The Slaughter Continues In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

30 killed in blast at funeral in Lower Dir: Police

Pakistani policemen inspect a bomb blast site in Jandol town in the district of Lower Dir on September 15, 2011. PHOTO: AFPPolice confirms attack, says it targeted members of govt sponsored anti-Taliban militia. PHOTO: NNI/ FILE


PESHAWAR: At least 30 people were killed and several others were wounded in a bomb attack at a funeral in Peroo village of Lower Dir on Thursday, though the police said 20 had died.

“20 people were killed and 47 wounded,” said senior police official Salim Khan Marwat, adding that it appeared to have been a suicide attack.

Marwat added that the death toll was likely to rise.

According to initial reports, the blast was a suicide attack which targeted the funeral prayers of a tribal leader in the Samarbagh tehsil.

Bakh Zaman, the tribal leader, died in an accident on the Islamabad-Peshawar motorway on Wednesday.

According to eyewitnesses, ten people were killed and 50 others were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the funeral prayers of Zaman, who was a carpenter.

Another local senior police official Akhtar Hayat Gandapur confirmed the blast and said the explosion rocked funeral prayers of a local elder in Lower Dir’s Jandol town.

“We are trying to ascertain whether it was a timed device or suicide attack,” he said.

Hospital sources said they have received 15 bodies out of which only 10 have been identified.

Earlier on Tuesday, bombers killed a local leader of Awami National Party by blowing up his vehicle in Lower Dir.

In 2009, 30,000 troops went into battle against Taliban fighters.

The army declared the region back under control in July of that year and said the rebels had all been killed, captured or had fled.

Bombings blamed on Taliban and al Qaeda-linked networks have killed more than 4,630 people since 2007.

The Tantalizing Taste of Turkmen Pipe Dreams

Photo: RIA Novosti

Turkmenistan is a gas-rich nation in former Soviet Central Asia. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Ukraine procured Turkmen gas in exchange for low-grade consumer produce. When Turkmenistan demanded hard currency in exchange, the relationship fell apart, with Turkmen gas producers redirecting their flow to buyers in China and Russia’s Gazprom.

This Monday and Tuesday, however, the saga took a new turn when President Viktor Yanukovich discussed matters with his Turkmen counterpart Gurnabguly Berdymuhamedov at meetings in Ashgabat. Sources say the discussion produced an understanding to resume discount gas trade – after 2015, when planned transcontinental pipelines around Russia are expected to go into operation.

Professor Andrei Suzdaltsev of Moscow’s High Economics School sees a Ukrainian design to sidestep Russia in international gas trade:

“The Kiev trial of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, on charges of selling out Ukrainian interests in natural gas trade, betrays an underlying Ukrainian policy to force Russia to reduce its gas price for Ukraine. Hence Ukrainian appeals to the West and attempts to find natural gas suppliers in Azerbaijan and fabulously gas-rich Turkmenistan.”

Ukrainian energy analyst Dr Vladimir Omelchenko envisages difficulties in the way:

“At present, the only Turkmenistan-Ukraine gas route is across Russia. Developing alternative transit routes will require time and mammoth investment. Moreover, Russia will not be happy to encounter competition on Ukraine’s and Europe’s gas markets.”

“The sought after alternative routes to emerge after 2015 are the Nabucco pipe for bringing Caspian gas to Europe across Turkey and the White Stream pipe for doing this across Georgia, the Black Sea and Ukraine. Unfortunately, there are great risks involved. First, the Caspian powers are yet to decide who owns what in the resource-rich Caspian Basin. And second, many of them look to China as the most convenient buyer.”

Experts point out that both pipes exist only on paper. Contracts for them are still in the works. Pending progress on the matter, only Russia can serve a reliable transit route.

Waging a deadly battle on two fronts

Waging a deadly battle on two fronts

The Telegraph, Calcutta
Abhijit Bhattacharyya
The terrorists nurtured by Pakistan’s army and intelligence network have now returned to haunt these institutions. 

In a bind

Like the Indian armed forces, the army in Pakistan, too, is the creation of the British. However, unlike India, Pakistan’s army has been the most prominent ruling class of that nation. Further, unlike India’s armed personnel, the Pakistani army believes that “Islam is… the basis of the country’s identity and source of culture.” Moreover, for the soldiers, this is also a “defining aspect of the profession of arms” as that “faith is said to owe more to the power of the sword… and remains a potent inspiration for the Pakistani army.”

Today, the same army faces a grave threat from within — a threat, which, over the years, has been the creation of the army itself. Pakistan’s army is being confronted by an increasing number of jihadis and rogue elements within its own ranks even as it attempts to curb violence in the restless and reckless north-western frontier.

Interestingly, the second Caliph, Umar, had sent an expedition to the same area during his campaign to conquer Persia. Here is what the expedition is said to have reported: “O Commander of the faithful! It is a land where plains are stony; where water is scanty; where the fruits are unsavoury; where men are known for treachery; where plenty is unknown; where virtue is held of little account; and evil is dominant; a large army is useless there; and a less army is useless there; the land beyond it is even worse.” Taking cue from this description, one can visualize the nature of the terrain in which the Pakistani soldiers are operating.

One can thus understand how things are today and what could happen tomorrow. The nexus between the military and the terrorist outfits in Pakistan is a reality. It has resulted in many a coup and plots, assassination attempts on civilian leaders as well as terror attacks on Pakistan’s cities, navy bases, air force stations and even on the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

The list of wrongdoings by the military is a long one. In1995, a couple of Pakistani army officers, including a major general and a brigadier, were arrested for planning to take over the army headquarters and a civilian government “for the establishment of a strict-Islamic political system in Pakistan.” Soon after, in October 1999, Pervez Musharraf, the then army chief, defied the constitutional authority and resorted to a coup. Understandably, when the chief resorts to insubordination and treachery, can the juniors lag far behind? Two attempts were made on Musharraf’s life in December 2003. They resulted in the arrest of at least 57 Pakistani air force personnel, the dismissal of 24 servicemen as well as the passing of the death sentence on six officials.

After 9/11, the media in Islamabad reported that several Pakistani army officers had taken ‘official leave’ and gone to wage jihad in Afghanistan against the United States of America. According to the sources in Pakistan’s army, a number of Pashtun personnel, junior commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers had also gone to Afghanistan to participate in the jihad.

In August 2003, a Lahore daily had reported that 12 Pakistani officers had been arrested in Afghanistan’s Zabul province for having links with militants belonging to the Taliban and the Hizb-i-Islami. In October 2006, 40 mid-ranking Pakistani air force officers were arrested for being involved in an abortive coup against the then Pakistani president and army chief. In March 2006, the deputy chief of air staff operations, Marshal Khalid Chaudhry, too, complained that “airmen of Pakistani air force were sabotaging F-16s deployed for security operations against the Taliban in the tribal region.”

Things started deteriorating further from 2007-2008, even as the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence made desperate attempts to unite their scattered resources by orchestrating the deadly attacks on Mumbai. Yet, it was fairly evident by then that terrorists belonging to the Taliban and al Qaida, who had been nurtured by the army and the ISI, had come back to haunt them. The sensational assassination of a retired major general, Ameer Faisal Alavi, by another former armyman-turned terrorist was a case in point. The signal had become loud and clear. The army in Pakistan had to prepare itself for a nightmare — a war on two fronts. One was a civil war to appease its American ally; another was the battle to take on its arch enemy, India.

The army-terrorist entente surfaced once again in 2009. Ahsanul Haq, a former major of the Pakistani army, was linked to the heinous attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. Haq, who has now aligned himself with the Tablighi Jamaat, a revivalist, Islamic movement, is alleged to have given logistical support to fighters belonging to the Taliban. The summer of 2011 has shown that the situation has become even more bleak than what it was for the once-admired armed forces of Pakistan. The killing of Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistani territory is a clear indication of the deep roots sprouted by the army-terrorist-fundamentalist combine inside Pakistan’s defence apparatus.

To the acute discomfiture and embarrassment of Pakistanis, it has now emerged that a former commando of the Pakistani navy and his brother were directly connected to the terror attack on PNS Mehran. In June 2011 came the confirmation from the army that a serving brigadier was found to have ties with the Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has been proactive in seeking the recruitment of serving Pakistani soldiers to engineer an Islamic revolution in the country.

What is the message of all the turbulence within the armed forces in Pakistan? During the last two decades, the army’s ‘strategic assets’ — the various militant outfits that were waging the proxy wars against India on behalf of the army — have opened a new front against their mentors in Islamabad. Nonetheless, one should remember the chilling words used as a warning by Ilyas Kashmiri and his 313 Brigade in February 2010: “We, the Mujahideen of 313 Brigade, vow to continue attacks all across India until the Indian Army leaves Kashmir and gives the Kashmiris their right of self-determination….We again warn the Indian government to compensate for all its injustices. Otherwise they will see our next action.”

The writing, therefore, is on the wall for India. The Pakistani army and the ISI which had raised, trained and nurtured the motley band of extremists to bleed India will never cease doing what they consider to be their foremost duty. But the extraordinary changes that have swept through the globe have resulted in the creator and the created getting embroiled in a deadly war inside Pakistan. Nevertheless, there still exists a formidable, ‘anti-India’, agenda that revolves around the ‘Ghazwa-e-Hind’ (the promised Battle for India). Hence the overall security situation looks grim for this country.

Cyprus to get ‘no strings attached’ Russian bail-out

Cyprus euro coin – Russia is keen to help the offshore banking centre with a direct loan (European Commission)

Cyprus to get ‘no strings attached’ Russian bail-out


Eurozone member Cyprus is set to join Greece, Ireland and Portugal by seeking external aid to prop up its finances. But unlike the EU and IMF bail-out packages, its loan is to come from Russia with “no strings attached”.

Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin in a telephone conference with press on Wednesday (14 September) confirmed that Moscow is at an advanced stage in negotiating the rescue package with Nicosia.

“Italy has not approached us. Eurozone countries have not approached us in general … At the moment, we are holding talks only with Cyprus. We have good progress [in the] talks. They will conclude within one month,” he said.

Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros earlier reported that Russia will bung Cyprus a €2.5 billion loan at an annual interest rate of just 4.5 percent, 10 percent below the market rate. A €1 billion tranche is to be paid in December and two other payments are to be made by March 2012.

Speaking in the Financial Times on Wednesday, Cyprus finance minister Kikis Kazamias said the money will be used to plug the country’s budget deficit and to help re-finance maturing debt, €1 billion of which is up for repayment in early 2012.

He added that the deal is “a friendly agreement with no strings attached”, in contrast to the onerous austerity and financial sector reform measures demanded by the EU and IMF from Cyprus’ fellow eurozone bail-out states.

One possible motive for Russia’s generosity is the prospect of an EU and IMF-led overhaul of the country’s offshore banking sector, said by analysts to be a haven for money laundering.

“US and European intelligence and law enforcement officials say Cyprus remains a haven for shadowy enterprises ranging from Islamic terrorists to narco-gangsters, as well as for Russian and other citizens of the former Soviet Union seeking the perfect destination to park, clean and re-export billions in stolen cash,” Czech investigative journalist Jiri Kominek wrote in a 2009 report published by the Jamestown Foundation, a US think-tank.

For their part, financial analysts have said the quick-fix Russian loan will not help put the country back on a sound financial footing.

“If the government does not take the necessary measures as promised, this lending will lead to greater problems in the medium term as the government deficit is structural and rating agencies will continue to downgrade the country”, the Piraeus Bank’s Cyprus-based fund manager Marios Demetriades told Bloomberg.

Dictator Promises To Launch Satellite, To Cure Turkmenistan’s Communication Problems

[Ever since Berdimuhammedov ran the Russian MTS telecommunications service out of the country, his people have been returned to the pre-Internet, pre-cable tv, pre-cellular service “stone age.”  Promises to correct his great error with a grand scientific endeavor that his may or may not be capable of, smacks of the good old days of the Soviet dictatorship, when the govt. made-up whatever it wanted, and the pliant population had to play along.  The more that progress comes to the CIS countries, the more that freedom seems to go into retreat.] 

Turkmenistan to launch artificial Earth satellite

Turkmenistan works to establish and launch the first national Earth satellite into orbit, President Gurbangulu Berdimuhammedov said in his address to participants of the Turkmentel-2011 exhibition.

“These days, we are working to establish and launch the first Turkmen artificial satellite into orbit. This will allow us to bring national television broadcasts to a new level, as well as to provide easier access to the Internet with a wide-format, wide open prospect for the most advanced and effective forms of communication,” the address stated.

Earlier, Berdimuhamedov signed a decree on establishing the National Space Agency. This space agency will carry out functions to control near-earth orbit satellites, establish satellite communication, and conduct research in outer space.

Turkmenistan ’s own satellite should also contribute to implementing environmental programs and improving methods of exploring new deposits.

It was reported last autumn that the French Thales won an international tender, though the contract signing was not reported. This is the first satellite to be launched by Turkmenistan. It will make a significant breakthrough in telecommunications, Internet, stationary and mobile communications.

According to some estimates, Turkmenistan’s astroclimatic conditions are among the world’s best for astronomical observation. Particularly, the transparency of the atmosphere, favorable wind conditions, and illumination allows observation of over 2,000 cosmic objects per year.

An artificial satellite is expected to correspond with the country’s economic goals. The satellite will allow the country to monitor agricultural areas, conduct research for the oil and gas industry, and carry out environmental monitoring.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

US Diplomats Supply Threats and Empty Promises To Pakistan In Exchange for Iranian Gas In Hand

[The US has no gas or oil in this part of the world to give Pakistan, since it cannot even secure gas for its own Nabucco and TAPI pipe dreams.  The US is telling/asking Pakistan to endure current energy shortages without doing anything about it, in exchange for continuing as the favorite Imperial vassal state.]

Fourth dialogue begins; US to help Pakistan in energy sector

Pakistani Minister for Water and Power Naveed Qamar, left, speaks as US Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Carlos Pascual, right, looks on during the Pakistan United States Energy Dialogue in Islamabad on Wednesday. – Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: The fourth Pakistan-US energy dialogue began here on Wednesday with US Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs pledging that his country would support Pakistan’s efforts to address the energy crisis.

The dialogue started in 2009 when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced an energy programme for Pakistan. The last dialogue took place in October 2010.

Special Envoy Carlos Pascual said at the two-day meeting that the United States was cognizant of the energy crisis taking a heavy toll on the socio-economic progress of Pakistan.

Federal Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar, who led the Pakistan team, appreciated the US role in addressing the problem and said the talks would go a long way in enhancing the US cooperation and bringing the much-needed efficiency and capacity improvement in the energy sector.

He said the government was committed to resolving the energy crisis and was taking several short-, medium- and long-term steps for the purpose. The development of hydropower resources and use of coal reserve would boost the economic progress, he said, adding that plans were also under way to explore new reserves of natural gas and import of LNG.

Later, the US special envoy held talks with Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh who told the US official that financial support was an important aspect of the shared understanding between the two countries for implementation of certain power projects.

Mr Shaikh listed a number of areas where there was a capacity for the US investment, particularly in the hydropower, coal and LNG projects.

“We are focusing on certain new areas which will help the government in resolving the issue of load-shedding in the country,” the finance minister said.

Mr Pauscal said the US was fully committed to working with Pakistan in the changing political and economic landscape.

He commended economic reforms and urged the government to indicate strategically targeted projects where the US could come up with technical and financial support.