Monday, November 12, 2007

Benazir Bhuttos Husband now faces the Trail of corruption and kickback charges

Benazir Bhuttos Husband now faces the Trail of corruption and kickback charges !

David PallisterMonday November 12, 2007
Hopes for a third term for Benazir Bhutto, twice kicked out of government for corruption and incompetence, have been thrown into turmoil by the emergency rule. But her ambitions ultimately were transferred over to her Husband Asif Ali Zardari after her assasination.

But how will Zardari deal with this ? It still depends on whether the amnesty on their corruption charges, granted to them last month by the national reconciliation ordinance, will be upheld in the new supreme court.

Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari - nicknamed Mr 10% over alleged extortion - faced eight counts of taking tens of millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks. But whatever decision the court arrives at, the couple also have to contend with money laundering proceedings in Switzerland and Spain, and a civil case in London involving an expensive Surrey mansion.

As the president's ordinance only deals with offences up to 1999, investigations in Pakistan could continue into allegations that the pair paid about $2m in illegal kickbacks to Saddam Hussein under the oil-for-food programme.
The controversy surrounding Bhutto's financial affairs has been compounded by reports showing she and her family have worldwide assets worth about 90bn Pakistan rupees ($1.5bn). Despite voluminous evidence, some from the British government, the Bhuttos deny all the charges.
The charges
Among the charges in Pakistan are allegations that the Bhuttos skimmed $2m in commissions from a 1990s deal to buy thousands of duty-free Ursus tractors from Poland. The money went into a Swiss bank account. Christine Junod, a Geneva magistrate, says documentary evidence "establishes beyond doubt that these commissions, under the cover of alleged consultancy fees, were meant to remunerate the illicit advantages obtained by Ursus from the Pakistani administration, thanks to the interventions of Asif Zardari".
A second case involves a Dubai-based Pakistani gold bullion dealer who allegedly paid $10m to a Bhutto company in the British Virgin Islands for the exclusive right to import gold, again losing the country millions of dollar in duties. Zardari, who has served six years on corruption charges, is also accused of evading duties on the import of a £55,000 armoured BMW.
A fourth case, involving Swiss banks, is moving towards a trial in Geneva. In this the couple are accused of taking kickbacks for the award of contracts to two Swiss firms employed to stop customs fraud. In 2003 a Swiss magistrate found the couple guilty, sentenced them to six months in prison and ordered them to pay $12m back to the Pakistan government.
The paper trail connecting Benazir Bhutto to the case started with a moment of extravagance. Five years before, she had bought a £117,000 diamond necklace in London; part of that was paid for by one of the Swiss firms identified in the investigation. Lawyers for the Bhuttos challenged the judgment, a move that required the case be reopened. Last month the Swiss authorities said they would go ahead.
Oil-for-food scandal
The authoritative Volker report into the oil-for-food scandal identified the company Petroline FZC as having received oil contracts worth £145m in return for paying illicit surcharges to Iraq of $2m. Pakistan's national accountability bureau has produced documents which show that Bhutto was the company chairwoman. Some of the profits went to firms in Spain, where another criminal investigation into money laundering is still active.
Rockwood House
The Surrey mansion, Rockwood House, was bought in 1995, apparently owned through a chain of firms and trusts, involving addresses in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Liechtenstein. Zardari denied, for eight years, that he was the owner despite instructing a builder with plans for a helipad, nine-hole golf course and polo pony paddock. Crates of valuable artefacts were shipped from Karachi. In 2004, when creditors forced the property into a liquidation sale, the Pakistani government claimed the proceeds. Lawyers for Zardari then appeared, claiming he was the beneficial owner.
The money from the sale is still in the liquidators' bank account, though a high court judge said the Pakistani government had a reasonable case, stating the money came via corruption. The case continues through the courts with Zardari repeatedly claiming to be too ill to mount a rebuttal.

Its Business as usual -Pakistani Forces gets $300 million from US in 2007

US stays firm on Pakistan FMF despite Emergency
06 November 2007

The United States is set to continue to provide Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to Pakistan, whose president Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency on 3 November.
Pakistan received USD300 million in 2007 from the US' FMF scheme, which stipulates that the funds must be spent on US equipment under the US Foreign Military Sales programme. The same amount has been allocated for 2008.
The procurement funds, which are linked to the US' endorsement of Pakistan's role in the 'war on terror', represent nearly one half of total funding under a five-year financial package worth USD3 billion agreed in 2005.
Speaking on the day of the declaration, a spokesman for the US Department of Defense (DoD) said that the state of emergency would not affect the military funding.
"At this point, the declaration does not impact on our military support for Pakistan's efforts in the 'war on terror'... Obviously, the stakes are high there. Pakistan is a very important ally in the 'war on terror'."

Air Blue places $700 million orders for 14 Boeing A320-200s

KARACHI (November 12 2007): Pakistan's fastest growing private sector carrier, Air Blue, has placed orders worth $700 million for purchase of 14 new A320-200 aircraft. This is the second largest order for outright purchase of brand new aircraft after national carrier PIA's $1.2 billion order placed in 2005 for purchase of eight Boeing aircraft--three 777-ER-200, three 777-ER-300 and two 777-LR-200.There is, however, a marked difference in the purchase of aircraft by Air Blue and PIA, as the government had to provide sovereign guarantee to the Eximp Bank for the purchase of aircraft by PIA, and the private sector carrier Air Blue provided only Company's guarantee.Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Air Blue Chief Executive Officer, told Business Recorder here on Saturday that a formal agreement for the purchase of 14 new A-320-200 would be signed between Airbus Industrie and Air Blue in Dubai on November 13 during the five-day air show, which started on November 11. The Airbus Chairman Industrie would sign the agreement on behalf of the aircraft manufacturer and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi would sign on behalf of Air Blue .Abbasi left for Dubai late on Saturday afternoon to attend the air show and to sign the agreement.He said that the first A320-200 aircraft would be delivered in July, 2009, and thereafter one aircraft would be delivered after every three months thus completing the delivery of 14 aircraft by the end of 2012. Following induction of the new aircraft, the Air Blue fleet at present comprising three A-320s and three A-321s, which are on lease, would be returned to the lessor companies.About the financial health of Air Blue, Abbasi said that from the word 'go', three years back "we have not, for once looked back". Despite the fact that Pakistani carriers, to cover up their failures, have been crying hoarse about the galloping increase in fuel prices, Air Blue, he said, had posted profits year after year in the face of high fuel costs and other expansion expenses.The annual accounts, which are now being audited, would be announced by the end of next month, Abbasi said, adding that the airline would end up with a profit of around Rs 150 million and a 20 percent return on equity.He said that Islamabad to Manchester Air Blue flights have proved a roaring success. The seat occupancy, both ways, has been hundred percent, although high season has not yet started, he added.Similarly, he said, Dubai flights were also doing good business. About future expansion plans, he said that once the new aircraft are inducted into the airline, "we would expand towards West as well as East ie, Europe, Middle East, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand would be our future destinations."

$5 billion Khalifa Coastal Refinery at Gwadar finalized amid Political Crisis

ISLAMABAD (November 12 2007): Pakistan and Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) management are going to sign an Implementation Agreement (IA) on November 13, for setting-up a $5 billion Khalifa Coastal Refinery (KCR) at Gwadar.As per IA, IPIC and its partner, PARCO will complete KCR by 2012. The refinery will help Pakistan meet its local demand and export the rest of refined petroleum products.Earlier, KCR was supposed to be granted the right to export 100 percent refined petroleum products. However, at the last stage of the negotiations the government managed to persuade IPIC and PARCO for amending the basic principle. The amended agreement provides that KCR will meet Pakistan's demand of petroleum products and export only surplus production.An official told Business Recorder that IPIC and PARCO have agreed to provide Pakistan as much refined petroleum product as it needs from KCR and export only surplus production. They term it as a good development since the new arrangements will help Pakistan meet its growing petroleum products needed in the future. KCR is a joint venture of IPIC and PARCO with 74 and 26 percent shares respectively.An IPIC delegation headed by managing director Khadem Al Qubashi is scheduled to reach Islamabad on Monday to sign KCR IP. Petroleum secretary Furrukh Qayyum will sign KCR IP on behalf of government of Pakistan. The ceremony is being arranged in a local hotel for the purpose. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz will witness the signing.This is very important development as a strong group like IPIC is coming to Pakistan with multibillion dollar investment. Pakistani authorities hope that International Petroleum Company's coming into Pakistan with huge investment will woo many other bigger investors to Pakistan for investment.The Economic Coordination Committee ECC of the Federal Cabinet had approved a special package of concession in taxes and duties in its meeting held on October 10. The package promises tax exemption for KCR for 20 years. This was followed by a two member official delegation visit comprising Petroleum Secretary, Farrukh Qayyum and Director General Oil, G.A. Sabri visit to Ahu Dhabi from October 27 to 29. The delegation finalised modalities for IA signing. The official delegation presented the details of IA and outcome of its negotiations with IPIC management to the federal cabinet in its last meeting for endorsement.''

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Why Pakistan will defeat terrorism again ? (Reply to the Newsweek Article)

Why Pakistan will defeat Terrorism again !

I saw this weeks Newsweek with Pakistan on the cover story and my knee jerk reaction was to cancel my 5 year subscription of Newsweek which I did. (October 29, Newsweek published a cover story that was titled, "The Most Dangerous Nation in the World Isn't Iraq - Its Pakistan). I am not paying for such Nazi style propaganda against Pakistan. I am surprised at the ignorance of these journalists who are trying to blow these terrorism stories way out of proportion. Not only this cover story will encourage the suicide bombers and terrorists it will demoralize some moderate Pakistanis.

We know everything is not right in Pakistan. There are problems and a militant movement is terrorizing and trying to create anarchy in the country. We know what their motives are and this nothing new for us. Similar militant movements exist in other countries. To name a few there are terror groups in Spain (Basque), Israel, UK (IRA) , India, Russia, Sri Lanka , Turkey, etc. What has happened to those countries ? Even though all countries are not the same but terrorism causes similar effects on the economies and its people.

But how have these countries responded to terrorism ? Have they disintegrated ? Have their economies collapsed ? Has terrorism thrived in these countries ? NO. Totally the opposite has happened. Their economies have become resilient and immune with time to sustain terror attacks. Even their stock markets have withstood terror shocks better with little or no change. All these countries have grown stronger while militancy grew in these countries. And now to Pakistan. This new wave of terrorism will not weaken Pakistan either. It will not swallow the social fabric either. It has withstood these terror attacks and most people are living normal lives. Even with a biased media, propaganda and bad predictions Pakistan has grown at 7% per year throughout this new spate of terrorism. In Asia Pakistan is only behind China and India in growth and FDI has been around $7 billion per year. Pakistani stock market (KSE) has grown at an astounding 26% per annum in the past few years.

I DO NOT think that this militant movement or terrorism will take over Pakistan. It will not succeed because Pakistan has had its share of militancy since the 70's and none have collapsed the country . Almost all the major minority groups have tried to break away from Pakistan with notable militancy movements from fringe elements from the Baloch's, Pakhtoon's, Mohajir's and the Sindhi's. What happened to those militant movements ? With no or little public support for the militant movements have died down .Some of these fringe elements and organizations have joined the political system in one way or another.

All these militant movements had to fight out the Pakistan Army which went ahead to brutally crush them at first and then had negotiations with them. And yes Pakistan Army has had casualties in suppressing these militants. The system has always worked in Pakistan and they have not only quelled the militancy completely but has destroyed their network. So none of this new to Pakistan but what is new to Pakistan is this unprecedented Western focus on from everything from Benazir Bhutto’s return to every suicide bombing to every Al Qaeda (AQ) arrest.

Now to the question why does it seem more ferocious and unending this time. There are a few obvious reasons for that. This time these are suicide bombings and not car bombings or sniper fire. Whatever happens here can effect the West and now terrorism from AQ is a global phenomenon. Also this time the press in Pakistan is free to report each and every bombing. There is little or no censorship thanks to President Musharraf. With an open media policy Pakistan has 38 television channels who report whatever they want to report. Its difficult to censor bombings, causalities and terror tactics with hundreds of local journalist trying to get the scoop.

Newsweek once pointed out that religious Army personal in the Pakistan Army will join the militancy against the Pakistan Army. Religious army officers sympathetic to the religious fundamentalists who will turn against the army to help the AQ's militancy. This has not happened. Even in previous ethnic conflicts all ethnic groups in the Pakistani Army helped destroy the militant movements together. There were people within the army who were sympathetic to the ethnic militancy but it was never an issue and there have been no mass court martials either.

There have been predictions of a dooms day scenario for Pakistan since the 1940's. There is always something and this or that will finish Pakistan - Bankruptcy, India, Soviet Union, US, too poor, too many people, too many divisions, too many ethnic groups, secretarian strife, corruption, army, Martial Law and now its the religious fanatics. Almost every time these gurus and some journalists give Pakistan 6 months. Someone even once emailed me saying "this March will be the end" .That was 2004. March came and went and I emailed him back saying "its April now".

This article is an eye opener for me and other Pakistanis. It shows how naive these journalists really are and have no idea what Pakistan is really about. They are eager to trump up a negative story about Pakistan for whatever motive they have?

Pakistan is the 6th largest country in the world and we are not going anywhere. We are united and we forget our differences when it really comes to it. Pakistanis demonstrated it during the earthquake what Pakistanis can do to help themselves. We will prevail and will destroy this fanatic militancy again ! Thanks Newsweek for the article but no thanks.

Moid Ansari

To read Newsweeks article click here :

Email Newsweek a reply :

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pakistan has Fourth Largest Coal reserves in the World

Pakistan has Fourth Largest Coal reserves in the World

The Geological Survey of Pakistan organized a workshop on the Coal, Granite and other Mineral Resources of Thar on May 31, 2005 at Karachi in collaboration with Sindh Coal Authority. Workshop was well attended by eminent geoscientists from all over the country. This event was dedicated to Dr. N. M. Khan and Dr. Farhat Hussain, former Director Generals of the department. The Secretary Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources was the chairman and the Sindh Minister for Mine and Minerals Development, Mr. Irfan ullah Marwat was the Chief Guest. Pakistan is faced with a serious energy crises. It is widely known that the present level of energy generation in the country is far short of that which is necessary to sustain the rate of industrial growth and satisfy growing consumer requirements. In the energy based societies of today, every indigenous source of energy must therefore be tapped and put to optimum use. Pakistan has considerable oil, gas, coal reserves; tidal, solar and hydel potential. It is ironic that Pakistan has fourth largest coal reserves in the world but it is importing 2.5 million tons of coal per annum for cement industry. At the same time, due to high cost of energy resources, the government has also decided to enhance the share of coal in the overall energy mix from 5 % to 18% up to 2018. Among the other alternative sources, coal is the man source for producing cheaper electricity and its availability is much higher. In view of anticipated shortfall of electricity and other energy resources during the next 10 years, demand for indigenous coal would grow in power generation considerably.
Pakistan has emerged as one of the leading country - seventh in the list of top 20 countries of the world after the discovery of huge lignite coal resources in Sindh. The economic coal deposits of Pakistan are restricted to Paleocene and Eocene rock sequences. Economists say that the energy demand over the next 5 years is expected to grow at a rate of 7.4 % per annum. It may be noted that in India the share of coal is as high as 54.5% in the total energy mix. To meet the future requirements of the country with indigenous resources, domestic exploration would have to be intensified to increase the share of coal from 5 to 25% by 2020. The GSP’s workshop provided a platform to highlight the role of the indigenous resources in the national economy especially in energy and industry.
Coal -the black gold, is found in all the four provinces of Pakistan. Country has huge coal resources, about 185 billion tons, out of which 3.3 billion tons are in proven/measured category and about 11 billions are indicated reserves, the bulk of it is found in Sindh province. The current total mine-able reserves of coal are estimated at 2 billion tones (60 % of the measured reserves). The speakers at this moot enlightened the audience with the importance of Thar coalfield and its development and utilization as less expensive fuel for power generation and other process industry. Because of Thar coal’s extraordinary importance for power generation, industrial development and economy, Sindh government and GOP are making all out efforts to develop this huge deposit for power purpose. It is one of the world’s largest lignite deposits discovered by GSP in 1992, spread over more than 9, 000 sq. kms. comprise around 175 billion tones sufficient to meet country’s fuel requirements for centuries. Pre-feasibility study to utilize this coal resource for 2x300 MW indigenous, mine mouth, coal fired power plants has been completed. Hydrogeological investigations over an area of around 650 sq. kms. have also been completed. Estimated lignite deposits in Sindh, suitable for electric power generation and other applications are around 218 billion tons- about 98% of coal deposits of the country. A feasibility study on coal gasification has been undertaken and the gasification of coal was found feasible where the gas has to travel less in pipelines. Exploration of Thar coal will supplement the existing energy output in the country and will give boost to the economy of Sindh province. The GSP had successfully completed coal resources evaluation in the four specific tracts/ blocks of Thar coal field. The evaluation study of the GSP consisted of drilling 167 bore holes with a cumulative depth of over 50, 000 meters and chemical analyses of more than 2, 000 coal samples. On the basis of these studies, the required coal potential of a minimum of 500 million tons in each block has been established by the GSP. The recent studies on coal bed methane (CBM) proposed to be carried out in Thar will enhance the value of this deposit.
The GSP has met the challenge of identifying the coal resource available to meet the energy needs, to reduce dependence on its fast depleting supply of natural gas and lessen the oil import bill. This workshop focused on technological developments with respect to coal exploration, extraction, handling, transportation and utilization that could accelerate future development of Pakistan’s coal. It is hoped that GSP’s workshop will be fruitful in determining whether institutional, infrastructural and policy changes are needed to encourage exploitation of indigenous coal resources and would evaluate potentially attractive business opportunities associated with further coal development in the country. The workshop was attended by an assorted audience comprising earth scientists, city planners, government functionaries and researchers. A brief on coal deposits of Sindh compiled by S.G.Abbas and Muhammed Atiq was also distributed on this occasion among all the delegates.

Pakistan is a Saudi Arabia of coal reserves

Pakistan has as much coal as Saudi Arab has Oil

Pakistan can overcome its energy problems
By Syed M. Aslam

More than a half of the electricity, generated in the United States is provided by coal which also accounts for a quarter of all energy supplies in the States. In China coal is the source of three-quarters of country’s total energy needs including cooking, heating and power generation. In neighbouring India coal supplies 57 per cent of energy and 70 per cent of electricity.
In Pakistan, a country which has abundance of coal reserves, less than 12 per cent of the coal produced in the country is used by the power sector while the rest is used by the brick-making sector for the benefit of the construction industry. Over three-forth or about 77 per cent of the energy in Pakistan is obtained from oil and gas, 18 per cent from hydel power while coal accounts for just 4 per cent of the energy needs of the country. The rest of one per cent is obtained from nuclear and liquefied petroleum gas combined.
The coal reserves in Pakistan are estimated at over 183 billion tonnes. However, the measured or drill-proven reserves are estimated at 579 million tonnes which are enough to last for 180 years at the present rate of excavation which averages 3.2 million tonnes annually.
Coal has long been used to provide power, heat and light. It is used to generate energy, warm homes besides being used as fuel for cooking and the cheapest fuel in railway engines. In many industrialized countries coal has been replaced by natural gas and other cleaner fuels as a source to generate power. But the heavy dependence on coal for energy and power in the US, the second leading consumer, proves that with proper safeguards it could still be a much less expensive fuel substitute particularly the countries in the developing world.
International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that over 40 per cent of the projected growth in global electricity demand by the year 2010 would come from East and South East Asia where coal is currently the dominant fuel for power generation. For instance, China plans to build some 500 power plants many of them coal-fired by year 2010 and Indonesia, the third largest coal exporter, predicts a ten-fold increase in coal used for power generation by 2009.
Lack of planning to fully exploit coal reserves in abundance and a meaningful way to utilize it to generate power by Pakistan which is facing acute energy shortages even in winter this year can be attributed to many factors.
The two main sources of electricity generation in Pakistan are hydel and thermal power— the first from water and the second from any of the fossil fuel; oil, natural gas or coal. The major hydel projects are Tarbela and Mangla both of which are managed and maintained by the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) one of the two public sector power producers. Less than 43 per cent of the total installed generating capacity of WAPDA comes form hydel while the rest is through thermal. Hundred per cent of installed capacity of the other power producer, the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC), is thermal. Every other independent power producer including Hubco is thermal.
The country is heavily dependent on hydel energy the production of which is dependent on the amount of rainfall and the level of water in the dams.
The massive loadsheddings which started last month all over the country and is still continuing at present during the winter season during which electricity demand is much lower than in summer is blamed on the low water levels at Mangla and Tarbela. Of Wapda’s total hydel capacity of 4,825 mw the combined installed generating capacity of the two is 4,478 mw.
The construction of large and smaller dams in the early seventies and the work in progress on another at Ghazi Barotha, a 1,450 mw project downstream of Tarbela, shows that the policy makers in Pakistan have always favoured these big projects over the thermal ones. However, as dams could not be built just about everywhere and are costly projects the bulk of power generation by public as well as private sector in Pakistan is thermal. The total installed generation capacity in Pakistan is over 14,500 units including WAPDA 9,646 mw, KESC 1,801 mw and IPP 2,892 mw— Hubco 1,292 mw Kot Addu 1,600 mw.
WAPDA has just two coal-fired thermal plants with a combined installed generating capacity of 233 mw — an 83 mw plant in Quetta and another 150 mw fluidized bed Lakhra. It has 20 per cent share in Lakhra Coal Development Company (LCDC), a joint venture company having equity share of Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) and Government of Sindh 20 per cent. The rest of the 30 per cent share is reserved for the private sector participation.
The LCDC has to supply 750,000 tonnes of coal per annum to WAPDA for its 3x50 mw coal-fired plant at Khanote Sindh. However, the production at Lakhra mines remained below the expected level as during July-March 1996-97 LCDC produced 258,055 tonnes of coal from its small coal mines.
The largest coal field in Pakistan, discovered in 1992 by Geological Survey of Pakistan, is located at Thar Desert. On an average 3.4 million tonnes of coal is produced annually in Pakistan all of which is used locally— over 88 per cent by the brick-making sector and the negligible rest by the power sector— WAPDA’s coal-fired plants.
Province-Wise Excavation
Sindh has a very large coal resource potential— 183 billion tonnes outlined in and around in Lakhra, Sonda-Jherruck, Indus East, Thar and Badin coal fields. Coal mining is reported from Lakhra and Meting-Jhimpir mines. Annual production is about one million tonnes or about one-third of the total national production. Sindh has measured reserves of 734 million tonnes. Coal produced in Sindh contain a high level of sulphur.
The known coal producing fields of Balochistan include Duki, Khost-Sharig, Harnai, Pir Ismail Ziarat, Mach-Abe-Gum, Sor Range-Deghari and Ghamalong-Bahlol. The overall source potential is 194 million tonnes with measured reserved of 52.5 million tonnes. Average annual production is the same as that of Sindh— one million tonnes.
Coal production in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) is restricted to one field in Hangu. The resource potential is over 44 million tonnes with measured reserves of 0.5 million tonnes. The annual production is negligible.
Punjab has a coal resource potential of 234 million tonnes with drill-proven reserves of 43 million tonnes annually. Average annual production is 0.45 million tonnes. Coal resources in Punjab are located in the Eastern and the Central Salt Range and in Makerwal area of Surghar Range.
The vast reserves of coal has failed to benefit Pakistan in any meaningful way particularly as the least inexpensive fuel for generation of electricity. No attempts were made to diversify into coal-fired power projects and though WAPDA generates energy from coal it remains too little.
While coal offers developing countries a cheap power generating fuel as compared to much more costly oil or natural gas the growing awareness about carbon and the affect it has on the environment. However, the huge contribution coal— the most carbon intensive fossil fuel— is playing in the energy and power sectors of such developed countries as the United States and developing nations like China and India go to show that with proper technology and environmental measures and safeguards it still remains the cheapest source of energy and power.
According to Review of Energy Policies of IEA (International Environmental Agency) in 1996 IEA member countries, mostly developed, had a combined reported Research and Development Budget of $ 403.3 million for coal. In fact the total R&D Budget on coal surpassed $ 361 million for Oil & Gas in the same year. With right policies and measures coal can help reduce heavy dependence on imported oil at the fraction of the cost for power generation.
But the abundance could hardly mean anything if the product can not match the chemical properties. All kinds of coal could not be used as source of energy for power generation.
The two most important types of coal are anthracite, often called the hard coal, and the bituminous or soft coal. Anthracite coal was formed under greater pressure than bituminous and as a result it has higher carbon content and a lower water content. Anthracire makes up a small portion of world’s coal production.
Bituminous coal is the most important and the most plentiful kind of coal. It is the chief fuel in power producing plants that generate electricity with steam. It also provides coke for the steel industry and is the raw material for thousands of by coke-products including gas and chemicals. It keeps homes and offices warm.
The majority of coal produced in Pakistan is of sub-bituminous quality, particularly that in the Sore Range, Balochistan. Sub-bituminous coal has a water content of almost 25 per cent of its weight. It burns readily and before the coal in general was replaced by oil and other cleaner substitutes was usually used to warm the houses and industrial factories. It is not as good as bituminous coal as it contains more moisture. Pakistan, Canada, New Zealand and the US all have large deposits of sub-bituminous coal.
Though this coal has been successfully used by WAPDA in its coal-fired thermal power plant of 7.5x2 mw at Sheikhmanda near Quetta and report shows that the coal from Sore-degjari coal fields is suitable for coal-fired thermal power plants.
The abundance of sub-bituminous coal limit, the use of coal in Pakistan as it requires special technology to be used in power generation. It also means that no coke, an industrial raw material, can be made to make the mining and usage of it even less limited and profitable.
But vast reserves still offer Pakistan many economic advantages provided it restructures its state-owned coal industries by either shutting the inefficient mines and/or making those already existing into better productive ones.
Though cleaner fuel has replaced fuel to a great extent and its use in the developed countries for heating has shrunk tremendously notwithstanding the important role its playing in electricity generation in the United States and in the developing countries like Pakistan its use is now limited to use in brick-making industry and to much smaller extent in power generation. Only 0.39 per cent of local production in Pakistan is used in households.
However, people across the world still use coal in various forms not recognizing that they are using it. Chemicals obtained from coal are used to make varnish, detergents, and thousands of other useful items. These products and raw materials are obtained from coal by the four basic processes— carbonization, hydrogenation, gas synthesis and gasification.
Carbonization consists of baking coal in an airtight oven. In this process, about two-thirds of the coal is turned into either ‘coke’ or ‘char’, depending on the quality of the baked coal. Coke is particularly useful in making iron and steel and as an industrial fuel. The remaining one-third of the coal so baked turns into tar and gas— the former is used in road surfacing in many developing countries including Pakistan and also as a raw material that can be broken down into hundreds of valuable chemicals. The coal gas, or coke oven gas, can be used both as a fuel and as a raw material for industrial chemicals.
Hydrogenation is a process of treating coal with oil and hydrogen under heat and pressure and then separating the liquid mixture into useful products. It produces hydrocarbon gases such as ethane, propane and butane, many valuable chemicals such as benzene, phenol, naphthalene and aniline. These chemicals in turn are used in the making of such everyday products as dyes, perfumes, paints and plastics. The hydrogenation can also be sued to produce fuel oil and petrol.
Gas synthesis is the method of developing chemicals from coal by oxidation. Pulverized coal is turned into a gas by being exposed to oxygen and superheated steam. The gas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, is in turn passed over various solid catalysts that change it into various products. For instance, cobalt catalysts change the gas into diesel fuel and iron catalysts change it into petrol.
Gasification is a method of obtaining fuel gas from coal. Experiments were carried out in Britain, Russia and the US by which the coal is burnt in the ground to produce gas which then is piped to the surface. The gas can be used as a source of heat to make electricity or can be broken down into liquid fuels such as petrol.
While the excavation and demand of coal in Pakistan has increased by 25 per cent from 2.751 million tonnes since 1989-90 the global consumption of it increased one per cent from 2,507 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 1996 to 2,532 in 1997. In addition, the fact that coal still accounts for 27 per cent of overall energy used globally also seems to emphasize the strong position that it dominates in the energy sector.
With all the restrictions, be they arise out of the chemical contents, the lack of infrastructure or the absence of long-term policies to use the abundant coal reserves that Pakistan has, the potential to use oil to lessen the dependence on imported oil and many coal-based industrial raw materials which are being imported into the government to be used in various industries, for instance chemicals, paints and tyre.
With improved infrastructure network, consistent long-term policies to encourage use of coal and measures to check the resultant environmental degradation can go a long way to help Pakistan benefit from the abundant coal deposits and reserves.

Pakistan 2004 Predictions on Economics come True

Pakistan spreads its message for attracting FDI

This article was published in FDI magazine in October 2004
October 20, 2004

The Pakistan government is working hard to attract large scale FDI into the country, including allowing foreign investors to hold unlimited equity and making concerted efforts to project a positive country image. Jules Stewart reports.
Pakistan’s economic track record over the past five years could hardly look more encouraging. Since General Pervez Musharraf’s takeover in 1999, the country has enjoyed a period of rapid expansion that is dazzling even by Asian standards. General Musharraf’s bloodless coup ushered in a team of technocrats led by former top Citibanker Shaukat Aziz, who is now prime minister and minister of finance. The team has managed to drag Pakistan back from the brink of economic disaster.
Foreign exchange reserves have been boosted to more than $12bn from a perilous $300m. GDP grew by more than 6% in 2003-2004, large scale manufacturing expansion topped 17%, inflation was less than 4% and the rupee has become a stable currency. Major multinationals operating in Pakistan achieved between 17% and 88% return on equity and the Karachi Stock Exchange registered the best performance in the Asian region.
FDI rose 19% to $950m last year, although much of that came from overseas Pakistani investors and relates to small scale projects. The sort of big ticket FDI that is flowing into neighbouring China and India remains on the sidelines, holding back over two crucial issues: security and political stability.
Since last year, General Musharraf has emerged unscathed from two assassination attempts, while gunmen also tried to kill Mr Aziz. So far this year, 165 people have died in sectarian violence. Army units are engaged in a bloody battle with tribesmen who are allegedly sheltering Al Qaeda militants in the wild border area of Waziristan. A fledgling insurgency has emerged in the province of Baluchistan, a region rich in power resources. And border tensions with India over the unresolved Kashmir dispute, while seemingly on the mend, remain a potential flashpoint between the two nuclear powers.
Project potential
Yet business leaders on the ground argue that it would be short-sighted to ignore Pakistan’s potential for infrastructure projects and investment in basic industries and services. “The image factor is a deterrent but there is a big difference in perception between those who view Pakistan through their television screens and we on the ground who can appreciate quite a different reality,” says Musharaf Hai, chairwoman and CEO of Unilever Pakistan.
“There are top level changes taking place in the country. Prime minister Aziz is leading Pakistan into the mainstream through economic reforms. In the past four or five years, we have seen steady macro-economic growth and this has provided people with a good degree of predictability. The awareness of the need to engage the business community is at its highest ever level. Yet much work remains to be done in areas like judicial reform, as well as the need to provide state-of-the-art entry points for investors,” she says.
Unilever has been in Pakistan since the country’s inception in 1947 and Ms Hai says that today, more than ever, the population profile makes the country a high growth market, with 60% of the people under the age of 20. “We are averaging a turnover of some Rs20bn [$337m] a year and we rank among the top 10 shares on the Karachi exchange,” she says. “We are seeding the market with soaps and other basic products and our intention is to be in there as the business takes off. All the fast-moving consumer goods majors are slugging it out in this space and you have got to be extremely cost competitive to survive.”
The government has identified telecoms as a key sector for attracting overseas investment. Mobilink, owned by Egypt’s Orascom, has uncovered a vast pool of mobile phone users, with the number of customers soaring from one million to 3.7 million in the past 18 months.
“We will have invested $775m in Pakistan by the end of the year and we now control 64% of the market,” says Mobilink’s chairman Zouhair Khaliq. “We are now in the process of raising $200m from export agencies to help fund our $400m investment programme for next year. Our network now covers 350 towns across the country, some without running water or metalled roads.”
This is one business sector in which foreign operators have been piling into the market. Norway’s Telenor and UAE-owned Warid Telecom were recently awarded GSM licences and two Luxembourg-based groups, Instafone and Paktel, are competing along with state-owned Ufone, which holds a 25% market share.
Mr Khaliq forecasts a tougher market in the future, but one with a great deal of potential. “We now have about six million mobile users in Pakistan and that should double by the end of next year,” he says. Mobilink is also using Pakistan as a springboard into other regional markets, like Bangladesh, where it has just obtained a licence and will invest $100m.
Issues to address
Mr Khaliq recognises the need to address certain fundamental issues to combat foreign investors’ reluctance. “We need to clean up the legacy of the Afghan extremist elements in Pakistan, which are very vocal and attract a lot of attention from the Western media,” he says. “People should come and see the reality instead of just following events through the media. Overall, the political situation has taken a positive turn with the appointment of Shaukat Aziz, who enjoys a high degree of credibility. The fact is you do not make a $750m commitment, as we are doing, if you do not feel positive about the country’s outlook.”
Minister for Investment and Privatisation Abdul Hafeez Shaikh says the government is focusing on four areas in its bid to attract more FDI: policy regime, investor facilitation, marketing opportunities and improving the country’s image.
“The first area is the policy regime and here we need to look at the bigger picture,” says Mr Hafeez Shaikh. “We operate one of the world’s most liberal investor regimes. We have opened all sectors to FDI and investors can hold unlimited equity. There are no restrictions on the movement of capital or remittance of profits and dividends.
“We are also focusing on investor facilitation to help overcome bureaucratic obstacles. We are aggressively marketing investment opportunities, and to this end, we have appointed about 30 investment counsellors, and we are supporting a dialogue and exchange of ideas with business people round the world,” he says.
Image improvement
On efforts to project a positive country image, Mr Hafeez Shaikh concedes that security is a “legitimate but vastly exaggerated concern”. He says tension has abated with Afghanistan and that in the past two years there has been a dramatic leap forward in relations with India. “Our neighbourhood is improving so the perception is bound to change,” he says. “People now go away with a strong positive feeling. We are a country of 150 million so there will always be pockets of incidents, but it is important to highlight their isolated nature.”
Mr Hafeez Shaikh says that the government has identified critical power and infrastructure projects that offer opportunities to foreign investors. “The quality and quantity of Pakistan’s infrastructure needs to be enhanced,” he says. “To mention only one power sector, we have about 200bn tonnes of coal reserves – an attractive proposition given the price of oil. The average share of coal in power generation is 38% worldwide, while it is less than 1% in Pakistan.”
He says the country’s privatisation programme has shown the international investor community that Pakistan is serious about promoting a market-based economy. “It has now been going for 15 years and, while in the first decade receipts amounted to about Rs6bn a year, in the Musharraf government’s first three years this figure doubled and it is now averaging Rs30bn,” he says. “When General Musharraf came to power, he stated that the government had no business being in business and, to this end, we have virtually privatised the entire financial sector and we are well advanced in utilities, telecoms and large scale manufacturing.”
Economic stability
Government officials point with pride to the stable environment that has been in place, at least in terms of investment environment and economic policies, for the past five years. “There was a time when Pakistan would devalue the rupee twice in one day,” says secretary for industries Mutawakkil Kazi.
“Stability is crucial to attracting FDI and, thanks to legal and economic continuity, we now have investors like the Chinese building a massive power plant next to our coalfields and BP operating gas fields in Sindh province, accounting for 60% of the country’s gas production. The potential is vast in almost every area when you consider that if you discount the seven million households below the poverty line, you still have 20 million others that rank as fully-fledged consumers.”
EPZ expansion scheme
Pakistan’s Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) is working on an ambitious expansion programme to help facilitate the government’s drive to attract FDI. EPZA chairman Lieutenant Colonel Syed Akbar Husain is negotiating the start-up of more than two dozen new zones to expand its existing network of four installations. “We are now on the brink of revolutionising the traditional EPZ concept,” he says. “We plan to set up a public-private partnership (PPP) for a new EPZ, called Pakistan Textile City Ltd, to promote investment in textiles, which represents 68% of the country’s exports and accounts for 10.5% of GDP. This is designed to compete in world markets after World Trade Organisation quotas are abolished next year and will focus primarily on dyeing, processing and finishing.”
The EPZA has attracted some top name firms in the textile and consumer goods sectors and is manufacturing for Wal-Mart, Tesco, K-Mart and Spain’s Zara, among others. Lt Col Husain says priority is given to hi-tech and capital and labour intensive projects, and those based on maximising local raw materials. “We offer investors a one-stop service and simplified procedures,” he says. “In return, we provide all basic infrastructure, as well as an abundance of skilled and semi-skilled labour, costing on average from $75 to $500 a month. Our success can be measured in the growth of exports from our EPZs, which rose from $90m to $202m in the past three years.”
Despite the negative press and fears over political stability and security, there is a sense of bullishness on almost all levels. Waseem Haqqi, chairman of the Board of Investment (BOI), claims that there are no longer any grounds for investors to feel uneasy. “No foreign business interest or executives have ever been targeted by terrorists and, moreover, we have shown our ability to root out the militants, with the arrest of about 600 Al Qaeda militants since 9/11,” he says.
“The atmosphere has definitely improved and proof of that is the fact that multinationals are starting to arrange their board meetings here, whereas in the past they were usually held in Dubai. It is important to remember that even in the dark days of nationalisation back in 1973 no foreign businesses were touched.”
Investment needs
Mr Haqqi says he would like to see investment in five areas: oil and gas exploration and production, power generation, IT and telecoms, agriculture, and small and medium size enterprises. He says that only 3% of Pakistan’s 27 billion barrels of oil reserves have been explored and only 15% of its 380 trillion cubic feet of gas deposits. Shell and Total are two of the foreign majors now working in this area. The BOI has received 35 expressions of interest to develop power plants to add 7000 megawatts to the country’s 19,000 megawatt capacity. There are also plans to seek investment to help construct seven cement plants.
“Side by side with these achievements goes a step change in our bureaucratic procedures,” says Mr Haqqi. In the past two to three years, with the country hit by a crippling drought as well as sanctions, Pakistan implemented a number of sweeping reforms in tariffs, corporate tax, banking, governance and the capital markets, and also raised tax collection from Rs3bn to Rs520bn.
“We are hungry for technology and our hi-tech appetite is unlimited,” he says. “We have identified 15 countries in North America, Europe and Asia that we want to tap for investment in this sector. We are actively sending the message out to the world, and have received more than 100 delegations from 25 countries last year. I am confident that we can attract $1bn in FDI this year and in due course match China’s growth rate.”

Pakistan hires another lobbyist in Washington

Pakistan hires another lobbyist in Washington
* Former assistant secretary of state for South Asia to represent Pakistan for $1.2m * Lobbying contract has a year’s validityBy Khalid HasanWashington:

Washington: Pakistan has got itself yet another lobbyist at a yearly cost of $1.2 million, which brings the number of those it has been using to sell itself on Capitol Hill and in the corridors of the government to two, though there could be more.The other firm representing Pakistan here is Van Scoyoc Associates, which is paid $55,000 a month. “We continue to represent the embassy and work with the ambassador and his team on a daily basis,” according to Mark Talvarides, vice president for Van Scoyoc and lead lobbyist on the contract.Pakistan’s representative:The new lobbyist for Pakistan is a firm called Cassidy and Associates, and the person who would be carrying Pakistan’s flag will be former assistant secretary of state for South Asia, Robin Raphael. Raphael, who retired from the foreign service a few years ago, earned the permanent ire of the Indian government and the Indian-American community for questioning the authenticity of the instrument of accession allegedly signed by Maharaja Hari Singh, which, India maintains, put the seal of approval on the state’s accession to India. That is a position accepted neither by Pakistan nor the people of Kashmir, nor the United Nations for that matter. This correspondent was present at the press conference where the erstwhile assistant secretary made her observation, which caused an uproar in India. She was instructed never to repeat that bit again and she did not. The only other government Cassidy works for is Eqatorial GuineaYear-long contract: According to records filed with the Justice Department, the contract with Pakistan has a year’s validity. However, other things being equal, there is every likelihood of its being renewed. Cassidy’s work will involve lobbying and public relations campaigns promoting Pakistan’s status as an “important strategic partner of the US”, according to The Hill, a small publication devoted to congressional coverage. Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, fist secretary at the Pakistan embassy, told The Hill, “We thought we had some challenging issues and we thought we should add another lobbying firm.” Robin Raphel, who is also senior vice president at Cassidy, stressed Pakistan’s necessity as an ally for the American counter-terrorism strategy. “We need to recognise it is not easy what Pakistan is trying to do here in assisting us in the fight against the terrorism in the region,” she said. She said her job would be to make sure “all relevant parties have the facts”, adding, “I think it’s clear there is a less than perfect understanding of Pakistan here.” Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party is represented by BKSH and Associates and its affiliate Burson-Marsteller LLC to promote fair elections in Pakistan. Pakistan Embassy first secretary Baloch told The Hill, “We believe there is common ground between her party and the government.”

The Lobbyist Firm :

Van Scoyoc Associates, Inc. (VSA), founded in 1990, has emerged as the largest independent government affairs firm in Washington. VSA is an industry leader whose effectiveness is unmatched, even as the leadership in Congress and the White House changes.
VSA's outstanding service to clients is reflected in our client retention record of more than ninety percent from one year to the next, far surpassing industry norms. Our comprehensive resources, skill and savvy in government relations mean winning strategies and successful solutions for our clients.

Mukesh Ambani Beats Bill Gates in Wealth

Reliance's Mukesh Ambani becomes world's richest beating Bill Gates

Monday October 29, 07:43 PM
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani on Monday became the richest person in the world, surpassing American software czar Bill Gates, Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim Helu and famous investment guru Warren Buffett, courtesy the bull run in the stock market.
Following a strong share price rally today in his three group companies -- India's most valued firm Reliance Industries, Reliance Petroleum and Reliance Industrial Infrastructure Ltd -- the net worth of Mukesh Ambani rose to 63.2 billion dollars (Rs 2,49,108 crore).
In comparison, the net worth of both Gates and Slim is estimated to be slightly lower at around 62.29 billion dollars each, with Slim leading among the two by a narrow margin.
Warren Buffett, earlier the third richest in the world, also dropped one position with a net worth of about 56 billion dollars.
Ambani's wealth of about Rs 2,49,000 crore includes about Rs 2,10,000 crore from RIL (50.98 per cent stake), Rs 37,500 crore from RPL (37.5 per cent) and Rs 2,100 crore from RIIL (46.23 per cent).
Slim's wealth has been calculated on the basis of his stake in companies like America Movil (30 per cent), Carso Global (82 per cent), Grupo Carso (75 per cent), Inbursa (67 per cent), IDEAL (30 per cent) and Saks Inc (10 per cent).
According to information available with the US and Mexican stock exchanges where these companies are listed, Slim currently holds shares worth a total of USD 62.2993 billion, with more than half coming from Latin American mobile major America Movil. Slim is closely followed by Gates with a net worth of 62.29 billion dollars currently.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

India, Israel planned to hit Kahuta in 1980s’

India, Israel planned to hit Kahuta in 1980s’
LAHORE: India and Israel had secretly planned to hit Pakistan’s nuclear facility in Kahuta in 1983-84, but backed off when the CIA tipped off then president General Ziaul Haq. According to APP, The Asian Age reported this in a report published on Sunday. The report states that a new book, “Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Global Nuclear Conspiracy” by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, reveals details about India’s secret intelligence links with Israel. It claims that Indian military officials secretly travelled to Israel in February 1983 to buy electronic warfare equipment to neutralise Kahuta’s air defences.According to the book, India put its plans on hold when the chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission warned the director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre that Islamabad would attack Mumbai if Kahuta were attacked. It states that at this juncture, Israel suggested that it would attack Kahuta from Indian bases, adding that former premier Indira Gandhi signed off on the Israeli-led operation in March 1984. However, India and Israel backed off after the US state department warned India “the US will be responsive if India persists”.The book also claims that Pakistan was preparing to use nuclear missiles against India during the Kargil war, citing a conversation between former US president Bill Clinton and former premier Nawaz Sharif from 1999.According to a report released on the Times of India website, the book states that Sharif was unable to inform Clinton of his military’s moves. The president then warned Sharif that he would release a statement pinning all blame for Kargil on Pakistan if Sharif refused to pull his forces back. agencies

About the Authors :

Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark are internationally renowned and award-winning investigative journalists who worked as staff writers and foreign correspondents for the Sunday Times of London for seven years before joining the Guardian as senior correspondents. They are the authors of two highly acclaimed books, The Amber Room: The Fate of the World’s Greatest Lost Treasure and The Stone of Heaven: Unearthing the Secret History of Imperial Green Jade. They have reported from South Asia for more than a decade, and now live in London and in France.
Authors website :

Saturday, October 27, 2007

2456 MW power by 2010

13 projects to provide 2456 megawatts power by 2010

ISLAMABAD (October 27 2007): Thirteen private power projects, of 2456 MW, will be commissioned by 2010, of which 554 MW will be available to the national grid next year, while 1343 MW and 559 MW will be injected into the system in 2009 and 2010, respectively. These projects would be completed through private sector investment of $2 billion.This was announced in the 74th meeting of the Private Power & Infrastructure Board (PPIB) held here on Friday. Liaquat Ali Jatoi, Minister for Water and Power, chaired the meeting.The Minister termed the planned projects a massive achievement as the country's power demand has been increasing. Due to liberal policies of the government, both local and foreign investors have shown keenness to invest in the country' power sector, he added.He appreciated the efforts of PPIB Managing Director Yousuf Memon and his team, and the quick decision-making of all Board members for facilitating the investors. The meeting was informed that PPIB was currently processing 62 multiple-fuel (oil, coal, gas and hydel) power projects having a cumulative capacity of 16,790 MW, which are expected to be commissioned from 2008 to 2016.Out of these, Letters of Interest (LoIs) have been issued for 33 projects with a cumulative capacity of 9,276 MW. Letters of Support (LoS) have been issued for 14 projects totalling 2,590 MW, while Implementation Agreements (IAs) have been signed for 10 projects of 2,026 MW capacity.The projects for which PPIB has signed IAs include 225 MW Orient Power, 225 MW Sapphire Power, 225 MW Saif Power, 165 MW Attock General, 202 MW Fauji Mari, 200 MW Nishat Chunian, 200 MW Nishat Power, 225 MW Atlas Power, 134 MW Star Power and 225 MW Halmore Power. Moreover, IAs of 227 MW Engro Power and 179 MW Gulf Power are ready for signatures.A number of companies have also concluded Direct Implementation Agreements with their lenders, while five IPPs, namely Orient Power Project, Sapphire Power Project, Fauji Mari project, Attock General and Saif Power have achieved financial closure. Other project sponsors are aggressively working to achieve financial close.The meeting was also informed that IA has also been signed for the 84 MW New Bong Hydel Power Project which is the first private hydropower project in the country to make such a breakthrough, and will make way to other 21 hydropower projects in the pipeline which are being processed by the PPIB. The Board also recommended that tariff of hydropower projects be rationalised to attract further investment in this sector.Jatoi said that there was a rapid growth in economy, and expansion in the industrial sector was being witnessed because of the radical development reforms of the present government. "This has to be augmented with uninterrupted supply of electricity, and the progress in the power sector is a proof to our commitment towards the development of the country and economic betterment of the people," he added.

$60bn income likely from mega projects

$60bn income likely from mega projects
By Khaleeq Kiani
ISLAMABAD, Oct 26: Pakistan expects to earn $60 billion a year from transit trade after completion of the national trade corridor, a couple of shipyards and improvement of the North-South road network.The estimate has been prepared by the Planning Commission that is seeking advisory services from international firms for establishment of two large shipyards at Port Qasim and Gwadar Port on a fast track basis. The appointment of an adviser for preparation of project structure would lead to international competitive bidding to develop the shipyards and related infrastructure at an estimated cost of $500 million, to be raised through an emerging public-private partnership facility.Official sources said the government had already asked the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works Limited to coordinate with reputable international financial institutions, investment banks having direct or partnership with technical, legal and other consultants to assist in planning, development and implementation of the project. The private sector will be responsible for designing, financing, building, operating and maintaining the Shipyard.The national trade corridor —of which Gwadar port is an integral part — is a major communication link for Central Asian states, China and the Gulf as 60 per cent trade of oil and gas is done through this route. The government expects it to play a major role in the region by reducing the transport time from and to China, the Middle East, Central Asian states, Europe and Africa.The first project, Gwadar Shipyard will be set up at Gwadar East Bay (Shamba Ismail area), over approximately 500 acres. Starting with ship repairing, the facility will be converted into building Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) and Ultra large Crude Carriers (ULCCs) and will have at least two dry docks of approximately 600,000 DWT.The second project, Port Qasim Shipyard is planned to be developed adjacent to Korangi Fish Harbour (Port Qasim Area), covering an area of approximately 500 acres with at least two dry docks of 600,000 DWT. The main function of this shipyard will be to build large ships up to VLCC/ULCC size and offshore and onshore oil rigs. It will also have ship repair facilities.A recent meeting presided over by President General Pervez Musharraf decided to accord high priority to the shipbuilding industry to make Pakistan a leading shipbuilding player by taking advantage of its location and emerging opportunities in shipbuilding, including engine and equipment manufacturing.The meeting also constituted a high-level policy board headed by the prime minister to provide policy initiatives for development of shipbuilding and marine industries in the country. The board was asked to facilitate the development of large shipyards at Port Qasim and Gwadar Port and to ensure acquisition of land and provision of related infrastructure. The board comprises governors of Sindh and Balochistan, ministers for ports & shipping, defence production and privatisation, adviser to the PM on finance, deputy chairman of the planning commission, chief of Naval Staff and secretaries of defence production and ports and shipping.Currently, more than 80 per cent of Pakistani trade is carried by foreign ships as the state-run Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) manages a fleet of only 14 ships. Last year 3,000 ships visited the Karachi Port and Port Qasim but none of these ships could be provided repair services as the two small docks currently available fall much short of even domestic requirement.According to official data, the international order book for shipbuilding jumped from 115.5 million DWT to 300 million DWT between 2002 and 2006 and the demand for new ships will increase from around 30 million DWT a year at present to around 90 million DWT a year in 2055.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ahmadinejad on the Receiving End at Columbia !

Columbia's Bollinger on Iran's Ahmadinejad

Here is the NPR report on his visit to the University :

All Things Considered, September 26, 2007 · Robert Siegel speaks to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger about the introduction he gave a speech by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the school. Bollinger told Ahmadinejad that his policies made him appear to be a cruel and petty dictator.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What if Musharraf is NOT elected as President ?

What if Musharraf is NOT elected as President ?

Musharraf ‘to keep army post if not elected president’(AFP)25 September 2007
ISLAMABAD - Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf will stay on as army chief if he is not re-elected for another five years as president, the government told the Supreme Court Tuesday.
The statement was a reminder that the embattled Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, still has the powerful army to fall back on if he fails to secure another term in the poll due on October 6.
Musharraf, a key US ally, has not ruled out imposing martial law if the Supreme Court upholds a series of challenges that it is hearing against his eligibility to stand in the poll.
‘It is very clear that if not elected he will remain chief of army staff,’ Attorney General Malik Mohammad Qayyum told the court when asked about the likely scenario if Musharraf is not re-elected.
Former commando Musharraf said last week that he would stand down from the army—an occupation he described earlier this year as being ‘part of my skin’—if re-elected. The poll will be conducted by the outgoing national and provincial parliaments.
He said he would then be sworn in as a civilian president of the nuclear-armed Islamic republic of 160 million people before his current term expires on November 15.
But opposition parties have pledged a protest campaign, saying he cannot stand for a variety of reasons including that it is illegal to be president while remaining army chief.
The Supreme Court is due to decide on the opposition petitions against the elections later this week. The building was guarded by hundreds of police and armoured police vans on Tuesday.
Musharraf, 64, found out on Monday that he faces his first challenger in the election, a former Supreme Court judge who refused to take an oath of allegiance to him after the coup eight years ago.
Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that around 100 opposition activists have been detained since the weekend for planning demonstrations, a move that has sparked international criticism.
‘The government took the action to protect public peace and order,’ ministry spokesman Javed Cheema told a weekly briefing while giving the figure for the number of arrests.
Pakistan earlier rejected an unusually harsh rebuke by the United States for the opposition arrests and a demand that the authorities free the men.
The US embassy in Islamabad issued a rare statement the previous day branding the detentions ‘extremely disturbing and confusing for the friends of Pakistan’ and urging the government to release the detained men.
‘The United States normally understands our internal situation better than others because it a very close ally,’ Pakistan’s Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azeem told AFP.
‘I am sure it realises that democratic society needs the rule of law and not rule by the mob,’ he said.
Azeem accused the opposition of attacking the Supreme Court building, intimidating judges hearing the case against Musharraf and of threatening to besiege the election commission during the filing of nomination papers.
Police rounded up protesters after clashes in Islamabad on Monday. More activists were arrested over the weekend, including Javed Hashmi, the acting chief of exiled former premier Nawaz Sharif’s party.
When Sharif was expelled on September 10 after trying to return to Pakistan, the US said merely that it was an ‘internal matter’.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Analysis : Who will replace Musharraf

Who will replace Musharraf ?

In the running are Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai, Gen. Salahuddin Satti, Gen. Kiyani and Gen. Tariq Majeed !

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf is likely to elevate in next few days two of his closest aides in the army as the new Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Vice Chief of Army Staff since the incumbent CJCSC General Ehsanul Haq and VCOAS General Ahsan Salim Hayat are due to retire on October 7, with neither given an extension.
According to military circles in Islamabad, Vice Army Chief General Ahsan Salim Hayat can automatically succeed Musharraf if the latter removes his uniform before the retirement of the former.

However, military circles rule out the possibility of Musharraf letting a senior General like Ahsan Salim assuming the powerful office of the army chief and thus creating problems for him.
Musharraf would appoint a true loyalist as the next VCOAS. Musharraf is to choose his successor from amongst the present top 12 lieutenant generals, all of whom hand-picked by him.
Lt. Gen Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, Director-General of the Strategic Plan Division, tops the list. But the problem is that he is already on extension. But there are those in the military circles who believe that due to his deep involvement with the military’s strategic nuclear assets, he may have an outside chance to become CJCSC.

If a combination of seniority and competence remains the criteria, then the Director General of the all-powerful Inter Services Intelligence, Lt. Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiani, may pair with Kidwai to be the new VCOAS.

But if Lt. Gen Kidwai is out, insiders say, the two senior most three-star generals who qualify for the two coveted posts are Lt. Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiani pairing with the Commander 10 Corps, Lt. Gen Tariq Majeed, with the former being elevated to the largely ceremonial post of CJCSC and the latter being made the VCOAS.

Lt. General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani and Lt. General Tariq Majeed both are known as hardcore Musharraf loyalists. They are from Baluch Regiment and had earlier headed the Military Intelligence in different times one after the other.

Musharraf shakes up Pakistan army

Musharraf shakes up Pakistan army

Latest Changes in the Military ! How is who of the shake up !
In and Out and who's who of what ! Read it all here !

Also see 'why the changes are necessary'-

Keep visiting Review and Analysis !

1. Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj is known for his total loyalty to Musharraf and hence his appointment as Director General ISI - the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan. Within the army circles he is known for his humble demeanor, professionalism, and aloofness from all things politics. Some believe that it may mean downgrading of ISI and Taj's task will be to depoliticise ISI.

2. Lt. Gen. Mohsin Kamal, a Kashmiri, is known for his bravery under fire, competence, and extensive knowledge of the area that he will be commanding (10 Corps covers Kashmir region, Northern areas and is responsible for securing sensitive nuclear sites). He is especially popular among the younger generation of army officers. It is likely that he will rise to become army chief in three years.

3. Lt. General Javed Zia played an important role in Karachi as Director General Rangers and was tasked to ensure good working relations between MQM and PML-Q in Sindh. He is known for his political insights vis-a-vis the Karachi scene.

4. Lt. Gen. Shujaat Zamir Dar led the anti-Bugti campaign in Baluchistan. Many in the army are surprised at his promotion. However, it is unlikly that he will get a command position (as corps commander) in future.

5. Lt. Gen. Jamil Haider, after apprenticeship with Lt. Gen. Kidwai, will be taking over as director general C41 (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) - a sensitive job in the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA). He is known in army circles for his excellent coordination during the 2005 earthquake relief work.

6. Maj Gen Tariq Masood, an Abbasi from Hazara, and presently serving as director general Research, National Defence College, is said to be one such rare officers

Sept 21: Summary of changes :

President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Friday made some changes in key army positions, appointing a new head of the Inter Services Intelligence and commander of the Rawalpindi-based 10 Corps from among six major-generals promoted to the rank of lieutenant-generals.

Maj-Gen Nadeem Taj, once regarded as Gen Musharraf’s eyes and ears as head of the Military Intelligence, has been made director-general of the ISI and Maj-Gen Mohsin Kamal, who is little known in non-military circles, has been appointed as Corps Commander of Rawalpindi.As a brigadier, Gen Nadeem Taj had served as Gen Musharraf’s military secretary. He was later promoted as a two-star general, but he continued to serve in the same capacity when the army chief became the president.Later, he was appointed head of the Military Intelligence and apart from performing his routine job, he played a key role in overseeing the 2002 general elections and, at a later stage, in initiating a back-channel dialogue with Benazir Bhutto, chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party.Maj-Gen Kamal served as the commandant of the Staff College, Quetta, and was currently posted as Force Commander of Northern Areas.

The two officers will take up their new assignments in October. Nadeem Taj will take over from Lt-Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiani and Mohsin Kamal from Lt-Gen Tariq Majid.The announcement of the two appointments has highlighted the importance of both Lt-Gen Kiani and Lt-Gen Majid as being front-runners for the two posts of four-star generals which will fall vacant on Oct 8 with the retirement of the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), Gen Ehsanul Haq, and Vice-Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS), General Ahsan Saleem Hayat.Some keen followers of defence-related matters are of the view that after the appointment of the new ISI chief and the 10 Corps Commander, there is a strong possibility that names of the new CJCSC and VCOAS will be announced soon.

Besides Maj-Gen Taj and Maj-Gen Kamal, an ISPR announcement says, Maj-Gen Shujaat Zamir Dar, Maj-Gen Javed Zia, Maj-Gen Muhammad Asghar and Maj-Gen Jamil Haider have also been promoted to the rank of three-star generals.Maj-Gen Dar has been appointed director-general of the Anti-Narcotics Force. As a brigadier, he served as deputy chairman of the National Accountability Bureau, commander of the Infantry Division and head of the counter-insurgency operation in Balochistan as inspector-general of the Frontier Constabulary. During his Balochistan assignment, Maj-Gen Dar and his deputy, Brig Saleem Nawaz, were injured when their helicopter came under fire in the Kohlu area.Maj-Gen Zia, currently Commander of Rangers in Sindh, and Maj-Gen Zamir Haider have been posted to the General Headquarters. Their posts are yet to be announced.Lt-Gen Asghar has been appointed rector of the National Institute of Science and Technology.

History of the Personal :

Gen Nadeem Taj new ISI chief
Five other major generals also promoted Gen Kiyani, Gen Majid frontrunners for COAS position
Asim Rana

RAWALPINDI: President General Pervez Musharraf appointed a new intelligence chief and promoted five other army generals on Friday. Nadeem Taj, who was President Musharraf's military secretary when he seized power in a 1999 coup, was among those promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and will replace Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiyani as director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The military did not say whether General Kiyani will be promoted or retired. He is among the top generals tipped by analysts as a possible successor to President Musharraf as army chief. Another possible successor, General Tariq Majid, has been replaced as the corps commander of Rawalpindi - where the army has its headquarters by another of the promoted generals, General Mohsin Kamal.

The four other promoted generals are: Lt General Javed Zia, General Headquarters; Lt General Shujat Zamir Dar, director general Anti-Narcotics Force; Lt General Muhammad Asghar, rector of the National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST), and Lt General Jamil Haider, General Headquarters. The promotions come ahead of the expected retirement on Oct 7 of General Musharraf's two top deputies in the army: Gen Ehsanul Haq, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff committee, and Gen Ahsan Saleem Hayat, vice chief of army staff. The military has so far has not given any indication who will replace them.

Gen Ehsanul Haq is the former chief of the ISI and Gen Hayat was the Karachi corps commander before he was elevated as vice army chief in 2004. Gen Kiyani, Gen Majid, and Gen Khalid Qadwai, who is the commander of the strategic forces, are the frontrunners for the posts of army chief, vice army chief and chairman joint chief of staff committee, reliable sources told The Post Friday. Military sources said either Gen Kiyani or Gen Majid could replace General Musharraf as army chief next month.

Some close circles to the Presidency are saying that there is also a possibility that Lt General Salahuddin Satti, who is the chief of general staff, General Headquarters, will get a nod from President Musharraf to take over as the Chief of Army Staff. It is also being said that Gen Kiyani is President Musharraf's confidant, who has also worked with Pakistan Peoples Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto as a deputy military secretary, during her first tenure as the prime minister. Gen Kiyani, from the Baloch Regiment, has had training stints at US institutions and retains links from that period with the US army and security framework. He is considered to be a hardliner, experienced general with an ear to the ground on India. He has been part of the inner coterie among the principal staff officers advising the president on Kashmir and India-Pakistan peace process. He is also said to have played a role in promoting the dialogue with Ms Bhutto.

On the other hand, Gen Majid has been Rawalpindi corps commander, the important command, given its proximity to Islamabad and its primary role of handling military operations against India and keeping alive the Army's Kashmir agenda. Gen Majid's importance could be gauged from the fact that no general could attempt a coup without his support. Inevitably Gen Majid enjoys the confidence of the chief of the Army Staff and is more than likely to be a staunch loyalist when the army chief also happens to be the president of Pakistan. Gen Majid's name has also been mentioned as the likely successor to General Musharraf during the govt-PPP talks in Abu Dhabi in July this year. Gen Satti, also the former Rawalpindi corps commander, till October 5, 2006, is known for his close association with President Musharraf which dates back to the latter's tenure in Siachen. He had served with the Special Services Group (SSG) in Siachen as a brigadier. Earlier, Vice Chief of Army Staff General Ahsan Saleem Hyat on Friday paid a farewell call on President Musharraf and Defence Minister Rao Sikandar Iqbal at the Defence Ministry, Rawalpindi.

Gen Ahsan also paid a separate farewell call on Secretary Defence Kamran Rasool. About the

New ISI Boss: General Nadeem Taj has been promoted and appointed as the new DG ISI. Before being promoted and appointed to the present stature, he was performing the duty of commandment of the Pakistan Military Academy. He has also served as general officer commanding 11 Division Lahore and director general military intelligence and military secretary to President Musharraf.

Why the change ?

The Pakistan Army has promoted six major generals to lieutenant general today. The most important advancement is that of Nadeem Taj, who, as Shaan reported on Tuesday, is the new head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), replacing Ashfaq Kiyani.
Kiyani is likely to be the next Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS), paving the way for his automatic succession of Pervez Musharraf as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) upon the Pakistani president’s retirement from the army. Other candidates include Tariq Majeed, Muhammad Sabir, and Salahuddin Satti.

These leadership changes are critical for Musharraf as his retirement from the army and vacating the post of COAS makes him severely vulnerable. The COAS has historically been the most powerful position in Pakistan and Musharraf is keen to replace himself with a loyalist.
Pakistan’s current political climate is akin to an armed standoff in which two (or more, perhaps) sides have their guns pointed at one another. Musharraf will drop his weapon as requested by his opponents, but only if he can trust his backup. He wants ensure that he will not be pounced upon (or worse) by his political opponents or those armed on his side (i.e. COAS, VCOAS, DG ISI) after disarming himself. His personal security and influence can remain as long as those in control of the big guns are loyal to him.

Musharraf’s vulnerabilities will increase into October. A key factor in determining the extent to which he will be weakened will be determined not only by the ongoing Supreme Court hearings, but also by the extent to which the People’s Party and Fazlur Rahman’s JUI accomodate Musharraf. Political pragmatists, both Benazir and Fazlur Rahman are somewhat on the fence, are waiting to see if the tide will fully turn against Musharraf or if they can extract significant concessions from him while he’s weak.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Will courts block Musharraf's Re-election ?

Musharraf plans to become civilian president if courts do not block is re-election

(Reuters)17 September 2007

ISLAMABAD - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf plans to quit as army chief to become a civilian leader, removing a main objection to his proposed re-election in October, a senior ruling party official said on Monday. But if the court blocks Musharraf’s re-election he might dissolve the assemblies and seek a mandate from the parliament returned by a general election, or more drastically, he might opt for emergency rule or martial law, analysts say.

‘We expect that after his re-election process next month, God willing, General Musharraf would take his oath of office as a civilian president before Nov. 15,’ Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, secretary-general of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), told Reuters.
US ally Musharraf retained the post of army chief after he seized power in a military coup in 1999, despite calls from the opposition to quit the dual office.
His acquiescence could be seen as a victory for Benazir Bhutto, who has said that any power-sharing arrangement with Musharraf would depend, among other things, on him becoming a civilian president.
Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party announced on Friday the two-time former prime minister would return to Pakistan on Oct. 18, ending more than eight years of self-exile.
Giving up the army role would undoubtedly dilute Musharraf’s power in a country that has been ruled by generals for more than half the 60 years since it was founded.
It will also be a wrench for a life-long soldier who described his uniform as a ‘second skin’. But aides say Musharraf has been reconciled to quitting the army for months.
Senator Sayed said Musharraf would abide by the constitution and quit the army before the end of 2007. Musharraf’s term as president expires on Nov. 15.
‘Yes, I have no doubt that the president will keep his commitment,’ said Sayed, who recently met Musharraf.
‘He is clear on this issue.’
The United States is keenly watching the fate of Musharraf, as instability in a nuclear-armed state where Al Qaeda militants are based and from where Taleban insurgents are fighting Western forces in Afghanistan could have far-reaching consequences.
Neighbouring India is also monitoring events in Pakistan, with a peace process between the rivals still to yield substantial results after more than 3 years.
Legal threat
Before quitting the army, Musharraf planned to seek another five-year term as president from the sitting parliament by Oct. 15, Sayed said. A general election is due by mid-January.
The PML and its allies have a majority in parliament, but several members of the ruling coalition have reservations about voting Musharraf another term while he remains in uniform.
An alliance of opposition parties has also threatened to resign from parliament if Musharraf goes ahead with his re-election plans. A walk-out would not affect the election but it would dent its credibility.
Bhutto’s PPP is not part of the opposition alliance, whose main member is a Pakistan Muslim League faction led by Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister Musharraf ousted in 1999 and last week dispatched to Saudi Arabia after he tried to return from exile.
But the most significant threat to Musharraf’s re-election plans could come from a Supreme Court regarded as hostile after the general’s ill-fated attempt to fire the chief justice.
On Monday, the court took up six challenges from Musharraf’s opponents—including the Jamaat-e-Islami religious party, cricketer-turn-politician Imran Khan and a lawyers’ forum—against his bid for re-election and against his keeping the two offices of president and army chief.
At the same time, the Election Commission changed an election rule that will help Musharraf overcome an obstacle to his re-election after stepping down as army chief.
The Commission, citing a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, said a constitutional clause requiring retiring state servants to wait for two years before running for office did not apply to presidential candidates.
If the court blocks Musharraf’s re-election he might dissolve the assemblies and seek a mandate from the parliament returned by a general election, or more drastically, he might opt for emergency rule or martial law, analysts say.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Technology : Mobile System promises free calls

Mobile system promises free calls

TerraNet hope their network will become a standard featureA new way of making calls directly between phones, for free, is being trialled by a Swedish company.
It is hoping to dramatically improve communications in the developing world.
Swedish company TerraNet has developed the idea using peer-to-peer technology that enables users to speak on its handsets without the need for a mobile phone base station.
The technology is designed for remote areas of the countryside or desert where base stations are unfeasible.
Projects backed by TerraNet recently launched in Tanzania and Ecuador.
TerraNet founder Anders Carlius told the BBC World Service's Digital Planet programme that the idea for TerraNet came when he was on safari in Tanzania in 2002, and found that poor connectivity meant he could not ring friends riding in another jeep only a few metres away.
"I started thinking, 'couldn't we get phone-to-phone without needing any other equipment, and actually have real voice communication, like a telephone call, between units?'" he said.
Digital identity
The TerraNet technology works using handsets adapted to work as peers that can route data or calls for other phones in the network.
The handsets also serve as nodes between other handsets, extending the reach of the entire system. Each handset has an effective range of about one kilometre.
This collaborative routing of calls means there is no cost to talk between handsets.
When a TerraNet phone is switched on, it begins to look for other phones within range. If it finds them, it starts to connect and extend the radio network.

TerraNet say their network is perfect for communities like students
When a number is dialled a handset checks to see if the person being called is within range. If they are, the call goes through.
While individually the phones only have a maximum range of 1km, any phone in between two others can forward calls, allowing the distance to double. This principle applied many times creates a mini network.
However, Mr Carlius admitted that this has created big problems with having enough available frequencies.
The system can also be used to make calls to other TerraNet mesh networks via a net-connected PC fitted with an inexpensive USB dongle.
"If you look at places like Africa, South America, India, China, we're really for the first time giving people a digital identity," he added.
"People are able to talk to other people using a phone number.
"With our stuff, we are giving the low-end man or woman the chance to talk locally for free."

Ericsson backed TerraNet - but other companies are scepticalAnd TerraNet phones currently only work with a special handset - although Mr Carlius said he hopes that it will eventually be a feature available on all phones, like Bluetooth.
He said that were this to happen, it could potentially spell the end for the current Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications model. About 70% of all mobile phones use this technology.
Mr Carlius said large mobile firms did not like the idea of using a peer-to-peer model to make calls.
"One of the biggest things against us is that the big operators and technology providers are really pushing against us, saying this technology doesn't work and it doesn't have a business model," he said.
"This is fine - just join us in Lund and see how the technology works, and ask our customers how our business model works."
Mr Carlius said that mobile phone manufacturer Ericsson had invested around £3m in TerraNet, and this indicated that the business model for the network is sound.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Who would Replace Musharraf as COAS ?

Generals waiting in the wings ?
By Zaffar Abbas
ISLAMABAD, Sept 6: Handling two former prime ministers — for diametrically opposite reasons — and worrying about a possible legal challenge to his re-election as the country’s president may well be occupying General Pervez Musharraf’s mind most of the time these days.

But another equally, if not more, important decision that he has so far kept close to his chest, and which he is expected to announce within the next couple of weeks is of the appointment of two four-star generals who would replace the outgoing chairman of joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC) and vice-chief of army staff (VCOAS) in early October.

Certainly, more crucial of the two appointments is that of VCOAS because, unlike the incumbent Vice-Chief, General Ahsan Salim Hayat, the new appointee may, within a matter of a few months, replace Gen Musharraf as the army chief once he decides to doff his uniform. In fact, with the controversy about the presidential election acquiring a new dimension with the Supreme Court’s judicial intervention, the possibility of Gen Musharraf relinquishing his military position earlier, and directly appointing his successor can also not be ruled out.

So who will be the next VCOAS who, after taking over as the army chief, will soon acquire the status of the proverbial ‘king maker’ of Pakistani politics? Everyone in the military has remained tight-lipped on the issue, perhaps because their guess is as good as that of any astute civilian. At this stage the only person who knows about it, and whose future political career depends on it, is the president. And he is in no mood to drop any hint before the actual announcement.So, it was hardly a surprise that when this question was put to the army spokesman, and Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Waheed Arshad, he had no answer.

All he knew, he said, was that the announcement should be made within the next few weeks as the CJCSC General Ehsan and VCOAS General Ahsan Salim Hayat were to retire on Oct 7.However, Gen Waheed Arshad said since the president is also the COAS, the decision to make the two appointments would be entirely his.Those who are privy to the officers’ seniority list say there is only one person, whose profile doesn’t mention the date of retirement.

He is Gen Musharraf, in whose retirement column it has been stated that ‘till the appointment of the next COAS’. All others have a specific retirement date, including the other two four-star generals.In such a situation, it should hardly come as a surprise to anyone that while Gen Musharraf himself belongs to the 29th PMA course, because of his prolonged stay as the army chief, the successor he plans to choose will be either from the 45th or 46th course.

The seniority list of the top 12 lieutenant generals makes an interesting reading, and provides some idea about the various possibilities that exists, and the kind of choice that Gen Musharraf has for selecting the CJCSC and VCOAS.

Topping the list is Lt. Gen Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, who is Director-General of the all-prestigious Strategic Plan Division. But he is already on extension and is not likely to be considered for the post of VCOAS. However, some believe that because of his deep involvement with the military’s strategic nuclear assets, he may have an outside chance of becoming the chairman, JCSC. If a combination of seniority and competence remains the criteria, then current ISI chief, Lt. Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiani, may pair with him to be the new vice-chief.But if Lt. Gen Kidwai is out, the two senior most three-star generals who qualify for the two coveted posts are Lt. Gen Kiani pairing with the Commander 10 Corps, Lt. Gen Tariq Majeed, with the former being elevated to the largely ceremonial post of CJCSC and the latter being made the VCOAS.Opinion has remained divided on such a selection, and though most people believe this to be the most likely pairing, there has been some whispering campaign to create an impression that Lt. Gen Tariq Majeed was no more the favourite.

However, none of those talking in such terms has ever been able to come up with a logical reason to support such an argument for a person who, like Lt. Gen Kiani, is regarded as a thorough professional, and someone who has been on the most prestigious appointments.But some retired generals and many others who regard themselves as expert on such military matters -- and there is no dearth of such people -- seniority alone has never been the criterion for selection at this level. And even the army’s spokesman agrees to such a proposition.They point to several examples from the last few decades when competence and loyalty had been as important factors as seniority. Gen Zia-ul-Haq was appointed the army chief by the then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on top of several senior generals. Twenty years later, Gen Musharraf was made the COAS by prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Even though he was not the senior most, the then PM, due to some misplaced concepts about the military’s composition, thought he might feel obliged and remain loyal. Both proved their benefactors wrong. But that’s another story. In between these two, a number of other generals who rose to serve as the army chief, and some after superseding a few others, retired on the completion of their tenure, and without directly intervening in civilian affairs.Observers say it is not only as the president’s right, but also a necessity, to take into account competence and loyalty along with seniority while making the decision. Even if such factors are taken into account, it is said that the two senior-most, Kiani and Majeed, fit the bill, and remain the front-runners.But this has not stopped many among the retired officers and active politicians to discuss and speculate about various senior generals, who can be described as aspirants for the top appointments. And one factor that has helped fuel such debate is that at least seven lieutenant generals are from the same batch -- 46th PMA -- and the difference in their seniority is largely because of the timing of their various appointments.

It is for this reason that people are still not ruling out the presence of a dark horse, who could be anyone from amongst Lt. Gen Mohammed Sabir, who is MS in GHQ, to the Quarter Master General Lt. Gen Afzal Muzzaffar, or even the Gujranwala Corps Commander, Lt. Gen Wasim Ashraf.Selection of a person who is to command the troops is a crucial decision in almost every country, but certainly not as crucial as in Pakistan.

Because of the country’s chequered political history, and repeated military interventions in civilian affairs, the army chief remains a key player in the decision-making process. So, it’s not without reason that President Musharraf is taking his own time to decide about the next VCOAS, who in all likelihood, would soon be the next army chief.Seniority list

1. Lt. Gen Khalid Ahmed Kidwai — DG Strategic Plan Division (SPD)
2. Lt. Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiani — DG Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)
3. Lt. Gen Malik Arif Hayat — serving in GHQ (may not qualify as never commanded a corps)
4. Lt. Gen Tariq Majeed — Corps Commander, Rawalpindi
5. Lt. Gen Mohammed Safdar — Chief of Logistical Service (CLS), GHQ
6. Lt. Gen Ather Ali — DG at Joint Staff Headquarters
7. Lt. Gen Wasim Ahmad Ashraf — Corps Commander, Gujranwala
8. Lt. Gen Mohammed Sabir — Military Secretary, GHQ
9. Lt. Gen Imtiaz Hussain — Adjutant General, GHQ
10. Lt. Gen Muhammad Afzal Muzzaffar — Quarter Master General, GHQ
11. Lt. Gen Hamid Rab Nawaz — IG T&E, GHQ
12. Lt. Gen Muhammad Salahuddin Satti — Chief of General Staff, GHQ

Pakistan's Foreign Reserves at $16 billion

Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves cross $16 billion mark

KARACHI (September 07 2007): Liquid foreign reserves have crossed 16 billion-dollar mark, reaching historic level of 16.0789 billion dollars despite the outflow of some 133 million dollars in portfolio investment.The central bank on Thursday issued the latest figures of liquid foreign reserves, which depicted an increase of 260.7 million dollars in overall reserves from 15.8182 billion dollars to 16.0789 billion dollars during the last week.

During the last week, foreign reserves, held by the central bank, have gone up by 289.9 million dollars to 13.804 billion dollars from 13.5141 billion dollars. The reserves, held by banks, show a decline of 29.2 million dollars during the last week, as it has reached 2.2749 billion dollars previously stood at 2.3041 billion dollars last week.The historical achievement of this record level of foreign exchange reserves has been made possible by the healthy growth in external flows, including foreign direct investment (FDI), home remittances, said the central bank."It is a positive indicator.

Despite a decline of 133 million dollars in portfolio investment during the 2008 fiscal 2008, the overall foreign reserves show an upsurge," economics experts said.They said that foreign reserves, after reaching 16 billion dollars peak level, the country was able to make imports of six months without any assistance, as the country's overall imports would reach 32 billion dollars during the current fiscal."This increase in liquid foreign reserves may be due to a big inflow of foreign loan or remittances by Pakistanis abroad, but the reason of rise would be confirmed later in the current account," they added.

It may be mentioned here that at the end of the last fiscal, the country's foreign exchange reserve showed tremendous growth of 2.4768 billion dollars to historic level of over 15.6137 billion-dollar benchmark as compared to 13.1369 billion dollars during the 2005-06 fiscal year.