22 August 2013

Embers that refuse to die

By Sanjay Barbora

More than the multiple demands for Statehood in Assam, it is the insistence on closed, ethnically homogenous and exclusive units that gives cause for concern

It has been almost a year since western Assam’s Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) witnessed unprecedented violence that left hundreds dead and thousands displaced. Since then, there has been a predictable report from the Central Bureau of Investigation pointing to the role of various political entrepreneurs in the clashes and shedding scant light on the layers of complicity between the State and various non-State actors in fomenting trouble. The recent verdict on the formation of the state of Telangana has already led to agitation for separate states in Assam, Bodoland being but one of many competing claims over common territory. One has to remember that ever since India’s independence, questions of belonging, claims to land, resources and political demands for autonomy have been part of an incendiary amalgam that has resulted in thousands of deaths and many more displaced in the State of Assam. These debates are likely to sharpen, now that both Central and State administrations are trying to bully autonomy-seeking activists into tempering their demands for separate homelands.

Historians and linguists mapped people, places and pasts into this area in a manner that lends itself to contestations and conflicts in Assam. This mapping has rested on a finite set of beliefs and ideas that appear with predictable frequency. Hence, indentured workers and immigrant peasant communities were invested with a particular narrative of movement and identity that they find difficult to shake off even now. For all practical purposes, BTAD — like other parts of northeast India — is peopled by two kinds of communities: (a) those who claim a pre-colonial presence and (b) those who came during the colonial period.

Entrapment, resource capture

The demand for Bodoland is actually the culmination of almost 60 years of political mobilisation among the various indigenous tribes in the plains of Assam. The bases of these demands have their roots in the colonial moment of contact between a predominantly European administration and local communities. It is through this 19th century encounter that the political, social and economic structures of the region were to be transformed radically. Among the more salient causes is the fact that the land and forest-based rural economy has been irretrievably transformed. Extrapolating from historical and political scholarship on the region, Belgian scholars Nel Vandekerckhove and Bert Suykens term this process as one of “tribal entrapment,” wherein 19th century colonial policies were responsible for sequestering forests from indigenous tribal groups in the Brahmaputra valley. Between the expanding tea plantations and tightly secured forests, land use rules in the Brahmaputra valley became unfavourable for indigenous communities. This continues to add rancour to political debates and claims for ethnic homelands.

Lest We Forget

Pakistan Army's low cost war needs to be defeated

By Lt Gen. Rajinder Singh (retd)

Another unacceptable incident of five of our soldiers being killed across the Line of Control (LC) in Poonch took place on 6 August 2013. The media and Parliament has gone in a tailspin provoking angry reactions from one and all, but for how long? The incident would soon be forgotten in other mundane issues and in the run up for the forthcoming General Elections in 2014.

One should not forget that continuation of jehadi activities related to various jehadi outfits, including ‘al Qaeda’ is likely to continue, possibly with stepped-up support. It is the form of warfare that has already taken shape in the form of the fourth generation warriors. The shift is in favour of this form of warfare vis a vis the conventional form where the warfare was well defined, was restricted to land, sea and airpower and mainly against the military targets. Norms of military ethics and chivalry were followed in dealing with the enemy applying cohesive units and formations. To the contrary, the fourth generation warfare is dispersed, in addition to land, sea and the air, society is also affected, the targets are not only military in nature but also civilian, it is unethical, generally under taken by small teams and individuals for religious and monetary gains.

In the back drop of above, one should factor the threat from Pakistan and view it holistically. It is on record where the Pakistan Army views the low intensity conflict (LIC) as the mode they are most likely to engage India in future. It may be in the independent mode or in conjunction with limited war. Pakistan sees the vast land mass of India with huge religious, ethnic and linguistic diversities especially in J&K, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam and Punjab ideally suited for LIC. History has shown their repeated use of irregulars ever since Partition with greater vigour and ferocity using improved technology and sophisticated training being imparted by the Pakistan Army and ISI.

Reinstating the fence on the LC every year is a arduous task

Pakistan army feels offensive and defensive strategies in LIC are complimentary. “To deter an enemy from supporting LIC in our country, it has to be started in enemy country as part of defensive strategy.” Pakistan Army is of the view that “LIC is the finest blend of military, political, economic, psychological, diplomatic and legal aspects of war. It has to be fought in all these spheres.” The multifaceted response requires coordination at the highest level. Pakistan Army is of the view that the conditions for guerrilla warfare in Kashmir are ideally in favour of Pakistan and the worst possible for India; at a low cost the guerrillas can work wonders. A Pakistan Army general is once quoted as stating that “if there is a war between India and Pakistan the well-trained and equipped guerrillas in Kashmir will play havoc with the Indian Army sandwiched between the enemy to the front and the guerrillas in the rear, devoid of supplies and reinforcements... It would be a befitting revenge for our plight in erstwhile ‘East Pakistan in 1971.”

A deadly defence

Aug 21 2013

The rupee defence policy has been counter-productive. Policymakers should revoke all measures announced since July 15.

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

— Anonymous ancient proverb, wrongly attributed to Euripides

Starting July 15, the ministry of finance and the RBI initiated a set of policies to defend the rupee. These policies have consisted of all the disregarded currency defences that countries have mounted over the last 20 years or so. Short-term interest rates were raised by over 300 basis points, import tariffs were increased, and capital controls initiated. Is there any bad policy left? No.

How successful have these policies been? The rupee was just under 60 on July 15 and today is at 63.5. Bond yields were 7.5 per cent and are now at five-year highs at 9.3 per cent. And the stock market has taken a deep dive of more than 8 per cent since July 15. No matter what the calculation, the rupee-defence policies have gone massively wrong.

And predictably so. What is well known in government circles, to the IMF, academics, traders and most (but not all!) economists is that interest rates do not really affect the value of a currency. When has the interest rate defence worked? History suggests never. And the reason — the answer is so simple but possibly unknown to our policymakers — is because interest rate hikes only buy you a little time at best, and make the situation a lot worse later. As has just happened in India. An investor or trader who is shorting a currency needs to borrow rupees. The borrowing rate for rupees was raised by the RBI by close to 300 basis points on nightmare night July 15. Three hundred basis points for a year means an extra cost of 1 basis point for each trading day. So, if the rupee depreciates by 1 basis point, that is 0.01 per cent, the person betting on the rupee weakening has made up her extra RBI imposed cost!

The second reason the RBI policy was doomed to fail, ex-ante, is because, in my view and according to my research (see Devaluing to Prosperity: Misaligned Currencies and Their Growth Consequences), the only policies that help the exchange rate are acceleration in GDP growth and/ or deceleration in inflation. And symmetrically, a deceleration in GDP growth is a major determinant of exchange rate depreciation. The third mistake made by the authorities is in assuming that either domestic savings or foreign capital flows are affected by interest rates. They are not. Innumerable studies have documented that the relationship between savings rates and interest rates is non-existent; and an equally innumerable number have documented a negative relationship between growth and real interest rates. And a large number of studies, including those for India, document a positive relationship between growth acceleration and exchange rate appreciation. Not recognising this was the fourth major mistake.

India-China relations: Old ties, new model?

By S. Jaishankar
21 August 2013

It is fashionable in China today to speak of a ’new model’ of great power relations, indeed of international relations as a whole. In Chinese terminology, this approach is based on three key concepts: i) non-conflict and non-confrontation including proper handling of differences, ii) mutual respect including for core interests and major concerns, and iii) common development that seeks win-win solutions. We could read these as reflecting (i) the growing interdependence of a globalized world, (ii) the increasing dispersal of power, where one power or set of powers are no longer dominant, and (iii) the possibility of convergence on some issues coexisting with contradictions on others. Underlying this ’new model’ approach is the impressive growth of Chinese power in the last few decades. More able to deal on its own terms, this thinking is intended to advance or ’integrate’ the changed interests of a ’new’ China with that of the world. 

2. Applying this approach to India-China relations offers some interesting insights. Both at an abstract and practical level, the three propositions that constitute this ’new model’ appear unexceptionable. Thus, on interdependence, there is a broad acceptance that international relations today does operate under considerable constraints. As a result, stability, predictability and risk management become increasingly important in inter-state ties, including between India and China. On mutual respect and all that this term signifies, it is at the heart of India’s longstanding commitment initially to non-alignment and thereafter, to multi-polarity. A more democratic world order, reflected in international institutions and regimes, has been a longstanding quest. India also believes that global multi-polarity requires one in Asia. It has its own core concerns that it expects to be respected by all. It even has its own dream, which may not yet be so sharply articulated. In regard to common development, Indian diplomacy has demonstrated for many years an ability to work on areas of shared interest with nations with whom it might otherwise have some differences. A prime example is China itself where our bilateral cooperation has developed steadily even as our boundary negotiations continue.

3. What, however, needs to be taken into account is that while the last few decades have witnessed the rise of China, they have also seen that of India, even if not to the same degree. Assessing the current China-India equilibrium is, therefore, more complex than doing the same for China with more static powers, leave alone declining ones. India has its own interests, demands and expectations. In some areas, such as the working of the United Nations, it favours the global status quo much less than does China. It is also legitimately concerned that inter-dependence and connectivity should serve larger global concerns rather than a national agenda. The visit to India, some months ago, of Premier Li Keqiang and subsequent developments have offered opportunities to put some aspects of the new thinking into practice.

Women in Maoist Ranks

August 20, 2013

Women have been an active part of the war machinery of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), or Maoists, in short, for several years now.

Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, on July 13, 2013, Minister of State for Home Affairs, RPN Singh said, “The LWE (Left-Wing Extremist) groups, particularly CPI (Maoist), forcibly recruit female cadre, including minor girls, from the tribal belts of Naxal-affected areas in various parts of the country”.

“I was motivated by the fiery, inspiring songs a visiting Maoist squad sung in my village” Pittala Saritha, a bubbling, extrovert teenager and a stickler to propriety, told this researcher in February 2002. She aptly represents ‘impressionable minds being carried away’ by the Maoist propaganda machinery. She was forced to quit the Maoist fold in Warangal district, Andhra Pradesh (AP), when she accosted senior leaders for their immoral activities.

Unlike her, Anupuram Anasuya, wife of Anupuram Komarayya, a then member of the North Telengana Special Zone Committee (NTSZC) was motivated by her husband to join the underground; she left behind her infant son with her family. Anasuya, however, surrendered to the authorities and came over-ground shortly after her husband was killed in an encounter with the police. Similarly, Polam Bharathi, wife of Polam Sudharshan Reddy, who was also a member of the NTSZC at that time, quit the outfit after Sudharshan Reddy was killed in an encounter with the police.

However, the story of Nelakonda Rajitha alias Padmakka, is different. While underground she married Sande Rajamouli, who rose from the ranks to become a Polit Bureau Member and member of the Central Military Commission that guides all the armed activities of the Maoists. An under-graduate fire-brand student leader, in Karimnagar district, AP, she, too, had risen from the ranks to get elected as the lone woman member till-date of the NTSZC. Rajitha was killed in an encounter in July 2002, while Rajamouli was killed in another encounter in June 2007.

The numbers of women cadre among the rebels began to increase in the late 1990s. As the Minister said in the Lok Sabha, “No data on the exact number of female cadre with CPI (Maoist) is available.” But, as one senior IPS officer told this author, “Approximately, 40 per cent of the Maoist cadres are women and they belong to rural and tribal India. They are ‘fighters’”.

In fact, some of them are highly educated, urban ideologues and leaders. For instance, Anuradha Ghandy, a Sociology lecturer, best illustrates this category. At the time of her demise due to cerebral malaria, she was leading the all-India women’s movement and was the lone member of the Central Committee. Her husband, Kobad Ghandy was heading the Central Propaganda Bureau of the Maoists until he was arrested in the national capital New Delhi, on September 20, 2009.

Women have been joining the rebel-fold for various reasons. Some have joined the underground due to desperation. Exploitation at the hands of the high and powerful in the village is another reason.

Chinese daily lauds launch of INS Vikrant

In a rare praise, a leading state-run Chinese daily has lauded the launch of India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, saying it marks a “firm stride” towards domestic production of hi-tech arms.

“The launch of India’s home-built aircraft carrier is indeed worth celebrating, because it marks a firm stride toward the indigenisation of arms,” an article on the state-run Global Times’ website said.

“The launch also shows that the Indian government has had preliminary success in localising arms production,” the report said, noting that India has invested billions of dollars in the construction, research and development of domestic shipbuilding.

The article also said that together with the inauguration of domestically built nuclear submarine INS Arihant, the chances of ruling Congress Party in next year’s election will be boosted.

However, the article, published onTuesday, noted that the launch of INS Vikrant and Japan’s helicopter carrier should serve as a warning for China.

“Some Chinese scholars emphasise that India has yet to grasp the key technologies of the carrier and that it will rely on other countries to maintain and upgrade the carrier.

“But it is also a fact that many countries are supporting India in developing advanced weaponry, not only for profit but also to balance China’s power,” said Liu Zongyi, an assistant research fellow with the Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, in the article.

“India is well aware of the intention of the Western countries. Some politicians and media outlets in Indian deliberately stress the role of India’s military buildup in containing China so as to please those traditional powers,” it claimed.

Gulf Analysis Paper: China's Balancing Act in the Gulf

Aug 21, 2013

China is increasingly reliant on Middle Eastern energy. Yet, China is reluctant to commit to a region in which the United States seems to have an overwhelming military and diplomatic advantage. The region’s deep divisions and swirling politics give the Chinese pause as well. Still, many Middle Eastern countries seek a greater role for China in the region, either to balance against the United States or to make the United States work harder for its alliances. Saudi Arabia accounts for one-fifth of China’s oil imports, and Saudi-Chinese non-oil trade is booming. China also imports significant amounts of oil from Iran, and it views its Iran relationship as a strategic hedge against U.S. influence. But Iran also causes problems for China—and for Chinese energy security. In the coming years, China will only grow more dependent on Middle Eastern energy, and China will face an even more challenging balancing act in the Gulf.

China’s Productivity Challenge

August 19, 2013 
Wall Street Journal


If China hopes to maintain growth of 7.5 percent, it m

Markets are so fixated on China's growth rate that President Xi Jinping recently had to provide assurances that it would not fall below the target of 7.5% this year. But the real worry is that China is gravitating toward an underlying "structural" growth rate closer to 6%. The country's sustainable growth trajectory is now so much lower because of a confluence of forces that can only be reversed by ratcheting up productivity.

China's run of more than 10% annual growth since 2003 was driven by three factors, two of which are no longer in force.

Senior Associate
Asia Program

The first factor was rapid expansion in employment, which contributed about one to two percentage points to annual growth. The Chinese labor force is already shrinking as a result of demographic trends, so employment will play an increasingly marginal role in the future.

The second factor was an investment boom that led to more capital being available per worker. This contributed slightly more than four percentage points to annual growth. However, as a result of the 2009 stimulus's considerable waste, China can no longer rely on rising investment to increase productivity. Between a shrinking labor force and the declining efficiency of investment, China's underlying growth rate is now three to four percentage points below its historic average.

The final factor, by contrast, is more promising as a driver of future development: The remaining four to five percentage points of China's growth were due to what economists refer to as growth in total factor productivity, or gains that come from the more efficient use of labor and other resources.

Increases in China's total factor productivity have been well above the international norm, coming mostly from the transfer of workers from agriculture to more productive industrial jobs. However, these gains have also fallen in recent years. So the challenge for Beijing is restarting TFP increases so that the economy can grow at a sustainable rate of 7% to 8% over the coming decade.

Two areas of reform could generate the needed gains: improving the efficiency of the urbanization process and allowing the private sector to play a more prominent role.

Half Lives: A Preliminary Assessment of China’s Nuclear Warhead Life Extension and Safety Program

Project 2049 Institute

Ian Easton and Mark Stokes

How capable is China’s nuclear warhead life extension and reliability program? Ian Easton and Mark Stokes investigate the organizational structure behind China’s nuclear weapons program, the prominent figures leading in this area, and the logistics that support the country’s capabilities in this arena. Through a preliminary investigation, they find that China faces significant challenges, both budgetary and management related, in their goal to keep nuclear weapons updated and safe.

Bangladesh � Secularism challenged, stability threatened

By Bhaskar Roy
Aug 15, 2013

It was expected that the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) Bangladesh would react strongly against the High Court judgment on Aug 1 debarring the party from contesting elections. The judgment was on a public interest litigation filed over three years ago by the leader of the Sufi organization, Bangladesh Tarikat Federation. 

The Tarikat plea before the high court asked how can a political party, which blatantly contravenes the Constitution and the Representation of the People Order (RPO), be allowed to contest elections.

The question before the high court was fundamental to the state of Bangladesh. The current Bangladesh Constitution states Islam is the state religion. Almost 90 percent of the population are Muslims. But it gives equal right for all religions to exist freely without discrimination. Equally, the Constitution prohibits religion in politics. Basically, the Constitution underlines a secular, democratic Bangladesh.

The JEI constitution in its preamble makes it clear that there is no god except Allah and all natural laws emanate from Allah. The JEI constitution throughout emphasises this theme, rejecting man made laws. It also vows to turn Bangladesh into an Islamic welfare state.

There is a fundamental contradiction between the constitution of the JEI and that of the state. If JEI is allowed to contest in the elections it would be admitted as independent of the constitution of the state. This would be a preposterous situation as elected JEI members of parliament would not take oath on the Bangladesh Constitution.

Yet, the high court has allowed the JEI to appeal to the Supreme Court. The Bangladesh Election Commission (EC) gave the JEI several opportunities to revise its constitution in line with the state Constitution and the RPO, but it declined to comply, trying to circumvent the issue. The EC doors are still open to the JEI to revise their constitution according to the law of the land.

The high court was more than patient with the JEI, waiting for a long time before delivering the verdict. So has been the EC. With the general election scheduled for January 2014, clarity on the issue had to be legally established.

There are no indications to suggest that the JEI expected a different verdict from the high court. But it gave them an opportunity to agitate against the government, alleging the Awami League-led grand alliance government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had influenced the high court judgement. It has become a convenient ploy for political parties in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal to cry foul and allege ‘conspiracy’ whenever they are cornered.

JEI’s politics is much larger and fundamental to the state of Bangladesh, and the core issue of its separation from Pakistan and the first Constitution promulgated in 1972 under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In JEI’s politics India looms large as the main enemy as India was compelled to intervene on political, moral and security grounds in favour of the freedom fighters against the Pakistani army in 1971.

The 1947 partition of India created the states of West Pakistan and East Pakistan. The two sides had nothing in common except religion. History, language, culture, economics and ethnic differences existed between the two incongruous wings of Pakistan. (This disproves Pakistan’s claim on Kashmir on the basis of religion).

The JEI and its student’s wing, the Islamic Chhatra Shangha opted to collaborate with the Pakistani army in East Pakistan/Bangladesh in 1971 to break the resolve and the backbone of the freedom fighters. Killing around three million Bengalees (Bangladeshis) and raping 200,000 women could not deter the birth of Bangladesh. 

The JEI has a more sinister agenda, conceived long before today’s Wahabi/Salafic militant surge. The organization was formed in 1941 in undivided India by Ala Al Moududi, a rigid preacher. After 1947 he was in Pakistan and was jailed for life by Gen. Ayub Khan for his extreme religious activities. Fate intervened and he was eventually set free. One of his disciples, Gholam Azam led the movement in East Pakistan, and was the king in the collaboration with the Pakistani army in 1971.

Insight: As Afghanistan endgame looms, a deadly edge to India-Pakistan rivalry

By Frank Jack Daniel and Sanjeev Miglani
Aug 13, 2013 

BARAMULLA/NEW DELHI, India (Reuters) - Pakistan-based militants are preparing to take on India across the subcontinent once Western troops leave Afghanistan next year, several sources say, raising the risk of a dramatic spike in tensions between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan.

Intelligence sources in India believe that a botched suicide bombing of an Indian consulate in Afghanistan, which was followed within days last week by a lethal cross-border ambush on Indian soldiers in disputed Kashmir, suggest that the new campaign by Islamic militants may already be underway.

Members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant outfit in Pakistan, the group blamed for the 2008 commando-style raid on Mumbai that killed 166 people, told Reuters they were preparing to take the fight to India once again, this time across the region.

And a U.S. counter-terrorism official, referring to the attack in Afghanistan, said "LeT has long pursued Indian targets, so it would be natural for the group to plot against them in its own backyard".

Given the quiet backing - or at least blind eye - that many militant groups enjoy from Pakistan's shadowy intelligence services, tensions from a new militant campaign are bound to spill over. Adding to the volatility, the two nations' armies are trading mortar and gunfire across the heavily militarized frontier that divides Kashmir, and accusing each other of killing troops.

Hindu-majority India and Islamic Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947 and came close to a fourth in 1999. The tension now brewing may not escalate into open hostilities, but it could thwart efforts to forge a lasting peace and open trade between two countries that make up a quarter of the world's population.

"With the Americans leaving Afghanistan, the restraint on the Pakistani security/jihadi establishment is going too," said a former top official at India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the external intelligence arm.

"We are concerned about 2014 in either scenario. If the jihadis (Islamist militants) claim success in Afghanistan, they could turn their attention to us. Equally, if they fail, they will attack in wrath."

But Pakistan, which has a border with India to the east and with Afghanistan to the west, has concerns of its own. It sees India's expansive diplomacy in Afghanistan as a ploy to disrupt it from the rear as it battles its own deadly Islamist militancy and separatist forces. Vying for influence in a post-2014 Afghanistan, it worries about India's assistance to the Afghan army, heightening a sense of encirclement.

"I'm shocked by these allegations. Pakistan has its own insurgency to deal with. It has no appetite for confrontations abroad," said a Pakistani foreign ministry official referring to the Indian charges of stirring trouble in Afghanistan and on the Kashmir border.

LAC & LC Management: Call for Whole of Government Approach

By Umong Sethi
Aug 11, 2013 

Events of the past few weeks on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh and more recently on the Line of Control (LC) in Poonch have been much debated and written about. The poor attempt by India’s Defence Minister to create an impression that perhaps ‘Rogue’ elements were involved in the killing of five soldiers in Poonch, its retraction and subsequent statement attributing killings to Pakistan Army’s elite SSG are all too fresh in the memory to be recounted here. The entire handling of events and the discourse subsequent to killings along the LC have been distressing and caused considerable anguish among the public at large. It is indeed a low point, worrisome and disconcerting.

The inability of the security establishment to respond to events and episodes along the LC and the LACwithout jeopardising national interests has been underlined.The ineptitude of the political leadership to reach out to all the stake holders and craft a cogent all of government approach to the national security challenges has been exposed yet again.

One is appalled by the inconsistency in styling response to oft repeated national security challenges at the highest level. The argument that reaction differs as the situation is constantly evolving, fails to hold water if the moves are made without due care and thought keeping long term perspective in view. The basic policy should only be changed if substituted by a comprehensive new thought process that has been tested and found workable. Till that can be formulated, some changes to the approach may be made while fierously guarding the core interests.

Our core interest vis a vis Pakistan is to protect India from Pakistani terror in all its forms and dimensions. It is common understanding, that taking account of the internal dynamics of Pakistan and Pakistan Army’s doctrine of 'jihad and employment of terror’ to enhance its potential vis-a-vis more powerful India, a considered view was taken toholdPakistanresponsible for anything it attributes to the rouges or terrorists. This approach was clearly adopted after 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. The argument is sound as India and Afghan policy of Pakistan is dictated by the GHQ, Rawalpindi and not Islamabad. For them Kashmir and Afghanistan though not related, remain the pieces of same strategic puzzle.

The approach limits the oft repeated argument by the Pakistani intellectuals to use internal turmoil as an argument to insulate its military’s doctrine of employing Jehadis against India and Afghanistan. Consider the remote possibility of Pakistan using CBRN attacks against India and attributing to the action by 'Rouge elements’. Any shift will not only weaken our case but also has implications on "No first use nuclear Doctrine".It is to preclude any such thoughts by the Pakistani military the policy of holding the Pakistani State responsible for all terror attack was put in place. It is strange that some voices in India are actually espousing the line we as a nation decided to deny to Pakistan. Despite the policy of not separating terrorists from the State we have not been very successful on the world stage. The world still gives benefit of doubtto Pakistan and calls it victimof terror as is evident from US envoys' recent statement.

There is another issue in the same context that needs to be discussed. In India there is Government and then there is military. The impression being created by foreign office is that military is an instrument of foreign policy. And No one seems to question that belief! Both foreign policy and military are instruments of national security policy. Both have to be nuanced at the political level. One hears Chiefs often saying, “We have projected our point. It is for Government to take a call now”. That's the reality and the bureaucracy continues to call itself 'the Govt'.Military fails to see itself as the integral part of the government. 

Perhaps because they are not a part of the decision making process. But when an incident at the line of control has strategic dimension and response is solicited at the strategic level, nothing but an integrated approach would do. The world had learnt from the incident during the first Gulf War when USAF mistook a bunker where women and children had taken shelter for Iraqi command post and engaged it resulting in death of many innocents and US President had to explain the mistake. In a connected world of 24x7 news channels and social media the implications of small tactical actions are firmly connected to the strategic that is called upon to respond. India perhaps still has to learn its lessons. 

Sadly, the GOI has not done a good job of managing perceptions. There is a viewthat keeping the realities and reach of media in mind, CCS ought to have a team of experts who plan roll out of news and perception management. This again has to be all pervasive and all of government approach. National security is too serious a matter to be left to individual ministries and departmentsto handle from their own perspective. We could perhaps learn from the experience of US government and Pentagon that clearly has its way with media. The example of US has been cited to pre-answer the arguments about the ‘free press and thriving democracy’.

While there cannot be any compromise on terrorism, LC and LAC events can be handled with lot more sophistication. There is nothing unique about any of the happenings either on the LC or the LAC. They allhave occurred before. The difference is the inter-connected world. Only hope is, the present leadership does not choose to ignore history!
The military's conduct needs to be questioned as well. Given the rhetoric neither the think tanks nor the parliament or the government questions their actions. Maybe, they don't comprehend the intricacies or more likely, choose to flow with the sentiments and allow the military to cover up. The political class must assume leadership role especially if the fall-out of small actions has strategic implications and needs to be responded accordingly.

Going by the media, thepowers that be knew that Moosa Company of SSG was operating in Mehndar-Poonch area. Appropriate precautionary measures should have been in place to pre-empt any action. Poor combat techniques and poor field discipline on the LC or the LAC invariably leads to loss of precious lives. Some heads ought to roll. The military has shown it has the capacity to learn from mistakes and take corrective actions. The nation expects them to re-visit the entire episode and apply correction at all echelons.

Perhaps those who had eyes will learn to appreciate!!

Maj Gen (Retd) Umong Sethi is a distinguished soldier scholar with wide experience in the armed forces and the government.

Implications of China-Pak Economic Corridor

The visit of India’s Defence Minister, Shri AK Antony’s to China in the first week of July saw the host nation vitiate the atmospherics through uncalled for actions by some of its leaders. The calibrated diplomatic assault began right at the outset of his visit by the Executive Vice-President and Secretary General of China – Strategic Culture Association, Maj Gen Luo Yuan, who warned India against provoking new trouble along the Indo-China border. He stated, “There is still problem of 90,000 sq km by Indian side. These are problems left over from history and we should look at it with cool head.” It may be mentioned that China refers to Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet. It also needs reiteration that all statements by Chinese officials irrespective of rank can be unfailingly attributed to the Establishment. In addition, days before Antony’s visit to China, i.e. in the third week of June, PLA troops had again intruded into the Chumar area in Ladakh and vandalised bunkers and security cameras. This incident did not receive wide publicity in the Indian media perhaps in deference to the sensitivity of Mr Antony’s visit.

Then, following Mr. Antony’s visit, in second week of July, a large body (approximately 50) of PLA troops intruded in Eastern Ladakh. Reportedly, the Chinese troops carried banners demanding India to vacate occupied territory. The frequency, timing, audacity and magnitude of the incursions have only increased. Mr. Salmaan Khurshid’s visit to China, Mr. Li Keqiang’s visit to India and then again Mr. Antony’s visit to China has therefore had no salutary effect on the Indo-China relations. The increasing stridency of China, bordering on hostility, in the Ladakh sector is not without strategic designs. It has to be seen in the context of Chinese strategic thrust into the Indian Ocean through Pakistan by way of Gwadar Port.

Strategic Corridor: The Epoch Making Event

Nawaz Sharif’s visit to China at the same time as Antony’ visit, was a diplomatic insult od sorts. India would certainly not host the President of Vietnam and the Defence Minister of China at the same time. While the reception meted out to Antony was anything but warm, Nawaz Sharif, on the contrary received a ‘Red Carpet’ welcome. The Chinese press too devoted little time and attention to Antony, with Nawaz Sharif getting most of the media coverage. The contrast in the agenda of India and Pakistan vis-à-vis China was pronounced. The India-China agenda, even after taking into allowance that the visit was by a Defence Minister, was perfunctory. It devolved on platitudes such as ‘peace and tranquility’, ‘favourable environment’, ‘enhanced defence exchanges’, and ‘conditions for enhancement of China and India strategic cooperation partnership’.

European Jihadists: The Continuation of a Historical Trend

August 19, 2013 

Greek police in Athens attempt to disperse Muslim protesters in September 2012. 


The threat of experienced militants returning to Europe from combat in North Africa and the Middle East is fueling debate about immigration and integration in Europe and strengthening xenophobic and nationalist sentiments. It is not a new phenomenon for Europeans to travel abroad to fight. Reports have circulated for months about the growing number of foreigners fighting alongside Islamists in places such as Libya and Syria. Most recently, Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported Aug. 5 that leaks by unspecified European intelligence services warned that terrorist organizations in Syria could be preparing international attacks, particularly in Europe.

As new intelligence emerges -- whether the threats are legitimate or not -- European authorities will intensify counterterrorism efforts and immigration controls in an effort to thwart possible attacks. But given the large and growing Muslim population in Europe and the ease of travel throughout the Continent, preventing all attacks will not be easy.


The El Mundo article identified the Syrian rebel group Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar (Army of Emigrants and Helpers), formerly known as the Muhajireen Brigade, as a group that many foreigners join. Created in summer 2012 by foreign fighters and led by Chechens, the group has recruited foreign participants from all over the world and merged with two other Syrian rebel factions, the Khattab Brigade and the Army Muhammad, in February. According to the Chechen news agency Kavkaz Center, the group consists of roughly 1,000 fighters and has led assaults in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Latakia and Idlib, among others.

National Origins

In April of this year, EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove estimated that some 500 European citizens were fighting in Syria, most of them from the United Kingdom, France and Ireland. A survey by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King's College London found that up to 600 Europeans from 14 countries, including Austria, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Germany, have participated in the Syrian conflict since it began in early 2011, representing roughly 7 to 11 percent of the total number of foreign fighters in Syria. The study showed that the largest contingent of foreign militants -- somewhere between 28 and 134 -- came from the United Kingdom. (The number of foreign fighters could be higher considering that many likely cycled through the fighting arena and returned home in a very short time.)

Though no one knows the exact number of foreigners fighting in jihadist militant groups, reports occasionally surface about foreigners killed in action in Syria, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, among other countries. In March, for example, a Swedish man known by the nom de guerre Abu Kamal As Swedee and a Danish man known as Abdul Malik al-Dinmarki, both members of the Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar, were reportedly killed in suicide bombings in Syria.

In the Levant, Arab Spring’s bitter end

By Vijay Prashad

Syrian refugees cross into Iraq at the Peshkhabour border point on August 15.

As Syrians bleed out of the war-torn country, political solution to the crisis is mired in a power play of parties near and far

Over the weekend of August 16-18, 30,0000 Syrians crossed into Iraq over the Peshkhabour Bridge that spans River Tigris. They left the towns of Aleppo, Efrin, Hassake and Qamishly for the Kurdish region, where UNHCR field officers were stunned to see them. “The factors allowing this sudden movement are not fully clear to us,” said spokesperson Adrian Edwards. Thousands continue to make the transit, leaving a Syria paralysed by what U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi calls “a civil war, a sectarian war, and a proxy war,” and entering Iraq, where a string of car bombs over the past month has brought the highest death toll since 2008. A major bomb blast in Beirut’s southern district of Dahieh (which means suburb) rattled Lebanon, where one million Syrians have sought refuge — now one in four of the people who live in this small Levantine country. Sounds of gunfire and bombs have become routine from the Mediterranean coast to the Iranian border, from the souqs of Egypt to the small coastal towns of Libya.

Since the Arab Spring of 2011 opened up in North Africa, all eyes are focused there once more as events seem to turn the clock backwards. In Tunisia, assassinations of left-wing leaders (Chokri Belaid and Mohammed Brahmi) convulsed the country into recriminations. Next-door Libya has been beset with major security challenges, and the new government of Ali Zeidan finds his Interior Ministers and his defence chiefs playing an uneasy game of musical chairs. The most dramatic events are reserved for Egypt, the self-defined centre of the Arab world. The massacres of August 14 portend for many a turn in Egypt toward the kind of slide into darkness that took place in Syria through the second half of 2011. Crackdowns against peaceful protests, there as well, morphed into a major collapse of state hegemony and the development of a serious and unending civil war.

Mrs. Lincoln’s Egyptian Constitution

August 20, 2013 


The international community will likely be confronted soon by an Egyptian regime that looks very much like the present one but can present a democratic façade. 

Upon first reading the short news item in the highbrow daily al-Shuruq that the judicial committee drafting amendments to Egypt's 2012 constitution is completing its work, a reader would likely have felt satisfied that it answered the Egyptian equivalent of the American question, "And apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" With the number of killed entering four digits and a political atmosphere in which Islamists and security forces appear locked in a deadly battle; with an overheated public atmosphere in which adversaries appear caught in a spiral of outlandish conspiracy theories and dehumanization; with foreign journalists subject to verbal abuse and harassment and Christians subject to much worse -- with all this, what is the point of talking about constitutional reform? The contours of Egypt's political future seem starkly clear: an abusive security state, operating (at least for the short term) in an atmosphere of panicked public approval; an Islamist opposition increasingly alienated from the political process and willing to use thuggish force; and ongoing civil strife. What does the constitutional process have to do with this? Can it even continue under such circumstances? Can a constitution written in 2012 largely by people now decried as terrorists really be amended to serve Egypt in 2013? Isn't the new regime's "road map" to restore constitutional rule and elections superseded by recent events? 

Nonresident Senior Associate
Middle East Program 

No it is not. The process is likely to continue and the political logic behind the road map remains quite robust. The reason is that it offers a way to concretize and institutionalize the current political arrangements. Worrisome as they might be, those arrangements remain ones that the dominant military, security, and civilian actors have every interest in entrenching. Egypt will have a constitution again, to be sure -- but it is one that will be a codification of the will of the current regime, like all of Egypt's past constitutions. And Egypt's international partners are therefore likely to be confronted soon with a regime that looks very much like the present one but can present a formal democratic face.

When I was last in Egypt in late June, I described a country that was poised for dueling mass protests, expecting violence, and openly discussing military intervention. I left with a strong sense of foreboding, not simply because of the expected clash but because of the shockingly hard attitudes that had settled in -- the country was rhetorically already in a state of civil war. Those fears were unfortunately vindicated by the political and human wreckage in the weeks since. Actual civil war is likely to be avoided but a prolonged period of civil strife, violent repression, and sectarian attacks has already commenced.

How Al Qaeda Made Its Comeback

The Wall Street Journal

By Ali Soufan
August 7, 2013 

Al Qaeda is a group that prizes symmetry and symbolism. When I interrogated Osama bin Laden's personal propagandist and secretary, Ali al Bahlul, at Guantanamo Bay in 2002, he confessed that they take great care with timing to ensure maximum publicity. So it comes as no surprise that U.S. intelligence recently intercepted communications among senior al Qaeda operatives suggesting that they are planning attacks this month on embassies and other Western targets.

August is full of symbolic importance for al Qaeda. This week is the anniversary of the Aug. 7, 1998, twin bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania—al Qaeda's first overt and successful attack against the U.S. August is also significant because during the last few days of Ramadan falls Laylat al-Qadr, or the Night of Destiny, which is when the Prophet Muhammad is said to have received the first of his divine revelations.

The reasons why this period is auspicious for al Qaeda are clear. What should be questioned is why, more than a decade after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda is still deemed to have high enough capability to force the U.S. to close its embassies and consulates. This seems to be at odds with America's military and counterterrorism successes, and with the declarations of U.S. officials, including President Obama, that al Qaeda has been nearly destroyed.

The disconnect lies in our failure to appreciate that while al Qaeda central has been badly weakened by U.S. counterterrorism efforts, the group was never close to being extinguished. It adapted. It gave greater power to semi-independent affiliates, such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, and to more loosely connected groups, like Boko Haram in Nigeria.

The West made the mistake of failing to effectively tackle these affiliates and their propaganda, dismissing them as local problems irrelevant to the war against al Qaeda. While groups like AQAP and Boko Haram initially did focus their violence locally, terrorists who endorse Osama bin Laden's jihadist message inevitably move on to the global war against the West. That's a key lesson that I and my colleagues in law-enforcement and intelligence learned by tracking al Qaeda in the 1990s.

Bin Laden himself started out by focusing on a local issue: U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, his homeland. Initially the FBI and others in the intelligence community had to battle higher-ups eager to ignore him. He was "just a Saudi financier," we were told.

Over the past seven years, AQAP has very effectively pursued a populist course in Yemen. The group has focused on populations in the south and east of the country long ignored by the ruling elite of the north, providing them with social services, such as teachers, and much-needed water. This has proved a savvy method for recruiting new members eager to attack Western targets. AQAP is at the center of increased threats against U.S. interests: On Wednesday, the Yemeni government, aided by U.S. drone attacks, reportedly foiled AQAP plots to take over strategic ports and to attack oil pipelines.

After the Crackdown in Cairo: Understanding Why the Egyptian Army Deposed Muhammad Mursi

By Michael W. S. Ryan

Egyptian Interior Ministry police executed on August 14 the long anticipated break-up of the two pro-Mursi “sit-in” protest camps in Cairo, which have been a daily presence since the former Islamist president was removed from office on July 3. The latest move by government forces resulted in some of the most intense fighting since the Egyptian military deposed former president Mursi with hundreds in the pro-Mursi camp killed and perhaps thousands wounded across the country. The Egyptian government announced that 43 policemen had been killed. These numbers will probably change in coming days as the confusion resulting from the intense street battles eventually clears. To provide maximum security, the interim government declared a state of emergency, which allows the massive Egyptian military to augment interior ministry forces across the country. 

Despite the presence of foreign press and other eyewitnesses to the events, it is too early to determine what exactly transpired. Each party to the skirmishes blames the other. Both sides claim the other fired first. The Egyptian government has long claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was stockpiling weapons inside the sit-in camps, an accusation the MB repeatedly dismissed. [1] The Egyptian Ambassador to the United States commented on American television on the 14th that not only weapons had been found in the camps but "mass graves" as well. We should expect more accusations in the coming days and the Egyptian government will no doubt attempt to present the evidence for its case to the world. The vast majority of the Egyptian people so far appear to support the military and the interim government's decisions. 

Reporters who speak with representatives from opposing sides of violent clashes each have their own versions of what triggers the violence. The conflicting accounts make it difficult to discern who did what and for what purpose. As the facts about the most recent events come to light, it is helpful to review the events that, at least from the Egyptian military's perspective, created the conditions not only for the recent crackdown, but also for Mursi's removal in the first place.

A Rally in the Sinai 

On the night after the Egyptian army deposed President Muhammad Mursi, the organization calling itself the Jihadi Salafist Current in Sinai held a rally in Northern Sinai in the environs of the Bedouin town Shaykh Zuweid near the Gaza border. [2] The speaker had a simple message to his mostly young, all-male audience: “We have established a War Committee in Sinai… If the traitorous army, or police, or intelligence approach us, we will confront them with all the instruments of war.” The speaker led the crowd to the chant, “No peace after today.” He called on the entire “jihadist current” to join them. Ten days afterward, heavily armed men attempted to assassinate Major General Ahmed Wasfi, the commander of Egyptian forces in the region; Israeli media reported hearing explosions in the same area a few days later. Sinai was a major element of disagreement in the army's year of discontent with former President Mursi according to current senior military and security officials and is a major focus of operations now. Former general and vice-presidential candidate Sameh Seif Elyazel recounted that Mursi ordered General Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi to halt a planned Sinai offensive against jihadists by saying “I don't want Muslims to shed the blood of fellow Muslims.” [3] 

U.S. officials joined with representatives of the EU, Qatar and the UAE to mediate a compromise between the MB and the state security forces. The international representatives reportedly tried to no avail to convince the MB to leave their sit-ins in Cairo. The sit-ins have become violent on occasion; hundreds of lives have been lost and many more injured in confrontations between the pro-Mursi demonstrators and security forces, even before the most recent crackdown. Recognizing the danger of serious violence without a compromise, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton issued a joint statement on August 7, which offered a stark assessment: “This remains a very fragile situation, which holds not only the risk of more bloodshed and polarization in Egypt, but also impedes the economic recovery which is so essential for Egypt's successful transition.” [5] Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour offered a starker assessment in a televised speech on August 7 when he said “all diplomatic efforts to end violence and bloodshed in Egypt have failed.” [4] 

Learning from Our Wrong Turn

Why American counterinsurgency has proved to be unworkable.

By Bing West
August 21, 2013 

A remarkable book has recently been published: Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency, by Colonel Gian Gentile, U.S. Army. Gentile, a professor at West Point, commanded a battalion in Iraq. In his fast-paced, intellectually challenging book, he argues that America’s strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan was unworkable from the start. Below are his responses to the basic questions I asked him.

BING WEST: In a few sentences, describe the counterinsurgency doctrine that our grunts were supposed to employ in Iraq and Afghanistan.

COLONEL GIAN GENTILE: American counterinsurgency, as codified in Marine/Army Field Manual 3-24, is armed nation building by a foreign occupying power. It aims to defeat an insurgency in a foreign land by providing to the host population things like infrastructure, governance, security, local security forces, and economic improvement. The idea is that once these things are provided, the counterinsurgent force will then win the trust and allegiance of the local population, which then will allow for the separation of the people from the insurgents. This is the theory, at least, behind American COIN; unfortunately, in practice it simply does not work.

WEST: On the ground, when you were a commander, what were the problems with that doctrine that you encountered?

GENTILE: FM 3-24 states unequivocally that “in any situation, whatever the cause, there will be” a small minority of a population that is strongly against the counterinsurgency and the supported government, and a small minority in favor, while the rest of the population will be a “neutral or passive majority” (often called “fence sitters”), who are just waiting to have their hearts and minds won over by the counterinsurgent force — as long as it follows the rules and precepts laid out in the doctrine of counterinsurgency. But when I read that doctrinal prescription upon returning from my year in West Baghdad in 2006, it did not match at all — not in any way — the complexity of the Iraqi sectarian civil war which my squadron and I had been caught in the middle of. In the population we confronted there were few fence sitters, only fences and a red line drawn right through the population — between Shiite and Sunni.

WEST: Was the problem that the troops did not understand nation building, or that there were fatal flaws in the doctrine?

GENTILE: The commonly used aphorism by counterinsurgency experts is that COIN is the “graduate level of war,” thus implying that it requires some special kind of skill set to be carried out correctly and that it should be led by enlightened savior generals such as David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal. But the truth of the matter is that American counterinsurgency — armed nation building — at the tactical level of platoons, companies, battalions, and brigades is simply not that difficult. The difficulty of these wars, rather, rests at the levels of strategy and policy, and the American failure in Iraq and Afghanistan can best be explained from those angles. Unfortunately, the myth of the counterinsurgency narrative is that modern American counterinsurgency wars — Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan — could have been won if only the army had done counterinsurgency better under enlightened generals. Yet the truth about America’s failures in these wars has to do with weakness in other places.

The Roots of Military Doctrine: Change and Continuity in Understanding the Practice of Warfare

SWJ Blog Post | August 13, 2013 The Roots of Military Doctrine: Change and Continuity in Understanding the Practice of Warfare - US Army Combat Studies Institute Monograph by Dr. Aaron P. Jackson. Foreword by COL Thomas E. Hanson, Director, Combat Studies Institute:

During the 1980s a fable circulated within the US Army concerning Soviet planning for a potential war with the United States. In the most common version, a Soviet general is alleged to have declared in frustration, “It is impossible to plan against the Americans because they don’t follow their own doctrine.” Many readers of this book will have heard (or said) that “doctrine is only a guide.” Indeed, the tactical agility demonstrated by the US Army on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan is due in no small part to a cultural imperative that prizes solutions above all else.

While not disputing the value of unorthodox solutions to difficult challenges, the organizational culture that underpins this perspective has resulted in a widespread lack of knowledge of Army doctrine by company and field grade officers and mid-level and senior noncommissioned officers. Recognizing this, the Army has dramatically re-engineered its doctrine to distill the timeless principles into a series of accessible, easily read documents. This process has led to a larger discussion of what should and should not be called “doctrine,” and has also included discussion of how we as members of the profession of arms conceptualize warfare. Unfortunately, this conversation has not yet included the bulk of the Army’s mid-level leaders.

Dr. Jackson’s monograph is an excellent contribution to remedy that shortfall. Its greatest value lies in the fact that it forces the reader to reconsider basic assumptions about the purpose and utility of doctrine, and what a nation’s military doctrine says about its military institution. Jackson’s arguments are well reasoned, his assertions are provocative, and his conclusions are profound. After reading this work, your view and understanding of doctrine will be powerfully enhanced, and will lead to lively discussions at every level.