14 January 2013

Should India Invade Pakistan?

Issue Net Edition | Date : 14 Jan , 2013 
The British were smart when they created Pakistan in 1947 with a distinct aim to keep India weak, while having a Pakistan they could control, as well as have access to the region for their troops and bases, which they wanted very much at the time. The purpose of having a Pakistan was further strengthened in the British minds because the Indian government refused to allow British bases and troops to be stationed in India except over a transition period, whereas Pakistan’s Jinnah permitted British troops and bases on a more permanent basis upon the promise of the creation of Pakistan. 


Undeniably, Pakistan has been a thorn in India’s side ever since independence. They have not only failed to stop their shennanigans, but after taking a decade to recover from the 1971 humiliation, they were back to seeking revenge. 

However, Pakistan’s promisesto Britain and the West have only partially materialized, because Pakistan has blown hot and cold with their membership in the Commonwealth; Pakistan was a loyal member with the USA in CENTO and SEATO; gave immense help to USA in the fight against Russian intervention in Afghanistan; but at the same time has given the USA an exceptionally tough time since 9/11 in using their territory for operations in Afghanistan. The public sentiment in Pakistan is strongly anti-USA, at up to 90% against. In contrast, a survey in India soon after 9/11 revealed that 70% favor USA. 

The former part of British intentions – to divide and sow discord in the sub-continent — has come true from Day One. First, the refugee crisis of partition sowed hatred between Hindus and Sikhs – on one side – versus Muslims on the other. This was soon followed by the racial crisis in the predominantly Hindu principality of Poonch district of Kashmir that led to the Hindu Maharaja using his Sikh troops to quell a rebellion spurred by former Muslim soldiers of the British Army of India who were denied employment in the Maharaja’s army after the end of World War II. The inconsiderate suppression of the Muslims in Poonch stirred the sentiments of Afghan tribesmen when the news reached them. The rest is history – Pakistani tribesmen swept into Kashmir valley in waves of surprise, covertly aided and abetted by the Pakistani army under the leadership of Mohammed Ali Jinnah. 

Belly Bomb Arrives in India

Date: 13/01/2013 

On 10 October 2013, news broke out in the audio visual and print media about the Maoists surgically inserting an improvised explosive device (IED) in the body of a CRPF jawan killed in operations. This evoked strong reactions from all sections of the country cutting across political lines. The CRPF men had been ambushed in the Karmatiya Forest of Latehar District on 07 January. Ten police personnel were killed in the ambush, nine of whom were from the CRPF and one was from the state's special anti-Naxal force 'Jharkhand Jaguars'. Four civilians also lost their lives later while recovering the bodies of the dead policemen, some of which were booby trapped. 

Of the police casualties, four persons were killed in the afternoon of the 7th. Their bodies were recovered only on the 9th and were then airlifted to Ranchi. The two intervening nights gave the Maoists adequate time to surgically plant the explosive device in the stomach of the dead policeman. The bomb was found after doctors noticed amateur stitching on the body of the deceased policeman. This triggered the suspicion and an X-ray confirmed the presence of the bomb. The Times of India compared the incident with events in Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar winning film ‘Hurt Locker’, stating that the circuitry was wired and stitched to trigger a blast as soon as the autopsy would have been performed. As per the news report, the bomb that was planted inside the body weighed over two kilograms. Explosives were placed inside an iron container and the device was connected to a power source attached to it. The Pioneer stated that a solar panel was also extracted from the abdomen. 

Such an incident is the first of its kind to have been witnessed in India. It could have proved lethal had it exploded at any time prior to detection and especially so when the body was being air lifted. 

Body cavity bomb was first tried out on a member of Saudi royal family by an al Qaeda operative. In August 2009, Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, who was also the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister in charge of counter-terrorism, survived an assassination attempt by an al-Qaeda operative Abdullah Hassan al-Asiri, who concealed explosives within his rectum. The would-be assassin had claimed he was giving himself up. He had said he would try to persuade others to surrender as well - but only if he could meet the Prince in person. The Saudis had flown the “repentant” terrorist from near the border to Riyadh. Though searched before meeting the Prince, his body bomb was not detected. He exploded in presence of the Prince. Internet reports suggest that Saudi television had shown the bomber’s arm blown through the tiles of the suspended ceiling. A bare foot stood alone on the floor. The torso was sheered away below the waist. Bits of flesh stained the white furniture. Prince bin Nayef escaped with minimal injury. 

Opportunities unbound

Ashley J. Tellis

Summary

The evolving U.S.-Indian strategic artnership holds great potential for both countries India’s economic growth and its ties to the United States can assist its global rise, which contributes to keeping the peace in Asia, provided New Delhi and Washington sustain concerted cooperation. And India’s emerging markets promise to be the key instrument for .enlarging India’s power while remaining a rich opportunity for U.S. businesses The 2008 U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement did away with the biggest obstacle in the relationship—India’s murky status in the global nonproliferation regime. Both sides must .now take steps to make the partnership fruitful. Download Full document

Is it time for India to inject greater realism into its Pakistan policy?

Jan 10, 2013
By: BRAHMA CHELLANEY 

Words like "brutal", "heinous" and "savage" aptly describe the way a Pakistani army unit raided Indian territory and chopped two soldiers, taking away one severed head as a "trophy". The Indian outrage, however, must not blind us to the unpalatable truth: India is reaping what it sowed. New Delhi is staring at the bitter harvest of a decade-long policy seeking to appease a recalcitrant neighbor with unilateral concessions and gestures.

The "peace-at-any-price diplomacy" was started by prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in an abrupt policy U-turn in 2003, and has been pursued with greater vigor by his successor, Manmohan Singh — interrupted only by the Pakistan-orchestrated Mumbai terrorist rampage of 2008.

Regrettably, no policy lessons were drawn by New Delhi from the Mumbai terrorist siege, which occurred because India presented itself as a weak and tempting target. The latest episode — one of the worst acts of Pakistani savagery in peacetime ever — has followed a dozen Pakistani violations of the line of control in the past one month. The question to ask is what has prompted the Pakistani military establishment to adopt an overtly aggressive posture visa-vis India of late.

The Pakistani military is drawing encouragement from two factors. The first factor is that the US-Pakistan relationship, after being on the boil for more than a year, has gradually returned to normalcy. That the US-Pakistan rift has healed is apparent from Washington's resumption of large-scale military aid and its coddling of the Pakistan army and ISI.

US aid to Pakistan is now at a historic high — at more than $3 billion a year. US policy, because of the exigencies of an exit strategy from Afghanistan, has permitted political expediency to trump long-term interests vis-a-vis Pakistan. The US has allowed even a key issue to fade away: how was Osama bin Laden able to hide deep inside Pakistan? The reason for that is the same as to why the US didn't pursue the AQ Khan case.

The second factor is the series of unilateral political concessions by India, including delinking dialogue from terrorism, and recognising Pakistan, the sponsor of terror, as a victim of terror. Whereas US policy has increased the Pakistani military's room for maneuver against India, Indian policy has both solidified Pakistani reluctance to bring the Mumbai-attack masterminds to justice and emboldened the Pakistani military to commit yet another act of aggression.

India has considerably eased pressure on Pakistan, both on the Mumbai-attack issue and on Hafiz Saeed, the militant leader who still preaches terrorism against India. India has also pursued a host of goodwill gestures, including resuming high-level political exchanges and cricketing ties and introducing a less-restricted visa regime for Pakistanis. All these moves, unfortunately, have sent the wrong message to Islamabad.

Unleashing the Market in the India–U.S. Economic Relationship, Part 1


Summary

The movements of goods, services, capital, and labor between India and the u.S. are inadequate for two such large economies. There are also disputes about the movement of information, in the form of intellectual property. That is why India is not yet shining in The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom (123rd of 179 countries in the 2012 edition). 
(The u.S. has also dropped from a classification of “free” to one of “mostly free.”)

The two national governments are principally responsible for this failure. a smaller role for them and a larger one for companies and individual states in both countries, based on the principle of free and open exchange, would transform the bilateral relationship and much of the rest of the world

About the Authors
Laveesh Bhandari is founding Director of Indicus Analytics.
Jeremy Carl is a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Bibek Debroy is professor of economics at the Center for Policy Research.
Michelle Kaffenberger is Research Manager at InterMedia.
Pravakar Sahoo is associate professor at Delhi University.
Derek Scissors is a Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

How Not to Rebuild a War-Torn Country

By Mark ThompsonJan. 11, 2013

ISAF Photo / Air Force TSgt Laura K. Smith 

U.S.-funded construction projects, like this Afghan army base in Farah province, are plagued by poor planning, poor quality, poor security and corruption, a top U.S. official says. 

The new Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction stopped by a Washington think tank Thursday to let assorted foreign-policy types how things are going. 

“Two months ago, when we picked this date out of the blue, little did I know that it would be the week, Afghanistan week, that a certain president from a certain country would be in town,” John Spoko said, referring to Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s trip to the U.S. this week – and his meeting Friday with President Obama. 

Spoko – he’s been on the job since July — told the audience at the Stimson Center that the U.S. “has spent more money to rebuild Afghanistan than it has spent on the reconstruction of any other single nation, including Germany following World War II.” 

Then he spoke about a 2008 Pentagon contract to build a $70 million Afghan National Army garrison in the northern province of Kunduz. The fort would house some 1,800 Afghan troops. The facility is vital because it’s designed to protect an important supply route “critical to our national security interests,” Spoko said. 

He continued: 
  • This was a multi-building garrison, and it was supposed to be completed in June of 2009. But in April 2010, it still was not completed.
  • To make matters worse, the construction had been completed — that had been completed had major problems. Roofs were sagging or collapsing because the contractor had used improper welding and priming techniques.
  • Worse yet, the site was constructed on unstable soil. And because the contractor had not adequately prepared the site and stabilized the soil and constructed proper foundation, the buildings were collapsing.
  • They were literally sinking into the ground, causing structural failure and making them unusable.
  • In 2010, we inspected the site. We found the problems, and we told the Defense Department to fix it. They promised to do so.
  • However, last year we returned, and we found the site in deplorable condition. Although some structures had been fixed, the underlying problems of the collapsible soil had not.
  • As a result of the soil instability, buildings had failed, buildings had sunk, holes had developed, and more facilities faced likelihood of structural failure.
  • We saw gaping holes in buildings, because of the structural failures, so large you could stick your arm through the side and walls of the buildings. The sinkholes were so bad that the transformers and electrical systems used to supply power to the facilities were about to collapse into the soil.
  • Moreover, even those facilities that didn’t have deficiencies were not being used for the intended purpose or were not used at all.
  • Now, I’d like to report that the contractors responsible for this problem were held accountable. But that’s not the case.
  • Instead, as we seem to be finding time and time again, for some inexplicable reason, which they still haven’t been able to provide justification for, the Defense Department released the contractor from all further obligations under the contract, including all warranties to fix all the problems, and paid the contractor in full. 
As he went through this litany of woe, you kept waiting for him to stop and say: just kidding! 

4 Threat Matrix: Hakeemullah Mehsud orders Taliban : reportto end attacks on Pakistani military in North Waziristan

Written by Bill Roggio on January 12, 2013 to 4 Threat Matrix 

Available online a t: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-
matrix/archives/2013/01/hakeemullah_mehsud_orders_tali.php 


Waliur Rehman Mehsud (left) and Hakeemullah Mehsud (right), from their latest propaganda tape. Image from Dawn. 

Hakeemullah Mehsud, the emir of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, has ordered his fighters to end attacks against government forces in North Waziristan, according to a report from Reuters
The Pakistani Taliban said on Saturday they would not attack the Pakistani army in the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan but concentrate attacks on Nato forces in Afghanistan instead. 

Thousands of Pakistani soldiers are stationed in North Waziristan, along the Afghan border. 

There have been infrequent clashes there between the soldiers and Taliban but a leaflet issued by Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud ordered those to stop. A senior commander confirmed the pamphlet's veracity.

The report confirms that the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan continues to operate in North Waziristan, despite claims from Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the top Taliban leader in the tribal agency (who is not part of Hakeemullah's group), that the group has been expelled. 

Hakeemullah and Bahadar are part of the Shura-e-Murakeba, an al Qaeda-brokered alliance that also includes the Mullah Nazir Group and the Haqqani Network. The Shura-e-Murakeba was formed at the end of 2011. The members of the Shura-e-Murakeba agreed to cease attacks against Pakistani security forces, refocus efforts against the US, and end kidnappings and other criminal activities in the tribal areas. Despite the agreement, Hakeemullah and Bahadar's forces occasionally attacked Pakistani military units. 

Paradigm Shift? Reassessing Pakistan’s Security

6 January 2013
Published in The News on Sunday

The Pakistan army has reportedly revised its security assessment and is now placing more emphasis on ‘internal threats’ rather than external enemies 

Media reports suggest that the Pakistan army has revised its security assessment and is now placing more emphasis on ‘internal threats’ rather than the external enemies which had informed its strategy as well as operations. This is a welcome development. The details of the new doctrine are unclear but there have been three indications in the recent past. First, the tacit support to the civilian government’s thaw with India and undertaking the unimaginable: trade with India. Second, the chief of the army staff, Gen Kayani, while speaking at an official ceremony on August 14, cited the threat of extremism and reiterated the moderate ethos of Islam. Thirdly, the continued battle against militants in the northwest of the country continues without any major policy reversal. 

There are two issues with the internal shifts, if any, in the way military is proceeding with its strategic rethink. First of all, due to its structure and institutional culture it is not an open and engaging entity. Decisions are centralised and are taken by a coterie of top commanders. Secondly it is also learning to readjust its power and influence within the context of a changing Pakistan. 

Secondly, after five years of civilian rule and emergence of new power centres (judiciary and media), its exclusive monopoly of power had been eroded. For instance, launching a coup though not impossible is a far more complicated endeavour. In this fluid political environment, the Army has yet to find a comfortable equilibrium with the political forces and the parliament. It might have been more useful had the army tried to engage with the national security committee of the parliament thereby giving its rethink more depth, public input and long term legitimacy.

Let’s not forget that the ideological propaganda of al Qaeda and its affiliates has penetrated various sections of the Pakistani society. Whilst the Pakistani population does not want a Taliban type regime that bans women’s education, a vast majority of the population considers the US as an enemy of Islam and the Muslim. More often than not the West — as a vague construct — is also employed in this xenophobic and violent ideology of resistance. This narrative has gained ground in the country whether we like or not. 

Pakistan: Shia Anger Against Kayani

Paper No. 5358 Dated 13-Jan-2013 

By B.Raman 

1. The genocide of the Shias continues unabated in different parts of Pakistan--- particularly in Balochistan, Gilgit, the Kurram Agency and Karachi. The security forces and the intelligence agencies have been unable to prevent frequent massacres of the Shias in these areas and to crush the activities of the Sunni extremist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), which has been openly admitting responsibility for these massacres. 

2. The Police controlled by the Ministry of the Interior headed by Mr.Rehman Malik, is supposed to be responsible for controlling the activities of the LEJ, but it has not been able to. Different security agencies---the Army, the para-military forces, the police, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Interior Ministry---have dissociated themselves from responsibility for inaction against the LEJ and for the failure to protect the Shias. 

3. The Army has not accepted the demand of the Hazara Shias of Balochistan, who are the worst affected, that it should take over the responsibility for their protection. As a result, the Hazara Shia anger, which was initially directed against the security forces/agencies as a whole, is increasingly getting focused on the Army as an institution and Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), as its chief. 

4. The extent of this anger against Gen.Kayani has become evident after the massacre of over 100 Hazara Shias of Quetta on January 10 during two explosions targeting a local snooker hall located in a Hazara Shia area. It has been reported that the relatives of the Shias killed have refused to have their bodies buried till the Army takes over the responsibility for their protection and assures their safety. 

5. The “Dawn” of Karachi ( January 12) has quoted Maulana Amin Shaheedi, a Shia leader, as telling a press conference: “I ask the army chief: What have you done with these extra three years you got (in office). What did you give us except more deaths?” The burials had been scheduled to take place after Friday prayers but the Shia leaders said the bodies would remain in place until the Shias receive promises of protection.“They will not be buried until the army comes into Quetta,” he said. 

Comments on Pakistan Army's actions in J &K

Paper No. 5361 Dated 14-Jan-2013 
By Col R Hariharan 

[Here is a summary of my comments made to print media and on TV on the India-Pakistan standoff after two Indian soldiers were killed by Pakistani troops on 8 January 2012.] 

On the killing and mutilation of soldiers 

This is not the first time Pakistan army has indulged in barbaric acts like beheading captured Indian soldiers, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, it has become a part of the Pak military culture while handling Indian soldiers taken prisoner. They had carried in such inhuman acts before. Captured soldiers were blinded and pushed back alive to the Indian lines during the 1971 War. The torture and mutilation of Lt Saurav Kalia before killing him in the Kargil War in 1999 is well documented. In 2009 they did this again; and now this is one more such gruesome incident. 

Why does the Pakistan army do such things? 

We should not see this as a standalone action of some misguided soldiers. Pakistan army for long has nursed a grudge to avenge its decisive defeat in 1971 War at the hands of Indian army. Even the Kargil War has its roots in this mentality. And in the eyes of average Pakistani the unresolved Kashmir issue provides sufficient grounds to ignore such aberrations of Pakistan army. Pakistan army has exploited this attitude and the latent fear of India to perpetuate its existence as a powerful extra constitutional authority to control the way ‘democracy’ operates in the country. 

In this respect Pakistan army is totally different from Indian army which functions under the elected government. So we cannot expect Pakistan army to behave like its Indian counterpart. 

Pakistan had been facing a terrorist attacks mainly from two groups: the Tehrik –e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), popularly known as Pakistan Taliban and the Lashkar e Jhangvi (LJ), an anti-Shia Jihadi terrorist group. The TTP, a predominantly Pashtun group, aims to destabilize Pakistan state and establish an Islamic government based on Sharia and operates from bases in Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) along Afghan border. It has been attacking government and military installations with considerable success. The LJ, a predominantly Punjabi outfit with Taliban connections, has mainly targeted the Shia population. It has claimed responsibility for the 10 January 2013 bombings in Quetta and in northern Swat Valley, killing in all 125 people and injuring 270. Pakistan army is currently carrying out operations against these two organizations. In addition to this, since December 2012, the army has been intensified its operations against Baloch nationalists fighting for an independent Baluchistan. 

"Good Foundation to Build on"

Op-Ed, China Daily
January 10, 2013

Authors: Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development; Director, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project; Principal Investigator, Agricultural Innovation in Africa, Jia Hepeng

Extending pragmatic trade and technology cooperation can help China and Japan improve their relations

Tensions between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan, have alarmed trade and diplomatic circles around the world. The timing was particularly disconcerting because of the signs of a downturn in economic performance in both countries. 

Conflict between China and Japan is not just a regional matter. Its implications for international peace and security are profound. Fortunately, long-term trade and technology cooperation between the two countries is a stronger force for peace than is publicly appreciated. 

After continuous debates and bitter quarrels, the Diaoyu Islands dispute between China and Japan escalated in September when the Japanese government decided to "nationalize" the islands through a "purchase". Chinese protests, coupled with declining Japanese exports to China, led some analysts to argue that the bilateral economic relationship between the two East Asian giants had been seriously affected. 

However, close scrutiny of their trade and technology ties over the past half century shows strong bonds and incentives that will pre-empt a costly military dispute and economic losses. In essence, the two countries have over the years created a web of trade and technology relations that is not likely to be torn apart by the temporary dispute over the islands. 

Despite the current tensions, it is reasonable to argue that the existing and perhaps extended forms of such pragmatic trade and technology cooperation will contribute to improving China-Japan relations in the foreseeable future. 

Even more significant in fostering peaceful coexistence is the central role that the two economies play as economic anchors for the Asian region as a whole. In this respect, peace between the two countries is not just a regional necessity it's also a global imperative. 

Japan, China Scramble Military Jets in East China Sea

By J. Michael Cole 
January 12, 2013 

Tensions continued to escalate between Japan and China over disputed islets in the East China Sea on Thursday, with Japan reportedly sending two F-15s from Naha, Okinawa, after several Chinese military aircraft crossed into its Air defense identification zone (ADIZ). China responded by scrambling two J-10s of its own. 

Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force spotted the Chinese aircraft in its ADIZ over the East China Sea at about 12pm on Thursday, Kyodo quoted a senior Defense Ministry official as saying, adding that the Chinese aircraft never entered Japanese airspace. Kyodo said the Chinese aircraft penetrated Japan’s ADIZ on three occasions. 

The official said the Chinese aircraft, which numbered more than 10, included J-7s and J-10 fighter aircraft, though according to Chinese media, Japanese reports seem to have mistaken the J-7, an interceptor, for the JH-7 “Flying Leopard,” a fighter/bomber. Unconfirmed reports also alleged that some of the planes may have been early-warning aircraft. 

In a press release on January 11, the Chinese Ministry of Defense said that a Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft was conducting a routine patrol over oil and gas fields east of Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, and confirmed it had dispatched two J-10s after the two F-15s from Japan closed in on the transport plane. 

The Chinese aircraft left the area soon thereafter. 

In a Friday editorial on the crisis, the Global Times wrote that “thanks to Japan’s arrogance toward China …China and Japan may stand at a turning point that leads to confrontation,” adding that the resentment between the two nations had reached the “highest level since World War II.” 

Giving Guerrillas the Boot


By Mark ThompsonJan. 14, 2013

Theodoros Vryzakis’ “The destruction of Dramali at Dervenakia,” from the National Gallery in Athens, in reverse 

Hawkish historian Max Boot is out with a book on insurgency. In Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present, the emphasis is on the epic – the tome weighs in at 750 pages. It’ll be released Tuesday, Jan. 15. 

Seeing as the campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been more irregular than regular, perhaps it’s an apt time for a primer on the topic. And who’s a better guide than Boot, author of 2002′s The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, and 2006′s War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today. Battleland conducted this email chat with Boot, who hangs his helmet at the Council on Foreign Relations, last week: 

What is the bottom line of Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present? 

I wrote Invisible Armies not to make a particular point but simply to tell a story that has never been well told before—the story of guerrilla warfare and terrorism as it has developed over the last 5,000 years, from the days of ancient Mesopotamia to modern Iraq and Afghanistan and beyond. 

I was particularly enthralled with so many great characters—such as Giuseppe Garibaldi, Edward Lansdale, Gerald Templer, Hubert Lyautey, to name just four—who are not well known to the public. I tried to bring them alive for the reader. There is no agenda, political or otherwise, in this book. 

That said, there are a number of lessons one can draw from this history and at the end of my narrative I draw out a dozen “implications.” The first and most important lesson is that guerrilla warfare has been ubiquitous throughout history. 

It always has been and always will be the dominant form of warfare. 

Those who imagine that it is a passing fad—one that will go away with the American withdrawal from Afghanistan—are dreaming. If we are not prepared to counter insurgencies in the future, we will pay a high price, as we have already done in Vietnam, Iraq, Somalia, and other battlefields. 

Promising Signs in Southeast Asia

Article, January 10, 2013 

The United States may have simply kicked the fiscal cliff—or at least part of it—further down the road, and the eurozone looks no closer to solving its economic problems. But Southeast Asia posted solid economic growth numbers last year. And though risks and uncertainties are inevitable, signs are promising that growth is going to pick up in 2013, thanks in part to a stabilizing China and higher levels of foreign direct investment.

True, Southeast Asia has its fair share of risks and challenges. And its politicians, like politicians everywhere, occasionally succumb to populist measures. But their deep commitment to macroeconomic stability, open trade, business-friendly policies, and regional cooperation has created the foundation for steady growth. 

Senior Associate
Asia Program
Bakrie Chair in Southeast Asian Studies More from Nehru... 

The region’s economies remain among the most attractive destinations for foreign investors who are running out of options in other emerging markets—including India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey. Southeast Asia’s relative political and macroeconomic stability, low debt burdens, integration in East Asian production networks, and open trade and investment policies give it a distinct advantage over other developing regions in the world.

And Southeast Asian countries are reaping the benefits. Their average growth rate exceeded 6 percent in 2012. Indonesia and the Philippines did better than most expected. Thailand appears to have finally recovered from the devastating floods of 2011. And Malaysia enjoyed the benefits of an expansionary election budget.

In the coming year, the global economy may be marginally more helpful. But it will be internal macroeconomic policies and structural reforms in Southeast Asia that will continue to drive growth. The Philippines and Myanmar in particular should see above-average improvements in economic performance. President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines has made an earnest effort to improve economic governance, and it is paying off. And after fifty years of self-imposed isolation, fear, and poverty, Myanmar came in from the cold and rejoined the international community. The country’s new openness to trade and foreign investment should yield significant growth dividends.

Predicting the Future With Crowd

Jan 11, 2013 10:22 Moscow Time 

Crystal ball. Photo Credit: Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock. 

WASHINGTON -- Wikistrat runs simulations on future events by crowdsourcing hundreds of online analysts, and hopes to be the next big thing in prediction. 

Kim Brown interviews Managing Editor Chrisella Sagers Herzog, of Diplomatic Courier Magazine, and Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett, chief analyst of Wikistrat: Download

Wikistrat bills itself as "the world’s first Massively Multiplayer Online Consultancy (MMOC)". It is made up of hundreds of analysts, connected globally through the internet, who run simulations on possible future events.

Large companies and even the federal government have expressed interest in using Wikistrat, who runs simulations for a consulting fee. Right now, they're working on predicting the future of Syria and Assad's regime.

A serious threat to peace in Myanmar

January 10, 2013 
by Jim Della-Giacoma 

The fighting in Kachin areas – the Kachin State itself and Kachin-majority parts of northern Shan State – has been one of the most serious threats to peace during Myanmar’s transition since it erupted in June 2011, ending a seventeen-year-long ceasefire. It remains the last of Myanmar’s decades-long ethnic conflicts not currently to have a ceasefire. 

Since Crisis Group first raised concerns in November 2011 about the grave consequences the breakdown of the ceasefire could pose for the country’s New Peace Initiative, other Storm Clouds have gathered on the country’s horizon, including virulent inter-communal violence in Rakhine State. These are serious challenges that must be overcome if Myanmar is to keep its broadly positive transition on track. But as Myanmar can see from the Indonesian experience, transitions are complicated, long, and often messy processes. They do not always end up as those who advocated or started them intended. There are many deviations and frequently bumps in the road. 

On 28 December 2012, the Myanmar army launched attacks on a base near the Laiza headquarters of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO). It is not the first attack since the ceasefire failed. But this time it was backed by helicopter gunships and fighter jets. This was a serious escalation, as air power has rarely been used in this or any of the other internal conflicts. It appears inconsistent with the President’s order not to take offensive actions and raises in some quarters serious questions about the extent of his authority over the military, or his own commitment to reform. 

There is a large civilian population in and around Laiza, as well as a large number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps. Any military offensive on the town could have a serious impact on civilians, and would likely send tens of thousands of refugees across the border into China as the town sits on the border. There are IDP camps on the approach roads to Laiza, and also at various locations in the town itself, including close to strategic targets. 

The main area attacked by air last month was a hilltop military base (Hill 771 near Lajayang), with no significant civilian populations living nearby. In the official New Light of Myanmar, it was reported that the KIO had been using its position on Hill 771 to attack the main Bhamo-Myitkyina road, including military ration supply convoys to the army’s longstanding base adjacent to Hill 771. It said the KIO had been informed in advance that Myanmar military convoys would be passing along the route to deliver supplies, in order to prevent clashes from occurring, but that on all three occasions the KIO ambushed the convoys. 

India’s troubled borders

Jan 13, 2013

Of all the legacies the British Empire left behind in South Asia nothing may have such a lasting impact as the arbitrary borders they drew on maps during their two centuries of colonisation. These troubled borders have divided communities, united disparate groups, and forever spelt trouble for all the countries in the region. India seems to be carrying the heaviest burden of the white man's whims in South Asia, the brutal killing of two of its soldiers along the Line of Control being the latest example of it. 

Not just Pakistan, those strokes across maps have been a key factor for wars or tension between India and China, Bangladesh and India, Pakistan and Afghanistan etc. Along the India-China border world's biggest conventional military build-up is quietly happening, while the Pakistan-India borders remain perpetually tense, and occasionally turn into conflict zones. 

Between Afghanistan and Pakistan the unifying aspects of a single religion pale before the troubles brought about by Durand Line, the 2,640-km border between the two countries that cuts through Pashtun land. Named after the then foreign secretary of undivided India Henry Mortimer Durand , the boundary was the product of negotiations between British Empire and the Afghan ruler Amir Abdul Rahman Khan, with scant regard for the fact that they were cutting through Pashtun territories and splitting tribes. In the Amir's defence, some say the single-page agreement that he signed was in English, a language he could neither read nor write. The process of physically transferring the frontier line on the ground was quite complex and very brutal, given the fact that one line can translate into a four-mile stretch on the ground. And with its many topographical errors, it is a challenge that continues to haunt the region. Pashtun people remain divided, and Pakistan and Afghanistan remain locked in the dispute. 

India's security fortunes are intrinsically linked to the fate of the porous Durand Line since the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have had a dramatic impact on India for decades. At the height of the Cold War this porous border was exploited by the US and Pakistan to supply arms to the mujahideen ag ainst Soviets, it created the template for the armed Kashmir insurgency that would begin in the late 80s. In the 90s, this porous border helped Pakistan to create Taliban , effectively ending India's influence in Kabul. 

Many fronts 

The latest round of ceasefire violations, the beheading of Indian soldier and the resultant escalation of tension between the two sides is only the latest in a series of angry stand-offs between India and Pakistan that draw its genesis mostly on the haphazard way the British drew up boundaries of the two nations. 

Though the Line of Control itself is not a British product, its boundaries of Kashmir have hugely contributed to the tension over the region between India, Pakistan and China. While China occupies Aksai Chin, India stakes claim to it. Both have different maps prepared by British to validate their claims. China also occupies the trans-Karakoram tract, gifted to it by Pakistan in 1963. By Indian claims that too is part of undivided Jammu and Kashmir which belongs to India. 

The habit of bending over backwards

13 January 2013

As a conundrum, this one is hard to beat, possibly because it is uniquely Indian. Why has appeasement of hardliners in Pakistan, an avowedly communal state carved out of the two-nation theory, become a touchstone for secularism in India? If this were limited to an irony it would doubtless find its level in the varied folds of public discourse. As an artful strategy to legitimize the present UPA government’s weak knees, it has more disturbing implications.

The subtext is subtle. There are only two sides to this coin of Manmohan Singh’s realm: accommodation or war, a nonsense familiar to historians of Europe between the first two world wars. An ultimatum is the last resort, not the first one; and there are many stages in-between, as President Obama’s policy towards Iran, for instance, indicates. But in the dictum laid down by Delhi, you either accept Pakistan’s token verbiage, or risk derision as a hawk.

Pakistan’s hard line towards India is held by the Army, which takes the final call on India, whether in strategic planning or real-time response. Its thinking is rooted in Partition. India won freedom from the British. Pakistan won independence from India. Pakistan’s fundamentalist patriots therefore locate the existentialist threat from India. Expand or manouvre the matrix and a man wanted across the world for terrorism, Hafiz Saeed, gets transformed into a commander of the faithful doing his duty in a holy war on Mumbai. Does this make dialogue impossible? No. But it makes it more complex.

Singh, backed firmly by Sonia Gandhi, has no use for complications. He bends in the hope that one more storm will pass over. But between Pakistan’s intransigence over terrorism, his own capitulation at Sharm el Sheikh within nine months of Mumbai, a succession of Pakistan officials who taunt India on Indian soil, and the mutilation of two Indian soldiers this week along the Rampur-Haji Ali sector, Dr Singh seems to have bent so far that he looks prostrate.

The ceasefire line across Jammu and Kashmir is a misnomer. It is always on fire. Lives are lost periodically in the tension of conflicting responsibilities, as India guards itself from the enemy without and insurgents within. But some instances are intended to send a larger signal. The gruesome killing of Lance Naiks Hemraj Singh and Sudhakar Singh was one such message.

Singh’s answer was to pull out the most tired clichés from the store. The Pakistan high commissioner Salman Bashir was “summoned” and told that barbarism was “unacceptable” over a nice cup of tea. Bashir dismissed India’s accusations with contempt. His boss, foreign minister Hina Rabbani, used two words where her Indian counterpart used one, calling India’s allegations “absolutely unacceptable”.

Examine Pakistan’s version of events. Islamabad claims India started the firefight on January 6 in which one of its soldiers was killed and another seriously wounded. Pakistan did not summon India’s high commissioner for coffee and photographs. It sent the 29 Baloch Regiment to extract two eyes for one. When India asked for an enquiry, Pakistan told India to jump - into the arms of the United Nations. Pakistan marshaled its array of diplomats to supplement action in the field. Dr Singh ordered Indian diplomats and armed forces to freeze and “de-escalate”.

Pakistan’s Endless Lies & India’s Gutless Pundits

By Kunal Verma 

After the Kargil War, I was filming the eight Pakistani prisoners who had been captured by us in the Dras and Batalik Sectors. The Army PROs had told the POWs that I was from the Red Cross or some such bullshit in the hope that they would talk on camera. The first thing I did with each of them was to tell them that I was from no such organization. I also told them point blank that their country was denying that their Army had been a part of the infiltration and their best chance of returning to Pakistan was to talk turkey and tell the truth or languish in our jails for years. The fear of God and the fact that they would never see their families again worked and they began to talk – all eight of them. As ordinary soldiers they didn’t know too much, but what they said was detailed and clearly established how their regular units had moved into position masquerading as ‘mujahideen’. 

The visuals of those men, some with bandages on their eyes, was flashed on virtually every television channel and within a week the eight POWs were flown back to Pakistan. That footage is still with me, and the verbal evidence of the POWs blows whatever fig leaf of cover the Pakistani establishment ever had. 

Kargil was not a one off thing. The same thing had happened in Jammu and Kashmir in 1948. From day one the Government of Pakistan had gone blue in the face repeating ad nauseam that their Army was not involved. Their entire case in the United Nations was based on that one big lie which we could never convincingly expose, despite the fact that Western journalists had splashed photographs of the active involvement of the Pakistan Armed Forces. For my book, The Long Road to Siachen: The Question Why I found some of these images fairly easily, yet no one on the Indian side felt the need to aggressively nail this great big lie. Years later, when Pakistani officers began to publish their own stories, we still did nothing to counter this propaganda. 

As a nation, we are pathetic when it comes to remembering our history or honouring the brave men who died defending this country – sixty-five years on and our political leadership grudges them even a National War Memorial! Not surprising then that October 1947 in Baramula has all but been forgotten, when the tribal lashkar pulled out and raped virtually every woman and girl in the town; or for that matter forgotten the chilling words when Skardu fell and the Pakistani field commander wired back “All Sikhs killed and women raped” or words to that affect. 

In 1965 they did it again, and then again in 1971, even when the Pakistan Army was fighting for its survival in Bangladesh, they tortured and mutilated our boys. 22 Rajput at Madhumati had two men stripped naked and dragged through the streets behind jeeps while others were tied to trees and their eyes were gouged out! The Indian Government’s response was predictable – 22 Rajput was pulled out of the Eastern Theatre. The Pakistan Army which had behaved in the most barbaric manner possible with the people of Bangladesh were then protected by us from the Mukti Bahini and 93,000 POWs were sent back by a preening Indian Government while some of our own boys even today are reportedly languishing in their jails. Not one of the Pakistani soldiers was tried for war crimes. 

Sainath plans online ‘People’s archive of rural India'

Published: January 14, 2013
B. S. Satish Kumar 

P Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor, The Hindu, at an interaction in Bangalore on Sunday. Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar 

This online platform will have audio, video, print and still photos on rural life and issues 

Did you know that there is a community called Khalasi in Kerala, which has specialised in hydraulics for millenniums? This community has traditionally helped in moving newly-constructed ships from the dry docks to the sea without damaging the vessel’s base. Then there is a little known tribe in Assam known as Apathenis, whose members plough the land with their feet as they believe that it is a crime to use implements against Mother Earth. These are just a couple of facts on the diversity and complexity of life in rural India that are set to find a place in the “People’s archive of rural India,”– an online platform being launched by noted development journalist and The Hindu Rural Affairs Editor P. Sainath. The platform, which is expected to commence operations on an experimental basis from June, is an effort by the Magsaysay award-winning journalist who has reported from the length and breadth of rural India to document for posterity the myriad forms of labour and production in rural India. 

Disclosing this at an interaction programme jointly organised in Bangalore on Sunday by Avadhimag.com, Abhinava and Karnataka Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi, Mr. Sainath said the documentation in the proposed archive would be in four different mediums — audio, video, print and still photos, of which his own extensive collection will form an important part. 

Pointing out that rural India has both great beauty and extreme ugliness, he said both faces would be presented in the proposed archive. He showed excerpts from documentaries on a potter in Bengal, three different schools of Kalaripayattu from Kerala, a dance form from Kumaon, and the lives of Kutchi potters from Gujarat who have made Dharavi in Mumbai their home. “This is not just documentary, but documentary journalism,” he said. The focus in the documentaries would be on the forms of labour rather than the actual artistic product, and moreover, the artist/artisan/rural producer would speak directly to the video camera. He said 15 small cameras had been given to “video volunteers” to capture whatever they think was interesting. He also announced that any person who had an idea or a subject that suited the proposed archive could contribute by filming/recording it. 

“You can shoot even with your cell phones or still cameras that have video option. Only thing is that you have to get in touch with us to know our guidelines. If you do not want to take up filming or writing, you can even share the idea with us and we will do the rest,” he said. Explaining why he zeroed in on the idea of launching such an archive, especially for rural India, he said: “Rural India is the most complex part of the planet as it has 833 million people, 400 living languages besides innumerable number of dialects and occupations.” 

A call to leadership

Mon Jan 14 2013

UPA’s political leadership must take back charge of the India-Pak story that has spun out of its control 

With the armies of India and Pakistan locked in a shooting match, the fire on the Line of Control in Kashmir, one would have assumed, is the top story in both countries. But the headlines in the Indian and Pakistani media during the last couple of days provide a surprising contrast. 

On the Indian side, the media, especially television news channels, are in a frenzy. Delhi’s talking heads, so easily enraged, are beating the drums of war. 

On the Pakistan side, renewed military tension with India is by no means the headline. Consider the front-page stories in the Sunday editions of the Pakistani papers. 

Right on top is last Thursday’s tragedy in Quetta, Balochistan, where Sunni extremist suicide bombers killed nearly 100 people, mostly Hazara Shias. The bombing, claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, is the latest and most brazen campaign against the Shia minority in Pakistan. The Shia community in Quetta has refused to bury the dead and has blocked the streets with the coffins, demanding greater security and the imposition of army rule in Quetta. 

A second headline is about the Pakistan army’s attempts at pacifying the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that has mounted a series of bold attacks in recent years on the nation’s military establishments. The reports refer to an alleged new decision by the TTP to avoid attacking Pakistani forces and concentrate instead on the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and step up the jihad in Kashmir. 

A third story is on the planned “million-man march” led by Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Canadian cleric of Pakistani origin, that began on Sunday and will culminate in Islamabad on Monday. 

Qadri is widely suspected of acting on behalf of the “deep state” or Pakistan’s military establishment. He has come from nowhere to question civilian rule at a moment when the government led by Asif Ali Zardari is about to complete a full five-year term — a rare achievement in Pakistan. 

Qadri wants the dissolution of the present government, postponement of elections due in the next few months, and the formation of an interim regime of technocrats that will cleanse the current system and devise a new political framework for Pakistan. 

Finally, the drone attacks by the US on Pakistan’s western borderlands continue, despite the much-proclaimed American embrace of the Pakistan army in the last few months. On Thursday, when the Shia massacre took place, the US launched its seventh drone attack in ten days. 

Island Nations Play China, India


A quiet Chinese challenge to India's pre-eminence in South Asia through diplomatic and aid effort has now been extended to small island nations dotting the Indian Ocean. While China, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asian nations fight over specks of islands and reefs in East and South China Sea, mainly because of undersea resources, islands in the Indian Ocean are emerging as a new focus for struggle. The latest hotly contested arena: Maldives, a chain of 26 islands about 1000 kilometers due south from India. With just 320,000 nationals, Maldives has assumed a disproportionately large profile primarily because of its geopolitical position astride strategic sea lines of communication and China's attempt to win influence. 

The rivalry was brought to light when Maldives canceled a lucrative contract granted to Indian and Malaysia companies amid speculation that a Chinese company was behind the move, although the reality could be more prosaic. In November, the Maldivian government unilaterally terminated an agreement with India's GMR Infrastructure, Ltd., and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad to operate and modernize Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male, citing irregularities in the award of the $511 million contract.

The two firms were jointly awarded the 25-year contract in 2010. The largest Indian foreign direct investment in Maldives had huge symbolic importance for India's profile in the atoll nation. GMR took the battle all the way to the Singapore Supreme Court, which ruled that Maldives indeed had the power to take control of the airport. GMR intends to seek compensation of more than $800 million from the Maldivian government for terminating the deal whereas Male is insisting on a forensic audit from an international firm. 

Many in India had expected New Delhi to escalate the conflict, by declining to release annual budgetary support of $25 million, forcefully reminding Male about its security dependence on India. Ignoring such calls, the Indian government has been quick to convey to Maldives that, if there were political reasons for the contract's cancellation, these "shouldn't spill over into a very, very important relationship, a very valuable relationship" between the two states. Two days after the project's cancellation, the Maldives defense minister flew to Beijing. 

New Delhi recognizes the strategic importance of Maldives. Any escalation by India would have only fanned anti-India sentiments in the island nation, allowing other powers, especially China, to further entrench themselves at India's expense. It's possible that the military government's move to cancel the contract was primarily political, setting the stage for 2013 elections. After ousting the democratically elected Mohamed Nasheed in what was in effect a coup in February 2012, current President Mohamed Waheed is expected to contest the presidential polls in 2013. The pressure of competitive politics may have led him to exploit anti-India sentiment being fanned by extremist groups in this Muslim nation. 

New Delhi has also hinted at the possibility of external forces playing a role in the contract's cancellation, with suggestions that the Maldivian government wanted to push out the Indian company, replacing it with a Chinese firm. Waheed's coalition partner, the radical Islamic Adhaalath Party, made it clear that it would "rather give the airport contract to our friends in China."