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INDIA



Published: Mon, June 13, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



INDIA

The Hindu, Madras, June 8: The establishment of a joint working group on energy cooperation marks a new high in the development of bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. Having wisely set aside its political objections to the pipeline, India needs to sort out a whole raft of economic and financial issues with both Pakistan and Iran.

The cost of gas at the well-head is a major issue for New Delhi and Islamabad, and one which the two countries will jointly have to tackle for maximizing their individual gains. Transit fees are another issue that will require careful negotiation. Eventually, trilateral discussions involving Iran will be needed to settle questions of security, insurance and infrastructure finance. An obvious factor to be taken into account is the United States' publicly expressed opposition to the project.

International funding

However, despite the existence of domestic laws such as the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, Washington will not find it easy to sabotage the proposed pipeline or block international sources of funding. Japan, for example, has successfully resisted the Bush administration's pressure to walk away from the Azadegan oilfield project. As long as India and Pakistan remain firm on their right to conduct business with Iran, the U.S. will have to back off.

Notwithstanding Pakistan's insistence that the "stand-alone" Iran pipeline project will not be the harbinger of a broader set of economic linkages, the size of the venture is bound to generate positive externalities in every sphere. Creating mutual dependencies is the surest way of ensuring that India and Pakistan start living like normal neighbours.

ARGENTINA

Buenos Aires Herald, Buenos Aires, June 8: While the entire fate of Bolivia depends on acceptance of President Carlos Mesa's proffered resignation with that country's future at stake in constitutional, economic and other aspects, the main issue in Argentina today would seem to be today's soccer superderby with Brazil. When Liverpool's Bill Shankly remarked some three decades ago: "Football is not a matter of life and death; it is much more important than that," he was only joking but his words seem to be taken at face value here, judging from the frantic quest for tickets for today's match.

All of this departs from a realistic sporting perspective, never mind reality in a far broader sense. Anybody who knows anything about the World Cup knows that both Argentina and Brazil will be playing in Germany next year, regardless of today's match so who cares?

By the same token Roland Garros runnerup Mariano Puerta deserves every praise for avoiding the whitewashing generally forecast at the hands of the new champion Rafael Nadal in a final technically superior to last year's between Argentine's Gast & oacute;n Gaudio and Guillermo Coria (even if less dramatic), as well as for shunning the petulant attitudes of last year's runnerup, but the harsh fact remains that he lost something generally minimized in the local coverage.

Bread and circuses

But at the end of the day all sporting events are just bread and circuses which should not distract anybody from the fundamental political and economic realities, least of all in an election year.

Soccer may be the passion of multitudes but all that passion has never swayed a result (not officially anyway) whereas elections have hinged on individual votes, something for fans to ponder when deciding which of the two is the "great game."

BRITAIN

The Observer, London, June 5: That Mark Felt, a one-time deputy director of the FBI, chose to out himself last week as Deep Throat is deeply disturbing. For decades, a Watergate industry has been sustained by speculation over the identity of the highly placed source who told reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to "follow the money."

Lucrative book deals

Journalists earned lucrative book deals advancing the kind of explanations espoused by gun-toting conspiracy theorists from the backwoods of America's less populated states. What, we may ask, comes next? Will the red-headed man on the grassy knoll identify himself as JFK's assassin? Will Lord Lucan emerge from an African homestead for a death-bed confession? Could Shergar be found grazing on Dartmoor? Enough!

The world needs conspiracy theories, if only to provide pension plans for hacks with unfettered imaginations. You have done us a disservice, Mr. Felt. Supposing you really are Deep Throat, that is.




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