Ron Moreau

Stories by Ron Moreau

  • Where the Jihad Lives Now

    Islamic militants have spread beyond their tribal bases, and have the run of an unstable, nuclear-armed nation.
  • New Details in Bhutto Bombing

    Charged with investigating the deadly suicide attack against Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's interior minister says he see no evidence of government involvement, and insists the country is fighting hard against militants. 
  • The Next Musharraf

    A Westernized, chain-smoking spy could soon become the most powerful man in Pakistan.
  • The Last Word: Aitzaz Ahsan

    Pakistani lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, 62, scored what he calls "the greatest victory of my life" when he successfully defended the Supreme Court's Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and won his reinstatement in July after President Pervez Musharraf had summarily dismissed him four months earlier. Ahsan, a former Interior minister under Benazir Bhutto and a stalwart of her Pakistan People's Party, also engineered the popular campaign in support of Chaudhry—which has developed into an anti-Musharraf movement—personally chauffeuring Chaudhry in popular processions across the country. Although he has recused himself from arguing cases before Chaudhry, he will present an opinion to the Supreme Court this week when it takes up petitions challenging the legality of Musharraf's election to another five-year term as president. In his book-lined law office in Islamabad, Ahsan spoke with NEWSWEEK's Ron Moreau about former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's deportation, the upcoming court cases and...
  • Sharif Returns From Exile

    In 1999, during his scandal-plagued second term as prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif tried to sack his Army chief, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Instead, Musharraf had Sharif arrested, allowing him to leave the country only on the condition that he not set foot in Pakistan for 10 years. Sharif has unilaterally moved up his return date to this week, and he hopes to capitalize on dissatisfaction with Musharraf and another former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, who has been seeking to work out a power-sharing arrangement with the president. Sharif spoke to Ron Moreau: ...
  • The Comeback Artist

    Nawaz Sharif used to be the most reviled man in Pakistan. Now he may become an unlikely hero.
  • Pakistan: Sharif Deportation May Hurt Musharraf

    Pervez Musharraf may have won this round over Nawaz Sharif. But the deportation of the former prime minister could mobilize the opposition and put the Pakistani president on another collision course with the judiciary.
  • 'A Double-Edged Sword'

    Benazir Bhutto, the exiled, two-time Pakistani prime minister, is now negotiating a political comeback with President Pervez Musharraf. Last week they reportedly met face to face in Abu Dhabi after months of back-channel talks. The two need each other. Bhutto wants to return to Pakistan to run in next year's elections—without having to face the corruption charges that drove her into exile. She also needs a repeal of the two-term limit for elected prime ministers. Musharraf, meanwhile, is grasping at straws: last month the Supreme Court overturned his suspension of the chief justice; his approval rating is an anemic 34 percent, and Islamic militants have launched a spate of attacks against his security forces, including two suicide bombings in Islamabad. He thus needs the support of Bhutto and her Pakistan People's Party—arguably the most popular political force in the country—if he hopes to be re-elected president. From her London home, Bhutto, 54, discussed Pakistan's political...
  • Taliban Commander: Why We Took the Koreans

    The kidnapping of South Korean aid workers signals a key shift in Taliban tactics. In an exclusive interview with NEWSWEEK, a Taliban commander discusses the thinking behind the abduction and what might happen to the surviving hostages.
  • Pakistan: Final Assault on Red Mosque

    Just before dawn on Tuesday, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf gave the order for his commandos to attack the radical Red Mosque that his troops had surrounded for eight days in the capital, Islamabad. Firing automatic weapons, machine guns and stun grenades Pakistani commandos burst through wide holes that had been blasted in the mosque's outer wall and its bullet-pocked red façade. Holed up inside were the mosque's hardline deputy leader Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi and more than 100 determined and well-armed militants who had refused days of offers to surrender or face the consequences.More troubling, Pakistani authorities say, the gunmen are holding several hundred women and children as human shields inside. As a result, "Operation Silence," the army's code name for the assault, would be a deliberately "slow, step by step process" in order to minimize the loss of innocent lives, says Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad, the military's top spokesman. As the operation began at about 4:30 a...
  • Indian Wine Comes of Age

    Local farmers supplying grapes to Sham Chougule, owner of India's Chateau Indage Estate Vineyards, call him "the Wine King," and with good reason. The 72-year-old entrepreneur owns a whopping 70 percent of the small but rapidly growing Indian wine market. Over the past three years, the stock price of Chougule's publicly traded company has doubled, giving Indage a market capitalization of $170 million. Now he's going global, with a purchase of Australia's seventh largest winery. He plans to spend $27 million to modernize his company and acquire an extra 810 hectares of vineyards in India. He is also looking to purchase wineries in places like South Africa, Chile, Argentina, France and Spain. Wine is going to be the next big thing in India, he says: "I don't want to think small anymore."Neither do his customers. As globalization has stoked India's economic boom, its growing middle class has gotten accustomed to the pleasures and conveniences of the West, including well-made wines....
  • The New Generation

    India's rise as an economic power is known the world over, thanks largely to the global ambitions of its biggest corporations. But names like Infosys, Tata and Reliance aren't necessarily as important to India's future as modest firms like Acme Tele Power Ltd. It sounds a bit like a store you might find on Main Street in Peoria, but one look at the numbers belies this association. Acme has a profit margin of 33 percent on 2006 revenues of $300 million, which have risen more than 3,000 percent in four years. Acme makes energy-efficient sheds that protect cell-phone relay stations, but its 32-year-old founder Manoj Upadhyay is plowing most of that profit into R D, and files for a new patent about once a month. "He is poised to grow exponentially," says Sandeep Ghosh, director of commercial banking for Citigroup India. "If only one of Upadhyay's new ideas comes off, it's going to be fabulous."Acme is part of a new wave of small, entrepreneurial firms that are rising in the wake of the...
  • The Taliban's New Zarqawi

    The Taliban's bloodthirsty top commander in southern Afghanistan scares almost everyone—even his allies and underlings. A profile in brutality.
  • Cover: India's Mr. Big

    Mukesh Ambani has been India's Mr. Big for a long time. By all accounts, he is the country's most influential private citizen, and the businessman who thinks bigger than the rest in this rising economic superpower. He was all that even before a bitter internal feud led to a split in his family conglomerate. The breakup, finalized in January, left Ambani in control of the larger (and largely petrochemical) share, Reliance Industries, and that behemoth has seen its fortunes soar ever since. It is now India's largest private-sector enterprise by any measure: revenue ($20 billion in 2005), profit ($2 billion), or share of Indian GDP (3.5 percent). Its stock has shot up dramatically since January, rising 62 percent to make Reliance India's biggest company by market cap (about $41.5 billion). Ambani, who was already the worlds 38th richest person before the split, according to Forbes, is now considerably richer. He says that while most family empires destroy wealth when they divide, the...
  • Taking On the President

    After nearly seven years in power, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is suddenly running into heavy political flak. His two main political rivals--former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, who are both in exile--have begun cooperating and are pledging to return in time to campaign for general elections scheduled for late next year. Several prominent Pakistanis, including retired Army generals and former Supreme Court chief justices, have written open letters to the president, who serves concurrently as Army chief of staff, asking him to retire from the armed forces and to hold free and fair elections next year under a caretaker government. Last week, 141 members of the formerly divided opposition in the National Assembly came together and presented a 500-page no-confidence motion against Musharraf's handpicked prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, detailing a litany of alleged misdeeds ranging from the shady privatizations of state companies to allowing well-connected...
  • Border Backlash

    Just over three years ago, under pressure from Washington to stop Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters from crossing the porous border into Afghanistan, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf began dispatching tens of thousands of Pakistani troops to the country's tribal regions. The goal: to beat back the Islamic radicals in and around the seven tribal agencies bordering on eastern and southern Afghanistan. Today some 80,000 Pakistani troops are stationed in outposts and garrisons along the rugged frontier.But, ironically, instead of quelling extremism, the military occupation has fueled it. Radical Islamic clerics throughout Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal belt now preach the hard-line gospel, day and night. Their fiery jihadist sermons exhort people to live by the harsh code of Islamic Sharia--or else. In Wana, the capital of the South Waziristan tribal agency, extremists recently used dynamite to blow up a radio station for playing music. If these radicals sound like Pakistan's...
  • More Terror on the Tracks

    They seem to have drawn little notice as they squeezed aboard the packed first-class carriages. Most passengers were concentrating on getting home from a long, rainy Tuesday at the office in India's financial center, Mumbai. The men placed their duffel bags and metal lunchboxes on the overhead luggage racks, and then, apparently, pushed their way off again, unnoticed--until 6:24 p.m., when the explosions began. Within 11 minutes, bombs had ripped through seven suburb-bound commuter trains on the same rail line. The blasts left 197 passengers and crew dead or dying and 800 others injured.Police investigators are convinced they know who was behind the Madrid-style bombings. Only two terrorist organizations in the region have the skills and resources for such a massive, coordinated attack--and this, police believe, was a joint operation by both networks. One alleged partner is Lashkar-i-Taiba, a Kashmiri separatist group that has been outlawed since 2002 in Pakistan, the country where...
  • Terror on The Tracks

    They seem to have drawn little notice as they squeezed aboard the packed first-class carriages. Most passengers were concentrating on getting home from a long, rainy Tuesday at the office in India's financial center, Mumbai. The men placed their duffel bags and metal lunchboxes on the overhead luggage racks, and then, apparently, pushed their way off again, unnoticed--until 6:24, when the explosions began. Within 11 minutes, bombs had ripped through seven suburb-bound commuter trains on the same rail line. The blasts left 197 passengers and crew dead or dying and nearly 800 injured in the wreckage.Police investigators are increasingly convinced they know who was behind the Madrid-style bombings. Only two terrorist organizations in the region have the skills and resources for such a massive, coordinated attack--and this, police believe, was a joint operation by both networks. One alleged partner is Lashkar-i-Taiba, a Kashmiri separatist group that has been outlawed since 2002 in...
  • Bigger, Faster, Better

    Mukesh Ambani has been India's Mr. Big for a long time. By all accounts, he is the country's most influential private citizen, and the businessman who thinks bigger than the rest in this rising economic superpower. He was all that even before a bitter internal feud led to a split in his family conglomerate. The breakup, finalized in January, left Mukesh in control of the larger (and largely petrochemical) share, Reliance Industries, and that behemoth has seen its fortunes soar ever since. It is now India's largest private-sector enterprise by any measure: revenue ($20 billion in 2005), profit ($2 billion), or share of Indian GDP (3.5 percent). Last week its stock closed up 15 percent since January, making Reliance India's biggest company by market cap (about $35 billion). Mukesh, who was already the world's 38th richest person before the split, according to Forbes, is now considerably richer. He says that while most family empires destroy wealth when they divide, the parting of the...
  • Interview: Shaukat Aziz--Riding 'A Tidal Wave'

    Shaukat Aziz, a suave and savvy 30-year veteran of international banking, has been the architect of Pakistan's remarkable economic recovery ever since he joined President Pervez Musharraf's government in 1999. Last week the 57-year-old prime minister talked to NEWSWEEK's Zahid Hussain and Ron Moreau about the difficulty of restoring the country to economic health. Excerpts:What prompted you to start an aggressive reform agenda six years ago?The financial situation of Pakistan was precarious. We had high fiscal deficits and debt levels and our ability to pay was suspect. We didn't have enough money to pay the next month's oil-import bill. So we started ensuring fiscal discipline, containing expenditures and increasing income. We focused on investment and growth. We bit many bullets to restore credibility. The fundamentals of reform were deregulation, liberalization and privatization.How far will you take the privatization process?It is not the business of government to be in business...
  • Promise in Pakistan

    In the late 1990s Lahore-based businessman Iqbal Ahmed was depressed. Pakistan was isolated internationally and in the grip of a deep recession, and his modest, liquefied-petroleum-gas operation didn't seem to be going anywhere. "I used to get up and say, 'What the hell, it's another day'," he recalls. "Now I can't wait for the day to begin. I see a very bright future."Ahmed has good reason to be optimistic. Two years ago he signed a deal with Houston's Hanover Energy Co. that has helped transform his LPG extraction plant into the largest and most efficient in Pakistan, with revenues last year of $130 million. Backed by several international investors, Ahmed has bid some $400 million to buy a controlling interest in Southern Sui Gas, one of two state-owned gas production and distribution companies that are being privatized. And he recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Excelerate Energy of Houston to import liquefied natural gas into Pakistan in supertankers. "We're...
  • The Last Word: Praful Patel

    One of the most obvious differences between Asia's two giants, China and India, has long been the state of their infrastructure. Whereas Beijing has laid thousands of kilometers of gleaming road and spread futuristic airports across the country, visitors to India are still greeted by airport terminals that look held together by glue and string. Last week nearly 22,000 union workers went on strike to protest the government's decision to renovate New Delhi and Mumbai airports through partnerships with foreign companies, fearing they would lose their jobs and benefits. Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel remained unmoved and, after three days of chaos, outlasted the strikers. NEWSWEEK's Ron Moreau spoke to the stylish 49-year-old Patel about what the victory means for reform in India. Excerpts: ...
  • Urban Renewal?

    Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has a lot invested in Bangalore, the mecca of southern India's new economy. She was born in the city--and in 1978, as a young chemist, she started the biotechnology company Biocon, which, over the past decade, has grown spectacularly. The firm has seen its revenues surge from $20 million to $200 million annually. And Biocon's work force has expanded to 2,000.But Mazumdar-Shaw is not entirely happy these days. The CEO says she spends too much time dealing with issues related to Bangalore's crumbling infrastructure, which has failed to keep pace with the city's breakneck growth. Mazumdar-Shaw has had to install her own power-generating station to compensate for frequent electricity outages, buy a fleet of buses to transport employees to work due to a lack of public transportation and stagger working hours to overcome the city's horrific traffic jams. If the city's government doesn't do something soon to overcome those problems, the businesswoman asserts, "my next...
  • Treasure Island

    Back in the 1960s, Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew said that he hoped his island nation could one day emulate the success of Sri Lanka. In those days, the former Ceylon had a lot going for it: its per capita income exceeded Thailand's and was roughly equal to South Korea's. What's more, Sri Lanka's literacy rate was very high and its infant-mortality and birthrates low--attributes that Sri Lankans still enjoy today. With its proximity to India, ancient Buddhist culture, enviable geostrategic location and 1,600 kilometers of coconut-palm-lined beaches, Sri Lanka seemed poised to become a shipping, airline, tourism andforeign-investment hub of Asia.Things obviously haven't worked out that way. In the decades since Lee's praise, Sri Lanka has failed miserably to live up to its glowing postcolonial promise. (The country's per capita income is roughly $1,000, compared with nearly $28,000 for Singapore.) A series of economic and political errors over the years has stymied its development:...
  • A Kinder, Gentler Conglomerate

    A new kind of multinational is emerging out of India. It is the Tata Group, a family conglomerate that has gone professional without losing its old-school values. Forged from both India's struggle for independence from Britain and the influence of early-20th-century Fabian socialists, Tata is a ferocious competitor with a very liberal touch. Consider: one of the largest of its 32 businesses, Tata Steel, has cut almost half its work force since 1990 to become the lowest-cost competitor in this industry--yet has kept its promise to pay all laid-off workers full salary until retirement.In some ways, Tata could exist only in India, where wages of $1.20 an hour make cradle-to-grave corporate welfare far more affordable than it would be even in China. But Tata is unique even for India, where its rigid ethical standards are so well known that corrupt officials typically don't even bother asking Tata executives for bribes. The company has walked away from industries, like Bollywood films,...
  • HELPING HANDS

    Early last week, three days after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake devastated Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, Lt. Col. Chiragh Haider dispatched a group of Pakistani Army soldiers two kilometers up a nearly impassable road to the Friendship Bridge. Recently restored and now destroyed, the structure once linked the Pakistani sector with the Indian administered side of the disputed, former Himalayan kingdom. The soldiers' task was to search for missing comrades whose bunker overlooking the bridge had vanished under a landslide. Haider's search party met an Indian Army detail on a similar mission, looking for several of its men under the avalanche of rock and soil on the bridge's eastern side. "Our side offered the Indians help and they offered us help in finding the missing," says the green-eyed Haider, who commands a Pakistani Army battalion at Chakothi, 62 kilometers east of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. "Unfortunately the men are buried too deeply to do...