Friday, 29 June 2012

Best Guitarist ever... Pakistani Guy in Havard University

Thursday, 28 June 2012

New Generation Devices

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

No Fishing!!!!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

What's Right!!!!!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Singapore Airlines Private Suites Worth the Money

This airline has gone above and beyond by creating these unique completely private cabins with sliding doors. Lounge in the reclining leather seat with drink in hand while watching the 23-inch TV. However, you will have to save up for this expensive treat, as a round trip flight from Singapore to NYC will cost around $15,750 per person.

Great Attitude

Top 12 Anti-Asthma Foods


There might not be a perfect cure for asthma, but we can find many superfoods with a nutrient profile that is particularly well suited for preventing and alleviating asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. Let’s take a look at 12 such foods and their asthma fighting qualities.

1. AVOCADOS - is one of the prime source of Glutathione, which has been shown to protect cells against free radical damage and to detoxify foreign substances such as pollutants. Without glutathione, other antioxidants would not be able not function efficiently. Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, particularly for people whose asthma is linked to a nut allergy (nuts are one of the most common sources of vitamin E). However, if you have been diagnosed with a latex allergy, you may want to be careful with avocados, particularly non-organically grown produce. Many suggests that people who are allergic to latex are often also allergic to avocados and other foods that may contain substances called chitinases. Organically grown avocados not treated with ethylene gas contain lower levels of chitinases.

2. BROCCOLI SPROUTS - are true nutritional treasure and a great addition to your diet if you suffer from asthma. A recent study found that the study participants who ate broccoli sprouts for 3 days had an increase in antioxidant compounds that control the airway inflammation associated with bronchial asthma. The effect was most pronounced in those who ate the most broccoli sprouts. Available at many health food stores and grocery stores, broccoli sprouts make a great addition to salads, soups, salsa-topped dishes, and sandwiches.

3. APPLES - Studies show that apples possess some extraordinary properties that may provide protection against asthma. One study discovered that pregnant women who ate apples protected their child from developing asthma. Another study found that by drinking apple juice daily children could reduce their chance of suffering from wheezing by 50%. These beneficial effects of apples may be linked to their high concentration of bioflavonoids, such as quercetin. Quercetin is known to possess strong anti-histamine, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. When buying apples, be sure to purchase organically grown fruit: together with peaches, conventionally grown apples top the list of fruits that contain the highest levels of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

4. BANANAS - Including bananas in your diet may help you breathe easier. According to a British study, children who ate just one banana a day had a 34% lower chance of developing asthmatic symptoms such as wheezing. The results where not surprising considering that bananas are one of the best sources of pyridoxine, commonly known as vitamin B6. Pyridoxine plays a critical role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), molecules that have been shown to help relax bronchial smooth muscle tissue.

5. GINGER - one of the oldest spices in the world, is well known for its cold treating powers, but it may also help alleviate asthma symptoms. Its asthma fighting properties are thought to be attributable to gingerols, strong anti-inflammatory substances that also give ginger its distinctive flavor. Fresh ginger, which is said to be the most effective form of ginger, is available year round in the produce section of your local supermarket.

6. SPINACH - Popeye was right about one thing: you'd better eat your spinach! The nutritional profile of spinach makes it an excellent health food and an important functional food to be included in any anti-asthma diet. One study with 68,535 female participants found that women with a high intake of spinach had a lower prevalence of asthma. This is not surprising considering that spinach features a host of important asthma preventing nutrients, including beta-carotene (spinach is one of the best sources of beta-carotene there is), vitamin C, vitamin E, and magnesium. It also has a substantial potassium content in proportion to its calorie content: a 100 calorie serving provides about 40% of the reference daily intake for this important anti-asthma mineral.

7. ROSEMARY - It contains rosmarinic acid, that may help alleviate asthma symptoms due to its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant power of rosmarinic acid is believed to be even stronger than that of vitamin E. In addition, rosmarinic acid encourages cells to create prostacyclins, which help keep the air passages of the lungs open and thus promote easy breathing. Rosemary can be used to flavor fish, roast meats, and tomato sauces, but also fruits, especially oranges.

8. SUNFLOWER SEEDS - are brimming of anti-asthma nutrients, as these mild nutty tasting seeds are loaded with vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium. They are also a good source of selenium, with 1 cup providing more than 1/3 of the recommended daily intake for this important mineral. Furthermore, sunflower seeds are among the seeds and nuts that are least likely to cause allergic reactions in people. But, be careful while consuming them, as they are quite calorie-dense.

9. SWEET POTATOES - are one of the oldest vegetables known to man and one of the most nutritious too. Sweet potatoes are one of the foods that are least likely to cause allergic reactions, which is great news since asthma is often linked to allergies. What’s more, sweet potatoes contain plenty of vitamin C and potassium as well as unique root proteins which, according to preliminary studies, may have significant antioxidant properties. The pink, orange, and yellow varieties are also one of the most concentrated food sources of beta-carotene (the more intense the color, the more beta-carotene).

10. KALE - This relatively unknown member of the cabbage family is a nutritional powerhouse packed with vitamins and other phytochemicals that have been shown to alleviate symptoms associated with asthma. Not only is kale a great source of vitamin C, it is also one of the most concentrated dietary sources of beta-carotene (kale contains 10 times the beta-carotene of broccoli). Kale can be eaten raw, for example as a substitute for iceberg lettuce in salads. The beautiful green leaves of kale can also be transformed into a savory warm dish by sautéing the leaves and mixing them with chopped onions, crushed garlic and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

11. TURMERIC - a spice that lends its yellow color to curries and many other foods, has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat asthma and many other conditions and diseases. In recent years, western medicine has started to pay greater attention to this extraordinary spice. Recent research suggests that turmeric possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties. Although best known for its use in Indian style curries, turmeric can also be used to add flavor and color to fish, seafood, meat, rice, vegetable, and pasta dishes.

12. MUSTARD GREENS - Chock-full of antioxidants and nutrients, mustard greens can make an excellent addition to your diet if you are susceptible to asthma attacks. In addition to being one of the best sources of beta-carotene, they provide a good amount of vitamin C and vitamin E. The nutrients in mustard greens can remove free radicals that cause smooth muscle contraction and airway constriction in people with asthma. Moreover, they may aid in the breakdown of histamine. Mustard greens with their distinctly peppery flavor are available throughout the year and can be found in the produce section of your local supermarket.

Like said before, no food can actually “cure” asthma; but only provide relief for asthma symptoms, in a long run of consumption. So, if you are asthmatic, or prone to frequent attacks, don’t forget these nutrient-rich foods that may help alleviate your asthma symptoms.

Any Idea how many parts a Car have?????

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Health Tips

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The 5 best and worst foods for acidity

Don’t invite pain and discomfort by eating acidity-triggering foods. Check out the 5 best and worst foods for acidity.
If you suffer from acidity, you know how terribly uncomfortable it can be. And one wrong food is all it takes to trigger off a day of heartburn and discomfort.
For those prone to acidity, we have a list of foods you should include and foods you should avoid like the plague.
5 best foods for acidity:
Apples and bananas: Amongst fruits, apples and bananas are safe to be consumed and generally do not cause acidity. If you’re in the mood for juice, apple juice is a good option.
Vegetables like cabbage, beans and peas: These vegetables are healthy and do not cause acidity. If you enjoy potato, try baked potato and avoid deep-fried preparations.
Egg white, chicken and fish: Lean white meats and egg white are perfect for acidity-prone individuals.
Low fat cheese: Heavy foods are a no-no for those prone to acidity. So try and go for low-fat dairy items like low-fat cheese or milk.
Whole grains: Avoid refined carbs like white rice and maida and instead opt for whole grains like wheat and brown rice to ward off acidity.
5 worst foods for acidity:
Spicy food: This is a no-brainer. Anyone prone to acidity knows what a spicy sabzi or a stray chilli can do to you. In general, it’s best to avoid overly spicy food and go in for something a little milder.
Citrus foods: Bad news for orange lovers! Citrus foods are one of the worst triggers of acidity and if you think you might be prone to it, stay away from citrus fruits, as well as juices.
Coffee: For those with a chronic acidity problem, it’s best to cut out coffee from your diet. Instead try green tea
Fried foods and fatty foods: Biscuits high in fat, or fried snacks have to be banished from the diets of all those prone to acidity. These are instant triggers and can cause days of discomfort.
Alcohol, especially wine: Although wine recommended as one of the healthier alcohols, it’s a no-no for the acidity prone. The tannins in the wine can cause acidity and is best avoided.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Pakistan-India Missile Testing by Javeria

Both Pakistan and India have recently “successfully test-fired” several missiles capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads. Militarily, this is a great achievement, especially in a world where, apart from the US War on Terror, there is an on-going arms race. That race is actually a war in its own sense-a war against the population of that country, depriving many of their already non-existent basic rights, like food.

Coming back to militarily equipped Pakistan and India, loads of cash is siphoned off for the procurement of the best arsenals, but can the Hatf and Akash missiles improve the lives of those who are living in abject poverty, watching their children literally starve? Twenty-four percent of Pakistanis live below the poverty line, while around 360 million people live in poverty in India (says the BBC). So should our populations support the increasing military prowess of their respective countries?

Maybe nationalist Indians will be able to generate some rah for their leaders for the increase in the defence budget by 17 percent for financial year 2012-13, with the Indian finance minister allocating $41 billion as defence spending. But it seems India can afford to increase its military spending since, according to the Indian planning commission, poverty has decreased in India since 2004-2005.

On the other hand, it will probably be difficult for Pakistanis to cheer their fumbling, blundering and indifferent government. The solution to Pakistan’s increasing financial problems is not printing more and more worthless rupees. The “let them eat cake” approach of printing more and more money without gold reserves will probably go down in history “as the fastest way to destroy a country.”

People, in Pakistan at least, are living in extreme frustration and anger; their days spent in constant agony, without any power, fuel and without important commodities – basically food, which has gone beyond ordinary people’s purchasing power. And this is only the tip of the crisis iceberg. However, the government keeps assuring people that all is well.

The honourable finance minister assured us as he presented the budget that the budget for FY 2012-13 is aimed “at maintaining economic stability‚ accelerate economic growth‚ check inflation and bringing well-to-do people in tax net.” Other government officials were high on being the only government successfully presented a fifth budget, claiming that this budget promises measures towards self-reliance, growth on development programmes, provide social safety nets among other important points. Well, it is still early to discredit these claims, but judging by the past, there doesn’t seem to be much hope.

There are numerous problems that the people of Pakistan face but which the government either ignores or is completely ignorant about. If the government is serious and really cares about its reputation, which is iffy, it must do something before it plunges into the coming election to improve the lives of the people whom it wants to vote for it.

If actually doing something for the people involves money – and here I am not talking about the countless millions of useless rupees being printed daily – the government needs to actually do something about it, like, for starters, appoint a couple or more of the new ministers from its burgeoning cabinet (who are twiddling their thumbs0 to come down from their pedestals and find out what problems people face in the real world.

And while we are at it, India and Pakistan should stop test-firing missiles, and start test firing public interest programmes and help to improve the living standards of the people and strengthening their purchasing power; if they manage this, the two nations will surely strengthen themselves more.

A Region in transition by Shamshad Ahmad

The post-9/11 world has seen an unprecedented change in the nature and gravity of its problems. While countries and nations have been able to move away from the bitter antagonisms of the past to embrace peace, Asia’s major regions continue to be a global hotspot. The long-standing Asian issues include the Palestine question, Kashmir, the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and across the Strait of Taiwan and the triangular relations among Japan, the US and China, or in an expanded regional context, pentagonal relations among these three powers, plus Russia and India.

The post-Cold War unipolarity has also created a serious imbalance of global power. The concept of collective security and acceptance of moral and legal imperatives enshrined in the UN Charter are no longer the basis of the world order today. Historical grievances and outstanding disputes continue to be unaddressed. Economic adventurism of the 19th century is back. What aggravates this scenario is the growing inability of the international community to respond to these challenges with unity of purpose.

The ramifications of endless tensions and instability in some parts of Asia for global peace and security are immense. Some of the sources of these tensions and conflicts in Asia include America’s yet-to-end war in Afghanistan and its continuing power-play in Central Asia, the Indo-US military and nuclear nexus with its destabilising effect on the prospects of peace in South Asia, the continuing Iranian nuclear crisis, North Korea’s worrisome nuclear and ICBM capability, the deadlocked six-party talks on this issue, and other unresolved territorial disputes in the region, including those between Japan and Russia, China and South Korea.

In this murky scenario, China represents Asia’s only ray of hope. As a pillar of strength for the world community, China is already playing an important role not only for the maintenance of international peace and security but also in averting any major global economic crises. Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a discernible change in China’s foreign policy which, based on the principle of peaceful coexistence, has had an important effect on modern international relations. Globally, China is today a major stabilising force in the world’s economic and fiscal system and also an effective, stabilising player in the UN Security Council.

Guided by its long-term politico-economic interests, China has been following pragmatic policies in seeking improvement of its relations with the US and other advanced countries, as well as with India. On its differences or disputes with some of its neighbours, China’s policy is that they should be “appropriately managed and resolved through dialogue and consultation based on realities and in accordance with the basic norms governing international relations.” It has peacefully addressed its border issues with Russia and is engaged in creating a friendly neighbourhood with other adjacent countries.

But China has its own regional and global concerns and is not oblivious of the challenges resulting from the US-led new unipolarity or its ascendency in Asian regions. No wonder, in recent years, there has been a conspicuous development of closeness between China and Russia in reaction to what they perceive as growing US strategic outreach in their backyard. They especially share an interest in curbing Washington’s influence in strategically important and resource-rich Central Asia.

This year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Beijing earlier this month clearly flagged a mood swing in Asia’s heartlands referring to the growing number of hotbeds in different regions by calling for the intensification of the SCO efforts to strengthen regional security and to jointly counter the global challenges. Indeed, China and Russia are bound together in this organisation by their common geo-strategic and economic interests in the region, their mutual concern over the increasing US hegemony and their eagerness to promote a multipolar world.

One should not forget that their main common worry has been the growing fear of Islamic fundamentalism and radical influences seeping out of this region and inflaming their discontented populations. According to President Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan, “the cradle of terrorism, separatism and extremism is the instability in Afghanistan.” This threat is no less worrisome to China and Russia. Both have been concerned over the persistent instability in the region and the resultant trends of terrorism, separation and extremism.

It is therefore understandable that despite its members’ professed intention to address “a full range of international issues,” the SCO’s focus remains firmly on their immediate concerns, regional security issues in general and Islamic extremism in particular. It is also natural that as main powers of the region, Russia and China would have vital interest in the region’s energy resources and its potential as a market and investment outlet. In this context, they have given the SCO a typical regional security dimension focused essentially on intra-regional threats to their own territorial integrity.

Defence and security cooperation is already an important part of the SCO agenda. In April this year, Russia and China conducted a joint naval exercise Sea Cooperation 2012 in the Yellow Sea, following four bilateral military exercises since 2005. The armed forces of the SCO member states held a joint “Peace Mission Drill” in Tajikistan earlier this month involving more than 2,000 servicemen from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The scenario envisaged joining forces in an anti-terrorist operation in mountainous areas against the background of a regional crisis caused by terrorist activities.

During President Putin’s recent state visit to Beijing preceding the SCO summit, Russia and China found common language in foreign affairs and undertook to cooperate to ensure security in the Asia Pacific region. In this context both countries vowed to expand military cooperation in the form of closer relations between their defence ministries and joint military and naval exercises. Moscow is reported to be working on an ambitious plan for modernisation of its military capabilities by 2015. China is also building up its naval capabilities. Both countries are already increasing their mutual trade. In the coming years, China could become a major buyer of Russia’s military hardware and energy resources.

In the context of Afghanistan, both China and Russia, like us, want early restoration of peace in that war-ravaged country free of foreign influence or domination. But they are more concerned over what they see as forces of “extremism, terrorism and separatism” emanating from this region as a conduit of destabilisation in their own territories. In fact, the very rationale for the establishment of SCO in the 90s was to forestall these very forces. To an extent, this creates a convergence of interests in the long-terms objectives of the SCO and NATO countries. This part of Asia is certainly in transition, but any assumptions of the SCO emerging as a regional security bloc at this stage would be too far-fetched.

Against this backdrop, China and Pakistan will have to explore new avenues of reinforcing their strategic relationship through further expansion in their multi-dimensional bilateral collaboration, including in areas of defence equipment, high-tech heavy industry and the energy sector, as well as in developing communication and energy infrastructure. Pakistan, as a crucial player in the Afghan endgame, must focus on a new regional approach that secures Afghanistan’s independence and neutrality through a UN-led peace process.

With impending US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan could also play an important role in bringing ECO and SCO together in terms of closer inter-regional cooperation between the two organisations, which have a tremendous overlap in terms of common membership and huge combined economic potential which if exploited properly could transform this part of Asia into an economic powerhouse making it a major factor of regional and global stability.

Why the ice didn’t melt by Dr Maleeha Lodhi

The anodyne joint statement said it all. No progress was made on the Siachen dispute in last week’s talks between the defence officials of Pakistan and India. The only agreement indicated by the statement issued at the conclusion of the talks was for officials to meet again. The June 11-12 defence secretaries’ talks also failed to advance discussion of what should be a non-contentious aspect of Siachen – the environmental degradation being caused by military activity on the glacier.

The thirteenth round of talks on the 28-year old dispute turned out to be a virtual replay of the previous round of May 2011. Both sides restated their well-rehearsed positions. The main obstacle remained India’s insistence that before demilitarisation Pakistan should agree on authentication of present troop positions and demarcation of the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL). The Indian delegation also dismissed Pakistan’s non-paper handed over last year as containing “nothing new”.

This unedifying outcome was foretold well before the talks by statements from top Indian leaders in the weeks and days leading up to the negotiations. Some of these were prompted by public remarks made by Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in April when he visited Gayari sector after the avalanche tragedy that claimed the lives of 139 soldiers and civilians. He called for demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier and “peaceful resolution” of all disputes between Pakistan and India.

This evoked a lively media debate in both countries. But it drew a tepid response from Delhi. India’s junior Defence Minister Pallam Raju avoided comment on the need to resolve the dispute making only a perfunctory statement about the challenge of maintaining troops on the glacier. More significantly Defence Minister AK Antony told the Rajya Sabha that authentication of present (Indian) troop positions was a pre-requisite for any progress in negotiations.

India’s chief of army staff, VK Singh went further. In an interview he cast General Kayani’s call for a peaceful resolution as “nothing new”, ruled out any pullback by the Indian army from Siachen, and gratuitously added “all of Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India”. He also made light of the hope expressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he visited Siachen some years ago to make the glacier “a mountain of peace”. “We should not”, said General Singh, “succumb to these bouts of thinking about peace mountains”.

Meanwhile a flood of articles in the Indian press ahead of the Rawalpindi talks urged Delhi not ‘give away’ India’s hard won military gains on the negotiating table. A common refrain of many in India’s strategic community was that if India did not retain the Saltoro ridge, a ‘Pakistan-China axis’ would bring the Karakorum Pass under its control and jeopardise the security of Ladakh.

Minister Antony declared on the eve of the talks not to “expect (any) dramatic announcement or decision on an issue which is very important for (our) national security.” A day before, a meeting of India’s cabinet committee on security apparently decided – and then leaked to the media – that Delhi would not give up its tactical and strategic advantage in the glacier area.

This was a repeat of what preceded last year’s talks. On the eve of the twelfth round India’s top national security official told Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Delhi not to “expect anything” from the parleys.

In this unpromising backdrop, two days of talks in Rawalpindi went according to the script. Pakistan’s effort to elicit an Indian response to the constructive ideas contained in its 2011 non-paper came to naught. The Indian delegation saw nothing in these proposals to provide a basis to move forward.

In the non-paper, Islamabad had reiterated the principles for a settlement agreed to by the two countries in 1989 – redeployment outside the zone of conflict, a monitoring and verification mechanism to be determined by military experts, and demarcation of the Line of Control beyond NJ 9842 thereafter. In an important demonstration of flexibility Pakistan also offered that when a schedule of withdrawal was drawn up it could consist of lists of both “present” and “future” positions. This would be subject to the stipulation that these would exclusively be for monitoring purposes and not to stake any moral or legal claim at the time of a final settlement of the dispute.

The Indian side rejected this, offered no new ideas, and reiterated its familiar position of authentication and demarcation of present positions on the ground and on the map, with demilitarisation and “future positions” to follow later.

To bridge differences on sequencing the steps needed for demilitarisation and address India’s how-can-we-trust-you argument, the Pakistani delegation suggested that agreed steps could be undertaken simultaneously. But the Indian side refused to budge from its position.

When Pakistani negotiators said a solution to Siachen was important for peace and security in South Asia, this was met by the familiar Indian argument that Delhi had larger concerns beyond South Asia -an obvious reference to China.

The Pakistani delegation’s effort to engage the Indian side in a discussion on environmental degradation due to human activity on the glacier elicited no response. The Indian side declined to accept that any degradation was in progress and instead referred to reports suggesting there had been no negative environmental impact. It was also unwilling to include any reference to this issue in the joint statement or to pursue further discussions on this.

Pakistan’s desire for a speedy solution was conveyed by the proposal to convene another round of talks quickly without waiting for another year to go by. This too got little traction. The Indian emphasis was on first creating an environment of trust and confidence before looking for solutions to disputes, an echo of its characteristic position in previous rounds. In this context the Indian delegation emphasised instituting new CBMs including visits between military institutions and exchange of military bands. The Pakistani side read this as sidestepping the real issue.

With no progress accomplished in the thirteenth round and little prospect of Delhi showing the flexibility needed to overcome the impasse, the dialogue on Siachen has increasingly become more about process than outcome.

Among the broader signals sent by the Indian stance three are noteworthy. One, India wants normalisation of relations between the two countries to proceed only in areas on its priority list – trade, people-to-people contact, economic and cultural ties, and not resolution of long-standing disputes, which top Pakistan’s priorities. Two, little or no progress can be expected in the dialogue on various disputes because – for now – Delhi perceives no need to make compromises. With diminished interest by the international community to nudge Delhi in this direction and the US wooing India in its strategic aim to contain China, Delhi sees no pressure or incentive to show the accommodation needed to settle disputes with Pakistan.

Three, emphasising confidence building measures enables Delhi to postpone or deflect addressing the substance of disputes and even serve as an alibi to avoid finding solutions to disputes. It is interesting to note in this regard that while India ‘trusts’ Pakistan enough to open up and expand trade, that trust evaporates when it comes to addressing outstanding disputes.

The key question this raises is whether Pakistan-India normalisation can be sustainable without solving the disputes that lie at the root of long-standing tensions? Surely a diplomatic dance around the real issues – with a focus on process not progress – can hardly establish the basis for enduring peace.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Pakistans flawed policy paradigm by Raoof Hassan

For all the years that Pakistan has been in existence, its relations with the US have been like a pendulum, swinging from one extreme to the other, but rarely attaining a semblance of normalcy. This is in spite of ceaseless statements emanating from the leaderships proclaiming the abiding nature of the relations between the two countries which, over decades, have been tied together through various regional and international treaties and scores of bilateral contracts and understandings.

While serious questions have been incessantly debated regarding Pakistan’s lackadaisical bent towards the US after independence, these relations could never settle down to becoming a solid platform for launching any sustainable initiative for the progress of the new-born state. Instead, they have been a heavy cross to bear and a drain on the possible options that should have been more openly and productively considered in the realm of putting the nascent country on the road to attaining internal cohesion and a viable relevance as a regional player.

The dastardly attack on Salala was perceived as a pre-meditated assault to diminish Pakistan’s resolve in meeting the myriad challenges it confronts internally and along its eastern and western fronts. In the east, it is principally a challenge to rationalise the peace initiative that has taken over six decades in coming and, in the west, it is a challenge to address the lacerating issue of human trafficking of the non-lethal and the not-so-non-lethal types. Together, they present a platter demanding a subtle combination of the best in diplomatic and military skills and an unbending political resolve in the face of multiple diminishing factors.

There are some critical ingredients that Pakistan ideally needs to formulate and promote a sustainable policy paradigm to meet the mammoth challenge: the credibility and quality of its leadership, the functionality of its institutions, the viability and sophistication of the tools it could craft and use and the courage and character of its people.

Pakistan’s leadership has traditionally suffered from the twin-debacle of lack of credibility and competence and surfeit of greed. In the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, it was hoped that the PPP government would move quickly to atone for its past mistakes and lay the foundation of a truly democratic, egalitarian, tolerant and equitable society led by able and deserving people. After over four years of laborious existence, Pakistan has a leadership consisting of a convicted president, a convicted prime minister and a coterie of ministers and advisors with dubious credentials including reprieve through controversial presidential pardons and sworn allegiance to powers other than Pakistan by virtue of their dual nationalities.

Having come into power wearing the yoke of the NRO that legitimised crime and corruption alike, its politics have been a crude mixture of crass coercion, exhibition of an undying penchant to attain political martyrdom and clinical and debilitating compromises to win over sworn enemies of yesteryears.

Its rule has seen the collapse of the national institutions, rampant corruption, an unending confrontation with other pillars of the state, unprecedented inflation, an abominable increase in the number of those living below the poverty line, wilful abdication of authority over huge chunks of Pakistan’s territory, an aggravated law and order situation and a comprehensive collapse of governance at the centre and in all the provinces. This leadership has effectively plunged the country into a critical state of incessant haemorrhaging banishing any conceivable prospect of recovery.

The art of developing and using tools best suited to fight national battles has never been a favourite of the corrupt ruling mafias. Instead, a self-destructive macho approach has been systematically promoted. The impoverished millions of the country have been the victims of the strategy by becoming hapless pawns in the hands of their crafty manipulators. They have also been exaggeratingly exposed to the damaging effects of the obscurantist propaganda profusely spilled out by the madrassas. Against living proof to the contrary, Pakistan has been assiduously promoted as the invincible bastion of untenable ideologies. Logic, statecraft and the art of diplomatic manoeuvring were consigned to the backseat as jingoism and all its attendant instruments held perpetual ascendancy. The legitimate voice of the majority was mercilessly silenced through craftily-coined mechanisms, ensuring dominance by the status-quo proponents.

East Pakistan became Bangladesh, but we did not learn. The bitter setback suffered at the Kargil only precipitated another military takeover. Internally, the faulty mindset contributed to the emergence of a violence syndrome and, externally, it promoted the perception of a country embracing militant ideology and instruments to attain national objectives.

Having suffered endlessly at the hands of succeeding rulers, the unsuspecting people of Pakistan appear quite resigned to their fate. Their every-day struggle is survival which takes all of their time and most of their enthusiasm and energy. They are left with nothing to invest in any meaningful effort to improve their condition. Their existence depends on placating the thanedar and patwari – the power-wielders at the local level – who, patronised by the criminal ruling mafias, control their destinies.

They have been traumatised by the contrived emergence of ravaging gangs of militancy-spouting thugs who roam the streets garbed as saviours. For all their existence, they have hoped to be able to stand up for their rights, to be at peace with themselves, their fellow countrymen, their neighbours and their surroundings and to be able to invest in their progress and that of their coming generations in consonance with the parameters of civilised co-existence among people and among nations of the world.

By and large, they remain uneducated, unenlightened, economically-enslaved and socially and culturally traumatised. Their dreams perished a long time ago as they gradually wilted under the dictates of the criminal gangs who contrive a majority election-after-election. They remain grossly underprivileged and gruesomely deprived of even a miserly slice in the fruits of development. Left to the convicted prime minister, they should leave the country: “Why don’t they? Who is stopping them?”

Standing on these weak and crumbling pillars, the state of Pakistan is showing increasing signs of internal strife and external alienation. More is being demanded by powers, led by the US, with overriding stakes in the region as Pakistan has become increasingly afflicted with a diminishing capability and capacity syndrome. It is the natural consequence of a faulty policy paradigm. A major surgery is the likely remedy where most of its artificial attenuations may have to be amputated to control the spread of contagious infection.

For facilitating change, the basic ingredients will have to be improved with bravado giving way to sustainable logic and jingoism replaced with pragmatic policies that reflect the inherent strengths of the country and cater to addressing its weaknesses. Sprinkled with a heavy dose of legitimacy through all echelons of power, this should then go through the mill of time to cultivate trust and confidence of its people and partners alike. Suffering from a terrible dearth of good intentions and heavily plagued with confrontational politics and policies to the exclusion of accountability and acceptance of the rule of law, the dice seems heavily loaded against any imminent redemptive outcome as Pakistan continues to bleed at the hands of a corrupt leadership that, lacking in both vision and resolve, has been rendered effectively insolvent.

The Afghan policy shift by Saleem Safi

After 9/11 Pakistan-US ties have experienced many ups and downs. However, a marked policy shift was seen with the election of President Obama. The new administration attached Afghanistan’s affairs with “Af-Pak,” and delivered a new list of objectives concerning this region. For Pakistan this new package brought many do’s and don’ts. The monitoring stage of this new policy ended in 2010 and it was decided by the US that Pakistan needed to be dealt more firmly. The Kerry-Lugar Bill was an expression of the same pressure involving the carrot-and-stick approach. After the May 2 operation in Abbottabad, US advisers in Washington, who wanted a firm dealing with Pakistan, gained more attention. Accusations regarding the Haqqani Network, the statements of Mike Mullen and other tactics of the same kind of pressure were used.

However, this pressure proved counterproductive. The Pakistani establishment refused to give in. In addition to the detention of Raymond Davis, the activities of the CIA were restricted, and the US request for an operation in North Waziristan by the Pakistani military was also refused. This infuriated the US even more and together with the stoppage of aid, the amount under the collation support fund was also frozen, an amount that Pakistan has already spent on its activities to combat terrorism. Pakistan neglected its monitoring of the Taliban in Afghanistan and, to convey displeasure to the US, Pakistani officials visited Iran, China and Russia. The matter did not end here; the US increased its support to anti-Pakistan militants and Baloch nationalists in Afghanistan.

The Salala check-post incident pushed Pakistani-US relations further downwards. Pakistan used its only remaining card, that of blocking the Nato supply routes. At first the US tried to use Afghanistan, however this time Karzai refused to be utilised against Pakistan. At this the US used the India card to blackmail Pakistan. After the punishment of Ghulam Nabi Fai, Hafiz Saeed was declared a wanted person with a huge head money for his capture. Each visit of Pakistani or Indian delegates to each other’s country was followed by a US official in India issuing a provocative statement. However, this time India played with caution and Pakistan too dealt with India with care. In Afghanistan the US tried its best to use anti-Pakistan elements. However, this time Pakistan, with the active use of its relations with the leaders of northern Afghanistan, minimised the risk. Besides all this tug-of-war between the US and Pakistan, the US was confident that Pakistan would give in before the Chicago Conference.

However, on the internal front the issue changed into an interesting but dirty game between the establishment and the government. It was assumed by the Pakistani establishment that even they could adopt a hard line against the government due to its financial and diplomatic limitations. Zardari had two concerns: the upcoming elections and the risk of public defamation by the establishment and the Difa-e Pakistan Council. So this time they did exactly the opposite and went two steps ahead in their anti-US statements. They scheduled visits for Russia and China and made active dialogues on the Pakistan-Iran pipeline.

The media was given the wrong perception that Zardari requested participation in the Chicago conference. This is also wrong that Pakistan demanded $5,000 dollars per container. The only fault of the Pakistani government is its failure to properly use the international media in presenting its stance. In fact, the proposal for tri-lateral negotiations at the Chicago conference was presented by President Obama at the Seoul conference to Prime Minister Gilani. Later, the US denied the invitation and conditioned it with the opening of the supply routes of Nato. Pakistan refused any conditional participation and thus Pakistan was invited by the Nato secretary general unconditionally.

At that stage the US expected the opening of the supply route before the Chicago conference. However, when Pakistan showed no intention, the US refused to participate in the trilateral meeting at Chicago. Besides, in his meeting with Hillary Clinton at Chicago, Zardari not only reaffirmed Pakistan’s stance on an official apology on Salala but also stressed other demands. This resulted in an uproar in Washington against Pakistan. Now the US is determined to achieve all its objectives in Pakistan, including reopening of the Nato supply route, but not with concessions.

The Pakistani response indeed has disturbed US and stunned the international community. However, the most disappointing aspect is its spontaneous nature. All this is not the result of some calculated effort and set objectives. Rather, it is a by-product of the institutional tug-of-war and the effort to gain political mileage. Before the Chicago conference, statements issued by the Cabinet Defence Committee and certain officials resulted in the impression that once again Pakistan has surrendered. While at Chicago our president demanded an apology from the US, our prime minister declared that an apology could not bring back our soldiers. In this tense situation, about two dozen CIA agents were caught. However, they were handed back to the US silently. Though there was an option that those agents could be presented to the media.

The situation is tense and sensitive. Indeed, at any time our government could surrender and show its willing to work on previous terms and conditions.

Monday, 11 June 2012

A Leaderless World by Dr. Maleeha Lodhi

There has been a steady stream of books about how Western primacy has been fading in a more pluralist and structurally transformed world. Many of these have intensified the ongoing foreign policy debate in the United States about 'declinism' – the relative diminution in America's power and place in a changing global landscape.

Some works focused more on whether America's hour of power had passed. Others surveyed a wider canvas to examine what the rise of the rest means for managing a more complex and uncertain world. Many writers have contributed to our understanding of how power shifts are reshaping the world. They include Kishore Mahbubani, Fareed Zakaria, Joseph Nye, Martin Jacques, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Richard Haas.

Some in the west lamented a world bereft of a global policeman. Others welcomed the advent of a multipolar era. Many asked whether the emerging world would be volatile and ungovernable, with no global guardian or international institution having the capacity to solve pressing global problems.

Two new books have joined the debate about the present state of world affairs. A third is more in the 'declinist' genre. Ian Bremmer's 'Every Nation for itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World' is by far the most thought provoking. For all the recent talk of a new coalition of established and new powers in the G-20 or emerging US-China G-2 partnership taking control of global issues, Bremmer rejects the idea that anyone is in charge today. The G-20 is too "unwieldy" for effective action. And the G-7, with its weakening economies, is out dated.

Like Richard Haas who wrote about a 'nonpolar' world, Bremmer offers the notion of a G-Zero world. "For the first time in seven decades we live in a world without global leadership", he writes. The world that emerged from the 2008 financial crisis is one in which no nation on its own or with others can deploy enough power or will to provide leadership and shape global outcomes. "No single country or durable alliance can meet the challenges of global leadership", he says. International cooperation is hard to come by just when it is urgently needed.

Bremmer first presented his G-Zero hypothesis in an article last year in Foreign Affairs. His book expands on this. Arguing that cooperation vanished after the 2008 economic crisis, he says the US no longer has the capacity or the will to assert global leadership. A country that borrows $4 billion a day – half of that from China – is a shadow of its former self. China, he says, is too preoccupied with the next phase of its internal development to assume global leadership.

Who then will fill this power vacuum? Regional coalitions or groupings of second-ranking countries? Not likely, as they are too disparate, too consumed by their own interests and contests over water or energy, to agree on anything and find solutions to global problems.

This means we are headed toward a conflict-prone world, which Bremmer warns, will have profound consequences for the global economy and stability, as agreement on vital issues will prove elusive. Will global paralysis endure? He sees the present phase as an interregnum. Among the scenarios he outlines the most likely for him is where regions become more important and regional or local solutions replace the search for global ones with demands for multilateral cooperation ignored.

Most of his scenarios are contingent upon the future course of Sino-US relations. Although a G-2 entente would be the most desirable scenario he does not see this as likely. Instead he posits that the two countries will compete for influence and clash in several areas. This sets his view apart from Henry Kissinger who has famously argued that there is nothing inevitable about a contest of supremacy between China and the US. In fact their peaceful co-evolution and cooperation offers the best way to navigate this transitional phase in global politics.

The second book by Charles A Kupchan, a professor at Georgetown University, is a very readable assessment of the passing of western global dominance and its implications for the future. Titled 'No One's World: the West, the Rising Rest and the Coming Global Turn', the book argues that as power becomes more widely distributed the world will belong to no one. He takes issue with the school of thought associated among others with Francis Fukiyama that acknowledges the end of western dominance but maintains that western ideas will still reign supreme in the world.

Kupchan argues that the West is not just losing economic but also ideological ground to rising powers. Interests rather than values are determining how nations line up on issues such as trade and the environment. Moreover the evolving international system will not just comprise multiple power centres but also multiple versions of modernity and become an amalgam of diverse political cultures. The western model will be one of competing conceptions of domestic and international order.

The rules and concepts that govern trade and politics, war and peace, statecraft and global governance will have to be negotiated anew between old and rising powers. He argues compellingly that the defining characteristics of the West – liberal democracy, industrial capitalism and secular nationalism – are not being imitated by other nations as they modernise. They are following their own paths and have different notions of sovereignty, political legitimacy and international trade rules.

Depicting this as the coming 'global turn' he urges the US to take the lead in constructing a new consensus that does not try to force the rising rest to embrace western values and institutions but learns to respect and adapt to the world's political, religious and ideological diversity.

Where Bremer sees gridlock resulting from the diverse and competing interests of a multipolar world, Kupchan sees the potential for consensus. Provided that a new bargain can be struck between the West and the rest on issues of governance, sovereignty and legitimacy.

The third book, 'The short American Century' is edited by Andrew J. Bacevich. His earlier work, 'Limits of Power' made the case for America to shed its illusion about "exceptionalism" and avoid debilitating external overreach and involvement in endless wars, which drain it of the ability to address pressing domestic especially economic challenges.

His edited volume brings together well known American historians who soberly assess why the much proclaimed "American Century' has ended prematurely and legacy it has left. In his own essay, Bacevich casts the American century as a 'brief interval of history', cut short by its own actions and delusions and the penchant for "oversized aspirations".

In his concluding chapter he subjects the notion of American exceptionalism to scathing scrutiny, arguing that airbrushing history – 'Disneyfication' of the Cold War and other wars that followed – was aimed at investing US conduct with 'moral clarity'. But this was a convenient, self-serving flight from reality that proved counter productive.

The author concludes that preserving the illusion that the US can "preside over and direct the course of history" will not only impede America's understanding of a changing world, but also pose a danger to both. The past decade has laid bare five key shortcomings about the US which merit mention. He describes these as the inability to anticipate (9/11, consequences of invading Iraq), to control (wars begun in Afghanistan and financial scandals at home), to afford (reflected in an overstretched military and huge deficits), to respond (by a dysfunctional US political system) and finally, to comprehend the complex forces shaping the world.

While these recently published books provide differing perspectives on a world in strategic flux each has instructive insights to offer. A world in profound transition holds both promise and peril. What is welcome is the call in these books for the US to adopt a more realistic global role consistent with its reduced leverage and diminished power, learn to work with others, and adapt both its policy and narrative to a world with many centres of power and political values different from its own.

Panetta’s hubris by Rustam Shah Mohmand

Pakistan must be grateful to US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta for articulating a clear, unambiguous US line of action in regard to Pakistan’s perceived inability to proceed against groups that the US sees as dangerous to its forces operating inside Afghanistan and which are supposedly based in the tribal areas.

Now is the time for Pakistan to place its cards on the table and challenge the wholly unsubstantiated assertions of a frustrated man. If the Pakistani establishment rushes to do damage control or launches another “determined” campaign of appeasement, the US bullying is only expected to grow in intensity and ferocity. That is the lesson of history.

The fact that the defence secretary chose to deliver his warning to Pakistan from Delhi and Kabul is significant. That was intended to reinforce his tough message to the rulers of Pakistan. Panetta said the US is running out of patience with Pakistan. In the ongoing war on terror, has the US ever displayed patience, shown any deference to Pakistan’s interests or respect for its sovereignty?

Whether it is the incessant drone campaign that has killed hundreds of innocent people, including women and children, limited ground incursions inside Pakistani territory, a raid deep inside Pakistani territory to eliminate Osama bin Laden and making a mockery of the notion of Pakistan’s sovereignty, the US has never vacillated in its resolve to do whatever it considers best for its own interests. So where has it exercised patience? Let us examine the claim that some militants who are inflicting pain and misery on the coalition forces in Kabul are operating from “sanctuaries” located in the tribal area on Pakistani-Afghan border.

One may ask: on how many occasions in the past ten years have the US forces or their Afghan counterparts been able to intercept, confront, capture or kill those who intrude into Afghanistan, travel more than a hundred miles inside Afghan territory, carry out operations and then safely return to their hideouts in the tribal areas, again traversing a distance of more than a hundred miles?

This failure seems more enigmatic, considering that the coalition forces number 130,000 and are assisted by the more than 160,000-strong Afghan army in addition to more than 50,000 of “contractors” serving as security forces. The Afghan police force is also operating in the area and its strength has gone up to more than 140,000.

Also consider that these forces are equipped with the most sophisticated weapons and they function with the help of a vast surveillance network, radars and a comprehensive human intelligence apparatus.

And there is another dimension to this bizarre theory of sanctuaries. If the sanctuaries do exist, as the defence secretary claims, how and why have the hundreds of US drone strikes missed such targets for a whole decade? When mosques, houses, markets, vehicles, schools, weddings and funeral processions could be targeted and hit with such accuracy, how could the terrorists’ hideouts and sanctuaries be spared? Hitting sanctuaries should have been a top priority for the CIA drone campaign managers. This exposes the absurd rationale of the whole fragile theory that is woven around wholly baseless assumptions.

But this is repeated ad nauseam because Islamabad has never been able to confront its American interlocutors with facts and ground realities. If one were to assume, even for the sake of an argument, that some resistance in the few Afghan provinces that border Pakistan would have some connectivity with militants operating from the tribal area of Pakistan, then how would one explain the growing resistance in areas that have no border with the tribal area or with Pakistan?

On June 9, there was a deadly attack on French soldiers in Kapisa province, which neither has a border with Pakistan nor has any substantial Pakhtun population. And who are targeting the coalition forces on a daily basis in such regions as Qundus (bordering with Tajikistan), Herat (bordering with Iran), Jozjan (bordering with Turkmenistan) and such areas as Sare Pul, Ghazni, Lugar and Wardak which have no border with Pakistan.

Panetta, who is now calling the shots as far as the war theatres of Afghanistan and Iraq are concerned, must be under considerable pressure to deliver an emphatic victory at least in some sector of Afghanistan. He has some results to show, however. The night raids initiated by Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus have caused tremendous losses to the resistance, although many of the casualties were innocent Afghans. The local militias formed in some regions have also inflicted heavy losses on the resistance.

But the fighting, despite such losses, has not diminished. The most worrying thing for the Pentagon bosses is the rate of desertion in the Afghan National Army which is going up. Secondly, the many supporters and sympathisers of the resistance within the government establishment are causing a headache to the coalition forces which see their scheme for Afghanistan unravelling in the face of more defections and more “conversions.” These are formidable challenges which cannot be managed by throwing money at people.

Pakistan must be able to see the emerging mayhem in Afghanistan which a residual force of 25,000 US troops after 2014 will not be able to contain or handle. The Doha peace process is as good as dead. In any case, Mullah Umar has now decided to discontinue any future parleys with the US, having realised according to some reports that these are gimmicks aimed at creating a rift in the ranks of the resistance. To an extent the team that is based in Doha has lost its relevance for the leadership of the resistance.

These are grim and painful developments. As well as confronting the US position with the help of solid evidence and facts Pakistan must also take a more robust part in initiating a serious dialogue between the US and the resistance, exploring the solid basis that exists for working togather: no Al-Qaeda in future Afghanistan and no use of Afghan soil against any other country. As Pakistan undertakes this stupendous task it would learn very soon that common ground has existed between the position of the US and the resistance that has not been tapped into for many years.

But the success of such an effort would depend on whether the US is willing and prepared to withdraw all its soldiers, trainers, advisers within a stipulated period of time. Insurgency with all its attendant consequences will not end unless the US agrees to a complete pull-out of its forces of all types. Would the US listen?