E Mullah الیکٹرونک مُلا: March 2005 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

E Mullah الیکٹرونک مُلا

Thursday, March 31, 2005

New Delhi's new suggested gas pipeline route through Karachi is flawed and may be a face saving strategy


What can I say!

If new Delhi's suggestion to pass pipeline through populated areas is accepted, terrorists will love the new route because they will kill two birds with one stone; sabotage the pipe line and harm the population living near the pipe line. There is no guarantee that passing the pipeline through densely populated areas will reduce the risk of terrorist attacks. It is not the Multan where it is vulnerable; it is the entire Baluchistan where people line can be sabotaged. Risk of Sabotage in Punjab is much smaller than Sabotage in Baluchistan and Sindh.

In event of a war between Pakistan and India this pipeline may be a target by India itself to blow huge fires in Pakistani populated areas.

Before suggesting new pipeline route the Indians should heed the remarks made by Dr. Condoleezza Rice about the proposed project (pun intended). The Indians know what they are doing. It is not the Indians who should heed Rice's remarks, it is Pakistan that should. The Indians already know that this project will never materialize as US has thrown towel and is not interested in reconciliation of differences between Pakistan and India. At this moment they are more interested in blocking Iran. On one hand US has threatened Pakistan and warned over the project as it will benefit Iranians who are under fire because of their nuclear project and on the other hand, in order to appease Indians, it has offered nuclear power plants as an energy alternative.

Indians on the other hand want to save their face and embarrassment and are proposing a new route which they know will never materialize or accepted by the Pakistanis. It will be a win win situation as they will claim that it is not US pressure which has purged the project instead it is Pakistan that has refused to accept the proposed route.

In my opinion, US should take a gamble. The history suggest that once a country take its path to become a nuclear state it is hard to take a U-turn and economic sanctions do not deter them either. Paksitan and North Korea are key examples. I would not consider Libya as an example because Iran is a different country. Shiities can be more peaceful if they are dealt properly (Iraq is an example). US should adopt a more realistic approach and try to bring peace to middle east crescent (World Bank's classification for this area) by dialogue and building mutual trust among these countries. The transfer of nuclear technology from Pakistan to Iran, Korea and Libya was the result of economic sanctions impossed on Paksitan by US and UN. If anyone believes that Abdul Qadir Khan acted alone in running his network without bringing it into Pakistan government or military's knowledge; he/she is living in a fools paradise.

And finally, I have no comments about Pakistan's sovereignty. I will do comment on this but some other time. However, I would like to make few points here. If this project ever materializes it may be good for Pakistan to earn decent foreign exchange to strengthen its economy. The government of Pakistan must take its nation into confidence. There should be built in safe guards in royalty determination process through out the life cycle of the project under changing exchange rates, oil price futures, general price hikes, and demand pressures.
(I am writing a piece on Pakistan's nuclear sale network controversy and will post it in this weblog within a week or so).

31 March 2005 Thursday 20 Safar 1426

New Delhi suggests pipeline route
By DAWN Correspondent
NEW DELHI, March 30: Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has suggested routing the 4.16-billion dollar Iran-India gas pipeline through thickly populated areas of Pakistan to minimise the risk of a terrorist attack , an Indian news report said on Wednesday. Zee news TV channel quoted Indian petroleum ministry sources as saying the 2600 km pipeline was planned to be completed by 2010. Mr Aiyar has suggested that gas should move along the Makran coast, past Gwadar, through Hub Chowk, into Karachi and beyond to Umarkot and from there to Munnabao crossing in Rajasthan, according to his ministry officials. They were quoted by Zeenews as saying that an agreement with Tehran for delivery of Iranian gas at a point on the Indian border is likely to be inked when Mr Aiyar visits the Islamic Republic in June. Iran would enter into a separate agreement with Islamabad for the 760-km transit through Pakistan. Project consultants BHP Billiton had previously suggested that the gas move from Multan to a point somewhere near Jaisalmer. But Mr Aiyar feels that this should change considering that there is little population along that route, rendering the pipeline vulnerable to terrorist threats. Mr Aiyar is also visiting Islamabad in second half of May to chalk out transit modalities, including the transit fee to be paid to Pakistan for using its territory for transmission of gas, the news channel said.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Hassan Abbas's comment on my post about his book


I hope you will be enlightened by his comments too.
Hassan Abbas said... As we say in Urdu: "Umed pay dunia kaaem".
Yes, Pakistan has every potential to become a truly democratic state. As far as signs are concerned, they are not good given Pakistan military's entrenched position in the country and its corporate interests but I believe sooner or late it will be realized in Pakistan that its very existence depends on its capability to transform into a democracy. We lost half of the state in 1971 primarily due to Pakistani establishment's refusal to hand over power to the democratically elected leader Mujib ur Rahman.
And in my humble view, the path towards democracy is linked to strengthening of civil society in Pakistan as well - people have to stand up and challenge the autocratic tendencies of Pakistan's military, bureaucratic and political elite on one hand and expose the true face of Pakistani mullahs on the other.
Hassan! I have some reservations. As a child growing up in Pakistani society was so depressing. I was depressed all the time by reading about 1971 and Bangladesh. I saw it happen. I witnessed the war. I saw the cat fight of fighter planes over my city. I saw my parents and uncles crawling under beds and dragging me under as well. They thought if the roof would collapse by a bomb or something they may be protected by trapping under some empty space (seems silly at this point but when you are living under war you want to hang on a string of hope).
I witnessed the divide. I was 4 years old but I still have memories of protests and anxiety that prevailed around my neighborhood and house as well.
I remember we had only two rooms (a bedroom and a kitchen). In our only bedroom my father (May he rest in peace) would turn on the radio and listen carefully.
He would tell me to be quite.
At times my mother would come out of kitchen and ask what happened?
I did not understand much but as I grew up and kept reading more about it, I became more depressed. I read stories in my school about the betrayal. I delivered speeches in debating contests in my school. My depression increased and I kept asking why? Why this happened to my society?
Finally I reached a conclusion it was hard to manage a country like this apart from Mujib, Bhutto and Establishments interests. We had thousand of miles and a hostile neighbor liking its wounds of partition in between. No internet or hot and secure communication line to manage day to day affairs of state swiftly. It is good that a brother is living independently in his house. Let's get over with it and care about future only.
By teaching this to myself I became more pessimistic about the future of my country. However, I have realized that my nation does not learn from its mistakes and Pakistani society is composed of slow learners who are more interested in maintaining the status quo. When I think about its future unfortunately I become more pessimistic. I don’t remember who said this but someone did say that as pessimism become wide spread the change occurs. The optimisms is a sugar pill that tells you things are fine and going in good direction. Such optimisms helps to maintain a status quo. I don't want to be an optimist.
In 1996, I met Mr. Sulaiman then member Pakistan's Federal Tax Commission. I was working for National Tax Reform Commission set up in Planning Commission under Hafiz a Pasha's supervision. I discussed some research possibilities with Mr. Sulaiman using the data they had (which is kept as a prized secret). He laughed and said: Young man you are very optimistic, there is no place for you in Pakistan. Go abroad and do as much research you want to quench your thirst. I became pessimistic about doing research in Pakistan and left in 1998 to pursue a PhD in US. So Pessimism did bring a change in my life. In fact, similar pessimism about my civil society is the prime mover behind this blog. I hope I may be able to bring a change with my views someday.
In 1997, as part of SAARC Poverty Alleviation Conference Committee host, I met Bangladeshi delegates. Aziz-ud-Din once a key official in pre-divided Pakistani establishment now was a high profile official in Bangladesh government. I took all the delegates on a sight seeing trip to Margallas in those controversial parliament’s luxury buses imported by Mian Nawaz Shariff's government. I asked him how does he feel by coming back here. He said quietly, young man you wont understand just don’t ask, it hurts. Live and let live is better (his voice was bitter). I said to him I just want to learn outside the textbooks and Pakistani media, but he did not talk. I became pessimistic that our countries and people cannot even have dialogues. We will just keep mourning. In US, I met more Bangladeshis, vibrant, and friendly. I believe they are happy and we should rejoice with them. Keep good diplomatic relations and stop mourning otherwise we will keep hurting ourselves and them as well. All this pessimism did help me to get over with the issue of Bangladesh. I believe live and let live. Have a dialogue with your neighbors not about why this happened but what can be done to strengthen friendships. In order to have a good friendship do not mention the bitterness of past. There were establishment mistakes but there were some infeasibilities and hindrances as well. Things that should have been done in 1947 did happen later. If Bangladesh had been an independent country in 1947, probably we would have enjoyed good terms with them all the time without any bitterness. Brothers with Arms are better than Brothers in arms. Just living next door in your house should be ok.
Hassan you may disagree but this is probably my pessimism speaking that helped me to overcome the depression of divide.

Just been Busy


I have been a little bit busy. My Wife and I are working on our dissertation day and night so that we can finish our PhDs this semester. I will start writting my blog regularly again in few days.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Who is the real culprit in railway accidents in Pakistan?


I read the news of train derailment in Pakistan and applaude the Railways Minister Mina Haider's swift action to correct the so called situation that has arisen after the accident by firing railway employees, Bravo!

I don't know why the government thinks that firing a few people here and there and calling in an inquiry committee will correct the problems that have plagued the railway system for years.

I just ask one thing: How much money the government of Pakistan or any other railway minister has spent on the modernization of Pakistan Railways since 1947. These railway tracks were built by British India government and after more than 50 years of independence none of the government has done anything to improve the state of Railways in Pakistan. I think the people at top should be the one to resign first.

Pakistan railway employees had been using the push cart rail trolleys (similar to one shown in the link) for rail track inspection purposes. The push cart trolleys resembled more like a donkey cart or a river raft. Somehow, someone got an innovative idea and only a few trolleys were installed lately with a small motor and generator which were given to bigger city railway sections only. What do we expect from a scantly armored Pakistan Railway? I am surprised that people still travel on the roof tops of railway trains in Pakistan. Who should be fired for all these ills when someone fells from a roof top of moving railway train? Alas! our Ministers, Prime ministers, and Presidents rarely travel on trains and if they do then on those trains security is so tight that they don't let anyone travel on the roof top. So how would they know the plight of an ordinary man and Pakistan railways.

In America and elsewhere I have seen road pickup trucks for railway maintenance purposes that are equipped with gear that they can be run on railway tracks and roads both. They can be quickly deployed on roads and rail tracks both. The engineers and staffs move fast and quickly and visit tracks for regular checkup and maintenance. How many such road-railway trucks the government of Pakistan has purchased? How many additional tracks the government has installed? The government pays more attention to pseudo development rather than real development.

I suggest that each subdivision should get at least one mechanised maintenance truck that can run on roads and rail tracks both.

Six railways officers suspended in Narowal train mishap
(News Story: Updated at 1520 PST) SHEIKHUPURA:
Federal Minister for Railways Mina Shamim Haider Saturday suspended six employees of railways department including Divisional Engineer Railways Lahore, Assistant Engineer Railways Lahore and local Inspector Railways for showing negligence.

The minister said that he has also ordered to submit a report regarding 211-Up passenger train derailment in which five persons were killed while sixteen others received injuries near Sri Rampura Babkwali Railway Station.

He said that Rs one lakh would be given to the heirs of the deceased as compensation and Rs fifty thousand to the injured. He said that the injured passengers would be provided free medical treatment.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Sialkot you will live long


My younger brother 'Yamin' just sent me a web link about my hometown. I am very pleased to see it. This is the very first website on my city. I thought I would share it with every one. Just clik on the title to this post to get there.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

When will we see a true democracy in Pakistan?


I always wondered that if there will be a day...
I will rise one morning and see my country as a truly democratic soverign state.
Tell me Hassan do u see anything on the horizon.
Hassan Abbas's book "Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, The Army, And America's War On Terror" is a recomended reading.

My home town's crisis


I was not happy with the situation of law and order during my last visit to Pakistan. I can imagine things would have only become worse.

Dawn report:
SHORTAGE: Only 84 traffic police personnel are regulating the traffic in the entire Sialkot district with a population of over 3.3 million. According to the sources, the Sialkot traffic police have three inspectors, four sub-inspectors, 10 ASIs, 12 head constables and 55 constables. Despite being less in number in proportion to the population, most of them are performing the VIP duties in other districts of Punjab. In the absence of traffic policemen on several roads, the traffic rules are being violated which sometime cause serious accidents. Besides, traffic jams have also become a routine matter in Sialkot, Sambrial, Uggoki, Daska, Pasrur and surrounding areas. Traffic police officials in Sialkot confirmed that over 0.4 million vehicles of every kind were plying on main roads in the district. They said the government should check the practice of deputing Sialkot district's traffic policemen on VIP duties to other districts.