Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Dictators never learn, are usually driven out of power and in the end run for their lives.

After the overthrow of Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan dictators, it now appears to be Bashr Al- Assad's turn. He has obviously not learned anything from the Arab Spring. People demonstrate against his dictatorial rule day after day and he answers them with tanks and bullets.

It has been 41 years since the Assad family made Syria their fiefdom. Hafez Al-Assad ruled with an iron fist from from 1970 to 2000 and Bashar al-Assad since then. They were not elected through a process of free and fair elections and yet have occupied power for decades.

There are some who feel that Israel stands to gain from an uprising in Syria, as Syria supports Hezbollah, a potent force that Israel has been unable to defeat militarily. Syria also stands in Israel's grand occupation designs. That may be so, but there is no justification for 41 years of dictatorship over Syrian people by the father and son team.

It is time for Assad to announce a ceasefire, introduce a democratic constitution, hold free and fair elections and step aside for a new and a democratically elected Government, so the people of Syria can have a say in their affairs.

Ballots not bullets is the answer.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Karachi, a city with population in excess of 10 million has become the killing fields of Pakistan.

This is no drug war, organized crime or the mafia gang war. This is orchestrated by three main political parties; MQM, PPP & ANP, who have unleashed terror on the citizens of Karachi. Cold blooded execution of opponents are carried out for turf warfare.

These parties are no longer political parties, but they are criminal organizations run by thugs, and murderers and it is time to rid Pakistan of them.

Not just the citizens of Karachi, citizens of the entire country should rise up to stop this bloodshed. If it is not stopped in Karachi, it is only a question of time that it will spread to the rest of the country.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Good Bye Mr. Qaddafi, it is time to bring peace to Libya

It seems all but over for Col. Gaddafi, even though some of his loyalists are still resisting. Most of the country including Tripoli is now under the control of 'rebel forces'. Col. Gaddafi should realize that the game is over and order his loyalists to stop shooting.

The transitional political establishment needs to take charge immediately and set up an interim Government for 3 to 4 months. Their first task should be to disarm all rebels, take back weapons and bring peace to the streets of Libya. Leaving arms in the hands of rebels as was the case with Afghan Mujahedin post Soviet withdrawal and discharged Nigerian soldiers post Biafra war, can be dangerous and lead to civil war. They transitional authorities should also ensure that there are no retributions against Qaddafi loyalists and Qaddafa tribe as politics of revenge can only make matters worse for Libya. It is time to take all those young men off the streets and let them get on with their daily lives.

The transitional Government should set up a legal/political task force to draw up a democratic Constitution for public approval in a referendum in three months, so that free and free fair elections can be held soon thereafter for installing a legitimate Government in Libya.

Gaddafi may have done some good work for his country in his 42 year rule, but he was a dictator after all. He excluded some tribes to promote his own. Why do dictators cling to power until death, don't they learn lessons from history? Gaddafi should have offered to step down once Tunisian and Egyptian leaders fell. But he hung on to power to his own peril.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

India Corruption Scandal - Can Manmohan Singh Government survive Anna Hazare?

The Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh is probably the most honest and competent Prime Minister India has had since Nehru. Yet it is a shame that some of the biggest corruption scandals have taken place in his Government.

The agitation launched by a Ghandi follower - Anna Hazare has caught the attention of Indian nation. People are fed up of corruption at every level of society, especially huge corruption scandals involving their elected representatives. The young and professionals have made Anna Hazare's cause their own and the movement has spread like wild fire.

Some of the biggest Indian business houses are embroiled in the alleged Government bribery scandals. The most infamous is the Telecom Spectrum auction scandal, which according to some estimates has cost the Indian tax payer at least $5 billion (some put the figure as high as $40 billion).

It all started on January 10, 2008 with then Indian Telecom Minister Mr. Andimuthu Raja (now in jail) calling bids for the auction of telecom spectrum to close the same day. It is alleged that representatives of shining stars of Indian industry (Amabanis, Tatas and others), having already fixed the price and Minsiter's bribe, were lounging in Minister's ante room with bank drafts in hand. The purpose of the short window for a multi-million dollar auction was to exclude foreign bidders and any new comers. It is reported that the Minister acquired six brand new Mercedes Benz cars soon thereafter. The exact figure of Minister's bribe is not known, but some estimates put it at $130 million.

It was a huge windfall for those in on the scheme. One of the companies that had paid $345 million for their segment of the spectrum, sold just 45% of their stake to a foreign company for $900 million, a profit of $744 million on an investment of $155 million (45% of $345 m). Similarly, other Captains of Indian industry sold minority interests in their spectrum allocation for hundreds of millions of dollars more than what they had paid. Obviously, buying the Indian Telecom Minister turned out to be an extremely profitable investment.

The Minister carried on until the scandal broke. The Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh failed to launch an immediate inquiry against the Minister or to remove him . No businessman has been charged to date either.

This is just one of the many scandals that Indian Government is embroiled in. The massive misappropriation of funds from Commonwealth Games is another and the list goes on.

Anna Hazare's Ghandian approach of peaceful protest and hunger strike has shaken Dr. Manmohan Singh's Government. In despair, they arrested Hazare, even though there is no law in India against hunger strike. Then they offered to released him, but he refused unless and until he was allowed to carry on hunger strike. In the end, Government had to capitulate. This fiasco has helped Hazare attract a great deal more attention.

What Anna Hazare is demanding is that Parliament create positions of Ombudsmen (Lokpal) at Federal and State levels with full authority to investigate corruption by all elected officials and bureaucrats. The law currently placed before the parliament exempts the Prime Minister from such an examination, nor does it include junior bureaucrats. This is not acceptable to Mr. Hazare, nor to the majority of Indian public, hence Mr. Hazare's hunger strike continues.

To save the situation, Dr. Manmohan Singh should immediately adopt Mr. Hazare's suggestions. He should denounce all corrupt politicians and kick them out of his cabinet, bring a strict accountability law before the Parliament and if politicians do not approve it, call general elections. With these actions, Indian public may still be prepared to fall behind him. Who knows, this may even give his Congress Party a majority. If he does not take immediate action, him and the Congress Party may face a bleak future.

I hope nothing happens to the 74 year old Mr. Hazare. If he were to die from hunger strike, all hell could break lose.

(Acknowledgement: some of the information contained in this post has been taken from today's Globe & Mail).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The less than credible findings of UN tribunal - issues Hariri indictments

It is most unfortunate that UN tribunal established to determine the truth about assassination of popular Lebanese leader Mr. Rafik Hariri, became mired in controversy. Rather than coming up with a credible and trustworthy finding, it has allowed itself to be influenced, making its findings somewhat suspect.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that four Hezbollah members indicted by the tribunal were the actual killers. But by losing its independence, the tribunal lost its credibility.

The US was interested in pushing Syria out of Lebanon, so the initial focus was on Syria. Once Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon, focus conveniently shifted to Hezbollah.

There are many theories in Lebanon. Some think Syrians done it, others think Hezbollah done it and some even believe that assassination was orchestrated by Mossad or rogue US contractors. The UN tribunal perhaps did not consider all the possibilities.

What was needed was a true and reliable finding of the tribunal, so that the real assassins could be punished. Unfortunately, in the haze of all this, the truth may have been lost forever. Also, Lebanon is currently governed by an Hezbollah led coalition, chances of arrest and punishment are minimal.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

London Burning

Sadly, horrific pictures of arson, looting and damage to property in the lovely city of London are filling tv screens around the world. Rioting is taking place mainly in east London, but it now seems to be spreading south. Watching tv news from a few thousand miles away, it seems as if the the whole city is burning.

The British Prime Minister calls it the work of hooligans and thugs. No doubt, a great deal of it is. However, the PM is overlooking the real issues that have ignited these riots. The Afro-Caribbean community in UK is hit hard by recession. Unemployment amongst its youth is high, school dropout ratio is also very high. These are very serious social problems which need to be addressed if the society is to follow a balanced path with opportunities for all. By sweeping such problems under the rug, the British Government is only allowing them to fester.

The police appears under attack, out numbered and ill prepared. The British police must also share some of the blame for this crisis as there is a strong racial bias amongst police officers towards the Afro-Caribbean community. The senior police officers must ensure that racism is routed out completely from their force. The recent publicity against the police about some of their members being bribed regularly by News of the World may also have reduced their effectiveness and perhaps emboldened some youth to take them on.

With 2012 Summer Olympics around the corner, Britain needs to put its house in order. A repetition or extension of riots could put Britain's hopes of hosting Olympics in serious jeopardy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tea Party's Shenanigans hit America's 401k hard

It was quite obvious to many in America and around the world (as elaborated by this blog earlier) that Tea Party's intransigence in Debt Dialogue would eventually hit the markets hard and that is exactly what has happened. Even the senior members of Republican Party, who knew better or should known better, also demonstrated a complete disdain for a reasonableness accommodation.

The unfortunate message from Washington DC is that America is ungovernable. This is a very un-comforting thought. It has caused a downgrade of US credit rating and a decline in stock markets.

Retirees and those near retirement, have built their nest eggs with hard earned savings over their lifespans. They had barely recovered from the 2008 crash that they once again face a major decline in values of their investments. This time, the market decline was entirely avoidable. Had Washington entered into a responsible debt deal a few months ago, the message to markets would have been positive. But Tea Party's one point agenda - defeat Barack Obama in 2012 no matter what the cost, became a stumbling block to arriving at a timely settlement.

The 600+ point drop in Dow Jones on August 8 is most unfortunate. As in the past, the markets will ride out this storm too, but for many retirees, their 401K is a worth a great deal less today, than it was a few months ago.

Hopefully, the American electorate will remember all this in 2012 elections and send all those Congressmen and Senators packing, who put their warped ideology ahead of their nation's interests.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Convoluted Deal and America's Reputation in Tatters.

The American politicians may have reached a debt deal late last night and a default is now likely to be averted, but the political circus of last few weeks has left America's reputation in tatters.

The debt ceiling will now go up to $16.7 trillion over eighteen months. However, the deal barely patches economic wounds and methodology adopted is so convoluted and that it leaves many wondering about the caliber U.S. politicians. Also, many are wondering that if a deal could be done last minute, why could it not have been done three months ago, saving America this embarrassment?

What U.S. needed was an increase in debt ceiling and constitution of a bipartisan Commission to work out and implement a plan to revive U.S. economy, create more jobs, cut wasteful expenditure, enable innovators and entrepreneurs to start new businesses using new technologies so that the economy expands and revenues grow. Instead, there is no focus on jobs, economy or the well being of U.S., the only task of the Commission set up under this deal is to cut cut cut. This does not bode well for future of U.S. economy.

It is a pity that a country gave the world the concept of free market economy, innovation and opportunities for all; is going through dire straights. Even an ardent communist, Maoist country like China has very successfully adopted U.S. style free market, creating enormous prosperity for its citizens.

The U.S. public has watched all this in horror and hopefully some lessons have been learned and the voters will send those politicians packing in 2012 who perpetuated this crisis.