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Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan

1) The Caspian basin is the backup for the Persian Gulf. It probably contains one fifth of the world's supply of

oil.

2) US intervention in the area started on 15 September 1997, when five hundred American paratroops of the 82nd Airborne Division entered southern Kazakhstan (operation "CENTRAZBAT 97", see Klare 2001). China and Russia were quick to react to American interference. In 2001 they founded the Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO), a security organization comprising China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

3) Kazakhstan, the ninth-largest country in the world, is run by one man, Nazarbayev, who holds his post for life. In 1997 he built a new capital at Astana; Almaty was too full of Russians and therefore risky. The new national day happens to be his birthday.

India

1) Everyone seems to expect that India will be a superpower in the 21stcentury. But remember that this is a country where seventy per cent of inhabitants are poor and only a few percent can be reckoned middle-class, and where the infrastructure is so bad that it can take hours to get from the airport to the centre of a modern city like Bangalore. How can a country prosper where lorries travel at an average speed of eleven kilometers per hour, where transport between states is more cumbersome than travelling within insecure states, where customs and officialdom are corrupt and bureaucracy abundant? Think again, and do not bedazzled by talk about population size and language abilities.

2) Do not dream of another Silicon Valley. The IT industry feeds only a few million people here, and its companies sell almost all their output overseas. India represents a bet that services will do, that manufacturing is not necessary to build an economy. But the truth is that in service industries switching costs are low.

3) The economic strength of India is based on two factors: English-language skills, which make them the world's back office, and software-development skills. In ten years the Chinese will match those skills.

4) India has high-quality elites, many of whom work in the major capitals of the world and fill teaching and

5) After the Cold War, India suffered from the loss of Soviet support and from internal crises. In response, the population has turned more nationalistic. The 110 million Muslims who are not satisfied with the extent of their religious freedom broke out and formed Pakistan. With Bangladesh and Pakistan independent India became somewhat homogeneous and more united.

6) India is still characterized by refusal to acknowledge the end of the Cold War and to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

7) Far out in the Indian Ocean lies the small island of Diego Garcia, a British possession, manned by 3500 US troops. This is probably the best strategic military position on earth, with immediate access to East Africa, the Persian Gulf, India, and Indonesia.

Pakistan

1) Power and authority are concentrated at the top of Pakistani organizational structures, and hierarchical status is jealously maintained. Job titles carry a great deal of weight. The armed forces are respected and accorded great prestige (Islam 2004: 311-30).

2) All three branches of the military have created vast industrial empires in the form of holding companies called the Fauji (army), Bahria (navy), and Shaheen (air force, literally "eagle") Foundations (ibid.).

3) Family- and kinship-based social structures have given rise to the culture of sifarish. This Urdu word literally means a recommendation or a connexion. Short of straight bribery, it has become the standard mean

of getting things done by public officials. Those who do not play the sifarish game risk acquiring a "bad reputation" or even facing ostracism (ibid.).

4) Student: "We are not taught to draw a line between matters that are strictly our own and those which are not our concern. Brought up as we are in the system of beraadri (patrilineage) and mohallaydaari (street neighbourhood) (which still prevails alongside a modern lifestyle), everyone takes it as understood that whatever happens in the neighbourhood is the collective concern of the beraadri or the mohalla (street). No one calls it interference."

5) Most armaments in Pakistan now come from China. This is a part of the Chinese strategy to weaken India. By forcing India to engage its military resources on its western front, the Chinese will give itself an easier task gaining influence in the disputed areas in the north, especially along the "McMahon line", in Arunachal Pradesh.

6) The USA has finally understood that Musharraf and the military were playing games with them all along. To get bin Laden they had to play the same game, and they won. Not surprisingly, he turned out to live close to a military base, where the ISI could keep an eye on him.

7) Musharraf has exchanged his position as Head of State for a life of ease in England. That still leaves the military in charge. Attention will always in the end turn towards the common enemy in the south, and the

 
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