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Indian PM vows to punish corrupt officials

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NEW DELHI: India’s embattled prime minister defended his government Wednesday against a string of corruption scandals, saying that he took the allegations seriously and would punish anyone involved, no matter their position.

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has been wracked by allegations that Cabinet ministers and ruling party officials orchestrated shady deals over the sale of cellular phone licenses, presided over faulty preparations for the Commonwealth Games and were involved in other alleged scams that cost the government billions of dollars.

The scandals have dominated politics in India for months. The entire winter session of parliament was paralysed by the opposition amid demands for the establishment of an independent investigative body, which Singh refused.

Singh told reporters during a news conference Wednesday that the guilty would be punished.

“I wish to assure you, and I wish to assure the country as a whole that our government is dead serious in bringing to book all the wrongdoers, regardless of the positions they may occupy,” he said.

He denied any personal connection to the scandals, and expressed concerns that the nation’s image was being badly tarnished.

“We are weakening the self confidence of the people of India. I don’t think that is in the interest of anybody that is in our country. We have a functioning government…we take our job very seriously. We are here to govern and govern effectively,” he said, mildly chiding reporters for focusing so heavily on the scams.

“India as a whole has to march forward,” he said.

U.S. indirectly funding Afghan warlords: House report

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By JoAnne Allen

WASHINGTON – The United States is indirectly paying tens of millions of dollars in protection money to Afghan warlords, and potentially to the Taliban, to secure convoys carrying supplies to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, congressional investigators said in a report.

In this Jan. 17, 2010 file photo, a U.S. armored personal carrier vehicle escorts a convoy …

The Pentagon’s system of outsourcing to private companies the task of moving supplies in Afghanistan, and leaving it up to them to provide their own security, frees U.S. troops to focus on counterinsurgency.

But its unintended consequences undermine U.S. efforts to curtail corruption and build an effective Afghan government, according to the report to be reviewed at a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

“This arrangement has fueled a vast protection racket run by a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others,” Representative John Tierney, chairman of a House of Representatives national security subcommittee, said in a statement.

Tierney, a Democrat, said the system “runs afoul” of the Defense Department’s own rules and may be undermining the U.S. strategic effort in Afghanistan.

The report by the subcommittee’s Democratic staff called protection payments “a significant potential source of funding for the Taliban,” citing numerous documents, incidents reports and emails that refer to attempts at Taliban extortion along the road.

Congressional investigators began looking into the Defense Department’s $2.16 billion Host Nation Trucking (HNT) contract in November 2009. The contract covers 70 percent of the food, fuel, ammunition and other supply distributions to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

“HNT contractors and trucking subcontractors in Afghanistan pay tens of millions of dollars annually to local warlords across Afghanistan in exchange for ‘protection’ for HNT supply convoys to support U.S. troops,” the report said.

“The HNT contractors frequently referred to such payments as ‘extortion,’ ‘bribes,’ ‘special security,’ and/or ‘protection payments,'” the document said.

Many contractors have told U.S. military officials that warlords were demanding protection payments in exchange for safe passage and that these payments were funding the insurgency, the report said. But the contractors concerns were never appropriately addressed, it said.

It faults the Pentagon for a lack of effective oversight of its supply chain and private security contractors.

“The Department of Defense has little to no visibility into what happens to the trucks carrying U.S. supplies between the time they leave the gate to the time they arrive at their destination,” the report said.

The congressional investigators said the Defense Department must take direct responsibility for the contractors to ensure robust oversight.

They also recommended a top-to-bottom evaluation of the secondary effects of the HNT contract, including an analysis of corruption and the impact on Afghan politics.

The Indian Premier Leak

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IT’S THE open secret no one wants to acknowledge: the IPL is not about cricket. The ugly controversy surrounding Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor and IPL chief Lalit Modi – over Tharoor’s friend Sunanda Pushkar owning 4.9 percent free sweat equity in the Kochi team that Tharoor helped put together – is merely a warning sign pointing to a much deeper dirt pit that comprises in equal parts big money, politics, glamour, greed, sex, drugs and intense backroom jostling.

The reason the Tharoor-Pushkar controversy snowballed at the speed it did is less to do with the facts of the case than this unsavoury combination that underpins everything to do with the IPL these days. Unfortunately, much of the news about these seamy dealings is still merely in the realm of gossip and speculation: murmurs in a baroque gossip bazaar. Yet, recounting these murmurs is enough to outline the shape of things. After all, remember, the murmurs are all emanating from insiders. But to put things in perspective, first the primary question: What are the facts of the Tharoor- Pushkar case? With the IPL announcing that it would invite two new franchises to join the league, a few months ago Tharoor actively began to promote the idea of a Kochi team and helped cobble together a consortium of investors – Rendezvous Sports World – to sponsor the team. As a cricket enthusiast and MP from Kerala, Tharoor was presumably motivated by his zeal to bring home turf Kerala into the lucrative circle of the IPL. Ordinarily, the fact that a female real estate professional close to him was given 4.9 percent free equity in the team would have raised absolutely no eyebrows. After all, prima facie, there was no allegation of any money transaction or public funds being misused, nor had Tharoor extended any ministerial favours for the franchise. So why the disproportionate stink?


Why did the Tharoor fracas threaten to disrupt Parliament? Why did news of it reach Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in far away Washington and overshadow his talks with President Obama on Afghanistan and the Nuclear Liability Bill? Why did Tharoor have to spend two-anda- half hours on Thursday morning, April 15, with one of the Capital’s top corporate lobbyists and troubleshooters (who works for one of the richest men in the world) seeking help? After all, as one of the protagonists said, “It’s common knowledge that other politicians running across aviation, agriculture road transport and the Opposition, are minting money and have undeclared stakes in every cricket pie. Why has there been no uproar about all that?”


The answer is, wittingly or unwittingly, Tharoor had disturbed equations in the dirt pit. Rumours are, when the Kochi team won the bid, many carefully laid plans by others were laid to waste. To understand this, for a moment, return to the facts: the other stakeholders jostling for a franchise were the Sahara Group, owned by Subrata Roy; the Pune team sponsored by Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and relatively lesser-known businessmen; and an Ahmedabad team sponsored by the Adani Group, one of India’s top infrastructure companies.

Subrata Roy, of course, outplayed everyone by making an astronomical bid of $370 million, prompted by his numerologist. Pune was out of the running. That left Kochi and Gujarat running neck and neck.

So what made Lalit Modi suddenly twitter innocuously last weekend about Sunanda Pushkar and how Tharoor had allegedly asked him not to inquire into who she was – the kindle that lit the fire stack? It’s common knowledge that Modi and Tharoor are friends, so why this sudden and ugly fall out? (Friends of Tharoor say that Modi is misusing a bantering remark the minister had made to him over a drink. Tharoor is, indeed, set to marry Pushkar but is waiting for a divorce from his Canadian wife Christa Giles to come through and, therefore, has been loath to make his relationship public. This is why when Modi asked him in a nudge-nudge sort of way, “So, who is Sunanda Pushkar?” Tharoor had laughingly evaded the question saying, ‘Don’t ask me that as yet.’ So what made Modi turn that into something sinister?)

The answers lie muddied in the pit and snake back to earlier events. When Lalit Modi lost the elections to the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA), he not only lost a fiefdom, he lost much-needed immunity. With a Congress government replacing the BJP in the saddle, his political patronage was blown and more than 20 cases were opened against him, relating to tax evasion and financial irregularities when he was at the helm of the RCA. He desperately needed new armour, and a firm foot back in the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI). The rumour mills say that Lalit Modi had approached Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and was assured by the latter that if he could ensure that the Gujarat team wins the franchise and brings both glamour and money to the state, he’d be made the secretary of the Gujarat Cricket Association (of which the chief minister is the president).

At first, Modi tried hard to make friend Tharoor back off so that the Adani bid could be more competitive. He even tried to mislead the Kochi group by telling them that all they needed to win the race was $299 million. The consortium, however, was reportedly alerted by former Indian skippers Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri that Modi was actually seeking $322 million. The Kochi team was also told that they would face many technical hurdles to block them from winning the bid.

But instead of backing off, the Tharoor- mentored Kochi consortium bid an astronomical Rs 1,500 crore and won the franchise. Powerful men – potential investors and politicians – across the country flew into a tizzy. Allegations began to fly fast and thick. The Kochi consortium alleges that Modi offered them a $50 million bribe to abandon their bid after they had won the Kochi franchise. They refused. The desperation in different quarters soared.

The rumour goes too that, at one point, Modi made an urgent call to Tharoor saying things had gone beyond him and if Tharoor didn’t back off, Modi’s life would be in danger. But Modi was not the only angry man. Rumour also has it that Tharoor finds himself politically isolated for other reasons.

Such is the jostling for stakes in the IPL money-glamour-influence pie, a very senior UPA cabinet minister from Maharashtra and a former classmate of Tharoor’s, had called the latter asking him to get Rendezvous Sports to offload its stakes in favour of an owner of a Maharashtra- based white goods giant. (In a serpentine twist, this businessman had apparently first paid Modi money for a chance to invest in the Ahmedabad team. When that franchise bid was foiled, he wanted to invest in the Kochi team.) However, apparently driven by some sense of chivalry to the original consortium, Tharoor refused.

Soon after, a senior functionary of the BCCI sent Tharoor a similar message in favour of the corporate giant. Tharoor again declined. He had just made himself another enemy within the world’s richest cricket board.

The further irony is that, according to highly reliable sources in the cricketing management fraternity, the 4.9 percent free sweat equity Sunanda Pushkar is being pilloried for does not even belong to her. A mere .5 percent is reserved for Pushkar. Disturbingly, the rest belongs – off paper and on trust – to two iconic cricketing giants, one of who is still playing for the Mumbai IPL team. This free equity is the quid pro quo they demanded for helping put the Kochi team and its promoters together – not a rank corruption perhaps in the larger scheme of things, but certainly an impropriety.


One has a greater sense of the fantastical world of the IPL and what passes for right and wrong when you take into account the fact that Tharoor is probably right in saying the equity will not benefit him and is commensurate with what Pushkar was bringing to the table as a highly attractive and successful marketing professional. Yet, he is caught in a twilight zone where he is honourbound and cannot entirely disclose why he is saying this. (This might be why small white lies seem to be sprouting around them. Pushkar claimed in a written statement to the media that she had been approached by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to assist them as a marketing consultant. While it seems true that top-line event management professional Karim Murani associated with KKR is a friend of hers, KKR co-owners Shah Rukh Khan and Jay Mehta, actor Juhi Chawla’s husband, have denied the claim outright.)

BUT MONEY, influence and ambition are only one set of ingredients in the IPL dirt pit. Each match is accompanied by a swirling constellation of late-night parties and beautiful women that moves with it across cities. Drugs and sex, then, seem to be another equally potent mix driving rivalries and events in the world of IPL.

Back to murmurs in the rumour bazaar then. It appears a thwarted franchise bid is not the only reason Lalit Modi set out to discredit the Kochi team in the hope that he could have it disqualified. He has other personal reasons for declaring war on Tharoor.

Sources in the rumour business say that the night before Tharoor met the city’s most influential troubleshooter, he and his Man Friday, Jacob Joseph, had put together what they claimed were documents that would sully Modi’s reputation. A few days earlier, newspapers had carried front-page stories linking a beautiful South African model, Gabriella Demetriades, with Modi. It seems Modi no longer wanted the association and had requested Tharoor’s office, as Minister of State for External Affairs, to deny Gabriella a visa. Piqued by the backroom pressure and anxiety Modi had been visiting on his boss and the Kochi team, Tharoor’s aide Jacob Joseph refused to entertain the request and not only expedited the visa but apparently taunted Modi’s aides about it. The story goes that when Modi found out, he called Tharoor in a rage at night and slammed the phone down, vowing vendetta.

Modi has consistently told the media that he does not know Gabriella and has nothing to do with her. Unfortunately for him, however, he seems to have left an e-mail trail when he wrote to Joseph for help about denying the visa. These mails contravene his claim about not knowing Gabriella because in his hurry to shunt her off, he apparently forgot to delete his chain-mail exchanges with her. “In the mail to her, Modi clearly tells Gabriella that he will handle the visa and that there should be no problems. So why did he change his mind? Is there a fear that Gabriella would spill some beans he would not be able to handle?” says a senior BCCI functionary, who is aghast at the Modi-Tharoor row and the way it has blown craters in the reputation of a tournament that, till recently, was being touted as the world’s fastest growing sports show.

There are other pieces in the counter-campaign being prepared against Lalit Modi. Among them is the assertion that Modi was not only booked for drug abuse in college but is involved in a court case for cocaine abuse as recently as 2006 in the UAE.

The April 15 meeting with Delhi’s top corporate troubleshooter also seems to have paid other dividends for Tharoor. Support has started pouring in from many quarters. The office of Subhash Chandra Goel, Chairmain Zee Telefilms, for instance, has offered clinching evidence of Modi’s involvement in a lottery scandal in India’s northeastern states for which a court case has been going on for years. (It’s in keeping with the dirt pit that Goel has, of course, been at loggerheads with Modi ever since his Indian Cricket League (ICL) was scuttled by Modi and his IPL with the backing of the BCCI, even though the ICL had been first off the block.)


“It’s become a free for all,” BCCI top man Shashank Manohar told TEHELKA in disgust over a brief telephonic conversation. “The IPL is now becoming the dirty underbelly of Indian cricket.” Manohar – who has been named as IPL co-chairman – insisted every issue would be discussed and debated at the BCCI-IPL sub-committee meeting scheduled next week and asserted that he would happy if all franchisees opened up their stakes for review in a transparent manner.

As this story went to press, in fact, news began to trickle in that the Income Tax department had launched a raid on the IPL headquarters in Mumbai.

This would probably be worrying news for almost everyone involved in the IPL. To open up everyone’s stakes is equivalent to yanking the lid off a can of worms. In the grimy mess that would ensue, Sunanda Pushkar’s 4.9 percent would probably look like a child’s playtime snack.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) say that when one of the richest men in the country says he owns a team through personal wealth, it is something of a lie. The stakes have apparently been bought through his company with shareholders’ money, which makes the Rs 43 crore his team lost last season an unlisted liability for public shareholders.

But as the cliché goes, this is merely the tip. There are also rumours that a key protagonist and IPL official has holdings not just in Rajasthan Royals, but also in Kings XI Punjab and KKR. IB officials add that this functionary also has a stake in a media company associated with the IPL and owned by a relative.

There are other lateral movements afoot – unfortunately motivated more by a need for secure pastures it seems, than a consideration for the game. KKR skipper Saurav Ganguly, for instance, has apparently approached fellow Bengali Subrata Roy for possible absorption in the Sahara Team. A top KKR official says Ganguly has also advised many of his fellow players to jump ship. The rumour mills say Yuvraj Singh has also sent a similar message to the Sahara chairman.

But these are relatively minor moves. The bazaar gossip says the editor of a major media house, whose son had recently come under the radar of corporate intelligence bodies, is also trying to get into the IPL franchise racket.


In the middle of all this, a third angle is brewing silently that threatens to queer things for those batting themselves sixers through the IPL. This involves the former BCCI and ICC president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, who has been camping in Delhi for the last few days.

Dalmiya, totally sidelined within the BCCI and left watching the IPL circus from the wings, is now determined to force the IPL to share its profits with the state cricket associations – thereby divvying up the money pie. Currently, IPL – which earns more than Rs 700 crore a year – pays a pittance of Rs 4 crore to each state association. Dalmiya wants to raise that to around Rs 30-40 crore. He has enlisted several politicians cutting across party lines in this campaign. By getting the state cricket associations to back him, the wily gamester could get a chance to reinsert himself into the big game.

The pity is nothing it seems is above board with the IPL anymore. Even spectators have a scam going on. Last month, Income Tax officials were alerted across the country to find out whether IPL officials were fudging tickets and avoiding tax. Their findings were in the affirmative. In a demeaning instance of ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’, it appears corporates were buying loads of lower denomination tickets yet accessing box seats that come with complimentary liquor and food. This was helping IPL organisers to avoid paying entertainment tax.

With the IPL having stooped so low, it might really be time to blow the whistle officially. The irony is that this must have been the last thing on Lalit Modi’s mind when he tweeted about Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar last weekend. But his tweet has indeed become a whistle.


Narendra Modi: Travails Of Travel Abroad

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By Ram Puniyani

While law of the land is trying to catch up with the acts of commission and omission in the Gujarat carnage, another set of laws, the global ones have been very clear about permitting the entry of a person like Narendra Modi into their country.

Recently (April 8, 2010), a group of German MPs justified the denial of visa to Modi. They advocated a ban on his visiting Europe. This parliamentary delegation was on a two day visit to the city of Ahmedabad to study the state of minorities in Gujarat. It concluded that the European Union (EU) decision not to grant visa to him was justified. They went to the extent of banning his trip to Europe in near future. They pointed out that “the Chief Minister of Gujarat has a radical tone to his politics and is described as dictatorial. He has a wrong perception of religious freedom.” This four member team has been closely following developments in the Gujarat riot cases.

One member of delegation pointed out that he was shocked by parallels between Germany under Hitler and Gujarat under Modi. Incidentally in Gujarat school books Hitler has been glorified as a great nationalist. Modi, in response to this has written to Prime Minister to seek apology from the German delegation for tarnishing the image of democratically elected head of state. The Congress Government endorsed Modi’s view and clarified that the EU had put a ban on Modi’s visit in the aftermath of Gujarat carnage but that has been withdrawn. Also that it was not an official delegation. Whatever that be, the opinion of the members of the delegation does reflect a deeper truth of our political phenomenon.

That apart, this is not the first time that such a thing has happened. Modi was earlier denied visa to US. On March 18, 2005 in a severe rebuke to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the United States denied him entry to America. US Consular division had taken a strong stand against Modi, the Hindutva icon. They denied him diplomatic visa apparently holding him responsible for communal carnage of 2002. In addition, his tourist/business visa which was already granted was revoked under a section of US Immigration and Nationality Act since he was not coming for a purpose that qualifies for a diplomatic visa.

In response to the query that he was already holding a tourist-cum-business visa, the Consulate pointed out that the “existing tourist/business visa has been revoked under Section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” According this section any foreign government official who was responsible or “directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religions freedom” is denied the visa. The decision of US authorities was based on the observations of India’s National Human Rights Commission findings and other independent Indian sources.

The observation of German delegation raises one additional major point about the state of Gujarat being similar to that of Germany under Hitler. Who will know it better than Germans who have suffered the political tragedy of fascism for bad many years? Modi’s point that he is an elected person again matches so well with Hitler. One recalls, Hitler came to power through democratic means and then he gradually eroded liberal-democratic norms from inside to bring in worst type of fascist state. The parallels are unmistakable. There are some differences from German fascism here but all the same the basic phenomenon is the same. Fascism is a politics where the liberal democratic space is abolished in the name of targeting some section of society for the supposed cause of National interest. In case of Germany the process was accompanied by a cultural paradigm shift and political aggression against communists, then trade unionists and then the Jews. Millions of Jews were subjected to the gas chambers, one of the greatest tragedies of the human history of twentieth century.

The politics of Hitler, and his clone Mussolini was praised by M.S. Golwalkar the ideologue of RSS, the organization where Modi has been indoctrinated and trained. Golwalkar’s formulations of aggressive nationalism and relegating minorities to second-class citizenship are being actualized by Modi and company in different ways.

While the similarities with German case are so glaring, there are some differences as well. The German fascism began to take social roots after the economic crisis generated in the aftermath of First World War. The cultural offensive in the field of arts, music, literature and the ‘glorification of ancient past’ picked up rapidly. In one of the major assaults on democracy, the fire at Reichstag was attributed to having been done by Communists, and physical violence was unleashed against them. Analogies with Godhra train burning are unmistakable.

Here the ascendance of Modi comes on the background of the economic crisis of the decade of 1980s, the adverse effects of globalization picking up, the loss of jobs of the downtrodden due to closure of textile mills, the attacks on the dalits OBCs in the name of anti reservation riots. The cultural manipulation began with Ram Temple movement, and spreading of hate against minorities, Muslims first and then the Christians, who by now have been relegated to second class citizenship in Gujarat and some other states and the trend in other states is going in that direction.

While in Germany whole of the Nation came under the grip of fascism, the saving grace in India is that the electoral face of ‘Indian fascism’, BJP, has not been able to come to absolute majority in the center by itself. That’s not to say that fascism is not marching. In Germany the defeat of Germany in Second World War led to the collapse of the nation along with the edifice of fascism with the fascist-in-chief committing suicide. In India here it has gripped Gujarat in full, while in other states like Karnataka, Orissa, MP its presence is getting strengthened by and by. At national level though BJP might have faced two electoral debacles, the infiltration of fascist ideology through the pores of Indian democracy is going on in various ways. The phenomenon is creeping slowly though section of media, communalization of education, and infiltration of the followers of this ideology in different section of state. The gradual attempt to erode the liberal and plural values is a dangerous portent for democracy. Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit’s alleged involvement in Malegon blast may just be the tip of the iceberg. The judicial pronouncements that ‘Gita should be our national book’ are also reflective of the same phenomenon.

Indian fascism is a slow growing one, capturing different aspects of society one by one. It is not for nothing that Modi is the darling of big capitalists, who stand to gain maximum from the fascist type set ups. One can label Indian phenomenon as a chronic fascism, going in a step ladder pattern. Those of us relived because of electoral debacles of BJP at center need to wake up and realize that fascism is marching, irrespective of BJP’s electoral debacle in last two general elections.

The incidental observation from German delegates report is that since Germany went through such a painful period of history, many Germans realize and can sense the symptoms of fascism so easily. Same applies to many Japanese joining anti-Nuke protests and campaigns against Nuclear weapons. Who knows better than them as to what a nuclear weapon can do to the society?

So while here in India the justice to Modi ilk is elusive, globally there are norms which do recognize the nature of incidents happening here, the politics which abuses religious identity to come to power is in essence a variant of fascism whatever be its other characteristics.

Shooting for the moon

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Imran Khan, the Beowulf of our time, is not strong enough to defeat all the Grendels of today. Our politics is a game of fiends and not the virtuous, and Khan has failed in this race. He must have learnt this lesson, as he is not accepted in the realm of politics.

After wandering for over a decade and a half in politics, Imran has experienced nothing but sheer disappointment for himself and the masses. This time spent in politics shows that this is not his field. He is hoping for the moon on a sunny day.

It is his own fault as he entered politics with the right approach, which was as wrong as he could get. The politics in our country is ‘Right or Left’ instead of right or wrong. He entered the arena with the approach of ‘Right or Wrong’, which proves he misjudged the entire game.

It is a universal fact that evil cannot take refuge in ‘Right or Left’, but evils have nothing but room on both sides of the political divide when it comes to our country.

He did in Rome, which the Romans themselves never did, and he paid the price.

Imran might not agree, but if he wants to play his role in politics he must negotiate with Altaf Bhai to merge their parties, as the MQM is the only party, which represents the masses instead of the influential. If both men joined hands, they might succeed in turning the tide. He has admitted that the MQM would be the real party of the masses if it could get rid of aggression from its fold.

The problem is that the ‘Right or Left’ style of politics has equally corrupt and less corrupt people in its fold, but there is no place for a clean man. For success, Imran has to be one of the two, not both at the same time, but the man is an idealist who believes that two wrongs do not make a right. This old theory has no room in politics. If he will fly the Blackburn Kangaroo in the space age, he will never reach his destiny. Change yourself or exit the race.

Imran Khan, once a cricket ground playboy who ended his career with the pride of winning the World Cup for his country, kept the same title in the field of social work.

He set his own house on fire to rid it of the rats inside, but could not make any change.

The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital was a great achievement, which indicates his love for his mother who died of this deadly disease. She must be a proud mother.

He thinks that all politicians except himself are corrupt or not trustworthy for one reason or another, but he was always been extra careful about Nawaz Sharif. He faced the character assassination campaign run by Mushahid Hussain and Parvez Rashid during the 1997 elections when he faced Nawaz. Parvez and Mushahid at least had some ethics, but now Imran sees Hanif Abbasi and Abid Sher Ali in the ground. Imran has started his run-up against Nawaz Sharif once again, but he should be careful this time, as the two are equipped with the old weapons of character assassination.

The proverbial Brown Sahib did not know that politics is the real field where nobody can survive without ‘ball’ tampering. He should know that sportsman spirit is a banned item in politics. It is a fact that Imran will remain the twelfth man in the game of politics and will have no chance to be in the playing eleven.

He should side with one camp or another to survive in politics and will have to do in Rome what the Romans do, otherwise he will soon find himself facing the exit. An idealistic approach and idealism cannot survive in politics. Politics is the game of expediency, where you have to choose less rotten eggs from the basket, as Nawaz Sharif did. Despite hating Parvez Musharraf, Nawaz picked up some of Musharraf’s cronies.

Imran might be right in his claim that the masses are fed up with the politicians of today, but they have no other option and will ultimately choose the ‘lesser evil’ who can deliver instead of politicians like Imran Khan, who they can never see in power.

His opponents allege that Imran is morally corrupt. The people of Pakistan can ignore the financial corruption, but not moral. Unfortunately, Imran does not have a good record in this field.

Being an honest person, he has not denied his colourful past activities. But at the same time, he declared that he had put all those activities behind him, and apologised for his past. Great man. He never charged his opponents of moral corruption, but in politics, every wrong is a right if it means exploiting one’s opponents.

He married Jemima Goldsmith in June 1995, which was another case of him contradicting himself. Before his marriage, he had run a campaign against Brown sahib culture, but alas he himself became a victim of it. Finally, this marriage ended in a divorce.

But this divorce could not harm his love for his ex in-laws, as he has urged all Pakistanis and Muslims in Britain to support his ex-brother-in-law Zac Goldsmith’s candidacy in Britain’s upcoming elections. This appeal has landed him in further controversy.

He is not sure of his destiny and thoughts. At times he supports Musharraf, then all of a sudden he declares him an evil. He claimed that Musharraf had offered him the premiership, which was vehemently denied.

He fought for the independence of the judiciary, but like many others was not satisfied with the conduct of the judiciary. He did not criticise the 18th Amendment, as it suits him to be the sole proprietor of the Tehrik-e-Insaaf since the past 15 years. His test debut in cricket and politics was not impressive at all. Later in cricket, he established himself, but he is still an apprentice in politics. His first ball in cricket was wide, which struck the knee of a gully fielder and he went wicket less, but he came back after some years, armed with an Oxford education, the only son who on his maternal side belonged to a family of famous cricketers, to leave his own imprint in the country and make for himself a place in the game’s Hall of Fame as one of the most outstanding all rounders in the history of cricket.

Apart from his batting and bowling, his captaincy drew comparisons with WG Grace and Richie Benaud.

Even the recent defeat in by-elections could not open his eyes to reality, otherwise he would have decided to retreat from politics and focus on his real domain, social work. Or he would have developed a think-tank to raise issues facing Pakistan and find their solutions.

But the stake of his companions is very high and they are not letting him go out. He is surely the most disgruntled person in power politics.

He was charged of ball tampering in cricket, but he has never tampered with politics, which was his biggest mistake.

I believe if he had focused on his real business, he would eventually be worshipped.

Imran, come back home, you cannot fit into the dirty politics of this age. Serve the poor and deserving people in the education and health sectors, every one can make bucks, but only you can make a difference.

If he comes back home, we can quote Tracy Chapman, “I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives.”

The general’s DC wishlist

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By: C. Raja Mohan

As General Ashfaq Kayani arrives in Washington this week to lead what has been billed as a comprehensive strategic dialogue with the United States, there is considerable anticipation in Rawalpindi about the goody bag that might await the Pakistan army chief.

With the Army GHQ in Pindi demanding strategic parity with India and primacy in Afghanistan in return for the recent services rendered to Washington, there is some concern in Delhi about where the US-Pakistan relationship is headed and what it might mean for the geopolitics of the region.

Pindi’s expectations from Washington as well as Delhi’s fears about the direction of the US-Pakistan relationship might, however, turn out to be somewhat exaggerated.

If there is always a big gulf between the Pakistan army’s reach and its grasp, the Indian foreign policy establishment has a habit of reading too much into Pakistan’s relations with the US.

While Delhi cannot stop Pindi from overplaying its hand, it must respond calmly to the likely results from the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue this week. Even more important, Delhi must prepare to shape the evolution of the US-Pakistan relationship rather than merely protest against it.

A self-confident India that builds on its own partnership with Washington and works its undervalued levers in Islamabad can explore the many contradictions in the current US-Pakistan partnership and influence its future direction.

For one, both the US and Pakistan say the purpose of their strategic dialogue is to construct an enduring relationship rather than an instrumental one. The Obama administration has indeed apologised for the past American habit of using and discarding the Pakistan army.

Only a bold man will bet that the US-Pakistan relationship will now evolve into something more than the marriage of convenience it has been for decades. After all, there are little commercial or societal ties that bind the US to Pakistan and it might be difficult to sustain the US-Pakistan partnership once the current expediency passes.

To be sure, the American interest in Pakistan will continue so long as it has troops in Afghanistan. This surely will not be a permanent condition.

In Washington, the rhetoric is all about looking beyond the military/ security relationship with Pakistan. The Obama administration wants to channel the expanded American assistance to Pakistan into such areas as agriculture and education. Any amount of money that America and the world might mobilise for Pakistan’s economic development will be a drop in the bucket.

Pakistan’s ruling party – the GHQ – is under no obligation to win political mandate from the people, let alone renew it periodically. It has little incentive, then, to promote economic and social transformation in Pakistan.

For all the American hopes to move the relationship beyond security cooperation, Kayani’s focus in Washington this week will be on geopolitics and not the social sector.

Given his recognition that the American connection might once again be a short-lived one, Kayani would naturally want to extract, quickly, whatever he can from the Obama administration on India and Afghanistan.

Although Pakistan’s leverage in Washington today is real, Kayani might be over-estimating its value. Kayani’s American wishlist is said to have four key demands. First, re-establish strategic parity with India in the atomic domain with a civil nuclear deal of the kind Delhi gained from President George W. Bush.

Second, Pindi wants substantive conventional weapons transfers to redress what it sees as India’s threatening military modernisation. Third, Kayani wants Washington to press India to make major concessions on its disputes with Pakistan, including the old one on Kashmir and the newly minted one on the Indus waters.

Finally, Pakistan wants the US recognition of its case for “strategic depth” in Afghanistan and to have a decisive say in the construction of new political arrangements across the Durand line.

There is no way the US can meet the entirety of Pakistan’s demands. Nor can the administration deliver on them unilaterally; some of them – like the nuclear deal – require congressional consensus as well as unanimity in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. There are others that are simply not possible – force Indian concessions on Kashmir.

On Afghanistan, where the US needs Kayani’s troops, there will be some give and take; but India will have to be super-paranoid to believe Washington will simply hand over Afghanistan to the Pakistan army.

The presumed endgame in Afghanistan will be a prolonged one and no final decisions are at hand in Washington this week. Having already written some big cheques to Pakistan since it came to power, the Obama administration too has demands on Pindi. These include more substantive army action against the Afghan Taliban and its associates and freedom of action for American use of force on Pakistan territory.

Since Kayani cannot return without a going-home present, India must expect that there will be some American rewards for him this week. Expanded supply of arms to Pakistan is certainly one possibility.

The temptation is strong in India to protest against any and all arms sales to Pakistan. Delhi must resist it, because such objections carry little credibility.

India’s main problem with Pakistan is not about a fragile conventional military balance that might be upset by American arms transfers. It is to change Pakistan’s belief that under the nuclear gun it can promote anti-India terror groups with impunity.

As it responds to the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue this week, Delhi’s message must be three-fold – global efforts aimed at a positive transformation of Pakistan are welcome; expanded economic and military assistance to Pakistan must be conditioned on Pindi’s commitment to dismantle its jehadi assets; India is ready to address all of Pakistan’s concerns – including Kashmir – if it gives up violent extremism as an instrument of state policy.

Written by rohitkumarsviews

March 24, 2010 at 7:37 am