 tons of fuel oil, the "resolution" of US banking sanctions and the beginning of bilateral talks on the normalisation of US-North Korean relations. If the shutdown takes place, North Korean production of plutonium for nuclear weapons will also stop -- a welcome if very limited step forward.
Unlike the failed "Agreed Framework" between the Clinton administration and North Korea, the new deal is not open-ended: North Korea will get no more than the one-time "emergency" supply of oil, worth about $12 million, unless it takes further action. This accord also includes China, South Korea, Japan and Russia, whose involvement raises the chance that Pyongyang will comply and demonstrates that the six-party approach the Bush administration embraced more than three years ago can produce results. In that sense it is wrong to argue that the administration has simply reverted to the Clinton-era arrangement that it repudiated in 2002, and if it is rewarding North Korea's misbehaviour, the bribe is a small one.

North Korea’s new deal
By Gwynne Dyer

THE tentative deal on North Korea's nuclear weapon programme on February 13 is worse than the deal that the Bush administration wrecked in 2005, and considerably worse than the one the Clinton administration made but did not abide by in 1994.

This deal lets North Korea keep whatever nuclear weapons it has already built, plus whatever others it can build with fissile material that it has already produced. But it's probably the best deal left.

The pattern of bargaining by nuclear blackmail that is now so closely identified with Kim Jong-il's regime actually began in the final year of his father's rule. In 1993, Kim Il-sung's regime refused an inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency of North Korea's nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. Instead, he announced, Pyongyang would withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and reprocess 8,000 spent fuel rods from Yongbyon to extract plutonium suitable for nuclear weapons.

By June, 1994 the Clinton administration was seriously discussing air strikes against Yongbyon, but former president Jimmy Carter sensed that this was actually a bargaining ploy by a regime that was in desperate economic trouble. (Like Cuba, North Korea had depended heavily on Soviet economic subsidies that ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in late1991.) Carter went to Pyongyang and substituted bribery for threats. Within days, North Korea agreed to remain under NPT safeguards, admit IAEA inspectors, and stop trying to reprocess plutonium.

In return, under the "Agreed Framework", the United States, South Korea, and Japan promised to supply Pyongyang with two pressurised-water reactors (whose spent fuel would not yield fissile material), after which North Korea would shut down its plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon. They would also provide North Korea with 500,000 tonnes of fuel oil annually for free, and facilitate the shipment of a large volume of food aid by various international aid agencies.

Pyongyang stuck to this agreement for the next eight years, although it soon discovered a loophole: the deal did not explicitly ban North Korea from pursuing nuclear weapons by the alternative means of mining uranium ore and enriching it. And although the free oil arrived faithfully each year through the later 1990s, enabling the North Korean economy to stagger on, the United States never kept its commitment to build two pressurised-water reactors for North Korea. Then the Bush administration took office in 2001, and disavowed the deal entirely.

President Bush denounced Kim Jong-il as a monstrous tyrant, and formally abandoned the US commitment to build two pressurised-water reactors for North Korea. Shortly afterwards he ended free oil shipments to the country -- and a year later, after 9 /11, Bush declared the North Korean regime a member of the "axis of evil" that the United States was going to dismantle.

Pyongyang panicked, and Kim Jong-Il did exactly what his father had done in 1993. In October, 2002, North Korea openly acknowledged its secret uranium enrichment programme, and in January, 2003 it withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Soon afterwards it began reprocessing the 8,000 spent fuel rods from Yongbyon that had been in storage since 1994.North Korea just wanted the "Agreed Framework" back -- but this was the time when the neo-conservative tide was in full flood in Washington, and the Bush administration was in no mood for shabby bargains with a regime from the Dark Side. Pyongyang was told that it had to renounce its nuclear programme before the United States would deign to negotiate with it.

"North Korea has been going through its blackmail handbook, but we're not going to play," declared US Deputy Undersecretary of State John Bolton. "We are not in the marketplace to buy off North Korea's accumulation of weapons of mass destruction. For us, all options are on the table." All very well, except that Washington, already fully committed to the invasion of Iraq, really didn't have any military options against North Korea.

The so-called "six-party talks," including North Korea, the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea, finally got underway in August, 2003. Everybody else involved was well aware that any agreement would have to resemble the 1994 deal, but the Bush administration desperately resisted that conclusion. On several occasions North Korea flounced out of the talks, and eventually an agreement was reached along the predictable lines.

In September, 2005 North Korea agreed to rejoin the NPT, end its efforts to produce nuclear weapons, and re-admit IAEA inspectors. In return, the other parties agreed to resume oil shipments to North Korea and to build the promised pressurised-water reactors, and the United States promised not to attack North Korea or try to overthrow its regime.—Copyright
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Diplomacy of fencing
By Tanvir Ahmad Khan

PAKISTAN and Afghanistan have been having an argument about the causes of the intensification of insurgency in a widening arc in Afghanistan for the past several months. President Bush was part of it first during his February visit to the region and then again in the famous tripartite consultations with Presidents Musharraf and Karzai in Washington.

That Pakistan has now announced plans to fence and mine the 2,400-km border selectively shows that one of the interlocutors is succumbing to a counsel of despair if not simply ratcheting up the level of the tactical game being played in the region.

If the purpose was to deflect a rising chorus of allegations about why the Taliban were resurgent in Afghanistan, Pakistan is opting for a measure that is universally condemned these days. It is also associated with horrific suffering in Afghanistan, and happens to be a known impediment to rehabilitating Afghan refugees particularly in farming and pasturing. Pleading that landmines would be laid only on the Pakistani side of the frontier will not make the slightest difference to the moral opprobrium.

The global outrage at human losses caused by mines is expressed in the intense interest in the issue at the United Nations and in the large campaigns to ban landmines. The 1997 Nobel Peace prize went to one such campaign. A major anti-personnel mine ban agreement, the Ottawa Convention, stood out as a cooperative enterprise by governments, UN, the Red Cross and almost 1500 non-governmental organisations. By November 2006, 151 countries had ratified or acceded to the treaty that came into force on March 1, 1999.

The amended Protocol II of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons focuses specially on landmines, booby-traps and other devices of a similar import. There is a large pile of reports on the subject and inter-agency cooperation in the United Nations has kept the question of explosive remnants of war in public awareness and advocacy. Israel’s deliberate attempt to cause long-term hazards for civilians south of the Litany River attracted worldwide disapproval.

In this international climate of opinion was it even prudent on Pakistan’s part to brandish this threat in a territory where freedom of movement has been a valued right since times immemorial? Even if the army uses extreme care in designating areas to be mined and then provides highly efficient monitoring and surveillance systems, the psychological backlash would all be directed against Pakistan. The measure is an open invitation to Kabul to revive its traditional claim to be the defender and guarantor of the well-being of the border tribes.

The tribal belt has a great deal of legend and mythology attached to it and invading it with devices that are now universally condemned for their capacity to kill and maim indiscriminately will add one additional item to the litany of human rights abuses and violations with which Pakistan is routinely pilloried.

The one group that may not be much worried about it is the Afghan resistance. During the last 30 years they have used more than one hundred routes and trails across the frontier and they will not fight shy of frequent gun battles to keep as many of them open as it would only enhance their appeal to the people. If the flurry of reports from international sources is to be believed at all, the Taliban already enjoy better resonance with them than the officials who were to carry out the much vaunted development projects in the area.

Pakistan sent its army into the tribal lands without much homework relying on a quick fix that would offset American pressure. It must not rush into fencing and mining in another similar ploy to head off international criticism particularly when there is very little chance that allegations from President Karzai and his international backers would abate. Adding yet another futile talking point to the rather stale repertoire of Pakistani spokespersons is far too great a price for more alienation that would inevitably re-fuel the Durand Line controversy.

Mr Karzai has been rather theatrical; his calculated outburst in Kandahar accusing the Pakistani government, though, fortunately, not the Pakistani people, of trying to enslave Afghans and reduce them to the status of doormen at Karachi hotels was doubtless provocative. It is as much for the Pakistan government as Kabul to explain why this “incident” took place despite the great opportunity that came Pakistan’s way in the shape of Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri’s Kabul visit. But more to the point are statements from western sources confirming Mr Karzai’s allegations of cross-border interference that is well beyond the widely accepted limited movement through the peculiar configuration of this long frontier.

Consider the following comment in the latest policy report of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) on what it describes as “the most intense and deadly insurgent violence since the Taliban’s fall five years earlier”: “The Taliban, Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i Islami and fighters linked to Al Qaeda have used Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) bordering on Afghanistan’s south eastern provinces, to regroup, rearm and launch cross-border attacks on Afghan and international troops”. Consider further what the ICG has to say about the Miramshah accord that all of us have been extolling: “Infiltration into Afghanistan appears to have increased since the military, having suffered major losses, opted for a policy of appeasement of the Fata-based militants, signing peace accords, first in South Waziristan in April 2004, then in North Waziristan in September 2006.”

The ICG report’s in-depth analysis often gets marred by a poorly sketched political framework for explaining the backwardness of the tribal areas. For instance, it has difficulty in making up its mind about the role of the “maliks”. At one point it seems to be lamenting that Pakistan has perpetuated them as instruments of the British colonial policy with a view to denying the people a status equal to the other citizens of Pakistan.
At another, it also seems to accuse the religious parties, especially that of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, and the military alike of getting the maliks supplanted by religious activists who have now created a mini-Taliban state. The authors had apparently interviewed too many Pakistanis and had not found enough time to synthesise their own conclusions. Without that, there is always the risk of falling into the pitfall of shoddy studies on the mullah-military alliance particularly popular with western readers.

Be that as it may, the indictment of Pakistan for having provided bases for militants to re-group, re-arm and launch attacks across the border has to be taken seriously.

Similarly, it needs to be established whether the upsurge in resistance inside Afghanistan is the result of Pakistani “appeasement” or other factors intrinsic to the failure of the Karzai government, the International Security Assistance Force and the Nato forces and the larger international community that has not fulfilled the commitments made in the wake of the Bonn agreement. For reasons which are not difficult to guess, the report is timid on these non-Pakistani factors. But where then is Pakistan’s counter-narrative? Instead of being upfront about it, Islamabad now wants to hide behind a fence and landmines.

Talking of narratives, a distinguished academic and a frequent flyer to Afghanistan in all seasons, Barnett R.Rubin, has a long essay entitled ‘Saving Afghanistan’ in the January-February 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs. After celebrating the success of Nato forces in turning back the Taliban offensive of the summer of 2006, he informs us that “the main centre of terrorism of global reach” is in Pakistan, that Al Qaeda has succeeded in reestablishing its base in the Pashtun tribal belt and that the “intelligence collected during western military offensives in mid-2006 confirmed that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was continuing to actively support the Taliban leadership, which is now working out of Quetta”.

These judgments are reinforced in a later section of the essay called “Sanctuary in Pakistan”. He argues that 9/11 changed Pakistan’s behaviour but not its interests.” (Five) years later, he says, “the safe haven Pakistan has provided, along with continued support from donors in the Persian Gulf, has allowed the Taliban to broaden and deepen their presence both in the Pakistani regions and in Afghanistan.”

I can think of any number of fellow Pakistanis who say that they ought to sympathise with their government’s Afghan predicament but they don’t as it remains in a perpetual state of denial. I can imagine that the official reaction would be that Bush and Condoleezza Rice whom our leaders meet frequently do not make these allegations and that they are not overly exercised over opinions of the media and non-governmental analysts. There are many points made by these analysts that deserve serious thought. Above all, we need to think with gravitas about political reforms in the tribal belt.

The Musharraf era has left all past political structures there too debilitated to be revived. The president may not even want to do much till a failsafe device to elect him again in uniform is perfected. But the storm gathering over the region makes it important that he defines the future status of the tribal areas sooner rather than later. The moving finger writes and moves on. Let us at least read it.

The writer is a former foreign secretary.
Lessons from Lebanon

By Tanvir Ahmad Khan

WHEN I wrote about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon a week ago, there was already much despondency in the air about the state of the world. Since then, the few remaining lights on the global horizon have been going out one after another and the gloom is much deeper. The descent into a Hobbesian anarchy in interstate relations brought about by the illegal occupation of Iraq has been greatly accelerated by the continued destruction of Lebanon.

Nothing illustrates it better than the determined effort by Tel Aviv and Washington to block initiatives for a ceasefire that would enable the international community to address the causes of this latest conflict in the Middle East in a relatively calm atmosphere. At the G-8 summit, the president of the United States made a tasteless remark about Syria to his staunchest ally, Tony Blair, which was relayed to the entire world by microphones that someone had forgotten to switch off.

It was an alarming indication of the large measure of truth in the reports claiming that the Israeli invasion plans had been shared with the United States at least one year ago and that Israel had been assured of an uninterrupted military campaign lasting three weeks. The paralysis at the United Nations reflected the same agonising reality that Israel was free to continue its offensives in Gaza and in Lebanon without even a proforma demand for cessation of hostilities.

Nothing, however, has shed more light on the nature of this conflict and its real objectives than the 15-nation Rome conference. Its proceedings, if available in detail, will bear scrutiny at many levels. But what already lies in the public domain reveals a distressing juxtaposition of two dominant strands: an eloquent and impassioned appeal by President Fouad Siniora for an immediate reprieve for his devastated country, Lebanon, and a granite-like resolve by the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to deny it. She said that Siniora had put a human face on the unfolding tragedy but refused to give that tragedy a higher priority than the attainment of questionable strategic objectives underlying the licence given to Israel to wage war with impunity.

Speaking for the dead and dying in Lebanon, President Siniora asked: “What future other than one of fear, frustration, financial ruin and fanaticism can stem from this rubble?” To underline the futility of this conflict, he concluded his anguished address to the conference by quoting from Tacitus: “They created a desolation and call it peace.” In the first two weeks, what Israel has destroyed completely or damaged grievously includes three airports, three ports, three dams, 62 bridges, 72 overpasses, 5,000 civilian homes and 152 commercial factories and other businesses. It is bizarre that a person of Dr Rice’s background speaks so uncritically of the birth pangs of a new Middle East.

Dr Rice knows her Tacitus as well as any historian or politician but her sights were set far beyond the wasteland of south Lebanon on Syria, Iran and any organisation in between that dare oppose the project for a new Middle East. As to the anguish of the Palestinians and the Lebanese, they should be happy that their suffering represented the birth pangs of this new order. They should also know that their pain would last a while. The Rome conference, we are told, was stuck for almost an hour on the right word in the reference to be made to a ceasefire.

Apparently, all but two participants, US and UK, wanted to say that the Rome group would work for “an immediate ceasefire”. Dr Rice insisted that it would “work immediately to bring a ceasefire”. Apparently, the work that she wants the group to undertake immediately is to devise a mechanism that would disarm the Hezbollah, ensure that it would not reassert itself, and also neutralise Syria and Iran. Apart from giving Israel enough time to cripple the military capability of Hezbollah, Washington seeks to deploy an international army that is willing to assume the responsibility of a rapid deployment force virtually with no mandate other than protecting Israel against the Hezbollah.

Dr Rice was the winner in the Rome debate but far too many elements in the situation militate against the eventual success of the policy that she forced the conference to adopt, probably with the degree of acquiescence varying from state to state. First and foremost, the military situation has turned out to be far more complex than anticipated. The nature of weapons in the hands of Hezbollah was known but what has surprised the world is its ability to hit targets well inside Israel despite being under constant bombardment from air, sea and, on the ground, by Israeli artillery and armour.

As this hostile pressure on its positions turns to desperation, Hezbollah may fire off rockets with a longer range (as it already claims to have done) that Israel says have been delivered to it by Iran.. At the time of this writing, its fighters are still imposing a high cost on the Israeli troops advancing into Lebanon.

Secondly, the goal of disarming Hezbollah may turn out to be unachievable. Opinions in the Arab world about its provocative cross-border raid into Israel at the beginning of hostilities were divided but the staggering lack of proportionality in Israel’s retaliation has obscured that split. The conflict imposes great attrition on war materiel in Hezbollah’s arsenal but it can, in the short run, be compensated by change of tactics and, in the long run, by unstoppable re-supply. A point will come when Hezbollah will return to the war of ambush and sudden attack making Israel pay an ever-increasing price.

Hezbollah has no analogy with Al Qaeda. It is a deep-rooted national resistance movement, with a strong political wing and a disciplined military arm, thrown up by the prolonged Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. If an international force pushes the disarming process too far in an attempt to secure a full implementation of resolution 1559 of the UN Security Council, Lebanon’s fragile confessional and sectarian balance will come under strain and Dr Rice will end up with another Iraq rather than a pro-western democracy of the “New Middle East”.

Third, the very idea of drafting Syria to help neutralise Hezbollah without a comprehensive Middle East settlement is a non-starter. France and the United States, not the best of allies most of the time, collaborated to bring about the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon knowing full well that it would further empower the Hezbollah leadership. Now that no Arab army other than Hezbollah has resisted the Israeli onslaught on Lebanon, Syria should not be expected to compromise its position in the Arab world by weakening it except in the framework of a broader settlement. Such a settlement seems to be conceptually beyond the present US administration and an Israeli government overshadowed by the hawks in the nation’s military.

Iran’s involvement with Syria and the Shia minority in Lebanon has a long and impressive history. I have a vivid recollection of Iranian ideologues building up this relationship to preserve their self-image of a millenarian Islamic revolution when fighting Iraq, a Ba’athist Arab country. It was important for Iranians to avoid categorisation of what they called “an imposed war” as a conflict between an Arab and a non-Arab Muslim country and the Levant was a befitting theatre from where to project Tehran’s Islamic credentials.

Today, the stakes are different; a network of kindred forces in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon creates a new dynamic demanding a new balance between conservative and radical segments of the Islamic world, between nationalism and internationalist Islam. As long as the United States threatens Iran with regime change, Tehran cannot permit a dilution of its influence in the region. As in Syria’s case, Iran will have to be associated with the larger settlement.

Dr Rice has explained it time and again that the United States opposes an immediate ceasefire as it cannot let the situation return to status quo ante. She has also asked Damascus and Tehran to make their choice. As things stand at the moment, the United States, too, has to make a choice. It has to disentangle its interests, the global interests of the greatest military power in human history, from the narrower interests of the militarists in Israel.

It is in Israel’s long term interest to stop acting as the proxy power in the Middle Eastern theatre of imperial wars. The Abdullah plan that offers it security and prosperity behind pre-June 1967 borders still provides the basis for a lasting peace. For the United States, underwriting Israel’s land grab has meant a progressive loss of “soft power” to which the region would have been particularly receptive. The present conflict is another painful reminder that Washington is still held in thrall by the Jewish lobby and its allies amongst the so-called Christians for Israel.

It seems that not enough lessons have been learnt from the fiasco in Iraq. So far, the enduring legacy of the Bush presidency is chaos in everything that it has tried to reshape — from the project of peace amongst the nations of the world to global warming. Some of the most sophisticated minds in the United States tell us that a great new debate about the purpose of their country’s pre-eminence is already underway. They do not explain why this debate does not inform decision-making even in the twilight years of the current administration. As America waits listlessly to become benign on a future date, possibly the first of January 2009, hundreds of human beings perish every day as already discredited projects continue to be pursued with relentless military force. It is a depressing thought.

The writer is a former foreign secretary.

The perfect storm

By Gwynne Dyer

IT has the makings of a perfect storm extending right across the Horn of Africa. The fifteen-year war of all against all in Somalia is threatening to morph into an international war bringing chaos and disaster to the rest of the region, and the Al Qaeda-obsessed securocrats in Washington are the ones to blame.

The Somalis have nobody to blame but themselves for their basic plight. Although Somalia has only one ethnic group, one language and one religion, its people are deeply divided by clan, and when long-ruling dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, the clan leaders were unable to unite and form a new government. Instead, the country fell into civil war and anarchy.

A US-led military intervention in 1992 tried to restore order, but after 18 American soldiers and a thousand Somalis were killed in a single day (the “Black Hawk Down” episode), US forces pulled out. By 1995 all the other United Nations troops had followed, and Somalia was abandoned to its fate as a real-life version of the Mad Max films: no government, no police, no schools, no law, just the trigger-happy troops of rival warlords roaring around in “technicals” mounted with machine-guns or anti-aircraft cannon, stealing and killing to their heart’s content.

But US interest in Somalia re-ignited after the terrorist attacks of 2001, because as a Muslim country without a government it seemed a potential haven for Islamist terrorists. At first American policy concentrated on re-creating a national government, and by 2004 a transitional regime blessed by the United Nations and the African Union and led by one of the warlords, Abdulahi Yusuf, was installed in the town of Baidoa. But he was not in the capital, Mogadishu, because the three warlords who ruled that city rejected his authority. So did most other Somalis.

Meanwhile, a different kind of authority was emerging in Mogadishu: the Islamic courts. It was an attempt, paid for by local businessmen, to restore order by using religious law to settle disputes and punish criminals. Each clan’s court has jurisdiction only over its own clan members, but it was a start on rebuilding a law-abiding society, and in 2004 they all joined to form the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). Unfortunately, the mere use of the word “Islamic” spooked the US government.

As usual, Washington’s response was mainly military. It decided that the Union of Islamic Courts was a threat, and in February CIA planes delivered large amounts of money and guns to the three warlords who dominated Mogadishu. They named themselves the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, and started trying to suppress the UIC.

Rarely has any CIA plot backfired so comprehensively. Volunteers flooded in from all over southern Somalia to resist the warlords’ attack on the only institution that showed any promise of restoring law and order in the country. By early June the last of the warlords had been driven out of Mogadishu, which is now entirely in the hands of the UIC, and for the first time in fifteen years ordinary citizens are safe from robbery, rape and murder.

It is by no means clear that the UIC must fall into the hands of Islamist radicals who will turn Somalia into a safe haven for anti-American terrorists. Left to their own devices, the moderate majority of Somalis can probably ensure that what finally emerges is a moderate Islamic government with strong popular support. But Washington panicked, and last week it let Ethiopia send troops in to protect the isolated “Interim Government” in Baidoa. That probably means renewed war, and across borders this time.

Ethiopia has five times as many people as Somalia and has already fought two border wars with it, in 1964 and 1977. (Somalia claims most of Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, where the people are mostly Muslim and ethnically Somali.) But now it’s more complex:.

Ethiopia is a largely Christian country with big and restive Muslim minorities, and President Meles Zenawi is terrified that militant Islamists in power in Somalia might help those minorities to rebel, but this would not be happening without Washington’s consent. It is exactly the wrong response.

On June 10, Abdulahi Yusuf’s unelected “parliament” in Baidoa voted to seek foreign troops, on June 20 the first Ethiopian troops were spotted in Baidoa — and on the same day Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, the UIC’s deputy head of security, declared: “God willing, we will remove the Ethiopians in our country and wage a jihad against them.”

Just when Somalia was about to escape from its long nightmare, a new and worse one has appeared: the prospect of a war that would consume the entire Horn of Africa (for Eritrea, teetering on the brink of another war with Ethiopia itself, is already sending aid to the UIC). The entire Horn of Africa could spend the next five years going through a catastrophe similar to what the Great Lakes region of Africa suffered in the later 1990s.

Sometimes you really wish that the State Department, rather than the Pentagon and the White House, ran American foreign policy.—Copyright

Lapses in education system

By Dr Tariq Rahman

IN the last days of 2006, the education ministry came out with a White Paper titled ‘Education in Pakistan’. It is a draft document, of course, and is meant for discussion. It was prepared after much discussion and is the product of hard work and good intentions. A lot of it makes sense.

What I am about to criticise, or discuss, is only a part of it. I hope it does not give the impression that there is nothing positive in the paper. I am giving my opinion on areas I disagree with or find myself able to comment on.

The White Paper points out that there are gender, geographical and economic disparities in our education system. It talks of English-medium schools and the fact that the private sector has captured some 30 per cent of the education sector. But it stops short of saying that most of the private entrepreneurs are there to make money. It talks of public-private partnerships as if that will reduce the burden of fees on parents. Moreover, it approves of the private sector’s expansion in higher education.

If the existing apartheid is allowed to carry on to the university level would we have a less unjust society or a more unjust one? The White Paper does not say so nor does it actually say much about ending apartheid education. As for awareness, it has been there since the 1970s. Before that, the state pretended that the rich did not have a parallel system of education.

The document does not mention the schools of agencies of the state or those supported by state functionaries. There are the so-called public schools, cadet colleges, cantonment board schools, Fauji Foundation schools, PAF Model Schools, etc, which are patronised by the armed forces. They do not follow the policies of the education ministry as far as the medium of instruction or the curricula are concerned. Instead, they veer more towards the elitist English-medium model. They are given large areas of land, endowments, and gifts and so on. In short, they are subsidised in varying degrees by the state.

This being so, does the Constitution allow them to function in elitist ways? This question was raised in a 1966 report on student disturbances where it was said that using English as the medium of instruction in cadet colleges was a violation of the principle of the equality of all citizens. However, Justice Hamoodur Rahman, the president of the commission, could hardly rock the boat too much so the state of affairs remained as it was. This paper does not mention it at all.

The document then goes on to consider the medium of instruction. Some of its policies are most enlightened on the face of it. There is the provision of using the mother tongue up to class five. This is exactly what Unesco’s paper (2003) on this issue says.

But this is to be left to the discretion of the provincial governments. We have always had this liberal provision in our Constitution but the problem is that it is not easy to implement.

In Sindh, urban Sindh goes into revolt the moment someone talks of using Sindhi instead of Urdu. And, most urban Sindhis do not have Sindhi as a mother tongue anyway.

In Punjab, middle-class Punjabis are reluctant and embarrassed about making any serious effort to substitute their mother tongue for Urdu. In the NWFP, some nationalist Pashtuns might agree to teach everything in Pashto but in Hazara, Chitral, Kohistan and some other areas they do not speak Pashto.

Moreover, inner cities do not use Pashto as a mother tongue. In Balochistan they did try using Balochi, Brahvi and Pashto for classes one and two in 1990 but the parents knew their children would be over-burdened because richer children were learning Urdu and English only.

In short, such experiments fail because they are tried only on poor children. Moreover, our provinces are not linguistic units nor are there any benefits or returns for learning our languages. Thus, if mother tongues have to be preserved, honoured and encouraged then areas speaking the same language must be demarcated first.

Interesting books supported by poetry, drama, films and features of local events — here I agree with the White Paper — should be prepared because local colour is important. Then a certain language should be taught but taught to all. Cantonments and big cities cannot be spared though they will plead to having different mother-tongues. But, if we spare them, Pakistan’s indigenous mother tongues will remain impositions on the poor while the rich will acquire languages with cultural capital i.e. English and Urdu.

We should be like the Catalan-speaking area in Spain and French-speaking Canada where you have to speak Catalan and French no matter what your mother tongue is to get public education or jobs.

The White Paper says that English should be started from class three onwards. Moreover, it should be the medium of instruction for mathematics and the natural sciences and higher education. Urdu, it says, should be taught from class one where it is not the medium of instruction (only rural Sindh and some parts of the NWFP) and should be used for the social sciences.

Again, this policy is for the poor and the powerless. The rich and the powerful will study everything in English throughout — all the way from pre-nursery to university. Those who study English as a subject — and we know how awfully it is taught — will never be able to compete with those who study everything in it. The apartheid between the arts and sciences will widen. Even now the arts students in colleges study in Urdu while science students attend lectures in English. This tendency will be strengthened.

In the interest of equity, it is not possible to teach everyone in English. The resources and expertise are not there. It might, however, be possible to teach everyone in their mother tongue (up to class five) and link languages such as Urdu till school (12 years). English should be used from class 1 but as an auxiliary language.

The four-year Bachelor’s degree can be in Urdu with very strong support of English. The university, meaning a two-year Master’s and research degrees, should be in English. This is not a good system but it is a more equitable one. One assumes the elimination of those bastions of privilege — the elitist English-medium schools.

The state should make its own schools so good so as to eliminate them and to create at least a few really superior schools in all big cities to be attended purely on merit.

The White Paper has very positive proposals about teaching elementary students. One is glad to see that the environment is mentioned. To this should be added women’s rights, animal rights (they make dogs fight bears in our villages), pro-peace lessons and messages against honour killings and forced transactions of girls. Children should be shown films because school teachers have a tendency to make everything too boring for them.

Another welcome recommendation is that curricula and textbooks should not foster, or lead to, sectarian attitudes. This is very well but there was no book encouraging sectarianism earlier. There are books in madressahs conveying beliefs of sub-sects. Such books convince people about the correctness of their own dogma and, therefore, the falseness of others. But this is part of South Asian Islam. Nobody can change this. Nor is it necessarily violent in nature.

Sectarianism of the violent kind was the product of the excessive religious zeal which Ziaul Haq’s regime created. Even that would not have led to so much killing if there had not been a policy to use religious cadres to carry on a proxy war with India in Kashmir. The White Paper has not mentioned this policy nor has it promised that it would never be used again.

Even worse, it does not specifically mention that there should be no hate material against foreigners, including India, while not concealing the truth about historical events. It does not tell us that students should be told about Pakistan’s failings of policy and excesses against East Pakistanis in 1971. Unless the truth is told how can there be a break from the past?

Although it is a commendable effort, the document evades major issues of class and the state’s role in producing wrong and hate-filled history. We need people-friendly policies. This means that class apartheid which goes by the euphemism of ‘medium of instruction’ should be dealt with. It also means that we should promote democratic values and stop teaching the kind of books which create a garrison state.
The Libby verdict

THE conviction of I. Lewis Libby on charges of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice was grounded in strong evidence and what appeared to be careful deliberation by a jury. The former chief of staff to Vice-President Cheney told the FBI and a grand jury that he had not leaked the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame to journalists but rather had learned it from them.

But abundant testimony at his trial showed that he had found out about Ms Plame from official sources and was dedicated to discrediting her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. Particularly for a senior government official, lying under oath is a serious offence. Mr Libby's conviction should send a message to this and future administrations about the dangers of attempting to block official investigations.

The fall of this skilled and long-respected public servant is particularly sobering because it arose from a Washington scandal remarkable for its lack of substance. It was propelled not by actual wrongdoing but by inflated and frequently false claims, and by the aggressive and occasionally reckless response of senior Bush administration officials -- culminating in Mr Libby's perjury.

Mr Wilson was embraced by many because he was early in publicly charging that the Bush administration had "twisted," if not invented, facts in making the case for war against Iraq.

In conversations with journalists or in a July 6, 2003, op-ed, he claimed to have debunked evidence that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger; suggested that he had been dispatched by Mr Cheney to look into the matter; and alleged that his report had circulated at the highest levels of the administration.

A bipartisan investigation by the Senate intelligence committee subsequently established that all of these claims were false -- and that Mr Wilson was recommended for the Niger trip by Ms Plame, his wife. When this fact, along with Ms Plame's name, was disclosed in a column by Robert D. Novak, Mr Wilson advanced yet another sensational charge: that his wife was a covert CIA operative and that senior White House officials had orchestrated the leak of her name to destroy her career and thus punish Mr Wilson.

US ‘viceroy’ to the UN

ZALMAY KHALILZAD is not the kind of soft-spoken diplomat who goes over well at the United Nations. President Bush’s choice for US ambassador to the UN, dubbed “the viceroy” during his stint as ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, is a neoconservative hawk known for his autocratic style. Yet he is also charismatic and can be charming; certainly compared to his predecessor, he’s a breath of fresh air.

Former Ambassador John R. Bolton was a spectacularly poor choice for the UN, given that he was appointed at a time when the US should have been focusing on mending fences with the international community after ignoring its reservations on the invasion of Iraq. His arrogant refusal to compromise in a forum in which compromise is a necessity for progress only exacerbated American isolation. Bush’s decision in 2005 to install him as a recess appointment when it became clear that he wouldn’t be approved by the Senate was an unconscionable end run around constitutional checks and balances.

Khalilzad is a polished and experienced foreign service official who is quite capable of flexibility, as he proved during tough negotiations over the governance of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Insiders expect him to sail through the Senate confirmation process.—Los Angeles Times
our struggles will not end but ,certainly,life.
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