Seized weapons and ammunition recovered during military operations against militants are displayed on the ground at the Sherwangi Tor village in South Waziristan. – Reuters
By Pervez Hoodbhoy
FOREIGN Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says that Pakistan is “compiling hard evidence of India’s involvement” in terrorist attacks on Pakistan’s public and its armed forces.
If he and the interior minister are correct then we must conclude that the Indians are psychotics possessed with a death wish, or are perhaps plain stupid. While India’s assistance for Baloch insurgents could conceivably make strategic sense, helping the jihadists simply does not.
As Pakistan staggers from one bombing to the other, some Indians must be secretly pleased. Indeed, there are occasional verbalisations: is this not sweet revenge for the horrors of Mumbai (allegedly) perpetrated by Lashkar-i-Taiba? Shouldn’t India feel satisfaction as Pakistan reels from the stinging poison of its domestically reared snakes?
But most Indians are probably less than enthusiastic in stoking fires across the border. In fact, the majority would like to forget that Pakistan exists. With a six per cent growth rate, booming hi-tech exports and expectations of a semi-superpower status, they feel that India has no need to engage a struggling Pakistan with its endless litany of problems.
Of course, some would like to hurt Pakistan. Extremists in India ask: shouldn’t one increase the pain of a country — with which India has fought three bloody wars — by aiding its enemies? Perhaps do another Bangladesh on Pakistan someday?
These fringe elements, fortunately, are inconsequential today. Rational self-interest demands that India not aid jihadists. Imagine the consequences if central authority in Pakistan disappears or is sharply weakened. Splintered into a hundred jihadist lashkars, each with its own agenda and tactics, Pakistan’s territory would become India’s eternal nightmare. When Mumbai-II occurs — as it surely would in such circumstances — India’s options in dealing with nuclear Pakistan would be severely limited.
The Indian army would be powerless. As the Americans have discovered at great cost, the mightiest war machines on earth cannot prevent holy warriors from crossing borders. Internal collaborators, recruited from a domestic Muslim population that feels itself alienated from Hindu-India, would connive with jihadists. Subsequently, as Indian forces retaliate against Muslims — innocent and otherwise — the action-reaction cycle would rip the country apart.
So, how can India protect itself from invaders across its western border and grave injury? Just as importantly, how can we in Pakistan assure that the fight against fanatics is not lost?
Let me make an apparently outrageous proposition: in the coming years, India’s best protection is likely to come from its traditional enemy, the Pakistan Army. Therefore, India ought to now help, not fight, against it.
This may sound preposterous. After all, the two countries have fought three and a half wars over six decades. During periods of excessive tension, they have growled at each other while meaningfully pointing towards their respective nuclear arsenals. And yet, the imperative of mutual survival makes a common defence inevitable. Given the rapidly rising threat within Pakistan, the day for joint actions may not be very far away.
Today Pakistan is bearing the brunt. Its people, government and armed forces are under unrelenting attack. South Waziristan, a war of necessity rather than of choice, will certainly not be the last one. A victory here will not end terrorism, although a stalemate will embolden jihadists in south Punjab, including Lashkar-i-Taiba and Jaish-i-Mohammad. The cancer of religious militancy has spread across Pakistan, and it will take decades to defeat.
This militancy does not merely exist because America occupies Afghanistan. A US withdrawal, while welcome, will not end Pakistan’s problems. As an ideological movement, the jihadists want to transform society as part of their wider agenda. They ride on the backs of their partners, the mainstream religious political parties like the Jamaat-i-Islami and Jamiat-i-Ulema-Pakistan. None of these have condemned the suicide bombings of Pakistani universities, schools, markets, mosques, police and army facilities.
Pakistan’s political leadership and army must not muddy the waters, especially now that public sanction has finally been obtained for fighting extremism in Swat and Waziristan. Self-deception weakens and enormously increases vulnerability. Wars can only be won if nations have a clear rallying slogan. Therefore the battle against religious extremism will require identifying it — by name — as the enemy.
India should derive no satisfaction from Pakistan’s predicament. Although religious extremists see ordinary Muslims as munafiqs (hypocrites) — and therefore free to be blown up in bazaars and mosques — they hate Hindus even more. In their calculus, hurting India would buy even more tickets for heaven than hurting Pakistan. They dream of ripping apart both societies, or starting a war — preferably nuclear — between Pakistan and India.
A common threat needs a common defence. But this is difficult unless the Pakistan-India conflict is reduced in intensity. In fact the extremist groups that threaten both countries today are an unintended consequence of Pakistan’s frustrations at Indian obduracy in Kashmir.
To create a future working alliance with Pakistan, and in deference to basic democratic principles, India must be seen as genuinely working towards some kind of resolution of the Kashmir issue. Over the past two decades India has been morally isolated from Kashmiri Muslims and continues to incur the very considerable costs of an occupying power in the Valley. Indian soldiers continue to needlessly die — and to oppress and kill Kashmiri innocents.
It is time for India to fuzz the Line of Control, make it highly permeable and demilitarise it up to some mutually negotiated depth on both sides. Without peace in Kashmir the forces of cross-border jihad, and its hate-filled holy warriors, will continue to receive unnecessary succour.
India also needs to allay Pakistan’s fears on Balochistan. Although Pakistan’s current federal structure is the cause of the problem — a fact which the government is now finally addressing through the newly announced Balochistan package — it is nevertheless possible that India is aiding some insurgent groups. Statements have been made in India that Balochistan provides New Delhi with a handle to exert pressure on Pakistan. This is unacceptable.
While there is no magic wand, confidence-building measures (CBMs) continue to be important for managing the Pakistan-India conflict and bringing down the decibel level of mutual rhetoric. To be sure, CBMs can be easily disparaged as palliatives that do not address the underlying causes of a conflict. Nevertheless, looking at those initiated over the years shows that they have held up even in adverse circumstances. More are needed.
The reason for India to want rapprochement with Pakistan, and thus end decades of hostility, has nothing to do with feelings of friendship or goodwill. It has only to do with survival. For us in Pakistan, this is even truer.
The writer teaches at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad
Karzai reaches out to Taliban, HI on Eidul Azha
PESHAWAR: Former prime minister of Afghanistan and chief of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbaddin Hekmatyar has said that the American and allied forces are facing defeat in Afghanistan and are devising strategies to withdraw from the war-ravaged country.
“The (puppet) Afghan government itself and many of its foreign backers have now admitted that they can’t win the war in Afghanistan and they are also under pressure from their respective people to pull out troops from the country,” said Hekmatyar in his message on the occasion of Eidul Azha, a copy of which was provided to The News.
Asking his fighters and supporters to avoid attacking innocent people and public places, Hekmatyar condemned bomb blasts in and destruction of schools, seminaries, mosques or the killing of innocent people. “This is against Islam and we believe that it is done by enemies of Muslims,” said the Hezb-e-Islami chief.
Earlier, a similar statement was released by Taliban chief Mullah Muhammad Omar to his volunteers in which he informed them about the defeat of foreign troops and asked them to avoid targeting public places and innocent people.
Hekmatyar said they were fully supporting peace talks but the only possible way to start negotiations was the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. “Withdrawal of foreign troops without any preconditions, allowing all Afghans and groups to set together and decide their future and formation of a government to be acceptable to all are the prerequisites for the peace talks in the country,” he added.
Drawing a bleak picture of the situation in Afghanistan, the former prime minister of the war-torn country said many areas of the landlocked Afghanistan were out of the control of the government and in the hands of opponents. Neither the highways nor the bases and patrol missions of the foreign troops were safe.
Hekmatyar said the corruption was rampant in the Afghan government and only a few individuals and families were looting the national wealth of Afghanistan with both hands. In such a situation, he added, the foreign troops and their commanders had lost hope because they were facing defeat both at security and political fronts and they were struggling to find a way out.
The former Afghan prime minister recalled that the Americans and Russians had joined hands to hatch a conspiracy against Afghans. He said that after the withdrawal of the Russian troops, the two had formed the Northern Alliance and assigned them the unfulfilled mission of the Russians. Now, he said, the United States has once against joined hands with Russia to hatch a similar conspiracy once again. “Afghanistan needs another uprising at this juncture. This must be staged both against the foreign invaders and their local supporters,” he added.
At the same time, he said, there must be another Islamic revolution to restore the sovereignty of the country, ensure peace and security, put a full stop to the ongoing fighting, relieve the poor and hold all those accountable who usurped and looted the property of the poor and the national wealth.
Hekmatyar also warned some neighbouring countries, asking them not to think of taking undue advantage of the present Afghan imbroglio. At times they supported the Russians to capture Afghanistan and at times offered their helping hand to the Americans, he said without naming any country.
Hekmatyar dissociated his party from the killing of teachers, doctors, engineers, students, religious scholars, government officials and other innocent people. He condemned attacks on mosques and marketplaces and said the perpetrators were the enemies of Islam.
The Hezb chief asked the businessmen and trading community to withdraw their money from the banks in Afghanistan as the foreign troops were about to leave the country and their withdrawal would force the bank owners to close their lockups and wrap up their businesses in Kabul.
August 17, 2009
Baitullah Mehsud killed August 23, 2009, 05 Aug attack
LAHORE: At least 17 members of the Maulvi Nazir faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), including Maulvi Nazir himself, have been killed in fighting with the Baitullah Mehsud group, rival leader Turkistan Bhittani told a private TV channel on Sunday.
“They were hiding behind rocks and, as soon as our people reached there, they opened fire. It was so sudden and quick that none of our men could fire back,” Shaheen Wazir, Maulvi Nazir’s spokesman, told the Reuters news agency via telephone. However, another spokesman, Abdul Haq, told AFP the group was not blaming anyone. “We cannot say whether it was Mehsud’s men or the government that was behind this attack,” he added.
Meanwhile, an intelligence official of the region said Taliban belonging to the Baitullah Mehsud group had also fired rocket-propelled grenades at pick-up trucks carrying Wazir fighters towards Wana. A resident saw the Taliban carrying some of the dead bodies into Wana after the attack, Reuters reported.
[Double-Agents of the British, American Variety are the cause of most of the unsolvable problems on the sub-continent, especially the terrorism problem. The American Raj awaits the reunion of India and Pakistan.]
Is Headley an American agent who turned rogue?
NEW DELHI: It’s a plot that could be straight out of the bluff-and-double-bluff worlds created by John le Carre and Frederick Forsyth. Only, it seems to have played out in real life, to the tragic misfortune of hundreds of innocent people. The tantalising possibility that David Coleman Headley may have been a US undercover agent who turned rogue is vexing many here as American authorities keep the US-based Lashkar jihadi out of the reach of Indian investigators.
To make the tale even more dramatic, Headley may just have provided American intelligence agencies information that prevented a Lashkar attack on Mumbai in September. The theory — and it’s still a theory — is that Headley was used to infiltrate the Lashkar, but gradually went astray under the influence of the very terrorists he was supposed to be spying upon.
Torn between conflicting loyalties, he may have continued to give information to his American handlers, and a tip-off by him may even have helped avert a Laskar attack orginally planned for September. But he seems to have commited fully to Lashkar shortly after that, which could be one reason why American agencies were caught napping by 26/11.
During his interactions in India, Headley frequently introduced himself as a CIA agent. But suspicions that he’s a rogue agent stem more from the just-released information that Headley, a man with one green and one brown eye, could straddle America and Pakistan with ease despite a run-in with the law in the US.
A recent profile in the New York Times said that in 1998, Headley (then known as Daood Gilani) was convicted of conspiring to smuggle heroin into US from Pakistan. “Court records show that after his arrest, he provided so much information about his own involvement with drug trafficking which stretched back more than a decade and about his Pakistani suppliers that he was sentenced to less than two years in jail and later went to Pakistan to conduct undercover surveillance operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)," the NYT report said.
This suggests that Headley had a deal with authorities in the US who allowed him to get away with mild punishment in exchange for a promise of cooperation.
To many here, that also implies that he was a known entity to the counter-terror and drug enforcement authorities in the US. After 9/11, the walls between these agencies had come down because of the links between drugs and terrorism, particularly in the context of Pakistan-Afghanistan where there is a huge overlap between the functions of the DEA and CIA. Surprisingly, the FBI affidavit against Headley doesn’t mention his tryst with the DEA.
FBI’s affidavit against Headley says that he changed his name from Daood Gilani to David Coleman Headley in 2006 to hide his history as an offender. As he told border police in August 2009, it was to give himself the freedom to travel undetected — he said the new name aroused much less suspicion when he travelled.
It is a fact that terrorists are masking their religious identity to get past the counter-terror surveillance, with terror groups seeking to recruit Caucasians for fresh strikes. But many doubt here that the mere switching of names could have worked in Headley’s case given his brush with law but more because of the destinations he was flying to.
Given Pakistan’s unquestioned reputation as the hub of global terror, people travelling to and from the country automatically pop up on the scanner at airports across the globe. Headley, to boot, would often meet his contacts in UAE — a known rezendevous for terrorists and smugglers and a place that is of immense interest to law enforcement agencies.
The doubters found it intriguing that ultra-sensitive agencies in the US did not find anything amiss about the entries on Headley’s US passport. While the sceptics don’t think they have an answer yet, they are inclined to look at the possibility of Headley being an undercover agent who, torn between the competing demands of the jihadi outfits he had been asked to infiltrate and his American handlers, went astray.
Headley, by his own confession, joined Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2006 and received training in one of the terror camps run by the jihadi outfit.
Those who subscribe to the "rogue agent" theory are inclined to believe that this was known to the Americans, always anxious to ferret out information from hard-to-penetrate terror groups. They also feel that US agencies were perhaps aware that last year, Headley was in India to recce targets for a Lashkar attack that it had originally planned for September — as confirmed by Ajbal Kasab in his testimony — and which was finally carried out on 26/11. Rather, they also suspect that Headley might have been the source of information that helped Americans warn of the attack planned for September last year.
In their warning, which was passed on to Maharashtra government by Intelligence Bureau, the Americans had said that prominent installations in Mumbai were on the jihadis’ target. As a matter of fact, the FBI alert made a specific mention of Taj and other hotels — Marriott, Land’s End and Sea Rock.
It is felt that Headley’s defection happened immediately afterwards and that is perhaps one of the reasons why Americans could not, unlike in September, sniff 26/11. The suspicion is reinforced by the fact that it was around this time that FBI put Headley under its surveillance, leading to his arrest on October 3 this year.
Suspicions are getting stronger as Americans delay giving Indian investigators access to Headley. The hope here is that Indian agencies would get their turn to talk to the terrorist after charges — indictment in the American lexicon — are framed against him on Jauuary 1. There is also the possibility that Headley has promised to sing on the condition that he is not exposed to interrogators from India.
But during interactions on the issue, FBI has been unusually cagey about discussing Headley in detail — odd on the part of the agency which swiftly warned of the attack Lashkar had planned in September and without whose help the breakthrough in the 26/11 probe would not have happened.
PSYCOPATHS AND CHILD ABUSE
James commented on LORD OF THE FLIES; CHOOSE RALPH, NOT JACK
"It seems to have always been the psychopaths against the rest since the beginning of so called ‘civilization’.
"We have economic and political cultures built by them around hierarchies and centralism.
"The hierarchical structure and centralized power greatly favour psychopaths, of course.
"Voting for a non-psychopathic candidate is a good thing, undoubtedly, but it is not the answer because, as we’ve seen all too often, the next psychopath that is elected promptly undoes all the good done.
"We need systems that are designed to marginalize psychopaths instead of the rest of us."
Robert Hare, a researcher in the field, describes psychopaths as "predators who use charm, manipulation, intimidation, sex and violence to control others and to satisfy their own selfish needs.
"Lacking in conscience and empathy, they take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without guilt or remorse".
"What is missing, in other words, are the very qualities that allow a human being to live in social harmony."
It is estimated that one percent of the general population are psychopaths.
Bad parenting appears to have something to do with the production of at least some psycopaths.
"Rat pups who receive high levels of tactile contact from their mothers – in the form of licking, grooming, and close bodily contact – later as mature rats show reduced levels of stress hormones in response to being restrained, explore novel environments with greater gusto, show fewer stress-related neurons in the brain, and have more robust immune systems." (Darwin’s Touch: Survival of the Kindest Psychology Today )
The military likes kids who have been abused.
Was George W Bush deprived of sufficient loving hugs and kisses as a child?
Would Hitler have been a more peaceful citizen if he had been given lots of affection by his dad?
Lloyd deMause in The Journal of Psychohistory, Winter 1998, refers to The History of Child Abuse. (The History of Child Abuse Lloyd deMause – The Journal of Psychohistory)
Among the points made:
1. In past history we find child abuse was common.
In most countries children were sacrificed and mutilated to relieve the guilt of adults.
Today, we continue to arrange the daily killing, maiming, molestation and starvation of children.
Lehnert and Landrock
2. "The evolution of childhood from incest to love and from abuse to empathy has been a slow, uneven path, but one whose progressive direction is, I think, unmistakable."
"If the parent – the mother, for most of history – is given even the most minimal support by society, the evolution of childhood progresses…
"If little girls are treated particularly badly, they grow up to be mothers who cannot rework their traumas, and history is frozen…
"It is only when changes in childhood occur that … changes in the brain can occur and societies can begin to progress and move in unpredictable new directions that are more adaptive…"
World War II
3. There are six childrearing modes that I have suggested are common to all groups…
1. The earliest childrearing mode I have called infanticidal.
"I have estimated that perhaps half of all children born in antiquity were killed by their caretakers, declining to about a third in medieval times and dropping to under one percent only by the eighteenth century."
"In most simple societies today in such areas as New Guinea, boys and girls are used sexually by both their mothers and by the men, who gang rape girls and often are also pederasts who use the boys sexually, have boy-wives, or force all the boys to fellate them daily from age seven to fourteen…"
"The Greek and Roman child lived his or her earliest years in an atmosphere of sexual abuse…
"Boys … were regularly handed over by their parents to neighboring men to be raped…
"Child brothels, rent-a-boy services and sex slavery flourished in every city in antiquity…
"Christianity constructed its central myth of the Father sending his son down to be penetrated by a soldier’s lance in order to restage the common experience of fathers giving their boys to a neighbor to be sexually penetrated.
"Those who accepted the myth, accepted the penetration, and were promised the Father’s love and Mary’s tears in return."
2. "I labeled the second stage the abandoning mode…"
"Through the nineteenth century over half of the children born in Florence, for instance, were dumped into foundling homes at birth, to be picked up by their families – if they lived that long (the majority died) – when they were around five years old, thus avoiding having homes where crying babies disturbed the peace.
"The same abandonment was common in France, where, in 1900, over 90 % of the babies born in Paris were carted out to the countryside to wetnurses at birth. As one author put it, ‘mother love’ was a late historical achievement, not an instinctual trait…
"The erotic beating of children continued in Christian times…
"Century after century of battered children grew up to batter their own children in turn.
3. By the thirteenth century in the West … some advanced parents began to practice what I have termed the ambivalent mode of childrearing, where the child was not born completely evil… The mother might herself nurse her infant.
The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Western Europe saw vastly improved childrearing.
This "allowed at least some of the schizoid and borderline personalities of antiquity and medieval times – who regularly heard voices and hallucinated visions – to move on to the more integrated, less splitting modern neurotic personality more familiar to recent times…
"The sixteenth-century watershed in childrearing allowed people to reduce splitting and feel real depression for the first time, as can be seen in … the ability of Protestants to end the good mother/bad mother splitting of Mary/Eve, and the ability to internalize the projective panoply of split Catholic saints/devils into Protestant depressive guilt.
"With this vast improvement in childrearing – in some families at least – the modern world could begin, with the development of science, technology and democratization now being possible in parts of the West."
4. "By the seventeenth century, the intrusive mode of childrearing began, particularly in England, America and France, whereby the child was seen as less full of dangerous projections…
"Intrusive parenting, in essence, began to substitute psychological pressure for physical abuse, so that rather than whipping the child to prevent it from sin, it was, for instance, shut up in the dark closets for hours or left without food, sometimes for days.
"One mother shut her three-year-old boy up in a drawer.
"The intrusive mode required … a steady pressure on the child to “break its will”…
"John Wesley’s mother said of her babies, “When turned a year old (and some before), they were taught to fear the rod, and to cry softly.”
"A mother wrote of her first battle with her four-month-old infant, “I whipped him til he was actually black and blue, and until I could not whip him any more, and he never gave up one single inch.”
"Religion was a further source of terrorizing. God was said to “hold you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire”…"
5. "By the nineteenth century’s … more gentle psychological means began to be used to “socialize” the child.
"The socializing mode is still the main model of upbringing in Western nations, featuring the mother as trainer and the father as provider and protector, and the child is seen as slowly being made to conform to the parents’ model of goodness.
"By the nineteenth century parents … still sent their children to schools where they were erotically whipped on the bare buttocks and usually buggered by the older boys and masters.
As John Addington Symonds reported his experience as a boy at public school:
"Every boy of good looks had a female name, and was recognized either as a public prostitute or as some bigger fellow’s ‘bitch.’ … Here and there one could not avoid seeing acts of onanism, mutual masturbation, or the sports of naked boys in bed together…
"Those who tried to pass child labor legislation to reduce horrendous working conditions and hours were labeled Communists…
"Even so, the decrease in parental seduction and beating during the intrusive mode produced an explosion of social innovation, allowing nations to produce the democratic and industrial revolutions of the modern period."
6. "What kind of society might be envisioned by children brought up under the latest childrearing mode – what I have termed the helping mode – whereby a minority of parents are now trying to help their children reach their own goals at each stage of life, rather than socializing them into adult goals – is yet to be seen…
"That helping mode children grow up to be incapable of creating wars is also becoming evident from watching the anti-war activities of my children and those of their friends who have been brought up by other helping mode parents.
"For war is only understandable as a sacrificial ritual in which young men are sent by their parents to be hurt and killed as representatives of the independence-seeking parts of themselves.
"Psychohistorians have regularly found that images on the magazine covers and in political cartoons in the months prior to wars reveal fears of the nation becoming “too soft” and vulnerable, with images of dangerous women threatening to engulf and hurt people…
4. "That all social violence – whether by war, revolution or economic exploitation – is ultimately a consequence of child abuse should not surprise us.
"The propensity to reinflict childhood traumas upon others in socially-approved violence is actually far more able to explain and predict the actual outbreak of wars than the usual economic motivations, and we are likely to continue to undergo our periodic sacrificial rituals of war if the infliction of childhood trauma continues.
"Clear evidence has been published in The Journal of Psychohistory that the more traumatic one’s childhood, the more one is likely to be in favor of military solutions to social problems…"
5. "We cannot be content to only continue to do endless repair work on damaged adults, with more jails and police and therapists and political movements.
"Our task now must be to create an entirely new profession of “child helpers” who can reach out to every new child born on earth and help its parents give it love and independence…
" The success of parenting centers such as the one pioneered in Boulder, Colorado, for instance, has been astonishing.
"Through parenting classes and home visiting by paraprofessionals, they have measurably reduced child abuse, as shown by careful followup studies and by reduced police reports and hospital entrance rates.
"All this has been accomplished with very small monetary outlays, since these parent outreach centers operate mainly with volunteer labor, while it has the potential to save trillions of dollars annually in the costs of social violence, police enforcement, jails and other consequences of the widespread child abuse of today.
"Such a parent support movement would resemble the universal education movement of over a century ago…
"Do we really want to have massive armies and jails and emotionally crippled adults forever?
"Must each generation continue to torture and neglect its children so they repeat the violence and economic exploitation of previous generations?
"Why not achieve meaningful political and social revolution by first achieving a parenting revolution?
"If war, social violence, class domination and economic destruction of wealth are really revenge rituals for childhood trauma, how else can we remove the source of these rituals? How else end child abuse and neglect? How else increase the real wealth of nations, our next generation? How else achieve a world of love and laughter of which we are truly capable?"
"I don’t know if they have tigers in Bhutan, but they certainly have criminals. Well, they do now anyway – ever since Rupert Murdoch’s Sky began broadcasting into every home that is. Suddenly their meagre police force no longer has time to assist grannies cross the street because they’re too busy chasing all those people who’ve taken to robbery and murder…
The Portuguese… (have) de-criminalised drugs… Both crime and drug use in Portugal is declining…
"A world without fear, a global societal model based not on proscription of innumerable sins but rather redemption and a single aim of selflessness, is possible…" – Fear and Deterrence, and the Possibility of Redemption
“Copenhagen will not be a talk shop,” Ban said. “We will come out with a very concrete foundation for a legally binding treaty.”
PORT OF SPAIN: Hopes suddenly rose Friday that a new global climate pact was within reach after rich nations attending a Commonwealth summit here offered to pay poorer countries to help seal the deal.
“Success in Copenhagen is in sight,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon stated, referring to the climate negotiations to take place in the Danish capital December 7-18.
He and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, both making exceptional appearances at the Trinidad summit despite not being Commonwealth members, stressed how encouraged they were by Britain and France offering to start a US$10-billion fund for developing nations.
By showing willingness to meet “the need for money on the table,” it was now “realistic” to expect Copenhagen to result in the framework for a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012, Rasmussen said.
“Copenhagen will not be a talk shop,” Ban said. “We will come out with a very concrete foundation for a legally binding treaty.”
The sudden optimism contrasted sharply with predictions of failure at the climate talks as recently as two weeks ago.
Much of that stemmed from a joint overture by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Commonwealth gathering, whose leaders represent two billion people, or a third of the planet’s population.
The two European leaders proposed to compensate developing countries for the economic disadvantages they would face in cutting carbon emissions.
Britain said it had already set aside US$1.3 billion to be paid into the Copenhagen Launch Fund over the next three years.
“Poorer countries must have an understanding that the richer countries will help them adapt to climate change and make the necessary adjustments in their economies,” Brown said on his website.
“We have got to provide some money to help that. Britain will do so, the rest of Europe will do so and I believe America will do so as well.”
Sarkozy, who was also specially invited by Brown to address the Commonwealth summit, did not say how much France would contribute.
But he told reporters the fund would operate for the next three years, beyond which an “ambitious mechanism” for continued payments would be established.
The willingness of developed countries to ante up bolstered other moves that suggested nations were determined to reach an accord.
Important among those were carbon cut pledges by almost all the nations most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.
China, the world’s biggest polluter, has vowed to reduce “carbon intensity” as measured by unit of gross domestic product by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020, compared to 2005 levels.
The United States, the other major contributor to global warming, is looking at curbing carbon emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.
The European Union is unilaterally cutting emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, and is offering to go to 30 per cent if other industrialised parties follow suit.
Brazil, the fourth-biggest greenhouse gas contributor because of deforestation, has offered a reduction of 36 to 39 per cent based on its projected economic output in 2020.
Alone of the big polluting nations, India has not revealed any emission cut targets.
But after meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Trinidad, Sarkozy said that he was confident “they will put some figures on the table” within days.
Rasmussen said more than 85 heads of state and government had accepted invitations to attend the Copenhagen conference, effectively turning it into a big summit.
Among those who have publicly said they are going are US President Barack Obama, Britain’s Brown, France’s Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Sarkozy, however, criticised Obama’s decision to turn up for just one day at the beginning of the negotiations, on December 9, instead of the crucial final days of summit when all the other leaders would be crunching figures and concessions.
He added that, if an agreement eluded Copenhagen, “it will be a historic failure.”
By Denis Sinyakov
UGLOVKA, Russia (Reuters) – At least 39 people were killed and nearly 100 injured when a Russian express train came off the rails late on Friday in what the head of the national railway company said could have been a bomb attack.
The Nevsky Express, carrying 661 passengers from Moscow to St Petersburg, was derailed at 9:34 p.m. (1834 GMT) near the village of Uglovka about 350 km (200 miles) north of Moscow.
A Reuters photographer saw soldiers carrying four body bags away from the scene where rescue workers cut through the tangled steel to search for survivors in two wrecked train carriages.
“There is objective evidence that… a blast from an explosive device is one of the explanations for the Nevsky Express incident,” Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin told reporters at the scene.
A spokesman for Russia’s main domestic intelligence service, the FSB, declined to comment on whether an attack was suspected, saying merely that investigators were at work.
Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu was told by a ministry official on a video conference shown live on Vesti-24 state television that the death toll had risen to 39 after more bodies had been pulled from wrecked carriages.
Ministry officials later said only 25 people had been confirmed as dead, though they said the toll could rise and that at least 18 people were still unaccounted for.
The derailment is Russia’s worst train accident for years and talk of sabotage is likely to raise fears of an upsurge in attacks on the Russian heartland by rebels from the North Caucasus.
President Dmitry Medvedev has been informed about the derailment which has delayed 27,000 people as transport officials tried to divert trains along smaller lines.
Interfax news agency said a one-meter (3-ft) wide crater had been found next to the railway track, though Reuters reporters at the scene did not see one.
A railway official who asked not to be named said a witness had reported hearing a loud bang, though another passenger told reporters in St Petersburg there had been no blast.
After a blast on August 13, 2007 that derailed the Nevsky Express and injured at least 30 people, prosecutors arrested two residents of Ingushetia and charged them with helping to carry out the attack.
Russian prosecutors said they believed ex-soldier Pavel Kosolapov, a former associate of the late Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev, was the mastermind behind the blast. Kosolapov is still on the run.
In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, “We are deeply saddened by the terrible loss of life and injuries resulting from the reported derailment of a train between Moscow and Saint Petersburg.”
(Additional reporting by Gleb Stolyarov in Moscow and Denis Pinchuk in St Petersburg; writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Michael Roddy)
The sudden interest of the subservient mainstream media in this old bit of news is a weak attempt to discredit ongoing investigations into nefarious CIA mind-control and other dangerous practices. They want to make investigators into “conspiracy nuts” for pursuing this angle with garbage “news” like this. It tells me that some of us must be getting close to the truth.
Robert Fisk – Independent November 27, 2009
Allah was kind to Dubai yesterday. Just when the emirate’s unspeakable wealth appeared on the point of collapse – stock markets, of course, naturally ‘trembled’ – along came the feast of Eid al-Adha and sent all the kings and emirs and sheikhs off to their diwans to celebrate the decision by the father of monotheism – the Prophet Ibrahim himself – not to kill his son Ismail. But then again, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al-Makhtoum, knew that the week-long holiday in Dubai would close down the local markets even if it couldn’t stifle the rumours.
Among the latter came the old canard that Sheikh Mohamed will have to hand over his immensely profitable Emirates Airlines to his Abu Dhabi cousin, the ever-beneficent Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, who seems to spend much of his time bailing out Dubai’s outrageous tourist and oligarchical ambitions. Indeed, Dubai may have the tallest tower in the world and the largest man-made island but it would help if it paid off the Japanese company that has just built the emirate’s first metro system – even if trains to the airport cannot carry passenger baggage.
There are, however, two basic truths about Dubai which, predictably, have not found their way into market speculation or newspaper analysis. The first is that Dubai may soon find itself a satellite not of its Abu Dhabi capital but of India. The biggest merchants in Dubai are Indian – they run the gold market, even the bookshops in Sheikh Mohamed’s playpen – and west India is only two hours’ flying time away. In fact, until 1962 – and you have to be an oldie to understand the emirates’ economic world – the Indian rupee was the currency for most of the Gulf, including even Kuwait.
Sheikh Mohamed’s angry dismissal of his three top executives a week ago will not change this, although it might curb those who took too much advantage of the Dubai boom. The ruler may indeed have to reflect upon the future of Emirates, not to mention the invalid Dubai World, if he is to appease his friendly cousin up the road in Abu Dhabi, but in the end the emirs all know that Dubai – like the US and British banks that crashed so spectacularly this year – is too big to abandon. If Dubai World really defaults, then the rating agencies will start downgrading the whole shebang and the sheikhs and financial elite of the UAE will find it hard to get money.
There’s always been a cosy relationship, of course, between haughty, starchy old Abu Dhabi and playboy Dubai. Sheikh Mohamed likes tourism and foreigners and racehorses and even the Russian oligarchs whose henchmen apparently fought a gun battle in the world’s tallest building a few months ago.
Abu Dhabi, holder of the world’s sixth largest crude oil reserves, believes in industry and art, occasionally poking gentle fun at its bling emirate to the east; the creation of Ettihad Airlines – ever expanding in the face of Emirates Airlines’ success – was both a joke and a warning.
But deep in their golden mosques, the ruling family are asking themselves some serious questions this Islamic holiday. Why was the call for a moratorium on debt so crudely and unprofessionally put together?
As one fine source – Independent readers must take on trust how high up the ladder he is, but he should have known of this announcement and didn’t – said privately last night: "It came as a shock and a surprise to everybody, not only to me but to anyone I know. All the information I had till yesterday was that everything was in hand. We had the finding for everything coming due this year – there was the $10 billion [£6 million] issued back in February and then nearly $8 billion over the past month – the money’s there.
"So it’s a puzzle, particularly since it was very clear, to people who knew, that the bond coming due in December was a litmus test. Everyone was planning to repay it. The people of Abu Dhabi didn’t know this was going to happen. The market did not expect anything like this."
Too true. If Dubai World and all the other conglomerates symbolising Dubai were already in the process of being restructured, why Wednesday’s extraordinary statement? There was talk in Dubai last night of a "Diwan revolution" although you’d think this had commenced when Sheikh Mohamed started ditching his top guys seven days ago. As one financial journalist in the Gulf put it: "To get a six-month standstill on payments for creditors, you can’t just announce it before you’ve talked to them. They’re not going to get the creditors to accept this in a couple of weeks."
Unless, of course, Sheikh Mohamed planned the whole fandango with Sheikh Khalifa. Unlikely, since Dubai’s decision to allow foreigners to buy property in the emirate was taken without any reference to the nation’s laws – or warning to Abu Dhabi. Or, rather than worrying about London and Tokyo, perhaps we should be watching the Indian stock market…