14 May 2013

India’s Pakistan Policy 2004-2013 Spins on its Head

Paper No. 5491 Dated 13-May-2013
By Dr Subhash Kapila

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Note: This Paper was written before the Pakistan Election results were out. However even with former PM Nawaz Sharif headed to be a third term Prime Minister with good policy inclinations towards India, the conclusions in this Paper hold validity as it is assessed that PM-Designate Nawaz Sharif would have an uphill task to delink the Pakistan Army from Pakistan’s India-policy making and Pakistan Army’s brinkmanship towards India is likely to continue.----The Author

India’s Pakistan policy 2004-2013 can best be viewed as the wasted years of India’s foreign policy where the Government of this period has nothing to boast of any tangible gains achieved in return for its obsessive pursuance of its one-point agenda of “Peace with Pakistan at Any Cost”.

Reflected innumerable times in my Papers of the last decade was the singular and striking fact that India’s Pakistan policy during this period was in a state of “severe disconnect” with the overwhelming Indian public opinion which did not approve of the Indian policy of ‘Pakistan Appeasement’ unbecoming of the predominant Power of the Indian Sub-Continent.

‘India-at-Large’ was also abhorrent of its political leadership especially after Mumbai 26/11 for shirking and not being audacious enough in retaliating sharply against the Pakistan Army trained commando-mode attacks on India’s financial capital when it had been subjected many times earlier to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism attacks. No lessons seemed to have been learnt by India’s apex political leadership or the Government’s security advisers with the exception of its Armed Forces on handling Pakistan firmly.

Such has been India’s current deference towards Pakistan that the Indian Army stood humiliated when Pakistan Army ambushed and severed the heads one soldier to be carried back into Pakistan as a trophy. The Indian Army seethed with anger that it was not allowed to retaliate and held back, all in the name of official obsession of pushing for peace with Pakistan.

Indian public opinion boiled over heavily recently when an Indian prisoner was brutally butchered in Pakistan’s Lahore Jail while in a death-row cell. This was the second such act within three months. It was not only Punjab which boiled over many times over this Pakistani brutality but the rest of India too simmered and seethed with unconcealed anger at its Government’s impotency in dealing strongly with Pakistan’s persistent provocative acts against India.

Pakistan’s butchery of a hapless Indian prisoner in the Lahore Jail is symptomatic of all that is wrong with India’s foreign policy. Pakistan has spun India’s Pakistan policy on its head defiantly highlighting that Pakistan and the Pakistan Army could not care less for India’s sensitivities conscious that all that the Indian policy establishment was capable of doing was ‘Frozen Rage’

Pertinent therefore it is now to fix accountability for the impotency of India’s Pakistan policy where Pakistan has merrily turned that policy on its head, unmindful of the fact that India’s present Government had over-invested in the last ten years on peace with Pakistan. Readers would be able to arrive at the requisite conclusions and need not be amplified here.

Subordinating India’s Pakistan policy to United States dictates was another factor for India’s distorted Pakistan policy and is not a new phenomenon. The previous BJP Government is also to be held accountable for the same. Reflected in my papers of that time was the fact that India had committed a “strategic policy blunder” to invite General Musharraf for the no-show Agra Summit. India in one stroke under intense United States pressures accorded proxy legitimacy to Pakistan’s military ruler who overnight was catapulted from a military ruler to Head of State of Pakistan. The after effects of India’s strategic blunder are still being felt.

However subordinating India’s Pakistan policy to United States dictates reached bizarre levels in the period 2004-2013. India’s such a course can be attributed to only two reasons which readers can decide. The first reason was that the Indian political leadership and the security advisers were so much in awe of US policy makers who bestowed only rhetorically effusive praise on the Indian Prime Minister that they lost their objectivity in defending India’s national security interests.

The second reason can be attributed to the Indian Prime Minister’s second obsession to get cleared the Indo-US Nuclear Deal for which the United States presumably demanded the quid-pro-quo of Indian acquiescence to factor-in United States priorities to pander to the Pakistan Army’s sensitivities on its borders with India and that India should not raise the military stakes after every Pakistan-sponsored terrorism strikes on India,

On both counts, India’s political leadership lost out heavily in being unable to secure India’s national security interests and this strategic permissiveness facilitating Pakistan to perceive itself as a “Strategic co-Equal” of India.

Such was the lack of Indian policy vision that that at one stage it was publicly asserted that India trusts Musharraf and India can do business with him or words to that effect. This was the man whom the Pakistanis themselves never trusted. Reticence has never been the hallmark of Indian political leaders when speaking on Pakistan or on China

India’s political leaders also presumably rely heavily for their perceptions and policy formulation on Pakistan on a very large tribe of “Pakistan Apologists” that abound in India amongst India’s elites. Some may be genuine crusaders for peace while the majority use such space under various forms and organisations mostly funded by USA and the West for foreign junkets under the umbrella of Track II peace process.

Earlier these were from India’s retired civil servants and diplomats. Recently foreign groups have drawn –in retired senior military officers who were invited to Lahore under the guise of Track II/III diplomacy and used to mouth platitudes on Siachin and other contentious issues at cross-purposes to India’s national security interests.

India’s Pakistan-apologists advocating that the pursuance of the India-Pakistan peace dialogues should “neither be interrupted nor be uninterruptible” stand divorced from the strategic and security realities. The Pakistan Army frequently resorts to “interrupt” any peace dialogues as they painfully inch forward simply for the reason that any normalisation of relations would result the rationale of their hold on Pakistan’s governance. 

Further, in relation to India’s Pakistan policy, the political leadership needs to dispense from their policy formulation process all inputs from “Pakistan Apologists”, Track II/III Groups and personalities. Most importantly, India needs to dispense with the system of Special Envoys of the Prime Minister on Pakistan and China as they have not made any substantial contributions. All of them combined together obstruct a realistic appraisal of Pakistan’s military and policy dynamics and confuse Indian policy makers.

Now is the time for serious stock-taking and introspection of India’s Pakistan policy and at least two major policy re-sets need to be made.

Firstly, India’s Pakistan policy needs to be anchored exclusively to strategic and national security interests. This would continue to be an imperative till such time the people of Pakistan drive out the Pakistan Army from its India-policy formulation process. Peace dialogues with Pakistan need to be discontinued as an attendant corollary with only a modicum of minimum diplomatic relations to continue.

Secondly, India must unhinge its Pakistan policy formulations from respecting and subordinating United States strategic priorities on Pakistan Army which directly clash with India’s national security interests. India as a self-respecting Sub-Continental Power must cease outsourcing its Pakistan policy to Washington.

India’s Pakistan policy needs to pivot back from its “Pakistan Appeasement” mode of the last nine years to one of hard-headed realism.

Pakistan elections: Implications for domestic and foreign policy

May 13, 2013

A clear mandate for the PML(N) will help the next government in Pakistan to manoeuvre the various minefields that await with greater surety. The PML(N) leadership may decide to call on the independents for support, rather than the PPPP and the PTI, which may help it avoid the compromises that a coalition government entails. To an extent the anti-incumbency factor may have worked against the PPPP, yet there will remain a doubt as to whether the PPPP would have performed better had it been allowed a level playing field during the election campaigning. On the other hand, the TTP has achieved its goal, given that selective targeting by it has obviously disabled the PPPP, the MQM and the ANP, from realising their full potential, with the ANP having been routed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The PTI has made strong inroads in KP and is expected to head the provincial government.

The terror spread by the TTP in the run up to the elections in its attempts to deny secular parties space to function, and to disrupt the poll process, indicate the need for urgent action against such groups. The PML-N is against the use of force and prefers long-term measures in the economic, social, administrative and political spheres to tackle the roots of the problem. Political negotiations have not worked in the past. Nawaz Sharif, since the beginning of his political career, espoused conservative Islamic ideals. During his first term as PM, he introduced the Shariah Ordinance and during his second term as Prime Minister he tried to bring about an amendment to the Constitution (15th Amendment) which would entail supremacy of the Quran and Sunnah. His unstated alliance with religious militant elements will perhaps make him prefer an accommodative approach. With the PTI heading the provincial government in KP, and also being supportive of dialogue and winning the hearts and minds approach, a non-military approach may be favoured, but this will come into conflict with the army’s preferred approach. The links of the religious right leaning PML-N and the PTI with radical elements may not allow them enough flexibility. It will be important to bring the law and order situation under control so that other critical governance issues can be addressed.

Notwithstanding a stressful relationship with the military in the last fifteen years, as an elected prime minister of the country, Nawaz Sharif has no option but to work with the army and vice versa. The army will not be inclined to wrest power from the political leadership, given its loss of credibility internationally and the humungous problems faced by the country, of which it would not like to have the onus.

Nawaz Sharif has been a proponent of privatisation and economic liberalisation and took steps to improve the country’s infrastructure during his tenure as PM. Now he is going to have to focus on improving the structural problems within the economy. The economy has been in a state of crisis for the last few years with declining GDP growth, and a high budgetary deficit which has led to decreased spending on infrastructure and healthcare. Huge subsidies doled out to public sector undertakings have led to a growing deficit, and the need to fund the budgetary deficit through external financing has created problems. In the sectoral breakup of GDP over the last few decades, significant contribution has shifted from agriculture to the services sector, with the share of manufacturing remaining relatively constant. The manufacturing sector has been affected by international factors as well as domestic problems pertaining to shortage of skilled workers, poor physical infrastructure, official corruption, political instability, continuing terrorist attacks, acute energy shortages and a narrow production base. Lack of infrastructure in multiple sectors has hampered investment. Pakistan’s tax to GDP ratio is less than 10% and future attempts to improve this ratio will not be easy, given the political sensitivity of such issues. Yet, given the dependence on the IMF for averting a balance of payments crisis, the Nawaz Sharif government is going to have to carry out wide ranging reforms.

Another important problem to be tackled by the Nawaz Sharif government is the energy crisis. Natural gas is the dominant source of its energy supply and, domestic supply being inadequate, there is dependence on imports. Pakistan imports about 80 per cent of its oil, and rising international prices have led to a shift towards gas consumption, leading to shortages. Development in the hydropower sector has lagged far behind its potential. Even though the country has significant reserves of coal, commercial exploitation is beset with technical problems. The government faces a multitude of problems that make it difficult to optimise the use of its indigenous energy resources. At the administrative level, these relate to inadequate transmission and distribution networks, power theft, the need for regulatory tariffs to keep up with operational costs and problems of circular debt in the electricity sector. Operational problems include a lack of refining capacity for crude oil, a faulty price setting mechanism, and lack of investment to build refinery infrastructure. In the power sector, the country continues to suffer from a large demand-supply gap, with power cuts lasting up to twenty hours a day, and industrial production being affected in a major way. The new government is expected to make moves to create a single Ministry dealing with energy and natural resources, and to reform the electric power regulatory authority, the distribution companies, and the generating companies, and to eliminate circular debt.

Pakistan Elections: Making Sense of the Mandate

May 13, 2013

In a sense, the elections results in Pakistan can be seen as a series of ‘tsunamis’ (to use the PTI chief Imran Khan’s evocative phrase). The tsunami started in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the PTI performed remarkably well and is likely to form the next provincial government, albeit with the support of independents and perhaps Jamaat Islami and a few other smaller parties. By the time the tsunami crossed the Indus into Punjab, the PTI gave way to the PMLN which swept everything in its path, winning close to a two-third majority in the provincial assembly and a vast majority of the National Assembly seats. But the PMLN tsunami lost steam when it reached Sindh, where the PPP took over and swept the rural constituency to win most National Assembly seats and also cross the half-way mark on its own in the provincial assembly. Karachi once again saw a MQM tsunami, though this time it wasn’t as devastating as the 2008 one that saw MQM win 18 of the 20 seats in the financial capital of Pakistan. Crossing into Balochistan, the tsunami receded until it reached the Pashtun belt where the Pashtun nationalist PKMAP of Mehmood Khan Achakzai swept aside the opposition by winning 9 seats in the provincial assembly. While the PKMAP performance might not prima facie appear very impressive in Balochistan’s fractious and fragmented politics, it is nothing short of a tsunami.

These tsunamis have also proved devastating for some of the big political players. The two biggest losers are the ANP and PPP, with the former being practically wiped out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the latter in both Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. Some of the big names of both these parties, including Asfandyar Wali Khan, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Qamaruzzaman Kaira, Manzoor Wattoo, Ghulam Bilour, have lost the elections. The PPP which used to deride the PMLN as a GT Road party has itself been reduced to a Sindhi party, and that too only in pockets of the province. Surely, this is not the Sindh card that President Asif Zardari wanted to play. Also swept aside in Punjab was the PTI, what with stalwarts like former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi not managing to win from any of the three seats he was contesting. Clearly the very vocal and very visible campaign of the PTI, especially in Punjab, was just hype. Another big loser has been the Baloch Nationalist Akhtar Mengal of BNP-M. His gamble failed, putting a big question mark over his political future. Carping and complaining about the lack of transparency is hardly going to help him recover lost ground and prestige. He has fallen between two stools; on one hand he is seen as a Quisling by the Baloch separatists and on the other, he is a spent force to mainstream politicians both in Balochistan and Pakistan.

The slogan of ‘change’ has also been drowned by the PMLN tsunami. While there is going to be a change in government, this wasn’t quite the change that the sloganeers had in mind. What they were aiming for was a change in the system, or a mandate against the forces ofstatus quo. But the verdict is quite clearly in favour of the status quo. Perhaps if Imran Khan had emerged as the single largest party, the mandate could have been construed as a revolution through the ballot. Nawaz Sharif’s victory in Punjab and the PPP’s victory in Sindh, however, means that the traditional dynamics of politics at the constituency level – Biradari linkages, Dharra (group) networks, thana-kutchery, candidate’s family and personal influence – has won the day. In other words, the party that was more adept at election management scored over the party that was banking upon the ‘josh’ and ‘junoon’ of its young cadre to swamp the opposition. How the supporters of PTI and ‘change’ handle the low after the high of the charged campaign is something that will decide whether the PTI remains a force to reckon with or merely a flash in the pan, or ,if you will, a tsunami that comes and goes without leaving any lasting impact.

Why al Qaeda isn't dead

May 13th, 2013
By Cindy Storer, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Cindy Storer is a 21-year veteran analyst of the CIA who specializes in terrorism and intelligence education. She is currently a lecturer in Intelligence and National Security at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina. The views expressed are her own.

Was the Boston Marathon bombing preventable? Are we actually arming al Qaeda if we give weapons to rebels in Syria? Was al Qaeda responsible for the Benghazi attack, and are they or aren’t they spreading through central Africa?

The answers we are likely to give depend on the stories we tell ourselves. Not the immediate story of who did what in the last few days, but the big stories about how the world works – our mental models. We all have them, though most of the time we don’t (and probably even shouldn’t) think about them. For example, most Americans expect that if they obey the laws and are generally good people, the major disruptions in their lives will be rare and not anything they could have prevented – car accidents, cancer, natural disasters, and so on. For many Americans, however, the world is actually a more dangerous and uncertain place, where one wrong word to the wrong authority can land you in jail, or even get you killed.

But changing our own mental models is hard. When reality changes around us, or if we began our story with a critical flaw that becomes an impediment, we resist changing our story. It’s hard work, it makes us uncomfortable, we can no longer trust ourselves, and we might have to admit that we were wrong.

Intelligence officers, like all humans, form different mental models of the same phenomenon. Get any five in a room and they may give you five different stories about what causes radicalization, how easy it is to make a bomb from directions on the Internet, or what relationship two groups have with each other. This is especially true if key pieces of information are missing and we have to fill in the gaps with what we think we know about how things work. It’s like a computer program that fills in the background of a fuzzy picture.

Our internal models then inform how we connect the dots. When the whole page is black, we choose which “dots” to focus on, and where to place them in the story. You can literally connect just about anything, so we choose what makes sense in the light of our pre-existing mental models, the quality of the information, and a dozen other factors. This is the crux of the disagreements between the intelligence community and the Bush administration. We were operating on the basis of two completely different models of how the world works.

So what stories do we tell about Boston, and Syria, and Africa?

It is popular these days to pronounce al Qaeda dead; no more than an ideology that is spreading with little connective tissue between groups around the world. My mental model tells me otherwise. I see a group that has been declared dead three times, but each time adapted and rose from the ashes. I see continuities as well as discontinuities, strong relationships as well as infighting, a constant trend towards joining al Qaeda, not leaving it.

Al Qaeda has always worked on multiple tracks, so attacks like Boston are not necessarily a sign that al Qaeda is weak and its ideology is doing no more than inspiring non-professionals. The group is inspiring non-professionals, true, but it is also supporting groups that eventually formally join them, sending leaders out to gain better control of those groups, and planning their own, larger attacks – witness the cell just wrapped up in Canada for allegedly plotting to blow up trains. At the same time, they are wearing out their welcome in some parts of the world. This story is complex.

In time, we will know more about what led to the attack in Boston. But what we believe and what lessons we draw will to some extent be based on the story we already hold in our heads.

Pakistan vote the first step on a long road

By Robert Menendez, Special to CNN
May 13, 2013

Editor's note: U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

(CNN) -- Never before in Pakistan's history has a parliamentary election resulted in a true democratic transition. Despite militant threats and attacks that left at least 21 people dead on election day, Pakistanis bravely voted in record numbers Saturday. 

While we're still waiting for official results, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz party looks to have a clear mandate to steer the country forward for the next five years.

This is an important moment, but the challenges ahead are daunting. Democracy and the institutions of civil society remain as fragile as ever, with minorities especially vulnerable to persecution. A range of militants groups still enjoys safe haven throughout the country. And the economy is in shambles. 

Sen. Robert Menendez

Now is the time for Pakistan's new leaders to grasp the nettle. It is time for the major parties to shift from campaigning to governing, consolidate democratic gains and tackle deteriorating security and economic conditions.

The stakes are enormous, and Pakistan's new leaders cannot afford to miss this moment. A recent Pew poll found that roughly nine in 10 Pakistanis believe the country is on the wrong track.

This week's elections provided a voice for millions to cast their ballot for a better future, a democratic future. The United States should support this process and continue working toward a long-term relationship based on mutual goals. 

Pakistan today is buffeted by gale-force pressures: a long rivalry with India to its east, a bitter and bloody insurgency in its western tribal regions, a fragile transition in Afghanistan and twin financial and energy crises that burn at its core, leaving millions without power and businesses without access to credit. In the coming weeks, Pakistan may face a balance of payments crisis unless its new leaders take decisive action.

Deposed PM wins Pakistan election

There is no doubt that we are dealing with complicated issues in a volatile region. The United States has been working steadily with Pakistan to meet these challenges. With greater commitment and support from Pakistan's new leaders, we can build on existing areas of cooperation even as we press our interests.

There is still a great deal of mistrust that permeates this relationship. It's unacceptable that two years after the United States found and killed Osama bin Laden, the most noteworthy action taken to get the facts on how he came to be in Pakistan is the conviction of the doctor that helped us track him down.

Many Happy Returns

May 13, 2013

KARACHI, Pakistan — Defying threats from Taliban suicide bombers, almost 60 percent of registered voters in Pakistan headed to the polls on Saturday. It was the greatest turnout since 1970.

The election was also remarkable for announcing the forceful arrival onto the political scene of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (P.T.I.), the party led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, after decades of domination by the Pakistan Peoples Party (P.P.P.) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (P.M.L.N.).

Armed with a bottle of water and hand-held fan, I, too, stood in the long ladies’ line outside one of the polling stations in my constituency, the hotly contested National Assembly seat known as NA-250, which includes some of Karachi’s most affluent residential areas. Khan has been credited with mobilizing much of the electorate here, particularly young, educated, urban voters who have historically shied away from politics.

One young girl in designer sunglasses urged us to support Khan’s efforts to eradicate corruption. A housewife sparked giggles by commenting on his good looks. Near the entrance of the polling station, an elderly woman slouched over a portable chair who was fingering prayer beads told anyone who would listen to vote for him.

The atmosphere was festive. The women shared water, spots in the shade and theories about who would win the election. They talked excitedly about the local coffee shops and beauty salons that were offering discounts and freebies to voters, marked by a dark stripe of ink across their right thumb.

Early on, news of a bomb blast that killed 11 people near a polling station in the Quaidabad area of the city — the first of four attacks that day — prompted mumbled prayers but a renewed determination to vote.

Just before 11:00 a.m., after a three-hour wait and a brush with heatstroke, I cast my ballot. But many others were not as lucky. At my polling station on Korangi Road, dozens of people walked out without voting throughout the morning because some agents had failed to show up. As I was leaving, phone calls from people at other stations across NA-250 began to pour in with complaints that voting hadn’t yet started because ballot boxes and official stamps were missing.

There were also reports of intimidation. Young men affiliated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (M.Q.M.) — Karachi’s largest party and the winner of the NA-250 seat in 2008 — and other parties, stopped by polling stations throughout the city, manhandling election officials, stealing ballots and firing gun shots.

Turn here for progress

By Mohammad Arif Rahmani
May 13, 2013

Afghanistan stands at a crossroads. The reputation of our political leadership is under suspicion. Tens of millions of dollars are said to have been received illegally from intelligence agencies of both friends and foes. People are losing faith in the state and the prospects of democracy. The year 2014 looms large in everyone's mind, as does the Taliban's possible reemergence as a real power.

With the April 2014 presidential elections approaching, people around the world are wondering where exactly Afghanistan is headed. Has the threat of al-Qaeda really been eradicated as President Barack Obama recently announced? Is the war in Afghanistan really over? If so, is it over for Afghans, or just the international community?

Few of the promised counterterrorism and state building efforts have been delivered. In all 34 provinces of Afghanistan there are still acts of war and terrorism being committed - in some places incidents occur daily, in others weekly or monthly. Even our highway system has yet to be secured. No one is free to travel anywhere without at least some fear they will encounter the Taliban. Afghans live in fear of everything from targeted killings to suicide attacks and other forms terrorism. Our sisters and daughters have to live in fear that they will be attacked while doing something as mundane and Islamic as attending school.

Meanwhile, our politics are a mess. Our relationship with the United States and their NATO allies has deteriorated to the point where President Hamid Karzai himself is now referring to Afghanistan as a graveyard of empires, and accusing the United States and its allies of supporting rather than routing the Taliban in order to destabilize Afghanistan. 

At the same time, Washington and its friends are leaking controversial details about how exactly they have been propping up President Karzai. Yes, the U.S. is now saying, the CIA is funding in unaccounted-for cash payments Karzai's inner circle.

Aside from the non-existent national security and troubled foreign policy, Afghanistan is also facing the possibility of an economic meltdown. Imagine what will happen to our aid-dependent and U.S.-contract-centric economy when the United States withdraws not just the bulk of its troops but its funds as well.

How is Afghanistan going to transition from an economy that has received hundreds of billions of dollars over the past decade-plus of war? What are the tens of thousands of Afghan companies that have come up as a result of this level of funding going to do then? Not to mention the Afghans who work for the many-times-more international companies, or the 3,000 NGOs that have sprung up during this international campaign that is about to end. If we think today's Afghanistan has an unsustainably high rate of unemployment, what will tomorrow's Afghanistan look like when all this funding ceases?

In a country with thirteen million jobless, most of whom are under twenty-five years old, and a raging insurgency with its own foreign sources of funds, training camps, intelligence and strategic support base, it's hard to imagine a stable and peaceful Afghanistan.

To survive as a nation-state resembling anything like the state we envisioned in Bonn in 2001, we have two main solutions.

First, we need to have a stable transfer of power in the form of the 2014 presidential elections. If our political system is too fragile to deliver even that bare minimum, we have much to fear from the still-raging insurgency. And we cannot have a stable transfer of power if all we do is reinstate President Karzai. Presidents for life are not the beacons of the democracy we envisioned in 2001.

In terms of domestic politics and foreign policy we need very specific programs. We need a government that delivers services. We need to change our traditional culture of a master-slave governance model in which civil servants and government officers rule over our people who they see as slaves.


BY ARIF RAFIQ | MAY 13, 2013

The winner of Pakistan’s monumental election can celebrate democracy in action, but there’s still a long way to go.

The party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may have swept Saturday's polls in Pakistan, but the biggest winner was clearly democracy.

Sixty percent of registered voters took part in the elections, the highest number since 1970. These voters -- including Pakistan's traditionally apathetic urban elite -- did so despite the very real threat of violence by the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the country's most powerful terrorist group.

Pre-election violence, which took over 100 lives, and terrorist attackson the day of the polls in Karachi, Peshawar, and elsewhere, did little to deter voters. The high turnout, including unusually large numbers of women and young people, was not only a testament to Pakistani resilience, but also a slap in the face of TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud, whose group tried to intimidate voters and delegitimize democracy by claiming that it is antithetical to Islam.

Saturday's polls were not without their flaws. There were blatant attempts to obstruct voting or rig elections in multiple constituencies in Karachi and elsewhere in the country. On Sunday, Altaf Hussain, the self-exiled London-based leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the political party that dominates Karachi, issued a not-so-veiled threat of violence against peaceful protesters demanding a revote in one of the city's constituencies. In insurgency-wracked Balochistan, voting irregularities suggested that the military was tinkering with the ballots. At the same time, separatists in the province also waged a terrorist campaign to intimidate candidates, voters, and others involved in the elections to produce an extremely low turnout. In sidelining Baloch nationalist politicians who returned to Pakistan to take part in elections, the Pakistani military may have unwittingly aided separatists in preventing Baloch politicians from coming back into the democratic -- and nationalist -- fold.

But in most places, the greatest threats to the vote were not violence and corruption but incompetence and inefficiency. Some voters had to wait over six hours to cast their ballot. Polling officers were poorly trained and there was no dry-run conducted before election day. The Sharif government must continue the process of reforming the federal election commission, not simply make changes in the weeks and months before the next election. To deepen the public trust in democracy, the government of Pakistan must make clear to its people, including the 36 million new registered voters, not only that their vote matters, but that their right to it is inviolable. 

Whatever else Pakistanis may disagree on, there appears to be a consensus, at least for now, that democracy is the way forward. The country's major power brokers -- its two largest parties, the army, judiciary, and private media -- have been at odds with one another over the past five years, but the chaos has been controlled and all these actors exercised some restraint during the election so as to not derail the democratic process. With the high turnout on election day and enthusiasm that preceded the polls, the public appears to be buying in to the democratic system as well. (Remember, this is a country where military strongman Pervez Musharraf once enjoyed an approval rate above 60 percent.)

Pakistan's next prime minister wants to end decades-old feud with India

Jon Boone  Monday 13 May 2013

Nawaz Sharif set to push through plans to curb power of generals, bolster economy and improve relations with India

Supporters of Nawaz Sharif celebrate his win in Karachi. Results suggest he will only need the support of a handful of independent candidates to secure a working majority in parliament. Photograph: Shakil Adil/AP

The full scale of Nawaz Sharif's thumping victory in Pakistan's general election became clear on Sunday, making it far more likely the country's next prime minister will be able to govern without coalition deals and be free to push through what supporters see as a potentially revolutionary agenda.

Besides overhauling a moribund economy, Sharif, with his conservative Pakistan Muslim League, wants to end his country's decades-old feud with India and put Pakistan's meddlesome generals in their place.

It is a programme that has won him fans even among left-leaning critics who oppose his conservatism. It has also raised hopes in India and Afghanistan.

Although the final results are still days away, projections by Pakistani television stations suggested that Sharif would only need to secure the support of a handful of independent candidates, rather than rival parties, to secure a working majority in parliament.

On Sunday, Sharif was holed up in his luxury estate in Lahore working to form a government. Party sources said he hoped to be able to achieve this long before the two weeks allowed by the constitution.

"We have a very ambitious agenda for the first 100 days and we want to hit the ground running," said Tariq Azeem, Sharif's spokesman.

Barack Obama congratulated Pakistan on the completion of the election and said the US would work with the country's new government as an equal partner.

"The United States stands with all Pakistanis in welcoming this historic peaceful and transparent transfer of civilian power, which is a significant milestone in Pakistan's democratic progress," President Obama said in a statement.

"By conducting competitive campaigns, freely exercising your democratic rights, and persevering despite intimidation by violent extremists, you have affirmed a commitment to democratic rule that will be critical to achieving peace and prosperity for all Pakistanis for years to come."

Sharif, a billionaire steel magnate who came into politics under the wing of a military dictator in the 1980s, is an unlikely symbol of radical change in Pakistan.

Lure your enemy onto the roof, then take away the ladder

May 13, 2013

Among the 36 stratagems attributed to Sun Tzu, there are some that have never lost relevance even with the changing times, weaponry or tactics of modern warfare. One such stratagem is called “Lure Your Enemy onto the Roof, Then Take Away the Ladder”. This has been explained by way of an interesting story of the Han period.

“After defeating the rebel kingdom of Wei, the famous Han general Han Xin was sent to quell the other two kingdoms that had revolted, Qi and Chu. General Han set out towards Qi but Chu sent its general Long Chu with a force of two hundred thousand men to intercept Han's invasion of Qi. The two armies met on opposite sides of the Wei River. General Han ordered his men to fill over ten thousand sandbags and carry them up-river to dam the flow of water. The next morning General Han led his army across the lowered river and attacked Chu, but after a short engagement pretended defeat and fled back across the river. General Long announced, “See I always knew Han Xin was a coward!" and he led his army across the river in pursuit. Through a prearranged signal, General Han had his men break the dam and free the pent up waters. Only half of the Chu army was across the river when the flood cut the army in half drowning those caught midstream. General Han then wheeled around his retreating forces and attacked the advance guard of Chu killing its general Long Chu. The remaining troops panicked and fled in all directions but were captured by the pursuing Han soldiers.”1

Segarra, from the Warrior Scholar, martial arts academy explains this stratagem in very plain speak, relating it to application in combat. He says “Like Bruce Lee's character in the movie Enter the Dragon when he asked his challenger to take the small rowboat to the small island to fight. When the challenger got on the boat he set it adrift. A modern application would be to let them through the door first and then lock it behind them.2

In many ways this stratagem can be an interesting lesson for those planners seeking military solutions to transgressions or intrusions which manifest into a prolonged standoff or a face-to-face situation akin to the one that occurred in the Ladakh sector recently. Analysing the terrain one can study the possibility of using such a stratagem in the future. Take for example the Depsang bulge. The Depsang plains are the only relatively flat, open and rich grazing grounds in the entire sector. Surrounded by the Chip Chap river to the North, the Karakoram Range to its East and the South, it rests on the Shyok to its West. For hundreds of kilometres to the East the area is desolate and barren ‘cold desert’. It has no habitation and very little water. Inserting a body of troops deep into hostile territory cannot be successful unless the force has ‘staying power’. Such a body of troops planning to ‘dig in’ or camp permanently would require assured logistics support. This would entail an all weather road for vehicle based supplies or secure helipad or dropping zone for air supplies. In the Somdurong Chu incident, one of the first actions taken by the intruding force was to construct a helipad for resupply by air. In view of the extended lines of communications and the harsh terrain obtaining in Ladakh, these supply routes would be susceptible to vagaries and severity of weather. Moreover, once identified, such a body of troops becomes vulnerable by ‘crossing the first door’ and then getting ‘locked from behind’. A superior force can be easily placed in between and isolate the intruders. As Sun Tzu said, it would be relatively easy to ‘remove the ladder’ leaving the beleaguered force with little option but capitulate.

China calls for urgent dialogue

DC | 14th May 2013

New Delhi: Emphasising that the recent boundary face-off between India and China should not come in the way of bilateral ties, Beijing has called for the redoubling of efforts by both sides to speedily resolve the boundary issue between the two countries. It also emphasised the need for political will from both sides to settle the issue.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said on Monday that the two countries need to “redouble efforts to push forward the framework for the negotiation so as to reach a fair, reasonable and a mutually acceptable solution at an early date.”

The remark is significant in that it comes just days ahead of new Chinese Premier Li Kequiang’s visit to New Delhi, his first to any foreign country after the new Chinese leadership took charge in March. 

It is also important given that India feels that the recent Chinese incursion was perhaps Beijing’s way of bringing the issue of peace along the undermarcated Line of Actual Control to the forefront of the bilateral agenda.

Chinese government sou-rces said that one of the lessons that could be drawn from the recent face-off is that it is “important to resolve things in a timely manner”. Describing the recent incursion as an “isolated incident”, sources said, “We need a stronger sense of urgency to speed up our negotiations on the boundary issue.”

The border issue is expected to top the bilateral agenda during the Chinese Premier’s visit. According to Beijing, his visit aims to deepen mutual understanding, trust and cooperation.

The story of how Nawaz Sharif pulled back from nuclear war

Posted By Elias Groll 
May 13, 2013


On Saturday, Nawaz Sharif swept to victory in Pakistan's parliamentary elections, capping a frantic election season and handing the former prime minister a sufficient number of seats to assemble what is likely to be a far more stable government than his country has witnessed in recent years.

But observers of Pakistani politics in the United States are likely to wonder what Sharif's election means for the troubled relations between the two countries. And one paragraph in the New York Times write-up of Sharif's victory offers a clue:

He first came to American attention during Pakistan's tense confrontation with India in 1999, when the possibility of a nuclear conflict was averted thanks to mediation by President Bill Clinton.

In a mere 30 words, the Times reviews an episode that brought the world about as close to nuclear war as it has come since the Cuban missile crisis. And Nawaz Sharif, the man about to assume power in Pakistan, was one of the central characters in that drama.

In the spring of 1999, the Pakistani army, without notifying then-Prime Minister Sharif, crossed the Line of Control and seized strategically vital outposts in the Kargil district of Indian-controlled Kashmir. India had abandoned the mountainous outposts for the winter, and moved swiftly to retake their territory when they realized what had happened. The ensuing conflict became known as the Kargil War.

Abandoning its Cold War ally, the United States identified Pakistan as the belligerent and threatened to cut off a much-needed IMF loan package in an effort to force Islamabad to withdraw to the Line of Control. Wedged between the Pakistani military and the White House, Sharif flew in desperation to Washington for a tense July 4 meeting. Fearing for his life, he brought along his wife and children.

On the morning of the 4th, Clinton's advisors convened to inform Sharif that American intelligence had gotten wind of Pakistan's plans to mobilize its nuclear weapons. If Clinton decided to recognize Pakistani territorial gains, India would surely escalate the conflict, risking a nuclear response from the Pakistanis. If Clinton managed to get Sharif to retreat to the Line of Control, nuclear war would likely be averted, but Pakistani military leaders would probably depose Sharif at their first chance.

Sandy Berger, the U.S. national security advisor, told Clinton that he was heading into the single most important meeting with a foreign leader of his presidency. The goal was to get Sharif to retreat but give him sufficient political cover to hang on to power. "If he arrives as a prime minister but stays as an exile," Berger told Clinton, "he's not going to be able to make stick whatever deal you get out of him."

After a back-and-forth between the two leaders, Sharif asked to meet privately with Clinton. Alone with Sharif and Bruce Riedel, a National Security Council official taking notes, Clinton informed the prime minister of the Pakistani military's nuclear preparations (Sharif seemed surprised) and threatened to issue a statement pinning the blame for the conflict on Pakistan if Sharif refused to pull his forces back. According to Riedel's account of the meeting, Clinton compared the situation to the Cuban missile crisis and asked Sharif if he realized what would happen if even one bomb were dropped. Sharif finished Clinton's sentence for him, noting that it would be a catastrophe.

Out of options and having realized that Clinton would never recognize Pakistan's territorial gains, Sharif beat a hasty retreat and agreed to withdraw his forces. The only political cover he secured was a commitment from Clinton to take a personal interest in the 'Lahore process,' which was aimed at resolving the India-Pakistan border dispute. But that was all he got. Nuclear war was averted, and Clinton secured a diplomatic victory.

Three months later, Sharif was deposed and eventually exiled by the man who ordered Pakistani forces into Kargil: Pervez Musharraf. Now Sharif is set to return to power, while Musharraf is underhouse arrest.

It's a remarkable reversal of fortune for two men who very nearly started a nuclear war.

China: Stooping to succumb

By Sandhya Jain
Date : 13 May , 2013

A Defence Minister who cannot read a hospital register recording the date of birth of his Chief of Army Staff can hardly be expected to read a map and discern Chinese inroads to the extent of an admitted 19-kms (some say 30-kms). So it was no surprise that Mr. AK Anthony remained near-invisible after Beijing’s latest land grab became public, though protection of our borders is his foremost duty.

That visit would have to be called off if public anger forced External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to cancel his May 9 visit to Beijing, which he was desperate not to compromise.

A look at the map shows that the strategic Siachen Glacier is virtually all that separates China-grabbed Aksai Chin (which Jawaharlal Nehru yielded lamely) and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (which Nehru surrendered by taking the issue to the United Nations).

This suggests that all Track II diplomacy to de-militarise the glacier could have had a hidden China hand, with Beijing rather than Islamabad likely to grab the strategic heights to link up with POK via the Shaksgam valley illegally ceded by Pakistan, and deny India access to the only terrain from which it can monitor POK, the Karakoram Highway, and Aksai Chin.

The pincer is clearly in place. Hence it stands to reason that Beijing’s May 5 decision to fold its tents and recall troops to pre-April 15 position is dictated only by concern that the new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang should not lose face by being made to postpone/cancel his India visit on May 20. That visit would have to be called off if public anger forced External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to cancel his May 9 visit to Beijing, which he was desperate not to compromise.

Hence the nation’s legitimate concern is to know what demands India ceded to clinch the withdrawal. Could a Minister signing MOUs in Tehran have seriously convinced the Chinese to retreat? Why has India withdrawn troops from its own area? Why is India hiding the specifics of concessions made; wasn’t it in the larger national interest to cancel the Khurshid-Keqiang visits, take opposition parties into confidence, and out-stare the intruders?

China has moved methodically in pursuit of its territorial agenda. In 1955, it built a road through Aksai Chin to connect its garrisons in Xinjiang to Tibet. Despite warnings from Intelligence Bureau director BN Mullick and others, India did not protest until 1958 and was dismissed with contempt. In 1962, Beijing occupied Aksai Chin and enhanced its infrastructure there. Since then, it has been nibbling at Indian territory in various sectors.

For three weeks, New Delhi was clueless how to respond. Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid volubly downplayed the issue so as to carry on with his trip to Beijing…

Regardless of whether the danger emanates from Beijing or Islamabad, it is shameful that New Delhi devoted decades discussing the strategic Siachen Glacier at all. Hopefully, all talk on this issue will now end. Perhaps Washington, apprehensive of a rampaging imperialist dragon, will stop pushing New Delhi in this regard.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police detected the intrusion on the intervening night of April 15-16 and pushed the soldiers back across Rakhi Nallah. But New Delhi failed to deploy the Army immediately and soon five Chinese tents (with armed troops and fierce Molosser dogs) came up at Daulat Beg Oldi, Depsang Valley, in the western sector of Ladakh bordering Xinjiang Autonomous Region. For three weeks, New Delhi was clueless how to respond. Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid volubly downplayed the issue so as to carry on with his trip to Beijing and host premier Keqiang later in the month.

In 1986, a PLA unit marched seven kilometres inside the Line of Actual Control at Somdurong Chu, Arunachal Pradesh. General K Sundarji airlifted troops and surrounded their camp; placed artillery on nearby heights and asked a unit to erect tents just 10 metres away. The Chinese withdrew; they respond to big sticks, not big words. General Bikram Singh could have similarly handled matters at his own level at little cost; deferring to New Delhi was a mistake. Briefing the Cabinet Committee on Security some days ago, the General reportedly suggested cutting off the supply lines of the Chinese troops at Rakhi Nallah, something he should have done himself.

At the flag meetings, China reportedly demanded de-activation of two advance landing grounds (ALGs) at Daulat Beg Oldi and Fukche which the Indian Air Force reactivated in 2008 to enhance its ability to deploy forces faster towards Siachen Glacier or Karakoram and Aksai Chin. The IAF wanted to open another forward airstrip at Chushul; this must now be expedited. Currently, India is developing Nyoma in Ladakh, close to the LAC, as a forward base. China is insistent that India dismantle the Chumar observation post in eastern Ladakh, from where its troop movements can be detected.

Responding to He Yafei: Who's to blame for the downturn in U.S.-Chinese relations?

Posted By Isaac Stone Fish 
May 13, 2013

Just how bad are U.S.-Chinese relations these days, and who's to blame for the downturn? China's former Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei has published an essay in Foreign Policy today on the worrying state of the world's most important relationship. The Obama administration's pivor to Asia, he writes, has "aroused a great deal of suspicion in China."

High-ranking Chinese officials rarely speak so directly about China's concerns, and He's essay is one of the most comprehensive explanations of Beijing's views published in U.S. media since China's new president Xi Jinping was appointed in November.

He, who's currently deputy director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office in the powerful State Council, is known to be outspoken. During a 2009 U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen, for instance, he told reporters that the top U.S. negotiator "lacks common sense or is extremely irresponsible."

In what may be the most alarming section of his FP essay, He writes:

[S]uspicions deepen when the United States gets itself entangled in China's dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands and in the debates over maritime issues in the South China Sea. Should this ill-thought-out policy of rebalancing continue and the security environment worsen, an arms race would be inevitable. China, despite its intention to pursue a strategy of peaceful development, might be forced to revisit some aspects of its policy for the region.

I sent He's article to several scholars who closely follow the U.S.-China relationship to get their take on his argument, and I've summarized their reactions below.

Orville Schell, Arthur Ross director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society, called He "one of China's most experienced, smartest and most articulate diplomats" but said that Beijing "often has a difficult time realizing that China has, in effect, become a Great Power." That newfound status, he explained, makes the country's aggressive behavior more worrying than before.

Trust is also a major concern in the U.S.-China relationship, and Beijing seems unaware of the mistrust with which other countries view its foreign policy. In his essay, He writes that the "United States has nothing to fear or worry about, and everything to gain, from a strong, peace-loving, and prosperous China," and that the threat of China revisiting its regional policy won't materialize if the United States and China can work through their issues.

Meanwhile, however, China has disputes with Japan over the Diaoyu (which the Japanese call the Senkakus), with several Southeast Asian nations over territory in the South China Sea, and with India over the border between the two countries. China "will be unable to reassure neighbors and the United States of its commitment to a 'peaceful rise' as long as China is presenting such a pugnacious and intractable face to its neighbors," Schell wrote.

Shen Dingli, associate dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, also noted the importance of mutual trust -- as He writes, "trust will not just fall out of the sky." An arms race, Shen said, "would be ridiculous." Instead, he added, both sides should build trust by taking a "criticism and self-criticism" approach, welcoming criticism from the other party with "enhanced humility and confidence."

Perry Link, a professor at the University of California Riverside who recently wrote a book on language in Chinese politics, had a more negative opinion of He's essay: "In their 2011 bookMao's Invisible Hand, Sebastian Heilmann and Elizabeth Perry write that today's Chinese Communist Party (CCP) policy-making inherits Mao Zedong's 'guerrilla policy style,' which they summarize as fundamentally dictatorial, opportunistic, and merciless," Link noted. He's essay "is but a tool in this policy style. Its purpose is to maximize the power of the CCP. Period."

Nepal: Elections by June Unlikely : Update No. 280

Note No. 682 Dated 13-May-2013
By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan

It is almost impossible for the newly appointed CEC Neelkanth Uprety to conduct the CA Elections before June end this year. For this, the reasons are many but the primary reason is the lack of sincerity and cooperation from the political parties, particularly the four major ones. 

On the developments in Nepal, there is an excellent and exhaustive weekly account of the events in the Kathmandu Metro up to the middle of April by Siddhi B.Ranjitkar and the events that occurred during that period is therefore not being repeated.

As mentioned by the CEC, the Government will have to take an “intellectual” and a “realistic decision” before arriving at the date for the elections. So far there has been no official communication about the postponement of CA elections to November from June but all indications are that this will be held between November 15 and November 21.

Despite the best of efforts of the Election Commission, the citizenship certificate distribution, voter registration, redefining the constituencies and drawing up necessary rules and regulations have not yet been completed. Even the Party registration has just begun with only eleven parties renewing their registration. The Maoist faction led by Mohan Baidya continues to be recalcitrant and their position as of now is to boycott the elections. More serious, is their attempt to disrupt physically the voter registration and this is delaying the completion further. So far the Police have acted with restraint with the Maoists cadres but at some point they will have to take stern action to ensure the completion.

Besides the Maoist faction led by Mohan Baidya two other groups- the Madhesi Adhikar Forum led by Upendra Yadav and the Limbuwan groups are also opposed to the elections to the interim CA which is necessary now. It is expected sooner or later, the last two groups may join the fray, but the Maoists may continue to be adamant and obstructive. It is said that this faction has not surrendered the weapons that were allowed for their personal security earlier during the cease-fire. By and large as I see it, the Baidya’s faction will continue to be of nuisance value, if only the administration deals with a firm hand particularly those who resort to violence.

Constitutional appointments have more or less been completed, but the appointment of Lokman Singh Karki ( former Chief Secretary) as the chief of the Central Commission for investigation of Abuse and Authority has come in for severe condemnation and protests. The students particularly those from the Nepali Congress have taken to the streets. It is not clear why the High level political committee (HLPM) recommended Karki’s name when his background was known to all. He is said to have been primarily responsible for suppressing the Jana Andolan II and has also been implicated in corruption charges! . The irony is that his name was recommended by Dahal himself in the HLPM and the Nepali Congress representative Paudel did not object to this recommendation!

One good development has been the final integration of ex PLA combatants. One colonel, two Lt. Colonels and 67 other officers have been taken into the newly formed directorate of the Nepal Army.