22 January 2013

SHINDE: PREJUDICED & PARTISAN STEWARDSHIP OF MHA

B.RAMAN 
22 Jan 2013

1.Rediff.com has reported as follows: "In a statement that is expected to erupt a huge political row, Home Minister SushilkumarShinde said on Sunday (January 20,2013), "The RSS and BJP are running terrorist training camps to spread Hindu terrorism."He mentioned the Samjhauta Express and Malegaon blasts to further enhance his point as he addressed Congress workers at the ongoing ( since concluded)ChintanShivir in Jaipur . He said that BJP's " cultural nationalism" is actually a weapon to divide the country."His speech was disastrous, to put it mildly." 

2. Apart from evoking protests from the BJP and the RSS, some of whose leaders have demanded his resignation for projecting the majority Hindu community of India as indulging in terrorism, even many of the Congress delegates to the Shivir were reported to have been embarrassed by his speech which lionized Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and demonized the BJP and the RSS. 

3. Realising the damage that might be caused by his "disastrous" speech as described by Rediff, ShriShinde has subsequently sought to retract from his statement by claiming that he was merely referring to media reports of the investigation made into some cases in the past.He was apparently referring to the media reports of the investigation into the Malegaon blasts that killed many Muslims and the explosion on board the Samjauta Express. 

4. It is a fact that investigation into some pre-2008 terrorist incidents brought out that these were not committed by Muslim extremists and that at least some of them such as the Malegaon blasts were acts of reprisal against the Muslims by some Hindu extremists who had an association with the RSS in the past. 

5. The investigation so far, based largely on the interrogation of some arrested Hindu suspects, who professed the Hindutva ideology, showed that neither the BJP nor the RSS had any knowledge of the planned acts of reprisal by these suspects.There has been no evidence at all that these organisations had any role in these incidents. These were purely rogue acts of reprisal by these individual Hindus with past association with these organisations. 

6. While evidence of the involvement of some Hindu rogue elements in the Malegaon blasts seems to be strong, evidence of their involvement in the Samjauta Express explosion appears to be more circumstantial than direct.Moreover, immediately after it, US authorities had assessed that it was probably caused by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET).They have not come out with any subsequent assessment on it. 

Pakistan Army: New promotions to three star rank

On January 11, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) announced promotions of four two-star generals to lieutenants general —Maj Gen Maqsood Ahmad, Maj Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Maj Gen Syed Wajid Hussain and Maj Gen Najibullah Khan. 

As in other large armies which become large bureaucracies only a small number of officers get promoted to the next higher rank. The pyramid keeps getting steeper as one ascends to higher ranks.

Usually, there is a set pattern for selection of senior brass and the eligible candidates are expected to have completed somewhat similar stints at command, staff and instructional appointments. 

The selection is done quite professionally and endorsed at the annual forum of Corps Commanders’ meetings. Of course, the army chief has a crucial say in these promotions. His likes, dislikes are important. 

Opportunities in the past for Officers to have worked closely under the chief in previous assignments or loyalties developed over long past associations do matter in such selections. Seniority is not always the guiding yardstick.

Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, present Army Chief has been more careful than most to keep his personal likes and dislikes carefully sheathed. He has given due weightage to the balance between different arms so that no strong accusations of bias can be levelled against him by the coterie of senior generals even as his own term as chief enters the concluding phase.

Maj Gen Maqsood Ahmed is an Infantry officer from the Frontier Forces Regiment (Piffers). He is currently serving as Deputy Director General in ISI. He commanded 12 Div, Murree, one of the largest and most important formations of the Pakistan Army. 

Usually, holding the post of GOC,12 Div is a clear path to promotion. All five previous GOCs have become lieutenant generals. Maqsood has been preferred to two other Infantry officers notionally senior to him — Maj Gen Raza Muhhammad (also in ISI) and Maj Gen Khawar Hanif (currently, DG, Evaluation at the Directorate of Training & Evaluation). 
The former may not have got the nod due to a judicial commission of enquiry pending on the Lal Masjid case, when Raza was serving in Military Intelligence.

Maj Gen Zubair Mohd Hayat is an Artillery officer currently commanding 17 Div, Kharian. Belonging to a family of gunners (his father was Maj Gen Alam Hayat and two of his brothers are also majors general), he may have benefitted from working closely with Gen Kayani as Director, General Staff Duties at the COAS’ Secretariat. At present only two other gunners are lieutenants general.

Maj Gen Syed Wajid Hussain is from the Armoured Corps. Presently he has been working as Vice Chief of General Staff, usually an important grooming slot for higher responsibilities. He has been promoted to balance out the vacancy which will be created with the retirement of another Armoured Corpd officer, Lt Gen Waheed Arshad, presently Chief of General Staff.

PAKISTAN : A cleric’s agenda

By ANITA JOSHUA
22 Jan 2013

Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri’s “long march” with the call for “reforms before the elections”, seen by many as designed by the military, fizzles out as Pakistan’s politicians close ranks. 

MIAN KHURSHEED/REUTERS 

Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri addresses his supporters from behind the window of an armoured vehicle in Islamabad on January 17. 

Democracy in Pakistan might just have turned a corner in mid-January. Given how little breathing space the democratic project has ever had in this country, democracy is still not out of the woods although those representing it are getting more sure-footed and battle-ready for the long haul instead of cutting corners to their own peril as they did in the 1990s. 

This might seem like going around in circles, but that is the stuff Pakistani politics is made of. To the extent that politicians are almost fearful of their own shadows, courtesy the widely held perception that the hidden hand is always lurking nearby to upset the applecart. Pakistani politicians can be faulted on various grounds, particularly on issues of governance or the lack of it, but their fears of being upstaged have been and remain a clear and present danger. 

Qadri’s return 

Which is why when the Pakistani-Canadian cleric-politician Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri waltzed back into the country in December demanding a change in the system, it smacked of more than just a wannabe politician returning to try his luck in the elections that are due before mid-May. Everything about his mobilisation for this project seemed suspect. 

First and foremost was the timing. Why now, when Pakistan was poised for the first democratic transition through elections under civilian rule in 65 years? Then, there was the question about the huge advertisement campaign across a host of television channels and newspapers besides the banners put up in major cities for a month and a half, right from the beginning of December until the start of his “long march” on January 14 from when the spotlight remained trained on him with 24x7 television coverage. 

The preacher, who is never at a loss for words, never really got around to giving a convincing reply to these questions. And his past allegiances added fuel to the fire; he was part of two military dictatorships: the radicalising establishment of General Zia-ul-Haq and the “enlightened moderation” regime of General Pervez Musharraf. In a country all too familiar with the machinations of the powerful security establishment, these were strong warning signals. 

As if these were not enough, his clarion call of “ Nizam badlo” (change the system) with slogans such as “ Siyasat nahin, riyasat bachao” (save the state, not politics) smacked of yet another attempt to overturn democracy. All this before he even unveiled his plan of action at the Minar-e-Pakistan on December 23. After the rally, his agenda became clear and even the most bitter critics of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government saw an effort to derail the democratic process when he demanded, in the name of ushering in “true democracy” to the country, sweeping electoral reforms before the elections. 

A Few Questions to China on Hand of Friendship

Paper No. 5375 
Dated 22-Jan-2013 
By Bhaskar Roy
It was very welcome to read in China’s official news agency Xinhua (Jan. 11) some parts of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 

The letter was carried by state Councillor Dai Bingguo who was in New Delhi to attend a BRICS meeting of Senior Representatives of National Security. One should not miss the fact that Mr. Dai till now was head of China’s Senior Advisor at India-China talks on the resolution of the boundary issue. 

Although the resolution of the boundary issue is still some distance away, Mr. Dai’s meetings with India’s National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon have had a positive effect in conducting bilateral relations between India and China. He was, therefore the most suitable carrier of Mr. Xi’s letter. 

According to Xinhua, in the absence of the letter being shared with the media by the PMO, Mr. Xi conveyed that the world has enough space for China and India to achieve common development, and the world also needs common development. He assured China will “as it has been doing” pay great importance to developing relations with India. Mr. Dai conveyed to Dr. Manmohan Singh that China and India will see strategically important opportunities in the next five to ten years. It is well known that the Chinese authorities weigh every word very carefully in official written and verbal communications. According to Xinhua Mr. Dai Bingguo conveyed to the Indian Prime Minister “cordial” greetings from Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. 

Having said that, relations between India and China have improved gradually, the borders had been more stable, trade volume has reached $ 80 billion and cooperation has been consistent on some international issues. These are positives that need to be appreciated. 

Does General Secretary Xi Jinping’s letter give an insight into readjustment in China’s India policy? Xi will become China’s President in March. The new premier will be Li Keqing at the same National Peoples’ Congress (NPC), known as China’s Parliament. The two will formulate foreign policy from the CCP’s determination, to be executed by them as government leaders. The official China Daily (January 16) remarked that “since the New year interactions between China and India at the bilateral level have been “eye-catching”. Was it conveying a time line? The article referred to the Indian Defence Secretary Sashikant Sharma’s recent visit to China, emphasised various co-operations including in the BRICS, growing trade between the two countries, but admitted realistically that there were problems on the border issue and disagreements in trade relations. So far so good. 

SRI LANKA : Troubled Normalcy

S. Binodkumar Singh 
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

On January 13, 2013, Sri Lanka Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, Chandrasiri Gajadeera, disclosed that, of 11,500 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres who were arrested or surrendered at the end of the war in 2009, and who were sent to rehabilitation camps thereafter, a total of 11,375 cadres had been ‘reintegrated’ into society. This left just 125 ‘un-integrated; LTTE cadres in the camps or under detention.

Earlier, on September 25, 2012, the Menik Farm camp in Vavuniya District, one of the largest camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), had been shut down. A total of 1,186 people from 361 families – the last of a group of more than 280,000 civilians displaced during the war in the north – left the camp for their original places of residence in the Mullaitivu District. According to Security Forces’ Commander Boniface Perera, the competent authority for IDPs in the northern region, “There will be no more IDPs in the country from today.”

Colombo has evidently met its commitments towards resettlement of civilians and rehabilitation and reintegration of the LTTE cadres.

Meanwhile, the Government continued its developmental program in the regions once devastated by insurgency. According to a June 17, 2012, report the Government allocated LKR 46,211 million for infrastructure development in Vavuniya, Mannar and Mullaitivu Districts. Under the development programme LKR 14,479 million has been allocated for Vavuniya District, LKR 11,584 million for Mannar District and LKR 20,148 million for Mullaitivu District. Further, the President Mahinda Rajapaksa on August 17, 2012, claimed that progress of academic activities and development projects in the conflict-affected Wanni region was at a higher level, as compared to other Districts of the country.

These claims have been validated by international agencies. On August 3, 2012, after a three-day visit to the country, the Director of Operations of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, had observed, “The scale of what Sri Lanka has accomplished over the past three years, the pace of resettlement and the development of infrastructure, is remarkable and very clearly visible."

There have, however, been voices of contention on the domestic front. The leader of the main opposition United National Party (UNP), Ranil Wickremasinghe claimed, in March 2012, that the Government had not provided adequate relief to the resettled IDPs in the North. The main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA), moreover, contested the claims of total resettlement. TNA Member of Parliament M. A. Sumanthiran alleged that the Government, in order to please the international community, had closed down the Menik Farm IDP camp and dropped the remaining refugees who lived there in a forest at Seeniyamotai: “And now these people weep while looking at their hereditary lands, which are less than one kilometre away. Now what they have is just barren land. Does resettling them mean dumping them on empty lands?”

Nevertheless, in an attempt to instill confidence in Tamil civilians, the Government, according to an October 2012 report, recruited 2,000 former LTTE combatants from the Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi Districts to the country's Civil Security Department (CSD). The Government has stated that it will recruit 5,000 former LTTE combatants to the CSD.

United Kingdom Moves Away from the European Project

By Adriano Bosoni
January 22, 2013 

British Prime Minister David Cameron will deliver a speech in London on Jan. 23, during which he will discuss the future of the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union. Excerpts leaked to the media suggest that harsh EU criticism will figure prominently in the speech, a suggestion in keeping with Cameron's recent statements about the bloc. But more important, the excerpts signal an unprecedented policy departure: renegotiating the United Kingdom's role in the European Union. London has negotiated exemptions from some EU policies in the past, even gaining some concessions from Brussels in the process; this time, it is trying to become less integrated with the bloc altogether. 

Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum after 2015 on the United Kingdom's role in Europe. He has also said he would reclaim powers London surrendered to the European Union. While they no doubt reflect similar anxieties across the Continent, such statements are anathema to the European project, and by making them, Cameron could be setting a precedent that could further undermine the European Union. 

Cameron's Compromise

Cameron's strategy partly is a reaction to British domestic politics. There is a faction within the ruling Conservative Party that believes the country should abandon the European Union entirely. It was this faction that pressed Cameron to call a referendum on the United Kingdom's EU membership. Some party members also fear that the United Kingdom Independence Party, the country's traditionally euroskeptic party, is gaining ground in the country. 

Such fears may be well founded. According to various opinion polls, roughly 8-14 percent of the country supports the United Kingdom Independence Party, even though it received only 3.1 percent of the popular vote in the 2010 elections. These levels of support make the party a serious contender with the Liberal Democrats as the United Kingdom's third-largest party (after the Labour Party and the Conservative Party). Some polls show that the United Kingdom Independence Party already is the third-most popular party, while others suggest it has poached members from the Conservative Party, a worrying trend ahead of elections for the European Parliament in 2014 and general elections in 2015. 

Its growing popularity can be attributed to other factors. Beyond its anti-EU rhetoric, the United Kingdom Independence Party is gaining strength as an anti-establishment voice in the country, supported by those disappointed with mainstream British parties. Similar situations are developing elsewhere in Europe, where the ongoing crisis has weakened the traditional political elite. 

Air Force Cyber-Operations Wing to Go on Hiring Binge

By Stew Magnuson

In a time of hiring freezes and great budget uncertainty, the Air Force plans to hire more than 1,000 personnel at its wing devoted to cyber-operations.

The 24th Air Force, located at Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas, will “hopefully” add “well over” 1,000 mostly civilian new hires over the span of two years beginning in 2014, Gen. William Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 17.

The mostly civilian new hires will be added to the approximately 6,000 already serving there, Shelton said. The “hopefully” part of the equation has to do with current civilian hiring freezes that the military services are currently imposing because of the possibility of sequestration and the continuing budget resolution for fiscal year 2013. Shelton, however, is optimistic that these will all be in the past by next fiscal year.

He expects the office of the secretary of defense to order Space Command to add the new hires in its 2014 directions, Shelton said. The request to boost the number of personnel assigned there, however, originates at U.S. Cyber Command. The 24th Air Force is the service’s component that answers to the Cyber Command located at Fort Meade, Md. 

“If it turns out the way we think it’s going to turn out, we think it will be on the order of 70 to 80 percent civilian,” hires, he said. They will be involved in all aspects of the 24th Air Force’s cybermission: defend, operate, exploit and attack, he said.

Cyberspace is a double-edge sword, he said. The U.S. military endures millions of probes against its networks every day. Most — close to 100 percent, he asserted — are not successful. But the Air Force is also using the Internet to do its own intelligence gathering.

“It is not a whole substitute — but certainly darn near a substitute — for human intelligence activity. There are things you can get to from a computer network … that in the past would have been very hard to collect,” he said. This is done through the authorities of the National Security Agency, but with the services participating, he said.

The Galula Doctrine: An Interview with Galula's Biographer A.A. Cohen

January 22, 2013

Editor's Note: A.A. Cohen is a senior infantry officer in the Canadian Army and the author of Galula: The Life and Writings of the French Officer who Defined the Art of Counterinsurgency which was published in summer 2012 by Praeger. 

Motto: 

Reason strengthens Strength; 

Reason, because of Strength, can spread. 

Strength without Reason, shall wither; 

Reason, without Strength, shall fail to spread; 

(Words addressed by Marshal Yen His-shan to “Chalula” at the height of the Chinese Civil War. 29th of March 1947) 

OM: Which were the role of Mao and the exposure to Chinese civil war in Galula’s story? It seems to be his decisive formative lab experience like Russia was for George Kennan. 

AAC: Unquestionably, of all the influences exerted on Galula’s treatise, Mao and the Chinese Civil were the greatest. Galula had a strong intellectual admiration for Maoist revolutionaries, despite being very opposed to what they stood for. Before the Chinese Civil War, Galula had no interest in insurgency or counterinsurgency. He had not fought as a Partisan during WW2; he had no experience or interest in these fields until he was exposed to China as of late 1945, in the thick of its civil war. There, his analytical penchant led him to see himself as the decipherer of Mao, intent on getting to the bottom of what the revolutionaries were fundamentally about. Galula cut through the egalitarian propaganda and all that surrounding the People’s revolution. Above all, he wanted to understand why these guys were gaining momentum as they were despite the unfavorable odds. When he figured it out, he reverse-engineered their methods to arrive at a counter-process to revolution and insurgency. His embrace of Chinese dialectics, and with these, the notion of unity of opposites or yin and yang, was helpful in achieving this. 

Is counterinsurgency to Galula more of a strategy or more of a technique and a methodology? 

What Galula offers, first and foremost, is a doctrine – not a strategy. His doctrine is underpinned by an important theory about people and what motivates them to take up arms, or to side with those who do. The theory goes that in times of danger (war), the majority of people will be motivated primarily by a fundamental need for security. Galula is adamant about this. But he also recognizes that there will be a minority of people – the instigators at the core of a movement – that will be ideologically, or even fanatically motivated. These are the true believers. He makes no qualms about prescribing that this is the group that the counterinsurgent or counterterrorist will need to find and neutralize, while protecting the rest of the population that aspires to a normal, if not better life. If you buy into this theory, Galula’s doctrine offers a multi-step framework for operations; in other words, a method to counterinsurgency. His famous eight steps are there to provide some logical linearity to what is otherwise a very nonlinear form of warfare. Within that framework, you have the flexibility to formulate your strategy and to conduct your operations to achieve your objectives. 

‘I loathed India from childhood’

January 21, 2013


David Headley, who surveyed targets for the 26/11 attacks, gave Indian interrogators a step-by-step account of his training with Laskhar-e-Taiba. The details are in a new book, Headley and I, written by S. Hussain Zaidi with filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s son Rahul Bhatt, whom Headley befriended on his visits to India 

PTI Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Headley. File photo 

Title: Headley and I Author: S. Hussain Zaidi with Rahul Bhatt. Foreword by Mahesh Bhatt. 

After a couple of days of interrogating David Headley, Behera thought he had more or less figured him out. He knew that Headley would tell him much of what he knew and had done, primarily because he had a boastful streak in him. All Behera had to do was egg him on. So far, the strategy was working beautifully. 

‘Tell me about your training, Mr Headley,’ Behera said. ‘You clearly had a lot of training with Lashkar-e-Taiba, and they must have trusted you a lot.’ 

Headley beamed. ‘Yeah, they trusted me.’ 

‘So what kind of training did you get exactly?’ 

After the first two preliminary stages — the Daura-e-Amma and Daura-e-Sufa — I progressed to the next. The training became much more practical, and I learned to translate my acceptance and belief in Salafi Islam and radical ideology into action. 

In April 2003, I volunteered for the Daura-e-Khaassa in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. There were thirty or forty of us in the group that underwent the Daura-e-Khaassa training, which lasted for a full three months. During that time, we were taught the importance of being soldiers of Islam... 

But the one thing that some individuals in the group had trouble dealing with was the bloodshed. They kept asking themselves, and each other, and our masters and trainers and teachers, if it was acceptable to kill human beings, and if so, why. 

Movies on atrocities 

This was what Daura-e-Khaassa was all about. The earlier Dauras were orientation programmes, this was the real induction into jehad. We were told that it was not just okay to kill others, it was actually an act of worship—it needed to be done to avenge the wrongdoings against Muslims. The LeT established this primarily by showing us very gory and violent movies about atrocities against Muslims. 

Wake up now. Your survival is at stake

Author: Abhijit Iyer-Mitra
22 Jan 2013

If the Government does not act strongly against persons like Akbaruddin Owaisi, there will be a steady deterioration in the communal environment, leading to bloodshed and communal divide in society 

Every citizen who cherishes and values the liberal, secular and democratic environment that prevails in India will be horrified by the vicious attack on Hindus and Hinduism by Akbaruddin Owaisi, the leader of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, while addressing meetings in Andhra Pradesh last month. But Owaisi’s violent and perverse comments on adherents of Hinduism will come as no surprise to those who are aware of the malevolent and spiteful attitude of radical Muslim leaders in the sub-continent since 1900 and the pusillanimous approach of the Congress to the outrageous demands made on behalf of that community before and after independence. 

Over the years, one has heard provocative remarks by politicians against religious and caste groups and even women, but the two speeches of Owaisi last month crossed all limits of decency and set a new benchmark for hate speeches. What is shocking is that Owaisi, a child of liberal, democratic India carries the venom of Islamic radicals steeped in illiberal, medieval environments. But one will stop wondering as to how this can happen if one reflects over the policy of appeasement pursued by India’s oldest political party. The Congress is the source of pseudo-secularism in the country and the fountain head of the culture which equates secularism with anti-Hinduism and thus encourages hotheads like Owaisi. 

The Congress has always followed this policy, and since it headed the interim Government prior to independence and has been in power at the Centre for much of the post-independence period, we must hold this party primarily responsible for the deteriorating democratic and secular environment in the country and for the unreasonable demands that the Muslim leadership has been making on the Government over the last 70 years. 

History tells us how this brand of aggressive communal politics by Muslim leaders since the pre-independence days led to the partition of the country and how Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister, promoted a pseudo-secular environment. BR Ambedkar, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and many other stalwarts could however foresee that this approach would jeopardise the future of democratic India, but Jawaharlal Nehru failed to listen to reason. 

In this book, Thoughts on Pakistan, which offers the most reasoned and logical dissection of the Hindu-Muslim question, Ambedkar warned the Congress of the terrible consequences of appeasement. He said, “Appeasement amounted to offering to buy off the aggressor by conniving at or collaborating with him in the rape, murder and arson on innocent Hindus who happen for the moment to be the victims of his displeasure. On the other hand, settlement means laying down the bounds which neither party to it can transgress. Appeasement sets no limits to the demands and aspirations of the aggressor. Settlement does.The second thing the Congress has failed to realise is that the policy of concession has increased their aggressiveness and what is worse, the Muslims interpretthese concessions as a sign of defeatism on the part of the Hindus and the absence of will to resist. This policy of appeasement will involve the Hindus in the same fearful situation in which the allies found themselves as a result of the policy of appeasement which they adopted towards Hitler.” 

Nettlesome neighbour



Kanwal Sibal, 
Jan 21, 2013:

India-Pakistan ties: Pakistan has to act like a civilised country and do serious introspection about its destructive attitudes and policies. 

We need to take proper stock of our policy towards Pakistan after the recent incidents on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and the manner in which the government of Pakistan has reacted to them. 

A re-examination of some of the assumptions underlying our policy is needed. We believe that the principal problem in our relations with Pakistan is lack of trust. 

This implies that our differences are not of a fundamental nature and can be overcome by dialogue and correcting misperceptions on both sides that have been allowed to endure for decades.

Have we made real progress in reducing the trust defict between the two countries? The latest incident of mutilating the bodies of two of our soldiers and beheading of one of them by Pakistani troops reveals the undercurrents of hate that exist.

Even if we were to treat it as an isolated incident, the reaction of the Pakistani government to the incident is perturbing. The right thing would have been for the Pakistani government to take note of our accusation, promise proper investigation and appropriate action against those responsible if the charges proved to be factually correct.

Instead, it conveyed the deplorable message that Pakistan is dismissive of India’s anguish, to the point of even imputing that we have contrived the incident.

Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, has excelled herself in cocking a snook at India. She is appalled at what she terms as absolutely unacceptable Indian charges. She has accused India of war mongering, adding contemptuously that if a billion Indians ask questions Pakistan is not obliged to answer them. 

If the exercise of the last eight years and more was for building trust between the two countries, then the kind of tongue-lashing that Ms Khar has given India hardly demonstrates that it has been successful. She represents the civilian government of Pakistan, which is supposed to be more committed to improve ties with India.

People of goodwill in Pakistan and India never fail to exhort the government of India to strengthen the civilian set-up in Pakistan against the security establishment. Well, it is the civilian government that is deriding our concerns and sentiments. If the civilian foreign minister of Pakistan is such a servile tool of the Pakistani military that she cannot even choose diplomatic vocabulary befitting her responsibilities, then the civil-military distinction we are asked to make is of limited consequence.

We have tried to build trust with Pakistan by agreeing to a composite dialogue even without satisfaction on the terrorism issue. Despite our pleas Pakistan has not brought to justice those responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. We protest about Hafiz Saeed but live with the reality of his uncurbed venomous rantings against us. We have not resisted Pakistan’s strategy to wrong-foot us on terrorism by bringing the Samjhauta Express issue into discussions.

India-Pakistan: A Pre-Poll Charade

Paper No. 5366 
By B. Raman


1.It was reported in our media after a press briefing by Gen. Bikram Singh, our Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), on January 14, 2013, that intruding Pakistani troops had carried out two beheadings of Indian soldiers even in 2011. For reasons unclear, neither the Government of India nor the opposition nor the media chose to publicise this incident. It was kept a well-guarded secret. There was no public outrage and this incident did not impact on the on-going dialogue between the two countries. 

2. On January 8, 2013, some Pakistani troops intruded into Indian territory in the Jammu area, killed two Indian soldiers and beheaded one of them. The details of the barbaric act were given wide publicity, discussed in no-rhetoric-barred TV debates and gave rise to public outrage and tough talk by the COAS. The opposition spearheaded by the BJP sought to exploit the public outrage for partisan political purposes. 

3. Why this difference in our reactions to the 2011 and 2013 beheadings? The answer is simple. In 2011, the election year 2014 was far away. In 2013, it is just a few months away. There may be votes to be gained by fanning further and exploiting the public outrage. The BJP was the first to jump into the fray for indulging in the game of politicization of the barbaric act in order to reiterate its demand, which has broad public support, for a strong response to Pakistan, even if it meant freezing of the bilateral dialogue. A number of senior retired civilian and military officers joined the war dance promoted by our TV channels. Anyone who kept out of this war dance was ridiculed as a softie. 

4. It is against this background that one should analyse the seeming metamorphosis of our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on January 15. On the occasion of a function to observe the annual Army Day, one saw a transformation of Dr. Manmohan Singh from a man of eternal goodwill to Pakistan to one of tough talk and action. 

5. In his chat with a group of journalists at the function, he was reported to have stated that those Pakistanis responsible for the barbaric act will have to be brought to book and that “it cannot be business as usual with Pakistan.” Simultaneously, the Government chose to send three messages of a new activism on Pakistan to the Pakistani Government. These were the decision to defer the implementation of the introduction of visa on arrival for senior citizens from Pakistan, premature termination of a visit of Pakistani hockey players and cancellation of the participation of some Pakistani women cricketeers in an Indian tournament. 

At sea over our defence needs

Author: Abhijit Iyer-Mitra
22 Jan 2013
New Delhi has recently made some questionable decisions over the procurement of equipment for our Armed Forces. Either our civil bureaucracy has blundered or the men in uniform have unduly influenced the choices made 

In the last fortnight, two major Air Force procurements have been announced. The first is the procurement of the Airbus A330- based aerial refuelling tanker and the second has been the expansion of the Rafale purchase by a full 50 per cent. Strangely enough, the past two weeks also saw a significant slashing in the defence budget outlay and a call for streamlining acquisition and belt tightening. 

Now here’s the thing — we are yet to sign a piece of paper with Dassault (the Rafale’s manufacturer) and yet Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne visits the production plant in Marignac. Moreover, Union Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid was reportedly busy negotiating an additional 63 airframes on top of the 126 that are due. As far as the Rafale goes, we still don’t know what it is going to cost us. The Union Ministry of Finance might have okayed a 80 million-euro a pop plane, but we should wait to see how the Ministry reacts when the true price is revealed in the final contract. But protocol and cost seem no consideration for either the Air Force or the External Affairs Ministry, which begs the question: What exactly is going on? Both for a serving chief to go around endorsing a foreign private sector product and for the Foreign Minister to be negotiating the purchase of additional white elephants when the base price is as yet unknown should have raised a significant stink at several levels. And yet all we have had so far is silence. 

The second big announcement was the purchase of the A330 Tanker. The bidding process was strange as it involved just two of the four available planes in the market. This in itself made a mockery of the Finance Ministry’s rejection of the 2010 selection of the A330 by the IAF on grounds of “the competitiveness of the bids and the reasonableness of the price”. Yet again the exact same two planes, the Il-78 and the A330, were pre-selected, and yet again the Russians blatantly overpriced the Il-78 at about four to six times its actual cost. Now, anyone who knows planes can tell you straight up with any need for competition or bidding that Russian engines are gas guzzlers and Russian supply chains are abysmal. But this has to be balanced with duplicated training costs and the cost of maintaining two separate fleets of planes, with their accompanying logistics trains. Yet, this does not seem to have been done. Moreover, the two versus four engine debate was settled decisively in favour of the two engines a full 10 years back when the A330 outsold its four-engined cousin, the A340, which was also trumped by its Boeing rival, the 777. In short, comparing the Il-78 which is fundamentally a transport plane, to the A330 which is a commercial airliner, is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. The apple to apple comparison would have involved getting the two other major players — Boeing with its (significantly cheaper) 767 offering and Israel Aircraft Industries which retrofits any second-hand commercial airliner to become a tanker and is reportedly the cheapest in the market. Fundamentally a commercial airliner will carry more fuel, further out, much faster and will have commercially competitive life cycle costs and it doesn’t exact require a multi-crore competition (all tax payer rupees of course) to figure this out. 

Stranded on the Roof of the World

By Michael Finkel 

Wakhan Corridor

Afghanistan’s Kyrgyz nomads survive in one of the most remote, high-altitude, bewitching landscapes on Earth. It’s a heavenly life—and a living hell.

Photograph by Matthieu Paley 

The khan dreams of a car. 
Never mind that there isn’t a road. His father, the previous khan, spent his life lobbying for a road. The new khan does the same. A road, he argues, would permit doctors, and their medicines, to easily reach them. Then maybe all the dying would stop. Teachers too could get to them. Also traders. There could be vegetables. And then his people—the Kyrgyz nomads of remote Afghanistan—might have a legitimate chance to thrive. A road is the khan’s work. A car is his dream. 

“What kind of car?” I ask. 

“Whatever car you want to give me,” he says. The ends of his mustache curl around a smile. 

But for now, with no car and no road, the reality is a yak. The khan is holding one by a rope strung through its nose. Other yaks are standing by. It’s moving day; everything the khan owns needs to be tied to the back of a yak. This includes a dozen teapots, a cast-iron stove, a car battery, two solar panels, a yurt, and 43 blankets. His younger brother and a few others are helping. The yaks buck and kick and snort; loading them is as much wrestling as packing. 

Moving is what nomads do. For the Kyrgyz of Afghanistan, it’s from two to four times a year, depending on the weather and the availability of grass for the animals. They call their homeland Bam-e Dunya, which means “roof of the world.” This might sound poetic and beautiful—it is undeniably beautiful—but it’s also an environment at the very cusp of human survivability. Their land consists of two long, glacier-carved valleys, called pamirs, stashed deep within the great mountains of Central Asia. Much of it is above 14,000 feet. The wind is furious; crops are impossible to grow. The temperature can drop below freezing 340 days a year. Many Kyrgyz have never seen a tree. 

The valleys are located in a strange, pincer-shaped appendage of land jutting from the northeast corner of Afghanistan. This strip, often referred to as the Wakhan corridor, was a result of the 19th century’s so-called Great Game, when the British and Russian Empires fought for influence in Central Asia. The two powers created it, through a series of treaties between 1873 and 1895, as a buffer zone—a sort of geographical shock absorber—preventing tsarist Russia from touching British India. In previous centuries the area was part of the Silk Road connecting China and points west, the route of armies and explorers and missionaries. Marco Polo passed through in the late 1200s. 

Chasing holy grail of peace with Pakistan

By 22 Jan 2013

The recent beheadings are a deliberate, well-planned action designed to provoke a major response from the Indian side 

Jingoism” is the new intellectual fashion statement emerging in the aftermath of the recent atrocity at Mendhar, Jammu and Kashmir, disparaging displays of public emotion at moments of national crisis. Fortunately, most Indian soldiers are not sufficiently fluent or familiar with the English language to comprehend the implications of the epithet as applied to their efforts. 

The gruesome beheading of two Indian soldiers was calculated affront of supreme contempt on the part of the Pakistan Army, and though the Indian government maintains that it was the act of Pakistani regular troops, the very nature of the act warrants a second look to determine responsibility and fashion an appropriate response.

The incident has raised temperatures amongst Indian soldiers along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and 13 Rajputana Rifles and their comrades are certainly straining at the leash to retaliate in kind. But “aman ki aasha” remains “the bigger picture” of the political leadership of this country who seems to be almost desperately searching for any utterance from across the border which could be construed as even faintly reconciliatory. However, there has been no such luck so far in the quest for the holy grail of peace with Pakistan.

So, stepping back from the heat, dust and hair-trigger tensions of the LoC, India needs to take serious stock of the way forward vis-a-vis Pakistan after this horrific incident.

On its part, the Pakistani military leadership is under no such constraints. This was clearly demonstrated during a recent interview with a sensation-mongering Indian news channel by Pakistan’s former President and now discredited Army Chief, Pervez Musharraf, who might well be a political persona non grata in his homeland, but nevertheless functioned as a determined and extremely aggressive spokesman for his Army. Mr Musharraf is attempting to rebuild his own political future, and his energetic rebuttal of the Indian media commentator might pay him political dividends when he returns to Pakistan, as he stridently proclaimed on screen.

That being said, tit-for-tat retaliations by either side to incidents of this nature are part of the folklore which has grown in both armies, deployed eyeball to eyeball on this tinderbox frontier. Clashes and exchange of fire here are nothing new to both armies, and casualties on both sides are accepted as inevitable. But the recent beheadings put the Mendhar incident beyond the pale, adding a whole new dimension of appalling savagery to the long-running confrontation. It is clear that the incident did not result from some sudden ungovernable individual impulse or the runaway action of a rogue unit, but is a deliberate, well-planned action designed to provoke a major response from the Indian side, for ulterior reasons which can only be speculated upon at the moment. Pure logic may indicate that India should not retaliate in a like manner, but ground environments in the country reflect a popular sense of outrage and demand that the country respond appropriately, with the overriding proviso of a time and place of own choosing.

Talking to the Taliban

Who is fooling whom? 
by D. Suba Chandran 
22 Jan 2013

THEREe have been two sets of reports from Pakistan relating to talks with the Taliban. The most important, from Pakistan's perspective, is the offer made by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in terms of ending violence, if the state accepts the demands made by them. The second one is important from a regional (Af-Pak) perspective, in terms of the talks with the Afghan Taliban, led by the international community in Paris, with Pakistan playing a crucial role.

What are these two dialogues about? What do they signify? From a regional perspective, are these talks likely to enhance stability, or worsen it further? More importantly, are they likely to succeed?

After a series of high-profile killings during November-December 2012, towards the end of last year, suddenly the TTP announced its willingness to talk to the government with certain pre-conditions. These high-profile attacks include the bombing in Jamrud bazaar in Khyber agency which killed 17 people, assassination of Bashir Bilour, the moderate political leader belonging to the Awami National Party (ANP) and a member of the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa (KP) provincial assembly, killing of numerous health workers engaged in an anti-polio drive in the FATA and KP, and the kidnapping and massacre of 21 levies. All these attacks took place immediately before and during the TTP's announcement of its willingness to negotiate with the government .

The most important question is why the TTP is willing to negotiate when its killings and massacres have peaked, as explained above. Perhaps, the TTP is planning to negotiate from a position of strength. The state and its forces have undoubtedly been brought to their knees. Consider the following: The security forces are yet to claim any major success in terms of their anti-militancy operation. After the Swat military operation in 2009, one is yet to hear or witness a strong anti-militancy drive by the state and its security forces. On the other hand, between January 2009 and December 2012, the TTP was on the rampage, including its ability to strike deep on PNS Mehran in Karachi in 2011 and Kamra airbase in Punjab in 2012. 

Clearly, the TTP is on an offensive. Political response to the TTP has been feeble and non-existent. Last month also witnessed the fifth death anniversary of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, with the trial going nowhere. Everyone knows who was behind the assassination, yet the government led by Benazir's party and her husband has not taken a strong approach vis-a-vis the Taliban. Given its track-record, the PPP is unlikely to pursue any strong political strategy vis-a-vis the TTP. Nor are the political parties in opposition led by the PML-N pressurising the government to formulate a cohesive political agenda in dealing with the TTP. Worse, the ANP, whose minister and a senior party member (Bashir Biolour) was assassinated by the TTP, is welcoming a reconciliation with the militants.

No doubt, the TTP has offered to negotiate from a position of strength. An equally important question is: What is that the TTP willing to negotiate? What are its preconditions?

According to news reports in the Pakistani media, the preconditions focus on the following four aspects: repealing of all laws repugnant to Islam, rewriting of Pakistan's constitution based on Shariah, withdrawing from the US-led Afghan war and refocusing on India.

A delicate resolution

Tue Jan 22 2013

For now, the Zardari government is all set to complete its term in Pakistan 

Since its birth in 1947, Pakistan has been plunged into one crisis after another. The process began shortly after the early death of its founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and the assassination, soon after, of its first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan. When politicians failed to frame the constitution or even to provide a stable government, the army dictators took over and ruled the country, directly for half its life and indirectly for most of the time. 

After General Yahya Khan, who took over when Ayub Khan’s dictatorship was overthrown in 1969, became the real architect of Bangladesh by refusing to honour the massive verdict in favour of the East Pakistan leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who had won a majority in whatever was left of Pakistan after the liberation of Bangladesh, led the first duly elected civilian government. But because he outdid even the military despots in establishing personal and authoritative rule, the country revolted against him. This enabled his handpicked army chief, Zia-ul-Haq, a Uriah Heep-like figure, to first overthrow and then execute him. Following Zia’s death in a mysterious plane crash in 1988, Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir, and her main political rival, Nawaz Sharif, were each elected prime minister twice but both were abruptly dismissed every time. 

Against this bleak backdrop, the way the latest crisis, which threatens the life of the present elected — if also weak and corrupt — government, headed by Benazir’s widower and Pakistan Peoples Party leader, Asif Ali Zardari, has been resolved merits appreciation. 

The crisis began with the sudden arrival in Pakistan of a mysterious cleric, a Canadian of Pakistani origin, Tahirul Qadri. He crusaded for the immediate removal of the Zardari government and its replacement by an interim government, to be formed in consultation with the army, that would stay long enough to cleanse the “corrupt-to-the core” electoral system along the lines he suggested. For four days running, Qadri and tens of thousands of his followers occupied the heart of Islamabad. 

Most surprisingly, and in sharp contrast to what usually happens in Pakistan in such situations, there was neither any violence by the crowds nor brutal repression by the state. Qadri, acting from within a bulletproof shipping container, gave a masterly display of overblown rhetoric. Many, indeed most, Pakistanis feared that the cleric — whose Islamist credentials are unexceptionable because he is the author of a fatwa against terrorism — was the “stalking horse” of the all-powerful army. The country was swept with conspiracy theories and rumours of a “soft coup”. 

China’s Water Pollution Crisis

January 22, 2013 
By Elizabeth C. Economy 

According to one report, “up to 40 percent of China’s rivers were seriously polluted” and “20 percent were so polluted their water quality was rated too toxic even to come into contact with.” 

In recent weeks, Chinese and western media have been all atwitter over the shocking levels of air pollution in Beijing and a number of other Chinese cities. But it really shouldn’t be all that shocking. After all, in 2007, the World Bank and China’s own State Environmental Protection Administration (now the Ministry of Environmental Protection) found that that as many as 750,000 people die prematurely in China annually from respiratory disease related to air pollution. And more recently, Greenpeace Beijing reported that in 2011 in four major cities, more than 8,000 people died prematurely as a result of just one pollutant, PM 2.5. Anyone who spends any time in Beijing knows that the city has not yet found a way to tackle the myriad sources of air pollution from construction to cars to coal. 

As frightening as the country’s smog-filled skies might be, the country’s water pollution is easily as alarming. According to one 2012 report, “up to 40 percent of China’s rivers were seriously polluted” and “20 percent were so polluted their water quality was rated too toxic even to come into contact with.” Part of the explanation may rest in the “estimated 10,000 petrochemical plants along the Yangtze and 4000 along the Yellow Rivers.” (And the Yellow and Yangtze are not even the most polluted of China’s seven major rivers.) On top of whatever polluted wastewater might be leaching or simply dumped into China’s rivers from these factories, the Ministry of Supervision reports that there are almost 1,700 water pollution accidents annually. The total cost in terms of human life: 60,000 premature deaths annually

While the macro picture is concerning, even more worrying is that individual Chinese don’t know whether their water is safe to drink or not. A Chinese newspaper, the Southern Weekly, recently featured an interview with a married couple, both of whom are water experts in Beijing (available in English here). They stated that they hadn’t drunk from the tap in twenty years, and have watched the water quality deteriorate significantly over just the past few years, even while state officials claim that more than 80 percent of water leaving treatment facilities met government standards in 2011. 

Is China Running Out Of Workers?

22 Jan 2013

On Friday, Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that China’s “working age” population—the 15 to 59 segment—totaled 937.27 million last year. That number, as large as it is, represents a decline of 3.45 million from 2011. Moreover, the workforce in 2012 comprised 69.2% of the population, 0.6% less than in 2011. 

“In 2012 for the first time we saw a drop in the population of people of working age,” said Ma Jiantang, the NBS chief. “We should pay great attention to this.” 

We certainly should. Cai Fang, the widely followed Chinese demographer, thinks the workforce actually peaked in 2010, and he is probably correct. Yet whoever is right, the NBS announcement highlights the acceleration of Chinese population changes. Beijing’s official demographers were saying, as recently as 2009, that the workforce would continue growing until 2016. 

“There are different opinions on whether this means that the demographic dividend that has driven growth in China for many years is now coming to an end,” said Mr. Ma, trying to put the best face on the news. Actually, it’s hard to see how the so-called dividend, an extraordinary bulge in the working population, can continue, especially because he also predicted that the number of workers in China will get smaller each and every year until about 2030. 

Chinese technocrats have more than just a shrinking workforce to worry about. As late as 2008, the U.N.’s figures, Beijing’s numbers with minor adjustments, showed China’s total population falling off only after 2030. That date is, well, so out-of-date. Now, senior Communist Party officials, like Liu Mingkang, are talking about 2020, which means the peak will undoubtedly occur before then. 

There are both good and bad—mostly bad—effects of a slowing population on a nation’s economy, but the point observers are missing is that China’s trends are occurring faster than almost all demographers predicted just a few years ago. The pace of change, therefore, means economic adjustments could very well be more painful than most analysts now believe. 

Perhaps the most pernicious economic effect of a declining population will be on urbanization. The decades-old migration from farm to city is one of China’s “four new modernizations,” announced in mid-November by Li Keqiang. The man slated to become the next premier is placing a big bet that this trend will drive growth for the next two decades. After all, the Chinese government in 2011 announced it will be building 20 cities a year in each of the next 20 years. 

Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics indicate that the government’s city-building plan is feasible. Last year, according to the agency, China’s urban population increased 21.03 million, hitting 711.82 million, or 52.57% of the country’s population. That was up 1.3 percentage points from 2011.