Monday 13 August 2007

Will Musharraf survive? (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Although it would be a tad unfair to compare him to a confidence trickster, Pakistan's army-appointed President Pervez Musharraf has survived by convincing a series of patrons to back him, only to let them down later.

After the dour but straightforward Jehangir Karamat was sacked as the army's chief of staff by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for publicly asserting that the military had the decisive say in matters of national security, Musharraf' convinced Sharif that he would be a pliant replacement for the sacked general. This was an important consideration at a time when both Sharif and his brother Shahbaz were reported to be examining the military's links to the immensely lucrative narcotics trade.

For decades, ever since the Afghan jihad began in 1980, opium and its derivatives have been leveraged by elements in uniform in Pakistan to generate cash, not just to send their children abroad to study, but also to fund such "black" operations as the jihad against Indian rule in Kashmir. Politicians in Pakistan, not known for abstemious behavior, watched with envy the flow of profits from the illegal trade -- the primary reason the military wanted to retain control of Afghanistan through the Taliban -- and looked for an opportunity to muscle in.

With the assumption of office by the "spineless" Musharraf, that moment appeared to have arrived. It vanished in a cloud of dust, however, when U.S.-supplied tanks buttressed a coup in 1999 that once again put the military in the driver's seat. Less than a year later, the four army generals who had launched the coup that placed Musharraf in power were themselves edged out by a "chief executive" (later president) of Pakistan eager to show who was boss.

Since then, Musharraf has placed no fewer than 37 presumed loyalists into top command positions within the military. He has given their men -- being a Wahabbi state, the women of Pakistan are not considered good enough to command -- hundreds of well-paying (in both salary and bribes) jobs in the Pakistan state sector.

Thursday 2 August 2007

Why India Rejected the Nuclear Deal (UPIASIA)

Manipal, India — If we take away the near-automatic, and usually fallacious, identification of a country with its government, and use the views within an elected Parliament as a better guide to opinion, then there is a majority against the George W. Bush-Manmohan Singh nuclear deal that crosses 70 percent.

Regrettably for India's ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi gave up her struggles with formal education very early, and since her marriage to a scion of the Nehrus has lived a life as cocooned as any royalty. She chose as prime minister an individual as unschooled in the actual rough-and-tumble of politics as herself. Manmohan Singh was pitchforked into politics by former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in 1992, and after a disastrous showing in the "safe" and urbanized New Delhi constituency in 1996, has refused to enter an electoral contest.

Small wonder that both misread the chemistry of the country and went ahead with a nuclear deal that does India the "favor" of being accepted as low caste rather than an outcaste, as the country has been treated under the leadership of the United States, China and the European Union since its first nuclear test in 1974. "Low caste" in the context of the nuclear sector can be held to refer to countries that have been given the privilege of supervised and limited access to nuclear technology, a category that includes most countries in the world.