Zardari Takes a Few Nervous Steps

Gotta feel for President Zardari. He lost his wife to a terrorist attack. He inherited a messy, bankrupt country packed with terrorists, and an unstable Afghanistan and a thriving arch-enemy India as its neighbors. And now following the despicable act of violence by Pakistani nationals who travelled to Mumbai Zardari now has to face the wrath of India. Under pressure from the US government Zardari seems to have relented and cracked down on the LeT. Now India wants the terrorists handed over. Many in Pakistan are bound to be upset with recent raids on the LeT. The terrorists are probably planning their revenge for these attacks, while the border states with Afghanistan are under severe threat of being run over by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Check out President Zardari’s piece in the NY Times. He says that the Pakistani Government has nothing to do with these “non-state actors” when its widely believed that these groups have thrived with support from the ISI.

Pakistan is committed to the pursuit, arrest, trial and punishment of anyone involved in these heinous attacks. But we caution against hasty judgments and inflammatory statements. As was demonstrated in Sunday’s raids, which resulted in the arrest of militants, Pakistan will take action against the non-state actors found within our territory, treating them as criminals, terrorists and murderers. Not only are the terrorists not linked to the government of Pakistan in any way, we are their targets and we continue to be their victims.

Then, he takes a “we are in this together” stance though he won’t possibly hand over any of the wanted terrorists to India. Begs the question, if Pakistan can share intelligence then can’t they turn over criminals too?

Terrorism is a regional as well as a global threat, and it needs to be battled collectively. We understand the domestic political considerations in India in the aftermath of Mumbai. Nevertheless, accusations of complicity on Pakistan’s part only complicate the already complex situation.

Nevertheless, a well-written article. A sign that Pakistan’s PR engine is alive and well. Besides Zardari deserves credit for attempting to reign in the LeT. If he can sustain this while continuing to remain in-charge (not to mention remain alive!), by keeping the Pak army at bay, and the ISI in-check, it will go a long way in improving relations with India. On the other hand, the general public in Pakistan would do well to openly condemn the attack on Mumbai like some Muslims in India.

Will Mr. Chidambaram respond with the Indian view?

p.s: Meanwhile, here is another very interesting piece on Pakistan’s struggles.

Movie Review: Outsourced

Title: Outsourced

Starring: Josh Hamilton, Ayesha Dharker

This is one of the many movies based on the topic of outsourcing. In hindsight it would perhaps have been more timely to release this film now (in the midst of the meltdown) rather than in 2006. An American firm dealing with novelty products shuts down a department and starts an operation in India. One of the Managers is shipped out to India to train the staff there. 

There are plenty of funny scenes as the American Manager gets exposure to India both at the workplace and outside. A needless romance is thrown into the film but completely lacks any conviction. It is very obvious that this is a rather low budget film. The overall script is weak and despite the fairly realistic portrayal of India, the film fails to sustain its momentum. Josh Hamilton and Ayesha Dharker as the lead pair deliver decent performances. 

 If you haven’t seen any film on the topic of outsourcing, then this might be worth a few laughs.

Desperately Seeking: Bush Legacy

9/11, Iraq War, Katrina, the Financial meltdown….the list goes on. In the final days of his Presidency, Mr. Bush and his team are desperately attempting to shape public opinion with regards to his obviously awful legacy. The latest spin seems to be “At least Bush kept us safe”. Conservative columnist, Peggy Noonan of the WSJ went one step ahead and took a pre-emptive strike at the Obama presidency by saying “Democrats will not want tacked onto the end of that sentence, “unlike Obama.” thereby setting the stage for the next line of Republican attack, god-forbid there be another terrorist attack on the US.

President Bush spent the last eight years making Americans believe that they are terribly unsafe while simultaneously antagonizing the rest of the world and giving them plenty of reasons to retaliate against Americans. Thankfully, the Wall Street meltdown forced Americans (at least 54%) to stop deluding themselves about the importance of safety and focusing instead on their pocket books.  President-elect Obama would be doing Americans (and the world!) a great service if he were to dispel this myth that “we live in a dangerous world” in four years and give other nations less reasons to hate Americans.

For the moment, the love for Obama seems to be virtually endless. When the likes of Karl Rove are “reassured” you gotta really feel the luv! Here is another positive article on Obama’s cabinet picks in the WSJ of all places. President-elect Obama has made a strong start with a virtual “dream team” for his cabinet and little opposition in the media (barring a nervous left). It remains to be seen how he can translate this all round love to some definitive results. Meanwhile, the man on the way out has an outside chance to add, “I saved GM” to his otherwise guaranteed woeful legacy.

Microsoft-Yahoo Dance Again

Check out the interview in the WSJ with Steve Ballmer and Qi Li (the new import from Yahoo to MS). If you read this interview it is hard to imagine that the two companies are not discussing a deal. Unfortunately for Yahoo with the stock at less than one-third the original MS offer and Jerry Yang’s recent bail out, they are in a horrible position to negotiate. On the hand Microsoft could not be better placed. iIf you read Steve Ballmer’s interview he wants to get it done and move on!

We’re fully prepared to compete without any partnership with Yahoo. We don’t need to act. Would it be advantageous for both of us to make a deal? Look, the fundamental basis for doing the search deal with Yahoo has to do with critical mass in the advertising marketplace. It doesn’t have to do with technology, or any of these other things, it really is a market phenomenon. Together we would have more advertisers….which means we’d have more relevant ads on our page. We’d have higher monetization levels possible in front of us because there would be more people bidding on more key words. Most importantly, Google would have perhaps a real credible competitor sooner. I think good ideas are usually better done quickly than slowly, so it would probably be better for both us, and certainly for Yahoo, if we were to do it sooner than later. But at the end of the day, that would have be something Yahoo would be as interested in as I have expressed our interest.

At the moment it is hard to imagine Yahoo selling just its search piece. If it sold the entire company in the current climate, Microsoft is bound to walk away with a sweet deal. On the other hand, if Yahoo! chooses to stay independent they are going to quickly have to find a new CEO and come up with credible plan that satisfies share holders. That’s a tall order. Sad to see a Silicon Valley icon struggle this way.

Finally, Someone is Unhappy With President-elect Obama

The Latino community is apparently upset that President-elect Obama didn’t offer the job of Secretary of State to New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson.  With all due respect to Governor Richardson, it was next to impossible for Senator Obama to unite the Democratic party without reaching out to Senator Clinton. No doubt, Governor Richardson helped garner the Latino vote, but President-elect Obama can’t overlook the fact that Senator Clinton almost landed the party nomination!

Besides, its hard to imagine Latinos voting overwhelmingly for the Republicans given the party’s anti-immigration stance. While Richardson would have certainly fit the role as Secretary of State, there simply was too much at stake for President-elect Obama to pass over Senator Clinton for a plumb post in his cabinet.