7 August 2013

Russia's Tiny Cold War ***

August 6, 2013

Stratfor has been chronicling what we call the end of the Post-Cold War world, a world with three pillars: the United States, Europe and China. Two of these three have been shifting their behavior over the past few years. We've discussed the end of China's high-growth, low-wage expansion. We've also discussed the deep institutional crisis in Europe resulting from its economic problems. We have discussed some of China's potential successors. What needs to be discussed now is the system that will emerge from the Post-Cold War world, and to do that, we need to discuss shifts in Russia's behavior.

Chaos in Russia

Russia went through two phases in the Post-Cold War world. The first was the chaos that inevitably followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Chaos sometimes can be confused with liberalism and many think of Russia in the decade after the Soviet Union as being liberal. But Russia under Boris Yeltsin was less liberal than chaotic, with a privatization program that enriched those who rapidly organized to take advantage of the poorly defined process, a public life that had little shape or form and a West that was both pleased with the fall of Soviet power and deluded into thinking that Russia was reshaping itself into a Western constitutional democracy.

The second phase was a reaction to the first. The havoc of Yeltsin could not continue. To a great extent Russia was not working. The only structure that had survived the Soviet Union and that was still working was the security services -- and even those were being seriously degraded by Yeltsin's efforts. The security services had both held the country together to the extent possible and had participated in the accumulation of wealth through the privatization process. In the course of that they not only retained the power they had in the Soviet Union but also dramatically increased their power. At the same time, a class of oligarchs emerged and the two groups oscillated between competition and cooperation.

Russia could not continue as it was. It was sinking into extraordinary poverty, worse than the Soviet Union; there were regions that were seeking to break away from the Russian Federation; and it had little to no international standing.

The United States and NATO waged a war in Kosovo, completely indifferent to Russian opposition. Russia opposed the war both because Serbia was an ally and because one of the principles of Europe since World War II was that there would be no shifts in borders. This was regarded as sacred inasmuch as redrawing borders was one of the origins of the war. Russia's wishes were disregarded.

When Serbia did not collapse immediately under air attack and the war dragged out, the Russians were asked to negotiate its end. In return they were promised a significant role in managing post-war Kosovo. That didn't happen; the future of Kosovo became a matter for European and American decision-making.

Influence is not something given to a country. It has that influence because of its power, because the consequences of ignoring its wishes would have unacceptable consequences. By 1999, Russia had reached the low point of its influence.

Putin Brings Russia Back

It was logical that a man like Vladimir Putin would emerge from the chaos of the 1990s. Putin was deeply embedded in the KGB and the old security apparatus. During his time in St. Petersburg, he was integrated with the emerging oligarchs as well as the new generation of economic reformists. Putin understood that in order to revive Russia, two things had to happen. First, the oligarchs had to be intimidated into aligning their activities with the Russian government. He owed too much to them to try to break them -- though he made an example or two -- but he did not owe them so much as to allow them to continue to loot Russia.

He also understood that he had to bring some order to the economy both for domestic and foreign policy reasons. Russia had massive energy reserves, but it was incapable of competing on the world markets in industry and services. Putin focused on the single advantage Russia had: energy and other primary commodities. To do this he had to take a degree of control of the economy -- not enough to return Russia to a Soviet model, but enough to leave behind the liberal model Russia thought it had. Or put differently, to leave behind the chaos. His instrument was Gazprom, a government-dominated company whose mission was to exploit Russian energy in order to stabilize the country and create a framework for development. At the same time, while reversing economic liberalism, Putin imposed controls on political liberalism, limiting political rights.

With Embassy Closures, the U.S. Errs on the Side of Caution **

AUGUST 5, 2013

Yemeni soldiers search a car at a checkpoint on a street leading to the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa on Aug. 4. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)


Global, nonspecific threats such as those that prompted recent U.S. embassy closures and travel warnings have rarely proved credible. These precautionary measures appear to be the result of two separate threats, one attack against an unspecified U.S. embassy and another against travel infrastructure -- presumably an airliner. In response to the embassy threat, the U.S. government announced Aug. 4 that it had extended the closure of several embassies in the Middle East until Aug. 10 and that African posts would now be among the embassies closed. In response to the airline threat, Washington issued a global travel alert running from Aug. 2 to Aug. 31. The travel warning and the closures have commanded the media's attention and have led to much speculation about the source and the credibility of the threats, but more often than not these threats fail to materialize.


Most attacks against embassies have involved a large vehicle bomb, an armed assault or a combination of a vehicle bomb and armed assault. Such was the case with the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, in September 2008. To mitigate the impact of a perceived threat, the United States will close an embassy, increase security and request that the host country bolster its security presence at the compound.

Many of the posts that were closed in response to the August threats happen to have very good physical security measures in place due to their locations in the Middle East, which poses higher threat levels to U.S. facilities. For example, the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa was built in accordance with the security standards established by the Inman Commission. Therefore, it is designed to withstand bomb attacks and armed assaults. Still, even well constructed buildings are vulnerable to mob attacks like the one directed against the U.S. Embassy in Tunis in September 2012. Only the host country security forces can provide protection against such threats.

The threat to embassies has been a persistent feature of the age of modern terrorism, and so has the threat to airliners and travelers. As for the threat to aviation, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has a history of failed attacks against commercial and cargo airliners using cleverly disguised explosive devices. While these devices have failed in the past, it is likely that the group's bombmaker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, has been able to solve the problems that afflicted his past designs. In fact, in a thwarted underwear bomb plot in May 2012, the alleged suicide bomber turned his device over to Saudi officials, and the device was reportedly of a different design from the one used in the failed Christmas 2009 attempt.

Threats to embassy buildings and airliners have been a persistent feature of the age of modern terrorism. While the tactics and tradecraft used to attack these targets have changed in response to evolving security procedures, diplomatic facilities and airliners have nonetheless remained desirable targets. Jihadists will continue to be drawn to them even as the jihadist threat continues to shift from one posed by the al Qaeda core to one centered on regional militant groups that have adopted the al Qaeda brand name, such as al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Attack on Indian Consulate in Afghanistan Highlights Geopolitical Tensions

By Pratyush
August 6, 2013

On August 3, a bombing outside the Indian consulate in Jalalabad in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province left nine dead and 21 injured in the first major attack since the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

According to reports, guards at a checkpoint outside the consulate stopped the car carrying three attackers, triggering a gunfight involving two of them. The third attacker detonated the explosives, which badly damaged a mosque and dozens of residential and commercial establishments. According to India's External Affairs Ministry, the bomb failed to breach the consulate compound and no Indian officials were wounded or killed. Meanwhile, local police confirmed thatall the casualties were Afghan civilians, mostly children.

The attack on the Indian consulate is the third on an Indian diplomatic post to take place in Afghanistan in the last five years. In both 2008 and 2009, the Indian embassy in Kabul was bombed, killing several Indian officials and scores of Afghans. U.S., Afghan and Indian officials believed those attacks were carried out by elements supported by Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Pakistan denied this charge.

Those denials notwithstanding, suspicion over the Jalalabad attack has once again turned to Pakistan. Islamabad has long been wary of India’s growing influence in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001. The Indian government used the opportunity to regain its foothold in Afghanistan, stepping up its diplomatic engagement and has since emerged as one of Afghanistan's largest regional donors. All told, India has committed more than $2 billion in economic aid to the country in the past decade.

Moreover, as one of the staunchest supporters of President Hamid Karzai's government and of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, the Indian government is seeking both to advance its security interests (via the crackdown on terrorist safe havens) and to boost its access to Central Asia's vast, largely untapped energy resources.

The Pakistani government and the country’s military establishment take a dim view of the Indian government's plans. Indeed, Pakistan's army has been repeatedly accused of favoring a weak central government in Kabul, dominated by a pliant Taliban, in a bid to secure its own strategic depth. India’s growing business and security interests coupled with Indian military training of Afghan soldiers make it particularly vulnerable to attacks in Afghanistan from insurgents.

No wonder then, that India has been especially worried by the prospects of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in 2014 and the resulting security vacuum in the country. Plans to leave a residual U.S. military presence in Afghanistan have been thwarted by the suspension of negotiations on a bilateral U.S.-Afghan status-of-forces agreement that would govern American military personnel remaining in the country after the completion of the security transition in 2014.

The time to trust Pakistan is long gone

IssueNet Edition| Date : 06 Aug , 2013

Nawaz Sharif set media wires buzzing when he proclaimed soon after the results of Pakistan’s elections were announced last month that he aims to (a) make peace with the terrorist outfits in Pakistan and (b) make peace with India. The two statements are inherently contradictory for India and immensely illogical from the Indian perspective.

…it is impossible for India to be friends with a nation that covertly supports those who would attack India’s Parliament, upset the peace in Indian states, launch attacks such as 26/11, and so on, uninterruptedly for 66 years.

While Sharif may well make peace with the terrorists, the trouble is that the terrorists are unlikely to make peace with India. Thus, India would supposedly be at peace with a neighbor whose sentiments are absolutely anti-Indian, and which, in turn, has a filial relationship with the terrorist outfits that haunt India.

There was truth to the statement when George Bush informed the whole world in 2001 that they were either with the USA in their fight against terrorists or against the USA. It is difficult to be friendly with a person or nation that is friendly with your arch enemy. Check this in your daily relationships in life. How easy do you feel being close to a person who is closely chummy with your mortal enemy?

Similarly, it is impossible for India to be friends with a nation that covertly supports those who would attack India’s Parliament, upset the peace in Indian states, launch attacks such as 26/11, and so on, uninterruptedly for 66 years.

The support to multiple jihadi outfits was palpable from the last time that Nawaz Sharif was prime minister, 1997-99. While from the front he engaged in bus diplomacy with Atal Vajpayee, he aided and abetted the various terrorist outfits on the side. He gave them funds, granted land to them for building their establishments, and in every other way greased the wheels for them in government paperwork. It is also likely that he funneled small arms to them via the ISI that were secretly procured for them from the Peshawar arms bazaar. How can all this bode well for India? It is also difficult to believe that Sharif is a changed person who has suddenly found religion. However, there are many in the Indian establishment who would believe this and parley in negotiations for the sake of advancing their diplomatic careers, notwithstanding that India could suffer in the process.

There is inherent double-speak in any Pakistani overture to India. Pakistan was born out of hatred for India, and till today harbors intense hatred. How can anyone expect India not to take cognizance of this, or to trust Pakistan when it spews hatred for Indians on a daily basis?

Every day, the Pakistani army justifies its existence to the Pakistani public because of an Indian military threat at their border. They conveniently forget that they, too, threaten India. However, this actually feeds very well into the mindset of the Pakistani military which feels morally guilty about its past actions against India, and so is rightfully already paranoid about a possible Indian invasion in revenge. They probably don’t realize they are likely to get what they fear most. In essence, the Pakistan military has maneuvered successfully to gain a place in the Pakistani psyche, with fear and hatred of India being the sole rallying point. At every turn, they make their Pakistani people feel more and more victimized at the hand of secular India. The Pakistani military doesn’t want to let that wound heal among their Pakistani public, because if they do, it will be their end, for they fear loss of respect on that count. In other words, they want India to sound and act belligerent. But, this should not silence India into doing what is morally just and right – defending itself and its interests and honor – and arming itself against what is a truthful and corporeal, de facto threat to India.

India’s Growing Soft Power in Southeast Asia: Will it Clash with China?

Abanti Bhattacharya
Associate Professor, 
Department of East Asian Studies, 
University of Delhi

India has some two thousand years of association with Southeast Asia. Its Hindu influence touched all parts of Southeast Asia except few pockets of North Vietnam, Philippines, inland of Borneo and Indonesian Islands east of Bali. Hinduism was state religion of this region from 5th century to 14th century AD. Indian priestly class, the navigators and the merchants introduced Hindu Gods, culture, institutions, language, script, art and architecture to this region. Indian civilizational spread was not associated with dominance, coercion and violence. In some instance, Indians were in fact, invited to spread enlightenment in the region. 

It was thus most natural spread of India’s soft power is unparallel. Empirical evidence of this spread abounds in the form of famous temple architecture of Borobudur and Prambanan in Indonesia, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, temples and pagodas in Thailand, besides presence of Sanskrit words in Bahasha Indonesia and epic tales of Ramayana in folk literature. Given the civilizational interface, the Southeast Asian countries are termed as “civilizational neighbours”. 

The advent of Islam to the region by the 14th century AD and later the onslaught of European imperialism in the 19th century snapped the cultural linkage between India and Southeast Asia. In the post-War era, though India sought to reach out to Southeast Asia based on its historical linkages, it did not create much enthusiasm among the countries and finally under the impact of Cold War politics as well as India’s loss against the Chinese in the 1962 War, the relations soured. 

However, in the post-Cold War era under the impulse of Look East Policy when India turned towards its Southeast Asia civilizational neighbours, its historical linkages and soft power presence came very handy. India was no stranger to the region. But since the Look East Policy was essentially driven by economic imperatives, the focus on using the soft power approach to enrich cultural and civilizational linkages with the region was missing at the initial stages. In fact, critics of Look East Policy argue that India’s strategy has been more reactive than proactive thus rendering New Delhi little strategic vision towards the region. Predictably, exploiting India’s soft power to reach out to the Southeast Asian countries was not given due importance. However, with India’s own economic rise, the soft power approach gained momentum in Indian foreign policy and this could be simply explained by the overriding reality that soft power without being backed by hard power is meaningless. 

With a new confidence of economic growth, Indian government not only deemed fit to explore cultural and civilizational ties with the Southeast Asian countries, but that the Southeast Asian themselves found India more appealing in the post- 1990s decade. This evidently gave a new thrust to India’s Look East Policy. Besides the attractiveness of the Indian market and its growing economy, an added rationale for Southeast Asian countries to turn to India was the fear of China. Apparently, post the 2010 South China Sea dispute, China’s charm as a country of opportunity has seemingly lost its sheen. In fact, it has revived the memories of China threat among the Southeast Asian countries. While conspicuously Southeast Asia does not have any territorial dispute with India. 

India's Growing Soft Power in Southeast Asia

In 2007, the Government of India under Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh envisaged the India-ASEAN Students Exchange Programme to build greater understanding between the two dynamic regions. The visits have been designed to cover historical, cultural, economic and leadership aspects of India enabling the ASEAN students to learn about the Indian sub-continent. The students get the opportunity to not only experience India’s rich cultural heritage but also meet the top government leaders, officials, corporate houses, academicians and Indian students. More than just building greater connectivity such visits have reestablished the historical symbiosis of the two great civilizations. 

As part of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit held in December 2012, two flagship events were organized: Shipping Expedition of INS Sudarshini to ASEAN countries and the ASEAN-India Car Rally. The INS Sudarshini Shipping Expedition was flagged off on 15 September 2012 from Kochi and concluded on 29th March 2013. The shipping expedition followed the ancient trade route along the monsoon winds and highlighted India’s traditional and current maritime linkages with South East Asia. It also highlighted the deep inter-linkages between the two regions in terms of trade, culture and intellectual ideas. The ASEAN-India Car Rally was held from November 26 to December 20, 2012. It kicked off from Yogyakarta, Indonesia and traversed through 8 of the 10 ASEAN nations to finally conclude in New Delhi. In 2004, the first India-ASEAN Car Rally had taken place. It was organised in eight countries covering over 8000 km, fielding 240 participants with 60 vehicles. The purpose of the Car Rally is essentially to demonstrate “India’s proximity to the ASEAN.” Alongside it is aimed at creating public awareness about the ASEAN-India partnership and promoting tourism and people-to-people linkages.

IB alert over ISI’s cyber snooping

Sandeep Joshi 

Pakistan’s intelligence operatives have been calling phone numbers of security forces posing as officers belonging to Army/Navy/Air Force HQ

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is making full-fledged attempts to infiltrate India’s strategic organisations by spoofing telephone calls and using malware to snoop into crucial websites and systems. Sounding an alert regarding such “espionage” attempts from across the border, the Intelligence Bureau has warned that Pakistan’s intelligence operatives (PIOs) were targeting defence forces’ headquarters and other strategic organisations to collect sensitive information.

“PIOs are frequently targeting government personnel/officers to collect sensitive information through spoofed VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls prefixed with the STD code of Delhi…The PIOs have been using the stratagem of calling phone numbers of security forces posing as officers belonging to Army/Navy/Air Force HQ (headquarters) and collecting details about the deployment, movement and other information about security forces,” says an internal note of the IB.

The ISI operatives are also targeting Indian Railways, banks, and serving/retired employees and civil contractors working for Military Engineering Services (MES) to collect sensitive and defence-related information. “They (PIOs) have also been making telephone calls under assumed identities by using spoofed numbers to various CPMFs (central paramilitary forces), railways, banks etc,” the note says.

“They (PIOs) have succeeded in ferreting out sensitive information from the persons attending these calls. IB has been regular in highlighting the stratagem of PIOs using fake identities…,” the note adds. The IB has now asked the Department of Telecom to constitute a high-level technical committee to examine the issue of spoofed calls and find possible solutions that could be implemented in a time-bound manner.

Explaining how the ISI has managed to infiltrate India’s communication networks, the IB note adds: “Using VoIP and computer software to mask the point of origin of their calls, Pakistan’s intelligence operatives have been noticed to be masquerading as senior Indian armed forces officers to contact their targets on the telephone to collect such information.”

The modus operandi involves the use of software by PIOs operating from Pakistan to ensure that the mobile phone of the target displays the incoming call to be originating from a “spoofed” Indian number.

Though these VoIP calls originate outside India, they reflect an Indian-specific CLI (caller line identification). Referring to a recent incident of espionage, the IB note points out that, in February this year, it had sounded an alert regarding possible “contamination of BSNL systems” by the ISI. “This stratagem now appears to have been successfully used by them for a cyber offensive against the subscriber database and communication links of BSNL,” it adds. In the incident, an ISI operative posing as a Major posted in the Army headquarters in Delhi contacted a BSNL employee and persuaded him to not only give details of technical persons involved in the crucial ‘call data record’ project but also forwarded some emails, thus compromising the system.

As a result, the ISI was able to successfully install some malware in the BSNL system, thus compromising the integrity and security of the system. The malware planted by the PIO might also be used by the ISI in identifying and accessing communication links of other sensitive organisations, marking them vulnerable to cyber attacks, including remote monitoring operations and disabling of critical networks, it adds.

Parliamentary supremacy under attack

P. Rajeev 

The executive’s attempts to circumvent the legislature and the growing influence of money power in deciding elections have eroded people’s legitimate aspirations

Parliament is the custodian of the Constitution of India. The Preamble to the Constitution proclaims the supremacy of the people of the country. They exercise their supremacy through their elected representatives who are the Members of Parliament. Nowadays, the non-functioning of Parliament is making headlines . And rightly so. The 15th Lok Sabha could be termed the least productive in the annals of Indian Parliament. As per the statistics prepared by the Lok Sabha secretariat, only 1,157 hours of sittings took place until the 12th session of the 15th Lok Sabha. This is far behind the record of the 14th Lok Sabha, which had 1,736 hours and 55 minutes of sittings. In fact, the first Lok Sabha held 677 sittings of about 3,784 hours during its 14 sessions. The story is no different in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament. For the first time in its history, the Upper House returned the budget without any discussion.

UID bill in abeyance

However this is not the only thing corroding the functioning of democracy. The executive has taken most policy decisions without the concurrence of the supreme legislative body of our country. A classic example of this is the Aadhar, a much hyped programme of the UPA government. The Aadhar card is regarded as a pre-requisite for getting all government benefits. Without the Aadhar number, a student would not get any benefit from the Central and State governments. Direct Benefit Transfer is based on Aadhar numbers. Bank accounts are to be linked to it. But what is the legislative backing for Aadhar? The UID bill is supposed to be the law for the implementation of Aadhar. But the Parliamentary Standing Committee had submitted its reports with serious objections to most provisions of the bill. The government has kept it in cold storage and is not ready to move the bill in Parliament in any form for consideration and passing.

But Aadhar has already become a reality and an unavoidable part of the life of an Indian citizen. This covert approach of the government was also visible when it introduced the contributory pension scheme for Central and State government employees. All the State governments in our country are collecting the contribution from crores of their employees for the Pension Fund. But we find that the bill relating to it is still pending in Parliament. What is the legality of collecting hundreds of crores of rupees during all these years? These are only a few instances of the government bypassing Parliament for implementing major policy decisions.

The Constitution clearly defines and demarcates the powers of different organs of the democratic system. When Parliament passes a law, it becomes the law of the land. All citizens of the country are bound to adhere to it. But this constitutional mandate is observed more in its violation.

Unanimous decision overruled

While presenting the Union Budget 2012-13, the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had introduced retrospective taxation. Both Houses passed the Finance Bill unanimously with these provisions. But when P. Chidambaram became the Finance Minister, the scene dramatically changed. He constituted a one-man committee to review this new tax reform. Within a week of submission of the report by Parthasarathi Shome, the tax expert, the government decided to defer the retrospective taxation for three years. Can the unanimous decision of the supreme legislative body of this country be overruled by an expert?

Strategic Triangle

Deputy Director 
Nuclear Policy Program

Recently, Indian analysts have made troubling assertions about ongoing nuclear weapons collusion between China and Pakistan. Regardless of the veracity of these charges, they raise an interesting problem: how should South Asia watchers understand the implications of China’s role as part of a regional ‘strategic triangle’.

The classic approach, drawing on Cold War lessons, is to see the South Asia nuclear competition in terms of competitive dyads. Assessing deterrence dynamism in the region in triangular terms, however, brings analytical clarity to a vexing problem for India: if Chinese influence with Islamabad aids or abets Pakistani nuclear threats against India, then how might India motivate Beijing to change its policy toward Pakistan?

A Strategic Triangle

For many analysts there is comfort in thinking of the South Asia nuclear competition as a two-player game. Such comfort derives from a sense that the US-Soviet Cold War experience offers appropriate lessons that will help India and Pakistan avert an arms race or, far worse, use of nuclear weapons.

Many analysts in Islamabad and Delhi go out of their way to stress the dissimilarities between the Cold War and modern eras, from disparity in resources and polarity of the international system, to geographic proximity. But the most important difference between the Cold War and modern security environment is that the strategic reality in South Asia is triangular, not bipolar or dyadic.

The recent dynamism in the Sino-India security competition, punctuated by a seeming surge in Chinese incursions in Ladakh and a quickening pace of Indian testing of ballistic missiles with intermediate range, points directly to the need to think through how China fits into the picture. To the extent Indian analysts have been more preoccupied with China for the last decade, if not longer, there is not yet a deep literature on the India-China dyad (compared to libraries on India-Pakistan). One recent edited volume with contributions from both Indian and Chinese analysts, The China-India Nuclear Crossroads (in the interest of full disclosure it was published by the Carnegie Endowment), usefully surveys the landscape, and raises innumerable issues deserving further analysis. In the analytical community there is now increasing interest in Sino- Indian CBMs and understanding deterrence dynamics. But the focus only on dyads (Pakistan-India; India-China) tends to obscure important drivers of competition.

Contemporary and historical Chinese actions within the subcontinent argue for considering the Southern Asia security dynamic in terms of a triad or — so as not to be confused with a nuclear triad — a strategic triangle. As the dominant competitor, China sits at the apex of the triangle. It has strategic relationships with India and Pakistan, who occupy the end points of the base. The Sino-Indian leg is competitive; the Sino-Pakistani leg is cooperative. Developments on one leg influence what happens in the others. For instance, India’s efforts to achieve some level of strategic parity with China motivate Pakistan’s nuclear developments in order to close perceived deterrence gaps, and to seek closer relations with China to balance perceived threats from India. This model better captures the directionality of deterrence objectives and the interrelationship between them than simple dyads.

China-Pakistan Nuclear Nexus

A key question brought out by this model centres on the nature of the China- Pakistan leg. Several Indian analysts have alleged ongoing nuclear weapons cooperation between Beijing and Islamabad. This charge was stated directly and given semi-official status by Shyam Saran, chairman of India’s National Security Advisory Board, in a 24 April 2013 address in which he charged that “Chinese assistance to Pakistan’s strategic programme continues apace.”

Maoist Movement in India: An Overview

August 6, 2013

It is clear from the above account of the Maoist movement that the movement has been violent and comparatively strong enough to challenge, at least, the security forces and pose threats to the local government officials. The movement is primarily spearheaded by a Maoist party, i.e. the CPI (Maoist) which derives its ideological and militaristic inspirations from the China’s Mao Tse Tung’s thoughts which propagates agrarian armed revolution to capture political power. Indian Maoists/Naxalites aim at overthrowing the Indian State through the agrarian armed revolution and capturing the political power. The CPI (Maoist) has spread to one-third of the country’s geographical area (primarily in forest areas) and established an efficient networking in urban areas through its mass organizations. It has also in place a proper research and development programme which is responsible for the development of sophisticated arms and ammunitions. In addition to it, the CPI (Maoist) has set up an intelligence network to collate and analyse the information as to the planning, movement and operation of the security forces. They are challenging the Indian state on many fronts—from propaganda to military actions. Although they say that they are in a strategic defensive mode in which they, on occasions, conduct counter-offensive attacks on security forces and civilians, the data on the killings of security forces and civilians reveal enormity of the Maoists’ threat to the internal security of the country. The governments at the centre and the states, time and again, have acknowledged the threat as the biggest internal security threat/challenge ever faced by India. The Central and the State governments have made some efforts on two fronts, development as well as security, to curtail the Maoist menace. However, the governments have not been really successful in countering the Maoists’ propaganda against the Indian state, which would give them strategic leverage vis-à-vis the Indian state in psychological warfare. The governments need to instil confidence into the affected mass towards the State through providing them with development, opportunity and sense of security.

Pakistan’s Internal Security Challenges: Will The Military Cope? **

Issue brief 
Gurmeet Kanwal

The greatest challenge that the new Pakistan government faces is on the national security front. The inability of the Pakistan army to meet internal security challenges effectively is a particularly worrying factor. Fissiparous tendencies in Balochistan and the restive Gilgit-Baltistan Northern Areas are a perpetual security nightmare. Karachi remains a tinderbox that is ready to explode. The Al Qaeda has gradually made inroads into Pakistani terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Harkat-ul-Jihad Al-Islami (HuJI), Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), and while it is still far from forming an umbrella organisation encompassing all of them, it is moving perceptibly in that direction.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has consolidated its position in North Waziristan despite the army’s counter-insurgency campaign and appears capable of breaking out of its stronghold to neighbouring areas. Only concerted army operations launched with single-mindedness of purpose can stop the TTP juggernaut.

Over the last decade, the deteriorating internal security environment has gradually morphed into Pakistan’s foremost national security threat. The Pakistan army and its intelligence arm, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate gained considerable experience in aiding, abetting and fuelling insurgencies and terrorism in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and other parts of India since 1988-89.

Having concentrated solely on preparing for a conventional war with India, the army had no worthwhile experience in fighting insurgencies successfully and has expectedly failed to deliver, particularly in ground operations in the picturesque Swat Valley.

Counter-insurgency Campaign: Challenges Galore

As the Pakistan army’s previous operational expertise lay in creating and fuelling insurgencies and not in fighting them, it failed to sense that it was creating a Frankenstein monster at home by encouraging fundamentalist terrorism abroad and failed to fight the scourge effectively for almost 10 years. Large parts of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa and FATA have been under Taliban control for many years. The challenge to Pakistan’s sovereignty in Swat and Buner was addressed with brute force only after the Taliban appeared to be on a triumphant march to Islamabad. The insurgency in South Waziristan was tackled on a war footing after years of procrastination, but the writ of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) still runs in North Waziristan. The civilian administration continues to place its trust in the false hope that it can sign durable peace deals with the Taliban – a tactic that has failed in the past.

The army has been facing many difficulties in conducting effective counter-insurgency operations even though it has deployed more than 150,000 soldiers in the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa and FATA, and has suffered over 15,700 casualties, including over 5,000 dead since 2008. Total casualties including civilians number almost 50,000 since 2001. Casualties in Operation Al Mizan were particularly high. Special Forces units of the Pakistan army, the elite SSG, are also directly engaged in fighting the militants. Sometimes the army is seen to be unwilling to conduct high-intensity counter-insurgency operations due to apprehensions that fighting fellow Muslims would be demotivating in the long run. Many soldiers, including officers, are known to have refused to fight fellow Muslims. Several cases of fratricide have been reported. Questions are now being raised about the army’s lack of professionalism in counter-insurgency operations and its withering internal cohesion. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the COAS, was asked some hard questions by junior officers when he went around the country to pacify agitated officers after the US Navy SEALS had taken out Osama bin Laden in a spectacular operation.

The army’s convoys have been repeatedly ambushed; it has faced numerous terrorist strikes in the shape of suicide attacks and bombings; many of its personnel (especially Pushtun soldiers) have deserted as they do not wish to fight fellow tribesmen; and, many soldiers have been captured by the militants in humiliating circumstances. While some of these soldiers were later released by the militants for a large ransom, some others were killed. Soldiers are routinely overstaying leave or going AWOL (absent without leave) and even regular army battalions have seen their morale dip to worryingly low levels. There have been some reports of soldiers disobeying the orders issued by their superior officers. Complicating the issue further is the fact that the army has been gradually Islamised since General Zia ul Haq’s days and the early converts to the Jihadi way of life are now coming into positions of command. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that a once proud professional army appears to be headed inexorably downhill.

The Pakistan army has been forced by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), headed for many years by the late Baitullah Mehsud, to wage a three-front "war": against the TTP and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in South Waziristan; against the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in the sensitive Darra Adam Khel-Kohat area of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa and the Shia-dominated Kurram Agency of FATA; and, against the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), headed by Maulana Fazlullah, and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in the Swat Valley of the NWFP. The TTP’s cadre base is over 20,000 tribesmen and Mehsud commands about 5,000 fighters. Mangal Bagh Afridi leads Lashkar-e-Islam (LI), a militant group that has refrained from joining the TTP and is independently active up to the outskirts of Peshawar. Meanwhile, radical extremism is gaining ground in Pakistan and the scourge of creeping Talibanisation has reached southern Punjab.

Pakistan - India Resumption of Peace Dialogue Premature

Paper No. 5537 Dated 06-Aug-2013
By Dr Subhash Kapila

Resumption of Pakistan -India peace dialogue is once again the flavour of the season and its ardent advocates seem to be oblivious to the prevailing political dynamics in both Pakistan and India.

Obliviousness also extends to overlooking the unfolding security and strategic environment in South Asia and also to the insidious roles of United States and China who give primacy to their relationship with Pakistan even if it involves trampling on India’s national security interests.

In Pakistan, the ascension to political control of Prime Minister Nawaz is being seen by many in India as reasons strong enough for brightening the chances of a successful peace dialogue. This overlooks the prevailing reality in Pakistan that many challenges will have to be countered by PM Nawaz Sharif to establish a firm control over Pakistan’s politics and internal security, before he can embolden himself for any dramatic moves for peace with India.

Pakistan’s India-policy is controlled by Pakistan Army which has yet to shed its hostile stances towards India. Nor would the Pakistan Army be inclined to concede space to PM Nawaz Sharif to independently follow his own political inclinations for better relations with India.

Within India, analysts seem to be forgetting that the political situation is in a state of flux where the Government in power can change any day. Even if with a bumpy ride if it completes its full term, it is in severe disconnect with Indian public opinion on Pakistan. It is debatable that it can successfully project externally that the Government has the full backing of Indian public opinion in its initiatives to resume the peace dialogue with Pakistan.

Pointed in my earlier Papers and TV discussions was the fact that in Pakistan the political situation is and will continue to be in a state of flux due to impending changes in some top level appointments.. The election of a new President has mercifully taken place smoothly but two more changes which may not be all that smooth is the appointment of a new Pakistan Army Chief and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Designation of a new Pakistan Army Chief may end up as a tricky affair as PM Nawaz Sharif learnt bitterly in his last two tenures as Prime Minister of Pakistan. Despite the veneer being pasted by PM Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Army Chief on the civilian government-Pak Army relationship that all is well, there are undercurrents that do not bode well.

Prime Minister Nawaz may be positively inclined towards peace with India but he would be hamstrung by the continued proxy war against India as part of Pakistan Army and its ISI strategy as is evident by the resurgence of infiltration, suicide bombings and terror attacks in India and against Indian Missions in Afghanistan. This makes Indian public opinion that much more against any untimely resumption of the Pakistan-India Peace Dialogue.

Therefore it is premature for both Pakistan and India to resume the peace dialogue which as it is over-ridden with contentious issues which have defied solution for the last so many decades. It is also being forgotten that all past Pakistan-India peace dialogues have ended in acrimony and endless blame games which strongly points towards a “severe trust-deficit” between India and Pakistan.

The problem is that both Pakistan and India do not invest seriously in their Peace Dialogues. Pakistan indulges in this meaningless process to please the United States to ensure continuance of US military and financial aid and India buckles under acute pressures arising from timidity of Indian political leadership, exploited by the United States which wishes to keep the Pakistan Army in its pocket by doing so.

Mullah Omar says Taliban wants "inclusive government" in Afghanistan

August 6, 2013

"Waste of time"?

In a recorded message released on Tuesday to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration that closes the holy month of Ramadan, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar said that his fighters will not seek to monopolize power in Afghanistan after foreign troops withdraw next year, and that the group will work to create "an inclusive government based on Islamic principles" (BBC, Pajhwok). Omar rejected the idea of dividing Afghanistan between different power players, but he also reiterated his belief that next year's presidential election is a "waste of time" (AFP, Reuters). The Taliban have routinely encouraged Afghans not to take part in the electoral process, and have targeted political candidates and activists, as well as deployed fighters to block the roads to polling stations in the past. 

Omar's statement was released the same day as an Associated Press report that said members of the Afghan Taliban and the Karzai government have been secretly meeting in an effort to jumpstart the reconciliation process that has been on hold since the June opening of the Taliban's political office in Qatar (AP). The talks, which were confirmed by Afghan officials, have been occurring on an individual and informal basis, and are focused on creating the conditions for formal negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan High Peace Council.

One Afghan child died and two others were wounded in Jalalabad on Tuesday when a bomb targeting a police vehicle exploded in a busy square (Pajhwok). While the vehicle was damaged, all of the officers inside escaped unhurt. There have been no claims of responsibility for the attack, which comes just three days after nine people were killed in a botched assault on the Indian consulate in the city. 

Separatist killings

At least 13 people were killed in the Mach section of Balochistan's Bolan district on Monday night when separatist gunmen held up several buses full of day laborers at a fake checkpoint (BBC,Dawn, ET, VOA). According to multiple news sources, the checkpoint seemed to be targeting Punjab province-bound vehicles, and a total of 30 passengers were kidnapped. Meerak Baloch, a spokesman for the separatist Baloch Liberation Army, claimed responsibility for the killings. A search is ongoing for the perpetrators and the missing victims.

Dr. Kashif Nabi, the Mach Assistant Commissioner, told reporters that passenger buses like the ones that were diverted at the checkpoint are normally escorted out of Balochistan by security personnel, but an attack on an oil tanker in another section of Bolan kept these forces engaged in a clash with insurgents (Pajhwok). One security guard died in the ensuing firefight and another was injured. There have been no claims of responsibility but Pakistani officials suspect it was a diversion by Baloch separatists (Dawn).

Wishful thinking on the war on terror

THE STATE Department has shuttered 19 embassies for a week, fearing terrorist attacks. Hundreds of prisoners, including senior al-Qaeda operatives, have busted loose in prison breaks in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. At Bagram air base in Afghanistan, The Post’s Kevin Sieff reports, U.S. forces are holding 67 non-Afghan prisoners, many of whom can’t be tried in court but are too dangerous to release.

Meanwhile President Obama says he wants to “refine and ultimately repeal” the mandate Congress has given him to fight the war on terror. What’s going on here?

Without doubt, the central al-Qaeda leadership has been weakened, not least by the killing of Osama bin Laden. As Mr. Obama noted in a May 23 speech at National Defense University, “there have been no large-scale attacks on the United States” since 9/11 — a period of relative safety that few thought likely in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks. At the same time, as he also noted, al-Qaeda affiliates are emerging in many nations beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan, home-grown terror remains a danger and “unrest in the Arab world has also allowed extremists to gain a foothold in countries like Libya and Syria.”

From the beginning of his tenure, the president has been reluctant to build a legal framework that would assume that the fight against al-Qaeda and like-minded groups might go on for a long time. He not only proposed closing the prison at Guantanamo, rightly given its poisonous effect on the United States’ image, but he also opposed options to hold prisoners taken in future operations. That may be one reason so many alleged terrorists have been killed during his time in office and so few captured. It also helps explain the quandary the United States faces with its non-Afghan prisoners when it transfers control of the Bagram prison to Afghanistan. The United States is holding prisoners of war without fully acknowledging the war.

The president also has sought to minimize U.S. involvement in dangerous countries as much and as quickly as possible. He failed to negotiate a follow-on force in Iraq, where violence is again spiraling out of control. He has resisted engagement in Syria, where vicious brigades associated with al-Qaeda are establishing beachheads. He has provided little assistance to Tunisia or Libya, where emerging democracies are struggling to contain Islamist militias. He surged troops to Afghanistan but simultaneously announced a timetable for their withdrawal, which is underway.

Mr. Obama’s preferred approach has been to rely on intelligence and drone strikes, but last week Secretary of State John F. Kerry said “the president has a very real timeline” for ending drone strikes in Pakistan, “and we hope it’s going to be very, very soon.” The State Department later qualified his statement, but Mr. Obama has supported the sentiment. He said in May, “This war, like all wars, must end.”

Failing Transition: The New 1230 Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan ***

Aug 6, 2013

A new Burke Chair report entitled “Failing Transition: The New 1230 Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan” updates a shorter analysis issued last week and expands and integrates the text and graphics. The report can be found on the CSIS web site at http://csis.org/files/publication/130805_failingtransition_afghanistan.pdf.

The report uses combination of narrative and graphic analysis to examine the new Department of Defense 1230 report on the Afghan War issued late in July 2013, along with new SIGAR and UN reporting. It shows that the level of insurgent activity is rising, and demonstrates rising levels of violence and casualties. The Afghan surge may have succeeded in halting insurgent momentum in terms of territorial gains but fell far short of the impact of the surge in Iraq.

The report shows that ISAF and the Department of Defense have withdrawn past claims that the number of enemy initiated attacks were dropping. The data also show that Afghan military and civilian casualties increased during and after the surge, and the insurgent are becoming far more effective at targeted killings. Total Afghan military casualties have increased far more rapidly than civilian casualties, and total ISAF and ANSF casualties are now far higher than at any previous time in the war, in spite of the fact that the ISAF share of casualties is now negligible.

At the same time, some trends do favor Transition. The data on Afghan force development are mixed, but indicates that Afghan forces may still be able to succeed if -- as the latest DoD, ISAF, and SIGAR data show -- they receive major outside finding and large numbers of US and allied advisors, partners, and trainers well beyond 2016.

At the same time, the new DoD and SIGAR reports make it clear that problems with leadership, the 2014 election, corruption, power brokers, and poor governance all pose critical threats to Transition. So does the lack of any clear plan to help Afghanistan transition out of levels of aid and military spending larger than its domestic GDP and aid roughly equal to seven times its domestic budget.

It is also clear from the new Department of Defense and SIGAR reports, as well as earlier GAO reporting, that that the US still has no real Transition plan for the period after 2014. The US military has some elements of a plan for the ANSF, but no funding or level of advisors and enablers has yet been approved, and the lead time necessary to budget and plan for the future and ensure continuity for those who stay is elapsing.

The US Department of State and USAID do not seem to have clears plans for the civil side of the war. They continue to make exaggerated claims of progress, understate the risks, and focusing on project aid rather than the war and need for stability.

Mullah Omar is ‘still willing to talk’

AP This undated photo reportedly shows Mullah Omar. Taliban’s reclusive leader has blamed America and the Afghan government for the failure so far of peace talks.

In a five-page message emailed ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr festival, Taliban’s reclusive leader urges a continued struggle against the international coalition and its Afghan allies.

The Taliban’s reclusive leader said on Tuesday that his group was willing to start peace negotiations, even as he urged more attacks including insider shootings by government security forces on foreign troops.

In a wide-ranging e-mailed message, Mullah Mohammad Omar blamed America and the Afghan government for the derailment of talks two months ago.

In a message issued ahead of the Id al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramzan, Omar urged the army and police to turn their guns on foreign forces, government officials and the Afghan troops who are cooperating with the U.S.-led coalition forces.

The Taliban’s longstanding policy is to continue attacks even as it pursues negotiations.

The five-page message was e-mailed to news organisations. Mullah Omar regularly issues such messages for the two yearly Id holy days.

Striking a conciliatory tone elsewhere in the message, he denied that the insurgents were seeking to monopolise power in Afghanistan and said that his group favoured what he described as an “Afghan-inclusive government based on Islamic principles”.

The reclusive leader has not been seen since he reportedly fled a village in southern Afghanistan on motorcycle three months after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. There are no known audio recordings of his voice since early 2002 or any pictures of Mullah Omar. He mainly communicates in messages relayed by his spokesmen.

In the message, Mullah Omar did repeat a key U.S. demand opening the way for peace talks by pledging not to use Afghanistan as a base to threaten other countries, though he again did not openly denounce al-Qaeda — one of the original conditions set by the United States that was temporarily dropped to get talks going.

“Our fundamental principle according to our unchanging policy is that we do not intend to harm anyone, nor we allow anyone to harm others from our soil,” the message said, echoing the original language used by the Taliban on June 18 when they announced the opening of a political office in the Gulf state of Qatar. Some elements of the Taliban, including the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, are believed to still have ties with al-Qaeda.

Those talks foundered before they even began when the Taliban marked the opening with the flag, anthem and symbols of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan the group’s name when they ruled the country. President Hamid Karzai immediately pulled the plug on talks saying the office had all the trappings of an embassy of a government in exile.

The Taliban has already held secret talks with Mr. Karzai’s representatives to try to jumpstart a peace process, Afghan officials and a senior Taliban representative recently told The Associated Press.

What Asia Wants from the U.S.-China Great Power Relationship

Ian Easton and Mark Stokes 

Nuclear warheads and their associated delivery vehicles (ballistic and cruise missiles) represent the most powerful and potentially destabilizing weapons in the world today. While rapid advances in information and communications technology have endowed conventional weapons systems with the “intelligence” and precision to take on a greater number of strategic missions–for example targeting aircraft carrier groups and critical command nodes–nuclear weapons remain the sine qua non of deterrence. Indeed, while every nation’s leadership fears war to some degree, the threat of war is only truly horrific for a leader who faces an enemy armed with nuclear weapons

Beijing put forward the idea of a “New Type of Great Power Relationship” to promote cooperation and build trust with Washington. This conceptualization is presented as a rebuttal to power transition theory, which predicts the inevitability of conflict between states quo and rising powers. China sees the growing possibility of confrontation with the United States, especially since the U.S. rebalance to Asia, and wants to show its desire for cooperation by declaring its alleged new great power relationship. The Sunnylands summit between President Xi and President Obama in early June signaled that they both want this bilateral relationship to avoid conflict and be cooperative.

But can they succeed?

Barriers to cooperation and trust-building reside not only in Beijing and Washington, but in the capitals of countries across the Asia-Pacific region. This new type of great power relationship can only be achieved by successfully reassuring other countries that both sides are truly committed to a cooperative approach.

China’s rapidly expanding economic power and perceptions of an increasingly aggressive military and paramilitary action over the past decade has crystallized concern over its intentions. Growing economic ties with its neighbors has gained Beijing more leverage on regional issues. The security concern that China is using its economic power to pursue a tougher diplomatic approach and more robust military capabilities has grown, especially after China tookJapan’s place as the second largest economy in the world.

Most, if not all, countries in the region welcomed the U.S. rebalance, as it showed the U.S. readiness to engage in the region on more than just security matters. As Washington expected to maintain stability in the region to secure its interests, some countries anticipated using Washington to increase leverage with China. The strength of the U.S. rebalance lies in other countries’ perception and fear of the Chinese threat. The U.S. place in Asia is secure because these countries expect the United States will help deter China from hurting their interests by asserting its growing economic and military might. In their minds, China and the United States are natural competitors.

India must revisit ties with Nepal

07 August 2013

India-New Nepal relations which are special due to the open border, cultural affinity and kinship, require recalibration to accommodate each other’s interests and concerns

Gopalji Gurung is Kathmandu’s unknown strategic thinker. Ask him why Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala is currently in India on Union Government’s invitation following visits in the last four months of Maoist supremo Prachanda, Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) former Prime Ministers Sher Bahadur Deupa and Madhav Nepal? India wants to distribute its eggs in different baskets by engaging all stake-holders. Ask him whether the second election in five years to a Constituent Assembly — which is a world record — will be held on November 19 this year, and he says, “There are three views. Yes, no, and should be held but may not”. The majority is in the ‘yes’ court. This is backed by the establishment, India, European Union and others including, suprisingly, China.

Elaborate security preparations have been made with Nepal Army, armed police and police is ready to deal with spoilers, and violence which is expected from the breakaway Maoists, led by Kiran Mohan Baidya and the Tarai-based terrorist groups, which are principally of nuisance value. Prachanda Maoists, the mother group that spearheaded the peoples’ war are hoping to talk the Kiran lot into elections in the larger effort at power consolidation. A letter has finally been sent to Mr Baidya inviting him for unconditional dialogue by the four-party high level political committee which is guiding the ad hoc election caretaker Government.

The nay-sayers contend that without resolving the differences that broke up the previous CA and settling new electoral issues, elections will come a cropper. At least, it will yield a democratically-elected Government, they concede. Present estimates expect the Prachanda Maoists to emerge as the single largest party with UML a distant second, followed by NC and Madhesi parties. According to Himalmagazine, surprisingly, Mr Sushil Koirala is the favourite for Prime Minister, upstaging Mr Prachanda and his party’s senior leader and former Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattarai.

Most want an election to end the impasse but are pessimistic about it. The Kiran people are expected to be the principal spoilers obstructing and boycotting instead of contesting election. Mr Baidya says an armed revolt to capture power is necessary but impossible under present circumstances. But he is flexible. A return to the mother party, which at one time was ruled out by Mr Prachanda himself, is possible though not probable. Some sort of an electoral alliance could be on the cards. Mr Prachanda, a proven manager of internal dissent, is wary about Mr Bhattarai’s intentions and wants to make up with Mr Baidya. The real differences between Mr Prachanda and Mr Baidya, his mentor, is less ideological and more to do with loaves of power and perks which have not been equitably divided. Power is a big aphrodasiac.