May 15, 2011


[“In the Congress, this is a make-or-break moment” for aid to Pakistan, Mr. Kerry said in an interview just before he left for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr. Kerry said he would tell Pakistan that there needed to be “a real demonstration of commitment” to fighting terrorist groups in the next few months. But he will also reassure Pakistani officials that they will be a central part of any political accord with the Taliban in Afghanistan, to ease their fears that India will take over large areas of Afghanistan as the United States pulls out.]

In Karachi on Saturday, Pakistanis held a rally to
voice support for the nation's military and its
main intelligence service.
WASHINGTON — The United States and Pakistan are veering toward a deeper clash, with Pakistan’s Parliament demanding a permanent halt to all drone strikes just as the most senior American official since the killing of Osama bin Laden is to arrive with a stern message that the country has only months to show it is committed to rooting out Al Qaeda and associated groups.
The United States has increased drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas in the past 10 days in an effort to exploit the uncertainty and disarray among militant ranks caused by Bin Laden’s death on May 2. The latest airstrikes, on Friday, occurred as Pakistan’s spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, in a rare appearance before the nation’s Parliament, denounced the American raid as a “sting operation.”
Parliament then passed a resolution declaring that the drone strikes were a violation of sovereignty equivalent to the secret attack on Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad. The lawmakers warned that Pakistan could cut the supply lines to American forces in Afghanistan if there were more such attacks. The resolution contained no condemnation of a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, who killed more than 80 Pakistani paramilitary cadets on Friday.
Pakistan stepped up its condemnations of the United States as Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a longtime emissary to Pakistan in times of crisis, was preparing to land in Islamabad. He was arriving with a list of actions — and some offers from Washington to ease tensions — that he finalized in meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, and other top American security officials.
A senior administration official said Saturday that the United States would try to use the threat of Congressional cuts to the $3 billion in annual American aid to Pakistan as leverage. Any evidence of Pakistan’s complicity in sheltering Bin Laden — culled from the hundreds of computer flash drives and documents recovered in the raid — could also be used, the official said. So far, no such evidence has been found.
“In the Congress, this is a make-or-break moment” for aid to Pakistan, Mr. Kerry said in an interview just before he left for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr. Kerry said he would tell Pakistan that there needed to be “a real demonstration of commitment” to fighting terrorist groups in the next few months. But he will also reassure Pakistani officials that they will be a central part of any political accord with the Taliban in Afghanistan, to ease their fears that India will take over large areas of Afghanistan as the United States pulls out.
The Obama administration has said nothing about the Pakistani government’s criticisms, in the hope that they are designed to alleviate public anger and the Pakistani military’s embarrassment that American forces attacked the Bin Laden compound without being detected. Mr. Donilon and other senior administration officials declined to be interviewed about the administration’s strategy.
The American reticence stems in part from the reality that such ultimatums have been sent before — most recently after the arrest of Raymond Davis, a Central Intelligence Agency contractor who shot two Pakistanis during what he said was a robbery. Pakistan has repeatedly called the administration’s bluff and revealed the threats as hollow. The United States relies heavily on transit routes in Pakistan to supply American troops in Afghanistan, and any move to cut off aid would probably lead Pakistan to close the supply routes, as it has done during previous disputes.
Mr. Kerry is arriving at the moment of highest tension between the two countries since Pakistan, given little choice, formally broke with the Taliban and allied with the United States just after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Mr. Kerry said both countries must make “fundamental choices” about their relationship.
“I have had some of these conversations with Pakistan before,” he said, “but never in the context of the world’s No. 1 terrorist being found 35 miles from the capital, next door to Pakistan’s West Point, and with the discovery he was fully, fully operational.”
Mr. Kerry’s main piece of negotiating leverage is Pakistan’s uncertainty about what officials are finding in the trove of computer data — which Mr. Donilon has compared to “a small college library” — about Pakistani complicity hiding the Qaeda leader. American officials say they believe the top leaders of the country were genuinely surprised about Bin Laden’s whereabouts, based on their reaction to phone calls from the administration on the night of the raid and electronic surveillance of Pakistani government communications.
But the officials strongly suspect that others in the government, the military or the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, the main intelligence agency, were aware of Bin Laden’s location. So far the United States has not said what kind of inquiry Pakistan should conduct to answer those questions, and given the political atmosphere surrounding Bin Laden’s killing, they question whether any such investigation would be thorough or credible.
Mr. Kerry will also raise an issue that the administration has refused to discuss publicly: Pakistan’s escalating production of nuclear fuel to expand its arsenal of 100 or so nuclear weapons. Members of Congress, in closed sessions, have complained that since the $3 billion American annual aid to the Pakistani military is fungible, the United States is effectively helping bankroll the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal in the world. “It will jeopardize funding if that continues,” Mr. Kerry said.
In fact, according to some officials, the administration is on alert for signs that Pakistan’s reaction to the Bin Laden raid could be an expansion, or repositioning, of its nuclear forces.
“The very public discussion that the raid showed the nuclear assets could be vulnerable to seizure may lead them to disperse them, or increase their number,” said one United States official involved in monitoring Pakistan’s nuclear program. “It’s a significant worry because the more they spread it around, the higher the risk something gets loose.”
The Pakistani Parliament’s resolution warned of a “strong national response” if any nation — clearly it meant the United States — sought to seize or immobilize the country’s nuclear arsenal.
On Capitol Hill last week, senior lawmakers warned that without answers to questions of possible Pakistani complicity in harboring Bin Laden, American aid could be imperiled. The House speaker, John A. Boehner, who visited Pakistan last month, told reporters on Thursday that the United States should remain engaged with Pakistan as an ally against terrorists, but that Pakistani leaders must prove their resolve in fighting terrorist groups.
“It’s time to look the Pakistanis in the eye and get a commitment that they are fully onboard with us,” Mr. Boehner said. “If we’re going to continue to provide aid and strengthen this relationship, I think we need to have a clearer understanding.”
Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who heads the Armed Services Committee, went a step further, saying he would cut off $1.5 billion in annual nonmilitary aid unless Pakistan explained how Bin Laden could have gone undetected for years and how militant groups like the Haqqani network use Pakistan as a haven for attacks into Afghanistan.

@ The New York

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Shaas A. Ruzicka
Date: Mon, May 16, 2011 at 6:35 PM
To: The Himalayan Voice <>
Come on, stop this churning hope that USA will ever decide anything against Pakistan. Since years,  it is clear that Pakisthan is supporting terrorism, and since years Pakisthan  is receiving billions of $$$ from the USA and the West.

Be for real!

Shaas A. Ruzicka


Perhaps thousands of underage workers as young as 8, lured by the wages, leave school to work in coal mines under perilous conditions. The country officially upholds mining safety standards and forbids child labor, but loopholes in state laws allow widespread abuses.

By Mark Magnier

A boy works at a coal depot near Lad Rymbai, India.
(Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images / April 16, 2011)
The young miners descend on rickety ladders made of branches into the makeshift coal mines dotting the Jaintia Hills in northeast India, scrambling sideways into "rat hole" shafts so small that even kneeling becomes impossible. Lying horizontally, they hack away with picks and their bare hands: Human labor here is far cheaper than machines.

Many wear flip-flops and shorts, their faces and lungs blackened by coal. None have helmets. Two hours of grinding work fills a cart half the size of a coffin that they drag back, crouching, to the mouth where a clerk credits their work. Most earn a dollar or two an hour.
"A big stone fell on a friend at a nearby mine last year, and he died," said Sharan Rai, 16, taking a break near the entrance with his friend Late Boro, 14. Both started mining when they were 12. "The owners didn't pay the family anything. I try and check if the walls look strong before I go in."
Sharan may be leaving this hazardous work behind. He quit fourth grade years back, and an area civic group has persuaded him to return. Late, from Assam state, who's never attended school and is illiterate, is more typical.
"Let Sharan go off, play the big man," he said, fighting back tears. "I'll cut coal. That's my life."

Thousands of children, some as young as 8, are believed to toil alongside adults in the northeast mines; their small bodies are well suited to the narrow coal seams. Many migrated legally from from Nepal or illegally from neighboring Bangladesh, lured by the wages.

Deaths are undocumented but far from rare; medical care is almost nonexistent. Many of the older children spend their pay on alcohol, gambling and prostitutes. Some drift away; others keep working for decades.

India has a national mining law, plus a right-to-education bill, and it has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, minus a few key clauses on the speed of implementation. But tribal land rights in Meghalaya state trump some national laws, and other laws are largely ignored, creating loopholes big enough to drive a coal truck through, activists say. The rules are meant to protect cottage industries, but many mines are owned by state and national lawmakers or their relatives.

"We know a few owners control everything," said Hasina Kharbhih, founder of Impulse Network, a child rights group based in the Meghalaya town of Shillong. "They get away scot-free." (Read more)