11 August 2013

India, Sri Lanka & Maldives: Regaining India's Strategic Space

ISSUE BRIEF
T.C Karthikeyan
Associate Fellow, 
National Maritime Foundation,
New Delhi 

The second Trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation meeting between India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka was held in Colombo last month. A roadmap for future cooperation was confirmed in the Outcome Document and some important aspects of the agreement among others were that, India is to provide Maldives and Sri Lanka access to its Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) data to monitor and track their own flagged merchant vessels. Sri Lanka and Maldives are also required to provide details as per International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations through diplomatic channels; utilisation of the Merchant Ship Information System (MSIS) for exchange of unclassified information on white shipping (fair and safe shipping procedures). 

Such specific arrangements are significant as India, in the recent years has been feeling that both of its southern neighbours are drifting away from its co-operative and consultative framework. It was particularly evident post the Fourth Eelam War in Sri Lanka and the controversial transfer of power in February 2012 in Maldives. Simultaneously, China is getting closer to these states, in terms of strategic, economic, political and cultural engagements.

India’s strategic relationship with Sri Lanka is different when compared to the Maldives. India voluntarily, perhaps unintentionally gave way for the Chinese influence to grow in Sri Lanka when it followed a hands-off approach post 1991. Sino-Sri Lankan relationship grew tremendously, particularly in the military dimension during the Fourth Eelam War (July 2006 to May 2009), when China provided the much needed arsenal to fight and defeat the LTTE. 

However, invaluable Indian assistance to Sri Lanka in the maritime domain during the civil war cannot be underestimated. It could have been tougher for Sri Lanka without the Indian support in providing significant maritime intelligence inputs and radar equipment, as also providing the offshore patrol vessel “INS Saryu” and helicopters. Sri Lanka did acknowledge the Indian Navy's contribution as exceptional.

Lately, China has been making deep inroads into the economic and strategic spheres in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, India’s relations with Sri Lanka were also tested after India’s successive votes at the UNHRC in 2012 and 2013. Sri Lanka has also not been receptive to India’s renewed offers, the latest being the lukewarm response to India’s willingness to assist them in civilian nuclear energy. Though Indian entities are involved in vibrant business in Sri Lanka, it is only at low level strategic cooperation, the situation shall perhaps be addressed by the latest trilateral agreement on maritime security. This also possibly sidesteps the rhetorical opposition that may emanate from domestic compulsions of the Indian states, if the maritime agreement had to be signed bilaterally with Sri Lanka.

Failure-bound maritime strategy

Posted on August 9, 2013

The public perception of the Indian army being smacked around on the border by China needs correction. Actually army units with the Leh-based XIV Corps do “power patrolling”, matching the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) move for aggressive move, including active use of drones, something not publicised by an incomprehensibly reticent Indian government. Thus, while it is known, for example, that the camera installed in the post on the Chumar heights was destroyed by intruding PLA troops, what isn’t is the fact that it was quickly replaced by the Chinese with a new surveillance system once they were told that five of their cameras in similarly exposed sites would be destroyed in retaliation.

The negative impression of a lax and unready army has gained traction, leading to murmurings of a 1962-type of disaster in case of war with China, which’s wrong. An indecisive Indian government has constrained the Indian army with its delayed decision on the offensive mountain corps and the painfully slow construction of border roads and military-use infrastructure. But notwithstanding China’s advantages in these and other respects, the PLA is in no position to overwhelm India’s defensive formations arrayed in depth, even less maintain an attacking force in the field in the face of sustained Indian aerial strike power. It has only 11 Ilyushin-76s for heavy airlift, relies on the antiquated Yak-7 variant of An-32 — the staple of the Indian transport capability as well and, unlike the Mi-26 in Indian employ, has no heavy lift helicopters for tactical support.

The problem is fundamentally of a strategic nature. With China clearly utilising its repeated provocations to benchmark escalatory steps — from push to shove to widespread hostilities to limited war to however improbable, general war, the question is what is the most appropriate Indian strategy if the violence is ratcheted all the way up? The Indian government seems persuaded by the “theatre-switching” maritime strategy of a naval riposte to Chinese aggression in the mountains. According to the estimable Rear Admiral (Retd) K Raja Menon (“A mountain strike corps is not the only option”, The Hindu, July 28, 2013), the ` 60,000 crore sanctioned for an offensive army mountain corps is a waste of money, which ought to have been spent on beefing up the navy’s Sea Lines of Communications “interdiction capability” instead in order to obtain “a stranglehold on the Chinese routes through the Indian Ocean”. Threaten a cutoff of energy and natural resources from the Gulf and Africa, put its exports-driven economy and prosperity at risk and, voila! goes this argument, Beijing will pull its punches landward.

Convinced about the efficacy of “maritime strategy for continental wars” — a subject he has fleshed out in a book — Menon builds his larger case on Britain’s historical experience of utilising the Royal Navy to contain European continental powers. Except, as empirical evidence shows, a maritime strategy can overcome only island nations (such as Japan in World War II) but by itself can at most seriously discomfit, not stifle, major land powers enjoying interior lines of communications. Even Britain had to rely ultimately on Marlborough, master of the forced march and tactical maneuvering, to settle the early 18th Century Wars of the Spanish Succession in the decisive land battles at Blenheim, Ramillies and Malpalaquet, against the condominium of France and Spain, both boasting formidable navies which, along with the Royal Navy, did little during this period than indulge in “cruising wars”.

J&K: Declining Violence, But Challenges Galore

Ashok Bhan
Former Director General of Police, J&K 
&Distinguished Fellow, IPCS

The first half of the year 2013 in Jammu and Kashmir was marked by continued ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts from across, targeting by terrorists of security forces and police personnel, targeted attacks on civilians including Panchayat members and resumption of civil strife and protest hartals in the aftermath of hanging of Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru. There was focus on developmental issues and employment generation. Apart from feeble attempts through Track 2 to establish contact with separatists, there has been no forward movement in finding “positive peace” in the state through political initiatives. 

As a result separatists were able to exploit sentiments of the people after incidents like execution of Afzal Guru or killing of two civilians by security forces in Markundal Sumbal. Mian Nawaz Sharif, newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, has extended hand of friendship to India and expressed his willingness to find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue, yet it is too early to expect resumption of composite dialogue between India and Pakistan. 

During the first half of 2013, the following trends could be identified in J&K in terms of peace and conflict.

Declining Violence

Numerically speaking, the downward trend in violent incidents continues. There were only 44 incidents of terrorist violence in the first half of 2013 as against 124 incidents in the entire year 2012. But behind these figures lie some ground realities which don’t augur well for the peace process. 

The net infiltration ending May 2013 (as per MAC) was 30 as against 13 during the corresponding period in 2012. The net infiltration in 2010 and 2011 was 95 and 52 respectively; the neutralizing of terrorists in encounters during these years was 232 and 100 respectively, thus registering an overall reduction in their presence. The trend has reversed with 121 infiltrations in 2012 and only 72 terrorists killed. This trend continues in the first half of 2013 with 30 infiltrations and neutralizing of only 17. There is net increase in presence of terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir during 2012 and 2013. 

Crisis of 4GW in Kashmir: The Soldier’s Side

July 30, 2013 by Team SAISA
Filed under internal security

Adfar Shah
“Because those of us who carry guns,
Can’t always be saints.
I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough”.

(Anonymous)

The recent mishandling of the Ramban crisis by BSF, local Police and the civil administration that received a widespread condemnation of security forces from all corners, still seems binary. In spite of the furore, apart from routine procedures of shielding the culprits, the efforts to actually analyse the issue leading to unfortunate loss of civilian lives was missing. To solve the riddle, we need to understand the perspectives of both Awaam (public) and Fauj (security forces); but avoiding a bias and corruption of thoughts is a big challenge. Specific to the case of Ramban killings, the case appears to be more of ‘security forces bashing’ rather than against the failed system that actually is responsible for the continuing crisis mishandlings. Notwithstanding, investigation and identification of ‘what went wrong’ and ‘why it did go wrong’, needs to be done and errors highlighted.

There is a serious need to assess the impact of such actions on the overall security scenario,Awaam’s psyche, impact on alienation of the Awaam, and finally on the operational efficacy of security forces in the State, especially in the Valley. This would require that, we begin by appreciating the cerebral capability of each soldier in the field and evaluating the circumstances prevalent around a soldier, including his processes and systems to manage his duty in a highly vulnerable combination of demography and geography?

We need to examine whether the ‘soldier bashing’ by the Centre, the State, Politicians of all hue, the Separatist camp, Awaam, intellectuals and above all by their own organisation, is actually resulting in isolating or alienating the soldier further and increasing to his vulnerability rather than any improvement in operation handling or crowd management? Is s/he (the soldier) supposed to fight the fourth generation war (4GW) alone? We need to understand that, s/he is trying to win any war for the nation and hence needs to be not only regulated but, simultaneously guided, empowered and properly trained/professionalised as well. When the soldier takes bullets in his chest, yet does not retaliate to prevent hurting someone, and who under extreme climatic conditions, prefers to help civilian citizens in distress, over their injured comrade in arms, do we fully appreciate his keen sense of duty and his sacrifice? Is he the Awaams’ enemy purely because of his responsibility to control a political problem? Also in case he does not know how to fight 4GW, who is actually responsible for that and who is responsible to train him, and what is being done about his limitations is a curious question? Also can we as a nation wait for him to learn 4GW concepts first, and then deploy him to the India’s conflict zones to deliver peace or can there be any different way to tackle the situation? 

Being a civilised democracy, does the citizen/nation treat the soldier as a human, do we praise him enough when he does well, do we condole his death when he gets killed, and are we as a nation, really concerned about both empowering and regulating him? Are our soldieries killing civilians deliberately under the pretext of self defence or inflicting unwanted collateral casualties to keep the lamp of instability burning? Are they efficiently trained in self defence and collateral free operations? Is there adequate infrastructure to train the armed forces for 4GW? Are we as a nation training them to serve the citizens, unconditionally and simultaneously, how are we protecting both the soldier and the citizens? Is such an untrained and unprofessional soldier really safeguarding Kashmir or sabotaging the very idea of peace (that is manufactured with great difficulty every year by the state’s political and defence leadership) in Kashmir?

India’s War in Afghanistan

August 5, 2013 by Team SAISA
Filed under Analysis

The Indian mission in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, was attacked this Saturday. According to reports from the ground, three terrorists drove up to the consulate in a car before detonating their explosives. The target had obviously been the Indian consulate, but the attackers failed to get into the building, detonating their explosives in the street. The incident has left at least 12 dead and 23 injured. Though the Taliban has denied a hand in the attack, suspicions linger primarily on the Pakistani ISI-backed Haqqani network. It has been learned, however, that security threats were received from several smaller terrorist outfits based in Pakistan too. This is not the first attack on Indian assets in Afghanistan – the same station was attacked in 2007, and the Indian embassy was attacked twice, in 2008 and 2009. India maintains three other consulates in the Central Asian country, in Herat, Mazar-e Sharif, and Kandahar.

Repeated attacks on Indian interests in Afghanistan ought to be worrying in their own regard. To compound Delhi’s worries, al Qa’ida has executed a series of successful jailbreaks in Libya, Iraq, and Pakistan, releasing hundreds of jihadists. Most of these would most likely return to their own wars in Libya, Syria, and Iraq, but many will find their way to Afghanistan and Pakistan’s troubled frontiers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and perhaps even Pakistani-occupied Kashmir.

In case the prospect of hundreds of returning jihadists did not cause Indian security officials to lose sleep, the US pullout from Afghanistan will leave a tidycache of weapons for Pakistan. That the abandonment of surplus weaponry too expensive to take back home is standard US practice will be of little consolation to Delhi; furthermore, it is understood that the US is considering resuming military aid to Pakistan through friendly third parties via the Pakistan Counter-Terrorism Fund (PCF) and the Pakistan Counter-Terrorism Capability Fund (PCCF).

The United States is expected to complete its withdrawal by the end of 2014. Many analysts worry that this would cause a surge in Taliban activity in Afghanistan and may sorely test the stability of Hamid Karzai’s government; already, intelligence intercepts indicate that the ISI has placed a bounty on the head of the Indian ambassador to Kabul. Given the trajectory of events in the past ten days, India’s presence in Afghanistan is likely to come under serious attack soon, and definitely post-2014.

India has several options at its disposal. The first is to turn down Indian presence in Afghanistan. By reducing diplomatic and economic ties, India reduces its exposure to the Taliban. Primarily preoccupied with regaining power at home, it is unlikely that the Afghan part of the Taliban would bother to chase Indians across the border…for now. This option buys time (though for what is unclear), and reduces the intensity of attacks India will probably experience otherwise in the immediate future.

A second option is to further fortify Indian consulates and the embassy, as well as lean on the Afghan government to provide extra security in areas Indians live and work. After all, Delhi has already invested approximately $2 billion in infrastructural loans in the country and will probably increase its role in that sector. However, this option will only increase the illusion of security without necessarily providing significant increase in safety. Indians outside the heavily fortified compounds of their companies and government will remain vulnerable to attacks and kidnappings; embassy security can be breached by a dedicated team of well-armed terrorists, which the present situation has certainly created. In addition, it will always remain a difficult task to do business in a country from behind high walls, to say nothing of the hit India’s soft power will take. The message from Delhi will appear to read, “Your problems are yours alone, we are here only for the economics.”

Delhi’s third option is to increase dramatically the range and quantity of weapons Afghanistan wants to buy from it. The Karzai government has already presented India with such a wish list in May, but the UPA government refusedto consider the request. Manmohan Singh may have to reconsider this decision now, given the increasing threats to Indian interests, Pakistan’s boldness, and the US retreat. It may certainly sound like an imperial policy, but realpolitik dictates that India must be willing to defend Afghanistan at least until the last drop of Afghan blood.

Press Statement on India-Pakistan Relations

by Members of India’s Strategic Community

Reports indicate that with the change of government in Pakistan and the exchange of visits by special envoys, the Government of India is prepared to resume the composite/comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan, interrupted since January this year as a sequel to the beheading of Indian soldiers by the Pakistani army on the LOC in J&K. The possibility that discussions on Sir Creek and Tulbul Navigation may take place even before the proposed meeting of the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers in September in New York on the margins of the UNGA meeting has been aired in the media. Reports indicate that all these are being done without any linkage to the 26/11 terror attack or to the issue of Pakistan sponsored terrorism.

The Joint Statement issued after the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan in 2009 alluded to the resumption of the Composite Dialogue Process, while proclaiming: “Action against terrorism should not be linked to the Composite Dialogue Process”. The Dialogue that followed with Pakistan was identical in substance and form with the Composite Dialogue Process. This Dialogue Process was agreed to in 1997. It remained suspended after the Kargil Conflict and the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001. It was resumed only after a cease-fire along the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir took effect in November 2003 and a categorical public assurance received by then Prime Minister Vajpayee from then President Musharraf in January 2004 that territory under Pakistan’s control would not be used for terrorism against India. The Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration and the business-as-usual Composite Dialogue that followed has emboldened the Pakistan establishment to stall, obfuscate and delay action against the perpetrators and masterminds of the 26/11 terrorist attack. The Pakistan establishment has quite evidently concluded that India does not expect firm action against those perpetrating terrorism from its soil and that terrorism and dialogue can go hand in hand.

The government would be well advised not to rush into a dialogue with Pakistan on the assumption that the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Nawaz Sharif, is ostensibly committed to improving ties with India. Good intentions are not sufficient to create conditions for productive negotiations; concrete actions on the ground are required. All the more so because of known structural impediments on the Pakistani side to normalization of India-Pakistan ties represented by the mind-set of the Pakistani military and the jihadi groups nurtured by them. The threat of India-directed terrorism from Pakistani soil is far from being eliminated.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promise to expedite the trial of those accused of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and grant India MFN status agreed to by the previous government has not been kept. On the contrary, we see negative developments that can seriously set back the relationship. Our Consulate in Jalalabad has been subject to a terrorist attack for the first time, raising questions about the timing. This has been followed by the highly provocative killing of five Indian soldiers inside our territory in J&K a couple of days ago. Earlier on, the Pakistani Foreign Office issued a statement on a recent incident of firing inside J&K, the harshness of which was incompatible with a desire to turn a new page in bilateral ties. In this context, the implications of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s declared intention to focus on resolving the Kashmir issue need to be properly analyzed.

The trend lines of Pakistan’s hostile acts, both through its organs of state and sponsored non-state actors, which are accompanied by implausible and even insulting denials and explanations, do not show signs of reversal under Pakistan’s new government which has blandly denied even the occurrence of the latest incident of the killing of our soldiers. Since the beginning of this year, 57 incidents of border violations have occurred. The Raksha Mantri has informed Parliament that both infiltration by terrorists and cease-fire violations on the LoC have increased by more than 80 percent since last year.

Pak's Azm-e-Nau Exs

By Ali Ahmed

The Pakistani Army has just completed its summer war games, Azm-e-Nau IV. The press release has it that with the Azm-e-Nau series of exercises held since 2009, Pakistan has arrived at an answer to India’s Cold Start. Its distraction so far with the ‘Af-Pak’ related security situation on its western border appears to be now behind it. With the Americans packing to depart, it’s back to business in South Asia.

The nuclear backdrop does make this worrisome. There is also no guarantee against a war breaking out. A conventional war cannot be guaranteed to stay conventional. It can be argued that Pakistan’s signalling that it is prepared conventionally is good in the sense that it will deter India on the conventional level. But the problem is that this gives Pakistan the confidence to provoke India at the subconventional level; providing a trigger for India to go conventional in response.

The ‘unthinkable’ cannot be wholly discounted. Pakistanis have gone down theplutonium route to miniaturise warheads so as to place them on missiles. Being short on planes, missiles are the mainstay of the Pakistani nuclear force. The latest of these missiles is a nuclear-tipped battlefield missile designed for use against Indian conventional forces. Its battlefield employment serves to bring nuclear war outbreak that much closer. Pakistan’s rationale for such lowering of the nuclear threshold is that it would deter India from launching Cold Start offensives; thereby, making nuclear war more remote.

This has got India debating its options. India could pay Pakistan back in the same coin of proxy war. It is easy to destabilise Pakistan, perpetually on the brink of being a failed and terror sponsoring state. However, there is no guarantee that this will end the terror provocations, and an unstable Pakistan is not necessarily in India’s interest.

India could rely on conventional asymmetry in its favour, deepened by successive defence budgets such as this year’s crossing of the Rs 250 thousand crores mark. The intent is to deter Pakistani adventurism and, if push comes to shove, to prevail at every level of the conflict, including nuclear. The idea is to gain ‘escalation dominance’, which means to convince the adversary to give up the fight rather than take it to the next higher level at which, yet again, it cannot hope to win.

India’s military has been on a learning curve ever since its conventional war doctrine was rendered obsolete by Pokhran II. While arriving at the concept of Limited War soonthereafter, it was unable to rise to the occasion when it was sorely tested at the next crisis in wake of the parliament attack. The embarrassment of having taken over three weeks to ready itself, led to the intensive thinking that resulted in the Cold Start doctrine.

Strike Corps for mountains Adding to deterrence capability against China

Tribune
August 10, 2013
by Gurmeet Kanwal

ON July 17, 2013, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) finally approved the Army's proposal for raising a Strike Corps for the mountains. Though the approval came after considerable delay, it is a pragmatic move that will send an appropriate message across the Himalayas. It will help India upgrade its military strategy against China from dissuasion to genuine deterrence as the Strike Corps, in conjunction with the Indian Air Force (IAF), will provide the capability to launch offensive operations across the Himalayas so as to take the next war into Chinese territory.

The new Strike Corps will comprise two infantry divisions and will be supported by three independent armoured brigades, three artillery brigades to provide potent firepower, an engineer and air defence brigade each, an aviation brigade and units providing logistics services. The Corps will cost Rs 64,000 crore to raise and equip over a period of five to seven years. Approximately 90,000 new personnel will be added to the Army's manpower strength, including those in ancillary support and logistics units. The Army has already raised 56 and 71 Mountain Divisions and deployed them in Arunachal Pradesh to fill the existing gaps in defence. Some elements of these divisions will act as readily available reserves for the new Strike Corps to add weight along the axis of attack and exploit success. These divisions will also be employed to secure launch pads for offensive operations across the Himalayas. Hence, these must be seen as playing a significant supporting role for the Strike Corps.

Despite the ongoing border talks between India and China to resolve the territorial and boundary dispute, often punctuated by ugly incidents like the PLA incursion in the Daulat Beg Oldie sector in April-May 2013 and repeated incursions into Chumar since then, a limited India-China border conflict cannot be completely ruled out. As the territorial dispute with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir is also in the mountains, there is a very high probability that the next conventional conflict involving India will again break out in the mountains. Since the war will be fought under a nuclear overhang, particularly with Pakistan, there is a fair possibility that it will remain confined to the mountains so that it does not escalate out of control to nuclear exchanges. Hence, it was time for India to pivot to the mountains in its quest for building military capacities and it is creditable that the government has given the go ahead to raise a new Strike Corps.

In any future war that the armed forces are called upon to fight in the mountains, gaining, occupying and holding territory and evicting the enemy from Indian territory will continue to remain important military aims. While these will be infantry predominant operations, no war plan will succeed without achieving massive asymmetries in the application of firepower to destroy the enemy's combat potential and infrastructure. Therefore, Army-IAF operational plans must be fully integrated. These must be jointly evolved, meticulously coordinated and flexible enough to be fine-tuned to exploit fleeting opportunities and to take advantage of the enemy's reactions during execution. This is especially so in the mountains where the military aims and objectives are limited in scope because of the terrain. Both the Services must work together to create the capabilities that are necessary to take the battle into enemy territory during the next war in the mountains.

Pakistan and the Killings across the LoC: Tactical Offensive or a Strategic Defensive?

Lt. Gen. Arvinder S Lamba
Former Vice-Chief of Army Staff 

The recent killing of five soldiers in Poonch has reverberated the calculated and tested strategy of the Pakistan Army once again. Pakistan’s dubious track record of such events since the killing of Captain Saurabh Kalia and five other soldiers in May 15 1999 to the killing five of our brave men on Aug O5, 2013, inside our LoC are indicative of a revival of such dehumanization. 

The emotions and concerns raised by the nation each time may well be justified, but undue intensity in responses and reactions may often go to consolidate success of the perpetrators. In a contextual perspective, recurring events of this nature fall in line with the processes of authorization, routinization, and dehumanization, used by Kelman and Hamilton in studying My Lai and related events, to explain the dimension of Pakistan’s Military psychology. Pakistan military can learn from its record of atrocities in Bangladesh with larger ramifications of isolation in international relations, a possibility that Nawaz Sharif Government cannot allow.

At a tactical level, Pakistan’s military psychology may be seen focused on a sense of achievement vis a vis India within the vacuum created by enormous disparities of conventional combat power or as a moral ascendancy/supremacy in the prevailing imbalance. While the dare exhibited in this raid may certainly be a shot of Adrenaline for the Pakistani military, but this may not be without a risk of escalation. 

India therefore, cannot and need not be cowed down by the hyped responses and talks of nuclear retaliation built up by Pakistani military establishment, to any action taken by the Indian Military and reiterated by every single Pakistani participant during television debates or panel discussions . Perhaps Our responses need to be fearless, timely and appropriate at the tactical level, and beyond glare of the media. 

While objectives of such or similar actions identified by India’s Security and Defence Experts during recent debates and discussions are extremely relevant, the outcome intended this time may well be more subtle and strategic. It is pertinent to bring here the internal security dynamic and declining influence of the Pakistani Military in the post elections scenario.

The divergence in the civil military relationship between the Army, the PML-N and PTI on several security issues has been increasing . India’s role in Afghanistan, and cooperation between India and Pakistan towards peace and tranquility may well be the most serious differences that may threaten peace. 

In its first steps towards its strategic objectives of return to constitutional hierarchy, the Government’s focus is on the place of the Military denying it its traditional space of decision making on national issues. 

The federal government’s recent decision to initiate a high treason case against former military dictator Pervez Musharraf for subverting the constitution of Pakistan twice, which led to exile of Nawaz Sharif, and landing the shame/ humiliation of Kargil upon Pakistan are significant . Commencement of investigations , fully supported by the PTI and PPP’ have added to concerns of the Military , as any such prosecution would threaten many to similar fate. 

Inside Hafiz Saeed's plans to storm New Delhi

Last updated on: August 09, 2013

The Intelligence Bureau has issued an alert about a possible terror attack being planned by Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed on the Red Fort and other key places in national capital New Delhi. 

IB officials, who issued the alert to the Delhi Police, told rediff.com that Hafiz’s plan is part of the ambitious Karachi project and that targetting India’s capital would amount to making a political statement. 

Moreover, the Lashkar looks to carry out a major strike once in five to six years, as it keeps their cadres motivated. 

A similar trend was noticed before the 26/11 carnage in Mumbai when the Lashkar cadres began to revolt against the leadership and sought to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. 

Sensing danger, Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence hijacked the 26/11 plan originally devised by Al Qaeda’s Ilyas Kashmiri and handed it over to the Lashkar.

Pakistan's religious minority problem

By Robert P. George
August 9, 2013

On Sunday, August 11, Pakistan will celebrate National Minorities Day, giving recently-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif his first formal opportunity to recognize the value of religious minority communities to the nation. 

Created in 2011, this day is a bittersweet irony for Pakistan. 

On the one hand, it recalls the inclusive and tolerant vision of the past: of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's founder, whose speech to the nation on August 11, 1947 included these words:

"You are free. You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other places of worship...You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the state."

On the other hand, it highlights the stark realities of the present: how Pakistan has betrayed Jinnah's vision by failing to fulfill his words with concrete actions that protect religious minorities from harm. Indeed, Islamabad has done little to stem a rising tide of violence against members of Pakistan's Ahmadi, Christian, Hindu, Shi'a, and Sikh communities.

Last month, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released the findings from its Pakistan Religious Violence Project. Tracking publicly reported attacks against religious communities over the past 18 months, the project collected alarming data that catalogued the human toll of Pakistan's intolerance and hatred. During that time period, there were more than 200 incidents of sectarian violence that led to 1,800 casualties, including more than 700 deaths.

Many of those killed or injured were Shi'a citizens, with some of the most lethal assaults taking place during Shi'a holy months and pilgrimages. During the year-and-a-half period covered by the study, there were 77 attacks against the Shi'a, 54 against Ahmadis, 37 against Christians, 16 against Hindus, and 3 against Sikhs.

Since the publication of USCIRF's report, the death toll has continued to rise. On July 27, at least 57 people were killed and more than 150 wounded by bombs targeting a market frequented by Shi'a in northwestern Pakistan.

To his credit, Sharif raised concerns about the plight of religious minorities in his maiden speech to Pakistan's National Assembly and tasked his government to crack down on militants targeting the Shi'a. Hopefully his comments reflect a realization that the time for mere talk and symbolism has passed and that resolute action is needed to ensure that the perpetrators of violence against religious communities are arrested, prosecuted, and jailed along with the violent extremist groups that have spurred the bloodshed. 

Moreover, police officers must be held accountable for thwarting justice when they turn a blind eye to attacks or refuse to file police reports when the victims are religious minorities. 

It’s Time to Cut off Pakistan


Anyone who believes that Pakistan is in anyway an ally in the fight against terrorism after Osama Bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad is truly gullible, but denial can be contagious. Pakistan claims it did not know that the reclusive Bin Laden was living adjacent to the Pakistani equivalent of West Point. And while Pakistan clearly supports the Taliban as the Afghan group targets Americans and their allies in NATO and Afghanistan, those inclined to talk can dismiss the Taliban merely as insurgents fighting occupation rather than terrorists.

The latest news from Pakistan shows just how complicit Pakistan is in sheltering and supporting terrorists who target not military officials but civilians:

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the mastermind of 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai and founder of militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), led the Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore on Friday morning. The 64-year-old militant group leader is a free man in his home country Pakistan though he is wanted by India and United States for his terror activities. His posters were seen all over Lahore and tweeted Eid greetings on Friday besides anti-India messages… Saeed has been accused of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans. India has repeatedly requested Pakistan to punish him and US has announced a bounty of $10 million on him but nothing has been done. He is still a free man, giving public speeches often smeared with anti-Indian messages, appear on television talk shows and organize public rallies. He had claimed in an interview earlier this year that he moves freely in Pakistan ‘like an ordinary man’… He had earlier mocked US over the bounty on him, telling reporters “I am here, I am visible. America should give that reward money to me. I will be in Lahore tomorrow. America can contact me whenever it wants to.”

Perhaps it is time that America does just that, with a predator and a hellfire. The outrage in Pakistan would be more than offset by the celebrations in India. And when it comes to a choice between the two countries, it’s time to choose sides unequivocally. Saeed’s presence—and his protection by the Pakistani government—should also put to rest any notion that Pakistan will do anything but radicalize and terrorize Afghanistan once U.S. forces depart.

Is China Doomed? ****

August 9, 2013

Between 1978, the year Deng Xiaoping’s sweeping economic reforms were launched, and 2011, China’s GDP increased by an average of 10 percent annually, three times that of the global economy. Now the boom times may be over.

By mid-2013, economic growth had slowed to 7.7 percent. That’s still a roaring pace compared to the rest of the world. Europeans, Americans and even Japanese might say about China’s slippage, “We should all have such problems.” Still, in thirty-five years, the Chinese polity hasn’t had to handle a prolonged economic slowdown and one may be in the offing. Hence the debate on what the deceleration could portend should it get worse and linger.

Is China headed for upheaval? The argument that it is seems plausible. Eye-popping growth rates and the accompanying increase in living standards—and of course the state’s massive machinery of repression—have been critical to maintaining political stability and public support for the Communist Party. Or is Beijing so skillful, so flush with foreign-exchange reserves—and hence with the capital needed for priming the economy and managing financial crises—that slower economic growth is no big deal? Don’t look to the experts for enlightenment on which take is true: they see the same data but draw different conclusions.

We’ll get to those incongruous assessments soon, but first, some context on China’s remarkable achievements since 1978. (While some China watchers think Beijing cooks the books, they do concur that the country’s economic transformation has been breathtaking.) China’s GDP, measured in purchasing-power parity using current dollars, was $248 billion in 1980; by 2012 it had soared to $12.3 trillion. Per-capita GDP—a useful measure of prosperity, even though it doesn’t reveal income distribution, the inequality of which has soared in China—has likewise surged, from $205 (at purchasing-power parity) in 1980 to $11,316 in 2011. Together, massive investment, breakneck economic growth, sharp declines in population growth, the advent of universal literacy and big increases in the number of people with a higher education have helped pulled six hundred million Chinese out of poverty.

The Changing Debate Over China’s Economy

Op-Ed August 7, 2013
 China Financial Markets

Summary

The Chinese growth model is not radically new. It is based primarily on the growth model developed by Japan in the twentieth century, and it has been implemented in various forms by many countries.

Once again I apologize for taking so long to repair my blog, but it hasn’t been easy. We are slowly fixing up the mess on my website. There will be a link on the site directing interested readers to the old site if anyone wants to read older blog entries. I will do this because I have been advised that there might be infected code buried in my site that creates a backdoor that allows the hackers to break into my site regularly. By not transferring anything from the old site to this one, presumably, I lower the likelihood of accidentally importing the virus.

A lot of very kind people have privately and publicly expressed their concerns that my site has been hacked for political reasons, perhaps because I am saying things that they think might anger important people in China. Although I have certainly been the target of sometimes hysterical attacks – more so in the past, when my analysis of the Chinese economy seemed more unlikely than it does now – I have no reason at all to think that my blog was hacked for anything other than commercial reasons having to do with the sale of excitable pharmaceuticals.

Part of the reason for the concerns that my blog has been hacked for political reasons may be the wide-spread belief abroad that no debate is permitted within China about the urgent need for economic reform. In fact this isn’t true. The discussion within China is quite vigorous, and the misperception is probably fueled by the belief – spread often enough, it seems, by China bulls – that the debate about the weaknesses in the Chinese economy is largely a debate between foreigners and Chinese, with some bulls even arguing that it is a debate between those who wish China ill and those who wish it well. The implication, of course, is that only someone who is incapable of understanding China – i.e. a foreigner – could possibly believe that China has problems.

But this is just silly. I will ignore the irony involved in a foreigner’s claiming that it is precisely because they are foreign that it is impossible for the foreign skeptics correctly to understand the Chinese economy, Chinese culture, and the thinking of the Chinese people (those inscrutable orientals!). I suspect the reason they find China so different and alien is because they have little experience of other developing countries, and know almost nothing either about developing countries outside East Asia or about economic history.

The Chinese growth model, as I have pointed out many times before, is not radically new. It is based primarily on the growth model developed by Japan in the 20th Century. It involves policies that can be traced at least as far back as the “American System” of the early 19th Century, and it has been implemented in various forms by many different countries around the world during the past 100 or even 200 years. There is, in other words, actually quite a lot that we know and understand about the model, even if many of us seem to have forgotten much of it – including its typical weaknesses, one of the most obvious of which is the tendency for over-investment in the late stages of the miracle-growth period leading to an unsustainable increase in debt.

China Fallout Hits Hard

By Anthony Fensom
August 9, 2013

China’s impressive growth over the last two decades has helped commodity prices hit new highs, adding billions to the national income of mineral exporters such as Australia and Indonesia. But with the resource boom turning to bust, just how bad could the flow-on effects be for the region?

One warning of the consequences has come from ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, which has forecast that even a mild slowdown in China’s economy could send Australian unemployment skyrocketing, hitting housing prices as well as commodities.

S&P’s “doomsday scenario” of a hard landing in China of just 5 percent growth in gross domestic product in 2014 would cause Australia to fall into recession for the first time since 1990, send the jobless rate to double-digit territory and cause property prices to sink by 25 percent.

While the agency sees the most likely outcome as a China slowdown to 7.3 percent GDP growth next year, analyst Craig Michaels asked: “Are we now seeing the beginning of the end of Australia’s economic run?”

Japan’s largest brokerage Nomura has forecast that weaker Chinese growth could reduce Australia’s GDP by up to 0.7 percentage points, given that China buys around three-quarters of Australia’s iron ore exports and nearly a quarter of its coal. The result would be the nation’s weakest growth since the global financial crisis, of just 1.4 percent.

Nomura has forecast that China will post GDP growth of just 6.9 percent in 2014, its lowest rate since 2008. Should it fall under 6 percent, the eurozone’s recession would deepen, while Asia and Japan would lose 0.5 percentage point of growth.

“Economic slowdown in China is one of the reasons why we cut our economic growth forecast to between 5.8 percent and 6.2 percent this year,” Bank Indonesia deputy governor Perry Warjiyo told The Jakarta Post

According to the International Monetary Fund, every 1 percentage point reduction in Chinese GDP reduces Indonesia’s economy by up to 0.5 percentage point, given China’s position as its top export market.

According to the fund, China currently accounts for 30 percent of the world’s total metals imports and 65 percent of iron ore imports, with every one percentage point reduction in its GDP causing a 6 percent decline in oil and base metal prices.

Urbanization the saviour?

But despite the gloom, some analysts still see potential for growth as China continues its industrialization.

Speaking on July 19 at the Noosa mining conference near Brisbane, Platts managing editor, Australia, Paul Bartholomew said China’s slowdown would continue to weigh on the coal and iron ore markets, although a hard landing was unlikely.

“China is moving into a lower phase of growth – but we think 7.5 percent GDP growth this year is pretty achievable,” he said.

China Embraces Peacekeeping Missions

By Colleen Wong
August 9, 2013
Source Link

Earlier this month, Albert Gerard Koenders, the UN Special Representative for Mali, praised China for the contributions its peacekeeping forces made in helping to ensure a smooth presidential election in Mali last month.

“The UN Secretary-General said that China and its peacekeeping role in Mali were very important, but now I would have to say, China's important work has exceeded expectations,” Koenders said at the time.

The mission to Mali represented a major shift in China’s peacekeeping operations. Specifically, whereas early missions had involved only logistical and medical personnel, in Mali China dispatched actual security forces to help maintain the peace. As Chen Jian, the head of the UN Association of China, told The Financial Times at the beginning of the mission, “This is a major breakthrough in our participation in peacekeeping.”

China has long faced criticism from the international community over its peacekeeping operations. Although China has stepped up its participation in peacekeeping missions since 2002, the international community has continued to demand more from Beijing in terms of peacekeeping. For instance, when visiting China in 2007, the (now former) UN Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, expressed his desire to see more Chinese involvement in peacekeeping efforts.

But considering China’s low-profile diplomatic policy and the impact of the “China threat” theory in recent years, China has to handle this issue delicately. Besides adhering to the two principles underpinning traditional peacekeeping operations—gaining the consent of the host country and using force only in self-defense— China has been keen to gain the support of regional organizations before it will participate in its peacekeeping missions. Domestic politics have also hindered the role China plays in peacekeeping. For instance, the Foreign and Defense Ministries have often been at odds in defining China’s proper international role. Whereas the Foreign Ministry places a high level of importance on improving China’s image on the world stage, the Defense Ministry has been less interested in whether the rest of the world sees China as being a “responsible stakeholder,” as some have termed it.

Austerity with Chinese Characteristics

Why China's Belt-Tightening Has More To Do With Confucius Than Keynes
August 7, 2013

A Chinese one yuan coin in front of a 100 yuan banknote (Courtesy Reuters)

This year, to the consternation of the world’s luxury-goods producers, “austerity” became one of Beijing’s most prominent political buzzwords. Since becoming head of the Chinese Communist Party last November, Xi Jinping has announced a steady stream of belt-tightening measures: government officials have been barred from hosting lavish banquets and wearing designer watches, and the construction of government buildings has been banned for five years. It’s only natural that Western commentators have been quick to interpret China’s austerity drive in terms of their own long-running debate about macroeconomics: from Athens to Dublin to Washington, D.C., politicians and economists are arguing the economic merits and drawbacks of budget-cutting and deficit spending. 


But it would be a big mistake to interpret Xi’s ban on shark-fin soup as an extension of what Paul Krugman describes as the West’s “turn to austerity” since 2010. Whereas Western austerity has been an economic policy tool, in China its essence is primarily political. China has a long history of turning to frugality not to stimulate business confidence but, rather, to combat the disease of corruption. It’s safe to say that Xi has been thinking less of Milton Friedman or John Maynard Keynes than of China’s own political reform tradition, stretching from Confucius to the Communists.

In the formative period of Chinese politics, some 2,500 years ago, Confucius crafted a philosophy of government and social ethics that left a profound imprint on East Asian civilization. He admonished rulers to keep both taxation and spending to a minimum. The enlightened ruler, Confucius and his followers said, should embody a certain kind of moral austerity in his personal behavior and fiscal austerity in matters of state. The people -- most of them farmers -- would then follow the emperor “like grass bends in the wind.” In other words, demonstrating one’s political virtue through austerity, frugality, and simplicity would ensure popular legitimacy and dynastic stability.

The Confucian approach to ensuring virtuous government through frugality has been a consistent thread in Chinese politics well into the modern era. One early-eighteenth-century emperor, for example, declared a permanent freeze on tax rates as a show of Confucian thriftiness. (Although this policy eventually backfired: the tax ceiling hampered the government’s ability to generate revenues for the remainder of its 200 years in power.) Campaigns against corruption -- including arrests of senior ministers -- were a regular feature of late imperial times. Even the major political upheavals of the twentieth century turned on questions of corruption and frugality. The Nationalist Party of Chiang Kai-shek, who took over as head of state of the Republic of China after Sun Yat-sen’s death in 1925, quickly earned a reputation for corruption. Chiang responded by promoting neo-Confucian values as part of what he called his New Life movement, which made “simplicity and frugality” one of its core virtues. But he ultimately fell to Mao Zedong, who promoted an even more radical notion of the austere state. Mao demanded that Communist Party cadres reject the slightest hint of bourgeois comfort, including by wearing a uniform of a nondescript Mao suit. Although Mao ended up living more like a Roman emperor than a Spartan soldier, he was effective at creating the perception that the Communists were incorruptible, in stark contrast to the Nationalist Party’s reputation for graft. As Confucius would have predicted, this helped the Communists win the “hearts and minds” of the people.

Why China's 'Dominance' of Manufacturing Is Misleading

Aug 8 2013, 
Gaudy statistics aside, the country has struggled to do what it needs to do -- move up the value chain.

On Monday, The Atlantic wrote a story based on an International Business Times infographic that portrayed China's enduring prominence in manufacturing. Remember, though; prominence is not the same as success. (Just consider this sentence: "Alex Rodriguez continues to be a very prominent baseball player.") China will play a major role in global manufacturing for years -- and probably decades -- to come. But the country's role is not a healthy one, and the weaknesses in Chinese manufacturing outshine the huge numbers displayed in the graph.

The apparently dominant Chinese industries listed in the infographic, such as cell phones, shoes, and cement, suffer from three different problems:
  • China doesn't make as much as it seems
  • China doesn't want to make as much as it does
  • China soon won't be able to make as much as it does
In the category of not making as much as it seems are computers and cell phones. Here, China is an assembler, not a manufacturer. The components of computers and cell phones are made elsewhere, shipped to China, and then boxed there. The advanced technology jobs in design and precision manufacturing of semiconductors are located elsewhere, while Chinese workers essentially provide the packaging. This is why Beijing so much wants to move up the production value chain, and why Chinesetrade surpluses are exaggerated.

The second category contains industries plagued by overcapacity. Air conditioners, cement, ships, and solar cells are just four of these, with steel and other construction materials probably in evenworse shape. Air conditioners have long seen in oversupply and sales fell 20 percent last year. The story with cement is similar. China has been able to continually make more than anyone uses, but is it a sign of strength, especially with the government trying and failing to rein in production year after year? In shipbuilding and solar, the situation is that much worse: Excess capacity has led to huge losses.

China and its Peripheries: Securing Nepal in South Asia

Jigme Yeshe Lama

Nepal plays an important role in China’s South Asia Policy as it forms the entry point for China into the region. China’s strategic interests in Nepal is also heightened due to it being the gateway into its restive Tibetan regions, which has been elevated to a national priority in the recent years and with Nepal hosting a sizeable strong Tibetan exile community, stability in Nepal remains a priority for China. The Himalayan state can also be depicted as a playground where the two Asian giants; China to the North and India to the South are competing to increase their influences.

Nepal occupies a unique geo strategic position where real politic is seen to be at constant play and which in many instances has been termed as a win-win situation for Nepal. However, Nepal has mostly tried to maintain a policy of equidistance between China and India, aptly befitting the analogy of it being a “yam between two boulders”.

Historically, China and Nepal shared deep cultural, economic and people to people contacts with the medium being mostly through Tibet. In 1788-92, however a conflict was also seen between the two, resulting in the defeat of the Nepalese in the hands of the Qing, who had been called upon by the Tibetans. There was the signing of the Treaty of Betrawoti which eventually started the quinquennial tribute missions from Nepal to China, which eventually was changed to twelve years and lasted till 1906 (Adhikari, 2010:25).

I
China and Nepal 
A Short History

Understanding the past is important in Sino-Nepal relations as it was on this basis that China laid claims of suzerainty over Nepal, which continued in the early 20th century under the nationalist government. Mao and the Communist’s in the 1940s did plan to build a “Himalayan Federation of Mongoloid People of Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and India’s North East Frontier Agency” under Beijing which however did not materialise (Singh, 2003:210).

With the formation of the People’s Republic of China under the CCP in 1949 and the subsequent takeover of Tibet in 1951, Nepal shared physical boundaries with China. More importantly, the CCP’s process of consolidating its rule over Tibet, which is still in process, makes Nepal extremely important for China’s strategic considerations. 22 of the 30 counties in the TAR shares borders with Nepal, thus also being economically interdependent (ibid). Hence, Nepal has always been given much priority by China.

Nepal recognised the PRC on 1 August 1955 and both nations signed the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. A year later China’s Premier Zhou enlai visited Nepal, who with other things also provided the Nepalese ten million rupees as the first instalment of China’s aid to Nepal under the October 1956 agreement (ibid). Subsequently an agreement on trade and discourse was also signed between both the nations which provided Nepal an opportunity to lessen its overdependence on India. In 1960, China signed a border agreement with Nepal resolving much of the issues. In the same year, both nations signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which was touted to be parallel to the historic Nepal India Treaty of Peace and Friendship which was signed earlier.

Since the 1960s, China has provided Nepal with much developmental aid, seen mostly in the form of infrastructural build-up, roads and highways. This is seen in the construction of the Kathmandu-Kodari road also known as the Arniko highway; named after the Nepalese artisan who in the 13th century had led a delegation of 80 artisans to China. The construction of the road started from 1962 and was completed by 1967, for which economic assistance of US$ 3.5 million was provided without any conditions or privileges (Adhikari, 2010:36).

This highway linked Kathmandu to Tibet and was seen as a crucial link between Tibet and South Asia. Mao had elaborated the significance of this road to a Nepali delegation in 1964 by saying that “once the roads are open, India may be a bit more respectful towards you” (Singh, 2003). Significantly, the construction of this highway also coincided with the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962.