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This meddling must stop
IT is a matter of concern that India should have chosen to stoke the fire in Balochistan by sending arms and ammunition to the militants. On Monday, while President Musharraf informed a high-level meeting about the routes through which terrorists in Pakistan were getting Indian arms, the Foreign Office spokesperson accused New Delhi of trying to destabilise this country. The president’s statement is significant, for it absolves the Afghan government of any involvement against Pakistan. Even though Afghan territory was being used for subversion in Pakistan, the president did not believe the Karzai government had anything to do with it. Instead, he said the Indian consulates in Afghanistan and Iran were organising the supply of weapons to militants in Balochistan. According to the president, the arms were being smuggled across the India-Pakistan border at Rahimyar Khan, reaching Balochistan via Sanghar and Jacobabad, while on the western border Zhob and Chagai served as the conduit for arms. RAW, India’s intelligence agency, was pumping arms and money into Balochistan, but the president said his government had sealed all the routes.
It is difficult to see how the peace process can move forward if the present slide in relations between the two countries continues. The big blow to the detente came with the Mumbai blasts of July 11, with the Indian media accusing Pakistan of involvement in the carnage even before preliminary investigations had begun. Then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh implicitly accused Pakistan of involvement in the blasts and announced a freeze of the peace process. Visiting Mumbai after the tragedy, Dr Singh said the peace process would remain frozen “until Islamabad starts acting on its assurances to crack down on terrorists”. The Indian government took a unilateral step towards freezing the peace process by cancelling the secretary-level meeting scheduled for Islamabad on July 20-21. The secretaries later met at Dhaka on the sidelines of the Saarc ministerial committee meeting, but, like all Saarc conferences, it produced nothing positive. Instead, India accused Pakistan of failing to carry out its obligations under the South Asia Free Trade Area. August saw two more unpleasant developments: first, there was a tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats, and on Aug 15, speaking on India’s independence day, Dr Singh repeated the threat that the peace process would remain frozen unless Pakistan took “concrete steps” to rein in terrorists. Things hit a new low when, following Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing, India came out with a bit of gratuitous advice to Pakistan on how to deal with its domestic problems. This was astonishing, since Balochistan is Pakistan’s internal problem and it does not need to be told how to go about it.
In sharp contrast, the Pakistani attitude towards India’s domestic problems has been one of restraint, even though India is vulnerable on several counts. For instance, whatever is happening in India’s north-east has attracted the attention of international rights agencies and some of India’s own NGOs, besides censures from the US State Department’s annual reports on the atrocities being committed on the civilian population by India’s security forces. Yet Pakistan has chosen not to meddle in India’s internal affairs. The basic question is India’s sincerity about the peace process. New Delhi has two choices: either it should push the process forward, or it can choose to destabilise Pakistan. Pursuing the two objectives at the same time is contradictory.
Note: Taken from Dawn Editorial
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Pakistan to get high-tech air defence system
By Hanif Khalid
ISLAMABAD: As per President Musharraf's directives Pakistan will acquire a high-tech air defence system next year, but it must come with transfer of technology, an official told The News.
"China and a European country have offered Pakistan High-to-Medium-Altitude Air Defence System, Low-to-Medium-Altitude Air Defence System, Medium-Altitude Air Defence System and Short-Range Air Defence System," said an official, who wanted not to be named. "The two countries have also offered to set up a project in Pakistan for manufacturing short- medium- and high-range air defence systems," he added.
The official said a former PAF chief had sent a summary to President Musharraf for the purchase of a high-altitude air defence system from a European country without transfer of technology, but the president rejected it.
"The summary has been rejected because Pakistan's adversary has MiG-25, MiG-29, SU-27 and SU-30 fighter planes which are capable of flying at an altitude of more than 25km," he added.
India has these aircraft since 2002 whereas the PAF has no effective weapon system to save major cities of the country and defence installations from any attack by such planes, the official said.
"Had the organisations engaged in developing nuclear-capable missiles indigenously been tasked with the development of a system to overcome this shortcoming, the country would have until now achieved the capability of hitting planes at an altitude of 25-29 kilometres," he remarked. "But no attention has been paid towards this aspect of the country's air defence capability."
The official said that Pakistan has radars that can detect aircraft flying at an altitude of 25-29 kilometres but the country still lacks a weapon system to hit such planes. He said the country needs to install at least one battery of an ultra-modern air defence system on four sides of major cities or military installations for security.
According to the official, one battery of such a defence system would comprise 16 vehicles, including two radar carriers, six missile launching vehicles and six support vehicles and thus each battery would cost $40-50 million.
A short-range air defence system can shoot down an enemy plane up to five kilometres and medium-range system is capable of hitting and attacking aircraft up to 25 kilometres while a high-range air defence system can hit an enemy plane at a distance of 90 kilometres, elaborated the official.
My ALLAH it is enough for my respect that I m "Your" person & it is enough for my pride that "You" are my GOD."You" are exactly the way I desire.Thus please mould me the way "You" desire.
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All about hudood ordinance......Good comparison with other crimes under the the light of Quran and shunna
Asia's winds of change
Asia's Winds of Change
David Burton, Wanda Tseng, and Kenneth Kang
After recovering from the 1997–98 crisis, Asia is now facing new challenges of globalization
Asia, the world's largest continent with nearly three-fifths of its population, has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past 50 years. After the Second World War, Asia was a mix of poor and backward countries, possessing few natural resources and located far from most industrial countries. Since then, after embarking on an ambitious drive to open their economies to international trade and investment, many Asian countries experienced a remarkable period of sustained economic growth that has helped to lift millions out of poverty and improve living standards. Now, Asia is an important driving force in the global economy, featuring 4 of the world's 12 largest economies—Japan, China, India, and Korea—as well as several of the fastest-growing ones. Although Asia suffered a temporary setback from the financial crisis of the late 1990s, its quick recovery and dynamism suggest that its role in the global economy will continue to grow.
As Asia looks to the future, the most important challenge it faces is how to adapt to globalization, with its wide-ranging impact on trade patterns, production processes, employment opportunities, and financial linkages. Globalization, of course, is not new to Asia, a region that has benefited greatly from its close engagement with the world. But the accelerating pace of globalization is bringing new issues to the fore.
• The integration of capital markets has helped to allocate savings and investment more efficiently, but it has also increased the risks from volatile capital flows and financial contagion. How to reduce domestic vulnerabilities, prevent future crises, and create international and regional safety nets for insurance against large and volatile capital flows remains a key challenge.
• The globalization of production—especially with the rapid emergence of China and India—has created tremendous opportunities, but major efforts will be needed to make the region's economies flexible enough to reap the benefits while minimizing the associated dislocations. Adjustment costs are already evident in growing income disparities, as some countries, and groups and regions within countries, are increasingly being left behind.
• With Asia's growing importance in the world economy, it must play a role—together with other regions—in helping to address the large global current account imbalances. Reforms will be needed to rebalance growth away from exports toward domestic demand. Such a rebalancing would not only be in Asia's interest but would also have positive spillovers to the rest of the world.
This issue of Finance & Development reviews some of the key factors behind Asia's transformation and the challenges Asia faces in adapting to the rapid pace of globalization.
Asian countries began their rapid growth phase at different times. Japan, after the Second World War, was the first country to take off, followed by the group of so-called Asian tigers—Hong Kong SAR, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan Province of China—which embarked in the 1960s on an ambitious outward-oriented strategy for growth. Other countries in the region soon followed, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. More recently, China and India, pursuing their different paths of liberalization, have experienced rapid growth.
Overall, the results have been impressive. From 1950 to 1997, Asian countries grew by nearly 6 percent a year on average, nearly twice as fast as the rest of the world and more than 1½ times faster than the United States (see Chart 1). Asian countries now account for about one-fourth of the global economy, in terms of both size and recent economic growth.
Trade was critical to success. During 1960–2005, Asia's share in global trade increased from 11 percent to 26 percent. Trade encouraged industrialization based on the dynamics of comparative advantage, shifting from agriculture to labor-intensive manufacturing and, more recently, to more capital-intensive, high-skilled industries. This pattern of industrialization helped foster growth with equity by creating new jobs and raising real wages. It also enhanced domestic competition and facilitated the transfer of advanced technologies.
Asian policymakers also pursued sound macroeconomic policies that allowed economic activity to flourish. These policies contributed to low and stable inflation, low levels of public debt, and high savings and investment, especially in human capital and economic infrastructure. Policymakers also demonstrated flexibility in responding quickly to changes in the external environment, such as the oil shocks of the 1970s and 1980s, and in abandoning failed industrial policies in favor of market-led growth.
From miracle to crisis to recovery
But in the late 1990s, Asia suffered a painful setback as a financial crisis hit Thailand and spread quickly through the region. The immediate trigger was the sudden sharp reversal of capital flows—net capital flows to Asian crisis countries swung from an inflow of over 6 percent of GDP in 1995 to an outflow of 2 percent of GDP in 1997 and rose above 5 percent of GDP the following year. But an underlying cause was structural weakness that left many economies vulnerable to the sharp withdrawal of capital. A weak financial sector saddled with large nonperforming loans; a heavily indebted corporate sector that overinvested in some sectors, such as real estate; and doubtful corporate governance practices undermined investor confidence and exacerbated the crisis (see Chart 2). In addition, many Asian countries, such as Korea and Thailand, relied on a rigidly managed exchange rate regime that was prone to misalignment and speculative attack.
Policymakers in the region responded by addressing these structural weaknesses to restore investor confidence and economic growth. Because Asian countries moved aggressively to restructure their financial and corporate sectors and liberalize their economies, investor confidence was quickly restored, allowing capital to return to the region (see Chart 3). This, in turn, helped Asian countries reduce their external vulnerabilities by replenishing foreign reserves and repaying foreign debt (see Chart 4). In the end, the financial crisis proved to be only a temporary setback, as many countries quickly realized the benefits of their extensive reforms and resumed their rapid pace of growth.
As Asia builds on this recovery, it faces a variety of fresh policy issues created by the accelerating pace of globalization. They include finding ways to prevent future crises, strengthening integration to enhance the region's broader participation in the global economy, seizing the opportunities created by the rapid emergence of China and India, ensuring that the benefits of growth are more evenly shared, and contributing to the resolution of global current account imbalances.
Preventing future crises. The time-tested importance of having a sound macroeconomic framework, including appropriate monetary and fiscal policies, to protect against financial crisis remains relevant for the future. Asian countries have made progress in this area, particularly by moving to more flexible exchange rate regimes where appropriate, such as in Korea and Thailand. Many countries have also built up foreign exchange reserves as a way of cushioning their economies from shocks. Another key task is to reduce public debt burdens to more comfortable levels. Since the mid-1990s, the growth in public debt in emerging Asia has been particularly rapid, rising from about 40 percent of aggregate GDP in 1996 to about 55 percent in 2005 (see Chart 5). While there has been progress in reducing debt ratios, there is wide variation across the region. The current period of strong growth provides a golden opportunity to curb fiscal imbalances, not only to reduce vulnerabilities but also to prepare for the fiscal costs of Asia's aging population, especially in Japan and China.
In addition, many countries need to further strengthen their financial systems. A healthy and sound financial system would not only better serve increasingly sophisticated economies but would also help make markets more resilient by providing more financial instruments for a broader sharing of risks. To promote a sound financial sector, there is a need to further strengthen supervision to safeguard against systemic risk, improve risk-management skills, enhance corporate governance to strengthen market discipline, and put in place an efficient bankruptcy system for restructuring.
Strengthening regional integration. Since the crisis, Asian countries have taken steps to deepen regional integration and cooperation. On the trade front, Asia has experienced remarkable progress, with intraregional trade reaching over 40 percent of total trade in 2005, a level comparable to that reached in the North American Free Trade Agreement, up from 30 percent in 1990 (see Chart 6). Much of this expansion is being driven by market forces, especially the rapid integration of global production processes, particularly in China. There is also growing momentum for regional economic cooperation, including bilateral and regional trade arrangements (RTAs), most recently with the signing of an agreement between Korea and Singapore in 2005.
How to make regionalism work to strengthen trade, investment, and growth for Asian countries will be a challenge. There is the risk that the proliferation of RTAs could come at the expense of trade with nonmember countries, known as trade diversion. To be building blocks rather than stumbling blocks to multilateralism, RTAs should proceed in parallel with unilateral and multilateral liberalization. As tariff rates are lowered, the risk of trade diversion will be minimized.
Furthermore, Asian countries are increasingly being integrated into a regional supply chain, with final products destined in many cases for exports outside the region. RTAs can advance this integration, encouraging countries to specialize and trade more intermediate goods with each other. But this requires RTAs to be comprehensive in product coverage with few exemptions, featuring simple and transparent rules of origin to reduce the cost of compliance.
On the financial front, Asian governments have also worked to advance regional cooperation and integration, launching the Chiang Mai and regional bond market initiatives. Enhancing policy dialogue and expanding regional safety nets are welcome because they can assist in strengthening regional surveillance, reducing the risk and severity of liquidity crises, and complementing the role of the IMF in promoting global financial stability (see box). But, despite progress in financial reforms, capital markets in many Asian countries are still relatively underdeveloped. Here, regional initiatives could spur reforms—such as the harmonizing of laws, regulations, tax treatments, and market infrastructure—that would help these markets develop.
Reshaping the IMF's role in Asia
With prosperity on the rise in Asia, how can the IMF best help the region? For the IMF, deepening its dialogue with Asia is crucial, not least because Asia's role in the global economy has expanded significantly, and what happens in Asia has a profound impact on the rest of the world.
Asia also needs a strong IMF to promote global financial stability. As a universal institution, the IMF remains the principal forum for multilateral debate and action and has been working hard to respond to the calls from Asian policymakers to focus its advice on crisis prevention, improve financial sector surveillance, and strengthen regional and global surveillance. As part of its new medium-term strategy, the IMF is now exploring ways to make its economic surveillance more focused and effective, as well as to stimulate fresh thinking on financial markets and crisis prevention.
Like other emerging markets, Asian countries would also benefit from having access to IMF financial resources in times of need. Although Asian countries have built up comfortable levels of reserves and taken steps to strengthen regional economic ties, holding large reserves is costly, and regional financing arrangements have limits. Although the current benign financial conditions have drawn attention away from the risk of capital account crises, these conditions may not prevail forever. Thus, the IMF will need to make sure that its financial instruments are adequate to meet the needs of emerging market countries, including in Asia, and explore what it can do to leverage its financing capacity to support regional and other reserve pooling arrangements in crisis prevention and response.
In addition, it is vitally important that Asian countries have a role in decision making at the IMF that matches their growing importance in the world economy. This means increasing the voting power for some emerging market economies, especially in Asia. Raising Asia's quota share will not only ensure an adequate voice and representation for Asia in the IMF but also help strengthen the IMF's legitimacy and effectiveness in promoting international economic and financial stability—an interest shared by all countries.
Building on the opportunities from China and India. The growth of China and India has contributed to improved prospects for Asia as a whole. China's emergence as both a production network and a final export market for the region has been a key factor in boosting intraregional trade and investment; meanwhile, India has also grown rapidly following reforms in the early 1990s and, more recently, has become a global leader in service exports, even though its impact on the regional and global economies has so far been more limited.
At the same time, the emergence of these giants has also raised concerns about heightened competition for foreign investment and exports. Are these worries justified? A recent IMF staff study contends that China's emergence has so far not crowded out foreign direct investment (FDI) to other Asian countries, including low-wage countries (Mercereau, 2005). Even so, the impact of China and India's rapid development on the rest of the region is likely to grow. For other countries in Asia, the key to seizing the opportunities created by China and India will be to increase the flexibility of their economies to remain competitive and responsive.
Here, further development of capital markets and greater labor market flexibility will encourage resources to move quickly to new growth industries based on a country's comparative advantage. Measures to improve the business environment, such as further deregulation and liberalization of closed sectors, will facilitate new investment and innovation. Education policies aimed at upgrading skills will also enable workers to shift into new industries, while enhancing the social safety net will ease the burden of adjustment for the most vulnerable.
Sharing the benefits of growth. Although globalization has helped improve growth prospects in Asia, the benefits from this growth have not been evenly shared. Asia remains home to some of the poorest countries in the world, and even in the fastest-growing economies, such as China and India, vast areas remain poor and underdeveloped. In many countries, including the more developed ones, like Japan and Korea, income inequality is widening, and economies are becoming increasingly polarized, as some sectors and groups have surged ahead of others.
To ensure that the benefits from globalization are more evenly shared, Asian countries will need to pursue reforms that will expand opportunities for the poorest groups and regions to catch up. These would include broadening financial systems to improve access to credit and insurance, particularly by small enterprises and the working poor; adopting labor reforms that strike the right balance between flexibility and protection of basic employee security; establishing social safety nets that encourage labor flexibility; and, in some countries, improving the functioning of land markets to unlock their productive potential. Policies to improve the poor's access to quality health care, education, and infrastructure will also assist in enhancing their economic contribution. Finally, prudent macroeconomic policies that promote financial stability can help protect the poorest groups, who, because of a lack of assets and instruments, are more vulnerable to financial crisis.
Helping resolve global imbalances. In recent years, the rise in global current account imbalances has cast a spotlight on Asia's external surplus, along with the large deficit in the United States. Although the current account surplus in parts of emerging Asia and in Japan has started to narrow in response to the rising cost of oil imports, the strengthening of domestic demand, and exchange rate appreciation in some countries, more needs to be done.
How to reduce the imbalances is a hot topic. The large U.S. current account deficit and the counterpart surpluses in Asia and elsewhere are a concern because of the risks that a disorderly adjustment could slow global growth, destabilize financial markets, and lead to the imposition of protectionist policies around the globe. With its reliance on exports, this would be particularly damaging for Asia. There is an agreed international cooperative strategy to address the imbalances, requiring policy actions by deficit and surplus countries to rebalance demand. For Asia, this involves structural reforms to boost domestic demand and allow exchange rates to adjust, although there are important differences in the policy requirements across the region. The needed policy adjustments in Asia will also help rebalance demand and put growth in the region on a more sustainable footing.
In emerging Asia (excluding China), the surplus largely reflects a collapse in investment rates in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis, while saving rates have been relatively stable (see Chart 7). Investment remains subdued despite the progress in corporate and financial restructuring since the crisis. According to work done by IMF staff, a reason for the "investment drought" appears to be a perceived increase in risk, which may reflect more realistic perceptions about risks than during the precrisis period (see "Asia's Investment Puzzle" on page 32 of this issue).
What can be done to boost investment? On the macroeconomic front, sound policies that reduce uncertainty will remain critical. On the microeconomic front, improvements in corporate governance and regulations will reduce the costs of doing business, while further development of the financial sector will help transfer risk from the corporate sector to the wider investing public. It will also help create new financing structures to support startup enterprises, which will become increasingly important as Asian economies become more knowledge- and technology-intensive.
In Japan, since the early 1990s, the current account surplus has reflected a slower decline in the national saving rate relative to aggregate investment. Saving rates have fallen because of demographic factors and countercyclical fiscal policies to combat deflation, whereas investment has remained weak since the bursting of the asset-price bubble. Structural reforms to liberalize product markets, make the labor market more flexible, and encourage inward FDI will strengthen growth prospects and bolster private investment. They will also help mitigate the impact of population aging on potential growth.
In China, in stark contrast to the rest of Asia, the investment rate has been high and rising—reaching about 40 percent of GDP in 2005 (see Chart 8). But, because the saving rate has risen even faster—to about 47 percent of GDP in 2005—China's current account surplus has increased considerably. The steady rise in saving rates reflects increases in government, enterprise, and household savings, which now account for about 30 percent of disposable income.
If China hopes to stimulate a more permanent increase in consumption and make economic growth more balanced over the medium term, it will need to continue reforms on many fronts. Greater exchange rate flexibility, which, through an appreciation of the currency, will help boost consumption by raising household purchasing power, and a shift in budgetary spending toward education, health, and social safety nets (including reforming the pension system) are important macroeconomic policy measures. Further banking and financial market reforms will also prompt increased consumption by creating new savings, consumer lending, and insurance instruments that will help diversify risk and encourage households to spend more. In rural China, reforms to enable farmers to sell their land use rights at market prices and borrow against their land would also help meet the financing needs of rural households.
Building on success
The path that Asian countries have traveled to growth and prosperity in the past 50 years is nothing short of remarkable. Many ingredients of that success will remain relevant for the future—the embrace of openness, the commitment to macroeconomic stability, and the drive to adapt and reform in response to changing circumstances.
The rapid pace of globalization has brought new challenges. To meet them, Asia will need to continue to reform—to reduce vulnerabilities to crises; deepen regional integration while remaining open to multilateralism; strengthen financial systems and enhance the flexibility of its economies in order to benefit from the emergence of China and India; and rebalance demand to achieve more sustainable growth. With Asia continuing to reform and adapt, its prospects will remain bright, and its contributions to the global economy will be even greater over the next 50 years.
Mercereau, Benoît, 2005, "FDI Flows to Asia: Did the Dragon Crowd Out the Tigers?" IMF Working Paper 05/189 (Washington: International Monetary Fund).
David Burton is the Director and Wanda Tseng a Deputy Director of the IMF's Asia and Pacific Department. Kenneth Kang is the IMF's Resident Representative in Korea.
Look ho is Talking Now
From The TimesMay 19, 2007
Afghan soldiers mass on border, ready and willing to take on old foe
In the late-morning lull that followed the thump of shellfire and chatter of machineguns, the preparations for a small war seemed to be unfolding in the orchards and paddy fields beneath the towering Spingar mountain range.
Scores of heavily armed Afghan troops and fighters from special border police units – determined, professional and evidently spoiling for a fight – gathered around their senior officers for orders. Artillery men waited beside their 122mm field guns hidden among the mulberry groves. And in nearby village bazaars tribesmen clustered around their elders, asking for weapons of their own so that they could join the fray.
Yet the enemy was not the Taleban, nor an infiltrating column of al-Qaeda fighters. Instead, in the remote border district of ’Ali Kheyl in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan security forces have found themselves pitted against an older and bigger enemy: Pakistan.
Clashes between the two neighbours – two of the West’s biggest allies in the War on Terror – began here last Sunday morning when Paki-stani forces fired on an Afghan post at Toorgawe, a strategic point on the border. The fighting is the most serious of its kind for years.
Since Sunday evening there has been a build-up of forces in the contested zone as hundreds of regular Afghan soldiers from the 203rd “Thunder” Corps, who had been fighting the Taleban, have deployed to the area to reinforce the beleaguered border police, bringing with them heavy artillery sent up from Kabul. “We can’t wait any more,” Brigadier Sanaoull Haq, a staff officer in the corps, said. “Now if anything further happens we will reply in kind.”
Each side accuses the other of initiating the bombardments, which so far have left 13 Afghans dead and 51 wounded. Foreign diplomats in Kabul fear that the situation, which has united Afghan nationalist sentiment across every ethnic divide, may escalate. It threatens to wreck any semblance of security cooperation between the countries, to the detriment of Nato’s struggle with the Taleban.
Tension has been growing for months along the 1,615-mile (2,600km) border shared by the two nations. Afghanistan has consistently accused the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service, of equipping and training Taleban fighters in camps inside Pakistan, then allowing them to cross into Afghanistan.
Pakistan has recently started building a security fence in selected areas of the border, ostensibly to halt the flow of insurgents. This, in turn, has provoked more Afghan wrath.
The Kabul Government does not recognise the border, drawn up by the British in 1893. Named the Durand line after Sir Mortimer Durand, then Foreign Secretary of the British Indian Government, the demarcation was intended to divide warlike Pashtun tribes antipathetic to British influence. Now Afghanistan sees the security fence as the de facto consolidation of a border dividing them from tribal areas in Pakistan that they claim as their own.
“The Durand line is a suffocating imposition under which we suffer,” said General Abdur Rahman, the chief of Afghanistan’s border police, as he briefed his men at Ghumruk, a customs post near the contested section of frontier, on Thursday. Seven of his men have been killed since the fighting started, yet he insisted that his orders so far were only to defend Afghan territory.
“We have donated our men’s blood to keep even a single foot of Pakistan from stepping inside our border,” he added. “But our orders from the Interior Ministry are to hold our positions, avoid trouble, and not fire unless fired upon.”
There was no security fence being built by Pakistan at Toorgawe. Instead, the Afghans say that their police in the post were attacked without warning simply because of its desirable strategic location.
“Wherever they see one of our border positions on a high pass they try to influence it,” said Brigadier Haq. “Since the Mujahidin times the Pakistanis have thought our country is their own. Then the Taleban came and still the Pakistanis could put up border posts wherever they wanted.
“Now we have a central government and an army of our own and the Pakistanis are angry. They can’t tolerate us or our border.” In the initial absence of regular troops hundreds of Pashtun tribesmen from local villages rushed to support the Afghan border police during the attacks on Sunday.
“We were carrying rifles, axes and swords,” said Nawruz, one of the tribesmen who participated. “I took 15 men with me from my village. We got into a trench and started firing back at the Pakistani militia. One of my friends died beside me, killed by a Pakistani mortar round.”
On Monday a joint Afgh-an-American delegation flew across the border for talks with Pakistani officers aimed at producing a ceasefire. The meeting was held in a schoolhouse in Teri Mangel, a small town in the Kurram tribal area of Pakistan. Yet after the negotiations concluded the delegation was fired upon. An American soldier was killed and four others wounded.
Though Nato and Pakistan, keen to play down the incident, say the attack was the work of a single rogue member of a Pakistani militia, two Afghan delegates present as part of the delegation who were separately interviewed byThe Times, Governor Rahmatullah Rahman and Colonel Shamsur, say they were fired on by up to a dozen uniformed Pakistani militiamen.
“There were two groups of Pakistani militia shooting at us,” said Governor Rahmatullah. “One group was placed among rocks and it fired at the delegation as it drove from the school to be picked up by a helicopter. The other group fired at the delegation’s security guards in the school’s courtyard. The attackers were in uniform. I saw at least ten.”
Despite this attack, a border ceasefire held until Thursday, when renewed artillery exchanges began in the morning and lasted until midday. Though both the Pakistani militia in Kurram and the Afghans in ’Ali Kheyl are Pashtuns of the same Zazi tribe, their kinship seems to be no barrier to the desire to fight one another.
“When it is a question of territory or land even if it is your own brother you don’t care,” said Malik Khir Gul Khan, one of the Afghan tribal elders.
“Under our code of Pashtun-wali if your brother takes your house or land then you have to kill him or die trying.”
So far Nato and American-led coalition forces have kept their forces away from the area of fighting, though Captain Aziz, an Afghan army commander at Ghumruk, said on Thursday that he had seen an eight-man team of American troops move forward to observe the clashes until they, too, were shelled and withdrew.
Afghanistan’s 46,000-strong army is in no position to take on the military might of Pakistan, besides which diplomatic pressure on both countries makes it extremely unlikely that the scope of fighting will spread between regular forces. However, the fighting has sparked antiPakistani sentiment among the Afghan border tribes at a time when the fortunes of every foreign player trying to stabilise Afghanistan are dependent on the two neighbours cooperating.
“Only this morning I have had tribal elders offer me 400 men to fight the Pakistanis,” said Captain Aziz. “I have to keep ordering them to stay in their villages. Man, woman and child, in this area they are all ready to give their blood in a fight with Pakistan.”
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khaula (Saturday, January 05, 2008)
Blasts hit Pakistan garrison town
Blasts hit Pakistan garrison town
At least 24 people have been killed in two bomb blasts near the Pakistani military headquarters in the city of Rawalpindi, the military says.
The first explosion took place on a bus carrying defence employees in the town near Islamabad, killing 17 people.
Shortly afterwards, a motorcycle bomb exploded in a market, killing seven people.
Attacks by militants have increased since the army stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July.
It had been occupied by pro-Taleban extremists and at least 100 people were killed during the siege and subsequent military operation.
Since then, suicide attacks and bombings, particularly in the tribal areas, have claimed the lives of at least 60 Pakistani soldiers.
The BBC's Damian Grammaticas, in Islamabad, says these latest attacks will cause particular concern because they have happened in what is a military zone.
They come at a time of great political uncertainty in the country with former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto promising to return to the country to challenge the rule of President Pervez Musharraf.
At least 66 people have been injured in the two attacks, officials said.
The first explosion occurred at 0720 (0220 GMT).
At least 17 defence employees were killed when a bomb tore through their bus near Qasim market in Rawalpindi.
Eyewitnesses said the bus was completely destroyed by the blast which could be heard across the city.
The roof of the bus and all its windows were blown away.
"There was a huge bang, then I saw the bus in a mangled heap. Body parts were scattered across the road and there was blood everywhere," witness Mohammad Tahir told AFP.
One of the dead in the bus attack has been confirmed as a sergeant in the intelligence services, according to the list issued by the hospital. A relative told the BBC the rest of the men on the bus were his colleagues.
Television pictures showed rescue workers at the scene, trying to cut open the wreckage to pull out injured people and bodies.
The second blast happened about three kilometres (two miles) away when a suspected motorcycle bomb exploded in the city's RA Bazaar.
"We only know that it was a motorcycle bomb. It exploded with a big bang," a police official was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
Military spokesman Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad said authorities were trying to determine which department the people on board the bus worked for.
"It's terrorism because innocent people were killed in both blasts," Maj-Gen Arshad said.
At least 66 people have been wounded in the two attacks, he said.
Am in love with the art of madness..
Nepal's prince has heart attack
Nepal's Crown Prince Paras has been taken to hospital after suffering what doctors say is a mild heart attack.
He underwent an angioplasty operation in Kathmandu's Norvic hospital and is "much better", the hospital says.
Crown Prince Paras is a controversial and unpopular figure who has been at the centre of a number of scandals.
He is the only son of King Gyanendra. A constituent assembly due to be elected in November is to decide whether the monarchy should be abolished.
Doctors attending the crown prince say that the mild heart attack was "genetic in nature" and caused blood circulation problems in the lower portion of his heart.
Dr Bharat Rawat who led a team of 12 doctors said a "balloon angioplasty" was successfully conducted on Thursday afternoon.
"The Crown Prince will be kept at the intensive care unit for two days and will be shifted to general ward thereafter. Now his condition is much better," Dr Rawat said.
A team of cardiologists and physicians rushed to the prince's residence after he complained of chest pains.
Shortly afterwards, the 36-year-old prince was admitted to a military hospital, which later transferred him to the private Norvic hospital, where the angioplasty was performed.
Dr Rawat said the operation took 50 minutes.
Doctors say Nepal's royal family has a history of heart problems, also seen in late kings Mahendra and his father Tribhuvan.
Am in love with the art of madness..
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malikahmad (Thursday, June 17, 2010)
A DANGEROUS BACKLASH
a false choice in pakistan
by : Daniel Markey
check it out the link
You are an eagle, flight is your vocation:
You have other skies stretching out before you.
Martial law not an option for Army top brass
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: Martial law has not been an option worth considering for the top military commanders during the recent months of crises, it has been learnt.
An authoritative source told The News that even at the peak of the judicial crisis and the Lal Masjid issue, there was not a single corps commander who had suggested to President Musharraf to go for such an extreme step.
After the early June corps commanders meetings, the source revealed, Musharraf individually met all the corps commanders for their views on getting out of the post-March 9 crisis. The source said that there were only a few top military commanders who had recommended weighing the option of emergency, but there was no suggestion for imposition of martial law.
It was the same top military commanders meeting following which a press release was issued by the military spokesman announcing that the commanders stood behind Musharraf. It was also said that the military commanders lending their full support to him though such a statement was uncalled for as each and every member of the disciplined force is supposed to back the Army chief. Army chiefs don’t seek support from their senior commanders. It is mandatory. It is instinctive.
The source admitted that there was a realisation within the Army that public feelings against the institution had never been as strong as it were today. “In such a situation, the possibility of martial law is zero,” the source said, admitting, however, there was hardly anyone among the top commanders who could honestly tell the Army chief about their true feelings.
According to the source, the corps commanders meeting and the formation commander gatherings nowadays don’t discuss “thorny” political issues in a frank and honest manner unless allowed by the chair because of a wide gap of seniority between the Army chief and even the senior-most corps commanders.
“Would you believe that the present-day senior-most three-star generals were lieutenant colonels when Musharraf was a corps commander during the 90s,” the source said, quoting the examples of the Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (DG ISI) Lt Gen Ashfaq Kiani and Corps Commander, Rawalpindi, Lt Gen Tariq Majeed.
Although, Khalid Kidwai is the senior-most lieutenant general, he is out of the military’s command system and presently heading the Strategic Planning Division. Kidwai was to retire last year but Musharraf gave him one-year extension. He is the second exception after Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Javaid, Chief of Staff to the President, who were given extensions in service since October 12, 1999 military takeover. Musharraf himself is an exception as he is continuing as the Army chief since 1998.
Because of the seniority gap, it is said, the trend of raising dissenting voices within the four walls has ended. “Now the corps commanders are generally informed about the decision as recently happened in the case of the chief justice’s removal,” the source said, agreeing that for the sake of the institution of Army and the country the military commanders must be encouraged to speak their mind within the four walls.
The source recalled that the last time it was Tariq Waseem Ghazi, who, as lieutenant general (since retired), in a commanders meeting a few years back had expressed his dismay over the politicians being betted by Musharraf.
Sources even close to Musharraf confirm that a group of “opportunists”, including some political figures, are ill-advising him at the cost of national interest. There are some sycophants, it is said, who tell the president that his continuation in uniform is vital for the future of Pakistan. However, others believe that for the sake of one person, any extreme step could be disastrous for the country’s future.
These sources, however, admit that there are many in the government who realise that options like martial law are simply inconceivable at this stage as such an irrational step would lead Pakistan to a serious crisis.
Some believe that the recent speculation of martial law was an attempt to create a scare among those considered as “hurdle” by the powers that be. The ruling PML President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who has been advising the president to impose emergency, is quoted by newspaper reports to have told Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the MMA that the government was considering the options of emergency, martial law and an extension in the term of the present assemblies.
link of this article
You are an eagle, flight is your vocation:
You have other skies stretching out before you.
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khaula (Saturday, January 05, 2008)
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