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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Carbon News and Info, Tuesday, 11 November 2008.
The new President of the Maldives says he will begin buying land in other nations as “an insurance policy” in case his nation needs to be evacuated due to rising sea levels from climate change.

The Maldives is a group of 1200 tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, 80 per cent of which are less than one metre above sea level. Much of the most inhabited parts of the country are just 1.5 metres above the water.

The first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Nasheed, and his Vice-President, Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, wasted little time in declaring their plans to British newspapers saying a national fund would be established with royalties from the country’s tourist industry to fund land purchases.

Nasheed told the Guardian that Sri Lanka and India were obvious targets given their proximity, and the cultural similarities of their people to the 300,000 Maldivians. He also named Australia as a possible destination.

Manik said the “worst-case scenario due to sea level rise would be that some or even all of our islands would become uninhabitable and we would have to look for alternative places for Maldivians to live” in an interview with the Financial Times.

“We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own and so we have to buy land elsewhere. It’s an insurance policy for the worst possible outcome,” Nasheed told the Guardian, comparing the concept to Israelis buying land in Palestine.

There is much contention among scientists over how much sea levels can be expected to rise this century. The IPCC landmark 2007 report published conservative estimates of a rise of 25 to 58cm by 2100, criticised as too low by some researchers.

In 2005, authorities announced plans to move the 1000-strong population of the Carteret Atolls, in Papua New Guinea, to Bougainville in what were said to be the first climate change evacuations. Their current homes are predicted to become completely submerged by 2015.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

India’s humble rickshaw goes solar.
by Elizabeth Roche Mon Oct 13, 2008.   NEW DELHI (AFP) – It’s been touted as a solution to urban India’s traffic woes, chronic pollution and fossil fuel dependence, as well as an escape from backbreaking human toil. A state-of-the-art, solar powered version of the humble cycle-rickshaw promises to deliver on all this and more.

The “soleckshaw,” unveiled this month in New Delhi, is a motorised cycle rickshaw that can be pedalled normally or run on a 36-volt solar battery.

Developed by the state-run Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), prototypes are receiving a baptism of fire by being road-tested in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area.

One of the city’s oldest and busiest markets, dating back to the Moghul era, Chandni Chowk comprises a byzantine maze of narrow, winding streets, choked with buses, cars, scooters, cyclists and brave pedestrians.

“The most important achievement will be improving the lot of rickshaw drivers,” said Pradip Kumar Sarmah, head of the non-profit Centre for Rural Development.

“It will dignify the job and reduce the labour of pedalling. From rickshaw pullers, they will become rickshaw drivers,” Sarmah said.

India has an estimated eight million cycle-rickshaws.

The makeover includes FM radios and powerpoints for charging mobile phones during rides.

Gone are the flimsy metal and wooden frames that give the regular Delhi rickshaws a tacky, sometimes dubious look.

The “soleckshaw,” which has a top speed of 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) per hour, has a sturdier frame and sprung, foam seats for up to three people.

The fully-charged solar battery will power the rickshaw for 50 to 70 kilometres (30 to 42 miles). Used batteries can be deposited at a centralised solar-powered charging station and replaced for a nominal fee.

If the tests go well, the “soleckshaw” will be a key transport link between sporting venues at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

“Rickshaws were always environment friendly. Now this gives a totally new image that would be more acceptable to the middle-classes,” said Anumita Roychoudhary of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.

“Rickshaws have to be seen as a part of the solution for modern traffic woes and pollution. They have never been the problem. The problem is the proliferation of automobiles using fossil fuels,” she said.

Initial public reaction to the “soleckshaw” has been generally favourable, and the rickshaw pullers have few doubts about its benefits.

“Pedalling the rickshaw was very difficult for me,” said Bappa Chatterjee, 25, who migrated to the capital from West Bengal and is one of the 500,000 pullers in Delhi.

“I used to suffer chest pains and shortage of breath going up inclines. This is so much easier.

“Earlier, when people hailed us it was like, ‘Hey you rickshaw puller!’ Police used to harass us, slapping fines even abusing us for what they called wrong parking. Now people look at me with respect,” Chatterjee said.

Mohammed Matin Ansari, another migrant from eastern Bihar state, said the new model offered parity with car, bus and scooter drivers.

“Now we are as good as them,” he said.

Indian authorities have big dreams for the “soleckshaw.”

India’s Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal who hailed the invention for its “zero carbon foot print” said it should be used beyond the confines of Delhi.

“Soleckshaws would be ideal for small families visiting the Taj Mahal,” he told AFP.

At present battery-operated buses ferry people to the iconic monument in Agra — but their limited numbers cannot cope with the heavy tourist rush.

CSIR director Sinha said he hoped an advanced version of the “soleckshaw” with a car-like body would become a viable alternative to the “small car” favoured by Indian middle class families.

“Greenhouse gas emissions are showing an increasing trend year on year and 60 percent of this comes from the global transport sector.

“In the age of global warming, the soleckshaw, with improvements, can be successfully developed as competition for all the petrol and diesel run small cars,” Sinha said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

WIP on our website means WORK (WRITING) IN PROGRESS – or simply unfinished article. When finished the WIP will be taken off but the article will stay in place without the UPDATED designation. Nevertheless, theses introductory lines will remain as a reminder that the article had a long birth.

***

The meeting, August 15, 2008 was chaired by the Ambassador For Palau. Present were also the Ambassadors from Nauru and from Fiji. Many other Missions were represented – some of these missions have representatives on the working committee. Involved are also some of the active NGOs.

At present the sponsors of a resolution to be brought before the UN General Assembly are 11 from among the 14 Pacific Small Island Developing States – Fiji, Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu; the Maldives and Seychelles from non-Pacific SIDS; Canada, the Philippines from among larger States. But these 15 States will pick up many more co-sponsors. Mentioned were Turkey, the EU, Austria and Iceland that have expressed their eagerness to join. There is no opposition we were told – but only some hesitation because it is seen as a new approach to the problem of the humanitarian impact of climate change that goes on already – this while in major UN institutions the debate has not led yet to action. The inhabitants of the small islands of the Pacific are the first to lose their habitat – and what we see is the eradication of UN Member States by this predictable catastrophe.

On our website we announced this encounter between the proponents of the resolution and the NGOs:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)We also pointed out the topically relevant event at the Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart Festival” when Lemi Ponifasio’s REQUIEM had its two evenings before a New York audience.The history of this special effort by the Pacific SIDS started on February 15, 2008, in a speech by Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau, before the UN General Assembly:www.palauun.org/news_archive.cfm?news_id=189Palau Calls for Security Council Action to Protect Island Nations From Sea-Level Rise.

NEW YORK, NY,  www.islandsfirst.org February 15, 2008 — Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations at the High Level Debate on Climate Change, H.E. Stuart Beck, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau, citing the “life or death” nature of sea-level rise for the world’s island nations, urged the Security Council to utilize its powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to address this threat to member states by imposing mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards on all member states, and utilizing the power to sanction, if necessary, to encourage compliance with such standards.

He said:
“The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else…Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken…We take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?”

States reacted swiftly to the statement. This week, Ambassadors are meeting in New York to draft a General Assembly Resolution requesting Security Council intervention to prevent an aggravation of the climate change situation caused by greenhouse gas emissions by states. Pacific Island states will be in the forefront of the effort, since they are both the most vulnerable states, and amongst the least responsible for the problem.

Last year, the Security Council debated the security implications of climate change. Its then President, Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett of the United Kingdom, affirmed that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”. Chapter VII of the UN Charter conveys to the Security Council the necessary tools to address the problem, as it has done so in recent years in connection with terrorism and HIV/AIDS. No other international body has the power to mandate change in an effort to save the threatened island cultures of the world.

The full text of Ambassador Beck’s remarks at the UN Climate Change debate is as follows:

“Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, friends:

The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else. Salinization of fresh water and formerly productive lands continues apace. The reefs, the foundation of our food chain, experience periodic bleaching and death. Throughout the Pacific, sea level rise has not only generated plans for the relocation of populations, but such relocations are actually in progress. Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken. Larger countries can build dikes, and move to higher ground. This is not feasible for the small island states who must simply stand by and watch their cultures vanish.

Is the United Nations simply powerless to act in the face of this threat to the very existence of many of its member states? We suggest that it is not.

Last April, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom, the Security Council took up the issue of climate change. At that time, while there were some expressions of discomfort with the venue of the debate, a discomfort which we decidedly did not share, there was general agreement with the notion expressed by the President of the Security Council, UK Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”.

Islands are not the only countries whose existence is threatened. Ambassador Kaire Mbuende of Namibia characterized climate change as a ” a matter of life or death” for his country, observing that ” the developing countries in particular, have been subjected to what could be described as low-intensity biological or chemical warfare. Greenhouse gases are slowly destroying plants, animals and human beings.”

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum at last years Security Council debate Ambassador Robert Aisi, of Papua New Guinea observed that climate change is no less a threat to small island states than the dangers of guns and bombs to larger countries. Pacific Island countries are likely to face massive dislocations of people, similar to flows sparked by conflict, and such circumstances will generate as much resentment, hatred and alienation as any refugee crisis.

Ambassador Aisi observed then, and we reiterate now, that it is the Security Council which is charged with protecting human rights and the integrity and security of States. The Security Council is empowered to make decisions on behalf of all States to take action on threats to international peace and security. While we applaud the efforts of the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General to shine a light on this awful problem, we take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?

Under Article 39 of the Charter, the Security Council “shall determine the existence of any threat to peace…and shall make recommendations…to maintain or restore international peace or security”. We call upon the Security Council to do this in the context of climate change.

Under Articles 40 and 41 of the Charter, it is the obligation of the Security Council to “prevent an aggravation of the situation” and to devise appropriate measures to be carried out by all States to do this. While we Small Island states do not have all the answers, we are not unmindful of the scientific certainty that excessive greenhouse gas emissions by states are the cause of this threat to international security and the existence of our countries. We therefore suggest that the Security Council should consider the imposition of mandatory emission caps on all states and use its power to sanction in order to encourage compliance.

We further propose that under Article 11 of the Charter, the General Assembly is empowered to call to the attention of the Security Council “situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security” and, at the appropriate time, we will call upon this body to do so. In the event that the General Assembly chooses not to avail itself of this right, then we will call upon the countries whose very existence is threatened to utilize Article 34 of the Charter, which empowers each Member State to bring to the attention of the Security Council any issue which “might lead to international friction”.
I think we can all agree that international friction is a mild term to describe the terrible plight in which the island nations now find themselves.

Our Charter provides a way forward. Our Security Council has the wisdom and the tools to address this situation. And while we debate, the waters are rising.

Thank you.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

China, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Libya … seem to have money to burn – will they burn us? The question is about the buying up of agricultural land outside their countries. Is the intent just to create new food production sites to feed their own citizens, or is this also an effort to corner commodities?

At this week’s session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, China distributed an April 2008 “Review of Sustainable Development in China (2008): Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Drought, and Desertification.” prepared by The Office of the Leading Group for Promoting the Sustainable Development Strategy, P. R. China.

The report speaks frankly about “Obstacles and Challenges” but presents a program for the “Eleventh Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Eleventh Five -Year Plan for Development of National and Rural Economy – “the objectives set up for building a new socialist countryside.” (Chapter 4, page 25, of the report)

The report is a statement of past success, and of great plans for further increase in efficiency while reducing the number of farmers and the rural percentages in the total population. This is the story of industrialization and of modernization in the agriculture sector of the economy – historically the high majority sector in China. We know that China is an agricultural success story as they turned away from a history of hunger. I had no intention to get anywhere deeper into the subject.

But, surprise, even though we knew that China is doing well in its exports and has a $1.3 trillion reserve, having created in the process also a new, sizable, middle class that will aim at an increase of the standard of living and demand a better array of foods including much more meat, we were yet not prepared for the Friday, May 9, 2008 article of the Financial Times that brought before our eyes the actual figures: “FOOD SHORTAGES – NEW EATING HABITS FORCE REVOLUTION ON CHINA’S FARMS.” “With 21% of the world’s population, 9% of its arable land and below average and poorly distributed water resources, China is already unable to supply enough homegrown animal feed” – says the article. www.ft.com

Further – “Although analysts disagree on the timing of china’s emergence as an importer of all grains, a few doubt that Beijing will be forced to modify its longstanding policy of self-sufficiency in basic foodstuffs to meet demand.”

But, the pressure for animal feed that is already felt now, nd the expectation of future shortages, send already now China to look for off-shore arable land.

Also from the Friday issue of the Financial Times, this from Jamil Anderlini, from Beijing, and Javier Blas from London: “Beijing looks at foreign fields in pushto guarantee food supplies – China Losing its ability to be self-sufficient.”

The reporters learned that a proposal drafted by the agriculture ministry would make supporting offshore land acquisition by domestic agricultural companies government policy. These acquisitions will be made by state-owned banks, manufacturers and oil companies. Some rather small projects have already been established in Africa.

It is easy to foresee how Chinese farms will evolve in various places – mainly in Africa, and Chinese farmers will be toiling on these farms. There is nothing alarming here, but it is hard to see how this will not project a return to colonialism – this time seated in China government owned enterprises – something like the old Dutch and English Trading companies? When I say it is not alarming, I mean that the intent will be to lift the produce for consumption at home and not as part of an international trade. if the locals will have any luck, they may actually be pushed to copy the Chinese production technologies and develop their own agriculture in parallel.

What is more worrisome, is a different paragraph in that article: “The move comes as oil rich, food poor countries in the Middle East and North Africa explore similar options. Libya is talking with Ukraine about growing wheat while Saudi Arabia has said it would invest in projects abroad TO ENSURE FOOD SECURITY AND CONTROL COMMODITY PRICES.” Now that is something hair-rising.

What we are now foreseeing is how the specialists in cartel building who have cornered the petroleum market, will now extend their reach into the food market. When the banana exporters tried this years ago – they were laughed off – but when the rise of food demand by China and India creates shrinking worldwide supplies, games by the money rich oil producers to start cornering food staples like corn, soy, wheat, rice or sugar, could indeed cause havoc.

Today, Monday May 12, 2008, The Financial Times writes under World News / Food: UAE INVESTORS BUY PAKISTAN FARMLAND.”

The story from Dubai (Simeon Kerr) and Lahore (Farhan Bokhari) is about the Dubai based Abraaj Capital, one of the middle East’s largest private equity companies quietly buying farmland in Pakistan as part of plans by the UAE to increase food security and dampen inflation. Further, the government of Abu Dhabi was talking to the Islamabad officials. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also looking at Pakistan.

Abraaj already owns 800,000 acres of farm land in Pakistan and the Emirates Investment Group, and the Abu Dhabi Group are not far behind. Some in Pakistan start thinking that this might lead to increase in food prices in Pakistan. This while prices of food have already caused riots in Pakistan because of a 20% increase in March.

Besides Pakistan, a State in trouble these days, other Islamic States in trouble – Sudan and Somalia, are also offering lands for sale. Will all of this lead to what some dreamers (Jordan’s Agriculture minister) think will be sort of an Islamic/Arab self-help organization – or just another plain cartel? That is something to look after.

Further, also today, May 12, 2008, at the CSD at the UN, there was the SIDs Day. At one of the panels there was talk about the impact of the increase of the price of food commodities that is harming the Small Islands States. There was some talk about the global effects of the biofuel’s production using agricultural commodities. I felt compelled to bring up the Financial Times on-going articles in order to explain that the issue is much more complex and that it has to do rather with the fact that countries with excess money are causing this with their acquisition of land helping drive up the price of the commodity because of the creation of expectation of price increases. Also, the increase in price should be viewed as an opportunity because it will eventually bring more products to market.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 From:      Allister.Slingenberg at ecorys.com

The SADC Region: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
AGRO-INDUSTRY 2008 Regional Matchmaking Forum in Tanzania for 14 countries of the SADC Region.

AGRO-IND 2008, the 5th forum for the promotion of investment in the SADC region (Southern African Development Community), will be facilitated by ESIPP – the EU-SADC Investment Promotion Programme   – from 6 to 8 May 2008 in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. This forum will be attended by about one hundred promoters and entrepreneurs from the 14 countries of the SADC Region in Southern Africa (Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe), from Europe and the rest of the world. Carefully selected projects will be considered in the following sectors:
–     Agriculture (Food) (cereals, fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, fisheries and aquaculture…),
–     Agriculture (Non-Food) (cotton and sisal, flowers, tobacco)
–     Agro-Industry & Value-Adding (Food) (fish, fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy processing..
– Agro-Industry & Value-Adding (Non-Food) (bio-fuel processing, natural textiles and dyes processing)
–   Agro-Industry Input Supply & Services (agricultural tools and machinery, irrigation equipment, livestock genetics, logistics and transport…).

Producers, traders and investors will get many networking and commercial opportunities during the AGRO-INDUSTRY 2008 Sector Partnership Meeting taking place from 6th to 8th May 2008 in Dar-Es-Salaam, whose aim is to encourage international financial, technical and commercial partnerships between investors or trading partners and promoters of projects within the SADC Region.

This is also an opportunity for potential investors in climate change projects to generate carbon credits with new partners focussing on biomass-based energy generation and other renewable energies.

The Forum’s focus will be the B2B matchmaking process allowing individual negotiations between project promoters in the SADC region and interested investors or trading partners. Furthermore, the companies from the South or the North attending the event in Dar-Es-Salaam will be introduced to institutions specialising in financial and partnership development such as the EIB (the European Investment Bank), the CDE (the Centre for the Development of Enterprise) or Government Agencies from the SADC Region (Ministries, etc…).

Besides B2B meetings, plenary sessions on the opening day and thematic round-table discussions will provide participants with relevant information on each targeted sector of the various SADC countries, highlighting business and investment opportunities and allowing to discuss trade issues and business environment.

Everything will be done to facilitate as many fruitful one-to-one business meetings as possible and allow participants to draw the most from genuine and carefully selected trade opportunities in 14 SADC countries within a short period of time and the least organisational and administrative burden.

Against a conference fee of 650 € to be paid through the website booking system when registering, participants will have access to very attractive travel/accommodation packages from different airlines to the venue being at the White Sands Hotel, a high standing sea-front hotel located 25 kms from Dar-Es-Salaam. Meals and coffee-breaks will be offered throughout the 3-days Forum. Simultaneous translation into French, English and Portuguese will be available during the plenary sessions; interpreters will also be at your disposal during the B2B meetings when necessary. Finally, post-event programmes will be proposed to the Zanzibar Island and/or the National Parks (Lake Manyara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro).

Please let us know of your interest as soon as possible. You can directly use the website online registration system at the following address:

 www.agro-ind2008.com

Then click on: International Business Partner Registration.

For further information, you are invited to contact Ms Agnes Janszen, Promoter of the event, either by email:  agnes.janszen at agro-ind2008.com or by phone: +31.10.53416786

Thank you
———————-
Allister Slingenberg
ECORYS
Energy and Climate Change

Tel:   +31 10 453 8829
Cell: +31 623 50 1882
Fax: +31 10 453 8650

PO Box 4175
3006 AD Rotterdam
The Netherlands

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY AGREED TO HOLD TOP-LEVEL MEETING ON AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT IN SEPTEMBER.

The General Assembly today agreed to convene a high-level meeting this September, on the eve of its annual general debate, on how to better meet the development needs of Africa, which is struggling to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the target date of 2015.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, Assembly members agreed both to hold the meeting on 22 September and that it should result in a formal political declaration on the issue.

The text calls for participation at the highest possible political level, including heads of State and government, and it also asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit in advance a comprehensive report, including recommendations, on African development needs.

The meeting “will constitute a significant event that will review the implementation of all commitments made to and by Africa in order to comprehensively address the special development needs of the continent,” the Assembly said in the resolution.

* * *

COMMUNITIES NEED MORE SOPHISTICATED METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES, SAYS WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (WMO).

Governments, businesses and the general public need more sophisticated information from their national weather services if they are to prepare adequately against natural disasters and better adapt to the threats posed by climate change, the head of the United Nations meteorological agency says.

Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told a workshop yesterday in Cape Verde that there is “a vital need to better understand the linkage between environmental protection and sustainable development.”

Mr. Jarraud noted that the global economy had become increasingly sensitive to the fluctuations of weather, climate and water phenomena. Climate change, the growing competition for water, ozone depletion and the impact of desertification all require countries to have access to the best available information.

“There are also raised expectations and demands for newer and more sophisticated types of services by most sectors of the economy, all of which are highly relevant to your respective societies,” he said.

The workshop, help on Sal Island on Cape Verde, runs until Friday and is aimed at helping Portuguese-speaking countries develop greater partnerships between government and civil society on environmental and climate issues.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 29th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Benazir Bhutto (Bibi) – Self Appointed Martyr – Does She Bring Change To A South Asia That Was Carved By The British? Obviously We Do Not Know, But Analyzing Three Days Worth Of Publicity We Dare To Put Forward The Big Elephant Theorem. “Bibi” said about her return to Pakistan – “I did not chose this life – it chose me.”

The Big elephant is the Indian Subcontinent. See – we do not start by writing about Pakistan, not even about present day India – but by what, in geography books is called the Indian Subcontinent which is the triangular shaped chunk of land-mass that is cut of from the rest of Asia by the Himalaya chain of mountains. Today, in this land mass, going from west to east, we find five to eight UN member States. These are the obvious five – Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. In addition the islands of Sri Lanka and The Maldives are part of this geography. Further, my 1981 Hammond atlas has pages for “Indian Subcontinent and Afghanistan” this because it includes with this region – Afghanistan which borders right to the west of the “Subcontinent” – thus leaving the region outright bordering with Iran, Russia, China and Burma (now Myanmar), formidable neighbors which are clearly outside this subcontinent.

When one looks carefully at that map, one sees that Baluchistan became Pakistan, but was actually made up of Baluchistan proper, Sind, Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province. It had 7 major languages and 5 major religions. India had 31 Internal Divisions, 16 major languages and 8 major religions. Bangladesh was made up only of one unit, had only two major languages, Bengali and English, and only three main religions – Islam, Hinduism and Christianity – nevertheless, as having been incorporated with Baluchistan into the original Pakistan, it also inherited problems that came from its creation. Obviously, at creation, because all areas had people of all religions – a total of 25 million people became refugees – half of them Muslim and half of them Hindi. The refugees were not accepted easily by their brethren and the major parts of the Subcomtinent remained hurting for generations to come.The other Independent States of the Subcontinent are much smaller, but as we shall see have had their own problems galore. Taking all of the above into account – and without trying to offend anyone – I will continue from now to use for sakes of generalization and brevity the term INDIA for the Subcontinent as a whole. INDIA was not a total model of peace, but it was a rather peaceful region with the diffeent peoples coexisting and intermingled.

I mentioned the above in order to say that the Indian Subcontinent, or INDIA, with many more people then Europe, was as complex, if not more then Europe – and here – to this immense world march in the British and somehow manage to take it over by using the old Roman technique of DIVIDE AND RULE. the Dutch and the Portuguese came before the British, but were in owe and tried just to trade. All right, to the purist, they also established fix trading posts, but realized that the morsel is too big and complicated for them to swallow. To get a taste of the feeling of a European coming to India I will quote from today’s (December 30, 2007) New York Times travel section:

“I go to India by myself most years because I love the country. I like the history and the culture. From the photograph that goes with the NYT article you get an idea of what an extraordinary structure this is ( he talks about the 13th century, black granite, Sun Temple at Konarak, The Eastern State of Orissa, India, not far from the Bangladesh border) with big wheels representing the chariot of the sun god, Surya. What’s really fascinating about India – and you really get this when you’re by yourself – is noticing the small things. The detail in India is extraordinary, in the way people dress, the way people store their things and mend things, and the paradoxes: nothing is quite as it seems. So, intellectually, mentally, it’s this constantly fascinating display of languages and architecture and objects and craft. It’s all around you. Your senses are constantly bombarded with little details, which is fantastic.”

I know what he is talking about because I was there. I was many times to India, three times to Pakistan, once in Nepal and once in Bhutan. Further, I cooperated with Pona Wignaraja, the Sri Lankan who was the 2nd Secretary-General of the Rome, Italy, based Society for International Development and we organized with UNEP’s Dr. Noel Brown, and with Indian Dr. Rashmi Mayur, NGO leader from Bombay (now Mumbai), the meetings on Biomass and Outer Space at the First UN Conference on Outer Space that was held in Vienna, Austria, sometime around 1981, and learned what a Sri Lankan can do when looking at the world. Those years I also went to Pakistan with Turkish-American Professor Nejat Veziroglu, on behalf of a University of Miami mission backed by the US National Science Foundation, in order to help open a Solar Energy National Institute for Pakistan in Sind. We met many people involved in the Pakistan Energy leadership – the main officials were all called Khan – and we met also in Islamabad the top Khan who became later famous for his trading in nuclear technology and products. I was involved later, twice, with presenting to Pakistan the concept of Energy Cane – that is the sugar cane that has been allowed to go to the natural state when it produces more biomass (the size of the stalk and the quantity of fermentable sugars, rather then crystallizable sugars that are the interest of the sugar industry). The Energy Cane is thus better if you really want energy products. To Bhutan I went to find out some more- and learn about- the concept of Gross National Happiness that originated with its leaders. INDIA is thus even today a great source of original economic and philosophical innovation – this if not interfered with by politics based on domination by religious specificity – or sometimes perhaps simply corruption – economically based.

Plain cultural tourism I experienced in the four INDIA States mentioned – Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan. I saw in Kerala State of India people peacefully practicing Aramaic Christianity as old as Christianity itself, I visited the remaining memberships of three different Jewish groups of India – the Cochin Jews that were running the spice trade from time immemorial, the Black Jews of Bnei Israel near Mumbai, The Baghdadi Jews in Mumbai and New Delhi – some of whom are now British Lords and the heads of Banking in Hong Kong and Shanghai. I visited with various Hindu Sects, with Mahatma Gandhi’s Foundation, with the Krishna movement, with the Zoroastrians in Mumbai, with the Madame Blavatsky Peace loving movement – their world headquarter of the Theosophic Society is in Madras (now Chennay)… too many different groups and ideas to do justice in one paragraph – beyond trying to say that INDIA is not the ideal place for British colonization, or for US economic up-hand-manship capitalistic involvement.

This last remark brings us back to the results of World War II, which we described previously on www.SustainabiliTank.info, when in 1945, on the same trip abroad, at meetings at Yalta and then on the Suez, the world was carved out between Stalin and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, without the bravado of France present, and with the out-of-realism at the time Churchill’s agreement, East Europe went to the Soviets, and South-of-Siberia-Asia went to the US economic and political interests – allowing for the start of a COLD WAR. That cold war pushed also to the borders of INDIA into Afghanistan, and got halted at a line that was to include India and Pakistan that were carved out from the INDIA of yore.

Pakistan was an artificial creation with five regions of INDIA carved out for Muslims so local Muslims, and outside Muslims, could be given some satisfactions from the long British DIVIDE AND RULE policies. It was a clear disaster, and out of East Pakistan Bangladesh was spun off quite soon, with India and the West-Pakistan state at each other’s throat in Kashmir and Jamu. This confrontation, with the Cold War breathing hot – led to two nuclear technology States in-the-know – India and Pakistan. While India slowly tried to take over the economic, cultural and political mantle of the fallen INDIA, Pakistan tried to take over the mantle of an extremist Islamic world. Like the Catholics in the world that sometimes want to out-Catholize the Pope of the Vatican, there came about Pakistanis that wanted to out-Muslim the Saudis in the name of the US side in the Cold War with the Soviets in Afghanistan. So, the US and Saudi Arabia managed to build up the Islamic “Gholem” in the mountains of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, but unlike the Gholem of Prague Jewish legend, there is no Rabbi Leev that has now the magic formula to undo the Islamic Gholem. This is now the downfall of Pakistan and Afghanistan and may lead again to disasters that can hit the world at large.

Now, with this introduction, let us take a look at what we can learn from the available press that hit me these last three days – and here comes handy our ELEPHANT THEOREM.

INDIA is the Elephant. It could have developed into a lovely cooperative animal that could have been an economy larger then Europe, as free as the United States ideal in the US Constitution. All the many ingredients of the cultures, religions, economies, political structures, that were at least a millennium old, and in some cases two and three millennia old, could have fit into a jig-puzzle like the EU is trying to do now – this if the British had not played one group against another in order to make the life of the British intruders easier.

Now, we have a different Elephant situation – that known to all as the description by blind people of an elephant animal – each description being rather accurate of a detail of that elephant. That is what we found in a collection of about twenty different reactions to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, known to her friends as Bibi, the two times Prime Minister of Pakistan and the leading candidate to take over Pakistan’s reins for a third time – President or Prime Minister.

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Assassination Rocks Pakistan
Opposition Leader Shot at Rally
Bhutto’s Backers Blame President

The first news of Thursday, December 27, 2007 from Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan: – An attack on a political rally killed the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto near the capital, Islamabad, Thursday. Witnesses said Ms. Bhutto was fired upon at close range before the blast, and an official from her party said Ms. Bhutto was further injured by the explosion, which was apparently caused by a suicide attacker.
Ms. Bhutto was declared dead by doctors at a hospital in Rawalpindi at 6:16 p.m. after the doctors had tried to resuscitate her for thirty-five minutes. She had shrapnel injuries, the doctors said. At least a dozen more people were killed in the attack.

“At 6:16 p.m. she expired,” said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Ms. Bhutto’s party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack, according to The Associated Press. Hundreds of supporters had gathered at the political rally, which was being held at Liaqut Bagh, a park that is a common venue for political rallies and speeches, in Rawalpindi, the garrison city adjacent to the capital.

Amid the confusion after the explosion, the site was littered with pools of blood. Shoes and caps of party workers were lying on the asphalt, and shards of glass were strewn about the ground. Pakistani television cameras captured images of ambulances pushing through crowds of dazed and injured people at the scene of the assassination.

CNN reported that witnesses at the scene described the assassin as opening fire on Ms. Bhutto and her entourage, hitting her at least once in the neck and once in the chest, before blowing himself up.

Farah Ispahani, a party official from Ms. Bhutto’s party, said: “It is too soon to confirm the number of dead from the party’s side. Private television channels are reporting twenty dead.” Television channels were also quoting police sources as saying that at least 14 people were dead.

Then, the Pakistani official announcement said there were no bullets found in her body, these were pieces of shrapnel from the bomb detonated by the suicide bomber.

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Friday December 28, 2007, McClatchy Newspapers wrote, from information from their correspondent in Pakistan Saeed Shah – “Pakistan Government Skips Autopsy, Shifts Story on How Bhutto Died.”

Larkana, Pakistan – Violence and recriminations grew Friday over the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, as Pakistan’s government changed its account of how she died while her supporters charged that the government withheld personal protection she’d requested.

As deadly protests continued to rage on Pakistan’s streets, the country’s Interior Ministry said that Bhutto – buried Friday without an autopsy – had died after she was thrown against the lever of her car’s sunroof, fracturing her skull. ….

“We have intelligence intercepts indicating that al Qaida leader Baitullah Mehsud is behind her assassination,” Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said.

Mehsud, who’s based in the lawless Waziristan region on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, has been behind a series of suicide attacks in the region, according to U.S. officials.

Pakistani authorities released a transcript of what they said was a conversation in which Mehsud exults after being told by an unidentified religious cleric that Bhutto is dead.

“It was a spectacular job. They were very brave boys who killed her,” Mehsud said, according to the transcript.”

Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Mahmud Ali Durrani, said in a television interview Thursday that the security accorded Bhutto was “almost the same” as President Pervez Musharraf’s. “She was given not exactly what maybe she asked for, but for Pakistan’s environment, she was given the best protection possible,” Durrani said on PBS’s “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.”

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Washington lawyer Mark A. Siegel, Bhutto’s U.S. spokesman, released an e-mail that he said Bhutto had written Oct. 26, 2007, eight days after the earlier attempt on her life, complaining that Musharraf had denied her needed security measures. We saw him on CNN, and unless he is a trained theater or TV actor – this man and the material in his hand are completely true  www.SustainabiliTank.com comment). He knew her for 25 years, was a close friend and he has co-written a book with Benazir Bhutto that will come out in January. What he is saying is that Bhutto did not get the protection she was asking for.

Further, we saw on CNN how the Pakistani Ambassador, in answer to Mark Siegel, addressed the claim that she was not given adequate protection to a former Prime-Minister – that Bhutto was not a security person – just a lay person – she did not know what was good for her protection – it was the Pakistani security personnel that knew what was good for Bhutto’s protection.

“I have been made to feel insecure by his minions,” reads the e-mail, which Siegel sent to CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer for release in event of her death. That e-mail was with Blitzer already before the assassination. “There is no way what is happening in terms of stopping me from taking private cars or using tinted windows or giving jammers or four police mobiles to cover all sides could happen without him” she wrote.

The “jammers” appear to refer to devices that can interfere with the detonation of bombs, which – like the body armor – wouldn’t have saved Bhutto’s life Thursday. The “four police mobiles” refers to a screen of vehicles to the left, right, back and front of her own.

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But others said that Bhutto, who loved political rallies, at times seemed heedless of her own security, or fatalistic.

“In her enthusiasm, she got carried away, and exposed herself in ways” she shouldn’t have, said former State Department official Marvin Weinbaum of the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

In Pakistan, the shifting government explanations and Bhutto’s burial without autopsy aroused suspicion. Some say that her husband did not allow an autopsy – this clearly has to be veryfied with him!

Babar Awan, a senior official of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, said of the sunroof theory: “That is a false claim.” He said he’d seen her body after the attack and there were at least two bullet marks, one in the neck and one on the top of the head: “It was a targeted, planned killing. The firing was from more than one side.”

Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister, Mohammadmian Soomro, told the Cabinet that Bhutto’s husband had insisted on no autopsy. But according to a leading lawyer, Athar Minallah, an autopsy is mandatory anyway under Pakistan’s criminal law in a case of this nature.

“It is absurd, because without autopsy it is not possible to investigate. Is the state not interested in reaching the perpetrators of this heinous crime or there was a cover-up?” Minallah said.

The scene of the attack also was watered down with a high-pressure hose within an hour, washing away evidence.

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The attack came just hours after four supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif died when members of another political party opened fire on them at a rally near the Islamabad airport Thursday, Pakistan police said.

Several other members of Sharif’s party were wounded, police said. Nawaz Sharif himself was at the side of Bhutto’s remaining family and on TV, as shown on CNN, said now that her loss is like a losss of a sister – clearly good politics for the moment.

Benazir Bhutto, who led Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and was the first female prime minister of any Islamic nation, was participating in the parliamentary election set for January 8, 2008, hoping for a third term.

A terror attack targeting her motorcade in Karachi when she returned from exile to Pakistan killed 136 people on the day she returned to Pakistan on October 19, 2007, after eight years of self-imposed exile.

CNN’s Mohsin Naqvi, who was at the scene of both bombings, said Thursday’s blast was not as powerful as that October attack.

Thursday’s attacks come less than two weeks after Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf lifted an emergency declaration he said was necessary to secure his country from terrorists. Will he now claim that this forced ending of the emergency rules was the reson that led to the assassination?

Two weeks after the October assassination attempt, Bhutto wrote a commentary for CNN.com in which she questioned why Pakistan investigators refused international offers of help in finding the attackers.

“The sham investigation of the October 19, 2007 massacre and the attempt by the ruling party to politically capitalize on this catastrophe are discomforting, but do not suggest any direct involvement by General Pervez Musharraf,” Bhutto wrote. Just think of the possibility that she wanted to believe that the US had an arrangement with Musharraf for an eventual “Co-habitation” agreement after the elextions – with Musharraf as President and her as prime-Minister. Perhaps she really wanted to believe that.

Ms. Bhutto saw herself as the inheritor of her father’s mantle, the Democratically elected leader who was executed by General Zia who took over from him by force of the military. Benazir often spoke of how he encouraged her to study the lives of legendary female leaders ranging from Indira Gandhi to Joan of Arc.

Following the idea of big ambition, Ms. Bhutto called herself chairperson for life of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, a seemingly odd title in an organization based on democratic ideals and one she has acknowledged quarreling over with her mother, Nusrat Bhutto, in the early 1990s.

Saturday night at a diplomatic reception, Ms. Bhutto showed how she could aggrandize. Three million people came out to greet her in Karachi on her return last month, she said, calling it Pakistan’s “most historic” rally. In fact, crowd estimates were closer to 200,000, many of them provincial party members who had received small amounts of money to make the trip.

Such flourishes led questioning in Pakistan about the strength of her democratic ideals in practice, and a certain distrust, particularly amid signs of back-room deal-making with General Musharraf, the military ruler she opposed.

“She believes she is the chosen one, that she is the daughter of Bhutto and everything else is secondary,” said Feisal Naqvi, a corporate lawyer in Lahore who knew Ms. Bhutto.

When Ms. Bhutto was re-elected to a second term as Prime Minister, her style of government combined both the traditional and the modern, said Zafar Rathore, a senior civil servant at the time.

But her view of the role of government differed little from the classic notion in Pakistan that the state was the preserve of the ruler who dished out favors to constituents and colleagues, he recalled.

As secretary of interior, responsible for the Pakistani police force, Mr. Rathore, who is now retired, said he tried to get an appointment with Ms. Bhutto to explain the need for accountability in the force. He was always rebuffed, he said.

Finally, when he was seated next to her in a small meeting, he said to her, “I’ve been waiting to see you,” he recounted. “Instantaneously, she said: ‘I am very busy, what do you want. I’ll order it right now.’ “

She could not understand that a civil servant might want to talk about policies, he said. Instead, he said, “she understood that when all civil servants have access to the sovereign, they want to ask for something.”

But until her death, Ms. Bhutto ruled the party with an iron hand, jealously guarding her position, even while leading the party in absentia for nearly a decade.

Members of her party saluted her return to Pakistan, saying she was the best choice against General Musharraf. Chief among her attributes, they said, was sheer determination.

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The Japan Times Editorial of Sunday, December 30, 2007 puts it right as it is:

Assassination of Benazir Bhutto
Like her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani prime minister who was executed by the military in 1979 after being ousted from power, Ms. Benazir Bhutto, the charismatic opposition leader died an unnatural death — shot to death by an assassin Thursday. Her death, which occurred only 12 days after President Pervez Musharraf lifted a six-week state of emergency is a tragedy for Pakistan. It put the country into further disarray and the effects extend beyond the country’s borders.

Ms. Bhutto became the first female prime minister in the Muslim world in 1988 and again took power in 1993. She came back to Pakistan in October after 8 1/2 years of self-imposed exile to lead Pakistan’s secular forces.

She was the country’s most pro-Western political figure, and a foe of Islamic extremist forces. The United States, which treats Pakistan as a frontline state in its fight against terrorism, apparently hoped for a power-sharing arrangement between Mr. Musharraf and Ms. Bhutto as a means of maintaining stability in the country.

With Ms. Bhutto’s death, the U.S. will be forced to rethink its approach. Meanwhile, her death will serve as a boon to extremist forces, including Taliban and al-Qaida forces in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. The situation could lead to more attacks on Afghanistan by Taliban forces.

The assassination of Ms. Bhutto has strengthened the impression that Mr. Musharraf lacks the capability to ensure security in his country and to prevent the destabilization of the first nuclear-armed Muslim country. The worst scenario would be Islam extremists getting hold of nuclear weapons.

Supporters of Ms. Bhutto accuse Mr. Musharraf of having failed to provide sufficient security for her. Mr. Nawaz Sharif, another two-time former prime minister and main opposition leader, announced that his party will boycott the Jan. 8 general elections. Even if Mr. Musharraf wins, his legitimacy will be weakened and protests against him are likely to grow fiercer. Mr. Musharraf faces his biggest crisis.

STATEMENT BY INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP (MaximsNews Network)

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Brussels, 27 December 2007: The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007 is a serious blow to the re-emergence of democracy in Pakistan and the country’s return to stability. The leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party and former prime minister died alongside her colleagues and supporters campaigning in elections. The international community must now come together to push for a full investigation into the murders.

“Our condolences go to her family and to the people of Pakistan,” said Gareth Evans, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group. “Since the 1980s, she had been a vital and often under-estimated political force. Prospects for democracy and stability in Pakistan are much dimmer without her.”

Pakistan’s military-backed interim government is not in a position to carry out a fair investigation into the assassination. The United Nations Security Council should meet urgently to establish an international commission of enquiry to determine who ordered and carried out the killings. Given the long-standing connections between the Pakistani military and jihadi groups, this would be the only way to carry out an impartial and credible investigation.

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Benazir wrote about herself:

“Why I’m Returning To Pakistan”
Posted September 1, 2007, The Huffington Post.

“I was looking forward to a quiet family holiday in New York this summer with my three children, our dog Maxmillian and my husband, who is being treated for a heart condition that developed while he was a political prisoner in Pakistan from 1996 to 2004. I thought we would go to the theatre and spend time walking in Central Park, as well meeting up with friends for nice, long chatty dinners. But in this surprisingly momentous summer of 2007, our quiet family vacation disappeared as we found ourselves caught up in the media attention on my country Pakistan, and its fast changing political situation.

It is clear to those following events in South Asia that Pakistan is truly at a turning point. Almost a decade of military dictatorship has devastated the basic infrastructure of democracy. Political parties have been assaulted, political leaders arrested, and the judicial system manipulated to force party leaders into exile. NGOs have been under constant attack, especially those that deal with human rights, democratic values and women’s rights. The press has been intimidated, with some reporters — even those that work for papers like the New York Times — arrested, beaten or made to disappear. Student and labor unions have not been allowed to function. The electoral institutions of the nation have been manipulated by an Election Commission that could not stop rigging and fraud. And in the battle against terrorism, we look on with dismay as the government of Pakistan ceded sections of our nation that previously had been governed by the rule of law to Taliban sympathizers and to Al Qaeda, making Pakistan the Petri dish of the international terrorist movement.

But the most dangerous manifestation of this retreat from democracy has been a growing sense of hopelessness of the people of Pakistan, and a total disillusionment with the political system’s ability to address their daily problems. The social sector has festered — under-financed and relegated to the back burner of national policy. All the indicators of quality of life have spiraled down, from employment to education to housing to health care. And as people’s sense of disillusionment has grown, there has been a corresponding growth in the spread of religious and political extremism. The failure of the regime has made our citizens open to extra-governmental experimentation with fanaticism. This has clearly been manifest in the spread of politicized Madrases, schools in which the curriculum incorporates xenophobia, bigotry and often para-military terrorist training. But poor parents who cannot feed or clothe their children entrust them to these kinds of schools, so their children may be fed and housed.

The growth of the Madrases is but one important signal that extremism has been making inroads against moderation amongst the Pakistani polity. I have always believed that the battle between extremism and moderation is the underlying battle for the very soul of Pakistan. Yet moderation can prevail against the extremists only if democracy flourishes and the social sector improves the quality of life of the people. In 2007, I sensed that the decade of dictatorship was threatening to undermine the moderate majority of Pakistan, those people committed to pluralism, to education, to technology — in other words, those committed to Pakistan taking its place among the community of civilized nations as a leader in the 21st century. Under democracy, the extremists had been marginalized in the past, never receiving more than 11% of the vote in an election. But under dictatorship, Pakistan was edging toward extremism, chaos, and sliding towards a failed state.

My party [the Pakistan Peoples Party] was engaged in a dialogue with the regime of General Musharraf, but discussions didn’t move the regime concretely toward democratic reform. In the summer of 2007, after the reinstatement of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the birth of judicial activism, the dialogue with General Musharraf took a more substantive turn. It seemed now that the country had an opportunity to peacefully transition to democracy, which is critical for the other war — the war of moderation against extremism — to succeed. I had a choice. Engage in dialogue, or turn toward the streets. I knew that street protests against the Musharraf dictatorship could lead to the deaths of hundreds. I thought about the choice before me very carefully. I chose dialogue; I chose negotiation; I chose to find a common ground that would unite all the moderate elements of Pakistan for a peaceful transfer to a workable political system that was responsive to the needs of the 160 million people of Pakistan whose empowerment is critical to the success of both governing and the fight against terrorism.

I know that some in Pakistan, including those in political parties were so embittered with the military regime that they wanted the door of dialogue shut. But from the very beginning my goal was and remains to guarantee a free and open electoral process that would provide for a legitimate Parliament and provincial assemblies that would then select, in a constitutional process, a civilian President who understands that in a parliamentary democracy, the parliament is supreme. I wasn’t negotiating for a guaranteed outcome, I was negotiating for a guaranteed process. That was the goal at the beginning. That is the goal now. Are we making progress towards that goal? I still am unable to say. There are many elements, in particular those sympathizers in the ruling Party and Government who enabled the extremists and militants to expand their influence in my country who are fearful of the return of the PPP and a rollback of the terrorist forces that have gained strength since my government was overthrown in 1996. They want to scuttle a process that could see the emergence of a moderate Pakistan. So it has been a roller coaster ride. Some times the dialogue moves forward with General Musharraf . But then he consults his colleagues in the ruling alliance and retracts from confidence building measures promised for a fair electoral process.

As the presidential and parliamentary elections approach, I am making plans with my supporters to return to Pakistan. I know that it is critical for Pakistan to return to a democratic way of life so that the people’s problems can be addressed. When people are partners with government, they stand up to defend their communities against terrorists, criminals and negative forces.

My stay in New York wasn’t exactly the family vacation I had planned, but it was a critical period of weeks that could very well determine the future of Pakistan. I long ago realized that my personal life was to be subjugated to my political responsibilities. When my democratically elected father, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was arrested in 1977 and subsequently murdered, the mantle of leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party, our nation’s largest, nationwide grassroots political structure, was suddenly thrust upon me. It was not the life I planned, but it is the life I have. My husband and children accept and understand that my political responsibilities to the people of Pakistan come first, as painful as that personally is to all of us. I would like to be planning my son’s move to his first year at college later this month, but instead I am planning my return to Pakistan and my party’s parliamentary election campaign.

I didn’t choose this life. It chose me.”

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What is uncanny is the fact that at her funeral on Friday it was revealed that Ms Bhutto had gone to her father’s burial place (Just days before her Rawalpindi Liaquat Bagh speech, and had given instructions to the caretakers there that she be buried next to her father, Zulfiqar Ai Bhutto, in case of her death.)

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We know thus that Benazir Bhutto came back to Pakistan in full knowledge that she might get killed – she was thus a self-appointed martyr to a cause – that is clear to us, and we will just try to understand what was this cause and then to watch if she will turn out to be the eventual winner in her death – was this the hope of a suicide martyr?

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Some insides to her from friends first Ariana Huffington:

Benazir Bhutto: From the Oxford Union to her Last Rally in Rawalpindi
Posted December 27, 2007 | 06:06 PM (EST) The Huffington Post

The world is debating the political fallout from Benazir Bhutto’s assassination — from fear of chaos in Pakistan to the impact of her death in Iowa. There is already no shortage of analysis about the national security implications of her death, but I want to write about the young woman I met in England before she became a player on the world stage.

She was at Oxford. I was at Cambridge. And by a strange coincidence I became president of the Cambridge Union and she became president of the Oxford Union. The anomaly of two foreign women heading the two unions meant that we ended up debating each other around England on topics ranging from British politics to broad generalities about the impact of technological advance on mankind.

When I checked my blackberry this morning at 5:28 am LA time there was an e-mail from our news editor Katherine Zaleski: “Benazir Bhutto killed by bombing.” As we found out afterwards she was killed by an assassin’s bullet. But just as the news was filled with the details of her death, my mind was filled with how full of life she had been every time I had seen her, including the last time in 1998 when she came to my home in Los Angeles for a dinner (which Harry Shearer, also there, wrote about). She was in exile, her husband in jail, and she was separated from her children.

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But still, there was an incredible life force about her, a sense that no matter what life brought her way, whether a tough debating argument, or exile, or her father’s death by hanging, or the deaths of her two brothers — she could deal with it, and she would prevail. Until the rally in Rawalpindi.

Three years earlier, I had seen her at the height of her power and fullness of life when she was staying at Blair House in Washington, DC as the visiting prime minister of Pakistan — the first woman prime minister in the Muslim world. She had her third child with her and took me to her bedroom to meet her. Then she sat on the bed with her baby in her arms while we laughed about our lives on the debating circuit, and talked about her life now. (Including how much she loved her husband. She was trying to convince me that even though it was a marriage arranged by her mother, she had fallen in love with him, as if she had spotted him herself across a crowded room.) She had arrived at Oxford from Harvard, where she had gone at 16 after her convent school in Karachi. But wherever she was, she was at home because she was always at home in her own skin.

I wrote a book about fearlessness last year, long before the rally in Rawalpindi, where she went against everyone’s advice and despite the fact that there had already been a failed attempt at her life. She was fearlessness epitomized. Many will debate her political successes and failures, her personal probity in public office, the charges of corruption against her and of course the national security implications of her death, but for now I’m just filled with a profound sadness about the end of a woman that was always brimming with life. I asked her to blog before she returned to Pakistan and blog she did. Here’s a portion of what she wrote this fall:

“I long ago realized that my personal life was to be subjugated to my political responsibilities. When my democratically elected father, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was arrested in 1977 and subsequently murdered, the mantle of leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party, our nation’s largest, nationwide grassroots political structure, was suddenly thrust upon me. It was not the life I planned, but it is the life I have. My husband and children accept and understand that my political responsibilities to the people of Pakistan come first, as painful as that personally is to all of us. I would like to be planning my son’s move to his first year at college later this month, but instead I am planning my return to Pakistan and my party’s parliamentary election campaign.

I didn’t choose this life. It chose me.”

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MaximNews Network has a story about another young lady, who was a student at Oxford University and was befriended by Bibi (that is where we learned about this nickname. All point at her being a nice down to earth lady. Was she tough in politics, perhaps so indeed – but what do you expect from a woman that was western educated but still had to conform to the norms of her country and marry someone she did not even see before the wedding say? Asif Zardari was her husband and in effect whatever corruption tails are spun about her really mention his name not her name. All she got out of this marriage were problems as she saw the death of her father, the death of her two brothers, and eventually the imprisonment of her husband. It is known she had disagreements with the mother that picked her husband.

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (“Bibi”)- 21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007- Leader, Mother and A Friend Who Will Be Much Missed By Mahnaz Malik 28/ 12/2007 (MaximsNews Network)

Twenty four hours have passed since the news of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination stopped traffic on Pakistan’s streets. The media is flooded by tributes from national and international leaders who mourn the loss of Pakistan’s most famous daughter. There are wails from her supporters- tearful old men, angry teenagers and crying women- who vociferously lament the death of their sister and leader.

The world has not only lost a great leader in Benazir, a precious bridge between the east and west, but perhaps the most remarkable woman premier of our time. She emerged as the first Muslim woman to lead a nation, a virtually impossible feat, and became an inspiration to women the world over. However, for those of us who knew Benazir personally, we will miss her as the generous, warm and highly intelligent friend, who made us feel special and cherished despite the heavy demands on her time.

I have always kept my relationship with Benazir discreet because it was personal, not political. For me, Bibi was my mentor and a dear friend, who I have known since the age of seven. Her death has left me divided between my fear for Pakistan’s future and immense grief in knowing that my dear Bibi is no more. Her assassins have taken away some one who had much to teach to me, indeed to us all. However, my grief pales in comparison to the loss of her family because in addition to being a great leader, Bibi was an amazing mother, sister, wife and friend.

Today, I want to share a few of the many memories I have of this remarkable woman. She is often painted by her critics as an arrogant and corrupt demagogue, but the person I knew was far from this description. Whenever, I have been asked to comment on Benazir’s political conduct in office, I have reserved my opinion because as a friend who cared for her, I cannot be the best judge. However, I have no hesitance in testifying to the commendable attributes she possessed as a person and friend.

Bibi’s gender augmented the challenges of being a political leader in Pakistan. While there were those who rejected her capability simply because she was a woman, there were others who accused her of not doing enough for women’s rights when in office. The Bibi I knew believed in empowering women, and took every opportunity to encourage them to succeed. When I was seven, my grandfather introduced me to a frail young woman as the future Prime minister of my country. Bibi visited our family house under cover of night in 1986 as my grand father negotiated with the martial law regime of General Zia on her behalf. I doubt Bibi knew at the time the significance of her note to the little girl she had just met: “For Mahnaz, who I believe will grow up to serve her country and her people”. Her autograph to my male cousins simply said “Best Wishes”. Those words planted in me a desire and responsibility to help my people and country at an early age. It also left me feeling special; it was usually my male cousins who received all the attention from visitors to my grand father’s house. Bibi was “deeply moved” when I told her this story a couple of years ago when we discussed how important positive role models were for young people. As her own children grew up, she often spoke about their future with me. She wanted Bakhtawar, her eldest daughter to become a lawyer and was very proud that Bilawal had made it to Oxford.

Bibi felt great empathy with working women, whether it was a Cherie Blair, or a labourer toiling in Sindh. At the same time, she firmly believed in a family life. Bibi doted on her three children, Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa, to whom she was a caring mother. Between her crazy schedule of meetings, Bibi and I would drive around London searching for Buffy the Vampire comic books that her children had requested. However, her affection was balanced with instilling values for hard work and respect of money. I remember watching a young Aseefa struggle with her math as Bibi made her count the pennies received from a shopkeeper.

Bibi’s nurturing instinct extended beyond her children, to her sister Sanam, and to younger friends like myself. It even extended to her pet cat, whose sickness kept her up at night. She would often take us all out to lunch, a small tribe comprising of her children, her sister, cousins and friends. It was Bibi, the former prime minister of Pakistan, who ensured that every one had the pizza they wanted. She was equally meticulously in ensuring that she was there for her associates during times of grief or joy. She was always one of the first to congratulate me on my achievements. When I finished my first children’s book, Mo’s Star, Bibi wrote two special messages for children reading the book: “Learn to take risks and you will learn to reach the heights of success” and “Patience and perseverance are the keys to success. Never give up. Never lose heart”. These words now take on a significance more than ever before in view of yesterday’s events.

When we went out visiting, Bibi was meticulous about choosing the right present for her host. She never forgot a good deed- Decades after my grand father’s death, she always recounted his favours to her, from his political support during her detention to the boxes of chocolates he would send to her in jail. Bibi had little to gain from me politically or for that matter my deceased grand father, and yet she never forgot the friendship forged between the families that continued with our association.

Her critics say she amassed a personal fortune by plundering Pakistan. The charges of corruption against her have never been proven in a court of law. I remember her feeling frustrated at the reporting of the Swiss proceedings by the press. “Aren’t you presumed innocent, until proven guilty under law? Then why am I being presumed guilty by the media until proven innocent?” she would vent to me during our many walks in the park. I never saw Bibi spend extravagantly. I remember when I moved into my first apartment, we went shopping together for linen and crockery. It was Bibi who spotted all the best bargains on the sale. What I did see her splurging on were books, which she bought by the box full for herself and the children. Her pleasures were simple, going out for films (she loved a good old romantic movie), walking in the park or sitting around in café with close friends and family.

Her critics say she was arrogant, yet Bibi never made me feel less important because she was a former prime minister and I was a mere undergraduate. When we made arrangements to meet, Bibi gave tremendous respect to my time as we matched schedules. Those who have known her in a professional context may have a different experience but during all the years I have known Bibi I only saw her being polite to those around her. I remember Bibi addressing a rude sales girl as “ma’am” as she tried to reason with her. There was never a trace of “Don’t you know who I am?”.

In fact, Bibi at times was surprisingly unaware of her stature when in the company of friends, as if for those hours she was taking a break from playing the leader of millions, just to be herself. Out of my first pay check, I took Bibi to The Ivy in London. I thought it was time to return at least one of the many lunches she had treated me to over the years. I was surprised that Bibi had never been to the Ivy before. I saw the flash of a young girl as she asked me to look for the celebrities the Ivy is so famous for. As I gazed around the restaurant, I saw other customers looking at our table. I found it endearing that Bibi did not realise that she was the celebrity at the restaurant that day, and every one was watching her.

Her critics say she was a pampered princess, and yet I never saw her rest. Bibi was a workaholic glued to her computer. She was extremely efficient with answering emails, and reading copious amounts of paper. Bibi kept her staff to the minimum, there was no entourage of assistants or professionals, just the bare minimum. I often sent her the odd intern to ease her workload because she was so overstretched. Contrary to what people think, she was not living in a palace with a large staff. Her HQ was always a few computers with various volunteers helping out. At the very centre of activity was Bibi working away, until we would drag her to take that much needed break. More recently, with her lecture circuit, we used to discuss how much we had to travel just to earn a living.

Her critics called her a demagogue, yet Bibi gave up her life to a cause she believed in, her commitment to democracy, her dream for a moderate, progressive Pakistan. Bibi was well aware of the risks involved in her return to Pakistan. During our last meeting in March over sorbets in a Dubai restaurant, we spoke about her return. She was keen to fulfil the promise she had made to her countrymen and women. I knew Bibi had waited for years to come back to Pakistan to meet her people. Her critics may take issue with her politics, indeed there were times when I disagreed with her politics, but it will be hard for them to contest her commitment to serve Pakistan. Despite a near death experience in a suicide bomb attack in October, she continued to appear in public rallies because she wanted to be with her people. It is sad that the bullet that killed Bibi hit just as she emerged to greet her party members. And then the Bibi I knew, so full of passion, wit and affection, was taken away forever.

As the television shows her funeral I cannot believe that my beautiful friend, ies in a box buried in the ground. I find it hard to understand why I will never enjoy an ice cream with her or exchange an email. My loss, which has left me reeling with grief, is insignificant compared to that of her family and the country in a crisis she wanted to save. However, once my tears dry, I fear that they may be replaced by a different kind of grief for the risks to the lives of hundreds of Pakistanis as a crisis looms on the horizon.

Bibi, wherever you are I hope my prayers and love reach you. You are much missed. You lived up to the promise you made to us all. May you find eternal peace and rest. I hope your sacrifice will not go in vain. Mahnaz Malik

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Bibi was the last hope of her father’s immediate family. The PPP (Pakistan’s People Party), was a dynastic party. With her death, will the party be able to survive. The best chance for the party is for it to be taken over by the judges that are still in prison – the actual start of chain of events that have disqualified the now Mr. Musharraf from running the country – this when he dissolved the Supreme Court that questioned his legitimacy. This would require the postponement of the January 8, 2008 elections – something that the US seems not to want.

The press looks now at the continuation of the Musharraf Presidency as what the US wishes for itself and for Pakistan. The reality is that even before the killing, the US did not instigate the October return of Ms. Bhutto in order to allow her to become President – what the US wanted is to patch over the differences by having a co- habitation of president Musharraf and Prime-Minister Bhutto but the Foggy Bottom inhabitants did not do the necessary work to make sure that this does not become a Bhutto suicide line of events?

Does the US really understand what we started with – the INDIA that was destroyed by the British and the “Great Game” that in parallel involved years ago the British and Russia and Afghanistan – as they did not understand also the French in the Vietnam story, and stepped there into the French shoes to US peril? Do we have now the same thing in Pakistan with a US Administration that will feel obliged to back a Musharaff who got US$ billions and gave to the US nothing in return?

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Interesting accounts we found:

Who Will Succeed Bhutto?
By Spencer Ackerman
TPM Muckraker

Thursday 27 December 2007

Try as Nawaz Sharif might to carry the banner of Benazir Bhutto, he might not be the optimal anti-Musharraf candidate. For one thing, even if Musharraf holds a promised election, Sharif isn’t eligible to run, thanks to a ruling of the Musharraf-controlled Electoral Commission. For another, there’s another secular, democratic politician waiting in the wings who might resonate with this year’s middle-class rejection of Musharraf.

Ex-Bhutto aide Husain Haqqani says he expects Aitzaz Ahsan to ascend to the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party, the party first led by Bhutto’s father. “He’s in the best position,” Haqqani says. Ahsan was the chief counsel for former Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, whose ouster by Musharraf on dubious charges of personal corruption proved to be the final straw for much of middle-class Pakistan. A longtime PPP member, respected barrister and democracy advocate, Ahsan’s representation of Chaudhry landed him a stint in prison when Musharraf declared emergency rule on November 3. As a result, Haqqani says, Ahsan “disagreed with Benazir’s more conciliatory stance” toward Musharraf.

Ahsan has an international profile as well. An old enemy of 80s-vintage dictator Zia ul-Haq, he gained global esteem for his willingness to go to jail for the sake of democracy. After his November detention, 33 U.S. Senators wrote to Musharraf demanding his release. Still, Ahsan’s profile is much higher in Pakistan than it is in the United States. But shortly before Christmas, he penned this New York Times op-ed:

“Last Thursday morning, I was released to celebrate the Id holidays. But that evening, driving to Islamabad to say prayers at Faisal Mosque, my family and I were surrounded at a rest stop by policemen with guns cocked and I was dragged off and thrown into the back of a police van. After a long and harrowing drive along back roads, I was returned home and to house arrest.
Every day, thousands of lawyers and members of the civil society striving for a liberal and tolerant society in Pakistan demonstrate on the streets. They are bludgeoned by the regime’s brutal police and paramilitary units. Yet they come out again the next day.
People in the United States wonder why extremist militants in Pakistan are winning. What they should ask is why does President Musharraf have so little respect for civil society – and why does he essentially have the backing of American officials?”

With Ahsan a potential successor to Bhutto, those questions have a renewed salience. As does his implicit challenge to Washington to support Pakistani democracy:
How long can the leaders of the lawyers’ movement be detained? They will all be out one day. And they will neither be silent nor still.

They will recount the brutal treatment meted out to them for seeking the establishment of a tolerant, democratic, liberal and plural political system in Pakistan. They will state how the writ of habeas corpus was denied to them by the arbitrary and unconstitutional firing of Supreme and High Court justices. They will spell out precisely how one man set aside a Constitution under the pretext of an “emergency,” arrested the judges, packed the judiciary, “amended” the Constitution by a personal decree and then “restored” it to the acclaim of London and Washington.

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other potential PPP candidates:

Asif Ali Zardari
As Benazir Bhutto’s husband and the father of their three children, Mr Zardari has become the natural choice as party leader for some of PPP’s hardcore leaders and activists, who see in him the assurance of carrying forward the former leader’s policies. However, he is not popular with the masses because of corruption allegations, which were never proved but for which he was jailed from 1990 to 1993, and again from 1996 to 2004. PPP leaders say Mr Zardari’s strongest credentials come from being the father of a future leader should Bilawal, the couple’s 19-year-old, choose to enter politics.

Amin Fahim

As PPP vice-chairman, he is theoretically next in line to Bhutto. Mr Fahim has been an influential figure in Pakistani politics since the 1970s, and one of Bhutto’s staunchest allies. Both came from feudal, religious families in the Sindh province, which ironically is Mr Fahim’s biggest liabilility since he remains politically overshadowed by the Bhutto family on his home turf. In control of the party during Bhutto’s eight-year exile from April 1999, Mr Fahim constantly resisted pressure from Pervez Musharraf to turn his back on her in return for being made prime minister. His election as head of the PPP would come as a surprise to many of the party’s leaders.

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Another Ugly Day in Pakistani Politics
Posted by Joshua Holland, AlterNet at 12:20 PM on December 27, 2007.

Let’s look at hard at the narratives that are emerging about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

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Here’s Bush’s spin on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto:

“The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy,” said Bush, who looked tense and took no questions.

It’s clearly too early to say, but the “murderous extremists” are just as likely to have been elements of the Pakistani military as anyone else. But more on that in a minute.

There are a few narratives that are being reinforced by the media today, all of which are, at best, badly oversimplified. They are:

  • Benazir Bhutto was a brave democracy activist, a symbol of women of color breaking down the doors and storming the corridors of power. She was a much-beloved figure who gave up a cushy life in exile to return to Pakistan to bring stability and democracy to a troubled land.
  • Musharraf is a “moderate Islamic leader” whose reckless abuses of power are tolerated by the international community because he stands as a bulwark against Al Qaeda radicals.
  • It’s simply a given that the assassination was directly related to the struggle against “Islamofascism” — or whatever silly label one prefers.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a shocking and tragic occurrence that’s going to have terrible repercussions in Pakistan and beyond. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should white-wash her background or lionize her as some sort of saint. She was a hero to many when she came to power, and she was the prominent face of the Pakistani democracy movement this time around. But she and her husband also robbed the country blind during her time in office and went into “self imposed exile” with tens of millions of dollars tucked away in a series of secret accounts.

Many in Pakistan saw her as the petty kleptocrat that she was. Although Bhutto always claimed that all the corruption charges against her (and her husband) were trumped up, they were tried in Western courts as well as in Pakistan; the couple were found guilty of laundering millions of dollars in bribes and kick-backs after a 6-year trial in Switzerland.

When Bhutto first came to power, her administration tried to push back against the religious fundamentalists who are a fixture in Pakistani politics but made little progress. During her time as Prime Minister, she supported and aided the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, viewing them as a stabilizing force after all years of chaos under the Russian occupation and during the anarchy that followed. Although Bhutto joined the rest of the world in condemning them after 9/11, when it suited her, she had played footsie with religious fundamentalists just like everyone else in Pakistani politics has, ever since the founding of the nation.

As for Musharraf, it’s just a marvel that anyone could call him a “moderate” with a straight face. Just as dozens of petty dictators during the Cold War realized that they could receive American aid, military assistance and political cover for cracking down on internal dissent simply by saying those magic words: “I’m an anti-Communist,” Musharraf’s declaration of war against Islamic extremism has been a model of cynical super-power manipulation. It’s worked out great; after seizing power in a military coup, the guy’s passed laws effectively outlawing his political opponents’ candidacies, suspended the Constitution and the judiciary and placed half of the country’s elites under house arrest, yet the media continue to portray him as a moderate leader. He’s a moderate like I’m Miss America.

Here’s Najum Mushtaq, of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies:

He portrayed himself as a liberal Muslim and parroted moderate Islam to appease the West. Yet, in the eight years of his military rule General Musharraf too displayed an ambiguous attitude towards the religious right in Pakistan. On the one hand, his regime is an ally of the United States in the campaign to curb extremism and militancy. On the other hand, the religious parties, some of them overtly pro-Taliban, have been his political allies and helped to sustain his illegitimate rule by acquiescing in his post-2002 experiment of controlled democracy. Under General Musharraf, the religious parties were able to win elections in one of the four provinces and became the major coalition partner in another in partnership with the pro-Musharraf faction of the Pakistan Muslim League.

Mushtaq points to a report by the International Crisis Group:

Despite his propensity to rule through decrees and ordinances, President Musharraf has been unwilling to use his powers to implement his pledges to control religious extremism. On the contrary, his constitutional amendments, contained in the Legal Framework Order 2002, have undermined the domestic standing of moderate secular parties. Moreover, the military has actively supported the religious parties during and after the October 2002 elections. The MMA, an alliance of religious parties, is a major beneficiary of the military’s use of all available means to manipulate parliamentary alliances and forge acceptable governments.”

In the lead-up to the current elections — which everyone seems to agree will now be suspended — the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party has been busy trying to strike a partnership with Musharraf’s supporters in the Muslim League. That’s our bulwark against Al Qaeda, right there.

So who killed Benazir Bhutto? I’m writing this a few hours after the news broke and can safely say that I don’t know. What I do know is that it will be — is already being — taken as a given that the killing was carried out by Islamic extremists. That’s entirely possible, but Musharraf and/or his supporters in the Pakistani military are also prime suspects, with motive, means, etc.

What I can also say with certainty is that while all Pakistani politics are influenced by religious conflict, and have been since the country was founded, the recent crisis had little to do (directly) with Musharraf’s supposed crack-down on extremists. Musharraf said he was going to war against pro-Taliban extremists, but he cracked down on his political opponents, on democracy activists and lawyers and judges — it was not about rolling back militancy, but rolling back Pakistan’s beaten and bruised democracy movement.

As Spencer Ackerman points out at TPM, both Bhutto’s advisors and Nawaz Sharif (who escaped a possible assassination attempt himself an now becomes the most prominent face of the opposition) are accusing Musharraf of being behind the killing. At the same time, as Ali Eteraz notes, Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack. We will see (or maybe not).

I think it’s important to understand that the U.S. had a key role in the events leading up to today’s tragedy. It was becoming increasingly difficult for the Bush administration to support Musharraf while spewing the usual rhetoric about democratization and the rule of law and all that, so they played a very active role in brokering the deal between Musharraf and Bhutto that led to her return from exile and brought her to this unhappy end. The idea was that as long as Musharraf was unlikely to cede real power, Bhutto’s presence would help legitimize the Pakistani regime. But the administration seriously overestimated the degree of popular support Bhutto had. Essentially, we pushed Bhutto into the mix, and, as Tom Daschle noted in testimony before Congress last week (PDF) Musharraf, who was pushed to hold elections by Congress (which threatened and then did put conditions on U.S. aid to Pakistan), did exactly nothing to create a secure environment in which the process could take place.

It’s a pretty typical U.S. foreign policy set of blunders: support an illegitimate dictator because he’s “our” dictator, ignore his abuses until they become too embarrassing to ignore, then get together some State Department staff to start mucking around in the domestic politics of a country even if they don’t have a really firm handle on the nuances of its political culture and, while the specific chain of events may come as a surprise, the fact that the outcome will be bad is entirely predictable. Wash, rinse and repeat.

The sad irony here is that because of the baggage she carried, Benazir Bhutto will probably be much more effective as a martyr to democracy than she would be as it’s spokesperson. But that’s not good news; reports filtering out of Pakistan suggest widespread chaos has broken out in various states, and the prospects for a lot more blood shed to follow are simply frightening.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.

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Benazir Bhutto: An Age of Hope Is Over
By Barbara Crossette, The Nation. Posted December 28, 2007.

Our preoccupation with Muslim terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan often blocks out the bigger picture: South Asia is a region drenched in blood.

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Nineteen years ago at the end of December, Benazir Bhutto, fresh from her first, exhilarating election victory and newly sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan, met Rajiv Gandhi, the youthful prime minister of India, for talks in Islamabad. She was 35, he was 44. There was obvious good will, almost intimacy, between them. The air was full of promise and hope that these two modernizing scions of dominant political families would turn decades of war and hostility between their nations into a new era of peace.

Three and a half years later, Gandhi was assassinated. There had been no breakthrough with Pakistan to bolster his legacy. Now Bhutto is dead, at another moment of renewed anticipation. An age of hope is over.

There is a terrible symmetry in the lives and deaths of these two political leaders. Both were the children of powerful people: Indira Gandhi as India’s prime minister and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto her counterpart in Pakistan. Together, in 1972, they had negotiated an agreement over Kashmir, but their heirs were never able to build on it. Their respective children, Rajiv and Benazir, had seen those parents suffer politically motivated deaths: Indira murdered in 1984 by bodyguards revenging her attacks on Sikhs, and Zulfikar hanged under the regime of General Mohammed Zia ul Haq in what many Pakistanis consider a thinly disguised judicial execution.

Young Gandhi and Bhutto, both killed by suicide bombers, ultimately became the victims of inherited policies. Rajiv Gandhi had tried to put an end to Indian meddling in Sri Lanka and its support for a vicious Tamil Tiger rebellion. He was killed by a Sri Lankan Tamil suicide bomber, a woman who moved toward him to touch his feet in an age-old gesture, then triggered an explosion that blew them both apart. While it is too early to know who killed Benazir, Pakistan’s policies on Afghanistan are the backdrop to this tense and dangerous moment. Her father and his successors had supported Afghan rebels in order to become a player in Afghanistan and counter Indian influence in Kabul lately aligning riskily with American policies. Rajiv’s mother, whose intelligence agencies roamed the region causing havoc, had set out to weaken Sri Lanka, South Asia’s most developed nation.

Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi were both campaigning to return to power when they died. Both had been elected, then vilified. She lost support among middle-class Pakistanis for her feudal ways and unwillingness to take on social issues — child labor or the mistreatment of women — or chip away at the power of the military, and was driven from office twice on charges of corruption, much of it attributed to her husband. In India, Rajiv was the perennial butt of attacks from unreconstructed leftists and traditionalists who scoffed at his Westernized style, Italian wife and fresh ideas that rattled the khadi crowd. On the night he died, a policeman told me they had identified his remains by his expensive imported running shoes. Suspicions linger that Gandhi or those close to him may have been involved in illegal payments for arms contracts.

Tragically, political violence has been the bane of modern South Asia, from Afghanistan and Pakistan east to Bangladesh. Militants and fanatics of all stripes and dogmas and grievances have assassinated leaders since much of the region gained independence from Britain in the mid 1940s. It has been a formidable hindrance to development of political institutions.

In New Delhi, Mohandas K. Gandhi was killed in 1948 by an outraged Hindu. Pakistan’s first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated in 1951 — in the same Rawalpindi park where Benazir Bhutto died — and General Zia ul Haq perished in a still mysterious plane crash in 1988. In Sri Lanka in 1959, Prime Minister S.W.R.D Bandaranaike fell victim to a fanatic Buddhist monk, the first of two generations of more than a half-dozen leading politicians to die in shootings and bombings. (Tamil Tiger rebels would later try but fail to kill Bandaranaike’s daughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga, when she was president.) Sheikh Mujibir Rahman, founder and first Prime Minister of independent Bangladesh, was murdered in 1975; in 1981 Bangladeshi President Ziaur Rahman, was shot in an army coup. Nepal’s entire royal family was wiped out in one evening in Kathmandu in 2001, apparently by a disaffected crown prince.

Hindus and Muslims killed one another by the hundreds of thousands after the partition of British India in 1947 into Pakistan and modern India. And compared with Pakistan since then, India has experienced much more large-scale sectarian and political violence, with thousands of Sikhs butchered in the streets of Delhi and elsewhere in North India after Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, and up to 2,000 Muslims slaughtered by Hindu nationalists in Gujarat — Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace — in 2002. In both cases, political parties have been deeply implicated yet no political leader has been punished — in a democracy.

As the world mourns the loss of Benazir Bhutto, it would be myopic to focus only on Islamic-inspired violence and on Pakistan. This is a region with a turbulent post-independence political history. Our (Islamophobic?) preoccupation with Muslim terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan often blocks out a bigger picture. From end to end, South Asia is a region drenched in blood.

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OK, you guessed it – we feel that Barbara Croisette, who used to be a New York Times correspondent from the UN Headquarters in New York, she remembers the “stages of the INDIA cross” in this century. The clear punishment for the US and for the world is now a resulting situation with having on our hands a nuclear Pakistan aiming its nukes at a nuclear India, and really not giving a hoot about the US interests.

Musharaff is no moderate, he does not care about Al-Qaida as long as they keep away from his own person – just like the Saudis did not care when they could have done so.

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The New York Post might have a better insight to this story then most other papers – that is into what Washington wished about Pakistan and what it might get instead:

Excerpts from – THE BHUTTO ASSASSINATION: NOT WHAT SHE SEEMED TO BE
By RALPH PETERS, The New York Post, December 28, 2007.

FOR the next several days, you’re going to read and hear a great deal of pious nonsense in the wake of the assassination of Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Her country’s better off without her. She may serve Pakistan better after her death than she did in life.

In Pakistan, the military has its own forms of graft; nonetheless, it remains the least corrupt institution in the country and the only force holding an unnatural state together. In Pakistan back in the ’90s, the only people I met who cared a whit about the common man were military officers.

Americans don’t like to hear that. But it’s the truth.

Bhutto embodied the flaws in Pakistan’s political system, not its potential salvation. Both she and her principal rival, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, failed to offer a practical vision for the future – their political feuds were simply about who would divvy up the spoils.

From its founding, Pakistan has been plagued by cults of personality, by personal, feudal loyalties that stymied the development of healthy government institutions (provoking coups by a disgusted military). When she held the reins of government, Bhutto did nothing to steer in a new direction – she merely sought to enhance her personal power.

Now she’s dead. And she may finally render her country a genuine service (if cynical party hacks don’t try to blame Musharraf for their own benefit). After the inevitable rioting subsides and the spectacular conspiracy theories cool a bit, her murder may galvanize Pakistanis against the Islamist extremists who’ve never gained great support among voters, but who nonetheless threaten the state’s ability to govern.

As a victim of fanaticism, Bhutto may shine as a rallying symbol with a far purer light than she cast while alive. The bitter joke is that, while she was never serious about freedom, women’s rights and fighting terrorism, the terrorists took her rhetoric seriously – and killed her for her words, not her actions.

Nothing’s going to make Pakistan’s political crisis disappear – this crisis may be permanent, subject only to intermittent amelioration. (Our State Department’s policy toward Islamabad amounts to a pocket full of platitudes, nostalgia for the 20th century and a liberal version of the white man’s burden mindset.)

The one slim hope is that this savage murder will – in the long term – clarify their lot for Pakistan’s citizens. The old ways, the old personalities and old parties have failed them catastrophically. The country needs new leaders – who don’t think an election victory entitles them to grab what little remains of the national patrimony.

In killing Bhutto, the Islamists over-reached (possibly aided by rogue elements in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, one of the murkiest outfits on this earth). Just as al Qaeda in Iraq overplayed its hand and alienated that country’s Sunni Arabs, this assassination may disillusion Pakistanis who lent half an ear to Islamist rhetoric.

A creature of insatiable ambition, Bhutto will now become a martyr. In death, she may pay back some of the enormous debt she owes her country.

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www.SustainabiliTank.info summary:

1. Pakistan is an unnatural State – put together so there is a Moslem foot hold on the Indian Subcontinent.

2. The Army – for the better or for the worse – can be secular, and can be without corruption – just think of the history of Turkey. In effect the army can be a guarantor of democracy in a country that does not have it. Sounds strange – I know.

3. The Islamists may have indeed killed Bhutto as the last article believes. On the other hand it might also have been the Pakistani Intelligence that did this on Musharraf’s behalf – it really does not matter.

4. The country will benefit from Bhutto’s Martyrdom – they may waken up and try for honest change.

5. To obtain this change, upheaval may be welcome – though there must be complete accounting of the nuclear material.

6. The US requested from North Korea and from Iran nuclear accounting – the country where this is most needed now, and was most needed this last decade, is Pakistan. Will we hear anything on this line from the Bush Administration? One year is hell of a long time when the other side sits with his finger on nuclear triggers – not on the drawing board – but on India’s border.

7. Washington should not just back Musharraf because this is the easiest thing to do now. Rethinking the situation might require some time and one week in January is not enough time. Why not suggest a caretaker until the elections are held. It seems that all think the judges are the least tainted group. How about one Judge and one military man to manage for a month or two in tandem?

8.The Presidential candidates for the US November 2008 elections will prove not to be worth a second of the voters time if they do not address above point 6. No waxing anti Bush slogans will do now! The only acceptable stand is one of National unity under the clear requirement that the Pakistan nukes must be put under some sort of US system of checks, without further support for Musharaff if this does not come about. Otherwise, even if this means that Afghanistan is lost to the resurgent Al-Qaida – those candidates for US President do not show what it takes.

——————————–

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination and a former
US ambassador to the United Nations, on Thursday already called on Washington to push for Gen Musharraf’s exit:
“President Bush should press Musharraf to step aside, and a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all
the democratic parties, should be formed immediately,” he said. “It is in the interests of the US that there be a
democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists. Musharraf has failed, and his attempts to cling to
power are destabilising his country. He must go.”

Will above turn out to be the consensus among the Presidential candidates?
But the opinion in Europe is that Washington will stick with Musharraf.

————————————

PS. The Bernard-Henry Levy Obituary to Benazir – as printed on the op-Ed page of the Wall Street Journal:

bhutto001.gif

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 22nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Most Important Lesson From Bali – The Appearance Of A New Leader From Just One Important Country Produces Wonders – Will The UN Learn And Postpone The Poznan COP? Australia’s Kevin Rudd did it! Not Just Al Gore.

This posting is intended as an in depth advice to the leaders of the UN, the UNFCCC, the EU, Poland and Denmark.

Look – it was the appearance of a new Prime-Minister from Australia, Mr. Kevin Rudd, that created the momentum that saved the Bali event from its well advertised destiny – a clear failure. It was not a failure because of the open stand taken by a new Australia. The timing of the Australian elections was fortunate – the result was not sure, but it was clear that one way or the other, it would bring better clarity to where the multi-Nation deliberations were going.

The COP 14 of the UNFCCC is planned for December 2008 – that is after the US Presidential elections, and one way or the other – the US delegation will have less authority then a lame-duck delegation. Why have a predictable fiasco in the making while a much more solid meeting could be envisioned with the real boss of America at the table? Oh! yes – we wrote about a US II delegation headed by a President-in-Waiting delegation. There was precedent – but it is not as efficient as having the real leadership of the US present. We know that for several years the US is not represented at these meetings by a delegation representing the majority of its population, but then the majority of the UN Membership is neither.

But this time it is different. The real boss will be a Democrat that will effectuate a clean brake from the present Administration, or a Republican who will seriously deviate from the present broken leadership of his country.

In either case the US will stop being a by-stander having to be asked to step aside and stop blocking the “roadway.”

The US is destined to become a leader – as we said so many times – because of US business being interested in reconnecting with the world at large. These folks, in addition to those who look at climate change as an environmental issue – will after January 20, 2008 take over the White House and as said aim at putting the US back in the leaders chair where the country belongs indeed. Everybody can see this by now.

So, it is up to the EU to talk this over with Poland and Denmark and then go to the UN and ask for the UNFCCC to change the COP 14 (Poznan) date – then perhaps the COP 15 date (Copenhagen), if this be needed, could also be moved to the beginning of 2010 rather then the end of 2009, or at least to the mid-December 2009 time spot in order to preserve the magic of the 2009 figure.

Also, as there is no leadership at present at the UN Commission On Sustainable Development, the UN CSD, it really should be the EU to step forward, in spite of the unpleasant Zimbabwe Chairmanship of that body, tell the UN that it sees the importance of reviving this presently moribund UN limb – so it is ready to participate at the 2009 UNFCCC Copenhagen table as a locus where much of the execution of adaptation and mitigation in the middle- and lower-developing countries will be picked up. By that time, with Zimbabwe gone, even the more reticent EU members will be able to return and see what programs they can have with Africa, for instance. A new Secretary of the CSD, a person that has the background to bridge between the sides – viscerally-good and protestation-bad – has to be in place already by 2008, in order to pull this off.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Commission on Sustainable Development Is It A Moribund UN Body Or Will It Be Revived Because It Is Needed After The Re-Engagement Hoopla That Happens Now At Bali?

Our Website was established in order to help create the awareness that there is no other development possible – not in the developing countries and not in the developed countries – that is not SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

We had experience starting from before the Brundtland Commission of 1987, we were engaged at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, and we wrote the “Promptbook on Sustainable Development for The World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg 2002. In short we are strong believers that if the UN CSD were not created in 1994, we would have had to create it now.

Why that? Simply, because as it is crystal clear now that the development of tomorrow cannot go on by rules of the development of yesterday – and this was given, right today, full global recognition in Oslo, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the scientists of the IPCC, and to Al Gore – whatever will come out from the Bali-Poznan-Copenhagen process will be clearly a final global landing on the runway that was built in Rio for Agenda 21. And as we keep saying – this will be a joint Sustainable Development for North and South, East and West. It will be a world were those that have the needed technologies will share them with those that are only trying out for their own National development. This will not be done because of altruism – it will be rather because of self interest that comes from the simple fact that we are all residents of planet earth, and we understand that we have caused the planet to be on a path of destruction that harms the continuation of life as nature or god created.

After UNCED, The UN created a Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development and Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Gali appointed Mr. Nitin Desai, at the Under-Secretary-General level to head the Department. 1994-1998 Joke Waller-Hunter from the Netherlands was the first Director of the Division for Sustainable Development and the head of the Commission on Sustainable Development – so the Commission itself dates back, for all practical purpose, to 1994 – even though it officially was started in 1992. In May 2007 we witnessed the CSD 15 (that is counting back to 1992!).

In 1997, Secretary-General Kofi, in an effort to reduce the number of UN Under-Secretary-Generals, consolidated three economic and social departments and created UN DESA (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and eventually put Mr. Desai as head of DESA where he was until he was replaced in 2003 with Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo, the former Finance Minister of Colombia; the new Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, brought in, July 2007, Mr. Sha Zukang, the previous China Ambassador in Geneva. In 1998 Ms. JoAnne DiSano, with a background of having worked for the Canadian Government, and then for 11 years with the Australian Government, became the Director of the new Division of Sustainable Development within DESA. She held this position until September of 2007 and since then the position is VACANT, and it looks as if the UN does not care.

Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter, left her position with the CSD in 1998 in order to become the Executive Secretary of the of Bonn based   UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where she remained untill her death in 2006. She was replaced there in 2007, by Mr. Yvo de Boer, appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Yvo de Boer is also from the Netherlands, where he was Director for International Affairs of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment. He was in the Past Vice-Chair of the Commision on SD and Vice-Chair of the COP of the UNFCCC. Both, the CSD and the UNFCCC are outcomes of the 1992 UNCED. Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter’s departure from New York may have had something to do with the 1997 UN reorganization that replaced the Department of SD with a Division of SD within DESA. She may have sensed that her presence at UNFCCC will further SD goals easier then   at the new Division of SD – that its creation caused in effect a demotion in her position.

The present vacancy at the nerve-center of the CSD, at a time the CSD is needed indeed, following the latest push at the UNFCCC, on matters of climate change, that causes our renewed interest in the UN CSD and in the UN Division that was established specifically in order to run the CSD. We are afraid that it will be difficult to see progress on the UN level, in matters of climate change, without a functioning office that deals with sustainable development.

Now to be honest, our interest is not just because of curiosity – but rather because of the worry that we understand very well the reasons for the slow demise of the CSD – the factors that got it to start on what may be a path to extinction.

At CSD 9 it was decided that the CSD will discuss specific topics in cycles of two years. So the first cycle was Water for CSD11-CSD12, the second cycle Energy for CSD14-CSD15, the third cycle Land Use for CSD16-CSD17.

So 2006-2007 was the Energy cycle, and as in UN fashion it was supposed to be the turn to have a chair from Asia, it was the Asians that suggested Qatar to chair the energy subject. Now Qatar is a producer of gas rather then oil.

Some said that though sustainable development must help put forward development methods that are less dependent on oil and coal, this for reasons of global warming and climate change, nevertheless, recognizing the role of natural gas as a cleaner fuel and a potential intermediary fuel from an oil and coal economy to an economy that is starting to be based on renewable sources of energy, Qatar could have been acceptable also as a political peace-maker between the interests of conventional industry and the incoming new industry based on renewbles. But to the consternation of those optimists, we could see that behind the representative of Qatar, at the CSD sessions, there was always sitting a representative from Saudi Arabia, and in the end there was no resulting negotiated text for what is probably one of the most important topics of Sustainable Development – Energy.

Above was nothing yet when compared with what happened in the last day of CSD 15. As always, there are elections for the next CSD membership – the membership is held at 53 countries elected according to a regional key – and then there is the election of the “bureau” and the new chair. The turn according to UN habit was that next chair will be from Africa, and as said, the topic for CSD16 in 2008, and for CSD17 in 2009, will be Land Use. The Africans decided to put forward Zimbabwe as their choice and campaigned with the G77 that this is their wish. The UK did not want any part of this, and specially since the land policies of the Mugabe Government have run Zimbabwe agriculture from being a large agricultural exporter to becoming a starving nation, with an economy that was totally destroyed, a monetary situation that shows astronomic inflation rate, and human rights problems that clearly make it ineligible for a UN leadership position, it is this obstinacy that reduced the CSD to plain irrelevancy. We were there that night of Friday May 11, 2007, in room 4 in the UN basement, and watched in disbelief how the distinguished, low-key German Ambassador, head in New York of the EU presidency, with the German Minister of the Environment next to him, simply told the CSD Chair from Qatar that the EU cannot work with this sort of CSD.

If by any way I exaggerate now, 7 months later, please forgive my memory, but see what I, Pincas Jawetz, Inner City Press journalist Matthew Rusell Lee, and the EUobserver from Brussels, wrote about this – the references on the www.SustainabiliTank.info web are:

– EUobserver on the 5/11 Crash of CSD15 (May 14th, 2007)

– A First Analysis: From The Ashes of the CSD, Will We See A Rising Phoenix? A Brundtland II, To be Called – “OUR COMMON GROUND” ? (May 13th, 2007)

– The UN General Assembly Resolution of September 30, 1974 against South Africa was not Premised On Apartheid’s Threat To Security, But On Its Serious Violation Of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. WHY DOES
SOUTH AFRICA OF 2007 BACK MUGABE’s ZIMBABWE SAYING HE DOES NOT THREATEN INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY? (May 13th, 2007)

– 9/11 and 3/11 Have Become Symbols of what Oil Money Can Cause To Those Who Insist On Buying The Oil, Will 5/11 Become The Symbol of Awakening at the UN? This Because Of May 11, 2007 Late Evening Happenings At
The So Called UN Commission On Sustainable Development? (May 12th, 2007)

– At the UN, Zimbabwe Elected 26-21 to Sustainable Development Chair for CSD16, As EU and Others Reject Final Text of The Chairman from Qatar of CSD15. (May 12th, 2007)

I took then the 5/11 date and in ways of exaggeration tried to compare this with 9/11 in New York and 3/11 in Madrid. Was it really an exaggeration? Could we say that the backing Zimbabwe got from States with unresolved problems from colonial days, and oil states that think, completely wrong, that they have anything to gain from derailing the concept of sustainable development, sustainable energy, global warming, climate change…, from efforts to improve the life of billions of people?

Further, the UN recognizes three groups of States with greater needs – these are the Least Developed States (LDCs), the Small Island Independent States (SIDS), and the Landlocked States. These are the States within the UN system that are most in need of help via sustainable development. Why did the UN take them out from being under the Under-Secretary-General who heads DESA, and put them under a separate Under-Secretary-General? Does this not cause waste and decreased efficiency? Would they not be served better within a well functioning unified economic organization that takes, for instance, in account the interests of Island States when it comes to the subject of the effects of global warming/climate change?

Now, I was not going to allow myself to lose my hope for a functioning CSD. The articles I refer to above are actually articles of hope – that is I hope that from the ashes the CSD will rise, as a Phoenix, under the leadership of Brundtland II.

Does this look likely? I submit it is imperative, and by the end of this week, whatever wind will be blowing from Bali, people will see that it does not go without sustainable development. So why do the Africans not get together and try to rein in Mr. Mugabe? Again, just this week, the EU invited all Heads of State of Africa to Lisbon for discussions on trade that were needed in order to help restart the Doha trade round. The Europeans were ready to put aside the dispute with Mugabe, and he was also invited – then why did he have to show physically his raised fist? Is this the end of an EU-Africa relation? Clearly not. It was just a new beginning showing that rational people can try to restart negotiations even in the presence of a street-bully. And that brings me back to the UN DC-2 building – that is where one finds the CSD Secretariat.

CSD 16 will happen one way or another in May 5-16, 2008. The full list of topics is: “The Review Session of The Third Implementation Cycle that Will Focus on Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Desertification, and Africa.”

The CSD expects Germany to fund the bringing to New York of youth representatives from the developing countries. A main topic will be “Drought and Desertification and Africa” – this means effects of climate change that helped cause warfare in Africa. Will the world allow Africa to commit suicide through obstinacy, or is the world obliged to look into the mirror and say we cannot continue on this path? Mr. Baroso bit his lip and made an effort. We assume the EU will continue to try to find a way to keep the Commission in business, if at least the UN Secretariat helps reestablish a CSD Secretariat – and at the minimum there must be a functioning Director of the CSD Secretariat. That is the closing of the three month old vacancy that was created with the departure of Ms. JoAnne DiSano.

I understand that part of the nominating and election process involves the Commission itself. The present 53 members are:

African States: 12 besides Zimbabwe. They are – Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo/Kinshasa, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Tanzania, Zambia.

Asian States: 11 – Bahrain, China, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand.

Eastern Europe: 6 – Belarus, Croatia, Czech Rep., Poland, Russia, Serbia.

Latin America and Caribbean: 10 – Antigua and Barbuda (the incoming head of G-77), Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Haiti, Peru.

Western European and Others: 13 – Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK, US.

By looking through this list I clearly see that Poland, the host of next year’s follow up meeting to Bali, motors of the UNFCCC track like Germany, UK, Japan, Australia, India, even China, Antigua, Korea,Tunisia, Congo/Kinshasa, Tanzania, Croatia will want to see a functioning CSD. What is needed is a low key peace maker with vision who comes from inside the UN system, and who has a history of having seen the difficulties when working with developing countries that seem to have memories from colonial days that they apply to new situations that really are of a totally different nature. Finding such a person would help, we hope, revive the CSD, so it could continue its functions and prepare for much larger importance when the UNFCCC track finally starts sputtering.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 15th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Ajay Makan writes from Male, Maldives, November 15, 2007, for Reuters:

Island States Urge UN to Study Rights, Climate Link.

Small island states (SIDS) called on the United Nations on Wednesday to assess whether a link exists between failure to tackle climate change, which threatens to wipe their countries off the map, and human rights.


But the 26 nations from around the globe failed to agree on an resolution backing a human rights agenda meant to take on big greenhouse gas polluters at a UN climate change summit in Bali, Indonesia next month.

The Maldives and other vocal island states blame the United States and other big polluters for climate change and say their inaction to curb greenhouse gas emissions will destroy their economies through rising seas and wild weather.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) used the two-day meeting to highlight what it said was a human right “to live in a safe and sustaining environment”. It said “climate change directly and fundamentally undermines that right”.

But Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda were cautious, delegates said, that an explicit recognition of human rights would boost pressure on their own governments to improve political rights.

The Alliance represents 43 countries with a population of fewer than 15 million people, ranging from wealthy Singapore in Southeast Asia to Fiji, Kiribati and Tuvalu in the Pacific and Caribbean nations.

Alliance delegates will meet international lawyers and civil society groups to develop a common agenda ahead of the Bali summit, which aims to kick-off negotiations for global pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Alliance Chair Angus Friday expressed optimism the group could still adopt a common platform at the Bali summit. He also hailed the resolution as a first step towards an international recognition of the link between climate change and human rights.

“We have to be realistic about the timescale, but we have started a process today,” he told reporters.

The resolution at the end of the meeting called for a UN study into linkages between human rights and climate change and a March 2009 debate at the UN Human Rights Council.

“The right to life as we know it is threatened. My people survive by praying,” Tuvalu’s ambassador to the UN told Reuters.

Delegates met at one of the Maldives’ flagship deluxe resorts, refurbished following the 2004 tsunami, a reminder of the country’s vulnerability to rising seas.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 30th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The following is written after three days, of the five day August 27-31,
2007, meeting of the UNFCCC.

The Monday opening was celebratory. The main presentation by the local
host, Austrian Federal Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and
Water Management, Mr. Josef Pröll. He was followed by two speakers from
the Developing world’s most disadvantaged States – the Small Island
Developing States (SIDS) and the Least Developed States (LDCs). Those are
the clear victim states of Global Warming/Climate Change, the least
influential states in the world, and thus the states that are given
highest priority as speakers in UN meetings on subjects of Sustainable
Development/Climate Change – this because of the reality that the more
powerful Industrialzed and Industrializing States have little to fear that
these less priviledged states could have a real effect on the outcome of
the negotiations. The two speakers were Maria Madalena Grito Neves,
Minister of Agriculture and Environment of Cape Verde, and Mr. Monyane
Moleleki, Minister of Natural Resources of Lesotho. The room was full and
that was it. The UN says that there were 1,000 registrants to the meeting
but after that initial session the number of those participating started
to dwindle. On Wednesday, early afternoon I still had a chance to speak
with the Senior Climate Negotiator & Special Representative of the US
Department of State, who with his entourage was on his way to the airport.
To be honest, there really was no reason for him to stay any longer.
Besides, the US has an alternate idea that they will be presenting also in
a September meeting in Washigton DC, to address the problem directly to
the major emitters, and twist them into accepting voluntary arrangements
that address the problem.

The Austrian Minister, voicing the opinion of the large majority of the
EU, said “Climate change is a huge challenge that can only be tackled at a
global level and in integrated manner … we do not have much time to
create adequate framework conditions. Each year without mitigation measures
is a year which drives the human and financial cost of adaptation steeply
upwards.”

For the EU, is speaking now the Portuguese EU Presidency, and the subject
matter is dealt with in negotiations by the chief Danish international
coordinator Mr. Thomas Becker. They clearly stand for international
agreements and real action.

The speaker from Lesotho spoke of the prolonged draught in Africa about
which our website wrote much in the past. We wrote over a year ago already
that much of the misery in places like Darfur is a direct result of
climate change. This is not just a prolonged draught that is part of a
natural cycle as it happened in previous times. This is a clear impact
caused by global warming. Our old assumptions got vindicated by Sir
Nicholas Stern about a month ago when he made similar statements – but the
UN does not come out yet in clear language to put a finger on the culprit
to blame – just look at the sterilized official UNFCCC press releases.

The speaker from Cape Verde pointed out that her State has made progress
by developing tourism – but this tourism may be wiped out because of
climate change. “Climate change can potentially offset all the gains made
in achieving the Millennium Development Goals” (that is the UN holy cow!),
and she made it clear that the SIDS are particularly vulnerable.

The Times of India quotes the Secretariat of the UNFCCC as stating in its
report that the “Emissions bill will come to $210 billion by 2030.” Does
one believe that this can compensate losses of land and life that are
already in progress? Then, when mentioning money, why are not the
Ministers who deal with large amounts of money at this meeting? Aha! and
that is the rub – the meeting is charged with coming up without a
resolution. In effect, this is just one more meeting, in a series of
meetings, that are intended to not have a negotiated resolution – this is
a negotiation about negotiation – or even in UNFCCC language – “Vienna UN
meeting tests temperature of international climate change process.” The
global temperature may be heating up – but the UN process is being kept
under control so even the facts are made difficult-to-obtain when it comes
to independent media think tanks.

The speaker from Lesotho did actually emphasize the need to begin
post-2012 negotiations in Bali and indicated that while African countries
need support, they also have responsibilities concerning climate change.”
And you know what? The UN press release has no mention of the above as if
the stand by one of the weakest African States, calling for real
negotiation, is not one of the most relevant things that were said that
morning.

The AWG track of the Vienna meeting was chaired by Leon Charles of Grenada
– the State that chairs now AOSIS (the Alliance of Small Island States). In
New York AOSIS is represented by Ambassador Friday who is very outspoken
on the subject of investments for mitigation and adaptation in the context
of creating a global program that allows such investments for the benefit
of all. The problem is global – so an organization like the UN is
imperative – but the UN in its present form makes it difficult to direct
activities to the achievement of real results.

The powerful group of the G77/China is lead by Pakistan, and with them,
leading speakers are from South Africa, China, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi
Arabia.

When Saudi Arabia speaks about “the need to consider the impact of Annex I
mitigation activities on developing countries”, what they mean is that if
the world will become less dependent on oil – they – rich Saudi Arabia –
will lose some of their export market – and as they want to be counted as
a developing country – they have to be compensated for having lost some of
their market. They were clearly seconded by South Africa that stated “the
need to address the unintended consequences of adaptation and mitigation
policies and response measures on oil exporting countries.” And small
surprise, when the Saudi speaker took the floor again to support the South
African position on “building blocks approach and the importance of
financing and need for technology transfer.”

The above was just a little bite out of the material of these first three
days in Vienna, we will obviously return with more – but let us say
already here that we, like some others before us, may actually also wonder
in the end if a bad marriage can be improved – or not.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 2nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Asian Brown Clouds Intensify Global Warming.

SAN DIEGO, California, August 1, 2007 (ENS) – Brown clouds of pollution over South Asia have multiplied solar heating of the lower atmosphere by 50 percent, finds new research by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego.

Brown cloud over China (Photo courtesy NASA)

The combined heating effect of greenhouse gases and the brown clouds is necessary and sufficient to account for the retreat of Himalayan glaciers observed over the past 50 years, the researchers conclude. Led by Scripps atmospheric chemistry professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan, the team describes their findings in a paper to be published in the August 2 edition of the journal “Nature.”

Not entirely made up of water vapor like regular clouds, brown clouds contain soot, sulfates, nitrates, hundreds of organic compounds, and fly ash from urban, industrial and agricultural sources.

“The conventional thinking is that brown clouds have masked as much as 50 percent of the global warming by greenhouse gases through the so-called global dimming,” said Dr. Ramanathan.

“While this is true globally,” he said, “this study reveals that over southern and eastern Asia, the soot particles in the brown clouds are intensifying the atmospheric warming trend caused by greenhouse gases by as much as 50 percent.”



The Himalayan glaciers feed the major Asian rivers – the Yangtze, the Ganges and the Indus – that supply water to billions of people in China, India and across southeast Asia. “The rapid melting of these glaciers, the third-largest ice mass on the planet, if it becomes widespread and continues for several more decades, will have unprecedented downstream effects on southern and eastern Asia,” the authors warn.

“Ramanathan and colleagues, for the first time ever, used small and inexpensive unmanned aircraft and their miniaturized instruments as a creative means of simultaneously sampling of clouds, aerosols and radiative fluxes in polluted environments, from within and from all sides of the clouds,” said Jay Fein, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric Sciences.

The aircraft, flying in stacked formations over the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, measured the brown clouds from different altitudes, creating a profile of soot concentrations and light absorption unprecedented in its level of vertical detail.

The flights took place in March 2006 during the region’s dry season when air masses, loaded with industrial and vehicle emissions and pollution from biomass burning, travel south from the continent to the Indian Ocean.

Unmanned aircraft used by Ramanathan and his team to take measurements in brown clouds (Photo courtesy NOAA)

“These measurements, combined with routine environmental observations and a state-of-the science model, led to these remarkable results,” said Fein. When the researchers fed both greenhouse gas and brown cloud data into computer climate models, they found that the region’s atmosphere has warmed 0.25 degrees Celsius (0.5 degrees F) per decade since 1950 at altitudes ranging from two to five kilometers (6,500 to 16,500 feet) above sea level – the same altitude where the Himalayan glaciers lie.

The analysis showed that the brown cloud effect is necessary to explain temperature changes that have been observed in the region over the last 50 years.

It also indicates that south Asia’s warming trend is more pronounced at higher altitudes than closer to sea level.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme which helped support the research, said, “The main cause of climate change is the buildup of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels. But brown clouds, whose environmental and economic impacts are beginning to be unraveled by scientists, are complicating and in some cases aggravating their effects.”

Steiner hopes the Scripps’ research will spur the international community to take urgent action to limit global warming, in particular at the next crucial UN climate change convention in Indonesia this December. This conference is expected to negotiate a global successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

By burning less fossil fuels, South Asia may be able to arrest the glaciers’ retreat and reduce regional air pollution at the same time.

Steiner said, “It is likely that in curbing greenhouse gases we can tackle the twin challenges of climate change and brown clouds and in doing so, reap wider benefits from reduced air pollution to improved agricultural yields.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 15th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From: Republic of Botswana (15/7/07): TAUTONA TIMES no 23 of 2007
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President

July 16, 2007 – President’s Day in Botswana.

Today is the eve of President’s Day celebrations in Botswana. Like “Botswana Day”, which every year falls on the anniversary of our nation’s independence, President’s Day is an annual occasion for Batswana to reflect on the fruits of their political sovereignty. The creation of the State Presidency at the time of independence brought to an end a period of eighty-one year’s in which the British Crown had claimed and exercised sovereign rights over Botswana’s territory, much of which was thus demarcated as “Crownlands”.

During the colonial period, imperial sovereignty over Botswana was annually celebrated by the British administration as either “King’s” or “Queen’s” day, an Empire wide tradition that dated back to the time of Queen Victoria (“Mmamosadinyana”). Replacing Queen’s Day with President’s Day thus represented a break from foreign rule to self-rule.

Subsequently, it was also deemed appropriate to mark the 1st of July birth date of Botswana’s first President, Sir Seretse Khama with a separate holiday, while preserving the tradition of President’s Day.

It has also become an informal tradition for local political parties to hold meetings on the President’s Day long weekend. Thus, while H.E. the President has been attending the 32nd National Congress of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), elsewhere around the country there have been similar gatherings of various other political movements that, like stars in a constellation, collectively enlighten this nation’s democratic unity in diversity.

—————————-

From the President’s Statement:

CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT

14. Our government has championed citizen empowerment for the past 41 years, and we will continue enthusiastically to do so. A plethora of empowerment schemes exist and have existed as individual projects or as sectoral programmes in our development plans. Since they have not been isolated and highlighted in one document, some people, including members of the BDP have erroneously assumed that we do not have a policy on citizen empowerment.

15. The bottom line is that an enabling environment should exist, wherein all Batswana are empowered with requisite opportunities and skills to enable them to optimise their standard of living. Furthermore, it should be clarified, that most proponents of a stand alone citizen economic empowerment policy often refer to countries that have a preferential treatment policy for a specific segment of their society.

16. In most cases the segment that is being singled out for targeted empowerment tends to be a historically disadvantaged group, but in Botswana our empowerment efforts should and must focus on every single Motswana and not a specified segment of the population as we have all been previously disadvantaged.

POVERTY

17. The BDP Governments have over the years focused aggressively in resourcing the poor in our society. Not only has poverty dropped from 60% in our population in 1985/86 to 28% in 2002/03; a clear indication of our success in our poverty eradication efforts, but we have also very effective safety nets which ensure, that not one Motswana can perish because of hunger.

18. Our safety nets include schemes for the poor, the aged, remote area dwellers, orphans, the disabled and war veterans. As I speak, my government has allocated some P395m to drought relief projects for this year alone. This will provide part time employment for some 180, 000 Batswana the majority of whom would have depended on agriculture had the rains been good.

EMPOWERMENT IN EDUCATION AND LOCAL TRAINING PROGRAMMES

19. Education has been either heavily subsidized or totally free for all Batswana from primary to secondary education. All deserving Batswana continue to get substantial assistance for their education even at tertiary level. These subsidies on education are a targeted investment by the BDP government, intended to provide Batswana, with a springboard they could use to empower themselves.

20. The expansion of the University of Botswana; the planned Botswana International University of Science and Technology; and the Medical School and Training Hospital are recent examples of projects in education aimed at further empowering Batswana for employment and higher calibre job creation. Recently the Ministry of Education started to sponsor students at local private tertiary institutions for Diploma and Degree courses. Over 7000 are now so sponsored. This is empowerment.

SUBSIDISED HEALTHCARE

21. Health care is virtually free in Botswana. Even expensive medications such as ARV’s are availed free of charge. The BDP government is cognisant of the relationship between an individual’s health and their overall ability to command an acceptable living standard.

22. For this reason, we have ensured, on a sustained basis, that our people have the best healthcare we are capable of providing as a nation. The evidence is overwhelming! Our commitment and determination to arrest the spread of HIV/AIDS is total and unshakable – hence the modest success we have registered in reducing the rate of infection.

UNEMPLOYMENT

40. Our ultimate objective is to achieve full employment for all our citizens as reflected in our Vision 2016 statement. As Democrats are aware, the rate of unemployment was around 10% in the early 1990’s. However, as a result of a combination of chronic droughts and the plateauing of minerals growth with a concomitant depression in the construction industry unemployment rose to 24% and it hovered around that level for many years, until recently, when we were able to reduce it to 17.6%.

41. The big projects which your government has initiated should force unemployment to go down further. I must express my concern though, about the rather lax attitude of some of our people. Many jobs in the agricultural sector remain unmanned for a long time because Batswana are not interested in working in that sector. This is regrettable. If we are to fight unemployment successfully we must become less choosy.

ELECTIONS

51. This is the penultimate congress before the next General Elections in 2009. This means by the time we get to the 2009 Congress it will be too late to fine tune or sharpen our thinking in various policy areas. This congress is, therefore, the most important opportunity to do so.

52. Our election preparedness starts right now with the preparations for “Bulela Ditswe” our primary elections. The Central Committee has appointed a Task Force, which in turn has sent teams around the country to clean up our membership registration hitches. This is very important, as it will determine that we have a clean, peaceful primary election, not adulterated by incomplete voters’ rolls and allegations of rigging.

53. Of course ultimately the business of any political party that wants to run the country is to win elections. It is for this reason that everything that we do must be aimed towards – the attainment of that objective – the 2009 elections. I shall never tire of reminding you, to channel all your energies towards making sure, that the BDP not only wins those elections but does so convincingly.

54. A scenario where we win the majority of seats but fail to command a comfortable majority in the popular vote is not a good one. Let us face it, it would undermine our mandate. Although in other countries it is not uncommon for a party to win elections sometimes with numbers as low as 30%, our opponents seem to think our 52% gives them some hope and even reason to celebrate.

55. I know we can legally and legitimately exercise a mandate even with less than half of the popular vote, but this we should never aim at. If all Batswana who were carrying our cards in 2004 had voted for their party, we would have won with more than 60% of the popular vote.

OPPOSITION

56. As for the opposition, we should remember, that they still present no alternative to ourselves, united or separately. This is why Batswana look to us as their only hope. Our policies, programmes and projects are well thought out. I still do not know what our opposition stands for. This situation is further compounded by the very public disunity that currently plagues the main opposition party, the BNF.

57. Anyone who thinks their recent special congress has healed their rift has got another surprise coming. To begin with, the one group did not even accept the results and we are receiving reports of a divided and disenchanted opposition membership around the country.

58. We should not, however, just sit here and celebrate their current state of disarray. We must work hard to exploit it to our benefit. We should graphically point out their current state of affairs.
Imagine the leader of a political party contemplating to run in an election under another party name and symbol as we hear is being contemplated in Ramotswa! And as happened in Lobatse when the leader of PUSO, in the person of Modubule successfully usurped the BNF seat and came to Parliament. You could go through them one after another and still be left wondering. The answer is of course that there is still no alternative.

59. This is why it is laughable for an organization like the BCP, which is not even running for state power, to lampoon Botswana’s democracy. Our democratic credentials are impeccable. They constitute the foundation of our political culture. And as such they do not belong to a single party but to all Batswana.

60. An entity that dissociates itself from this democratic culture runs the risk, of being driven into the political wilderness by our voters. I would not be surprised if the lonely member the BCP has in Parliament, who is there by dint of our generosity, went into extinction after 2009.

61. Madomi a Mantle, as I mentioned at the recent Women’s Wing Congress, the Constitution of our country, quite properly decrees that I retire by the 31st March 2008. I thank you most sincerely for the support that you have always given me during my tenure as Party leader. I have no doubt that you will extend similar support to my successor, His Honour the Vice President, Lt General Seretse Khama Ian Khama. I should enjoy my retirement immensely if you would do so.

CONCLUSION

62. In conclusion, let me wish you well in your Congress and encourage you to be level headed in your discussions if you are to come up with meaningful resolutions. May I also ask that we end our Congress in the spirit of love and mutual respect that must reflect our current theme: Unity and hard Work: Towards 2009 and beyond. Those elected and their supporters must, as they celebrate their success, do so with the utmost restraint and have consideration for the feelings of those who will have been less fortunate.

63. Much as I will spend as much time with you as I can, the immediate affairs of the country require that I, as is usual, leave you at some point to join the people of Goodhope on President’s Day. I join Batswana in different parts of the country every year for these celebrations at this time.

64. It is now my singular honour and privilege to declare this the 32nd National Congress of the Botswana Democratic Party officially open. TSHOLETSA! TSHOLETSA!

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10/7/07 – from the World Bank Institute launches 2007 World Governance Indicators (WGI) Report:

With reference to the above, please find below [a] Statement by this Office, as well as [b] the full text of a media release received earlier this evening from the World Bank. The World Bank media release had been embargoed for forward transmission until 19hOO local time (CAT) (13h00 EST – Washington D.C.). Both statements’ can thus be understood as breaking news.

[a] “Botswana praised in latest World Governance Indicators Report

This Office is pleased to note that Botswana was once more been singled out for special praise by World Bank researchers in the context of today’s launch of the 2007 World Governance Indicators (WGI) Report, the full title of which is: “Governance Matters, 2007: Worldwide Governance Indicators 1996-2006”.

The launch was held at the World Bank Institute in Washington D.C.

In a statement released by the World Bank to coincide with the launch, Botswana has been singled out by researchers as being among a select group of developing countries that score higher on key dimensions of governance than a number of leading industrialized countries.

Botswana is the only African country to be so singled out in the statement. The other high achievers among those classified as “developing countries”, which are listed along with Botswana in the statement are Slovenia, Chile, Estonia, Uruguay, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, and Costa Rica.

The 2007 World Governance Indicators Report is said to represent a decade-long effort by a global network of researchers to build and update the most comprehensive cross-country set of governance indicators currently available to the public.

The latest indicators are further reported to cover a total of 212 countries and territories, drawing on 33 different data sources to capture the views of tens of thousands of survey respondents worldwide, as well as thousands of experts in the private, NGO, and public sectors.

This Office is also pleased to note that Botswana has performed well in all six of the Report’s identified components of good governance, which are:

1. Voice and Accountability – measuring the extent to which a country’s citizens are able to participate in selecting their government, as well as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and a free media.

2. Political Stability and Absence of Violence – measuring perceptions of the likelihood that the government will be destabilized or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including terrorism

3. Government Effectiveness – measuring the quality of public services, the quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures, the quality of policy formulation and implementation, and the credibility of the government’s commitment to such policies

4. Regulatory Quality – measuring the ability of the government to formulate and implement sound policies and regulations that permit and promote private sector development

5. Rule of Law – measuring the extent to which agents have confidence in and abide by the rules of society, and in particular the quality of contract enforcement, the police, and the courts, as well as the likelihood of crime and violence

6. Control of Corruption – measuring the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, including both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as “capture” of the state by elites and private interests.

The aggregate indicators as well as data from the underlying sources will be available at the website www.govindicators.org, which currently posts last’s year’s aggregate data.

According to the World Bank statement measuring various countries’ governance performance, and their improvements over time, is both a key item on the international governance agenda and a complex challenge, as governance has many dimensions, each with inherent measurement challenges. It goes on to state that the Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project shows how this challenge can be met.

[b] [World Bank Institute] Press Release No: 2007/009/WBI… [The Release is now accessible online at – www.worldbank.org]

E2) 11/7/06: “Botswana a global leader in Political Stability”

The World Bank Institute report “Governance Matters, 2007: Worldwide Governance Indicators 1996-2006”, which was released yesterday, has ranked Botswana among the global leaders for Political Stability and the Absence of Violence.

With a score of 92.8% Botswana was ranked number 16 in the category out of the 212 countries and territories covered by the study, as well as number one in Africa. The score also placed Botswana above:

* all of the G8 nations, i.e. Canada (80.3), France (61.5), Germany (75.0), Italy (56.3), Japan (85.1), Russia (23.6), UK (61.1), and USA (57.7);

* all but 2 of the member states of the European Union, i.e. Finland (99.0), Luxemburg (99.5);

* all but 2 countries/territories in the Western Hemisphere, i.e. Aruba (95.7), St. Kitts & Nevis (94.2);

* all but 3 countries/territories in Asia, i.e. Bhutan (95.2), Brunei (93.3), and Singapore (94.7).

The 2007 World Governance Indicators Report is said to reflect a decade-long effort by a global network of researchers to build and update the most comprehensive cross-country set of governance indicators currently available to the public. Its composite indicators for 212 countries and territories have been drawn from 33 different data sources to capture the views of tens of thousands of survey respondents worldwide, as well as thousands of experts in the private, NGO, and public sectors.

Botswana scored exceptionally well for all six areas identified by the Report as being the key components of good governance. As labelled in the report itself, these are:

1) “Voice and Accountability” – measuring political, civil and human rights;

2) “Political Stability and Absence of Violence” – measuring the likelihood of violent threats to, or changes in, government, including terrorism;

3) “Government Effectiveness” – measuring the competence of the bureaucracy and the quality of public service delivery;

4) “Regulatory Quality” – measuring the incidence of market-unfriendly policies;

5) “Rule of Law” – measuring the quality of contract enforcement, the police, and the courts, including judiciary independence, and the incidence of crime; and

6) “Control of Corruption” – measuring the abuse of public power for private gain, including petty and grand corruption and state capture by elites.

With a composite score for all of the above categories of 74 Botswana occupies first position in Africa, followed by Mauritius (72) Cape Verde (66), South Africa (65), Namibia (62) and Seychelles (55).
13/7/07: 2007 Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) Africa Top Ten wrap up: “Botswana leads the way, as African countries make progress”

According to a now widely circulated news article, originally published in the New York Times, Africa has been portrayed “as a continent of great variety, with some countries making extraordinary progress over the past decade” in the latest World Bank Institute study “Governance Matters, 2007: Worldwide Governance Indicators 1996-2006”, which was released earlier this week in Washington D.C.

The article further cites the World Bank’s own descriptions of the study as providing strong evidence to contradict the notion of “Afro-pessimism”, while, moreover, establishing that wealthy, industrialized nations must also struggle with challenges of corruption and bad governance. In this respect the study is seen as a credible counter to negative media stereotypes of Africa as a whole as somehow being a continent that is uniquely mired in corruption, misrule and violence.

When combined, the World Bank Institute Report’s indicators place Botswana among the global leaders, as well as number one in Africa, for good governance. At the Report’s launch Botswana was thus singled out as being among an emerging group of developing countries that had scored higher on key dimensions of governance than many leading industrialized countries.

Described as the world’s most comprehensive database on governance issues, the Report incorporates composite indicators for a total of 212 countries and territories, which have been drawn from 33 different data sources. These are said to capture the views of tens of thousands of survey respondents worldwide, as well as thousands of experts in the private, NGO, and public sectors.

Botswana’s composite WGI score was 74, while Africa’s other top ten overall performers were, as ranked, were: Mauritius (72), Cape Verde (66), South Africa (65), Namibia (62), Ghana (55), Seychelles (55), Tunisia (53), Madagascar (48) and Lesotho (48).

In achieving its top score Botswana was also ranked well above the international norm, as well as in first, second or third position for Africa in each of the sub-category indexes for the six areas that were identified by the Report as being key components of good governance.

Botswana score and rank among Africa’s top ten for each of the six is reproduced below:

I. “Political Stability and Absence of Violence Index”, which is a composite of indicators measuring the likelihood of violent threats to, or changes in, government, including terrorism:

Botswana (93), Seychelles (84), Mauritius (79), Cape Verde (79), Namibia (75), Mozambique (64), Benin (59), Zambia (57), Libya (55), and Ghana (55). (In this index Botswana was also ranked 16 out of the 212 countries and territories surveyed.)

II. “Voice and Accountability Index”, which is a composite of indicators measuring political, civil and human rights:

Mauritius (75), Cape Verde (74), Botswana (67), South Africa (67), Benin (66), Namibia (61), Ghana (60), Mali (58), Lesotho (56), Seychelles (54).

III “Government Effectiveness Index”, which is a composite indicators measuring the competence of the bureaucracy and the quality of public service delivery:

South Africa (77), Botswana (74), Mauritius (72), Tunisia (71), Cape Verde (62), Namibia (59), Ghana (57), Morocco (56), Seychelles (53), Madagascar (50).

IV. “Regulatory Quality Index”, which is a composite of indicators measuring the incidence of market-unfriendly policies;

South Africa (70), Mauritius (67), Botswana (63), Tunisia (58), Namibia (57), Ghana (51), Morocco (48), Cape Verde (45), Madagascar (43), Senegal (42).

V. “Rule of Law Index”, which is a composite of indicators measuring the quality of contract enforcement, the police, and the courts, including judiciary independence, and the incidence of crime:

Mauritius (76), Botswana (67), Cape Verde (66), Tunisia (60), Namibia (57), South Africa (57), Seychelles (55), Morocco (53), Ghana (51), Lesotho (49).

VI. “Control of Corruption Index”, which is a composite of indicators measuring the abuse of public power for private gain, including petty and grand corruption and state capture by elites:

Botswana (78), Cape Verde (72), South Africa (71), Mauritius (66), Tunisia (62), Namibia (61), Seychelles (61), Lesotho (58), Morocco (57), Rwanda (56).

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11/7/07: Report from VOA News  www.voanews.com) – “Six African Countries Win High Marks in New Study of Religious Freedoms”

Six African countries – Botswana, Mali, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, and Kenya – rank among the world’s most tolerant societies in terms of religious freedoms. That’s according to the latest study by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. It measured the amount of government regulation, government favouritism toward a particular religion, and the amount of social pressures and constraints imposed by other faiths and organized groups in the country.

These factors, along with a high economic correlation had a close bearing on the study’s rankings of more than 100 countries worldwide. Eritrea and Sudan ranked among the most restrictive. Paul Marshall is the Hudson Institute Centre’s Senior Fellow and editor of its latest study, Religious Freedom in the World 2007. In Washington, he said that the 20 African countries studied revealed several success stories and also displayed some surprising anomalies.

“Sub-Saharan Africa scores lower than western Europe and the North Atlantic countries, all of which tend to score pretty highly with ones, twos, or threes. It scores better than North Africa and West Asia (sometimes called the greater Middle East),” he says……”The study shows that religious freedom correlates very well with firstly economic freedom, and the development of markets. Secondly, it correlates with economic well-being, that income levels measure equality. It actually correlates even better than income with indexing, as measured in this context, by numbers of cell phones in use. And we have grounds to believe that we can actually show, in general, religious freedom helps development. This is true in Sub-Saharan Africa especially,” he says.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 31st, 2006
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has published its second Sustainable Development Annual Report.

The report can be found at:
 www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutD…

Defence objectives are fully consistent with the aspirations of sustainable development.

MoD’s sustainable development policies and processes are at an early stage of development and this report sets out the Department’s long-term sustainability objectives.

The report highlights MOD’s performance across fourteen priority themes and its continued efforts to minimise and reduce the impact that defence activities have on the environment and the wider community. Several case studies are highlighted. The report also sets out eight new additional themes.

The report also begins to set out how the Armed Forces make an ongoing contribution to sustainable development on an international scale, by strengthening international peace and security and acting as a Force for Good in the world.

Some of the positive outcomes from 2005 are:

– the increased proportion of electricity bought from renewable sources, up to 7% against a target of 10%.
– Record numbers of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) meeting the statutory conservation bodies’ standards in favourable/unfavourable-recovering condition.

The report has, once again, been verified by an independent environmental consultancy. The report is only available as a pdf.

MoD’s UK estate is about 1.5 times the size of London. MoD has locations throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The estate comprises around 4,000 sites, 50,000 houses across 240,000 hectares and MoD has rights to train over an additional 125,000 hectares.
The Defence footprint also extends beyond the UK with forces stationed in more than 20 countries including garrisons or detachments in the Falklands Islands, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Ascension Island and at Diego Garcia.

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Visit www.CorporateRegister.com to access this publication together with a further 12,000 CSR reports.

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