3 August 2013

*** India’s Missile Defense: Is the Game Worth the Candle?

August 02, 2013

By Frank O’ Donnell and Yogesh Joshi 

India’s ballistic missile defense capabilities are rapidly maturing. Could this inadvertently make Delhi less secure?

On November 23, 2012, Indian scientists achieved a major milestone in missile defense: simultaneous interceptions of ballistic missiles at altitudes of 30 and 120 kms respectively. Such a feat put India on the map of a select group of nations, such as the United States and Israel, who have the capability of engaging multiple hostile projectiles. These tests, declared India’s premier defense research organization – the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) – were done in a deployment mode with higher echelons of the Indian Army and Air Force in attendance, making a strong case for eventual induction of this system into country’s defenses. However, with India’s missile defense capability advancing, questions abound on its strategic and regional fallout.

The History of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) in India

In 1983, India initiated the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), leading to the research and development of a series of missile platforms from Prithvi to Agni. In addition to these offensive missile platforms, IGDMP also developed defensive missiles such as Akash Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM). Akash was initially planned for air defense measures and equipped with a potential of conversion to Theatre Missile Defense System. Then, in the 1990s, DRDO started conceptualizing a missile defense plan for India. The actual transformation of Akash SAM into an anti-tactical missile defense began in earnest during this period. 

The stated objective of this program was to develop a system that could intercept ballistic missiles with ranges of up to 2,000 km by 1997. However, technological incapacity as well as non-proliferation measures by the international community created hurdles in the process. India also was far less enthusiastic in advertising its intentions and objectives in the field of missile defense, lest it invoked American ire. Subsequently, DRDO entered into negotiations with Israel and Russia for BMD platforms and associated technologies. It bought S-300 anti-missile platforms from Russia, developed long-range, phased array radars in collaboration with Israel and built guidance radars with French assistance. As has been the case with all other defense technologies developed by India, its quest for missile defense therefore had both an indigenous component and a foreign one.

In its current iteration, India’s BMD is a two-layered system. Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) is supposed to tackle incoming missiles at ranges of 80-120 km (exo-atmospheric interception). On the other hand, the advanced air-defense (AAD) mainly consists of Akash Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM) that can intercept incoming missiles at ranges of 15-30 km (endo-atmospheric interception). If the PAD system is devised for mid-course interception, the AAD is a terminal phase interception system which can only counter incoming missiles after their entry into the atmosphere. In their present configuration, these systems are designed to counter missiles with range close to 2,000 km traveling at speeds ranging from Mach 3 to Mach 8.

U.S.-India Homeland Security Cooperation

By Rick "Ozzie" Nelson, Briana Fitch, Melissa Hersh, Ally Pregulman, and Rob Wise
Aug 1, 2013
Building a Lasting Partnership via Transportation Sector Security


India’s growing strategic importance, coupled with the gaps in its homeland security enterprise, provides an opportunity to extend its partnership with the United States and become a key partner in ensuring stability and security in Asia. Extending the U.S.-India partnership to homeland security is a natural evolution of the countries’ shared interests and could be aided by each nation’s experience countering internal threats and working within a federal system. However, the development of an effective Indian homeland security enterprise faces a variety of challenges at the political, organizational, technological, and even societal levels. This report seeks to explore these challenges, while focusing on tangible areas within the transportation security sector, including the rail, aviation, and maritime industry, where cooperation between the United States and India can advance the homeland security interests of both nations.

Bordering on bullying

Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 01, 2013

In the aftermath of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India and the continuing intrusions in the midst of which it occurred, it will be prudent not to view events in an episodic manner, but assess the India-China relationship over the longer term. China’s present assertive behaviour reflects its leadership’s self-confidence based on its perception of China’s economic and military strength and the popularity of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ‘China’s Dream’, which promises to wipe out past humiliations and lays bold emphasis on a strong and wealthy China, symbolises these aspirations.

There are adequate indications that Beijing assesses the present time as opportune to push for international acceptance of what it perceives is its pre-eminent position in the region, including the Asia-Pacific. It considers that it has adequate stature and strength for it to partner the United States in the resolution of international and regional issues. The joint statement issued after the Xi Jinping-Obama Summit on June 7-8, stating they are building a ‘new type of major power relationship’, reflects Beijing’s aspirations.

This self-confidence is visible in China’s muscular activist policy of the past few months, particularly in its strategic periphery. Beijing has consolidated and expanded strategic investments in Pakistan, reviving talk of a Chinese-built railway line linking Xinjiang with Gwadar port.

Similarly, Chinese diplomats are noticeably more actively monitoring and curbing the activities of Tibetan resident in Nepal. In Myanmar too, Beijing moved to safeguard its strategic investments. Among other steps, it, for the first time in decades, overtly engaged in Myanmar’s internal affairs — albeit at its request — by brokering six rounds of ‘peace talks’ between the Kachin Independence Army and Myanmar’s military.

The Chinese premier’s visit to India and premeditated military intrusion that preceded it had multiple objectives. They brought into sharp definition China’s new policy towards its neighbours and countries in the region with which it has unresolved sovereignty and territorial disputes.

China’s official news agency Xinhua earlier publicised that growing economic and trade ties would not translate into good bilateral relations. It also embarrassed the government and brought into focus China’s policy towards India.

An important attribute of the stand-off that stretched over two weeks in April-May, was Beijing remaining transparently impervious to the prolonged and adverse media publicity and damage it caused to India-China relations.

The clear message was that for Beijing’s leadership the issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity trump all other considerations. Speculation during this period that an errant group of Chinese generals were responsible for the ‘action’, is not supported by a shred of evidence. On the contrary, the CCP has steadily and inexorably tightened its grip on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) over the past decade.

Interestingly, during this period senior Delhi-based Chinese diplomats informed foreign diplomats that approval for the action by PLA troops had been granted by China’s top leadership with the timing of the action left to the local commander. This green light was given prior to the leadership’s final approval for Li Keqiang’s four-nation tour abroad. They added that Beijing had assessed that India would not scrub the Chinese premier’s visit.

While intrusions by Chinese forces are not a new feature and have increased since 2008, the intrusion this April had two clear major objectives. The military objective concerns defences.

The PLA has completed the construction of border defences along the length of the border, including the construction of adequate accommodation for additional troops that may be inducted, and ammunition and storage dumps. This prompted Beijing’s proposal to Delhi on border management late last year. The proposal suggests that neither side should patrol the LAC up to a specified depth on their side or augment and build border defences. Realities of capability and terrain will place India at a disadvantage in case this is accepted.

The larger objective was to warn India against expressing support to Japan during the scheduled visit of the Indian prime minister to Tokyo. The CCP leadership at the highest levels seriously apprehends that the US is intent on forming a coalition to ‘contain’ China with India as a partner. As far back as July 2010, a Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing newspaper had warned that: ‘the issue of China’s territorial disputes with neighbouring countries will ignite the flames of war sooner or later. …India’s long term occupation of southern Tibet is indeed worrying…’

Poverty of thought

Sat Aug 03 2013

While the rural poverty line is Rs 27 per day, even the rural rich spend just Rs 105 a day: NSS data are a gross underestimation of total expenditure

Let me say it bluntly — I have never been more embarrassed as a professional than with the shameful debate that has occurred in India ever since the UPA released "record breaking" poverty data.

These data have caused considerable heartburn and political soul-searching within the Congress party. My educated guess would be that Sonia Gandhi hastily called a meeting of the National Advisory Council and her closest political advisors (the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, was pointedly not invited!) and asked: "What should we do? We have just promulgated an ordinance on food security which rather explicitly believes, and states, that two-thirds of the Indian population is severely malnourished and in need of our help. We also have an election coming up and my Congress party is known for its commitment to the poor. Now how can we justify expanding PDS to 67 per cent of the population when my own Planning Commission tells me that only 22 per cent of the population is poor. This is unacceptable — now go forth and multiply my wisdom and concern."

How do you discredit your own government and your own performance? What should have been a matter of celebration, that is, record decline in poverty, turned out to be, in the Congress's case, an existential despair moment, a moment of soul searching and a moment of truth.

The truth had to change. In disciplined Goebellian fashion, the followers went about discrediting the poverty decline by discrediting the poverty line.

Card-carrying NAC member N.C. Saxena took upon himself the task of "proving" that the poverty line was too low. The proof was "easy" — the poverty line was the same value as in 1973-74. "Civil society is not happy with the low poverty cut-off line of Rs 27 per capita per day for rural areas and Rs 33 for urban areas at 2011-12 prices, as it is difficult to meet one's basic expenses and survive on such an inadequate income. Economists are questioning the need for subsidised food for 67 per cent of the population if poverty levels are really so low. Estimating the scale of poverty with respect to a fixed poverty line — which was Rs 1.63/ 1.90 per capita per day for rural/urban populations in 1973-74 — and since then has remained unchanged after adjusting it for inflation." ( "A poor debate on poverty in India", Business Standard, July 25, emphasis added).

It is strange, and shocking, that somebody as distinguished as Saxena should make this simple conceptual (and ideological) error. As is well known, the Tendulkar committee raised the original 1973-74 rural poverty line by 25.9 per cent and the urban line by 6.4 per cent.

How did Saxena feel that he could get away with a plain big-time lie? One explanation is that the media does not play its check and balancing role, and neither do most of the ideologically biased and well funded civil society. The ethos in upper upper class India is not to question any of the ideological left, that is, the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress, primarily because they are so comfortable applauding it. Otherwise, how else do you explain the following lie by no less an intellectual godfather than Amartya Sen, who stated that "every week that the food security bill was not passed was causing 1,000 deaths". He expanded on this lie in a CNN-IBN interview: "There's no way [of] applying an exact estimation of that, but I would have thought that an order of that magnitude may be relevant".

The drift to a national security state

Manoj Joshi

The obsession with new forces, more surveillance, and layer upon layer of personnel and equipment will sink the India we cherish

Some time ago, I was struck by a small news item tucked away inside the pages of a prominent daily. It said the Ministry of Home Affairs had opposed the increase in the Foreign Direct Investment cap for broadcast and the print media from the current 26 to the proposed 49 per cent, saying this could affect national security.

According to the news item, “The MHA said big foreign media players with vested interests may try to fuel fire during internal or external disturbances.”

What is remarkable about this attitude is the presumption that Indians, who have lived through multiple crises and voted in numerous elections, are in need of the MHA’s protective services when it comes to exercising their judgment. Besides infantilising the citizens of this country, the MHA’s attitude is a manifestation of the national security state that we are becoming.

Curbs on rights

Such a state is one which tends obsessively to look at challenges through the prism of national security. It builds up a vast apparatus of military and police forces and arms itself with legal and extra-legal powers that end up curbing the rights of its citizens, all in the name of national security.

The ongoing spat between the Intelligence Bureau and the Central Bureau of Investigation over the Ishrat Jahan extra-judicial killing is another manifestation of this development. The IB’s argument seems to be that it is the guardian of security in the country, and hence should somehow be exempt from the operation of its laws, even when it comes to serious issues like extra-judicial execution.

On the other hand, the armed forces say that they need the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) if they are to operate against domestic insurgents. This would have been a reasonable demand, given the spread of insurgency to many parts of India. But instead of indemnifying its personnel against accidental killing, as the Act intended to do, the Army has been using the legislation to prevent action in incidents of deliberate killing such as the case relating to the murder of three villagers in the Machil sector in Kashmir in 2010. Other agencies, too, now vie for rights similar to the IB. They want powers to snoop into the private lives of Indians as comprehensively as the Stasi once did in East Germany and they see nothing wrong with it. You see, they are guarding our national security.

Of course, the Indian national security state has not emerged out of nowhere. Its roots lie in the massive covert assault the country underwent at the hands of Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s. To counter it, the state raised new forces, adopted new intelligence tactics, laws and procedures. Unfortunately what we have seen since is an expansion of those powers even though the worst has long been past, at least insofar as the country’s internal security challenges are concerned.

Punjab is a case in point where, in the years 1991-1992, the writ of the State ran in many areas only during the day time. Militancy in Kashmir has declined sharply and today, insurgents’ actions appear to be token reminders to people that they are still around. In the north-east, too, the ULFA is in disarray and the Naga ceasefire continues to hold. Even the Maoists, who once appeared menacing, are now finding the going tough. Yet, there is no effort to refine the tactics, restructure and retrench forces or alter the nature of powers, given the changed circumstances. This is clear from the mule-headed insistence that AFSPA continue to operate in Kashmir, even though the ground situation there has changed dramatically.

The Rise of Telangana

M.R. Venkatesh and Saptarshi Bhattacharya 
Jul 27, 2013

A view of the mammoth congregation of students who arrived from all parts of Telangana region to attend "Vidyarthi Garjana", organised in support of a separate Telangana at the Osmania University campus in Hyderabad in 2010.
Students pay tribute to Potti Sriramulu during a campaign for United Andhra.
A folk artist looks into a mirror as he prepares to participate in a cultural rally in Hyderabad, demanding the creation of a separate Telangana, in 2011.
Students form a human chain in support of United Andhra.
Telangana Rashtriya Samiti party stages a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, demanding a separate State.
Telangana Rashtriya Samiti chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao takes charge as the Union Labour and Employment Minister in New Delhi in 2004.
Vishalandhra Mahasabha leader Parakala Prabhakar speaks at a function in support of United Andhra.
Artists from Telangana region display their work while demanding a separate State, at Osmania University, in 2009.

A high-voltage political battle has broken out on the Telangana statehood issue in Andhra Pradesh in the run-up to the 2014 general elections. M.R. Venkatesh and Saptarshi Bhattacharya of The Hindu Centre offer a detailed focus on the ground realities in Andhra Pradesh, examining the various strands of this highly complex and emotion-charged issue.

On a Monsoon-drenched morning, driving down the Tank bund road overlooking the huge and famous Husain Sagar Lake, the chill winds that mildly skimmed its waters gurgling as an irregular current around Buddha’s statue, instantly transported one to Chennai’s Marina beach.

Will Afghanistan Take Central Asia Down with It?

August 1, 2013

While U.S. foreign-policy makers are currently preoccupied with the Middle East—chaos in Egypt, raging civil war in Syria and ongoing violence in Libya—military strategists are drawing up plans to deal with a region that many see as the next hotbed of instability: Central Asia. Long seen as a powder keg, according to the current thinking, the region is susceptible to extremism, violence, and instability emanating from Afghanistan and spilling across the border to the north.

It is of course important for government agencies to prepare for any eventuality, including the most dire. Yet we believe the alarmism in this case is based on faulty assumptions.

U.S. strategists have long imagined that chaos might spread from Afghanistan into Central Asia. In the 1980s, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the CIA in fact tried to facilitate the spread of insurgency from the mujahedeen it was supporting to infect the Washington’s ideological rival to the north. Yet they found the majority of Soviet Central Asians unsympathetic to the Afghan cause.

By the same token, today’s strategists exaggerate the threat Afghanistan poses to northern neighbors. Proponents of the “spillover” are highly selective in the data points they bring to bear, and like nineteenth-century British imperialists or today’s American neoconservatives, they have fallen victim to “mappism”: the practice of making predictions about political trends based on geographic proximity and facts that can be easily displayed on maps, such as ethnic settlement patterns, population density, and natural resources. Such an approach has its merits, but it also means neglecting other details—such as culture, history and political practices—which can make all the difference in understanding which scenario plays out.

While the details of how a spillover might unfold are usually left ambiguous, statements by defense and intelligence planners suggest the following scenario: after NATO withdraws its troops, the Afghan government, lacking a robust military presence and sufficient funds to buy off rival power brokers, will weaken to the point of collapse or find itself drawn into a civil war.

Then, sometime after, elements of Afghan chaos spread across to border to the weak, corrupt and poorly governed Central Asian states, whose populations share religious and ethnic ties with groups fighting in Afghanistan. The result is a region-wide conflagration—collapsing states, widespread violence, Islamic extremism, rising drug trafficking—a nightmare scenario with dire implications for U.S. interests. We see three plausible mechanisms by which the admittedly unlikely spillover could take place: militants, refugees and ideological inspiration.

First, militants engaged in an Afghan civil war can cross the Amu Darya to recruit Central Asians to their cause or to overthrow their own governments. For this to happen, two assumptions must be correct: that NATO is holding back the deluge of militants, and that militants would indeed target Central Asia. In fact, NATO does not prevent Afghans from slipping across now if they want to, so there is unlikely to be a major change next year. Even if, technically, the crossing of Afghan borders with the Tajik, Uzbek and Turkmen neighbors is easy thanks to corrupt border-guard agencies, Central Asia has never been “invaded” by flows coming from Afghanistan.

Afghan troops in the lead ahead of 2014 — or are they?

Carmen Gentile, Special for USA TODAY 
T August 2, 2013

(Photo: Carmen Gentile for USA TODAY)

Story Highlights
In June, Afghan forces officially took over full security from the international coalition
This summer and fall fighting season mark the final stage of the transition
Afghan forces are hampered by government's failure to keep its soldiers supplied properly


ACHIN, NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Positioned on a hilltop overlooking plowed farm fields dotted with mud-walled compounds, U.S. soldiers trade fire with gunmen across a shallow valley.

A second platoon of soldiers moves off to flank the enemy. When they arrive, they find the gunmen have fled.

Technically, this is an Afghan-led mission. The U.S. forces jumped into the fight only because the Afghans could not handle it on their own, and they quickly resumed the role of rear-guard assistants after chasing off the enemy.

Moments after the battle, the U.S. troops toss cases of water into the trucks of the Afghans, who failed to bring enough for what turned into a 30-hour mission.

In June, Afghan forces officially took over full security responsibilities from the international coalition for the first time since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that drove from power the Taliban, the al-Qaeda-aligned terror group.

On paper, that means the 350,000-strong Afghan National Army built from nothing by the coalition is taking the lead on most missions ahead of an announced withdrawal of nearly all coalition combat forces in 2014.

However, as the fighting in Nangarhar shows, the Afghans cannot prevail everywhere without American firepower and know-how at the ready. Afghanistan's military will require "substantial" additional training and foreign financial aid after the American and NATO combat mission ends, the Pentagon told Congress in its semiannual report Tuesday.

As President Obama considers whether to keep some troops in Afghanistan beyond the withdrawal or remove them all as he did in Iraq, some experts warn that he risks snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

"If all the troops come home, it could be disastrous," says Ahmed Majidyar, an Afghanistan expert with the American Enterprise Institute. "The Afghan forces won't be able to defend against the Taliban in some remote areas, especially in the south and east," where the Taliban and militant groups have the greatest influence in Afghanistan.

What Pakistan’s New President Can Learn From India

August 02, 2013
By Robert M. Hathaway 

Expectations are not high for Mamnoon Hussain. But his Indian counterpart offers a model of what he could do.

rned another page earlier this week with the election of Mamnoon Hussain as the country’s next president. Hussain’s election follows Pakistan’s historic May 11 polls, which saw Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party swept into power. The nation’s military chieftain and the influential Supreme Court chief justice will also step down before the end of the year.

Hussain is hardly a household name in Pakistan, let alone abroad. Indeed, it is striking how little public information exists about the man who will succeed the controversial Asif Zardari. Though briefly the governor of Sindh, Pakistan’s second largest province, Hussain’s Wikipedia profile was all of seven lines long when he was elected.

A textile manufacturer born in what is now India, Hussain is a Mohajir, the Urdu-speaking ethnic group whose forebears migrated from India at the time of the 1947 partition of the subcontinent, and who have dominated the affairs of Karachi for many decades. Sharif and other party leaders no doubt selected Hussain in part because he is from Karachi. The PML-N is primarily Punjab-based, and Hussain’s elevation gives the party some claim to being a national and not simply a regional party.

More to the point, Karachi is the financial and economic hub of Pakistan. If the new prime minister is to succeed in righting Pakistan’s rickety economy, there is no better place to begin than Karachi. Stated differently, Sharif will fail unless he can restore political stability, economic vitality, and law and order to Pakistan’s largest city.

“I belong to Karachi,” Hussain told a reporter shortly before this week’s vote. “If elected, I’ll try to resolve Sindh’s issues and restore peace in Karachi.” That may prove to be a task beyond his capabilities, but Hussain’s many connections to individuals and political parties who did not back Nawaz Sharif in the May elections could play a more important role than many now anticipate in stabilizing Karachi and the surrounding province of Sindh.

Although Hussain has been widely described in recent days as a political lightweight, this is almost certainly an overblown characterization. He has, after all, not simply survived, but flourished, in the bare-knuckles arena that is Pakistani business. He disappeared from the political scene after the 1999 coup that toppled Sharif, but that does not mean he is without experience in deal-making and vote-counting.

Under the terms of the 18th amendment to the constitution, adopted in 2010, Hussain will possess only a fraction of the power wielded by some of his predecessors, including Ghulam Ishaq Khan in the 1980s and 1990s, Pervez Musharraf in the 2000s, and Zardari more recently, who even after adoption of the 18th amendment remained Pakistan’s leading political force until the parliamentary triumph of the PML-N in May.

Nonetheless, Hussain need not be simply a ceremonial president, as most Pakistan-watchers expect. He could do worse than to follow the example of a former president of Pakistan’s great rival India. The Indian presidency is also largely a ceremonial position. Yet former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (2002-07) became a revered figure in India, inspiring his countrymen by his example, integrity, humor, lack of pretension, and force of character. Kalam led Indians to demand more of their politicians. They have frequently been disappointed, but the heightened expectations have provided Indian voters with a new yardstick with which to measure their leaders.

Pakistan in Paralysis: Jailbreaks and a State in disarray

August 2, 2013

When jail walls that hold dangerous terrorists start falling like nine-pins, they tend to become a metaphor not just for the dreadful state of security in a country but worse, for the unrelenting slide towards state failure. Just over a year after the jail break from the Bannu prison in which around 400 prisoners escaped after an assault by scores of Taliban, an even more spectacular and outrageous, but equally audacious, jail break has taken place in Dera Ismail Khan (DI Khan) with around 250 prisoners escaping.

Unlike the Bannu jail which was outside the city, the DI Khan jail was located virtually in the heart of the city, a stone’s throw away from the Police Lines, a Frontier Corps ‘fort’, and the military cantonment. And yet, over a 100 armed Taliban riding on scores of vehicles entered the area after driving through dozens of security checkpoints, cordoned it off, set up pickets, put up booby traps and IEDs, snapped the electricity in the area (which given the crippling outages was probably not even necessary), blew up the entire outer security cordon, entered the jail through the front door which was thrown open by petrified jail guards, fired over 30 rockets inside the jail, freed all their men, butchered a few Shia prisoners, carried off four women prisoners and a woman guard as ‘war booty’ and after around four hours of mayhem simply disappeared back to where they had come, driving once again through dozens of checkpoints manned by FC and Pakistan Army without any let or hindrance. As if all this isn’t incredulous enough, there was prior and specific intelligence of the attack and the authorities had apparently even prepared and put in place a plan of action to thwart the attack.

Surely, if the Pakistan security forces are so helpless against a rag-tag bunch of terrorists who conduct an operation lasting at least 6-7 hours (including the time it would have taken them to drive back to their safe haven in the Tribal Areas) in an area swarming with security forces, then they really had no chance against the US special forces which conducted the Abbottabad operation against Osama bin Laden. Clearly then, there is something quite sinister about the entire DI Khan jail break. More than what meets the eye – lack of capability, competence, commitment and coordination on part of law enforcement and security forces, the possibility of collusion of jail staff and perhaps local administration, suggestions of complicity combined with cynicism and callousness on part of the provincial government headed by Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf and having as its coalition partner the Jamaat Islami which is arguably the political face of the Al Qaeda, and last but not the least, an element of cowardice – it is what doesn’t meet the eye that raises serious questions, not to mention conspiracy theories, about how the Taliban could pull off such an operation.

In a sense, an incident like the DI Khan jail-break was waiting to happen under the current PTI-led dispensation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Ever since this government has come to power, there is complete confusion among the security forces on the new policy on terrorism. Imran Khan’s soft approach on the issue of Taliban terrorism has demoralised the police and sent out conflicting signals on whether or not the police is expected to act against the militants. In recent weeks there have been reports that militants roam freely (and have practically the run of the place) on the outskirts of Peshawar. The attitude of the ministers of the government is nothing short of scandalous. Far from unequivocally condemning terrorist outrages, the provincial information minister Shaukat Yusufzai dismissed the hue and cry over a suicide attack in which over 20 people died by saying that it was just another bombing and not the ‘day of judgement’ (Qayamat ka din). Observers have pointed out that members of the new government don’t even consider it necessary to offer pro forma condolences to the victims families, forget about condemning the terrorist attacks.

Apart from shifting blame to either the federal government or previous provincial governments (and of course, Imran Khan’s favourite bug-bear – drone attacks – which he blames for all the ills of Pakistan, if not the world) and ducking responsibility, there is absolutely no plan or strategy on countering terrorism in the province. No surprise then that there has been a spike in terrorism ever since the new government has come to power, and the jail-break is only the most glaring manifestation of the malaise. The situation is hardly better in Islamabad, where again there is no clarity on how to tackle the Taliban terrorism. While the PMLN government has been issuing pro forma condemnation of any terrorist attack, it seems to have no policy on terrorism. The much anticipated All Parties Conference is taking forever. Even if it does eventually take place, it will be little more than a talking shop and will neither be successful in forging the elusive political consensus on tackling terrorism, nor will it be able to evolve a coherent counter-terror strategy. In any case, the focus of the Nawaz Sharif government is more on addressing the energy crisis rather than the existential crisis presented by Taliban terrorism. What is more, the Nawaz Sharif government also has a soft approach towards the terrorists and is more interested in suing for peace instead of prosecuting the war. The sort of frenetic activity and bombast that was on display after Baloch insurgents blew up the Quaid’s Residency in Ziarat, has just not been on display when it comes to the actions of the Taliban.

Making the Bomb: Pakistan’s Nuclear Journey


Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb
Feroz H. Khan (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2012)

Developed in secrecy and tested in defiance, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program has been a point of pride for Pakistanis, a worrisome portent for Indians, a source of profit for nuclear proliferators, and a security concern for US policymakers. While much is feared, little is really known about Pakistan’s nuclear program. Retired Brigadier General Feroz Khan’s Eating Grass (the title comes from a 1965 statement by Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto proclaiming that if India acquired the bomb, so would Pakistan, even if it had to “eat grass, or leaves or even go hungry”) is important because it presents a complete account of Pakistan’s quest for nuclear weapons, with close focus on the role played by culture, personality, domestic, regional, and global politics, and technical challenges in the development of the “Islamic Bomb.”

The book’s author is a former Pakistan Army officer and senior official in the National Command Authority. Khan was not only a key policymaker in Pakistan’s nuclear command and control system, but played important roles in negotiations with American and Indian officials over the nuclear program, especially regarding Pakistan’s force posture.

The Balochistan province has fought for autonomy from Pakistan since its borders were awkwardly cobbled together in 1947. Will the Baloch rebellion now be the tripwire that unravels the troubled state?

Drawing on primary and secondary sources, his own experiences, and numerous interviews with decisionmakers and former scientists who were intimately involved in the program, Khan recapitulates Pakistan’s nuclear journey. He analyzes key decisions by its leaders that shaped the trajectory of Pakistan’s strategic capabilities and its foreign relations, bureaucratic disputes over the program, and competition between actors in the scientific community trying to put their individual stamp on the bomb.

Eating Grass begins in the 1960s, during General Ayub Khan’s military dictatorship, when many Pakistani leaders were reluctant to pursue nuclear weapons because they felt the country could not afford them. The author then provides a blow-by-blow account of several major decisions that created a weapons program, and then the cold tests in 1983, and finally the testing of the bomb itself in 1998.

Inside this chronology, Khan also explores the technological and capacity challenges Pakistani scientists faced, especially as the global nonproliferation regime made nuclear trade increasingly difficult. He details how they developed uranium enrichment and plutonium production capabilities and the secret procurement networks to supply the clandestine program. Along the way, Khan reveals the intense rivalry that developed between the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and the Khan Research Laboratories to develop and claim credit for the weapon.

The role of foreign countries was a significant part of this nuclear journey. Once Canada stopped supplying nuclear technology, Pakistan received loans and investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars from Libya, along with yellowcake from Niger and uranium from Chad. China provided high enriched uranium and a bomb design, and helped in missile production.

No history of Pakistan’s march toward nuclearization would be complete, of course, without the sub-narrative of complications caused in relations between Pakistan and the US, which was initially strongly opposed to the nuclear program, but later became covertly complicit in it, only subsequently to punish Pakistan and ultimately grudgingly accept its membership in the international nuclear club.

Issues in Sino-Indian Relations and Leadership Change in China

31 July 2013

Settling territorial disputes and balancing multilateral relationships are the twin challenges before India and China, opined speakers at the ORF seminar on ’Issues in Sino-Indian Relations and Leadership Change in China’ held in Kolkata on July 27, 2013. The seminar was chaired by His Excellency, the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Gen Nirbhay Sharma (Retd.) who set the tone for the seminar saying that keeping in mind India’s core interests, it is important to understand what China wants. Sharma also added that India’s policy towards China has been pragmatic and it is important to understand what is evolving and is likely to evolve between the two countries. 

Dr. Raja Mohan, Distinguished Fellow, ORF, began by historically contextualizing India’s relationship with China and by pointing out Kolkata’s special place in it during the British Raj. He pointed out how through the writings of Tagore for the first time the notion of an "Asia" as a territorial and spiritual entity was created. In modern times India’s political connections with China began in the pre-independence period and continued with a break post-1962 through the era of normalization during Rajiv Gandhi’s premiership when there was expansion of political dialogue. However, the relationship has reached a new dimension with the resurfacing of old issues like Tibet, Arunachal and ’stapled visas’. 

Among the challenges that India faces with China are the questions of nationhood and territoriality because although both have arrived at the world stage, territorial issues and the problem of national unity are yet to be figured out. Second is the problem of shaping multilateral relations arising out of the association of India and China with other countries like Pakistan, Bhutan, Ceylon or Japan for instance. Third, China’s military modernization is taking place rapidly, widening the gap with India’s capability. Finally, China’s emergence in the Indian Ocean has generated an entirely new security situation for India that needs to be seriously thought about. Dr. Raja Mohan believes that our poor knowledge of China and our tendency to think in terms of binaries like good and bad constituents big impediments to a more appropriate r China policy... Given that China’s rise is the single most important development of our times, we need ’multiple China policies’ which would allow us to handle the regional dynamics as well as China. 

While speaking on ’China-India Border Issues’ Dr. Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow, ORF, said the border between India-China remains un-demarcated since no agreement has been reached even on the Line of Actual Control giving rise to claims and counter-claims of intrusion. Dr. Joshi cited two exercises undertaken by the British to demarcate the border between India and China- the Mccartney-Macdonald Line and the Mac Mohan Line and pointed out that both were left unimplemented for lack of agreement. At independence India started with an assumption that there could be no disagreement between two great Asian neighbours, India and China. Hence, the White Paper prepared by India in 1950s on the border left Aksai Chin un-demarcated. But by 1954, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru without any consultation with the Chinese took the view that Aksai Chin was a part of India for centuries. 

Attempts to reach an agreement again failed when the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai came to India, with Nehru refusing to concede on Aksai Chin. In fact, Dr. Joshi pointed out India twice refused Chinese proposal for a swap between China’s claims on Aksai Chin and India’s claims on Arunachal (NEFA). Since the late 1980s the two countries that went to war in 1962 are negotiating a settlement. Till 2012 16 rounds of talks have taken place between them to settle the border issue. While several agreements have been made the mutual implementation is tardy, Joshi argued. He also said that the political will to implement the agreements is what would determine whether India-China border issues are settled. 

Dr. Sobhanlal Dattagupta, S. N. Bannerjee Professor of Political Science (retd.) of Calcutta University, speaking on ’Leadership Change in China and its Implications’ at the outset mentioned the limitations of his paper due to his unfamiliarity with Chinese language (primary sources) and the question of credibility of personal opinion of experts. On the methodological question, he clarified his paper was based on analysis of insiders (Chinese Communist Party members) and not of experts/commentators. Dattagupta focussed his presentation on the 18th Party Congress Report released at end of 2012 and provided a comparative estimate with earlier two documents released in 2007 and 2002 respectively to specify the points of continuity and break. He designated Xi Jinping’s leadership as fifth generation leadership of China. 

The elements of continuity are socialism with Chinese characteristics, socialist market economy, primary state of reform (modernization and opening-up) and the "thoughts of three" (Marxism-Leninism, Maoism, Deng Xiaoping) The elements of change in the 18th Part Congress report include awareness about unbalanced, unsustainable, uncoordinated development, growing problems of inequality, social security, healthcare, law enforcement etc., emphasis on the war against corruption, ecological drive, safeguarding people’s rights and stress on intra-party democracy as well as coordinated party-government operations. 

Dattagupta cautioned that it is too premature to assess the performance of newly installed leadership. He mentioned about rules adopted to shed off excess of formalism, pomp and splendour associated with public appearances of party members, Xi Jinping wielding greater power over party and the military, lifting the garb of secrecy over private lives of party member as rudimentary signs of change in China’s leadership. 

(Prepared by Swagata Saha, Pratnashree Basu, Mihir Bhonsale, Observer Research Foundation, Kolkata) 





India, Sri Lanka and the IPKF Debacle: Remembering

29 July 1987
PR Chari
Visiting Professor, IPCS 

South Block is littered with official histories of India’s conflicts since Independence. Prepared with great exertion and expense, they have not seen the light of the day. At least officially. Amazingly, the official history of the first India-Pakistan War (1947-48) was released, some copies distributed, and it was then withdrawn because it offended certain sensitivities. But, no official history has yet been attempted of the IPKF experience in Sri Lanka, despite its involvement of over 80, 000 troops and the loss of some 1200 lives. 

Why? What explains this reticence despite the operation’s claimed success? The simple and clear answer is that the operation was a failure if its objectives are reviewed. So, what were these objectives? First, maintaining the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, imperative for Indian security because of its pivotal position astride the sea routes from the Gulf region to Southeast and East Asia. Second, a cross-border Tamil ethnicity issue arose due to the familial linkages between the Tamils in Tamil Nadu and Jaffna, and the plantation Tamils in eastern Sri Lanka. Hence, mitigation of the harassment of Tamils by Colombo was important for Tamil Nadu and the Union Government in India by bridging the growing chasm between the Tamil and Sinhala populations. It is clear now that a military-political dictatorship exists in Colombo under the Rajapakshe brothers, and the Tamils have been brought into a state of sullen submission with little freedom or autonomy. 

From a military perspective also the IPKF operation were a failure because it failed to separate the LTTE from the Sinhala forces, much less disarm them. In fact, the IPKF’s efforts to establish Tamil governments in northern (Jaffna) and eastern (Trincomalee) Sri Lanka failed spectacularly—they fell within a few days of the IPKF’s withdrawal in early 1990. Besides, the IPKF suffered major confusions in discerning its role in Sri Lanka, with that role changing radically from peace-keeping to peace-enforcing. Thereafter, an armed force designed to maintain the peace and disarm the LTTE was called upon to maintain law and order, suppress the LTTE, and collaborate with the Sinhala forces against the Tamils. 

The implications of this radical change in the IPKF’s basic charter can well be imagine with peace-keepers turning into an expeditionary force. Little wonder the IPKF got no cooperation from the local population; in fact, they turned hostile and became the eyes and ears of the LTTE. Compounding its constraints was the fact that the IPKF forces were not equipped or trained for a counter-militancy operation in another country. They lacked the arms, training, orientation, even maps or knowledge of the local language, customs and cultural norms. No wonder again that the IPKF took heavy casualties in the initial few weeks of their transformed role (August-October 1987) before the situation crystallized. 

Moreover, the IPKF began to be seen as a mercenary force in much of South India that was being used by the Union Government to oppress the Tamils. Hence the general attitude in Tamil Nadu was sympathetic to the LTTE and hostile towards the IPKF. Public rallies were held against the IPKF and public collections made to provide support to the LTTE. The psychological effect of these demonstrations on the IPKF soldiers can well be imagined; it further lowered their morale to find that they did not have the support of the local people or the State Government most involved. Fighting the LTTE that was a resourceful adversary on behalf of a Union government in New Delhi that had no clear idea of what it wanted added to the IPKF’s loss of morale.

TPP Talks Show Promise for US Asia Strategy—With or Without China

By Wenchi Yu
August 2, 2013 
Source Link

The 18th round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations ended in Malaysia last week. As the newest participant, Japan's entry expanded TPP's membership to 12; the combined economy represents nearly 40 percent of the world's trade. When this high-standard, ambitious trade agreement concludes, the region's markets would be better integrated and more competitive.

To the United States, the TPP is the cornerstone of the Obama Administration's economic policy in the Asia Pacific, a priority of the "rebalancing to Asia" policy. Through this agreement, the Obama Administration is seeking to boost U.S. economic growth and support the creation of American jobs by increasing exports to the region that includes some of the world's largest economies. Asia's steady growth during and post the financial crisis in 2008 provides the United States with an opportunity that developed economies can no longer afford.

In the past, the Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) has been the primary mechanism for U.S. economic engagement with the region. While APEC is the vehicle for promoting open trade and practical economic cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, it is not a trade agreement and has no legal binding authority.

Rather, economies use multilateral or bilateral free trade agreements (FTA) to negotiate trade rules. TPP started as an agreement among Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore in 2005. Since President Obama's announcement of the United States' intention to participate in the trade talks in 2009, more countries have followed suit. Since then, the United States has become the perceived leader of the TPP.

The key question, however, is whether China is going to join. As the world's second largest economy and a major trade partner for almost all countries in the region, can the TPP be effective without China? Some commentators believe the United States is using the TPP to contain China, especially after Japan's recent announcement of its participation.

This theory, however, ignores the U.S. consideration of its own economic interests. The United States needs new, emerging markets to increase the demand for American products and services in order to support job creation and reduce unemployment. China's participation in the TPP might benefit all, especially if trade can be conducted with agreed upon principles, preventing further disputes.

In fact, the United States and China are currently negotiating the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). The two counties agreed to begin the process during the latest U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, signaling BIT's importance to both governments.

The $7 Trillion Problem That Could Sink Asia

Aug 2, 2013

“It’s our currency, but it’s your problem.” This musing from Nixon-era Treasury Secretary John Connally is about to find new relevance as the White House battles Republicans over raising the U.S. debt limit.

Connally couldn’t have foreseen how right he would be 42 years on as Asia sits on almost $7 trillion in currency reserves, much of it in dollars. Asia’s central banks engaged in a kind of financial arms race after a 1997 crisis, stockpiling dollars as a defense against turmoil. That altered the financial landscape in two ways: One, Asia now has more weapons against market unrest than it knows what to do with. Two, Asia is essentially America’s banker, with China and Japan having the most at stake.


William Pesek is based in Tokyo and writes on economics, markets and politics throughout the Asia-Pacific region. .

That might be less problematic if not for Capitol Hill’s propensity for shooting itself in the foot. A pointless squabble over the debt ceiling prompted Standard & Poor’s to yank the U.S.’s AAA credit rating in August 2011, sending panic through global markets. Asia is now bracing for months of posturing when the U.S. Congress returns from its August recess.

In a perfect world, Washington’s bankers would threaten to call in their loans. Asian nations would sit White House and congressional leaders down and tell them to get their act together. But Connally’s 1971 observation is infinitely truer today than at any time in Asia’s history. We need to stop considering huge reserve holdings as a financial strength. They are a trap that is complicating economic policy making. It’s time Asia devised an escape.
Fiscal Matters

China isn’t without leverage. It’s no coincidence that new Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew’s first overseas visit in March was to his banker-in-chief, Xi Jinping, in Beijing. Nor did it go unnoticed that Lew was the new Chinese president’s first foreign-official meeting. Lew may have been sending Xi a signal this week by calling on Congress to act “in a way that doesn’t create a crisis” on fiscal matters.

But that leverage is limited. Xi and Premier Li Keqiang are engaged in a risky rebalancing act, trying to wean the Chinese economy off exports without fanning social unrest. Another debt-limit tussle would fuel market volatility, strengthen the yuan as the dollar plunges, and result in the loss of tens of billions of dollars in China’s portfolio of U.S. Treasuries.

“They don’t like it,” says Leland Miller, the New York-based president of China Beige Book International. “But while they’re sure to make some loud noises about it, at the end of the day, they understand they have no option but to accept the hand they’re given.”

In Tokyo, Shinzo Abe faces a similar dilemma. An important pillar of the prime minister’s plan to end deflation and restore healthy growth is a weak yen. The currency’s 17 percent drop since mid-November has helped even down-and-out Sony Corp. eke out some profits. Yet the yen would surge anew on another U.S. downgrade: In 2011, a giant flight-to-quality trade drove huge amounts of capital Japan’s way.

The more Asia adds to its holdings of U.S. debt, the harder they become to unload. If traders got even the slightest whiff that China was selling large blocks of its $1.3 trillion in dollar holdings, markets would quake. The same goes for Japan’s $1.1 trillion stockpile. So central banks just keep adding to them. Pyramid scheme, anyone?

Never before has the world seen a greater misallocation of vast resources. Loading up on dollars helps Asia’s exporters by holding down local currencies, but it causes economic control problems. When central banks buy dollars, they need to sell local currency, increasing its availability and boosting the money supply and inflation. So they sell bonds to mop up excess money. It’s an imprecise science made even more complicated by the Federal Reserve’s quantitative-easing policies.
Stealth Selling

At the very least, Asia should stop adding to its dollar holdings and consider ways to bring more of those funds home. They could be used for infrastructure, education, research and development on cleaner energy, or any other vital investments in the future. The question, of course, is how?

There is a clear first-mover advantage for smaller economies. South Korea (with $53 billion in Treasuries), the Philippines ($40 billion) or Malaysia ($18 billion) could try to dump dollars on the sly. Bigger ones couldn’t pull that off in this hyperconnected, 24/7-news-cycle world; news of sizable central-banker sell orders would inspire copycats.

Washington can help, and not just by avoiding another suicidal debt-limit fight. The Treasury should engage with its Asian counterparts in a cooperative, transparent brainstorming process to draw down their reserves without devastating markets. It’s in the U.S.’s best interest to keep more of its debt onshore, Japan-style, by attracting greater purchases from cash-rich U.S. companies. That would make the U.S. less vulnerable to capital flights in the future.

US Conducts “Sweeping Overhaul” of Pacific War Plans

By Zachary Keck
August 2, 2013

Some Friday defense and security links:

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Pentagon is conducting a “sweeping overhaul” of its war plans in the Pacific and Middle East theaters, diminishing the role large ground forces play in these plans. “Plans that had presumed the availability of large U.S. forces for invasions and occupations are being redrafted to incorporate strategies such as quick-reaction ground units, air power and Navy ships,” the report said. Cyber will also be a big aspect of the new plans.


The Pentagon is denying that it is considering canceling the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and a long-range stealth bomber after leaked documents from its strategic review proposed doing just that as a way to implement sequestration. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also said at a press conference this week that he is considering mothballing three aircraft carriers as a way to implement the budget cuts. 

The Chinese Navy has achieved its long-standing goal of being able to “cut through” the first island chains, according to Chinese defense analysts, China Daily reports. The remarks were made on the PLA’s 86th birthday, however, so skepticism may be warranted.

The excellent new site War on the Rocks profiles Admiral Xiao Jinguang, the first commander of the PLA Navy.

NextGov has launched a new interactive feature called ThreatWatch that tracks data breaches at various types of organizations all around the world.

Real Clear Defense’s Dustin Walker reviews the speech that was written for the Queen of England to give to the British people at the start of World War III; that is, after NATO responded to a chemical weapon attack by the Soviet Union by launching nuclear weapons. It was all part of a 1983 NATO war game but the full text of the speech, which Dustin provides, is very much worth reading.