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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

In A G-0 World, Can BRICS Show Leadership?

February 19, 2013 1 comment

For the world now, instead of ‘G-7, or G-8, or G-20, the more apt description is G-0′ - per Joseph Stiglitz. Can BRICS offer that leadership – starting Afghanistan.

From 1970s, when Pakistan started meddling in Afghan affairs, by how much have Soviet or the American invasions helped Afghanistan?  |  Cartoon By Jeff Darcy, The Cleveland Plain Dealer - 5/21/2012 12:00:00 AM  via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

From 1970s, when Pakistan started meddling in Afghan affairs, by how much have Soviet or the American invasions helped Afghanistan? | Cartoon By Jeff Darcy, The Cleveland Plain Dealer – 5/21/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

With NATO turning tail and leaving, Afghanistan is not much better off than before America’s invasion.

Pakistan, as the sole Islāmic nuclear power, has assigned itself the role of an arbiter of Afghan destiny – a hold over Afghanistan’s future. With its dubious distinction of being a failed State, should Pakistan have any role in Afghanistan?

After ruining Afghanistan with 40 years of disastrous interventions, the West playing the victims is an offensive act | Cartoon By Taylor Jones, El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico - 9/7/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

After ruining Afghanistan with 40 years of disastrous interventions, the West playing the victims is an offensive act | Cartoon By Taylor Jones, El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico – 9/7/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

The West, under NATO’s military command, is walking away from Afghanistan with nothing to show for this invasion.

After billions in dollars, with more than a million Afghans affected by death, combat injuries, manifold increase in corruption, and a Saudi-Pakistan financed Taliban is on the rise, Afghanistan is West’s biggest failure after Vietnam. Never before in the last 200 years has West’s leadership been in question so much.

In the current State of the world, in the memorable words of Joseph Stiglitz, why ‘talk about the G-7, or G-8, or G-20, the more apt description is G-0.’

Afghanistan was a much better place one millennium ago - as its agricultural exports, arts and crafts will testify. It is the US-Pakistani involvement from the 70s, which has made Afghanistan into a no-man's land. | Cartoon By Jimmy Margulies, The Record of Hackensack, NJ - 10/11/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

Afghanistan was a much better place one millennium ago – as its agricultural exports, arts and crafts will testify. It is the US-Pakistani involvement from the 70s, which has made Afghanistan into a no-man’s land. | Cartoon By Jimmy Margulies, The Record of Hackensack, NJ – 10/11/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

Afghanistan will be the test of BRICS.

Till 1980s, the Soviet Union bordered Afghanistan. Today, while Soviet Union’s successor, Russia no longer shares a border with Afghanistan, as a part of BRICS grouping, it may continue to play a role in post-NATO Afghanistan.

Will China-India tensions come in the way of BRICS to do what is good for Afghanistan? Will China work with BRICS to keep Pakistan out of Afghanistan? When it matters, can BRICS nations put aside their differences and work on common problems – like Afghanistan?

Straightening Pakistan is a matter of hours. What will take time is building capacity among BRICS nations to work together on common problems – and put aside differences, when these differences are not directly relevant.

One thing is for sure.

If BRICS cam make an Afghan solution stick, a new age will dawn in global diplomacy. The current void in global leadership will start getting filled.

Civil war in Afghanistan is directly the result of Western interventions in the last 40 years.  |  Cartoon by By Arend Van Dam, politicalcartoons.com - 10/24/2012 12:00:00 AM  via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

Civil war in Afghanistan is directly the result of Western interventions in the last 40 years. | Cartoon by By Arend Van Dam, politicalcartoons.com – 10/24/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

With the US and the UK apparently conceding to Pakistan the lead role in reconciliation with Taliban, India is set to hold talks with Russia and China on emerging scenarios in Afghanistan ahead of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force’s withdrawal from the conflict-ravaged country by 2014.

New Delhi is also expected to air its concern over Pakistan’s role in the peace-process in Afghanistan during British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to India scheduled on Monday. Cameron recently hosted Afghan and Pakistan presidents Hamid Karzai and Asif Ali Zardari at his country residence Chequers Court. India will get another opportunity to discuss the issues when it will have a trilateral talk with the US and Afghanistan in New Delhi next week.

Sources said India is expected to drive home the point that Pakistan continues to be “a part of the problem” and it cannot yet be seen as “a part of the solution” in Afghanistan. Any hasty careless move to launch the peace process would in fact give an opportunity to Taliban to crawl back to power after 2014. New Delhi is likely to point out that the US itself, in 2011, publicly slammed Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence for its role in fomenting terrorism in Afghanistan.

What worries India is the Afghan High Peace Council’s five-step draft roadmap to 2015, would ultimately give Pakistan the “strategic depth” it always aspired to have in Afghanistan. New Delhi is apprehensive about Washington outsourcing to Islamabad the peace-process with Taliban, before and after the drawdown of the International Security Assistance Force from Afghanistan.

The “draft road map” also seeks to give some key positions in post-2014 Afghanistan to the leaders of Taliban, including that of provincial governors, police chiefs and cabinet ministers.

To facilitate the peace-process, Pakistan, since November, released 26 Taliban prisoners from its jails, ostensibly on request from Afghanistan but without any oversight, triggering fear that some of them might go back to extremism.

When Menon broached the issue during a meeting of the BRICS high representatives for security in New Delhi last month, it was agreed that he and his counterparts from Russia and China would have a separate meeting to exchange views on the peace-process with Taliban and discuss the emerging scenarios in Afghanistan. Sources said the meeting might take place later this month.

New Delhi has made it clear that it is in favour an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process towards peace in Afghanistan but insisted that the “Red Lines” agreed in London Conference in 2010 were strictly adhered to and the extremists entering the process were made to severe all links with Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations.

via India to talk to China, Russia on Pak role in Afghanistan.


 

Pakistan: Realism Sets in? Adjusting to Existential Challenge?

November 25, 2012 2 comments

Pakistan is all gung-ho about cancellation of visits by top Russian leaders to India. India lost. Pakistan won is their perception. Reality is no one won or lost – as yet.

The Russian bear's expression says it all  |  Illustration: Liu Rui   |  Global Times | 2012-11-15 19:35:04

The Russian bear’s expression says it all | Illustration: Liu Rui | Global Times | 2012-11-15 19:35:04

Check: 1,2,3

Pakistani elites have fooled themselves and Pakistanis. For 65 years now.

First, they lost Bangladesh.

Next, China has not backed Pakistan in any of the three wars with India.

Last. Their biggest ally and aid-donor, Yumm-Rika is waging an undeclared war for the last few years, using drones in border areas.

Are drone-strikes any less an act-of-war than fighter-aircraft bombings?

Look at this story on Russia-Pak relations. It is true Russians would love to be friendly with Pakistan – but Russians also know which side of their bread is buttered.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to visit Pakistan on October 2, but at the eleventh hour he postponed his visit to an as yet unannounced date. This was followed by cancellation of his visits to India and Turkey.There are some significant geo-strategic developments taking place in Russia’s neighborhood. The US is increasing its influence in the Asia-Pacific, in cooperation with India, to dominate the sea lanes of the region. Pakistan provides an alternative route which is closer to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, and is accessible to Russia through Central Asia.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, during his visit to Moscow in May, offered Russia the use of Pakistani territory to gain access to the southern seas. Pakistan is diversifying its foreign policy. Recently it has improved its relations with China, Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey, and is working on its ties with Russia, India, Germany and France, attempting to reduce its dependency on the US. The emphasis is on trade instead of aid.

Russia is also looking for new partners in the South Asian region. Russia’s relations with India are not as good as they used to be. India, which was a significant buyer of Russian weapons and defense system, is now a major US partner. Putin has signaled his willingness to adapt Russia’s foreign policy to the new geopolitical changes.

India is apprehensive about Pakistani-Russian rapprochement. In past two months, a number of events have taken place, which indicates that Russia is giving preferences to Pakistan over India.

Former Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov postponed his visit to India, where he was to participate in the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation.

The meeting was scheduled for October 4, but instead Sardyukov preferred to meet with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Pervaiz Ashraf Kayani, who had on the very same day arrived in Russia on an official visit.

Before that Pakistan’s Chief of Air Staff Tahir Rafique Butt also visited Moscow, where he visited air force related defense installations and had meetings with military high-ups. Pakistan and Russia have also agreed to boost their defense ties.

Later on, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov cancelled his visit to India and landed in Pakistan, where he tried to clarify the misperceptions that had arisen due to the postponement of Putin’s visit to Pakistan.

He also expressed Russia’s support for Pakistan’s stance on drone attacks and Afghanistan. Contrary to the US perceptions, Russia realizes that Pakistan is an important actor and must be included in any peaceful settlement of conflict in Afghanistan. After the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, the roles and concerns of regional countries will be further enhanced.

Pakistan-Russia relations should not be seen as a substitute for Pakistan-US relations. No country can replace the other. Global affairs call for cooperation between regional countries.

via Russia backs Pakistan in geopolitical shift – Globaltimes.cn.

Public Opinion Being Fed On Trash

The story above is so silly.

Putin has a big back-problem. He cancelled his trips to India – and Turkey. He cannot travel – and he depends on his judo-wrestling, hunting-and shooting, deep-sea diving image to boost his presidency. He cannot admit to his back-problem. Anatoliy Eduardovich Serdyukov cancelled his India visit because he was on the verge of being sacked. Lavrov skipped a UN meeting on Iran – and landed in Pakistan. Pakistan is Iran’s immediate neighbour.

All this known – and in public domain. So, this ‘analysis’ by Aftab Hussian is probably for public consumption.

In which case, why is Pakistan feeding its public-opinion with trash like this.

Answer To Pakistan’s Problems

The solution to Pakistan’s problem is simple and staring in the face.

It is India.

Pakistan must become indifferent to India. Forget peace with India. Don’t think of war with India.

Just stop thinking about India.


Af-Pak: Is Something Big Cooking?

October 17, 2012 4 comments

Will the first fifteen days of October go down in history as that which changed 21st century?

Between policy and propaganda; trying to link reality with 'spin'  |  Cartoon on Oct  15  2012  titled Unraveling  by Bob Gorrell; source & courtesy - cagle.com

Between policy and propaganda; trying to link reality with ‘spin’ | Cartoon on Oct 15 2012 titled Unraveling by Bob Gorrell; source & courtesy – cagle.com

The last 15 days  has seen some curious diplomacy that spilled over into the public domain.

First was China ratcheting up hostility with Japan over some silly islands – which had some value in the past. And supposedly some value in the future. For now, there is a chance of hostilities (not war) between Japan and China.

Question: Why did China decide to take on the Japan – when it could have more easily taken on Vietnam, Philippines? Maybe even India.

What we have finally after 25 years of American intervention in Afghanistan  |  Cartoon on Oct  14  2012  titled Triumph of Taliban  by Marian Kamensky; source & courtesy - cagle.com

What we have finally after 25 years of American intervention in Afghanistan | Cartoon on Oct 14 2012 titled Triumph of Taliban by Marian Kamensky; source & courtesy – cagle.com

Two. There was Putin’s non-visit to Pakistan for a quadrilateral summit (Oct 2-3) between Russia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This Pakistan visit was to be followed with an India visit by Anatoly Serdyukov, Russian Defence Minister, on October 4, 2012 – which too was postponed.

In the meantime, Pakistan’s Army Chief, Ashfaq Kayani landed in Moscow. Even as Kayani was in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov was in Pakistan.

Three: In the rest of world, momentous things were happening. Venezuela, which today has bigger oil reserves than Saudi Arabia, has re-elected Hugo Chavez as its President. This will possibly deeply affect global oil equations. Meanwhile, the West continued with its Middle East war plans against Syria and Iran.

Could the answer to this puzzle be Afghanistan?

Why is Afghanistan so important? The Soviet Union spent billions on the Afghan invasion – and the US has spent trillions. The Afghan War is already the longest war the US has fought.

Three reasons why Afghanistan is important.

Why have peace, when you can have war?  |  Cartoon by Cameron Cardow  on Oct  11  2012  titled Opportunity; source & courtesy - cagle.com

Why have peace, when you can have war? | Cartoon by Cameron Cardow on Oct 11 2012 titled Opportunity; source & courtesy – cagle.com

Oil. Oil. Oil.

But Afghanistan has no oil.

The oil is in Central Asia and Russia.

While Asian oil consumption is increasing, Western oil consumption is expected to slightly decline. Shale oil in US, North Sea oil in Europe are likely to account for   increasing share of Western production and consumption. Brazil, Canada, Venezuela can’t ship more oil to US and Europe in the next twenty years. China, India, Japan and Korea are dependent on oil imports. Oil consumption in these markets is growing – unlike the West.

In which case, the Central Asian, Latin American and Russian oil exports will move towards Asia.

While Obama promised one thing, he did another. No different from other US President. |  Cartoon titled President Strangelove By RJ Matson, The St. Louis Post Dispatch - on 4/10/2012 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy - cagle.com

While Obama promised one thing, he did another. No different from other US President. | Cartoon titled President Strangelove By RJ Matson, The St. Louis Post Dispatch – on 4/10/2012 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy – cagle.com

India’s stakes are really high in Afghanistan, especially once the Western troops leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. What are the likely scenarios that may develop in Afghanistan once the foreign troops leave that country?

With India getting closer to the US, and building on its historic ties with Russia, there are even more opportunities for India, US and Russia to collaborate in stabilising Afghanistan.

India should help Afghanistan become the gateway between South and Central Asia. India is already building close ties with the Central Asian countries, especially given the rising demand for oil and natural gas in India. The historic TAPI gas pipeline, when completed, will bring natural gas from Turkmenistan to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan, which could be a game-changer for the entire region.

via India’s options in the Afghanistan end-game | Russia & India Report.

From Reagan to Obama, from Iran to Afghanistan, how US interventions have handcrafted the Islamic monster  |  Cartoon on Oct  16  2012  titled Mind Over Monster  by Cal Grondahl; source & courtesy - cagle.com

From Reagan to Obama, from Iran to Afghanistan, how US interventions have handcrafted the Islamic monster | Cartoon on Oct 16 2012 titled Mind Over Monster by Cal Grondahl; source & courtesy – cagle.com

With the Middle East in a state of permanent state of instability, India would like to have greater diversity in supply sources. This where the Russian oil comes in.

India is an energy deficient country and Russia has an energy surplus and therefore, a mutual interest lies in this sector. India’s policy makers are trying to promote energy cooperation based on political understanding. The Indian side feels that there is a clear compatibility between India’s needs and Russia’s resources. The Indian side is adopting a policy to implement the experience of Sakhalin-1 to other oilfields in Russia.

The Indian side feels that though these two countries are not geographically contiguous it is not a hindrance for cooperation since the international oil and gas trade is not based on contiguity. India’s interest in the Russian energy sector has already been proved by the country’s investment in Sakhalin-1. While public sector energy companies from India have already made considerable investments in Russia, now India is also promoting its private sector companies for investments in downstream petroleum units in Russia in return for a stake in petroleum refineries there. India has proposed an exploration venture with Russian gas majors Gazprom and Rosneft and sought a stake in the Sakhalin-III oil and gas project in the Far East. The Indian side has proposed joint venture to work on gas liquefactions projects in Russian offshore fields for Shipment to India. Indian companies are being welcomed due to Indo-Russian strong strategic ties.

India is also looking for options for transporting Russian crude to India through a pipeline link from Xinjiang to India. But this depends on a joint agreement between Russia-Kazakhstan-China-India. The proposal is such, where crude from Russia could be transported via 1,240 kilometre-long pipeline from Atasu in northwest Kazakhstan to China’s Xinjiang province. Depending on the robustness of multilateral initiatives, a pipeline could be constructed to connect China’s Xinjiang province to India. This pipeline could enter the Xinjiang province in China at Altai, climb the Tian Shan Mountains and extend southward to the Kunlun Mountains in India.

India’s ONGC has proposed another energy highway to construct a Russia-China-India (RCI) pipeline. The RCI is supposed to stretch from Russia through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, to Kashgar in Chinese Xinjiang. It will enter India via Laddakh, crossing the Siachen glaciers and the India-China Line of Control or alternatively through Himachal Pradesh to supply gas to Northern India. According to ONGC (India) officials, the economic and technical aspects of the proposal remain undetermined. The proposed pipeline would extend over an extremely long stretch of varied terrain (construction of the pipeline may cost somewhere up to $15 Billion, or slightly less if connected through already operating pipelines).

The Russia’s energy strategy towards Asia clearly mentions India as one of the important target countries along with Japan, China, and Korea. India is carefully taking note of Russia’s hydrocarbon vision, as now India wants to have a strong presence in Russia’s massive energy sector that can help ensure India’s vital energy security. All these indicate that both the nations can expand the cooperation in the energy sector too as they did in the defence sector. Amidst all these developments there is a hope that India-Russia energy cooperation will scale towards new heights.

via Energy cooperation between India and Russia: Policy and approach | Russia & India Report.

For too long, India has been dependent on a unstable Middle East for oil imports  |  Cartoon dated Sep  19  2012  titled Agitator  by Arend van Dam; source & courtesy - cagle.com

For too long, India has been dependent on a unstable Middle East for oil imports | Cartoon dated Sep 19 2012 titled Agitator by Arend van Dam; source & courtesy – cagle.com

In the meantime, Pakistan is seeing a conflict between US Army and Pakistani Army. Facing an unprecedented barrage of drone attacks from US, a ‘so-called’ ally, Pakistan’s civilian population is paying a heavy price.

Is the United States starting a low-intensity war against Pakistan? The signs look ominous. The relentless drone attacks through the recent months are destabilizing Pakistan’s tribal areas, especially the areas adjacent to the border with Afghanistan. The US’ excuse is that the drones are hunting down the militants belonging to the so-called Haqqani group. But they are causing a lot of civilian casualties so much so that the United Nations officials begin to wonder if these wanton killings would constitute ‘war crimes’.

Pakistan government keeps protesting to the US about the violation of its territorial integrity but the US ignores the demarches and continues with the drone attacks.

The US would know that the drone attacks do not provide the conducive setting for a normalization of the US-Pakistan relationship. Yet, it is not prepared to give up the drone attacks. There seems to a game plan to systematically destabilize the Waziristan area and to provoke the Pakistani military leadership.

Meanwhile, there has been a concerted attack by assorted militants of dubious backgrounds on Pakistani troops from across the border in Afghanistan. Exactly who they are or who are their mentors no one knows. In a cross-border strike on Monday, the militants used extremely brutal method to behead Pakistani soldiers. Evidently, they were making a point – showing their thumbs up at the Pakistani military leadership.

To add to the tensions, for the first time, the militants have publicly admitted that they do enjoy ‘safe haven’ on Afghan soil. This is something Pakistan has hinted at in recent period but it is now coming into the open. Again, they are taunting the Pakistani military leadership. The former US President George W. Bush would say, “Bring ‘em on!”

This is going to be a cat-and-mouse game. Pakistan is hunkering down and the US is losing patience. The decision in Washington seems to be to carry the war into Pakistani territory and incrementally inflict such unbearable losses that Pakistan finds it impossible to defy the US’ regional strategies.

Quite obviously, the US has concluded it has no alternatives but to step up the pressure and escalate tensions in a calibrated way. The US has been taken by surprise at Pakistan’s ‘strategic defiance’. The fact of the matter is that the present directions of Pakistani foreign policy hold the serious threat of undermining the US’ regional strategies with regard to permanent military presence in Central Asia, US’ containment strategy toward China (and Russia), projection of the NATO as a global security organization and of course the so-called New Silk Road Initiative.

The possibility that with Russian and/or Chinese participation, Pakistan might proceed with the Iran gas pipeline project infuriates the US to no end. Pakistan’s manifest enthusiasm for Russia’s participation in the TAPI [Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India] gas pipeline project rubbishes the US’ expectations that American companies could secure lucrative energy contracts via involvement in the project. The US apprehends that during the visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Pakistan in September, the two countries may begin a qualitatively new level of relationship with major projects in the energy sector.

If that happens, the US’ containment strategy toward Iran also begins to unravel.

In sum, the US’ patience is wearing thin. The common wisdom in the international community, historically speaking, has been that the Pakistani elites with their comprador mentality might say a few hot words now and then but would ultimately be loyal foot soldiers of the US agenda. The basis of this supposition is that ultimately the class interests of the Pakistani elites would prevail as the crucial determinant of statecraft. Of course, the US has had to pick up the tab for the services rendered by Pakistan but that was only to be expected.

The US establishment has been attuned to this paradigm characteristic of the cold-war era. That is why the US establishment is shocked to see that the Pakistani elites (military leadership, in particular) are no longer what they were supposed to be – Washington’s hirelings serving the US’ global agenda.

Washington’s wrath will only increase in the coming months. We are witnessing the commencement of a US-inspired low-intensity war against Pakistan being waged by obscure militant groups based in ‘safe havens’ inside Afghanistan. Call it by whatever name one likes, but the project aims at breaking Pakistan’s strategic autonomy.

To be sure, Pakistan comprehends what is going on. But what are its policy options?

via “Bring ’em on!” – US tells Pakistan | Russia & India Report.

And guess what?

Indian paparazzi, chatteratti, twitteratti, bloggeratti, not to forget the literati, glitterati, were busy with ‘corruption-scandals’!


Chicago Summit on Afghanistan

Chicago summit between Obama, NATO, G8, Afghan stakeholders was seen as a pre-election exercise. NATO passage through Pakistan was one of the items. The inside story.

Obama needs to show some 'successes' before election day  |  Cartoonist Sabir Nazar; source & courtesy - pakistantoday.com.pk  |  Click for image.

Obama needs to show some ‘successes’ before election day | Cartoonist Sabir Nazar; source & courtesy – pakistantoday.com.pk | Click for image.

Probably unprecedented, but 4 of 5 UN-Veto members will go through a government change process in April 2012-March 2012 period. In the same period, of the 8 nuclear powers (P5+India, Pakistan and Israel), 5 will see a government change process. In this process, some amount of uncertainty has been injected in global affairs.

Analysts seem to think that the recent NATO+G8+Afghanistan summit in Chicago, called by Obama was an election exercise. The NATO paasage to Afghanistan through Pakistan was a one of the items on this list. A former Pakistani diplomat ‘reveals’ all.

Pakistan is

a country whose leadership – of any stripes, civil or military – has traditionally taken great pride in being the most steadfast ally of the US. Pakistan’s first military dictator and “Bonaparte”, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, boasted in his autobiography Friends not Masters that Washington would never find a friend more trustworthy than Pakistan.

However, relations between the two “all-weather friends and allies” have been in a deep chill since the fateful US raid and there are few signs of a warming. All the same, being scripted out of Chicago was deemed, in Islamabad’s power corridors, as an ultimate insult that could doom relations forever.

So the Pakistanis went scampering to their Turkish friends – with whom bonds of camaraderie and fraternity pre-date the birth of Pakistan in 1947. The Turks are also cozy with the Americans and have been part of the NATO brigade in Afghanistan. There couldn’t be a more effective and credible middleman than Turkey to bail Pakistan out of the very tight corner in which they seem to have painted themselves.

Frantic phone calls to President Abdullah Gul, who led the Turkish team to Chicago, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Pakistan as these lines are being written and who is receiving a rapturous welcome, melted the ice in Washington and Brussels – Zardari was given the green-light to board a plane for Chicago.

The ice, however, didn’t simply melt because the Turks had waved a magic wand. The Pakistanis assured their Turkish interlocutors – who then relayed the message to Washington – that the Pakistanis were ready to play ball and revive transit facilities for NATO. This was interpreted as a conciliatory gesture and enough for the welcome mat to be rolled out.

It was anticipated that Pakistan would have lifted the ban before Zardari boarded his flight to Chicago. But that wasn’t to be, and he landed without bearing the gift everybody was expecting.

In obvious pique, Obama refused to meet Zardari one-on-one, while he bestowed that favor on Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai. That was like rubbing salt into the Pakistani wound.

NATO secretary general added his own insult to the Pakistani injury when he, too, wriggled out of a planned one-on-one meeting with Zardari claiming “scheduling problems”. (via Asia Times Online :: Pakistan hoist by its own petard).


Pakistan: Two Observations

Pakistan threatens Yumm-rika-Mend your ways! Otherwise, we, Pakistan, will mend relations with India.

Pakistan's ability to 'self-launch' itself  |  Cartoonist - Muhammad Zahoor on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | via Daily Times  |  Click for image.

Pakistan’s ability to ‘self-launch’ itself | Cartoonist – Muhammad Zahoor on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | via Daily Times – ZAHOOR’S CARTOON:.| Click for image.

There’s a near-universal sense of victimhood and betrayal, which overlooks that if Pakistan’s borders are porous with respect to terror attacks on other countries, and its authorities don’t act on this, then ‘national sovereignty’ can’t be a hallowed principle and those borders are liable to be porous in the other direction as well.

Pakistani ire at the bin Laden raid as well as American drone attacks on its tribal territories may, however, have had a paradoxically beneficial effect. America has risen and India fallen in its demonology – facilitating a substantial improvement in India-Pakistan ties. In the long term, that’s the key to a peaceful and prosperous South Asia. (via Our mandarins, their mandarins – The Times of India).

One-way sovereignty?

Pakistani cannot expect its sovereignty and territory to be intact – after terrorists launch attacks on other sovereign nations from Pakistani soil. So, Pakistani ‘outrage’ at Abbottabad seems hypocritical.

Though the implications of Abbottabad for the Indian sub-continent are more ominous.

With Anglo-Saxon Bloc running amuck in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is India immune?

Hindi-Paki Bhai-Bhai?

The recent change in Pakistani mood towards India is only reactionary. Use India to blackmail USA.

Yumm-rika, if you don’t mend your ways, we will mend our relations with India. Then what leverage will you have with us is the idea behind Pakistani ‘warmth’.

This again for India means, that US and the West will keep the Pakistani dagger against India, sharp and shining.

If not always, for some time to come.


Anything on Ancient Observatories?

February 15, 2012 19 comments

Is there a common thread between these?

https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/168668078203351040

https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/168712032315650048

https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/170048006706573313

https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/170048726621097984

https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/170049829244911616

https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/170051784709124096

https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/170052557228609536

In modern Afghanistan-Uzbekistan region, at Ai Khanoum  – meaning ‘Moon Lady’ in Uzbek, was a remarkable archaeological find. This site was handled by King Zahir Shah, and excavated by Daniel Schlumberger, Director of a French archaeological team in Afghanistan. An extensive settlement, was excavated and quite a few gold and silver artefacts were recovered.

Another interesting find were two sundials, calibrated and indexed to the Indian city of Ujjain and to the city of Syene in Egypt .

All about Oil

At the root of US-Iran rivalry, is the question of who will supply oil and gas to India and China.

Big Oil has the eyes, ears, mind, actions of the world's ruling elite - also in India. (Cartoon by : David Horsey of Seattle Post-Intelligencer; Cartoon courtesy - usj.com. ). Click for larger image.

Big Oil has the eyes, ears, mind, actions of the world’s ruling elite – also in India. (Cartoon by : David Horsey of Seattle Post-Intelligencer; Cartoon courtesy – usj.com. ). Click for larger image.

Big oil

Significant part of global politics in the last 10-15 years has been dictated by three developments. One – Oil reserves in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea. Two – Stagnant oil consumption by the West. Three – Rising oil consumption by India and China. For instance US oil consumption between 1973-2010 has grown from 17 mpd to 19 mpd – with some consumption peaks and demand  collapses.

US-Iran clash

Iran is a rival to Big Oil companies of the US and West, as a supplier of oil and gas to India. Iran can easily and cheaply transport oil from its own oil fields – as well as Central Asian production. Iran can thus completely cut out US and its oil companies from the future of oil business with India and China. Hence, the US-Iran rivalry. The Oil-Dollar Tango on which the US Economy is based for the last 30-40 years, also supports Big Oil.

US would like overland oil from Central Asia to come to India and China through Pakistan and Afghanistan – which are US client states. With this the US can cut out Iran – completely. Pakistan and Afghanistan become key gateways for oil to India and China. Hence, the power struggle in Pakistan between Army, Taliban, and the Pakistani politicians.

China's rising oil imports is supporting high oil prices. (Graphic source and courtesy - bbc.co.uk). Click for larger image.

China’s rising oil imports is supporting high oil prices. (Graphic source and courtesy – bbc.co.uk). Click for larger image.

India-Pakistan story

What will be US role, if India and Pakistan were to sit down and resolve their issues. India-Pakistan troubles in the recent past, must be seen in this light, too.

India is negotiating with a Central Asian-US Big Oil Consortium to bring gas via Afghanistan and Pakistan to India – dubbed as the TAPI pipeline. It is also in discussion with Iran and Pakistan to bring gas from Iran to India via Pakistan – commonly known as IPI pipeline.

India’s choice between IPI-TAPI is crucial – and will take another 5-10 years to resolve. In the meantime, Iran’ has an interesting point of view.

The Iranian diplomat reposed faith in the “rationality” of the Indian leadership (and it) would take the “best decision” to meet the energy needs of (an) economy aspiring to be the world’s second largest. He drew attention to Iranian export options of China and Europe other than India.

“India has to decide how to meet its energy needs. Use of nuclear energy has become questionable after the earthquake in Japan. The demand for fossil energy is bound to increase with long term nuclear power projects on hold in Europe,” sources explained.

Security was a major Indian concern — besides pricing — in the talks on the pipeline that would have been laid across the lawless Balochistan where Islamabad’s writ is non-existent in vast stretches controlled by local tribes.

If (security was a major Indian concern) then how was New Delhi in talks on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, they asked. “The (security) concerns that exist about IPI exist with TAPI in which case the source of (gas) supply is also dubious,” they averred.

Bagheri attributed the spread of terrorism in the region to the presence of Nato and US troops. “Countries like US are at the root of terrorism in the region. They first created the terrorist groups and have come to the region now on the pretext of fighting them,” he said. “Terrorism has increased since their arrival.”

He cited UN figures to claim that narcotics production went up four times and was the maximum in areas under the control of British troops in Afghanistan. (via Iran gives up on India, pursues gas pipeline with Pak – Hindustan Times).

What is New Delhi’s strategy in all this. Partly, it is increasing oil production within India. Secondly, is increasing the share of nuclear energy. Third is imports.

As usual, tough choices ahead.

Oil reserves across the world. (Graphic source and courtesy - indiadaily.org). Click for larger image.

Oil reserves across the world. (Graphic source and courtesy – indiadaily.org). Click for larger image.


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