Friday, October 31, 2008

India's troubled northeast

Source : Al Jazeera, 20th october 2008

More than 50,000 people are believed to have been killed, and many more displaced, by the violent unrest that has beset the northeastern states of India since the country's independence in 1947.Many of the conflicts have their roots in the extraordinary diversity of tribes - there are more than 400 different tribals or sub-tribal groups - religions, ethnicities and cultures in the region's seven states.Several armed groups have been battling for autonomy for their state, district or tribal homeland, while others have targeted rival religions or migrants.The people of the so-called "Seven Sisters" states have many long-simmering grievances including poor governance, corruption and poverty.Waves of migration from East and West, culminating with an influx of migrants from other parts of India to work as administrators, plantation workers and cultivators during British rule, have created this melting pot.When Bangladesh achieved independence in 1971 the result was economic disaster for the northeastern states. Their inland water, road and railway communications with the rest of India were abruptly severed and they lost access to any port. Although the central government has made substantial investment in economic development this has not improved the lot of most people. There has also been some anger at a recent influx over the borders from neighbouring Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh. Low intensity warIn the states of Assam and Manipur there is effectively a low intensity war between government forces and separatists.The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) launched a campaign for an independent Assam in 1979 attacking security forces, politicians and railway construction workers. At least 10,000 people have been killed in separatist violence.
Thousands of people were displaced by clashes in Assam in October 2008 [EPA]The group held talks with the government in 2006 leading to a truce, but it quickly collapsed and the attacks resumed. Bodo tribesmen have also demanded their own separate state within India, but in 2005 the National Democratic Front of Bodoland signed a ceasefire with the government.Since then there have been violent clashes between Bodo tribesmen and Muslim settlers, predominantly from Bangladesh. In the latest clashes in October 2008 dozens of people were killed and thousands lost their homes.In the tiny state of Manipur on the border with Myanmar, several independence groups have been battling the army.Tribal groups, mainly Nagas and Kukis, have been fighting for separate homelands since 1974. Tensions between the tribal groups have also resulted in a number of secondary conflicts. One assessment found that there was as many as 18 separate active groups fighting the government in the state. There are few job opportunities in Manipur providing the separatist movements - one of the most prominent of which is the People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak which wants all non-Manipuris out of the state - with thousands of potential recruits.Bengalis attackedThere are two main separatist rebel groups in Tripura state, the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) and the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF).
Both want independence for the tribal areas of the state, and the removal of Bengali immigrants. Attacks on Bengalis in northern Tripura have displaced up to 100,000 people.
Troops are battling two separatists groups in Tripura province [File: EPA] Another major cause of anger in Tripura has been the building by India of a fence along the border with Bangladesh, during which tens of thousands of people were evicted from their homes. The conflict in Nagaland is India's oldest and has been credited with inspiring others in the region.
Nagas, a loose collection of about 30 tribes, have fought since 1947 for a separate homeland that includes parts of the predominantly Christian state of Nagaland as well as areas in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
India says creation of a greater Naga state might spark violence in other states, while analysts say peace with the Nagas is crucial for a broader resolution of the strife in the northeast. The states of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram have been relatively peaceful in recent years but indigenous armed groups have continued to carry out some attacks.Several tribal groups are increasingly involved in criminal and extortion activities in Meghalaya state.New Delhi has acknowledged that the region's difficulties will not be solved through military might.In 2004, the government announced it would speak to any group willing to disarm leading to an increased level of dialogue with the various separtist organisations.But the sheer number of such groups has caused some of them to step up attacks as the government has negotiated with rivals.

Nepal : Without Monarchy ?

By Dirgha Raj Prasai
Source : Newsblaze
Why would there be a need for a King if Nepal can survive without him? Nepal should not be compared to other nations. Monarchy is Nepal's alternate power. Nepal does not demand an autocratic royal institution but a pro-people institution. The institution of monarchy is such a force that fights off imperialist force to create a greater Nepal.
The King of Nepal never sold the nation, pleaded before foreigners nor killed the people and will never do so. I wouldn't have said so if I was a citizen of Japan or any other nation, I would have said that the nation will survive without the monarchy, but I am in Nepal. The geographical and class reality of Nepal is such, that the absence of monarchy would mean there will be no Nepal.
This nation was created with joint efforts between the people and the King. The Royal Institution is the backbone of Nepali nationality; it is a pillar of trust for continuing stability between China and India. The royal institution is the base pillar for the lasting creative democratic nationalism, which is pessimistic towards autocratic and imperialist management, traitors and terrorism. Nepal as a republic can pose a threat to both India and China. The royal institution is broken because some Maoist leaders, puppets from Nepali Congress, and UML followed Indian directives and went against the royal institution.
Nepal is a country with a rich cultural heritage. Now, the Maoists are in charge. The Maoists, in the name of transforming the country into 'New Nepal' are trying to destroy our culture and traditions. Maoist ministers are cutting the budgets of such festivals. 'The Maoist ministers have shown the same type of reluctance while marking other festivals which has been continued in the Nepali society for 1400 years. During the Indra Jatra festival ,the Newar community was agitated when they were faced with budgets cut for marking the festival. The Maoist leaders are reluctant in preserving our own indentity.' (Puspa Pradhan) The Maoist leaders are going to undermine our culture, Dashain and Tihar and they and Prime Minister Prachanda have violated our traditional dress for official functions which demonstrates Nepalese identity.
The Indian congress could not comprehend the realities of its neighboring nation, due to which Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi died. India is striving to end the identity of Nepal bringing together some sources and impelling some of the traitors like, Girijaprasad, Krishna Sitaula, Ramchandra Poudel, Madhav Nepal, Jhalanath, Subash Nembang, some Maoist and Madhesi leaders. Nepal and Nepali people spread across the world are very angry at the naked intervention by India. The episode of the killing of pro-Indian elements and 'RAW' agents in 1975 in Bangladesh is still fresh. So it is our request to India to avoid the mistake of supporting the pro-Indian leaders.
This Dashain, there was no information about the former King giving Tika, despite which thousands flocked and queued to receive Tika. People stayed on till 9 that night. My family members and I arrived at 4 p.m but only received Tika at 8 p.m and the line behind us was still large. Indian, American and UN media informed the globe of Tika being provided by the former King. The importance and prestige of the royal institution can thus be judged.
In April 2006, the monarch handed over the regime to be governed in accordance with the 1990 constitution. But the traitors and corrupts after coming to power abolished the 1990 constitution and imposed interim constitution. Girija including leaders from NC, UML and Maoist who took the oath from the King at the royal palace betrayed the King.
Then what is the significance of the oath by Ram Baran Yadav, Parmananda Jha and Prime Minister Prachanda? Who has complied with the constitution here?
5-7 conspirators from NC, UML and Maoist under Indian support trod on the constitution and opted for path of anarchy. But we believe that those who choose the wrong path will fail and no one has believed them. When the danger bell rings then nationalists from Maoist, NC, UML including all parties will reinstate the monarchy. The Royal institution of Nepal is for its people and a force that fought against the imperialists. This is why China's great leader Mao Tse Tung and other Chinese leaders support the royal institution in Nepal for Nepal-China security. The 1990 constitution is not dead. The King must and will be reinstated as per the 1990 constitution.
In 1960, India had been looking to engulf Nepal before it annexed Sikkim. In 1961 the then King Mahendra saved the nation's sovereignty. Our support lies with BP Koirala's post 1976 ideology of nationality. We can choose a political path, which would be a coordination and balance between Mahendra's nationality and BP's democratic socialism after 1976.
The nation cannnot run like this. But the matter of sadness is that BP's own brother Girija has ditched BP's ideology. Hindu and Buddhist state, national language Nepali and Royal Institution can be the network that would keep the national unity intact.
The best permanent organization that can protect the nation and its identity is the royal institution. We need to coordinate and balance Nepali Nationality, Royal Institution and democracy, to bring the prevalent corruption to an end and to focus on development of backward region and classes against foreign intervention.
We cannot go on supporting the mistakes of the corrupt leaders. Nepal has been running with agreement between the monarch and people for continuation of pro-people royal institution. The Republic is a Herculean attempt from those who have only thought of their own vested interest. The monarch was compelled to leave the Narayanhiti Palace, as national corrupt leaders could not comprehend nationality. No one can survive long by stepping on fire. The Royal Institution is necessary to establish the nation.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Surveys for Indo Nepal rail link

Source : Steelguru

It is reported that Indian Railways will undertake a final location survey for establishing more rail based connectivity between India and Nepal.That the surveys would be taken up on establishing a new line between Jogbani to Biratnagar and Jaynagar to Bijalpura gauge conversion with extension to Baridibas.Mr R Velu minister of state for Railways said that steps have been taken for final location surveys which are expected to be completed within 5 to 6 months.A per report, for providing broad gauge rail connectivity between the border towns of India and Nepal, preliminary engineering cum traffic surveys were conducted at 5 locations on behalf of the Ministry of External Affairs.Currently, there is one rail link between the two countries that connects Raxaul with Birganj.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chinese invite draws Nepal opposition ire

Times Of India
KATHMANDU: They had forgiven Beijing for arming deposed king Gyanendra in his war on the Maoists and the political parties. But on Thursday, the
secretive Chinese government came under fire in parliament from Nepal’s main opposition party, former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress (NC). The opposition ire was roused by an invite that, the party alleges, lends support to a covert Maoist move to make its guerrilla chief the head of the reshuffled state army. According to Shobhakar Parajuli, NC lawmaker, in the past, Beijing used to sponsor military training for a very senior army officer who had the potential to head the Nepal Army in future. This year however, the northern neighbour is sponsoring four, including Nand Kishore Pun “Pasang”. Pasang, a former deputy commander of the guerrilla People’s Liberation Army and architect of some of its most audacious offensives against the army, was appointed the new PLA chief recently after Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda stepped down as supreme commander of the PLA following his oath-taking as a civilian prime minister. A protesting Parajuli told the house that the planned China trip for Pasang smacked of a move by the Maoists to make him chief of the new army that will be formed after merging over 19,000 PLA fighters with the Nepal Army. Since Pasang is not a state official, Parajuli said his inclusion indicates that the Chinese government is supporting such a move. This is the first time that Beijing’s role has been questioned by a Nepali party. Usually, the hot seat is reserved for Nepal’s southern neighbour India. If the Indian Army had offered to train Pasang, it would have caused a storm. Since August, Prachanda and Maoist ministers Krishna Bahadur Mahara (information and communications) Ram Bahadur Thapa “Badal” (defence) have already visited China. However, the NC’s fears maybe a little premature. The Prachanda government has yet not been able to form the special committee that would integrate the PLA with the army. The Maoists’ meeting with three other major parties, including the NC, came a cropper Wednesday as Koirala’s party refused to join the panel if it were to be headed by the former rebels themselves.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Is India Nepal’s enemy?

Bhaskar Roy Thursday, 16 October , 2008, 14:04
Source :

Bhaskar Roy, who retired recently as a senior government official with decades of national and international experience, is an expert on international relations and Indian strategic interests.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known as Prachanda, assured New Delhi during his official visit to India September 14-18 that that his government would not play strategic games between India and China.
But his defence minister preached the opposite after returning from a visit to China in the last week of September. A elated Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal told the CPN (Maoist) periodical, The Janadisha Weekly aboutthe support China was prepared extend to Nepal in the military field. Thapa is the ex-Deputy Commander of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA-M), and one of the leading voices from the CPN (M) demanding the PLA-M be absorbed into the Nepali Army (NA) en bloc.
Prachanda to take charge in Nepal on Monday
The Nepal Army, as well as other major political parties are opposed to this blatant attempt to politicize a professional force. In this context, Thapa also revealed that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army was interested in establishing a separate relationship with Maoist army.
Thapa, who is also the Maoists’ military strategist, visited China at the head of a three-member delegation which included a senior Nepali Army officer to witness the PLA’s “Warrior 2008” military exercise. He was invited by Chinese Defence Minister Gen. Li Guanglie who is also a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP)’s Politburo. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with such exchanges between two sovereign nations. But, as Mao Zedong once said, one should “seek truth from facts”. Some of the issues Thapa revealed in his interview are bound to ring some alarm bells in New Delhi. According to him, the “Chinese People’s Liberation Army wants to extend its relations with the Maoist PLA in Nepal. They maintained that China was ever committed to preserve Nepal’s territorial integrity”.
Prachanda sweeps Nepal PM poll
Expanding further on his interactions with Chinese leaders, Thapa explained the compatibility of Nepal’s (or specifically, the CPN-M’s) and China’s security policy, saying in the changed political context Nepal’s security policy was same as that of China’s in “one way or the other”. Thapa, inadvertently or deliberately, revealed the core of his and his party Central Committee’s India policy on his return from China in the following words “Nepal’s international border is open from three sides, thus the anti-Nepal elements are entering into our country freely challenging our national security and threatening our territorial integrity”. He did not have to say any more. India borders Nepal in the East, South and West, and India was thus a threat to Nepal’s security and territorial integrity. Thapa made it almost clear that he would like Nepal’s foreign policy and security initiatives vis-à-vis India conform to that of China’s.
Is Nepal’s Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal declaring India an enemy state?
China’s Nepal card
Two other corresponding developments in Nepal demand attention along with the Defence Minister’s exposition on India. A book “Jasoosiko Jaalo” (Network of Spies) written by a journalist Saroj Raj Adhikari, released on September 21, claims that India’s intelligence agency, RAW, has infiltrated every system of Nepal including the Nepali Army and the political system. Adhikari seems to have counted all RAW agents in Nepal, and arrived at a figure of 1,005. He also claimed that Nepal’s Presidential and Vice Presidential elections were influenced by RAW.
Earlier, an article in a Nepali newspaper alleged RAW as also controlling Prime Minister Prachanda. The message is very clear. Prachanda and CPN (M) second in command, Baburam Bhattarai, were warned not to shake hands with India. Both these gentlemen had studied in India at some point of time and continued maintain links.
A documentary film, “Greater Nepal – in Quest of Boundary” claims historically Darjeeling, Dehradun and some other places belonged to Nepal but was incorporated into India by the British in an unequal treaty of Sugauli with the East India Company.
Prachanda sworn-in as first Prime Minister of republic Nepal
There is only one other country, a neighbour of Nepal, which conjures history to claim territories of its neighbours.
Instigating Nepal to raise territorial issues with India is nothing new for China. During an official tour to Nepal in December, 1996, Nepalese sources say Chinese President Jiang Zemin advised close Nepalese friends that territorial sanctity is supreme for any nation and Nepal must pursue this supreme objective. Almost immediately after Jiang’s departure, Nepal raised the Kalapani issue with India.
More recently, a senior strategic advisor to the Chinese government had said China knew India planned to “Sikkimise” Nepal, but would not let that happen.
The difference between 1996 and 2008 is that while earlier China advised Nepal on such issues in confidential discussions, today they are coming out more arrogantly in the open. An earlier China’s Ambassador to Nepal had openly assured China’s commitment to Nepal’s territorial integrity as its own. The Nepal News of September 24 quoted Chinese Ambassador Zhen Xianling as saying security was the main concern of China in its relations with neighbours. During Defence Minister Thapa’s visit, China announced a (NC) Rs.100 million military aid to Nepal. The co-relations cannot be ignored.
Nepal's last king bows out of palace
The Nepalese political parties are jubilant that China’s railway from Lhasa was to soon reach Nepal. The Chinese proclaim that the railway will help it to connect with it more closely with the rest of South Asia. Some Nepali politicians see it as an alternative to India for access to sea ports and greater economic interaction with China to counter “dependence” on India.
The railway line from Golmud to Lhasa, and from Lhasa to Nepal’s border is unlikely to transport only people and trade goods. The railway branches off to other destinations on India’s borders. The military component of this railway system in the future will be ignored by Nepal at its own risk.
It is evident that China is trying to build Nepal among a series of “Little Dragons” spewing fire at India. It used Pakistan’s post-partition visceral anti-Indianism to a remarkable effect to nail India down for decades. With India having broken out of these shackles, the Beijing hardliners are also concerned by the new thinking in Pakistan discarding the burdens of the partition, and the creation of Bangladesh.
But China is not going to give up on Pakistan. This portends a more disturbing possibility centered on Pakistan. The American factor needs to be taken into account here. A resurgence of Chinese influence in Bangladesh is also becoming evident.
Recent developments in Nepal, read along with Chinese strategic writings, suggest that China’s objective to push its operative boundary with India to Nepal is receiving considerable support from Nepal’s Maoists.
Defence Minister Thapa’s exposition to the media may not be as official as a statement to Nepal’s Constituent Assembly. But neither he nor the Maois- led government have retracted what Thapa said, and it can thus be considered an official position.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and the Nepalese government must now publicly explain Defence Minister Thapa’s views on India, since it raises questions about Dahal’s official position on India. Dahal must act quickly to clarify whether he is in control, or whether he was just waltzing with India to flatter and deceive it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dreams of home fade for Bhutan's expelled Nepali refugees

BELDANGI REFUGEE CAMP, Nepal (AFP) — After more than 15 years living in bamboo huts in a refugee camp in Nepal, Hem Lal Subedi has no desire to return to Bhutan, and now sees his only option is a new life overseas.
Subedi is one of 100,000 Bhutanese of Nepalese origin who fled Bhutan in the early 1990s after compulsory national dress was introduced and the Nepalese language was banned.
The new regulations sparked protests which led to a harsh clampdown by authorities.
"I gave up wanting to return about a year ago," said the 53-year-old once-wealthy farmer in the sprawling Beldangi refugee camp that sits next to rice fields in southern Nepal.
"We have spent too long in this camp where we are forced to live like beggars and rely on United Nations handouts," said Subedi outside his simple hut.
Bhutan's government says the people who left in large numbers in the early 1990s were either immigrants who had settled illegally in Bhutan or people leaving Bhutan voluntarily.
"Life in the camps is often much better than that prevailing in Nepal, India or Bhutan. This is the reason so many people have congregated in the camps claiming to be refugees," Bhutanese spokesman Kinzang Dorji told AFP.
But human rights groups have said the refugees are victims of an ethnic cleansing campaign that saw one-sixth of Bhutan's 600,000 people forced out.
Nepalese farmers began settling in what is now Bhutan hundreds of years ago, and numbers increased through last century due to the underused fertile land in the foothills of the Himalayas.
The ethnically Nepalese farmers were given Bhutanese citizenship in 1958, and many in the camps still hold onto their documents in the hope that they might one day get their land back.
Subedi still has his papers -- and is in no confusion about his status.
"I am a refugee. The Bhutanese forced me to leave. I was in hiding because I had taken part in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in 1990 and my wife was tortured," he said.
The governments of Nepal and Bhutan have held 16 fruitless rounds of negotiations over the refugees and, with no sign they will ever be allowed back, many like Subedi have given up hope.
-- Giving up the right to return --
The chance of a new start arose for the 107,000 camp residents in 2006, when the US offered to resettle at least 60,000, with Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Norway agreeing to take smaller numbers.
But the resettlement offer caused serious tensions between factions in the camps.
Radical Bhutanese Maoist groups have bombed the offices of the International Office of Migration (IOM), the organisation resettling the refugees.
And they have attacked empty buses returning from the airport after dropping off refugees to begin their long journeys overseas.
Five thousand people have already been resettled, and those who want to stay and campaign to be allowed back into Bhutan are losing ground, with around 50,000 of the refugees registered to leave the camps.
Refugee leader Bhampha Rai was surgeon to Bhutan's royal family before he fled in 1991, and he thinks the refugees who have applied to be resettled are making a huge mistake.
"Most people think America and these other countries are heaven but they are not. The refugees lack skills and are going to really struggle when they get there," said Rai.
He believes that by agreeing to resettlement, the refugees are giving up their claims to Bhutanese nationality, and allowing the issue to fizzle out.
"The people leaving are not thinking about the long-term consequences of their actions," said the leader, who has seen support for his standpoint dwindle.
"Once they go they will find it very hard to revive their nationality and are unlikely to be allowed ever to come back."
Deoka Bharati, 27, is committed to remaining a refugee in Nepal, even as she watches many of her friends depart.
"We are not very hopeful of being able to go back, but if we are here at least the dream of returning is kept alive," said Bharati, who teaches children in a town near the camp.
"If we are in a third country there will be no chance at all."
Despite fleeing Bhutan in the middle of the night with just the clothes she wore, Bharati is firm in her decision to stay.
"In my heart I am Bhutanese, and I don't think I will find a good life abroad. Bhutan is my motherland, I grew up there and I want to go back."

Future of aid flow concerns Nepal

Source: Washingtontimes

Baburam Bhattarai, Nepal's new finance minister, can appreciate the irony.
Even as the onetime Maoist insurgent struggles to modernize the economy of his poor, landlocked Asian nation, the world's greatest champion of free markets and free enterprise is preparing a massive taxpayer bailout of its collapsing stock and credit markets.
"I think the U.S. is moving toward socialism and we are moving to capitalism," he joked in a luncheon interview with editors and reporters at The Washington Times this week.
Mr. Bhattarai, named finance minister in the communist-dominated government that took office in August, said Nepal's relative isolation from the global economy has been a blessing in disguise given the current world financial turmoil. More than two-thirds of Nepal's 29 million people work in agriculture and officials are still trying to rebuild the basics of the economy after a lengthy civil war that resulted in the abolition of the monarchy in April.
"The world economic crisis will affect everybody. Nobody is immune from this," said Mr. Bhattarai, in Washington for the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
But he added that the pain may be less for countries like Nepal.
"My own feeling is we are in a periphery economy. Our economy is mostly agricultural and non-monetary, so it is not as integrated with the world economy," he said.
In addition,
India, which is by far Nepal's biggest trading partner, also appears to be relatively sheltered from the global economic unrest.
But Mr. Bhattarai said he is concerned that a possible global recession could mean a decline in financial assistance, both from international institutions like the IMF and from individual donors like the
United States. The government is seeking nearly $400 million in donor aid to meet its budget plans, he told World Bank and IMF officials over the weekend.
"We have an agenda to develop our industrial economy that we are focusing on," he said. But he said the country wants to promote small enterprise and rural development, a mixed strategy he called "walking with two legs."
He added that Nepal, home to eight of the world's 10 highest mountains, including Mount Everest, is banking on a revival of tourism now that it has achieved political stability.
He noted that even during the worst of the fighting between the government and the Maoist insurgency, "there was not a single foreign national who was harmed."
The IMF last week forecast economic growth of 5.5 percent for Nepal in 2009, far below the double-digit growth rates of other Asian tigers in recent years, but above the estimated 3 percent to 4 percent growth for 2007 and 2008 as Nepal emerged from more than a decade of civil strife.
Mr. Bhattarai said the government's new budget has established six development priorities: agriculture, hydro- power, infrastructure, education, health and industry.
He acknowledged the government still had reservations about economic globalization and the danger that small, poor countries like Nepal could be dominated by large multinational companies.
"On this issue, we do have reservations, but we need investment, we need capital," he said. "So there has to be a balance."

Keith Smiley/The Washington Times Nepal Foreign Minister Baburam Bhattarai joked: "I think the U.S. is moving toward socialism and we are moving to capitalism."
Located between Asia's two booming superpowers, China and India, Mr. Bhattarai said Nepal was watching closely the strengthening of ties between Washington and New Delhi, including the just-approved U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement. He said Katmandu has long looked to the United States to counter the pressure it receives from its giant neighbors.
"When the U.S. moves closer to India, it tends to be a bad thing for Nepal," he said. "India's policy [for the region] will be the U.S. policy, and the result will not be a balanced package."

Nationalization of Banks Begins

By Charles Scaliger
Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Souce : The New American

In what is unabashedly being called a "partial nationalization" of the U.S. banking industry, the Bush administration announced Tuesday morning that the federal government will be purchasing $250 billion worth of preferred stocks in all of the nation's nine largest banks. Ostensibly to avoid any appearance of bias, healthy and ailing institutions alike are being forced to submit to the program, the first of what will surely be a train of dictatorial moves by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who has been granted unconstitutional plenary authority over the entire financial sector as a result of the recent bailout bill.
"Government owning a stake in any private U.S. company is objectionable to most Americans — me included," Paulson said at a Tuesday press conference, before leaving no doubt that America's new financial führer intends to take full advantage of his extraordinary new powers. "[The] alternative of leaving businesses and consumers without access to financing is totally unacceptable."At the same press conference, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the Federal Reserve would begin on October 27 buying massive amounts of commercial paper — the short-term debt that companies loan to one another — in the latest of a dizzying series of power grabs whereby the Federal Reserve has expanded its already considerable control over the U.S. financial system.According to the Treasury Department's official statement purporting to explain the coordinated actions of the Fed and the Treasury Department, "Combined, our actions are extensive, powerful and transformative. They demonstrate that the government will do what is necessary to restore the flow of funds on which our economy depends."Transformative indeed. Not since the New Deal has America undergone a seizure of federal government power of this magnitude. In the wake of the passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, Americans are waking up to the fact that the misnamed "bailout bill" is first and foremost about restructuring and empowering the federal government, a veritable Patriot Act for the financial sector. And with hundreds of billions of dollars still left to spend, we can only wonder what else the government will deem "necessary" to put an end to financial freedom as we know it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

'Taliban, Qaida trying to take over Pakistan'

Source: Times Of India

NEW DELHI: Could Pakistan fall to a Taliban-al-Qaida coup? Is India looking at the possibility of a Talibanized neighbour to its west, one with acces
s to nuclear weapons? If Pakistan's senior minister for information Sherry Rahman is to be believed, Pakistan is in the midst of a serious internal security threat from a collection of Taliban, al-Qaida and J&K terrorist elements who want to take over the country. ( Watch ) Indian security sources said they have been receiving reports of a steady infiltration of Taliban and al-Qaida elements in Pakistan's biggest cities of Lahore and Karachi recently. In fact, in a recent incident which rang alarm bells, there were a number of Taliban posters in Karachi and Taliban spokespersons were quoted promising a better government in Sindh. Rahman's statements were made during an in-camera briefing on national security and the war on terror in Pakistan's national assembly on Tuesday. Rahman went on to state that the Taliban, who are trying to oust the Pakistan government, also had links with their Afghan counterparts and groups operating in J&K. While the fear of Taliban influence in Pakistan has increased in recent years, the latest assertions by a senior Pakistan minister linking the Taliban with J&K terror groups are a cause for concern in India. India has been concerned about Taliban making inroads into urban areas and cities of Pakistan which are located close to the border. Only two days ago, MQM leader Altaf Hussain made a statement that more than 400,000 Taliban men had infiltrated Karachi. The Pakistani media recently carried reports about Taliban warning traders in Lahore not to sell "immoral" stuff. Meanwhile, Pakistan's NSA Mahmud Ali Durrani on Tuesday called on the PM, foreign minister and the foreign secretary. He also interacted with the National Security Council Secretariat and members of the National Security Advisory Board. Durrani, who met NSA M K Narayanan on Monday, denied any ISI role in the blast at the Indian embassy in Kabul. He described the reports as "incorrect". India had taken up the issue of Kabul bombing and ceasefire violations along the LoC in a big way with Durrani. The two sides have also agreed for a joint anti-terror mechanism meeting later this month.