23 July 2013

Chinese are coming…

22 Jul , 2013

After the Mughals and the British, it now appears to be China’s turn to encircle, enslave and make India a surrogate power. Apparently, China firmly believes that two tigers cannot live on the same mountain.

Under the weight of its collective incompetence, New Delhi continues to fiddle while Beijing unleashes a creeping invasion.

Pacifism may be good for the individual’s soul but it is suicidal for a nation’s security. With the advent of Buddhism, Tibet, wallowing in pacifism, lost its freedom. Yet South Block refuses to learn. Nehru was too petrified to come to the rescue of a small nation like Tibet. Nepal realized this and as insurance, opened up communication channels with China. The total collapse of India’s foreign policy saw Kathmandu exit our sphere of influence and become a vassal state of China. Bhutan will soon follow suit as it watches a helpless India unable to protect itself.

Under the weight of its collective incompetence, New Delhi continues to fiddle while Beijing unleashes a creeping invasion. The Chinese grand design envisions India as a surrogate power in Asia led by Beijing. However, the chinks in the Chinese armour are Tibet and Sinkiang. Despite the extraordinary infrastructure developed and the ability to induct multiple military divisions in Tibet, Beijing faces a rebellion, a wound that continues to fester.

Owing to the extraordinary incompetence of the Indian Defence Minister, the modernization of the Indian armed forces unfortunately is stuck in a groove for the last decade. Help of Western technology and India’s belated move to upgrade infrastructure in the North-east are points of major concern for China. Very few may have noticed that every time India moved closer to the United States, Beijing was upset and it successfully unleashed its lobby in India to counter this. Controlled media in Beijing vehemently criticized when the French Rafale was chosen by India for the Indian Air Force, terming France as ‘irresponsible’! Rapid induction of far superior Western technology into the Indian military and denied to the Dragon will upset the balance of power enjoyed by China in Tibet which the former is even today unable to fully integrate with the mainland. This chink in China’s armour needs to be exploited.

Chinese Goal: India's isolation and encirclement

19 Jul , 2013

Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Recorded history shows that India and China have loomed large in each other’s consciousness from well before the first millennium. As both nations became independent almost at the same time, it was inevitable that both will compete for domination in Asia. While China has gone about achieving this goal in a most systematic manner, our China policy is confused, timid and lacks focus and will laid out goals. The result is that Chinese have hemmed us in South Asia and it is ensuring that we are not able to break out from this stranglehold.

A hostile and nuclear armed Pakistan in the West, a sullen Nepal in the Centre, a bullied and frightened Bhutan in the North East and inimical Bangla Desh and Mynamar in the East.

In order to achieve this aim, the Chinese have employed a two pronged strategy. Overland, she is cultivating India’s neighbours – and has managed to put a ring of hostile/inimical states around us. A hostile and nuclear armed Pakistan in the West, a sullen Nepal in the Centre, a bullied and frightened Bhutan in the North East and inimical Bangla Desh and Mynamar in the East. This is amounting to strategic encirclement of India. In the Indian Ocean, the Chinese strategy is better known as string of pearls strategy. The aim is to acquire port facilities starting from Gwader and Karachi in Pakistan, pressurising Maldives and Sri Lanka to grant berthing and refuelling facilities and naval base in Coca Islands in Northern Andamans.

Vietnam Foreign Minister’s Visit to India July 2013- Reviewed

By Dr. Subhash Kapila


Vietnam occupies a special place in Indian hearts and also in Indian foreign policy formulations. This stands testified by the historical record of Vietnam-India relationship which now stands transformed into a Strategic Partnership.

The visit of the Vietnam Foreign Minister Mr Pham Binh Minh in mid-July 2013 to India therefore received special attention in the Indian media. Indians were delighted and additionally bonded to learn that Mr Pham Binh Minh was born in India where his father was the first Vietnamese diplomat to India.

The Chinese media expectedly displayed interest and focus on the visit evidenced by a TV interview of mine by a Hong Kong TV Channel and the pointed questions posed.

The Vietnam Foreign Minister’s visit to India was to participate in the 15th Joint Vietnam-India Commission meeting which reviews the progress made comprehensively in all aspects of the Vietnam-India Strategic Partnership and also to chart the future roadmap in reinforcing ties.

The Vietnam Foreign Minister also called on the Indian Prime Minister and had discussions on crucial contemporary issues. The highlight of his visit was an address to the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi which was attended by a select crowd of diplomats and the strategic community.

Impressions from media reportage of the Joint Commission discussions and the Foreign Minister’s Address at the Indian Council of World Affairs attended personally by me, reinforced the impression that the visit of Vietnam Foreign Minister was a success, as it should be between two countries with a good record of Strategic Partnership and facing common challenges in the Asia Pacific region.

Following the Indian Defence Minister’s forthright assertions on the South China Sea analysed by me in an earlier Paper, its further reiteration by the Indian Foreign Minister would be a reassurance for Vietnam.

Vietnam’s Foreign Minister’s address at the Indian Council of World Affairs was entitled as “Strengthening Vietnam-India Bonds for Peace and Prosperity in the Indo-Pacific”. The address basically dwelt on two major themes, namely, the global and regional changes affecting the Asian security environment and secondly the ‘Regional Architecture-India’s and ASEAN’S Role’.

While sketching the global shift of power to Asia and the attendant focus on the Asia region of major powers, Vietnam’s Foreign Minister stressed on four major developments impacting the shaping of the Asian security environment, and these were (1) China’s spectacular rise (2) United States strategic rebalancing of Forces in Asia Pacific (3) India’s ‘Look East Policy” (4) Japan assuming a greater active role.

While focussing on the above Vietnam’s Foreign Minister laid emphasis on the international responsibility to safeguard and protect the ‘global commons’ and the imperatives of ‘Strategic Trust’ which undergirds the responsibility of major powers to observe international laws and conventions and having faith in multilateral dialogue processes for any conflict resolution.

India’s overall stand on regional peace and stability, security and freedom of navigation along major maritime routes and the need to de-escalate tensions in the East China Sea and South China Sea by dialogue mechanisms was appreciated.

In terms of ‘Regional Architecture-India’s and ASEAN’s Role’ , the Vietnamese Foreign Minister spelt out Vietnam’s and ASEAN’s expectations from India of leveraging and exercising her growing political, economic and strategic leverages to safeguard regional peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific Region.

India-Bangla Relations - Can be more than Bilateral

By Bhaskar Roy

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Ms. Dipy Moni will be in New Delhi on July 25, 2013 on a three day visit. It is expected to be a preparatory one paving the way for Prime Minister Sk. Hasina’s official visit in August at the invitation of the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Ms. Dipu Moni is well regarded in India for her professionalism, and promoting Bangladesh both with India and internationally. This time, however, she has a difficult job because detractors and critics back home are focussed more on difficult issues than on the doables and what is being done.

At the end, however, it is not Ms. Dipu Moni, but Prime Minister Sk. Hasina who will be questioned by the opposition on two important issues – Teesta river water agreement and ratification by India of the 1974 Indira-Mujib land boundary accord.

General elections in Bangladesh is less than six months away. The political situation within the country is not exactly stable currently because of other issues. But the bottom line in foreign relations for the Bangladeshi opposition from the very beginning of the Awami League led government has been anti-Indianism. The opposition led by the BNP and its Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and partner Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) saw everything wrong with the new initiatives in India-Bangla cooperation. Their position reflected late Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto’s impassionate rant that, “Pakistan will have the (nuclear) bomb even if we have to eat grass”.

Bangladesh has been especially fortunate where quality manpower is concerned. The women of Bangladesh who come out and work against Wahabi and Salafi Islamic interpretation of Islam which the JEI and their allies are trying to impose on women, earn the bulk of the country’s foreign exchange in the garment industry which these obscurantist’s feed on.

For Islamist fundamentalists like the JEI who dream of creating an Islamic Emirate of Bangladesh much after the Taliban model, and also want to establish a federal relationship with Pakistan, India is anathema. India is seen by them as a Hindu country, and responsible for breaking up Pakistan in 1971.

The BNP generally follows a pro-Pakistan and anti-India line, and is willing to hunt with the JEI. Reports are coming out, (though not doubly corroborated) that the late President Zia-ur-Rehman, who fought against the Pakistan army in the 1971 war of liberation, was a deep plant of the Pakistani army. Existing evidence is that Zia as President of Bangladesh cleared the black listed JEI to resume political activities in Banlgadesh despite their anti-liberation role in the freedom struggle. He also helped bring back JEI Amir Golam Azam to Bangladesh after Sk. Mujibur Rahman’s assassination in 1975. There is more on Zia.

As Prime Minister Sk. Hasina prepares to come to New Delhi, the opposition has tried to divide the nation into believers in Islam and “non –believers”. The secularists like those engaged in the Shahbag movement (Pro janmo chatter) are labelled by them as anti-Islamist.

The opposition is tending to a position where anyone who opposes Sharia law is anti-Muslim. And they have succeed to a significant extent. The Hifazat-e-Islam Bangladesh was created and funded by the JEI and BNP for this purpose.

Prime Minister Sk. Hasina calls the shots in the Awami League’s “great alliance” government. From past experience she must understand that giving these right wing forces “an inch” will allow them to extract a “mile”, and the young people who support her and her secular politics will be dismayed and weakened.

It is amazing, however, that Sk. Hasina did not prevaricate for a moment to bring the 1971 war criminals to justice. She even put aside the trials on the assassination attempts on her life to bring to justice the assassins of her nation. In that sense she is her father’s daughter – self last, nation first.

Nawaz Sharif and India

By Wilson John and Aryaman Bhatnagar
17 July 2013

Nawaz Sharif's return as the Prime Minister of Pakistan in early June this year marks a signpost from where a more meaningful relationship between India and Pakistan could be forged. This brief examines why it is important for India to work with Prime Minister Sharif and why Sharif may find it in Pakistan's interest to do so. 

What Hindus can & should be proud of Ramachandra Guha

July 23, 2013 

Those who care for the future of the religion should valorise the work of reformers who rid an ancient, ossified faith of its divisions, prejudices, and closed-mindedness

A bhadralok friend of mine is of the view that the Government of India should celebrate every December 16 as Vijay Diwas, Victory Day, to mark the surrender in 1971 of the Pakistani forces in Dhaka to the advancing Indian Army. My friend argues that such a celebration would take Indians in general, and Hindus in particular, out of the pacifist, defeatist mindset that he claims has so crippled them. The triumph in Dhaka represents for him the finest moment in a millenia otherwise characterised by Indian (and more specifically Hindu) humiliation at the hands of foreigners.

I was reminded of my friend’s fond fantasy when reading about the posters in Mumbai recently put up by members of the Bharatiya Janata Party. These carry portraits of a prominent BJP leader, with two accompanying slogans: ‘I AM A HINDU NATIONALIST,’ in English, and ‘Garv sé Kaho Ham Hindu Hain’, in Hindi. The latter slogan needs perhaps to be translated for south Indian readers, and set in context for younger ones. ‘Proudly Proclaim Our Hindu-Ness’, would be a faithful rendition. The slogan originates in the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign of the 1980s and 1990s, when it was used by the VHP, RSS, BJP, and Bajrang Dal cadres to mobilise men and materials in the drive to demolish a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya believed by many to be sited on the birthplace of the (mythical) God Ram.

Victory in Dhaka

Should Hindus be proud of the Indian Army’s victory in Dhaka in 1971? Perhaps as Indians, but not specifically as Hindus. The war had its basis in the savage repression of Bengalis in East Pakistan by the West Pakistan Army. The refugees who came to India were both Hindus and Muslims. The help rendered to them by the Government of India did not discriminate according to their faith. As for the Indian military campaign, the chief commander in the field was a Jew, his immediate superior a Sikh. A Parsi served as Chief of Army Staff. His own superior, the Prime Minister of India, had notoriously been disallowed from entering the Jagannath temple in Puri because she had not married a Hindu.

To be sure, many soldiers and officers in the Indian Army were of Hindu origin. Yet they never saw themselves in narrowly communal terms. In our armed forces, then and now, Hindu and Muslim, Christian and Sikh, Parsi and Jew, lived, laboured and struggled together.

Amartya Sen: India's dirty fighter

Half of Indians have no toilet. It's one of many gigantic failuresthat have prompted Nobel prize-winning academic Amartya Sen to write a devastating critique of India's economic boom

By Madeleine Bunting
16 July 2013 

The roses are blooming at the window in the immaculately kept gardens of Trinity College, Cambridge and Amartya Sen is comfortably ensconced in a cream armchair facing shelves of his neatly catalogued writings. There are plenty of reasons for satisfaction as he approaches his 80th birthday. Few intellectuals have combined academic respect and comparable influence on global policy. Few have garnered quite such an extensive harvest of accolades: in addition to his Nobel prize and more than 100 honorary degrees, last year he became the first non-US citizen to be awarded the National Medal for the Humanities.

But Sen doesn't do satisfaction. He does outrage expressed in the most reasonable possible terms. What he wants to know is where more than 600 million Indians go to defecate.

"Half of all Indians have no toilet. In Delhi when you build a new condominium there are lots of planning requirements but none relating to the servants having toilets. It's a combination of class, caste and gender discrimination. It's absolutely shocking. Poor people have to use their ingenuity and for women that can mean only being able to relieve themselves after dark with all the safety issues that entails," says Sen, adding that Bangladesh is much poorer than India and yet only 8% don't have access to a toilet. "This is India's defective development."

Despite all the comfort and prestige of his status in the UK and the US – he teaches at Harvard – he hasn't forgotten the urgency of the plight of India's poor, which he first witnessed as a small child in the midst of the Bengal famine of 1943. His new book, An Uncertain Glory, co-written with his long-time colleague Jean Drèze, is a quietly excoriating critique of India's boom.

It's the 50% figure which – shockingly – keeps recurring. Fifty per cent of children are stunted, the vast majority due to undernourishment. Fifty per cent of women have anaemia for the same
reason. In one survey, there was no evidence of any teaching activity in 50% of schools in seven big northern states, which explains terrible academic underachievement.

Despite considerable economic growth and increasing self-confidence as a major global player, modern India is a disaster zone in which millions of lives are wrecked by hunger and by pitiable investment in health and education services. Pockets of California amid sub-Saharan
Africa, sum up Sen and Drèze.

The details are outrageous but the outlines of this story are familiar and Sen and Drèze are losing patience (they have collaborated on several previous books) and their last chapter is entitled The Need for Impatience. They want attention, particularly from the vast swath of the Indian middle classes who seem indifferent to the wretched lives of their neighbours. So they have aimed their critique at India's national amour-propre by drawing unfavourable comparisons, firstly with the great rival China but even more embarrassingly with a string of south Asian neighbours.

An Indian boy defecates in the open in one of New Delhi's slums. Photograph: AP Photo/Kevin Frayer

"There are reasons for India to hang its head in shame. Alongside the success, there have been gigantic failures," says Sen. He is making this critique loud and clear in the media on both sides of the Atlantic ahead of the book's launch in India this week. "India will prick up its ears when comparisons with China are made, but the comparison is not just tactical. China invested in massive expansion of education and healthcare in the 70s so that by 1979, life expectancy was 68 while in India it was only 54."

The gathering storm

By Vikram Sood
20 July 2013

A former colleague remarked the other day that the Abbottabad inquiry report revelations reminded him of the Hamoodur Rehman Commission report that had indicted the Pakistan Army for the 1971 debacle. 

Both the reports show the Pakistan Army in a poor light, even decrepit. The important news is not that Osama is dead. The more important aspect is that he felt secure or was made to feel so in Pakistan for nine years. 

The important question then would be whether the Pakistan Army with its much-touted reach and ability was complicit in hiding Osama bin Laden for nine years and therefore devious. Or was it oblivious, therefore, incompetent and just did not know that Osama was living a few miles away from its military academy in Kakul. 

An army that claims it controls the life of the nation cannot possibly say that there are rogue radicalised elements within it who would have hidden Osama in opposition to instructions. Or maybe they are not really rogue elements. This leaves Pakistan in a dangerous state even if its leaders may not want to see it that way. 

When a State nurtures jihadi terrorists as force equalisers in pursuit of national interests, the consequences eventually become unacceptable to the world. Isolation results and creates further radicalisation of society. Intolerance does not start with an epidemic; it begins with small isolated incidents that most people ignore. 

When members of the Sunni militia regularly massacre Shias in Pakistan because of their beliefs and the authorities seem unable to prevent it, then we are looking at a gathering storm. 

The Lal Masjid episode of 2007 and its aftermath and the assassination of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer in January 2011 were clear markers of radicalisation in Punjabi society. The manner in which the assassin was lionised, the difficulty that the family had in hiring lawyers, the inability of the Punjab Assembly to condemn the assassination, and the fear of the judge who handed over the punishment and had to flee, were indications of what had happened. 

Radical and violent sections of society have serious problems being tolerant or acknowledging its history and legacy. There is very little possibility of negotiating with such groups and they have to be militarily defeated. This is not simple as militancy has developed a huge support base in Punjab. 

The Lal Masjid raid had been followed by a spurt of successful violent attacks by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan against the army's establishment, mostly in Punjab. Then suddenly all these stopped and Punjab-based militant outfits have been concentrating in the triangle between Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar up to distant Gilgit-Baltistan. 

Some of the most vicious anti-Shia attacks have occurred in areas west of the Indus. Ultimately Punjab became quiet enough for the main political parties to take help from right-wing extremists like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and others in their May election campaign. 

The Pakistan Army draws most of its recruits from Punjab, which is also where all the major Pakistani military formations are deployed along with strategic nuclear assets. The province remains the heart of jihadi recruitment and a terrorist haven. 

The army with its own tendencies towards radical beliefs cannot escape radicalisation as the recruits come from the same recruiting source and have the same influences. 

Pakistan's military establishment's consistent policy since the Afghan jihad created, nurtured and strengthened the Taliban till 2001. The duplicity, as they pretended to support the US-led effort against the al-Qaeda and the Taliban was epitomised in the hunting down of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. 

Violence in Lyari: New Fissures in Karachi

The insecurities of populace in Karachi and interior Sindh have increased, as both Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which is by and large perceived to be a Sindhi dominated party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which represents the Mohajirs, or the migrants from India, have been weakened considerably after the 2013 elections. For last few years, the ethnic equilibrium in Karachi has been disturbed and there have been apprehensions of ethnic violence as the Mohajirs, who dominated the city have lost their numerical majority. The city has in the recent past been afflicted by sectarian violence and attacks by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). However, amidst all the existing strands of violence in Karachi, a new ethnic faultline has emerged in Lyari, a suburb of Karachi, one of the eighteen constituent towns of Karachi. Amongst all the towns that constitute Karachi, Lyari is the oldest settlement, smallest in area and most densely populated. Its one million plus population is a multitude of religious and ethnic groups. Although, Hindus, Bohris, Ismailis, Sindhis, Mohajirs, Punjabis, Pakhtoons and Seraiki speakers reside there, most of the inhabitants are either Baloch or Kutchi Memons and Gujrati Kathiawaris, who have migrated from Kutch and Kathiawar in India. 

For some years now, poverty stricken Lyari has been the nerve centre of Pakistani underworld. Most of the gangsters, who indulged in all sorts of illegal activities, including extortion, kidnapping, illegal arms trade and narcotics, resided there. The locality, which does not have clean drinking water or adequate educational facilities, has also become a security black hole with most of the residents depending on gangsters to provide them security. Most of these underworld dons are Baloch and have traditionally had close contacts with various factions of PPP and consequently, Lyari has remained a PPP bastion in a city dominated by MQM. One cannot even enter many of the territories without clearance from these gangsters. In fact most security personnel usually avoid venturing into the narrow lanes of Lyari, which provided good hiding places to the resident gangsters, while hampering the movement of security forces. For long, gang wars between the supporters of two Baloch underworld dons Rehman ‘Dakait’ and Arshad Pappu led to large-scale violence in Lyari. Both were considered close to the PPP and at times dabbled with politicians from MQM. Lyari remained a stronghold of PPP and Rehman is believed have been involved in providing security to Benazir. In 2008, Rehman, who had acquired a Robin Hood image and had political ambitions, established Peoples Amn (peace) Committee (PAC), which brought together most of the disparate gangsters under one umbrella, ironically with an avowed objective of establishing peace. Rehman was killed in 2009 in a dubious encounter by the police, however, his successor Uzair Jan Baloch has consolidated his hold over Lyari with the help of PAC and influences the politics of the area. So strong has been his hold over the area that Nabeel Gabol, the PPP Member of Parliament who had won both 2002 and 2008 elections with resounding margins from the constituency, could not even enter Lyari as he was not in the good books of PAC. 

During the last few years, the security agencies made numerous raids into the locality allegedly at the behest of Gabol and some other PPP politicians, with the intentions of capturing these gangsters and marginalizing the influence of PAC. However, they have not been able to garner success, despite using large force. In April 2012, at the behest of MQM and some PPP functionaries like Gabol, a massive operation was launched in Lyari by the Pakistani Rangers, a paramilitary force. The operation, which used Armoured Personnel Carriers and lasted eight days resulted in killing of 40 people and injuries to 150 including 28 policemen, but the security personnel could not reach their intended target. The rangers were stopped by women and children pouring into the streets and throwing stones. The PAC, which had been outlawed by then, put road blocks into the narrow streets to stall the movement of the vehicles and attacked the Rangers with automatic weapons and Rocket Propelled Grenades. The government was forced to sue for peace and this surrender firmly established the supremacy of PAC in Lyari. Subsequently, in March 2013, just after PPP government had relinquished power, Arshad Pappu was publicly killed by the PAC in Lyari. Gruesome videos of his murder have been circulating on the cyberspace. It is alleged that he was arrested by the police and handed over to the PAC. With his elimination, PAC’s influence became all pervasive in Lyari, barring some Kutchi dominated localities. Meanwhile, Gabol resigned from PPP to contest the 2013 elections on an MQM ticket and lost his security deposit in the election. He was comprehensively defeated by the PPP candidate Shahjahan Baloch, a PAC member, who contested from prison. 

Sharif faces up to saving Pakistan from collapse

By Ahmed Rashid
July 18 2013.

On becoming prime minister of a troubled Pakistan earlier last month, Nawaz Sharif and his cabinet spent 90 per cent of the first few weeks discussing how to turn around the plunging economy and the 18 hours a day of no electricity that has shut down industry and agriculture.

His first change of track as he realised the depth of the crisis was from defiantly rejecting all help from the International Monetary Fund to accepting a $5.3bn bail-out from the organisation and possibly $4bn more from other institutions such as the World Bank.

Then in a series of meetings – a five-day trip to China, the visit of British prime minister David Cameron and a US-led investment conference in Dubai – Mr Sharif and his ministers were bluntly told that nobody, certainly not foreign investors, wanted to come to Pakistan due to the continuing terrorist violence and lack of security. An orgy of blood letting across the country has led to 170 people including nine foreigners being killed interrorist attacks since Mr Sharif came to power. More than 100 more have died in fighting between the Pakistani Taliban and the army.

Mr Sharif realised he had to simultaneously construct a security strategy to counter the violence before he could get investment and the economy moving. The result has been intense daily discussions led by Mr Sharif with the powerful military, intelligence agencies, experts and others on how to create a civilian-led national security strategy and even the setting up of a national security council under the prime minister – a first for Pakistan.

At the same time the countries with the most interest and potential of trading and investing in Pakistan – China, India and the UK – made it clear that Mr Sharif had to improve the country’s abysmal foreign policy and its isolation in the region – partly due to terrorists from all its neighbouring states, including the Afghan Taliban, hiding out in Pakistan.

Thus in the past few weeks Mr Sharif, a former businessman and twice a failed prime minister in the 1990s, has moved from a simplistic one-trackdesire to tackle the economic crisis to linking hopes for an economic revival with the need for a counter-terrorism strategy and a radical change in foreign policy.

A comprehensive strategy linking economics, terrorism and foreign policy is now on the anvil, but Mr Sharif still has to prove that he can deliver. It is Pakistan’s only hope if it is to survive as a viable state and not be torn further apart from a mess of problems and violence that even makes the situation in Afghanistan pale in comparison.

The previously elected Pakistan People’s party government led by a series of non-descript prime ministers and overseen by the controversialPresident Asif Ali Zardari had failed on all counts. It had declined to evolve any economic strategy, while handing over all security and foreign policy decisions to the army, which in turn constantly griped that the civilian politicians took no responsibility for counter terrorism. The need for zero tolerance of terrorist groups and the loss of sizeable control of territory to them was ignored by the PPP government.

Mr Sharif on the other hand is trying to put the civilian government at the centre of this new strategy. He appears willing to take responsibility for policy making and its implementation, rather than handing over security policy to the army. Yet he still has to take the army and its ubiquitous Interservices Intelligence fully on board.

Afghanistan: What Pakistan Wants

By Anatol Lieven

To understand Pakistan’s position in the conundrum of Afghanistan’s future, it is necessary to understand that in certain respects, Pakistan and Afghanistan have long blended into each other, via the population of around 35 million Pashtuns that straddles both sides of the border between them (a border drawn by the British which Afghanistan has never recognized). Pashtuns have always regarded themselves as the core of Afghanistan, where they form a plurality of the population (Afghan is indeed simply the old Farsi word for Pashtun); yet around two thirds of Pashtuns actually live in Pakistan, where they form the backbone of the present Islamist revolt against the state.

In the 1980s, the US encouraged this merger of Afghan and Pakistani Pashtun sentiment in order to strengthen support of Pakistani Pashtuns for the Afghan Mujahedin. In the 2000s, this came back to haunt America, since most Pakistani Pashtuns with whom I have spoken over the years regard the Taliban fight against the US and its Afghan allies in very much the same light that they regarded the Mujahedin fight against the USSR and its Afghan allies.

Pakistan’s Afghan policy today is essentially an attempt to reconcile the following perceptions and imperatives:

· The need to appease Pakistani Pashtun opinion and prevent more Pashtuns joining the Islamist revolt within Pakistan;

· The fear that if the Afghan Taliban come to full power, they will support the Pakistani Taliban and try to recreate the old Afghan dream of recovering the Pashtun irredenta—the Pashtun areas of Pakistan—but this time led by the Taliban and under the banner of jihad;

· The belief that the Taliban are by far the most powerful force among Afghan Pashtuns;

· The belief that Pakistan needs powerful allies within Afghanistan to combat Indian influence and that the Afghan Taliban and their allies in the Haqqani network and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami are the only ones available;

· The assumption that sooner or later the present US-backed state and army in Afghanistan will break down, most probably along ethnic lines;

· Pakistan’s economic dependence on the USA and on the World Bank and IMF;

· Pakistan’s strategic dependence on China, which regards Pakistan as an important ally, but which has also acquired potentially very large economic assets of its own in Afghanistan, and which certainly does not favor Islamist extremism.

If as a result of all this Pakistani strategy has often looked confused, contradictory, ambiguous, and two-faced—well, it would be, wouldn’t it?

All the same, at the moment, the basic elements of Pakistani strategy are pretty clear, and, crucially, there does not seem to be any important difference between the aim of the Pakistani army and the new government of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) under Nawaz Sharif: namely, a peace settlement in Afghanistan involving a new constitution and a power-sharing arrangement between the Taliban and the non-Pashtun populations of Afghanistan, which used to be grouped in the so-called Northern Alliance.

Winning or Failing in Afghanistan: Implications of Regional and Global Security

by H.E Shaida M. Abdali

Mr. TC Rangachari, Dr. Suba Chandran, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to thank the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies for hosting our gathering today, and for allowing me to share with you my views on the recent developments in Afghanistan in a regional context, and to discuss your questions afterwards. I’d like to start with a discussion of the Afghan peace process, which has recently captured international headlines.

Let me be very frank and say that the way the Taliban were allowed to hoist the flag of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” and to open an office in Doha, Qatar, under the same name was an attempt to initiate the division of our country into “fiefdoms,” as part of a zero-sum design to ensure strategic depth in Afghanistan.

But as we recall from the 1990s, this effort failed then, it would fail now, and it would fail in the future. It is a dead dream, which Afghans of this generation and future generations would never, ever allow to materialize. These misguided efforts at dividing and ruling Afghanistan have only unified Afghans, who demand a strong centralized government able to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity against any conventional or unconventional threats.

And that is why the Afghan people and government have strongly and rightfully reacted against the Doha events, which happened in outright violation of the core principles of the agreed-upon Peace Process. The venue in Doha was actually agreed to be a temporary political address where members of the Afghan High Peace Council and authorized Taliban representatives could begin meeting, and then the venue would relocate inside Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite the premeditated events of Doha, we remain committed to ending the war in Afghanistan that would result in further strengthening of our sovereignty and territorial integrity. That is the basic expectation of the Afghan people, the victims of more than three decades of war, who continue to fight and die day after day and year after year to ensure the absolute freedom and independence of our country, nothing less.

With that basic fact firmly in mind, the Afghan government and people are cautiously seeking a negotiated settlement with the armed opposition, including the Taliban, based on sincerity and honesty of purpose. And that means an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled peace process where only Afghans talk to Afghans, with non-Afghans only facilitating this at the request of the Afghan government but never try to influence the process towards other directions. This has failed in the past, as I said earlier, and it will fail again.

In that light, we have welcomed the reassurance by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to President Karzai of their firm commitment to the Afghan ownership and leadership of the peace process. A day after the Doha drama, the flag and plaque of the Taliban were removed. We have now called on the Taliban to abide by the agreed-upon peace conditions of Afghanistan, before we enter into talks with them.

At the same time, we’ve welcomed and appreciated the principled reaction of India, the Russian Federation, and a number of other countries, in support of the Afghan peace process. And I should also point out with gratitude the fact that India does not have an Afghanistan exit policy, which HE Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid recently stated at the 2oth ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Brunei

I am sure folks in the community are aware that professor gets huge funding from FSI and part of sponsored writing to put across Pakistani point of view from the Western perspective.

By Brigadier Arun Sahgal,PhD

My views are as under; 

There is a shifting discourse on India – Pakistan relations in the West holding rivalry between two nuclear armed neighbours as the root cause of current impasse in Afghanistan. The discourse runs on the lines that India - Pakistan are reaching a negative crest in their relationship underscored by growing economic and military asymmetry. This according to western analysts is enhancing the Pakistani insecurities that has resulted in three negative movements in Pakistani security discourse.

First is Pakistan’s attempt to increase its nuclear arsenal both qualitatively and quantitative, making it the fastest growing arsenal in the world. Second and even more destabilising is development of battle field nuclear weapons by mounting them on short range and cruise missiles. What is most dangerous and destabilising is the attempt to link these tactical weapons with their conventional warfare doctrine in an attempt to deny India so called space for conventional war “under nuclear overhang”.

Second perspective is the growing India – Pakistan rivalry and jockeying for strategic space in Afghanistan in a clear attempt to hyphen India once again. This perception is fuelled by nervous Pakistani military establishment which feels the future political discourse in Afghanistan including the Quetta Shura led Taliban may not be as favourable to them as indeed they have been able to perpetuate under the veneer of “TINA” factor and salience of Pakistan as logistic support hub. This is changing as the American and NATO forces begin their pull out and logistic route through Pakistan loses its relevance. What is more worrisome for Pakistani establishment is the fact even the Taliban in whatever form of reintegration it joins the political process they will also realise that for the future economic development and meting aspirational needs of “emirate” need to have good relations both with West and other major donor countries that puts India right in front.

So Pakistan is attempting to use its current leverages by creating post 2014 horror scenarios and draw on the shaken sensibilities of the west and cut a deal that ensures its post pull out relevance and curry favour with Taliban as an honest broker. In this melting pot they throw in the Haqqani group to provide further credibility to its strategic depth story.

However there is a change in the attitude of Pakistani interlocutors (Track II) over the past six months or so. Earlier they were dismissive about the West’s ability to hold fast in Afghanistan leading to hasty pull out following which the afghan Army they believed was sure to collapse. The import of both post 2014 scenario in terms of relative credibility of ANA seen in recent operational performance and feasibility of substantial presence of Western forces at least of counter insurgency and combat support operations including cross border drone attacks have made them to rethink their own position based on spoilers role? So the attempt now is to use its current but fast diminishing leverages to create a space in post 2014 scenario that ensures Pakistan’s interests are not harmed and use that as a base to leverage its position from thereon.

Third and last issue is improvement of relations with India and providing great publicity to these moves as a means to put pressure on India to help gain give both political and economic bargains as part of grand reconciliation brokered by the west. The current discourse of India – Pakistan rivalry being central to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan is part of this. Pakistani military establishment believes that as long as it can leverage both the cross border terrorism as also the conventional asymmetry through use of nuclear card it has little problem in managing relations with India. In fact Pakistan wants to use “regional stability” and “building bridges” with India card to extract maximum mileage in bilateral relations through Western pressure concerned with situation in Pakistan.

China’s Anti-Satellite Program: They’re Learning

By Joan Johnson-Freese, Professor at US Naval War College
July 12, 2013

Arms control opponents repeatedly and consistently use the difficulty in defining what constitutes an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon as a reason not to engage in ASAT arms control efforts. Broadly defined, an ASAT weapon can include anything that can destroy or disable a satellite, including by kinetic impact, ground-based or satellite equipped lasers, or, as the Soviets insisted in the 1970’s, a spacecraft like the Space Shuttle which maneuvers and has a robotic arm theoretically capable of plucking a satellite out of the heavens and capturing it. Some of these are clearly dedicated ASAT weapons with no other real use; others offer ASAT “capabilities” though perhaps not as its primary purpose. Clearly, however, under any definition the 2007 Chinese intercept and destruction of one of its own moribund satellites at about 850 km above the earth constituted the testing of a hit-to-kill ASAT weapon. China is rapidly learning both the technology and the political nuance necessary to develop an ASAT capability while avoiding international condemnation.

China suffered global condemnation after that 2007 test, primarily in conjunction with the over 3000 pieces of debris irresponsibly created by the kinetic impact that will dangerously linger in and travel through highly-populated low earth orbits for decades. Lesson 1 for China: Space debris does not distinguish between space assets. The debris created by their ASAT test put everyone’s space assets at risk, including Chinese assets. Ironically, the U.S. government has on several occasions provided collision alerts to China, so they could avoid debris they created. Therefore, creation of space debris is to be avoided.

The United States most loudly protested the test, but even it had to be careful about the language of the protest so as not to create potential inhibitions on its own ASAT aspirations, and to minimize the backlash regarding the do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do nature of its criticism of China. The U.S., after all, developed ASAT capabilities in the 1970’s, though it stopped overtly testing after recognizing the potential damage caused by the debris created. Furthermore, the Chinese have long contended that missile defense technology is basically the same as ASAT technology, a contention with which most American analysts concur and missile defense proponents ignore. 

After China conducted its kinetic test in 2007, the United States used missile defense technology in 2008 to destroy one of its own failing spy satellites, USA 193. Operation Burnt Frost, as the U.S. effort was called, received relatively little press coverage in the United States beyond space and security policy trade publications. In those publications, however, the operation was debated as a genuinely needed effort to destroy the satellite and with it the potentially toxic hydrazine onboard from reaching earth as it deorbited, or a tit-for-tat demonstration of U.S. ASAT capabilities. The U.S. destroyed the satellite at an altitude of about 250 km, low enough that most debris harmlessly burned up as it reentered the atmosphere, and received little international blowback beyond protests from China and Russia.
Hence the conundrum of dual-use technology – valuable to both the civil and military communities, and difficult to decipher as either offensive or defensive – makes a definitive determination of intent nearly impossible. As a high percentage of space technology is dual use, speculation regarding intent is often the best that can be done. Given the low level of political trust between the U.S. and China, both sides often assume the worst.

Operation Burnt Frost confirmed not only the symbiotic nature of missile defense and ASAT technology, but that missile defense tests largely escape the international condemnation of ASAT tests. Also, kinetic impacts conducted at low altitudes where the debris largely burns up as it falls through the atmosphere, or on a ballistic target to minimize debris creation, are politically acceptable. So the second lesson China learned regarding how to develop ASAT capabilities and avoid political condemnation was to not call testing its capabilities ASAT tests, and conduct impact tests in such a way as to not create long-lived orbital debris.

China: Space Program and Strategy

By  Narayani Basu
Research Officer, SEARP, IPCS 


At the end of June 2013, China launched its fifth manned space mission from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. Atop a Long March 2F rocket, the Shenzhou 10 spacecraft transported three astronauts to the Tiangong 1, a Chinese space station. What does the event say about how far China’s space program has come over the years? What place does space exploration have in China’s geostrategic ambitions?

Orbiting Ambitions

The launch highlights China’s growing space ambitions and appears to be one of the culminating steps to a three-phase program of slow but incremental advancement laid out in the 1990s. Between 1992 and 2012, China carried out the first two phases of this program, launching a total of eight astronauts into space. June’s launch of the Shenzhou-10 marks the beginning of the third phase of China’s space program. As part of this phase, the Tiangong-2 space laboratory will be launched in 2015, with an experimental core space station module around 2018. The ultimate aim is to build a 60-ton multi-module space station by 2020.

China’s recent launch comes at a time when the US’ space program is showing signs of struggling under changing budgets, goals, and policies. For example, the Bush administration’s plans to return a man to the moon was shelved under the Obama administration which put in place a crewed mission to an asteroid instead. China, on the other hand, has remained steady on its path towards achieving its ambitions in outer space, with the underline being on rapid development and lower costs. In a statement to the Beijing Review, Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s manned space program, said that the United States spends as much on its space program in one year (USD 6.35 billion) as China spent on its program in twenty years (RMB 39 billion). A key reason for this is the fact that the United States, Russia, and Europe began their ventures into space technology and exploration much earlier than China. Technology and infrastructure required for China to put its own program into place, then, already existed, making it less expensive and far easier to work with. Indeed, though the technology is already in place, China is putting much emphasis on using non-toxic and non-polluting rocket fuel for its newer rockets, keeping in line with the new leadership’s desire to make economic, political, and military strides while maintaining environmental cleanliness.

China’s space exploration program is making strides towards the completion of its third phase. On 15 July 2013, the Long March 5 – the rocket engine that will power the country’s planned space station – was successfully test-fired. The Long March 5 is one of China’s new generation of rockets, which feature larger carrying capacities and are being developed during the country’s Twelfth Five Year Plan period (2011-2015). Additionally, the country is also developing a successor to the Long March 5, called the Long March 7. A new rocket launch centre at Hainan is also being planned, at a total cost of RMB 5 billion. This new centre will host the launches of heavy geostationary telecommunication satellites, support missions for the construction of China’s space station, Tiangong-2, and will also help in furthering the country’s lunar exploration agenda.

Space and Geostrategy

Making strides in space exploration is part of the new leadership’s vision of a strong China. Indeed, the return of Shenzhou-10 to Earth has been hailed by Chinese leaders and citizens alike as not just successful, but a prestige-building demonstration of China’s growing technical expertise. The Chinese focus on progress in space exploration is, however, not so much about prestige as it is about the sheer importance of new strides in space for the military and economic progress of the country. Put plainly, it must be remembered that China’s space program is not only geared towards maintaining a global presence. If Chinese strategists are looking ahead, then space is, quite literally, the last frontier, in terms of future economic development and strategic advantage. One very real example of the kind of economic potential space offers is asteroid mining. Being rich in minerals and ores, asteroids are seen as essential starting points for goals such as establishing colonies on Mars or the moon.

One up-man-ship is not the only bottom line for Beijing. With the new leadership looking to put new, innovative and more eco-friendly ways of economic growth in place, China is looking to develop what several Chinese experts are calling its ‘aerospace economy’. To this end, China has been using recoverable satellites and the Shenzhou spacecraft themselves to carry crop seeds and microbial strains to space. The goal is to use cosmic radiation to mutate seeds and produce several different hybrid varieties of fruits and vegetables, with an eye to put in place new economic drivers and build an innovation-oriented country.

Space technology also has important ramifications for the progress of earth-based technologies as well, such as improved cellphone, weather, and GPS coverage and enhanced mapping technologies. With the United States, Russia, and Europe continuing efforts for resource acquisition in outer space, to further embed their strategic and military footprints in the arena, Beijing knows that it cannot afford to be left behind.

South China Sea: Beijing Likely to Employ Soft Power?

By Shresht Jain
Research Intern, CRP, IPCS 
18 July 2013

Hitherto, the real challenge for China in the South China Sea has been to safeguard its sovereignty. However, for Beijing to cater to its energy demands and domestic economy, it is expected to lessen its dependency upon hard power and rely more on the soft power it possesses. 

Why it is important for China to embrace soft power in the SCS? What could be the major components of soft power measures? And lastly, to what extent, this approach will restore confidence among the claimants of the South China Sea? 

South China Sea and Beijing's Soft Power

In Beijing’s perspective the effectiveness of soft power vis-à-vis the SCS dispute will depend on, firstly its ability to shape the preferences of other claimants; Secondly, its ability to legitimate Chinese values, culture and policies; and lastly, its capacity to construct rules and norms which limits other’s activities(majorly the United States).

In contrast to China’s reliance upon its military in the region, the PRC possesses advantages of abundant soft power resources. Cultural exchange between China and Africa can be a representative example of how China has been spreading its soft power. The commitment ranges from health and financial assistance to academic and cultural exchanges. China's expanding soft power might be demonstrated by taking a look at China's economic growth and economic engagement with numerous African nations. China's development of trade and infrastructural investment on the African mainland and the spread of Chinese-led Confucius centres could give a positive impression about China towards individuals in Africa.

In context of Southeast Asia, both China and its neighbours enunciate a broader idea of soft power. China appears to be using soft power to incrementally push Japan, Taiwan and the United states. For instance, China’s aid to Philippines in 2003 and to Indonesia in 2002 was roughly greater than the United States. Beijing has also rebuilt relations with South Asian’s ethnic Chinese organisations, and in nations like Cambodia, a feeder system has been created in which Cambodian student attend Chinese-language school funded from the sources in mainland China. 

Similarly, China does not want to take the risk of sacrificing its domestic economy by taking coercive measures. China’s leverage over Southeast Asia includes major economic interest. As late as the 1990s, the US and Japan were major economic partners of Southeast Asia. No longer- China has displaced both to become the major trading partner to the region. With ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement as a centrepiece, China has negotiated a plethora of economic agreements with the region including an array of infrastructure projects linking Southeast with southern interior China. In addition to free trade agreements with Southeast Asia, Beijing is negotiating closely with individual Southeast Asian states. In order for China to dangle budgetary carrots before the members of the ASEAN it is important to take some steps closer to its peaceful rise.

Kachchatheevu – Political Opportunism to the Fore

By Prof. V. Suryanarayan

Thirty nine years have elapsed since the signing of the India-Sri Lanka Maritime Boundary Agreement, 1974, which delimited the maritime boundary in the Palk Bay. As a consequence of delimitation the island of Kachchatheevu was gifted to Sri Lanka.

The tiny island was a part of the Zamindari of the Raja of Ramnad. When Zamindari was abolished after independence the island became a part of the Madras Presidency. The ownership claim was disputed by the Government of Ceylon; Colombo maintained that the island was a part of Ceylon since the days of Portugese domination.

New Delhi, under the stewardship of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, was very keen to maintain good relations with its southern neighbor. The two leaders did not want ownership claims to Kachchatheevu to become a source of discord. In that process they were willing to ignore the strong feelings of the people of Tamil Nadu, irrespective of political affiliation.

The decision to cede the island to Sri Lanka was governed by political considerations. It was a typical case of personal equation between the two Prime Ministers playing the role of diplomacy. In order to avoid a constitutional amendment New Delhi chose to ignore the historical claims and adopted the stance that the island was a disputed territory. What is more, though the principle of median line was adhered to in the delimitation of the maritime boundary, a deviation was made when it came to Kachchatheevu so that the island could fall on the Sri Lankan side.

Karunanidhi was the Chief Minister and the DMK opposed the agreement both within the Parliament as well as in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. The Tamil Nadu Government, however, did not succeed in convincing New Delhi about the justness of the ownership claims; such a stance was also essential to protect India’s territorial integrity and safeguarding the traditional fishing rights of Indian fishermen in the Palk Bay. 

For strange reasons Karunanidhi did not resort to judicial remedy to uphold the just claims. He should have challenged the ceding of the island to Sri Lanka on the following grounds. It was Indian territory and there was irrefutable evidence to prove the ownership claims. Second ceding Indian territory to a nieghbouring country requires constitutional amendment. It should be pointed out recourse to judicial remedy was successfully pursued by BC Roy, Chief Minister of West Bengal, when Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to transfer Beru Bari to Pakistan. Karunanidhi could also have insisted that the ownership claims over the island be referred to the Supreme Court for its opinion. It may be recalled that legal luminaries like MC Setalvad were of view that the island belonged to India.