Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Out with the Old

In with the New

In the same month as U.S. elected a President for another four year term, the 18th Congress of the Communist Party is electing a new President and a Prime Minister for a ten year term. To be formally announced on Thursday, November 15, the new Chinese President or The General Secretary of the Communist Party will most certainly be Xi Jinping 59 (above), supported by a new Prime Minsiter, Mr. Li Keqiang 57 (below).

Li Keqiang

These two gentlemen have been groomed for several years and will be supported by possibly another five or seven Politburo Standing Committee members.

The real reformer of modern China is the late Deng Xiaoping, who moved China from hard core communism of Mao to a successful market economy. He was succeeded by Jiang Zemin (86) who himself was succeeded by the now retiring leader Hu Jintao. Hu is leaving a strong legacy behind for moving China's economy into second place, but it seems Jiang still holds sway over Communist Party, as he seems to have a great say in picking Hu's successor.

The two new leaders are largely unknown, though not entirely. Both have been actively involved in the Politburo for the last several years. Xi Jinping is a Chemical Engineer by profession, his daughter studies at Harvard. Li Keqiang has a degree in Law and a PhD in Economics.

The new leadership is expected to focus on economic reforms, consolidate substantial gains made under Hu Jintao's leadership and improve standards of living of common people. The Chinese public is becoming restless and outspoken. Demonstrators have managed to stop construction of chemical plants in their neighborhoods, something unheard of a few years ago. Also, corruption is rampant, it needs to be dealt with sternly. Hu Jintao's 'state-of-the-union' speech to 18th Congress laid great emphasis on it.

The new leadership will need to deal with these challenges in a humane manner and lift the Chinese economy to a much level if they wish to leave behind a legacy of Number One economy in the world. Currently Chinese GDP accounts for 11% of the world, compared to US' 23%. OECD estimates that by 2030, Chinese GDP will account for 28% and US 18%.

Deng Xiaoping and his successors have accomplished an economic miracle in China. A major reason for this success, China avoided American style misadventures in Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan. The new leadership needs to stay that course. China will need to pacify its neighbors, especially Japan and South Korea and avoid conflicts over some uninhabited islands. Similarly Japan & South Korea need not be influenced by other powers, if they want peace and prosperity in their region.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

President Obama wins despite big money and big buisness stacked against him

(Photo courtesy The Daily Beast)

Karl Rove, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, Jack Welch, Pundits & Evangelical preachers - eat your hearts out.

President Obama won the re-election decisively. At the time of writing he has 309 delegates against Romney's 206. Florida's final tally has not been completed, if the President wins that too (which looks possible), his final tally will be 332.

Big money was riding on the election, by some estimates as much as $2.3 billion was spent on the Presidential race alone. Despite the fact that most that money and pundits were stacked against Obama, he still won and won big.

Karl Rove is a probably one of the shrewdest political operators in America. He successfully ran both campaigns for George W. Bush. His Superpac 'American Crossroads' is reported to have raised hundreds of millions of dollars, mainly for the purpose of defeating Obama and snatching back the Senate. He didn't defeat Obama and instead of gaining, Republicans ended up losing two seats in the Senate and a handful in the House. I guess Mr. Rove forgot that having been one of the closest advisers to President George W. Bush, he shared the blame for a disastrous Presidency, which botched the war in Iraq, unnecessarily prolonged Afghan war and at the same time gave tax cuts to the wealthy, leading to an economic disaster like none other since the depression.

The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell must be nursing his wounds as he had openly declared to make Obama a one term President. In this ridiculous quest, he blocked virtually everything in the Senate that President Obama proposed. The cost to American public of these shenanigans has been heavy.

Donald Trump played the role of a joker, virtually challenging the President to a 'document duel'.  The person most ridiculed in all this is the former CEO of General Electric and one time respected executive, Jack Welch. He cut such a sorry figure berating Obama at every opportunity. Then there were the Corporate Executives who threatened their employees that they will lose their jobs if Obama won. Some Evangelical preachers too forbade their flock to vote for Obama.

However, all those efforts came to nothing. The American public is smart enough to figure things out and is not impressed by pundits, big money, big mouths or even preachers. They have shown political maturity in electing a President who was handed a destroyed economy and has since managed to pull it back from the brink despite severe obstructions by Republicans. Hopefully, the Republicans have learned a lesson and will cooperate with the President to tackle big economic challenges.

This is democracy in action.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


A portrait shot of Barack Obama, looking straight ahead. He has short black hair, and is wearing a dark navy blazer with a blue striped tie over a light blue collared shirt. In the background are two flags hanging from separate flagpoles: the American flag, and the flag of the Executive Office of the President.

President Obama set to win 280 Electoral College votes to Romney's 256.

This is based on current trends of President Obama winning the sure Democratic States plus Ohio, New Hampshire and Colorado.

Florida is too close to call and is currently counted in Romney's column, However if President wins Florida, he will have additional 29 votes and Romney 29 less.

Monday, November 5, 2012

US Election down to the wire, but President Obama looks like winning.

(Photo courtesy The Daily Beast)

The U..S. Presidential election appears tight on the last day, and Governor Romney deserves credit for elevating the fight to this level from a distant second within a matter of weeks.

However, numbers don't seem to add up for Romney bar a miracle. President Obama is marginally ahead in opinion polls, however popular vote does not matter, the number of delegates do. To win, a candidate needs to secure 270 delegates. According to an average of polls (reported by Real Clear Politics), the President can so far count 201 on his side and Romney 191. It all comes down to 146 delegates from swing States.

President Obama will need another 69 delegates and he seems to be ahead in following States:

                             State               Number of delegates

                           Iowa                           6
                           Michigan                   16
                           Nevada                      6
                           Pennsylvania             20
                          Wisconsin                  10

This adds up to 259, so it is imperative for the President to win Ohio State with its 18 delegates, which will put him over the top. Though lately, Obama may have swung back in Florida and could win that State and its 29 delegates and New Hampshire with its 4.

Intrade odds are currently running 67% in favor of President Obama and 37% for Romney. I guess that says something. It looks more and more difficult for Romney to win.


There is a possibility albeit extremely remote, that both candidates end up with 268 delegates i.e. a tie. In that case the U.S. Constitution gives the power to the newly elected House of Representatives (Republican dominated) to elect a President and they will naturally elect Romney. The Senate (Democratic dominated) will elect the Vice President, presumably Joe Biden unless he does not want the job and Hillary Clinton (with an eye on 2016 election)  is anointed Vice President instead. The country could end up with a President from one party and Vice President from the other.

President Obama has to win by clear and significant margin, otherwise danger lurks for him. Some States do not bind delegates to vote as per their declared intent, so they can switch sides. If Obama wins by a small margin of (say) two or three delegates, some creative Republicans and their financial backers could 'persuade'  enough delegates to switch sides, causing a tie, thus throwing the election to the House of Representatives. 

One hopes, the results will be clear and precise and none of these shenanigans will come into play and there will not be a repeat of the 2000 election drama.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Did Hurricane Sandy Sweep Away Romney's Chances?

The picture says a thousand words. (Photo courtesy The Daily Beast)

President Obama discontinued his election campaign to become fully engaged in dealing with Hurricane Sandy, before during and after the storm. He looked very Presidential in his demeanor and conduct, earning high praise from the Republican Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. Obama sent a message of confidence to the public that he is the leader to rely on during a crisis.

Former President George W. Bush's conduct during Hurricane Katrina was totally the opposite. He looked ill informed and incompetent. He became the laughing stock of late night comedians for  praising Brown, then head of FEMA (you are doing a great job Brownie), whereas Brown had done a disastrous job.

In all this, candidate Romney had to take a back seat and some of his earlier utterances came back to haunt him, when he said he would wind up FEMA, which has done a remarkable job this time around. Romney and Ryan have restarted their campaign today, but that may seem inappropriate to many as a large portion of population in New Jersey and New York is still suffering from the massive damage caused by the hurricane.

Hurricane Sandy may have swept away the outside chance Romney may have had of winning the Presidential election. However, it has created a new Republican leader in Chris Christie, who did a great job in this crisis making him possibly the ideal Republican candidate for 2016.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why is Israeli Prime Minister trying to influence American Presidential Elections?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed up in U.S. a few weeks ago apparently to attend the U.N. General Assembly meeting, but his agenda seemed  more to influence U.S. presidential elections in Mitt Romney's favor.

He expected to be invited to the White House or have a meeting with President Obama for higher media visibility, but the President did not fall in hia trap and quite rightly refused to entertain his request.

It seems the man pulling Netnyahu's strings is Sheldon Adelson, the American casino billionaire who initially supported the extremist candidate Newt Gingrich, but after his defeat in the primaries switched support to Romney. Adelson once said, he is ready to spend $100 million to defeat President Obama.

It is interesting that Netenyahu himself won the elections in Israel with Adelson's backing. Adelson launched a free newspaper 'Yisrael Hyom' in Israel, which loses around $30 million a year just to support Neteyahu for Prime Ministership. It is doubtful that Netenyahu would have won the elections without this support.

The bigger question however is, why is a foreign Head of Government allowed to interefe in U.S. elections? What does this say about American sovereignty, have they surrendered it completely to a foreign country, whose leader is blatantly behaving like a colonial master. Why are the Republicans so shameless that to win, they are prepared to surrender dignity, honor and sovereignty? What if the Saudi King decides to interfere in the U.S. elections, will the Republicans keep their collective mouths shut or will they scream blue murder? 

This interference from Netenyahu may even have backfired for him in Israel. In an article written by Mathew Kalman published in today's Toronto Globe & Mail, it says "Critics (in Israel) say Mr. Netenyahu has effectively become part of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign at Mr. Adelson's behest, creating a rift with Mr. Obama and damaging Israel's ability to work with the United Sates to stop Iran's nuclear ambition".

The same article also says that the former Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz, in a rebuke to the Prime Minister from the Knesset podium in August, asked Mr. Netanyah “How low are you prepared to drag relations with our closest ally?” “It seems that the Prime Minister is trying to intervene in a rude, blunt, unprecedented, wanton and dangerous manner in the United States election.”

Will the American public stand up to this blatant interference by a foreign leader or will they take it lying down because the foreign leader is the Prime Minister of Israel?

It is time for refelction by the average American.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Not surprisingly, the fifty plus nations Chicago Summit failed to accomplish any results. The summits at Lisbon, Bonn, Chicago etc. are purely meant to get US allies to commit funding and troops. Financial commitments may have been made, but like in the past, very few nations will actually deliver.

Eleven years of war with no clear outcome, is weighing heavily on the minds of citizens and treasuries of nations involved. The NATO led effort has turned from a justified war to a misadventure. Francois Hollande of France and Stephen Harper of Canada were very clear in conveying their nations desire to extricate themselves. Hollande will recall all French troops by end of this year and Harper will not keep any Canadian troops beyond 2014.

President Obama escalated this war with minor gains. In the process he is beginning to look like Lyndon Johnson, who was defeated by Vietnam war. He has made the same mistake Johnson did, place his trust in the Generals. President Obama has sided with Leon Panetta and his Generals who are war hawks and believe in winning militarily over Hillary Clinton, who most likely is able to deliver diplomatically. Sooner or later President Obama will come to realize that the Generals did not deliver in Vietnam, nor will they in Afghanistan.

It is time to change gears from military to diplomacy. President Obama should tell Panetta and his Generals to stand down and take a back seat and assign Hillary Clinton the task of accomplishing peace in Afghanistan. Nixon assigned the task of ending Vietnam war to Henry Kissinger, Obama needs to do the same with Hillary Clinton.

There are only five parties that need to come together for the war to end and to chart the future of Afghanistan. These are:

                      1. The Karzai Government
                      2. The Northern Alliance (representing non-Pashtun minority)
                      3. Taliban & Pashtun representatives
                      4. U.S.
                      5. Pakistan

A summit involving these groups will ultimately accomplish peace in Afghanistan. The first three can then  draft a new Constitution and hold free and fair elections for a representative Government. Hillary Clinton should be charged with meeting each group to prepare grounds for a 'Summit of the Five' (not fifty) later this year. She can ascertain the genuine needs and fears of each, then begin the task of bringing them together for a continuous dialogue.

The main problem for the last ten years has been that US has backed the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance, who despite being a minority, have had virtual control of all organs of the State. In the current composition of Afghan Armed Forces nearly 65% come from minorities and as many as 77% Generals are from Northern Alliance. Until these anomalies are rectified, the Pashtun will not enter a serious dialogue. All parties in Afghanistan need to get a fare representation. The minority must not rule the majority and the majority must seriously commit to a fair representation to the minority.

Contrary to US Congress' ill advised position, Pakistan has vital interests in seeing a fair settlement in Afghanistan as it does not wish to see the country fall apart after the troop pullout in 2014. It had to endure over six million Afghan refugees, of which two million still reside in Pakistan. If US is ready to play a fair hand, Pakistan can influence the Taliban and the Pashtun to come to the table for a serious dialogue. The continuous war since the Soviet invasion has caused enormous economic losses to Pakistan - some estimates put it at $70 billion. The pipeline from Turkmenistan that was to be built in the 80s and 90 bringing gas to an energy deficient Pakistan has still not been built due to turmoil in Afghanistan.

US citizens are tired of this war and its treasury is empty, Afghans are fed up of the war and so are the Pakistanis. It is time to let diplomacy work. For that to happen, President Obama needs to demonstrate leadership, which has been lacking so far.  If he continues to follow the advice of the Generals and does not go for a diplomatic solution, he will make a bigger mess in Afghanistan and end up exiting in the same manner as US did in Vietnam - with tale between his legs.

Monday, May 7, 2012

France turns left with President Farcois Hollande

For the first time in seventeen years, a socialist candidate has won French Presidential elections. Francois Hollande's final round victory on Sunday, May 6 over Sarkozy has major implications for the Eurozone and Germany. The last socialist candidate to win was M. Francois Mitterrand in 1981, who remained President until 1995. The trend does not bode well for conservatives in the forthcoming French Parliamentary elections either, as socialists lead in the polls.

Sarkozy was the recipient of French anger for his arrogance and economic mismanagement. During the last few days he became so desperate to win that he swung hard right, making the most ridiculous statements against immigrants and the deprived that it drove away middle of the road voters. He is the first French President not to win re-election since 1981. It seems a Conservative wave that swept through Europe during the last 10-15 years may now be at an end.

The economy was the main reason for Sarkozy's defeat. He followed US Republican Party style economic management - no new taxes on the rich, but major cuts in social services. Francois Hollande promises a major policy shift and follows Barrack Obama style of economic management, reflating the economy with more cash infusion than cuts. He also plans to introduce a new tax on individuals making over One Million Euros a year.

Greece has also held elections during the weekend and Greek voters rejected right wing parties who had introduced major cuts to pension and social services. Even in the provincial elections in Northern Germany, socialist party has defeated the Conservatives.

It remains to be seen how Angela Merkel will handle this major change in Europe. She may no longer wield the influence that she did in the Merkel-Sarkozy coalition. Farocis Hollande is not likely to see eye to eye with her on major economic and social issues. The Greeks are already saying, they will reverse some of the earlier cuts. If Germany and Brussels put their foot down and insist on Greece following through on earlier commitments, Greece may well exit the Eurozone leading to a major upheaval and ultimate collapse of Euro as a currency.

Germany has been the biggest beneficiary of adopting Euro as their currency. The weak European economies of PIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) have kept the Euro pinned down against the US Dollar, making German products cheaper for exports. Had Germany stayed with the Deutschmark, that currency would probably have gone through the roof, making German exports expensive and non-competitive. So Germany needs to step up to the plate and contribute many times more (than it has done so far) to the European Bank, so credit is available to Eurozone countries in economic difficulties.

A short term victim of all this change may be the Canada European Free Trade Accord. There is no reason to suggest that it will not happen, but for now, it may be relegated to the back burner while France, Germany and other European countries deal with their new realities.

It is an irony that before becoming President, Mr. Sarkozy called the ghetto developers of Paris scum. During his five year Presidency, he did absolutely nothing to uplift the poor or assimilate them in the mainstream society. As fate would have it, it is Mr. Sarkozy who is now relegated to the political heap.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pakistani Prime Minister found guilty in contempt case by the Supreme Court

In a unanimous 7-0 verdict, the Supreme Court of Pakistan found the Prime Minister, Mr. Yousaf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt under Article 63.1 (g) of the Constitution. Anyone found guilty under this clause, is barred from holding a public office for a period of five years.

Anywhere else in the world, the Prime Minister would have resigned immediately on moral ground, but this is Pakistan, where politicians morals rank pretty low. The ruling Pakistan People's Party is in defiant mood and will try to stretch it out as much as possible, but there is a constitutional limit to that too.

Two years ago, Supreme Court threw out the despised 'National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)', an outrageous law shamelessly crafted by then U.S. Secretary of State, Condi Rice and Musharraf the military dictator. It was to facilitate Benazir Bhutto's return to politics and to wipe out all corruption cases against her and her husband, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, the current Pakistani President.

The Supreme Court instructed the Government (headed by the Prime Minister) to re-open  cases withdrawn earlier under NRO, regarding muti-million dollar kick backs received by and lodged in Mr. Zardari's Swiss bank accounts. The Prime Minister refused and this led to the guilty verdict today. The court gave a rather lenient punishment as it could have sent the PM to prison for up to six months, but not wanting to create a precedent of handcuffing a sitting PM, the punishment was only until rising of the court, which was less than a minute, however, the guilty verdict stands.

There is a difference of opinion amongst constitutional lawyers whether PM is disqualified immediately as  Member of National Assembly, thus ineligible to hold the office of PM or a due process has to follow. Chances are, a due process will follow. Once detailed judgment is available from the Supreme Court, Speaker of National Assembly has   to refer it to the Chief Election Commissioner within 30 days. The CEC is the final authority that can unseat a Member of National Assembly. So, Mr. Gilani may have a few more weeks.

There is also the appeal process to a larger bench of the Supreme Court, which the Prime Minister will most certainly go for, however, his chances of being exonerated are rather minimal. This being a matter of national and Constitutional importance, the Chief Justice may even consider forming a full bench, comprising all 19 justices, so as to give finality to the verdict. The larger bench could stay the current verdict or the 30 day clock could run side by side with the appeal process.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Nicholas Sarkozy is the only sitting French President to have lost first round ballot. According to latest results of Sunday's elections, Socialist candidate M. Francoise Hollande received 28.6% votes compared to Sarkozy's 27.3%. The extreme right wing candidate Marie Le Penn received 18% votes and the left wing party 11.1%. In the next round due on May 6, 2012, only the top two candidates take part. So, Sarkozy will now go head to head against Hollande. The question that everyone is asking, is Sarkozy toast? French public opinion polls show that the socialist candidate Hollande will defeat Sarkozy 55% to 45%, which means it may be all over for Mr. Sarkaozy. However, all may not be lost for Sarkozy yet. If all those who voted for Marie Le Penn vote for Sarkozy in the second round, he will have a head start at 45.6%. Holland will pick up the left wing vote bringing his total to 39.7%' which means he has higher hill to climb. But there is also the very high unlike ability factor for Sarkozy and that may play in the second round tilting voters towards Hollande. Sarkozy is in fact fighting for his political life. It is hard to predict at this stage, but there is a fair chance that France may have a new President come May 6.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Former Taliban leader flees for safety - Al Jazeera English

Abdul Salam Zaeef is the man who offered his services to the U.S. from Day one to bring Taliban to the negotiating table and accomplish peace in Afghanistan. U.S. first locked him up at Guantanamo and now raid his home, what kind of stupidity is this?

Why is the U.S. committing folly upon folly, first in Iraq and now in Afghanistan? Have they learned no lessons in ten years that arrogance and bull headedness does not wins hearts and minds of an 'occupied' nation. Is it any wonder that U.S. is staring defeat in the face just like the Soviets, the British and so many others suffered before them.

President Obama needs to take the decision making out of the hands of Military commanders in Afghanistan and let someone like Hillay Clinton take charge of bringing an end to this war, just as President Nixon manadated Henry Kissinger to end the war in Vietnam.

He needs to get rid of the hawks like Leon Panetta, Petraus etc., who think they can win militarily, but have achieved virtually nothing in ten years. Afghanistan is not Iraq, Taliban are resilient and in a position to continue inflicting damage to U.S. morale and its forces. It is the Taliban who made the first move in wanting dialogue with the U.S. But Qatar talks have stalled because U.S. reneged on its promise to release Taliban detainees from Guantanamo to the Afghan Government.

The window of opportunity may close soon in Afganistan and if President Obama does not take advantage of it, this may turn out to the biggest folly of his Presidency.

Former Taliban leader flees for safety - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rush Limbaugh owes an apology to Women in General for his outrageous comments

For calling Sandra Fluke, a Georgetwon Law student a slut and a prostitute, a belated half hearted apology will not do. This overpaid obnoxious radio host has crossed all limits and he needs to be humble and sincere in his apology and mean it too. So far, eight advertisers have pulled out from his radio show and if this continues, many more may follow suit.

Sandra Fluke on The View this morning coutesy Crooks & Liars blog:

Sunday, March 4, 2012


The Afghan war was won within first three months, but now, ten years later, U.S. is all but defeated. Unable to "kill or capture the Taliban" a mantra often parroted by Bush & Obama, U.S. wants an exit, but doesn't quite know how to.

Three month from start of war, Al-Qaeda was on the run, having taken refuge in world's most inhospitable mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan and Taliban too had thrown down arms and returned to their agricultural fields.

So, what turned the victory into defeat? Here is the answer. At the time of invasion, U.S. needed support of Afghans disenfranchised by the cruel and crude Taliban rule and these were the minority ethnic groups, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. Their military group the 'Northern Alliance' happily supported and participated in the invasion. But, they only represented the minority, not the majority, which were the Pashtuns. U.S. should have immediately launched a reconciliation process and brought Pashtuns into the Governance process along with minority groups. Instead, it imposed minority rule over majority, with the eventual backlash.

For all his faults, Newt Gingrich gets it, when he asks the question, where is the network of paved highways in Afghanistan, where is the development and and why is not every Afghan carrying a cell phone after all these years?

Once Taliban were defeated, there was no excuse to continue the war, bankrupting United States itself. Rather than spending $1 trillion on defeat, a fraction of that amount could have transformed Afghan society from 15th to 21st century. What was needed was a massive infrastructure development program that would have created employment and won the hearts and minds of all Afghans.

Today, Afghanistan is nothing but a picture of death and destruction, a fine legacy to leave behind after spending $1 trillion. U.S. taxpayers have every right to question their Generals and their Government about the wasteful spending of their tax dollars.

Additionally, U.S. Government's flawed attempts to leave behind a strong Central Government and Afghan Armed Forces comprising mainly of minority ethnic groups, is doomed to failure.Afghanistan has never had a strong Federal system. Its 30+ plus provinces have always had self rule. The provinces accepted King Zahir Shah as a figurehead while they governed themselves and that is the only system that will succeed in Afghanistan.

If U.S. is serious about ending the war and wants to see Afghanistan modernize and prosper, the best way is to pull all its troops out COMPLETELY, and allocate development funds on a provincial basis. A $30 billion development aid over five years, administered by the World Bank can accomplish a great deal more than another $100 billion on war over next two years.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Afghanistan War can be ended in 2012.

U.S. Defence Secretary's recent announcement of winding down the war in 2013 instead of 2014 should be welcomed. But, why wait for 2013 when the war can be ended in 2012?

The dialogue recently initiated in Qatar between U.S. and Taliban is very encouraging, a major step towards achieving an end to the war. These are early days and many a hurdle will have to be crossed before peace is achieved. Both sides must show good faith, an immediate ceasefire would be an ideal confidence building measure. Following which, U.S. must not resort to Vietnam style criminal bombing ordered by Henry Kissinger and Taliban must also observe the ceasefire in letter and spirit.

We have argued in this blog for years that U.S. cannot win this war and a dialogue needs to be started with Taliban. It has taken U.S. years to turn their head around and that too after loss of much life and treasure. But the fact that they have started this process, must be applauded - better late than never.

It was a folly on the part of the U.S. to believe, they could win this war or go it alone. They have finally come to realize that Pakistan has a very important stake in Afghanistan and also has a crucial role to play in bringing peace. The Pashtun population on Pakistan's western flank inter-mingles with the Pashtun population of Afghanistan. In fact, the Pashtuns do not distinguish between the two countries. They are a majority in Afghanistan and the Taliban (100% Pashtun), have so far resisted and rejected Karzai Government, controlled by the minority Uzbeks and Tajiks, of Northern Alliance.

The parties that need to be involved in the dialogue are: U.S., Pakistan, Karzai Government, Northern Alliance and Taliban. Each player has an important role to play to end the war and maintain peace in the post war period. While Pashtun are majority, they cannot bulldoze their way to be totally in control. The Uzbeks and Tajiks must have adequate representation in Afghan Government. After a settlement is agreed President Karzai's role should be limited to holding free and fair elections (in which he and his drug lord brother do not take part) and hand over power to a newly elected Government.

Taliban have to provide assurances that they will not revert to their old ways and force their view of religion. They will have to agree to speed up women and children's education and not stop it. Northern Alliance too, will have to commit not to conspire with foreign powers and agree to play an active role in Afghanistan's development.

The Afghans are tired of 33 years of perpetual war. A whole generation has come up knowing nothing except war and it is time, children were in school rather than on battlefield. Afghans are ready for peace and so is hopefully the U.S.

Finally, peace will not be accomplished if any foreign troops stay back, whether under the guise of training or anything else. ALL FOEIGN TRROPS MUST LEAVE ON AN AGREED UPON DATE. Afghans do not need military training from foreign soldiers who have not been able to defeat them in ten years, despite far better weaponry. Afghans are born soldiers, let them train their own army.

Instead of spending another $100 billion on war in 2013 and 2014, U.S. should offer economic aid of $34 billion, $1 billion for each of the 34 Afghan provinces, to be spent over five years i.e. $6.8 billion per year, a considerable cost reduction for U.S. These funds should be administered by the World Bank and should be allocated for building roads, bridges, markets, schools and transport infrastructure. $200 million per province per year will create enormous employment opportunities for the impoverished populace and it will get them busy with economic development of their country. Rather than foreign consultants and builders draining out these funds, the construction work should be undertaken by local contractors only.

So why wait till 2013 or 2014, when this war can be ended in 2012?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

There is No Honour in Killing

The long prison sentences awarded to Shafia family of Afghan origin should serve as an example to all those who have a warped view of killing for the sake of honour. There is no such thing as honour killing, it is murder.

The Kingston, Ontario jury found Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya and their son Hamed Shafia, all guilty of first degree murder of three girls and their mother on four counts each and sentenced them to life. They will not have a chance to apply for parole for for 25 years.

On surface, prosecution's case was rather weak and circumstantial, but contradictions in testimony of the accused led the jury to this decision. Appeals are being filed, but reversal of guilty verdicts seem unlikely.

The warped sense of honour having been damaged by Shafia girls and their mother, modernized in Canadian society is no cause to commit murder. Honour killing is wrong anywhere is the world as it is plain and simple murder.

Families like Shafia want to hold on to their cultural values and when these are tested in a different setting, they feel damaged. The question is, why do they bring their families to Canada or to the West, if they do not wish to adopt to their new environment? They should stay back in their countries of origin, so they can feel secure in their archaic mindsets. However, it does not mean that they can practice honour killings in their societies. Killing is killing and there is no excuse for it whatsoever.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Killing of Iranian Nuclear Scientist an Act of Terror

When US & Israel kill innocent people in other countries, it is a covert operation, but when Iran or Syria do it, it is an act of terror - what hypocrisy.

Regardless of whether Iran is developing a nuclear weapon or not and regardless of whether Ahnedinajad regime is liked by outside world or not, the recent killing of an Iranian scientist is nothing but an act of terror and it should be called as such. Those who committed this act should be treated as international terrorists even if they acted for CIA or Mossad or any other agency.

Hillary Clinton's denial in this matter is less than convincing. Her credibility in such matters is low as she did not tell the truth when she said that Raymond Davis, who killed two people in Lahore in broad daylight, was a diplomat. The CIA contractor had in fact entered the country on a business visa and he was suspected of instigating Taliban to carry out bomb blasts in various cities in Pakistan. Had it not been for Senator John Kerry's diplomacy and invocation of Sharia Law in paying blood money in exchange for his release, Mr. Davis may well have faced the gallows.

It was not long ago when Israeli agents executed a Palestinian leader in Dubai by using false British passports, a heinous act in itself causing much consternation between British and Israeli Governments.

The World must roundly condemn all acts of terror regardless of whether they are committed by individuals, religious extremists or by State actors on behalf of CIA, Mossad, ISI, MI5/6 or the Indian intelligence agency Raw.