Fears of a million layoffs a month in corporate America


Fears of a million layoffs a month in corporate


As many as a million American jobs could be lost every month by next spring as businesses struggle to raise capital in financial markets consumed by fear, according to a new analysis.

November was the worst month in the US labour market since the oil crisis of 1974, as more than 500,000 US workers were laid off, according to official figures released on Friday.

But Graham Turner, of consultancy GFC Economics, says the rising cost of corporate debt is now flashing a red warning signal that far worse is to come over the next few months and job losses are heading for levels last seen in the 1930s Great Depression.

Corporate bond yields have rocketed since the credit crisis began as investors flee risky assets in search of safe havens such as US Treasuries. That effectively means many firms are being forced to pay eye-watering interest rates to borrow funds.

Turner says when the gap between the yield on high-risk company bonds and US Treasuries widens sharply, unemployment tends to shoot up – and current credit conditions are pointing to a doubling in the pace of layoffs, to more than a million workers a month, by spring.

‘The correlation is holding up all too well,’ he said. ‘It’s very disconcerting.’ He added that the pace of layoffs already happening in the US ‘is indicative of panic’. During the 1970s oil crisis the panic was relatively short-lived, he says. ‘But the worry now is that this will just roll on and on.’

On Friday alone, embattled car firm General Motors, fund manager Legg Mason, and motor parts supplier Gentex announced plans to shed staff.

November’s jobs figures were so much worse than analysts had expected that the Dow Jones share index actually rallied by 259 points, more than 3 per cent, as investors bet that Washington would have to launch a major new rescue package for the economy even before President-elect Barack Obama takes over the White House in January.

The scale of the layoffs in the US, which pushed unemployment to 6.7 per cent, could also point towards a further deterioration in conditions in the UK: David Blanchflower, an independent member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and labour market specialist, warned recently: ‘What happens in the US tends to be repeated six to nine months later in Britain’.

David Frost, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, believes Britain’s companies are gearing up for large-scale layoffs.

‘There will be a huge raft of redundancies. I am sensing that talking to firms. The worry is that next year the job losses will be just horrendous. All sectors are taking the hit. In the middle of the year it was construction and estate agencies. Now it is services, the automotive industry, retailers. Firms are waiting for Christmas and if they can’t see any improvement they will cut their payrolls.’

Woolworths administrators made 450 of its office staff redundant on Friday, but the future of the 25,000 staff who work in its stores remains uncertain.

U.S. Collective Dictatorship Enlarges

U.S. Collective Dictatorship Enlarges

by Michael S. Rozeff

Dictatorship is unlimited rule. Collective dictatorship is unlimited rule by an assembly. National government in the U.S. has tended toward collective dictatorship over its entire history.

No new alarm bell is rung when I say that the U.S. collective dictatorship is now enlarging, for that is its usual tendency. We recognize this tendency at the grass-roots level by the increasing control that government has over our personal lives. There is almost nothing that we do that is not touched by government rules and power. We cannot work, play, invest, obtain medical care, drive a car, eat, smoke, speak, gesture, wash, have a baby, buy or sell a good, or even have a bowel movement without encountering the government.

Yet the alarm bell needs now more than ever to be rung loudly and vigorously, for the most recent enlargement is coming in the area of financial control over the banking system and thus the economy. What is left of liberty in America faces an extremely dangerous threat. It is all the more serious because it is not widely recognized as a threat.

To understand what is happening now in the U.S., it is useful to compare the parallel developments that occurred in Nazi Germany. The German central bank, the Reichsbank, was far more restricted by law (before 1939) than our central bank, the Federal Reserve (Fed) in the kinds and amounts of loans it could make. The Fed, in this sense, is far more powerful than the Reichsbank was before 1939. The Reichsbank was, like the Fed, independent of the government. The German government could not order it to make loans to the government, for example. This situation changed in 1939 when the Nazi government needed more funds to finance its armament build-up. At that point, the government basically absorbed the Reichsbank.

It helps to read the words of Hjalmar Schacht, who headed the Reichsbank between 1933 and the time of his dismissal in early 1939. Schacht is something of a controversial figure in history. In 1946 he was tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg where he testified. Dr. Schacht, who was acquitted, had ended up in a concentration camp. An extended discussion of Schacht’s activities that brings out the negatives is contained here. A less critical account is here.

Here is some of what Schacht testified that is germane today:

“Consequently, when it became clear that Hitler was working toward a further increase in rearmament – and I spoke about that yesterday in connection with the conversation of the 2nd of January, 1939 – when we became aware of that, we wrote the memorandum which has been quoted here and is in the hands of this Tribunal as an exhibit. It indicates clearly that we opposed every further increase of State expenditure and would not assume responsibility for it. From that, Hitler gathered that he would in no event be able to use the Reichsbank with its present directorate and president for any future financial purposes. Therefore, there remained only one alternative; to change the directorate, because without the Reichsbank he could not go on. And he had to take a second step; he had to change the Reichsbank Law. That is to say, an end had to be put to the independence of the Reichsbank from governmental decrees. At first he did that in a secret law – we had such things – of 19th or 20th January, 1939. That law was published only about six months later. That law abolished the independence of the Reichsbank, and the president of the Reichsbank became a mere bank teller for the credit demands of the Reich or, that is to say, of Hitler.”

Schacht makes crystal clear that the central bank was essential for the government to be able to arm the country and make war. Without the bank, Hitler “could not go on.” He would not be able to use the bank “for any future financial purpose” such as paying for armaments. Furthermore, if the bank would not cooperate, then “an end had to be put to the independence of the Reichsbank from governmental decrees.” That having been done by Hitler, the president of the bank “became a mere bank teller for the credit demands of the Reich or, that is to say, of Hitler.”

These observations about the role and necessity of the central bank in supporting the government, usually in its war efforts, and of the threat to the bank’s independence are as true of the United States as they were of Nazi Germany. As bad as the Fed is, our liberty declines even more when, as, and if the Fed becomes a direct arm of the government. This has happened before. The Fed supported the U.S. government bond market during World War II, which laid the foundation for the resulting inflation:

“The Federal Reserve System formally committed to maintaining a low interest rate peg on government bonds in 1942 after the United States entered World War II. It did so at the request of the Treasury to allow the federal government to engage in cheaper debt financing of the war. To maintain the pegged rate, the Fed was forced to give up control of the size of its portfolio as well as the money stock.”

Central banks are brought into being and allowed extraordinary powers with the overriding aim of supporting government borrowing, often for purposes of making war, and with inflation being the accompanying method by which this support is rendered. I quote: “Many on the Board of Governors, including Marriner Eccles, understood that the forced obligation to maintain the low peg on interest rates produced an excessive monetary expansion that caused the inflation.” Similarly, we are told concerning Schacht: “Schacht had always feared an inflation in Germany. As early as 8 May 1936, he emphatically stated that he would ‘never be party to an inflation’ (1301-PS). In January 1939, Schacht was convinced that ruinous inflation was, in fact, imminent (EC-369). There was, it appears, ample basis for his fear. The Finance Minister, von Krosigk, had already recognized the situation in September 1938, and had written to Hitler warning that we are steering towards a serious financial crisis…”

Because Schacht’s official central banking powers were not as great as the Fed’s, he hid what he did to get around the law and help finance Hitler. In the U.S., the Fed has so much power that it can do openly what Schacht did secretly. In that sense, we are further along the path of collective dictatorship than Germany in the 1930s. Schacht set up a dummy corporation, called MEFO for short, that “bought” arms from the arms manufacturers. It accepted the (mefo) bills of these manufacturers who then were able to discount them at banks and get paid. The banks then discounted them with the Reichsbank. Lo and behold, inflationary finance paid for the arms production in huge amounts, circumventing the law’s prohibitions.

Bernanke makes Schacht look like a piker. In the U.S., the Fed has no statutory limits on its finance! It is openly financing whatever institutions it pleases. It has extended $56 billion to AIG company, another $298 billion for the commercial paper of various companies, and $407 billion to banks using its own holdings of Treasury securities. The critics of these loans are vastly outnumbered by those applauding the Fed’s inflation as the means of saving America. The sycophants eagerly await the Fed’s next moves. The Fed is preparing the way by leaking to the press hints of “unconventional steps.” These will involve interventions in markets such as mortgage markets. Bernanke and Company seem to have none of the fear that Schacht had of inflation or being held responsible for inflation.

When the dictatorship, embodied in one person or in a collective, obtains the unlimited ability to finance its purposes, there is no stopping it except by restraining its powers; and that takes a revolution or, at a bare minimum, the deposition of persons from the government and replacement by those willing to abridge the government’s powers, if such a thing is possible.

Hitler ended the independence of the Reichsbank by secret decree. Such matters are handled slightly differently in the U.S. Secrecy does not seem to be necessary, inasmuch as the mainstream media do not understand what is going on and, in any event, promote the party line, that is, the official interpretation of official acts. If the Treasury absorbed the Federal Reserve, it would no doubt be treated as a welcome event rather than an enlargement of the collective dictatorship.

The President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Timothy Geithner, has been appointed as the new Secretary of the Treasury. Geithner is a government man through and through. He believes in intervention and bailouts. His name comes up again and again in accounts of the various programs. There could not be much more of an incestuous relation between Treasury and Fed than this one, short of Bernanke becoming chief teller of the Fed for the Government, which he already appears to be.

The Treasury has taken preferred stock positions in the largest banks in America. This is part and parcel of Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which is openly dictatorial.

We are entering upon a sequence of events that will, in the end, transform the American economy even more than now into a slow-growth, no-growth, inflationary, regulated, stalled, and inefficient economy. It will be a miracle if the Fed’s expansion is brought under control and reduced. The Fed will maintain its lending and even expand it. This can only atrophy both the banking system and the capital markets. Inflationary pressures are bound to build up, and that will lead to economic controls. The Treasury will look for ways to regulate capital markets still further, and this will undermine them. There is no worse signal than the Treasury’s intrusion into maintaining zombie institutions that should fail and be re-organized. This has already happened in the cases of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

This all means that efficient institutions, companies, and persons will be penalized at the expense of the inefficient ones or the deadbeats. More and more will buy tickets to Washington to beg for relief. The end of the road is government control of the means of production. When companies can no longer finance themselves through the standard private means of capital markets and banks, they turn to government. When government can no longer handle the bankruptcies, it seizes the means of production.

December 6, 2008

Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.

Copyright © 2008 LewRockwell.com




Jundullah reveals plan to attack US centre in Karachi

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday stepped up security in Karachi following disclosure by a group of detained militants of a plot to attack the US

Consulate and American military interests and other vital installations in this port city.

Nine activists of the newly formed Jundullah militant group, detained in connection with the attack on Karachi Corps Commander last month, have disclosed that they had planned to attack the US Consulate-general in Karachi besides targetting vehicles carrying US military cargo at the Karachi Port, an intelligence official said.

“Still there are threats of attack on the US Consulate and some other places and in the light of the information gleaned from the arrested Jundullah men, we have intensified security at all vital installations,” a senior government official was quoted as saying by a news report.

A confidential letter issued by intelligence agencies revealed that militants had planned to attack the US Consulate, senior police officials, a columnist of an English daily and some television artists, The News reported quoting the official.

He said the ringleader of the Jundullah, Attaur Rehman, told the interrogators that after attacking the corps commander’s cavalcade, which claimed the lives of six soldiers and three policemen, he had planned to attack the US consulate with light machineguns.

The Karachi corps commander escaped unhurt in the attack.

“They planned to fire indiscriminately with the LMGs on the consulate building from the Clifton Bridge and they revealed they had closely monitored the movement of some vehicles carrying US military cargo at the Karachi Port and planned to target them,” the official said.

He said the threat of attacks on these targets still existed as the terrorist network has not been destroyed completely.

“We have damaged the network, but there is a possibility of backlash from some absconding militants,” he said, adding elaborate security measures have been taken to avert any possible attack on the targets disclosed by the Jundullah militants.

He, however, did not elaborate on the details of vehicles carrying US military cargo and the nature of security arrangements taken to protect them.



Journalist SYED ADEEB: “Al-Qaida is the top secret code name of
special covert operations of the U.S. CIA, Israeli Mossad, British
SIS, Indian RAW and Pakistani ISI. Al-Qaida is a fake name, an
imaginary illusion, a deceptive fraud, a fictitious hoax and a
fraudulent scam of the unlawful war of terror, which is still being
cunningly and clandestinely supported and promoted by the CIA, Mossad,
SIS, RAW, ISI and the Corrupt Mercenary Media (CMM) to frame, blame,
defame, harm and kill Pakistanis, Kashmiris, Afghans, Arabs, Muslims
and other innocent humans by falsely and maliciously labeling them as
the Al-Qaida militants, extremists, or terrorists. Actually, Al-Qaida
or Al-CIA-da is the CIA. Al-Qaida is the Mossad. Al-Qaida is the SIS.
Al-Qaida is the RAW. Al-Qaida is the ISI. Al-Qaida is the CMM. The
CIA, Mossad, SIS, RAW, ISI and the CMM are the real Al-Qaida or ‘the
Evil 6’. For the sake of international peace, reform or abolish the
CIA, Mossad, SIS, RAW and the ISI; oppose and expose the CMM; and end
the illegal war of terror now to reduce global terrorism. Indeed,
imperialistic military occupation of any country, state, or nation is
state terrorism. Civil terror is a natural reaction to government

Pakistani Professor of Islam Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is President of the
Jamat-ud-Dawah (JUD) based in Pakistan.

JUD: http://www.jamatdawah.org


(InformPress.com) – (1) Journalist AMIR MIR: What’s your response to
India’s [false and malicious] allegation that the Mumbai attacks had a
Pakistani hand?

(2) Professor Hafiz MUHAMMAD SAEED: Like any other patriotic
Pakistani, I strongly refute these [false and malicious] allegations
[of anti-Pakistan Indian-Hindus]. There is a general impression that
the Indian leadership is using Pakistan as a punching bag to cover up
its failures at home. Instead of blaming Pakistan, India should have
acted as a responsible country, shown patience and focused on
investigating the [Mumbai] attacks to find out the real culprits. It’s
not for the first time that the Indians have blamed Pakistan for their
own failures, although none of these has proven true so far. For
instance, the Indian leadership was quick to blame Pakistan for
masterminding the 2007 Samjhauta Express and Malegaon 2008 tragedies.
Yet their own security and intelligence agencies have finally arrested
an Indian Army officer, [Hindu] Lt. Col. [Shrikant Prasad] Purohit, as
the actual mastermind.

(3) JOURNALIST: But the Mumbai attacker, who was arrested alive, has
confessed to the Indian authorities that he is a Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT]
militant from Pakistan.

(4) Professor Hafiz MUHAMMAD SAEED: Every time there is a major
terrorist activity on Indian soil, the Indian officials come out with
such cooked-up confessional statements. The Indian authorities are not
at all interested in holding proper investigations into the Mumbai
episode. They are only interested in blaming Pakistan, which is
evident from the fact that they started naming Pakistan even while the
operation was still under way.

(5) JOURNALIST: Are you saying the Lashkar was not involved in the
recent attacks in Mumbai?

(6) Professor Hafiz MUHAMMAD SAEED: Technically speaking, I am not
authorised to speak for the Lashkar-e-Taiba. I am the Jamat-ud-Dawah’s
[JUD] Ameer [President] and have nothing to do with the Lashkar. But I
can say with authority that the Lashkar does not believe in killing
civilians. A Lashkar spokesman in Srinagar [Hindu-Occupied Kashmir]
has denied the [false and malicious] allegations that it was involved
in the Mumbai attacks, saying these were actually meant to malign the
group and damage the ongoing freedom struggle in the Kashmir Valley.

(7) JOURNALIST: But the Indian authorities have demanded your
extradition [from Pakistan to India], because they think you are the
moving spirit behind the Lashkar.

(8) Professor Hafiz MUHAMMAD SAEED: I stepped down as Lashkar Ameer
[President] in December 2001. It’s now being led by Maulana Abdul
Wahid Kashmiri, who is based in Srinagar [Hindu-Occupied Kashmir].

(9) JOURNALIST: The Indian authorities [falsely and maliciously]
allege that you are still being backed by the ISI [Pakistan Army’s
Inter-Services Intelligence, which is a mercenary organization of the
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)] and your group is linked to
[the fake] Al-Qaida?

(10) Professor Hafiz MUHAMMAD SAEED: They can say anything. I am not
bothered about what they say. I will keep spreading the message of
Allah [God] Almighty despite all pressures, knowing fully well that
Indians will continue to mislead the world community by linking us to
the Lashkar, the ISI and even [the fictitious] Al-Qaida.

(11) JOURNALIST: How do you react to India’s demand for your
extradition [from Pakistan to India]?

(12) Professor Hafiz MUHAMMAD SAEED: It’s actually a crude attempt to
divert the attention of the Indian people from their massive security
and intelligence failure that led to the Mumbai attacks. The Jamat-ud-
Dawah is all about relief and social work, and everyone in Pakistan
knows about our activities. Even otherwise, let me make it clear that
I have never been convicted either in Pakistan or in India on any
charge. On the other hand, a criminal case is still pending in
Hyderabad, Sindh [Pakistan], against [Indian-Hindu] BJP leader L.K.
Advani for masterminding [an attempted] murder of [Pakistan’s Founder]
Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, but Pakistan has never demanded his
extradition [from India to Pakistan].

(13) JOURNALIST: There is a possibility of an Indian Airforce
[terrorist] attack on the Muridke [Pakistan] headquarters of the Jamat-
ud-Dawah…. What is your reaction?

(14) Professor Hafiz MUHAMMAD SAEED: It will be very unfortunate if
India resorts to any such [terroristic] attack because Muridke is only
used for educational activities. I strongly refute the Indian [false
and malicious] allegations that the Markaz [JUD Academy for Teaching
Islam] contains any jehad-related training facility. The Indian [false
and malicious] allegations are only aimed at hoodwinking the
international community.

(15) JOURNALIST: What will be your response in case the Indians
eventually decide to [terroristically] target the Markaz [JUD Academy
for Teaching Islam] in Muridke?

(16) Professor Hafiz MUHAMMAD SAEED: It’s up to the Pakistani
Government and the Pakistan Army to decide how to react to any such
[terrorist] misadventure by the Indians. The [Pakistani] Army is
responsible for safeguarding Pakistan’s geographical frontiers against
any external aggression. And like any other patriotic Pakistani, we
will also stand behind the [Pakistan] armed forces if the Indians
resort to any [terrorist] aggression against Pakistan’s sovereignty.

(17) Information Press Chief Editor SYED ADEEB: “Al-Qaida is the top
secret code name of special covert operations of the U.S. CIA, Israeli
Mossad, British SIS, Indian RAW and Pakistani ISI. Al-Qaida is a fake
name, an imaginary illusion, a deceptive fraud, a fictitious hoax and
a fraudulent scam of the unlawful war of terror, which is still being
cunningly and clandestinely supported and promoted by the CIA, Mossad,
SIS, RAW, ISI and the Corrupt Mercenary Media (CMM) to frame, blame,
defame, harm and kill Pakistanis, Kashmiris, Afghans, Arabs, Muslims
and other innocent humans by falsely and maliciously labeling them as
the Al-Qaida militants, extremists, or terrorists. Actually, Al-Qaida
or Al-CIA-da is the CIA. Al-Qaida is the Mossad. Al-Qaida is the SIS.
Al-Qaida is the RAW. Al-Qaida is the ISI. Al-Qaida is the CMM. The
CIA, Mossad, SIS, RAW, ISI and the CMM are the real Al-Qaida or ‘the
Evil 6’. For the sake of international peace, reform or abolish the
CIA, Mossad, SIS, RAW and the ISI; oppose and expose the CMM; and end
the illegal war of terror now to reduce global terrorism. Indeed,
imperialistic military occupation of any country, state, or nation is
state terrorism. Civil terror is a natural reaction to government

(18) [A long time ago, Pakistani journalist Mr. Amir Mir and his
brother, Pakistani journalist Mr. Hamid Mir, were friendly neighbors
of America’s investigative journalist Mr. Syed Adeeb in Faisal Town,
Lahore, Pakistan. – Information Press – www.InformPress.com
Saturday, 6 December 2008 – Virginia, U.S.A.]

JUD: http://www.jamatdawah.org

U.S. National Intelligence Director Did NOT Blame Lashkar-e-Taiba For
Mumbai Attacks

1. http://www.dictatorshipwatch.com


2. http://groups.google.com/group/reportpress/t/79cc61f41918ea15

3. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/informpress/message/55

4. http://www.jamatdawah.org/news_detail.php?news_id=772

5. http://www.jamatdawah.org/news_detail.php?news_id=774

6. http://www.jamatdawah.org/news_detail.php?news_id=768

7. http://www.khalistan.com

8. http://www.kmsnews.org

9. http://www.dalitvoice.org

10. http://www.jamaat.org/indexe.html

Mumbai mayhem and The unseen hands of modern day spies

Mumbai mayhem and The unseen hands of modern day spies
However loathsome and abominable terrorism is in civilized society, it does not operate in a vacuum. While terrorism is a manifestation of individual or group frustration against what the perpetrator of terrorism sees as injustice, it is also a political tool in the hands of non-terrorist actors, namely the states, to achieve a political end.Not many analysts have studied this aspect of terrorism, though the topic “state terrorism” is extensively dealt with in the discipline of international relations. Some may insist that states do not participate directly or indirectly in acts carried out by mercenary terrorists or by state intelligence operatives. But in reality, it happens. It happens in Iraq. Remember the capture of two British SAS operatives clad in traditional Arab clothes in Basra in 2005 – with explosives and remote control devices?

Today’s murky world of intelligence is a labyrinth of plots within plots. It is no longer the world of Ian Fleming who fascinated his readers with his legendary hero, James Bond. Today’s spy has outgrown the days of the double agent. He is a multiple agent. There is also the zero agent, who does not know he or she is being manipulated and handled by one spy agency or another. Many of the so-called terrorists or terror groups with Islamic labels fit into this category.

The knowledge the public has of the world of modern day spies is limited. They probably know that a state’s intelligence arm, which acts as the eyes and ears of the state, executes intelligence and counterintelligence operations. But beyond this understanding, citizens – in some cases, even presidents and prime ministers – are in the dark as to what the state intelligence arm does. With their limited knowledge they cannot comprehend covert actions which involve highly secretive and conspiratorial operations designed to serve important but often unadmitted policy objectives.

However, keen students of international politics see a secret motive behind every action of a state and every utterance of state leaders. Their cynicism has only increased since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. More than seven years have passed since the terror attack on the iconic symbol of US economic power – the World Trade Centre – and the Pentagon, which signifies the US military power. But hundreds of questions still remain unanswered. The official 9/11 commission report, released in July 2004, also failed to answer them, prompting allegations of government complicity in the attacks. Those who slammed the report and raised doubts were not just those who, at the drop of a hat, would subscribe to a conspiracy theory. They were well respected public officials, professors, aviation professionals, architects and structural engineers.

The full picture of the 9/11 did emerge only later, when the George W. Bush administration – a pawn in the hands of the neoconservative cabal which has infiltrated the US intelligence agencies – attacked Afghanistan and later Iraq.  General Leonid Ivashov, who was the Chief of Staff of the Russian armed forces when the 9/11 attacks occurred, in an article posted on rense.com, says there’s no such thing as international terrorism and that the September 11 attacks were the result of a set-up. “What we are seeing is a manipulation by the big powers; this terrorism would not exist without them.”

He goes on to say that what analysts describe as “International terrorism” is a new weapon in today’s type of war. And with the complicity of biased media, it becomes the manager of global processes, he adds.

But many people do not view international terrorism through Ivashov’s prism, though the 9/11 incidents teach an important lesson: An incident, especially a terror attack, should be viewed not merely by what is evident on the surface but also by the events that follow it and the extent to which a state benefits by achieving its national interest goals.

It is in this context, a cynic would view last week’s Mumbai terror attacks. Going by the evidence on the surface and the statements made by Indian officials, none can dispute that it was an attack carried out by ruthless terrorists. But events that are unfolding after the attacks show that the incident was more a conspiracy against Pakistan than India. Those who sent the terrorists to attack Mumbai targets, including the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel – an iconic symbol of India’s colonial past and a living monument to its growing capitalist power – were not so naïve as not to know that their action would put Pakistan’s head on the chopping block. The attack has, no doubt, pushed Pakistan further into the abyss, from which the new government of President Asif Ali Zardari is trying to come out after years of military rule, in spite of many challenges in the form of a crippling economic crisis and a terrorism problem on its border with Afghanistan.

It is unfair to blame Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks. The Bush administration did not blame Saudi Arabia when 15 of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks turned out to be Saudis. India did not blame Sri Lanka when a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber killed Rajiv Gandhi. So why blame Pakistan, even if one says that the attacks were carried out by the banned Pakistani jihadi outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT).

Some may say that in Pakistan the military is a state within state and therefore the government is not privy to secret operations of the military or the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency. They may charge that the ISI is maintaining some links with elements in the LeT or al-Qaeda for strategic purposes. But those who make such allegations must assess Pakistan’s culpability in the Mumbai attack by the gains. There are hardly any. Besides, the so-called Pakistani jihadists, members of the LeT, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Tehrik-e-Taleban are at war with the ISI, the Pakistani military and the state. The ISI is, therefore, unlikely to execute an operation which would be detrimental to Pakistan’s national interest.

There are others who may point a finger at India’s own spy arm, the Research and Analysis Wing. They may charge that the RAW knew the attacks were coming but allowed them to come to pass for strategic reasons. Yet others may see a CIA hand in the attacks.

Instead of engaging in a blame game, both India and Pakistan should come together and carry out a joint investigation. Or both these countries should ask the United Nations to appoint a probe commission, similar to the one that is investigating the Rafik Hariri assassination in Lebanon.

The attack has placed India in a strong position. It is earning the same global sympathy which the United States earned in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The over-emotional Indian media dubbed the Mumbai attacks India’s 9/11 – or 27/11. Like the US 9/11, India’s 27/11 is also replete with many unanswered questions, which give fodder for conspiracy theorists, many of whose explanations are not totally unreasonable.

Armed with global sympathy, India is now in a better position to take draconian measures to fight the so-called war on terror within India. The fear of the international human rights community is that India may go the way the Bush administration went – with Patriotic Acts, torture, Guantanamo Bay, etc. Those who will be worst hit by such measures will be the people of Indian-administered Kashmir – the flashpoint for the subcontinent tension.

DEBKA Report [possible disinformation]: India seeks Israeli help, commandos reach Delhi ‘Islamabad to use all options if attacked’

israel-india israel_india_pin

India seeks Israeli help, commandos reach Delhi

‘Islamabad to use all options if attacked’

Akhtar Jamal

Islamabad—An Israeli intelligence source has reported on Saturday that India has sought Isralei help and support in operational and intelligence planning to conduct Commando attacks on three to five Pakistani targets.

According to a report the Indian leaders “showed the outline of this plan to US secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she visited New Delhi last week.

“She commented guardedly that the United States was strongly opposed to a full-scale war between India and Pakistan but not averse to limited counter-terror operations” the Debka intelligence report claimed.

The report filed on Saturday evening added that “Israel is willing to help the Indians carry out punitive forays into Pakistan because it has its own scores to settle for the brutal murder of six Israelis in Mumbai’s Chabad Center.

The report claimed that four Pakistani locations are to be targeted including suspected training sites in Azad Kashmir as well as probably near Lahore and Multan and near Gwadar close to Iranian border.

It is surprising to note that the Israeli claim came within hours of a report in Washington Post that “The United States turned up the pressure on Pakistan”.

Rice’s visit to Pakistan followed a trip to India on Wednesday and came after a visit to Pakistan by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

U.S. media reports also warned that next 48 hours were “very crucial” and suggested that Pakistan should take “urgent moves” to arrest those named. It was also reported that Indian wanted former ISI chief detained and investigated.

A senior Pakistani official commenting on Israeli report warned that “any mis-adventure would have very very serious consequences for the whole region.” He also warned that Pakistan “will not be caught by surprise” and added “we are constantly monitoring the situation and considering to take all option in case any attack in carried out by foreign forces be it India or its allies”.

Reliable sources told Pakistan Observer that Pakistan has already notified its “friends and allies” that any irresponsible action from India would be responded with “full force”. It may also be noted that Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majid held an important meeting with Chinese Ambassador in Islamabad Saturday and discussed the “current situation” in the region.

According to a reliable report a group of Israeli commandoes arrived in India on Saturday night and were dispatched to an unknown destination. Meanwhile a defence source added that Islamabad was closely monitoring the situation and was aware of air and naval movements in the region.

Sources also fear that missiles may also be fired from sub-marines off the Indian Ocean or Arabian Sea. Meanwhile a former Chief of Army Staff has expressed fear that India might launch “surgical attacks” inside Pakistan.

Regional defence watchers warned that “taking advantage of the rising tension Israeli may also launch a series of air attack on Iranian suspected nuclear sites.”

The mention of Gwadar and areas close to Iranian border by the Israeli intelligence source was somewhat surprising.

Clashes disrupt fourth phase of Kashmir elections


Clashes disrupt fourth phase of Kashmir


SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Large crowds voted in several towns in Indian Kashmir on Sunday, while separatists in other areas boycotted the polls and clashed with government forces in the fourth phase of state elections in the disputed Himalayan region.

Muslim separatist leaders have called for a boycott of the vote in Jammu-Kashmir state, saying it will only entrench India’s hold on the region. Some have been detained in recent months under a law that allows police to hold people for up to two years without trial.

Thousands of paramilitary soldiers and police wearing bulletproof jackets and carrying automatic weapons patrolled polling places across the region.

The elections for the state legislature, which began Nov. 17, are being held in seven phases through Dec. 24. The voting has been largely peaceful with a higher-than-expected turnout of over 60 percent.

The staggered balloting allows the government to deploy thousands of security forces in each area in an attempt to prevent a repeat of deadly violence during elections in 2002.

Protesters demonstrated Sunday outside polling places in Sopore, a town 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Srinagar, the region’s main city. Police and paramilitary soldiers fired gunshots into the air and lobbed tear gas to drive them away, a police officer said on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.

Anti-election protests were also reported in the nearby town of Baramulla and seven other villages in the region, the police officer said.

In one clash, at least six photographers, including one from The Associated Press, were injured by baton-swinging police.

Kashmir’s police chief, B. Srinivas, said he regretted the incident and that police would investigate.

Government forces later stopped journalists from traveling to the polling areas.

Some 1.4 million of the state’s roughly 6.5 million eligible voters live in the areas were voting took place Sunday. Turnout was not immediately available, but in some towns there were long lines of voters.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, where most people favor either independence or a merger with Pakistan. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both.

The elections come after some of the largest protests against Indian rule in decades in Jammu-Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. At least 48 people died in weeks of protests last summer, most when Indian soldiers opened fire on Muslim demonstrators.

Militant separatist groups have been fighting since 1989 to end Indian rule. The uprising and a subsequent Indian crackdown have killed about 68,000 people, most of them civilians.

EU’s French presidency condemns Peshawar blasts

EU’s French presidency condemns Peshawar blasts

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s French presidency condemned on Saturday two separate car bomb blasts in markets in Peshawar.

In a statement, the EU’s presidency said it ‘condemns in the utmost terms’ the two attacks and ‘expresses its solidarity with the Pakistani authorities and people’.

27 lives were lost when an explosives-laden car blew up in a crowded market in Peshawar on Friday as people were shopping ahead of Eidul Azha.

The blast came hours after six people died in a car bomb explosion at a market in Orakzai Agency near Peshawar.

The EU foreign ministers are due to discuss closer relations with Pakistan at a meeting in Brussels on Monday in a bid to help Islamabad counter the threat of extremism.

According to a draft statement prepared for their talks, the ministers will commit themselves ‘to intensify political dialogue and deepen relations with Pakistan’. afp

2 bomb blasts kill 27 in northwest Pakistan


2 bomb blasts kill 27 in northwest Pakistan

Saad Khan, AFP

Published: Friday, December 05, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – At least 27 people were killed and dozens more wounded when two bomb blasts struck crowded markets in northwest Pakistan Friday as shoppers prepared for the Eid Muslim festival.

Most of the victims died when an explosives-laden car blew up in a busy marketplace in the heart of Peshawar, the capital of the violence-hit province bordering Afghanistan.

The blast, which killed 21 people and wounded 84, occurred just hours after six people died in a car bomb explosion at a market in the semi-autonomous Orakzai tribal district near Peshawar.

Facts about Mumbai attack suspects in India

Facts about Mumbai attack suspects in India

Reuters – Police forged ahead on Sunday with their investigation into the Mumbai attacks which killed 171 people last week. Four men are in custody, only one of them from Pakistan, which is where India says the attack originated.

Here are some facts about the suspects and the roles they are accused of playing:

MOHAMED AJMAL KASAB: For India, the 21-year-old is the smoking gun proving a Pakistani hand in the attacks. Kasab is the only survivor of the 10 gunmen who attacked Mumbai sites last week, and is the prime source for Indian investigators. Captured wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the Versace designer label outside the main train station in Mumbai, the baby-faced gunman, and an accomplice who was shot dead, had fired AK-47s inside and killed around 50 people. He told investigators he comes from Faridkot in Pakistan’s Punjab region. Recruited by the Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, he was given a year of commando training in Pakistan by a former Pakistani military officer, he told interrogators. LeT is on U.S. and Indian terrorist lists, and Kasab told police the gunmen took orders by phone from two LeT operations chiefs. One, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, was designated a terrorist by the United States in May. India says the other, Yusuf Muzammil, is the head of LeT’s anti-India operations. Police had identified their captive by other aliases including Azav Amir Kasav, but have officially identified him as Mohammed Ajmal Kasab. Kasab is the Urdu word for butcher, which police say was his father’s profession. They say it is not clear whether it is his real name.

TAUSIF RAHMAN: Police arrested the clerk from Kolkata after tracing back to him the mobile phone cards used by the attackers. Rehman used a dead relative’s identity documents to acquire the 22 mobile phone cards, which he later sold to Mukhtar Ahmed. He has been charged with conspiracy and forgery. He was arrested after Kasab and police say he helped them catch Ahmed, who was in New Delhi.

MUKHTAR AHMED: A native of Indian Kashmir, arrested on Friday. Soon after his arrest, Kashmir police said he had been their informant in an informal anti-militant network for years and had recently been hired formally as constable, a low-ranking job. They were investigating whether he may have been on undercover duty when he passed the mobile phone cards to the attackers. Police have not said how he did that. He had worked as a street vendor and three-wheel-taxi driver in Kolkata for a time. He started helping police after his brother was killed by Muslim militants in Kashmir, Kashmir police said.

FAIM ANSARI: The 26-year-old Mumbai native has been in jail in Uttar Pradesh since February, when he was arrested carrying maps with a number of Mumbai landmarks highlighted, several of which were attacked last week. Police say he told them he was trained by LeT after being recruited in Dubai, and almost certainly reconnoitred Mumbai during the planning of the assault. Sometime before February, he returned from Pakistan to India with the assumed name of Sahil Pawaskar, which he used to enrol in a computer school in Mumbai. He rented an apartment near the stock exchange building, which was marked on his maps and may have been a target. Uttar Pradesh police said Mumbai police returned him to them long ago and only now are coming to question him. The facts of his arrest only emerged last week, and were the first sign of Indian complicity.

150 Supply trucks hit in brazen attack in Pakistan


Supply trucks hit in brazen attack in Pakistan

In one of the biggest and most brazen attacks of its kind to date, suspected Taliban insurgents with heavy weapons attacked two truck stops in northwest Pakistan early today, destroying more than 150 vehicles carrying supplies bound for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan.

The predawn attack on the outskirts of the city of Peshawar left the grounds of the truck terminals littered with the burned-out shells of Humvees and other military vehicles. At least one guard was reported killed.

Peshawar abuts Pakistan’s barely governed tribal areas, which are rife with violence, but an attack of this scale on the city’s doorstep is rare.

With attention focused on tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the attacks in Mumbai last month, U.S. officials are concerned that Pakistan will throttle back on its confrontation with militants in the tribal areas, opening the door to more such strikes.

U.S. military officials in Afghanistan declined to specify the number of vehicles destroyed in today’s attack, but described the losses as militarily insignificant. However, the bold assault underscored the vulnerability of supplies moving by road through Pakistan.

About three-quarters of the supplies bound for Western troops in Afghanistan — fuel, food and equipment — travel by road after being shipped to the port of Karachi. Afghanistan has no sea access.

Militant attacks on Western military convoys have been gaining force in recent weeks. Most of the assaults have occurred as trucks moved through the tribal areas on their way to the historic Khyber Pass that leads into Afghanistan.

Nearly a month ago, militants hijacked a convoy of more than a dozen vehicles in the Khyber agency. They posed for triumphal photos with two captured Humvees they draped with Taliban banners. Then last week, 22 trucks were torched at a truck stop close to the scene of today’s attack.

Witnesses said in this latest assault, the attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades before overrunning the two depots and torching dozens of trucks. Pakistani police did not arrive at the scene until about 40 minutes later, they said.

Pakistan briefly closed the Khyber Pass to military traffic after the Nov. 10 hijacking, but reopened it, declaring that convoys would be guarded by paramilitary troops on the road. But many truckers said they still felt unsafe.

Peshawar itself is also on edge. The death toll in a car bombing Saturday in the crowded city center rose to 29. Authorities said the blast might have been the result of sectarian tensions, but no group claimed responsibility.

Earlier this year, the Pakistani military carried out an offensive in the Khyber agency after militants began menacing Peshawar, but area residents said the insurgents moved back in as soon as the troops left.