Thursday, April 19, 2012
Agni-V launch: China shows signs of admiration and nervousness The Chinese foreign ministry suggested Thursday that India's Agni-V launch should not be viewed as an arms race in the way of better relationship between the Himalayan neighbours. "We are not rivals but cooperative partners. We should cherish the hard-earned momentum of cooperation," Liu Weimin, spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry said. The ministry's remarks came as close to expressing admiration for the test-firing of Agni-V as could be expected of a country which comes within the range of the nuclear capable missile. "China and India are both emerging powers," Liu said. He referred to the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese president Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the recent BRICS meeting in New Delhi saying the "leadership of the two countries agreed to further strengthen cooperation". The foreign ministry's public views were in sharp contrast to a belligerent commentary published by the Global Times, one of the papers on the stable of the People's Daily, which is owned by the Communist Party of China. The Global Times commentary advised India not to be arrogant about its missile capabilities. The commentary betrayed signs of nervousness among hawkish sections of the Communist Party of China over India's missile success. But the more moderate People's Daily and a web newspaper published by the State Council under premier Wen Jiabao did not voice an opinion about the Agni V event. "Even if it (India) has missiles that could reach most parts of China, that does not mean it will gain anything from being arrogant during disputes with China," Global Times said. "India should be clear that China's nuclear power is stronger and more reliable. For the foreseeable future, India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China". It also warned India against relying too heavily on its relationship with the United States and the alleged western effort to curb China's growth. The paper carried a graph showing how India's missile capabilities cover several world cities like Moscow, Tehran, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Beijing. "India should also not overstate the value of its Western allies and the profits it could gain from participating in a containment of China. If it equates long range strategic missiles with deterrence of China, and stirs up further hostility, it could be sorely mistaken," the commentary said. Speaking at the foreign ministry, Liu said the need of the need of the hour was to "push forward the bilateral strategic and cooperative partnership". Liu also did not accept a suggestion that the missile launch might affect regional stability. "We hope Asian countries can contribute to regional stability and peace," he said.
http://www.examiner.comU.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta seemed optimistic on Wednesday about plans to transition security to indigenous forces in Afghanistan beginning next year. “Our strategy is right, our strategy is working,” Panetta said after a meeting of NATO defense officials in Brussels. Afghan troop levels, which currently stand at around 337,000, are scheduled to peak at 352,000 in October before gradually falling to 230,000 after 2014. The U.S. estimates it will cost between $4 billion to $6 billion a year to field such an army. "We cannot and we will not abandon Afghanistan," Panetta added, after indicating the U.S. would provide $4 billion a year to fund Afghan security forces through 2014. However, Panetta also said another $1.3 billion would be needed from NATO allies. The primary focus of the gathering in Brussels was to prepare for next month's NATO summit in Chicago in which the international community will discuss Afghanistan’s security concerns after NATO combat operations end in 2014. Panetta’s rosy assessment comes on the heels of a wave of coordinated attacks the Taliban launched on Sunday against seven sites in four cities, including rocket attacks in Kabul on the Afghan parliament building and several Western embassies. Differing perspectives emerged regarding the insurgent offensive, with U.S. military leaders putting a positive spin on the situation, praising Afghan security personnel for reacting quickly and minimizing casualties. Critics, on the other hand, believe the attacks illustrate that the security situation in Afghanistan is as bad as it's been since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. They also claim insurgents have infiltrated Afghan intelligence and have proven they are still capable of striking at the heart of the Afghan capital, which is supposedly one of the safest places in the country. Max Boot contends in a Wall Street Journal piece that the U.S. must stay the course and provide more than the $4 billion per year pledged by the Obama administration - which he considers a mistake that can and must be avoided: If we avoid such unforced errors and stick with the plans developed by Gens. Stanley McChrystal, David Petraeus and John Allen, we have a good chance to maintain a pro-Western regime in power. The Taliban are too weak to defeat us or our Afghan allies. But we can defeat ourselves. Conn Hallinan disagrees and outlines a much different strategy in Counterpunch, which includes the following: * A ceasefire and stand down of all offensive operations, including the highly unpopular “night raids.” * Shelving any long-term plans to keep combat troops or Special Forces in the country, and shutting down the drone war in Pakistan. * Urging the formation of a national unity government and calling for a constitutional convention. * Sponsoring a regional conference aimed at keeping Afghanistan neutral and non-aligned. * Insuring aid continues to flow into Afghanistan, particularly aimed at upgrading infrastructure, improving agriculture, and expanding education.
KHAAMA PRESSOfficials in the ministry of mines of Afghanistan announced Afghanistan has reached to an agreement over transit fees for Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline with the three nations. According to a press release issued by the ministry of mines of Afghanistan, the decision was taken by high level delegation of the four countries following a meeting in Islamabad. The statement further added, Afghanistan will receive $400 million annually as transit fees taking into consideration the price of gas in global markets. Afghan mines ministry officials also added an agreement is due to be signed between the four nations during the month of May to finalize the documents of TAPI gas pipeline project. However reports suggest India and Afghanistan have failed to agree on transit fee for gas passing through Afghan territory under the $7.6-billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project, officials said today. Consequently, Islamabad and New Delhi too could not agree on the transit fee for the segment of the pipeline passing through Pakistan, which has linked its fee structure to any India-Afghanistan agreement. The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAP or TAPI) is a proposed natural gas pipeline being developed by the Asian Development Bank. The pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India. The 1,735 kilometres (1,078 mi) pipeline will run from the Turkmenistan gas fields to Afghanistan. Most of sources reports that the pipeline will start from the Dauletabad gas field while some other sources say that it will start from the Iolotan gas field. In Afghanistan, the TAPI will be constructed alongside the highway running from Herat to Kandahar, and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. The final destination of the pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, near the border between Pakistan and India.
http://pakobserver.netPakistan has its best days ahead and nothing can stop us from succeeding”, said Information and Power Minister, Shazia Marri. This she said while speaking at event organized by the Saylani Welfare Trust here on Wednesday. Shazia Marri said that the democratic government was tackling all issues in an environment of participation and President Zardari had succeeded in creating such an environment. Marri said that Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif were responsible for the damages caused due to the Afghan war, the drug and klashnikov culture and the destruction of our liberal socio-political fabric since they were the staunch supporters of General Zia Ul Haq. “We are tired of such two-faced individuals who first destroy us and then pretend to come for our rescue, Sharifs can fool no one.”, Marri stated emphatically. Appreciating the philanthropic activities of Saylani Welfare Trust, Shazia Marri expressed special gratitude for their tireless service during the catastrophic rains of last year. Marri said that Yousuf Lakhani and his team were the real heroes who battled with all difficulties in order to provide immediate relief to the flood affectees.
The Express TribuneAdditional District and Sessions Judge Safdar Ali Bhatti on Wednesday directed the city’s police chief to provide protection to Ayesha Ahad Malik, who claims to be married to and under threat from MNA Hamza Shahbaz Sharif. The judge disposed of her petition seeking protection with the above mentioned directions to the capital city police officer and with directions to the inspector general of police, the deputy inspector general for operations, the Cantt superintendent of police and the Souther Cantt station house officer not to harass Malik. The petitioner said that Hamza Sharif had been threatening her and had arranged for a false case to be registered against her after she had told Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif about their nikah. She said he had sent thugs to her home and people followed her when she was out. She said she had even received information that Hamza Sharif had hired an assassin to kill her. She said she feared that she and her family were in danger. Malik had filed two other petitions as well: one seeking a case against Hamza Sharif and others for allegedly raiding her home and threatening her; and the other seeking directions to the police to submit a challan against her servant for allegedly stealing from her. In the plea against Hamza Sharif, she said that he had sent a police team to her house on April 6 that included Inspector Rizwan and Shakil Tariq. They had barged into her house, beaten up her servants and threatened to falsely implicate her in crimes if she did not shut up about her relationship with Sharif. In the third petition, she said that her servant Sarwar stole prize bonds and cash worth Rs380,000, gold ornaments, mobile phones, a Rolex watch and other items from her house and police officials were not trying to arrest him or challan him. She asked the court to direct the police to submit the challan and initiate proceedings against him. At a previous hearing, Inspector Muhammad Aslam had told the court that he had interrogated the accused as well as her guard and driver while Malik herself was not cooperating with the investigation. He said that her allegations appeared to be baseless. The judge will resume hearing both remaining pleas today (April 19).
COAS, Gen Pervez Ashfaq Kayani has said that Pakistan and India should resolve the otherwise quite complicated issue of Siachen, bilaterally. Talking to media in Skardu, he stressed that both countries should co-exist peacefully and harmoniously, and also expressed Pakistan's dire resolve to seek an amicable solution for all political issues and controversies. Replying to a question, he refrained from commenting on question of Nawaz Sharif; " as the world knows the reason of presence of Pakistani forces at Siachin top". He reminded that Pakistan was forced to respond to illegal and unwanted Indian intrusion of the region, and said that Pakistani forces were there to defend its homeland territory. He cautioned that Pakistan's desire and quest for peace and harmony in the region should not be construed as its weakness, and declared that the ongoing rescue operation at Gyari would continue until total rescue of glacier trapped soldiers, while also praying for their safety. He said that all kind of options and efforts would be made in the rescue operations, no matter how long and what cost it took.