4 May 2013

Illiteracy of War Drums

02 May , 2013

In a recent TV debate on the Chinese intrusion in Ladakh, to a suggestion by a veteran Army General that India should be resolute in response, a Member Parliament from the ruling party said, “Yeh badi badi moochon wale general larai karwa kar chodenge" (these big mustachioed Generals will plunge us into war).

The irony is that we are chock-a-block full with politicians of this breed who were best described as “Post Tortoise” by a wise farmer,which he amplified by saying, “When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s a Post Tortoise. You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there, he’s elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb jackass put him up there to begin with.” This specific Post Tortoise should have been asked, has one single military veteran ever recommended in the first place that this bunch of banner totting Chinese picnicking at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) be attacked and wiped out or bombed?

The problem is that these Post Tortoises cannot visualize anything between war and groveling diplomacy – read inaction. Hence, disdain and arrogant retorts to sane advice of the ‘mustachioed General’. For them, any physical action whatsoever signifies direct beating of war drums. These are the fellows who perched atop the fence post are responsible for the nation’s security but do not see the a requirement of any national security strategy or even a SOP despite numerous intrusions and offensive actions by the Chinese who capitalize on fear psychosis of the Indian hierarchy.

Ask the government and take a bet they cannot reply why the ITBP guarding the LAC in DBO Sector is not under the Army and why is the Indian Army not responsible for complete land borders. Therefore, the gumption of the Chinaman in merrily intruding 30 kms inside your territory, with Xi Jinping surveying the scurrying chicken with some running to nanny for advice and the Prime Minister with the Foreign Minister in tow still insisting this is “localized action”.

One wonders how many read the article by Manas Chakravarty titled “Lost but not found” in Hindustan Times dated 26 June 2011, saying that the real Manmohan Singh is gallivanting in Pattaya Beach and that his replacement back home is a robotic marvel made to order by the Japanese and wondered how much of it is fiction. As for the Post Tortoise, any mention of physical action gives him hallucinations of massive cyber and nuclear strikes by China. Mercifully, most of them, if not all, would be unaware of the Chinese term ‘Shaoshou Jian’ or Assassin’s Mace least much more panic would generate. But then how can you expect the Port Tortoise to imagine that physical actions can also be other than direct attack, which can nonplus the attacker and make him recoil.

India-China Relations and the Changing Nature of War

May 3, 2013 by Team SAISA
Filed under Analysis

Mohan Guruswamy

The nature of war is directly related to the technology of the times and the resources available. But how we can fight and how long we might fight increasingly depends on the willingness of the world as a whole to allow it. War between countries and particularly war between major powers will not be without consequences to the ever increasingly inter-dependent world and hence international pressure to terminate conflicts before they expand and/or spiral out of control is only to be expected, especially when the nations in conflict are armed with nuclear weapons. How many nuclear weapons a country has does not matter, as for the world outside even the use of one will not be without huge collateral consequences? Considering this, this may be a good time and place to ponder over the future nature of war and how this would impact India.

The end of the Cold War has made geo-politics much more complex and the definition of national interest is now extremely blurred. China may have a huge trade surplus with the USA, but when Chinese exports to the USA are disassembled it reveals that much of this merchandise trade originate in countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the rest of ASEAN, and China is only the final aggregator and assembler of material. This implies that the USA’s main political and military allies in the region are China’s major economic partners, and any reduction of US imports from China will have an adverse effect on its strategic allies. With Europe in decline and languishing, the USA increasing depends on Asia for trade and economic well-being. This is now reflected in its substantially increased trade from its western ports. Yet the USA and China are now engaged in acrimony that while being still much less adversarial than its relationship with the former USSR, is tending to become increasingly inimical.

Then take the Japan-China relations. They are strained and often tend to get rancorous. Yet Japan is the largest overseas investor in China and has a huge annual trade surplus with China. It is same with case for Taiwan and South Korea. India’s relationship with China too is a troubled one, yet China is India’s largest trading partner now. China even has a huge trade surplus with India. The new global arrangements have nevertheless worked well for all of us and the global economy has been expanding at a never before pace. This is now a world system without major friendships or enmities, except for the usual local ones such as India and Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and Israel and the Arab world.

Take another situation. Suppose push comes to shove and Iran attempts to block the Straits of Hormuz? Will it not be in the interests of the USA, China and even India to co-operate, politically and militarily, to keep that vital international passageway open? Unlike the Iran-Iraq conflict which saw no serious attempt by anybody for mediation, an India-China conflict, particularly if it spills over into the IOR will see active and energetic mediation by all major powers, because such a crisis will threaten world order. An India-China conflict even on the remote land borders will result in an active and even irresistible mediation.

Ladakh and the War Zone Campaign Doctrine of China

03 May 13

China is unrolling its War Zone Campaign Doctrine all over its periphery from Ladakh to Senkaku which may have disastrous ramifications for the region.

As temperatures rise on the Ladakh standoff, China’s plans are becoming evermore clear to ensure that Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) is the desired pressure point to follow its War Zone Campaign (WZC) Doctrine or zhanqu zhanyi. The concept envisages applying suitable military/diplomatic/political and media pressures on contested areas in a graduated manner to force the adversary to the negotiation table on its terms. Should the adversary escalate, ensure use greater force to exert more pressure in same or different areas to win a negotiated settlement to suit its political ends. 

Understanding the War Zone Concept

In nutshell it is a process of applying graduated pressure to control the escalation matrix to make the adversely concede to its demands at multiple stages. Out lined in Chinese concepts enunciated in its Defense While Papers and other military journals this is termed as “ Limited War Under Conditions of Informationalisation” (LWUCI) – a graduation from its earlier philosophy of Active Defence.

In the context of this theory, it is evident that the current impasse which has now exceeded 15 days has the blessings of CMC and CPC and is a deliberate attempt to make India heel. Whether it is prompted by growing Indo-US friendship, India’s raising of additional mountain divisions and strike corps, or Chinese apprehensions of a growing Indian Navy shall remain guesswork to be discovered later through history.s

However, initial conjectures of this being a localised problem (acne) now stay buried after failure of three military level flag meetings. Very reminiscent of the then defence minister’s claim that Kargil was a localised affair and the intruders would be evicted in 48 hours.

The feeble Indian response, militarily and diplomatically, has apparently emboldened China to press on and bring India to its knees without really fighting a war. Psychologically, they have won the first round in this game of brinkmanship and are now awaiting the foreign minister to pay respects to the Middle Kingdom as its vassal states used to do.

It is here that this article aims to explain the WZC doctrine as one in which PLA takes limited action along its periphery by quick small military actions where the objectives are more political and diplomatic than purely military.

The first stage of WZC is ECII i.e ‘External Calm Internal Intensity’ where they maintain a facade of normalcy, refuse adversary’s claims and shape the battle space as a precursor to escalatory conventional war, if required. This covers the entire spectrum of political, diplomatic and military activities. What we see here in Ladakh may well be the initiation of ECII, with control are further escalation. China’s claim on Thursday that it believed on-going consultations between the Ministry of External Affairs and the Chinese Foreign Ministry through the joint mechanism on border affairs could bring about a quick resolution to the stand-off, is part of this game.

Should India escalate, the next stage of WZC is use of Elite Forces Sharp Arm or EFSA which entails use of highly trained troops, kept in high state of readiness in each Military Region(MR). Here, DBO would be covered by the Lanzhou MR where upto a battalion strength of Special Operations Force (SOF), which may be air mobile, is kept ready to neutralise impending Indian threat anywhere across the Ladakh region.

Sarabjit’s Murder Shows Radicalisation of Pakistan Society

May 2, 2013 by Team SAISA
Filed under foreign policy

Alok Bansal

What is more frightening is the level of radicalisation of Pakistani society, where jail authorities conspire with other convicts to kill an inmate on death row. This represents a dangerous trend in Pakistan’s society of delivering instant justice.

Sarabjit Singh, the Indian national languishing in Pakistan’s jails for over 22 years died on Thursday morning, due to the injuries sustained in the grievous assault on him in Lahore’s dreaded Kot Lakhpat Jail. 

Sarabjit had been accused of planting bombs in 1990 that resulted in three blasts in Lahore and one blast in Faisalabad, killing 14 people. He was convicted by the Pakistani courts in 1991 for his role in the blasts under the Pakistan’s Army act and had been sentenced to death. The fact that he was convicted as Manjit Singh and not as Sarabjit Singh, raised serious questions about the impartiality and authenticity of the entire judicial process. Subsequently, one of the prime witness stated that he had been forced by the police to identify him, giving credence to the theory that it was a case of mistaken identity.

According to Sarabjit’s family, on August 28, 1990, he had left to plough his fields near the Wagah border, but never returned. Pakistani authorities claimed to have arrested him the same night at Indo-Pak border near Kasur in an inebriated state. He was initially charged for crossing the border illegally and after eight days was charged with involvement in the bomb blasts.

Internationally acclaimed jurists have found the whole process of his conviction quite flawed. None of the four first information reports filed for the blasts, contained either his name or description that matched his identity. The whole judicial process was conducted in English, a language which he did not understand and nor was he provided with an interpreter.

His appeal against the death sentence was turned down by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in March 1996, because his court appointed lawyer failed to turn up. Since then there have been numerous appeals by human rights organisations and activists from Pakistan, India and other parts of the world to release Sarabjit, who had already spent a number of years in solitary confinement.

President Asif Ali Zardari and his government were sympathetic to the cause, but the all powerful security establishment backed by religious right-wing elements prevented him from doing so. He was actually pardoned by the President in June 2012, but he was forced to change the statement under pressure from the army and the religious parties.

There has been a clamour amongst right-wing elements in Pakistan for hanging Sarabjit, especially after the hanging of Afzal Guru in India. On April 26, Sarabjit was attacked in the jail by six inmates with bricks and improvised weapons, which led to grievous injuries. He had been in coma since then and the ineffective and inefficient caretaker administration of Pakistan could not take a decision to shift him to medical facilities abroad.

Sarabjit’s family had clearly articulated their lack of confidence in Pakistani doctors and wanted him shifted. They had even raised apprehension that “They might do something to him now” and within 24 hours Sarabjit was no more. It needs no elaboration that the type of attack on Sarabjit could not have taken place without some sort of a complicity of the jail authorities. The action taken by the Pakistani government against the prison officials has not been substantial.

In fact what is more frightening is the level of radicalisation of Pakistani society, where jail authorities conspire with other convicts to kill an inmate on death row. This represents a dangerous trend in Pakistan’s society of delivering instant justice, be it people accused of blasphemy or even minor crimes.

There have been numerous cases where even petty robbers have been lynched and hapless accused of religious crimes have been burnt alive. This not only shows the Pakistani society’s complete absence of faith in its judiciary, but also the perception that it is their messianic right to eliminate another human being as long as he or she does not agree with their perceptions and beliefs.

Of course the aspersions being cast on Pakistan’s judiciary are not without substance, it has not only justified coups, it has helped the cause of society’s radicalisation and has conducted trials both in the case of Rinkle Kumari and Sarabjit Singh, which have defied globally accepted norms of justice.

Sarabjit Singh: Execution by Murder

In the end, Sarabjit Singh was executed not by a hangman but by Pakistan’s famed ‘non-state’ actors – his fellow prisoners on death row – who are believed to have been put up to the job of bludgeoning him into a lifeless pulp by ‘state’ actors (jail officials). Of course, instead of someone pulling the hangman’s lever, in Sarabjit’s case it was the proverbial plug being pulled on the life support machines by ‘state’ doctors. Regardless of what spin is put on his death by the Pakistani authorities, it is quite clear that it was a political decision taken by them to put a closure to the entire drama surrounding Sarabjit.

The entire Sarabjit saga is a tale of clinical solutions being used by Pakistani authorities against him: his arrest – he was a convenient scapegoat for the Pakistani security forces who needed someone to blame for a series of bomb blasts; his conviction – all evidence proving that he was not the person responsible was disregarded, and fake and tutored witnesses were produced (some of whom later retracted their testimony) to procure a guilty verdict and have him sentenced him to death; his murder – get already condemned prisoners to beat him to death (their punishment can’t get any worse but they will be able to earn ‘sawab’ or rewards in the after-life for having killed a despicable infidel) and pre-empt any possible reprieve or release for him, in addition to getting even with the ‘hated Hindus’ for executing two soldiers of Islam (Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru) and sending a strong signal to Infidel India; and finally his execution – carried out by doctors who switched off his life support systems because it was too expensive for to keep him alive indefinitely and it was not politically possible to send him to India.

Even after Sarabjit was reduced into a vegetable as a result of the brutal beating he was subjected to, the Pakistani bloodlust wasn’t satisfied. It was almost as though the only thing that would satisfy the talibanised Pakistani mindset was stringing Sarabjit’s comatose body on the gallows! Having committed the terrible wrong of outsourcing his execution to ‘non-state’ actors, the Pakistanis could still have done the right thing by sending a lifeless but still alive Sarabjit back to his country and his family. For anyone to argue that the interim government in Pakistan was not empowered to take a decision on releasing even a comatose Sarabjit is complete nonsense. If it wanted, the caretaker government was fully competent to have advised the President to grant him clemency him and repatriate him to India on humanitarian grounds. That it chose not to, suggests that it is either scared of a right-wing reaction or else subscribe to the extremist mindset.

Having blown this opportunity, the Pakistanis should be prepared for a blowback of hostility, if not from an effete Indian government then at least from an incensed public opinion in India. The murder of Sarabjit will certainly add bitterness in relations and serve as a setback to efforts to promote people-to-people ties between the two countries. Perhaps, this is exactly what those who conspired to murder Sarabjit were aiming for. But to say that Indian people should not play into the hands of enemies of peace by giving in to their emotions over the brutal killing of Sarabjit is to miss the point.

If indeed peace is such a desirable objective and is in the interest of peoples of both countries, then is the onus for peace only on India? Doesn’t Pakistan also have a responsibility to rein in these enemies of peace? Didn’t Pakistan understand the sensitivities attached to Sarabjit’s case and how any untoward incident could embitter an already tenuous state of relations? And if it did, why didn’t they take precautions of the type India took with Ajmal Kasab to safeguard Sarabjit from any assault? Or is it that they didn’t care a whit for the sentiments and emotions of Indians? If so, then what is this people-to-people relation that is being promoted and incessantly parroted by apologists for Pakistan? Isn’t it therefore time that we re-evaluate the state of relations and re-examine the assumptions that are guiding India’s policy on Pakistan? Of course, if we want to prove Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time – correct, then we are on the right track. Otherwise, there needs to be a new approach adopted towards Pakistan, one that sheds the shibboleths of the past.

No First Use Nuclear Doctrine with “Chinese Characteristics”


Like a chameleon, the dragon, very predictably is changing its colors with regards to its often stated nuclear doctrine of “no first use” (NFU). Since 1964 when China conducted its first nuclear weapon test, China has repeatedly and vociferously insisted that it would not be the first nuclear power to use a tactical or strategic nuclear weapon in pursuit of its strategic objectives. This NFU pledge was explicitly and unconditionally included in each of China’s defense white papers from the first in 1998 through the seventh one in 2011. Recently, there is some international debate about possible changes in China’s NFU doctrine following publication of China’s biannual 2013 Defense White Paper. However, it appears that China may have moved beyond its so-called NFU doctrine and its duplicitous pledges do not hold any sincere meaning. Strategic deception has been an important part of China’s military DNA since the times of Sun Tzu who wrote in his treatise the Art of War: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away. Since achieving a great economic success and flush with $ 3.4 trillion foreign exchange reserves, China has increased its list of core national issues and has adopted a more belligerent strategic posture and hegemonic attitude towards international community in general and its neighbors in particular. Disregarding the Deng’s advice of lying low and bidding your time, the current (5th) generation of China’s leaders are adopting aggressive postures militarily though the transformation into visibly hardened strategic claims started really during the reign of the 4th generation leaders (Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao and Wu Bangguo).

The last time a Chinese paramount leader reaffirmed the so-called NFU pledge was on March 27th 2012 in Seoul Nuclear Conference when Hu Jintao mentioned it in his address. However, in December 2012, the new 5th generation Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping failed to mention about the so-called no first use pledge in a speech given to Second Artillery Force of the PLA which manages China’s land-based nuclear weapons. Apparently, he also stated that nuclear weapons create strategic support for China’s status as a major world power. This is a significant departure from the previously stated public positions citing Mao Zedong’s ideas about the use of nuclear weapons as a taboo and labeling the nuclear weapons essentially as “paper tigers”.

Fundamentals of NFU Commitment

Out of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons currently, only two, China and India had explicitly stated “No First Use” as the guiding principle of their strategic nuclear doctrine.

An absolute and unconditional NFU commitment would have four following components:
Not to use nuclear weapons first against countries that possess nuclear weapons
Not to threaten use nuclear weapons first against countries that possess nuclear weapons
Not to use nuclear weapons first against countries that do not possess nuclear weapons
Not to threaten to use nuclear weapons first against countries that do not possess nuclear weapons

NFU policy has been a core feature of the Chinese defense policy having been decided apparently by Chairman Mao himself in 1964. Critics of the Chinese NFU commitment claim that it is completely unverifiable and is mere rhetoric. Self-described “China hawks” in the West have derisively dismissed the Chinese NFU pledge as pure propaganda for the last five decades. Chinese strategists have debated the merits of dropping or altering the NFU policy. This debate was reportedly very intense from mid to late 2000s. There are assertions from Chinese officials that Chinese NFU commitment is not applicable to perceived claims on territories. China has territorial disputes with multiple neighbors including India. Presumably since China continues to claim that Arunachal Pradesh is its own territory, in a hypothetical scenario, it may use tactical nuclear weapons in a war with India in eastern sector because China will consider this use not against any other country but in its own perceived territory. Similarly, China will not be bound by its NFU if the US were to intervene in Taiwan in case of a Sino-Taiwanese war as it considers Taiwan as a renegade province. Chinese NFU is not applicable if it apprehends annihilation of its top leadership by conventional means. Similarly, a conventional attack on strategic target like the Three Gorges Dam would be an exception to the NFU pledge. More recently, Chinese have discussed other possible exceptions from their NFU commitment including a massive precision guided conventional attack on their intercontinental ballistic missile silos or their strategic facilities. As China moves away from minimal credible deterrence to “limited deterrence”, a more sophisticated delivery mechanism and an exponential increase in its nuclear stockpile, it has also moved towards greater flexibility and continued opacity in its nuclear operational doctrine. It is pertinent to say that the so-called Chinese NFU commitment has never been taken seriously by both the US and Russia at any time in their policy matrix.

Chinese Nuclear Arsenal

China can be considered the largest nuclear power after the US and Russia. China’s nuclear capability is apparently stronger than those of the next six nuclear states combined. According to Russian estimates, since early 1960s China has generated 40 tons of enriched weapons grade uranium and 10 tons of plutonium which would be enough to produce 3,600 nuclear war-heads. It is probable that half of this fissile material is kept in stocks whereas the rest half has been used up to produce 1500-1800 warheads, half of which may be in storage. This would leave 800-900 warheads that could be available for operational deployment on various types of delivery vehicles. Therefore, the real motives for China’s complete secrecy about its nuclear forces lie not in their “weakness” and “small size” but in much larger strength of China’s actual nuclear arsenal that is much higher than the commonly cited number of 300-400 warheads by the western analysts. There is also a great degree of international uncertainty about the hundreds of tunnels being built in China as their purpose has not yet been officially explained.

Chinese Nuclear Posture and Track II Interactions

Personal interactions with various Chinese academicians and officials during policy conferences suggest that China will continue to add to its nuclear arsenal and will not participate in any nuclear disarmament program till it reaches a certain level. This analyst has interacted with Professor Shen Dingli, Associate Dean of the Institute of International Studies from Fudan University, Shanghai over the last four years with very consistent and candid answers regarding Chinese national nuclear posture. Professor Shen Dingli claims to have independent (but sometimes more hawkish views) from those of the Chinese Government. In 2009 Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, DC, he expressed absolute ignorance about Chinese proliferation activities and the fact that Chinese weapons designs were turned in by Libya to the International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA) when Libya folded up their clandestine nuclear program. He was totally unaware of China’s both vertical and horizontal proliferation activities as late as April 2009. During the 2009 Carnegie International Non-proliferation Conference, Washington, DC, he agreed that Chinese government will continue to increase its number of nuclear war-heads. In a more recent Carnegie Endowment meeting on India-China dialogue in Washington DC on January 10th 2013, he again reiterated that China will continue to modernize its nuclear arsenals and the delivery systems till a perceived parity is achieved with the two great powers (US and Russia). China will certainly not agree to cut the number of nuclear arsenals as it wants both the US and Russia to implement further reductions in their respective nuclear arsenals.

Interactions with another Chinese academician Dr. Shulong Chu, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the School of Public Policy and Management and the Deputy Director of the Institute of International Strategic and Development Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China in a session on China-US Strategic Stability on 4/6/2009 during the Carnegie International Non-proliferation Conference, Washington DC revealed very interesting Chinese perspectives. Chu explicitly stated that since China has accepted US supremacy, analogously both India and Japan should accept Chinese supremacy in the Asia-pacific region. China is a bigger country than Japan and India. It has bigger military requirements. Japan, India and other Asian countries should understand that and should be willing to accept China’s ongoing modernization of its military and strategic (read nuclear) assets. Chu further went on saying: “Russia and the US have too many nuclear war-heads. They can afford to have deep cuts. China cannot do that because China has too few. China wants more and its agenda is to have more nuclear weapons”.

India: Strategic Challenges and Responses


The above subject has been primarily dealt from the foreign policy and security point of view. Many believe that strategic challenges should now include those relating to energy, environment, population, food, health, climate change and the like.

Countries that wish to invade do not do so by pitching tents!

May 03, 2013

What is so honourable in defending or dis-honourable in not defending the 'Johnson line' in Aksai Chin? That is a question that needs to be asked to the Indian shouting brigade. The Chinese also need to be asked as to why they wish to implement the 'MacDonald McCartney' line drawn by British Imperialists? asks Col (retd) Anil Athale.

The recent face of between India [ Images ] and China in the Aksai Chin area makes one feel a strong sense of déjà vu! It is only last year that the country observed the 50th anniversary of that unfortunate conflict and much ink was spilled by the Indian media to assert how ‘1962’ will not be repeated!

Yet what is one to make out of a leading national English daily giving screaming headline, ‘Chinese pitch 5th Tent in disputed area!’ The jingoism, uninformed comments, criticism of government, cries of ‘surrender to the Chinese’. If a Rip Van Vinkle would have woken up after 50 years he would find it all very familiar.

Naville Maxwell’s otherwise biased account (India’s China War) has one very pertinent observation, ‘Indian government was goaded into foolhardy action by an un-informed media and public opinion to embark on a disastrous course of action’.

Let us at least after 50 years be rational and stop being emotional where Aksai Chin is concerned. Aksai Chin was essentially a ‘No Man’s Land’ between Ladakh and Tibet [Images ]. A god forsaken cold desert where ‘not a blade of grass grows’ as famously remarked by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru [Images ]! Aksai Chin became part of British India in a typical ‘imperial’ map making exercise that wanted a land wedge between the eastward expanding Russia [ Images ] and Tibet.

The threat never materialised and Aksai Chin remained a line on map. Neither we nor the Chinese showed any interest in this area till the late 1950s when they constructed a road between the two restive provinces of Xingang and Tibet. It was militarily important for them.

They did this unilaterally without even informing India. Instead of acknowledging the Chinese interest and accepting that India had none and the dubious nature of the status of Aksai Chin area, we went in for a ‘maximalist’ solution, claimed whole of Aksai Chin as ours and despite known military weakness embarked on a ‘flag showing’ aggressive creation of small posts to bolster our claim -- as if this was some legal domestic land dispute where possession is 9/10 of law!

Even 51 years after the dispute we seemed stuck in justifying our claims based on legacy of British imperialism! If Aksai Chin had some strategic importance for us then one would understand the use of history in terms of real politick, but our response to the Chinese provocation seems wholly emotional and out of proportion to the Chinese actions.

Countries that wish to invade territory do not do so by pitching tents!

This does not mean that the Chinese actions are merely ‘tactical’ as PM has said. The decision to establish tents and structures in ‘disputed’ areas must have been taken at higher level. If the post established is threatening our access to the areas to the north, then we must take appropriate action. But this is a plea to let the armed forces and government do the needful and there is no need for the ‘emotional’ response.

We must, while safeguarding our interests of defence of Ladakh, also acknowledge that Aksai Chin is indeed a disputed territory. Our claim to this area and Chinese counter claim stands on an entirely different footing than say Arunachal Pradesh. Chinese claim on whole of Arunachal Pradesh is spurious and goes against their own ‘principles’ where they have accepted the MacMohan line and watershed principle to demarcate border with Myanmar.

If one could venture to suggest a solution to Aksai Chin dispute, the Russia-China agreement on Amur-Usuri border offers a good model. But both sides must look at the dispute through a prism of ‘realism’ and discard the baggage of history. 

But the current stand off, certainly initiated by the Chinese, is curious in terms of timing. China is at this very moment engaged in a far more serious face off with Japan [ Images ] over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. The Chinese premier is scheduled to visit India soon. There is scheduled Indo-US meet in May to discuss China specifically.

Is this a ‘signal’ to India to stay away from the US-Japan axis? Or is it a typical media manipulation by the west to thwart and Sino-Indian rapprochement? It is difficult to comment with the fog of disinformation so thick.

A word of caution to the main opposition party in India, it must not play into the hands of media manipulators and make this a ‘domestic’ political issue. All Indians must stand behind the government/armed forces for whatever action they deem fit. It is time the main opposition behaved in a mature manner and not like the leader of opposition did during the 1999 Kargil [Images ] conflict with Pakistan.

Prosecutor in Bhutto murder case and Mumbai terror attacks slain in Islamabad

By Jennifer Rowland
May 3, 2013 

Political violence continues

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Chaudhry Zulfikar, the lead prosecutor investigating the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, as he drove to work on Friday in Islamabad (AP, ET/Reuters, Dawn,NYT). In addition to the Bhutto murder case, in which former President Pervez Musharraf has been accused of involvement, Zulfikar was in charge of prosecuting militants linked to the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

In Karachi on Friday, Awami National Party (ANP) candidate Sadiq Zaman Khattak was shot and killed along with his four-year-old son as he left a mosque (ET, Dawn). Authorities decided to postpone elections in Khattak's constituency following the shooting. Members of the Taliban posted fliers on public buildings in Peshawar warning people not to vote in next week's elections, saying that democracy is against the teachings of Islam (ET). And militants attacked a Pakistani military checkpost in South Waziristan on Friday, killing one security officer and prompting a retaliation that killed four militants (Dawn).

Just a day after an Indian man died from wounds suffered during an attack at the Pakistani prison where he was being held, a Pakistani man has been attacked in an Indian prison in Jammu, receiving severe head wounds and putting him in intensive care (Dawn, Reuters). Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry called the attack "obvious retaliation to the death of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh"

Tensions on high

Afghan security forces said Thursday that they had overrun and burned a Pakistani-held border crossing - which President Hamid Karzai complained earlier this year had been built without Afghanistan's permission -- during a clash with Pakistani troops on Wednesday night, and also took back five Afghan police posts that had been occupied by Pakistani forces (NYT, Pajhwok, Pajhwok). Meanwhile, the funeral procession for the Afghan border policeman killed in Wednesday night's clash turned into a nationalist demonstration, with Afghans pouring out onto the streets to show their support, and many declaring the clash a victory over Pakistan.

President Karzai on Thursday urged the United States to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and release all Afghan nationals being held there (AP, AFP). President Barack Obama spoke earlier this week about renewing his efforts to work with Congress and make good on his campaign promise to close the prison, as reports from Guantanamo indicate that the number of prisoners on hunger strike continues to rise (NYT). Some detainees have been on a hunger strike for months, and prison doctors are now using nasal feeding tubes just to keep them alive, which has raised questions about the ethics of forced feeding (Post).

A confidential assessment of the Afghan government's finances by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has found that even reaching the modest target of covering less than half of its own bills this year appears to have become a major challenge for the government of Afghanistan (NYT). The report attributes this difficulty to widespread tax evasion that is supported by government officials, the increased skimming of customs revenue by provincial governors, and faltering economic growth.

Finally, eight Afghan Local Police personnel were killed Thursday night by a roadside bomb in central Logar Province (Pajhwok).

India: State Capacity in Global Context

Milan Vaishnav, Reedy Swanson

India, Sri Lanka: So near, yet far

Updated:May 2, 2013 

By Sugeeswara Senadhira

New Delhi’s decision to keep away from Canada’s call for shifting the venue of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled later this year in Sri Lanka has been strongly welcomed in the power corridors in Colombo, and the step is considered soothing balm over the “hurt feeling” that existed in the Sri Lankan capital over India’s decision to vote for the US sponsored resolution at the UNHRC in Geneva two months ago.

Colombo felt that if India, which represents 60 percent of the Commonwealth citizens, had succumbed to Tamil Nadu pressures and supported Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s call for a boycott of the Colombo CHOGM, Sri Lanka would have been in a diplomatic tight corner. Officials heaved a collective sigh of relief when UK, Australia and India distanced themselves from the Canadian call at the Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting earlier this week.

After the passing of the UNHRC resolution calling on Sri Lanka for credible investigations into alleged human rights violations and early implementation of the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), Sri Lanka swung into hyper action to ensure confirmation of Colombo as the venue for CHOGM, believing that if the venue is shifted out it would be a major setback for Sri Lankan diplomacy.

New Delhi too played with caution despite vehement demands from two major Tamil Nadu political parties for a CHOGM boycott call. It was obvious that the Tamil Nadu opposition was more a ‘one-upmanship’ between the two Tamil parties than a show of solidarity with the Sri Lankan Tamils. Furthermore, the Tamil Nadu campaign against travellers from the country affected Sri Lankan Tamil traders and Tamil and Christian pilgrims visiting holy shrines in Tamil Nadu, than Sinhala Buddhist pilgrims as the latter could bypass south India and travel direct to Bodh Gaya or Varanasi for their pilgrimage.

Although India is not too happy over the slow progress in promised devolution to Tamil majority areas, New Delhi is keen to ensure that the age old Indo-Lanka bilateral ties remained strong. New Delhi has taken steps to expedite the construction of houses in the North and much awaited Sampur coal power plant in the East.

Both countries utilized the eighth Indo-Lanka Joint Commission meeting in New Delhi to give a positive spin to bilateral ties, with both parties expressing satisfaction that "the discussions had helped to further deepen understanding and friendship between the two countries to work together, to reap full advantage of opportunities that are beneficial to the people of both countries”.

China’s Black Hole

Let's face it: We have little idea what's actually going on in Xinjiang and Tibet.

On Tuesday, or so it seems, 21 people were killed in the region of Xinjiang in northwest China. According to Hou Hanmin, a Xinjiang propaganda bureau spokeswoman, a gang of 14 "suspicious people" took three community workers hostage. When police and officials rushed to the scene, the gang attacked them with axes and large knives, murdered the hostages, and then set the house on fire. Hou told the New York Timesthat the 14 assailants were all Uighurs who "had been influenced by ‘religious extremism' and had been plotting a ‘jihad' since the end of last year, though there was no evidence they were working with foreign forces."

Many of the Western reporters who wrote about the incident noted the unreliability of the government's version. "As with many such events in Xinjiang, details of the fighting on Tuesday remained murky even a full day after the violence had transpired. Some elements of the official accounts were bizarre," wrote Times correspondent Ed Wong. It's possible that the deadly violence occurred just five days after the United States discovered that Muslim extremists were responsible for a series of explosions at the Boston Marathon that killed 3 and injured more than 170 -- though the timing is certainly fortuitous. After the United States declined to condemn the Xinjiang attack, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that its "refusal to do so showed double standards, considering that it had been the recent victim of a terrorist attack."

Like with many events in Xinjiang, and in nearby Tibet, what actually happened remains unknown. "Fifteen people were killed in their house? That's very suspicious to us," said Alim Seytoff, President of the Uighur American Association, an advocacy organization. "They said they were armed with knives and axes -- to kill so many people in such short time is unbelievable." A Uighur activist in Germany told the Associated Press that local residents reported the police had sparked the incident when they shot a Uighur youth. The problem is that no Western reporters have been able to go in and investigate for themselves.

Beijing's media blockade has been successful. Instead of allowing some access to Western reporters, Beijing a few years ago resumed an old strategy and restricted their ability to enter Xinjiang, and almost entirely banned them from entering the mountainous, 460,000-square-mile Tibetan Autonomous Region. Millions of Tibetans live in the neighboring provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, and Gansu, so with some difficulty, journalists have been able to visit Tibetan areas in those provinces. But on the whole, Western journalist are extremely curtailed in their ability to report on these regions, which has implications for American understanding of Tibet and Xinjiang, as well as for the worrying situation on the ground.

Just how bad is it? Xinjiang, a resource-rich region of 22 million people, often erupts in ethnic violence between the roughly 45 percent of the population that is of the Turkic-speaking Uighur minority, and Han Chinese, most of whom have migrated to the region since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Tuesday's alleged incident was the deadliest since riots in July 2009 killed nearly 200 people. Tibet is worse. The independent watchdog organization Freedom House annually ranks countries and territories on their level of political rights and civil liberties. The group's most recent report, released Jan 2013,included Tibet in its "Worst of the Worst" category, joining North Korea and Somalia. More than 100 Tibetans have immolated themselves in protest since 2011; three apparently did so on Wednesday, though details are sparse. AP reported on the story from Beijing, and sourced "exiled Buddhist monks and reports." "Even Pyongyang has foreign journalists coming and going," says Lhadon Tethong, director of the Tibet Action Institute, a project affiliated with the activism organization Students for a Free Tibet. "It's appalling."

US is Abandoning and Outsourcing Afghanistan

What is often referred to as the Afghan endgame is in fact the US endgame in Afghanistan. For the Afghans there is unlikely to be any endgame because if the US desperation to exit from Afghanistan is anything to go by, then Afghanistan is in for a very turbulent future. All available indications suggest that Afghanistan is going to be embroiled in what is almost a ‘death game’ or, if you will, a game of survival. A large part of the blame for this will lie on the heads of the Americans who seem to have lost the will, and perhaps run out of the wealth, needed to take the war on terror to its logical conclusion.

Under the mistaken notion that appeasing and accommodating terrorists (read Taliban) and their supporters and sponsors will halt the spread of Islamic radicalism, the US seems to have become a willing party to Pakistan's con-game in Afghanistan. Not only is the US now all set to abandon Afghanistan but worse, also outsource it to Pakistan, in effect throwing Afghanistan to the proverbial wolves. It is of course quite another matter that this disingenuous policy of restoring peace and stability in the Afpak region will prove disastrous, not just for Afghanistan but also for Pakistan and rest of the region which will be severely destabilised.

The simple paradox about Afghanistan is that if the war against Taliban and their Al Qaeda associates and affiliates is not won, the peace will be lost. And with it will be lost all the accomplishments and achievements of the last more than one decade since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001. Ironically, Even though the Americans and their Western allies recognize that the Afghanistan of today is very different from the Afghanistan of 2001, all their moves on the political, diplomatic and military chessboard seem to be aimed at undoing all the good things that happened after the defeat of the Taliban.

Notwithstanding the terror attacks of the Taliban which have increased drastically over the last few years, the fact is that the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan has after decades of unrest and war ushered in an era of progress, prosperity and relative stability. This is not to say that Afghanistan is a model of development and good governance and is becoming some kind of a land of milk and honey. But unlike the malevolent and destructive influence of the medieval Islamists, the benevolent influence of the West has planted the seeds of modernity in Afghanistan and started a process of state and nation building.

Afghanistan has a reasonably good army and police, which though a work in progress, is slowly developing into a national asset. Violence level in Afghanistan is much less than in Pakistan. Businesses (both legit and not so legit) are doing fairly well, employment is being generated, education institutions (including for girls) have spread by leaps and bounds and are imparting secular and modern values to the next generation of Afghans, health services have started functioning as has the judicial machinery. Things may not ideal, and there is a lot of scope for improvement. But at least they are moving the right direction. Add to this the enormous growth in urbanisation and along with it the growing aspiration levels among Afghans who are seeking to emulate the successful models of modern and not medieval societies.

Underpinning all these positive developments is the new political culture that has started developing in Afghanistan. The bulk of the Afghan people, despite all the conservatism in society, cultural barriers and even some misinterpretation of religion, appear to have put their faith in the democratic order. Once again Afghanistan is not a perfect democracy. But then neither is India even after over six decades of uninterrupted democracy. What is important is that the Afghan people deeply desire that political change must come through the democratic process and any transition must be peaceful. More than anything else, this yearning for democratic change is perhaps the greatest contribution of the Western presence in Afghanistan, almost a game-changer provided it is not short-circuited by imposing the barbaric Taliban on the Afghans as part of a deal with Afghans’ nemesis, Pakistan.

The vicious cycle of insecurity in Afghanistan

By M. Ashraf Haidari
May 2, 2013 - 1:03 PM 

Almost twelve years have passed since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but peace remains elusive. Four interlocking challenges with internal, regional, transnational, and international dimensions impede Afghanistan's stabilization and reconstruction. Each challenge facing Afghanistan feeds off the others, and together they have engendered a vicious circle that is destabilizing the country.

First, Afghanistan is an underdeveloped country and much of its infrastructure has been destroyed by conflict. Its new state institutions lack the basic capacity and resources to administer their mandates. These structural problems are compounded by the country's expanding population, 70% of which is illiterate and demand jobs that do not exist. Taken together, abject poverty, a lack of basic services, and a demographic explosion significantly contribute to instability in Afghanistan.

Second, it is clear that the Taliban leadership continues to receive protection from the Pakistani military and intelligence establishments. It stands to reason that without an external sanctuary, sustainable funding, weapons supplies, and intelligence support in Pakistan, the Taliban would be unable to reconsolidate its control over Afghanistan. Since 2003, the Taliban and its affiliated networks have gradually expanded their influence in the ungoverned southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan, launching daily terrorist attacks that have injured and killed thousands of innocent civilians.

Third, Afghanistan is vulnerable to transnational security threats, stemming in particular from the narcotics trade and terrorism stand. These security threats feed into and are fed by Afghanistan's internal and regional challenges. Rife poverty and weak governance, for example, are as much responsible for mass drug production in Afghanistan as is the global demand for narcotics; this is not to mention the alliance between the Taliban and drug traffickers, who exploit Afghanistan's vulnerable population to destabilize the country.

Fourth, although the diversity of nations present in Afghanistan demonstrates international goodwill and consensus for supporting the country, each contributing nation has pursued its own aid strategies, effectively bypassing coordination with each other and the Afghan government. Hence, a lack of strategic coordination across international military and civilian efforts to ensure aid effectiveness has so far crippled the Afghan state and left it with no capacity or resources to deliver basic services to its people.

It is important to note, however, that in the face of the aforementioned complex challenges, Afghanistan and its international partners have a number of significant advantages, which must be fully harnessed to regain the momentum necessary to achieve peace in the country.

Foremost among these is Afghanistan's key, untapped asset: its people, who make up one of the youngest, most energetic, and most forward-looking nations in the world. They should be supported in acquiring higher education in technical fields, and their energy and skills must be harnessed to exploit Afghanistan's vast natural resources, worth more than one trillion dollars, to help the country develop a productive economy.

Secondly, Afghanistan's vital location should help it serve as a regional trade and transit hub for easy movement of goods and natural resources to meet the rising energy demands of India and China. Indeed, without this realization and utilization of Afghanistan as the heart of the New Silk Road, achieving regional economic integration will remain impossible. The recent India-China dialogue on how to protect their shared long-term interests in Afghanistan is a welcome development. The more these key regional players, including Russia and Turkey, get constructively involved in Afghanistan through investment in the country's virgin markets, the less space for the region's peace spoilers, whether state or non-state actors, to destabilize the country. 

Finally, Afghanistan's friends and allies have gone through the learning curve, and gained invaluable experience in assisting Afghanistan effectively. Together, they have made many mistakes and learned many lessons over the past 12 years, which should be used as a strategic opportunity to avoid more of the same, and to do the right thing henceforth. 

In line with the agreed-upon objectives of the 2010 Kabul Conference, which were re-affirmed in the Tokyo Conference last year, Afghanistan's nation-partners should align 80% of their aid with the goals of the country'snational priority programs, while channeling at least 50% of their assistance through the Afghan national budget. This is the best way to prevent further waste of taxpayers' financial assistance, which have largely bypassed the targeted beneficiaries.

This means a firm re-commitment to bottom-up and top-down institutional capacity building in the Afghan state so that Afghans increasingly initiate, design, and implement reconstruction projects on their own. Meanwhile, the Afghan national security forces must be equipped with the necessary capabilities -- including capacity for logistics and equipment maintenance as well as adequate ground and air firepower -- to execute independent operations against conventional and unconventional enemies. This way, they will gradually relieve international forces of the duty Afghans consider to be theirs - to defend Afghanistan now and beyond 2014. On the whole, these vital efforts will help ensure the irreversibility of the transition process currently underway.

The Afghan people have placed much hope and trust in the strategic partnership agreements the Afghan government has signed with the United States, India, and other allies to help address the above security challenges confronting Afghanistan. But this long-term and necessary task cannot be accomplished by any one party alone. Every state in the region and beyond has a stake in the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan, knowing that the effects of terrorism and insecurity in one country can easily spill over to affect the rest in a globalized world. Thus, with Afghans leading the way forward, the burden of securing Afghanistan must be shared by the whole international community, both to ensure durable stability in the country and to maintain global peace and security.

M. Ashraf Haidari is the deputy chief of mission of the Afghan Embassy in India. He formerly served as Afghanistan's deputy assistant national security adviser, as well as deputy chief of mission of the Afghan Embassy in the United States.

CIA Buys Trouble in Afghanistan

OP-ED MAY 2, 2013

CIA payouts to Hamid Karzai have bolstered a corrupt government and undermined U.S. interests in the region.

In a time when the whetted and arbitrary deficit-reduction knife is cutting bone out of critical U.S. government programs, the image of shopping bags stuffed with CIA cash handed off on a monthly basis to Afghan President Hamid Karzai—who reigns over one of the most corrupt governments on the planet—has outraged many Americans.

The New York Times, which revealed the years of payoffs this week, noted that "there is little evidence the payments bought the influence the CIA sought."

In fact, regular cash handouts of this type may do the opposite. They may well have enabled Karzai's frequent and theatrical outbursts against U.S. officials and policies, not to mention his collusion with some of his country's most corrupt and abusive officials. Such payoffs signal to Karzai — or other leaders like him — that he enjoys the unwavering support of the CIA, no matter what he does or says, and embolden him to thumb his nose at the United States whenever he feels like it.

Karzai's relationship with the CIA is believed to long predate the tense days in late 2001 when CIA officers joined him and his followers in the mountains north of Kandahar as the Taliban regime was falling. In a 2003 conversation, the most renowned commander of anti-Soviet resistance fighters in southern Afghanistan, where I lived at the time, told me that in the late 1980s Karzai introduced him to CIA officials so he could obtain some of the all-important Stinger missiles that helped the Afghan fighters neutralize Soviet helicopters. U.S. support of the anti-Soviet resistance was covert. Very few Afghans had direct contact with the CIA. Most received U.S. money or military equipment by way of Pakistani intermediaries. Karzai, according to this commander, was one of the early exceptions.

Given this long relationship with the CIA, Karzai may believe that the agency somehow represents the true voice of the U.S. government. Indeed, the competing and often contradictory exhortations and demands transmitted by ambassadors and special envoys who come and go, the successive commanders of international forces with their different approaches, the congressional delegations who troop through his office, even secretaries of State or Defense, must start to sound like a lot of cacophonous noise to the man on the receiving end. Amid the din, CIA money can ring a clear note.

The tendency to read CIA signals as conveying the "real" intent of the U.S. government is not limited to Afghan leaders. In his book The Arab Center, for example, former Jordanian foreign minister Marwan Muasher describes a tense episode in 2004 when Jordan was promoting a broad-based Arab initiative to break the deadlock in the Middle East peace process.

A meeting between President George W. Bush and King Abdullah II was hanging in the balance, with the king awaiting the result of fraught negotiations between Muasher and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Riceover the contents of a letter of intent from Bush to Abdullah. A full day of talks resulted in a mutually agreeable formulation.

But in the meantime, a CIA official had been speaking back channel with Jordan's intelligence chief, waiting on the West Coast with the king; the CIA official urged the delegation to fly home to Jordan, and it did. In the end, the king and his advisors concluded that it was the CIA, not the national security advisor, that really counted in the U.S. government, and the Middle East peace process remained stalled.

In Karzai's case, CIA payments, against a backdrop of jangling dissonance, may allow him to choose which messages to take seriously — usually the ones he likes. Or to play some U.S. actors off against others, as he recently did by subjecting Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to public humiliation while courting Secretary of State John Kerry.

Many Afghans I know had assumed for years that the CIA was doling out cash to Karzai. Even so, the U.S. media expose has made waves, providing evidence for what had only been suspected.

"No wonder he talks so badly against the United States," one friend said, summarizing the reactions he'd heard. "The cash, on top of everything else America has done for him, just proves how desperately you need him. It means he can do anything."

This can hardly be the only time the CIA has covertly paid off key foreign leaders, with little if any coordination with other U.S. decision-makers and little understanding of the repercussions. Such activities amount to an independent foreign policy, lacking connection to any concerted plan, and too often conflict with the U.S. government's wider priorities. It is time, in this as in other domains, to inject some accountability and oversight into CIA operations.