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Contents - October 2003

Anatomy of October 19 Blasts
Columnist ADNAN GILL conducts a post mortem of the Oct 19 bomb blasts
and finds that there are more questions than answers.

The way the Pakistani government covers up every single bomb attack by declaring that it was an action of suicide bomber has become a regular theme. Mostly people buy the government’s version with little or no questions asked. Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for the establishment, the October 19 twin-bombing attacks (allegedly) on Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Benazir Bhutto were captured by numerous private TV cameras and by the print-media photographers. Most of these videos and still-photographs which are available on the Internet for the public to view potentially suggest a cover-up going up to the highest levels.
If one were to study these videos (widely available on YouTube) and the still-photographs (available among others on AP, AFP, Reuters, and the Daily Dawn’s websites) one can argue that the nation has been once again misguided by the establishment, because pictures tell a story totally contradictory to what the latter wants us to believe. The contradictions are so shockingly obvious that it suggests that either the establishment likes to mock our intelligence, or its agents tasked to disseminate its story of suicide-bombers are highly incompetent because even a 10th grade student with a basic knowledge of laws-of-physics can put together the sequence of events that took place on October 19. The motives behind the establishment’s possible cover up are a subject of another debate, so for now, first we will lay down some facts, circumstantial evidence, and ground rules to evaluate the evidence.........more

Indo-US Nuclear Deal
Columnist ZAFAR NAWAZ JASPAL argues that the Indo-US nuclear deal would be perilous for the nuclear nonproliferation regime and dangerous for South Asian strategic equilibrium.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh considers the controversial Indo-US nuclear deal imperative for cementing Washington-Delhi Strategic Partnership, despite the opposition of his coalition partners. He is endeavoring to surpass external and internal restraints and put the nuclear deal into operation as soon as possible. The Singh government, therefore, is softening the internal and external resentment. It is busy in cultivating a consensus in the internal politics of India, especially in the ruling United Progressive Alliance to implement the nuclear deal. Simultaneously, the Singh government, with the assistance of Washington has also been lobbying for amending the nuclear nonproliferation regime norms to ensure uninterrupted nuclear business between India and the United States.
The nuclear deal is a contested issue in Indian and Global politics but notwithstanding the same there are ample chances that it would be operational by the original time frame of 2008.1 Press reports manifest that PM Singh has been doing his best to muster support from the Left parties’ parliamentarians in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. To this end he stated, “What we have done with the US, it is an honorable deal, it is good for India, and it is good for the world. But we are in the realm of politics, and within our coalition, there are differing perceptions.”2 His Congress colleagues have intensified their efforts to allay the apprehensions of the Left allies over the agreement.........more

China: Emerging Partner of SAARC
Columnist GHULAM ALI looks at the positive regional impact of China's gaining Observer status in SAARC.

In 1985, seven South Asian countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) gathered at Dhaka and laid the foundation of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) with an aim at improving the quality of life of their people. In the subsequent two decades, however, the organization failed in achieving any meaningful progress. The inter-state conflicts between India and Bangladesh, India and Nepal, Nepal and Bhutan and at the top between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, dominated SAARC agendas, thus blocking developments towards regional integration. Resultantly, the region remained economically backward. The inter-state trade of the region could not exceed 4 percent and the region as a whole contributed only 1 percent in world trade. About 40 percent of the region’s population lives below the poverty line. The Organization in its various sessions approved a number of committees and agreements ranging from trade promotion under South Asian Free Trade Association (SAFTA) to cultural interactions but yet SAARC is among the most ineffective regional organizations.1 Parallel with SAARC, the European Union (EU) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) emerged as powerful organizations which have been transforming the fate of their peoples...........more

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