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Archive for April, 2007

The Middle Ground

Requested by my friend John Defterios to participate in a panel to discuss “the shifting story of energy security and pipeline politics”, it was a privilege to accept, more so because the location, Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan, was off the normal beaten track. The “Eurasian Media Forum covered a broad range of international issues of consequence, among them viz (1) the question of power and justice in world politics (2) what next for Iraq (3) whether nuclear program is a sovereign right or a dangerous ambition? and (4) what has the invasion of Afghanistan achieved in the Great Game in the 21st century?”. The brainchild of the Chairperson Dr Dariga Nazarbayeva, the daughter of the Kazakhstan President, Nursultan Nazarbayev attracted a good selection of public figures, intellectuals and professionals from all over the world, particularly from the CIS. I am generally skeptical about “talented” children, Dr Dariga did not fit that mold. “Talented” relatives usually have “commercial” interests that border on the criminal, they almost never have intellectual pursuits.

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Peace Pipeline or Pipedream?

The proposed US$7 billion Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) 2720 km gas “peace pipeline” project is expected to take three to five years to complete. While Pakistan’s demand for gas will expand significantly over the next two decades, India’s need is far more. Presently using 100 million cubic metres per day, this will double in the next 7-8 years. With decline in its reserves India estimates using 400 million cubic meters of gas per day by 2025, almost four times more than in 2005. Having the world’s second largest gas reserve, Iran is the most geographically convenient supplier of gas to both Pakistan and India.

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A Nation In Crisis

Naeem Bokhari’s open letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan was appalling for several reasons. Firstly, it tarnished the image of a man for whom one has great respect, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, and secondly it came from the pen of another man for whom one has great respect. If the facts stated therein are true the letter needed to be written, it should not have been made public. “Excesses” as per Naeem’s letter are commonplace in Pakistan, bringing it to the public domain demeans an Office one should always hold sacred, as much as anything can be held sacred in Pakistan. Triggering an unfortunate sequence of events, which for a time spun out of control, the letter had a backlash of sorts. It enhanced the stature of the man which the letter sought to demean, and tarnished the image of the letter writer, bringing him down many rungs from the pedestal he rightly should be. Naeem Bokhari has class, he is no ordinary known being, the letter going public has made him look us ordinary mortals.

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