Saturday, July 31, 2010


I suppose historian Stanley Wolpert thinks his distortions add color to his narrative.
Here are a few:

1. On Gandhi's proposal to put Jinnah in charge, and Nehru's purported reaction:  here, and more here.
2. Gandhi's return from England and Gandhi-Jinnah interaction: here and here
3. Gandhi not attending a All-Party conference: here

Monday, July 26, 2010

Physics Olympiad

Indian girl (but headed to MIT) wins a gold.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wikileaks confirms the Circle of Life


Wikileaks has published a huge leak of classified material from US military sources. While the Guardian, UK, has emphasized underreported civilian deaths, the New York Times has emphasized identifying the enemy - the link should lead you to a document summarized thus, from December 2006 - just one of many:
Summary This report suggests that a member of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence is in charge of suicide bombing operations in Kabul, and that he is a graduate of the Haqqania madrasa near Peshawar. The report outlines the general process of preparing a suicide attack.

Apart from drone attacks, the US was delivering such in 2006, and such in 2007.

And so it continues. The 2009 Kerry-Lugar bill gives Pakistan $1.5 billion an year for 5 years. The truth is: The war can't end as long as the US is financing both sides. It must stop financing one side or the other, ASAP.

PS: The Guardian's assessment of this intelligence is that there is no smoking gun.

PPS: Der Spiegel's take: The Secret Enemy in Pakistan

PPPS: The cartoon is said to be by Ajit Ninan.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wagah: Beating the Retreat

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summit NJ

Another random teenagers-beat-up-man incident, in another prosperous part of New Jersey. Just weeks after the Old Bridge case.

Two teenagers beat up Abelino Mazariego, originally from El Salvador, and who worked in an Indian restaurant, while one recorded the attack on the phone, and a dozen others looked on.

Al Rehmat Trust

From The Friday Times:

Peshawar weekly Al Qalam stated that Al Rehmat Trust had ended its two month campaign to collect ushr from farmers all over Pakistan. Ushr is 10 percent of the farm produce. Already in South Punjab most religious institutions close down in order to go out and collect ushr. The money is spent on the wounded mujahideen and on families of the martyred mujahideen. (Ushr, which means ten, is collected at 10 percent from rain-fed areas and 5 percent from canal-fed areas. In Pakistan the rate for rain-fed areas is 5 percent while the barani areas are exempted.)

If you google around, Al Rehmat Trust is a front for the Jaish-e-Mohammed, a jihadi outfit in Pakistan.

So we had not known it, but 5-10% of the farm produce in Pakjab goes to supporting jihad against India.

Fat chance for peace.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The New Rupee Symbol

Via FT blog

Monday, July 19, 2010

To libertarians

The tax-free paradise that is Pakistan.

The rules say that anyone who earns more than $3,488 a year must pay income tax, but few do. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based political economist with the Carnegie Endowment, estimates that as many as 10 million Pakistanis should be paying income tax, far more than the 2.5 million who are registered.
Out of more than 170 million Pakistanis, fewer than 2 percent pay income tax, making Pakistan’s revenue from taxes among the lowest in the world, a notch below Sierra Leone’s as a ratio of tax to gross domestic product.

Mr. Zaidi blames the United States and its perpetual bailouts of Pakistan for the minuscule tax revenues from rich and poor alike. “The Americans should say: ‘Enough. Sort it out yourselves. Get your house in order first,’ ” he argued. “But you are cowards. You are afraid to take that chance.”

Much of the tax avoidance, especially by the wealthy, is legal. Under a 1990s law that has become one of the main tools to legalize undocumented — or illegally obtained — money made in Pakistan, authorities here are not allowed to question money transferred from abroad. Businessmen and politicians channel billions of rupees through Dubai back to Pakistan, no questions asked.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Indo-Pak talks

1. The behind-the-scenes story.
2. The historical perspective.

From the Times of India:

Agra again: Qureshi kills peace talks

Put On Backfoot On 26/11, Pak Goes Ballistic

Rajeev Deshpande | TNN

New Delhi: A day after an extraordinary slanging match in Islamabad, the India-Pakistan peace process was in shreds, having suffered a huge setback with Islamabad virtually reneging on a painstakingly drawn-up engagement sequence aimed at normalising ties.
    The finger-pointing between the two sides continued on Friday, keeping ties on the boil as Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi carried on with the belligerence he displayed at Thursday’s press conference which he addressed with his Indian counterpart S M Krishna in Islamabad.  
    Picking up from where he left off, Qureshi lashed out at India for being “selective’’ and “not fully prepared’’ and reversing gears at the last minute. He even got personal with Krishna, alleging that the minister lacked the mandate and was being tutored on phone all through the negotiations.  
    Shockingly, the assault at a briefing Qureshi held for the Pakistani media in Islamabad came even before Krishna had left for New Delhi. The serious violation of etiquette drew a strong riposte from Krishna just after he reached Delhi. He quickly refuted the charge that he was unprepared for talks, asserting that the mandate given to him was clear and specific.

    More than the bad diplomatic behaviour, what preceded it was a serious blow to the peace process. Qureshi turned bellicose after Pakistan’s failed attempt to force India to discuss Kashmir even when it doggedly refused to meet the precondition: Strong and clear action
against all perpetrators of 26/11.

    Sources said the peace process is not going to be jettisoned because India does not have the “luxury of not talking to its neighbour’’. Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said on TV that India wanted to continue the dialogue.

    The stated intent apart, the fate of the talks was in doubt in face
of Pakistan’s attempt to re-order their sequence. The Congress leadership chose the “action-on-26/11 first’’ approach because it is loathe to be seen as having forgotten the Mumbai attacks.
Times View

    The Times of India has actively championed the cause of peace between neighbours India and Pakistan, and continues to do so because it believes peace is in the interest of the two peoples. However, the path to peace cannot be strewn with bad faith and blatant misconduct—both of which Pakistan foreign minister Qureshi has displayed in ample measure. Minister Qureshi spurned India’s hand of friendship at the joint media briefing on Thursday when he equated terror merchant Hafeez Saeed with India’s home secretary G K Pillai. He did even worse on Friday when he called a press conference, at a time when his guest S M Krishna was still in Pakistan, only to ridicule the Indian minister by claiming that Krishna was not empowered to take
decisions, and was constantly on the phone with Delhi. This is simply not a peace-makers’s conduct. It is that of a schoolboy bully. Let alone furthering the cause of peace, Qureshi has only raised India’s hackles. And since neither President Zardari nor PM Gilani has rebuked Qureshi so far for his misbehaviour, it appears the foreign minister has not been out of line with the establishment’s thinking. In that case, India can wait until Islamabad gets more sincere about peace. Meanwhile, let the message sink in—there can’t be progress in the peace process unless Pakistan shows greater sensitivity towards India’s hurt and anger at the fact that 26/11 masterminds are not just roaming free in Pakistan, but are preaching murderous hate against India. There can’t be any closure on 26/11 until there is justice.

The Indian side was not mentally prepared for a dialogue. Pakistan wanted to be decisive and conclusive, India had a last-minute hitch.
The Indian delegation had no mandate to negotiate, the minister received phone calls continuously.

Indians were being selective, they had no flexibility in their negotiations.
If we focus on only one issue (terrorism) it will be difficult to move forward
S M Qureshi

We were fully prepared. My mandate was very clear. We discussed all core and burning issues
I did not call anyone. It is not unusual to consult the political leadership. But I was cut off from India
I don’t want to get into debating
points with him. I think we made some headway
Without progress on terrorism, all else is futile. Timelines are neither feasible nor plausible

S M Krishna

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


While trying to understand all the economic variables mentioned in Stiglitz's Freefall, it occurred to me to try to draw a causal diagram, like the one below.  Problem is that I don't know enough to do so.  Maybe posting it here will bring in some useful suggestions.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Rajan Parrikar's series of photographs of Iceland are worth your time, in case you had not been following them from "My Blog List" on the left.  There are several pages of them, so be sure to click on the "Older Posts" on the page I've linked to.

India's Shame

In an effort to "look good" to the world for the Commonwealth Games, the Delhi government demolished a slumdwellers' school.  Here.
"The government bulldozers came to the school at 11am, after yoga and before English and Hindi lessons. The children and their teachers had three hours to clear the classrooms. By mid-afternoon, the Yamuna Riverbank school was rubble.
"They told us we were a security risk, so we had to go," headteacher Parminder Khaur Somal said. "All my children were crying. I don't know how we can be a threat to anyone."
Somal founded the school five years ago for 180 local slum children living on the banks of the Yamuna river on the outskirts of Delhi. In recent months, she and her pupils have watched a vast new complex of luxury apartments rise 500 metres away: the athletes' village for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. "We never thought it could be a problem," Somal said.
"If we were a security threat, we could have just stopped classes until after the games. But the law here is just 'might is right,'" Somal said."
The correct response from the world would be to boycott these games.  No athletic competition is worth this.  Every child's tears must be  paid for.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Freefall is economist Joseph Stiglitz's book on "America, Free Markets and the Shrinking of the World Economy".  Reading it is deja vu

How so? Over on the liberal Pakistani blogs, there is a small crowd that finds the solution of every problem in the (unspecified) correct implementation of Islam.  Whether it is an issue of women losing custody rights to their children in Pakistani family law, or the bombing of shrines and the persecution of minorities, or it is constitutional problems,  Islam, implemented correctly, will fix it.  Stiglitz seems to be pointing out that the same orthodoxy attends to all of America's problems - financial, economic, and even environmental problems: The unregulated free market will fix the problem.   This even when economics is supposed to be science, not a religion nor an ideology.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Goncha will getcha!

I did say Pakistan is banished from this blog, but this is too funny not to share.
From this week's Friday Times (Nuggets from the Urdu press)

After 'water war', the 'fish war'

Reported in Daily Express ... Indian fish Goncha had attacked Pakistan and entered its rivers from the sea. Goncha was a cruel variety that ate other fish but it was particularly targeting the Pakistani fish, Kalbans and Palla whose two generations were now at risk. The Fisheries Department warned that if counter-measures were not taken the attack from the Indian fish, Pakistani fish will come to an end.
PS: mucking around on the web will find you that

Kalbans is Labeo calbasu. (picture)
Palla is Notopterus notopterus. (picture) {But the fish meant is the Sindhi "Pallu" or Bengali Hilsa, Tenualosa ilisha. Thanks to ArmenT on BRF for the correction!)
Goncha is likely Bagarius bagarius (or here) (picture)

Since all three fish appear in the Gangetic river system, I don't see how they're upsetting the ecology of the Indus.  Moreover how Goncha arrived from the sea is beyond me.  But then the Urdu press of Pakistan is beyond everybody.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Solomons MD

This was taken from a speeding car crossing a bridge, so it isn't much of a photograph.  The whole frame highly downsized is here:

There is still plenty of detail, here is a 100% crop.

Unclear on the concept

Describing suicide attacks in Pakistan as “illegal,” the JUD chief {Hafiz Saeed} — who India alleges is one of the masterminds of the 26/11 attacks — demanded public execution of suicide attackers in the country.  - from here.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

White God Reporting

Matt Taibbi:

The Perry piece used the standard Western-correspondent formula for covering the third world, a formula I'm very familiar with from my Russia days. In it, the moral of every story you write has to be that the backward subject country cannot survive without the indulgence, political protection, and gigantic brain-power of the superior Western societies. At the eXile we used to call this "White God" reporting.

NJ headed for a drought?

" "It's a fact of life in New Jersey: We have a vastly finite amount of water, and we can go very quickly from feast to famine."  - David A. Robinson, state climatologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick (from here)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A murder in Old Bridge, NJ

Read this. Read the comments there.

The latest I can find is this.