29 June 2013

Gilgit-Baltistan: Between the rock and a hard place

Issue Net Edition | Date : 28 Jun , 2013

Despite abundance of natural resources and geo-strategic significance, the largely Shia region of Gilgit-Baltistan continues to face economic stagnation and political isolation.

Despite the physical control since 1948, Pakistan has failed to gain sovereignty over Gilgit-Baltistan, which has gradually weakened its political leverage and increased her strategic vulnerabilities.

Gilgit-Baltistan, a UN declared disputed region in the north of Pakistan, is known to the world as a mountaineer’s paradise. It is home to three world-famous mountain ranges namely the Himalayas, Karakoram and the Hindukush which meet near the valley of Haramosh. This confluence created some of the highest peaks in the world, as sixty of them measure over 20,000 feet above the sea. In addition, the longest glaciers outside the Polar Regions reaching up to seventy miles in length are also situated in Gilgit-Baltistan.

However, political volatility restrains the inhabitants from optimizing their earnings from mountain tourism. Both India and Pakistan claim Gilgit-Baltistan and have fought several wars over it. Despite the physical control since 1948, Pakistan has failed to gain sovereignty over Gilgit-Baltistan, which has gradually weakened its political leverage and increased her strategic vulnerabilities. The situation has led Pakistan to convert the region into a military garrison by stationing tens of thousands of troops. It has also forced the military to shut down many of the key tourist destinations in Astore and Baltistan, the two regions bordering Indian Ladakh and Kashmir.

Gilgit-Baltistan also shares a border with Afghanistan whose growing Talibanization has further negatively impacted the tourism industry. During the Afghan-Soviet war, the rugged valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan were vital to the coalition of USA, China and Pakistan where they stationed and trained the Mujahideen. Afterwards, the Chinese continued to use Gilgit-Baltistan as a transit route to support the Taliban government. Pakistan also uses Gilgit-Baltistan as a base to infiltrate Indian Kashmir and Ladakh. As NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan nears, the Taliban have announced an intention to revive Jihad in Kashmir. In this context, Gilgit-Baltistan is once again a strategic target for control. Many militants who were driven from the tribal belt of Waziristan by drones are establishing new bases in Gilgit-Baltistan. According to a June 24th Daily K2 report, speaker of Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) Wazir Beg stated that many in Diamer district are sympathetic to the Taliban’s agenda and are providing refuge to the militants.

Apart from an age old ideological rift, which often drives the Takfiri militants to Gilgit-Baltistan to kill and torture the Shias; the Taliban desire to control Gilgit-Baltistan in the larger quest to infiltrate in India and northern Afghanistan. However, the presence of Shias and Sufis, who make up for almost 75% of the total population, has thwarted their efforts in the region. Local Shias, Nurbakhshis and Ismailia have resisted such effort to use Gilgit-Baltistan to promote terrorism. Local leaders maintain that the military and secret service foster ongoing sectarian polarization and Jihadi adventurism, something that weakens the society and hence not permitted by Islam. On occasions, locals have clashed with militants and forced the secret service to relocate.

With no luck at winning over the local Shias, secret service and Taliban are moving forward with a campaign of ethnic cleansing and religious conversions as the only remaining path to securing the region.

With no luck at winning over the local Shias, secret service and Taliban are moving forward with a campaign of ethnic cleansing and religious conversions as the only remaining path to securing the region. They intend to spread Shia Sunni divide to first, create disunity and weaken the society, and secondly, to gain favor among local Sunnis to find more recruits. In the past, such a strategy was successfully employed in the Kurram Valley when militants attempting to infiltrate Afghanistan met resistance from the local Shias.

Article 370: The untold story

IssueVol 26.1 Jan-Mar 2011| Date : 28 Jun , 2013

Troops patrol in Kashmir

It is often not realized that among the causes of Kashmir problem – inclusion of plebiscite in the Instrument of Accession, reference of Kashmir to UN, halting Indian offensive when it was poised to drive out the invaders from Kashmir, Article 370 has played no less a part in preventing J&K from becoming an integral part of the Indian Union. Not many people are aware as how and why this Article was formulated and included in the Indian Constitution despite grave misgivings of Sardar Patel and indeed a large number of the members of Congress Working Committee and Constituent Assembly.

Article 370 was worked out in late 1947 between Sheikh Abdullah, who had by then been appointed Prime Minister of J&K by the Maharaja and Nehru, who kept the Kashmir portfolio with himself and kept Sardar Patel, the home minister, away from his legitimate function. Hence Nehru is answerable to all acts of commission and omission, consequences of which we are suffering till date as far as J&K is concerned.

“Why should a state of the Indian Union have a special status? It conveys a wrong signal not only to Kashmiris but also to the separatists, Pakistan and indeed the international community that J&K is still to become integral part of India, the sooner Article 370 is done away is better.”

While it was Mountbatten who persuaded Nehru to take the J&K issue to the UN, it was Sheikh Abdullah, who, driven by his ambition to be ruler of an independent Kashmir and his hatred for the Maharaja, persuaded Nehru to give special status to J&K. Among his reasons were – occupation of one third of J&K by Pakistan, reference to the UN and plebiscite. The most sinister aspect of proposed Article 370 was the provision that any changes could be brought about in it only by the concurrence of J&K assembly. Nehru’s promise that Article 370 was a temporary provision and will get eroded over a period of time has turned out to be a chimera. The first thing that Sheikh Abdullah got done was to abolish hereditary monarchy and redesignate him as Sadar-e-Riyasat who was to be elected by the Assembly. The accession of J&K State into Indian Union was approved by J&K Assembly only in 1956.

Dramatis Personal

Jawahar Lal Nehru The handsome Harrow educated aristocrat who gave up a life of luxury to join the freedom movement. Babu’s choose heir and darling of the masses, he had a fatal flaw. He cared for personalities rather than issues and institutions, be it selection of Lord Mountbatten as the first Governor General of free India, retaining a senior British officer as the Commander-in-Chief of India Army or backing Sheikh Abdullah to the hilt – his choices were unfortunate. Finally the Chinese aggression of 1962 shattered his image of a world statesman.

Sardar Patel The Iron Man of India — silent, strong and pragmatic with a complete hold on congress party organization — rightly credited with creating a unified India by integrating 565 princely states in it — he would have included Kashmir also in it if allowed to do so by Nehru. The only blot on him was the insinuation that he failed to protect his beloved Bapu. The slur only hastened his end in Dec 1950.

Nehrus promise that Article 370 was a temporary provision and will get eroded over a period of time has turned out to be a chimera.

Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Charismatic Kashmiri leader who never let go of his dream of ruling an independent Kashmir even while masquerading as a secularist — architect of Article 370 along with Nehru. He must share with Nehru the grave consequences. Lion of Kashmir brought Nehru under his spell from 1938 onwards to the extent that in May 1947 when he was arrested by the Maharaja for sedition, Nehru represented Sheikh as his lawyer and was even arrested in Jun 1947 by the Maharaja while trying to enter J&K. Finally Nehru had to eat the humble pie by arresting Sheikh Abdullah for sedition on 9 Aug 1953.

Maharaja Hari Singh The Maharaja saw an opportunity at the end of British Raj to keep Kashmir as the Switzerland of the East. Trying to repeat history when his ancestors – Maharaja Gulab Singh and Ranbir Singh gained handsome dividends by keeping aloof during the Sikh War and Great Mutiny, Hari Singh tried to sign a standstill Agreement with India and Pak at the time of independence, Pakistan signed, India declined. Maharaja died a lonely man, forced to abdicate and exiled from his beloved land.


- The poison of partisanship in India
Politics and Play - Ramachandra Guha

Earlier this year, I was discussing partisanship in Indian politics with a friend from Bangalore temporarily based in Boston. In no other democracy, I suggested, did the two major parties use such vile language about one another. When the government of India chose to allow foreign direct investment in the retail sector, the chief minister of Gujarat asked the prime minister how many Italian businessmen would benefit from this change in policy. The vulgarity was in character. There were weighty arguments to be made against FDI — that it would put small shopkeepers out of work, for example, or that large monopolies could sometimes force farmers to sell at distress prices. But rather than make his case in substantive terms, Narendra Modi chose to invoke the ethnic origins of the leader of the ruling alliance. Low innuendo is Modi’s stock-in-trade. Congress leaders, for their part, are equally abusive of their opponents, although they prefer convent English to everyday Hindustani. Some serving Union ministers prefer appearing on television to attending to their files, since being on air allows them to use disparaging language about senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

I cannot recall a time in living memory when relations between government and Opposition were so bad. There has been a complete breakdown of trust. A consequence of this mutual suspicion (not to say mutual hatred) is that Parliament scarcely functions. The government never consults the Opposition before introducing an important bill. In response, the Opposition boycotts the House, or attends only to disrupt proceedings.

When I conveyed my dismay to my friend in Boston, he answered that in this respect the United States of America was as badly off. The Democrats and the Republicans detested one another. Gone were the days when the two parties would collaborate to prosecute a war or tackle an economic crisis. Now, every presidential initiative was stalled by a Republican-dominated Congress. The Tea Party wing of the party demonized the Democratic president, alluding darkly to his alleged non-American origins. The animosity was stoked and intensified by the electronic media. The nastiness of Fox News about Democrats was repaid by the nastiness of MSNBC about Republicans. As one moved from television to the blogs and on to Twitter, the language became more hate-filled still.

I agreed that things were bad in America, but I still thought that they were worse in India. When it came to a major natural disaster — such as that caused by Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy, or a serious terrorist attack like 9/11 — Democrats and Republicans would come together in the interests of the nation. But here, even on crucial issues of national safety and national honour, the Congress and the BJP would not talk, let alone co-operate.

Consider Kashmir. In 2003, at a time when militancy was at a low ebb, Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited the Valley, the first prime minister to do so in a decade-and-a-half. This was the time for all parties to show a united front against the jehadis. But the Congress, then part of a coalition government in the state, asked their ministers to boycott the prime minister’s speech.

Five years later, another prime minister, a Congressman this time, started a fresh initiative for peace in Kashmir. Manmohan Singh had begun talks with President Musharraf of Pakistan, seeking a settlement based on the conversion of the line of control into an international border. If this settlement went through, there would be no Kashmir ‘dispute’ any more. At this crucial moment, the BJP started an agitation, blocking the highway linking the Valley to the rest of India, thus denying food and medicines to the very people we were trying to persuade of our good intentions.

Like Honest Abe, Singh Must Aim for Greatness

- June 28, 2013 

As prime minister Manmohan Singh enters his final year in office, he is likely to be hoping to go down in history as the man who made India a miracle economy, growing at 8.5 per cent a year. However, after a series of scandals, critics say he stands to be remembered for presiding over New Delhi’s most corrupt regime ever.

As prime minister Manmohan Singh enters his final year in office, he is likely to be hoping to go down in history as the man who made India a miracle economy, growing at 8.5 per cent a year. However, after a series of scandals, critics say he stands to be remembered for presiding over New Delhi’s most corrupt regime ever.

Nobody doubts his personal integrity. He has long been seen as an honest man struggling against the tide in dishonest times. But the Teflon is finally wearing off. In May he tried to save the jobs of two ministers: one accused by the Supreme Court of interfering in a probe of an alleged coal mines allotment scam; the other following the arrest of his nephew over a disputed bribery allegation. Both ultimately had to resign.

The Supreme Court accused Mr Singh of trying to convert the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is examining the coal case, into a “caged parrot”. Columnists who once sympathized with him now say he is tainted by complicity.

I think history will judge him more positively: it usually lionises people achieving difficult goals in tainted times. Consider, for example, Abraham Lincoln, as portrayed in last year’s Oscar-winning biopic. Lincoln graphically shows the dirty tricks and bribes the 16th US president used to ensure passage of the bill abolishing slavery. Yet this did not diminish his heroic stature, in the film or in history books. Indeed, he is popularly remembered as “Honest Abe”.

American politics was highly corrupt in Lincoln’s time. There was no permanent civil service, so hundreds of important (and lucrative) positions could be given by the president to his supporters. “To the victor the spoils” was the motto of the day. It could also be the motto of contemporary Indian politics.

Lincoln was not an idealist demanding freedom from slavery as a fundamental right. Rather, he held that the constitution gave each state the right to keep or abolish slavery. He won the Republican nomination to run for president in 1860 because delegates thought his moderate stance would win more votes than outright abolitionism, especially in the border states between north and south (Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware).

Lincoln tried hard to avoid civil war. He repeatedly said his aim was to preserve the union, and for this he was willing to tolerate southern slavery. But once the war began, he conveniently changed his own views. He decided in 1862 that, using war powers, he had the authority to issue the emancipation proclamation.

This did not make slavery illegal throughout the land: it freed slaves only in those southern states that had rebelled. It did not apply to border states, whose support Lincoln viewed as absolutely crucial. He once said: “I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.”

For all that, history does not treat Lincoln as a practitioner of realpolitik or bribery. It treats him as a hero who abolished slavery. What matters, ultimately, is the greatness of an achievement rather than the means to achieve it.

Going by this logic, history will view Mr Singh positively, too. Memories of his government’s scandals will fade. He will be remembered as the finance minister who initiated the nation’s economic reforms in 1991-96, and who as prime minister in 2004-13 made India a miracle economy. Earlier, the success of the Asian Tigers led to theories that fast growth was possible only in autocracies. But Mr Singh proved that democracies — even messy ones — can become miracle economies, too.

As in Lincoln’s case, critics will say he has escaped too lightly. In his first cabinet in 2004, he had seven politicians facing criminal charges — including murder and fraud. But these were the nominees of small parties whose support was vital for his government’s survival. For Mr Singh, the compulsions of survival trumped morality.

Defense Mechanisms

PranabDhalSamanta : Sat Jun 29 2013

Book: India's National Security

Author: Kanti P Bajpai and Harsh V Pant (eds.)

Publisher: Oxford University Press
Price: Rs 995
Pages: 486

Security is the bedrock of state legitimacy. For, even the worst performing state cannot be seen to be failing to minimise the existential threats to its citizenry. It's a solemn charter between the state and its population, which once broken, usually leads to upheaval, at times very violent, and possibly ending in the establishment of a new order.

The modern democratic state seems to have coped better on this score. Precisely due to its ability to accept transition and even celebrate it, regardless of repeated failures, the democratic state manages to soak and accommodate dissent more effectively.

India's security story is such a tale, replete with excitement, unending problems that started in the 1960s but continue to dog us even today, newer forms of war which get sophisticated by the day due to external sponsorship, and a quest to secure Indian aspirations — one that feeds the imagery of being a major world power. 

India's National Security – a Reader, edited by Kanti P Bajpai and Harsh V Pant, maps this complex terrain by putting together a competent selection, which is representative of the most frequently articulated views on the subject.

The book is an academic exercise and must, therefore, be judged by what it sets out to do. Credit must go to the two editors for stating this at the outset. This is not a book that seeks to wrestle with newer security theories or critical approaches that call for a conceptual shift, neither does it ambitiously experiment with broader meanings of security and nor does it intend to be prescriptive.

Simply put, the book is firmly located in the traditional approach, explaining issues through state instruments and judging outcomes by that yardstick. In doing so, the editors and their contributors keep the quest honest, making this a notable effort that does not further state interests without question or contest. 

Internal security is the most complex of all national security challenges in India. The book dives right into it by looking at state responses, particularly the counterinsurgency effort. Rajesh Rajagopalan provides an interesting analysis of the Army's counter-insurgency doctrine, only to conclude that it has hardly undergone any qualitative change despite increased engagement. After a good build-up, he makes several leaps to reach his conclusion and, perhaps, overlooks some key phases of the Army's efforts in Kashmir and Punjab. 

KPS Gill's piece on Punjab militancy tries to make up for that but comes to the opposite conclusion that military solutions are possible. His is, however, more of a long rich personal account, rather than a disciplined analytical exercise. This is a feature of the compilation, where many pieces hinge on the reputation of the writer, at times overlooking academic rigour.

Praveen Swami's conclusion that the Kashmir issue will only resolve either when India gives up its pluralist democratic ideology or when Pakistan shuns its dogmatic Islamic identity is vulnerable to the charge of being over-simplistic, despite an impressive collection of previously unpublished information. The economy of violence, often, overpowers ideology over a period of time and to frame issues in only ideological terms may be analytically insufficient.

Security Situation in J&K: A Reality Check

June 28, 2013

On 24 June 2013, at approximately 1620 hours, a Rashtriya Rifles convoy was attacked on the main road passing through the area of Hyderpora, a township, almost midway between Badgam and Srinagar. The ambush site lies on National Highway (NH) 1A, which is considered the lifeline both for the maintenance of Kashmir valley and security forces deployed in the area. It looked like a pre-planned operation executed with precision resulting in the death of eight soldiers and injuries to many more.

The ambush is being seen as a symbolic act of terrorism on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), on 25-26 June 2013. However, an assessment of the incidents of the past three months reveals a trend in the nature of attacks that have taken place. On 13 March 2013, terrorists launched a fidayeen (suicide) attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp at Bemina. The attack resulted in the death of five security personnel and injuries to another ten. This was followed by an ambush at Hygam, Sopore on 26 April 2013, resulting in four fatal police casualties. On 24 May, four soldiers of the Rashtriya Rifles died in an encounter, at Buchoo village of the Pulwama district. The year 2012 had witnessed a total of 15 security forces fatalities. The first half of this year has already seen more casualties than the whole of last year. When this is contextualised with increasing attempts at cross border infiltration over the previous year, the heightened levels of violence can be seen in perspective.

The series of events, culminating in the ambush of 24 June, highlight certain unmistakable trends. It is important to take note of the underlying shifts that are taking place in J&K, below the deceptive calm often showcased in the context of large number of tourists visiting the state.

First, the identification of terrorists killed in the recent encounters clearly indicates the resurrection of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) which was increasingly being seen as a spent force in the state as a result of neutralization of its senior leadership in series of successful operations by the security forces.

Second, analysis of the recent terrorist attacks suggests that these have been carried out after detailed planning and executed employing high tactical skills. This especially holds true for the ambush on 24 June. As any trained military mind would tell us, ambushes are a difficult offensive manoeuvre to execute in isolated jungles and mountains. It becomes even more complicated in urban areas like Hyderpora, where the ability to achieve surprise is a challenge. Despite a well oiled intelligence grid of security forces, which has matured over the years, the proficiency with which the terrorists sprung a successful ambush should therefore be seen as a substantial tactical gain. This reality is further strengthened by the ambush being a two sided attack, which requires coordination of a very high order. The subsequent escape from the site only reinforces the assessment of their improving skills.

Third, the selection of NH 1A for the attack, reinforces the vulnerability of existing lines of communication and especially the key arteries in the state. Even as dedication of the railway link to the nation on 26 June by the Prime Minister marks a major achievement for the state and its people, the attack two days earlier highlights vulnerabilities, which continue to exist along these routes.

Fourth, this vulnerability also needs to be seen in light of repeated and often acerbic exchange of views on the issue of withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from certain areas in the state, which incidentally includes Srinagar and other areas served by NH 1A. While the context of this comment is not to debate the known opposing positions on AFSPA, however, the incident has clearly highlighted certain fears expressed as a result of selectively revoking disturbed area notification from certain areas. The army has often made a case that the effectiveness of the intelligence grid will be impacted by partial lifting of disturbed area status in the state.

Tibet Freedom Movement Intensifies Through Incessant Self-Immolations

Paper No 5518 Dated 28-June-2013
By Dr Subhash Kapila

The Freedom Movement in China Occupied Tibet may soon be heading towards a “Tipping Point” if Chinese forcible suppression of the peaceful freedom movement is not restrained. The incessant self-immolations with dying slogans of “Freedom for Tibetan People” and“Dalai Lama Must Return, refuse to die down despite Chinese suppression.

Recorded figures since 2009 till this month indicate that 120 Tibetan self-immolations have taken place. These self-immolations comprised 101 Tibetan males and 19 Tibetan females. All of these self-immolations have taken place within China Occupied Tibet except for one which took place in China. These Tibetans were freedom fighters as the self-immolations were not for any personal reasons as Chinese officials allege.

However these figures are a tip of the iceberg as with the severe Chinese military clampdown in China Occupied Tibet, self-immolations in the more outlying regions may not find their way into recorded information of the Tibetan Government in exile.

A Huffington Post article by Peter Dzietr aptly titled ‘Tibet Can No Longer Stand Alone” highlights that “with each passing week the situation in Tibet seems to grow increasingly dire” and that the incessant self-immolations do not find their way in the global media.

Since an increasing number of such Tibetan immolations for the cause of freedom reportedly comprised persons around 18 years of age, it is debatable in terms of perspectives as to how long the Tibetan Freedom Movement could remain peaceful as HH The Dalai Lama fervently desires.

China Occupied Tibet has witnessed and continues to witness the brutalisation of what was once a “Spiritual Kingdom” by the Chinese military and Chinese Armed Police which surpasses the Taliban’s medieval brutalisation of Afghanistan in the 1990s.

China’s ethnic and cultural genocide inflicted on Occupied Tibet in the last sixty years, forced disappearances of Tibetans protesting against Chinese Occupation, forced re-location of Tibetans in ‘Socialist Villages’, and stamping out of all vestiges of Tibetan culture has not diminished the freedom movement in China Occupied Tibet.

More than 2 million Tibetans are widely reported to have been forcibly re-located in the last couple of years to locations and housing sites selected by the Chinese Government. The fig-leaf advanced by the Chinese is that this is desirable for better life of Tibetans. However what is logically obvious is that herding the hapless Tibetans in such so-called Socialist Villages’ is to ensure better surveillance and control of the Tibetan people chafing under the military occupation of Tibet by China.

Stephen Marshall, Member of the US Congressional Executive Committee on China makes a telling point when he states: “The Tibetans are moved to a point that they are expressing in what they feel is the strongest way they possibly can--- I will give up my life in order to make the statement that I do not see a future for myself or my people as part of China”.

China seems to be in a “state-of-denial” that the Tibetan young Freedom Fighters would continue to give up their lives for Tibet’s freedom from Chinese military –occupation by ‘self-immolations only’. A “tipping point” could reach when these Tibetan Freedom Fighters frustrated by Chinese brutal suppression may decide that while I give up my life for Tibet’s freedom I might as well take a few Chinese military lives along impeding that freedom.

The global community and India too seem also to be in a “state-of-denial” that nothing is much amiss in China Occupied Tibet and especially that both the United States and India must defer to China’s forcible military occupation of Tibet by ‘China Appeasement” policies. And as part of such strategic formulations it is better to stay silent on the Tibetan self-immolations.

The United Sates has this month sent the US Ambassador to China, Gary Locke to the China Occupied Tibet capital of Lhasa to raise US concerns about “deteriorating human rights situation” and specifically the self-immolations by Tibetans against Chinese rule.

The US Ambassador about two years ago had also visited Sichuan or the same purpose.

Al-Qaeda Changing Its Ways After Leaks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. intelligence agencies are scrambling to salvage their surveillance of al-Qaida and other terrorists who are working frantically to change how they communicate after a National Security Agency contractor leaked details of two NSA spying programs. It's an electronic game of cat-and-mouse that could have deadly consequences if a plot is missed or a terrorist operative manages to drop out of sight.

Terrorist groups had always taken care to avoid detection - from using anonymous email accounts, to multiple cellphones, to avoiding electronic communications at all, in the case of Osama bin Laden. But there were some methods of communication, like the Skype video teleconferencing software that some militants still used, thinking they were safe, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials who follow the groups. They spoke anonymously as a condition of describing their surveillance of the groups. Those militants now know to take care with Skype - one of the 9 U.S.-based Internet servers identified by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leaks to The Guardian and The Washington Post.

Two U.S. intelligence officials say members of virtually every terrorist group, including core al-Qaida members, are attempting to change how they communicate, based on what they are reading in the media, to hide from U.S. surveillance. It is the first time intelligence officials have described which groups are reacting to the leaks. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak about the intelligence matters publicly.

The officials wouldn't go into details on how they know this, whether it's terrorists switching email accounts or cellphone providers or adopting new encryption techniques, but a lawmaker briefed on the matter said al-Qaida's Yemeni offshoot, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, has been among the first to alter how it reaches out to its operatives.

The lawmaker spoke anonymously because he would not, by name, discuss the confidential briefing.

Shortly after Edward Snowden leaked documents about the secret NSA surveillance programs, chat rooms and websites used by like-minded extremists and would-be recruits advised users how to avoid NSA detection, from telling them not to use their real phone numbers to recommending specific online software programs to keep spies from tracking their computers' physical locations.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said there are "changes we can already see being made by the folks who wish to do us harm, and our allies harm."Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said Tuesday that Snowden "has basically alerted people who are enemies of this country ... (like) al-Qaida, about what techniques we have been using to monitor their activities and foil plots, and compromised those efforts, and it's very conceivable that people will die as a result."

Privacy activists are more skeptical of the claims. "I assume my communication is being monitored," said Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch. She said that's why her group joined a lawsuit against the Director of National Intelligence to find out if its communications were being monitored. The case was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court last fall. "I would be shocked if terrorists didn't also assume that and take steps to protect against it," she said.

"The government is telling us, `This has caused tremendous harm.' But also saying, `Trust us we have all the information. The US government has to do a lot more than just say it," Prasow said.

At the same time, NSA and other counterterrorist analysts have been focusing their attention on the terrorists, watching their electronic communications and logging all changes, including following which Internet sites the terrorist suspects visit, trying to determine what system they might choose to avoid future detection, according to a former senior intelligence official speaking anonymously as a condition of discussing the intelligence operations.

"It's frustrating. You have to start all over again to track the target," said M.E. "Spike" Bowman, a former intelligence officer and deputy general counsel of the FBI, now a fellow at the University of Virginia's Center for National Security Law. But the NSA will catch up eventually, he predicted, because there are only so many ways a terrorist can communicate. "I have every confidence in their ability to regain access."

The Diplomatic Push for Afghan Peace

Interviewee: Amin Tarzi, Director, Middle East Studies, Marine Corps University
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor
June 27, 2013 

The Taliban thinks the U.S.-led coalition is rushing for the exits in Afghanistan, a dynamic that will allow the insurgent group to negotiate a potential settlement to conflict from a position of strength, says South Asia expert Amin Tarzi. However, the Taliban have given mixed signals as to what type of deal they would prefer. "The Taliban said that they respect minority rights; that they are not there to impose rule over all Afghans," says Tarzi, but the group's leader, Mullah Omar, "issued a statement saying the Taliban will take over Kabul as soon as the Americans leave." Tarzi says the prospective talks between the Karzai government, the United States, and the Taliban, which recently opened an office in Qatar, is a "potential breakthrough," but he notes that considerable uncertainties remain.

Muhammad Naeem (left), a spokesman for the Office of the Taliban of Afghanistan, speaks during the opening of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha (Mohammed Dabbous/Courtesy Reuters).

Last week, with some fanfare, the United States announced that the Taliban and the Karzai government were going to have negotiations with Washington on the future of Afghanistan, and this was seen as a major development. But the talks failed to take place over a disagreement regarding the flag the Taliban could fly. What is the goal of these talks in Doha?

This is a phase in the talks. The United States did not join officially in talks until 2008–09, when, as a part of the troop surge under President Obama, there was an effort to get negotiations going. However, they stalled because of a failure to reach agreement on release of Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo and a refusal by the Taliban to talk to the Afghan government, which they view as illegitimate. The Taliban maintained that the Karzai government was a puppet of the United States, and said they would only discuss a political settlement with their primary antagonist , the U.S.-led coalition.

These talks in Doha are a potential breakthrough because the Afghan government had established what is called the High Peace Council, and the United States pledged that any negotiations would be led by the Afghans, with Washington as a partner. But, of course, what happened last week is that the Afghans were angered by what they perceived as the Unites States attempting to pursue negotiations with the Taliban without Kabul. Meanwhile, the Taliban unfurled their flag and posted a plaque that suggested it was an Afghan government-in-exile.

What exactly happened?

We don't know. The U.S. government said, "look this was not the way it was supposed to be." That is why Secretary of State John Kerrycalled Karzai. So, the Taliban flag is no longer flying over their Doha office, and the name plate has been changed to "Political Office of the Afghan Taliban," which is acceptable to Kabul.

Kabul is now saying that they may send a delegation of the High Peace Council to Doha to meet with the Taliban and the United States, in theory with the Afghans in the lead. However, the problem is that the Taliban does not recognized the Kabul government. And so we're back to square one—basically 2008–09, when the Taliban said they would only have talks with the main antagonist, i.e., the United States.

[This was before the Taliban suicide attacks near the presidential palace and CIA headquarters in Kabul in late June.]

And what are the serious issues at hand?

First, the United States and Afghanistan agree that the Taliban must stop the insurgency. Second, they have to accept and respect theconstitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, issued in 2004. Third, the Taliban must disarm and enter the political process. At the end of her term, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton included women's rights as a fourth issue, which are protected under the Afghan constitution. At the time, there was a lot of hesitation by people saying the Taliban is notorious for its lack of respect for women's rights. The Taliban has not said anything about the constitution, which they see as a document imposed on the country by non-Muslim foreigners.

Talking to the Taliban

Saturday, 29 June 2013 | Wilson John

What was the point, many were asking in Kabul, Washington and other capitals this week, of thousands of people dying in the so-called “war on terror” when America eventually had to negotiate with the Taliban? Meanwhile, the Pakistanis are celebrating

Early this week, there was a sudden flurry of activity in Washington, Doha and Kabul, and Rawalpindi over a swanky new office for the Taliban, an insurgent group tied to al-Qaida and scores of terrorist attacks and the death of several thousand since 2001.

Doha is not entirely new to the Taliban though. Twenty-odd Taliban representatives have been living in Doha, Qatar, for over a year now, waiting for the Americans to show up. In the meantime, they have been talking to every one who came with promises and presents — be it Turkey or the British or the Germans. They didn’t want to talk to Karzai. The Americans stayed behind the scenes. Talks with Pakistanis remained hush-hush.

All this while, the Taliban continued to target the NATO forces in Afghanistan, infiltrate the Afghan forces and kill American soldiers. There was no let-up inviolence — in the first four months of 2013, the Taliban carried out 2,331 attacks, much higher than in the previous year. About 2,240 American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

The Doha office for the Taliban was not a surprise. Negotiations for such a facility have been going on for several months. The justification for such an office was that it would facilitate negotiations between various stake holders, principally the US, the Taliban and

the Afghanistan government led by President Hamid Karzai. Karzai was very much on board with the business of setting up the Doha office. He had his conditions which he made quite clear when he visited Qatar twice and during a recent visit to Washington to address a dinner gathering hosted by a think tank, Brookings Institution. He wanted the negotiations to be Afghan-led, the venue subsequently shifted to Afghanistan, and cessation of violence as one of the end goals. He, therefore, welcomed the decision to open the Doha office, like others in Washington, Islamabad and elsewhere. But the

inauguration ceremony riled him to no end. The Taliban raised their own flag, put up a board declaring it to be an office of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and declared that they will use it as an office to negotiate with the international community, making it a quasi embassy of the erstwhile “Emirate” which they ruled from 1996 to 2001.

Karzai called off meetings with the US on the strategic partnership and said he will not participate in any negotiations with the Taliban. The Americans were quick to realise their mistake and Secretary John Kerry spoke thrice to Karzai to placate him. Kerry then told the Qataris to remove the Emirate board and the flag. Karzai’s stems from another major irritant he has had to live with — Pakistan. Many in Afghanistan believe that the Taliban action in raising the flag and putting up the board was inspired by Rawalpindi. 

The Pakistan Army, headquartered in Rawalpindi, has for long been leading the reconciliation process — simultaneously engaging with the US, the Taliban and the High Peace Council set up by President Karzai. The Obama administration had outsourced the job to Pakistan after the May 2011 Abbottabad raid. The Doha office was a culmination of long parleys between Pakistan Army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani and US Secretary of State John Kerry. For Rawalpindi, the Doha office has been the first milestone in achieving its short and long-term objectives in a post-US Afghanistan. It is another matter that Rawalpindi’s role and intent has been one of the two fatal flaws in the entire reconciliation process. The other is — the paralysis of decision making on Afghanistan which has been plaguing Washington since 2003. 

Let us examine the US strategy a bit closely. It is quite clear that the Americans are today desperate to talk to the insurgent group which once harboured their biggest enemy, Osama bin Laden, for years and caused the death of over 2000 American soldiers since 2001. This is because the US has failed to defeat the Taliban despite a 12-year war and now want a quick exit. They believe that persuading the Taliban for a negotiated political settlement will make their exit a bit more palatable than an ignominious retreat. So, in their wisdom, they want the Taliban to settle for a negotiated political settlement before the exit concludes in December 2014. The US had effectively defeated the Taliban in 2001 when the insurgent leaders and cadre escaped to Pakistan. But then the Bush

Development vs. Security in FATA (Pakistan's Tribal Areas)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rebellion, Development and Security in Pakistan’s Tribal AreasHassan Abbas and Shehzad H. Qazi
CTC Sentinel, June 25, 2013

Conventional wisdom suggests that international development helps defeat militancy, create stability, and promote U.S. security. Stability through development has emerged as a principle of U.S. policy in the fight against militancy in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The United States pledged $750 million of development aid to Pakistan between 2007 and 2011, and various U.S. and UK agencies continue to support the implementation of development projects in the region with the objective of helping the Pakistani state establish its presence and improve economic activity in the area, both of which would enhance its capability to defeat al-Qa`ida and the Pakistani Taliban.[1]

The idea of development as a cure to militancy contends that providing economic opportunities and delivering services to civilians dis-incentivizes rebellion by increasing its opportunity cost, while simultaneously allowing the Pakistani government to co-opt tribes and segments of certain warring factions. This article argues that such a straightforward relationship between development and stability does not exist in Pakistan. A look at the Pakistani Taliban’s recruitment drivers reveals that not all militants are motivated solely by financial incentives. Moreover, development and security have a paradoxical relationship, as development efforts are often thwarted by the very insecurity they are meant to remedy. Between 2006 and 2012, for example, attacks on schools caused the partial or complete destruction of 460 educational facilities in FATA.[2] Thus, while development will be crucial in bringing stability to the tribal areas in the long-term, it remains fundamentally dependent first on the provision of security.

How the Pakistani Taliban Recruit

The major assumption undergirding the case for development is that those who rebel or support militancy are overwhelmingly poor or that the financial benefits provided by insurgents outweigh what the Pakistani government offers, which in most cases is very little.[3] Both assumptions, however, are misleading and have not only been challenged by economic modeling, but also rejected by evidence from Pakistan and cross-national analysis.[4] While no large-scale studies exist on the Pakistani Taliban’s recruitment, available information from the tribal agencies and adjoining areas reveals that their tactics are variegated—sometimes even within the same locale—and financial incentives are one of several inducements used to conscript fighters.[5]

First, Pakistan’s Taliban insurgency is a complex conflict featuring not just anti-state conflict, but inter-tribal warfare as well. For example, Waziri and Mehsud tribal groups have a long history of mutual distrust, battles and assassinations. Taliban factions that recruit heavily from these tribes inherit this rivalry and animosity. As a result, the Taliban recruit often based on tribal identity. Mehsud representation in Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), for example, is quite significant, and as a counter the Pakistani government has been trying to build bridges with Waziri tribesmen to squeeze the Mehsuds. In some cases, this was attempted through economic blockades and road construction in Waziri areas so that the Waziri tribe could bypass Mehsud areas, lessening their dependence on the latter.[6] The Pakistan Army has also armed militants of the small Bhittani tribe, who are despised by the Mehsuds,[7] in areas leading to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KP) to discourage Mehsud incursions.[8] Thus, this aspect of Pakistan’s counterterrorism model inadvertently empowers tribal identity and helps the targeted group in its recruitment drive.

Second, rebels attract potential recruits through access to social networks and provision of social prestige. Recruiters have been reported to invite young men for informal conversations and offer them company. The interaction is used to glorify war and martyrdom, while gradually giving the individual a sense of belonging to a peer group and ultimately convincing them to volunteer for jihad.[9] In Swat, militants recruited young men by offering them the opportunity to ride in pickup trucks and hold weapons. These acts conferred social prestige and authority upon them, while political backing from the TTP offered clout.[10] Finally, in recent months the TTP has attempted to use Facebook as “a recruitment center” for media work as well, organizing a virtual community of radicals.[11]

For complete article, click here

Afghanistan’s Parties in Transition

Asia Briefing N°141 26 Jun 2013


Political parties are developing slowly in Afghanistan, discouraged by electoral laws and fragmented ethnic politics, but starting to shed their legacy as armed groups. Their newfound legitimacy will face its most serious challenge during the 2014 presidential election and 2015 parliamentary polls, as parties scramble to ensure their place in the new order that will follow the end of President Hamid Karzai’s constitutional mandate. Many obstacles remain, as the outgoing government threatens to revoke the licences of many, if not all, political parties, and introduce tough regulations on political party activity. The jostling for power could inflict lasting damage on the political system, because the government’s effort to curtail the number of parties, while a popular measure among many Afghans, could shut out moderate political movements and emerging youth organisations, leaving voters with limited choices among only the biggest of thetanzims, or former mujahidin parties. For its part, the international community should condition financial assistance on further government efforts to promote multiparty politics.

Some parties with roots as northern militias are preparing to rally their supporters for street demonstrations that could turn violent. This comes as all the major political players are leveraging pre-election displays of strength in negotiations over slates of presidential and vice presidential candidates. Major opposition players, including traditional rivals such as Junbish-i-Meli-Islami, Hizb-e Islami and the Jamiat-i Islami factions – leading representatives of the Uzbek, Pashtun and Tajik ethnic groups, respectively – are showing unprecedented unity in their calls for electoral reform. However, their activism, albeit for commendable goals, could lead to further destabilisation in the transition period.

Indeed, any profound disruption in Kabul politics would leave an opening for the armed insurgency. Failure to see an understanding emerge between the Palace, parliament, political parties and civil society on remaining electoral reform issues or another veto of the reform law approved by parliament would undermine hopes for a stable transition and play even more directly into the hands of the insurgency. Irrespective of political parties’ technical progress, if there is again manipulation in the manner of the 2009 and 2010 elections, the 2014 winner may lack the credibility and legitimacy the new era will require.

For their part, the Taliban do not seem prepared to launch a political party. Despite recent announcements to the contrary from ex-Taliban figures and the successful entry of another armed opposition group, Hizb-e Islami, into mainstream politics, the insurgents’ primary mode of political expression in the near future will remain fighting, not party politics. Nor does the opening of a political office in Doha offer any likelihood of a change in Taliban strategy in relation to entering politics. The overall implications for the coming elections – good or bad – remain unclear.

This briefing builds on earlier Crisis Group reporting on Afghanistan’s political parties to provide an overview of their current position and analyse their ability and willingness to shape the transition to the post-Karzai era, after a decade of government efforts to restrict political party functioning. It is based on interviews with political party and other stakeholders in Kabul and four regional centres of Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Jalalabad. Without undertaking a detailed assessment of the insurgency, the briefing also includes interviews with insurgents to assess Taliban attitudes toward the party system. Its findings include the need for:


India should learn from the resolve with which China pursues Africa for economic and strategic profits, writes Abhijit Bhattacharyya

National interests

Whereas China’s global trade in 2012 stood at $3867 billion against India’s $795 billion, bilateral trade between the two touched $68 billion, with a surplus for Beijing and a minus-38 per cent deficit for New Delhi. For India, however, the main cause for concern originates from financial and industrial limitations. These two sectors are being resolutely and relentlessly pursued by Beijing to out-perform virtually every nation of the world.

With a shrinking Europe and a somewhat subdued United States of America, the Chinese appear to have launched a long-term ‘mission Africa’ for a variety of benefits like trade, industry, finance and agriculture which will virtually — if not literally — put them at par with the indisputable numero uno status of the US of yesterday. For proof of this, one might look at the Chinese presence in the “dark continent” of Africa — a Western notion of yesteryears — with special reference to at least four landlocked states that are geopolitically vulnerable in general, volatile, and yet can offer a foothold in areas where normally one can find it difficult to manage, maintain and retain one’s hegemony.

At least four landlocked states (a landlocked state is inherently disadvantaged owing to lack of access to high seas) have become beneficiaries of the long-term and strategic goal of China in Africa. Uganda is one of the first African landlocked countries which is being funded for the construction of a 600-megawatt Karuma hydro-power plant, the biggest project thereof, along the river Nile. This aside, a Chinese oil company is also building a mega-refinery with the facility to export crude oil to Kenya. Reportedly, Uganda could not have got a better foreign partner for its ambitious but cash-starved projects.

Another landlocked state, Zambia, also has got hold of Chinese companies to enter the mineral industry, agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure construction along with technology transfer, thereby enlarging the Beijing’s footprint as the mentor of Zambia’s economic engine.

Zimbabwe is the third landlocked state of Africa to have been caught on the Chinese radar in recent times. The state procurement board of Zimbabwe has given a contract worth $1.3 billion to China Machinery Engineering Corporation for the extension of Hwange Thermal Power Station. Consequently, Zimbabwe’s relation with China has dramatically warmed up owing to the latter’s contribution to improving the acute power shortage of the former. In a parallel development, the Chinese construction giant, Jiangsu International Economic & Technical Co-operation Group, has undertaken a major overhaul of the Victoria Falls airport with a $202 million loan being financed by the Export-Import Bank of China.

Rwanda is the fourth landlocked state which has developed close and warm relations with Beijing after it has reportedly given an estimated $650 million contract to China State Construction Engineering Corporation for the construction of a new international airport at Bugesera. And it is expected that a developing Rwanda will turn to the Export-Import Bank of China for funding for the project.

The Chinese displayed a profound sense of diplomatic enterprise when the South African state oil company, Petro SA, and Beijing’s Sinopec Group signed an agreement to establish the Mthombo oil refinery (South Africa’s biggest) in the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, during the visit of President Xi Jinping to attend the BRICS summit in March 2013. No other participant (Brazil, Russia or India) of the said club had anything to show in comparison to the Chinese enterprise.

Indeed, the Chinese appear to be spreading to all corners of Africa — fast and with ferocity. In Nigeria, the Omotosho Power Plant has been offered to the State-owned China Machinery Engineering Corporation for $217.5 million. Not only that, Beijing is providing loans to Nigeria to fund rail, aviation and energy projects; in return, Nigeria is privatizing its State-owned companies, preferring to hand them over to the Chinese.

The Chinese are also reaching out to Liberia for development, upgradation and maintenance of hospitals, broadcasting, agriculture and vocational skills with financial assistance, in order to have diplomatic grip and politically outmanoeuvre all others, a skill which is distinctive owing to the conspicuous absence of a common Western practice adopted in Africa and in the ‘third world’ with fleet operations and military troops as back-up factors to show off and conquer.

In the southwestern tip of Africa, the sparsely populated (2.1 million) Namibia, with its 15.7 per cent uranium and 16.5 per cent diamonds exports, has caught the attention of Beijing. Both countries announced the setting up of a new uranium mine called Husab in April 2013 involving an approximate cost of $129 million and a likely production in two years.

China’s Response to the Islamist Threat in Mali

David Shinn, an adjunct professor at George Washington University
June 21, 2013

China has traditionally been relatively passive when it comes to dealing with extremism and terrorism in Africa. China’s response this year in Mali to earlier Islamist successes, which have at least temporarily been halted by French and African military intervention, suggest that Beijing may in the future pursue a more activist counter-extremism policy. 

Mali has faced a long-standing internal rebellion by the Tuareg people, who demand an independent state of Azawad in the northern part of the country. Partly as a result of mishandling the Tuareg rebellion, Mali in March 2012 experienced its first coup in 21 years. Al-Qaeda-linked groups took advantage of the turmoil and effectively hijacked the Tuareg rebellion. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, which splintered from AQIM, controlled northern Mali by mid-2012. 

Since its independence in 1960, Mali has had cordial diplomatic relations with China. Mali’s recently deposed president had visited China four times between 2004 and 2010. President Hu Jintao visited Mali in 2009. While China-Mali trade is not significant for China, it is important for Mali; China is its largest bilateral trading partner. China has invested about $50 million in Mali and is a major supplier of aid. Some 1,500 to 1,800 Chinese nationals reside in Mali.

Following the coup, China called on all parties in Mali to return to normal order and to uphold national unity and stability, a traditional Chinese response to such events. As the situation quickly worsened, China urged the Economic Community of West African States to lead mediation efforts in Mali, a response that is also in accord with its policy of non-interference in a country’s internal affairs.

By September 2012, there was a change of tone in China’s approach to the deteriorating situation in Mali. China’s charge d’affaires in the capital of Bamako commented on state television “we are going to bring our assistance to the extent possible, specifically in the military, where we already have a very old cooperation.” The clear implication was that China was ready to support Mali’s army in its fight against Islamist rebels in northern Mali. This was in keeping with another Chinese principle: maintaining a country’s sovereign integrity. 

As Islamist forces threatened early in 2013 to take over most of Mali, France launched air strikes against the rebels and quickly followed up by sending troops. Li Jian and Jin Jing, both researchers at China’s Naval Military Research Institute, in a Global Times commentary on 22 January suggested that France’s intervention in Mali was aimed at controlling gold mines and oil reserves. They accused France of being “the African gendarme.” He Wenping, a frequent spokesperson for China on African issues and director of African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, warned on 23 January that France’s involvement in Mali is risky and that France may be repeating the missteps of the United States in Afghanistan. 

Yun Sun, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, concluded on 23 January that China’s “tepid response” to the French intervention in Mali stems from its concern about potential abuse of the UN mandate as happened in Libya. She argued that China believes French intervention is a “dangerous challenge” to Beijing’s non-interference principle.

By 29 January, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson outlined an African-focused approach to Mali. He said China will support the International Support Mission for Mali, provide humanitarian aid and called for the early implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2085, which emphasizes political dialogue and deployment of an African-led force to respond to the security threat. China also pledged $1 million in cash for the African Union and “some other material” valued up to $5 million. These steps follow traditional Chinese policy.

On 30 January, the same He Wenping who was critical of France’s policy a week earlier stated in an interview that no Chinese officials have opposed France’s intervention in Mali. She added “I think the French military intervention was necessary . . . because the situation was very urgent; militias in the north of Mali were attacking strategic strongholds not far from the capital city of Bamako.” This statement of support for French military intervention in Mali was surprising compared to earlier comments and previous Chinese policy on Western military intervention in Africa.

Three Facts Revealed by Edward Snowden

Ma Jun, Research Fellow, the PLA Academy of Military Science
June 25, 2013

Recently, the United States has been blaming China for its cyber activities. In February, Mandiant released a report entitled APT1: Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units. Subsequently, the White House, Department of State and Department of Defense expressed their high-level concerns. Similarly, the Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2013, issued on May 6, points out that intrusions focused on the exfiltration of information from US diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors “appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military”. However, just one month later, Edward Snowden, a former employee of US National Security Agency, exposed the vast American surveillance programs and the fact that the US government has attacked Hong Kong and Chinese Mainland Internet networks for quite a few years. In addition to that, the Snowden incident has revealed three facts. 

The first fact is the vulnerability of US security. The Unites States is the only superpower in the world. With its mighty military strength, it can “wantonly” launch a war against any country in the world. Through Snowden, it is apparent that the US is so vulnerable that it has to use some mean methods to maintain its national security. With its overwhelming advantages in cyber technologies, the US finds it natural to make use of them to monitor hundreds of thousands of individual computers. Nevertheless, it cannot guarantee absolute security, which the US has been pursuing. The Boston Marathon bombing is a bitter example. 

The second fact is the sham of US policies. The US has claimed to establish an international order for cyber security and left no stones unturned in accusing China of hacking activities. The tone is getting more and more assertive and aggressive. The reality is, according to Snowden, the National Security Agency has conducted more than 61,000 global hacking operations, involving hundreds of targets in the Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong. A thief crying “Stop thief” shows the true color of US policies. As a matter of fact, before the Snowden incident, some had doubts about Americans’ propaganda. In the military and security fields, intelligence has been collected by fair means or foul. Is the US an exception? It is Snowden who removed the veil of falseness and confirmed the suspicion. It can be expected that the US will not give up the PRISM intelligence program, but intensify Internet-monitoring schemes and offensive cyber operations. 

The third fact is the hypocrisy of US democracy. The US society is said to be a model of democracy. Protection of privacy and freedom of speech have always been core US values, which it has been trying to export to other countries. However, Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency required nine Internet giants, including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, to submit phone logs and data, peeking into the emails, online chats, photos and videos of millions of common people. The US has flaunted that the Internet monitoring program did not target Americans or even foreigners on US soil, while Snowden’s revelations have exposed the hypocrisy of the US government. After the “PRISM gate”, those who intend to choose US information technologies and services should be more prudent. Those who worship US democracy should also think twice.