14 June 2014

Why The Middle East Is Going To Implode: Violent Change In The Region Inevitable And Why We Need To Be Ready For It

By Daniel J. Gallington
June 13, 2014 · 

Why the Middle East Is Going to Implode

Violent Change in the Region Is Inevitable And We Need To Be Ready For It.

Motivated by two excellent writings on the recent political dynamics in the Middle East, here are some longer-term political and economic assessments about the region – which always seems larger politically than its actual geographical boundaries.

Motivations for regional political behaviors: Historically, there have been three of these: religion, tribal power and greed, which makes the Middle East both traditional and anachronistic, especially when one considers the religious reformations that much of the world experienced hundreds of years ago. Ignoring this, the Middle East continues to be stuck in a religious time warp. Add the 1948 reinsertion of the new state of Israel into the region and the post-World War II political world assured itself of hundreds of more years of regional religious conflict.

Furthermore, the Middle East, when compared to the rest of the civilized world, with few exceptions, continues to be frozen in a colossal state of social and cultural ignorance, and there appears little internal motivation for change. Where else are girls shot for going to school?

Strong preference for corruption: Likewise, there seems no real interest in changing the sad reality of everyday life in the region, which is one of total corruption from the smallest neighborhoods to the highest officials. Rather than developing the political institutions necessary for the lessening and eventual elimination of endemic corruption – which in much of the area is more akin to organized crime – the various competing factions seem to prefer it to other forms of political life. And with this goes the understanding – and tacit acceptance – that minorities of any kind will be treated with merciless contempt and discrimination by whatever corrupt figure or group is in power.

The most genuine, expensive and recent attempt at constructing a democratic model was inserted as part of the U.S. occupation of Iraq – and was a failure – as no faction saw it as a viable alternative to a corruption based system. And, as the area gets poorer and poorer as a result of modern economic realities, corruption reaches the level of gang warfare in many local regions. This is a clear longer-term trend and one with no visible incentive for change.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Middle East.]

Oil and opium: It is probably true that, if it were not for oil and opium, the Middle East would be a vast wasteland, in that no one in the rest of the world would care about what happened there or who was in charge. Ironically perhaps, this also seems the longer-term general trend for the region. As oil ceases to become the central revenue for the assorted corrupt regimes in power, the super rich clans and families will gradually vacate the region and move to the relative safety of Europe, where most of them are already long established.

Opium is also a cash crop of the region, and will likely continue to be a replenishable source of hard currency and political power in the various “ungoverned” regions for the indefinite future. But oil – for a number of reasons – has a diminishing future as a source of world power: For example, OPEC has already lost the power to set world oil prices as increased world supplies are allowing more traditional economic models to operate.

Meet the professor who wants to end power cuts in India

June 13, 2014 
‘Expensive petrol-based generators are not the solution. We need alternative solutions. We need a situation where power cuts become a thing of the past.’

‘Instead of blackout, we call this brownout. Brownout means, say 10 percent of power is transmitted. Instead of 100 percent power cut you can have 90 percent power cut and meet the demand for a few critical devices in every home like fans, lights, TVs and cellphones.’

‘India is too huge and by making it work in India, we can show the world how we can move ahead. The future is the solar and DC combination.’

Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala of IIT-Madras speaks of his revolutionary method of preventing power cuts, in an interview with Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com

If everything works as planned by Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala of the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, and Professor Bhaskar Ramamurthi, his colleague and the present director at IIT-Madras, there will not be any power cuts or blackouts in India within the next two-three years.

After the revolutionary Wireless in Local Loop technology (which Rediff.com first wrote about in 1997), low voltage DC power may be the next big thing that can happen in India. 

Let's listen to what has been envisaged by Prof Jhunjhunwala to alleviate the power shortage and frequent power cuts India faces now.

You said the lights and fans in your room are powered by DC (direct current) power...

Let me start at a general level first. All over India, people suffer from huge power cuts because our supply during the peak hours, is much less than the demand. At least 30 percent of Indian homes are not connected. That is mainly because there is not enough power. Then, there are power cuts from two hours to 20 hours a day, more in the villages and also in every city!

It means people use inverters. When you use inverters, you are storing energy and thereby losing 30-35 percent while using it. When the power comes back, there will be a surge of power which may affect your appliances and also result in more power cuts.

If you use a petrol generator, the cost of electricity today for a consumer is between Rs 35 and Rs 89 per unit. If you use a diesel generator, it will cost you Rs 24-25 per unit if it is running at full power, and if it is running at half the power, it can go up to Rs 35. The cost of battery power is Rs 17-20.

Power shortage is one of the major problems India faces now. Industry shuts down. Manufacturing faces a crisis. So we wanted the gap between the demand and supply to be reduced to zero as early as possible. The question is, how do we do this? You can buy oil and generate enough power to bridge the gap but what about the cost? When the cost goes high, it become unaffordable. Expensive petrol-based generators are not the solution. We need alternative solutions. We need a situation where power cuts become a thing of the past.

'Our idea was to go from a blackout to what we call a brownout'
What made you work on the issue of power shortage?

This has been haunting all of us for a long time but this is not our field. So, we thought somebody else would do it. Two years back, when Chennai was going through very bad power cuts, Bhaskar and I felt we should do something.

One of our colleagues who was working on solar power used to say, why not solar power? Along with solar power, we saw very interesting things happening in power electronics.

Integrated circuits can handle only low power. By 2004-05, power electronics ICs came in and suddenly there was brushless DC motors or BLDC motors as opposed to an AC (alternating current) induction motor. We found that small BLDC motors are twice as energy-efficient as compared to AC motors.

With Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs), lighting became more efficient.

So, there was solar, DC motors and then, LED. That was when we thought of connecting all these and doing something in this area.

How did the idea to look at DC power come to your mind?

We realised that all the electronics we use are DC while we have AC lines. At every point, we convert AC power to DC. In LED tubes, in cellphones and laptop chargers, in LED or LCD TVs, in the BLDC fans, everywhere, we are converting AC to DC power.

When you convert AC to DC at every point, there is a cost to it and you also lose a lot of power.

Similarly, solar was producing DC power which we convert to AC and use. In batteries, we are converting AC to DC to store power, and then back to AC. That was when I thought, why don't we have DC power at least at homes and in offices?

From the substations, power is transmitted as AC...

Yes, let the power come from the sub-stations as AC. Let us convert it into DC at our premises.

Will there be more transmission loss if we transmit power as DC from the substations?

Yes. There will be transmission loss and also, changing AC to DC at the sub-station is a major issue. We didn't even want to get into that area. What we felt was, let the change take place at homes as 95 per cent of Indian villages have electricity lines connected. That is why we wanted the lines to homes and offices changed to DC power.

When the supply in the city is less than the demand, in certain pockets and sub-station areas, there is a blackout or power cut or load-shedding so that demand and supply matches. That is when we came up with this idea a year back with an innovative idea; why can't a small amount of power come when there is load-shedding?

Instead of blackout, we call this brownout. Brownout means, say 10 percent of power is transmitted. Instead of 100 percent power cut you can have 90 percent power cut and meet the demand.

'Reducing the voltage to do the signalling was our Eureka moment'

How can you transmit a small amount of power?

Yes, the question is, how can you have 10 percent power with the local distribution system not collapsing? What we thought of was, at the meter-point at homes, we can have two lines, one of which will be the normal AC line that comes from the substation from which you draw whatever you want. Our plan is to cut off that AC line during the brownouts. 

Does it get cut off automatically?

Modi and the maritime imperative

C. Raja Mohan | June 14, 2014 

The commissioning of the INS Vikramaditya late last year has made India the only Asian nation other than pre-war Japan to operate more than one aircraft carrier at a time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visits the carrier today, should know that this special moment in Asia’s maritime history will not last too long. India’s ageing carrier, INS Viraat, is now 60 years old and will have to be decommissioned sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, India’s construction of an indigenous carrier is short of funding and woefully behind schedule. Even if New Delhi gets its defence act together in the coming years, India will find Beijing adding more carriers to the first it commissioned a couple of years ago. 

The rise of China as a great economic power, the dramatic expansion of its naval might and its growing assertiveness in Asia’s waters are transforming India’s security environment in multiple ways. Delhi, obsessed as it is with land-based threats, has been unable to digest the significance of this extraordinary change in Asia’s maritime space, let alone respond effectively. It is probably fortuitous that Modi has chosen his first field engagement with the Indian armed forces at sea. But he can put the decision to good use by reflecting on India’s long-neglected maritime imperative.

Hailing from Gujarat, which for millennia was at the forefront of India’s maritime trade with the world, Modi may be better placed than his recent predecessors to think of India’s strategic future in maritime terms. Modi is perhaps aware that the origins of the Indian navy can be traced back to Gujarat. It was way back in 1612 that the East India Company established a marine force at Surat to combat piracy in the Arabian Sea and secure British commercial shipping with India. Four centuries later, not much seems to have changed, as most of the world’s major navies, including that of China, are in the Arabian sea in the name of fighting piracy. 

What has changed, though, is the volume and strategic significance of India’s trade. While the British Raj integrated India to the global markets across the seas, Delhi, in the early decades of independence, progressively turned sea-blind. 

Two factors led India to turn its back on the sea. One was India’s choice of self-reliance as the national strategy of economic development. Once India shunned trade, it was inevitable that its maritime vision would blur. On the security front, independent India had to deal with new borders created by the Partition of the subcontinent and China’s entry into Tibet. The wars with Pakistan and China in the high Himalayas would freeze the continental mindset of the security establishment in Delhi. 

It was only when India began to globalise its economy at the turn of the 1990s that India woke up to the maritime imperative. A quarter of a century later, India’s world trade, most of which moves by the sea, now stands at nearly 50 per cent of its GDP. India is also profoundly dependent on the import of energy resources by sea. Yet, the development of maritime infrastructure, whether it is building world-class ports or expanding India’s shipbuilding capacity, has not kept pace with its growing reliance on the sea. Nor has Delhi developed the two island chains in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea that give India extraordinary maritime reach and potential influence. 

On the security front, India’s deeds have not always matched its words. Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh, insisted that India’s security perimeter extends beyond the land frontiers and covers the entire Indian Ocean littoral. If Singh had the right policy insights, he did not have the political authority to persuade his defence minister, A.K. Antony, to act upon them. 

By the middle of the last decade, there was no doubt that as a major trading nation, Delhi must build a large and powerful navy capable of projecting power, securing India’s interests dispersed around the Indo-Pacific littoral and contributing to the global public goods in the maritime domain. But regrettably, Delhi became the main obstacle to the advancement of India’s maritime and naval objectives in the last few years. 

Under Antony, the Indian navy had to endure all the tragedies inflicted on the armed forces by the ministry of defence: the mismanagement of civil-military relations, chaos in weapons procurement and the refusal to support the expansion of domestic defence production, to name a few. The navy also suffered an additional burden thanks to the MoD’s utter lack of appreciation of matters maritime. While the Indian foreign office valued naval diplomacy as a valuable addition to India’s tool kit, Antony actively discouraged the navy’s international engagement. 

At the very moment when nations big and small, as well as multilateral institutions, regional and global, were urging India to play a larger security role, Antony slammed the brakes on India’s naval diplomacy and its international maritime partnerships. The mismatch between the navy’s natural outward orientation and Antony’s mofussil mindset has had disastrous consequences. 

Modi will have his hands full clearing the detritus from Antony’s prolonged tenure in the ministry of defence. But he will have to devote special attention to the civilian and military dimensions of India’s maritime imperative. 

Nearly 60 years ago, when Jawaharlal Nehru acquired India’s first aircraft carrier, Vikrant, maritime power was entirely marginal to India’s economy and security. Today, as Modi dedicates INS Vikramaditya to the nation, the Indian navy must be put at the very heart of India’s economic and security strategies. 

The writer is a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, Delhi, and a contributing editor for ‘The Indian Express’

Teetering on the edge

Published: June 14, 2014 
Arvind Sivaramakrishnan

APIraqi Shiite tribal fighters deploy with their weapons while chanting slogans against the al-Qaeda inspired ISIL to help the military, which defends the capital in Baghdad's Sadr City, Iraq, on Friday.

Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki is ill-placed to offer any kind of leadership to counter the challenge posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

The fact that the extreme al-Qaeda offshoot Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has captured the Iraqi city of Mosul, north-west of Baghdad, with minimal resistance has exposed several major problems. These result from the illegal U.S. and U.K.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 as well as the policies of the Nouri al-Maliki government in Baghdad, and now threaten civil war together with wider international consequences.

To start with, Iraqi forces in Mosul, the Nineveh provincial capital, were overrun very quickly on June 10; many abandoned their posts even though they outnumbered the attackers heavily. They said the ISIS forces were very well-equipped and trained, and ISIS even captured the Turkish consul-general and many of his staff in Mosul. The faction’s capture of Tikrit, only 140 km from Baghdad, was equally ominous, as Tikrit is the administrative capital of Iraq’s largest province, Anbar, which has a long border with Syria, ISIS’s geographical base and stronghold.

Second, ISIS itself continues to expand steadily, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri, but who has adopted a name suggesting Iraqi origins. It has the stated aim of establishing a Caliphate stretching from western Iraq to North Africa. It also has a reputation for such brutality that even al-Qaeda has repudiated some of ISIS’s methods. At least 5,00,000 people have fled Mosul and are making their way toward the self-governing semi-autonomous province of Kurdistan, one of the few stable regions in the country. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has spoken of a rapidly developing humanitarian crisis. Kurdistan’s Peshmerga militia report, however, says that they now hold the crucial city of Kirkuk and have had no engagement with ISIS forces.Polarised society

WildLeaks attracts major wildlife crime leads

Published: June 14, 2014
Damian Carrington

A new WikiLeaks-style website targeting the kingpins of wildlife crime has attracted serious leads on elephant, tiger, fishery and forest destruction across the globe in its first three months.

The WildLeaks website, which uses Tor technology to ensure anonymity, has been set up by Andrea Crosta, a security consultant who first revealed how the al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia generated funds via ivory smuggling.

The slaughter of elephants, rhinos, tigers and other species has surged in the last decade, part of an illicit wildlife trade worth $10-20bn a year according to Interpol. Only drugs, people and arms trafficking earn more for criminals and the corruption and violence accompanying wildlife crime takes a heavy toll on local communities.

“We had our first tip within 24 hours and the response has been beyond our wildest imagination,” said Mr. Crosta, now executive director of the Elephant Action League. He said the pervasive corruption means that whistleblowers frequently fear that contacting local law enforcement could put their lives in danger. “You can’t, for example, export containers full of ivory from Mombasa without bribing people left, right and centre,” Mr. Crosta said. “We definitely feel we are filling a gap.” A three-month trial period has yielded 24 serious tip-offs, spanning the world including: cents elephant poaching in Africa and illicit ivory trading in Hong Kong; cents killing of Sumatran tigers, of which there are just 400 left in the wild; cents illegal lion and leopard hunting in South Africa; cents chimpanzee trafficking in Liberia; cents illegal fishing activities in Alaska, including alleged mafia involvement; cents importing of illegal African wildlife products into the U.S.; cents illegal logging in Mexico, Malawi and Siberia.

Mr. Crosta said every tip is analysed by an expert team of legal and security experts, who determine whether to begin an investigation or share the information with trusted partners. Three ivory-related investigations are already underway, with the evidence submitted naming specific powerful people behind the trade that saw 22,000 elephants slaughtered for their tusks in 2012. Mr. Crosta said the lack of internet access in many parts of the world where wildlife crime is rife was not a major barrier to success, because WildLeaks is aimed at exposing the key players in the international crime networks, not the low-level operatives on the ground.

The WildLeaks site has 16 different language versions and smartphone app is also being considered. But Mr. Crosta said: “The problem with the phones is you’re never really anonymous.” “Clearly there’s huge potential for systems like WildLeaks to assist enforcement agencies, but the proof will be in the pudding,” said Richard Thomas, at Traffic, the global wildlife trade monitoring network. “If solid, actionable intelligence is received, it should result in meaningful action being taken against wildlife criminals.” He said the personal safety of potential whistleblowers was critical and that they should pay close attention the advice given on the WildLeaks site.

Investigations of wildlife crime can be slow and painstaking, said Mr. Crosta. He said it took 18 months to uncover the link between ivory smuggling and the al-Shabaab terrorists, work that began in 2011 when was a security consultant in east Africa. “It was about being introduced to the right clan and the right sub-clan, which is slow as people have to trust you.” Mr. Crosta revealed that tonnes of ivory, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of profit, were passing through Somalia every month. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2014

Printable version | Jun 14, 2014 9:59:51 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/wildleaks-attracts-major-wildlife-crime-leads/article6112266.ece

© The Hindu


India needs to indigenize its defence-related manufactures, especially in aviation, writes Abhijit Bhattacharyya 
While going through the 1,024 pages of Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, 2014-2015, one is compelled to state the obvious without being a rocket scientist — that no aspiring nation like India can ever expect to be counted upon in the international arena with a 100 per cent imported aerial assets for its air force, and its hopeless and helpless dependence on foreign-manufactured artillery guns and main battle tanks, amongst its vast array of inventory. The only redeeming feature, however, appears to be the growing indigenous combat-ship design and ship-building capability owing to the foresight and vision of senior naval officers of the early days of independent India and the political establishment’s understanding thereof. 

To put the subject in the light of the reported penchant of the new prime minister of India for a “solution and constructive action plan for timely implementation”, the following points are hereby furnished. The ministry of defence should be divided into two separate compartments. The first could be the conventional defence ministry under a full-time cabinet minister who could be asked to look after everything except the Defence Research and Development Organization, defence production and all connected paraphernalia. Thus, a full-time minister of state for defence could be assigned the responsibility of the DRDO, along with defence production, reporting directly to the prime minister.

Second, since the most expensive of all military hardware arguably is aviation, it would be imperative for the nation to focus on it urgently. The entire contemporary fleet of the Indian air force is the reflection of the industrial marvel, manufacture and marketing management of Russia, Britain, France, the United States, Brazil and Switzerland. India pays a higher price for its aviation assets to the foreign suppliers as compared to other users. This has resulted in a disproportionate outflow of public money from the exchequer. Hence, the urgent need for a parsimonious pacifist to look into industrial as well as institutional development under strict political supervision. Otherwise, India will be heading for a lopsided and avoidable extravagant expenditure affecting a balanced growth of defence capability essential for a secure future. What excessive money has done to one-day and Twenty20 cricket at the expense of other sporting activities in India, endless imported aviation assets is likely to do to the other wings of the Indian defence system.

Third, there should be a drastic reduction in decision-making time. For example, the air force wanted to have medium multi-role combat aircraft to replace MiG-21s and MiG-27s. Requests for proposals were floated. Six types of aircraft — Eurofighter (Germany, Italy, Spain and UK), Gripen (Sweden), Mig-35 (Russia), F-16 and Super Hornet F-18 (US) and Dassault Rafale (France) — competed, for close to a decade, for 126 aircraft for the air force. Rafale of France was rejected in April 2009, but the decision was reversed and selection announced on January 31, 2012, “subject to satisfactory contract negotiations”, which, unfortunately, has not been finalized yet. And the air force is crying since obsolescence, along with a high attrition rate, has put its operational preparedness at rock bottom.

Strongest in 15 years, 2014 El Niño could hit India hard

Published: June 12, 2014

Damian Carrington in LondonSuzanne Goldenberg in WashingtonGraham Readfearn in Brisbane

India is expected to be the first to suffer, with weaker monsoon rains, followed by further scorching droughts in Australia and collapsing fisheries off South America. But U.S. sees it as the ‘great wet hope’.

The El Niño weather phenomenon, which can cause global famines, floods and even wars, has a 90 per cent chance of striking this year, according to the latest forecast released to the Guardian.

El Niño begins as a giant pool of warm water swelling in the eastern tropical Pacific that sets off a chain reaction of weather events around the world, some devastating and some beneficial.

India is expected to be the first to suffer, with weaker monsoon rains, followed by further scorching droughts in Australia and collapsing fisheries off South America. But some regions could benefit, in particular the U.S., where El Niño is seen as the “great wet hope”, bringing rains that could break the searing drought in the west.

The knock-on effects can impact even more widely, from cutting global gold prices to making England’s World Cup footballers sweat a little more.

The latest prediction is from the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts, which is considered one the most reliable of the 15 or so prediction centres around the world. “It is very much odds-on for an event,” said Tim Stockdale, principal scientist at the centre, who said 90 per cent of their scenarios deliver an El Niño. “The amount of warm water in the Pacific is now significant, perhaps the biggest since the 1997-98 event.” That El Niño was the biggest in a century, producing the hottest year on record at the time and major global impacts, including a mass die-off of corals.

Worsening Violence in Iraq Threatens Regional Security

Analysis June 11, 2014 |  Senior officers from the Iraqi Army and Ministry of the Interior discuss the ongoing security situation as smoke billows behind them in Hawijah, west of Kirkuk, on June 11. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)


Battles continue to rage across northern Iraq, pitting jihadist group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant against Iraqi security forces and their allies. The growing reach of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has escalated an already brutal campaign in Iraq. Alarmingly quick advances by the militants across an important region of the Middle East could draw in regional powers as well as the United States. 


Using hit-and-run tactics, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL, has sought to keep Iraqi security forces dispersed and under pressure. ISIL has achieved this by striking at areas where security forces are weak and withdrawing from areas where Baghdad has concentrated its combat power. The jihadists have been working hard to improve their tradecraft by developing skill sets ranging from staging complex ambushes to using Iraqi army equipment effectively in surprise raids. ISIL has also sought to better develop its ties with local Sunni communities. 

As far back as the days of al Qaeda in Iraq and its predecessor, Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad, founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, militancy has had a presence in Anbar province -- and indeed in Mosul. During the Iraq War, the U.S. military considered Mosul one of the key gateways for foreign al Qaeda in Iraq fighters to enter the country. ISIL operations in Mosul and the wider Nineveh province are unsurprising. What is surprising is the degree of success that ISIL has managed to achieve in its latest offensive in the region.

This success undoubtedly has much to do with local forces and tribes who have either facilitated ISIL or elected not to fight the group's incursion into Mosul. In a city of almost 2 million, had ISIL received no local sympathy, it would have been unable to rout the Iraqi forces in the area with only 1,000 to 2,000 fighters. Social media contains several reports of local Sunnis welcoming ISIL forces, and even of local fighters supporting ISIL in attacks against government positions. 

Furthermore, Iraqi security forces reportedly had around 10,000 personnel in and around Mosul. Despite the ferociousness of the ISIL attack, the fact that a significant portion of these forces fled -- abandoning their uniforms, equipment and vehicles -- indicates serious structural and morale issues within the force, which could be attributed in part to a high number of Sunni soldiers in the ranks who are unwilling to stand up to ISIL for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. 

What Reliance's takeover of Network 18 means for media

With Mukesh Ambani taking over Network 18, the space for disseminating a diverse range of views could shrink, feels Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.

Now that India's richest man Mukesh D Ambani is formally the head of the country's biggest media conglomerate, it is but natural that questions will be raised as to what this development means for freedom of expression in the world's largest democracy. 

It can be contended that the recent takeover of the Network18 group by Reliance Industries Limited, India's largest privately-owned corporate entity, does not forebode well for the media. 

The space for disseminating a diverse range of views could shrink. 

More specifically, the relative freedom to air opinions that are perceived to be against the interests of RIL could get constricted, given the fact that a substantial section of the media in India is already wary of antagonising companies that are not merely major advertisers but politically influential as well.

Most media companies in India, as well as across the world, are performing poorly because of at least two important reasons. 

The finances of traditional media organisations have been squeezed because of the deceleration or fall in advertising expenditures in the wake of the Great Recession. 

Secondly, the exponential growth of the internet that is making huge volumes of information available almost free, is acting as the proverbial double-whammy on the fortunes of much of the corporate media. 

If the financial state of the media is indeed all that precarious, why should RIL be expanding its footprint over the Indian media? 

The answer is not too difficult to find: control over the media implies more political clout which, in turn, translates into greater power to influence economic policies and shape public opinion.

And if in the process, this is good for business, all the better! 

After all, Reliance Jio is currently engaged in setting up one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- fourth-generation high-speed, data transfer networking systems across the country at a time when technological convergence has blurred the difference between telecommunications and broadcasting.

Two and a half years ago, in January 2012, the Reliance group had invested heavily in the Network18 group promoted by Raghav Bahl (who was then deep in debt) through a complex, multi-layered financial arrangement.

The deal entailed a virtual amalgamation between Network18 and the Eenadu group based in Andhra Pradesh founded by Ramoji Rao, in which RIL had invested earlier through Nimesh Kampani of JM Financial.

Thus was born the largest media group in India, overtaking both the Bennett Coleman/Times of India group as well as the Rupert Murdoch-controlled STAR group in terms of size and scale of operations. 

Although at that time, RIL had claimed that its association with Network18 would not alter managerial or editorial control over the media group, it was also common knowledge then that the terms and conditions under which certain financial instruments -- zero-coupon, optionally-convertible debentures -- were issued were such that the Reliance group could theoretically become de facto owners of Network18 (from being mere investors) at any point of time it wanted to.

This becomes evident from a perusal of the 11-page order of the Competition Commission of India dated May 28, 2012, relating to the subscription of the debentures issued by a clutch of companies controlled by Bahl and his family: RB Mediasoft Pvt Ltd, RRB Mediasoft Pvt Ltd, RB Media Holdings Pvt Ltd, Aventure Marketing Pvt Ltd, Watermark Infratech Pvt Ltd and Colorful Media Pvt Ltd.

Interestingly, the entity used by RIL to subscribe to these debentures was named, rather ironically, as Independent Media Trust.

On May 30, an announcement was made by RIL to the Bombay Stock Exchange that the company's board of directors had approved an additional investment of Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion) in this so-called Trust to acquire the Network18 group.

The acquisition is taking place at a juncture when the financial health of companies in the Network18 group had improved, with debt on the decline and profitability on the rise.

This was also on account of the downsizing of the group's employee strength in August 2013. 

What was not exactly unexpected was the takeover itself. 

It seemed the Reliance group had been waiting for the outcome of the general elections to be known on May 16.

After it became clear that Narendra Modi would become prime minister of India and that the Aam Aadmi Party, whose spokespersons had been loudly attacking Reliance on the issue of gas prices, would get only a few seats in the Lok Sabha, the Mukesh Ambani-led company decided to act swiftly.

All those who constituted the core managerial team in Network18, including Raghav Bahl's wife Ritu Kapur, his sister Vandana Malik, chief executive officer B Sai Kumar, chief operating officer Ajay Chacko and chief financial offier RDS Bawa, quickly resigned.

In 2011, NGOs in India received Rs 10,334 crore from overseas

Who are the NGOs in India with maximum funding in India? Which are the countries funding them? How many NGOs are registered under the law? Vicky Nanjappa finds out. 

Following the Intelligence Bureau report that foreign-funded non-governmental organisations such as Greenpeace, Amnesty and ActionAid are serving foreign interests and pose a danger to national security, the overseas donations received by all NGOs have come under the scanner.

It appears that the IB report has really shaken up the administration and that they are now investigating all NGOs and their funding. According to available figures, the extent of funding is not small at all. Some 23,172 NGOs across India received foreign contribution amounting to Rs 10,997.35 crore in 2008-09. In 2009-10, some 22,275 NGOs received funds amounting to Rs 10,431.12 crore and in 2010-11, some 22,735 NGOs received Rs 10,334.12 crore.

According to the Foreign Funding Contribution (Regulation) Act, it is mandatory for NGOs to be registered under this law to receive funds from abroad. Figures reveal that only 38,436 associations are registered under the act, of which 21,508 groups have received funds amounting to over Rs 10,000 crore. NGOs in Delhi top the list with Rs 1815.91 crores. Tamil Nadu with Rs 1663.31 crores and Andhra Pradesh (Rs 1324.87 crores) come second and third in this list.

Explaining the dangers of receiving foreign funding, R Vaidyanathan, professor (finance) and UTI chair professor in the area of capital market studies at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, says, “Many NGOs that do receive foreign funding are not covered under the Right to Information Act. Hence, finding information about their finances becomes difficult. Additionally, some groups don’t even have websites, which only makes it more cumbersome to find out details about their finances.”

He added, “Furthermore, foreign funding means the agenda of the NGO is being decided by foreigners. This is clearly evident from the issues being raised. A couple of years, everyone was talking about HIV, but today no one talks about it. Why? Has it been eradicated? Today, everyone has turned their focus on rapes, trying to portray to the world that the phenomenon is particular only to India. Greenpeace is quick to say no to coal, nuclear power and hydel power. Do they expect Indians to live on candle light? The poorest of the poor in India should be helped, provided with aid, but with Indian rupee and not US dollar.”

An IB official, who was part of the team that prepared the report, adds that the NGOs which have come under the scanner have great purchasing power. “They pay off people to stage protests and their only intention is to hamper growth. They get obscene amounts of money and the agenda is set by the foreign countries that want to ensure that India is not self-reliant,” he alleges.

He added that taking cognisance of the IB report, the Indian government is likely to set up a special team to look into the issue. The officer elaborated, “There is going to be no mercy shown to those who have fallen prey to foreign agenda and are trying to weaken India. They will need to come clean on their funding and we shall find out where they have received every single paisa from.”

SITUATION IN PAKISTAN Internal Conflict in Pakistan: Impact on the Region

Conference Hall, CLAWS, New Delhi 
29 May 2014


Pakistan has been going through a turbulent phase. Although the elections in 2013 saw a change in government through the ballot, the elections took place under the shadow of guns. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) prevented ‘secular’ parties from having a level playing field. Nawaz Sharif succeeded in gaining a modicum of control by replacing both the Chief Justice and Army Chief, after they had completed their term. His appointment of General Raheel Sharif as the new Army Chief was a master stroke, aimed at consolidating his position vis-a-vis the Army. But fissures have now appeared and today, the Government and the Army do not appear to be on the same page on the issue of tackling the TTP. The case against General Musharraf has also pitted the army against the political leadership and judiciary, with the army is unhappy with the treatment of its former chief in the courts. The attack on Geo TV journalist Hamid Mir and the accusation by Geo that DG ISI was personally involved in the attack has further vitiated the atmosphere. More significantly, for the first time there is a dissonance between the Army and the religious political parties like Jamaat, which have traditionally acted as the stooges of the Army and the ISI. After Hakeemullah Mehsud was killed, the Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami, Munawwar Hussain called him a Shaheed. He went on to say that the army personnel fighting “America’s War” could not be called as Ghazis or Shaheeds. His remarks expectedly drew a sharp rebuke from the Army. Although, he was subsequently replaced as the Amir in an election, the fissures between the religious parties have only increased, as the religious parties have often accused the army of hindering talks with TTP. These developments at a time when NATO is pulling out of Afghanistan and Taliban led by Mullah Omar has started distancing itself from ISI assume salience. Issues were discussed in the RT in the above backdrop. 

Military Civil relations in Pakistan 

The Pakistan Army remains apprehensive of Nawaz Sharif, as in the past too he has had run-ins with five previous army chiefs. It is probable that Nawaz Sharif will not act like his predecessor Asif Ali Zardari, who chose to adhere to the power equations. However, while the possibility exists that he might just throw caution to the wind, act on his own accord and assert his authority as Prime Minister, over the military, it is more likely that he will be circumspect and act in accordance with the Army or at least in a manner that will not antagonize the Army. In a scenario where he does choose to go against the Pakistan Army especially in matters related to India, the probability of the Army asserting itself remains strong. 

There is however a perceptible decline in the power wielded by the Army. The writ of the Army is no longer sacrosanct as evidenced by the following: 
The decisions of the Army are being discussed and criticised openly in the Media. The opinions of the masses can no longer be suppressed. The Army went to the extent of launching their own channel but failed to do so when the Jang-Geo network exposed the same. 
The army’s policy on Baluchistan and its affinity to some Islamist groups is being questioned. It lacks the capability to suppress Baloch separatists and the TTP. 
Politically, some prominent parties are resisting the temptation to warmly embrace the Army. In the recent past, the current Pakistan government representatives have repeatedly stated that the Army is under Civil control. These statements are indicative of the Army’s declining writ, but that notwithstanding, the Army remains the most important player in Pakistan today. It showed new signs of assertion and manipulation especially in the recent case when it strategically looped in Imran Khan to voice highly influenced opinions against Geo TV. This was also followed by protest by allying political parties who are desperate to break the ice with the military. 

There is concern also over the ever-growing threat to crucial pillars of the Pakistan society namely the judiciary and media. Authors within Pakistan have constantly brought out the exploitation of Judiciary and audio-visual media by radicals. It thus appears that Pakistan is on a downward slope and Military though challenged and not as strong as before, will continue to interfere and assert authority over civil matters. 

Reasons for Discord between Civil and Military 

Gen Musharraf Issue: Reeling under serious allegations, General Musharraf’s case could not be brushed under the carpet by the Army and judicial action was expected to showcase the existence of some degree of rule of law in Pakistan. The Pakistan government backtracking on promises made earlier to help Musharraf leave the country after he was indicted marked the first big crack in the civil-military relationship under the new chief. The problem does not seem to progress any further because while no one expects Musharraf to be hanged or even go to jail, he cannot be let off as well. 

Baluchistan: The multiple problems of Human Rights infringement and militancy have been simmering in Baluchistan for quite some time. While Nawaz Sharif has been saying the right things there is yet no change evident at the ground level. The militancy is fostering in the area and most political initiatives are still born while human rights violations by the Pakistan Army continue rampant. 

Taliban: Taliban poses an ever-increasing threat to Pakistan. Sharif is keen to pursue talks with the Taliban because of the following reasons: 
Personal Safety: With a background of the threats towards him, his family and the Muslim League when they were about to hang the culprits of GHQ attack, personal safety cannot be taken for granted. 
Political Constituency being right wing conservative. 
Backlash into Punjab: Nawaz Sharif cannot afford to have Taliban even touch Punjab and Sind, as all major investments will suffer. 

Talks: The Army Chief is of the view that attacks by Taliban need a firm response. However, the government is in favour of talks to achieve peace, which remains a point of discord. 

Visit to India: There was a view that Nawaz Sharif’s visit to India was a show of his power and authority not just in his own country but across South Asia in dealing with his own Army and that he returned to Pakistan as a stronger PM. However, there was a counter view that the delay in accepting the invitation was because of the Army’s apprehensions, and that the decision to come to India was taken only after the Army gave a go ahead for the same and that his talks and his itinerary in India were dictated by the Pakistan Army itself. 

Divisions within Pakistan Muslim League: In Nawaz Sharif’s dealing with the army, there are divisions erupting within his own party. His brother Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan form one group which feels that the Army shouldn’t be pushed beyond a point. The PM is more inclined to the other group which includes the Defence and Information Ministers. This group is of the view that they should exercise authority wherever they need to even if it means sidelining the Army. 

Militancy in Pakistan 

It has recently been reported that there is a considerable militant movement along the Indus, from Dera Ismail Khan to Dera Ghazi Khan in South Punjab which is a major cause of concern for the Nawaz Sharif led government. In fact this is one of the major reasons for the Pakistan government to initiate talks with the Taliban as militancy in Punjab will mean an end to the infrastructure development projects and hurt the inflow of investments in Punjab. Increased Taliban presence in Southern Punjab has ominous implications for Pakistan as it could facilitate tie-ups between TTP and Lashkar-e-Taiba. While some cooperation already exists, it remains at a small scale as of now. 

In a recent move the Mehsuds have chosen to part ways with the TTP and have now formed a new group under the leadership of Kahn Said alias Sajna. This split has led to the formation of two powerful opposing groups within the TTP. Whether the split was engineered by the Military or not is unclear though. 

Despite the split, any operation by the Army against the TTP in Waziristan will face tremendous resistance and will lead to a mass exodus of population. As of now, the Army’s capacity to defeat the Taliban remains suspect. As the Taliban lacks the capacity to defeat the Pakistan Army, we are looking at prolonged conflict in the region, which is perhaps the reason why the Government prefers the dialogue route to conflict termination. 

Impact of the drawdown of ISAF forces in Afghanistan on Pakistan 

US President Barack Obama’s visit to Pakistan on 24th-25th May 2014, which took many by surprise, followed by his recent announcement that US will maintain 9800 post 2014, completing the withdrawal only by 2016, accentuates the importance of the visit. Obama’s announcement that the US would continue to deal with countries from where terror is emanating leads to the inference that the US will continue to engage with Pakistan in a critical manner. 

Afghanistan: Not for us to clean up.

Mohan Guruswamy

The American drawdown has begun and it is only a matter of time before it becomes a cascade. As the USA begins to pull out its NATO allies will ensure that they are not out hanging on a limb. The West after this rather disastrous experience has begun to look at countries it can pass the can to. Among the foremost is India. And Indian diplomats, professional and self styled, real and voluntary, and many others just as out of touch with reality are even now seeking a role for India into this ever-expanding morass. The heady economic growth of the past decade has resulted in a strutting Indian diplomacy. When the European financial crisis began cascading, India was generous with a $10 billion contribution to the stabilization fund. Nowadays Indian diplomats talk extravagantly about investing $10 billion in the Aynak iron ore mines and in a steel plant in the region. The fact that there is a glut of both, iron ore and steel completely eludes them. Besides the Government of India is too broke to sink $10 billion as a never to come back grant. If the government intends Indian companies to make the investment needed to fashion a nebulous reality, no Indian financial institution will risk lending to an Indo-Afghan entity. No insurance company will insure the project against all the well-known and additional risks we know lurk there. And who will consume the steel produced? When South Block conjures up plans like this, they inevitably have foundations of hot air.

The argument for an active Indian policy in Afghanistan is that if the situation in that historically uncontrollable country is not controlled it will spill over into India. This is quite nonsensical. India doesn’t have a border with Afghanistan. It’s not without some irony that a country that was fashioned to be a buffer against Russian expansion is now seen as India’s threat. But India has Pakistan as its buffer. If that Afghan situation were to spill out it will spill out mostly into Pakistan, a country quite dedicated to our destruction.

No one country has played a more deleterious role in unleashing chaos in Afghanistan as Pakistan, and it is only Pakistan, because of its unique history and geography that can still play an active role in Afghanistan. We must never forget that half the Pashtun nation lives in Pakistan. And to understand what is Afghanistan we only have to recall the words of Afghanistan’s great poet, Khushal Khan Khattak:

“Son, one word I have for thee,

Fear no one and no one you flee.

Pull out your sword and slay any one,

That says Pashtun and Afghan are not one.

Arabs know this and so do Romans,

Afghans are Pashtuns,

Pashtuns are Afghans.”

Dysfunction of Arab states puts stress on colonial borders

June 2014 

The capture of Mosul by militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has shown the increasingly nominal nature of Middle Eastern borders. Ironically, these borders, created by Britain and France after the First World War remained durable for a century.

In the past week, two prominent Arab figures expressed doubt that Syria would remain as it was, with its war into its fourth year. Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt told the Associated Press: “We are still at the beginning of the war in Syria. In the long term, the map of the Middle East will be redrawn.”

Meanwhile, the former United Nations envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, declared to Der Spiegel that Syria would “become another Somalia. It will not be divided, as many have predicted. It’s going to be a failed state, with warlords all over the place”.

Mr Jumblatt and Mr Brahimi have differing views of Syria’s destiny. The Lebanese Druze leader believes that, ultimately, Syria will break down into new entities, which will affect the region as a whole. Mr Brahimi disagrees, arguing that Syria will remain united, but only in name. Fragmentation is assured, he believes, also impacting negatively on the region.

Just as the borders of the Middle East were drawn by outsiders, they may continue to be preserved, or threatened, by outsiders. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, it was the United States that expelled the Iraqi army. By and large, Western states have defended the status quo in the Arab world, even urging their Kurdish allies to remain a part of an Iraqi federal state.

Only in the Israeli-Palestinian context has there been a project to create a new Palestinian state, while the establishment of South Sudan in 2011 merely formalised a longstanding rift between Khartoum and Sudan’s south.

The fear of fragmentation in the region derives from an understanding not that its states were created by Western colonial powers, but from the fact that they have become more contested by their own citizens. This has been true of Syria, Iraq, Libya and even Lebanon, which yet remained one country despite a terrible civil war.

This dysfunctional nature of the Arab state is the consequence mainly of social contracts that promise citizens only intimidation and repression, usually under the eye of a brutal ruling class, with little by way of rights or economic and human development.

Syria has been a prime example of this pattern. Other than the prospect of ending the violence, little encourages Syrians to return to the sordid state in place before 2011. At the same time, the incentive to see Syria divided into mini-states, constructed around sectarian or ethnic identities, is no stronger. Both sides in the conflict seek to defeat the other and win all of Syria.

But is that true of everyone? President Bashar Al Assad’s staunchest ally, Iran, appears to have a different agenda, at least in the medium term: to consolidate the Syrian regime’s hold over “vital Syria” – Damascus, the border with Lebanon, the Syrian coast, and communication lines in between, through the city and province of Homs. Outside those areas, Iran has neither the manpower nor the incentive to help Mr Al Assad recapture territory and hold it for an extended period.

The implications are very serious. Unable to impose its allies’ control over large swathes of Sunni-dominated areas in Syria and Iraq, a hegemonic Tehran may prefer fragmentation, allowing it to dominate digestible components of disintegrating Arab states.

Nor can Mr Al Assad challenge this, given his dependency on Iran and its Lebanese and Iraqi Shia clients for his own political survival. But whether Syria’s divided territories consolidate into lasting entities is a question that remains unresolved.

The possibility of a parting of the ways between Mr Al Assad and Iran is improbable, but possible. The Syrian president has not sought to build up an Alawite mini-state in northeast Syria, while he has done his utmost to maintain a grip on ­Damascus.

Perhaps he feels that a resort to a blatantly sectarian project would not only undermine the idea of Al Assad rule over all of Syria, it could destroy the family’s standing among Alawites. In the past half-century the story of the Alawites has been one of expansion outside their traditional areas and integration into the Syrian state. To be forced back into the mountain now could prompt them to turn against Mr Al Assad’s rule.

The Syrian state as we knew it is not likely to return in the foreseeable future, if ever. But if anything helps achieve this it’s the efforts of regional powers to accelerate the breakup of Syria – or Iraq, for that matter – in order to better exploit the aftermath.

Colonial-era borders in the Arab world have proven far more resilient than critics of colonialism will admit. But post-colonial Arab regimes, by presiding over failing states, have made the task that much easier for countries gaining from their divisions.

Michael Young is opinion editor of The Daily Star newspaper in Beirut.

India-Pakistan: Take Action Or Else

June 12, 2014: The U.S. has resumed UAV missile strikes against Islamic terrorists in Pakistan (North Waziristan) killing 16 Islamic terrorists in two attacks only a few hours apart. Apparently ten missiles were used. This is the first such attack this year and the last one took place in December 2013, killing three. The long halt was apparently at the request of the Pakistani government, in support of Pakistani efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban. Like all similar efforts in the past, this one has fallen apart and the Pakistani military is now at war with the Taliban and some of the other Islamic terrorist groups in the tribal territories. The Taliban is also coming apart as a unified organization and the army is under growing popular pressure to suppress the Islamic terrorist groups in the tribal territories. The Pakistani Army is massing troops for a ground offensive and many civilians in North Waziristan are fleeing the area until this is resolved. 

There is another reason for this growing aggressiveness against Islamic terrorists in the tribal territories. Pakistan’s long (since the 1970s) support of Islamic terrorism has made it something of a pariah to all its neighbors. This is because Pakistan appears to have lost control of the Islamic terrorist groups it has provided support and sanctuary to for so long. This puts all the neighbors at greater risk of attack by Islamic terrorists who still operate out of bases in Pakistan. Those threatened include India, Afghanistan, China, Iran, the Moslem Central Asian nations and, worst of all, non-Moslem nations worldwide. Especially since September 11, 2001 Pakistan was increasingly and often publically criticized for its terrorism policy. This became more common since 2011 as many of the terrorists it supported have declared war on their host and the neighbors concluded that Pakistan has lost control of the terrorism monster it created. Now the neighbors are discussing this situation with each other and international organizations. Pakistan appears unable to fix itself or deal with the international terror threat it created. Pakistan has been advised to take action, or else (the neighbors will). 

What is remarkable about terrorism problem is that it is largely being manned and run by Pushtun tribal groups. The Pushtun comprise only 15 percent of the Pakistani population and are also the poorest and least educated minority. A unique feature of Pakistan is that it's 165 million people are all minorities, although the Punjabis (44 percent of the population) are the dominant one (not just in numbers, but in education and income as well). Closely allied with the Punjabis are the Sindis (14 percent), and together these two groups pretty much run the country. Karachi, the largest city in Pakistani, is in Sind, but contains residents from all over the country. Other minorities in Pakistan include Seraikis (10.5 percent, related to Punjabis), Muhajirs (7.6 percent, Moslems who came from India after 1947), Baluchis (3.6 percent) and other minorities amounting to about five percent. The Seraikis and Muhajirs live in Punjab and Sind. 

For a long time most Pushtuns stayed in the tribal territories of the northwest. But since September 11, 2001 there have been a lot more Pushtun fleeing to Pakistan's largest city, Karachi. This metropolis contains eight percent of the nation's population (14 million people) and produces a quarter of the GDP. Islamic radicals have long been present in the city. The Taliban established a presence among the two million Pushtuns there. But a lot of the criminal gangs in Karachi are Pushtun and these are the gangs the Taliban often work closely with. Moreover there are now more murders in Karachi than in the tribal territories and this has been a trend since 2010. Finally, in 2013, the number of terrorist deaths in the northwestern tribal territories fell below 2,000 and the murders in Karachi rose above 2,000. Pakistani security forces are acutely aware of who is doing most of the mayhem. The security situation in Karachi is considered a major problem and the Pushtuns are seen as the leading cause of the problem. 

Then there are the trouble foreign Islamic terrorists hiding out in the tribal territories. China has been pressing Pakistan to do something about Chinese Islamic terrorists (Turkic Uighurs from northwest China) based in Pakistan and Pakistan appears to be finally acting on these complaints. The recent Pakistani air strikes and ground operations in the tribal territories are concentrating on these “bad Taliban” while the majority of the Islamic terrorists in the area are left alone. Pakistan is still reluctant to admit it is the cause of so many regional Islamic terrorism problems but the neighbors are not being very understanding. China, who supplies a lot of Pakistan’s weapons and foreign investment, has told its troublesome neighbor to fix the situation or see China go from being a helpful to a hostile neighbor. The other neighbors have had a similar reaction, but given China’s place as Pakistan’s most important ally, Pakistan can no longer ignore the problem. Meanwhile China appears to have put their claims on large parts of India on hold for the moment and is offering to improve trade relations. This is mutually beneficial, but Indian military leaders note that China is not offering to back off on its territorial claims. Th u s the military rivalry between the two nations remains. India's newly elected prime minister owes much of his popularity to his skill at economic development and some mutually beneficial trade deals with China would help him and India a lot. 

As if Pakistan didn’t have enough problems it is now suffering from a return of the opium and heroin trade. This comes in the form of poppy cultivation returning from Afghanistan. Poppies are the plant that produces opium and that is further refined into heroin. The immense profits from the sale of opium (locally) and heroin (internationally) have kept the Taliban and several Afghan warlords going over the last decade. Meanwhile the growing tribal rebellion in Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan) has created enough unpoliced areas near the Afghan border for the Afghan drug gangs on the other side to expand poppy production into Baluchistan. The drug gangs offer attractive terms to Baluchi farmers, so that crops of poppies produce ten times the profit of food crops. All this is part of a cycle that has been going on for several centuries. 

June 10, 2014: In Pakistan’s largest city Karachi Taliban gunmen again attacked the airport, for the second time in two days. This attack was minor, however, with two gunmen firing on a guard post on the airport perimeter and then fleeing back into a nearby city slum when the guards returned fire. There were no casualties. Meanwhile in the tribal territories (near the Khyber Pass) air force F-16s hit nine Islamic terrorist bases and killed at least 25 people. These are the first air attacks since late May, when a series of strikes in North Waziristan killed at least 75. The Khyber area was last hit back in April. 

Meanwhile Pakistani officials found, after examining the dead Islamic terrorists from the first airport attack, that most or all of them appear to be Uzbeks (from Central Asia). Foreign Islamic terrorists have long based themselves in the tribal territories, especially in Waziristan. This has been going on for decades and many have married local women. There has also been tension and since September 11, 2001 there have been some fierce battles between the foreign Islamic terrorists and local tribesmen. Those “wars” are over but some of the tensions persist. The army is particularly keen on wiping out these foreign Islamic terrorists, especially after the Taliban said it was not responsible for the airport attacks, which are now seen as purely Uzbek operations. 

In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) border guards reported that two mortar shells, apparently fired from the Iranian side of the border, landed in a remote area, causing no injuries or damage.