Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ecologists warn the planet is running short of water

Leo Lewis
Source : Times Online

A swelling global population, changing diets and mankind's expanding “water footprint” could be bringing an end to the era of cheap water.

The warnings, in an annual report by the Pacific Institute in California, come as ecologists have begun adopting the term “peak ecological water” — the point where, like the concept of “peak oil”, the world has to confront a natural limit on something once considered virtually infinite.

The world is in danger of running out of “sustainably managed water”, according to Peter Gleick, the president of the Pacific Institute and a leading authority on global freshwater resources.

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Humans — via agriculture, industry and other demands - use about half of the world's renewable and accessible fresh water. But even at those levels, billions of people live without the most basic water services, Dr Gleick said.

A key element to tackling the crisis, say experts, is to increase the public understanding of the individual water content of everyday items.

A glass of orange juice, for example, needs 850 litres of fresh water to produce, according to the Pacific Institute and the Water Footprint Network, while the manufacture of a kilogram of microchips — requiring constant cleaning to remove chemicals — needs about 16,000 litres. A hamburger comes in at 2,400 litres of fresh water, depending on the origin and type of meat used.

The water will be returned in various forms to the system, although not necessarily in a location or at a quality that can be effectively reused.

There are concerns that water will increasingly be the cause of violence and even war.

Dan Smith, the Secretary-General of the British-based peacebuilding organisation International Alert, said: “Water is a basic condition for life. Its availability and quality is fundamental for all societies, especially in relation to agriculture and health. There are places — West Africa today, theGanges-Brahmaputra river system in Nepal, Bangladesh and India, and Peru within ten years — where major changes in the rivers generate a significant risk of violent conflict. Good water management is part of peacebuilding.”

David Zhang, a geographer at the University of Hong Kong, produced a study published in the US National Academy of Sciences journal that analysed 8,000 wars over 500 years and concluded that water shortage had played a far greater role as a catalyst than previously supposed.

“We are on alert, because this gives us the indication that resource shortage is the main cause of war,” he told The Times. “Human beings will definitely have conflicts over this.”

Although in theory renewable sources of water were returned to the ecosystem and their use could continue indefinitely, Dr Gleick said, changes in the way water was exploited and how its quality degraded meant that methods of processing it would become more expensive.

“Once we begin appropriating more than ‘peak ecological water' then ecological disruptions exceed the human benefit obtained,” Dr Gleick said. Defined this way, many regions of the world had passed that peak and were using more water than the system could sustain.

A significant part of the problem is the huge, and often deeply inefficient, use of water by industry and agriculture. UN calculations suggest that more than one third of the world's population is suffering from water shortages: by 2020 water use is expected to increase by 40 per cent from current levels, and by 2025, according to another UN estimate, two out of three people could be living under conditions of “water stress”.

The World's Water report sounds a particularly strong note of alarm over the state of water usage and pollution in China, where rampant economic expansion has overtaxed freshwater resources and could even begin to threaten stability.

“When water resources are limited or contaminated, or where economic activity is unconstrained and inadequately regulated, serious social problems can arise,” wrote Dr Gleick, “and in China, these factors have come together in a way that is leading to more severe and complex water challenges than in almost any other place on the planet.”

Drop by drop

— Water footprint calculations are still only rough. They differ around the world and depend on climate, soil types, irrigation methods and crop genetics. The water footprint of different meats depends on what the animals are fed and the relative “thirst” of the crops used to feed them

— The amount of water required to produce a single litre of soft drink may be only three or four litres, but vast quantities are used to produce the sugar and corn syrup feedstocks. For example, one kilogram of paper requires 125 litres of water to process, but that excludes the water needed to grow the tree

FDI in Nepal’s Hydropower Sector: A Focus on the Product

KUNDAN POKHREL MAJAGAIYA examines the challenges of FDI in Nepal’s Hydro power sector. Focus on selling electricity not on the water sharing, he says.


We have talked a lot about Nepal’s immense potential in hydropower. Unless it is utilized, talks alone are not enough. To develop the hydropower sector, we need foreign direct investment (FDI) because Nepal’s own resources both in the public and private sector cannot meet the financial investment needed to do that. A large investment is required from foreign development agencies and private sector entrepreneurs. However, FDI in itself is not a development but may act as a catalyst for the needed progress in the sector.

The country has an estimated 83,000 megawatts (MW) of hydroelectric potential. If Nepal more effectively harnessed its full potential, the country could meet its domestic demand for electricity as well as export electricity, thus boosting the national economy. Although though hydropower generation received priority in every five-year national plan for many decades, the plans were poorly implemented. Lack of electricity remained a major constraint to economic development and poverty alleviation. Currently, Nepal is harnessing less than 1 percent of its potential hydropower energy and the country depends on bio-fuels, mainly wood, to meet its energy needs. It also spends a lot funds on petroleum products. This has had serious consequences for Nepal’s environment.

Lack of investment is a major problem. The country’s own resources both in the public and private sector cannot meet the financial investment needed for hydropower development. A large investment is required from foreign development agencies and private sector entrepreneurs. Although significant foreign investment has been attracted in recent years, much still remains to be invested for meeting both internal demand and the significant potential for the export of power.

With that backdrop in mind, in this paper, I try to examine the trends, constraints, benefits and challenged regarding FDI in Nepal’s hydropower sector.

Trends & Alternatives
What is needed for Nepal to emerge itself as one of the richest countries in the region is to develop water and human resources simultaneously. In Bhutan, for example, a country of about half a million people, the development of hydropower has been dramatically advanced by the construction of just two hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 1,380 MW. As a result, it is expected that the per capita income will go up from USD 760 to 1,320. In Nepal, the impact of hydropower development may not be that dramatic, but it has been established that it could be the driving sector in economic development and a major resource to alleviate poverty.

A macro-economic study has concluded that in order to eradicate absolute poverty in households, the country needs to register 8% economic growth rate. This will help to bring the level of percentage of population below poverty line to 10% and by 2027 there will be no household in absolute poverty. No other sector of economy other than hydropower is in a position to help achieve this goal. Thus, the solution of poverty alleviation is closely linked with hydropower development in Nepal.

Water is an important natural resource of Nepal. The immense quantity of water available in the country and its potentiality to generate hydro-based power provide us the opportunity of overcoming the barriers of economic development as well as improve the environment. Nepal has some of the world’s largest potential for hydropower generation. The availability of abundant water resources and favorable geo-political features provide ample opportunities for the development of hydropower.

So far, the volume of FDI in hydropower of Nepal has been small with a level of electrification of 29% and FDI in hydropower has not been an important source of aggregate investment finance and its impact on economic development has also been minimal. A comparison with selected high and low performing countries brings out the underperformance of Nepal in terms of FDI inflows in hydropower. The country has an estimated 83,000 megawatts (MW) of hydroelectric potential, with 43,000 MW having been identified as potentially economically feasible. Currently the country is generating only 561 MW, less than 1.0% of its total potential.

According to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the installed capacity of hydropower by ownership currently amounts to 561.231 MW (389.150 MW in public major projects, 69.34 % of total capacity, 133.113 MW in private power projects; 23.72% of total capacity, 200.00 MW in public-private joint ventures, 3.56 % of total capacity; and 189.68 MW in small hydropower projects, 3.38% of total capacity).
Even with this massive potential, Nepal has not been able to develop its hydro resources effectively and widespread hydroelectric potential is not effectively utilized. This has caused financial loss to the country. Hydropower projects can be developed by the NEA, local independent promoters and foreign direct investments (FDIs). FDI may be in the form of loan, contract, or as a grant aid. The purpose of FDI may take a number of different forms, such as for the establishment of new enterprises in other countries- either as a branch or as a subsidiary, for the expansion of an existing overseas branch or subsidiary, and for the acquisition of overseas business enterprises or its assets.

More than 500 hydropower projects of different capacity have been identified in the country. Both national and international developers have been engaged in developing hydropower projects.

FDI in hydropower have a history of 97 years from 1911 and have increased rapidly since 1970 with the availability of bilateral and multilateral funding sources. Prior to 1960, all the hydropower stations were constructed through grant aid from friendly countries like the USSR, India and China. Since 1970, hydropower development took a new turn with the availability of bilateral and multilateral funding sources. The major donor countries in the period were Japan, Germany, Norway, South Korea, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and USA. The financial lending agencies were the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Saudi Fund for Development, Kuwait Fund, and others.

The most recent private hydropower development projects are almost all proposed by Indian or Indian-Nepali joint investors. This is an interesting change and merits a careful review. The Indian companies are perhaps best suited to operate in Nepal due to their proximity, cultural and economic understanding of the Nepali situation, and relatively low cost of their professional and other costs.

FDI in Nepal began in 1911 with construction of Pharping Hydroelectric Plant (500 KW). I has increased rapidly since 1970 with the availability of bilateral and multilateral funding sources. From the 1990s, after the adoption of the policy of economic liberalization, hydropower development took yet another turn with the private sector entering the arena. Besides, the government can partner with private investors or there can be international partners involved with Nepali private sector, or the public sector like Chilime.

The government of Nepal has been prioritizing hydropower sector in its national plans for decades, and the recent budget has enlisted an even more ambitious plan of generating 10, 000 MW in ten years. But if the past is any indication, the government and foreign-aided hydropower development have not been that successful, both due to large per unit cost (construction inefficiencies, graft), and problems of maintenance. Since 1992, the private sector development of the hydropower was seen as the best approach to utilize Nepal's most important economic potential while utilizing the private sector efficiency. Although the previous few private power development were carried out by the US, Australian, Chinese and a few other companies, the most successful ventures have been the ones organized by the Nepali investors.

Constraints
The development of hydropower in Nepal is a very complex task as it faces numerous challenges and obstacles. Some of the factors attributed to the low level of hydropower development are: lack of capital, high cost of technology, lower load factor due to lower level of productive end-use of electricity and high technical and non–technical losses.

There is a lack of commitment, priority and vision on hydropower development at the political level and also lack of transparency in hydropower planning and project preparation at the bureaucratic level. Political instability, inadequate institutional capacity and lack of a competent and transparent regulatory mechanism are other factors.

Although the Government of Nepal (GON) is open to foreign direct investment, implementation of its policies is often distorted by bureaucratic delays and inefficiency. Red tapes and policy ambiguities also serve as hindrances. For instance, the government has designated the Department of Electricity Development as the single window for power development. But it has not been able to function as a single window because of capacity constraints, which delay the whole process. This policy needs to be reviewed on the basis of past experiences, new technology, possibility of local and foreign investments, and the availability of a market to sell hydropower in neighboring countries. The new policy should be clear, transparent, practical and friendly to both local and foreign investment.

The policy should aid hydropower development, not personal development of politicians and bureaucrats. Too often, government officials and investors make surveys, licenses and taxes a means to their personal development. Also, policy should be followed strictly. Though it is hard to obtain a survey license from the GON, once received the license is rarely cancelled. We have bitter examples like Mukti Shree Pvt. Ltd. (an unknown company) which was awarded the license for the largest multipurpose project of Nepal (Karnali Chisapani 10,800 MW) and West Seti Storage Project, and also Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) for Upper Modi, Daram Khola, Langtangkhola and Madi. Their licenses have not been cancelled yet although they are unknown company. Such companies get involved in “Tender Bids” and get some money from other companies by taking out their tenders. Because of poor policy and corruption, there is no any incentive to revoke their licenses. However, recently, the government seems to be making some progress in penalizing such companies.

Benefits
The construction of hydroelectric projects contributes not only to the economy of a region, but also its environmental and social development. The establishment of such projects also promotes local people’s access roads, schools, health centers, jobs and trade opportunities. They can also buy some percentage of shares in the hydropower project.

In the long run, the project will help improve their living standards. Moreover, due to fast-rising prices of petroleum products, the hydropower is becoming even more relevant to our lives. Hydro-electricity also offers clean energy. As result, it reduces the green house gas emission and provides a long term alternative.

There are other benefits relating to human resource development, transfer of technology, power export, etc. Some facts:

 Recipients of FDI often gain employee training in the course of operating the new businesses, which contributes to human capital development in the host country. If we harness 10,000MW hydropower, in the process, every year 132,000 people (13000 persons on construction phase and 32000 in operation phase, assuming 2000 person for 750 MW) can get employment.

 FDI allows transfer of technology— particularly in the form of new varieties of capital inputs— that cannot be achieved through financial investments or trade in goods and services. FDI can also promote competition in the domestic input market.

 Profits generated by FDI contribute to corporate tax revenues in the country.

 India’s demand for power would grow to 200,000 MW by 2018. If Nepal could fast-track projects to generate just 10,000 MW in ten years, consume 2,000 MW itself and export the rest to India, it could earn $2.7 billion a year.

 According to Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), in the fiscal year 2005/06, NRs 2.45 billions has been spent to import petroleum products. If the same amount of money were spent for developing hydropower, we could generate 29.9 MW hydropower electricity (for instance, in Chilme Hydropower Project, 1 KW production cost = $1550 = NRs.108500).

Challenges
Nepal must now expedite the process of hydropower development. It must now correct past mistakes. First, policy stability and political stability should be maintained. Second, long-term national strategies for export-oriented hydropower development and genuine mutually beneficial partnership should be developed.

Bhutan’s model may be useful in the case of Nepal, too. Project agreements should be based on selling electricity not on the sharing of water. India and Bangladesh are two major markets for hydropower. It’s true that without India's cooperation, Nepal cannot develop its hydropower. India is the only possible viable market for Nepal: even we produces electricity with foreign aid, without India opening its market for us, there is nothing much we can do. The role of India is therefore critical. Nepal should adopt a two-tier approach for the development of hydropower. First, it should cater to domestic needs and second, export power for meeting regional markets. Emphasis should be on implementation of the projects based on the concept of Build, Operate, Own and Transfer (BOOT). And the hydroelectric power generated and produced in Nepal should be developed as an item of export.

Now individual aid-funded projects are being replaced by projects that enhance our own technical and financial capacity to meet energy needs. In recent years, three Nepali power projects like Chilime (20 MW) in Rasuwa, Piluwa (3 MW) in Sankhuwasabha and Jhimruk (12 MW) in Pyuthan proved that Nepal can now generate cheap electricity with locally-built and locally-financed hydropower schemes. Construction of smaller projects using local resources has been neglected and minimized by the politicians and policy makers because of the high-budget, glamorous, aid-funded projects.

The cost of the construction of hydropower projects in Nepal mostly depends on the financing modalities. Past experiences show that the per KW construction costs of locally financed projects are lower than either large donor-funded projects or those funded by the International Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The donor-funded projects come with strings attached, they have to be designed and managed by international consultants and built by other contractors. Thus, a large amount of money goes back to the donors.

Nepali engineers, economists and members of the civil society have concluded that only through locally-financed, locally-built and locally-managed smaller projects we can generate electricity with minimum cost. The local focus also provides for people’s ownership of the projects. Critics have charged that development in Nepal has miserably failed so far because of various factors, such as over-dependence on foreign aid, failure of donors to ensure the proper use of their funds and effective coordination of their activities, centralization, widespread corruption and abuse of authority by bureaucrats and politicians. They argue that effective and positive roles for the private sector can be learned from the experience of countries like Sri Lanka also.

To conclude, generating resources is an important factor in reducing poverty in developing countries, which underscores the need for efficient investment. Nepal's own resources both in the public and private sector cannot meet the financial investment needed for hydropower development. A large investment is required from foreign development agencies and private sector entrepreneurs but the investment will be most effective if it is used to support both NEA in the public sector, and private Nepali sector companies to increase their capability to build low-cost and high quality projects. The hydropower sector in Nepal needs technical and financial support to carry out such projects

Kundan Pokhrel Majagaiya is a doctoral candidate at Glorious Sun School of Management, Donghua University, China.

Monday, January 26, 2009

US, Obama And India

By Shah Faisal
23 January, 2009
Countercurrents.org

On 20th January the Democrat Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of United States in Washington. This convention of swearing in US Presidents on 20th January dates back to 1937 when Franklin D Roosevelt began his second term on that day although inauguration ceremonies used to be held on March 4th before that. However,that is not the only reason why reference to FDR become so indispensable with the thought of Barack Obama.

There are many tragic similarities as both had to assume office amidst unpromising national and international politico-economic situation. Nonetheless,the optimism both in America and outside is acute and overwhelming. The charismatic personality of Obama,his rise despite adverse racial background, some unexplained expectations and yes a strong anti-Bush sentiment have been the main factors that made the world watch with unprecedented awe this time. But the question is how long does the picture stay rose pink? As the tide of emotions recedes,is the world going to regret that in reality there was nothing so entertaining about this sad story of a hardworking poor sailor who had become the captain of a sinking ship and was obliged to steer it ashore. Will compulsions of President Obama might outweigh promises of Senator Obama? Whatever,the hope is rife that new President has the dexterity to contain the storm although his skill at creating storms remains to be explored and commented on.

GREAT EXPECTATION

The popular opinion in Muslim world particularly the Indian sub-continent and Middle East is exceptionally and perhaps abnormally slanted towards President Obama. The "HUSSAIN" factor which Obama has hardly attached any importance to, is being specifically over-emphasized. President Obama signifies change,true. But then expecting from him an immediate reversal on the Middle East policy of George Bush,suspension of hostilities against Iran,a quick end to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, upliftment of African countries,breakthrough on Kashmir - all because of an elusive Muslim connection - is nothing but naivety.

Lets understand,this gentle-man is not going to hand over America to Iran as a tribute for his middle name. And notwithstanding the poignant precedents left by former US Presidents,it is ironic that such Utopian discourse has preoccupied our intellectual dialogue. However,as is becoming evident with every passing minute,our failure to read the pulse has perhaps gone even further. A few points merit a brief mention here. One, that during Oath taking ceremony Barack Obama read out a passage from Lincolins Bible sending a bold message that what Muslim world makes out of him,he actually is not. Secondly,his meaningful silence during the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza made it aptly clear that Mr. Obama is not used to speaking out of turn on issues of American interest, even though his admirers in Muslim world expected and would have liked him to.

Also,while everyone thought he will at once close down Guatnamo Bay detention centre,he just went about order for larger windows and wider doors! His declaration that funding to Pakistan will be conditional to proven action against militancy on Pak-Afghanistan border gives a clear indication that there wont be any change in Pakistan's role as a US-agency.

BAGGAGE FROM THE PAST

Democrats and republicans alike,US Presidents have always been nothing more than watch-dogs of US interest and advocates of an America-centric world order. Responsible action outside US is simply unknown and incompatible with Presidential outlook and Barack Obama will find the temptation to make sudden turnarounds too risky. Known outcome is that for America the slogan shall continue as "WE CAN DO IT",but for us "THEY WILL CONTINUE TO DO WHAT THEY ARE BEST KNOWN FOR".

In Asian continent the misadventures of United States are not at all a George Bush(both junior and senior) phenomenon. The stand of US administration has always been damaging and dangerously unpredictable. Take an example. During 1971 India-Pakistan war Richard Nixon supported Pakistan. But it was only to limit growing Soviet influence in the region and had in substance nothing to do with India or Pakistan per se. The suspense broke when same Nixon administration became the lifeline of Israel in the Yom Kippur war of 1973 against Egypt and Syria. It had nothing to do with just and unjust but only thing that mattered was to maintain the influence of US in West Asia.

Soon afterwards,Carter made his doctrine known to all that US would not allow any other outside force to gain control of the Persian gulf. Till today,US policy continues to draw its premise from this doctrine although Cold War has ended decades back. Likewise,President Clinton clamped sanctions on India after 1998 nuclear tests but in 2008, American policy sought to counter-balance the power equation in South Asia against a soaring and roaring China. Result was a Bush-Manmohan nuclear deal.


Again,we have to accept,that benefit to India in this nuclear agreement is purely coincidental as the larger ambition of US is obviously something else. Who knows,tomorrow its Obama selling nuclear arsenal to Nepal, if somehow India becomes a threat to reckon with. Thus not much can be expected from American presidents, particularly when it comes to delivering goods in a sensitive region like Asia.

Expectedly, president Obama will have to adjust himself to this already set and complicated frame even if that means a seething back-ache for him. The excitement in valley is more related to possibility of a Kashmir-specific envoy in Obama-administration than the President's over- all promise of change. So far so good. But the bigger question is that even if that envoy arrives soon, is there really any room for American interventionism in the complex Indo-Pak equation regarding Kashmir issue.

Can President Obama impose a Kashmir-centric solution even if the two defiant neighbours disagree in part or whole? Not perhaps. It is not going to be that easy at all and Obama will have to face three significant obstacles. One,that America is in midst of an economic disaster and upsetting a strong trade-partner like India will amount to polluting the wound further. Further,the lucre of Indo-US nuclear business will make the decision to displease India even more difficult. Secondly,Non-resident Indians have come to occupy significant policy positions in Obama secretariat,and that puts India in an even safer position. In the inaugural address Obama threw a surprise by saying that "America belonged to Christians,Muslims,Hindus and alike", hinting that there is a special place for India. And also,India's escape from nuclear apartheid has put it in even stronger position to bargain. So Delhi might not listen to outsiders with that much humility now the way it used to in past. That leaves Kashmir nowhere or hardly anywhere,again. But yes,that need not burn out the optimism in Kashmir. We must also remember that China has expressed to work in close cooperation with the new President.

Besides,Russia has off-late pricked many needles into the American balloon by resisting NATO interference in Caucusus and flaunting its petroleum power. That means some how if US and China gather forces against Russian influence,what seems near to impossible,whole power equation in South Asia will be altered. It is only in that case,Mr. Obama might find it a bit easier to take liberties with India and Pakistan raising the probability of Kashmir conflict resolution. But what actually is in Obama's mind will be in front of us soon and till then there is no harm in expecting the best as long as we remain ready for the worst.

Obama: Mumbai carnage & Kashmir

Sajjad Shaukat
Source : Kashmirwatch

Although it is usually said that no major change occurs in American global policies, yet most of the political experts hope that the new US President Barack Obama will rectify the blunders, committed by his predecessor in the name of war on terror. As regards the Islamic World, Obama stated in his first address, “To the Muslim World, we seek a new way forward, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.” Nevertheless, most of the Muslims expect that President Obama will resolve the issues, affecting all the Islamic World. Besides the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, Indian-held Kashmir is the thorniest issue between Pakistan and India as both the neighbouring countries have already waged three wars on this question.

There always remains possibility of a limited war by India, being converted into a nuclear conflict between the two adversaries. However, Obama’s expected policy on Kashmir, US war on terror, Mumbai carnage of November 26 and Indian blame game against Pakistan coupled with its continued war-mongering style against Islamabad cannot be judged in isolation because there is a co-relationship in these matters. It is of particular attention that on November 2, 2008, Barack Obama had pledged support for the Pakistan’s democratic government through a combination of US socio-economic and security assistance. During recent visit to Islamabad, US Vice President Joseph Biden also assured similar cooperation. It is notable that Obama also recognizes an inter-relationship between war against terrorism in Afghanistan and issue of Kashmir. No doubt, he wants to increase troops in Afghanistan for combating terrorism, but has repeatedly said that the United States should help in resolving the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India to deal with the problem of militancy in the region. In this context, on September 25, 2008, Obama, while accusing President Bush’s policies in the region, offered it as part of his policy to encourage India and Pakistan to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and resolve the Kashmir problem to reduce nuclear dangers in South Asia. On a number of occasions, he has re-affirmed the solution of Kashmir as one of his key priorities.

In the recent past, Obama’s aides have also expressed similar thoughts. One of his aides, Mr Riedel’s long-time themes is that resolving the Kashmir dispute is essential for fighting terrorism. It was due to Barrack Obama’s positive policy of Kashmir that India itself arranged Mumbai terror attacks to divert his attention from this crucial issue besides fulfilling a number of secret anti-Pakistan designs. It is noteworthy that famous thinkers of international politics like Machiavelli, Hobbes and Morgenthau agree that such activities as lying, cheating, conspiring, etc. are applied by states to achieve their goals. Sometimes rulers sacrifice a lesser good for a greater good. In fact, by following the old political philosophers in modern era of peaceful settlement of disputes, India has conducted Mumbai carnage with the support of its Intelligence agency, RAW to achieve a number of strategic goals as recent developments in between Pakistan and India have proved.

India has become tougher on its illogical demands since Pakistan sincerely confirmed on January 7, 2008 that the lone gunman, Ajmal Kasab captured during the November 26 Mumbai incident was a Pakistani national. Regarding Kasab, on 15 December 2008, Chaudhry Muhammad Farooq, a Pakistani lawyer claimed that Ajmal Kasab whom “Indian authorities have accused of involvement in Mumbai attacks was actually kidnapped by RAW, while he was in Nepal on a business tour”. He further disclosed that he had filed a habeas corpus petition in the Nepal Supreme Court, pointing out that it was not only accepted, but one hearing had also been held. However, Kasab was made crown witness and used by RAW in the Mumbai carnage. Nevertheless, India has not yet supplied solid proof to Pakistan except the one, handed over on January 5, which is quite fake—full of loopholes, created by RAW. Notably, during simultaneous attacks in Mumbai, the death of Anti-Terrorism Squad Chief Hemant Karkare exposed that Indian intelligence agencies had themselves planned the scheme to pressurize Pakistan and to take political advantage over the latter especially on Kashmir issue as Obama seems serious to resolve this dispute. New Delhi not only wants to divert his attention from this issue, but also desires to abandon peace process with Pakistan, which it has now suspended as it could lead to the settlement of Kahsmir dispute. However, In the Indian Mail Today, Narayan Rane, an Indian-Hindu leader of the Congress, disclosed on December 16, 2008 that Hindu politicians of India provided logistical and financial support to Hindutva terrorists for killing Karkare.

Indian fruitless strategy could be judged from the self-contradictory statements of its External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukerjee who while changing his earlier stance that Islamabad should hand over the militants, responsible for the Mumbai catastrophe to India, said on January 15 that New Delhi is ready to accept a “fair trial” of the terror suspects inside Pakistan. Surprisingly, next day, he again reverted to his previous stand that the perpetrators must “face Indian justice.” However, confused statements of Mukerjee show that as to how India has been making futile efforts to entangle Pakistan in the Mumbai tragedy through a policy of intimidation—whose evidence is self-fabricated, prepared not only to conceal the involvement of Indian home-grown terrorists but to utilize the events to isolate Pakistan diplomatically in the comity of nations.

On the other side, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik repeatedly replied that what India had provided us was “information, not evidence” and investigations are underway in this respect. The fact of the matter is that by manipulating Pakistan’s present multiple crises coupled with continuous western propaganda against our country in relation to terrorism, India intends to avail this opportunity to further deepen our problems through a void diplomacy of pressure. In this context, on January 15, Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor claimed that the culprits of the Mumbai carnage came from Pakistan and we keep “all options open including war as a last resort.”

While, Pakistan has refused to accept Indian duress regarding the extradition of the alleged persons as it is taking actions against them according to the law of its own country. In this regard, unlike New Delhi, Islamabad’s peaceful approach and offer of joint investigation in relation to Mumbai catastrophe have been appreciated by China, UK, Saudi Arabia etc. Let us consider the core issue of Kashmir which has become a basic obstacle to South Asian peace. In this respect, Indian continued intransigence to disallow the Kashmiris their right of self-determination could be judged from the verbal duel in the UN General Assembly Third Committee that deals with humanitarian issues. On November 3, 2008, reacting to Indian delegate Rajeev Shukla’s claim that Kashmir was an integral part of India, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon clarified that it was an internationally recognised disputed territory. As regards the current phase of Indian state terrorism in the occupied Kashmir, at present, sporadic curfews, crackdowns and killings by the Indian security forces keep on going against the non-violent mass uprising of Kashmiris during and after the so-called elections. Thus more than 900 innocent people have been massacred. Since 1989, Indian military troops have been using barbaric methods of ethnic cleansing to disturb the majority population of Kashmiris. As all our major rivers take origin from the Indian controlled Kashmir, so water has become another tool of Indian pressure, being intermittently used against Pakistan. Last year, India reduced water flow of the Chenab river by violating the Indus Basin Water Treaty of 1960 so as to give a setback to Pakistan’s autumnal crops and to further deepen our multiple crises. It worth-mentioning that British Foreign Secretary David Miliband who recently visited New Delhi and Islamabad, rejected Indian demands that the fugitives of the Mumbai tragedy should be extradited and probed by India. He also pointed out that complete de-escalation of situation between Pakistan and India was fully linked to resolution of Kashmir issue, saying that India should cooperate with Pakistan in this respect. Returning to our earlier discussion Mumbai episode was arranged by India to get leverage on Kashmir and particularly to divert the attention of the new US President Obama from this dispute.

India (Heart) China

Sandip Roy,
Jan 26, 2009
Source : newamericamedia

Editor's Note: What if India and China are no longer hostile parties but cooperative players in the geopolitical arena? The union of the two economic powers in Chindia is playfully suggested in a new Bollywood film, but there's more than fantasy behind the idea, NAM associate editor Sandip Roy opines.

When Bollywood's biggest action hero flexes his abs on the Great Wall of China you realize that the pundits might have got it wrong. They've been wondering whether to back India or China in the great horse race of the 21st Century. But what if the answer is both? "India and China can do it better," says the hero of “Chandni Chowk to China,” (CC2C) Bollywood's first kung fu caper. He might just have a point, a geo-political one. South Korea and Japan are already wooing both India and China as markets. It’s not China or India, the new buzzword is Chindia.

“CC2C” doesn't use the word but it does play with the concept – it's like naan meets chopsuey says its hero, or Fung Shastra (Chinese Feng Shui meets Indian Vaastu Shastra). But Chindia is a real enough word. Dr. Jagdish Sheth has written a book about it, “Chindia Rising – How India and China Will Benefit Your Business.”

He points out that Chindia isn't just some klunky word cobbled together by academics. It was actually coined by Jairam Ramesh, India's current Minister of State for Commerce. "That's a big shift for India," says Sheth. "You have to remember the previous defense minister went on record saying that India needed defense primarily from China. Now Ramesh is saying it's actually more advantageous for India and China to get together."

Ever since a bruising 1962 war in which China trounced India, the two Asian giants have been tense neighbors with huge unresolved territorial disputes. When the United States cozied up to India with a sweetheart nuclear civilian deal it was trying to draw India into its camp, courting it as a counterweight to a rising China. "If George W. Bush had a Nixon-goes-to-China moment, that was it," says Bill Emmott, author of “Rivals, How the Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade.” "India had been a Soviet ally. It was estranged from the U.S. since its nuclear tests. But Bush decided to really open a new chapter."

India appreciates that but it's not committing to a monogamous relationship with Washington. "India doesn't want to be like South Korea which got the flu when America sneezed. It wants a more diversified relationship," says Dr. Sheth, who is also the founder of the India, China and America Institute.

That “diversified relationship” is paying off not just for the makers of CC2C who got to film for ten days on the Great Wall but for the two countries in general.

India-China Friendship Year was 2006 during which the Chinese went out of their way to tell the Indians that the so-called "China threat" was really the West up to its old tricks of divide and conquer.

After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, India shared intelligence about alleged Pakistani involvement with Beijing. China sent its Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei to Islamabad and New Delhi to [try and] defuse the tension.

The armies have done joint exercises, and there's a hotline between the foreign ministries.

Until March 2002, the two countries had no direct air connection. It took more than 12 hours to fly from one country to the other. Trade between the two stood at about $5 billion.

"Now China has surpassed America as India's largest trading partner," says [Jagdish] Sheth. Sure, India and China have fought a war. "But that was yesterday's reality," says Sheth. "The only ideology in Asia today is money."

Warner Bros. certainly hopes so. The studio, which produced “CC2C,” is hoping its Indo-Chinese song-and-dance on the Great Wall with thigh-flashing cheongsams will prove to be a global hit. “CC2C” already has had the biggest release of any Bollywood film in the U.S. market. Pairing Bollywood star Akshay Kumar against kung fu legend Gordon Liu it hopes to be the Great Crossover film, complete with half-Indian half-Chinese twins separated as babies on--where else—[but] the Great Wall? (It probably could have left out the deadly made-in-China lipstick its femme fatale uses on unsuspecting victims. (The tainted toys and pet food scandals are still a little fresh!)

It's not surprising that a mega studio like Warner Bros is behind this odd coupling. "Multinationals have long been taking advantage of the synergy between India and China, sometimes more than the Indians and Chinese," says Robyn Meredith, author of “The Elephant and the Dragon - The Rise of India and China And What it Means for All of Us.” The Ipod, she says is a classic example: "A company in Hyderabad developed the brains of the Ipod. But it's actually made in China by Taiwanese sub-suppliers."

But with two of the world's fastest growing economies and a third of the world's population, the two countries are putting pragmatism ahead of historic suspicions. "India and China have embraced both globalism and capitalism at the same time," says Meredith. "It's lifted 200 million people out of poverty. That's an enormous achievement."

Cooperation is the key because both countries are hungry for resources. "There have been a few instances where India has attempted to acquire oil assets, like in Angola, and the Chinese maneuvered their way and beat the Indians out," says Michael Klare, author of "Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet." "Now they have signed an agreement to notify each other ahead of time."

The world gets nervous at this vision of India and China coming together to gobble up resources. But [Bill] Emmott says India and China can actually be part of the solution to the quest for new resources. "We need more investments in exploration of oil, water supply and food. India and China have the capital to expand and invest in Africa and Latin America."

But real tensions remain between the two powers. Nepal's new Maoist government is cozying up to China much to India's consternation. India still hosts the Dalai Lama. "The economies are going gangbusters but they are fragile," says [Bill] Emmott. "If there are economic difficulties, countries start to score domestic points by confronting neighbors."

He points to one obvious fault line. If a U.S. administration, frustrated with Pakistani inaction on Islamic militants, decides to launch attacks on Pakistan, India would be tempted to invade from the south while America attacks from the Afghan border. "What would be China's reaction?" wonders Emmott. "There's a chance it would cooperate – it's worried about its Xinjian separatists, who have relationships with terrorists in Pakistan. But it would be equally worried about such an invasion."

More optimistically, Emmott says the 21st Century may well be "an Asian century" but one in which "a shallow version of the EU" evolves in Asia. "And America will have to co-opt into that Asia," says Jagdish Sheth.

Indeed, the short order cook-turned kung-fu champ in "CC2C" doesn't dream of America as he lugs bags of potatoes through Delhi's alleyways. "My destiny is in China," he says.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The rise of Asia

By Eduardo Faleiro
Source : Upiasia.com, 21 jan
The first Summit Conference of the Group of 20 was held last November in Washington D.C. The G-20 brings together 20 of the most important industrialized and emerging market countries across the world. They represent around 90 percent of the global gross domestic product, 80 percent of the world trade as well as two-thirds of the world population.
Its economic weight and broad membership makes the G-20 the single most important forum to address global economic and financial issues. The conference dealt with the present global recession and called for a comprehensive reform of the international financial institutions “so that they can more adequately reflect changing realities in the world economy and be more responsive to future challenges.”

The conference underscored the effective shift of economic power to the Asia Pacific region and the need to involve China and India, the two rising economic giants, in the solution of the present crisis.

The rise of Asia began with the extraordinary economic progress of Japan in the 1950s and 60s. It was followed by the remarkable advance of the Asian Tigers – Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore – and other countries of Southeast Asia, and now the impressive growth of India and China. By the middle of this century, China is expected to be the largest economy in the world and India the third largest. By that time, Asia might hold seven of the ten largest national economies.

Yet, while Asia witnesses rapid economic growth there are vast numbers of people in this continent who face grave problems of illiteracy, disease and poverty. What is required is greater attention to inclusive development that benefits significantly most people and not just a fringe.

Market forces need to be regulated to this effect. Often, the present economic policies accentuate economic disparities, widen the gap between the rich and the poor and lead to radicalization and political instability. The discontent of the vast masses has already resulted in the collapse of several governments across the continent.

Good governance calls for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in the year 2000. The eight goals are the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; universal primary education; gender equality and empowerment of women; reduction of child mortality; improvement in maternal health; eradication of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases; environmental sustainability and global partnership for development.

While some Asian countries have achieved and indeed surpassed these goals, there are several others that will not be able to attain them by 2015 as scheduled, unless there is strong political will and the governments concerned earmark sufficient funds for the purpose.


The economic and social welfare of a country is advanced considerably if it interacts as part of a regional block rather than individually. An integrated regional economy accelerates economic growth of the member countries through the advantage of geographical proximity and economies of scale. The European Union is a model in this regard. It shows that even countries that have been at war for 1,000 years can cooperate and work together for common benefit. ASEAN is another good example of regional cooperation.

India contributes to Asian cooperation and solidarity. Its “Look East” policy is intended to strengthen its relations with East and Southeast Asia and is a priority of its foreign policy. Relations between India and Japan have undergone a qualitative and significant improvement in recent years. The two prime ministers have been meeting regularly every year since 2005. A Global and Strategic Partnership between the two countries was established in December 2006. India and China have also realized that they can benefit from mutual cooperation and are attempting to do so.

South Asia is an area of regional cooperation in which I took particular interest while in the government of India and as a member of Parliament. The South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation brings together India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and now also Afghanistan. There has been some progress in economic cooperation in the region and this should lead to improved bilateral relations and regional cooperation at the political level.

The governments and civil society of India, Pakistan and other SAARC countries ought to join hands across national borders and religious differences, agree on zero tolerance toward every form of extremism and terrorism and redress the grievances of the disaffected and marginalized. They must beware the machinations of neo-imperialism and its strategy to divide and rule.

Asian cooperation is essential to identify common strengths and opportunities which will help to improve the quality of life of our people. It should ultimately lead to an Asian Union capable of interacting with the rest of the world on an equal footing and contributing more positively toward mutual peace and prosperity.

--

(Eduardo Faleiro is a former Union Minister. This article is based on his speech at the Asia-Pacific Conference held recently in Tokyo, Japan. )

Thursday, January 15, 2009

‘Flows in Indus basin likely to decrease’

Source : Hindu
NEW DELHI: With predictions of extreme changes in river flows due to global warming, a new study has underscored the need for a comprehensive assessment of the impact of climate change on dam building in the Himalayas.

The impact of global warming was already being felt in the Himalayas, resulting in accelerated melting of glaciers and depletion of the massive water store of the region. Already, the threats of glacial lake outburst floods were on the rise with possible failures of downstream dams. There are predictions of dramatic decrease in flows in the Indus basin in 100 years, the study said.

The study titled ‘Mountains of Concrete: Dam Building in the Himalayas,’ released here on Monday, asserts that climate change was likely to have the most serious implications for dams. There were real fears that the “abode of snow” would no longer be left with any and this would have tremendous impact all the way into the Indo-Gangetic plains aggravated by the construction of hundreds of dams.

The study, undertaken by Sripad Dharmadhikari of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra for International Rivers, points out that that there was a renewed push in recent years for building dams in the Himalayan region, including in Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bhutan, which could lead to the highest concentration of dams in the region. Significantly, the study did not look at the dams in China for reasons of “insufficient resources, difficulty in access to information and issue of language.”

As glaciers melt, water in the rivers will rise and dams would be subjected to much higher flows, raising concerns of dam safety, increased flooding (as in the Kosi in Bihar last year) and submergence. And with the subsequent depletion of glaciers there would be much lower annual flows, affecting the performance of dams with huge investments. “Unfortunately, dam construction was being planned without any assessment of these impacts.”

The study has identified 24 lakes as potentially dangerous in Bhutan based on criteria of water level rise, the associated mother glacier, the conditions of the dams and topographical features. It said that the frequency of glacial lake outbursts floods was on the rise in Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. It predicts dramatic decreases in the Indus river flows in 100 years after glacial retreat.

Presenting his study, Mr. Dharmadhikari pointed out that the dam building in the Himalayas will transform the landscape, ecology and economy of the region. It will have far-reaching impact all the way down to the river deltas. Submergence of lands, homes, fields and forests on a large scale will displace hundreds of thousands of people. It will severely disrupt the downstream flows, impacting agriculture, fisheries and threatening livelihoods of entire populations.

Degradation of nature and massive influx of migrant workers will have great implications for the culture and identity of local people.

As the region was seismically active, the dams that were being planned faced high risks. By far, the most serious issue was that of climate change and its impact on the Himalayas, he said.

SECRET PLAN TO DISBAND GURKHAS

Thursday January 15,2009

Source : Daily Express, London

THE Army wants to scrap the 200-year-old Gurkha regiment over claims it will cost too much to treat its veterans properly, it emerged yesterday.
Military top brass have warned that the historic brigade could be disbanded if the Government allows thousands more former Gurkhas to settle in Britain.
They say that the introduction of full residency and pension rights for the veterans and their dependants could leave the Ministry of Defence and British taxpayers facing a bill of up to £3billion.

Campaigners last night blasted the plans, which could see the end of the British Army’s most loyal and heroic regiments.
The loss of the Gurkhas would be a body blow for the Armed Forces
Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox
Joanna Lumley, 62, whose father fought alongside Gurkhas in the Second World War, accused the MoD of “scaremongering”.
“Even in the unlikely event that the MoD’s figure is correct,” she added, “all these retired Gurkhas have earned the right to settle here by serving and fighting in our Army.”

Ms Lumley last year joined forces with the Daily Express crusade seeking better rights for Gurkhas and delivering a 250,000-signature petition to Gordon Brown demanding justice for the selfless warriors.
She said: “The idea that they will be a drain on the NHS is offensive – these people were prepared to fight and die for the NHS. Many of them actually had money deducted from their pay to help pay for it. They have as much right as any British citizen to use it.”
Under new rules due to be announced by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in the next few weeks, the rights of ex-Gurkhas are expected to be widened significantly. All veterans will be allowed to settle in Britain and receive a full Army pension.
The existing system denies entry to Gurkhas who retired before 1997 and awards them only a third of the pension given to British ex-servicemen.

But one high-ranking defence official said: “This could make the Gurkhas too expensive for the Army.” It is estimated up to 50,000 Gurkha veterans and dependants could apply to come to the UK from Nepal and other parts of Asia.
Tory MP and former infantry officer Patrick Mercer said: “The great advantage of the Gurkhas always used to be that they were plentiful and they were cheap. But with the new agreements that they are getting they are rapidly becoming more and more expensive.”

He said the Gurkhas were being saved at the moment because of a recruitment shortfall in the Army.
“But if recruiting in Britain increases, the justification for the Gurkhas will become more untenable,” he added.
Former Army major Charles Heyman, who served with Gurkhas in Hong Kong, said: “The MoD has been talking about the cost of the Gurkhas for at least 15 years. But even when they have got new rights in common with other British soldiers, I believe that the extra cost of a Gurkha would not be more than five per cent.”
Axing the Gurkhas would mean the loss of about 3,500 highly-trained soldiers at a time when the Army is seriously overstretched.

Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: “The people of Britain should be enormously grateful to the Gurkhas for their courage and commitment in defence of this country. The loss of the Gurkhas would be a body blow for the Armed Forces.”
Tory MP and Daily Express columnist Ann Widdecombe said: “This is vindictive. The numbers of Gurkhas coming here are a drop in the ocean compared to the number of illegal immigrants settling here year after year and it is time we got our priorities right.”

Laxmi Sharma, of the United British Gurkha Ex-Servicemen’s Association, said: “They are looking for some stupid excuse to avoid giving Gurkha veterans their deserving rights. They want us to defend their country for free.”
An MoD spokesperson refused to confirm or deny any plans to axe the Gurhkas but said: “The MoD fully supports the Home Office and we are working closely with them as they develop revised immigration rules for Gurkhas.”

Sunday, January 11, 2009

South Asia's water problems

Source : BBCNEWS.COM,
13 march,2000


The UN says that many of the 3bn people throughout the world who have no access to proper sanitation and clean water are from South Asia.

The report says that the water problems facing India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are worse only in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The UN says that while the quality of India's water supplies has improved in recent years, around 80% of the population of 800m still live in what it describes as unsanitary conditions.

Hygiene

According to the report, that is principally because most people do not have access to hygienic lavatories and are forced to defecate in the open.

The report says that this deplorable lack of sanitation is responsible for severe health problems, and leads to outbreaks of cholera, dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis.

In an interview with the BBC, the World Health Organisation spokesman Brian Appleton said that the problems of rural India were replicated in non-urban areas of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Community effort

He says that the problem is best tackled by encouraging individual householders and local community organisations to provide water sanitation projects instead of governments and aid agencies.

It cites the Indian state of Gujarat as an example where this has happened: a grant of $5,000 was given to the local authorities to draw up a plan that included hygiene education and separate lavatories for boys and girls in schools.



Local water projects are best, says UN

The UN report says that the introduction of low-cost toilets that use less water than flush models was one way of tackling problems of poor sanitation.

The UN says that other initiatives are also being carried out, including the introduction of dehydration salts which it says have halved the number of children who die from diarrhoea.

The World Health Organisation says that its also encouraging developing countries to provide more portable water supplies, and is urging governments to regulate the use of pesticides so that water is not contaminated by chemicals.

RAW: Destabilizing South Asia

Mamoona Ali Kazmi
Source : Pakistan Observer
The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of India was created with a mission to use and exploit political dissent, ethnic divisions, economic backwardness and criminal elements within targeted states to foment subversion, terrorism and sabotage. Further defining the role and working of RAW, Dr Shastra Dutta Pant writes, “RAW is the creator Brahma, the Supreme Being, who creates the nation. It gave birth to Bangladesh. RAW is Yamaraj, the God of death. It has already killed half a dozen countries including Goa, Daman and Diu, Hyderabad, Pondicherry, Jammu, Kashmir and Sikkim. RAW is Vishnu who takes care of politics, economy, religion, water policy and people’s policy of other countries”. RAW is found to have been involved in promoting terrorism and destructive activities in neighbouring countries. RAW is indulged in creating instability and chasms in the politics of other countries and sowing the seeds of dissensions and hostility in the realms of ethnicity, religion and gender. Thus, it contributes to disturbing communal harmony and ultimately disintegrating the country.

RAW was established at the end of 1950 to study international activities. Interestingly, RAW is not a regular organ of the state rather it is an unnatural organ hence it is not accountable before Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha of India. To the contrary, RAW enjoys the power to supervise all levels throughout India. RAW creates huge pressure in framing India’s external policies, especially relating to its neighbouring countries. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs does nothing more than implementing the policies worked out by RAW so in a way RAW makes the foreign policy of India. The absolute power enjoyed by RAW makes her more fearsome agency than its superior KGB, CIA, Mi-6, BND and the Mossad. RAW is given a list of countries considered to be India’s principal regional protagonist, which includes Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Maldives etc. Its high priority goal is the expansion of Indian Territory through systematically crafted covert operations in all these countries to coerce, destabilize and subvert them. It has annexed small and weak states through deception. Merger of Bangladesh with India is RAW’s ultimate goal. Another important goal of RAW is to turn India into a super power by enhancing its strategic, political and cultural influence in the Indian Ocean and by creating a long-lasting monolithic Indian sub-continent. In order to fulfill its objectives RAW uses different techniques such as destabilization, disintegration, secession Movements, creating Anarchy, weakening neighbour’s economy, preventing neighbours to have an independent foreign and defence policy.

Being the traditional enemy, India always tried to create chaos in Pakistan and RAW performs this duty very efficiently. Since its inception, RAW tried in one way or the other to destabilize Pakistan. After East Pakistan started demanding autonomy from 1969 onwards, RAW extended open and full cooperation to the movement leading to the dismemberment of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. In fact, this was more a war between India and Pakistan rather than the movement of autonomy.RAW from time to time inflicts harm to Pakistan, sometimes in the form of ethnic movements and sometimes in the form of sectarian clashes. RAW has an extensive network of agents and anti-government elements within Pakistan, including dissident elements from various sectarian and ethnic groups of Sindh and Punjab. According to published reports as many as 35,000 RAW agents have entered Pakistan from 1983-93, with 12,000 are working in Sindh, 10,000 in Punjab, 8000 in North West Frontier Province and 5000 in Balochistan. As many as 40 terrorist training camps at Rajasthan, East Punjab, Held Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and other parts of India are run by the RAW ‘s Special Service Bureau (SSB). Throughout the Afghan War, RAW with the assistance of KGB planned and executed terrorist activities in Pakistan to deter her from supporting the Afghan liberation movement against the Soviet Union.

The US attack over Afghanistan in 2001 provided a big opportunity to RAW to accomplish its goal of destabilizing Pakistan. Since 9/11, Indian influence has increased tremendously. RAW has established Consulates and Trade Missions along the Pak-Afghan border to destabilize Balochistan and North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Several agents of RAW captured in FATA, Waziristan, and other Southern Eastern areas provided that Indians had managed to penetrate deeply in collaboration with Indian allies in the region. Recently a spy had been killed by Taliban in Afghanistan. Reportedly that spy disclosed that an Indian intelligence official named C. R. Garg working as Attaché and PS to Indian ambassador had offered as much as US $ 2000-3000 per foreigner killed in Pakistan. According to sources, the US authorities strongly believe that RAW and some other Indian intelligence agencies have been the only source of terrorism in Pakistan. Janes information group, the world’s foremost source on intelligence information, reported in July 2001 that the Indian spy agency RAW and the Israeli spy agency Mossad have created four new agencies to infiltrate Pakistan to target important religious and military personalities, journalists, judges, lawyers and bureaucrats. In addition, bombs would be exploded in trains, railway stations, bridges, bus stations, cinemas, hotels and mosques of rival Islamic sects to incite sectarianism. Pakistani intelligence agencies also said that RAW had constituted a plan to lure Pakistani men between 20 and 30 years of age to visit India so they could be entrapped in cases of fake currency and subversion and then be coerced to spy for India.

It is also revealed that India has given forty billion rupees special fund to its intelligence agency (RAW) for creating instability in Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to achieve the target of becoming a decisive power in the region. Moreover, not only RAW but several other Indian agencies have also been given important assignments to carry out subversive activities in Pakistan. It is an open secret that India is unabatedly meddling in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries through RAW. Apart from Pakistan and Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka are also the victims of RAW’s wicked designs. India engineered internal strife and conflicts in Nepal through RAW to destabilize the successive legitimate governments and prop up puppet regimes which would be more amenable to Indian machinations. In Sri Lanka, RAW is the founder of Tamil Tigers and has been fomenting trouble since the 1980s, keeping the island steeped in civil war.

There is a need that international community should check the activities of RAW as it operates in a Mafia style, each time overstepping the limits of Intelligence operations. It has not only indulged in cross-border terrorism, but also played a very significant role in creating and funding terrorist and extremist religious parties within India and other countries of the region. The Hindu extremist parties which are involved in terrorist activities in India such as the Hindu Dharma Raksha Samiti (HDRS), Bajrang Dal (BD) Rashtria Sawayamsevak Sankh (RSS) Shiv Sena (SS) etc enjoy complete backing and support of RAW. For that matter, it allowed these parties to carry out violent activities in India and throw onus on neighbouring countries. Fact of the matter is that Indian RAW is responsible for the present fragile situation of the South Asia.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

India Faces Severe Water Crisis In 20 Years: World Bank

New Delhi (AFP) Oct 05, 2005, http://www.terradaily.com/
India will face a severe water crisis in 20 years if the government doesn't change its ways and clashes are already taking place because the resource is so scarce, the World Bank warned Wednesday.
"There's virtually no country in the world that lives with a system as bad as you have here," John Briscoe, author of the Bank's draft country report on India, told a media conference in New Delhi.
"There is a widespread complacency in the government about water."
The report says that India has no proper water management system in place, its groundwater is disappearing and river bodies are turning into makeshift sewers.
"Estimates reveal that by 2020, India's demand for water will exceed all sources of supply," the report says.
"There is no question that the incidence and severity of conflicts (over water) has increased sharply in recent times ... There is a high level of vitriol in the endemic clashes between states on inter-state water issues," it adds.
With the Indian government unable to provide its citizens a 24-hour supply of water even in the national capital, those who can afford to have found other ways to turn on the tap.
The result is an unregulated system with no incentive to conserve water.
"What has happened in the last 20 or 30 years is a shift to self-provision. Every farmer sinks a tubewell and every house in Delhi has a pump pumping groundwater," said Briscoe, an expert on water issues at the World Bank. "Once that water stops you get into a situation where towns will not be able to function."
According to the report, 70 percent of India's irrigation water and 80 percent of its domestic water supplies now come from groundwater, which is being rapidly depleted.
The Delhi-based Center for Science and Environment said that in parts of the capital city, the groundwater level is dropping by 10 meters (33 feet) each year.
"Especially in South Delhi there are a lot of borewells because piped water supply is not coming," said R.K. Srinivasan, deputy coordinator of natural resource management at the organization.
The independent group has begun a project to use city buildings to harvest rain water and return it underground.
The issue of water management is particularly pressing in a country where many states get as much as 90 percent of their rainfall in the four months of the summer monsoon season, leading to a drought-flood cycle.
The World Bank report also worries about the impact of climate change in India, particularly the melting of glaciers in the western part of the Himalayan mountain range.
It makes specific recommendations for India that include negotiating clear-cut water entitlements for states that spar over river water, increasing storage capacity and charging water users appropriately.

Water crisis grows worse as India gets richer

Source : International Herald Tribune
By Somini Sengupta, SEPTEMBER 29, 2006
NEW DELHI: The quest for water can drive a woman mad. Ask Ritu Prasher. Every day, Prasher, a homemaker in a middle-class neighborhood of the capital, rises at 6:30 a.m. and begins fretting about water.
It is a rare morning when water trickles through the pipes. More often, not a drop will come. So Prasher will have to call a private water tanker, wait for it to show up, call again, wait some more and worry about whether there are enough buckets filled in the bathroom in case no water arrives.
"Your whole day goes just planning how you'll get water," Prasher, 45, recounted one morning this summer, cellphone in hand and ready to press redial for the water tanker. "You become so edgy all the time."
In the richest city in India, with the nation's economy marching ahead at an enviable clip, middle-class people like Prasher are reduced to foraging for water. Their predicament testifies to the government's astonishing inability to deliver the most basic services to its citizens at a time when India asserts itself as a global power.
The crisis, decades in the making, has grown as fast as India in recent years. A soaring population, the warp-speed sprawl of its cities, and a vast and thirsty farm belt have all put new strains on a feeble, ill-kept water and sanitation network.
The combination has left water all too scarce in some places, contaminated in others and in cursed surfeit for millions who are flooded each year. Today the problems threaten to stand in the way of India's ability to fortify its sagging farms, sustain its economic growth and make its cities healthy and habitable. At stake are not only its economic ambitions, but also its very image as the world's largest democracy.
"If we become rich or poor as a nation, it's because of water," said Sunita Narain, director of the Center for Science and Environment, in Delhi.
Conflicts over water mirror the most vexing changes facing the country: the competing demands of urban and rural areas, the stubborn divide between rich and poor, and the balance between the needs of a thriving economy and a fragile environment.
Delhi's water woes are typical of many of India's cities. Nationwide, the urban water distribution network is in such disrepair that no city can provide water from the public tap for more than a few hours each day.
An even bigger problem than demand is disposal. In Delhi's case, the city can neither quench its thirst nor adequately get rid of the ever-bigger heaps of sewage that it produces. About 45 percent of the population is not hooked up to the public sewage system at all.
Those issues are amplified across the country. More than 700 million Indians, or about two-thirds of the population, do not have adequate sanitation. Largely for lack of clean water, 2.1 million children under the age of 5 die each year, the United Nations has reported.
The government says that 9 out of 10 Indians have access to public water supply, but that may include sources that are going dry or have been contaminated.
The World Bank, in rare agreement with Narain, who has been a staunch opponent, warned in a report published last October that India stood on the edge of "an era of severe water scarcity."
"Unless dramatic changes are made - and made soon - in the way in which government manages water," the World Bank report concluded, "India will have neither the cash to maintain and build new infrastructure, nor the water required for the economy and for people."
The window to address these issues is closing, the World Bank said. Climate change is only expected to exacerbate the problems, heightening India's vulnerability to extreme bouts of weather - heat, deluge or drought.
The fabled Yamuna River, on whose banks this city was born more than 2,000 years ago, is a case study in the acute water management crisis confronting this country.
In Hindu mythology, the Yamuna is considered to be a river that fell from heaven to earth. Today, it is a foul portrait of crippled infrastructure - and yet, still worshiped. From the bridges that soar across the river, the faithful toss coins and sweets, lovingly wrapped in plastic. They scatter the ashes of their dead. In Delhi, the Yamuna itself is clinically dead.
As it enters the capital, still relatively clean from its 395-kilometer, or 245- mile, descent from the Himalayas, the city's public water agency, the Delhi Jal Board, extracts 229 million gallons every day, its largest single source of drinking water.
As it leaves the city, the river becomes the principal drain for Delhi's waste, as residents pour about 950 million gallons of sewage into it each day. Coursing through the capital, the river becomes a noxious black thread. Clumps of raw sewage float on top. Methane gas gurgles on the surface.
It is hardly safe for fish, let alone bathing or drinking. A government audit found last year that the level of fecal coliform in the Yamuna, which is one measure of filth, was 100,000 times the safe limit for bathing.
In 1992, a retired Indian Navy officer who once sailed regattas on the Yamuna took his government to the Supreme Court. The state, Sureshwar Sinha charged, had killed the Yamuna and violated his constitutional right, as a practicing Hindu, to perform ritual baths in the river. Since then, the court has ordered the city's water authority to treat all sewage flowing into the river and improve water quality. Sixteen years later that command is still unmet.
Delhi's population, now put at 16 million people, has expanded by about 41 percent in 15 years, officials estimate. As the number of people living - and defecating - in the city soars, on average less than half of the sewage they pour into the river is treated.
A government audit last year indicted the Jal Board for having spent $200 million and yielding "very little value." The construction of new sewage treatment plants has done little to stanch the flow, in part because sewage lines are badly clogged or because power failures leave them inoperable for hours at a time.
"It has not improved at all because the quantity of sewage is constantly increasing," said R.C. Trivedi, a director of the Central Pollution Control Board, which monitors the river quality. "The gap is continually widening." Making matters worse, many Delhi neighborhoods, like Janata Colony - or People's Colony, in Hindi - are not connected to sewage pipes. Open sewers hem the narrow lanes of the slum. Every alley carries their stench.
Some canals are so clogged with trash and sludge that they are no more than green-black ribbons of murk. It is a mosquitoes' paradise. Malaria and dengue fever are regular visitors. Not long ago, a 2-year-old boy named Arman Mustakeem fell into one such canal and drowned. His parents said they found him floating in the open sewer in front of their home.
These canals empty out into a wide storm drain. That line in turn courses through the eastern edges of the city, raking in more sewage and cascades of trash, before it merges with effluent from two sewage treatment plants and, finally, enters the Yamuna.
Carrying the capital's waste on its back, the Yamuna meanders south to other cities like Mathura and Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. It is their principal source of drinking water, too. Delhi's downstream neighbors are forced to treat it heavily, hiking up the cost.
With Delhi slated to hold the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the government proposes to remake this riverfront with a sports and recreation complex. In the meantime, the Yamuna, vital and befouled as it is, bears the weight of Delhi's ambitions.
At dawn each morning, men sink into the still, black waters to retrieve whatever can be bartered or sold: rings from a dead man's finger, coins dropped by the faithful, the remnants of rubber sandals, plastic water bottles.
The dhobis, who launder clothes, line up along one stretch of riverbank, pounding saris and bedsheets on stone tablets. A man shovels sand from the river bottom: Every bullock cart he fills for a cement maker will fetch him a coveted $5.50. Men and boys bathe.
"This river is worshiped," said a bewildered Sunny Verma, 24. "Is this the right way of worshiping it?" So shaken was Verma on his first visit to the Yamuna this year that he now works full time to shake up others. He joined an environmental group called "We for Yamuna." "If you want to worship the river, you should give it more respect," he said. "You should treat it the right way. You should question the government. You should ask the state to actually do something for the river."
Prasher has the misfortune of living in a neighborhood on Delhi's poorly served southern fringe. As the city's water supply runs through an 8,960-kilometer network of battered public pipes, an estimated 25 to 40 percent leaks out. By the time it reaches Prasher, there is hardly enough. On average, she gets no more than 13 gallons a month from the tap and a water bill that fluctuates from $6 to $20, at its whimsy, she complains, since there is never a meter reading anyway.
That means she has to look for other sources, scrimp and scavenge to meet her family's water needs. She buys 265 gallons from private tankers, for about $20 a month. On top of that she pays $2.50 toward the worker who pipes water from a private tube-well she and other residents of her apartment block have installed in the courtyard.
Nearly a fourth of Delhi households, according to the government-commissioned Delhi Human Development Report, rely at least in some part on such wells. It is one of the principal reasons why groundwater in Delhi is drying up faster than virtually anywhere in the country: 78 percent of it is considered overexploited.
Still, the new posh apartment buildings sprouting across Delhi and its suburbs sell themselves by ensuring a 24- hour water supply - usually by drilling wells deep underground. "Imagine never being thirsty for water," boasts a newspaper ad for one new development.
Warning of "an unparalleled water crisis," the study released in August found that a quarter of Delhi households had no access to piped water, and that 27 percent got water for less than three hours a day. Nearly two million households, the report found, had no toilet.
The daily Delhi hustle for water only adds to the strains on the public system. A few years ago, for instance, to compensate for the low water pressure in the public pipeline, Prasher and her neighbors began tapping directly into the public water main with so-called booster pumps, each one sucking out as much water as possible.
It was a me-first approach to a limited and unreliable public resource, and it proliferated across this me-first city, each booster pump further draining the city water supply.
The situation for Delhi, and all of India, is only expected to grow worse. India now needs an estimated 634 billion cubic meters, or 23 trillion cubic feet, of water every year. But its water needs are growing by leaps. By 2050, official projections indicate, demand will more than double, and exceed the one-trillion cubic meters that India has at its disposal.
Yet the most telling paradox of the city's water crisis is that Delhi, overall, is not entirely lacking in water. The problem is distribution, hampered by a feeble infrastructure and a lack of resources, said Arun Mathur, the Jal Board's chief executive officer.
The Jal Board estimates that consumers pay no more than 40 percent of the actual cost of water. Raising the rates is unrealistic for now, as Mathur well knows. "It would be easier to ask people to pay up more if we can make water abundantly available," he said. A proposal to privatize water supply in some neighborhoods met with stiff opposition last year and was dropped.
So the city's pipe network remains a punctured mess. That means, like most everything else in this country, some people have more than enough and others have too little.
The slums built higgledy-piggledy behind Prasher's neighborhood have no public pipes at all. The Jal board sends tankers instead. The women here waste their days waiting for water, and its arrival sets off desperate wrestling in the streets.
Kamal Krishnan had to quit her job for the sake of securing her share. Five days a week, she would clean offices next door in Vasant Kunj. Five nights a week, she would come home to find no water at home. The buckets would stand empty. Finally, her husband ordered her to quit. And wait. "I want to work, but I can't," Krishnan said glumly. "I go mad waiting for water."
Elsewhere, in the central city, where the nation's top politicians have their official homes, the average daily water supply is three times what it is even in Prasher's neighborhood.
Prasher rations her water day to day as if Delhi were a desert. She uses the leftover water from the dog bowl to water the plants. She recycles soapy water from the laundry to mop the balcony.
And even when she gets it, the quality is another question altogether.
Her well water has long turned salty. The water from the private tanker is mucky brown. Still, Prasher said, she can hardly afford to reject it.
"Beggars can't be choosers," she said. "It's water."

India's water woes and climate change


Source : ndtv.green.com
Girish Chadha


India is running out of water. And it has a lot to do with climate change. The statement seems rather banal, but the fact remains that India's water future seems insecure, at least at the moment.

The country's ground water resources are dwindling, at a much faster pace than they are being recharged, naturally or otherwise. Some experts have already painted a grim scenario for our country in this regard. And it certainly is an irony for a country that takes pride in the fact that even in an environment of global economic gloom, it is expected to witness a strong GDP growth.

Somehow, India's economic might has not helped much on the water front. Our water management record is among the poorest. It does not show any signs of improvement, at least, for now. Our past efforts have either fallen woefully short or were carried out in a disconcerted manner.

Water remains the essence of life. It is quite evident now more than ever in the history of mankind. Already, world over, its availability, or the lack of it, is making states and people face grave hardships. Countries are fighting between themselves for shared water resources, whether it is in the Middle East or in Asia or Africa. Several countries are witnessing a fight between their communities too.

Doomsayers are warning that sometime in the future, wars may erupt over the fast dwindling resource. Some of them see many more Darfurs in the making.

And climate change is going to exacerbate the problems. The future seems fraught with current difficulties magnified several times over.

India is not an exception. Some of the Indian states have been fighting between themselves over water. And so have been communities. Whether we like it or not, we are also involved in various stand-offs with our neighbours over water: with Pakistan over the Baglihar dam and Chenab River; with Bangladesh over the Ganges; with Nepal over the Kosi and other rivers; and with China over the mighty Brahmaputra.

Against a backdrop of fast depleting groundwater reserves - in some villages, wells have now to be dug at over 200 meters to reach water - and little efforts on managing water demand, climate change is expected to worsen water scarcity in India.

The Himalayan glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. These glaciers are the lifeline for a sizeable population -- in India, Nepal and China -- that relies on glacier-dependent rivers. Two billion people in the basins of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Indus, Mekong, Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, which depend on the Himalayan glaciers for their water supply, face acute water shortages ahead.

The Ganges alone drains an area of over a million square km with a population of over 407 million; Brahmaputra, which drains 940,000 sq km with a population of over 118 million; and Indus, which drains over 1.2 million sq km with over 178 million people. Millions depend on water from the holy river for several things: drinking, bathing, agriculture, industry and other household chores. Life would come to a standstill if the Ganges goes dry.

Changes in climatic conditions are also playing havoc with the weather patterns over the country. Monsoon rain patterns are getting affected. This is bringing great hardship to the people across the country, dependent as we remain on rains for agriculture, power and even potable water.

Several Indian states this year saw a fall in agriculture production as rains were below normal. On the other hand, some states, like Orissa, saw draught and floods at the same time.

Faced with a drought-like situation following inadequate rainfall, Maharashtra had to announce some innovative measures to conserve water. The state government had to direct concerned authorities to use chemicals or polymers in minor and medium dams to prevent evaporation of water.

Things were never so bad, and they seem to be getting worse. Climatic changes are making some parts of India prone to droughts, while in some others floods are causing widespread misery.

India's northern region runs the risk of more floods in the coming years due to changing stream flow patterns in the Himalayan rivers. A warning to this effect came from researchers from University of Pune and College of Military Engineering (CME), Pune in the wake of the floods caused by the change of course of Kosi River in Bihar, which affected close to 3 million people.

Researchers have said that smaller glaciers in the Himalayas have receded at a relatively faster rate than the larger ones due to global warming. Going ahead, the smaller glaciers may even disappear. Experts are of the view that the glacier contribution is going to be impacted due to global warming and there will be variations in response to the monsoon rainfall.

Even the national Capital, New Delhi, is going to have a tough time ahead. Already in the grip of a constant water crisis, the city is expected to face more conflicts and pollution in the years to come, experts have warned.

India's water woes are plenty, and would very likely grow if concerted efforts were not done on an immediate basis. On its part, the government recognized the need to outline existing and future policies and programmes addressing climate mitigation and adaptation and unveiled the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) earlier this year.

The Plan recognized the fact that water scarcity was projected to worsen as a result of climate change and set a goal of a 20 per cent improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures. The plan also aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region.

Of course, it would require far more efforts to arrest problems related to climate change. But, thankfully, a modest beginning has been made. Now, it is for us all to do our bit. Our collective future depends on it.

India's water woes and climate change


Source : ndtv.green.com
Girish Chadha


India is running out of water. And it has a lot to do with climate change. The statement seems rather banal, but the fact remains that India's water future seems insecure, at least at the moment.

The country's ground water resources are dwindling, at a much faster pace than they are being recharged, naturally or otherwise. Some experts have already painted a grim scenario for our country in this regard. And it certainly is an irony for a country that takes pride in the fact that even in an environment of global economic gloom, it is expected to witness a strong GDP growth.

Somehow, India's economic might has not helped much on the water front. Our water management record is among the poorest. It does not show any signs of improvement, at least, for now. Our past efforts have either fallen woefully short or were carried out in a disconcerted manner.

Water remains the essence of life. It is quite evident now more than ever in the history of mankind. Already, world over, its availability, or the lack of it, is making states and people face grave hardships. Countries are fighting between themselves for shared water resources, whether it is in the Middle East or in Asia or Africa. Several countries are witnessing a fight between their communities too.

Doomsayers are warning that sometime in the future, wars may erupt over the fast dwindling resource. Some of them see many more Darfurs in the making.

And climate change is going to exacerbate the problems. The future seems fraught with current difficulties magnified several times over.

India is not an exception. Some of the Indian states have been fighting between themselves over water. And so have been communities. Whether we like it or not, we are also involved in various stand-offs with our neighbours over water: with Pakistan over the Baglihar dam and Chenab River; with Bangladesh over the Ganges; with Nepal over the Kosi and other rivers; and with China over the mighty Brahmaputra.

Against a backdrop of fast depleting groundwater reserves - in some villages, wells have now to be dug at over 200 meters to reach water - and little efforts on managing water demand, climate change is expected to worsen water scarcity in India.

The Himalayan glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. These glaciers are the lifeline for a sizeable population -- in India, Nepal and China -- that relies on glacier-dependent rivers. Two billion people in the basins of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Indus, Mekong, Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, which depend on the Himalayan glaciers for their water supply, face acute water shortages ahead.

The Ganges alone drains an area of over a million square km with a population of over 407 million; Brahmaputra, which drains 940,000 sq km with a population of over 118 million; and Indus, which drains over 1.2 million sq km with over 178 million people. Millions depend on water from the holy river for several things: drinking, bathing, agriculture, industry and other household chores. Life would come to a standstill if the Ganges goes dry.

Changes in climatic conditions are also playing havoc with the weather patterns over the country. Monsoon rain patterns are getting affected. This is bringing great hardship to the people across the country, dependent as we remain on rains for agriculture, power and even potable water.

Several Indian states this year saw a fall in agriculture production as rains were below normal. On the other hand, some states, like Orissa, saw draught and floods at the same time.

Faced with a drought-like situation following inadequate rainfall, Maharashtra had to announce some innovative measures to conserve water. The state government had to direct concerned authorities to use chemicals or polymers in minor and medium dams to prevent evaporation of water.

Things were never so bad, and they seem to be getting worse. Climatic changes are making some parts of India prone to droughts, while in some others floods are causing widespread misery.

India's northern region runs the risk of more floods in the coming years due to changing stream flow patterns in the Himalayan rivers. A warning to this effect came from researchers from University of Pune and College of Military Engineering (CME), Pune in the wake of the floods caused by the change of course of Kosi River in Bihar, which affected close to 3 million people.

Researchers have said that smaller glaciers in the Himalayas have receded at a relatively faster rate than the larger ones due to global warming. Going ahead, the smaller glaciers may even disappear. Experts are of the view that the glacier contribution is going to be impacted due to global warming and there will be variations in response to the monsoon rainfall.

Even the national Capital, New Delhi, is going to have a tough time ahead. Already in the grip of a constant water crisis, the city is expected to face more conflicts and pollution in the years to come, experts have warned.

India's water woes are plenty, and would very likely grow if concerted efforts were not done on an immediate basis. On its part, the government recognized the need to outline existing and future policies and programmes addressing climate mitigation and adaptation and unveiled the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) earlier this year.

The Plan recognized the fact that water scarcity was projected to worsen as a result of climate change and set a goal of a 20 per cent improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures. The plan also aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region.

Of course, it would require far more efforts to arrest problems related to climate change. But, thankfully, a modest beginning has been made. Now, it is for us all to do our bit. Our collective future depends on it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pak-China ties & regional situation

Source : Pakistan Observer

Khalid SaleemThere have been rather unnerving reports in the media about the cooling down of Pakistan-China ties. One hopes that these reports are not backed by facts, though some of the pointers mentioned therein (e.g. inordinate delay in naming an Ambassador and then nominating a junior officer, Prime Minister choosing Washington rather than Beijing for his first visit abroad) are disquieting, to say the least. Pakistan-China ties have been based on solid and unexceptional principles. The one abiding principle of Sino-Pakistan friendship has been that it is not directed against any third party. This mutually respected principle and the common aversion of the two countries to the odious concept of regional hegemony have combined to elevate this relationship to a sublimity that has helped ensure stability and equilibrium in the region for the past many decades. Peace and stability in the South Asia region is inextricably linked to the constructive role played by China. Asia – the biggest continent on Earth – is in a state of re-evolution. The ultimate result of this metamorphosis is bound to have a profound impact on the shape of things to come on our planet. Whether we like it or not, Asia is destined to emerge as the continent of the 21st century. The latent forces in Asia will shape the destiny not only of the continent itself but, in deed, of the world at large in the years to come.Events are moving with breathtaking rapidity in this vast Continent that encompasses not only the two most populous countries on the planet as well as its two most vibrant economies, but also the bulk of the world’s Muslim population. In addition the Continent of Asia is heir to some of the world’s most ancient civilizations. It also is the repository of some of the most coveted of the Earth’s natural resources. The newly emerged states of Central Asia have added an entirely new dimension to an already highly strategic geo-political environment in the region. The international scenario has undergone a sea change over the turn of the millennium. Paradigms, such as they are, have lost the glitter of old and, in most cases, will need to be formulated anew. The events in the wake of nine/eleven had the effect of bringing about a turning point in the annals of contemporary experience. They marked an upheaval that can be compared to the rude awakening of a slumbering giant, that then goes on a violent rampage against known or imagined enemies. United States President George W. Bush precipitately declared a ‘ war against terror’ in what was a facile attempt to mollify domestic public opinion. The retaliatory forays of the US-Britain combine and subsequently of NATO first against Afghanistan and, subsequently, against Iraq had the effect of changing the very rules of the game. The eventual enunciation of the doctrine of pre-emption made it abundantly clear that the sole superpower was no longer in a mood to bow to niceties. It envisaged, instead, a no-holds-barred contest against an ephemeral foe that has defied definition. Be that as it may, one cannot deny the co-lateral emergence of what, for want of better description, may be called a positive fallout of sorts in some regions, among them South Asia. South Asia has suffered for decades due to an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust as a result of the undisguised hegemonic ambitions of the biggest state in the region. Despite the emergence of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC for short), India made no conscious effort to lower its profile so as to avoid giving the smaller member states a feeling of having a ‘big brother’ in their midst. Both within SAARC and without, India missed no opportunity to throw its weight around to brow beat its smaller and weaker neighbours. Because of largely unfounded fears that the small member states might ‘gang up’ against it, India has made no secret of its intention deal with each neighbour individually on bilateral basis and on its own terms. The two landlocked member states – Nepal and Bhutan – were particularly singled out for some heavy-handed treatment. Pakistan, too, has been on the receiving end. Despite lip service to the concept of liberalization of trade, India made little attempt to eliminate the hidden non-tariff barriers in its bilateral trade. With all the talk about free trade, India has made little effort to ensure a level playing field in its economic and commercial dealings with its SAARC partners. Relations between India and Pakistan have given cause for particular serious concern. These two successor states of the British Indian Empire inherited several disputes that were, in effect, the legacy of a somewhat shoddy transfer of power. The partition plan devised by the colonial administration left several loose ends, some in such vital fields as division of water resources, delineation of some frontiers and the like. The dispute relating to the state of Jammu and Kashmir continues to fester. India has shown little inclination to settle any of these contentious issues except on its own terms. As India’s military might was augmented, it not only became more intransigent but also created newer issues in a show of undisguised ambition. Positive fallout, if it can be termed as such, of the war against terror was that the United States used its influence to goad India and Pakistan into starting a negotiating process aimed at the settlement of their long-standing contentious issues. The start of this dialogue raised hopes that the region would at long last establish a regime of peace, amity and good neighborliness, which had been lacking for five decades and more. The negative aspect of this exercise was India’s insistence on including a pointed reference to Pakistan’s ‘obligation’ to control what was termed “cross-border terrorism”. By hindsight, it has become evident that the Indian establishment always intended to use this as a handy pretext to scupper the ‘peace talks’ at a time of their choosing. India’s knee-jerk reaction of pointing an accusing finger at Pakistan every time a mishap occurs on its soil lends itself to only one interpretation: that India was never serious in the quest for peace and that it was using the negotiating process only to gain time.