Ron Moreau

Stories by 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...
  • Aftershocks In Kashmir

    If there's a bright spot in quake-ravaged Kashmir, Lt. Col. Chiragh Haider has glimpsed it. The Pakistani Army officer sent out a rescue team, looking for a squad of five soldiers who had been on sentry duty at the Line of Control that divides the disputed former kingdom. When the searchers reached the end of a ruined mountain road last week, they saw that a massive landslide had obliterated every trace of the soldiers and their hillside bunker. Nearby they crossed paths with a team of Indian soldiers on a similar mission, looking for several of their own men who had vanished in an avalanche of earth and rock just across the narrow valley.Scarcely three years ago the two nuclear-armed nations were on the verge of all-out war in Kashmir. But the search parties found themselves exchanging words of sympathy and good will. "Our side offered the Indians help, and they offered us help in finding the missing," says Haider. "Unfortunately the men are buried too deeply to do anything now."...
  • PAKISTAN: A 'SERIOUS' CRACKDOWN

    Has Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf seen the light? He's been criticized for his ambivalent stance on extremism in his country--especially after it was learned that one of the London suicide bombers may have spent time at Pakistani madrassas. Although Musharraf has vowed regularly to crack down on militant religious organizations, as well as madrassas that preach jihad, his government's follow-through has been weak. Indeed, one of the president's chief political allies has been the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, or MMA, an Islamist alliance of six religious parties that opposes Pakistan's cooperation with the United States in the war on terror, supports the Taliban, is sympathetic to Al Qaeda and objects to any government intervention in religious seminaries that promote radical Islamist ideology.During the October 2002 general elections, Musharraf aligned himself with the MMA and refused to allow the secular Pakistan People's Party and an opposition faction of the Pakistan Muslim...
  • A NEW KIND OF COMPANY

    A new kind of multinational corporation is emerging out of India, the hot newcomer in the global economy. It is the Tata Group, a family conglomerate that has gone professional without losing a distinct set of 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 in the last 15 years to become the lowest-cost competitor in this brutal 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 inside India, where its rigid ethical standards are so well known that corrupt officials typically don't even bother asking Tata...
  • FAMILY FEUDS: COLLIDING SONS

    Just because Tata Sons is thriving doesn't mean that Indian family conglomerates have a bright future. Indeed one key reason Tata works is that it's not really a family company. Chairman Ratan Tata has no children. The conglomerate has moved so firmly to professionalize its management ranks that the only other Tata with a high post is Noel, 47, a half-brother of Ratan who runs a retail business that is so low in the pecking order, he's not seen as a viable candidate for the top job.Meanwhile many of the other clan empires that once ruled Indian business have crumbled or are in disarray. The Bajaj family, who run a multibillion-dollar conglomerate with holdings from autos and auto finance to sugar and cement, is in internal negotiations to settle a dispute with a younger son who wants to break out on his own. The Ambanis just resolved a similar battle between brothers, when the matriarch of the clan put her elder son, Mukesh, 48, in charge of its main subsidiaries, two energy...
  • OF YOUTH AND GHOSTS

    Philip Jones Griffiths, who to my mind is Vietnam's pre-eminent photographer, rightly focuses many of the frames in his new book, "Vietnam at Peace," on the country's children. Vietnam is a very young nation indeed--70 percent of its population of more than 80 million was born after April 1975, when Hanoi defeated the U.S.-backed Saigon regime and unified the country, ending what the Vietnamese call the "American War." Not apparently scarred by the brutal, 15-year-long conflict, they look hopefully to the future. In one frame a smiling, bright-faced young schoolgirl, saluting during a class assembly, is an icon of optimism. Another school girl, with her student briefcase strapped to her back, poles a makeshift raft of wood and Styrofoam along a filthy canal to school, showing the drive that these youngsters have to build more prosperous lives.Building a modern Vietnam will be an uphill struggle--as hard, in its way, as the war. Griffiths, 69, who has brilliantly photographed the...
  • BOMBAY DREAMS

    Air travelers arriving in Mumbai can be forgiven if they suddenly get the urge to turn around and go elsewhere. At touchdown, the city's sprawling slums are literally a stone's throw from the plane's wingtips, and visitors are sometimes welcomed by the sight of locals relieving themselves on the hillside next to the airport. Outside the terminal, beggars besiege passengers as they wait for taxis.Things don't get much better on the 30-kilometer trip from the airport south to Mumbai's luxury hotels, a journey that takes a minimum of two agonizing hours at rush hour. The city's slums--where 60 percent of Mumbai's 15 million residents live--are everywhere: along the roadsides and railroad tracks, even atop the two-meter-diameter pipes that carry Mumbai's drinking water. The sea view along south Mumbai's Marine Drive is spectacular, but the area's aging but handsome seaside buildings appear untouched since independence from Britain. The city's infrastructure is crumbling. "The city is...
  • 'I DECIDED TO FIGHT BACK'

    Soon after Mukhtar Mai was savagely gang-raped on the orders of a village council three years ago, she considered her options. She had never been accused of any crime. (The rape was carried out as supposed retribution for an alleged and implausible affair between Mai's teenage brother and a 30-year-old woman.) But according to rural Pakistan's strict Islamic code, she was forever "dishonored." The local Mastoi clan, which dominates the village council, expected her to keep her mouth shut or simply disappear. Her own Gujar clan refused to support her. "My choice was either to commit suicide or to fight back," Mai recalled last week. "I decided to fight back."She's still fighting. Although an anti-terrorist court convicted and sentenced to death six of the 14 men initially charged with the rape in 2002, an appeals court overturned the sentences last month. Within days of that ruling, the Federal Sharia Court, which has unclear jurisdiction, nullified both verdicts. Then the Supreme...
  • Green Profits

    Two years ago, Indian corporate giant ITC set up a computer inside the modest, one-story brick house of wheat and soybean farmer Amar Singh Verma. Powered by rooftop solar panels and connected to the Internet by a satellite dish, the desktop links Verma and dozens of neighboring farmers to ITC-designed, Hindi-language Web pages that provide district-specific weather reports, the market price of soybeans and wheat and tips on modern growing methods. By following ITC's advice and using hybrid seeds, wider spacing between plants and better application of fertilizer, Verma dramatically increased his soybean yield on a two-and-a-half acre test plot by 50 percent last year. "It was like magic," says Verma, the largest and most successful farmer in Siradi village in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. This season he plans to use the new practices to grow soybeans on his entire 25-acre farm. Other farmers are following suit.ITC is a $7.5 billion tobacco, food and hotel corporation-...