Category Archives: Development

Jan Lokpal : The Beginning of an End

I agree I have my reservations about individuals being given credit of a group’s achievement. It’s like you boss being accredited for all the hard work you put in. You break your back all round the year for a meager hike and your manager goes for a all expenses paid trip to Pataya!

Anna Hazare

What exactly did Anna Hazare do get so much credit after all?  Is it all just because of the 98 hour fast of this 71-year old ex-army man?

For a layman like me:

  • He united both, the people who sit in boardrooms and crib about corruption and the people who hang on footboard of train everyday and crib about the same.
  • He made the statesmen wake up and realize that the same herd that they drive every five years can be driven by someone else.
  • He made things move so much for the first time in over 60 years on this account.

People from all walks of life came out on the streets to say that they had enough. It wasn’t just the educated and elite from the metros but people from smaller towns like Kochi, Patna, Nashik, Asansol, Ranchi as well who came out to register their protest against corruption. The protest spilled well over the borders and we saw Indians in USA also joining in with fasts and candle light vigils. New York City witnessed 300-400 NRIs and Indian expatriates converge on New York’s iconic Times Square at noon on April 9 in support of Hazare’s crusade, other groups held meetings in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. This wasn’t one of the forums of Arundhati Roys and Mahesh Bhatts of India who come out to cry their heart out in favor of naxalites. This is a movement of the common man and we saw the common man on the street.

The government which claims to be the government of the “Common Man” did a complete U-turn within a span of 10-12 hours. Starting from a no negotiation mode to issuing a Gazette, the government not only made it look like they were against masses, they also lost face on account of nominating members on the drafting committee. The instance of Sharad Pawar “quitting” the Group of Ministers (GoM) panel on corruption after reservations made by Anna Hazare and the failed counter-attack by Pawar’s party.

From Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s initial expression of “deep disappointment” when Hazare confirmed his decision to go on a fast from April 5 and called upon the nation to join in, to issue of the notification. What made this happen. Taking cue from the fast catching up public unrest, Law Minister Veerappa Moily made recommendations to the government.

For four days, the UPA government was adamant on not yielding to the demands for a new draft of the Lokpal Bill. The government’s perspective changed dramatically yesterday afternoon — after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh received a letter from Law Minister M Veerappa Moily.

Moily told the PM that Anna Hazare’s fast unto death was fast catching the imagination of the people, and favoured an immediate resolution of the issue, sources said.

Many senior government functionaries were against the idea of having an activist as either the chairman or co-chairman of the proposed joint committee to draft the new Bill. But Moily was learnt to have suggested that the government should agree to a former Chief Justice of India as chairman of the committee. Chairmanship of the committee, he was learnt to have argued, must not be turned into a prestige issue.

Source: IndianExpress

The support of people was key to the whole movement and surely made the government think. Now the government has issued an official Gazette and the Drafting committee formed to draft the Bill to be tabled in the Monsoon Session. The committee has been asked to submit the draft by June 30, 2011.

Here is the text of the Gazette issued by government:

The Joint Drafting Committee shall consist of five nominee ministers of the Government of India and five nominees of Shri Anna Hazare (including himself).

The five nominee Ministers of the Government of India are as under:

Pranab Mukherjee, Union Minister of Finance, P Chidambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs, M Veerappa Moily, Union Minister of Law and Justice, Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource and Development and Minister of Communication and Information Technology and Salman Khursheed, Union Minister of Water Resources and Minister of Minority Affairs.

The five nominees of Anna Hazare (including himself) are as under:

Anna Hazare, Justice N Santosh Hegde, Shanti Bhushan, Senior Advocate, Prashan Bhushan, Advocate and Arvind Kejriwal.

The Chairperson of the Joint Drafting Committee shall be Pranab Mukherjee.

The Co-Chairperson of the Joint Drafting Committee shall be Shanti Bhushan.

The Convenor of the Join Drafting Committee shall be M Veerappa Moily.

The Joint Drafting Committee shall commence its work forthwith and evolve its own procedure to prepare the proposed legislation.

The Joint Drafting Committee shall complete its work latest by 30th June, 2011.

Source: Hindu

The Gazette can be accessed here: lawmin.nic

Now what remains to be seen is how serious is the government about allowing the civil society have its say in the drafting of the bill and how serious is the government in actually executing a tough law. Going by the track record it has established in last few months in the way the case of Adarsh ScamA Raja and Suresh Kalmadi, people like me still have a reason to be skeptical. At the same time if the civil society which is the common people like me, keep the tempo up, I see no reason why this tough act can’t be instituted and acted upon.

The coming few weeks will decide how this war will end. Anna has already indicated that this is a long battle and people should be ready for it.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Development

The (Un)Common Misadventure?

CWG-Delhi-2010

Abraham Lincoln once said:

God must love the common man, he made so many of them.

It seems that God did not like the Indian common man as he made so many politicians and bureaucrats to make their life tough if not hell.

Amidst rising inflation, poverty and lack of basic amenities plaguing the common man, politicians are busy playing the game they play best: mudslinging.

The latest example is the (non-)issue about the CommonWealth Games (CWG). Two of the top-notch politicians of the ruling coalition are busy mudslinging at each other while the repute of the nation is at stake. The worst part is the truth that billions have already been spent, overshooting the initial budget and still things are chaotic. All this at the cost of hard earned money of the poor common man.

This speaks of amongst other the following failures:

Old time arch-rivals senior Congress leader, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Suresh Kalmadi, Congress leader and Chairman of the organizing committee of the CWG, are busy making accusations against each other while the preparations for the games are in a limbo. To give the matter an even more shameful flavor, the recent revelations by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) ranging from allegations like:

  • Award of works at higher rates – One of the accusations here are:

In the bid of L1, rates of some items and discount offered by the firm at the end of BOQ were tampered either by cutting or by overwriting in the price bid after opening in order to increase the quoted amount to avail the difference of Rs. 3,62,72,229/- between the next higher quoted amounts without changing the overall status.

  • Poor quality assurance – One among a list of eleven accusations CVC’s inspection note reveals :

Lot of deviations taken from the approved scheme of the Government without obtaining the approval of the competent authority. Specially poles of 12 meter length (Agreement rate of Rs. 28,358/-) and 10 meter length (Agreement rate of Rs. 28,974/-) have been deviated in such a manner which is beneficial to the agency with extra burden of about Rs. 1,13,32,464/-.

  • Award of work to ineligible agencies – CVC’s note states in one case:

Work finally had to be terminated which resulted into time and cost overrun

    Source: cvc.nic.in

    What is even more shocking and disturbing is the CVC revelation that the materials used in the construction failed “stress-test”. Basic safety norms are being openly flouted. Electricity installations remained to be tested for common checks like insulation test. With rains pouring and large crowd expected for the event, it is a dangerous proposition.

    As different parties peg the amount spent on the games at different levels, everyone agrees that it has zoomed way past the initial estimates and the whole proposition to organize the games is being questioned. A Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Government of India press release dated July 29, 2010 pegs the figures as below:

    • Expected Income as per the CWG Organizing Committee (OC)  – Rs. 1,708 crore
    • Expected Expenditure on condust of the games – Rs.2,394 crore (includes Overlays, Timing, Scoring, Result System and Games Time Sports Equipment)
    • Indian Olympic Association (IOA) estimate of expenditure (2003) – Rs.655 crore
    • Current estimates – Rs.11,494 crore (apart from expenditure of Sports Infrastructure and Conduct of the Games, also expenditure on Security, Broadcasting, Telecommunication, Training of Sportspersons, allocation to Government of Delhi etc.)

    Some sources peg the amount at Rs. 35, 000 crores (close to USD 8, 000 millions, Indian per capita GDP– USD 3, 100).  Mani Shankar Aiyar also alleged that India had bribed the various nations to take the game.

    “To take the Games, the Olympic association of every Commonwealth country was given $1 lakh ($100,000); it was given to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Britain. Those countries did not need this money,” he said. “I would call it a bribe, I don’t know what it is called from the legal point of view.”

    Source: EconomicTimes.IndiaTimes.com

    Aiyar openly declared that he would be happy if the “Games are spoilt”. Organizing such games and events are a good way to showcase the growth and cultural diversity of a nation to attract investment and tourism but the way this event is being managed, it will raise more doubts about Indian acumen and competence rather than creating a positive impact.

    “I am very happy with the rains, firstly because it will ensure a good agriculture for the country and secondly because it will ensure that the Commonwealth Games are spoilt,” Aiyar said candidly.

    Source: EconomicTimes.IndiaTimes.com

    As of now the CWG seems to have become a White Elephant which no one is ready to own. Games OC Chairman, Kalmadi has already wiped-off his hand from allegations of corruption.

    As the countdown clock on the games official page happily ticks away to the D-day, organizers are feeling the heat. CVC as well as the opposition parties and now even constituents of the ruling coalition are raising doubts on the successful conduct of the games. Delhi Finance Minister and a member of the Delhi government Commonwealth Coordination Committee, AK Walia has also gone on records, stating that he was not sure if all stadiums would be ready by the August 15 deadline for the Games.

    Come October 15, 2010, the day the games begin: the world is watching.

    3 Comments

    Filed under Development, Economy, World

    Asian Politicians you will hear of soon

    Varun Gandhi - BJP Secretary

    Politicians and Politics in some way or the other, touch each one of our lives daily.  We can love or hate them but we cannot ignore them. The Diplomat, an international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region recently brought out a series of publications on politicians to watch out for.

    The Indian fire band leader and Secretary of India’s main opposition party The Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP), Mr. Varun Gandhi featured as one of the leaders to watch out for. Already making headlines due to his comments on various issues and being accused of professing a politics of “hate“, Varun is being seen as one of the leading figures in the BJP’s youth stable.

    Other politicians figuring on the list are:

    The Diplomat states:

    In 2009, 29-year-old Varun Gandhi was elected to parliament by the biggest margin (nearly 400,000 votes) of any other new member of his party—main opposition group the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The emphatic win quickly marked him out as one to watch on the Indian political scene.
    Despite being a member of India’s foremost political family, Varun—cousin to fellow ‘new generation’ politician Rahul Gandhi and the grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi—broke the mould by joining the BJP in 2004, instead of the Indian National Congress, with which his family has traditionally been aligned. He has stated that the BJP’s recent values better reflect his and the original ones held by the Congress on issues such as nationalism, for which he is a strong proponent.
    Often portrayed as more direct and confrontational than his cousin Rahul, Varun Gandhi has emerged as the hero of the ‘Hindutva’ forces, or those seeking to ensure that Hindus in India get the same status as presently enjoyed by Muslims in Pakistan. The cousins may well end up competing head-on with each other at some point in the future as they try to persuade the Indian electorate to choose between their societal visions.

    In 2009, 29-year-old Varun Gandhi was elected to parliament by the biggest margin (nearly 400,000 votes) of any other new member of his party—main opposition group the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The emphatic win quickly marked him out as one to watch on the Indian political scene.Despite being a member of India’s foremost political family, Varun—cousin to fellow ‘new generation’ politician Rahul Gandhi and the grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi—broke the mould by joining the BJP in 2004, instead of the Indian National Congress, with which his family has traditionally been aligned. He has stated that the BJP’s recent values better reflect his and the original ones held by the Congress on issues such as nationalism, for which he is a strong proponent.Often portrayed as more direct and confrontational than his cousin Rahul, Varun Gandhi has emerged as the hero of the ‘Hindutva’ forces, or those seeking to ensure that Hindus in India get the same status as presently enjoyed by Muslims in Pakistan. The cousins may well end up competing head-on with each other at some point in the future as they try to persuade the Indian electorate to choose between their societal visions.

    Source: the-diplomat.com

    Indian the largest democracy of the world faces deep rooted issues ranging from Corruption to Crime, from Poverty to Population. While this new breed of politicians surely are looked upon as hope for a new India, the politics of family itself raises concerns about the agenda that they may profess.

    Hopefully while following Nationalism, Varun will put “Nation” first.

    Leave a comment

    Filed under Development

    Children of Taliban

    Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist who has been working in Pakistan and Afghanistan documenting the rise of the Taliban and other radical factions since 2001. She is working on a pilot project to counter radicalization in Pakistan and is writing her first book. TED, a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading,” hosts talks on many subjects and makes them available through its website.

    Source: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Inside a school for suicide bombers

    Sharmeen speaks at a TED event about the dynamics of the suicide bombers and terrorism with a different perspective.

    Sharmeen’s full interview with CNN is here.

    The Taliban are running suicide schools inside Pakistan, preparing a generation of boys for atrocities against civilians.In my documentary on the subject, “Children of the Taliban,” I came across the cases of many young men who were committed to giving up their lives for what they believed to be the glory of Islam. Fifteen-year-old Zainullah blew himself up, killing six people. Another boy, Sadiq, killed 22 and Masood killed 28.

    Since more than 60 percent of the population of Pakistan is under age 25, it seems there will always be a steady supply of recruits waiting to create havoc in the country.The Tehreek-i-Taliban and the various extremist organizations that have been allowed to fester across the country have now joined hands, increasing the reach of their network, sharing recruits, plans, training centers, materials and safe houses.

    It was only a matter of time before this would happen, since the Pakistani government’s flawed policy of fighting “Bad Taliban” –those who carry out attacks inside Pakistan — and turning a blind eye to “Good Taliban” — those who carry out attacks outside Pakistan — was bound to come back and haunt them and it has.

    Since 2003, the number of suicide bombings has grown exponentially across Pakistan. In 2009, 78 attacks occurred across the country; this year more than 29 attacks have taken place. The Tehreek-i-Taliban is boasting that they have an army of suicide bombers waiting in the ranks to carry out more attacks at their command — and I believe them.

    This is no ragtag army fighting in the mountains of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, until recently called the Northwest Frontier Province. These people have a vision, are well trained and their recruitment process is tried and tested.

    In urban centers, the Taliban recruit from two fronts, Islamic madrassas and low-income neighborhoods. They have a network of sympathizers who run radical Islamic schools, providing free education to the very poor. Typically, older Taliban fighters or recruiters spend an evening at one of these schools, glorifying the front lines, showing students videos of their heroics, and talking to them about paradise and the afterlife.The students they address have already been primed by years of brainwashing; they have no access to entertainment, sports, books or even their family. The madrassa is the only home they know, they are often beaten by their teachers, told to study the Koran for hours at a stretch in Arabic, a language alien to them. They are frustrated and suddenly, they are provided with an opportunity to give their life up in the name of Islam and earn glory.

    They are promised lakes of milk and honey and virgins in the afterlife. The young boys I speak with say to me: Why would I want to live in this world — where they rely on charity, dry pieces of bread and water, where they are subjected to harsh treatment, when they can be free and be the envy of their colleagues in the afterlife. They are only too eager to sign on the dotted line and join the ranks of the Taliban.

    In the past few years, the Taliban have relied on other radical organizations, like Jaish-e Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, to recruit young men from low-income neighborhoods in smaller urban centers.

    These organizations have had a presence there for years; first they recruited young men to fight in Afghanistan against the Soviets, then in Kashmir against the Indian Army. The Taliban have just re-activated these lucrative networks.

    Smaller urban centers tend to have high levels of unemployment and the youth have fewer outlets to expend their energy. These radical organizations lure in young men from mosques after Friday sermons, from college campuses and through local neighborhood recruiters.

    The young men who show slight interest are invited to selected safe houses where trained recruiters begin brainwashing them. A young man I met in Karachi described the process to me, telling me that in the end he could not carry out the attacks, but that almost everyone he knew from his group was now working for the Taliban and their affiliates.

    Once inside the safe house, the young men are provided literature, so-called proof, about the atrocities supposedly being committed by the government of Pakistan at the behest of the United States.

    Then, lengthy discussions ensue about their future. Will they ever have jobs, will they be able to provide for their families in this corrupt environment? Would they not want to be part of a process that changes the country and brings accountability? They are promised money, their families are promised compensation and the radical organizations then begin the next phase — training.

    A number of young men who had gone through this ideological brainwashing period told me that training to be a bomber was their best option to get out of poverty. They said that they believe in the cause, because these people understood their needs, and provided them with opportunities, while the rest of society shunned them. Weeks of brainwashing also convinced them that they are fighting an evil and are working toward creating a just ideal Islamic society.

    There is very little deterrent to suicide bombings, especially in a Third World country like Pakistan. Fighting the Taliban and the various radical organizations on the front lines is like adding a Band-Aid to a cut, it may stop the bleeding but unless you clean it with antiseptic, the germs stay and multiply.

    The Pakistani government and its allies must overhaul their policies in Pakistan. They must tackle the madrassa system of education head on and they must look to provide alternate avenues and employment for the youth.

    Thousands of civilians have lost their lives to terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, and thousands more will — because, unlike the Pakistani government, which has no coherent policy to deal with the radicals, the Taliban have one to deal with Pakistan and its citizens.

    Source: CNN.com

    As Sharmeen truly points out, its a lot of socio-economic variables as play. Raw power cannot succeed at rooting out terrorism and this has been proved by the experience of US and allied forces not being able to root out Taliban from Afghanistan. In fact leveraging religious fanaticism, Taliban is gaining grounds elsewhere in various forms and formats. Be it in developing nations like India through organizations like LeT (or by any other name) or in nations like Yemen where religious belief as well as internal instability fuel its growth.

    So while our security forces battle it out with terrorists, government and other development agencies need to figure out more inclusive growth policies. The sooner the better.

    2 Comments

    Filed under Development, World

    BP (mis)handles Gulf of Mexico Oil Spew

    Beyond Petroleum?

    The recent industrial accident in the Gulf of Mexico due to the oil well rupture from the British Petroleum (BP) has raised global cries against the petroleum giant and it’s claim of acting to contain the damage. While BP has gone on a PR war to contain the damage to it’s image, gulf residents and environmentalists are up in arms to take the fight to BP’s door.

    Not many would remember the 2007, exit of the then BP CEO, Lord John Browne, who was removed owing to his sexual preferences and private life being exposed. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld in BusinessWeek had written an article which claimed to bring out “the real scandal at BP“. The article leveled a wide array of charges against BP ranging from PR misadventures to wrong business decisions being made by the BP boss.

    Browne himself set the bar high. In addition to acquiring Amoco and Arco, he launched BP’s $200 million image campaign with the tagline that BP stands for “Beyond Petroleum”–embodying principles such as “delivering performance without tradeoffs” in areas ranging from worker safety to the environment. But two years ago, examining actual expenditures in alternative energy, Greenpeace gave Browne an award for the “Best Impression of an Environmentalist.”

    Source: businessweek.com

    The reason Browne’s memory comes to forth is the recent incident where environmental concerns and PR mismanagement are visible.

    Demonstrators claim that the Worldwide BP Protest Day will be marked in over 50 cities in 5 continents on Saturday, June 12, 2010. Protesters are using any and every mode of communication possible. Social media and networking sites are flooded by such communities. The worst thing for BP is the fact that such protests are getting a lot of support.

    • The Facebook Worldwide BP Protest Day page
    • The CODEPINK protest page
    • Boycottbp.org
    • The Financial Times list top-10 online and offline protests:
    • 1 Million Strong Against Offshore Drilling: FB Page started by 350.org,the group is growing steadily with 135,000 fans and counting.
    • Boycott BP: Unquestionably the fastest-growing online movement, Boycott BP started as a Facebook group and is now expanding to multiple international websites. The group asks the public to boycott all BP stations including Castrol, Arco, Aral and AM/PM. The group’s followers have swelled to 450,000.
    • BPGlobalPR: The satirical Twitter feed @BPGlobalPR. (Latest one reads: “Having a conscience was definitely not in the job description when I took the position. ^Tony“)
    • Public Citizen arrest: On June 4 a coalition of nonprofit organizations gathered in Washington, D.C., to make a “citizen’s arrest” of an effigy of BP CEO Tony Hayward. The coalition is now calling for a three-month boycott of BP.
    • World BP Protest Day: June 12 will mark a worldwide protest of BP. Also being organized on Facebook, the group now has commitments for a march in 33 cities.
    • Code Pink: You have to love the brave and impassioned Code Pink Women for Peace.
    • Seize BP: The group wants the U.S. government to seize all of BP’s assets and use them to pay back the damages from the oil spill. Not likely, but they make their point!
    • Change.org’s full debarment plan: Change.org is asking to push the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recommend a full “discretionary debarment” of BP, which means no more U.S. government contracts, no new leases in the U.S. and all existing leases canceled. The EPA was already investigating the possibility for debarment and it is expected the agency will open the issue to public comment in the near future.
    • Beyond Oil
    • Hands Across the Sand

    Source: FinancialPost.com

    It’s clear that BP had never expected as much public outcry on this issue. Now that it has muck flying from every corner, BP is going all out to control the damage, at least the BP damage. It’s home page is splashed with the damage control initiatives it has taken and is being updated constantly.

    Politicians in US too are not behind. While they may be honest about their concerns or just trying to gain some political mileage but the fact remains that BP’s mismanagement and misrepresentation about the extent of damage have led to questions being raised on it’s integrity.

    BP misrepresented what their technology could do,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday. “They misrepresented the amount of oil that was being spewed forth into the Gulf and continued to do so.”

    This is a matter of integrity,” Pelosi said. “BP stated that they had the technology to drill deep, to prevent a blowout and that they had the technology to clean up, and none of these things happened to be a fact.”

    Source: CNN.com

    On one hand while the world is ready to go all out against the global petroleum gaint, billionaire and Mayor of the New York City stood by the company. In a statement on a radio show Bloomberg went on record to support BP.

    “The guy that runs BP didn’t exactly go down there and blow up the well,” he told a radio program. “And what’s more, if you want them to fix it and they are the ones with the expertise, I think I might wait to assign blame until we get it fixed.”

    Source: CNN.com

    The British PM David Cameron too had similar sentiments which seemed to be fueled more by “economic” motives.

    The prime minister explained that he was frustrated and concerned about the environmental damage caused by the leak, but made clear his view that BP is an economically important company in the UK, US and other countries,” the spokesman said in a news release.

    He said that it is in everyone’s interests that BP continues to be a financially strong and stable company.”

    Source: CNN.com

    While officials, protesters and other interest groups are fighting a pitched battle, oil continues to leak. BP is taking measures to contain the damage but would it be enough?

    Leave a comment

    Filed under Development, World

    TEDxHitechCity – Karuna Gopal – The Truth about Indian Cities

    Karuna Gopal from the Foundation of Futuristic Cities was the main speaker at a recent Tedx conference (TEDx: TEDx is a new program that enables local communities such as schools, businesses, libraries, neighborhoods or just groups of friends to organize, design and host their own independent, TED-like events.).

    As always Karuna’s fiery talk was about Indian cities and their state. She highlighted the poor state our cities are in and the need for their development on our future.

    The topic of Karuna’s talk was: The Truth about Indian Cities.

    Watch her talk about the issues and how important they are:

    Karuna’s organization the Foundation for Futuristic Cities has done pioneering work in the area of City Development and is determined to carry it forward.

    1 Comment

    Filed under Development

    Afghanistan: Trained forces far, financial independence farther

    Afghanistan: Eye-on-War

    While the world leaders opened a major international conference on Afghanistan’s future in London on Thursday, President Hamid Karzai admitted that it could take anything between 5 to 10 years for Afghan forces to take over from the American-led coalition fighting the Taliban. He further clarified that it may take even longer to end his nation’s dependence on financial aid to sustain its military.

    Leaders from around 70 nations including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Canadian Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are attending the one day conference. Mr. Brown announced that the transfer of responsibilities from coalition forces to the Afghan forces would start this year.

    This is a decisive time for the international cooperation that is helping the Afghan people secure and govern their own country,” Mr. Brown said. “This conference marks the beginning of the transition process,” he said, referring to the handover to Afghan authorities of responsibility for security.

    The coalition forces are targeting to weaken Taliban by dividing their forces using a central fund of about USD500 million being projected as a “pay-for-peace” plan. The proposal is targeted to bring the Taliban fighters to civilian fold.

    Ban Ki-moon has named Staffan de Mistura, a veteran Swedish diplomat, as the new top U.N. official in Afghanistan. De Mistura, has been a former U.N. representative in Iraq. He will start his stint on March 1 this year.

    As the coalition nations plan the next steps the plan to attract the Taliban cadres may seem to be bit tough given the fact that the U.S. military intelligence believes that the Taliban now has shadow governments in 33 of 34 provinces. Taliban sources meanwhile responded in a strong tone to the conference, calling for an immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces.

    It is a matter of great sorrow that the invaders led by U.S.A. are bent on sticking to the military approach of the issue,” the statement said.

    We want to say clearly, if the invaders want to save themselves from further financial and life losses, they should not deceive their people by illusory plans and strategies, nor they should waste time on them, or make our people face further sufferings and problems. They should accept the solution put forward by the Islamic Emirate, which is the full withdrawal of the invading forces from our country.

    A second major gathering of the leaders is expected to take place in Kabul, in a few months from now.

    Leave a comment

    Filed under Development, World