4 October 2014



Saturday, 04 October 2014 | Hiranmay Karlekar

New Delhi has to immediately address the woefully inadequate stock of ammunition and weapons at the disposal of our Armed Forces, if it has to effectively meet the twin challenges Pakistan and China pose

Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s highly successful visit to the United States is over, India needs to give serious thought to the developments on its northern and north-western borders. One can argue that there is nothing terribly new with the situation along the Line of Control in Kashmir and the international border in Jammu, which have been volatile for some time with Pakistan accelerating its efforts to push in terrorists across both. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s raising of the Kashmir issue at the United Nations General Assembly and provocative reference to conditions in Kashmir, which are purely India’s internal matter, have, however, created a new context.

Mr Sharif’s performance might have been dismissed as an attempt at playing to the gallery had it not come at the crest of a surge of venomous anti-India rhetoric in Pakistan, with even Mr Bilawal Bhutto, the just-past-adolescence, baby-faced leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, comically threatening to snatch from India “every inch” of Kashmir, the whole of which, he claimed, was Pakistan’s!! One might have been dismissive even of this but for the recent aggressive posture of Pakistani military and civilian personnel.

Mr Sartaj Aziz, who advises Pakistan’s Government both on national security and foreign affairs, has doubtlessly said that the timing of Pakistani High Commissioner to India’s meeting in Delhi with secessionist Kashmiri leaders, was not entirely right. This can be construed as an effort to hold out some sort of an olive branch to India, as the meeting, held despite the Government of India’s opposition to it, led to New Delhi’s cancellation of the Foreign Secretary level talks between the two countries, scheduled for August 25, 2014, and Pakistan’s escalation of both its hate-India rhetoric and tension along the LoC and the international border. New Delhi, however, needs to watch. Often in the past, Pakistan floated straws of friendly intentions in the wind only to instantly blow them away without a trace. Consider, for example, its statement about sending the chief of its Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate to India following the horror of 26/11 and then promptly reneging on it.

Sikhs live in fear in the land of Nanak’s birth

Published: October 3, 2014


PHOTO: APPeople from Pakistani Sikh community rallying in the compound of the Parliament in Islamabad against violence directed at their shrines in a May, 2014 file photo.

Like Shia Muslims, Christians and other minorities, Sikhs live in a paranoid and hostile world

Every time someone walks into his pharmacy in the volatile Pakistani city of Peshawar, Amarjeet Singh prepares for the worst.

“I don’t know if it’s a customer or an assailant who will reach out for his gun,” Amarjeet, a member of Pakistan’s tiny Sikh minority, told Reuters.

Singled out

Easily recognised because of their colourful turbans, members of Pakistan’s Sikh community say they have been singled out and attacked increasingly in the South Asian nation where radical Islamist militants see them as infidels.

Their plight highlights a growing atmosphere of intolerance in a country long plagued by sectarian violence. Like Shia Muslims, Christians and other minorities, Sikhs live in a paranoid and hostile world where every stranger is assumed to be an attacker.

Many Sikhs see Pakistan as the place where their religion began: the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, was born in 1469 in a small village near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.

Wearing a large pink turban and sitting cross-legged in his shop, Amarjeet (40), said the community was so afraid that most people stopped showing up for prayers in the traditional Sikh place of worship — the Gurdwara, or the gateway to the guru.

Last month, Harjeet Singh, another Sikh shopkeeper, was shot dead at his herbal medicine shop in Peshawar, near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan which is home to most of the country’s 40,000 strong Sikh community.

Peshawar, a sprawling and chaotic city of 3.8 million, lies in a conservative region awash with radical Islamist ideology. Pamphlets praising Islamic State (IS), a group fighting to set up a global Islamic caliphate, have recently appeared.

What the Raj can’t be blamed for

Written by Khaled Ahmed | Posted: October 4, 2014
On September 18, the Indo-British Heritage Trust held a discussion in London about “whether the Indian subcontinent benefited more than it lost from the experience of British colonisation”. Speakers who said the subcontinent lost were heavyweights like William Dalrymple and Shashi Tharoor, both of whom I have enjoyed listening to and whose books have given me great pleasure. From Pakistan, the speaker chosen on the other side was my colleague at Newsweek Pakistan, Nilofar Bakhtiar who, before leaving for London, agreed with me that we were better off under the British.

Is that surprising, after half a century of failing to fulfil the promises made twice to the people of India? Once when Muslims and Hindus were united in their struggle for freedom; and second when they fell apart, and Muslims promised to set up a utopian state where they would be “free to practise their religion”.

Under British Raj, we were not free, but we were also not slaves. The British were less brutal than the Belgians to their colonies in Africa. We claimed rightly that we had the right to be free, to decide our own destiny, to have the law we wanted and a government we were able to choose. Morally, we had the right to tell the Raj to go, to resist it and struggle against it. We’d had enough of serving the gora sahib and fighting his imperial wars.

We had a different vision of what kind of state we wanted. We wanted equality instead of inequality practised by exploiters, peace instead of the conflict of a developing bipolar world. After fighting the wars of the Raj, we thought of becoming neutral and nonaligned. We could achieve our visions only after becoming independent.

We have inequality today and we have fought many “just” wars to perpetuate it. And the index of unhappiness keeps on climbing.
By ousting the British we also wanted to purge ourselves of what we diagnosed as a “slave mentality”. We had had enough of local brown sahibs who spoke English and perpetuated the Raj of the mind. After Independence, we would revive our languages and learn to think “free” in them. But today, we are slaves to our narratives of exclusion.



Friday, 03 October 2014

Following up on the summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama, Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has met top US officials to discuss US-India security cooperation and counter-terrorism issues.

Doval, who stayed back after Modi's departure, met his US counterpart Susan Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday after meeting Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel Wednesday.

State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Kerry's meeting with Doval builds on discussions held during Modi's visit to the US "and covered issues such as defence cooperation, international terrorism and terrorism finance, and law enforcement cooperation."

"This meeting was an important step in reinforcing our shared resolve stated in recent US-India joint statements of expanding our cooperation to bolster national, regional, and global security," she said.

A White House readout of Doval's meeting with Susan Rice said "they discussed how we can best build on the accomplishments from the Prime Minister's visit to Washington to strengthen the US-India strategic partnership for the benefit of citizens in both countries and beyond."

"They exchanged views on regional developments, including cooperating on maritime security and the importance of reinforcing stability in Afghanistan after the inauguration of a new National Unity Government this week," it said.

"They agreed to work together to address global crises such as the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa and the spread of violent extremism, and looked forward to continuing close consultations in the future," it added.

Beyond the rhetoric


Oct 04, 2014

Rudra Chaudhuri

Mr Modi’s US visit will be remembered more for setting the scene for future cooperation. It will be judged for what it produces, but this will only be possible many months down the line.

That Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the United States was distinctly successful is without doubt. He was, according to commentators, the second most googled — after President Barack Obama — person within the United States during the period of his stay.

Clearly hypnotised by the near-hysteric response of 20,000 Indian-Americans at Madison Square Garden, an American Congressman compared him to the likes of Ronald Reagan — the movie star turned President. With almost four minutes dedicated to Mr Modi on The Daily Show, anchored by the caustic but hilarious political satirist Jon Stewart, there is little doubt that the Prime Minister reached parts of America far away from the speed of New York and Washington.

This visit was a lot more than a publicity stunt. Meetings and luncheons with America’s wealthy and powerful, Congressional elites, the Clintons, and, of course, the all-important sessions with President Obama have done well to draw attention to India. The “India story”, as the Prime Minister’s party spokespersons like to call it, got a clear and timely hearing. India found a place, even if temporarily, in the political and financial vocabulary of America’s leadership. In a sense, and broadly, this appears to have been the primary aim of this visit: to dazzle corporate and political America. To get them thinking seriously about India, and to remind President Obama — whose own enthusiasm for South Asia is closer to that shared by Presidents Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, which is to say, it is limited — that India matters. Authoring a joint opinion piece in the Washington Post — that covered everything from battling tuberculosis to improving food security in Afghanistan — was a welcome initiative to popularise the potential inherent in this all-important relationship to a global audience. In short, the fundamental objective of the “Modi in America” campaign has been realised.

A new bully pulpit

Written by Pratap Bhanu Mehta | Posted: October 4, 2014

Social change has been, in recent times, largely exogenous and accidental. A large amount of change, not fully understood, has been the shift in media and forms of cultural representation.

A society beset with deep social failures faces a conundrum. What will be the medium of social change? We think of this question in relation to state and market failures, but much less so in the case of social failure. This question becomes particularly important in a context where traditional forms of social movement are increasingly weak, and many social institutions, like caste, family and religion, compound these failures rather than correct for them. In this context, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempt to instigate change by creating a national bully pulpit with him at the centre is a political innovation fraught with possibility and risk. The term “bully pulpit” was coined by Theodore Roosevelt to signify the creation of a platform to advocate change. The word “bully” meant something wonderful or good for you, though now it has the connotation of being coercive as well.

Ours is not an age of conventional social movements. The functionally based social movements are very weak. Peasant and farmer’s movements, the mainstay of organised power in India, have dwindled. This may be due to the changing occupational structure in villages. But it is also perhaps, as Ajay Jakhar once characteristically perceptively noted, an unintended consequence of deepening local politics, which is now competitive and adversarial: not a propitious site to build a movement or consensus around ethical reform. The Indian labour movement has remained marginal, thanks to the continued dominance of the informal sector. The student movement barely exists, and other than in a few places, student politics is at its weakest. Incidentally, traditionally, these three were also sources of entry into politics and their decline may have something to do with the stagnation of politics we saw in our recent past. Political parties barely existed other than as loose conglomerates held together by a leader; hardly agents of social change.

Caste-based movements produce some social change, but they have largely devolved into sectional interests, if even that. The language of displacing the existing power-holders is not the same thing as creating a new social consciousness. The Indian family has remained a site for contradictory pressures, perhaps more defensive than transformative. The school system remains in institutional disarray. It can barely deliver on its core mission of literacy and has not performed the role that public schooling has globally: transforming social consciousness. Traditional religious movements have been, at best, uneven. Even at their best, there are serious limitations to their ethical horizons. But even these movements are no longer embedded movements. They are a mix of entrepreneurship and the cult of the media. Their reach depends on contriving personal wellbeing, not raising deep, uncomfortable social questions.

Why War Is Good

October 2, 2014

By Robert Kaplan

Some of the most terrifying moments of my life have been in the midst of conflict: with American marines in Fallujah in 2004 and with armed bands in Sierra Leone in 1993. I stood next to mounds of dead Iranian soldiers, teenagers actually, during the Iran-Iraq War in 1984. The horror of war is a reality I have experienced firsthand. And yet an analyst must never give in to his or her emotions. He or she must view history with a heart of ice to find patterns that others miss. This is what Stanford classics professor Ian Morris does in his new book, War! What Is It Good For? Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots. Morris, both an archaeologist and a historian, surveys thousands of years of history and comes away with the seemingly startling thesis that human progress has been helped, rather than hindered, by war.

As he writes, "by fighting wars, people have created larger, more organized societies that have reduced the risk that their members will die violently."

Indeed, in the Stone Age, you had as much as a 20 percent chance of dying violently at the hands of another human being. But in the 20th century - even with the trenches, even with Hitler, with Hiroshima, with terrorism and with a panoply of Third World wars - you had only a 1 or 2 percent chance of dying violently. Yes, as many as 200 million people may have died in wars throughout the 1900s, but roughly 10 billion lives were lived during that period. One may argue that this has merely been a matter of food production outpacing the production of assault rifles, so that violence has not so much been suppressed as overwhelmed by science. But Morris sees another factor: the rise of Hobbesian Leviathans that could only come about by war itself.

A Leviathan is the horrifying monster that Job beheld in the Bible, the "king over all the children of pride." The 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes used the concept as a metaphor for a strong central government that, by monopolizing the use of force, would make men no longer fear each other but only the authorities above them. Such was the way toward peaceful progress. Morris shows that, ironically, throughout history Leviathan has generally been created not by reasoned discussion but by war. He laments that this is so but demonstrates that humanity has thus far found no other way.

IT and the Digital Divide in India

Consider these facts: IT’s contribution to India’s GDP was a mere 1.2% in 1998. In 2012, this stood at an impressive 7.5%. NASSCOM (The National Association of Software and Services Companies) says that the total aggregated revenues for the industry stood at US$100 billion in 2012. US$69.1 billion of this came from exports, while US$31.7 billion came from the domestic market.

The projections look good too. According to NASSCOM, by the financial year 2015, IT and BPO revenues are expected to reach US$ 22 billion, and by 2020, it’s going to go up to US$ 100 billion.

The top five Indian IT firms at this time, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, Cognizant Technologies, Wipro and HCL all have a global presence. They have prestigious accounts, and have made multiple acquisitions on both sides of the Atlantic.

Big Cities Dominating the IT Scene

But there is a real problem in India now even with all this. The Indian IT industry is not spread out evenly throughout the country. In fact, the cities of Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Kolkata and Trivandrum account for as much as 90% of the IT revenue. Bangalore, now renamed as Bengaluru, leads the way. The city is often called “The Silicon Valley of India”.

However on the other hand, there are large sections of the country with close to zero IT presence. And it’s not just an issue of these areas not having adequate IT businesses. There are serious connectivity issues and computer, internet, and even mobile reach are among the poorest in the world. There’s hardly a decent 3G network. The internet, when available, is so slow, that it’s as good as not being there at all.

The latest Global Information Technology report for the World Economic Forum has ranked India at 68th in its network readiness index out of 140 countries.

This doesn’t look good for a country that wants to emerge as a world leader, but it’s still an improvement by one position over last year. Of course that’s too little, considering the presence and importance of IT in the top cities. This is causing a serious digital divide in the country.


By Saneya Arif

The unilateral establishment of the Islamic State (IS) and a ‘Caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria, and its atrocious activities has intensified the debate on the issue of Shia-Sunni strife. The jihadist group, in its self-proclaimed status as a ‘Caliphate’, claims religious authority over all Muslims across the world. Its harsh interpretations of Wahabi Islam, atrocious violence directed at Shia Muslims in particular, and given the fact that 13.4 per cent of India’s population are Muslims, there are few questions that need answers. Has the establishment of ‘Caliphate’ and its activities affected Shia-Sunni relations in India? Why?
Understanding Shia-Sunni Relations in India

The present-day nature of differences between Shias and Sunnis has been the same throughout history – one that was born soon after the death of Prophet Muhammad, over succession disputes. In India, differences between Shias and Sunnis is still doctrinal, and in areas such as ritual law, theology and religious organisations. India has seen very few killings and/or clashes of sectarian nature, and those that happened took place only in Lucknow and neighboring areas in Uttar Pradesh. The most recent incident took place in old Lucknow’s Shahadganj area, following a war of words between the two sects over activities of Caliphate in Iraq, and in another incident, Anjuman-e-Haideri, a Shia group urged for volunteers to fight in Iraq against the IS’s atrocities. The group even requested the Indian airlines to fly over 25,000 Shia volunteers to Iraq as reported by Yatish Yadav’s report for the New Indian Express, titled ‘IB fears tremors of Iraq in India’.

However, if we look closely, the volunteers wanted to reach Iraq only to protect their holiest cities of Karbala and Najaf. Even these efforts quickly receded without fuelling any further sectarian problems. According to Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, a Shia scholar, in India, groups like the Jamaat-e-Islami, the All India Muslim Personal law board and the Milli Council have repeatedly stressed the need for unity between the two Muslim sects. This shows that the developments in Iraq and Syria have had negligible or no effect on Shia-Sunni relations in India.

The Islamic ‘Caliphate’ and Shia-Sunni Relations in India

Interviewing some Shias and Sunnis based in India made it amply clear that relations between the two sects in India have remained unaffected, and have largely remained insulated from the blowbacks rising from the events unfolding in Syria and Iraq; and this is likely to continue. Few interviewees even believed that it was the Western media that tried to inflict the seeds of divide between Shias and Sunnis in India by reporting the civil war as a sectarian conflict but isn’t so in reality. If we go into the intricacies, we find that it is the Urdu media that often projected a radically different image of the IS because they rely more on their own interpretations of news reports received from international media. Some articles by learned columnists of Urdu newspapers gave a very positive picture of the IS, where they justified its atrocious activities under the pretext of shariah law. Few reports also stated that the group had also reportedly killed dozens of Sunni imams who refuse to swear allegiance to Islamic State, thereby transgressing the shariah. However, it is important to mention that most Indians do not even understand the difference between Shias and Sunnis. However, those who do, continue to view the current armed conflict in Iraq not as a clash between Sunnis and Shiites and instead as a well-constructed web in the ongoing power-struggle in Iraq.

The Need for Introspection in India’s Diaspora Policy

By Tridivesh Singh Maini and Sridhar Ramaswamy
October 01, 2014

India should make better use of its citizens abroad in leveraging its foreign policy. 

A lot has been written and said about the Indian diaspora in the past few days, especially in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s U.S. visit, and the rousing reception he received from the diaspora settled there – the Madison Square Garden event being a clear testament to that. Modi did not disappoint, easing visa regulations and merging the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Cards.

In recent years, the government of India, along with a number of state governments, has been making efforts to reach out to the Indian diaspora. While the government began to host the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Non-resident Indian Day), state governments too have been hosting summits with the aim of not just attracting investment from Indian’s abroad, but also to help strengthen linkages with their native regions.

While India started a Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, state governments with a substantial diaspora have also set up separate departments to look into some of the demands and concerns of non-resident Indian’s (NRI’s). The state governments have acted in different ways, because their engagement with the diaspora varies. Indian cities such as Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Mumbai benefited from remittances and FDI from a large number of their people present in the U.S., U.K., Canada, the Gulf region and Southeast Asia. Hyderabad benefited substantially in the IT and IT enabled services (ITES) sectors, in particular with companies like Microsoft, which set up a second development center in the city, the other being located at company headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Other firms such as Facebook have also headquartered their Indian operations in Hyderabad, along with many other large tech firms as well as small and medium enterprises.

This is largely due to the Telugu diaspora present in Silicon Valley, and other major hubs around the world. The same applies to Chennai and Bangalore, which are major tech hubs in India, with Chennai also being a manufacturing hub specializing in the automobile industry, again largely due to its diaspora in Southeast Asia and other places with a shared cultural heritage. Similarly, the Punjabi diaspora sends a sizeable volume of remittances, with a number of individuals also involved in philanthropic activities. Remittances in India reached $70 billion in 2013 according to World Bank estimates, which accounts for over 4 percent of the country’s GDP.

The U.S.-India Relationship: Cross-Sector Collaboration To Promote Sustainable Development

Added September 05, 2014 
Type: Book 
536 Pages 
Download Format: 
Cost: Free

In the current era, initiatives that involve cross-sector collaboration—collaboration among participants representing government, military, for-profit, non-profit, citizen groups, and intergovernmental organizations—to tackle problems that defy easy solution are becoming more commonplace at all levels of society. Thus, there is an increasing need on the part of strategic leaders from all sectors to better understand the factors that contribute to the success of collaborative initiatives. Those insights are relevant to efforts to promote sustainable development, a matter of importance in the context of the U.S.-India strategic relationship.

Will Afghanistan Turn the Tables on Pakistan?

Michael Rubin |10.01.2014 

Flying into Kabul earlier this week just before Afghanistan’s presidential inauguration, a number of embassy cars sat waiting to pick up VIPs and visitors from their respective nations. It was telling that the Pakistani embassy cars were the only ones not armored. After all, because Pakistan supports the Taliban and its terrorism, the visitors from Islamabad had about as much need for an armored car as Iranian diplomats would in Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon. Terrorism is not a random phenomenon.

For many Americans, ancient history is anything more than a decade or two old. While a generation of American servicemen, diplomats, and journalists think about the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, they think about it in terms of one-way infiltration: Pakistani-supported Taliban or other terrorists infiltrating into Pakistan in order to conduct terrorism. In this, they are not wrong. But if the broader sweep of history is considered, then much of the infiltration went the other way, with Afghan and Pashtun nationalists sneaking across the border into Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, formerly known as the Northwest Frontier Province. (I had summed up a lot of that history, here.)

As U.S. forces and America’s NATO partners prepare to withdraw upon an arbitrary political deadline, terrorism will surge inside Afghanistan but terrorism will not be limited to that country. Many Afghans believe—and they are perhaps not wrong—that diplomacy will never convince Pakistan to curtail its terror sponsorship. Pakistani officials do not take American diplomats seriously. Pakistani diplomats either lie shamelessly or purposely keep themselves ignorant of the actions and policies of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Instead, Afghans may increasingly turn to tit-for-tat terrorism, all with plausible deniability: A bomb goes off in Kabul? Well, then a bomb will go off in Islamabad. A Talib shoots an Afghan colonel? Well, then a Pakistani colonel will mysteriously suffer the same fate.

Pakistan has supported Islamist radicalism since at least 1971, when its defeat at the hands of Bangladeshi nationalists convinced the ISI and President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that radical Islam could be the glue that held Pakistan together and protect it against the corrosiveness of ethnic nationalism. President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq took that embrace of Islamism to a new level.

US Commander in Afghanistan Confirms Recent Taliban Battlefield Gains, But Says That They Are ‘Fleeting’

U.S. commander in Afghanistan says recent Taliban gains fleeting

Reuters , October 2, 2014

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (L) is applauded by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, commanding general, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, May 14, 2010.

(Reuters) - Afghan military casualties have spiked in recent weeks amid an increase in Taliban attacks, but the top U.S. commander in the country said on Thursday that rebel gains were fleeting and he was confident Afghan forces could stop them from holding ground.

"The last couple of weeks, there has been an uptick (in casualties), with the Taliban trying to make a statement as they close out the fighting season," U.S. Army General John Campbell, the commander of international forces, told a Pentagon briefing.

Campbell, the head of the International Security Assistance Force, did not have an exact tally of Afghan casualties for this year, but said it was in the range of 7,000 to 9,000 killed or wounded. He said the number was slightly higher than in 2013 because of the recent spike in combat in Helmand and elsewhere.

The ISAF chief downplayed the significance of the surge in attacks.

"There’s nowhere that we have Afghan security forces that the Taliban can get the terrain and hold the terrain," he told reporters.

"The Taliban may take over a district centre or something, but only temporarily. Once the ANSF (Afghan National Security Force) understands that piece of it … they get the terrain back."

Campbell’s remarks via teleconference from Afghanistan came just two days after Afghan and U.S. officials signed a bilateral security agreement that would keep up to 9,800 U.S. troops in the country after the end of the year to advise and support Afghan security forces and carry out counter-terror operations.

Final approval of the accord came after months of delay because then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to sign the deal. The agreement had to await the conclusion of contested presidential elections, which were only recently finalised.

Campbell, who took over as ISAF commander in August, said his six weeks in Afghanistan had been characterized by “one word … transition, transition, transition.”

The Legacy of Peshawar

01 Oct , 2014

Fig. 1: The empire of Afghanistan under Ahmad Shah Abdali Durrani

If the United States had been sincere and provided aid to the Afghan Mujahidin after the Russians were ousted from Afghanistan, Afghanistan might have not gotten into its current situation. Recall that the Taliban destroyed the tall Bamian statues[1] in March 2001 and were angry with the international community, in part, for not providing any aid whatsoever for industrial development. The lack of aid forced them to resort to heroin production, though the Taliban could have participated in a better industry. However, heroin production had a vicious cycle of its own, as the West served as the ultimate outlet and target of it.

…the British were paranoid of a Russian extension into Central Asia because that not only made Russia a stronger world power, but also brought them closer to their Jewel in the Crown, India.

The question of providing aid to the Mujahidin would not have risen if the United States had not supported the Mujahidin during the Russian invasion. But incidentally, the threat of a Russian invasion had existed since the onset of the 19th century. In 1798, Napolean I had sent an invasion fleet to Egypt and India. Soon thereafter, Tsar Paul I of Russia proposed to Napolean I in 1801 to invade India. In fact, in 1801 itself, Tsar Paul dispatched an invasion force to India, only to be recalled upon his death in 1801. The Russian-Turkish War of 1787-1792 resulted in a Russian victory that saw Russia capture Turkish provinces. Russian aspirations for a portion of the great Ottoman empire and bases on Russia’s southern borders provoked British fears over Russian naval domination of the Mediterranean and control of the land and sea routes to India, thus denying the British access to India[2]. The intricacies of this intrigue are well recorded in documents related to the Great Game.[3]

Central Treaty Organization (CENTO)

However, the Russians would not have invaded Afghanistan if it had received aid in earlier decades and was made as strong as the other CENTO allies of the 1950 and 60′s — Iran and Pakistan — even though Afghanistan begged to be included in the CENTO alliance against Russian communism.

The Americans planned to – and would have — logically included Afghanistan in CENTO. However, the British influenced the United States in the 1950s to perceive the Afghans as very difficult and often useless and unreliable people. There was also pressure from Pakistan to keep Afghanistan out of CENTO because it had a border dispute with Afghanistan. And, Russia had undermined the very concept of Pakistan in 1946, and incited Afghanistan to actively contest the Durand Line with British India.[4] USA had no doubts left in its mind as to who should be in its camp, and therefore left Afghanistan out of CENTO.

Also, the British never forgot the invasions into India of Mahmud Ghazni, Ahmad Shah Abdali, and Mohammed Ghor and feared that abetting the Afghans would reignite their spirit of invasion and mischief, which was often thought to be culturally and perhaps genetically ingrained in the Pathans.

USA had no doubts left in its mind as to who should be in its camp, and therefore left Afghanistan out of CENTO.

Can China and India Cooperate in Afghanistan?

Their border disputes and maritime rivalry aside, China and India may be able to make common cause in Afghanistan. 

By Edward Schwarck
October 01, 2014

Afghanistan is going out of fashion among governments in the West, as attention shifts to a disintegrating Middle East and a new battlefront in Eastern Europe. But something may be moving in to fill the void. China and India held their first bilateral talks on Afghanistan in April 2013, and discussed the issue most recently during Xi Jinping’s visit to New Delhi last week, where both sides agreed to “strengthen strategic dialogue” on building “peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan,” which was identified as a “shared interest.”

The China-India relationship is still riddled with suspicion from the 1962 war, and a smoldering border disputeand rivalry in the maritime sphere complicates relations further. But as Western forces are drawn down in Afghanistan at the end of this year, cooperation may be the best way to establish the regional stability that the country needs for its future growth and security. The pressing question is not, therefore, if such cooperation is desirable, but whether the two Asian giants are capable of working together to produce a robust and viable framework for the country’s future.

Convergence of Interests

Cooperation grows from common interests, and China and India are united in the common threat that both countries face from the surge in terrorism that would likely accompany state collapse in Afghanistan. India perceived a terror threat emanating from the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate for much of its existence, and an attackin May on India’s consulate in Herat by four heavily armed militants – reportedly members of Pakistan-based Lashkar-i-Taiba – suggests that this threat is still alive. While Beijing is not overtly concerned with instability in Afghanistan (it weathered the Taliban decade by simply closing its borders) spillover into the poorly governed spaces of Central Asia – or worse, Pakistan – could provide a means for terrorist groups to link up with Uyghur fighters in Xinjiang.

Afghanistan also figures in the regional strategies that both countries are unveiling. Beijing’s “Silk Road Economic Belt,” emerging as a hallmark foreign policy under Xi Jinping, will comprise a cross-border logistics infrastructure linking China’s western regions with resource-rich Central Asia and, eventually, the markets of Europe. Meanwhile, India’s “Connect Central Asia” policy envisions Afghanistan as a regional trade hub crossed by energy pipelines and air, rail and road links that will one day transport the resources of Central Asia to the subcontinent. In other words, both countries have a vision for Afghanistan and its neighborhood as a thoroughfare for regional trade and prosperity.

ISIS Makes Inroads in Afghanistan, Pakistan

SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

"We don't accept compromise or humiliation. We will either become captors or martyrs. We either want honor and liberty or death with nobility and martyrdom. On the path of Allah, we consider imprisonment worship, we consider extradition vacation, and we deem death martyrdom."

These are a few of the propaganda messages from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) published in Fatah (meaning "victory" in Urdu), a pamphlet translated into local languages and distributed to Afghans and Pakistanis in Peshawar, the Pakistani city that borders Afghanistan. These pamphlets invite citizens of both Afghanistan and Pakistan to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph of ISIS, and join the jihad against non-believers.

Just three weeks after the pamphlets began appearing, it was reported that ISIS aligned militants launched their first brutal offensive in Afghanistan's central province of Ghazni alongside Taliban fighters, which left more than 100 people dead. Carrying the black flags of ISIS, they overran several villages, beheaded fifteen family members of local police officers, and burned at least 60 homes. This was a shocking incident to many observers in Afghanistan, as they believed Afghanistan is out of the range and off the agenda of ISIS.

ISIS's encroachment into Pakistan and Afghanistan comes at a time when extremism and the violence waged under such ideology, might be at its peak in both countries. At the same time, political deadlocks caused by the struggle over power combined with the failure of the governments in both countries and the wider region to respond to the legitimate aspirations of their people have significantly undermined the government's legitimacy in both countries, thus calling into question the very concept of modern nation states.

So why has ISIS chosen to reach out to this region, bypassing the many other nations bordering its current stronghold in Syria and Iraq?

The consistent failure of secular governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan to deliver security, justice, and public services for the citizens has contributed to growing space for extremism and sympathy for alternative forms of government. This state of affairs has turned the environment conducive for acceptance of an alternative, even a hardline Caliphate -- which ISIS has proclaimed and promised to impose across the Muslim world. ISIS regularly boasts of its efficiency in delivering justice and public services in their propaganda campaign.

Additionally, over the past decade, extremist ideology and violent jihad has been systematically promoted in Afghanistan and Pakistan by regional states, such as Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan's powerful military establishment and their proxy groups. These countries see violent extremism as a strategic instrument to gain leverage in regional politics. On the other hand, the sectarian struggle of dominance by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran have directly and indirectly created the conditions for the growth of extremist ideologies -- making Afghanistan and Pakistan more hospitable for ideologies like that of ISIS. For instance, Saudi Arabia, in a bid to counter Iran's growing influence in the region, has de-legitimize Shia Islam in the eyes of Sunni Muslims by instituting its own religious leadership throughout the Muslim world and making significant investments in promoting Salafism -- an ultra-rigid interpretation that is seen as too detached from mainstream Islam and is followed by many terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and ISIS.

Recent Incident in Karachi Highlights the Growing Danger of Infiltration of the Pakistani Military by Extremists

October 1, 2014

In attack by al Qaeda, lines blur between Pakistan’s military, militants

1 of 2. Pakistan Navy personnel keep guard near the Navy ship PNS Zulfiqar after it returned to Karachi in this June 23, 2011 file photo.

(Reuters) - Months after Owais Jakhrani was sacked from the Pakistan navy for radical Islamist views, he led an audacious mission to take over a warship and turn its guns on a U.S. naval vessel in the open seas.

The early September dawn raid at a naval base in the southern city of Karachi was thwarted, but not before Jakhrani, two officers and an unidentified fourth assailant snuck past a patrol boat in a dinghy and engaged in an intense firefight on or around the warship, PNS Zulfiqar.

Four people were killed in the attempt to hijack the Zulfiqar, including Jakhrani and two accomplices, who were serving sub-lieutenants, according to police reports seen by Reuters.

Officials are divided about how much support the young man in his mid-20s had from inside the navy. They also stress that Jakhrani and his accomplices were a long way from achieving their aim when they were killed.

But the attack, claimed by al Qaeda’s newly created South Asian wing, has highlighted the threat of militant infiltration into Pakistan’s nuclear-armed military.

The issue is a sensitive one for Pakistan’s armed forces, which have received billions of dollars of U.S. aid since 2001 when they joined Washington’s global campaign against al Qaeda.

According to an initial statement from al Qaeda, the plan was to use the Zulfiqar to attack a U.S. navy vessel, meaning potential loss of American lives and a blow to relations between the two nations.

A further statement issued by the group identified the target as USS Supply, a US naval ship used to refuel warships at sea. The Indian navy was also a target, the statement said.

It urged followers to “make jihad on the seas one of their priorities,” according to the SITE intelligence group, which monitors extremist communications.

A Law Unto Its Own: Time Has Come to Clean Up Pakistan’s Notorious ISI Intelligence Service?

Can General Rizwan Akhtar clean up Pakistan’s notorious ISI spy agency? 

Jon Boone 
The Guardian , September 30, 2014 

Gen Rizwan Akhtar with India’s border force. He has urged Pakistan to ‘aggressively pursue rapprochement with India’. Photograph: Hindustan Times/Getty 

Pakistan’s new spy chief, who takes up his post this month, comes to the job of running one of the world’s most notorious intelligence agencies after two years trying to bring order to one of Asia’s most troubled cities. Former colleagues have nothing but praise for General Rizwan Akhtar’s stint commanding the paramilitary Rangers during the internal security force’s crackdown on the criminal mafias, armed wings of political parties and religious militants that dominate the teeming port city of Karachi

“Before the start of the operation there was no fear of law-enforcement agencies,” said Ahmed Chinoy, head of Karachi’s citizen police liaison committee. “With Akhtar, the fear was restored that they would be killed in an encounter, arrested or face the consequences.” 

Akhtar has been praised for backing decent police officers against politicians who were anxious to protect their network of street thugs, and for making morale-boosting appearances on the streets during firefights and enhancing the Rangers’ intelligence gathering capabilities. 

His supporters say this will all be invaluable when he takes over as director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), the powerful military spy agency. 

“For him, a terrorist is a terrorist,” said Nasir Aftab, a senior Karachi policeman. “There is no impression of good terrorism or bad terrorism, or that some are working for Pakistan.”

Such moral clarity is not usually associated with the ISI, an organisation accused of conspiring to overthrow civilian governments and backing regional insurgencies. 

The ISI has faced calls for it to be branded a terrorist organisation because of its habit of drawing a distinction between militants trying to topple Pakistan and those whose interests are confined to Afghanistan and India. 

Frustrated western officials claim that only this year the Taliban-allied Haqqani network was assisted in moving to safety before the launch of a long-awaited military operation in North Waziristan, a tribal agency neighbouring Afghanistan that had been allowed to become a terrorist hub. 

Sceptics say the ISI is beyond reform. Director generals only serve for a couple of years, hardly enough time to get to grips with a sprawling organisation that includes some officers who, it is feared, share the ideology of the militants that they handle. There has even been speculation that the ISI has slipped from the control of the army itself. 

“[Under Akhtar] there will be no change in objectives but only in how he handles things,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, an analyst who specialises in military affairs. “He will try to make the army look neutral, but we are not going to see less intervention in politics, or changed perspectives on India or Afghanistan.” 

Everything You Wanted to Know About Chinese Cruise Missiles But Were Afraid to Ask

October 2, 2014

The National Defense University (NDU) has published a 196-page book describing in detail the People’s Republic of China various cruise missile programs. The monograph, entitled A Low-Visibility Force Multiplier: Assessing China’s Cruise Missile Ambitions, by Dennis M. Gormley, Andrew S. Erickson, and Jingdong Yuan, can be viewed here.

China's Fruitless Repression of the Uighurs

SEPT. 28, 2014 

Last week, a court in China’s far western Xinjiang region sentenced Ilham Tohti, a member of the Uighur minority, to life in prison for the crime of “inciting separatism.” The conviction of this moderate scholar elicited international condemnation; the sentence was an order of magnitude longer than those given to other Chinese dissidents. But, far from being a show of strength, the sentence is a sign of the confusion and desperation behind the government’s policies toward Uighurs.

That Mr. Tohti, an economics professor and a blogger, should become a celebrated political prisoner is a paradox, for he is in many ways a poster child for what the Communist Party hopes more Uighurs will become. Educated, and eloquent in Mandarin, he was a party member from a family closely engaged with the state (his male relatives include members of China’s military and state security organs). He is professional, entrepreneurial and middle class (his family assets amounted to around $130,000 before state confiscation). He is not outwardly religious (most Uighurs are Muslims, but vary in the degree and nature of their observance). He is distinctive mainly in his outspokenness.

Though the Chinese often think of Xinjiang as a remote frontier of deserts and mountains, populated with quaint folkloric natives, it is closely linked to the rest of China and to Central Asia by an expanding transportation infrastructure; the skyscrapers, neon glow, booming commerce and air pollution of Xinjiang’s cities resemble those elsewhere in China; and although, like rural areas throughout the country, Xinjiang’s villages remain poor, the emerging middle class in the cities is scarcely different from its counterparts in other urban centers. Rapid economic development has benefited Uighurs as well as Han Chinese (each group makes up just over 40 percent of the region’s population of 21 million).

Yet the authorities seem puzzled and frustrated that, despite these economic gains, Uighurs remain adamantly Uighur. Sporadic local disturbances are endemic throughout China, but in Xinjiang they are colored by ethno-national and religious sentiments. After a relatively quiet decade, from 1998 to 2007, stability has eroded alarmingly since 2008, with a big, bloody race riot in 2009, sporadic attacks on police stations and representatives of the state and, over the past year, violence perpetrated by Uighurs against random civilians in Urumqi, the regional capital, and in faraway Yunnan Province and Beijing. Xinjiang authorities have responded to violence with an intense crackdown, including house-to-house searches, and a campaign against traditional symbols of identity: veils, head scarves, beards, traditional hats, Ramadan fasting, prayer.

Combined with the recent razing of Uighur architecture in the ancient city of Kashgar and elimination of the Uighur-language educational track from Xinjiang’s schools and universities, these measures seem aimed at repressing Uighur culture. Moreover, the authorities have now doubled down on their post-9/11 tendency to interpret Uighur unrest through a single lens — foreign-inspired Islamic “terrorism” — even when the real causes are local and political.

'Their Only Option Is Independence'

OCTOBER 1, 2014 

Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer describes how Hong Kong is an inspiration to her people. 

The worst-case scenario for Beijing is that protests demanding more autonomy for Hong Kong spread to other parts of China. According to Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled leader of the movement for Uighur rights, the ideals of the Hong Kong movement are already influencing the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang. "Because of the brutality and wrongfulness of the Chinese government, the Uighur people have concluded that their only option is independence," she said in a Sept. 30 interview with Foreign Policy. The protests in Hong Kong "are very inspiring" to Xinjiang, she said. Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim group who make up roughly 43 percent of the population in Xinjiang, think that "if Hong Kong wins, it will benefit Uighurs as well, and then the Uighurs can strengthen their own movement."

Since Sept. 26, tens of thousands of Hong Kong citizens have taken to the streets, demanding, among other things, the right to more fully elect their chief executive. The numbers of protesters appear to be growing daily, with the highest numbers on Oct. 1 -- an important holiday celebrating the 1949 founding of the People's Republic China -- and some protest leaders have called for Hong Kong's chief executive Leung Chun-ying to step down. Hong Kong, which reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, has since been governed under the principle of "one country, two systems." Beijing controls Hong Kong's foreign policy and defense, but citizens in Hong Kong enjoy far more freedom of speech and assembly than their compatriots on the mainland. By contrast, the Chinese regions of Xinjiang and Tibet are autonomous only in name -- residents there on balance enjoy fewer rights than elsewhere on the mainland. Parts of Tibet and Xinjiang appear to be de facto police states. "We are struggling to preserve our identity," Kadeer said. 

"It's a life or death struggle between the Chinese and the Uighurs." 

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC), the exile organization headed by Kadeer (and which uses an alternate spelling of Uighur in its name), has not yet called for Xinjiang to declare independence from China. "The WUC will continue its dialogue with China because if we push for independence, it is a given that there will be bloodshed," she said. "In that case, both Uighurs and Chinese alike will be the victims." (Kadeer, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area, doesn't speak English; the interview was conducted through two Uighur translators, who are both involved in the international Uighur movement.) 

The WUC is the most prominent Uighur-exile organization, though it's difficult to say what level of support it enjoys among the exile community, which Kadeer estimates to be about 2 million, or in Xinjiang itself, which is under a de facto news blackout. "She certainly doesn't have the authority that the Dalai Lama has," said Dru Gladney, a Xinjiang specialist at Pomona College in California, referring to the Tibetan spiritual leader who has been far more successful than Kadeer in internationalizing his people's plight.

A New Type of Great Power Relationship between the United States and China: The Military Dimension

Added September 03, 2014 
Type: Monograph 
89 Pages 
Download Format: 
Cost: Free 

Brief Synopsis

The relative economic and military rise of China is likely to lead a major shift in the world’s strategic architecture. The form that China's new role takes will have a decisive impact on the interests of the United States and its allies and partners in the region. For the outcome to be generally beneficial, China needs to be dissuaded from hegemonic aspirations and retained as a cooperative partner in the world system. President Xi Jinping's recent suggestion that a newly empowered China and the United States adopt a relationship that is new and different from previous relations between the great powers provides an ideal opportunity for the United States to consider its strategic options in the region. Given the importance of the issues at stake, and the difficulty of the task, all of the levers of American power, both “hard” and “soft” will need to be brought into play. Since the Asia-Pacific Region is primarily a maritime theater, a leading role wi1ll need to be played by the U.S. Navy, Marines, and Air Force. The U.S. Army will have a substantial supporting and facilitating role in shaping the new relationship with an emergent China.