Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Pakistanis dont want MFN to India

 Clockwise from top: Faisal Mosque, Serena Hote... 

Dumping means dropping goods below cost so that the industry of the local industry can be destroyed. Then the foreign entity can have a monopoly for decades to come.

There is tremendous pressure on Pakistan to open up its markets to Bharat so that it can begin dumping its shoddy goods on the Pakistani market. Pakistani industries already hurt by load-shedding and other external factors. Many analysts believe that many of the TTP attacks on Pakistan are Bharati inspired.

Islamabad has opened up the Pakistani market to Bharti films. However Bharat does not import Pakistani movies or TV dramas. A similar situation will occur if MFN status is given to Bharat. The increase is trade would in fact be a burden on the Pakistanis, as the $10 billion would be to Bharat's advantage. This has been resisted for the past sixty years. There is no reason to allow commercial encroachment by Bharat. The Bhrati IT industry is worth $50 billion but it does not use Pakistan talent either in Pakistan or overseas.

Bharati companies will begin dumping shoddy Bharati goods on the Paksitani consumer. Large Bharati companies will target Pakistani companies and industries that are vulnerable--thus destroying them. Japan started with steel and them moved up the pacman chain and took over a large section of the US market.

Pakistan cannot allow this Bharati terror to encroach into Pakistan.

New Delhi, Nov 24: Even as ties between India and Pakistan remain frosty, India Wednesday told a visiting 12-member Pakistani trade delegation that Islamabad should grant New Delhi Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status and called for a five-fold increase in bilateral trade.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said India hoped that the Pakistan government would implement the recommendations of the Panel of Economists appointed by the Pakistan Planning Commission and urged Islamabad to accord MFN status to India.

Rao also asked Pakistan to shift from a positive list of imports to a negative list regime to achieve a five-fold increase in bilateral trade from $2 billion to $10 billion.

Rao was inaugurating a FICCI conference on 'India-Pakistan Economic Relations: Prospects & Challenges'.

Rao assured business leaders of India's commitment to facilitating greater economic cooperation and integration between India and Pakistan and the South Asia region.

Rao said that to improve infrastructure and streamline and harmonise customs procedures at the land borders, India was setting up a modern integrated check post at the India-Pakistan border at Attari for trade facilitation. This is expected to be ready by April 2011.

She pressed for the opening up of more rail and road routes and expanding the existing capacities on operational routes. 'As things stand, Pakistan allows only the import of about 110 items from India through the land route, while it allows the export of only one item, cement, to India by the road route.'

Pakistan should permit all permissible items for trade via the Attari-Wagah route, she added.

The Pakistani delegation, led by Sultan Ahmed Chawla, president, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), interacted with top Indian businessmen and pressed for escalating bilateral trade between the two countries.

Chawla called for removal of non-trade barriers by India and facilitation of movement of people across borders. 'We would request that instead of raising issues related to NTBs (non-tariff barriers) in a generalized manner, it would be more useful if specific instances can be brought to our notice, which are found to be specifically discriminatory for Pakistani exports to India,' said Rao.

'There is no discrimination against Pakistani exports because the same standards are being applied for imports from any other country,' she pointed out.

Rao stressed that India and Pakistan have complementarities in their economies which can create a 'win-win' situation for all sides. Listing out areas of mutually beneficial cooperation, Rao said: 'We only have to seize them by rising above our political differences for the welfare of our two people.'

The Pakistani delegation called on Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Tuesday. The delegation informed Sharma of the 'existing lacunae in the two-way trade and suggested some measures for improvement', said a statement from the Pakistan high commission Wednesday.

'The minister assured the delegation of removing the impediments in the smooth running of trade activity between the two countries and expressed the hope that the bilateral trade will substantially increase in the years to come,' said the high commission.

The delegation felt that the trade between India and Pakistan could be balanced if the tariff and non-tariff barriers are removed by the Indian side.

They also met Pakistan's High Commissioner Shahid Malik Tuesday.

This is the first visit by a Pakistani business delegation since the July 15 talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries broke down over a host of issues, including terrorism and Kashmir. Trade diplomacy: India presses Pakistan for MFN status. 2010-11-24 20:40:00. Masters in Diplomacy. Earn a Masters in Diplomacy Online at Norwich University. www.Norwich.Edu/Diplomacy. (IANS)

It is not in Pakistan's strategic interests to allow Bharati imports. It is not in Pakistan's industrial or commercial interests to allow shoddy Bharati imports.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oklahoma racism faces wrath of US Constituton

The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments t...
The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution allows freedom of religion, even in OK. Bigotry against minorities is rampant in Oklahoma Wikipedia

Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly passed an amendment to their state constitution prohibiting state courts from considering international or Islamic law, also known as Sharia, when deciding cases.

But on Monday, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a temporary restraining preventing the state's election board from certifying the results of the vote.

According to the Associated Press, the measure's sponsor, Rep. Rex Duncan, said the amendment was not an attack on Muslims but an effort to prevent activist judges from relying on international law or Islamic law in deciding cases.

But Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma and filer of the lawsuit before Miles-LaGrange, said the measure transforms the state constitution into "an enduring condemnation" of Islam.

About 20,000 to 30,000 Muslims live in the state, according to the AP.

Is Oklahoma out of line with such an amendment or is the federal judge erring by delaying, for now, its implementation? And, briefly, why?

MOHAMED ELIBIARY, President & CEO, Freedom and Justice Foundation

Reports now show that a dozen states are looking at similar legislation to Oklahoma's Rep. Duncan. Some will view that as proof that the anti-Sharia movement is mainstream, or why would 70% of voters support it? I will concede that it is mainstream, especially in conservative states; but I would respectfully diagnose it as a crisis among Christian Americans and not a Muslim problem. The number of Muslims in Oklahoma or around the country is not driving this, because in the 230-year plus history of documented Muslim settlement in America not a single Muslim, much less a group, has ever advocated for changing the Constitution.

Putting this development in historical context would show us that we had 11 states during the civil rights movement that passed legislation banning the NAACP as subversive. More than a century ago we had the zenith of an anti-Catholicism movement called the 'know nothings" that similarly passed ordinances targeting non-Protestantism. These movements of the past were all rolled back with time and with the upholding of the 1st Amendment's establishment clause that there is no class-ism amongst religions in America.

The federal judge was correct to pause this ballot measure, otherwise our system would suffer from the tyranny of the masses. I expect the federal court system to eventually rule it unconstitutional. Judging from the Anti-Defamation League's recent press release here in Dallas, other religious minorities who've practiced their own religious laws under the supervision of our civil court system's arbitration and mediation framework have rightly begun to speak out condemning the xenophobia behind this measure.

KATIE SHERROD, Independent writer/producer, Fort Worth

Yes, Oklahoma is out of line. It doesn't matter whether 30,000 or three Muslims live in Oklahoma. This law not only is based in sheer unadulterated fear-mongering, but it also blatantly violates our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion, in that it singles out only sharia law, not all religious codes. And if it is extended to all religious codes to make it meet the constitutional test, would it outlaw reference to the Ten Commandments?

The unintended consequences of outlawing any reference to international law haven't begun to be explored. What would this law do to contracts Oklahoma-based oil companies have with those based in other countries? Or to any international corporation that might consider moving its headquarters to Oklahoma? One legal scholar suggested it might also outlaw references to English common law, upon which much of our own legal code is based.

The xenophobia apparent in all this would be frightening if it weren't so clear that this is all rank political posturing by Republican conservatives who want to impose their own narrow fundamentalist world view on the rest of us. The irony is that their actions are in line with those of religious fundamentalists around the world, including the Islamic fundamentalists they claim to fear the most.

Thank God for prudent judges. But of course, such judges also are targets of the right-wing Republicans, who define an "activist" judge as one who disagrees with them.

JOE CLIFFORD, Pastor, Head of Staff, First Presbyterian Church of Dallas

Demagoguery is defined as "the practice of a leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace." Oklahoma Rep. Rex Duncan's proposed measure is a great example of this practice. When it was proposed, Sen. Anthony Sykes, a co-author, dubbed it the "Save Our State," amendment saying, "Sharia law coming to the U.S. is a scary concept." Given Muslims represent about a half of one percent of Oklahoma's population, the chances of Sharia deciding court cases in Oklahoma are slim to none, and Slim just left town. As Joseph Thai, a professor at the University of Oklahoma College of law said, "It's an answer in search of a problem." Tragically it makes a segment of the population the problem, demonizing Muslims in order to mobilize votes. The district judge is doing her job by protecting a vulnerable minority from the tyranny of the majority. Leaders should cast vision that inspires, not manufacture threats to manipulate the masses.

JAMES DENISON, Theologian-in-Residence, Baptist General Convention of Texas, President, Center for Informed Faith

"Sharia" means "path" in Arabic. Sharia, or Islamic law, guides every aspect of Muslim life.

Britain now allows Sharia tribunals governing marriage, divorce and inheritance. This is similar to Anglican and Jewish mediation in that country; criminal law remains under the existing legal system. Sharia-compliant banking is growing 15% a year in Europe as well. Since riba (charging or paying of interest) is banned under Islamic law, banks such as Citigroup, HSBC and Deutsche Bank are developing Islamic sectors. Sharia-compliant investments are also growing, avoiding transactions related to weapons, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography and pork.

I understand the Muslim desire to live under Islamic law. America, however, is governed by a secular constitution in which the word "God" nowhere appears. Unlike the U.K., we have no precedent for suspending our governance in favor of alternative religious authorities. To do so would violate the First Amendment's instruction that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

It seems understandable, then, that Oklahoma's voters would pass a referendum which "forbids courts from considering or using international law ... or Sharia Law." However, constitutional experts see problems with the wording of the new measure. They state that it could harm businesses which engage in international commerce and singles out one religion for exclusion.

Whatever comes of the legal battles to be waged in Oklahoma, it is clear to me that "a free church in a free state" is the American ideal. The Founders wanted a country where people of all faiths and those of none could follow their religious beliefs without government entanglement. Jesus taught the same: "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Matthew 22:21).

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

The Oklahoma referendum on Sharia is simply gratuitous and one of the best examples of politicians duping the public.

Getting the public to be riled up against something that ain't there is the ploy the politicians have been using. Many a times they succeed and the responsibility falls on our shoulders to wake the public up to such abuses.

The reason the Oklahoma law is gratuitous is because Muslims in America value the laws of our nation. They strongly feel that the American laws serve the very justice they seek, and they do not seek or ask for sharia law in America. Even if a few ask for it, statistically they are insignificant.

WILLIAM LAWRENCE, Dean, Professor of American Church History, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

To the extent that Shaira is understood as religious law for adherents to Islam, the Oklahoma amendment appears strangely irrelevant on the one hand and oddly threatening on the other. It is clear that religious law does not triumph over civil or criminal law, let alone the Constitution, in the United States. Some practitioner of a religion that mandates obedience to Leviticus, for example, could insist on the religious right to practice slavery, but no such thing would be permissible under the U.S. Constitution or laws. A quasi-Mormon sect operated its own cult, but eventually had to surrender to the reality that its endorsements of polygamy and marriages of male adults to female adolescents were unlawful. The Oklahoma amendment is irrelevant because religious law (in this case, sharia) cannot supplant civil or criminal law.

However, to suggest that a court could not consider Islamic law is actually a threatening proposition for all religions. Roman Catholic Canon Law clearly specifies that only men can be ordained priests. But, if a court in the United States were presented with a sexual discrimination complaint from someone who wanted to be ordained to the priesthood but was barred from it by her gender, the court would have to "consider" the Canon Law of the church--since membership in the Roman Catholic Church is strictly voluntary and anyone who becomes a Catholic knows (or should know) that ordination is reserved for men.

The same gender "discrimination" likewise is practiced in most Baptist congregations, so a court must "consider" Baptist polity when dealing with a complaint about gender discrimination in the hiring of a pastor. Some Americans, apparently including a significant majority of voters in Oklahoma recently, allow their prejudices against Muslims and their ignorance of Islam to take precedence over their knowledge of American justice and freedom.

The judge is correct. The majority of the voters in Oklahoma were wrong. In a democracy, a majority may win an election and still be wrong!

GEORGE MASON, Senior Pastor, Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas

Aside from the Constitutional question of whether the vote was legal, or even the matter of whether it is culturally wise to make laws preemptively to protect against the influence of international or sharia law in Oklahoma courts, a larger religious question must be posed: When in the history of the world has a religious aim been permanently advanced by the use of secular law? Religion by its nature requires that people be persuaded of its truth. Any time legal measures are employed to secure its privilege, the coercion inherent in such an approach undermines the persuasion of people's hearts and minds. A battle may be won, but the war will be lost because it is being fought on the wrong field.

It doesn't take much insight to see that fear of the loss of Christian social hegemony is being used by politicians to advance their own ends. Any time religion is used for personal or political advantage, it both denigrates that religion and diminishes the richness of our diverse public life.

LARRY BETHUNE, Senior Pastor, University Baptist Church, Austin

I am no expert in jurisprudence, which I will leave to the lawyers. But the Oklahoma amendment has the feel of fear-based political grandstanding designed to score points with constituents rather than respond to a genuine danger. Has Oklahoma had a single incident of a judge basing decisions on Sharia? Is the U.S. constitutional separation of religion and state insufficient to cover that contingency?

I have to agree with Mr. Awad that the amendment transforms the state constitution into an "enduring condemnation of Islam," the background of which is religious (predominantly Christian) bigotry. Like Christianity, Islam is an ancient and diverse faith tradition. It is as unjust to judge all Muslims on the beliefs and actions of extremist Muslims as it would be to judge all Christians on the beliefs and actions of the KKK.

When will we learn that protecting the religious freedom of minority faiths protects our own religious freedom? The continuing anti-Islamic rhetoric betrays the spirit of American democracy, endangers the lives of Americans abroad (especially our military), oppresses peace-loving American Muslims, and feeds the lie of terrorists seeking to frame our war on terrorism as a cosmic war between Christianity and Islam. Shall we base our laws on fear and ignorance or intelligence and truth?

TEXAS FAITH: Was Oklahoma out of line with Sharia amendment? 3:15 PM Tue, Nov 16, 2010 |Sam Hodges/Reporter

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mujib's fascism returns to Bangladesh

An image of former Prime Minister of Banglades...
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Police and protesters have fought pitched battles across cities in Bangladesh as a nationwide strike called by the main opposition party brought the country to a standstill. Dozens were injured as police fired rubber bullets and used batons on Sunday to disperse activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), who were protesting against the eviction of their leader and two-time prime minister, Begum Khaleda Zia, from her home. Businesses and schools across the country were closed as a result of the shutdown. The strike halted almost all transportation in Dhaka, a city of about 12 million people, just as the majority-Muslim country begins to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday.

A former commerce minister was among a dozen injured in Chittagong, the country's main port city, while a police inspector was hit by a small bomb in northern Mymensingh city, local police told the AFP news agency. A police van was burnt by a petrol bomb in Dhaka, where security was tight with at least 10,000 heavily armed policemen and 2,000 members of an elite Rapid Action Battalion out in force, police spokesman Walid Hossain said. Hossain said police swung into action at several sites in the capital, using rubber bullets, tear gas and batons after opposition activists became violent. Eviction BNP supporters have accused the government of harassing Zia following her eviction from the residence she has occupied at army headquarters for around 30 years. Zia's residence in the sprawling compound was leased to her by the government in 1982, after her husband and ex-president, General Ziaur Rahman, was killed in an abortive coup. They had lived in the house for several years.

The current government of Sheikh Hasina Wajed, the prime minister, who leads the centre-left, secular Awami League party, cancelled Zia's lease last year. They intend to build multi-storey buildings for families of army officers killed in a mutiny in a paramilitary unit headquarters in Dhaka. Several thousand protesters skirmished with police close to Zia's residence in the garrison area on Friday as the deadline for the expiration of her lease approached. As Zia was driven from the compound, witnesses and security officials said up to 4,000 protesters armed with sticks and stones set fire to vehicles and attacked officers near the headquarters.

"They broke the front door, cut the grilles and then broke open my bedroom door. They dragged me out and pushed me into a car," Zia said during a live television broadcast, wiping tears from her eyes. "I was forced out with only one clothing. I was humiliated. They evicted me from my house breaking all rules and regulations. They also hit my family members," she said. Zia and her centre-right BNP ran the Bangladeshi government from 1991 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2006. She was the first female prime minister in Bangladesh's history. After Zia's most recent term expired in 2006, an army-backed caretaker government took countrol under emergency law, which was ended in 2008 with Hasina's election. Hasina had been elected once previously, in 1996.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Obam's major blunders in Delhi

President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minist...
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The Pakistani National Assembly has unanimously condemned President Obama's qualified and guarded support for India's candidacy (some time in the future). Almost all major political parties in Pakistan see it as an affront to Pakistan. Mr. Obama's surprise announcement has riled up Anti-US sentiment in Pakistan leading to a stern demarche to the new US Ambassador. One of the best articles written on the subject has been penned by Mr. Ejaz Haider--an article that was prominently highlighted by Bharat's best newspaper, and possibly the only "less biased" (could not really get myself to classify it as "unbiased") portal called The Hindu. Mr. Haider correctly points out that Mr. Obama has done nothing to improve Indo-Pakistani relations. In fact he has exacerbated the relations. Buoyed by Mr. Obama's tacit and futuristic promise of possible support in the UNSC, Mr. Singh immediately, actually instantly, hardened his position for talks with Pakistan. Mr. Obama ostensibly is encouraging talks between Islamabad and Pakistan--however his trip has put the dialogue in reverse gear. Mr. Obama seem to be schizophrenic. He has to make up his mind. Does he want the US relations with Pakistan and Bharat hyphenated, or does he want them hyphenated.  If he wants to develop an independent course with Bharat--that is fine, but then he should not mention Pakistan in Delhi. If he has to re-hyphenate the relations per the wishes of Delhi, then he should accord parity to both Nuclear Armed states. Mr. Haider questions Mr. Obama's motives. The attack on Mr. Obama coming from the Friday Times (TFT) is especially poignant, because TFT has always been a bedrock of Pro-Americanism in Islamabad. Mr. Najam Sethi used to be the editor of TFT and has ubiquitously branded as a CIA agent.

  • Statistically, Pakistan is the largest contributor to U.N. peacekeeping missions followed by Bangladesh and then India, thank you.

  • India's long history also includes blocking U.N. resolutions and having disputes with almost every neighbor on its periphery.

  • Mr. Obama tried to de-hyphenate Pakistan and India by not including Pakistan on this visit.

  • He had to re-hyphenate the relationship on the insistence of the Bharatis (Government and media) who displayed an unhealthy obsession with Pakistan.

Let us assume, in a simple model, that the U.S. President Barack Obama wants Pakistan and India to talk and make peace because, in a broader sense, this would lead to stability in South and West Asia which, in turn, would serve both the core and peripheral interests of the United States and, by extension, of the world. Please note the sub-clauses even simplicity can generate in this part of the world. But leaving that aside, and for now even the details where the clichéd devil resides, did he actually serve this cause through his India visit? No. The de-hyphenation Behind all the nice talk about setting the world right through a Lockean cooperative framework lurks Mr. Hobbes. First, Mr. Obama tried to de-hyphenate Pakistan and India by not including Pakistan on this visit even as Pakistan is supposed to be a vital strategic partner and a state that is, presumably, going to determine, by his own admission, not only the future of this region but of the entire world. This would be amusing if it did not indicate a deep policy flaw. Then there is the irony of it, palpable, when we saw India re-hyphenating itself with Pakistan by almost pestering Mr. Obama to please call Pakistan a terrorist state! In the end he did talk about “insist[ing] to Pakistan's leaders that terrorist safe-havens within their borders are unacceptable.” Today's speeches may not be Periclean but neither should they entirely lose nuance, especially if the thrust is to change rather than perpetuate the past and the present. Positing it as he did, it might have placated India a little but drew sneers from Pakistan. Then, speaking at the Lok Sabha, Mr. Obama saluted “India's long history as a leading contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions” and welcomed “India as it prepares to take its seat on the United Nations Security Council.” Pakistan and peacekeeping Right! Statistically, Pakistan is the largest contributor to U.N. peacekeeping missions followed by Bangladesh and then India, thank you. India's long history also includes blocking U.N. resolutions and having disputes with almost every neighbour on its periphery. But let's move away from facts to the good story. It makes eminent sense, from Mr. Hobbes' perspective, to try and get India in. It's realpolitik. And realpolitik is protean. Pakistan created the coffee club at the U.N. and it will, as it has, use every alliance at the U.N. and work the procedures to frustrate every attempt to get India in. It also knows that the working groups on U.N. reform, including that of the Security Council, require a process infested with procedural rigmaroles. So, the UNSC seat for India is not about to happen. But what this enunciation has done, and it doesn't appear too useful in the overall game, is to get Islamabad to issue a stern demarche to Washington. From Pakistan's perspective, the U.S. is catering to India's interests without regard to Pakistan's concerns about India. For an actor that wants Pakistan to appreciate its interests in West Asia and help it achieve them, this approach violates even the basics of an incentives structure model. Add to this de-listing the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from what Mr. Obama described as the “so-called ‘entity list'” and indicating facilitating India's entry into Club de Londres and other bodies that form the decision-making super-structure of nuclear- and non-proliferation-related activities and there's another red rag for Pakistan. All of this will go through many hurdles, a discussion of which is not possible here; much of it may not even be free lunch for India given that it is enhancing its nuclear capabilities. But the symbolism of it is more important than the substance. And the minus side is that it keeps Pakistan outside instead of pulling it in, even as Mr. Obama wants to influence Pakistan's choices. C, P and K-factors The important point here is not that the United States should not help India emerge. Nor is it that India should not enjoy the dividends of its impressive efforts. In a minus-Pakistan scenario, Mr. Obama's policy could even be hailed on multiple counts including, as some commentators in India pointed out, for the C-factor. The problem is that there are the P and K factors and they cannot be wished away. Given that India and Pakistan are conflictual states, both are bound to rely on their comparative advantage at any given point to frustrate the other. India wants to capitalise on its increasing ability to interest the world; Pakistan would on its ability to worry the world. On the sidelines of the many positives India can offer to the world, Pakistanis fear that India is simultaneously marshalling the world against Pakistan; Islamabad claims too that it is covertly leveraging groups against it, the evidence of which has been shared with both New Delhi and Washington. In theory, the policy of covert ops offers plausible deniability and India can, to its great advantage, use the same groups that have now turned on Pakistan. A smart strategy this, but there is nothing cooperative and Lockean about it! India's Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, during the joint press conference, said: “We are committed to engage Pakistan ... But it is our request that you cannot simultaneously be talking and at the same time the terror machine is as active as ever before. Once Pakistan moves away from this terror-induced coercion, we will be very happy to engage productively with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues.” Well said. Once again, without contextualising things, we get into this chicken and egg problem in terms of cause and effect. But the words of Salvador de Madariaga, once chairman of the League of Nations Disarmament Commission, may form good advice in terms of direction of causality in most affairs, not just disarmament: “The trouble with disarmament was (and still is) that the problem of war is tackled upside down and at the wrong end ... Nations don't distrust each other because they are armed; they are armed because they distrust each other. And therefore to want disarmament before a minimum of common agreement on fundamentals is as absurd as to want people to go undressed in winter. Let the weather be warm, and they will undress readily enough without committees to tell them so.” Let the weather be warm and we can all enjoy the sunny beach. Ejaz Haider. The Hindu. (The writer is Contributing Editor, The Friday Times.) What is Mr. Obama's worst mistake? He went to Delhi and made a major announcement, and failed to bring Islamabad into confidence during the so called "Strategic Dialogue". Most Pakistanis fell let down, and the Foreign Office felt a sense of betrayal. The betrayal was of course doubled because Mr. Obama had skipped Pakistan. President Obama's visit did nothing to improve relations between India and Pakistan. Mr. Obama got the applause in the Lok Sabha that he was craving for--in an otherwise lackluster trip, but his ephemeral promise will go down in a long list of broken promises made to rivals and friends , especially the Indians (pun intended!). "White Man speaks with forked tongue" applies to a black man who acts white. Keywords: Obama India visit, Indo-Pak relations, UNSC permanent seat

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Uphill battle for India on UNSC seat

UN Security Council Chamber in New York.
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Sanguine and wise analysts in Bharat and the world know that the "Lollipop" given to Bharat on the 3rd day day of the trip--was to salvage an otherwise failed trip. It was inevitable that the ephemeral promise would draw Pakistan and China together and pitch Beijing versus Delhi.

DNA India has put forth the thesis that Mr. Zardari will ask China to stop Bharat's entry into the UNSC. Actually that logic is flawed and sets up false expectations for Pakistanis. China has a mature leadership and understands its profit and loss statement. Italy is a fellow member of the EU with Germany, yet it opposes the Germany candidacy. China would not want its neighbor to the South to become a UNSC member because that would run contrary to its interests.

Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari is expected to persuade his Chinese counterpart to oppose India’s bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) during his visit to Beijing.

Zardari will be in China to attend the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, besides meeting Chinese president Hu Jintao.

On the surface, Pakistani and Chinese leaders will discuss the plan for a fifth Chinese-built nuclear reactor in Pakistan. However, the emphasis will be on new moves on the chessboard of South Asia, especially the Indian bid for UN Security Council membership.DNA India.

Reverberations from Obama's announcement have reached the four corners of the globe. Japan, Germany, and Brazil who were supposedly partners with Bharat have reacted sharply to the Obama Administration's support for Bharat for the UNSC seat. Pakistan had just completed the Strategic dialogue with the US in Washington. None of this was brought up. Before the Obama trip he had informed the press that the UNSC seat "was complicated". Then on the last day, President Obama announced to the Bharati parliament that he would support Bharat's candidacy to the UNSC provided Bharat resolve its problems with the neighbors (read Kashmir).

The promise was called "Probation" the Bharat's leading daily called the "Hindu".

NEW DELHI: With India having got the US's coveted backing for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, two major aspirants to the high table are fuming. Both Germany and Japan went public with their annoyance at their claims being overlooked and made their displeasure known to the US.

In an interview to a TV channel, US ambassador to India Tim Roemer admitted as much. He said the two nations had asked why India had been accorded special treatment and the reasons US saw it as a valued partner. The ambassador indicated that the resistance pointed to the distance that needed to be travelled for UN reform to become a reality.

He also suggested that US backing for India's case showed Washington's determination to pursue its ties with India that president Barack Obama outlined during his visit.

While India has managed to wrest an important pledge from president Obama that may take some time to be realized, it is still crucial. So far, Washington had only supported Japan for a permanent seat at the UNSC even though it opposed the G4 (a group that included Japan, Germany, Brazil and India).

With Obamas announcement on Monday, the US has shifted its own stance to accommodate India. But that doesn't mean the G4 to which India has tacked its own aspirations is in the clear yet.

Security Council reform is not only about putting India into the body. The issues at stake are what should be the ideal size of a new UNSC; whether the new members would have veto rights, the number of permanent and non-permanent members, its relations with the UN General Assembly, whether there should be regional representation.

Officials said the UN's body debating the inter-governmental negotiations will restart their deliberations soon. The US show of support will make a difference to India and Japan. Not to Germany, which is opposed by Italy and by many other countries who say giving a permanent seat to Germany would put a third seat in Europe (fourth, if you count Russia as a European power), at a time when European power is in decline. Besides, EU was asking for a separate status for itself in the UNGA, they argue.

Africa is a problem too. There is general consensus that Africa should have two seats in the UNSC, but which two countries? Even the African Union is divided on that. There can't be UNSC reform without the Africans because then the world runs the risk of all 53 African countries boycotting.

Then there is China. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson on Tuesday, when questioned, said, China values India's status in international affairs and understands India's aspirations to play a greater role in the United Nations and is ready to keep contact and consultations with India and other member states on the issues of Security Council reform.

But even if China can be made to digest an Indian membership, as at the NSG, its not going to be so easy for Japan, which even has South Korea opposing it. Brazil is opposed by Mexico and Argentina (since its the only Portuguese-speaking country in a Spanish-speaking continent), and of course, Pakistan opposes India. These countries had formed the Coffee Club, later renamed United for Consensus, and will most likely be resurrected again, perhaps with tacit Chinese support.

How many permanent members should the new UNSC have? The US wants around 19 members (in both categories). The G4 position is more sensible that's India, Brazil, Japan and Germany, two African countries and three added to the non-permanent list. There are other ideas floating around UK, France and Liechtenstein proposed an interim arrangement for 10 years and a review thereafter. The Chinese are more non-specific and have just said they want more seats for developing countries.

Veto? India will fight to the end for the veto. But many countries say they can live without it, because the veto is not used anymore and lobbying for support is the way to go in the Council. But veto, like nuclear weapons, is a currency of power. That battle, therefore, will continue.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Eliminating Washington's migraine: Exiting India from Afghanistan

Historic map of the Achaemenid Empire
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President Obama's trip to India offers a crucial, and counterintuitive, opportunity missing in all the talk about Afghanistan: how to accommodate Pakistan's interests in that country. Unless we find a way to do that, Pakistan will not stop its tolerance of or support for the Afghan Taliban or other extremists on its border with Afghanistan - nor will it let us eradicate them. While serious analysts agree that such a shift is necessary for any U.S. success in Afghanistan, many fail to follow this logic to its conclusion: that we must persuade Pakistan it can crack down on Afghan extremists without jeopardizing its cross-border interests.

What are those interests? First and foremost, to minimize the presence and influence in Afghanistan of Pakistan's own archrival, India. Yet somehow this point is absent from most American debates about these issues, probably because of our narrow focus on terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. In fact, the United States has stoked Pakistani paranoia by encouraging India to become the region's major economic player in Afghanistan, to train Afghan officials, and exercise other influence on the Afghan government and people.

To Pakistani perceptions, this raises the threat of foreign influence in Afghanistan, and increases Pakistani determination to hang on to the Taliban, the Haqqani group and other insurgent networks to both counter Indian influence and protect Pakistani interests in Afghanistan. This in turn makes it impossible for the United States to succeed in its declared goals of stabilizing Afghanistan and securing it against violent extremism while safely reducing the American military presence.

India, of course, is an increasingly important regional and global partner for U.S. foreign policy. But it is in India's self-interest to contain extremist pressures in Afghanistan and Pakistan - and one paradoxically clever way to do that is to lower India's profile in Afghanistan. During his visit, Obama should drive home the point that such self-restraint would best serve our common interest in stabilizing the region.

Pakistan's other major interest is to promote a friendly regime in Kabul. This is hardly as simple as it sounds. Afghans are famously proud and prickly about their independence, and some are still not fully reconciled to Pakistani rule over some 30 million Pashtuns across the border. In fact, Afghanistan has never recognized that border along the Durand Line, drawn by the British raj in 1893 to mark the limits of Afghan rule.

Recently, however, and entirely apart from, or even against American advice, the Afghan and Pakistan governments have moved to resolve some of their differences. Afghan President Hamid Karzai abruptly removed the chief of his National Security Directorate, Amrullah Saleh, who was widely viewed as anti-corruption but also anti-Pakistan (a point that received much less attention in the U.S. media). In return, Islamabad stopped blocking Afghan trucks from using Pakistani roads and negotiated an Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement allowing Afghan traffic all the way to India.

There is much the United States should do to capitalize on this momentum. Most urgent is to start working closely with Pakistan on our Afghan reconciliation and reintegration policies, instead of ignoring Pakistan's expressions of interest in these plans. We should also tell Islamabad that we are encouraging Kabul to send security personnel for Pakistani (rather than Indian) training - and then do so. We should encourage Kabul to pursue reasonable confidence-building measures, such as letting Pakistan know about pending Afghan government appointments in the border provinces. We should advise Pakistan that the United States recognizes the Durand Line and will work with the Afghan government to lay this ancient issue to rest.

All these small steps will help convince Pakistan that it can work more confidently with us and with the Afghan government, without playing the old double game of keeping insurgents and extremists in reserve. While we cannot buy or bully Pakistanis into abandoning their interests in Afghanistan, we can show them new ways to secure those interests. Properly understood, this is no longer a zero-sum "great game" in the region.

Adjusting our policies to accommodate Pakistani interests is essential to U.S. national interests in Afghanistan. And contrary to conventional wisdom, it is consistent with the long-term interests of our friends in the Afghan and Indian governments in countering the violent extremists who threaten us all.

David Pollock, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was a senior State Department adviser for the broader Middle East from 2002 to 2007 and served on the secretary's policy planning staff from 1996 to 1999 and again in 2001.WP. Our Indian problem in Afghanistan By David Pollock, Monday, November 8, 2010;

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Punch: An antidote to the common pabulum. Views with a punch: Obama's hard stand on oursourcing

The Punch: An antidote to the common pabulum. Views with a punch: Obama's hard stand on oursourcing

Obama's hard stand on oursourcing

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="214" caption="Image by jmtimages via Flickr"]the 44th President of the United States...Bara...[/caption]

Days ahead of his visit to India, President Barack Obama has signaled he will take a tough stance on prickly issues such as outsourcing, and limits on exports of sensitive technology.

Indian news agency Press Trust of India (PTI), which interviewed Obama on Wednesday, quoted him as saying it was "very difficult and complicated" to meet key Indian expectations such as ending a ban on U.S. exports of dual-use technology to India.

New Delhi wants the United States to allow exports of dual-use technology, which can be used for both civilian and military purposes and which was banned after India carried out nuclear tests in 1998.

"Our teams continue to work hard to reach an agreement that strengthens the international non-proliferation system while treating India in a manner that is consistent with our strategic partnership," Obama told PTI news agency.

Obama's visit will come days after his Democrats were punished in mid-term elections over the sluggish economic recovery and high domestic unemployment. These problems have heightened tensions over the outsourcing of American jobs to low-cost countries like India.

The visit puts the spotlight on India's $60 billion IT sector, which argues it is a creator of jobs in the United States and should not be blamed for high unemployment.

An increase in U.S. visa fees, a ban on offshoring by the state of Ohio and the industry's portrayal in campaign publicity as a drain on U.S. jobs has set a frosty tone in India ahead of the visit, which begins on Saturday.

Calling on India to further open its markets to U.S. companies, Obama said: "Our market is open to products, services and investment from around the world. We believe other countries, including India, should give U.S. companies the same access to their markets that we give."

U.S. firms like General Electric and Westinghouse Electric are unhappy about an Indian civil nuclear law that will see suppliers like them liable for damages in case of a nuclear accident.

Obama said there were concerns over the law, but the two nations were working to resolve them.

Obama said he expected "big items on the agenda" which would help further broaden ties between the two countries.

New Delhi would welcome a show of support by Washington for India's long-standing bid for a permanent place on the U.N. Security Council, but Obama said the issue was difficult.

"I do also expect to discuss India's role as an actor on the global stage during my visit," he said, describing India as the "cornerstone" of American engagement in Asia. (Reuters) -(Reporting by C.J. Kuncheria; Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee and Daniel Magnowski)

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