19 July 2013

Uttarakhand Tragedy: Religious Tourism and Overdevelopment

July 18, 2013

Runaway development and a surge in religious tourism exacerbated the damage caused by the recent floods.

Seventy-nine-year-old Abha Sharma perks up the moment you step into her room and asks after her two grandchildren. Have Shweta and Aveek come back? On hearing an answer in the negative, she sinks into her armchair and falls silent.

Omkar Sharma, 53, his wife Veena, 48, and their two children, Shweta, 14, and Aveek, 12, left home along with a hired driver for the Chardham Yatra pilgrimage to Uttarakhand’s shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri on June 12. On the morning of the 14th, Omkar spoke with his elderly mother in Noida, a suburb of Delhi. That was the last anybody heard of the family. They were on their way to Kedarnath, but its more than three weeks and there has been no trace of them.

“I have come back few days ago from Uttarakhand after spending two weeks there in search of my elder brother,” says Gyanendra Sharma, Omkar’s younger brother and second of Abha’s three sons. “My brother Vijay will visit Badrinath in a day to resume the search,” he confides.

“I know this is a hope against hope but what can we do? Unless and until we get some trace of my elder brother and his family I will keep on searching,” he continues.

The Sharma family is not the only one to have lost loved ones in what is one of the worst ever natural calamities in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. There are many others. Newspapers are full of stories of missing family members. The English daily The Times of Indiahas recently profiled a family in Delhi that has lost 29 of its members.

The tragedy in the north Indian state occurred during peak season, when religious Hindus from all across India and abroad crowd the four pilgrim centers from May to November.

“I along with five of my friends were on the way to Badrinath when the rain started on June 14. The downpour became so heavy that the houses and lodges located near the river banks started crumbling and in no time I saw many people getting washed away. I lost four members
of my team and it was just a sheer luck that I managed to cling to an upper branch of a tree and survived the devastation,” says Pankaj Sharan, a survivor who was rescued three days after the tragedy by an army team.

Ashutosh Mishra, a journalist with the news agency ANI, was one of the first reporters to reach Badrinath after the tragedy struck the mountainous state. Speaking to The Diplomat, he recounts “a very horrifying experience to see the scale of tragedy. I saw a father trying to quench the thirst of his young son by squeezing the wet blanket but the boy collapsed after a while.”

“Seeing the suffering, dead bodies and inexplicable tragedies I started shuddering while interviewing the survivors, sometimes my mike will drop off from my hand,” recalls Mishra, who spent more than two weeks covering the event.

Mishra believes that “no fewer than 15,000 people perished in three days of devastation.”

But Deven Verma, a Delhi based tour operator who had a miraculous escape says that “not less than 40,000 people lost their lives because more than 100,000 people journey through Badrinath to Kedarnath every day during the peak season.”

The state government recently announced that 5,700 people missing after last month's devastating floods will now be presumed dead. But it is not clear exactly how many lives have really been lost in the worst-ever Himalayan tragedy in India.

News magazine Tehelka, citing data provided by the state government, says that around 100,000 vehicles visit the pilgrimage centers three times each year. Since 2005-2006, the number of registered taxis and jeeps in the state has jumped tenfold. And since 2010, the state has built an additional 4,500 km of road, and has nearly tripled its total road length in the past decade.

Reuters adds that between 2001 and 2010, the number of visitors to the state rose nearly 200 percent to 30.3 million. With the state home to major Hindu shrines, about 70 percent of its tourists are there to visit religious sites. That is a worrying sign for ecologically fragile areas such as Kedarnath, a small temple town located 3,583 meters (11,755 feet) above sea level and almost entirely washed away in recent flash floods.

Environmentalists say that this unbridled development and growth of religious tourism has come at the cost of the environment, contributing significantly to the magnitude of natural calamities.

The journal Economic and Political Weekly comments that in Uttarakhand, a chaotic process of development over many year has exacerbated the effects of the extreme rain. Extensive deforestation of mountain tracts has caused soil erosion and water run-off. This has destabilized the mountain slopes and caused more intense and frequent landslides and floods.

Some 680 dams are in planning or construction in Uttarakhand alone. These dams exacerbate any flooding, as tunneling and excavation dump huge quantities of debris into ­river basins.

Indrajit Bose of the Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based environmental think tank, told The Diplomat that there is a lesson to be learnt from the Uttarakhand tragedy. “We have to understand that climate change is taking place. We need to factor climate vulnerability into planning. You cannot have mindless numbers of dams and hydro projects anymore. Don’t flirt with the natural course of rivers. The Himalayas are the youngest mountain system and whatever project we are launching an environmental assessment is necessary,” says Bose.

Bose laments the fact that “the disaster management response is not working properly in the country. There was warning from the met department of heavy rainfall and cloudburst but no action was taken to stop the progress of the pilgrims to the shrines.”

The unusual nature of the tragedy has shaken the faith of many believers. Many say that they will never return.

All for the want of a horseshoe nail

Janki Andharia

PTI IN TIME: In order to develop the field in India, the expertise and experience of the private sector should be drawn on. A rescue mission over the Alaknanda.

The Uttarakhand floods exposed that logisitics, key to reaching humanitarian relief speedily to victims, is a much neglected aspect of disaster management in India

Floods and landslides in Uttarakhand have once again challenged the country’s disaster management architecture. In the months to come, if we are to improve our disaster response, it is important that government agencies pay greater attention to a largely neglected sphere in disaster management — humanitarian logistics and supply chain management.

Disaster specialists acknowledge that logistics constitutes 80 per cent of disaster effort. It is a critical support function, which impacts the extent and quality of the outreach of relief. This is especially true in the hilly terrain of Uttarakhand. We have repeatedly seen that the challenges of disaster response are amplified when a region lacks infrastructure — roads, schools, health-care systems, storage facilities, electricity and so on. From the perspective of the survivors in Uttarakhand, four major functions are significant in the next few weeks:

1. setting up of quality protective relief camps with food, water, sanitation

2. provision of health-care facilities including psycho-social care

3. credible damage assessment including enumeration of survivors, the dead and the missing

4. clear communication from the government about what people should expect as the next level of help and assistance.

Is it safe to resettle in their village or town? When can they return? What kind of support can they expect? How would aid and relief be disbursed? On what terms? The government would need to take several decisions quickly.


Dr. Anisya Thomas Fritz, a co-founder of Fritz Institute in California, rightly argues that the speed of humanitarian aid is generally dependent on the ability to procure, transport and receive supplies. This is a function of logistics — a field that is reasonably well evolved in the commercial realm but remains weak and unexplored in the humanitarian sector in India.

Several critical decisions are involved. Judging where to locate relief camps and warehouses, sourcing relief items, at what cost, in what quantities, with what kind of packaging, and what one is to do to minimise pilferage and wastage. It would be of immense value, if supply chain specialists from the private sector could step in and assist the affected State administration with expertise. Many industries prefer to intervene directly through their own personnel rather than merely provide donations. A good professional team of supply chain experts, cognizant of the challenges on the ground could work with the State’s officials and help put together a system which will adapt to the context.

Warehousing and relief camps

Logistic companies can, for example, be invited to set up quality, temporary warehouses. This would help avoid the wastage that occurs when grain and material is dumped in poorly constructed godowns or merely stocked under a tarpaulin cover. Similarly, forms of expertise that exist in the country like maintaining computerised records, inventory management systems and establishing distribution networks need to be mobilised. After the Kosi floods, many relief camps had poorly constructed tents on uneven ground orshamiyanas that were no barrier against inclement weather. In fact, relief camps can be made more safe if sturdy material like a warehouse and partitions that give pregnant and lactating mothers privacy are used. If insulated well, they may help people through the winter in the present situation of Uttarakhand, since the government is unlikely to complete reconstruction in the next few months. Of course, the location of each of these will have to be approved by geologists as being safe sites.

International practices

The complexities of managing supply chains in humanitarian settings are many especially because no two disaster contexts are identical. It is difficult to plan for all supplies, their quantity and the location where they are to be transported. Besides, procurement is also affected by demand and pricing after a natural catastrophe.

Experience from all disasters suggests that in addition to storage, appropriate packaging for distribution up to the last mile is another level of challenge, especially in hilly terrain. Next, systematic transportation and distribution is possible if relief camps are mapped and there is a good flow of information. If information is scattered at various levels, the supply chain will remain weak. After a disaster, a flood of relief supplies without direction typically proves to be a serious problem. Working towards increased coordination should be a continuous effort although a fair degree of chaos is to be expected immediately after any disaster. Clearly, various components of logistics need to be looked into simultaneously.

Was it possible to capture Pak Occupied Kashmir in 1949

Issue Net Edition | Date : 18 Jul , 2013

Volunteers fighting the Pakistani intruders (Kabailis), 1947

It is often argued that India should not have accepted the UN sponsored ceasefire on 09th January 1949 since it was only a matter of few months before Indian forces captured Pak occupied Kashmir including Northern Areas and Kashmir would not have become a running sore. Undoubtedly there was a marked improvement in the military situation in India’s favour. Lifting of seize of Poonch in Nov. 49 was a great Setback for Pakistan. Much heavier loss to Pakistan was loss of Zoji La and link up with Leh in Nov. 1949. The successful action against Razakars in Hyderabad in Sept. 1948 had released sizeable Indian forces for redeployment in J&K. Death of Jinnah in Sept 1948 also introduced an element of political uncertainty in Pakistan. Also Pakistan’s limited financial resources could not have coped with a protracted was.

For decisive victory, it was necessary to bring Pakistan to battle across the international border as was done in 1965.

It has also been stated that ceasefire orders came as a big surprise to the senior military commanders conducting operations in J&K. a longer period of warning would have enable the troops to capture important tactical features and improved their defensive position before ceasefire took effect. But because Pakistan agreed to ceasefire only at the last minute, it was not possible for Govt. of India to give more warning time to her commanders.

The Indian army supported by the Indian Air Force had won several major victories in the last few months of operations before ceasefire. The long seize of Poonch had been broken, Zoji La was broken through and vital Srinagar – Leh route restored. These actions however did not break the back of enemy resistance. The Indian forces had spent their initial momentum, extended their supply lines and used up their stocks of ammunition and supplies. To launch further attacks, more troops needed to be brought from rest of India. Maintenance of additional troops in Kashmir in winters would have been a logistic nightmare.

Force levels in J&K in Dec. 1948
Force                                          India                             Pakistan
Div HQ                                        Two                                 Three
Infantry Bde.                               Twelve                             Fourteen
Infantry Battalion                        Fifty                                 Sixty three
Battalion of Irregulars                Fourteen                        Twenty four

Indian forces therefore had to operate in J&K under serious handicaps. The enemy could not be beaten by decisively by local actions.

Indian forces therefore had to operate in J&K under serious handicaps. The enemy could not be beaten by decisively by local actions. For decisive victory, it was necessary to bring Pakistan to battle across the international border as was done in 1965. So if the whole of J&K was to be liberated, a general war against Pak was necessary which India’s superior combat edge would have given them a decisive edge and would have made Pakistan to recoil her forces from J&K. There is no doubt that Pakistan would have been decisively defeated in a general war.

But that was a much wider question and wrongly or rightly the govt. decided not to have a general war against Pakistan. This decision was undoubtedly influenced by the British who, having created Pakistan, did not wish to see it dismantled. Nehru, the apostle of peace, must have hoped that Pakistan’s aggression in J&K would be a temporary aberration, that all enemy forces would be peacefully withdrawn from the state under the impartial advice of the UN and that thereafter India and Pakistan would have lived as friendly neighbours. It proved to be a case of colossal mis-judgment, consequences of which are being felt sixty five years down the line.

India’s Naval Aviation: Punching Below Its Weight

By Robert Farley
July 18, 2013 

Some readers of last week’s post on the Indian carrier program contacted me to suggest that I had shortchanged Indian efforts to develop naval aviation partnerships. In retrospect, I clearly understated the extent to which the Indian Navy has worked with other carrier-operating navies, especially the USN. For example, Indian pilots have been training (with MiG-29Ks) in the United States for several years, in preparation for the arrival of the INS Vikramaditya. The Indian Navy has also procured the P-8 Poseidon, which, in addition to its own good qualities, should serve to facilitate a closer relationship between naval aviators from the two countries.

However, there remain limits to the U.S.-Indian relationship. The willingness of the Indian Navy to commit to and exploit the expertise of the USN is laudable, but it would certainly help if the Ministry of Defense could help develop more coherence between strategic goals and procurement priorities. There are certainly upsides to India’s long-term military relationship with Russia, but the needs of the Indian military are moving beyond what Moscow can provide. India’s decision (hesitant though it may have been) to push through the deal with Dassault for 126 Rafale fighters is positive in this regard, as was the decision to procure the P-8.

And the carriers themselves are also a concern. As noted, INS Vikrant is expected to replicate the STOBAR capabilities of Vikramaditya, presumably with the same MiG-29K aicraft. We do not yet know what aircraft will fly off Vishal, India’s first CATOBAR carrier, but unless the Indian Navy purchases MiG-29Ks for Vishal (which would almost certainly be a mistake, given that the design will be over 40 years old), it will need to operate a different fighter on its largest carrier, with all the obvious consequences for interchangeability of pilots and aircrew.

And while some of the skills earned operating STOBAR and STOVL carriers can extend to CATOBAR operations, some cannot. INS Vikrant, India’s last CATOBAR carrier, ceased such operation in the mid-1980s, meaning that there will effectively be no organic institutional memory of such procedures in the Indian Navy by the time Vishal enters service. There’s nothing special about the Indian experience in this regard; the United Kingdom also faces a long road back to full operability with its carrier fleet, even after Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales come into service. Only the United States, France, and possibly Brazil continue to have experience with CATOBAR aircraft and operations.

Moreover, very few navies devote resources to both CATOBAR and STOBAR operations. The USN, which obviously commands immense resources, can spend money on both its fleet of giant CATOBAR carriers and its nearly-as-large fleet of nearly-as-giant STOVL carriers. The Indian Navy, on a radically smaller budget, is looking forward to a future of mixed STOBAR and CATOBAR capabilities, quite likely without many of the benefits of interchangeability between the two forces. Given that Vishal will, like all modern carriers, require the normal cycle of rest and maintenance, this means that key capabilities of the Indian Navy will be unavailable some 50% of the time.

Thus, while it’s surely positive that India is seeking foreign experience and partnership to secure the future of its naval aviation program, there remain serious questions about significant elements of the project. India’s carrier fleet may well pack less punch than it should, given the size and expense of the vessels and aircraft.

Why Do So Many Indian Farmers Commit Suicide?

By Zachary Keck
July 19, 2013

Since 2001, one Indian farmer has committed suicide every half hour. Is climate change to blame?

Like most modernizing countries, India has seen a decline in the number of individuals who engage in agriculture for a living.

In the decade between 2001 and 2011, for example, the government estimates the number of Indian farmers declined by 9 million people, which marks the first absolute decline in this segment of the population since 1971. As a percentage of the total populace, farmers declined by 7 percent during the last decade, and they now constitute less than a quarter of India’s population.

These numbers, in and of themselves, don’t necessarily constitute a bad trend. After all, a decline in the agrarian population could be a sign of increased productivity, or simply greater opportunities in the urban population.

Yet one harrowing sign of the state of Indian farmers is the suicide rate.

For decades Indian farmers have been committing suicide at alarming rates that are well above the rates of the population at large, which itself has been rising. Moreover, the problem does not appear to be getting any better; in fact, it is if anything worsening, despite the state’s efforts to address the problem.

One of the more authoritative studies on the subject, “Farmers' Suicides in India: Magnitudes, Trends and Spatial Patterns”, examined farmer suicides in India between the years of 1997 and 2006. According to that study, “Going by the official data, on average nearly 16,000 farmers committed suicide every year over the last decade or so. It is also clear from the table that every seventh suicide in the country was a farm suicide.”

This was, the study’s author noted, if anything a drastic underestimation of the problem. That is because, according to the author, many police officers only counted someone who had committed suicide as a farmer if they owned the title to their land, which an increasing number of Indian farmers do not. Additionally, as in many cultures, many parts of India consider suicide taboo and therefore family members are likely to report the cause of death as something else.

These numbers drew attention to the issue inside India, and various schemes were put in place to try to reverse the trend. Yet they appear to have had little to no success.

According to the latest census, which was taken for 2011, nationwide, farmers committed suicide at a rate of 16.3 per 100,000 farmers. This was slightly higher than the 15.7 per 100,000 farmers who had committed suicide per 100,000 in 2001.

Overall, official statistics show that since 2001, one Indian farmer has committed suicide every half hour.

But the real shock comes when one compares the numbers to the Indian population at large, which has also experienced a rising suicide rate in recent years. For example, among the population writ large, an average of 11.1 Indians per 100,000 killed themselves in 2011. Thus, India’s farmers committed suicide at a rate 47 percent higher than the rest of the population. The problem has become so bad that some states stopped keeping track of the suicide rate among farmers.

One of the interesting trends in India’s agricultural suicide rate is how concentrated it is among certain states in the country. Specifically, five states— Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh— account for a large (and growing) number of the suicides among farmers in the country.

Thus while the suicide rate was 16.3 among farmers nationwide in 2011, and 11.1 among the non-farming population, it was an astonishing 29.1 persons per 100,000 farmers in Maharashtra.

Overall, The Hindu notes, the “Big 5” accounted for just over half of the number of farmer suicides in 1995, but by 2011 the “Big 5” made-up over two-thirds of the suicides among farmers in India.

Poverty and debt are likely a large part of the problem. As journalist Palagummi Sainath, who has long covered the issue, notes, four of these five states are in the cotton belt region of India, and the price of cotton in real terms is a twelfth of what it was thirty years ago. Furthermore, the government removed subsidies for cotton in 1997, around the time the suicide rate among farmers began becoming apparent.

Interestingly, another likely culprit in the suicide phenomena is almost certainly climate change. Three of the “Big 5” are located along India’s coast, and like many Indian farmers, rely heavily on the monsoon each year for their crops. If a drought occurs they are left without a harvest that year, despite having spent enormous amounts of money on inputs like fertilizer and seeds.

The wrong father of the bomb

Fri Jul 19 2013

A new book in Pakistan raises damning questions about A.Q. Khan

I fell for Kuldip Nayar when I met him first in 1990-91 during a track-two dialogue between India and Pakistan. Many people in Pakistan consider the maverick journalist a friendly Indian, barring moments when he unleashes on us some home truths we don't relish. I hear that in India his fraternity is divided over his stature, but I give him full marks for one scoop that no other journalist in India can boast: A.Q. Khan's confession that Pakistan had gone nuclear. Kuldip probably still doesn't know what that scoop actually unleashed on Pakistan.

Kuldip had travelled to Pakistan in 1987, to attend the wedding of Mushahid Hussain Syed, then editor of the Islamabad daily The Muslim and currently a senator, who said he would give a "wedding gift" (sic) to him by throwing him together with A.Q. Khan, believed by most Pakistanis to be the father of Pakistan's atom bomb. The meeting took place and Kuldip was able to squeeze the truth out of him about a lab-tested bomb ready for delivery.

He thought the interview was sanctioned by the government — meaning President Zia ul-Haq — but the truth that came out this year indicated that it was planned and executed by General Aslam Beg, who later became second-in-command to General Zia and was close to Khan. He may have persuaded Mushahid Hussain to help in his plot to "showcase" the Pakistani bomb.

In his latest book, Beyond the Lines: An Autobiography, Kuldip tells the story thus: "thought I would provoke him. Egoist that he was, he might fall for the bait. And he did. I concocted a story and told him that when I was coming to Pakistan, I ran into Dr Homi Sethna, father of India's nuclear bomb, who asked me why I was wasting my time because Pakistan had neither the men nor the material to make such a weapon." A.Q. Khan exploded and boasted that Pakistan had made the bomb, adding the threat, "If you ever drive us to the wall, as you did in East Pakistan, we will use the bomb".

Kuldip proceeded to sell his story to a newspaper in London. On its publication, the proverbial excrement hit the fan in Pakistan. What happened thereafter has been made public by Brigadier (retd) Feroz Hassan Khan in his book, Eating grass: The making of the Pakistani bomb. The book painstakingly and convincingly proves that Khan was not the father of the bomb and he was punished by General Zia for having colluded with General Beg to make the bomb public. It says: "Islamabad's reaction to the publication of the interview was swift and severe. A.Q. Khan was first called to explain himself to Senate Chairman Ghulam Ishaq Khan; next he was directed to report to General K.M. Arif, the Vice Chief of Army Staff, who supposedly grilled Khan in his office. A.Q. Khan claimed that 'he was tricked (by Mushahid) into meeting the Indian journalist'. Finally, he was summoned to the president's house. Lieutenant-General Syed Rifaqat Ali, who was chief of staff to President Zia ul-Haq, narrated to the author how the wrath of Zia fell on Khan." After a normally polite Zia had finished with Khan, the latter was seen leaving "trembling and perspiring".

Hassan Khan is no ordinary author. He is an acknowledged "insider" who was once director at the apex nukes establishment called Strategic Plans Division: "Soon afterward, Zia directed the bomb-designing project to be taken away from Khan and returned to the dedicated team in Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). The newlywed Mushahid Hussain soon lost his job at Muslim. The Zia government deprived the newspaper of all government advertisements, isolated it, and economically crippled it, putting it out of business. [But] damage to the nuclear policy could not be reversed."

The "scientists" making the bomb were polarised between head of the PAEC, Munir Ahmad Khan, and A.Q. Khan, who was to head the famous Khan Research Laboratories. Islamist Zia had taken the "bomb" project from Munir because he thought Munir was an Ahmadi, and had given it to A.Q. Khan. (Under Bhutto, Ahmadi Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam had made a crucial "manpower" contribution to the bomb from his institution in Trieste, Italy.)

The book proves that A.Q. Khan did not make the bomb and does not qualify as the stud who fathered the country's "nuclear deterrent". The GHQ verdict was: "Munir was a sober, quiet and unassuming person dedicated to his work. A.Q. Khan was a glib-tongued flamboyant individual always in search of publicity and glory."

The Pakistani Spies You Can Trust

July 18, 2013 

The Pakistani ISI (Inter Service Intelligence) is their equivalent of the CIA or any number of similar intelligence agencies. The big difference is that the ISI has to do everything on the cheap and is constantly playing catchup to better funded outfits in the United States, India, Russia and even Britain (which has traditionally been tight with funding while getting a lot for what little they do spend on MI6). Recently the ISI was called out on the inadequacy of its efforts to play the lobbying game in the United States. To participate here foreign nations do not just hire lobbyists to try and influence American politicians, but also donate money to universities and think tanks with the expectation that they will have experts from their country to teach at the universities or join the staffs of the think tanks. The ISI is being criticized for sending second-rate people, who will have less credibility as college teachers or think tank authors. The Pakistani experts protest, but the criticism is well founded when you look closely and find that most of the Pakistani exports are politicians or former generals rather than PhDs from top rated Western universities that other countries use. 

The ISI itself is a bit of exaggeration. That springs from trying to do a lot (and often failing) with very little. ISI has other problems that are less visible. For example, inside Pakistan the ISI has some formidable competition that influences it its overall decision making. Inside Pakistan ISI is rivaled by an almost equally powerful, but definitely more low-key organization. This is the Pakistani Intelligence Bureau (IB). Pakistan essentially has three separate intelligence agencies: Military Intelligence (MI), Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), and the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Because the ISI is both a military organization, a spy agency, and one of the most powerful institutions in Pakistan, its activities and responsibilities have forever had murky overlap with both MI and IB, leading to confusion and rivalry over who is tasked with doing what in what areas. Military Intelligence is the least important of the Pakistani secret services, simply because it has the least amount of military and political power. Enough has been written about Inter Service Intelligence for most people familiar with the region to know that it is very influential, and very damaging, to the country's reputation and ability to defend itself.

The IB, however, is not only extremely powerful, but, far, more low-key. The ISI has responsibility for foreign espionage, paramilitary activities, classification and organization of information. The Intelligence Bureau, however, concerns itself exclusively with domestic security, espionage, and internal spying. The IB as an organization actually predates Pakistan as a nation by a considerable amount of time. The Pakistani Intelligence Bureau, along with India's Intelligence Bureau (both countries have the same name for their domestic intelligence services) is a direct descendant of the British colonial secret service.

Most people tend to forget the importance of the legacy of British colonialism and its considerable contribution to Pakistan's problems, starting with the existence of the country itself. There is technically no historical or cultural basis for Pakistani nationalism, it is a part of British India made separate during the dying days of colonialism. What the Pakistanis and Indians did inherit from the British, for better or for worse, was an extremely well-developed and complex internal intelligence apparatus, previously known as the Intelligence Bureau of British India. In fact, the long-enduring power of the Inter Service Intelligence is a direct result of the Intelligence Bureau. During the first Indo-Pakistan War in October 1947, the Intelligence Bureau was tasked by the newly independent Republic of Pakistan with the responsibility for all intelligence gathering, both foreign and domestic. While the IB was extremely good at internal spying, its failure to effectively carry out foreign intelligence collection and analysis led to the creation of the ISI, with all of the subsequent problems the ISI has caused. The IB's failure at foreign intelligence was not necessarily (and surprisingly in this part of the world) a result of incompetence, but simply the fact that the agency had never been set up to conduct foreign spying.

Currently, the Intelligence Bureau reports directly to the Chief Executive of Pakistan, be it the President or the Prime Minister. The IB monitors suspected terrorists, political activists and politicians, and, obviously, conducts surveillance against suspected foreign intelligence operatives. The IB spends a great deal of its manpower and budget attempting to prevent and counter known or suspected espionage against Pakistan by Indian intelligence services. The IB is attached to the Ministry of the Interior. Its budget and exact manpower levels are highly classified secrets. Despite its power reach inside Pakistani, the IB actually possesses no formal arrest power and, once it has identified a suspected spy or terrorist suspect, it submits a request to the police to detain the individual or individuals.

Intelligence Bureau operatives are regarded as being pretty good at spying and counterintelligence. Unlike the ISI, which is regarded, at best, as a renegade service, the IB has always been content to loyally and quietly perform its duties in the shadows. In the current War on Terror, American intelligence and military personnel tend to regard it as more profitable to work with Intelligence Bureau agents than those of any other Pakistani secret service, especially ISI.

Unpacking the Abbotabad Commission Report

Stephen Tankel Op-Ed July 16, 2013 War on the Rocks
Nonresident Scholar
South Asia Program 


Pakistan’s internal audit of Osama bin Laden’s death isn’t perfect, but it’s refreshingly honest and self-critical. The May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden was a national triumph for the United States. In Pakistan, however, it was a “great humiliation,” the worst since the 1971 warwith India ended in dismemberment. The security establishment had no idea bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad, not far from the country’s military academy. Nor did the military and intelligence agencies have any inkling the US had carried out a “hostile military mission deep inside Pakistan” until after said mission was over. Following the raid, Pakistan’s Parliament impanelled a commission. Comprised of a Supreme Court Justice, a senior police officer, a diplomat, and a retired general, it interviewed over two hundred people and reviewed thousands of documents. The Commission’s three-hundred-and-thirty-seven-page report was suppressed, but leaked last week.

Those interested only in a definitive answer about how bin Laden lived undetected will be disappointed. To fixate on this question is to miss many other insights that have bearing on U.S. policies toward Pakistan. This is the first of two articles analyzing the report from that perspective. Next week, I’ll tackle the report’s findings regarding the Pakistani military’s failure to prepare for, intercept or respond to the US raid, which the Commission called an “act of war.” Today, I will focus on the endogenous deficiencies the Commission identified that enabled bin Laden to remain undetected. Many of these infirmities also militate against Pakistani efforts to confront the country’s own jihadist insurgency. The geopolitical utility some militants provide Pakistan remains the greatest barrier to dismantling the jihadist infrastructure there, but as I argue in a forthcoming U.S. Institute of Peace report, there are numerous domestic obstacles as well.

Security Is Not Divisible

The house in which bin Laden lived out his final days was disproportionately large and the third floor was built without authorization. There was barbed wire. Bin Laden’s couriers bought the house using fake national identity cards. They never paid taxes on the property. There were four different electricity connections, part of a ruse to mask the number of people living there. The inhabitants burned their trash. Militants fleeing military operations in Pakistan’s frontier areas were known to have moved their families to Abbottabad and to have buried “martyrs” in the area. Abu Faraj al-Libi, a former al-Qaeda number three, was found to have lived in Abbottabad. Umar Patek, an Indonesian member of Jemaah Islamiyah, was arrested in the vicinity of bin Laden’s home shortly before the raid.

Among the questions the Commission seeks to answer is: how did Osama bin Laden manage to live undetected given all the irregularities associated with his Abbottabad domicile and the fact that the area was known have a strong presence of militants, including some high value targets? Without ruling out complicity on the part of rogue members of Pakistan’s intelligence services, the Commission blames widespread incompetence, gross negligence, a culture of corruption and an implosion of governance. All of these, the report stated, are symptoms of a national malaise.

Let’s take just a few of the above data points. The homeowners never paid taxes, but fewer than 10 percent of Pakistanis do. Nor is it unusual for citizens to engage in malfeasance when it comes to electricity. The use of fraudulent national identity cards is hardly uncommon, despite the fact that Pakistan now has a computerized national identity card database.

Leaving aside civilian governance, what about the police and intelligence services? Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) has displaced the police and civilian intelligence when it comes to counterterrorism, under which hunting for a high value target like bin Laden falls. The ISI lost interest in this hunt once it stopped receiving intelligence from the U.S. on the issue, a development that occurred circa 2005. The Commission asks why the ISI did not pursue this investigation on its own. No adequate answer was forthcoming. Even if no malfeasance occurred, bin Laden was primarily a U.S. concern and he would hardly be the first militant in Pakistan to benefit from benign neglect.

The ISI’s practice of selectivity with regard to militants – cracking down on some and supporting others – has created gray areas for civilian authorities. Fearing professional retaliation from the military and ISI, many civilian authorities choose to do nothing.

At the same time, political leaders have too readily ceded control of this space and shown little initiative to tackle Pakistan’s myriad internal security challenges. Civilian deficiencies and disinterest enable the ISI to rationalize continued ownership of Pakistan’s internal security policies, creating a vicious cycle. This does not excuse, but does help to explain, the failings of the local police, who the Commission criticized for gross negligence. As their report notes, the police and the civilian intelligence agencies are overly politicized, under-funded and lacking in morale.

Pakistan: Abbottabad Commission Indicts Pakistan Army & ISI

Paper No. 5529 Dated 18-Jul-2013
By Dr. Subhash Kapila

Introductory Observations

The Abbottabad Commission Report appointed by the previous Government of Pakistan to investigate into Pakistan’s inadequacies which enabled the United States to launch its Special Forces Operations to liquidate Osama bin Laden deep within Pakistani territory and that too in Pakistan Army’s major Garrison town of Abbottabad stands leaked and openly reproduced recently by Al Jazeera TV network.

The Report was handed over to the then PPP Prime Minister of Pakistan in January 2013 but had been kept under wraps presumably because the PPP regime did not wish to handle a ‘hot potato’ in the few months left of its tenure.

Pakistan’s present Government of PM Nawaz Sharif has chosen so far not to offer any official comments after the Abbottabad Commission Report stood leaked to the public domain.

It is not intended to dissect the 326 page Report here but to highlight some salient aspects of the indictments contained or implied therein.

The Commission referred to the collective failure of all organs(?) of the Pakistani State in being oblivious and unaware of the US intentions to mount Special Operations to liquidate Osama bin Laden ensconced deep within the protective perimeter of Pakistan Army’s major garrison town of Abbottabad. In fact the Commission coined the term “Governance Implosion Syndrome” to describe the failure of Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies, notably the ISI under direct control of the Pakistan Army Chief.

The defence of Pakistan’s sovereignty and any attacks thereon is the direct responsibility of the Pakistan Army Chief and especially in the case of Pakistan where the Army Chief is the “Supreme Commander” in virtually every connotation of this term.

Culpability therefore rests squarely on the shoulders of Pakistan Army Chief General Kayani in that the United States Special Operations could intrude deep into Pakistan’s territory and into well-guarded Pakistan Army cantonment housing premier Army installations and that too without any Pakistan Army interference or counterattack against a small body of US Special Forces as the operation was underway with a lot of gunfire and explosions taking place. It was only a stone’s throw away from the prestigious Pakistan Military Academy, which is heavily guarded by layers of Pakistan Army troops and Quick Reaction Teams.

On whose orders was the entire Pakistan Armed Forces set-up stood so paralysed and inactive for nearly three hours as the US Special Forces continued their mission to liquidate Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and exited Pakistan?

This can be gauged from the chronology of events of the raid and the timings incorporated in the Abbottabad Commission Inquiry Report appended below as an Appendix.

The Commission in its Report gave indicators but did not pursue to its logical conclusion the question of connivance, collaboration and cooperation by Pakistani elements in furtherance of United States Special Forces Operations in Abbottabad.

In its Conclusions the Commission reflects that “Culpable negligence and incompetence at all levels of Government can be more or less conclusively established by testimonies of interviewees. But connivance, collaboration and cooperation at some levels cannot be discounted. If some level of connivance existed it could not have been established in the circumstances in which the Commission operated. Some degree of connivance on a plausible deniability basis outside governmental structures was possible, some would say even likely.”

Which organs of Pakistan Government operated outside the pale of Government authority and structures? Obviously, the Pakistan Army, the Pakistan Army Chief and the ISI under his direct control, all of which are beyond governmental control in Pakistan.

Pakistani Defence Minister in his testimony testified “that he was not kept in the loop at all times by the bureaucracy and the military regarding not just this incident but the entire functioning of the Department”. What more can be said as to who controls Pakistan?

The Pakistan Army Chief chose not to be interviewed by the Commission and the Pakistan Army Director General of Military Operations in his appearance before the Commission refused to answer any questions about Osama bin Laden and the US Special Forces Operations.

The Pakistan Army Chief and his Generals, a law unto themselves, even though a civilian government existed in Pakistan, by all logical deductive analysis therefore stand indicted for what appears as collusion and connivance at the highest echelons of the Pakistan Army, in furtherance of the US Special Forces Operations in Abbottabad to liquidate Osama bin Laden. This stood reflected earlier in my Papers of that time. .

To argue otherwise would then lead to an even more damaging conclusion that the Pakistan Army Chief and the entire higher command structure were professionally incompetent and stood paralysed as Pakistan’s sovereignty was being trampled upon unopposed by US Special Forces Operations in Abbottabad after intrusion into Pakistan airspace unchallenged.

Either way on both counts the Pakistan Army Chief stands indicted even though the Commission may not have said it in so many words.

The Commission was constrained to ask many senior military officers including the Director General ISI “Is it the official or unofficial defence policy of Pakistan not to attempt to defend the country if attacked by a military superpower like the United States?”

Pakistan Army’s notorious intelligence agency operating under the direct control of the Pakistan Army Chief, and distinct from the Military Intelligence of the General Headquarters, logically stands indicted for its failure on all fronts. Military intelligence and civil intelligence agencies all testified that the ISI never chose to share any intelligence with them and hence a “dense fog” predominated their functioning.

From the testimonies of all military officials of the Abbottabad Garrison what appears was that ‘orders from higher up’ were that they should only provide outer cordons of the Osama bin Laden residence after the raid and let the ISI handle all matters pertaining to the aftermath of the US raid. What becomes also obvious was that even the Garrison Quick Reaction Teams which were on the scene in reasonable time seemed to have been held back from normal military reactions to such an occurrence.

Regrettably what appears from evidence is that not only Pakistan’s civil authorities and police set-up but also Pakistan Army outfits too stand paralysed by the ISI domination of all governance, law and order and crisis management activities.

Rather curiously the DG ISI Lt Gen Shuja Pasha made some statements before the Commission like “We are a failing state even if we are not yet a failed state” and further acknowledging that “The ISI was part of the systemic problem confronting Pakistan and that the real problem was the inability of the state to establish its writ”. Were these afterthoughts after retirement?

China Has a New Propaganda Machine -- and This One Can Fly

Posted By John Reed, Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer 
July 17, 2013

In a move straight from the U.S. Air Force's playbook, China is now fielding its very own flying propaganda broadcast plane.

Chinese state-run media is reporting that the People's Liberation Army Air Force has modified one of its planes -- what appears to be a Y-8 airlifter (basically, Beijing's version of the U.S.-made C-130 Hercules) -- to carry the kind of broadcast equipment capable of taking over a country's radio and TV channels. It's another sign that the Chinese military is slowly starting to close the enormous advantage that the U.S. Air Force has over it in the skies.

The new plane, dubbed the Gaoxin 7, will "give the enemy nervous breakdowns" as it flies through the skies, according to a hype-ridden article by the Chinese state-run Global Times.

Not impressed yet? What if we told you that the Gaoxin 7 will also (according to a translation of theGlobal Times article in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post), "limit the spread of enemy propaganda, affect the morale of the enemy's army, sow seeds of rumor and confusion, and send all enemy troops from soldiers to officials into a state of nervous breakdown, achieving victory without soldiers even having to fight?"

"After that," the paper says, "[dealing with] dropped enemy pamphlets and other propaganda items will be a piece of cake."

The Global Times article on this new "weapon of mass persuasion" has received its fair share of mockery from Chinese Internet users for its breathless tone (see this overview in the South China Morning Post). But as the article notes, the United States has a long history with these kinds of PsyOps tactics -- and they're a little more sophisticated than they might at first appear.

The Chinese plane appears to be modeled after U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command's EC-130J Commando Solo.

The Harrisburg, Pa.-based Commando Solos carry massive amounts of VHF, UHF, AM, FM, and military communications-band broadcast equipment capable of overriding the broadcasts being watched or listened to by the target audience and replacing them with a message of the U.S. government's choosing. Uncle Sam literally takes over your television.

We've been using Commando Solos and their predecessors -- the EC-121 Coronet Solo -- for decades to broadcast messages of doom for our enemies and love for our allies. They flew over Southeast Asia in the early 1970s, and traveled to the Persian Gulf in the early 1990s for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, during which they flew around playing messages designed to convince Iraqi soldiers to surrender. They made news again in 2011 for their role in the Operation Odyssey Dawn mission in Libya.

You can listen to one of the messages (broadcast in both English and Arabic here) directed at sailors in the Libyan navy here ("If you target NATO vessels, you will be destroyed," it says). But it's not all threats and bluster: in post-9/11 Afghanistan, the planes were dispatched to play Afghan pop music for a population that had been music-less for years under Taliban rule.

Useful? Maybe. The source of mass nervous breakdowns and surrender? Not quite. To be honest, we don't really know how much these PsyOps are aiding the U.S. cause; as Wired has noted, one of the issues with this kind of operation is measuring its effectiveness. We also don't yet know what China has in mind for its new plane. But if America's history here is any indication, we've got a long way to go before a flying propaganda machine manages to achieve victory without any fighting.

How Does Cyber Warfare Work?

What is cyber warfare?

Simply put, cyber warfare is the use of hacking to conduct attacks on a target’sstrategic or tactical resources for the purposes of espionage or sabotage.

That’s neat, but we just used some more buzzwords here. Let’s break it down even further:
Strategic or Tactical Resources: This is a bit of military mumbo-jumbo that basically means “things that help countries express their political will and/or wage war.” This can be a lot of stuff: guns, ammunition, and fuel for jets and planes. It can also be less obvious stuff: the morale of the troops, the political will of the civilian public, and the economic well-being of the country as a whole.

If war was chess, tactical scale refers to moving each chess piece to capture other pieces. Strategic scale refers to how you actually win that game of chess vs. your opponent.

It’s worth noting the difference between strategic and tactical scale. In military terms, tactical scale means stuff that’s directly used in combat (lit:focused on the ordered arrangement and maneuver of combat elements in relation to each other and to the enemy to achieve combat objectives” – DoD Dictionary of Military and Assorted Terms).

Andy Manoske, Geeky VC

Strategic scale is the scale higher than this: what it takes to win wars and not just single engagements and battles. This includes the resources at home necessary to supply and wage a war: supplies, guns, ammunition, factories, able-bodied men and women to man the lines, and a public willing to continue to fight.

Remember the difference between tactical and strategic scale. This difference is really important later down the line when we answer the punchline question of why does it threaten society.

Espionage: Espionage is basically taking information that wasn’t meant for you. In the case of cyber warfare, you’re going to be stealing tactical and strategic information: information about troop movements, the strengths and weaknesses of weapon systems, the dispositions of various and anything else about sensitive(read: necessary to wage war) resources that might be important to know.

Sabotage:Also called “direct action,” this is when we take an active role and go out there and do something. In cyber warfare sabotage can be something as benign as dropping a government’s website to causing a nuclear meltdown at a nuclear plant.It’s a pretty broad phrase, but just remember it means “do something” whereas espionage here means “learn something.”

How does cyber warfare work?

Nation/State-sponsored hackers (hackers either in the military of a nation/state or supported by said state) attack computers and networks that are involved with sensitive resources within a country.

They do this like you would hack any other computer or system: you learn as much as you can about the system, you figure out its flaws, and you exploit those flaws to either gain control of that system or destroy it.

The PLAAF 5th generation J20 fighter compared to the USAF F-22 fighter. It is speculated that the J20′s design benefited from classified research materials obtained through cyber espionage.

In the former case, you can then read privileged information not meant for you (espionage) that you could exploit to gain advantage over your adversary. You could learn how fast a missile flies and build a plane that can outrun it. You could learn where your target is moving troops and set up an ambush. You could learn about which scientists are important to developing those weapons, or which congressmen were instrumental in getting funding for said systems and personally attack them.

You can also sabotage people if you have control of those systems. What if I snuck a secret program into the source code of that missile that would allow me to remotely detonate it while it was on the ground? What if I could figure how the troops are communicating and gain access to their network so I could confuse them and sneak forces in to destroy them?

Worse, what if I attacked the civilian workers and politicians behind all of the above? I could defraud them by getting to their various system/network accounts and pretending I was them. Or I could use the information I gained to get leverage over them and force them to work for me (i.e.: blackmail them with info you found on their computer, kidnap their families with stuff you learned from their email, etc.).

Destroying these systems has a pretty obvious effect: you stop the computer control over the system and presumably stop it from functioning. A good example of cyberwarfare here is in using DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service Attacks) to shut down access to government websites and social media. This was an effective tactic used by the Russians during the South Ossetian War in 2008 to cause chaos and sew disinformation among the populace before and during Russia’s invasion.

Who does it target?

Cyber warfare is going to target any sensitive industry in your opponent’s infrastructure. This means obvious stuff like the military and defense and weapons manufacturers. It also means stuff like civilian factories that make weapons, mines, and other resource manufacturers that help those factories operate, and the national power grid that gives all of the above its necessary electricity.