1 October 2013

Infographic: India’s defence spending

By Pavan Srinath 
September 20, 2013 

Pavan Srinath is policy research manager at the Takshashila Institution. He blogs at catalyst.nationalinterest.in.

J&K: Escalating Failures

By Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

At 6.40am on September 26, 2013, three terrorists of a fidayeen (suicide) squad, dressed in combat fatigues, commandeered an autorickshaw and drove up to the Hiranagar Police Station in Kathua District. They first shot two Policemen dead at the entrance, thereafter they killed a shopkeeper outside the Police Station, and injured the auto driver. Another two Policemen were killed inside the Police Station. The three terrorists then hijacked a truck, killing its helper, and reached an Army Camp at Mesar in the neighboring Samba District, after travelling some 20 kilometers on the Jammu-Pathankot Highway. Four Army personnel, including the Second-in-command of the 16th Cavalry combat unit located there, Lieutenant Colonel Bikramjeet Singh, were killed. The commanding officer, Colonel Avin Uthaiya, was injured, along with another four Army men. The truck driver, Mohammad Ashraf Khan, is being questioned by the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the State Police. Sami-ul-Haq, ‘spokesperson’ of a little-known terrorist outfit, Shuhada (Martyrs) Brigade, has claimed responsibility for the attack. According to preliminary reports, the heavily armed suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists (operating under the identity of the Shuhada Brigade), had crossed the Chhappri rivulet and reached a graveyard in Jhandi village, close to the international border (IB), in the early hours of September 26. The same Shuhada Brigade has taken responsibility for the attack on an Army convoy in Srinagar on September 28, 2013, in which a civilian was injured in the crossfire between the Army and the militants.

The daring attack ended with all three militants killed by the Army after a 9-hour clash. Reports said that choppers were used to bring Army Commandos from nearby location, while tanks were used to provide safety cover to troops engaged in the operation. Indeed, the attack has necessitated a serious investigation into the failure of the Security Forces (SFs), who have been caught unaware and apparently unprepared on several occasions in the recent past. The terrorists have already killed a total of 53 SF personnel in 2013 (data till September 29, 2013), the highest in a year since 2010, when 69 SF personnel were killed, with three months still to go in the current year.

The last major attack (involving three or more killings) by terrorists in Samba District had taken place more than five years ago, on May 11, 2008. Two LeT terrorists, wearing Army uniforms, had intruded into the house of Hoshiar Singh, General Secretary of the Indian National Democratic Party, in Samba town at 5.58am, and killed Hoshiar Singh and his wife on the spot. The terrorists subsequently moved towards the Kaili Mandi area and took three women and two children hostage. At about 5pm, the SFs stormed the house where the terrorists were hiding and shot both of them dead. One of the hostage women and Ashok Sodhi, Chief Photographer of The Daily Excelsior, were also killed in the crossfire. 16 SF personnel and two women were injured in the day-long gun-battle.

There had been no such attack in Kathua District prior to the September 26 attack.

In fact, the last major attack by the militants in the entire Jammu Division had taken place on May 8, 2009, when the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) militants had shot dead three persons at Bandara village in the Gulabgarh area of Reasi District. In the last fidayeen (suicide squad) attack in the Jammu Division, 11 persons, including three Army soldiers, five civilians and three terrorists, were killed and another six, including three soldiers, two civilians and a woman, were injured in Jammu District on August 27, 2008. Three fidayeen terrorists, who had infiltrated in the early hours of August 27 from the Kanachak Sector, managed to hijack a truck at Gadla and travelled more than 15 kilometers before taking shelter in a house at Chinore on the old Jammu-Akhnoor Road, taking nine persons hostage. The operation which started at about 7am concluded after approximately 18 hours.

The Jammu Division had, however, witnessed a major violation of ceasefire on August 6, 2013, when personnel of Pakistan Army’s Border Action Team (BAT), along with a group of 20 heavily armed terrorists, entered 450-metres deep into Indian Territory along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch Sector and killed five Indian soldiers.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the Jammu Division has witnessed a total of 30 killings, including five civilians, 13 SFs and 12 terrorists, in 2013 (all data till September 29, 2013) as compared to 14 killings, including one civilian, one SF trooper and 12 terrorists, in the corresponding period of 2012, indicating a visible spurt in violence. Overall fatalities across the State have also more than doubled during this period. As compared to 73 killings, including 11 civilians, 11 SF personnel and 51 terrorists in 2012 (till September 29), the current year has witnessed 156 fatalities, including 19 civilians, 53 SF personnel and 84 terrorists.

An unjustified resentment

By Ramaswamy R. Iyer

The 1960 Indus Waters Treaty is not perfect but represents the best that was possible in the circumstances that prevailed then. It cannot be changed till the time India-Pakistan relations improve

This is not a comment on Rohan D’Souza’s very interesting article in The Hindu (September 13, 2013), but seeks to provide a somewhat different and supplementary perspective on both the Indus Waters Treaty and on the dissatisfaction with it in Jammu & Kashmir.

The most striking feature of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 (IWT) was that it performed a drastic surgery on an integrated river system, dividing it into two segments, one for Pakistan and the other for India. There will be universal agreement that this was a bad way of dealing with a living, integral whole. The second striking characteristic of IWT is that it is overwhelmingly an engineering document: it was a treaty between two sets of engineers. It is easy enough to criticise these features or characteristics, but in doing so we have to avoid the danger of anachronistic and ahistorical judgment.

Second best course

Yes, there is hardly any doubt that the living, integral, organic whole ought to have been dealt with as a unity and not cut up into two segments. As a matter of fact, David Lilienthal of Tennessee Valley Authority fame did advocate the joint management of the total system in an integrated manner, but such a course was not found practical for obvious reasons. Given the bitterness of Partition, the horrendous bloodshed that followed, and the implacable mutual hostility in which the two new countries were locked, it would have been naïve to expect that they could jointly, constructively and harmoniously manage the Indus system as a whole. (Such a possibility might have been difficult to reconcile with the logic of Partition.) When the ideal course is not possible, we have to settle for the second best course, and that was what the treaty represented. Once the land was partitioned in 1947, a partitioning of the waters was bound to follow, and it happened in 1960. Unfortunately, that history continues to plague us. It can hardly be said that a good, constructive, friendly relationship prevails between the two countries today, and that the IWT can now be replaced by a better and more holistic treaty.

Let me turn now to the other and more difficult point. All of us agree now that water is not a matter for engineers alone, and that it is a complex, multi-dimensional substance (avoiding the economist’s language of ‘resource’) that demands an inter-disciplinary study. We stress hydrology, ecology, sociology, anthropology, economics, law, history, tradition, custom, culture, and so on. All this is familiar talk now and is almost becoming conventional wisdom, but it was quite unknown in the 1950s when the Indus Waters Treaty was being formulated and negotiated.

From the advent of modern engineering with colonial rule up to the 1950s or even later, water was indeed regarded essentially a matter for engineers. Even the constitutional entries on water (Entry 17 in the State list and 56 in the Union List) show the strong influence of engineering thinking. Water use largely meant irrigation, irrigation meant canals, canals meant dams, barrages, weirs, gates, sluices and so on. It is therefore hardly surprising that when Partition forced the two new countries to negotiate a treaty on the Indus waters, the negotiation was largely entrusted to engineers on both sides; and it must be noted that the two opposing groups of engineers shared similar orientations, lexicons and concerns. Besides, Pakistan was anxious not only to secure a share of the waters but also to protect itself against the twin dangers of denial of water and flooding. The IWT was thus not merely a water-sharing treaty but also a water-control treaty.

The three dangers to India

Issue Vol 22.3 Jul-Sep 2007 
29 Sep , 2013

Map showing three dangers to India

Very few policy makers in India dare to acknowledge the danger to the nation’s territorial integrity. The security and integrity of the nation has become hostage to vote-bank politics. Democracy and more than eight percent economic growth will be of no avail if the country as such withers away. India is not only being frayed at its borders by insurgencies, but its very writ in the heartland is becoming increasingly questionable. The rise of a nation is predicated upon unity, peace and stability, which are essentially determined by good governance.

The prevailing security scenario poses the serious question — Is India’s development and economic growth becoming unsustainable due to poor handling of the security? There are three dangers to the territorial integrity that bedevil the nation.

New Delhi and the state capitals have almost ceded the governmental control over 40 percent of the Union’s territory to the Naxalites. The Naxals’ are aided and abetted by the crime mafia that runs its operations in the same corridor from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh, as well as Maoists of Nepal who in turn receive covert support from other powers engaged/ interested in destabilizing India. The nexus between ULFA and Maoists in Nepal is well established. In a recent attack in Chhattisgarh, Maoists of India and Nepal were co-participants. There are also reports to suggest that Indian Maoists are increasingly taking to opium cultivation in areas under their control to finance their activities. The Maoists – crime – drug nexus is rather explosive.

The security forces, primarily the Indian Army, have held the state of Jammu and Kashmir physically since Independence. The politicians and the bureaucrats have contributed nothing to resolve the situation. The danger has since magnified many times as displayed by the presence of thousands of supporters of LET flying their flags in a recent rally of dissidents. Under the garb of peace overtures, heavily armed infiltrators with tacit support from the Pak Military-Intelligence establishment continue to make inroads into Kashmir. They are at present lying low, waiting for an opportune moment for vicious strikes on several fronts to undermine the Indian Union.

This ghost force reared its head in a recent rally organized by Geelani. Musharraf and his sympathizers in India are working in a highly synchronized fashion for demilitarization of the Valley. Simultaneously, there is an insidious campaign to malign the Indian Army on one pretext or the other as part of the psywar being waged by the ghost force under Islamabad’s directions.

After all the wars, export of terrorism, inconsistent and weak policies by New Delhi, Islamabad could not win Kashmir only because the Indian Army held its ground. If the ghost force succeeds in making locals rise against the Army, it will be an unprecedented achievement for Islamabad. The talk of demilitarization and the campaign to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act, are therefore merely ploys that aim to achieve the Kashmir objective even as Pak Military-Intelligence establishment expands its tentacles not only within the Valley but in other parts of India as well.

Inter Service Rivalry and its Impact on National Security

28 Sep , 2013

Inter-service rivalry is as old as the services themselves. Competition amongst the services and within the individual service is a good thing if it develops esprit-de-corps but at times, the rivalry can become dangerous as one service distorts the truth or actively works to undermine the efforts of a sister service. Such acts are generally common during periods of fiscal austerity, during extended periods of comparative peace or when the services come face to face with such financial stringency and have reservations about their ability to carry out wartime missions. Historically, during such periods, jointness is forgotten and the services become parochial rather than collaborative.

Rivalry flows from the highest levels when the services compete for the post of Chief of Defence Staff…

Fighting Turf Battles

Inter-service rivalry is as old as the services themselves. Competition amongst the services and within the individual service is a good thing if it develops esprit-de-corps but at times, the rivalry can become dangerous as one service distorts the truth or actively works to undermine the efforts of a sister service. Such acts are generally common during periods of fiscal austerity, during extended periods of comparative peace or when the services come face to face with such financial stringency and have reservations about their ability to carry out wartime missions. Historically, during such periods, jointness is forgotten and the services become parochial rather than collaborative.

Rivalry flows from the highest levels when the services compete for the post of Chief of Defence Staff and vie for the allocation of funds or during the transfer of a role to another service. Inter-service rivalry is universal and there is a perpetual undercurrent both in peace and war. Most militaries in the world fight more turf battles than real wars.

Historical Perspective

In Nazi Germany, Herman Goring created a ground force under the command of the Luftwaffe to counter the influence of the German Army. The German Navy of that time and the Luftwaffe had serious differences over command and control of the air fleet which was to be stationed on aircraft carriers when they became operational. It is another story that the German carriers were never launched.

In the years before the Second World War (WW II), rivalry between the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was legendary and had serious geo-political consequences leading up to Japan’s entry into WW II. The Rikken Seiyukai political party was closely associated with the Mitsui group and had strong connections with the Japanese Army. Similarly, the Rikken Minseito party was connected with the Mitsubishi group and the IJN. The rivalry was so fanatical that each faction even resorted to murder of opponents to further their cause.

Like father, unlike son

Oct 01 2013

When the hour came, Rajiv Gandhi was ready to accept the challenge. Rahul is yet to tell us where he stands on crucial issues.

Just as the articulate Ajay Maken was trying to explain the rationale for and merits of the controversial ordinance to amend the Representation of Peoples Act to a sceptical audience in New Delhi's Press Club on September 26, a highly charged Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi characteristically folded up his sleeves and launched a tirade against the ordinance. The ordinance had earlier been cleared by the Union cabinet headed by the prime minister and the Congress core group presided over by Sonia Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi proclaimed: "My opinion on the ordinance is that it is complete nonsense and it should be thrown out." This public outburst undermined the authority of the prime minister while he was on foreign soil and cast a shadow on Rahul Gandhi's own motivations. He had, after all, raised no objections on the issue earlier and evidently discovered that the decision was "nonsense" when faced with public outrage. Cabinet ministers, who had approved the ordinance earlier, enthusiastically extolled his qualities of head and heart.

Just over a quarter of a century ago on January 20, 1987, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi announced in a press conference that he was removing his foreign secretary, A.P. Venkateswaran, from office. Venkateswaran immediately resigned. But, unlike the sycophantic Congress party politicians of today, the Indian Foreign Service Association passed a resolution deploring the circumstances under which the foreign secretary relinquished office, while expressing admiration for his personal and professional integrity. The resolution, which I joined in drafting, was made public after it was handed over to the prime minister. Venkateswaran refused to withdraw his resignation. When he privately met the prime minister later, he expressed his outrage at the manner of his ouster.

The Venkateswaran episode paradoxically increased the confidence that Rajiv Gandhi had in his diplomats, after he realised that they were professionals and not sycophantic men of straw. A year later, I was called by the prime minister to become his spokesman, despite my role in drafting the resolution of the IFS Association. But, as I look back on these incidents, I find several differences between Rajiv and Rahul Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi was a reluctant entrant to politics, having started his professional life as an airlines pilot. He learnt how one functions in a structurally organised commercial organisation. He had a huge interest in the use of technology in national life. Even as prime minister, he continued logging hours in a cockpit to renew his flying licence. When the hour came, he was ready to accept the challenges of becoming prime minister, following his mother's tragic assassination.

Rajiv Gandhi distanced himself from the socialist rhetoric of the Indira Gandhi years. He liberalised the imports of technology and all but did away with industrial licensing. He thrust a reluctant bureaucracy into computerisation by personal example. He would have gone ahead with the introduction of foreign direct investment had he not been pushed on the defensive by the Bofors scandal, where there has never been any evidence to suggest the then prime minister's personal involvement. A payment routed to London did, however, establish the embarrassing involvement of a foreign businessman and wheeler-dealer. The Rajiv Gandhi years saw the highest growth rates since Independence, with industrial growth exceeding what it was in the post-liberalisation era. Moreover, a refreshingly new approach was adopted in areas like aerospace, communications, democratic decentralisation and rural water supply. The crucial decision to cross the nuclear threshold was taken in 1988. A little known fact is that the plans for the liberalisation of the Narasimha Rao years were drawn up when Rajiv Gandhi was in opposition and hoping to return to office.

The foreign impulse

Oct 01 2013

Bringing in international universities serves a slender need, and does not address questions of quality and equity.

The first half of my professional life took me to the research laboratories and departments of India's leading universities and institutes, while I have spent subsequent years engaged with education in rural government schools. My interactions with researchers and professors at institutions like the Indian Institute of Science, JNU, TIFR and the IITs filled me with hope. With better funding, infrastructure and an enabling regulatory environment (that is, less bureaucracy), these institutions would, in time, hold their own in comparison to any other institution in the world.

And then I plunged into rural India and came face to face with the fact that 80 per cent of our children receive completely inadequate education. The 15 per cent of these children who survive the 12 years of rote learning in schools enrol for three desultory years of college education. In colleges that are understaffed, with teachers who are demotivated, with little infrastructure and neither sensible monitoring of quality nor even the remotest idea of what students learn in those three years. India today has over 600 universities and over 30,000 colleges churning out graduates year after year, many with little understanding of their chosen subject. Visit Gulbarga, Kolhapur or Bhagalpur and meet any young graduate, fresh PhD or lecturer who teaches there, and the problem will hit you like a fist in the gut. Visit the departments of a university and see the sincere professor vainly battling the system for better curriculum, assessment and learning experience for our students.

So if the objective is to do something to change this situation, many things need to be done simultaneously. That is why I am lukewarm to the government's announcement that it will use the route of an executive order to allow foreign universities to operate in India. Evidence and rationale seem to indicate that this step will be peripheral to the urgent issues of equity and quality education in India. Two questions, then: Why are foreign universities interested in coming to India? Whom will they serve? The answer to the first is the lure of the huge market of 1.2 billion people at a time when funds are getting severely slashed in Western universities. And for some top universities, setting up a centre in a country like India would add stature to their global social commitment. The answer to the second is that they will present to Indian students the opportunity of a foreign degree right here in India. Will foreign universities plunge into undergraduate courses because that is where the numbers will make financial sense, or will they establish masters programmes to save foreign exchange for India as its graduates seek such qualifications from foreign universities? Even if these degrees will come much cheaper than going abroad and save the government foreign exchange (said to be around $10 billion), the students who will study at these institutions will be those who are financially well-off or educated in India's elite urban schools. And the crème de la crème may still opt to go abroad anyway. So where do the objectives of equity and equal opportunities for quality higher education get realised with such a move? Sceptics will equate this to the handful of elitist schools offering international baccalaureate programmes to the privileged few who prepare to go abroad for higher studies.

If these are universities

Oct 01 2013

Before foreign institutions set up shop, the government must clarify if they can grant degrees.

The government's move to facilitate the entry of foreign universities raises legal and moral issues. It has been reported that the human resources ministry received clearance from the department of industrial policy and promotion and the department of economic affairs to allow overseas universities to operate as so-called Section 25 or non-profit companies under the newly passed Companies Act. However, there are some legal issues that remain, which the HRD ministry should clarify.

Under Section 22(1) of the UGC Act, the "right of conferring or granting degrees shall be exercised only by a university established or incorporated by or under a Central act, a provincial act or a state act or an institution deemed to be a university under Section 3 or an institution specially empowered by an act of Parliament to confer or grant degrees." Section 2 of the same clause further notes that "no person or authority shall confer, or grant, or hold himself or itself out as entitled to confer or grant, any degree", except as provided under Section 22(1), referred to above. As per the UGC Act, therefore, there is no possibility of any degree granted by the branch campus of a foreign university established under Section 25 of the Companies Act. The escape route could be the interpretation that the foreign degree will not be recognised in India. It is only through the equivalence granted by the Association of Indian Universities that holders of foreign degrees conferred by foreign universities can pursue higher degrees or apply for jobs in India on par with Indian-degree holders. However, this is also implausible, as no authority can confer a degree except a university, as covered under Section 22(1). Thus, the only way the branch campus of a foreign university could confer a degree would be through the legislative route, either via an independent act or a modification in the UGC Act.

It should also be noted that the new Companies Act does not enlarge the scope of Section 25 by allowing the entry of foreign universities. Hence, any reference to this act facilitating the entry of foreign universities is a misrepresentation. The new act does provide scope for corporate social responsibility by promoting education, which is a separate issue.

How to Make Proxy War Succeed in Baluchistan

Issue Net Edition 
 30 Sep , 2013

Baloch Freedom Fighters

For decades, Pakistan has engaged in a proxy war against India. Much of that proxy war has been secretive, while many of those secrets have been exposed. At other times, Pakistan has made threats of taking war deep inside Indian territory, and Hamid Gul has openly voiced the disintegration of India. Pakistan’s proxy wars have extended from J&K and Punjab to the Northeast regions and the Maoist belt. Pakistani assistance for the Indian mujahedeen and homegrown Indian terrorists has arrived by way of Nepal, Burma, Bangladesh, infiltration across the LOC in J&K, and infiltration of the Punjab and Rajasthan borders. The smuggling of narcotics into Punjab is accompanied by small arms quickly stockpiled in sleeper cells and mosques across India. Pakistan is playing towards an endgame; in contrast, India reacts in knee-jerk fashion, rather than catching Pakistani action before the effect, and finds its own plays in Pakistan stymied by an ever-alert ISI.

Pakistan is playing towards an endgame; in contrast, India reacts in knee-jerk fashion, rather than catching Pakistani action before the effect…

For years, Pakistan has succeeded in suborning Indian military and government officers and politicians, while India has fallen flat in all such attempts. And even today, Pakistan finds sympathizers among a very large Indian population that would rather see Muslim and Pakistani rule in India rather than secular Indian rule. Given this internal shortcoming, India has enemies not only on its borders, but within, as well. This makes India’s task of maintaining its sovereignty all the more difficult. But fortunately for India, India’s massive population serves as a buffer to a lot of that action, thereby serving to mitigate and absorb the forces that would otherwise disintegrate India. But for India to bank on this strength alone would be unwise, for this bastion can easily break, just as it was broken for the past one thousand years before independence in 1947.

Pakistani has truly bled India by its proxy wars. Revenue income from J&K and the North East are much lower than potential. Narcotic distribution by Pakistan in Punjab has resulted in lackluster growth in Punjab’s GDP – for decades the most prosperous state in India. The Maoists have sucked revenue growth in nearly 40% of India’s land mass. That India should grow in real terms at 6% per year is simply amazing given these odds. What India could do if these hurdles and negative forces were absent would probably be nothing short of a miracle. It therefore seems appropriate to conclude that Pakistan is coming in the direct way of India’s miracle. Naturally, no rational Indian wants to see Pakistan continue to do so. Hence, the common Indian further concludes that Pakistan must either be stopped in its destructive actions against India by peaceful action, or be annihilated by force to cease and desist.

The former sees no chance of success: all the diplomacy over decades by the 800-strong Indian Foreign service has yielded nothing more than failures, four wars, and numerous smaller military actions, and daily incursions by Pakistan into India. This is not what can be called successful Indian diplomacy, no matter how smart the diplomats or what scores they earned in their IAS entrance exams. The real world of diplomacy consists of grenades and bullets, not roses and choice gardens. The real world offers injured and dead soldiers and widows, not posh bungalows in Lutyens’ Delhi. The real world sees blood, sweat, heat, cold, and tears in guarding the borders, not air conditioned rooms of rich parliamentarians in central and south Delhi. It is time to come with the wave, to understand mainstream India, to think like the Indians who earn less than $2 a day – mainstream India – which doesn’t get three square meals a day, and is pained to access medical assistance, and dies prematurely largely because there is an enemy that sucks India’s resources and kills its people from within. For Pakistan, it is a very intelligent way to succeed against a larger India; for India, it is the lamb being led to the slaughterhouse. And because mainstream India continues to carry an ever-increasing yoke, they are slowly turning against the governments that are supposed to look after them. Long gone is the time when the poor looked upon the government as mai-baap. The increased alienation of mainstream India from Indian government is a direct threat to India’s security and sovereignty. Aadhar and other such programs are scarcely going to lift the sense of alienation, no matter which government or coalition is at the center.

The surrender to religious cleansing

By Farahnaz Ispahani

AP UNDER SIEGE: While the Pakistani state frequently encouraged a national narrative of Muslim Pakistan versus Hindu India, Christians were often not attacked. That has changed. The picture is of a church in Peshawar, the site of a suicide attack.

The Taliban attack on the Peshawar church that killed scores of people was an opportunity for Pakistan’s leaders to rally the nation against Islamist extremism but they squandered it

Pakistan’s leaders have squandered another opportunity to rally the nation against religious extremism. The terrorist attack on one of the oldest churches in the country, Peshawar’s All Saints Church, stunned all. For a couple of days, people wondered aloud about the depths to which Pakistan had sunk. But soon after the initial reaction, the media and politicians’ simply continued pandering to the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

It is now a familiar pattern. Pakistanis censure acts of terrorism but refrain from condemning or acting against terrorist groups. The terrorists are emboldened with each attack, noting that their ideology is finding space in the political mainstream.

The All Saints Church, established in 1883, symbolised the history of Christian presence in Pakistan. Christians have lived in Pakistan long before it was conceived as a separate country. By attacking this historic place of worship, the jihadi terrorists signalled their desire for religious cleansing of Pakistan. This was yet another moment for Pakistan’s leaders to say “No” to the extremist vision of Pakistan as excluding non-Muslims (or, for that matter, Muslim sects other than the hardline Sunni version of Islam).

Instead, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan, the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) responded with calls for conciliation with the Pakistan Taliban (TTP). Mr. Khan even insinuated that the church attack may have been a “plot” against talks with the Taliban even though the TTP had publicly claimed credit for the terrorist bombing. Although Mr. Sharif backed away from talks on terms set by the Taliban ahead of his trip to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly session, his government remains committed to talks with a group that murders innocent Pakistani citizens.

Jinnah’s vision

Pakistan’s religious minorities have been under attack for some time, in stark contrast with the vision laid out by Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his famous August 1947 speech. Jinnah had said: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” Sadly for Pakistan and Pakistanis, Jinnah faded away from this life and guidance of the fledgling nation soon after.

Why Turkey’s Buying Chinese Missile Systems

By Zachary Keck
September 30, 2013

In a move that surprised many, a Chinese defense company has won a US$4billion contract to help Turkey develop a long-range air and missile defense system, winning out over competing bids from U.S., EU, and Russian defense companies.

Following a meeting by the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries’ (SSM) executive committee on Thursday, Turkey announced it had selected a proposal by China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp. (CPMEIC) to jointly develop its HQ-9 system (FT-2000). CPMEIC won out over bids from U.S.-based Raytheon and Lockheed Martin’s Patriot missile defense system; Russia’s Rosoboronexport’s S-300; and Italian-French consortium Eurosam’s SAMP/T Aster 30.

Although there have been rumors that Turkey was leaning toward CPMEIC, the news came as a shock to many. Turkey is a founding member of NATO, which is deploying the Patriot missile defense system in various countries throughout Europe. The Patriot and HQ-9 systems are not interoperable. Earlier this year, the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands also sent a total of six Patriot batteries to Turkey to shield it from the conflict in Syria.

Ankara’s decision seemed like a particular snub to the U.S., which has long maintained sanctions against CPMEIC over its alleged arms sales and defense cooperation with countries like Pakistan, Syria, North Korea and Iran. All U.S. persons and entities are prohibited from doing business with CPMEIC.

U.S. sanctions against CPMEIC go at least as far back as 1993, when it was sanctioned for transferring missile technology to Pakistan. The most recent round of U.S. sanctions against CPMEIC were in February of this year, when it was sanctioned alongside other Chinese persons and entities for selling Iran items banned under U.S. law.

According to Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), CPMEIC was established in 1980 by China’s former Ministry of Space Industry (MSI) for the explicit purpose of selling missiles manufactured under MSI’s direction. It doesn’t maintain missile production plants itself, but rather markets and facilities the sale of missiles made by Chinese defense firms.

Following Turkey’s announcement on Thursday, the U.S. expressed its displeasure at the decision.

India and the Rise of the Indo-Pacific

By Vivek Mishra
September 30, 2013

India will need to demonstrate diplomatic skill in this emerging region. Working with Australia would be a good start.

In the evolving geopolitical discourse, the Indo-Pacific has been transformed from a biogeographic region into a strategic one. Accompanying this change in perception is a change is scope, with strategists considering now not just the tropical Indian Ocean, but also the western and sometimes even central Pacific Ocean. The emergence of this newly defined area is significant, and not just for the region itself. So much so that some observers are now talking of an “Indo-Pacific Pivot.”

The Indo-Pacific ranges from East Africa, across the Indian Ocean, to the western and central Pacific, including Japan and Australia. Within this vast area, cooperation between countries and systems of alliances form, such as cooperation between the U.S., Japan and Australia, countering trends such as China’s assertive behavior in the South China Sea and its growing presence in the Indian Ocean. This is not to pit one group against another, but rather to point out that there is a subtle heterogeneity involved in emerging Indo-Pacific relations.

The region’s strategic and economic significance is meanwhile growing. From South to East Asia, trade has surged and, especially with the rise of Asian powers like China and India, the Indo-Pacific incorporates some of the busiest sea lanes in the world. The rise in commerce creates political and strategic interests, along with concerns that these interests may be under threat with the rise of China and its assertive maritime behavior. It is in fact these concerns that have helped encourage the emergence of the concept of an Indo-Pacific region, although at least two other factors are at play: the U.S. pivot to Asia and, more recently, direct mention and discussion of the concept inAustralia’s Defence White Paper (2013).

The new structure that is evolving in the Indo-Pacific is still in transition, because the distribution of power is a variable that itself remains fluid. This power ambiguity in turn reflects the shifting roles played by two dominant elements: politics and economics. While military might and geopolitics form part of the first element, trade is the key constituent of the second.

The U.S. is leading a group of countries in trying to give some solidity to Indo-Pacific geopolitics. This new initiative entails a strategic realignment that would accord an important role to India and the Indian Ocean. The policies will play out over a strategic arc that essentially brings together the ASEAN+6, minus South Korea.

The Alawites, Ethnic Cleansing, and Syria's Future

Whatever the outcome of the current Syrian crisis, the sectarian killings that have been raging for the past two and a half years, and which might have reached new paroxysms of savagery in August 2013, all bear the telltale markings of ethnic cleansing, impending fragmentation, and ultimately the Balkanization of a country formerly known as Syria.

“Ethnic cleansing” is not a phrase to be uttered in vain; its tortured tales are stained with heartbreak and bloodshed, its sad trails spattered with chronicles of dispossession and forced population movements. As a concept, “ethnic cleansing” traces its semantic origins to the Balkans during the early 1990s, but its inglorious history is as old as history itself, its deeds recorded in the sacred writs and annals of nations, its crimes premeditated, designed to eliminate undesired populations with the aim of building ethnically, religiously, or culturally homogenous regions in once mixed or disputed territories. Syria, as a complex of ethno-religious and linguistic mosaics, living a brittle and uneasy peace under the rule of an apprehensive and historically oppressed community, falls within the patterns of deeply divided societies susceptible to ethnic conflagrations. And so, since the early days of the insurgency in early 2011, Syria’s troubles were pointing in the direction of an impending sectarian boiling point. And Assad, a child of the catacombs, an accursed minoritarian, an Alawite upstart whose family made good and bequeathed him the throne of the Sunni’s overlord, was not about to throw it all away and deliver a redeemed community back to its oppressors. Some Pollyanna in 2011 might have thought it opportune to ride the winds of an ill-conceived “Arab Spring”, doodling some rosy freedom slogan on a wall in Daraa. But Assad’s appetite was not for self-immolation so as to feed the flame of someone else’s freedom. Safeguarding one’s own trumps all other virtues in the creed of persecuted Levantine minorities, Alawites included, and Assad was not about to betray that sacred writ. Indeed, he has yet to have a “bad day” as he continues to prosecute this fight for self-preservation, and as he forges on, coming ever closer to carving out an Alawite heartland. But that “bad day” came and went, with Obama’s posturing and abrupt retreat, and Assad triumphed yet again. Today, with the regional and international response to his brutality as incoherent as ever, Assad remains the winner of this conflict, and he endures, more determined, consolidating an eventual rump state.

The opposition to Assad remains a motley assortment of Islamists, with some reformers and liberals interspersed in-between, most of whom loathe each other, perhaps more than they hate Assad himself. What’s more, Assad’s military remains largely loyal and determined, his popular base remains intact and committed, and American policy—or lack thereof—remains his greatest ally, and so he remains firmly ensconced at the helm. Like his father Hafez before him, Bashar al-Assad is a skilled strategist and a patient master of time; he is wily, deliberate, coolheaded, and coldblooded; a crafty murderer and a seasoned statesman at once, qualities that a flamboyant hothead like Muammar Qaddafi, a kleptocratic oligarch like Zine al Abidine Ben-Ali, and a fossilized military veteran like Hosni Mubarak all lacked. And so it is unlikely that Assad’s fate will come anywhere near Qaddafi’s, Ben-Ali’s, or Mubarak’s—although predictions are the praxis of the foolhardy in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Solving Syria

Opponents to intervention argue that another potentially expensive, dangerous intervention hardly seems like a wise idea.

For more than a month now, the United States and much of the international community have been consumed by the issue of how to respond to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons. The motivation behind the different proposals—first a missile strike, now a major disarmament effort—is eminently reasonable: to ensure that Syria never uses these weapons again. And the prospects for success appear to be rather good in my judgment, though that is clearly a contentious matter.

But what about the broader problem? Simply eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons isn’t going to stop the carnage that has already claimed some 100,000 lives. Are we really content to sit by and watch this killing continue? Or should we be trying to stop it?

Much of the debate on this front has taken the form of arguing about specific kinds of intervention. President Obama’s activist critics—referencing our failure to act in Rwanda in 1994 or our more successful intervention in Libya in 2011—have pushed proposals such as arming the rebels or establishing a no-fly zone. (I myself have advocated these kinds of ideas.) Meanwhile, opponents of these options have countered by invoking Iraq and Afghanistan—and arguing that another potentially expensive, dangerous intervention hardly seems like a wise idea, especially in the Middle East.

Before the United States can figure out what to do in Syria, we must think about where our intervention could realistically end.

But largely lost amid this argument has been a more forward-thinking set of questions: What are we trying to achieve? What, in the best-case scenario, might a post-carnage Syria look like in 2014 or beyond? Saying that we want to see the rebels chase Bashar al-Assad from power, followed by some power-sharing arrangement that is at present only vaguely defined, does not suffice. The insurgency is a fractured mess that includes two major groups of al Qaeda–linked extremists. They would likely fight each other, or perhaps carry out mass killings of Assad’s former cronies, if successful in defeating him. The overthrow of Assad would no more end the war in Syria than the overthrow of Saddam in 2003 brought stability to Iraq.

So, before the United States can figure out what to do in Syria, we must think about where our intervention could realistically end. This is not necessarily easy to do because circumstances can and likely will change over the months ahead. But neither is such long-term thinking entirely impossible.

FROM MY vantage point, the right model is neither Iraq, nor Afghanistan, nor Libya, but instead Bosnia. It is not a perfect model, but it is a good place to start. As many will recall, two decades ago we watched similar killing take place in Bosnia for a couple of years until international outrage and battlefield dynamics converged to make a solution possible. NATO finally bombed Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbian militias, then pushed him toward a peace deal that created a “soft partition” of the country. It wasn’t a flawless outcome, but nearly two decades later, Serbs and Muslims and Croats in Bosnia have not gone back to war.

Washington and Tehran Talking on Nuclear Issues, But There Are Other Conflict Areas Between U.S. and Iran

Associated Press
September 30, 2013

Iranian, US interests collide across Mideast

The groundbreaking dialogue between Iran and the U.S. has raised speculation of further advances to ease their 34-year diplomatic estrangement. But the two countries have overlapping interests across the Middle East and beyond that are sharply at odds.

SYRIA: Iran views the regime of President Bashar Assad as a centerpiece of its regional influence. Syria is a critical gateway for supplies to Iran’s main anti-Israel force, Hezbollah in Lebanon. Syria also offers Iranian warships a friendly Mediterranean port during their few trips through the Suez Canal. The U.S. has backed the Syrian political opposition, but is wary of the growing presence of rebel fighters inspired by al-Qaida and other extremist ideologies. Washington has put on hold possible military strikes to punish Assad’s government for suspected chemical attacks in August. Instead, it has supported a Russian-drafted plan to collect and eventually dismantle Syria’s chemical arsenal, but says military options could be revived if the effort stalls.

ISRAEL: Iran backs the anti-Israel forces of Hezbollah in Lebanon and has ties to Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Hezbollah’s last major confrontation with Israel was a summer war in 2006. Rockets are sporadically fired from Gaza, which was the target of an Israel incursion that ended in early 2009 in response to widespread barrages. Israel remains America’s main ally in the region.

GULF ARAB STATES: The Sunni-ruled states from Kuwait to Oman are mainstay Western allies and view Iran - in differing degrees - as a rival. Saudi Arabia often leads the denunciations by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council of alleged Iranian plots to destabilize their ruling systems. The U.S. has deep military interests across the region, including access to air bases, thousands of ground troops in Kuwait and the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain. An occasional flash point has been the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the route for about one-fifth of the world’s oil. In the past, Iran has threatened to block the narrow waterway in retaliation for Western sanctions.

Kazakhstan: Waiting for Change

Asia Report N°250 30 Sep 2013


Kazakhstan has long been viewed from the outside as the most prosperous and stable country in a region widely regarded as fragile and dysfunctional. The appearance of wealth, based largely on the conspicuous consumption of Almaty and Astana, its main cities, and multi-billion-dollar energy contracts – increasingly with China – hides, however, a multitude of challenges. An ageing authoritarian leader with no designated successor, labour unrest, growing Islamism, corruption, and a state apparatus that, when confronted even with limited security challenges, seems hard-pressed to respond, all indicate that the Kazakh state is not as robust as it first appears. Without a significant effort to push forward with repeatedly promised political, social and economic reforms, Kazakhstan risks becoming just another Central Asian authoritarian regime that squandered the advantages bestowed on it by abundant natural resources.

The core issue, which few in the ruling elite seem inclined to discuss, is succession. 73-year-old Nursultan Nazarbayev has led the country since independence in 1991. The mere passage of time suggests his exit might not be far off. Yet there is no indication of a succession strategy. A cult of personality has grown up around him. Parliament is weak. Not once has the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) declared a Kazakh election to be free and fair. Recent laws have curbed political freedoms and censored the media, marking a return to authoritarian tactics. Nazarbayev’s successor will inherit a mixed legacy, including wealthy elites with assets to protect and a population who increasingly feel the government has delivered little in the way of political representation or economic prosperity. Events in Janaozen in December 2011 when police opened fire on striking oil workers demonstrated that the authorities’ response to dissent can be alarmingly disproportionate.

Kazakhstan’s petroleum and mineral wealth will not protect the government from a growing tide of domestic resentment, nor can it insulate the country from potential external unrest. To its south a collection of failing states and authoritarian regimes – the largest of which, Uzbekistan, is also facing a succession scenario even more complex than Astana’s – is the only buffer between Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. The 2014 U.S. and NATO drawdown poses a significant regional security challenge.

Some Kazakh defence chiefs have voiced concerns about the country’s readiness; in contrast, the president’s office is pointedly more optimistic. But beyond involvement with security blocs such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Kazakhstan does not appear to have a plan. There are also indications that Kazakh Islamist extremists, trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan, are hoping to bring the struggle home. In the western regions, growing numbers of marginalised youths are turning to Islam as a means of political expression and a source of identity distinct from the venality they associate with the ruling classes.

The Wrong Way to Criticize Obama

September 30, 2013

In publicly criticizing President Obama’s Syria strategy, former secretaries of defense Robert Gates and Leon Panetta’s behavior was unprofessional and unseemly. Moreover, the positions that these two men are taking with regard to how to handle Syria are inconsistent with their own history, are not supported by the majority of the American people, and are not strategically sound.

Men and women who are appointed to cabinet-level positions by a president and leave while that president is still in office normally refrain from criticizing the administration they were privileged to serve; this is especially true for those who are on the national-security team. For example, Robert McNamara never publicly criticized the Johnson Administration’s negotiations with the North Vietnamese, even after Johnson forced him out as Secretary of Defense in 1967. Cyrus Vance, who resigned as Secretary of State in 1980 after the failed attempt to rescue the American hostages, never criticized the Carter Administration’s strategy for dealing with Iran. Colin Powell refrained from criticizing President George W. Bush’s conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan even after he was unceremoniously forced to resign as Secretary of State in 2005, despite having put his reputation on the line in front of the UN to justify the misguided invasion of Iraq.

But on September 17, 2013, Gates told a forum at Southern Methodist University in Texas that he is against conducting a limited strike against Syria even to enforce the President’s red line. According to him, this would be like “throwing gasoline on a very complex fire in the Middle East” and “is not a strategy”; this from the person who advisedPresident Obama not to send the Navy Seals in to kill Osama Bin Laden. And when he was deputy director of the CIA in 1984, he advocated bombing Nicaragua to remove the Sandinistas.

Gates was also critical of President Obama and Secretary Kerry about working with Russia. Does he forget that while he was part of the Obama administration the Russians allowed the United States to use their territory to send equipment to Afghanistan, signed the New START nuclear deal, and cooperated with us in imposing crippling sanctions on Iran? But given the fact that when he was serving as deputy director of the CIA, Gates said Gorbachev would be succeeded by a Stalinist and that the Soviets would never leave Afghanistan, his views about Russia should not be surprising.

Our Strategic Incompetence

By Michael Auslin
September 30, 2013 

The U.S.’s ineffective foreign policy can’t be covered up by our power forever.

Last weekend, Bashar Assad’s government formally met its first deadline in the Russian-brokered plan to have Syrian chemical weapons turned over to international authorities. Just hours before the deadline, Damascus turned over a list of chemical weapons. That undoubtedly buys it points with the Obama administration, which was willing to delay the timing for this first stage. However, as foreign news outlets have reported, the list is far from complete, despite Secretary of State John Kerry’s much-touted demand that a full and comprehensive accounting be provided in just a week’s time.

Worse still, in the days leading up to the declaration, Syria was credibly accused of yet again moving around its chemical-weapons stores. So far, however, this hasn’t perturbed either the Obama administration or America’s mainstream media. While the blogosphere breaks news about the moving around of weapons, CNN optimistically reported that an unnamed U.S. official said that the proffered Syrian list “was more complete than what [U.S.] officials had expected.”

In other words, the administration fully expected to be lied to, but went ahead anyway with a diplomatic process that ties its hands and will entangle it in months of suspect negotiations. Now, Washington is accepting a meaningless U.N. resolution that demands that Syria surrender all its chemical weapons, but shrinks from authorizing the use of force if Damascus refuses to comply. Such a weak-willed international statement perfectly suits both Assad and his main patron, Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government and media are eager to publicize the “overtures” of new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, despite the existence of little solid evidence that he intends to change any of Tehran’s hardline policies. Indeed, President Obama has rushed to call Rouhani, and the two sides are to begin “substantive talks” on Iran’s nuclear program. All this came about once John Kerry met his Iranian counterpart in New York and optimistically praised the “very different tone” that Iran was using with the Americans. This would be the same Iranian regime whose arms shipments to insurgents led to the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, an act of war for which it has neither apologized nor admitted its guilt. 

The real issue here is the fantasyland in which U.S. diplomacy increasingly finds itself. For all we know, the Syrian agreement may well work out, and Rouhani may indeed be committed to peace. But believing that requires a superhuman suspension of disbelief. Instead of increasing stability throughout the world, the United States has attempted to accommodate aggressive regimes. Both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein stand as exceptions to Washington’s efforts to get along with some of the most disruptive actors since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Over the past two decades, the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations have all consistently lowered the standards of U.S. diplomacy, particularly in relations with North Korea (which went from a basket case to a fully nuclear basket case), Afghanistan (which went from a rescued state to the land of “green on blue” killings), China (which feels ever freer to bully its neighbors), Iran, Russia, and now Syria. Moreover, in the past 20 years, our friends and allies have been whiplashed by unserious U.S. red lines, Washington’s desperate outreach to authoritarian regimes, and muddled goals.

Destabilizing actors have steadily increased their provocative behavior over the past several decades, privately sensing American weakness. While neither Beijing nor Damascus wants to see if Washington is ultimately credible (i.e., could be pushed into a forceful response to various provocations), there is little doubt that our day-to-day credibility is damaged. In some cases, that will only abet courses of action that states have already determined are in their best interests; an example is China’s pressing of its maritime territorial claims in the South and East China Seas. In others, such as Russia’s, it allows a country with otherwise little credibility and strength to find unexpected ways to gain influence and create instability.

What Really Scares Vladimir Putin the Most

When Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced their deal to rid Syria of chemical weapons, Bashar Al Assad knew exactly what the deal meant—a lifeline—and whom to thank for it. “It’s a victory for Syria achieved thanks to our Russian friends,” said one Syrian minister.

But as the conflict unfolded—as Moscow staunchly denied that Assad had gassed his own subjects; as it moved its war ships into the Mediterranean; and as it finally stepped in to fill the void left by President Obama’s waffling—Washington struggled to decode what, exactly, those Russian friends were after. Was it about keeping a good client of Russian arms manufacturers? Was it about protecting its base in Tartus, the only Russian naval installation in the Mediterranean? Was it nothing more than a desire to stick it to Uncle Sam?

These explanations, however tempting, distort the truth of Russia’s Syrian policy. The base at Tartus is nice to have, sure, but it is a small one: Most of the time, one ship dedicated to repair and support idles there. The arms sales are nice, too, but they’re just a small fraction of total global Russian arms sales. “India buys orders of magnitude more weapons than Syria,” says Georgy Mirsky, a Russian Middle East expert. And if Russia loses Assad, he says, “Don’t worry, we’ll survive.”

More central to Vladimir Putin’s understanding of Syria is his conservatism. Putin is a preternatural standpatter. He is notoriously averse to firing people; he still writes the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper. Putin is often said to be a product of the cold war and the Soviet Union, but more than anything, he is a product of their end. The defining moment of his political maturation came in the late ’80s, when the Soviet order, as imperfect and deeply rusted as it had been, gave way to chaos, violence, and poverty, and in which the KGB, the proud elite in which he had served, was humbled and forced to serve as security guards for the new economic elite. It is not for nothing that Putin talks about Russia’s bitter experience with revolutions—a category in which he includes 1991—and about how change is better affected very gradually.

This fear deeply colors Putin’s foreign policy, too. “In general, his worldview is that the world is in such a chaotic, incomprehensible state, that all attempts to influence it with direct action are counterproductive and only bring the opposite of the intended result,” says Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of Russia in Global Affairs, who is seen as a good decoder of the Kremlin’s thinking. Furthermore, the trope of U.S. obligation to do this or enforce that is more than galling to Putin, Lukyanov says. It is incomprehensible. “He doesn’t understand where this sense comes from and who saddled the Americans with this burden,” Lukyanov explains. This is not, in other words, a simple cold war hatred of all things American. According to Lukyanov, Putin is deeply skeptical that the United States—or any one else—can fix a country’s internal problems.

A key element of Putin’s conservatism is checking America’s initiatives abroad so as not to set precedents that could come back to haunt Russia. Putin was spooked when a wave of democratizing so-called “color revolutions” swept through three former Soviet states—and the fact that American money was involved further confirmed his suspicion of U.S. aims abroad. In Libya, the Russians received another shock. They had abstained from voting on the United Nations Security Council when the United States and its European allies said they wanted to prevent a massacre in Benghazi. When the intervention resulted in Muammar Qaddafi’s toppling and murder, Putin was reportedly horrified. He is said to have obsessed over Qaddafi’s death and was furious with Dmitry Medvedev, then technically Russia’s president, for not vetoing the use-of-force resolution. (Some among the Moscow chattering classes speculated that with that one abstention Medvedev had forfeited his chance for a second term.) “The only goal in Syria,” says Lukyanov, “is to not allow intervention. ... It sets a precedent. If you allow the Americans to do what they want in Syria, then they can do anything they want in, say, Belarus,” historically Moscow’s most loyal neighbor.