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Pedro Gonçalves

Ad of the Day: Coca-Cola Tries to 'Open Happiness' Between India and Pakistan | Adweek - 0 views

  • Cola diplomacy runs the risk of coming across as painfully naive by oversimplifying a complex issue that's tangled up in a long history of imperialism, religious conflict and nuclear stand-off, to name a few factors. Coke frames this powder keg of a problem as, on some level, simply one of miscommunication—because that's small enough that the brand can then frame itself as the solution. Sure, more understanding and common ground isn't a bad thing, and Coke takes some pains to temper the portrayal of its own success, erring on the side of aspirational everyman/everywoman voiceover platitudes throughout the spot (e.g., "We are going to take minor steps so that we are going to solve bigger issues.") But really, what the brand is taking minor steps toward is selling more sugar water in a way that isn't explicitly about selling more sugar water, and has at least the veneer of a higher purpose.
  • the social-media zeitgeist holds that doing good is good for business. Yes, a warm-and-fuzzy video like this has some entertainment value, and it's is certainly more palatable—and arguably more effective—than a hard-sell product spot. But doesn't distilling a geopolitical conflict into short-form branded content do more harm than good by trivializing it?

    Or if everyone just drank a Coke, would they really get along?

Pedro Gonçalves

Pakistan Blocks 20,000 Websites in Massive Censorship Move - 0 views

  • “The ban on YouTube will continue as long as it does not remove the blasphemous film,” the official said. “Pakistan can take no chances on lifting the ban as people are not ready to accept this film.”
Pedro Gonçalves

BBC News - Pakistan army warns PM Gilani over criticisms - 0 views

  • The army warned of "serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences" after the PM criticised military leaders in a media interview.

    Meanwhile, Mr Gilani has sacked his defence secretary, who is seen as having close ties to the military.

  • On Monday Mr Gilani was quoted telling China's People's Daily Online that Pakistan's army chief and head of intelligence acted unconstitutionally by making submissions to a Supreme Court inquiry which has been rocking the government.
  • A senior official told AFP news agency that the defence secretary, retired general Naeem Khalid Lodhi, had been removed from his post for gross misconduct.

    The sacking is likely to heighten frictions with military leaders.

    Many observers believe Gen Lodhi lost his job after writing to the Supreme Court saying the government had administrative, but not operational, control of the army.

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  • Last month Mr Gilani said conspirators were plotting to bring down his government, without specifically blaming the military. That prompted army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani to dismiss coup rumours.
  • The Supreme Court is investigating an anonymous memo which sought US help to avert a possible military coup in Pakistan following the killing by US forces of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in May.

    It is not clear who wrote the memo or conveyed it to the Americans.

  • The scandal has already cost Pakistan's former ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, his job. He denies any role in the memo, as does President Asif Ali Zardari.

    He could be forced to quit if the trail is found to lead to his door. The Supreme Court investigation aims to get to the bottom of the scandal.

    Mr Zardari's government is also on a collision course with the judiciary, which wants to reopen old corruption cases in which the president argues he is innocent.

Pedro Gonçalves

Pakistan relying too much on China against U.S. | Reuters - 0 views

  • Islamabad makes no secret of its preference for China over the United States as a military patron, calling Beijing an "all-weather" ally in contrast to Washington's supposedly fickle friendship.
  • China is a major investor in predominantly Muslim Pakistan in areas such as telecommunications, ports and infrastructure. The countries are linked by a Chinese-built road pushed through Pakistan's northern mountains.

    Trade with Pakistan is worth almost $9 billion a year for Pakistan, and China is its top arms supplier.

  • China, like the United States, wanted Pakistan to help it control Islamist militancy. But it is frustrated by the chaotic nature of Pakistani governance, and its inability to control militants or militant-friendly elements in its security agencies.
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  • Pakistan's usefulness to China is only in South Asia, where it competes with India. But China has global ambitions; it is unlikely to sacrifice them for an ally that has proved a headache to the United States, which has its own deep relationship with China.
  • Being seen to take a provocative stand alongside Pakistan comes at a substantial cost, but provides little strategic benefit,
  • China, he wrote, does not want to push India deeper into the American orbit.
  • An escalation in Chinese aid to Pakistan would surely antagonise India, creating a new point of friction in the triangular relationship between Beijing, New Delhi, and Washington
  • China has also shown no sign that it is willing to shoulder some of the financial burden of propping up Pakistan that the United States has so far been willing to bear.
  • In 2008, when Pakistan was suffering a balance of payments crisis and sought China's support to avoid turning to the International Monetary Fund and its restrictive terms on a $7.5 billion loan, China provided only $500 million.
  • China may share concerns over Pakistan's stability, Venugopalan writes, "but it has preferred to let Americans bear the costs of improving the country's security".
  • "It is our misunderstanding if we think that we will team up with China if we are pressed by the United States," Rizvi said. "China and the United States have their own relations and they cannot compromise them for the sake of Pakistan."
Pedro Gonçalves

Pakistan ISI behind Mumbai attacks: India official | Reuters - 0 views

  • India last year linked Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) with the attacks, saying the perpetrators were "clients and creations" of the agency.

    But Pillai's remarks are more direct and could find resonance in the foreign ministers' meeting.

    "It was not just a peripheral role," the Indian Express newspaper quoted Pillai as saying. "They (ISI) were literally controlling and coordinating it from the beginning till the end."

  • India has blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants for the Mumbai attacks. It broke off a 4-year-old peace process with Pakistan, saying reviving the dialogue would depend on action against LeT and its chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.
Pedro Gonçalves

India and Pakistan in first substantive talks since Mumbai | Reuters - 0 views

  • Violent anti-government protests have swept India-controlled Kashmir for almost a month. The region is under an army lockdown.
  • In comments that could reverberate in the talks, Indian officials said the protests may have been incited by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group that Delhi has blamed for the Mumbai attacks.
  • The meeting comes at a time when India has sent in the army to control weeks of violent anti-government protests in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, at the core of its dispute with Pakistan.
Pedro Gonçalves

Afghanistan's Mineral Riches are China's Gain - by Aziz Huq | Foreign Policy - 0 views

  • The real winner from new natural-resource wealth beyond the Khyber Pass will be China
  • Chinese foreign investment and aid has accelerated dramatically over the past decade, especially in Africa. In November 2009 alone, for example, China's largesse amounted to $10 billion in low-interest loans and $1 billion in commercial loans to the continent. With Beijing as cheerleader, trade has soared from $1 billion in 1992 to $106.8 billion in 2008.
  • The DRC provides the best cautionary parallel to Afghanistan: The discovery in the late 1990s of copper, coltan, and other minerals in eastern Congo gave new life to a civil war that has now claimed upwards of 4 million lives. Flagging combatants were funded by mineral extraction, and much of those resources eventually flowed to China.
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  • The fact that violence is still simmering in eastern Congo -- and despite the costs that extraction imposes on the Congolese people -- has not been enough to deter Beijing from wooing Congo's government for access to the country's abundant resources.

    So, if there's any thought that war in Afghanistan might dissuade Chinese investment there, it's best to dispense with that notion immediately.

  • China, which has a narrow land border with Afghanistan, already invests heavily in the war-torn Central Asian state. The state-owned China Metallurgical Group has a $3.5 billion copper mining venture in Logar province. Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei are building digital telephone switches, providing roughly 200,000 subscriber lines in Afghanistan. Even back in the war's early days in 2002 and 2003, when I worked in Afghanistan, the Chinese presence was acutely visible in Kabul, with Chinese laborers on many building sites and Chinese-run restaurants and guesthouses popping up all over the city. As Robert Kaplan has pointed out, these investments come with a gratuitous hidden subsidy from the United States -- which has defrayed the enormous costs of providing security amid war and looting.
  • With its massive wealth, appetite for risk, and willingness to underbid others on labor costs and human rights conditionality, China is the odds-on favorite for development of any new Afghan mineral resources. Chinese firms will control the flow of new funds, and the way those funds are distributed between the central and local governments. It's all well and good that Barack Obama's administration has recommitted to building civil projects in rural Afghanistan, but consider the relative scale of building a school to establishing a multimillion-dollar mine (not to mention the transport networks and infrastructure required to get the extracted minerals out) and it's easy to see what kind of influence the Chinese will bring to the table.
  • Although many have warned of a new Sino-colonialism, Brautigam's work suggests that perhaps China's awareness of its gargantuan and growing need for foreign export markets will make it a better "colonial" power than any European country ever was.
  • Stability in Pakistan should be an important goal for China. It is by now clear that the Taliban's campaign west of the Durand Line is inextricable from the destabilizing efforts of Islamist militants in Pakistan. If China does not want another nuclear basket case on its border, then it should care deeply about instability in Afghanistan. Currently, however, Beijing is still freeloading, relying on Washington to provide security for its limited interests. Perhaps the tantalizing prospect of $1 trillion in minerals might be enough to change the strategic equation.
Pedro Gonçalves

U.S. Is Still Using Private Spy Ring, Despite Doubts - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • Top military officials have continued to rely on a secret network of private spies who have produced hundreds of reports from deep inside Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to American officials and businessmen, despite concerns among some in the military about the legality of the operation.
  • Earlier this year, government officials admitted that the military had sent a group of former Central Intelligence Agency officers and retired Special Operations troops into the region to collect information — some of which was used to track and kill people suspected of being militants. Many portrayed it as a rogue operation that had been hastily shut down once an investigation began.
  • But interviews with more than a dozen current and former government officials and businessmen, and an examination of government documents, tell a different a story. Not only are the networks still operating, their detailed reports on subjects like the workings of the Taliban leadership in Pakistan and the movements of enemy fighters in southern Afghanistan are also submitted almost daily to top commanders and have become an important source of intelligence.
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  • The American military is largely prohibited from operating inside Pakistan. And under Pentagon rules, the army is not allowed to hire contractors for spying.
  • Military officials said that when Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in the region, signed off on the operation in January 2009, there were prohibitions against intelligence gathering, including hiring agents to provide information about enemy positions in Pakistan. The contractors were supposed to provide only broad information about the political and tribal dynamics in the region, and information that could be used for “force protection,” they said.
  • Some Pentagon officials said that over time the operation appeared to morph into traditional spying activities. And they pointed out that the supervisor who set up the contractor network, Michael D. Furlong, was now under investigation.
  • But a review of the program by The New York Times found that Mr. Furlong’s operatives were still providing information using the same intelligence gathering methods as before. The contractors were still being paid under a $22 million contract, the review shows, managed by Lockheed Martin and supervised by the Pentagon office in charge of special operations policy.
Pedro Gonçalves

Pakistan nuclear weapons at risk of theft by terrorists, US study warns | World news | ... - 0 views

  • Pakistan's prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, assured Barack Obama the country has an "appropriate safeguard" for its arsenal, understood to consist of 70-90 nuclear weapons.

    However, a report by Harvard University's Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs, titled Securing the Bomb 2010, said Pakistan's stockpile "faces a greater threat from Islamic extremists seeking nuclear weapons than any other nuclear stockpile on earth".

    Experts said the danger was growing because of the arms race between Pakistan and India. The Institute for Science and International Security has reported that Pakistan's second nuclear reactor, built to produce plutonium for weapons, shows signs of starting operations, and a third is under construction.

  • At their White House meeting on Sunday, Obama pressed Gilani to end Pakistan's opposition to an international treaty that would ban the production of new fissile material for nuclear warheads, plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU), but the Pakistani leader showed no signs of bowing to the pressure, US officials said.

    Pakistan's insistence that India reduces its stockpile first prevented talks on the fissile material cutoff treaty from getting under way in Geneva last year.

  • Both the US and Britain have declared themselves satisfied with Pakistan's security measures for its nuclear weapons, despite the rise of the Pakistani Taliban and other extremist groups. But yesterday's Harvard report said there were serious grounds for concern.

    "Despite extensive security measures, there is a very real possibility that sympathetic insiders might carry out or assist in a nuclear theft, or that a sophisticated outsider attack (possibly with insider help) could overwhelm the defences," the report said.

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  • It also warned that weaknesses remained in measures Russia had taken in recent years to guard its nuclear stockpile, the world's largest.

Pedro Gonçalves

BBC News - Pakistan confirms Taliban 'number two' arrested - 0 views

  • Pakistan has confirmed that a Taliban suspect captured earlier this month is one of the organisation's top leaders, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
  • US and Pakistani agents had seized Mullah Baradar in Karachi on 8 February, US officials said on Tuesday.
  • But a Taliban spokesman has said Mullah Baradar, thought to be their second-in-command, is free and in Afghanistan.
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  • The arrest suggests Pakistan is getting tough with Afghan Taliban leaders sheltering there, says the BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad, something that has long been a demand of the White House.
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