A historic, long-term deal for the delivery of Russian gas to China that has been 10 years in the making is 98 percent ready, Russia’s Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky has said. All that’s needed are the two countries’ signatures, he added.
By: Tara Beteille, co-authors: Kalpana Kochhar
In our blog post last November, we discussed Pakistan’s decision to grant India most favored nation (MFN) status. We were hopeful about the gains from easier trade between the two, but noted the many stumbling blocks in between. In the past 20 weeks, both countries have made serious efforts to address these blocks. Things are looking good. Here is an update.
Both countries mean business
In addition to the goodwill gesture of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visiting India this April and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh considering visiting Pakistan, important issues addressed include:
- Pakistan issued an order in March 2012 to move from a positive list of 2,000 items for India to a negative list of 1,209 banned items. Pakistan intends to phase out the negative list altogether and formally give India MFN status by the end of 2012.
- India, which formally granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996 (but maintained barriers) has agreed to reduce its sensitive list of 865 items by 30% within four months. India has also agreed in principle to allow Pakistani foreign direct investment in the country.
- Both countries recently agreed to allow yearlong multiple-entry visas for business visitors, with visitors allowed to enter and exit through different cities.
- The two countries have agreed to allow each other’s central banks – the Reserve Bank of India and the State Bank of Pakistan – to open bank branches across borders to facilitate financial transactions and ensure smooth trade.
- A second checkpost gate was inaugurated this March at the Attari-Wagah border to ease road traffic between the two countries. The checkpost, with elaborate security features and capable of accommodating 600 trucks at a time, will provide upgraded infrastructure, including new storage go-downs, wide roads, and a luxurious passenger terminal.
Opportunities and gains
Making borders irrelevant can have far-reaching effects for economic prosperity across sectors in Pakistan and India. Consider a key driver of growth: electricity. South Asia’s recent More and Better Jobs flagship report estimated that industrial load shedding in Pakistan has resulted in the loss of 400,000 jobs. Trade between energy surplus and deficit regions could counter such losses — indeed, Pakistan is already in negotiations with India to import up to 500 MW of electricity.
– National Integration – Masood Sharif Khan Khattak
Communication infrastructure, domestic tourism, undiluted provincial autonomy and bonding through the workplace play a vital role in the integration of a nation. Pakistan’s national integration has suffered immensely because these factors have never been crucially important to our leadership. Pakistan’s communication infrastructure is primitive, domestic tourism is non-existent, provincial autonomy only receives lip-service and bonding through the workplace is totally missing except in the armed forces. Uniform development across the country over the past sixty years would have solidly integrated the Pakistani nation but that did not happen due to absolute incompetence, poor leadership and corruption at all levels. The price Pakistan is paying for its neglect is in the shape of an internally disjointed nation forced to suffer the present-day indignities in the shape of terrorism and insurgency.
The political and military establishment must now understand that the military potential of any country is multiplied manifolds when it is backed by a nation that is well-integrated. An integrated nation can cover up for military shortfalls but military strength cannot cover up for the shortfalls of a nation that lacks integration and cohesion. The Soviet Union’s break-up in 1991 is an example that amply illustrates this aspect. Pakistan must, therefore, accord top priority to uniform development throughout the country in order to have a nation that can back its enviable military potential in a solid manner; if not, then all will be lost.
Nawaz Sharif deserves the credit for initiating the modern communication infrastructure of Pakistan that is so essential for the integration of a nation that lives in a country as big as Pakistan. The launching of the Lahore-Islamabad motorway by Nawaz Sharif in the early 90s was a huge step in the right direction. If the process had been initiated decades ago Pakistan today would have been a very cohesively integrated nation. …
Read more : PKcoluminist.com
Who can check them? — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
…. The ‘establishment’ with its ‘solution by force policy’ has created irresolvable resentment among a majority of Baloch. ‘Balochistan: Waiting for justice’ editorial in Daily Times on February 28 has put the matter in proper perspective, “Pakistan’s security establishment has dealt with Balochistan in a very heavy-handed manner. The largest province of Pakistan has seen little development over the last six decades. Lack of education, infrastructure and political power has alienated the Baloch from the rest of the country, particularly Punjab, which they see as their ‘enemy’. The recent policy of eliminating moderate nationalists, who are in open national politics, is a dangerous trend. Thousands of Baloch have disappeared under mysterious circumstances or have been picked up by unknown elements. They are not only tortured but many of them are killed brutally and their bodies are later found from different parts of Balochistan. This policy adopted by our security establishment is leading to an increase in separatist sentiment among the Baloch.
“It is no secret that neither the federal government nor the provincial government has any real say when it comes to Balochistan. The real power lies with our security establishment, which has a narrow and non-political repressive policy. It is time that they understand that force, repression and killing cannot resolve this issue. A political solution is needed and for that the democratic government needs to run the show. The Baloch have been waiting for justice for decades now. It is time to address their grievances.”
Significantly even Balochistan’s Advocate General (AG) Salahuddin Mengal stated in Supreme Court that, “We are recovering dead bodies day in and day out as the Frontier Corps (FC) and police are lifting people in broad daylight at will, but we are helpless. Who can check the FC?” Who would know better than him about perpetrators of brutal killings of which my old student Faiz Mohammad Marri is the latest victim. Only the iron-will and determination of the people can check the oppressors because history moves relentlessly however brutal the repression. …
Read more : Daily Times
By Aziz Narejo
Sindhis and Baloch have been complaining about injustices to them since the inception of Pakistan. Be it the distribution of resources, apportionment in budget, provincial autonomy, water rights, share in economic development, expenditure in social sectors, education, health and infrastructure development, their involvement in the decision making process or their share in the military, the most powerful institution in the country, they are ignored everywhere. Their cries are never heard or even noticed at the highest levels.
It is even more unfortunate that the so-called human rights advocates, champions of the civil society, the ‘democratic forces’ and others proclaiming to be on the side of fairness in society also always ignore the voices from Sindh and Balochistan. After losing all the hope for any positive change, Baloch have finally decided to part ways with Pakistan. If it continues, Sindhis may have to make a decision too. …
Rea more : Indus Herald
SITUATION OF FLOODS IN SINDH AND WORK FOR THE RELIEF AND REHABILITATION OF SINDHI PEOPLE
London – The unprecedented floods in Sindh continue even after a month. Scandalously still new major towns and hundreds of villages continue being inundated resulting in displacement of hundreds of thousands more Sindhis, bringing further destruction of communities, livelihood, crops, homes and infrastructure.
WSC believes, that the current floods in Sindh and resulting unprecedented destruction is a concerted effort to direct the destructive powers of a natural phenomenon to eliminate and uproot a nation and subject them to a long-term process of slow genocide. These assertions are based on the following facts, inferences and analysis:
1. Sindh has been drowned resulting from literally hundreds of breaches to river waters in Kashmore, Jacobabad, Sukkur, Shikarpur, Larkana, Dadu and Thatta. There are serious questions, suspicions and concerns within Sindhi people, and now even the government circles, about the first major breach, Thori bund. This breach so far has resulted in displacement of about five million people, drowning of 4000 towns and villages, loss of trillions of worth property and crops and immeasurable pain, suffering and indeterminate consequences. The British authorities who built the Sukkur barrage recommended cutting river Indus from Ali Wahan if the water levels cross the threshold of barrage’s capacity. As the waters will then divert to the desert areas of Naro, Thar and eventually ending in sea taking historical routes of Hakro and Mehrano riverbeds. Off course, this also would have resulted in displacement but the population is sparse, sand has far greater ability to absorb water and people in such circumstances occupy high locations on sandy dunes. It is now emerging that the river Indus was cut at Thori to mainly to save Panoo Aaqil cantonment, Qadirpur gas installations and Fauji Fertiliser.
Continue reading WSC asks all the Sindhi political and civil society organisations, technocrats, and intellectuals to rise above political differences, and to work together in order to help and lead people out of this flood disaster
Hundreds of people have died in northwestern Pakistan after floods triggered by monsoon rains swept through the region.
More than a million people have been affected and thousands forced to flee their homes as bloated rivers washed away villages and triggered devastating landslides.
Rescue operations are underway to save the stranded, but submerged roads and destroyed infrastructure are proving to be major obstacles.
Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman reports from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital.
The infrastructure of jihad – By Cyril Almeida
From the moment the world saw footage of the SUV belching smoke in Times Square, you just knew that it was going to be a Pakistani.
Courtesy: daily Dawn
And Faisal Shahzad didn’t disappoint. Never mind that the plot seems to be have been ridiculously amateurish, that the ‘bomb’ seems to have been assembled by a third-grade chemistry student, that Shahzad was more bungling idiot than mass murderer.
But now the world has yet more proof. Pakistan. Muslim. Terrorist.
by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia
Those Pakistanis and their friends who stand for real democracy and non-partisan & independent judiciary would be pleased to know that yesterday US Congress passed a bill that puts pressure on General Musharraf and his cronies for real democracy.
The following are the key points from the recently passed bill that is expected to be signed by President W. Bush.
* Congress withheld $50 million until Secretary of State can certify that democratic rights and independent judiciary has been restored in Pakistan. The areas include are freedom of assembly and expression, releasing political detainees, ending harassment and detention of journalists, human rights defenders and government critics, and restoring an independent judiciary.
* Approved US Administration’ s earlier decision to deliver $200 million annual cash payment through USAID (and hopefully directly to Civil Society organizations) instead of direct payment to the Pakistan government. These funds will be directed to specific projects for the direct benefit of Pakistani people.
* Withheld a part of $250million military aid to counter-terrorism and law enforcement activities. According to newspaper accounts suggest that the language of the bill is such that it will make it difficult that money to acquire F-16 jets and naval equipment.
The Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC, which has very little representation of Sindhis and Baluchis, expressed unhappiness over these changes. According to a newspaper, one ironic comment from an embassy official said that “the government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan were not happy with such conditionality. ” As if Pakistani people are very happy with the status quo and the destruction of independent judiciary. The details can be read in all leading newspapers including Washington Post at:
21 December, 2007