BY: MURAT YETKİNAs of May 15, Pakistan was not on the list of countries that would participate in the NATO Summit on May 20-21 in Chicago: As of May 16, it is. Coincidentally the invitation was made just hours after Pakistan has reopened the NATO supply routes into Afghanistan through its Afghan border. Islamabad had been restricting the routes since November 2011, after U.S. drone attacks killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and has been demanding an official apology before relations could return to normal. U.S. officials had expressed their regrets and said that it was a mistake, but that was not enough for the Pakistani government, which has been under serious pressure from the opposition. Finally, Pakistan stopped insisting on more from the U.S., and voila, they got the invitation, as Afghanistan’s most influential neighbor. U.S. military activity in Pakistan related to the NATO operation in Afghanistan, not necessarily under the authorization or even with the knowledge of Pakistani authorities, has been a problem between the two countries for some time. Osama bin Laden, the former leader of al-Qaeda, was killed in a U.S. commando operation in Pakistan, in a house only 60 kilometers away from Islamabad, on May 1, 2011. Pakistan’s mountainous border with Afghanistan is highly porous when it comes to the movements of the militants of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other radical Islamist groups. Pakistan’s notorious intelligence service, the ISI, which is under the control of the country’s political power-focused army, has been accused widely of ignoring, if not supporting, such groups. Pakistan is a nuclear power with missile technology and it is a matter for concern among NATO circles that one day radical Islamist groups might somehow acquire such capabilities. The possibility of non-state actors coming into possession of nuclear warheads or missiles or both is among the concerns behind NATO’s missile shield project, which is to be leveled-up at the Chicago Summit. Turkey, hosting the early warning radar portion of the shield, has been involved in the diplomacy behind including Pakistan in the picture, in order to help the country be a part of the centripetal forces, instead of the centrifugal ones. Turkey’s statement of its intention to remain in Afghanistan, if the Afghans want it to, even after NATO starts to leave the country, could also be seen as part of this effort. It is important to have a working political and economic system in Pakistan for the good of the Asian sub-continent, and actually for the good of an even greater area, including the Middle East. Speaking of the Middle East, the Israeli defense minister’s visit to Washington, D.C. to see his American counterpart there at such a time can be isolated neither from the approaching NATO Summit nor from the Baghdad talks planned for May 23 (right after Chicago) to discuss the nuclear program of Iran, another important neighbor of Afghanistan. Russia is holding its appetite for a possible bilateral summit with the U.S. until after the presidential elections in November of this year. The picture is getting complicated, and it is hard to simply call it realpolitik revisited, or just another act in the great play that has been on the stage since the nineteenth century.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
by Dr. SaifOn April 26, 2012, on one hand the Supreme League Court had given a verdict against an elected Premier, while on the other people supported the candidate of PPP in South Punjab in by-elections in Multan PP-194. On May 12, 2012, in Kamoo Shaheed, Pakistan Peoples Party(PPP) held the largest public procession in the country by any political party in last four years. It was a real tsunami for real revolution. Independent observers believe the PPP rally in Ghotki was attended by two million people people. Previously, on October, 18, 2007, it was also Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which had gathered about 3.5 millions Pakistanis of all ethnicities and faiths to wellcome Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, to support democracy in Pakistan and to oust a military dictator from the country. It was largest ever public gathering in the history of Pakistan. The number of people was record high and we saw that in general elections in 2008, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) emerged as victorious. Yet, again, people have expressed their solidarity with PPP in Kamoo Shaheed on may 12, 2012. I appreciate Mr. Abdul Nishapuri’s analysis of the PPP rally at Kamoo Shaheed (border of Sindh and south Punjab also called Siraikistan): “Millions of Pakistanis (estimated to be two millions) belonging to Sindh, Sarikistan, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and other areas of Pakistan gathered in this area to express their support for democracy, in particular for the Pakistan Peoples Party and its leaders President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.” But question arises why two millions people came out in the favour of PM and current PPP government? I am not going to exaggerate but fact is that current PPP government has resolved so many issues of our country. During the general elections campaign PPP chairperson Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was murdered in cold blood by the very forces which did not want to see democracy take root in the country. And then a new government was formed. However, now it is being targeted by an increasingly hostile media, judiciary and army (the Teen Jeem trio). The frequent suo motu notices taken by the Supreme Court were putting the government in a very vulnerable situation where it constantly has to fight for its survival. Who restored the judiciary? Who settled the long- standing disagreements over the National Finance Commission? Who guaranteed provincial autonomy through the 18th Amendment? Who passed the 19th Amendment and 20th amendment? While some people say that these do not affect the common man in any tangible way, the effects of passing such legislation is going to be positive for the country — though they may take effect in the long run. PPP government has facilitated people and thousands of jobs have been created during its current tenure and people are very very happy with this current government. People of Pakistan believe that this is the peoples government, this is the reason why they have displayed show of power and people have announced their verdict on 12th may. Prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani did not write letter to Swiss authrities to re-open graft cases against President of Pakistan, because President enjoys national and international immunity under the law under the constitution of Pakistan. So, he got convicted to uphlod constitution. Moreover, it is not written in the detailed verdict of the Supreme Court (SC) that the Prime Minister (PM) Yousaf Raza Gilani is to step down or be removed from office or disqualified. Only the political orphans demand his resignation. In fact, they are devoid of wisdom and they lack the wit to interpret SC detailed verdict, or get the message from the two millions people’s rally and both Houses’ resolution in the favour of PM. Political orphans should develop moral courage to face the realities instead of pushing whole nation in trouble by highlighting their self-manufactured issues.
While the government of Pakistan has invested billions of rupees in constructing Gwadar Port for the development of Balochistan province over a long period of time, it has failed to evoke the widely-anticipated response from the "users of the facility". As such, it was only natural that questions about the feasibility of this important project would be asked at some stage. According to reliable reports, in a recent meeting to review the progress on the project, the Planning Commission assured the Balochistan government of its full support for making the Gwadar port fully functional and completing the necessary road network to link it with other parts of the country, but asked the provincial government to review the port's feasibility, keeping in view its economic viability. The Deputy Chairman Planning Commission is reported to have remarked that "most development projects in the country have been launched without properly preparing a feasibility report" and it was imperative to ensure that Gwadar port was a viable project instead of making ambitious claims and proposals. He also asked officials of the Gwadar Port Authority to explain why the Singapore Port Authority, which had been awarded contract for port operations by the Musharraf government, for 40 years, was not working at the project. The security situation and other matters related to the project were also discussed in that meeting. Chief Minister of Balochistan is reported to have complained about the non-implementation of the Balochistan package and the failure of the Federal government to issue the notification for appointing the Balochistan Chief Minister as the Chairman of the Gwadar Port Authority. Although, the above episode about the feasibility of Gwadar Port may appear to be rather insignificant or uncalled for, especially at a time when the project is almost complete, it is very pregnant for a number of reasons. To put it rather mildly, the remarks of the Deputy Chairman have simply strengthened the prevailing perception that political considerations rather than economic imperatives greatly determine the choice of certain important and highly expensive projects in the country and the Planning Commission is an almost irrelevant entity in such cases. Such a situation is of course against the long-term economic interest of the country, because the country's scarce resources are largely frittered away and not used in an optimal fashion. The harmful effects of such poor economic management could be visualised from the fact that the Gwadar Port was not an isolated case, but a number of other projects have also been thrust upon the nation on non-economic grounds. Add to this other entirely politically motivated projects like Sasti Roti, green cabs and houses and rampant corruption in the system to estimate the extent of wastage of resources and their sub-optimal utilization in aggregate terms. Some of the projects were so badly planned and carelessly executed to please certain circles that the country is now known as a graveyard of projects. It is really mind-boggling that while this was happening, the Planning Commission looked the other way or was a silent spectator all along and did not bother to raise questions about the justification of its existence. There is absolutely no doubt that the situation has to change drastically, if economic development and welfare of ordinary people are the real goals. For this, feasibility of all the competing projects have to be prepared and compared purely on professional grounds and only those projects have to be selected for completion which promise the highest yields for the country's economy and are within our means. Gwadar Port may not pass such a test but we are happy that somebody in the Planning Commission has finally spoken his mind, probably with a view to optimising the potential of a country's resources, reversing the old order and placing the economy on a sound footing. Ill-conceived projects, and therefore injudicious spending, are always an abstraction.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines has announced that oil extraction from the northern Amu Darya Basin will begin during the next five months, Press TV reports. Ministry officials noted that an estimated daily amount of 5,000 barrels of crude will be extracted from the basin in the initial phase of the plan. The figure will increase to 45,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the later phases of development. Amu Darya Basin is situated in Faryab and Sar-e Pol provinces in northern Afghanistan and, based on Afghan government’s estimate, contains about 87 million barrels of crude oil. The Afghan government has signed a contract with China National Petroleum Corporation for oil extraction from Amu Darya Basin and the company has taken preliminary measures in this regard. The Afghan government has also signed a deal with a Dubai-based Canadian company to start oil exploration in other areas in the northern part of the country. Despite reports on the abundance of natural resources in Afghanistan, many experts still believe that it is too early to talk about the exact value of those reserves.
Pakistan's president says he will go to Chicago for a NATO summit on Afghanistan, which is an indication that Pakistan may be willing to reopen the coalition's supply routes into Afghanistan.Pakistan blocked the routes in November in protest over a US air raid that killed 24 Pakistani troops.The closures, a consequence of a major dispute between Pakistan and the US, have also affected Afghan citizens' lives for the worse. Jennifer Glass reports from Kabul, where the blockade has prevented some schools from receiving much needed supplies.
The Express Tribune
EDITORIAL:THE FRONTIER POSTFirst Australians, then Japan last year, followed by the United States in January this year and now Germany has shown keenness in investing to the exploration of huge Thar coal reserves, one of the largest in the world, for the production of electricity and gas. China is also said to be not far behind. Nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarkmand, chairperson of the governing body of the project, is working on a project to produce 2,300MW from coal-fired power plants and this is said to be in an advanced stage of execution in four to five years. However, he has, of late, been in the firing range of the lobbies which probably don"t want the exploitation of this enormous gift of nature. One of them is the furnace oil lobby which even influenced a member of the Planning Commission of Pakistan to assert that the project is not feasible and that it was begun without a feasibility report. Another example is that Australian authorities had also been planning to shut down the 30MW power generation project because it was also not said to be feasible. One of the major factors for delay is the release of funds by the federal government which made available only $10 million during the last three years although it was committed to release $115 million during the period. What more evidence can be found in the project being feasible than burning of coal about 250 feet underground at Islamkot area of Thar in December last year in addition to successfully finding of gas in this coalfield. Dr Mubarikmand has said that Pakistan has gigantic potential of power generation over decades. Meanwhile, tender for power plant has been floated to generate 100MW electricity and the project is expected to be executed soon after the funds are made available. Estimates about the project in hand say that these limited coal resources will hopefully generate 10,000MW electricity for 30 years and produce 100 million barrel diesel each year. The project is to cost Rs9 billion with a foreign exchange component of Rs6 billion that was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council last year. Latest reports suggest that four more coal wells were set on fire last week and, as a result, gas production from these will hopefully begin by the end of May. A flame will be lit from gas as emission begins from these wells towards the end of this month. Dr. Samar has said that through underground gasification technology, electricity can be generated at Rs3 to 4 per unit while diesel can be produced at $40 per barrel. The average rate of power production through furnace oil comes to Rs20 per megawatt. How critically vital Thar coal is for the country, needs no emphasis. But the government will have to demonstrate it really feels its importance and take matching measures to complete the project. This emphasis is unfortunately missing so far.