9 October 2013

The Roots of the Government Shutdown

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Stratfor
By George Friedman

In general, Stratfor deals with U.S. domestic politics only to the extent that it affects international affairs. Certainly, this topic has been argued and analyzed extensively. Nevertheless, the shutdown of the American government is a topic that must be understood from our point of view, because it raises the issue of whether the leading global power is involved in a political crisis so profound that it is both losing its internal cohesion and the capacity to govern. If that were so, it would mean the United States would not be able to act in global affairs, and that in turn would mean that the international system would undergo a profound change. I am not interested in the debate over who is right. I am, however, interested in the question of what caused this shutdown, and ultimately what it tells us about the U.S. capacity to act.

That is one reason to address it. A broader reason to address it is to understand why the leading global power has entered a period when rhetoric has turned into increasingly dysfunctional actions. The shutdown of the government has thus far not disrupted American life as a whole, although it has certainly disrupted the lives of some dramatically.

It originated in a political dispute. U.S. President Barack Obama proposed and Congress approved a massive set of changes in U.S. healthcare. These changes were upheld in court after legal challenges. There appears to be significant opposition to this legislation according to polls, but the legislation's opponents in Congress lack the ability to repeal it and override a presidential veto. Therefore, opponents attached amendments to legislation funding government operations, and basically said that legislation would only be passed if implementation of healthcare reform were blocked or at least delayed. Opponents of healthcare reform had enough power to block legislation on funding the government. Proponents of healthcare reform refused to abandon their commitment for reform, and therefore the legislation to fund the government failed and the government shut down.

Shutdowns and Shifts in the U.S. Political System

Similar shutdowns happened during the 1990s, and I am not prepared to say that divisions in our society have never been so deep or partisanship so powerful. I've written in the past pointing out that political vituperation has been common in the United States since its founding. Certainly nothing today compares to what was said during the Civil War, and public incivility during the Vietnam War was at least as intense.

What has changed over time is the impact of this incivility on the ability of the government to function. Consider the substantial threat that the United States might refuse to pay the debts it has incurred by consent of Congress and presidents past and present. In private life, refusal to pay debts when one can pay them is fairly serious. Though this is no less serious in public life, this outcome in the coming weeks seems conceivable. It is not partisanship, but the consequences of partisanship on the operation of the government that appear to have changed. The trend is not new, but it is intensifying. Where did it start?

From where I sit, there was a massive shift in the 1970s in how the American political system operates. Prior to then, candidate selection was based on delegates to national conventions, and the delegates to conventions were selected through a combination of state conventions and some primaries. Political bosses controlled the selection of state convention delegates, and therefore the bosses controlled the delegates to the national convention -- and that meant that these bosses controlled the national conventions.

There was ample opportunity for corruption in this system, of course. The state party bosses were interested in enhancing their own security and power, and that was achieved by patronage, but they were not particularly ideological. By backing someone likely to be elected, they would get to appoint postmasters and judges and maybe even Cabinet secretaries. They used the carrot of patronage and the stick of reprisals for those who didn't follow the bosses' line. And they certainly were interested in money in exchange for championing business interests. They were ideological to the extent to which their broad constituencies were, and were prepared to change with them. But their eyes were on the mood of the main constituencies, not smaller ones. These were not men given to principled passion, and the dissident movements of the 1960s accordingly held men like Chicago's Richard J. Daley responsible for repressing their movements.

An ambitious ploy in the heights

Syed Ata Hasnain

GROUND SITUATION: Desperation to a large extent is responsible for the situation in Keran, which could have been used as a base for further infiltration. The Indian Army near the LoC towards Keran. Photo: Nissar Ahmed

The Keran episode shows that the jihadists are desperate to keep the Valley on the boil until they can give it their full attention after international troops withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014

The incidents at Keran have been dubbed as “Kargil II” by the media and the perceived delay by the Indian Army in pushing back the intrusions led to many screaming headlines. But there is no need to go hyper. This was never Kargil II. Kargil had strategic importance because of the Leh-Srinagar Highway and the link with Siachen. The Keran/Shalabatu episode was a clever ploy to push the maximum number of terrorists into the Valley. This is not the first time that Shalabatu has been used for infiltration or concentration.

Largely patrolled

First, let us understand the ground. The road links to this area are poorly developed because of the terrain and its remoteness. Keran is a generic name being attached to the area because that is the closest tehsilheadquarters. In between Shalabatu and Keran is a huge mountain ridge. It is a desolate area that falls between the North Shamshabari range and the Kishanganga (Neelam to the Pakistanis) river. It is so heavily forested that it is not possible to hold the Line of Control (LoC) in this area without deploying a disproportionate number of troops. The fence runs on the North face of the Shamshabari Range approximately two to three kilometres inward from the LoC. The area ahead of the fence has a few posts, but it is mostly dominated by patrolling. The treacherous terrain and forest cover make it easy for terrorists to sneak up to the vicinity of the fence and seek their opportunity. The area on the other side is also not very strongly held by the Pakistan Army. However, stray minefields exist, the jihadi’s occupational hazard.

A moment for Asian solidarity

C. Raja Mohan : Wed Oct 09 2013

The Look East policy is a successful initiative. The prime minister's visit to Indonesia must build on it.

zAs he heads to Brunei and Indonesia this week, Manmohan Singh has reasons to pat himself on the back for significantly advancing India's Look East policy through his near decade-long tenure as prime minister. When outlined by P.V. Narasimha Rao in the early 1990s, India's Look East policy was merely aspirational. Under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it had become a comprehensive engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Thanks to this bipartisan effort by three different administrations in Delhi, the Look East policy has become one of India's most successful foreign policy initiatives ever.

Singh's contribution to the Look East policy has been three-fold. The first was to ensure India's economic integration with Asia. Despite doubts in the Congress party, expressed at the highest level, Singh finalised a free trade agreement with the ASEAN. He followed up with two comprehensive economic partnership agreements with Japan and South Korea. He has also committed India to negotiate a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership with the ASEAN and its major partners. Thanks to these initiatives, India has become an integral part of Asia's economic future.

Second, on the political front, India is now part of all the ASEAN-led institutions that emerged during the last decade, including the East Asia Summit and the expanded consultations among the region's defence ministers. At the commemorative summit in Delhi last December to mark the 20th anniversary of India's engagement with the ASEAN, the two sides unveiled a comprehensive strategic partnership. The ASEAN now is seeking a more active Indian contribution to the security and stability of East Asia. Third, Singh has expanded the geographic scope of India's Look East policy to include Japan, South Korea and Australia. The growing engagement with these countries has added considerable depth to India's Asian outreach.

Singh's journey to the east includes a bilateral visit to Indonesia, the largest nation in the ASEAN and a rising power in its own right. If the East Asia Summit in Brunei is about India's new multilateral engagement with the region, the PM's visit to Indonesia highlights India's urgent bilateral imperative in East Asia. In the last two decades, Asian regionalism and multilateral institutions have taken strong roots. Yet, the rapid changes in Asia's strategic environment have compelled most Asian nations to strengthen bilateral ties, especially in the security domain.

The growing tensions between China and the United States, and the intensifying maritime territorial disputes between Beijing and its Asian neighbours, have brought forth great political uncertainties. While the Indian debate has focused on the implications of rapidly expanding Chinese military power and the US rebalance to Asia in response, it has not paid adequate attention to the urgency of strengthening bilateral strategic partnerships. If the unfolding Sino-American rivalry in Asia has generated new ideas on reinventing "non-alignment", the real option for Delhi lies in building a "solid alignment" with key regional powers like Indonesia.

‘Several Accidents Helped Make Gandhi’


http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?288049

Narendra Bisht
Interview

The historian and writer on the formative years Mohandas Gandhi spent in South Africa, the people who influenced him and how his later philosophy was formed there

Gandhi Before India is a play on words of his earlier book, India After Gandhi. In this book, historian and writer Ramachandra Guha talks about the formative years Mohandas Gandhi spent in South Africa, the people who influenced him and how his later philosophy was formed there. It’s about little-known people who were his mentors, friends and followers in Joha­n­n­esburg, who are never given eno­ugh space in the Gandhi story. Vinod Mehta spoke to Guha.

Let’s start with this Joseph Lelyveld book which you dismissed out of hand as a bazaar gossip. How does it get such critical acclaim etc?

There is a footnote in my book saying that it is not really an important book. I don’t want to talk about it. There is a footnote and readers can read it. That’s it.

What about these letters – the Kallenbach letters? Did you play a role in that?

Yes, I did. Because I heard of them.

"In 1897, 50 years before Gandhi and Jinnah became fathers of nations, they almost became partners. Can you believe that?” 

Are they thousands?

No, there are hundreds. I will tell you a story about it, which is in a sense linked to your previous remark. I heard of them and went to Israel. I looked through them and they were incredibly rich. Our ambassador in Israel Navtej Sarna was convinced that they were important. I wrote a proposal. He forwarded it to the ministry and the ministry was offering $ 1,00,000 for it, which was fair. Meanwhile, Lelyveld’s book came out saying that Gandhi was gay and the old lady who controlled the letters died and her son increased the price by a million bucks more. If the government of India had acted immediately on my and Navtej’s recommendations you and I would have been paying less taxes today. They were really very interesting letters. In fact what I have tried to do in this book is to talk about all Gandhi’s friends—Kallenbach, Pollard, Pranjivan Mehta, this Gujarati merchant who supported him. In fact, people only read Gandhi’s letters, they don’t read letters to Gandhi and about him. And people like Kellenbach, Pollard, Pranjivan Mehta and his circular friends, the Gujarati merchant in South Africa and the way they sustained him, the way they inspired him, the way they criticised him when he was mistaken. I think that is quite striking.

Could you use some of that material in your book?

Lots and lots of that. Pranjivan Mehta is a really interesting person.

Today, that material lies in the archives?

Some lie in the archives, some lie in Ahmedabad, some in South Africa. The materials were gathered from all around the world.

I also went to South Africa, and went to that station, Pietermaritzburg. Was it the defining moment in his life? Did he get beaten up when he took the coach to Pretoria?

Not really. That was an important incident, but it was not defining. Attenborough makes it defining in his film and we saw Attenborough’s film. More important than that was an account in my book of a white mob attacking Gandhi in 1897. He comes to India to take his family back to South Africa. That is the second trip he was making to South Africa and he decides to make his home there. Kasturba and children are going. And there is a rumour that Gandhi is bringing 3000 Indian to immigrate into South Africa. The white mob comes and beats him up black and blue— physical beating. The book has details. That is defining. Here is a man who is 26. In the train incident he faced just one conductor who threw him out. Here there is a mob of thousands of white people abusing him, newspaper editorials calling him names— traitor, a money grabbing lawyer and so on. I think that is defining because that is the first time he meets such hostility and he faces it with courage and equanimity. That is the first thing. It is a demonstration of Gandhi’s courage in the face of a violent mob attack. 

BEYOND POSTURING- India should start acting in its own interest with the US

Ronen Sen

The omens for the third bilateral summit meeting between the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, with President Barack Obama on September 27 were not propitious. Both leaders appeared diminished and distracted by domestic dissent and dissonance. Both democracies were looking inwards, with deep and potentially debilitating political polarization. There were manifestations of disinterest, even disenchantment, about the relationship in influential sectors of corporate America and in the US Congress which, till recently, were its strong proponents. Our steadily declining growth-rate was certainly a cause for this erosion of confidence. But more so was the growing gap in both countries between articulated political intent and practical implementation, between promise and performance, rhetoric and reality.

Given this backdrop, the visit was most timely as an action-focusing event. It was a belated, but much needed, intervention at the highest level to restore the relationship to an even keel, consolidate its gains and chart a course for redeeming past pledges and moving beyond. Since this perhaps was their last bilateral meeting, both leaders graciously acknowledged each other’s roles in forging this partnership. Their personal rapport was evident. It was more than a valedictory visit. There was reaffirmation of continued commitment for realizing the goals of strategic cooperation, which had fundamentally transformed the relationship. Though some bridging agreements and mechanisms were put in place, major decisions on legacy issues of civil, nuclear and defence cooperation, as well as important economic issues, were left for the future.

The most historic landmark emblematic of the strategic partnership was the civil nuclear deal, preceded by the American initiative to free India from global nuclear isolation in 2008, which permitted all other countries to enter our market and for us to enter other markets. We made a commitment to the United States of America to adhere to the Vienna Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage. We signed the CSC, but have not yet ratified it. In accordance with the global norms, the CSC exempts suppliers from any liability. The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, adopted in our Parliament in 2010, broadly conforms to prevalent international laws, except for its unique provision on liability of suppliers. Our domestic law is also not in conformity with our prior international commitments, including those with the US and Russia. We will clearly have to abide by our law unless its provisions are amended by Parliament to conform to global norms. The signing of a preliminary contract between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Westinghouse, as against the usual Early Works Agreement, was essentially to permit continued negotiations and preparatory work. The resolution of the liability issue has apparently been left to a later date.

Agni V boosts missile pack

October 7, 2013 by Team SAISA
Monika Chansoria

India can upgrade its strategic posture from ‘dissuasion’ to ‘credible deterrence’

The second successful test firing of India’s long-range nuclear-capable, three-stage, solid-fuel missile Agni V for its full range of 5,000 km, in September 2013 provides a significant boost to India’s missile pack. According to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) director-general, Avinash Chander, the success of the Agni V mission has “established Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capability” of India.

The first test firing of the nuclear-capable missile was conducted 17 months earlier in April 2012. Overcoming minor last minute anomalies, the DRDO gave the auto-launch command, following which the missile, capable of carrying a weapons payload of 1.5 tonne, lifted off from a rail mobile launcher.

The Agni V was test-fired in deliverable configuration, and claims to have reached an altitude of more than 400 km following which it came down with timely ignition of its three stages at altitudes of 40 km, 140 km and 260 km respectively. It was also declared that the nose-cone carrying a dummy warhead, re-entered the atmosphere, withstanding temperatures exceeding 3,000º C, and hurtled at 6 km a second, splattering down near the target point in the Indian Ocean. High accuracy Ring Laser Gyro-based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the accurate Micro-Navigation System (MINS) ensured that the missile reached the target point within few meters of accuracy. Far easier to store and swift in transportation, the trajectory of the Agni V missile was monitored by telemetry stations and electro-optical tracking systems. The latest version of the indigenously built series of Agni missiles, the Agni V is a cut above the rest in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine specifications.

The DRDO claims that the missile is now ready for production, with the next major step being to provide it with canister-launch capability. A minimum of three to four canister-based tests need to be carried out before the missile gets fully inducted into the Indian armed forces by 2015. The DRDO needs to state clearly whether the canister-based tests shall suffice as the final validation tests before the system goes into full-scale production.

The accuracy of the Agni V missile can only be ascertained with frequent validation tests and the DRDO should undertake frequent testing and publicly declare the levels of accuracy that have been achieved, especially in terms of the circular error probability (CEP) — a measure of a weapon system’s precision, defined as the radius of a circle, cantered about the mean, whose boundary is expected to include the landing points.

Maintaining optimal quality during the production phase would emerge as a key accomplishment. However, it is increasingly being debated that Agni V has a designed precision of landing within a 100 meter radius of the intended target — which further needs to be brought down to 10-15 metres. Another challenge for the DRDO would be to accustom the end-users of the missile system — namely the Strategic Forces Command.

Why Mountain Strike Corps Along the India-China Border is Important? ***


Following the government’s recent in-principle clearance to raise a Mountain Strike Corps, a debate over the efficacy of the decision to spend over Rs 64,000 crores on the new accretion has begun. Noted Strategic Affairs expert, former Rear Admiral Raja Menon writing in The Hindu categorically asserted: "A geographically limited one axis offensive will not destabilise the PLA, but a flotilla of nuclear submarines and a three carrier air group in the Indian Ocean can economically cripple mainland China." Others have also weighed in with their opinion essentially making the point that India should invest more in its Navy than sinking money in troops-intensive mountain strike corps.

The nub of this argument is: a powerful blue-water Indian Navy can choke the sea lines of communication (SLOC) so vital for China by strategic interdiction on the high seas and therefore the Indian Navy's capability to enforce a blockade must be strengthened. This theory assumes that India can unilaterally do so in case China assumes a belligerent posture across the Himalaya. If push comes to shove, India will certainly be forced to look at this option but the SLOCs are not an exclusive preserve of either India or China and the international community is therefore bound to intervene to keep the passage free to enable trade and commerce to function normally. A selective blockade of China-centric sea traffic is realistically difficult to implement even if on paper the prospect looks alluring.

However, if a conflict between India and China breaks out in the high mountains, the world is not going to be overly bothered for a while. India therefore needs to be prepared to meet this threat all along the 4,000 km long boundary with China. The likelihood of a limited skirmish in the mountains is much more than a confrontation at sea simply because the border remains un-demarcated and prone to frequent misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

The need to have more forces for the northern frontier cannot be overemphasised. This does not mean it should come at the cost of preventing the Indian Navy from expanding. Going by the information available in the open domain, the Indian Navy is in the middle of one of its most ambitious modernisation programmes. Apart from the planned—even if delayed—induction of INS Vikramaditya, the aircraft carrier built in Russia and currently under sea trials, 47 ships of different types and capability are on order in various Indian shipyards. India has activated the reactor on board the INS Arihant, the first indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine. With Navy’s long-standing emphasis on acquiring indigenously-built platforms, Indian shipyards can cope only with these many numbers for at least another 10 years.

Coming back to the creation of a Mountain Strike Corps, according to available information, it is just the first step in what is needed urgently –the addition of 40,000 new troops to the Indian Army. The budget of Rs 64,000 crore for the new corps is to be spent over seven years –- which is just as well since raising new formations as large as a Corps is not an easy task. It is further difficult to make that formation capable of mountain warfare. For mountains gobble up troops; they take a heavy toll on man and machine.

KNOTTY PROBLEMS THAT REMAIN UNRESOLVED

Sixteen years have elapsed since negotiations started with Naga separatists, but a solution is still nowhere in sight, writes Subir Bhaumik

K. Padmanabhaiah, T. Muivah and Isak Swu during discussions

Once in a while, an Indian minister or senior bureaucrat or one from Nagaland expresses hopes of an early settlement. But nobody takes him seriously and chances of an early settlement of the six-decade-long insurrection remain as remote as ever. Sixteen years have passed since the Indian government started negotiations with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland’s Isak-Muivah faction, but the dialogue is stuck on the issue of territory. A ceasefire was signed with the NSCN’s Khaplang faction but it was not included in the dialogue. A third faction that broke away from Khaplang and is led by Khole Konyak and Khitovi Sema is pushing for inclusion in the dialogue, but Delhi has not agreed to that demand thus far. So for those who believe that a comprehensive resolution of the Naga question will not be possible unless all the rebel factions are part of the dialogue, even the basic ground for a settlement does not exist as yet.

The NSCN (I-M) is determined to achieve ‘Greater Nagalim’ through a merger of the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam with the Indian state of Nagaland. It may give up on its long cherished dream of Naga sovereignty, but someone like Thuingaleng Muivah, the general-secretary who hails from Manipur’s Ukhrul district, is not expected to budge on the territorial question. Without his own district and those of other Naga areas of Manipur in a future ‘Nagalim’, Muivah’s own position in Naga politics would be less than tenable.

The NSCN (I-M) is pitching for a ‘special federal relationship’, as Muivah first told me in a BBC interview in 2006 in Bangkok. He talked of a comprehensive constitutional package that would enable the Nagas to largely govern themselves. The NSCN also insists on jointly guarding Nagaland’s international borders alongside Indian security forces and have a separate Naga Constitution. None of these proposals was ruled out by Delhi and could be fine-tuned through more negotiations.

But the NSCN’s pitch for a ‘Greater Nagalim’ by getting parts of three neighbouring states sliced off to unite 1.5 million Nagas has run into trouble. The state governments of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have opposed the proposal and when the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government extended the Naga ceasefire to other states, the violence in Manipur drove home the point that here was an issue which could help India solve one insurgency and bargain for a few more. Every symbol of the State like the assembly and the ruling party offices were attacked by angry mobs in the Imphal valley, even though there was no attack on Nagas. Little wonder then that New Delhi backed off.

India Setting-Up Three New Armed Forces Commands

Paper No. 5575 Dated 07-Oct-2013
By Dr Subhash Kapila

The Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne announced last week that the Indian Armed Forces are submitting finalised proposals to the Government for approval of setting up three new Armed Forces Commands.

The three new Commands proposed to be set up are as follows:
  • Special Operations Command. To be headed by an Army Lieutenant General
  • Space Command. To be commanded by an Air Force Vice Air Marshal
  • Cyber Security Command. Will be headed by the three Services on a rotational basis by a three-star officer. It is possible that eventually it may be assigned to the Navy.

Also announced was that the Tri-Service Command headquartered in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands which was so far been held in rotation by the three Services will henceforth be headed by a Vice Admiral of the Indian Navy.

Comments:

Assigning each of these new Commands to a particular Service on the basis of their expertise in a particular field is logical both for operational control, training and administrative sustenance. However, that in no way lessens the Tri-Services cooperation and integrated operational synergies.

The Strategic Forces Command which handles India’s nuclear weapons, it seems, will still continue to be commanded in rotation by the three Services. However, this is one area where extensive fine-tuning is required of Command and Control in terms of political and technical control over nuclear weapons. The Armed Forces are the operational agency and despite that reality the Armed Forces hierarchy is kept out of the decision-making loop on specious grounds of ‘civilian control’.The decision however involves political deliberation and bold political decision-making.

The Armed Forces have been focussing on the establishment of these three Commands for a number of years and held discussions amongst them. It can be presumed that once financial approvals are obtained from the Government the establishment of the new three Commands would be speedily established by the Armed Forces.

In view of modern warfare becoming highly complex and fast-moving the setting up of these three new Armed Forces Commands dedicated to critical aspects of military operations is a pressing military imperative.

More so when China which is India’s main military adversary and threat perception has already moved far ahead in this direction, especially Cyber Warfare

India with its expansive reservoir of highly trained Information technology manpower should have moved ahead long time ago in the field of Cyber Warfare and Cyber Security. The impediment in such progress invariably is bureaucratic and imposition of financial cuts every year in the sanctioned Defence Budget every year.

The establishment of Special Operations Command has been long over-due for more than a decade. Mumbai 26/11 amply illustrated the lack of synergy in the execution of Special Operations. What should have been an overall Special Operations execution under the command of the Indian Armed Forces ended in a disorganised operation because of superimposition of too many different agencies. While dwelling on this aspect, it is hoped that the Special Operations Groups of the National Security Group, who in any case are composed entirely of Indian Army Officers and Commandos are brought under the Special Forces Command for operational synergy and execution of Special Operations.

(Dr. Subhash Kapila is the Consultant, International Relations & Strategic Affairs, South Asia Analysis Group. He can be reached at drsubhashkapila.007@gmail.com)http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/node/1372

Afghan Taliban Supporting Pakistani Militants

October 6, 2013
Associated Press

October 6, 2013

WAZIRISTAN, Pakistan — The Afghan Taliban are financially supporting Pakistani militants at war with Islamabad and providing sanctuary for them in neighboring Afghanistan, the Pakistani Taliban’s spokesman said, highlighting the risk both groups pose to the Pakistani government.

The disclosure, which the spokesman made Saturday in an interview with a small group of reporters, is meaningful because Pakistan has long been accused of pursuing a policy of differentiating between the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban as so-called “good” and “bad” militants — even though Islamabad denies this.

Pakistan has waged war against the Pakistani Taliban, which seeks to replace the country’s democratic system with one based on Islamic law. But it has held off on targeting the Afghan Taliban, which has focused its attacks on U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan has historical ties with the Afghan Taliban, and many analysts believe Islamabad views the group as a useful ally in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw.

But the Taliban spokesman’s comments illustrate the dangerous nexus between the two groups. This link could become even more dangerous for Pakistan as the U.S. withdraws most of its combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. That could give the Afghan Taliban more space to operate inside Afghanistan, which could benefit Islamabad’s enemies in the Pakistani Taliban.

"The Afghan Taliban are our jihadi brothers," said Shahid in an interview in Waziristan, the Taliban’s main tribal sanctuary in Pakistan along the Afghan border. "In the beginning, we were helping them, but now they are strong enough and they don’t need our help, but they are now supporting us financially."

The Afghan Taliban are also providing sanctuary for a prominent Pakistani Taliban commander, Mullah Fazlullah, in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province, said Shahid. Fazlullah was the commander of the Taliban in Pakistan’s northwest Swat Valley but was driven into Afghanistan when the Pakistani army launched a big offensive there in 2009.

The army has also staged many offensives in Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal region, the Taliban’s main sanctuary, but the militants have proven resilient and continue to carry out regular attacks.

Rollback nations

Wed Oct 09 2013

The modern Islamic state continues to be a besieged idea.

After the Taliban killed a major-general and blew up 80 Christians in Peshawar, Pakistan is busy rationalising the situation in favour of "peace talks" with them. As if wheedling himself into their good books, a judge in Peshawar questioned: "Why is modern banking still allowed in Pakistan?" He was within his rights because the Shariat Appellate Bench of Pakistan's Supreme Court has indeed banned it. Banking, as we know it today, is banned in Islam, so is insurance and state lottery, but Pakistan is still carrying on with them. Al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri condemns Pakistan for not banning modern banking.

The religious parties, not able to win elections, draw their strength, not from the elected assemblies, but from al-Qaeda and the Taliban, as the latter kill in the name of Islam. (The exceptions among religious groups are the Shi'ites and Barelvi Sunnis, who are routinely butchered by the Taliban as deviants from the faith.) In unison, they are defending dialogue with the killers, who don't want to be distracted from terrorism as they prepare for talks with the Nawaz Sharif government, fortified by an all-party consensus on peace talks instead of "war against terrorism". The National University of Science and Technology (NUST) at Islamabad has prophylactically started fining girl students who wear jeans on campus.

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), constitutionally mandated to "guide" the legislature, has refused to award death to those who make wrongful accusations under the blasphemy law, which gives death as minimum punishment to those who insult the Holy Prophet. It has also piously deemed DNA evidence as secondary, not primary, proof in cases of rape, where the perpetrator simply cannot be punished because of the conditionality of four eyewitnesses to the forcible sexual assault. It recommends that earlier legislation under "hudood" (Quranic punishments), correcting this legal irrationality, be rolled back.

Muslims produce their best men when they are not ruling the state they live in. The most gifted intellectuals, like Muhammad Iqbal and Muhammad Abduh, survived only under the British empire because their works were too "groundbreaking". When Muslims acquire a state they go into a kind of recidivist trance: give us utopia or nothing. They make noises about the "modern Islamic" state but the moment such a state is created, they start squabbling over it. Despite their denial of "theology", this is all they have when thinking of the state. They deny the presence of a clergy in Islam but their society is crawling with it, and despite avowals to the contrary, they slavishly follow their frozen-in-time medieval doctrines, savagely discriminatory to women and non-Muslims.

The other thing that has Muslims in a tizzy is education. If you want to educate yourself, never ask a Muslim what to do. He will accept modern education, saying the Quran is for all times, including modern times, and therefore allows modern education. But the moment you say "secular" education, he baulks. The age of reason, which gave us modern education, is not his cup of tea because what he understands by "reason" is "deductive logic". He accepts the discipline of economics while ideologically rejecting the concepts of banking and savings. He is "literalist", therefore he can be a banker without accepting the institution he serves.

A necessary transition in Pakistan

By Shuja Nawaz 
October 7, 2013

In an historic moment this weekend, Pakistan's two-term army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani announced that he would retire at the end of November after six years at the helm. An official later stated that Kayani would not seek any other job after retirement, putting an end to speculation in Pakistan that Kayani may stay on in another perhaps more powerful role. This marks a necessary transition in the slow return to the supremacy of the elected civilian government over the military that has dominated decision making in Pakistan for the past 13 plus years, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's first government was overthrown by a coup on behalf of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. But the road ahead for Pakistan's political evolution remains difficult, as stunted civilian institutions struggle to assert themselves in the face not only of lingering military power, but also a massive internal militancy and potentially hot borders on both Pakistan's East (with India) and West (with Afghanistan). While this is a start, a number of other transitions are needed for Pakistan to regain its stability. Kayani may be gone, but military influence in the country remains powerful. His successor as army chief would do well to keep it on a downward trajectory.

Kayani, a graduate of the command and staff college at Fort Leavenworth, was the first head of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate to become army chief. He is also the last army chief to have fought in a full-fledged war, with perennial rival India in 1971. His U.S. training often led U.S. leaders to mistakenly assume that he was "pro-American," most notably former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, who made 26 visits to Pakistan to with meet Kayani during his tenure as chairman. Mullen also penned an over-the-top paen to Kayani for TIME magazine's "100 Most Influential People" issue in 2009, calling Kayani "a man with a plan." However, Mullen ended that relationship in 2011 on Capitol Hill with a scathing attack that described the anti-U.S. and pro-Taliban Haqqani Network as a "veritable arm of the ISI." Mullen, like others, had made the mistake of assuming that Kayani would bury his strong nationalism in favor of meeting U.S. goals in the region, even after Kayani had made it clear that he did not think the United States had a clearly defined strategy for Afghanistan or the region and hedged his bets accordingly.

At home, Kayani tried to act as a political umpire between often-warring political parties, resisting the temptation to intercede or take over when they got into seemingly intractable feuds. In 2009, for instance, he prevented a major crisis during the Pakistan Peoples Party government of then-President Asif Ali Zardari when then-opposition leader Sharif led a "long march" into Islamabad to restore the ousted chief justice, admitting to a visitor: "I could have taken over then but did not." Kayani stayed his hand for six years, but some powerful negatives have also marked his two-term stint.

Within the army itself, Kayani fostered unhappiness, especially among the younger officers, when he accepted a second three-year term from Zardari in 2010. The gap between him and his senior officers also widened. His newestcorps commanders are some 17 courses junior to him at the Pakistan Military Academy, a veritable lifetime in military circles. And the disastrous 2011 killing of two Pakistani civilians by Raymond Davis in Lahore, followed by the U.S. raid on Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden, the attack on the Pakistani border post at Salala, and the subsequent closing of the ground line of communications for the coalition in Afghanistan tarnished Kayani's tenure. He had to face angry young officers at the National Defence University after the Abbottabad raid, and some senior officers were critical of his management style, saying that he reflected a paradoxical desire to be close but to retain a cool aloofness. As a result, Kayani kept his cards very close to his chest and relied on a handful of key colleagues to keep him informed of developments inside the army.

Peshawar: Legitimizing Terror

Ambreen Agha
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province, has been brought under a relentless campaign of violence and intimidation by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliates. TTP terrorists have continued principally to attack unarmed civilians across the District, though some attacks have also targeted the Security Forces (SFs).

On September 29, 2013, a car bomb killed at least 42 people and injured another 100 in Kissa Khawani Bazaar (the storytellers’ market) of Peshawar. A splinter group of the TTP [unspecified] claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying the attack was in response to United States (US) drone strikes in tribal areas. However, TTP ‘spokesman’ Shahidullah Shahid condemned the attack saying, "We are targeting the Government machinery and the law enforcement agencies but not general public."

In another targeted attack on September 27, 2013, the terrorists killed at least 19 persons and injured another 42 in a bomb explosion on a bus carrying employees of the Civil Secretariat at the Gulbela area on Charsadda Road in Peshawar. “This time, the targets of the attack were Government employees”, the Commissioner of Peshawar, Sahibzada Mohammad Anis, confirmed.

In the most gruesome attack on civilians in Peshawar so far, as many as 81 persons were killed and another 145 were injured, when two suicide attackers blew themselves up at the All Saints Church targeting theChristian community on September 22, 2013.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) out of 850 persons killed in KP in 2013, nearly 42.35 per cent (360 persons, including 282 civilians, 61 SF personnel and 17 terrorists) have been killed in Peshawar alone [all data till October 6, 2013]. In comparison, Peshawar had witnessed 181 killings, including 134 civilians, 31 SFs and 19 terrorists, in the corresponding period of 2012, out of a total of 510 killings, including 277 civilians, 65 SFs and 168 terrorists in the whole of KP, accounting for 36 per cent of the total. Indeed, Peshawar has accounted for a continuously increasing proportion of the killings in the Province since 2007:

Terrorism related Fatalities in Peshawar and KP: 2007-2013

Terrorism related Fatalities in Peshawar and KP: 2007-2013
Years
Civilians
SFs
Terrorists
Total Fatalities in Peshawar
Total Fatalities in KP
Percentage of Fatalities in Peshawar
2007
48
11
8
67
986
6.79%
2008
95
29
38
162
2201
7.36%
2009
317
61
42
420
5497
7.64%
2010
70
16
43
129
1202
10.73%
2011
169
16
45
230
1206
19.07%
2012
161
49
35
245
656
37.34%
2013*
282
61
17
360
850
42.35%


Source: SATP, *Data till October 6, 2013

Peshawar has clearly emerged as the principal target of terror in volatile KP. It is no mere coincidence that the violence has peaked since the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Government under Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, assumed office on June 1, 2013. While Peshawar witnessed 222 fatalities in the first four months after PTI’s coming to power (391 in the whole of KP), the previous four months saw 122 fatalities in Peshawar (and 366 in KP), indicating a sharp increase of 54.95 per cent since PTI’s accession to power.

Rising trends of terrorism in Peshawar, and in KP, are unsurprising given the soft policy of the incumbent provincial Government. Indeed, on October 1, 2013, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly unanimously passed a resolution urging the Federal Government to begin ‘dialogue’ with the TTP for ‘peace without delay’. The resolution stated: “The Federal Government should start process of dialogue under the guidelines of the All Parties Conference to restore peace in the country including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.” PTI Chairperson Imran Khan, on September 25, 2013, proposed that TTP be allowed to open a ‘political’ office in the country in order to carry peace talks forward. Khan, who is considered soft on TTP, asked the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led Federal Government to “allow the terrorists to open an office in Pakistan similar to the one set up by the Afghan Taliban in Qatar to facilitate dialogue.” Khan’s demand to provide political legitimacy to TTP could further embolden the terrorists, eventually increasing their hold over and influence within Pakistan.

Afghan Bloom

Can Afghanistan weather the storms after the U.S. withdrawal?
BY MARIAM GHANI | OCTOBER 7, 2013

My parents have a house in Dar ul-Aman, a neighborhood on the western outskirts of Kabul that was once a separate city, when Kabul was much smaller than it is today. To build their house, they bought a plot of land whose parameters were drawn up by King Amanullah's city planners in the 1920s, during Afghanistan's first grand rush to modernization. Then, to settle a dispute over property rights, they bought the land again. This disagreement was one among thousands that have clogged and corrupted the Afghan courts since the early 2000s, when an influx of returned refugees brought landowners who abandoned their properties during the war years into conflict with those who squatted, developed and cultivated abandoned houses and land.

Once the dispute was settled, a wall was built, then a house and then a garden, which grew from roses and spindly shade trees to a profusion of flowers, an orchard, a kitchen garden, a greenhouse, a grape arbor and a raised takht -- a platform covered with the cushions known as taushak and screened with bamboo -- for sitting outdoors even in the heat of summer. On first visiting this walled garden, most say it is like "a piece of old Kabul," suggesting that, to those who remember, it seems like a remnant of the prewar city rather than something constructed in the civil war's wake.

Every time we turn over the soil in the garden, however, we find reminders of other times and other inhabitants of this patch of land. In the first few years, it seemed that the new trees we planted would never succeed in putting down roots, until we finally dug deep enough to remove the last of the stones from the old walls and foundations, most of which dated back to the Amanullah era, when a civil servant or royal cousin was allotted this land and built a family house upon it. Once the trees' roots were settled, we had to turn to the problem of their leaves, which were choking in the dust that blows in from the plains. This problem has only grown more acute over the years, even as more and more gardens are planted across the city, because the dust storms passing through the city now pick up oily particulates from air pollution (mostly vehicle emissions, exacerbated by the poor quality of available fuel) and coat leaves with sticky dirt that must be washed off regularly to allow photosynthesis. The wartime deforestation that caused the dust storms has also stripped the ground of its mineral-rich topsoil, so we bury iron around the fir trees to keep them evergreen.

During my latest visit, this past June, my mother was absorbed in tracking down the source of a persistent drainage problem in one corner of the garden. All hands pitched in to dig a hole, so she could see what might be diverting the water away from the plants that needed it. Barely three feet down, however, the soil started to fall away from the spades. A long, deep trench already ran under fully 10 feet of the garden, just by the west wall, and it was filled with hundreds of spent shells.

Deconstructing the Pak bomb

Source Link
Swaran Singh

A rare insider’s narrative on the world’s fastest growing nuclear complex

ot just the revelations by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden tell us that the United States has recently stepped up surveillance of Pakistan’s nuclear activities. The London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies has reported that Pakistan’s tactical ‘battlefield’ nuclear weapons (Nasr) were threatening regional security inviting strong rebuttal from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as also from his Chief of Strategic Planning Division (SPD), Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai who has been at the helm for the last 15 years.

The Chinese meanwhile continue to support Pakistan and recently signed a $9.6 billion deal to build two new 1100 MWe ACP1000 units in the outskirts of Pakistan’s largest city Karachi. All this should make the international community worried about Pakistan’s nuclear trajectories.

Eating Grass not only elucidates how Pakistan’s nuclear programme repeatedly survived its economy coming to a grind following sanctions and censure from sheriffs of non-proliferation, it also presents one of the most reliable insider’s narratives making it a must read. Having spent several years at the very core of Pakistan’s nuclear establishment, Feroz Khan demonstrates a thorough understanding on both its external linkages as also its minute intricacies of multiple versions and visions guiding the Pakistani elites’ passions to develop nukes to seek deterrence and parity against New Delhi.

Bhutto’s imprint

From the late 1950s, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto stands out as the strongest proponent of nuclear technologies. His obsession is further reinforced by the 1965 war, bifurcation of Pakistan in 1971 and India’s nuclear tests of 1974. On December 20, 1971, as President Yahya Khan steps down, Bhutto becomes the first civilian Chief Marshal Law Administrator.

As first thing, he calls a meeting of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) symbolising how the “bomb lobby was now in power.” A huge gathering of scientists is called at Multan on January 20, 1972 where Bhutto pronounces his famous words “we will make an atomic bomb even if we have to eat grass” and replaces the 12-year aristocrat PAEC Chairman I. H. Usmani with a cosmopolitan IAEA staffer, Munir Ahmed Khan.

Bhutto immediately embarks on a tour of the Muslim world that takes him to Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya with the last one agreeing to extend financial assistance of $500 million. This is where Bhutto’s idea of ‘Islamic bomb’ gets refined and proves so potent.

On return, Bhutto instructs his finance minister Mubashir Hasan to “abolish all the several committees dealing with Atomic Energy in various Ministries. You give [Munir] the money as he puts in a request.” Libya later diverts 450 tons of low enriched uranium, acquired from Niger, to Pakistan.

Bhutto was “very annoyed” at India’s nuclear tests in May 1974. He pushes PAEC to begin work on Chagai Hills test site in September 1974 when Pakistan was nowhere near producing its first atomic device. Even the first of their 24 cold tests in Kirana hills — with natural uranium — were to begin from March 1983.

China’s Internet Censors Outnumber PLA Troops

By Zachary KeckOctober 8, 2013

Some Monday China links:

China employs around 2 million people to police public opinion online CNN reports, citing a story from The Beijing News. That’s half a million more people than the 1.5 million troops in the People’s Liberation Army, according to official statistics.

Not surprisingly, then, China is ranked as “not free” in Freedom House’s annual survey of internet freedom in 60 countries, which was released last week.

Also from CNN, a look at Peking University’s (Beida) Class of 1977, which includes Bo Xilai and Li Keqiang.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters on Monday that he hopes Australia and China can conclude a free trade agreement within a year. Channel News Asia has the story. PM Abbott made the comment after holding a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

President Xi also held a meeting with a senior Taiwan envoy on the sidelines of APEC on Sunday, in which he warned that a political solution to the Taiwan-China spat couldn’t be put off forever. “The issue of the political divide that exists between the two sides must step by step reach a final resolution and it cannot be passed on from generation to generation,” Xi said on Sunday, according to The South China Morning Post.

Reuters reports that China has warned the U.S., Japan and Australia against using their alliance to intervene in disputes in the East and South China Seas. The warning came after the two Foreign Ministers and U.S. Secretary of State released a joint statement following a trilateral strategic dialogue.

Xinhua reports that smog in Beijing was impeding travel over the weekend during the end of the national holiday week.

Has China Shanghaied Central Asia?

By Temuri Yakobashvili & Christina Lin

In the run up to the 13th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited four Central Asian countries to discuss bilateral cooperation initiatives. The political and financial value of the agreements he reached reflect China's growing influence in the region, primarily at Russia's expense.

It should also be no surprise that the SCO summit issued statements that appeared to reflect China's foreign policy views without necessarily calling for any action. Pre-summit discussions, while originally meant to focus on post-2014 Afghanistan, were dominated by the Syrian conflict. The Bishkek Declaration echoed previous Chinese statements on IranNorth Korea, and Syria, calling for political resolutions. On Iran's nuclear program, the SCO said that the threat of military force and unilateral sanctions against Iran were unacceptable. SCO heads of state also came out strongly in favor of a negotiated settlement over North Korean nuclear issues. On Syria, the SCO issued a statement firmly opposed to any military action and to the "loosening of internal and regional stability in the Middle East," similar to China's previous statements that instability in the region would adversely affect the global economy and oil prices. Militarily, the SCO summit primarily reaffirmed its members' concern for internal security and the threat of terrorism. With China, Russia, and Iran recently increasing their military cooperation and conducting joint military exercises, there are signs that the SCO may become more militarized over time.

China's growing clout in the SCO - and, by extension, in Central Asia - is coming largely at the expense of Russia. As the Vilnius summit on the Eastern Partnership approaches, Russia has intensified its efforts to convince countries in its neighborhood to join the Eurasian Union, a Russo-centric integration project that President Vladimir Putin hopes will promote his legacy for a "greater Russia." To do this, Russian officials have abandoned traditional, behind-closed-doors diplomacy and in many cases have started to openly bully neighbors like Ukraine or Moldova. While Central Asian states have also been asked to join the project, many simply play along with Russia, while developing stronger ties with China.