terror in delhi 10/29
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
  On nuclear testing moratorium
Via Rediff:
Undersecretary Robert Joseph replied that 'In principle, making new US law or waivers contingent on India fulfilling its commitments in the Joint Statement is a sound idea. As reflected in its pledge in the Joint Statement, India has already declared that it will maintain its nuclear testing moratorium.' On November 2, Joseph told the same committee that 'India's pledge to maintain its nuclear testing moratorium contributes to non-proliferation efforts by making its ending of nuclear explosive tests one of the conditions of full civil nuclear cooperation' (Emphasis added).
That means the equivalent of signing the CTBT, which even the US has not done. Even worse, the US keeps doing sub-critcal tests with the aid of sophisticated supercomputers, via ABC, Australia:
The Energy Department has confirmed the United States has carried out a subcritical nuclear experiment at an underground test site in Nevada on Thursday (local time). The test was aimed at gathering ''scientific data that provides crucial information to maintain the safety and reliability of... nuclear weapons without having to conduct underground nuclear tests,'' the department said.
Who knows, India is already there too, but it should be up to her to decide when to really stop testing. Now let us get back to discussing the civilian nuclear cooperation. And while we are on the subject a question to the non-proliferation ayatollahs, what are you doing about this:
China has, in principle, agreed to offer two more nuclear power plants worth about $1.2 billion to help meet Pakistan’s growing electricity requirements. “Initially China is expected to provide us two more nuclear plants of 325-MW each preferably in 2006. Later, we may get some more power plants from China if the US and west continue to hesitate in this behalf”, the official said.
Related post: Fast Breeder: Civil or Military or Both.
  Weapon System du jour
Via Jang:
Pakistan has gained what it calls ‘joint standoff weapons’ a capability through which an invisible target can be hit. The missile can hit an enemy target without entering air limits of an enemy.
Right, we are all scared! The term vaporware comes to mind!!
Monday, February 27, 2006
  All Terror Road Leads To ...

On the London tube attacks, via The Times (UK) (Feb 26th):
The new documents show that MI5, which is responsible for national security, allowed the July 21 suspect to travel to Pakistan after he was detained and interviewed at a British airport. Once in Pakistan he was monitored by SIS, which gathers intelligence overseas.

MI5 then conducted what the leaked memo says was “a low-level short-term investigation” into the suspect, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

It stopped monitoring him because it said “the Pakistani authorities assessed that he was doing nothing of significance”.

On attacks planned against Australia, via the Sydney Morning Herald (Feb 27th):

Thomas said bin Attash told him he had $10,000 for anyone who would attempt a terrorist operation, and suggested that he run surveillance on Australian military installations.

It was late 2002. Thomas was hiding in a safe house in Pakistan. He was trying to organise passage back to Australia after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US and the fall of the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban regime in Afghanistan a year earlier.

Minutes before their private talk, bin Attash had announced to several people, Thomas among them, that Australia needed an attack like those in Kenya and Tanzania, where truck bombs exploded near US embassies, killing 224 people, in 1998.

In his private meeting with bin Attash, Thomas said, he was told that his passage out of Pakistan had been arranged, and that he would be provided with $US3500.

On the daily attacks in Afghanistan, via the Associated Press (Feb 25th):

President Hamid Karzai has handed intelligence to Pakistan that indicates Mullah Mohammed Omar, supreme leader of the Taleban regime ousted by US-led forces, and key associates are hiding in Pakistan, a senior Afghan official said on Friday.

The intelligence was shared during a visit by Karzai to Islamabad last week, and comes after a wave of suicide attacks that have fueled Afghan suspicions that militants are operating out of Pakistan.

Afghanistan also provided information about the locations of alleged terrorist training camps along the border and in Pakistani cities, said the official, who is familiar with the information shared with Pakistan. He declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

On the Lodhi, California terror case, via the Associated Press (Feb 24th):

During long conversations at Hayat's home, Khan said, Hayat praised Al Qaeda, expressed support for religious governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan and talked about issues surrounding jihad.

Hayat, 23, is charged with three counts of making false statements to the FBI about attending an Al Qaeda camp in Pakistan in 2003 and with providing material support to terrorists.

On the Jamaat ul Fuqra’s terror camps in northeastern U.S., via the World Net Daily (Feb. 17th):

The Pakistani terrorist group Jamaat ul Fuqra is using Islamic schools in the United States as training facilities, confirms a joint investigative report by an intelligence think tank and an independent reporter.

Jamaat ul-Fuqra, or "community of the impoverished," was formed by Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani in New York in 1980. Gilani, who refers to himself as "the sixth Sultan Ul Faqr," has stated his objective is to "purify" Islam through violence.

Though primarily based in Lahore, Pakistan, Jamaat ul-Fuqra has operational headquarters in the U.S.

Members have been known to go to Pakistan for paramilitary training, but the investigation found evidence the U.S. encampments offer such training so members don't need to risk traveling abroad amid increased scrutiny following the 9-11 attacks.

U.S. authorities have probed the group for charges ranging from links to al-Qaida to laundering and funneling money into Pakistan for terrorist activities. The organization supports various terrorist groups operating in Pakistan and Kashmir, and Gilani himself is linked directly to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Intelligence sources also suggest a link between Jamaat ul Fuqra and Richard Reid, the infamous "shoe bomber" who attempted to ignite explosives aboard a Paris-to-Miami passenger flight Dec. 22, 2001.

Whew! All this is just during a period of just one week. President Bush has his task cut out during his visit to Pakistan. Before shelling out the usual billion dollar per year aid, he needs to call Pakistani ruler’s duplicitous co-operation in G.O.A.T. a bluff. So far not one major Taliban leader has been arrested - its sympathizers running freely in Pakistan are already wrecking havoc in Afghanistan. Ofcourse, several fake Al-Queda No. 3 keep popping out every month or so. Terrorist operatives trained in Pakistan continue to plan attacks from Australia, to London to the United States. This has to stop. So far Pakistan’s military rulers have been using the “There is no alternative” line arguing that the civilian replacements will most likely be from a Islamist political party. This is a bogus argument since they themselves encourage the very same parties to conduct anti-American and religious fundamentalist rallies. So far no effort has been done to reform the hate-filled public education system or the militant maddrassahs. All this, while using American-donated weapons in the ‘other’ brutal war against Balochi rebels. While we are not holding our breath for a radical change in the official U.S. policy of “He is afterall my SOB” towards Pakistan, the tax-paying American public should be well aware of this.

Washington Post's William Arkin has similar thoughts: Bush Visits Bin Laden Country.

Sunday, February 26, 2006
  Viewing The Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full
On the eve of President Bush's visit to India, several international publications have given their thoughts. A sample: Newsweek International cover page story (excellent read, in our opinion):
The world turns and India will have its ups and downs. But today it is India's moment. It can grasp it and forge a new path for itself. Along that road lies a genuine and deep relationship between the planet's largest democracy and its wealthiest democracy. Until now, this has merely been a slogan. It could actually become a reality, and who knows what such a world might look like?
New York Times editorial (an Atlanticist hardline view, which we had taken to task here):
India desperately wants Bush to wring approval from Congress for a misbegotten pact in which America would help meet India's energy requirements through civilian nuclear cooperation.
Washington Post editorial (takes a moderate line, but gets its priority right):
The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is a limited asset: It has not stopped a string of countries from going nuclear, and it's not worth forgoing major prizes such as an Indian alliance in order to preserve it.
The Economist cover page story (another Atlanticist mouth piece hostile to India):
As Mr Bush packs his bags, desperate attempts are being made to bridge the gap. The obvious danger is that in order to portray his summit as a success Mr Bush will be tempted to accept even fewer safeguards from India. That would be a dangerous mistake: nuclear proliferation matters too much to allow excessive wiggle-room or create bad precedents.
During his short business-like trip of two days, a major portion will be occuppied in trying to finalize the nuclear deal (which this blog has extensively covered). Amazingly, we are not yet privy to the final negotiating terms, if they were indeed agreed. Prime Minister Singh is expected to make a statement to the Indian parliament this coming week. Irrespective of whether a deal is signed or not at this point, we hope President Bush's visit further strenghtens India-U.S. relationship. We wish him a tres bon voyage.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
  Negotiating the N-deal: Deja vu

Nations have no permanent friends or enemies. Only permanent interests. British statesman Lord Palmerston

While thinking about the current debate on the India-U.S. nuclear deal, it may be useful to recall how the United States inked a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with another nuclear power - China amidst several crises between them. This deal took almost 13 years to materialize between the time that President Reagan submitted the agreement to Congress in 1985 and its implementation in 1998 under President Clinton. Such a long-drawn negotiation can offer several lessons for Indian negotiators.

We first present excerpts from a 2005 Congressional Research Service report titled “U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement” (PDF):
In 1984 under the Reagan administration when the dialog was initiated, Kenneth Adelman, Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency notes that: “The United States sought China's acceptance of IAEA safeguards on U.S. supply under the agreement, but they adamantly refused to accept that condition.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Devine said that the PRC “assured us orally that they would ... require safeguards on their own exports.”

Rep. Ed Markey said the assurances from China were actually assurances in a secret memorandum or "Non-Paper" of the State Department. “we insisted that the United Kingdom, a weapons state and our closest ally, accept [safeguards] as part of our nuclear cooperation agreement. So why not the Chinese?

In 1989 after the Tienanmen crackdown, Congress suspended the proposed nuclear cooperation with China.

After the U.S.-P.R.C. summit in 1997, President Clinton in 1998 signed certifications on China's nuclear nonproliferation policy and practices to implement the 1985 Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. “it is in the U.S. national interest to consolidate and build on the progress China has made in the nonproliferation area

In 2004, the NRC issued licences for export of nuclear reactor components under the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, while the DOE authorized transfers of nuclear technology to China for its civilian nuclear power program based on the PRC's “written nonproliferation assurances”.

On February 28, 2005, Westinghouse Electric Company submitted a bid for a PRC contract to supply four commercial nuclear reactors in a deal underwritten by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Two of the planned Chinese reactors would be built for the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company at a site near Yangjiang, and the other two would be built at a site near Sanmen for the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC*), according to media reports. China already has four operating commercial reactors supplied by Areva, using updated versions of French reactors originally built under a now-expired Westinghouse license.

Bottom line: Currently, China has only two facilities under IAEA safeguards with none of the imported reactors being on the safeguard list. The deal was signed with only paper assurances (agreed in ‘secret’) from China to not repeat its proliferation sins (see below) in the future. Also note that the some of the opposition voices to the China deal like Rep. Markey are still around raising concerns about the Indian deal.

Now, onto China's commitments to the IAEA:

China first made unofficial inquiries about possible participation in the IAEA in 1978. China applied for membership in the IAEA in 1983, and became a member in January 1984. Since then, China has declared that China will apply IAEA safeguards on all of its nuclear exports.

In 1991, China further declared that it would report to the IAEA any export or import of nuclear materials and all exports of nuclear equipment.

All empty declarations sans any verification mechanism. Alas just as China was negotiating the deal with the United States in the 80s and 90s, it’s proliferation activities never showed signs of slowing down despite promises to the IAEA during this period (one thinks it still has’nt stopped to date).

China's Proliferation Sins - A Sample:

In 1983, China supplied complete design of a 25 kT nuclear bomb possibly a Chic-4 design to Pakistan. In the same year, China reportedly supplied Pakistan highly enriched uranium (HEU) enough for one or two nuclear weapons .

In 1986, Tritium used to achieve fusion in hydrogen bombs and boost the yield of atomic bombs was sold by China to Pakistan.

In late 1995, China exported 5,000 specially designed ring magnets from the China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation (CNEIC) (now China National Nuclear Corporation - CNNC*) to A.Q. Khan Research Lab at Kahuta which was involved in nuclear weapons work.

New insights into the level of Chinese assistance to Pakistan came about in early 2004 as a result of on-site investigations into Libya's nuclear weapons program. As part of disarmament inspections, early Chinese nuclear weapons designs were handed over to IAEA inspectors by Libyan scientists, wrapped in plastic bags bearing an address in Islamabad.
Amazingly, note that American companies are now transferring reactors to the same company (albeit with a different name CNNC) which deliberately proliferated to Pakistan with financing coming from the U.S. Ex-Im Bank!

Lessons for Indian negotiators: The U.S.-China deal went through multiple administrations over a couple of decades - it was started by Nixon’s famous visit to China and finalized by Bush Jr. This, despite the many geo-political crises between the two countries during this period viz the Tienanmen crackdown in 1989, the Taiwan strait crisis in 1996, the Belgrade Chinese embassy bombing by NATO forces in 1999, the American EP-3 spy plane ‘collision incident’ in 2001 and ofcourse the massive nuclear weapons proliferation to Pakistan and other states.

At this point the Indo-US negotiation is stalled, just days before President Bush’s visit. This despite India offering upto 14 of the 22 Indian reactors to be placed under safeguards. The U.S. wants more. Apart from demanding the fast-breeder reactors be safeguarded (which we strongly contested), the U.S. is also demanding an “in perpetuity” safeguard agreement. Since there are no “permanent friends”, there should be no clause which “binds” Indian reactors under permanent safeguards. Should there be a need in the future, a resolution in the Indian parliament representing the will of the people should again enable to reclassify any reactor as ‘strategic’ (just as the United States has done). It should not under any circumstances be held hostage to the whims or sanction threats of the U.S. Congress or Senate run by special interest groups.

This article goes on to show that if a President wants, he can push the deal through the Congress. Congressmen are primarily interested in only getting re-elected and securing campaign funding to achieve the same. In the upcoming Congressional elections, candidates will be needing the Republican Party’s support. With the Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate, President Bush has the power to use his political capital to get through an initial agreement. The unelected non-proliferation ayatollahs and their Atlanticist mouthpieces can raise all the noise they want, but it cannot stop the Executive Power to act in national interest. Some powerful lobbying by business interests will do the rest. Indian negotiators too shouldn't be afraid to play the long-term game without being desperate for an immediate agreement - a now or never approach significantly weakens the Indian position. The fact that China managed to hold on to its proliferation interests (sic) without inviting neither sanctions nor declaring any important sites under safeguards shows that there is no need to hurry up on the deal if there are strategic compromises to be made. Till such a time arrives, India has all the coal to burn to satisfy its energy needs or even better start talking about some bold endeavors - that is when the Indian leadership show some spine and grow a pair of you-know-what as it once did. Cross-posted in Desicritics.org.
Friday, February 24, 2006
  Irony du jour
Via The News (Jang):

Pakistan has declared India as "C" class country for the diplomatic considerations. The decision has been taken in the wake of substandard living conditions and other hardships which are being faced generally by the aliens in that country.    

via Forbes Most Dangerous Destinations 2006:
• Afghanistan
• Burundi
• Cote d'Ivoire
• Democratic Republic of the Congo
• Georgia
• Haiti
• Iraq
• Liberia
• Pakistan
• Papua New Guinea
• Russia (Chechnya)
• Somalia
• Sudan
• Zimbabwe

Thursday, February 23, 2006
  Fast Breeder: Civil or Military or Both
Via Stratfor (subscription required):

The Indian government said Feb. 22 that it refuses to categorize its fast breeder reactors (FBRs) as civilian power plants, but that it will move ahead and separate its civilian nuclear facilities from its military ones -- one of the key U.S. demands for the deal to go through. India's insistence that its FBRs not be considered purely civilian, however, will seriously complicate the negotiations.

For all Washington cares, the FBRs can produce as much plutonium for weapons, or as much power for Bollywood's cinema screens, as India wants -- but not both. Under the Indian-U.S. nuclear deal, only civilian institutions will receive nuclear assistance. If there is a gray area, then the United States would be giving technological aid directly to India's warhead production. This would be bad, from the U.S. perspective, to say the least.
Barring a verifiable Indian promise that its FBR reactors will be cut off from the civilian power grid, it would seem unlikely that Washington would accept the terms as they stand and agree to the nuclear deal with India.

Well, we've gotta a double standards issue here. The Tritium needed for U.S. weapons program comes from what used to be the civilian facility of Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in the Tennessee Valley Authority. The plan to classify this reactor as 'strategic' under the guise of 'national security' was approved in 1999 by the Clinton administration and the plant has been producing Tritium gas since 2003. If the United States has joint civil+military reactors, then under the reciprocity clause of the July 18th deal, the FBR too should be able to connected to the power grid while generating adequate Pu for maintaining a credible deterrant. Indian negotiators should make this clear.

India has already offered much more reactors to be classified as 'civil' than any of the existing weapons states. This double standards have to end there. Just say 'no' to declaring the FBR, even if it costs the deal.

  A Home For These South Asian Muslims
Via Reuters photo service:

Urdu-speaking Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh sit in during a mass hunger strike at their refugee camp in Mohammadpur, Dhaka, February 23, 2006. Bangladesh has been home to some 300,000 refugees since 1971 when East Pakistan split from the West to become Bangladesh.

More photos here. Background information from the NGO Refugees International.

  Bushism du jour One of the better ones heard:
More than five centuries ago, Christopher Columbus set out for India and proved the world was round. Now some look at India's growing economy and say that that proves that the world is flat.
- President George W. Bush in a speech to Asia Society.
  NY Times on Musharraf's 'Other' War
The New York Times editorializes on the military aggression of the Meretricious Army against the Balochis freedom fighters:
If the Bush administration is wondering why the Pakistani Army has been losing the war against Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the northwestern frontier, it may want to look south. Pakistan's military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has increasingly been diverting his armed forces to quell a growing insurgency in Baluchistan, the gas-rich province that borders Iran and the Arabian Sea. ...

But it would behoove President Bush, while preparing to visit Pakistan next month, to encourage Mr. Musharraf to endorse, as a first step, an agreement reached last year between a Baluch tribal leader and some members of Parliament. The pact would give Baluchistan increased autonomy.

The Musharraf army has been largely equipped by the United States. Just as America's image was helped in the region when American Chinook helicopters flew over Kashmir to give aid to that Pakistani province after the major earthquake last October, so, too, is that image damaged when American-supplied Cobra helicopters and F-16's attack civilians in Baluchistan. That's no way to win the hearts and minds of anyone.

This exactly echoes our thoughts written more than a month ago. President Bush should insist on the Punjabi dominated regime that all 'outstanding' issues including the 'core' issue of autonomy/self-determination to the Baloch minority should be discussed though a comprehensive 'peace' dialogue and scale down the dangerous 'escalation' of violence in an already unstable part of the world (bordering Afghanistan and Iran).

Related thoughts from Selig Harrison of the Washington Post. Background information on Balochistan.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
  Emm ... Burn That Coal!

Indian ambassador to the U.S. Ronen Sen explaining to American journalists about the nuclear deal:

If India were unable to expand its nuclear power industry with the help of U.S. and other imported fuel and technology, the country would have no choice but to burn its own stocks of "dirty coal ... at the cost of our health and health of this planet," Sen told a National Press Club briefing.

Sen said India now imported 70 percent of its oil and to sustain the rapidly growing economy, New Delhi had to pursue nuclear energy as an alternative to oil. If that were not possible, he said, "we are going to burn that coal."

Yeah, baby! Earlier, you heard similar thoughts from yours truly here!!

  H5N1: From China With Love
With the outbreak of bird-flu in several countries in the world including India, we came across a startling article published recently in the New Scientist:

A MASSIVE analysis of flu viruses has finally confirmed what everyone suspected: the H5N1 virus has been circulating in Chinese poultry for over a decade.

Yi Guan at Shantou University, China, and his colleagues studied samples from 13,000 migratory birds and 50,000 market poultry in south-east China between January 2004 and June 2005. They found H5N1 in around 2 per cent of apparently healthy ducks and geese, and also in some chickens.

Note that Yi Guan and his colleagues have already stated this in their earlier work published in the scientific journal Nature back in 2004:

Our findings indicate that domestic ducks in southern China had a central role in the generation and maintenance of this virus, and that wild birds may have contributed to the increasingly wide spread of the virus in Asia.

This was ofcourse vehemently denied by the Chinese ministry back then. This is a serious issue potentially affecting every person in this world which would cost millions of human lives and livelihoods. Now that this issue has surfaced again, the world community must insist on completely transparency and coordination from the Chinese authorities to get to the root of this virus.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
  Hypocrisy du jour
via Dawn:
Addressing a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam declared Pakistan expected the EU and the UN to take specific measures after the publication of the offensive cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), first in a Danish newspaper and then in other European publications. “We are not against the freedom of expression but certainly freedom of expression as we have said repeatedly is not a license to insult other people,” she reiterated.
via BBC:
This prompted one of Pakistan's most respected non-government organisations, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), to undertake an independent review.

It examined textbooks for Urdu, English, Social Studies and Civics from grades one to 12 (5-18 years) and came out with its report a few months after the ministry's review. The findings created a furore.

It found "falsehoods, distortions and omissions" in all the textbooks, which it said defied Pakistan's declared objective of turning into a modern, dynamic state.

It also found the books "full" of material "encouraging or justifying discrimination against women, religious and ethnic minorities and other nations".

The report said that most of the textbooks incited "militancy and violence, including encouragement of holy war and martyrdom".

There were repeated instances of "glorification of war and the use of force".

  N-deal: Looking Ahead Boldly
Much has been said about the Indo-US nuclear deal including our own cacophonic takes here, here and here. At this point, a deal will most likely be signed during President Bush's visit in March. A compromise was apparently reached on the contentious breeder reactor issue - it is now likely to be declared 'civil' in the near future. Meanwhile, the DAE will continue with the construction of additional fast reactors as planned. Once the agreement goes through the U.S. Congress and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), India along with Russia, France, Japan and others will be roped in under President Bush's GNEP initiative. India can somewhat benefit from this deal by getting limited Pu supplies to its already well-developed fast reactors. But experts such as Steven Kraft has said that the Pu reprocessing plan is clearly a long term idea with the required technologies expected to mature only 50 to 60 years after. Of course, to satisfy the immediate energy needs for the next two decades, India will import fuel and dozens of traditional Uranium-based reactors from the usual 'heavy-weights' like France, Russia or USA. Let's be clear on one thing: all this bonhomie heavily depends on the current mood of the Big Boyz at that time. The P-5 (especially the P-1), can at any time threaten to cut-off supplies or inflict intrusive IAEA inspections ( the P-1 funds more than 50% of its budget ) if and when India's foreign policy decisions or military hardware purchase doesn't pleases them. Hence it is important for India to pursue alternative strategies, not only as a Plan B against possible sanctions but also as an additional energy source to feed its economy. In this post, we ponder new, far-reaching avenues to secure India's energy supplies and in the process forge new strategic partnerships for the 21st century. With its excellent non-proliferation record, India has no reason to fear from pursuing a peaceful nuclear energy coalition with friendly developing nations. Amidst all the world attention towards Iran, Brazil quietly started Uranium enrichment in a brand new plant in Resende near Rio de Janeiro sending out alarm bells among American strategic thinkers. Note that despite being an NPT signatory and having the 6th largest Uranium reserves in the world, Brazil had to lobby hard with the IAEA to do this (yet another instance of the discriminatory NPT regime). India and Brazil have already worked closely in several areas alongside the G-20 nations. They successfully lobbied against rich nations to eliminate their agricultural subsidies during WTO summits in Cancun and Hong Kong. India should go ahead and further this close relationship and sign a bilateral energy partnership, to provide technical assistance to Brazil it its civilian program in exchange for Uranium mining rights. South Africa is another potential partner with huge Uranium reserves and one of the most advanced pebble-bed reactors. Brazil, India and China have already shown interest in this technology. India can commit itself to purchase a few of these reactors in return for sanction-free Uranium supplies. Further trade agreements can be signed to give preferential treatment to South African goods and services in the huge Indian market. (Personally, your blogger too prefers a South African Steenberg Shiraz than an over-rated French Bordeaux). Note that till the early 90s under the whites-only government, it had an active weapons program with heavy Israeli assistance (who in return 'clandestinely' (duh!) got the fuel). Surprisingly, just when the apartheid was beginning to be abolished, the whites-only government shut down its weapons program and signed the NPT ! A more daring approach is to target an African country like Niger ( currently the #3 supplier in the world ) aiming for exclusive mining rights of yellow cake. A pro-active measure is to lure this poor country with few other natural resources with massive Indian investments, economic assistance or even military aid. As an ex-French colony, Niger's mining activities are probably under proxy French control. New Delhi can try lobbying with Paris but nevertheless it shouldn't be afraid of dealing directly. After all these years, what good it did to African nations by remaining loyal to their former colonial masters. This idea has its own risk since Niger was also the major embarrassment to President Bush's pre-invasion intelligence 'slam-dunk'. Similar policies should be cooked-up to approach other major Uranium suppliers like Nigeria or Kazakhstan ( similar to what the Chinese are doing). All these ideas require creative thinking and bold realpolitik on the part of Indian strategic thinkers (not the 'cheerleader' variety). Make no mistake - no one is going to give India's energy supplies on a platter. The NSG cartel will try its best to maintain its stranglehold on global Uranium supplies. It is only with dynamism and a forward-leaning approach that India can break this monopoly and ensure supplies not only for herself but also for friendly neighbors and allies among the developing countries. Cross-posted in Desicritics.org.
Monday, February 20, 2006
  Then And Now
Then (via The Indian Express):

The letters reveal Jinnah saw Churchill as an ally against ''caste Hindus''. The Conservative wartime leader — hostile to the ''liquidation of the British Empire'' — was told by the Muslim League leader on July 6, 1946, that the Cripps Mission had ''shaken the confidence of Muslim Indians and shattered their hopes for an honourable and peaceful settlement''.

Replying to Jinnah on August 5, Churchill ''espoused the right of Moslems and the Depressed Classes to their fair share of life and power. I feel that it is most important that the British Army should not be used to dominate the Moslems, even though the caste Hindus might claim numerical majority in a constituent assembly''.

Now (via The Telegraph UK):

Forty per cent of the British Muslims surveyed said they backed introducing sharia in parts of Britain, while 41 per cent opposed it. Twenty per cent felt sympathy with the July 7 bombers' motives, and 75 per cent did not. One per cent felt the attacks were "right".
Last night, Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP involved with the official task force set up after the July attacks, said the findings were "alarming". He added: "Vast numbers of Muslims feel disengaged and alienated from mainstream British society." Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "This poll confirms the widespread opposition among British Muslims to the so-called war on terror."  

The most startling finding is the high level of support for applying sharia law in "predominantly Muslim" areas of Britain.

Now again (via The Telegraph UK):  

"Rather, concentrate Muslim presence in a particular area until you are a majority in that area, so that the institutions of the local community come to reflect Islamic structures. The education system will be Islamic, the shops will serve only halal food, there will be no advertisements showing naked or semi-naked women, and so on."    

That plan, says Dr Sookhdeo, is being followed in Britain. "That is why you are seeing areas which are now almost totally Muslim. The next step will be pushing the Government to recognise sharia law for Muslim communities - which will be backed up by the claim that it is "racist" or "Islamophobic" or "violating the rights of Muslims" to deny them sharia law.    

"There's already a Sharia Law Council for the UK. The Government has already started making concessions: it has changed the law so that there are sharia-compliant mortgages and sharia pensions.    

"Some Muslims are now pressing to be allowed four wives: they say it is part of their religion. They claim that not being allowed four wives is a denial of their religious liberty. There are Muslim men in Britain who marry and divorce three women, then marry a fourth time - and stay married, in sharia law, to all four.

Do we hear a Dead Old White Guy turning in his grave?

Related post: Europe's Communal Tensions,  Tit for Tat?

  Delusional Strategist
via Rediff writes Uday Bhaskar:
Sacrificing this window of opportunity for more emotive considerations and misplaced notions about 'strategic' autonomy would also make a mockery of India's long standing commitment to minimum deterrence as a prelude to   ultimate nuclear disarmament .

C Uday Bhaskar is one of India's leading strategic analysts
Can this self-proclaimed 'leading strategist' say which other major powers are even talking about disarmament. Certainly not the case with US, UK, or France. And those in positions of responsibility certainly have a good idea of what is meant by a credible strategic deterrent.

  A Home-grown Khomeni Wannabe

Via Rediff,
UP Shariat Court issues death decree on Danish cartoonist

The decree was issued on behalf of the Idar-e-Sharia Darul Kaza and Ifta Firangimahal Taksal (Islamic courts) by their Qazi on Sunday.

The Qazi said it has been clearly stated in the Quran that whosoever hurt the Prophet, deserved to be sternly punished. Asked whether the fatwa has any significance in India, where Islamic laws do not apply, he said, "It is applicable wherever Muslims live". He claimed that he was authorised to issue the fatwa in his capacity as the Qazi of the city and he had been doing so for the past many years.

To save themselves, the concerned cartoonists should talk to NASA and take the next shuttle to the International Space Station . Related posts here and here.

  Tit For Tat?

Via Rediff:

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has expressed 'outrage' over the publication of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in European newspapers.

'The Congress party has the highest regard and respect for all faiths and is committed to protecting their rights and beliefs for preserving and strengthening the secular nature of our society,' she said in a letter to Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid.

'I have received your letter and share your sense of outrage about the publication of insensitive cartoons of the Prophet. The United Progressive Alliance government has conveyed its strong setiments to the government of Denmark through the Indian and Danish ambassadors in our respective countries,' the letter said.

Via The Chandigarh Tribune, back in 2002:

After having told India that it should not view its bilateral relationship with the European Union through the prism of Pakistan, the European Union turned around and did exactly the opposite when the Danish Prime Minister and the Chairman of the European Council, Mr Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is also part of the EU Trioka brought up the Pakistan issue during the Indo-EU political dialogue and also made remarks critical of India's missile tests.

Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha told reporters that it was unfortunate "while they condemned terrorism in private and yet the President of the European Council harped on the Kashmir issue". The Indian delegation felt that clearly the EU leader must have been influenced by Pakistan.

Related post: Europe's Communal Tensions.

Sunday, February 19, 2006
  Missile Test du jour

Pakistan successfully tested Hataf-II Abdali oops the green-painted version of M-11 missile just ahead of Gen. Musharraf’s official visit to China. As in the case of orchestrated riots, this has to be seen in the context of President Bush's visit to Pakistan. The message is clear: Send us more U.S. military aid, else we'll completely shift our loyalties to Beijing. In other news show-casing the superiority of Pakistani engineering talent, Chinese engineers are attending defective locomotives they themselves supplied to the Pakistani Railways. And did we ever mention the indigenously-built Habib cars.
  N-deal: The Clueless Gray Lady
The New York Times in an editorial speaks out against the Indo-US nuclear deal:
This energy-guzzling congestion will only become worse as India continues producing fairly high-quality goods and services at lower and lower prices — from automobiles that cost only $2,500 to low-budget airline flights for $50. In the new enclaves for India's emerging middle class and its rapidly rising nouveau riche, environmentally unsustainable, high-ceilinged houses feature air-conditioning systems that stay on year round.
Are we the only one to see NYT frothing at the mouth watching India's rising middle class? Aside, I suppose the NYT also does not know that India's automobile emission standards (close to Euro-III) are much higher than the ever-regressing American standards. And India's energy consumption/GDP is less than that of China.
India desperately wants Mr. Bush to wring approval from Congress for a misbegotten pact in which America would help meet India's energy requirements through civilian nuclear cooperation.
Right, we too are opposed to a sell-out version of the deal, but for entirely different reasons.
In trying to give India a special exemption, Mr. Bush is threatening the nonproliferation treaty's carrot-and-stick approach, which for more than 35 years has dissuaded countries that are capable of building or buying nuclear arms from doing so, from South Korea to Turkey to Saudi Arabia.
NYT sounds exactly like the non-proliferation ayatollahs. Apparently, NYT does not say a word about exemptions made to Pakistan even while the Pressler Amendment was in effect and the deliberate proliferation of weapons design/material from China. All this happened under the watchful eyes of the non-proliferation lobby.
There is no diplomatic quick fix in this energy-hungry world. Even if India shunned Iran, it would still have to turn to other petroleum suppliers that Washington wants to isolate, including Sudan and Venezuela. And the Iranian supplies would wind up going to other energy-hungry nations, tying them more closely to Tehran. If Mr. Bush wants to tackle this quandary seriously, he needs to begin by pushing for significant energy conservation steps in the United States, by far the world's largest energy consumer.
Now, after all this moral posturing, the NYT offers no concrete solution to the energy problem. It will be political suicide for President Bush or any other President to restrict America's energy use - the U.S. ain't going to sign the Kyoto Protocol in the forseeable future. We have argued that if India can manage to hang on tight till 2025, the Thorium cycle will take over. Till then, we shouldn't be afraid of burning the locally available fossil fuel and while developing alternative energy sources on its own. Sure, that will again anger the NYT, but then who cares. Update: Read this much better take by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, though we don't agree with him on certain points.
The Bush administration has been farsighted on this issue. With China rising and Europe and Japan declining, it sees India as a natural partner. It also recognized that 30 years of lectures on nonproliferation and sanctions have done nothing to stop, slow down or make safer India's nuclear program. Most important, it recognized that India was a rising and responsible global power—India has never sold or traded nuclear technology—that could not be treated like a rogue state. So the administration has proposed reversing three decades of (failed) American policy, and aims to make India a member of the nuclear club.
Cross-posed in Desicritics.org.
  Pakistan: More Political Crackdown Following the arrest of jihadist leader Hafeez Mohammed Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Gen. Musharraf has ordered the arrest of two major Islamist leaders. Via Geo TV reports here and here:
Opposition leader in National Assembly Maulana Fazlur Rehman was put into house arrest in his official resident in Islamabad late Saturday night, Geo News reported. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, President Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) was put into house arrest in his Lahore residence late Saturday night.
It goes on to show who really runs the show in Pakistan - the Army. All the talk about Islamist takeover 'threat' is baloney. They use the Islamists in token protests if it suits them and come down on the very same groups once the situation goes slightly overboard. More such crackdown and counter-protests by Islamists can be expected until President Bush's visit there during March. Related report by Carnegie's Frederic Grare. Previous post on Lashkar.  
  Terror Watch in Ahmedabad
via Rediff:

A powerful explosion shook the Kalupur railway station, Ahmedabad's main terminus, in the wee hours today, injuring around 10 people, the police said.

There were no trains present on the platforms when the explosion took place at 1:55 am, they said.

The damage from the explosion could have much more had there been any train at the station. Two trains had pulled out before the explosion, and the Kutch Express was about to arrive on the platform.

The bomb was kept near an iron pillar on platform 2. The impact of the explosion was so strong that the platform's roof was blown up in the blast, and some offices on platform 1 were also damaged.

This could'nt have come at a worser time with home-grown idiots trying their best to provoke a riot. May the injured recover soon. Keep watching this space

Saturday, February 18, 2006
  More Idiocy
via Zee News:

AIMPLB member and counsel in the ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid litigation Zafaryab Jilani said the announcement did not constitute an offence in the country.

"Such an announcement is permissible according to Islaimc law and even if an Indian beheads the cartoonist in an Islamic country he will not be committing any offence," he said.

And this chap is a legal 'expert'!
  Voice of sanity
via AFP:
French President Jacques Chirac has said that India will become a major polluter unless it generates electricity using nuclear power.

"If we don't help India produce electricity using nuclear power, we would let develop in India a chimney for greenhouse gases," he said in Bangkok, a day before leaving for a two-day visit to New Delhi.

"The minimum we must do is to let India respond to its energy needs without becoming a major polluting nation," Chirac said.

"I wish that we could, within the non-proliferation framework and existing agreements, help India respond to this need," he said.

Now Monsieur Chirac,  if only you could also convince those non-proliferation ayatollahs. Related post: 20,000 MW of greenhouses gases .

  Home-grown Idiots via IBN:
The outcry against the cartoons of Prophet Mohammad took an ugly turn on Friday with Uttar Pradesh Haj Minister Haji Yaqub Querashi announcing an award of Rs 51 crore for anyone who beheads the Danish cartoonist who sketched the controversial Prophet cartoon.

Qureshi said whoever dares to agree to the terms will be given gold equivalent to his weight.

He said was making the demand on behalf of the people of the city and also demanded the recall of India's ambassador from Denmark.

Enough said.

Friday, February 17, 2006
  A Taste of What is to Come
After a brief period of false bonhomie under the guise of strategic partnership, the deal is falling apart as expected and the emperor is out there naked. To give the readers a sample of what to expect in the future: via The Indian Express :
The United States has refused an entry visa to Professor Goverdhan Mehta, former director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and one of the world's top scientists in organic chemistry. On February 9, Mehta appeared for the visa interview. He said he was "repeatedly humiliated" by the consular officer who accused him of "hiding things" suggesting that Mehta's work related to chemical warfare and bioterrorism. Confirming that Mehta was turned away without grant of a visa, David Kennedy, spokesman for the US Embassy in New Delhi, said it was a "pretty standard affair to ask for more information."
via The Hindu:
A former director of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam, and one of the chief architects of the Indian nuclear breeder programme, Dr. Placid Rodriguez, was in effect denied a visa by the U.S. Consulate in Chennai for attending a conference. he was apparently asked to answer a mandatory questionnaire by e-mail as he came under a special category (known as Visas Mantis for certain sensitive scientific and technological areas and requiring interagency clearance). Visas Mantis was applied extensively to Indian scientists in the wake of the Pokhran tests in 1998. For Visas Mantis referral, a Technology Alert List is maintained by the U.S. State Department, which includes various facets of materials technology.
Nothing new here except the timing of such denials. Remember how they sanctioned two companies for supplying "banned stuff" to Iran which was then exposed here. Then we have the non-proliferation "experts" and South Asian "think-tanks" worried about the "dangers" of a nuclear war.
The Henry L. Stimson Center , a leading American think tank that has a South Asia project, has launched an exclusive webpage on Kashmir "to encourage creative thinking and to facilitate movement toward a Kashmir settlement". The New Kashmir Forum has been launched to encourage " creative thinking within India and Pakistan on specific confidence building and nuclear risk-reduction measures that might be useful for the region," says Michael Krepon, president emeritus and South Asia Project Director at the centre, on the website.
Why now you might wonder, as if such threats didn't exist between July 18th, 2005 and now. Also "Coming Soon" in no particular order:
Take your pick ladies and gentlemen, you heard it here first.
  Pakistan Protest Update

via the Christian Science Monitor:

But youthful discontent alone cannot be blamed, religious leaders and other analysts are quick to point out. Both on and off the record, many say the involvement of state intelligence agencies in fomenting the violence cannot be discounted. The current administration, some argue, is trying to spread panic about religious extremists in a bid to hold on to power.

"Maybe [President Pervez] Musharraf is trying to create a situation where he says to [US President George] Bush, 'Look, I'm sitting on dynamite with these mullahs and I'm the only one who can contain them,' " says Zarafullah Khan, director of the Center for Civic Education in Islamabad.

There is no proof of such activity, but observers say a weak police response is suggestive of state approval. The police in Lahore have been widely criticized for their failure to quell the violence, with many saying police did little to intervene. Mian Ameer Mahmood, the district nazim of Lahore, roughly equivalent to a mayor, denied the accusations: "I am on the record that police were not present at the time when people were burning buildings."

Such a tepid response contrasts sharply with last month's controversial marathon in Lahore, observers say, where thousands of police were deployed to prevent disruptions. It also contrasts with reports of armed troops stationed on rooftops and roadsides of Karachi Thursday, where 50,000 demonstrators rallied peacefully against the cartoons.

Related post: An Orchestrated Protest.

Thursday, February 16, 2006
  20,000 MW of green house gases!
via Business Standard :

Mundra and Sasan power projects are among the five ultra mega power projects of 4,000 MW each being planned by the government to be offered on competitive bidding basis. The other projects are in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Mundra, Maharashtra and Karnataka projects will be based on imported coal, while Sasan and Chhattisgarh will be pit-head projects.

More will be coming should the N-deal fail! Related post: India's Energy Security.

  Camps, What Camps via two Associated Press reports here and here:

Hamid Hayat spent half his life attending school and living with relatives in Pakistan. According to a federal indictment, he left for Pakistan in April 2003 and attended an al-Qaida training camp outside the city of Rawalpindi between October 2003 and November 2004.

The informant recorded Hayat before he left for Pakistan and again after he arrived. The younger Hayat said he had been accepted at a camp that provided training in weapons and explosives and hand-to-hand combat, according to the indictment.


Prosecutors say Hamid Hayat returned to his home in Lodi, an agricultural community about 35 miles south of Sacramento, with the intent of committing holy war.

Their case involves statements prosecutors say the men made to a confidential government informant in the United States, the men's purported videotaped confessions and the photographs they say show the actual camp.

The Pakistani government denied any of the camps exist. Prosecutors, however, said they have satellite images "of a location consistent in appearance with the militant training camp that Hamid Hayat ultimately confessed that he attended," according to the 60-page trial brief filed Tuesday night.

Guess the cat is slowly coming out the bag.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006
  An Orchastrated Protest

In the last few weeks, we have witnessed many protests by Muslims against the Danish cartoons of prophet Mohammed. Emotions were running ‘high’ in Middle Eastern countries like Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, etc., in contrast to a ‘mild reaction’ (to paraphrase Beeb) in Pakistan without any loss of lives or great property damage. But the violent protests in Pakistan organized yesterday, a whole week later caught us by surprise with regrettable loss of lives making it a sordid affair.

Trouble started when the (almost daily) protests in the problematic Peshawar turned violent on Feb. 13. Strangely, ‘students’ also attacked Indian and British embassies (none of their papers republished those cartoons) in the diplomatic enclave of Lahore damaging the Indian ambassador’s official car. Even mainstream Pakistani politicians too took advantage of the chance to show their religiosity. It now appears that the protests were well-planned with organized bands directing protestors against specific targets.

Such a level violence which included gun shots unseen even in bastions of Islamism such as Iran and Syria could’nt have happened without the support of the military-ruled government. The rulers of Pakistan wanted to send a message by attacking prominent American symbols like Citibank, KFC and McDonalds (as happened before). Ironically, Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz happens to be a former Citibank executive. It should be noted that several other protests in Pakistan in the recent months such as the nation-wide demonstrations in Dec. ’05 against the construction of Kalabagh dam were incident free. The Jan. 29 ‘mixed-sex’ marathon in Lahore too passed off peacefully amidst opposition from Pakistan’s Islamist parties. The difference is crystal clear - the security forces are able to control violent mobs, only if it wants to.

The recent protests have to be seen in the context of President Bush’s planned visit to the country in March. The Pakistani military establishment usually obtains handsome gifts and financial aid (supposedly worth $40 billion since 9/11) during such visits citing its cooperation in fighting terrorists. A Pakistani doctor Ahmad Javed Khawaja suspected of linked with Al-Queda was shot dead on Feb. 13th in Lahore with some blaming American ‘agents’ for the act. This is apparently to show the level to which U.S. agents are able to penetrate deep inside Pakistan’s security apparatus to eliminate their targets.

But in reality, the U.S.-led Global Offense Against Terror (G.O.A.T.) against Al-Queda has been severely faltering in Pakistan. In the neighboring Afghanistan, there have been daily attacks by suspected Taliban ‘sympathizers’ against civilians (Kandahar), police (Kandahar again), Afghan soliders (Kunar) and U.S. soliders (Ouruzgan) in the past week so much so that Coalition forces had to return fire into Pakistan border. On Feb. 12, Afghan police also seized about 700 home-made bombs being smuggled into Afghanistan from Pakistan. A frustrated Hamid Karzai demanded Pakistan to reign in on the Taliban operating freely in the Pakistan’s NWFP province.

To its American supporters, the Pakistani Army has always been the sole guardian of national unity and a force of stability divided by secratarian and tribal rivalry. The United States wants Pakistan to come down hard on Al-Queda and Taliban while turning a blind eye towards the brutal army action against ‘miscreants’ in Balochistan. This helps the Bush administration to ‘outsource’ counter-terror operations by pouring those aid dollars despite several editorials in the American media warning against Musharraf’s double game. Inorder to prove its worth as a ‘moderate’ force, the Pakistan Army regularly provokes the ugly underbelly of Pakistani Islamism while suppressing the relatively moderate mainstream parties. In that process, it does’nt mind neither maligning the country’s already battered reputation, creating a deep chasm within the country or the loss of innocent lives.

Cross-posted in desicritics.org and blogcritics.org.

Update: Read this timely report Pakistan: The Myth of an Islamist Peril from CEIP which echoes our thoughts.

news and views about the terror attacks in new delhi on october the 29th 2005. alerting citizens of all civilized nations on new terror threats.

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