Tuesday, June 6, 2017

BALOCHISTAN: Crude reality of Iran

Below article was published 44 years back, but the Iran monitors  developments in Pakistan side of  Balochistan very closely. In an interview Former shah of Iran said , in case Pakistan collapse they will take protective action , that is seize Pakistani BALOCHISTAN.

Daily Record, Ihursday, April 26, 1973 Belief in 'Crude Real if y' i:f ' Yi

By C L. Sulzberger

TEHERAN Iran today finds itself wedged between two of the world's tensest crisis areas. To the west lies Iraq, with which it is on very bad terms, and the festering Middle East, already riven by wars. To the east lies Pakistan, which shows signs of coming apart. Therefore Shah Mohammad Reza is implacably building up his national military establishment to achieve a capability of self-defense against anyone in non-nuclear war. '"That is my ultimate aim," he says. "Some people laughed when I started off this program. But now I estimate we are only about five years away from our goal." The big switch is substitution of self-reliance for dependence on outside aid. "We can't rely on foreign intervention to help us against aggression," the Shah comments. "After all. why should any country defend another that is unable to defend itself? One must make one's own struggle." The Shah no longer places faith in alliances. He says CENTO, which links Iran with Turkey, Pakistan and Britain plus an indirect American tie, "was never a reality. It was always just a club where people could talk pleasantly. It had no tangible value." Likewise, he holds no great brief for the U.S. bilateral accord arranged with President Eisenhower. Thrs guaranteed Iran against a Communist threat. But, as the Shah says, "The United States had the privilege of interpreting what 'Communist' meant, no matter what we called it. Moreover, it was not an automatic defense pledge. "Officially that accord still exists; it hasn't been denounced. But I don't really believe in pacts. I prefer to believe in crude reality and in the paramountcy of national interests. Our relations with America are the same with or without the pact because the United States cannot afford to see anything happen to Iran." police the world." The annual defense budget now approaches the $2-billion level and huge amounts of U.S supersonic aircraft, helicopters, cargo planes, anti-aircraft missiles and British tanks were on order. This trend was accelerated after the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. The Shah says: "We saw organized armies crossing international boundaries and nobody did anything about it. not even the United States, while the mass media for the most part applauded this illegality. I opposed Pakistan's military intervention in Bangladesh But the India-Pakistan war more than ever reinforced our resolve to strengthen Iran's defenses." The problems today facing Iran are seen as linked. Iraq is consistently hostile and encourages subversion among Arab groups along the Persian Gulf. Moreover, Baghdad Radio seeks to foment trouble among the Baluchis of both southeast Iran and southwest Pakistan. Iran never forgets that Iraq leans heavily on Moscow for support. The primordial problem, as the Shah sees it, is to prevent West Pakistan from wholly falling apart. He is urging India to help the shaky Pakistani Government control autonomist movements in the northwest frontier and Baluchistan provinces. He explains: "If Pakistan disintegrates another Vietnam situation could develop. We must see to it that Pakistan doesn't fall to pieces. This would produce a terrible mess, an Indochina situation of new and larger dimensions. I dread to think of it." And if it can. anyway, if Pakistan fell apart? "The least we could do in our own interest would be some kind of protective reaction in Baluchistan." What does that mean' Apparently to seize it before anyone else does. Another "crude reality " What he means, of course, is that Washington doesn't want Russian dynamism to explode into the Indian Ocean and that American industry cannot afford to risk seeing this land's oil reservoir cut off. That is the "crude reality" on which the Shah bets. I asked what had been the effect on this strategic concept of both the Nixon Doctrine and the new great power alignment. None, he said. He added: "I developed my own doctrine of a strong Iran fourteen years ago. Nixon understands that there is no other way for a nation to insure its protection than by itself. "As for the new power alignment: we don't mind it. We are sure you will never do a dirty deal behind our backs. Anyway, you can't afford to." The Shah says he has been insisting for years on heavy investment in Iran's military build-up even "against the better judgment of our good American friends who thought that with two air-borne divisions the United States could ITS sis Vv ate 'gates Another JT1 By ' 44 r'M Russell Baker The President could fire himself, of course, but that would mean he would have to go back to New York where he would constantly be running into Martha and John Mitchell 4. Nationwide television address. Advantages: Historically, whenever President Nixon has been in trouble and gone on nationwide TV to explain things, he has immediately been deluged by rising popularity polls. Drawback: Watergate is so complicated that not even President Nixon could explain it in less than 24 hours and there isn't that much prime time. Possible solution: Speak on an entirely different subject Possibilities denounce Jane Fonda, explain Earl Butz blame Supreme Court for "Last Tango in Paris." 5. Shock enemies off balance by meeting issue head-on Advantage: Technique worked successfully in the 1952 Checkers-speech resolution of the secret-campaign fund crisis and script needs only slight revision. For example-President appears on TV with Mrs. Nixon and King Timahoe. All very close to tears. The President says yes, he did it, but it was a small, well-meaning wrong and he did it only to save America from a greater wrong the election of Those Who. The President then offers to resign if cards and letters from TV audience favor it. Audience's rejection will not hurt him too cruelly, he says, because he will still have King Timahoe. Advantage: Americans will forgive a man anything if he seems to like dogs. Drawbacks: This gives tough guys he will have to deal with later Brezhnev, Pompidou, Chou En-lai a chance to look good by pointing out that they don't have to lean on dogs. 6. Amnesty. WASHINGTON The news here is that President Nixon is facing another crisis. Its name is Watergate. This is the moment when, according to his own account, he is at his best. When all about him are hot and panicky, the President has said, he is cool and calm. Afterwards when he has emerged from crisis into safety, he will experience terrible letdown, but now all his faculties are focused on th e crisis and he is at the top of his form, perhaps even exhilarated by the challenge of battle with the chance it affords him to prove his mettle. All this we know from his writings and interviews on the subject of Nixon and Crisis. Thus we can safely surmise that he is now weighing alternatives, applying his knowledge of human nature and politics to the great question: Wlrich decisive act will most effectively dispel the crisis? We cannot, of course, know the alternatives he is considering. But we do know his penchant for surprise, his football -enthusiast's belief in the crushing effectiveness of running the ball up the middle when the Democrats are deployed against the long pass. And so it is not too hard to guess at some of the more surprising courses of action he must be considering. Following are a few of these: 1. Saturation bombing of France. Advantages: This would meet the White House need for headlines strong enough to push Watergate off the front pages. It would also strengthen the President's popularity with voters, whose support for him has historically risen whenever he has bombed. Drawbacks: The President is fond of France; would hate to be hissed there on his next visit. Also, NATO treaty requires the United States to go to France's help in case of attack. This would put the President in the awkward position of having to bomb America. 2. Bombing South America. Advantage: This would circumvent the awkward legal problem created by bombing France. Drawback: United States newspaper editors never put Latin-American news on page one. 3. Firing a lot of people. Advantages: Presidents in trouble always score big with voters by firing men around them. This is because Americans believe Presidents are such good and sagacious men that if they get into trouble it can only be because bad men around them let them down or sold them out. Firing these men satisfies public yearning to believe in naivete of Presidents and pleases newspaper editors who become grateful for lovable old easy headlines like "President Cleans House." Drawbacks: President Nixon has not left himself anybody to fire. He has painstakingly built a Cabinet nobody has ever heard of and a White House staff designed to self-destruct under pressure. This doesn't leave anybody worth firing except David Eisenhower, General Thieu, Spiro Agnew and Billy Graham, who are not disposable. y V Letters From Our Readers v registered to vote and for the first time, there is somebody I want to see elected. She will be no Mayor Snyder, who, at one meeting, involved three hours of talk with his biggest contribution trying to convince me how great his vow was of never smoking or drinking. Well, la de da how'd that help York? Besides, it's been my misfortune to know others who, too, believe such a vow or abstinence makes them paragons of virtue and guaranteed candidates for the pearly gates. Their lack of concern for others is far more destructive. Ray's idea of "people power" appeals to me. It's been my contention for many years that one person gets the ball rolling, but there's got to be momentum to roll the ball down the hill. Her platform "The future is now" yes. "Imagination" touche. "Common sense" maybe that will start eliminating the competition. "Spirit" Amen. Elect Genevieve Ray for mayoress we need the feminine touch. ; . . Betty Simmons York Wants Good News, Too Editor, York Daily Record: I am sure there are always many good things that happen that seldom gets into the papers simply because it is not sensational enough. It is my belief that many people are hopeful for the day when this will all be changed possibly now is the time. I enjoy reading the Daily Record very much. We hope that your efforts to improve the paper will continue and that your efforts will be rewarded by more and more people reading it regularly. Robert E. Stover York For '.Mayoress Editor, York Daily Record: Genevieve Ray has got "it all together" well, what's needed for mayoress of York now, isn't that pretty? Mayoress. Twirl it around on your tongue like the sound of it? It was my good fortune to meet and talk with her several weeks ago:' For the first time in five years or more I "Ah, little spring flower, in spite of all the pollution, you made it agaihi shallow victory, shallow victory!"

Japan, Vietnam to bolster maritime security cooperation



TOKYO — Jun 6, 2017, 11:22 AM ET


The Associated Press

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, left, listens to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech at their dinner in Tokyo, Tuesday, June 6, 2017. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool Photo via AP)more +

Japan and Vietnam agreed Tuesday to bolster their security ties through Japanese-funded projects including the upgrading of Vietnamese coastal patrol capabilities, defense equipment and technology transfer amid concerns about China's increasingly assertive activity in regional seas.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, held talks in Tokyo and shared "deep concern over the complex developments" involving China in the South China Sea. They urged China — without referring to it by name — to avoid taking actions to change the status quo and escalate regional tensions.

China claims virtually all of the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by several other countries in the region including Vietnam.

Japan and Vietnam reaffirmed the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and agreed to pursue it despite the United States' withdrawal. The two leaders agreed to cooperate in discussions among the 11 remaining TPP members to bring the agreement into force, according to a joint statement.

The two countries signed more than a dozen agreements, including one for 38 billion yen ($350 million) in Japanese aid to upgrade Vietnamese coast guard vessels and their patrol capability. The maritime security upgrade is part of Japan's 100 billion yen ($910 million) loan signed Tuesday, which also included science and technology and water management projects.

Abe expressed hope that the assistance would also provide business opportunities for Japan to contribute its expertise and technology for Vietnam's development.

Abe said Japan hopes to enhance cooperation to strengthen "a free and open international order based on the rule of law," calling it "the cornerstone of stability and prosperity for international society."


Associated Press videojournalist Emily Wang in Tokyo contributed to this report

Cyprus can play important role along the Maritime Silk Road: Chinese Ambassador


Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-06 23:44:14|Editor: yan

NICOSIA, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus, located along the ancient Silk Road, can play an important role as a stepping stone at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa in the implementation of the 21st century Maritime Silk Road, said China's ambassador to Cyprus Huang Xingyuan on Tuesday.

The ambassador was talking at a thematic seminar of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Comprised of the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond.

China, the biggest developing nation in the world, and Cyprus, one of the smallest countries of Europe and the world, are a unique example of cooperation in both the political and economic sectors.

Huang stressed that there is a huge potential for Cyprus and China to build on this potential, strengthen coordination of development plans and share common interests under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Ambassador Huang called for hard work to expand and upgrade bilateral trade to double current trade volume and exceed 1 billion U.S. dollars within the next two years by implementing preferential policies.

He spoke in more general terms of global trade by advocating economic globalization, improving global governance, advocating free trade, and seeking mutual benefit and common development.

The Ambassador spoke against misinterpreting the meaning of market economy, setting up trade and investment barriers, and covertly implementing trade protectionism, especially "by the relevant stakeholders in Europe".

In relation to Cyprus, he said that both Chinese products and Cypriot products have their distinctive features, adding that both sides should take the opportunity of implementing preferential policies to achieve that target.

He suggested that towards this end people-to-people exchanges should be strengthened and mutual understanding be promoted.

Ambassador Huang suggested realizing direct flights as soon as possible, streamlining Cypriot visa procedures for Chinese citizens and communication between thing tanks, media and young people becoming more frequent

China welcomes Abe’s interest in Silk Road initiative


JUN 6, 2017

BEIJING – China said Tuesday that it welcomes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s interest in cooperating with Beijing’s initiative of trying to build closer economic links along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

“We believe the One Belt, One Road initiative can be a new platform and a testing field for China and Japan to achieve mutually beneficial cooperation and common development,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a news briefing, referring to the project by its official name.

“We welcome Japan to explore cooperation with China under the framework,” she said, a day after Abe said Japan is prepared to contribute to the initiative if certain conditions are met.

At a forum on Asia’s future in Tokyo, Abe said the plan put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping has the “potential to connect East and West as well as the diverse regions found in between.”

But for Japan to join the initiative, Abe said it is “critical for infrastructure to be open to use by all and to be developed through procurement that is transparent and fair.”

“I furthermore consider it essential for projects to be economically viable and to be financed by debt that can be repaid, and not to harm the soundness of the debtor nation’s finances,” Abe said.

While U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist inclinations have injected additional uncertainty into the world economy, Xi has sought to represent China as a new champion of globalization.

To promote his ambitious Silk Road economic vision, Xi hosted a large-scale meeting last month in Beijing, attended by nearly 30 leaders and representatives from over 100 countries, and pledged China’s readiness to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into infrastructure projects in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Still, doubts remain strong in Japan and numerous other countries about the initiative’s real objective. Critics believe it is chiefly designed to help China enlarge its sphere of influence and create new sources of growth for its own economy through building a vast network of infrastructure, such as fuel pipelines, ports, railways and roads.

Hua cautioned Japan and other countries not to have groundless fears about the initiative, insisting that it is inclusive and that the Chinese government is committed to working with them to build “fair” and “transparent” rules of international trade and investment.

She said China hopes Japan will translate its will to improve bilateral ties into concrete policies and actions.

Despite being much better now than several years ago, Sino-Japanese relations remain fragile due to territorial and historical issues intricately intertwined with their regional rivalry

Shahbaz discusses CPEC projects with Weidong


Staff Reporter


Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif met with Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Mr. Sun Weidong at the Embassy of China here Tuesday.
He termed Pak-China friendship as a glowing example of love, peace, cooperation and warm feelings.
Shahbaz said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor Project will augur well for the economic development of Pakistan.
He welcomed Chinese investment on CPEC projects and expressed the satisfaction that the volume of investment between Pakistan and China is all-time high. “There is no doubt the CPEC is a game changer which has opened new avenues of development in Pakistan, while others countries will also benefit from the CPEC.
The Chief Minister maintained that Pakistan is among one of the rapidly emerging economies of the world under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and added that this has created new opportunities of business and job-generation. He said that Pakistan and China are two countries who enjoy immortal friendship which has passed every test of time. With the passage of time, this friendship has resulted in creating beneficial economic opportunities for the people of both the countries. He said Pakistan-China relations have been further expanded during the tenure of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and CPEC project has given these relations new strength.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif commended the keen interest of Chinese Ambassador in promoting bilateral relations.
Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong said that Pakistan-China friendship and bilateral economic cooperation were being promoted continuously. He commended the efforts of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for the promotion of Pak-China friendship.

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Gilgit-Baltistan Region: An indispensable part of CPEC


Arhama Siddiqa

THE Gilgit-Baltistan region is a part of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir, which was divided between India and Pakistan, and is directly ruled from Islamabad. It does not enjoy the constitutional status similar to, for example, the Punjab province, which has representatives in the parliament of Pakistan. Pakistan has been deliberating on whether to elevate the constitutional status of northern Gilgit-Baltistan region in a bid to provide legal cover to the multi-billion-dollar Chinese investment plan – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This move could signal a historic shift in the country’s position on the future of the Kashmir region. The multi- billion dollar Chinese investment merits legal cover on an urgent basis for the greater long-term interests of the entire region. CPEC may very well provide the impetus for the whole nation to be on the same page for once. Although there are legal hurdles that block the process of development of reforms in this disputed region, the issue has also been projected negatively by the Indian media. For example, the videos posted by the Indian media that depicted protestors on the streets of Gilgit-Baltistan were not genuine rather they were clips of protests that were carried out after the Hazara killings in the year 2013. This is one of the many reports that the Indian media outlets have released whose only aim seems to be undercutting the progress of CPEC in Pakistan. Such negativity can be perceived as interference and, more worryingly, as an attempt to sabotage the process of development in Gilgit-Baltistan.

GB holds a pivotal position in this project as it is the ‘gateway to CPEC’. The Khunjerab Pass between Pakistan and China is the line of connection that acts as the archway of CPEC and thus will mark the beginning of an era of economic, historical and cultural bondage between these two countries. CPEC will usher in an era of prosperity for the people through increased trade and tourism. Once the Western route starting from Gilgit-Baltistan is managed and the construction of Gwadar is complete, this distance will reduce from 16000km to about 5,000 km. Thus this venture is extremely cost-effective for China in the long run and it emphasises the central role that the land of Gilgit- Baltistan plays in this regard.

The general populace does believe that this project will bring advancement and infrastructural development with it. The close proximity facilitated by road links will increase the likelihood of the goods from Gilgit-Baltsitan to be sold in Chinese markets. The groundbreaking optic fibre line being laid down from Khunjerab to Rawalpindi will convert this region into the hub of high speed internet headwork of Pakistan, thus obliterating all grievances against the antiquated and broken telecommunication signals in Gilgit-Baltsitan. In the contemporary world, economic interdependence has surpassed conventional politics which demands that countries put aside issues that hold them back from economic development. Thus it would be wise for all the stakeholders to embrace CPEC and the benefits it yields for immediate up-gradation of the living standards of the people in the region.

A two-part solution to resolve the socio-economic and political problems of GB can be deployed namely, a short term solution and a long term solution. In the short term, to seek maximum benefit from CPEC and its projects, along with other parts of the country, Gilgit-Baltistan must be added to the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on CPEC. This addition can be added to the current status of Gigit-Baltistan with reference to the limited autonomy that has been given to it under the constitution. The JCC is a committee of mutual interest and structure that acts as a bridge between the National Reforms and Development Commission (NRDC) of China and the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms (MPDR) in Pakistan to oversee the CPEC project. Representation of Gilgit-Batistan in JCC will clarify all misperceptions regarding its lack of participation in the project.

In the long term, once the mega project of CPEC has bolstered up the economy of the region, then the next step can be the socio-political and infrastructural reforms. They will have to be brought about under the ‘special status’ that has been given to this region instead of delaying the economic opportunities for development due to an issue that has not been resolved for more than 60 years. There are examples of other countries that have such territorial disputes and yet the development of the indigenous population has been carried out regardless of their unresolved territorial issues. For example, China has brought about immense development in Tibet to win support of the local people. Thus following this example economic development can be brought to the doorstep of the people of Gilgit first, and then the task of legal reforms can be initiated. If this issue is politicized further, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan will be deprived of the economic benefits that this new project brings.

Furthermore, if the environment is conducive the issue must be resolved according to the wishes of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan by holding a referendum. To benefit from CPEC and its projects, Gilgit-Baltistan must be added to the JCC on CPEC. Development should be continued at all costs. Once CPEC has strengthened up the economy of the region, the next step can be the introduction of socio-political and infrastructural reforms. Moreover, a constitutional package granting maximum powers to locally elected representatives,

Travel the Silk Road at your peril


By Jonathan Rogers


There’s no doubting China’s immense ambition in the project finance stakes, centred around its grandiose One Belt, One Road (or Belt-Road) scheme to revive the old Silk Road which used to connect China with the West in ancient times.

The brainchild of premier Xi Jinping, unveiled in 2013, the project aims to rope in the big investment banks to share the burden of financing what represents the biggest infrastructure project yet conceived.

Requiring US$4-8 trillion of investment, it is pitched at around 30 times the size of the Marshall Plan which rebuilt Europe after the ravages of the Second World War. And there is no shortage of takers from the Western banking sector.

The latest to sign up has been Deutsche Bank, which last week signed a memorandum of understanding with China Development Bank to commit to work together on Belt-Road projects worth up to US$3 billion. It’s hardly surprising really, given the reams of hype which surrounds the Belt-Road.

Silk Road” bonds and other debt products are being marketed under that label, with a separate settlement system proposed for the debt, in a bid to create a discrete asset class – that process will help to bring punters to the table, both from the bond investor community and the banking community where balance sheet is available.

I’m reminded of what a seasoned loan banking veteran told me a long time ago about project finance loans: they either default or get refinanced. It was said with a tongue-in-cheek wry smile attached, but that piece of wisdom is worth bringing on board.

Construction risk is ever present in the project domain, with shoddy bidding procedures often dooming a project before the first spadeful of earth has been dug. Default and restructuring is commonplace, often as the result of lousy initial structuring.

If all that is the norm for project finance in general, it seems to me that for a conception as grandiose – dare I say, vainglorious – as the Belt-Road, it will be more of the same, writ large.

It doesn’t help that as the big state-backed Chinese banks have muscled into the international lending business, they have done so via relaxed lending standards, in terms of covenants, structures and margins in order to win market share. At least that is the opinion of the loan bankers with whom I regularly speak.

Lending standards exist for a reason: they represent years of experience in the business, or years of wisdom, if you prefer. You have debt covenants included in loan documentation for a reason, and that reason is that it has been proven on countless occasions that there are pressure points in terms of debt service which when breached tend to drive companies out of business.

It might be all the rage to jump on the bandwagon as it hurtles down this unfolding Silk Road. But I suspect the entire spectacle, while as exciting as it gets for cross-border project finance, may end up as one of the biggest sources of debt restructuring the world has known

3 Must Read Asia Markets Stories: China’s Silk Road Faces Hurdle In Qatar Spat, China’s Debt Isn’t That Scary, and Why Asia’s Sovereign Wealth Funds Are Hot For Tech



Robert Guy

June 5, 2017 8:51 p.m. ET

The spat between Qatar and its Middle East neighbors adds another flash point to an increasingly messy geopolitical landscape and could complicate China's ambitions to create a new Silk Road.

The South China Morning Post  has a story that says Beijing's ability to manage relationships in the region, which is its biggest source of oil, just got a whole lot more difficult:

The nations are involved in Xi Jinping’s ambitious “Belt and Road Initiative”, which stretches across 65 countries and encompasses Asia, Africa and Europe.

The Arab peninsula is the top source of oil for China, the world’s biggest oil importer. Global prices rose in early trading on Monday.

Pang Zhongying, a senior fellow at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao, Shandong province, said the spat among the Middle East nations would make it more complicated to manage ties with the region.

“China has a huge economic interest in the Middle East,” he said. “With the belt and road and other initiatives it is using to expand geopolitical influence in the region, China may need to think about adjusting its “non-interference” diplomatic motto.”

Zhu Bin, an analyst at Southwest Securities, said: “These countries’ cutting of their diplomatic relationships with Qatar marks the beginning of a new round of chaos, even conflicts and war, in the Middle East.”

China's mountain of debt continues to be the number one concern for investors, but Bloomberg has a good story arguing that the $17 trillion debt pile isn't as scary as it looks. Here's a taste:

There’s been no shortage of bad news when it comes to China’s massive debt pile, from turbulence in the corporate bond market to last month’s sovereign rating downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service.

But look beyond the negative headlines, and one encouraging fact stands out: China’s biggest companies are healthier than they’ve been in years.

Thanks to a combination of economic stimulus and state-owned enterprise reform, debt-to-equity ratios at China’s largest non-financial firms have dropped to the lowest levels since 2010. Gauges of profitability and interest payment capacity are the strongest in at least five years, while free cash flows have never been bigger.

The improvements could help ease fears of a looming financial crisis in the world’s second-largest economy, even though smaller Chinese companies have made less progress so far. Deutsche Asset Management, which oversees about $800 billion, says stronger balance sheets support a bullish outlook for China’s stock market after the Shanghai Composite Index trailed all of its Asian peers this year.

Tech is hot and its seems Asia's sovereign wealth funds just can't get enough. The South China Morning Post has an interesting interview with Tan Sri Azman Moktar, who heads Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, on why the fund is investing more in tech (it was an early investor in Alibaba):

“Some years back, we had made a very good investment in a brick-and-mortar retail company, Parkson – we had 10 per cent in this [department store operator] and we made fantastic returns,” Azman says.

“Then suddenly, the returns dropped off the cliff. I asked my people what was happening. Turns out, we were getting killed by this company we had never head of at the time called Alibaba. People were going online [to shop] and everything moved so fast.”

In 2008, Khazanah Nasional sold off its Parkson Retail Group Stake and later invested over US$400 million (HK$3.11 billion) in Alibaba in 2012 and 2013, ahead of the Chinese company’s initial public offering in 2015.

Through Alibaba, we made a billion dollars for the Malaysian people, and Alibaba was our first tech investment,” Azman says.

“We’ve since re-channelled some of that money to over 20 tech investments around the world as well as in Southeast Asia, such as in Singapore gaming company Garena

Should Pakistan be partitioned like Yugoslavia?

by LAWRENCE SELLIN, PHD June 6, 2017

After World War II, Yugoslavia was organized as a federation of six republics, with borders drawn along ethnic and historical lines: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia with the two autonomous Serbian provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo.

The Yugoslav federation worked successfully largely due to the strong leadership of president-for-life Josip Broz Tito, but after his death in 1980, a weakened central government could not cope with the growing ethnic and nationalist tensions.

Likewise, Pakistan is not so much a country, but an artificial political entity created by the British during the partition of India. It is founded on the ideology of Islam and is primarily composed of five ethnic groups that never coexisted - the Bengalis, Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Baloch.

It is ironic that the father of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, reportedly an atheist, who argued for a secular and inclusive Pakistan in his famous speech in the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 days before Pakistani independence, could, just a year earlier, display no qualms about asking Muslims to implement "Direct Action" which led to widespread rioting and bloodshed in the name of religion. Political psychologist Ashis Nandy wrote "Jinnah kept the ulema [scholars of Muslim religious law] at a distance throughout his life, but was perfectly willing to use them to advance the cause of a separate homeland for South Asian Muslims."

Since its inception, Pakistan has operated according to several fundamental principles: Punjabi ethnic supremacy, fear of India, political control by the army and, lacking ethnic cohesiveness, using Islam as a domestic and foreign policy instrument.

Pakistan's inability to establish a national identity beyond Islam began in the 1950s when the imposition of Urdu as a national language generated resentment amongst the majority Bengalis in East Pakistan, which, after a bloody conflict in 1971, separated from Pakistan to become the independent country of Bangladesh.

Karachi and adjacent areas have been plagued by political turmoil between the native Sindhis and the Urdu-speaking "Mohajir," who migrated there during and after partition.

Balochistan, now its largest province, never agreed to join with Pakistan, but did so only after being invaded by the Pakistani military. For a succinct history of the forced annexation, see the article "How Balochistan became a part of Pakistan - a historical perspective" published in "The Nation," an English-language daily newspaper based in Lahore, Pakistan.

Balochistan is in southwest Pakistan bordering Afghanistan and Iran with its southern coast on the Arabian Sea. It is rich in natural resources, including oil, gas, copper and gold, yet remains one of the poorest regions of Pakistan, where the vast majority of its population lives in deplorable conditions without access to electricity or clean drinking water.

Balochistan's natural resources have been plundered by Pakistan, nuclear tests were conducted there without the permission of the Baloch people and the region has been subjected to military oppression for decades to extinguish ethnic aspirations and to maintain it as a de facto colony of Pakistan.

Pakistan's attempts at quelling ethnicity-based grievances have only resulted in exacerbating them, encouraging provincial discontent and intensifying separatism. That occurs because 

Pakistan has not diverted from its political playbook outlined above, namely, Punjabi dominance, irrational fear of India, military control of the political system, and the ever increasing use of ever more radical interpretations of Islam to mitigate internal dissent and exert influence regionally.

United States policy in Afghanistan is directly and intentionally thwarted by Pakistan and we would benefit from a change in the strategic landscape.

And so would South Asia.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of "Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution ". He receives email at lawrence.sellin@gmail.com.


Sights and sounds along CPEC’s Balochistan route


Sights and sounds along CPEC’s Balochistan route

Ghulam Dastageer

Updated about 21 hours ago

A man obtains water from a hand pump on the outskirts of Dera Ismail Khan | Photographs by Ghulam Dastageer

Balochistan is all about expanse — vast, inaccessible, inhospitable expanse. That partly explains why the rest of Pakistan sees it as a dangerous, even hostile, territory. Distance and remoteness have the ability to turn the usual into the unusual and the unfamiliar into the mysterious.

The case of Balochistan’s northern districts is even more curious. Cut off from most parts of the country by virtue of their high hilly terrain and almost no communication links, they have experienced less strife in recent times (compared to Pakhtun areas north of them and Baloch areas south of them). Yet, mentioning them does not evoke anything but a sense of ignorance and foreboding among Pakistanis living elsewhere.

Now that many of these districts find themselves dispersed along the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), their inhabitants may expect meeting more outsiders than they did in the past. And the outsiders travelling along that route may find out that the people living here have the same concerns as everyone else in Pakistan — food, water, shelter, education, healthcare.

Local residents also have the same expectations from CPEC as people in other parts of the country have — that it will bring with it a turnaround in their fortunes. Imagine a cat’s cradle of roads running from Gwadar to Sukkur, Multan and Lahore as part of the eastern route of CPEC and from Gwadar to Quetta, Zhob and Dera Ismail Khan comprising its western alignment and what you have is the glittering image of an El Dorado in the making.

“Special economic zones along [these roads] can bring about a change for the better in our lives,” said Nizamuddin Kakar, a resident of Killa Saifullah district.

A family of nomads in Dara Zinda, Frontier Region Dera Ismail Khan

Last month, I took the N-50, a highway that forms part of CPEC’s western route and connects Dera Ismail Khan in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with Kuchlak in northwestern Balochistan. Large parts of it are still under construction.

Heavy yellow excavators burrow through the hilly terrain like machines from a futuristic movie invading an ancient biblical land. Apart from being a future trade route between Pakistan and China, the highway provides the long-demanded direct road link between the Pakhtun areas of the two provinces.

Dera Ismail Khan, where my journey started, was sizzling under the April sun. Long hours of power outages had only exacerbated the scorching weather. Roadside petrol stations were not operating due to electricity breakdowns but their operators had devised a smart solution: they would pump out fuel whenever they got electricity and stored it in jerry cans to sell it later.

Widening of N-50 Highway in progress in Dara Zinda

Local modes of transportation were antique, if not entirely rudimentary. Four-wheel mini trucks dating back to 1970s, or perhaps earlier than that, were plying the roads, carrying human beings and cattle in their upper and lower compartments, respectively.

As I travelled westwards, the landscape did not change much for many kilometres. Yet, ethnic and cultural differences were too obvious to miss. Women covering their heads with light dupattas were as visible as bareheaded men in Dera Ismail Khan city and its adjoining Seraiki-speaking villages.

That started changing as I entered Dara Zinda town, home to a Pakhtun tribe called Sherani. Women’s presence in the public space not just became thinner here, they were also covering their heads and faces with more yards of cloth. With their eyes peering through narrow slits in their heavy chadors, they were carrying loads of fodder skilfully balanced on their heads.

Dara Zinda, part of a frontier region — an administrative buffer zone between South Waziristan Agency and Dera Ismail Khan district – is a gateway to Balochistan’s Sherani district. Everyone entering the district is required to register themselves at a security post manned by Frontier Corps personnel. Next, the visitors are welcomed by barren mountains jutting out of spacious plains.

An elderly man offers prayers along the Zhob-Quetta Highway in Killa Saifullah district

Zhob is the first main town on the Balochistan side. It is the headquarters of an eponymous district that stretches over an area of 20,297 square kilometres (about 27 per cent of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that has a total area of 74,521 square kilometres).

Only 40 per cent of the land mass in Zhob district consists of plains. The rest comprises hills, covered in many parts with forests of pine, olive, cumin seed and heeng (asafoetida). People in the mountainous parts are less inclined towards agriculture. Those living in the plains mostly grow apples and grapes.

In Zhob city, I met Jan Muhammad, a dealer of naswar (snuff), a concoction manufactured locally and used widely for an intense immediate hit of nicotine. He is so popular in the city that the public square next to his shop has been named after him. “I was the first one to start a naswar shop here,” he told me. Zhob is a provincially administered tribal area. That allows people living here to own and drive vehicles brought into the country without the payment of import taxes.

Many local residents told me that import taxes for more than 90 per cent of the vehicles in their district were not paid. Most of them, however, have fake number plates, ostensibly issued from Karachi.

An elderly Afghan selling red-legged partridges in a bazaar of Chaman, a town bordering Afghanistan

People living in Killa Saifullah, the next district along N-50, are mostly Kakar Pakhtuns. They have great love for education — particularly for the education of girls. Ten years ago they went to the deputy commissioner and requested him to permit their daughters and sisters to study at the college for boys in the evenings — to be taught by its all-male staff. Permission was granted.

Last year, the girls got a college of their own but even now they use science laboratories at the college for boys because their own institution does not have those facilities yet.

From Killa Saifullah, the road leads to Muslim Bagh and then reaches the town of Kuchlak (made famous by Shahbaz Taseer, slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s son who was abducted by militants affiliated with the Taliban in 2013; he had made a sudden appearance here in 2016 after his release from captivity).

Kuchlak, a part of Quetta district, is also famous for its fruit markets and dealers of earthenware that is imported from Sindh and Punjab. Its marketplaces were buzzing with activity when I arrived there last month.

Helping out elders in Pishin district starts at a very early age

Apple orchards and vineyards adorn long stretches of the 332-kilometre part of the road from Zhob to Quetta. These are irrigated from man-made ponds that store rainwater. These ponds appear along the road at regular intervals.

About 72 kilometres to the south of Killa Saifullah is the town of Loralai. It is the headquarters of Loralai district, one of the greenest areas between Balochistan’s northeastern and northwestern borders.

Ground water level here – at 500-600 feet – is higher than in its neighbouring districts where it is as deep as 1,000-1,200 feet. Local farmers have installed solar-run tube wells (each costing about 1.1 million rupees) to irrigate their lands.

Aroad from Kuchlak goes to Pishin district where snuff, locally known as shna naswar, is ground to a fine powdery form. More difficult to consume than other forms of naswar, it is known across Pakistan for its potency.

En route Zhob to Quetta

The same road then goes to Chaman, headquarters of Killa Abdullah district that once housed hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees in the camps of Saranan and Jungle Pir Alizai. Many of them now seem to have assimilated with the local population.

Chaman is a few kilometres to the east of the Pak-Afghan border. The city’s economy is mostly dependent on cross-border trade, both legal and illegal. Its markets are flooded with vehicles imported without the payment of any taxes, automobile spare parts and electronic equipment, among other things, mostly smuggled from Afghanistan and Iran.

Goods alone don’t move across the border here. Over 2,000 Pakistanis daily cross into Afghanistan to work during the day and come back home in the evening. That could well be one reason why it is one of the most difficult-to-man border posts in Pakistan.

This was originally published in the Herald's May 2017 issue. To read moresubscribe to the Herald in print

China lauds Pakistan's efforts for smooth implementation of CPEC projects


June 6, 2017

BEIJING: While appreciating Pakistan's efforts in building China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, China Tuesday reiterated it would work with Pakistan to push forward smooth progress on the corridor to bring more economic benefits for the two countries as well as the entire region.

"We appreciate and applaud Pakistan's efforts it put in during building of the CPEC which has now entered a stage of implementation with the concerted efforts of China and Pakistan," Spokesperson of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying said during her regular press briefing held here.

"China will work with Pakistan to push forward smooth progress in building the CPEC," she said while responding to a question asked by the APP correspondent that Pakistan government has allocated US$ 1.7 billion for CPEC and its supporting projects in the budget of next financial year starting from July 1.

The spokesperson opined that CPEC, a flagship project of One Belt One Road Initiative announced by Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has helped Pakistan to improve transport and energy infrastructures and also provided job opportunities for the people in Pakistan.

When her attention was drawn towards the Indian External Affairs minister's interaction with media in which she spoke about issues related to India's entry to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the spokesperson said, "We have reiterated our position many times over this issue."

Hua Chunying said China's position on the admission of non-NPT states into the NSG remains unchanged.

"China supports the NSG in handling the relevant issue as mandated by the 2016 Seoul General Assembly with the principle of consensus and through the open and transparent inter-governmental process and the "two-step" approach which requires the NSG members to work out a solution applicable to all non-NPT states and on that basis, to deliberate on joining of specific non-NPT states," she added.

The spokesperson said China will continue to take part in the NSG's relevant discussion in a constructive way.

About One Belt One Road issues between China and India, she termed the Kashmir a left over issue from the history between India and Pakistan which should be properly settled by the two countries through consultation and negotiation.

"We have also been stressing that CPEC is a project of economic cooperation and it would not affect China's position on the issue of Kashmir," she said and added, the CPEC is not targeting any country.

In response to a question about alleged airspace violations by two Chinese helicopters over China-India border, she reiterated that China and India have dispute on the borders.

The spokesperson said that Chinese border guards also conduct patrolling along the border, adding, "We should communicate and coordinate with each other through a border consultation mechanism to uphold peace and stability across the border

Pakistan is still a sanctuary for the Taliban and Haqqani network

CIIS Report


*Pakistan is still a sanctuary for the Taliban and Haqqani network and more of a threat than an ally. There has to be a better strategy and a better approach to both the military and civil dimensions of the war to provide a reason to stay, and no commitment should be open ended. The Afghans have to do far more, and do it far better, to justify each future year of U.S. commitment.

*Finally, the United States should make it clear to Pakistan that it faces a total end to aid, and the imposition of sanctions, if it continues to support the Taliban and tolerate the Haqqani network. Russia should be told that any end to U.S. sanctions will depend on it not supporting the Taliban, and the Unites States should reach out to China to make it clear that Chinese cooperation in dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan can serve both Chinese and U.S. interests*

Pakistan's ISI attacked a Baloch refugee camp in Spin boldak area of Kandhar

Pakistan's ISI attacked a Baloch refugee camp in Spin boldak area of Kandhar province in Afghanistan. 3 dead including 2 children. 8 wounded

پاکستان غیر اعلانیہ جنگ مسلط کررہا ہے، افغان صدر

Jun 6, 2017, 3:57 pm
کابل(سنگر نیوز) افغان صدر اشرف غنی نے پاکستان کو تنقید کا نشانہ بناتے ہوئے کہا ہے کہ وہ ان کے ملک کے خلاف ’غیر اعلانیہ جنگ‘ مسلط کر رہا ہے۔ان کا مزید کہنا تھا کہ ’پاکستان کو اس بات پر کس طرح قائل کیا جاسکتا ہے کہ ایک مستحکم افغانستان ان کو اور خطے کو مدد فراہم کرے گا‘۔فرانسیسی خبر رساں ادارے اے ایف پی کی رپورٹ کے مطابق یہ سخت اعلان انھوں نے کابل میں افغانستان کے حوالے سے ہونے والی بین الاقوامی امن کانفرنس کے دوران کیا اور اس موقع پر گذشتہ ماہ کابل میں ہونے والے ٹرک بم دھماکے میں ہلاکتوں کی تعداد 150 تک تجاوز کرنے کے حوالے سے خبر بھی دی۔اس کانفرنس میں دنیا کے دو درجن سے زائد ممالک، نیٹو اور اقوام متحدہ کے نمائندے موجود ہیں۔امن کانفرنس کے موقع پر کابل میں سخت سیکیورٹی انتظامات کیے گیے تھے، جس میں کابل کی سڑکوں کو بکتر بند گاڑیاں موجود تھیں جبکہ اس موقع پر فضائی نگرانی بھی کی گئی۔تاہم، افغان خبر رساں ادارے خاما کی ویب سائٹ کے مطابق سخت سیکیورٹی کے باوجود کابل میں بھارتی سفارت خانے کی حدود میں ایک راکٹ آکر گرا جو دھماکے سے پھٹ گیا لیکن اس واقعے میں کسی جانی نقصان کی اطلاعات نہیں ہیں۔افغان میڈیا نے سیکیورٹی حکام کے حوالے سے تصدیق کی کہ راکٹ کابل کے مضافات سے فائر کیا گیا تھا جو بھارتی سفارت خانے میں گرا۔امن کانفرنس سے خطاب کرتے ہوئے اشرف غنی کا کہنا تھا کہ ’ہم امن کیلئے ایک موقع فراہم کررہے ہیں لیکن یہ کھلی پیش کش نہیں ہے‘۔ ان کا کہنا تھا کہ ’وقت ہاتھ سے نکل رہا ہے، یہ آخری موقع ہے، اسے حاصل کرلیں یا نتائج کیلئے تیار رہیں‘۔افغانستان کے حوالے سے ہونے والی امن کانفرنس کو ’کابل عمل‘ کا نام دیا گیا ہے جس کا مقصد امن کے قیام کیلئے بین الاقوامی حمایت حاصل کرنا ہے۔دوسری جانب اشرف غنی کے اس اعلان پر افغان طالبان کا فوری رد عمل سامنے نہیں آیا۔اشرف غنی نے کانفرنس میں بتایا کہ گذشتہ ہفتے کابل میں ہونے والے ٹرک بم دھماکے میں ہلاکتوں کی تعداد 150ہوچکی ہے جبکہ 300 زخمیوں کو ہسپتال لایا گیا، جن میں سے بیشتر جلے ہوئے اور دھماکا خیز مواد سے متاثر تھے۔اس سے قبل حکام نے واقعے میں 90 افراد کی ہلاکت کی تصدیق کی تھی جبکہ اشرف غنی نے ہلاکتوں میں اچانک اس قدر اضافے کی وجہ نہیں بتائی۔خیال رہے کہ دھماکے کے بعد ایک احتجاج کے دوران دھرنا دیا گیا تھا جس کو منتشر کرنے کیلئے گذشتہ روز پولیس نے آنسو گیس فائر کیے اور واٹر کینن کا استعمال کیا، جس کے نتیجے میں 4 افراد ہلاک اور متعدد زخمی ہوگئے تھے۔مظاہرین افغانستان کے سیکیورٹی چیف اور قومی سلامتی کے مشیر سے استعفے کا مطالبہ کررہے تھے۔یاد رہے کہ 2 جون 2017 کو افغانستان کے دارالحکومت کابل میں جرمن سفارت خانے کے قریب کار بم دھماکے کے نتیجے میں 90 افراد ہلاک اور 400 افراد زخمی ہوگئے تھے۔یہ بھی یاد رہے کہ افغان طالبان نے گزشتہ ماہ اپنے ایک بیان میں کہا تھا کہ وہ موسم بہار کے حملوں کا آغاز کرنے والے ہیں جس کے دوران کارروائیوں کا سلسلہ تیز کردیا جائے گا۔رواں سال کے آغاز میں شمالی صوبے بلخ میں طالبان کے حملے میں 135 سیکیورٹی اہلکاروں کی ہلاکت کے بعد امریکی وزیر دفاع جم میٹس نے اپنے بیان میں کہا تھا کہ افغانستان میں سیکیورٹی فورسز کو ایک اور مشکل سال کا سامنا کرنا پڑے گا۔واضح رہے کہ حال ہی میں امریکی محکمہ دفاع پینٹاگون نے وائٹ ہاؤس سے درخواست کی ہے کہ طالبان کے خلاف جنگ میں آنے والے تعطل کو ختم کرنے کے لیے مزید ہزاروں امریکی فوجی افغانستان بھیجے جائیں۔دسمبر 2014 میں افغانستان سے بڑی تعداد میں غیر ملکی افواج کا انخلاء ہوا تھا تاہم یہاں مقامی فورسز کی تربیت کے لیے امریکی اور نیٹو کی کچھ فورسز کو تعینات رکھا گیا۔اس وقت افغانستان میں 8400 امریکی فوجی جبکہ 5000 نیٹو اہلکار موجود ہیں جبکہ چھ برس قبل تک افغانستان میں امریکی فوجیوں کی تعداد ایک لاکھ سے زائد تھی۔
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Pakistani ISI attacked Bugti Refugee camp in Kandahar

#BREAKING: #Bugti Refugee camp attacked by #Pak ISI sponsored terrorists in Kandahar, #Afghanistan. 3 killed, 8 wounded… https://t.co/4vxiNEQjgH

Picture of the day: Claudia support Baloch Movement