17 January 2013

Shamelessly, business as usual with Pakistan

Date : 17 Jan , 2013 

The Interior Minister of Pakistan, Mr Rehman Malik meeting the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in New Delhi

“PM gives ‘tough message’ to Pakistan” says the media. Did he by the meek remark of ‘business cannot be as usual’, delivered in characteristic apologetic body language? The fact this message was give after so many days speaks for itself. How many such messages has India given – after Parliament attack, serial blasts, 26/11 Mumbai terrorist strike and what have you? Scant regard the hierarchy gives to the rank and file of the armed forces and the central armed police forces is crystal and how the armed forces are sidelined and held on a leash is no secret either. Government orchestration of statements of Service Chiefs is further proof. First the Air Force Chief is allowed to talk of other options – any different from Parliament attack and 26/11? 

This barbaric act of Pakistan was not the first one and neither the denial. How does one expect civility from a military in the first place when they are organizing institutionalized killings of Shias in their own country in cahoots with terrorist organizations? 

Then after an eternity, the Army Chief is permitted to ‘talk tough’ with no option left with mandatory Army Day message to be broadcast but not before he is thoroughly lambasted on Facebook and Twitter for hiding under the desk, not making a statement, not visiting the martyrs family and someone even posting an article titled ‘Required – Service Chiefs with Balls’. Was this delay by design to rub the nose of the military in mud further and keep them under the rod? Would anyone ask the pundits why the Naval Chief, who recently stated quite logically that the Navy can send warships to Asia Pacific to safeguard our interests, has not been permitted a statement? Have we not effectively blockaded Pakistan from sea earlier? Now please don’t reply in the nonsensical that Service Chiefs can make any statements they want. This farce can’t work anymore! 

The issue in any case is too frivolous for the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to make a national broadcast. The only time the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces did so was in the wake of Operation Blue Star although he himself as Home Minister India was entertaining, arming and financing terrorists, an act that got him the Presidency as the Congress thought it best to kick him upstairs and ensconce him the regal surroundings of the President’s estate. 

Coup Season

Is Pakistan's meddlesome military up to its old tricks?
BY ARIF RAFIQ
JANUARY 16, 2013 


With the future of Pakistan's prime minister, president, army chief, and Supreme Court chief justice up in the air this year, there was little doubt that 2013 would be rife with intrigue in Islamabad. The country, after all, has witnessed three military coups in its 65-year history. And Pakistan has yet to see a transition of power between two successive democratically elected governments. 

Today, many Pakistani observers, including human rights activist Asma Jahangir, suspect a surreptitious putsch is afoot, aided by the judiciary and a mysterious cleric-politician, Tahir-ul-Qadri, who suddenly returned to Pakistan last month from Canada. The Sufi cleric has now led three large anti-government rallies, buttressed by expensive television advertising and a professional social media campaign. 

The goal, these observers claim, is the implementation of what's known in Pakistan as the Bangladesh model -- a reference to that country's army and Supreme Court-backed, technocrat government, which governed from 2007 to 2009 and was tasked with correcting the mess caused by the two dominant political parties. In Pakistan's case, those two parties would be President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. 

Qadri has only heightened this suspicion by calling for the inclusion of both the army and the judiciary in selecting a caretaker government to oversee the elections expected this spring. There has been no visible public demand for including these actors in the process. And it has no justification in the Pakistani constitution, which only requires general elections to take place under the auspices of a neutral caretaker government chosen by the government and opposition, or by the federal election commission. 

On Jan. 15, Qadri's plan appeared to be taking shape when Pakistani television channels broke from live coverage of his rally to report the breaking news of the Supreme Court's apparent order for Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf's arrest. It seemed perfectly choreographed: Qadri's followers erupted in celebration, and the cleric asked them to perform the namaz-e shukrana, or prayer of gratitude. For a moment, Qadri appeared to be another Khomeini -- returning from the West with an effortless victory over the ancien régime. 

The Three Most Dangerous Things About Threat Lists

What the pundits and analysts don't tell you.
JANUARY 16, 2013 


The New Year is always a time for making lists, and presidential inaugurations crank the Beltway list-making machine into overdrive. We've got predictionlists, challenge lists, and even foreign-policy-problems-the-president-could-solve-right-now lists. The thing is, the most serious foreign policy challenges are often unlisted surprises. 

In 1995, President Clinton issued a Presidential Decision Directive that demanded intelligence priorities be placed into tiers. They were, and Afghanistan was near the bottom. In 2000, a self-appointed bipartisan Commission on America's National Interests tried a similar drill. They ended up assigning counterterrorism and democracy promotion outside the Western hemisphere as second- and third-tier interests. In 2011, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told West Point cadets, "When it comes to predicting the nature and location of our next military engagements, since Vietnam, our record has been perfect. We have never once gotten it right, from the Mayaguez to Grenada, Panama, Somalia, the Balkans, Haiti, Kuwait, Iraq, and more -- we had no idea a year before any of these missions that we would be so engaged." 

Why do these lists have such an abysmal track record? Because they tend to focus on hot spots and bad guys -- the places and adversaries that make headlines rather than the underlying forces that ignite and inflame conflict. Instead of lists of challenges, the Obama administration should think much more aboutdrivers of challenges, understanding better the forces that are likely to amplify and multiply security threats now and over the longer-term. Think of these drivers as "threat multipliers." They don't make the threats. They make the threats more dangerous, numerous, and intractable. In my view, three threat multipliers are critical and deserve much more systematic thought in Obama's second term: institutional mismatch, climate change, and technology. 

Institutional Mismatch 

Within states and across them, institutions are slow to adapt to new global political realities. This matters. Effective governance is the key to both global economic development and security, tamping down instability, and responding quickly so that small crises stay small and big problems get the attention they need. 

Beware the dogs of war

January 17, 2013
NIRUPAMA SUBRAMANIAN

If our politicians cannot defend the ceasefire, the biggest gain of the India-Pakistan dialogue, they should stop claiming they represent Kashmir’s best interests

The killing of two soldiers on the Line of Control, and the gruesome manner in which Lance Naik Hemraj met his end, have shocked and anguished all Indians. But in all that has been said by political leaders and by the men in uniform, there is a strange omission. Not one of them has yet thought it important to stress that despite the violations, how vital the ceasefire has been to changing lives on the ground for people living on both sides of the LoC — the Kashmiris that both India and Pakistan claim to speak for, and whose best interests both nations claim to represent — and what a crucial anchor it has been for peace efforts in the region over the last decade and therefore how important it is to secure it. 

‘10 for one’

Instead, on the Indian side, there has been talk about the need to get “10 heads for one;” about India having “other options;” about how the Indian Army will not remain “passive” to provocations. But what is truly sad is that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been a determined votary of better ties with Pakistan, and once spoke about “breakfast in Lahore and lunch in Kabul” has now started competing with BJP leader Sushma Swaraj in playing to the gallery. His statement that it “cannot be business as usual with Pakistan” is — word for word — a throwback to the Mumbai attack. 

But it is also useful to recall that after those famous last words in 2008, the two countries came back to the table as realisation dawned on India that talks it had to be. Back at the table, both sides set up a framework with much difficulty, and even managed some forward movement. It seems no lessons have been learnt from that experience. Reminiscent of the Mumbai aftermath, on the Indian side, sporting contacts, and the visa-on-arrival-scheme have been the immediate casualties. 

On the Pakistani side, the politicians and the military have been too preoccupied with the bombings in Quetta, Karachi and Swabi, protests and Tahir-ul Qadri. But they threw the U.N. card at India and also suspended two main confidence building measures on the ceasefire — the cross-LoC bus service and cross-LoC trade, directly hurting the Kashmiris. 

Has India Lost the Strategic Advantage?

January 16, 2013 by Team SAI
Filed under Analysis, geopolitics


“Media led, politically motivated rhetoric thwart India’s efforts at marginalizing JMC” 

Somehow in affairs of statecraft ‘bravado’ and ‘visible posturing’ are anathemas to achieving one’s national interests. In a path breaking book ‘Indianomix’, Vivek Dehejia and Rupa Subramanya have labored extensively on the role of ‘Fourth Estate’ in shaping public policy. In their opinion Indian media creates emergencies where there may be none. This stands vindicated in the recent media hyperbole over the dastardly killing of the Indian Army soldiers on the Line of Control. The media led, politically motivated stance of media men of all hues and political parties to exploit the volatile environment has led Indian policy to fall in the trap of Pakistan’s Jihadi Military Complex (JMC). Strategically, this is exactly where the Pakistan Army and Jihadis were leading India to – a slow down on the peace process contributing towards nullifying their policies of engagement with each other. 

Consider the aspect of historical experience……In 1999 we similarly read emerging normalcy and got hit by Kargil; in 2008 a great tourist year was hit by the SASB agitation. Each time an emerging normalcy is evident the nexus elements of the Pakistan Army, ISI, Separatists and Terrorists get their act together. As Stephen Cohen opines, “Pakistan (Military) has found ways of challenging India by using destabilising proxies and terrorism at relatively low cost”. 

India should be wiser in tackling such efforts by now rather than playing into the hands of the JMC. 

However, the JMC has achieved multiple aims in a single stroke. Most important being discrediting elected Pakistan Government, reorienting focus on Kashmir to placate the Jihadis, unite the JMC and derail the democratic process in Kashmir by terrorizing elected panches (village leaders) while providing impetus to Jihadi led insurgency in Kashmir. These acts, (killing soldiers & sarpanches) were executed with classic finesse by the JMC. If this escalation of tensions kills the ceasefire on the LOC, the JMC would be too happy to divert their precious Jihadi resources to foment trouble in J&K, which too is heading towards elections. So in effect, this would prepare the grounds for greater Jihadi involvement in Kashmir post 2014 as predicted by South Asian Idea here

India- Pak dialogue, futile exercise

LT GEN VIJAY OBEROI ( RETD) 
16 Jan 2013 

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) 

Defence Matters (The writer is a former vice- chief of army. The views expressed are personal) 

The killing, and more importantly, savage mutilation of two soldiers of the Indian Army on the Line of Control ( LoC) has put a big question mark on the ' on- again/ off- again' dialogue the two countries keep having, seeking the elusive peace. 

My focus today is on these two aspects; the first is tactical and the second falls squarely in the strategic realm. While the former is predominantly military, the latter does need to take note of this deplorable incident while analysing the future of the dialogue. 

DYNAMICS OF LOC 

It is important to understand the dynamics of the LoC first. The present LoC is the second avatar of the erstwhile Cease Fire Line ( CFL). While the CFL was delineated in 1949, the LoC became the dividing line after our victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan. 

Despite these formal delineations, the Pakistani Army did not honour the sanctity of these lines. They commenced encroaching and nibbling on our side of the line, with a view to gaining tactically advantageous positions. 

This was naturally resisted by our troops. The eyeball- to-eyeball deployment of troops resulted in the LoC becoming an active and live border, where it was considered a fair game to seize any opportunity and occupy areas across the CFL/ LoC, by both sides. 

There were casualties on both sides and ‘taking revenge’ was an established way to pay the other side in the same coin. I have no doubt that even in this case, our army will exact retribution at a place and time of its choosing. 

After Pakistan started sending terrorists across the LoC, it started resorting to heavy firing on our posts to divert the attention of our troops. This continued even after agreeing to the ceasefire. Our army adopted several counter- measures to check such infiltration, including an increase i n the number of observation posts, erecting a border fence, increasing patrolling and so on. Such tactical actions will continue in future. 

Withdrawal symptoms

Wednesday Jan 16, 2013 




Are we seeing the replay of the post-Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 when the militants were directed to Jammu and Kashmir? 


Ceasefire violations across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir may have burst across the television screens on January 6 and 8, but in 2012 there had been over 75 such eruptions. Gen. Bikram Singh, the Indian Army Chief, was eventually fielded by the government on January 14, when it realised that the beheaded soldiers widow’s hungerstrike would not allow public ire to dissipate. 

From the Army Chief’s explanations emerge some curious facts. Gen. Singh denied that Indian troops undertook any operation on January 6. Who then was the “highly-placed military source” quoted by an English language daily, repeated by international media, that the fracas was an overblown crisis over a grand-mother’s migration to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and unilateral action by the Indian Army? Second, that there were beheadings earlier too which were probably quietly buried by pro-dialoguers in the government. What does the then Chief, Gen. V.K. Singh, the self-appointed tribune of public morality, have to say about that? Could not the recurrence have been avoided had serious protests been mounted at that stage? The Prime Minister’s Office, specifically his national security adviser, needs to answer that.

The talks with Pakistan have resulted in a partially relaxed visa regime, albeit accompanied by the unwholesome pantomime of Rehman Malik, the visiting Pakistani interior minister; and trade liberalisation through the promised Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment, which is still a mirage. Warning signals were aplenty that as the geo-strategic environment and Pakistani domestic dynamics evolved their external behaviour would accordingly mutate.

US President Barack Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as defence secretary and John Kerry as secretary of state and the news that US troops evacuation from Afghanistan may be immediate and not staggered, are signalling US desperation to exit. Suddenly Pakistan and US views are converging on dialogue with the Taliban and its role in Afghanistan post withdrawal. Also, as Pakistan government’s tenure ends and an interim government looms, the civilian government’s writ dissipates. Reality is overtaking Indian peaceniks.

Indianomix – Making Sense of Modern India

January 15, 2013 by Team SAI
Filed under Book Reviews


Cover courtesy India Today 

Indianomix is a fascinating analysis of modern India – why it is the way it is. The authors Vivek Dehejia and Rupa Subramania, economists of repute, have attempted to fill a very important void in the understanding of India by applying principles / methods of economics, “especially to exploring themes that in our judgment are under explored by economists”. 

From “why Indians are not punctual” to “India China war of 1962” they have explored and analysed, with a deep insight and cross-pollination of ideas from other disciplines, such as history, political science, anthropology, evolutionary biology and religion. So it’s not purely an economics book. It is a book which attempts successfully to make sense of India hidden behind the apparent chaos. As per India Today, Indianomix’s greatest strength is that it brings to the fore cutting edge research in the fields of behavioural economics and experimental economics-which assume away rationality-and applies insights from those to understand several vexed real world problems. 

To undertake this monumental study of understanding the sense behind India’s apparent chaos, the authors have woven interesting stories from different walks of life on behavioral economics-as it tries to comprehend why and how people behave the way they do. From vampire bat’s altruistic heroism to the chances of Rajiv Gandhi meeting Antonia Maina, now Sonia Gandhi, the pattern of research, keen observations and analysis of behavioral patterns is delightful and fascinating. A simple observation that Sonia Gandhi’s rise to be one of the most powerful women in the world took two assassinations (Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi) and five unexpected deaths after her chance meeting with her husband makes for a powerful role of luck in life. 

On a serious note, the authors have divided the book in six “unputdownable” chapters, each complete in itself to explain or explore various aspects of India. (However, beware Indianomix personally hit me when my scheduled taxi refused to arrive for two hours after time making me miss an important flight. This soon after understanding the concept of “Indian Stretchable Time” -very authentic, very real.) 

Looking South


Jan 16 2013


With a wary eye on Beijing and a determination to raise Tokyo’s regional profile, Japan’s Shinzo Abe is heading to southeast Asia this week on his first trip abroad after he was sworn in as prime minister last month. 

Abe wanted to make his first foreign visit to Washington for an early meeting with President Barack Obama to strengthen the alliance with the United States amidst the deepening military tensions with China. But problems in scheduling a meeting with Obama, who will begin his second term next week, have delayed Abe’s trip to Washington. 

Abe’s journey to the south comes as the region becomes the theatre of great-power rivalry. As China’s economic weight and political influence grows in southeast Asia, there is anxious search for a stable balance of power in the region. 

At the end of last year, Obama became the first American president to travel to Myanmar and Cambodia. Last month, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) elevated their ties to a strategic partnership. 

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of Japan’s relations with the ASEAN. Abe’s visit ends Japan’s political neglect of the region in the last few years. The most recent bilateral visits to southeast Asia by a Japanese premier have been to Thailand in 2002 and Indonesia in 2007. 

The new importance of southeast Asia in Abe’s foreign policy calculus has been highlighted by travel to the region in the last couple of weeks by his senior cabinet colleagues. 

Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso travelled to Myanmar within days of the new government taking charge in Tokyo. Last week, Japan’s new foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, swung through the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore and Australia. 

Abe’s four-day trip, beginning Wednesday, will take him to Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. During the visit, the Japanese premier is expected to announce the contours of his government’s basic policies towards Asia. 

ABE DOCTRINE

Previews of the main speech, to be made in Jakarta, have suggested the premier will announce the “Abe Doctrine” that will spell out new initiatives to deepen Japan’s economic, political and security ties with southeast Asia. 

Abe’s emphasis is likely to be on developing strategic economic relations with the region amidst China’s emergence as the largest trading partner for most nations in southeast Asia. 

As deteriorating relations with Beijing threaten the future of Japan’s massive trade and investment ties to China, Japan has another reason to look at southeast Asia as a major alternative destination for Japanese overseas investment. 

Why are there so many Israeli ex-soldiers in India?


A rite of passage.BY RITWIK DEO 
PUBLISHED 15 JANUARY 2013

The beaches of Goa are particularly popular with ex-military Israelis. Photograph: Getty Images

They tower over the natives: martial torsos; arms with coiled-wire sinews and a combat-hardened stare. Goliath hands clutch nervously at the tote bags. These are ex-Israeli soldiers and they are in India. Haggard and weather-beaten, fresh from military conscription they come to Delhi, Goa and the Himalayas to party and regale each other with stories of past. 

It is a rite of passage for many young Israelis to visit India after finishing their compulsory military service. 

The shekel goes a long way, the locals are friendly, drinks cheap and hashishand ecstasy circulated freely. While interactions between the Indians and Israelis are largely genial, there is a growing concern among certain rabbis that many are straying from the righteous path. When I say genial, I mean there aren’t any obvious tiffs but there is a hint of uneasiness luring around the corner. 

Imagine your young military conscript − patrolling check-points, a gun slung over their shoulder and on perpetual alert – let loose in a funfair of a country where there they might go about unmolested. According to theJewish Post, around 90 per cent take drugs in India with up to 2,000 ex-soldiers “flipping out” each year. 

Last year, I was trekking north of New Delhi in MacLeodganj at the foothills of the Himalayas. The roads snaked around bulging soft turf hills. Trucks, cars and tuk-tuk carcasses rusted on the wayside. All was moss and lichen and fluorescent green. As I trudged along in a foggy February, rain, ferns and wildflowers led to a lone stone cottage on a knoll overlooking a sheer thousand-foot drop, festooned in Hebrew signs and mosiach flags. 

Why do such an enormous number of ex-Israeli soldiers go to India, I remember asking the rabbi at the makeshift Chabad. He just shrugged. 

Later on I met Moshe, a fresh-off-the boat IDF soldier from the West Bank, and asked him how he saw the natives. He told me that Indians were childlike and uncomprehending, “like a flock of sheep”. 

One of the largest Jewish movements in the world has set up chabads or religious outreach centres to ensure that the young do not lose their way. These have been set up in places like the hashish-rich Manali in the Himalayan north and by the ecstasy-popping beach-towns of Goa. 

Meanwhile, beach shacks have been known not to serve Indians. Whole parts of Goa are being bought up surreptitiously by Russians and Israelis. The Indian government is concerned. Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar, was emphatic about not tolerating Russian and Israeli enclaves in his state and accused them of concealing drug dens. An Indian MP Shantaram Naik, accused the Israelis of “occupying Goa” and indulging in shady business activities. 

Is the LoC attack part of America's plan B?

January 16, 2013

The US will be secretly happy if Pakistan is forced to fight on two fronts (Indian and Afghan) in 2014, says Colonel Anil A Athale (retd).


'Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means, it is the end itself,' Brigadier S K Malik writes in Quranic Concept of War, a virtual textbook for the Pakistani military doctrine. 

The desecration of an Indian soldier's body by Pakistanis should come as no surprise. Have we forgotten what the Pakistanis did to Captain Saurabh Kalia in Kargil  in 1999? 

Pakistan has a history of desecration of dead Indian soldiers even during the 1965 war. Barbaric behaviour by the Pakistanis is neither new nor a planned strategy, it is their habit!

But that still leaves open the question: Why now? 

It is this that opens up intriguing possibilities. By all accounts relations between India and Pakistan were on the upswing, thanks to the perpetual sway of the 'peace at any (mostly our) cost' lobby's all pervasive presence and influence and the ruling dispensation that had its eyes set firmly on consolidating its vote bank before the 2014 general election. 

It is quite likely that the Pakistan army at this point in time saw no benefit in escalation of tensions on the Indian border when it is readying to reclaim its 'strategic depth' in Afghanistan post the US withdrawal. 

First, a few facts about the area of the recent clashes. The Nangi Tekdi area was captured from Pakistan in the 1971 war and has been a thorn for them ever since.

Also, this is the area of the LoC that has the maximum number of divided families, unlike the Uri sector or the Kashmir valley. This makes infiltration that much easier. 

But given all that, the LoC is accurately demarcated on maps signed by both countries, so there is very little chance for ambiguity on its location. The terrain is wooded and undulating hills and effective patrolling is tough. 

Traditionally in this sector, Krishna Ghati, Balnoi and Poonch has been always volatile.

One must also remember that the Pakistan army is no longer a professional and monolithic body. The Islamism of the Zia-ul Haq days has percolated down to its junior ranks and individuals are quite capable of acting at the behest of Mohammad Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba . 

The New Cold War in the Middle East

January 16, 2013 


Because of its strategic location between the two twentieth-century centers of Arab power, Egypt and Iraq, Syria has been for many decades a bellwether of Arab politics, viewed widely in the region as the heartland of Arab nationalism. The fact that the first major pan-Arab nationalist party, the Baath, was established in Syria and the leading roleplayed by Syrian (including Lebanese) intellectuals and activists in making pan-Arab ideology popular contributed greatly to this perception. 

Moreover, whichever ideological or political trend emerged victorious in Syria came to dominate, more often than not, the Arab political scene. This was true in the 1950s and 1960s during the time of a "cold war" between “revolutionary” military regimes espousing the cause of Arab nationalism and conservative monarchies determined to hold on to their power and privilege. According to one analyst, today’s regional politics are showing signs of a new cold war, "and, once again, that broader conflict is manifesting itself in a struggle for Syria.” 

But this new cold war extends beyond the Arab world. Saudi Arabia is being challenged by non-Arab Iran. Also, the ideological lines of conflict are blurry. Arch-conservative Gulf monarchies, steadfastly opposed to democracy in their own countries, support democracy in Syria, along with non-Arab democratic Turkey. Meanwhile, the authoritarian Assad has the support of Iran, whose hybrid political system encompasses both clerical and representative institutions. 

Some argue that Iran’s role in the current regional cold war has introduced sectarian (Shia versus Sunni) as well ethnic (Persian versus Arab) divisions into the region. But Tehran supports Assad largely for strategic rather than sectarian (leave alone ethnic) reasons. Syria has been Iran’s only loyal Arab ally, even during the devastating Iran-Iraq War imposed on Iran by Iraq. All other Arab regimes, principally the Gulf monarchs newly flush with petrodollars, not only supported Iraq but largely financed Saddam’s war machine. Equally important, if not more so, is the fact that since the 1980s Syria has been the principal conduit for Iranian military and financial assistance to the Lebanese Hezbollah and, until recently, to Hamas. 

Balochistan: Looking Beyond the Hazara Massacre

Rana Banerji
Distinguished Fellow, IPCS E-mail: rbanerji49@gmail.com

The recent spate of Hazara killings in Quetta seems to have finally exhausted the patience of the federal government in Islamabad; forcing it to sack the effete Raisani administration and promulgate President’s rule in Balochistan.

Mapping the Violence in Balochistan

Violence has been endemic in the Province. At least 200-300 civilians have been killed annually, while security force casualties amount to approximately 90-120. During the last three years, 1200 Punjabi settlers were killed, many of whom were working as teachers, doctors, middle-level bureaucrats and professionals. Extremist Islamic sectarian outfits like the Lashkar e Jhangvi (LeJ) sent out ‘killer squads’ targeting Quetta’s hapless Hazaras, as well as other Shia communities travelling for religious purposes to Iran.

Political Failure of the Provincial and Federal Governments

The fractious vote in the 2008 Provincial Assembly elections saw a coalition government coming to power, with 51 out of 65 Members of Provincial Assemblies (MPAs) becoming Ministers. While all provincial ministers partook of State funds, ostensibly for developmental work, Baloch politicians failed to tackle the deepening alienation in the Province. The now erstwhile Chief Minister, Aslam Raisani, had to keep looking over his shoulders because of his age-old family feud with the Rinds. Even as Chief Minister, he spent more time in Dubai than administrating the Province from Quetta.

Former President Musharraf followed a three-pronged policy, traditionally employed by the Pakistani military establishment, to keep Baloch aspirations in check. While keeping the door open for political dialogue with the religious political parties in the Province, a no-holds-barred military campaign was launched against Baloch youth involved in a nationalist struggle. He projected such elements as terrorists. The Pashtuns, however, were dealt with kid gloves; with the safe havens of the Afghan Taliban in the outskirts of Quetta (Pashtoonabad) and along the Af-Pak border remaining protected.

After the Bugti murder in August 2006, the pattern of Baloch resistance changed. Earlier, it was led mainly by the so-called ‘nationalist Sardars’- the Marris and Mengals. Today, the Baloch sense of grievance is shared by the entire Baloch middle class. Several factions of Baloch insurgents have sprouted- the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), led by Hyairbair Marri (currently in exile, in the UK), the Balochistan Republican Army (BRA) of Brahmadagh Bugti (also in exile, possibly in Switzerland), and, the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) led by Dr Allah Nazar. The latter was arrested by intelligence agencies on 25 March 2005 and remained in detention for over a year. After his release on bail, he went into hiding. Claiming he had been tortured in prison, he pledged thereafter, to ‘purge Balochistan of the Punjabi Army’. The Establishment accused him of being the mastermind behind the killing of moderate Baloch nationalists such as the famous poet, Habib Jalib Baloch, and Maula Baksh Dasti, by unknown gunmen. Dr Allah Nazar denied these allegations; instead blaming intelligence agencies for sending out specially designated ‘vigilante squads’.

The travails of the Hazara Community in Pakistan Samira Shackle

 by Express Tribune 15/1/13 


On January 10, two massive suicide bombs exploded at a snooker hall in the Alamdar Road area of Quetta, Balochistan, killing around 100 people. The scale of the destruction and loss of life have shocked Pakistan. The attack has also focused attention on the continued persecution of Shia Muslims, particularly those from the Hazara community. 

The Alamdar Road area is an enclave on the edge of the city, almost entirely inhabited by the Hazaras, a Persian-speaking Shia minority who emigrated from Afghanistan more than 100 years ago. It is a ghettoised ethnic enclave where armed Hazara men stand guard outside businesses, many of which moved out here from the city centre. The reason for this tight security is the climate of fear, borne of an increasingly intense campaign of violence by Sunni militant groups. 

The incidents speak for themselves. On October 4 in Quetta, gunmen on motorbikes stopped a bus carrying mainly Hazara Shias, who were on their way to work at a vegetable market. The attackers forced the passengers off the bus, lined them up and shot them. Thirteen people were killed and six injured. On September 19 in Mastung, Balochistan, gunmen intercepted a bus of about 40 pilgrims travelling to Iran to visit Shia holy sites. Some escaped; others did not. Twenty-six people were shot dead and six wounded. The attack on the pilgrims was carried out by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), the militant organisation which has claimed responsibility for the snooker hall bombs. In addition to these massacres, there is a steady trickle of sectarian murders: shopkeepers or mechanics killed as they go about their daily duties, men executed on the street. The attacks take place in broad daylight. Reportedly, the gunmen frequently do not even bother to disguise their identity, knowing that they need not fear arrest or serious repercussions. 

The upsurge in violence against the Hazaras is part of a wider surge in sectarian violence across Pakistan, as long-standing Sunni militant groups and newer elements, such as the Taliban, both act on their poisonous anti-Shia ideology. According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), 375 Shias died in 2012, with at least 100 of those from the Hazara community. This was the deadliest year for Shias in Pakistan in decades. In Balochistan, where 500,000 Hazaras live, the group has found itself the primary target of militant groups such as the LeJ. The Hazaras’ distinctive Central Asian appearance marks them out as an easy target. According to figures released by the Balochistan government, 758 Shias have been killed in the province between 2008 and 2012. Members of the Hazara community say the true figure is much higher. 

Uncertain Afghan scenario

Gloomy message from Washington
by Inder Malhotra


IN a welter uncertainties emerging from the talks in Washington between President Barack Obama and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, there is one clear certainty: The United States will pack up and leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 to bring to a “responsible end” its longest war. The process of reducing the combat role of the American and other NATO troops, and thus accelerating their draw-down is also being speeded up. As Mr Obama said at the joint Press conference, by the spring of this year, which means only a couple of months hence, 90 per cent of the Afghans would live in areas where the Afghan security forces would have the “lead role for security” while the NATO troops would confine themselves to “training”, “assisting” and “advising” the Afghan National Army and police. By the end of this year the Afghan army’s “lead role” would be extended to the entire country, and by the end of next year it would be all over. 

Of course, the US does not want to cut and run from the war-ravaged Hindu Kush country if that means leaving behind chaos, instability and civil war. Consequently, it would retain enough American troops, bolstered perhaps by some more from other NATO countries, for twin-purposes: to train and advise the Afghan security forces, and to provide them with “essential capabilities that the Afghans still lack”. 

The Afghan army has practically no air transport for logistics, intelligence and close air support to ground forces. Nor have the Americans ever given them the artillery and other sophisticated weaponry and equipment they badly need. Whether these will be given in future is a moot question. The US troops and special forces themselves would be fully equipped with formidable air power to take care of terrorists, and armed drones to prevent Al-Qaeda leadership from regrouping in Pakistan’s tribal areas or returning to its old hideouts within Afghanistan. 

Under these circumstances Mr Karzai and his government, to say nothing about other Afghans, know that they have to continue the Afghan-US Strategic Partnership well after December next year. They are also aware that they cannot have the “enduring presence” of American troops without an agreement on the status of forces that gives them immunity from the jurisdiction of any but American courts. Given the delicacy of this issue, Mr Karzai has decided to leave to the Loya Jirga of the elders to settle it. 

Cyberwar to turn more ruthless in 2013

January 15, 2013 

The cold war in the cyberspace in 2012 is history. If the latest report by Kaspersky Labs is to be believed, in 2013 the war's expected to get more aggressive. 

A testimony to the same is the building of thorough cyber warfare programmes by 12 of the world's military powers.

Last year, in India, hackers resorted to defacing websites and indulged in cyber thefts. However, intelligence agencies are now predicting that army and government establishments are at major risk from cyber attacks this year. 

The Kaspersky Labs report states that since the past five years a high-level cyber-espionage campaign has successfully infiltrated computer networks at diplomatic, governmental and scientific research organizations, gathering data and intelligence from mobile devices, computer systems and network equipment. 

The targets of this campaign have been found at Eastern Europe, former USSR members and countries in Central Asia, Western Europe and North America.

The campaign, identified as 'Rocra' (short for 'Red October') is currently still active with data being sent to multiple command-and-control servers

According to the report, Red October attackers have been active for at least five years, focusing on diplomatic and governmental agencies of various countries across the world. 

Information harvested from infected networks is re-used in later attacks. 

For example, stolen credentials were compiled in a list and used when the attackers needed to guess passwords and network credentials in other locations. To control the network of infected machines, the attackers created more than 60 domain names and several server hosting locations in different countries.

Beside traditional attack targets (work stations), the system is capable of stealing data from mobile devices, such as smart phones (iPhone, Nokia, Windows Mobile); dumping enterprise network equipment configuration (cisco); hijacking files from removable disk drives (including already deleted files via a custom file. 

The exploits from the documents used in spear phishing were created by other attackers and employed during different cyber attacks against Tibetan activists as well as military and energy sector targets in Asia. The only thing that was changed is the executable which was embedded in the document; the attackers replaced it with their own code. 

The United States has woken up to this threat and the Obama administration had even said that an enemy nation or a terrorist cell could target critical elements such as banks, stock exchanges, water systems and nuclear power plants. 

The military and the media: A Marine officer's report from rural Afghanistan

Posted By Thomas E. Ricks 
January 11, 2012


A Marine friend writes:

I recall being taught something along the lines of "When it comes to talking to the media, remember: the reporter is going to tell or write a story regardless of what you do or don't say. It's on you to ensure that he or she understands the context of what is being observed." 

This lesson was also running through my mind at the end of a patrol one day in Garmsir. On this particular day, I went out with a squad from our 3rd Platoon on a security patrol around a place called the Lakari Bazaar. This bazaar, at the beginning of our deployment, was owned by the Taliban and littered with IEDs. At this stage in the deployment, the ANA, the Afghan people, and the Marines that I had the privilege to serve had joined forces to eliminate the Taliban in the area. The Taliban mayor of the bazaar was turned over to us. More than 40 IEDs located in the bazaar were pointed out to us. And, nearly every enemy that attempted to go back active or to infiltrate back into the area chose not to do so because the people, or the children, would almost immediately pass the information to the ANA and/or Marines. Our new patrol base, much like Fort Page in "Bing" West's The Village, was right next to the main village and bazaar. This made sharing information easy. 

As I walked back into friendly lines on this day, I noticed what appeared to be two American women sitting down next to our terrain model. One reminded me of my mother, and the other, to a degree, of my older sister. Curious as to what they were doing in our area, I walked up to them and introduced myself, "Hi, I'm ____, is there anything I can help you with?" As best I recall, the exchange proceeded, "Are you the commander here?" I responded, "I guess you could say that. The Marines and ANA run the show, but ultimately, yes, I'm responsible for everything in the AO." The woman responds, "Are you ____?" I respond, "Yes, Ma'am, I am." She then says, "Oh, good, I've been looking for your unit for about a week. I'm Elisabeth Bumiller from the New York Times, and this is Lynsey, she works with me. We're here to cover the FET. I've been told your Company employs FET teams all the time. We'd like to see and write about what the FETs do." 

The Truth About Obama's Drone Campaign: It's About Attrition, Not Decapitation

Posted: 01/16/2013
A key question facing President Obama as he begins his second term is whether to continue the U.S. drone campaign against Islamic militants. Since 2004 the United States has launched more than 400 covert drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Almost 90 percent of these strikes have occurred under President Obama. According to data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Obama has signed off on roughly 350 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, killing between 2,600 and 3,400 people. 

Drone strikes are usually billed as targeted killings, aimed at leaders or other important figures in terrorist organizations. The drone campaign is thus a "decapitation" strategy, a term used by political scientists to describe air campaigns intended to kill national leaders in wartime. The idea is that by cutting off the head of the snake, the body (the armed forces) will be unable to coordinate, and the state's military effort will collapse. Applied to terrorist organizations, decapitation targets top leaders in the hope that killing them will cause the group to disintegrate. 

In the context of interstate war, decapitation has been remarkably unsuccessful, but in the fight against terrorists, the effectiveness of decapitation is hotly debated. Pessimists argue that terrorist organizations, especially groups that are older, larger or religiously motivated, are resilient to decapitation, whereas optimists find that decapitation speeds the demise of terrorist groups. Proponents argue that drones in particular should be an effective weapon of decapitation, because drones can linger for extended periods of time, watching and waiting for their prey to emerge, and then use precision-guided munitions to eliminate the target while minimizing collateral damage to bystanders. Indeed, drone strikes have killed high-ranking al Qaeda officials, most recently Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan, the organization's number-two man, who died in an attack in North Waziristan in December

However, an examination of the data on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan raises questions about whether the United States is actually waging a decapitation campaign. According to data collected by the New America Foundation, of the total number of people killed by drone strikes there (between 1,900 and 3,200), less than 3 percent of them (51) were "militant leaders." Furthermore, only 30 of these leaders were members of al Qaeda. 

The Truth About Obama's Drone Campaign: It's About Attrition, Not Decapitation

Posted: 01/16/2013


A key question facing President Obama as he begins his second term is whether to continue the U.S. drone campaign against Islamic militants. Since 2004 the United States has launched more than 400 covert drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Almost 90 percent of these strikes have occurred under President Obama. According to data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Obama has signed off on roughly 350 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, killing between 2,600 and 3,400 people. 

Drone strikes are usually billed as targeted killings, aimed at leaders or other important figures in terrorist organizations. The drone campaign is thus a "decapitation" strategy, a term used by political scientists to describe air campaigns intended to kill national leaders in wartime. The idea is that by cutting off the head of the snake, the body (the armed forces) will be unable to coordinate, and the state's military effort will collapse. Applied to terrorist organizations, decapitation targets top leaders in the hope that killing them will cause the group to disintegrate. 

In the context of interstate war, decapitation has been remarkably unsuccessful, but in the fight against terrorists, the effectiveness of decapitation is hotly debated. Pessimists argue that terrorist organizations, especially groups that are older, larger or religiously motivated, are resilient to decapitation, whereas optimists find that decapitation speeds the demise of terrorist groups. Proponents argue that drones in particular should be an effective weapon of decapitation, because drones can linger for extended periods of time, watching and waiting for their prey to emerge, and then use precision-guided munitions to eliminate the target while minimizing collateral damage to bystanders. Indeed, drone strikes have killed high-ranking al Qaeda officials, most recently Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan, the organization's number-two man, who died in an attack in North Waziristan in December

However, an examination of the data on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan raises questions about whether the United States is actually waging a decapitation campaign. According to data collected by the New America Foundation, of the total number of people killed by drone strikes there (between 1,900 and 3,200), less than 3 percent of them (51) were "militant leaders." Furthermore, only 30 of these leaders were members of al Qaeda. 

The truth is that the drone campaign is not a decapitation or targeted killing campaign; it is an attrition campaign. Attrition strategies are not aimed at leaders but simply try to kill as many enemy foot soldiers as possible. In Vietnam, for example, Gen. William Westmoreland hoped to reach the "crossover point" at which U.S. forces would kill Viet Cong faster than they could be replaced, forcing North Vietnamese leaders to end their effort to conquer South Vietnam. Of course, despite killing hundreds of thousands of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers, U.S. forces never reached the crossover point, partly because U.S. leaders greatly underestimated Hanoi's resolve, but also because U.S. tactics, which killed large numbers of South Vietnamese civilians, aided the North's cause

Is This Pakistan's Tahrir Square?

Images of the swelling protest movement behind the country's latest bout of political turmoil. 
JANUARY 16, 2013 


Coup-plagued Pakistan, Arif Rafiq writes at Foreign Policy, "has yet to see a transition of power between two successive democratically elected governments." And with the rise of a massive anti-government protest movement led by the Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri -- plus the Supreme Court's order this week to arrest the Pakistani prime minister on corruption charges -- that milestone could once again prove elusive ahead of the country's general elections this spring. 

Freedom House: Myanmar now more free than China

Posted By Joshua Keating
January 16, 2013 



Freedom House released its 2013 Freedom in the World rankings today. Over on the main site, David Kramer and Arch Puddington make some recommendations for the Obama administration's second-term prioritiesbased on the report's findings. 

Overall, it's not great news, with more countries showing declines in freedom than gains for the seventh year in a row. The most dramatic improvement was probably in Libya, formerly classed among the reports "worst of the worst" but is now classified as "partly free". Mali saw the most dramatic fall, going from "free" to "not free" thanks to this year's military coup and the Islamist takeover of much of the country. 

But for my money, though it's still classified as "not free," the most eye-catching change may be Myanmar (Burma). Following this year's dramatic events, the country's political rights score improved from 7 to 6 and the civil liberties rating improved from 6 to 5 due to, as Freedom House puts it, "the successful participation of opposition parties in legislative by-elections and the continued easing of long-standing restrictions on the media, private discussion, public assembly, civil society, private enterprise, and other activities." 

The improved scores mean tha a country that was until recently an international pariah and still partly under U.S. sanctions, is -- according to this survey anyway -- more free than the world's second largest economy.