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.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Firms set for Dam projects in Pakistan

Firms being set up for dam projects

KARACHI, Aug 31: Under a new strategy, the government is setting up companies to take up multi-billion rupee dam projects in the country over the next eight to nine years. The capital for the companies will be raised from the local and international capital markets.“A company for the Neelum-Jhelum dam has already been formed,” disclosed Dr Salman Shah, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance, while talking to a team of journalists in the Dawn office on Friday. “Officials are involved in paper work for putting in place the corporate structure of the proposed company,” he said.

The 1,000 megawatt Neelum-Jhelum project is being built on the Jhelum river, and about $2 billion capital for it is expected to be raised in the local capital market and by floating Global Depository Receipts (GDRs) abroad. Another project to be taken up in a similar fashion is the Diamer-Bhasha dam which will generate 4,500 megawatts of electricity and have a reservoir for 7.3 million acre feet of water.The $6.5 billion project is part of ‘President Musharraf’s 2016 water vision’ that envisages construction of five major dams -- Diamer-Bhasha, Akori, Kuram Tangi, Munda and Kalabagh. “We will put the blueprint of each and every project before the federal and provincial governments and try to convince them of the immense economic benefits of the projects,” the adviser said.Dams, he said, were vital for agriculture and industry and for providing employment to the youth.

The government has also invited private sector to build small dams of 50 megawatt capacity at the canal water falls and run of water in the canal network in the four provinces.“We are planning to build two shipyards, one at Port Qasim in Karachi and the other at Gwadar,” he said, adding that the yards would have the capacity to build ships of 600,000 tonnes deadweight, compared to Karachi Shipyard’s capacity of building ships of 26,000 tonnes DWT.

He said the government was exploring the possibility of German or Korean collaboration for the massive shipbuilding yards in Sindh and Balochistan.Pakistan’s geographical location, its close proximity with South Asia, Middle East and East Asia, its 100 million people aged 25 years and less and its mineral and agricultural resources make it one of choicest places for foreign investment in coming years.