19 January 2015

U.S. worried about ‘Make in India’ rule

Suhasini Haidar
January 19, 2015 

Kerry had raised the issue at Vibrant Gujarat Summit

A co-operation agreement between India and the U.S. on “clean” or renewable energy, set to be one of the highlights of President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to India, has run into U.S. concerns over the government’s ‘Make in India’ plan.

According to officials, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, during his visit to the Vibrant Gujarat summit, brought up the worries over the government’s push for use of indigenous technology, calling it the new “make in India law”.
In particular, sources told The Hindu, the U.S. administration is irked over the government’s announcement of a series of 1,000MW “grid-connected solar PV power projects” that has a “mandatory condition that all PV cells and modules used in solar plants set up under this scheme will be made in India.

The announcement, made on December 18 last year, came amid the ongoing dispute at the World Trade Organisation (WTO DISPUTE DS456), where the U.S. has complained against India over the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission’s ‘domestic content requirement’ (DCR) for solar cells and solar modules in projects that it awards.

India maintains that U.S. subsidies on solar products threaten Indian manufacturers, and the domestic solar industry has accused the U.S. of “dumping cheap outdated technology” on India.

The WTO composed its panel in September 2014, but even as the matter over the UPA government’s ‘domestic content requirements’ was being decided, the NDA’s emphasis on “Make in India” has raised new questions from the U.S. administration.

India-US strategic partnership

Gurmeet Kanwal
Jan 19 2015 

President Barack Obama's forthcoming visit as the chief guest on Republic Day is likely to give a fresh impetus to the Indo-US strategic partnership. While the relationship is substantive and broad based, the impressive achievements of the strategic partnership are to a large extent attributable to the successful implementation of the 10-year Defence Framework Agreement signed in June 2005. The renewal of this agreement will be a major item on the bilateral agenda during the summit meeting.

During the Obama-Narendra Modi meeting in September 2014, the two leaders had stated their intention to expand defence cooperation to bolster national, regional, and global security. It was agreed that the two countries would build an enduring partnership in which both sides treat each other at the same level as their closest partners, including defence technology transfers, trade, research, co-production, and co-development. 

Prime Minister Modi and President Obama welcomed the first meeting under the framework of the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative in September 2014 and endorsed the decision to establish a task force to expeditiously evaluate and decide on unique projects and technologies which would have a transformative impact on bilateral defence relations and enhance India’s defence industry and military capabilities.

For several decades, India's procurement of weapons platforms and other defence equipment had remained mired in disadvantageous buyer-seller, patron-client relationships like that with the erstwhile Soviet Union and Russia. While India has been manufacturing Russian fighter aircraft and tanks under licence, the Russians never actually transferred weapons technology to India. 

Need to climb faster on technology ladder

Sheel Kant Sharma
Jan 19 2015 

Excerpts from the presentations at the Roundtable on National Security Key Challenges Ahead organised by The Tribune National Security Forum in collaboration with the Indian Council of World Affairs See also, www.tribuneindia.com

Half a century of the India-China war prompted exhaustive reviews in 2012 that the war exposed the utter lack of capacity, not only in regard to defence, but also at the societal scale. Former US diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith mentions in his memoirs that even a reliable coaxial telephone line between Delhi and Calcutta was lacking at the time of the Chinese threat to Assam.

India made a determined push after the experience of 1962. As a result, in areas like space, nuclear technology and higher education, its powers grew steadily and culminated, for example, in the success of the Mangalyaan, or the IT miracle around the turn of the century.

The success in space and nuclear fields has been due to advances in specific domains facilitated by the interconnected niche development of science and industry. Imitation of such a trajectory in other areas, say in ICT and biotechnology, has been tried out with a mixed record of success. But the real broad-based science and technology structure has languished in the twilight of assurance and despair. Such a structure rests on a knowledge society, which has been created in niche areas in the country, including select academic institutions and industries. But the unevenness and lack of it is reflective of the overall picture of human resource and technology planning. The enormous size and population of India warrants a far more intensive and coherent march towards technology.

Rear view: Lost in Lanka

Inder Malhotra
January 19, 2015 

By the middle of 1987, Rajiv Gandhi was besieged by many domestic problems of extreme gravity. Yet he decided to mediate in the catastrophic ethnic strife in neighbouring Sri Lanka between the ruling Sinhala majority and the highly aggrieved Tamil minority concentrated in the northern and eastern regions of the island republic. The problem had begun long ago, when the Sinhala-dominated government imposed Sinhala as the only language of the country, and it escalated so fast as to become nearly intractable. India’s policy on Sri Lanka, which Rajiv inherited from his mother, was as complex as the situation in the island.

Indira Gandhi did not like the efforts of Sri Lanka’s veteran and wily executive president, J.R. Jayewardene, to draw in the United States, some west European countries and Israel, to help out with his difficulties. She wanted the problem of Sri Lanka to be resolved with Indian assistance without any “any foreign intrusion”. So she had seen to it that her foreign policy advisor, G. Parthasarathy, and a nominee of Jayewardene worked out an arrangement for devolution of power to the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka that would be acceptable to the Sinhala majority also. The effort remained a work in progress. At the same time, she was keen to ensure that Sri Lankan Tamils did not feel let down by India. There was so much sympathy and support for them in Tamil Nadu that they could use the Indian state as a safe haven and also a training field, with the Central government benignly looking away.

The silence of corpses

Praveen Swami
January 19, 2015 

In the year 1192, al-Hakim Yusuf al-Sabti watched as an angry mob burned down the library of a great doctor from Cordoba, who had been accused of atheism by the clerics of Baghdad. He saw in the hands of Sheikh Ibn al-Maristaniya, the leader of the mob, a rare copy of the Tadhkirah fi’Ilm al-Haya’a, a masterwork by the great medieval scientist Abu Ali ibn al-Haytham that contained proofs that the earth was round. Al-Sabti recorded: “The sheikh exclaimed: ‘here is a huge disaster’, and as he said that he ripped up the book and threw it into the fire.” The heirs of the medieval Islamic rulers who had been al-Haytham’s patrons did not resist the tide: with no challenge to their power then in sight, science was a small sacrifice to appease increasingly powerful clerics.

In the centuries that followed, the Middle East’s intellectuals plunged into what the Germans call kadavergehorsamkeit: the silence of corpses. The historian Abdur Rahman ibn Khaldun could even assert that ilm al-kalam, or intensive logical reasoning, was no longer “necessary in this era for the student of knowledge, since apostasy and heresy have become extinct”.

Al-Haytham’s work was rediscovered in Renaissance Europe, though; his breakthroughs on astronomy, mathematics, optics and, above all, the scientific method, helped lay the foundations for the continent’s long ascendancy.

Al Qaeda in India: Why We Should Pay Attention

By Sunil Dasgupta
15 January 2015

In September 2014, al-Qaeda announced that it was launching a branch in the Indian subcontinent. The move was widely seen as an effort by al-Qaeda as an organization to remain relevant in a world where the Islamic State (IS) was taking over the mantle it had held for more than a decade. CNN’s terrorism expert, Peter Bergen, described the issue this way, “It’s al-Zawahiri’s obvious way of getting some of the limelight back.” 

Despite the nonchalance and occasional derision that greeted Ayman al-Zawahiri’s ‘boring’ 55-minute video announcing the formation of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (or AQIS, as it has become known in the terrorism literature), this is more than simply inside-the-jihad competition. Why should a terrorist group, which has long maintained a substantial presence in the region, feel the need to announce a formal structure dedicated to its activities there? The answer may be an alarming one. The move may be part of a broader strategy to enlist elements of India’s disenchanted Muslim underclass in the service of the group’s global agenda. 

Pakistan: From home-grown to global terrorism 

Pakistan has been described as part of the epicenter of terrorism in the world. It is where U.S. Navy Seals found and killed Osama bin Laden, and it is where al-Zawahiri is believed to be hiding. In recent years, the country has seen a significant increase in religious extremist violence from a mélange of terrorist groups. The Taliban movement it had supported in Afghanistan in the 1990s has now come home in the form of the Pakistani Taliban that is ravaging parts of the country. 

Pakistan’s New Leaf?

Brahma Chellaney

As U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton bluntly told Pakistan in 2011 that “you can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors.” But her warning (“eventually those snakes are going to turn on” their keeper), like those of other American officials over the years, including presidents and CIA chiefs, went unheeded.

The snake-keeper’s deepening troubles were exemplified by the recent massacre of 132 schoolchildren in Peshawar by militants no longer under the control of Pakistan’s generals. Such horror is the direct result of the systematic manner in which the Pakistani military establishment has reared jihadist militants since the 1980s as an instrument of state policy against India and Afghanistan. By continuing to nurture terrorist proxies, the Pakistani military has enabled other militants to become entrenched in the country, making the culture of jihad pervasive.

The Peshawar massacre was not the first time that the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism became a terror victim. But the attack has underscored how the contradiction between battling one set of terror groups while shielding others for cross-border undertakings has hobbled the Pakistani state.

As a result, the question many are asking is whether, in the wake of the Peshawar killings, the Pakistani military, including its rogue Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, will be willing to break its ties with militant groups and dismantle the state-run terrorist infrastructure. Unfortunately, developments in recent months, including in the aftermath of the Peshawar attack, offer little hope.

On the contrary, with the military back in de facto control, the civilian government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is in no position to shape developments. And, despite the increasing blowback from state-aided militancy, the generals remain too wedded to sponsoring terrorist groups that are under United Nations sanctions – including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and the Haqqani network – to reverse course.

Reliance on jihadist terror has become part of the generals’ DNA. Who can forget their repeated denial that they knew the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden before he was killed by US naval commandos in a 2011 raid on his safe house in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad? Recently, in an apparent slip, a senior civilian official – Sharif’s national security adviser, Sartaj Aziz – said that Pakistan should do nothing to stop militants who do not intend to harm Pakistan.

The nexus among military officers, jihadists, and hardline nationalists has created a nuclear-armed “Terroristan” that will most likely continue to threaten regional and global security. State-reared terror groups and their splinter cells, some now operating autonomously, have morphed into a hydra. Indeed, as the country’s civilian political institutions corrode, its nuclear arsenal, ominously, is becoming increasingly unsafe.

ISIS Recruiting Disaffected Extremists in Both Afghanistan and Pakistan

January 17, 2015

Islamic State group reaches for Afghanistan and Pakistan

CAMP SHORABAK, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan and Pakistan, home to al-Qaida and Taliban militants and the focus of the longest war in U.S. history, face a new, emerging threat from the Islamic State group, officials have told The Associated Press.

Disenchanted extremists from the Taliban and other organizations, impressed by the Islamic State group’s territorial gains and slick online propaganda, have begun raising its black flag in extremist-dominated areas of both countries.

In Pakistan, an online video purportedly shows militants beheading a man while pledging their allegiance to the IS. In Afghanistan, there have even been reports of militant rivalries, with clashes erupting between Taliban fighters and Islamic State militants.

Analysts and officials say the number of IS supporters in the Afghan-Pakistan region remains small and that the group faces resistance from militants with strong tribal links. However, the rise of even a small Islamic State affiliate could further destabilize the region and complicate U.S. and NATO efforts to end the 13-year Afghan war.

The Taliban remain the region’s pre-eminent insurgency, with nearly 20 years of experience battling Afghan warlords and international troops. But the Taliban are “not a particularly sexy ideology or military force, and the risk lies in the Taliban looking increasingly out of date,” said a Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

"It could be that young Afghans look to the more extreme tactics and the great glitzy publicity of IS," the diplomat said. "They might find it attractive, or the Taliban might feel the need to compete and therefore become a bit more extreme and start carrying out horrific acts the way you see IS doing."

The Islamic State group controls a third of both Syria and Iraq, where it declared a caliphate governed by a harsh interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, and demanded the allegiance of the world’s Muslims. The Taliban, by contrast, are focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and some leaders have even responded to past peace overtures.

Smaller militant groups in Libya, Egypt, Lebanon and elsewhere have pledged allegiance to the IS group’s leader and self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, with some referring to themselves as “provinces.”

In Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, residents say a former Taliban commander named Mullah Abdul Rauf has begun recruiting fighters for the Islamic State group.

"People are saying that he has raised black flags and even has tried to bring down white Taliban flags in some areas," said Saifullah Sanginwal, a tribal leader in Sangin district. "There are reports that 19 or 20 people have been killed" in fighting between the Taliban and the IS, he added.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said in November there was no Islamic State group presence, only militants using its name. However, a government letter written a month earlier and later obtained by the AP warns local officials that the Islamic State group has begun courting area militants and that the extremists claim the support of up to “12,000 followers” in northwest Pakistan.

Whither Pakistan?

By Samir Tata
19 December 2014

Pakistan is a failing state on a trajectory to becoming a failed state. It is roiled by violence unleashed by armed Islamic fundamentalist and separatist groups. The country is the product of two bloody vivisections: the 1947 partition of British India[i], and the 1971 civil war that dismembered its two wings into Pakistan and Bangladesh.[ii] Except for a turbulent first decade of parliamentary democracy, Pakistan has been under military rule directly or indirectly since 1958. Pakistan’s military has developed two distinct asymmetric capabilities: armed Islamic fundamentalist auxiliary groups[iii], and a nuclear weapons arsenal.[iv] Not surprisingly, the specter of nuclear weapons in the hands of rogue Islamic fundamentalists has put Pakistan in the crosshairs of the United States.[v] And, reflecting its myriad problems over the span of six decades, Pakistan has been unable to break the grip of economic malaise. 

A turnaround strategy for Pakistan will require a decade-long effort involving three prongs: (1) reshaping Islamabad’s relations with its neighbors and allies; (2) modernizing and rebalancing Pakistan’s military capabilities while dismantling irregular paramilitary groups; and (3) restructuring domestic political arrangements to foster devolution, democracy and economic development. 

Reshaping Islamabad’s external relations 

Islamabad and Beijing have had close relations for a half century rooted in a mutual interest in counterbalancing India. Now Pakistan has an opportunity to transform its relationship with China based on a new bargain: energy security for China and military and economic security in return. Beijing may not need Pakistan to counterbalance India, but Pakistan is indispensable for ensuring China’s energy security. 

Tackling Nuclear Terrorism In South Asia

By Feroz Hassan Khan and Emily Burke
7 January 2015

Since India and Pakistan conducted their nuclear tests in 1998, every danger associated with nuclear weapons – proliferation, instability, and terrorism – has been linked to the region. And despite nuclear deterrence and the modernization of nuclear forces, South Asia is a far cry from achieving stability. Indeed, the security situation in South Asia has deteriorated and violent extremism has surged to unprecedentedly high levels. In the past decades, both states have operationalized their nuclear deterrent forces, increased production of fissile material and nuclear delivery means, and developed plans to field a nuclear capable triad. Concurrently, both countries are expanding civilian nuclear facilities in their quests for a cleaner source of energy to combat current and future energy shortages. As tensions and violence in the region have increased, both states blame the other’s policy choices for the scourge of terrorism that has seized the region. New leadership in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan however, creates an opening to tackle the immediate scourge of violent extremist organizations and unresolved historic conflicts. Ironically the traditional stabilizing force in the region – the United States – is drawing down in Afghanistan and shifting its focus to the Asia-Pacific region and to Russia where new tensions have erupted. Within this security context, India and Pakistan will be left on their own to devise mechanisms to mitigate and eliminate the regional risk of terrorism.

As the South Asian threat matrix becomes more complex and with concomitant progress in the nuclear field, these developments provide the basis for the spectacular terror attacks in New Delhi, Mumbai, Karachi, and Islamabad-Rawalpindi. As states possessing nuclear weapons, both India and Pakistan must find a common objective and mechanisms to deal with the metastasizing menace of terrorism. It is imperative that both states acquire the highest standard of nuclear security best practices and learn to live as peaceful nuclear neighbors. Individually, as well as collaboratively, India and Pakistan should direct their efforts to creating a cooperative relationship in the region and developing a nuclear security regime that encapsulates the nuclear security visions set by the three global nuclear security summits.[1]

Social, religious and political change in Pakistan


TYPICALLY, those with an interest in the politics of Pakistan focus on macro-level trends at the level of high politics. Occasionally, some attention is paid to regional, ethnic and sectarian politics. In what follows, I turn to grassroots trends rooted in sociological changes based on rural to urban migration. I argue that a deeper understanding of the social, religious and political trends growing out of these grassroots changes is particularly helpful for those with an interest in mapping patterns of political change, and conflict, today.

My comments focus on broad structural trends in three domains, each of which moves away from points of emphasis commonly associated with Pakistan’s political landscape during the first four decades after 1947. The first concerns rather dramatic changes in the country’s social and economic landscape; the second involves changes in the country’s religious and sectarian landscape; the third turns to changes in Pakistan’s underlying political landscape.

For several decades after 1947, Pakistan’s political landscape was characterized by pitched battles involving rival landowners focused on the preservation of traditional rural norms. In this paper, I focus on the rise of Pakistan’s ‘petty bourgeoisie’ instead. Second, Pakistan’s early landowning elites struggled to contain the influence of prominent religious leaders – for example, prominent clerics (ulema) and the leadership of Pakistan’s Jama’at-e-Islami – most of whom focused their energy on the preservation of what they considered to be traditional religious norms. I turn away from Pakistan’s most prominent religious leaders to examine the sectarian politics of Pakistan’s ‘petty mullahs’ instead. And, finally, I turn away from an account of Pakistan’s senior statesmen, who concentrated on shaping (and reshaping) the country’s laws to suit their political (and military) interests. In what follows, I examine the rise of what I call ‘petty parliamentarians’ instead. These petty parliamentarians do not focus on drafting new laws; instead they look for new ways to provide their political supporters with official access to impunity.

Across these three areas of economic activity, religious authority and political behaviour, I situate key changes within relatively slow-moving patterns of rural to urban migration and informal wage labour in Pakistan’s small towns and cities. In effect, recalling the focus of Olivier Roy’s well known book, Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan, I concentrate on the dislocation of the landowning malik and his jirga; the shifting orientation of local mullahs and their madrasas; and the weakness of the state, paying particular attention to the failures of its easily manipulated courts.1

The rise of sectarianism


WHILE Sunnis have always dominated South Asian Islam, Shias too have traditionally played an important role, with the two main branches of the Muslim religion long maintaining peaceful relations.1 The first Mughal Emperor gave the following advice to his son in his will: ‘Overlook the difference between the Sunnis and the Shias, otherwise the decrepitude of Islam would inevitably follow.’2 Humayun went even further: after fleeing to Iran once defeated by the Afghan invader Sher Shah Suri, he became a Shia.3 But, ‘Mughal tolerance of the Shia became more pronounced under Emperor Jalaluddin Akbar (1542-1605)’, whose son, Jehangir married ‘Nur Jahan, an Iranian lady who actually spread the Shia custom among the masses…’4

Even under Aurangzeb – a Mughal Emperor known for his militant Sunnism – almost one third of the aristocracy and more than half of its senior-most functionaries were nevertheless Shias.5 At the societal level, popular Islam scarcely differentiated between Shiism and Sunnism. The Barelwis of Punjab and Sindh, for instance, used to take part in Moharram ceremonies (but did not practice flagellation and other extreme ritual procedures).6 One of the most prestigious Sufi orders of South Asia, the Chistis, did not at all discriminate against the Shias.

During the British Raj, the only place where relations between Shias and Sunnis were strained was in Lucknow, the capital of the former kingdom of Awadh.7 Tensions developed there in the 19th century due to competition facing the former Shia ruling dynasty and the aristocracy that remained faithful to it from a rising Sunni bourgeoisie. In 1906, the Sunnis took to criticizing Shia rituals, saying that they were heterodox innovations, and began to practice Madhe Sahaba (a procession conducted on the occasion of the Prophet’s birthday) as a show of strength.8 Rioting ensued, such that the Shias created the Shia Conference, an organization that was renamed Shia Political Conference in 1909.

The Pakistan military: searching for state and society


31 October 2014 was the beginning of a three-day Young Pakistanis Leadership Conference organized by the Pakistan Student Union at Oxford. This is an event hosted annually since 2011 to bring together Pakistani students from Oxford and other prominent universities in the UK to discuss and debate their country. For me, this year’s event showcased the power of the military and its ability to intervene in the process of mental development of the Pakistani youth or anyone else interested in the country. 

The Union, which is technically speaking an independent body, was ‘forced’ not to invite Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist who had accused the army of organizing an attack which almost killed him. Instead, it was ‘persuaded’ to invite two journalists better known for their association with Pakistan’s military. In fact, the ticket of at least one journalist was paid by the army attache. The changes were managed through one of the many donor outfits run by Pakistani expatriates with deep links to the Pakistan High Commission in London. Furthermore, some of the sessions were chaired by the army attaché. The event ultimately served as a useful window to understand the current contours of the civil-military balance. 

In Pakistan, this is an age of military hegemony where the army is no longer just a political power but also exercises economic clout and intellectual control of the society. The story of civil-military relations, hence, extends beyond the issue of who orders the military or controls it constitutionally. The manner in which the armed forces have expanded their influence (the above incident is indicative of this power) is a truer depiction of the military’s continued power. 

To many Pakistanis and foreign observers of its politics, civil-military relations in the country in recent times seem to have taken a turn for the better. 2013 was the first time in its history that a civilian government completed its term and was voted rather then booted out. Some of the retired generals turned political commentators stress the fact that an army chief tolerated an incompetent Pakistan People’s Party government indicates that the junta is in no mood for direct intervention. This, it is naturally assumed, is in the best interest of the state. A similar argument was advanced during the recent crisis between certain segments of the military and the civilian government of the Pakistan Muslim League. According to a popular Reuters story, the new Army Chief, Raheel Sharif did not listen to the advice of some of his generals asking him to intervene and remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.1 The popular myth is that the army chief encouraged the political players to find a solution among themselves.2

Pakistan’s policy towards Afghanistan post-2014


THE planned withdrawal of US and NATO forces and the emergence of a new leadership in Afghanistan after the 2014 elections presents a fresh opportunity for Pakistan to establish stable and enduring relations with its western neighbour. Geography, history, religion, ethnicity and culture bind these two countries in an inextricable bond.1

In its short history of 67 years, relations between the two have had their highs and lows. The high point of the relationship was experienced when Pakistan fully supported the Afghan jihad against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and was a host to millions of refugees who still continue to reside in Pakistan. Problems arose when Pakistan was perceived to be siding with the Taliban, which was spearheading an insurgency against the Afghan government. Clearly, Pakistan’s military and government support to the Taliban in the past has been a major source of friction and cause of distrust between the two countries.2Although it was not Pakistan that had assisted in the creation of Taliban, but its emergence at that time as a strong political and military force left no option than to cultivate a cooperative relationship.

Border security and troubled relations with India was also a factor. Besides, the Taliban recruited members from among the jihadi groups who were previously fighting the Soviets. Since the emergence of its own Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in December 2007, and responding to a changed regional and global scenario, Islamabad has gradually withdrawn its support to the Afghan Taliban, but nevertheless retains enough influence that could allow it to play a positive role in the reconciliation process and prevent any possible backlash. 

There exists an erroneous impression among Pakistan’s detractors that the civilian leadership wants to maintain close ties with Kabul, whereas the military pursues ‘hedging strategies’. This may well have been true in the past, as explained earlier, but Nawaz Sharif and the new military high command under General Raheel Sharif want to establish close, wide-ranging relations with Kabul because both fully comprehend that Pakistan’s own security is closely intertwined with a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. 

The future of China-Pakistan relations


THE dropping of Pakistan from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s travel itinerary for South Asia in mid-September 2014 prompted speculation in some quarters that it was indicative of a dilution in China’s ‘all weather’ relationship with Pakistan, described by leaders of both countries as ‘higher than the highest mountain, deeper than the deepest ocean and sweeter than honey.’ While there are undoubtedly some difficulties in the Sino-Pakistan bilateral relationship, such speculation is presently unrealistic. A scenario depicting rapid deterioration in Pakistan’s political stability and security, where Islamist extremists acquire increased salience could, however, cause Beijing to pause and rethink its policy toward Pakistan and South Asia. 

Facts are that even a week before Xi Jinping’s visit (17-19 September 2014) was officially announced, the visit to Pakistan had been confirmed and was very much on the agenda. The domestic political scene in Pakistan, however, witnessed dramatic changes and heightened political uncertainty, which raised doubts about the continuance of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the possibility of violence, prompting China to reassess the feasibility of a visit by its President, Xi Jinping. Beijing is usually loathe to alter programmes once they are finalized and, particularly, to give the impression that it does not stand beside a friend going through troubled times. 

A high level delegation of China’s Ministry of State Security (MoSS) headed by its Minister, 63-year old Geng Huichang, therefore, travelled to Islamabad to assess the situation first-hand. The Pakistani authorities, and especially Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was keen on the visit and later expressed disappointment at its cancellation, also offered Lahore and Karachi as alternate venues to China’s MoSS minister, but the Chinese were not satisfied about the security situation at any of these places. The visit was consequently, and rather unusually, deferred reflecting the serious doubts that exist in Beijing about the instability in Pakistan. 

Economic Times Global Business Summit: Need to dream of an India with a $20 trillion economy, says PM Modi

By ET Bureau
17 Jan, 2015

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi dared India to dream big as he laid out details of his grand economic and development vision for the country for the first time. Heralding the dawn of a New Age India, he said the country was making the transition from a "winter of subdued achievement" to a "new spring".

"India is a $2-trillion economy today. Can we not dream of an India with a $20-trillion economy?" the prime minister asked at the ET Global Business Summit on Friday in an addr .
Read more at:

Vulnerabilities and Resistance to Islamist Radicalization in India

By Ajai Sahni
JAN 12, 2015 

India has long remained an enigma within the discourse on the Islamist extremism and terrorism that have afflicted widening areas of the world. The emergence of the Islamic State (ISIS) and its appeal to significant numbers of radicalized Muslims have highlighted ambiguities surrounding the role of these ideologies in India. Fighters from at least 82 countries are said to have joined ISIS. Western countries with tiny Muslim populations and long-standing programs intended to counter the trends toward radicalization of Muslims[1] have found that scores—even hundreds—of their citizens are involved in the fighting in Iraq and Syria.[2] By comparison, India, with a Muslim population of about 176 million[3] (well over twice the total population of Europe), has seen an estimated 18 radicalized Muslims join ISIS in Iraq-Syria.[4]

At the same time, India has a long tradition of radical Islamism and is the source of some of the most influential ideologies that currently dominate both regional terrorism in South Asia and global jihad.[5] For instance, the Darul Uloom Deoband, a religious seminary located in western Uttar Pradesh in India since 1867, has been widely viewed as the ideological fountainhead of the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami, and Jaish-e-Muhammad―Pakistan-based terrorist formations operating against India. The ulama of the Darul Uloom Deoband have, however, explicitly repudiated all connection with these groups and their ideologies, declaring that “there is no place for terrorism in Islam” and that it is an “unpardonable sin.”[6]

Similarly, Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the most virulent terrorist groups in South Asia, proclaims adherence to the Ahl-e-Hadith, a relatively small movement that has recently benefited from Saudi support and represents one of the most radicalized elements among Sunni fundamentalist factions in the region.[7] Inspired by Sayyed Ahmed Shaheed of Rae Bareli (in the present Indian State of Uttar Pradesh), who fought the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh from 1826 to 1831 in the Peshawar region, the movement is enormously influential in Pakistan but has no more than a trace presence in India.

Perhaps the most influential Islamist revivalist ideological stream in South Asia is represented by the Jamaat-e-Islami and its founder, Abu Ala Mawdudi, who, with Sayyid Qutb of Egypt, is regarded by many as the ideological precursor of the contemporary movement of global jihad. Mawdudi articulated what Vali Reza Nasr has described as a “binary vision” that divided the world into “Islam and ‘un-Islam.’”[8]

Is China fragile?

16 January 2015

The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is a parable for unanticipated risk: the possibility of 'unknown unknown' events that no-one sees coming.

In a new essay, The Calm Before the Storm, Taleb further posits that perceptions of risk are distorted by 'fragile stability.' Some countries (eg. Saudi Arabia) are inherently more vulnerable to exploding one day in spite of – or likely because of – their continuity, concentration and monolithism. The flip-side of this concept, less intuitively, is that 'anti-fragility' can be borne out of the very experience of crisis. The likes of Italy may be resilient precisely because they continually face chaos and flux.

Taleb's idea isn't a new one – the economist Hyman Minsky noted 'the instability of stability' decades ago – but his anecdotal depth and topical understanding of current affairs makes the essay a riveting read.

Even to the formidable Taleb, though, one country is sui generis and escapes easy identification. At the very end of the essay, he acknowledges 'the China puzzle.'

Another superbrain, historian Niall Ferguson, also concedes that 'China is the country hardest to categorize' as a political-economic risk. China is difficult for Westerners to understand because its singular pursuit of economic development tempts excesses and imbalances. Yet the farther, faster and longer it gallops, when a bust would typically loom more probable, China looks ever more invincible and assured. As Ferguson admits, 'there is unlikely to be a Lehman moment.'

China may end up with something different, however: a prolonged correction

Is Corruption Within the PLA Diminishing China’s Military Preparedness?

January 18, 2015

Corruption within the People’s Liberation Army is good news for those who are afraid of China’s military. 
On January 15, Chinese officials announced on China Military Online the names of 16 senior military officers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) who were under investigation for “seriously violating party discipline,” a euphemism for accusations of graft. The Global Times notes that the officers under investigation are at the corps level and above and include one general, four lieutenant generals, nine major generals, and one senior colonel.

In July 2014, The Diplomat reported on the indictments of Chinese general Xu Caihou, the former Vice-Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, and Gu Junshan, Deputy Head of the PLA General Logistics Department, considered the most corrupt of all PLA departments. Xu so far, has been the most senior military officer investigated in President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign.

As my colleague Shannon Tiezzi pointed out, one of the reasons for this growing focus on investigating the PLA leadership is a genuine concern by Party officials that corruption can undermine the military preparedness of China’s armed forces. Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption efforts appear to be linked to overcoming parochial interests within the PLA leadership, and to (forcefully) garner support for much needed military reforms. However, as previously noted by The Diplomat, the Chinese president has to be careful not to overplay his hand.

In November 2013, during the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Party, Xi Jinping announced the most sweeping and ambitious military reform plan in more than three decades. The principle objective behind these reform efforts is to increase the warfighting capabilities of the PLA. The PLA still lags other major military powers in many aspects, such as modern joint command systems, joint forces interoperability, modern unit training, and the modernization of military equipment.

China and Japan's Great Clash over the Senkakus

January 18, 2015 

Can a compromise be found? Michael O'Hanlon responds to the critics. 

Within the pages of the National Interest, I have had the privilege of being part of a recent discussion about the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea with Robert Manning and Ryan Scoville, two very accomplished and fair-minded scholars. After my earlier article, “A Six-Point Plan to Solve the Senkaku Island Dispute,” published on December 29 and summarizing an earlier essay that Akikazu Hashimoto, Wu Xinbo and I had penned, Robert Manning rebutted our argument in a post earlier this month. Ryan Scovillethen wrote an article partly in response to my earlier piece.

I would like to respond briefly to the central argument of both Manning and Scoville. I disagree fundamentally with neither. But I stand by my guns, and our earlier argument, that a balanced proposal for trying to solve the island dispute can be a constructive force in the current Japan-China relationship.

In brief, Manning argues that history, national pride, and honor of the type that Thucydides wrote about millennia ago in regard to Athens and Sparta would prevent Tokyo and Beijing from responding favorably to any rationalist plan that treated the island issue as a simple, straightforward disagreement over relatively small and unimportant land formations. Manning claimed that the difficulties in the complex Japanese-Chinese relationship, with all of its baggage and tensions today, would trump any analytical attempt to cleverly bridge the divide between these two countries through a form of arbitration. His advice was to manage the problem and try to cool it down rather than to go for a Hail Mary attempt at solving it.

China’s power play in Afghanistan

13 January 2015

With American troops pulling out of Afghanistan as part of a wider long term US retreat from south and central Asia, China is waiting to fill the vacuum. It has brought regional countries together to encourage peace, invested in mineral and oil extraction in a country where hardly anyone else will invest a penny, and put pressure on its ally, Pakistan, to stop helping the Taliban. According to the Wall Street Journal, China even hosted a delegation of Afghan Taliban officials in December, “to discuss the possibility of opening talks with the Afghan government”.

This is important for the west, which is in the middle of a strategic retreat from the region even though international terrorism is still a threat. China has never played such a diplomatic role outside its borders before and success in Afghanistan could conceivably encourage Beijing to play a more positive role with North Korea.

But does China have the incentive and the stamina for such a difficult role outside its borders — one that has in our lifetimes defeated the former Soviet Union and the US?

According to Sun Yuxi, China’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, China is not lacking in ambition. “Afghanistan is facing a critical period,” he told me recently in London. “We are ready to do more, we want to play a bigger role. We would welcome the Taliban in any neutral venue such as in China. We will make negotiations happen but the process must be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led.”

Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s president, visited Beijing in late October and asked China to play just such a role, saying in a speech: “We count on the active engagement of the People’s Republic of China in promoting peace, prosperity, and stability in Afghanistan and in the region”. The hope is that where the US has failed, China will have the influence to persuade Pakistan to come on board and force the Pakistan-based Taliban leadership to open talks with Kabul.

India & China in 2015: Five factors that will make or break ties It is no secret that Modi has been a long-term admirer of the China model.

The wheels are already in motion for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first major foreign policy event of 2015 – the Republic Day visit of United States President Barack Obama. Modi’s biggest diplomatic challenge in 2015 will, however, not come from the United States – it will most likely be far closer to home, whether from the western frontiers or from across the Himalayas. 

During Modi’s first half-year in office, there has been little unanimity in marking his report card on almost any issue. But one area where there has been some agreement is on the foreign policy front, where there has been new dynamism, evinced by Modi’s clocking up of the miles on rapid-fire trips to Bhutan, Myanmar, Australia, the US and Nepal. Perhaps the single most fascinating element of his diplomacy was his attempt to craft new relations with China. It is no secret that Modi has been a long-term admirer of the China model. As Gujarat chief minister, Modi made as many as four visits to China. Even his “Make in India” drive, his advisers say, has on many levels drawn inspiration from China’s manufacturing success. Both Modi and the relatively new Chinese President Xi Jinping, who took over in March 2013, have appeared keen to use the change in government in Delhi to overhaul ties. That much was clear in the unprecedented diplomatic activity that followed Modi’s election victory – Beijing was the first country (besides the invited SAARC leaders) to dispatch a high-level envoy to congratulate Modi. 

So far, the reboot has only been half successful, as Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September 2014 showed. Modi went out of his way to host Xi, travelling to his home state of Gujarat to personally welcome him. There, he signalled to Chinese companies that his government will be far more open to investment than the cautious two-term UPA, which was generally averse to opening up many sectors to the Chinese. For the first time, India has set up two China-dedicated industrial parks, in Gujarat and Maharashtra. But just as Modi and Xi strolled along the River Sabarmati, troops between both countries were engaged in an unexpectedly long stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The face-offs at Demchok and Chumur quickly took the shine off the visit. On the second leg of Xi’s trip, in Delhi, a more stern-faced Modi warned of the long overdue need to demarcate the LAC. The Xi visit, in a sense, neatly captured the dichotomy – and complexity – of relations. 

'Religion of peace' is not a harmless platitude

Douglas Murray
17 January 2015

The West’s movement towards the truth is remarkably slow. We drag ourselves towards it painfully, inch by inch, after each bloody Islamist assault.

In France, Britain, Germany, America and nearly every other country in the world it remains government policy to say that any and all attacks carried out in the name of Mohammed have ‘nothing to do with Islam’. It was said by George W. Bush after 9/11, Tony Blair after 7/7 and Tony Abbott after the Sydney attack last month. It is what David Cameron said after two British extremists cut off the head of Drummer Lee Rigby in London, when ‘Jihadi John’ cut off the head of aid worker Alan Henning in the ‘Islamic State’ and when Islamic extremists attacked a Kenyan mall, separated the Muslims from the Christians and shot the latter in the head. And, of course, it is what President François Hollande said after the massacre of journalists and Jews in Paris last week.

All these leaders are wrong. In private, they and their senior advisers often concede that they are telling a lie. The most sympathetic explanation is that they are telling a ‘noble lie’, provoked by a fear that we — the general public — are a lynch mob in waiting. ‘Noble’ or not, this lie is a mistake. First, because the general public do not rely on politicians for their information and can perfectly well read articles and books about Islam for themselves. Secondly, because the lie helps no one understand the threat we face. Thirdly, because it takes any heat off Muslims to deal with the bad traditions in their own religion. And fourthly, because unless mainstream politicians address these matters then one day perhaps the public will overtake their politicians to a truly alarming extent.

"A Target Destruction Factory"


Over the last few years, pursuant to the confrontations in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) came to the conclusion that it should set itself up, in terms of its force build-up and organizational structure, in a manner that would be consistent with the future confrontations for which it has to prepare. 

Although the commander of IAF, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, stated that he did not know what the next war would look like, he assimilated within IAF the recognition that the challenges of the force will focus on the issues outlined below: 

The ability to cope with the enemy's ever-increasing fire delivery capability in the form of the massive amounts of rockets and missiles aimed at strategic objectives and population concentrations in the rear area of Israel. 

The responsibility of IAF for defending Israel's national strategic assets against missiles and rockets, from the detection and early warning stage to the actual destruction of the threat using its active defense resources. 

The need to cope with multiple theaters that are radically different from one another, from remotely located "third circle" countries that possess state-owned capabilities (including nuclear capabilities?) to terrorist detachments that accept no state responsibility on the one hand, but object to no means whatsoever in accomplishing their objectives on the other. 

The possibility of a local flare-up triggering a multiple-theater confrontation opposite fronts that differ in their characteristics and in the danger they pose, including the possibility of having to deal with multiple theaters simultaneously. 

Why Does Russia’s Strategy in Asia Fail?

JANUARY 16, 2015

According to Medvedev, this strategy is in line with Moscow’s policy of rapprochement with Asian countries, which it has conducted for over ten years. But the previous accent on the “economic pivot” to Asia is now increasingly to be complemented by a new attention to political questions, particularly through confidence building exercises and participation in various regional associations. However, just as in the past, Russia is still not as active in the Asia-Pacific as other countries in the region expect it to be, which the prime minister also pointed out in hiscomments in Sochi.

The current political crisis in Russia’s relations with the West, which was triggered by the events in Ukraine, gives a strong impetus to Russian rapprochement with Asian countries. However, many analysts are of the opinion thatno significant progress in this area has been achieved as of yet. This may be explained as resulting from difficulties associated with refocusing the Russian economy under conditions of sanctions and other unfavorable trends. Alternatively, one could take comfort in the idea that Russia’s efforts to enhance its relations with the Asia-Pacific states will produce results a few years down the line. Such rationalizations would make sense if the turn toward Asia were actually a new vector in Russia’s foreign policy and commerce.

But given Medvedev’s statement that Moscow has already been oriented toward Asia for over ten years, one must look for more profound explanations for the lack of progress, ranging from human resources to culture and psychology. President Putin reflected the self-identification of most members of the Russian elite when he stated that “Russia is an integral and organic part of the Great Europe, the broad European civilization. Our citizens conceive of themselves as Europeans.”

Among other underlying causes of the last decade of missed Asian opportunities is the lack of strategic vision in the region. It is quite telling that presidential and government speechwriters, followed by journalists and experts of various stripes, have adopted the Russian translation of the English-language term “pivot to Asia,” which originally referred to a strategy announced by the White House in 2010.

Russia's New Military Doctrine Shows Moscow's Geopolitical Ambitions

JAN 13, 2015

Russia signed its new military doctrine into practice on Dec. 26 last year. The new doctrine had an explicit focus on the expansion NATO as the country's main external threat, coupled with the need for Russia to extend its influence into the Arctic while building ties with rising non-western nations like China and Brazil. 

The Russian military document, translated by Defense News, states that there are "many regional conflicts which remain unresolved. There is a tendency to force their resolution, including those which are in the regions bordering the Russian Federation. The existing architecture of the international security system does not provide an equal level of security to all states."

To counter this perceived unequal level of security, Russia's new doctrine explicitly allows Moscow and allied nations to jointly set up missile defense systems. This new focus is likely aimed at the US's past plans of developing a missile shield based in Poland, a Russian neighbor and a former member of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact

Europe Rediscovers Nationalism

January 11, 2015

French nationals attend a vigil in Taipei on Jan. 9, mourning the victims of the shooting at the Paris office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that took place Jan. 7. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images) 

In his latest novel, French writer Michel Houellebecq presents a controversial situation: The year is 2022, and France has become an Islamicized country where universities have to teach the Koran, women have to wear the veil and polygamy is legal. The book, which created a stir in France, went on sale Jan. 7. That day, a group of terrorists killed 12 people at the headquarters of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Also on Jan. 7, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met British Prime Minister David Cameron in London. Although the formal reason for the meeting was to discuss the upcoming G-7 summit, the two leaders also discussed Cameron's proposals to limit migration in Europe. Finally, a much less publicized event took place in Germany that day: A group of politicians from the Euroskeptic Alternative for Germany party met with members of Pegida, the anti-Islam protest group that has staged large protests in Dresden and minor protests in other German cities.

The date of these four episodes is only a coincidence, but the issues involved are not. A growing number of Europeans believe that people from other cultures are threatening their national identities and livelihoods. The emergence of Germany's Pegida movement, which opposes the "Islamization" of Germany, the terrorist attack in Paris and the recent attacks against mosques in Sweden put the focus on Muslims. But the Europeans' fear and mistrust of "foreigners" is a much broader phenomenon that goes beyond the issue of Islam-related violence. What is actually happening is that Europe is rediscovering nationalism.

The Limits of European Integration

Europe traditionally has been a cradle for nationalism. From the romantic nationalism of the 19th century to the totalitarianism of the 20th century, Europeans have long defined themselves by a strong sentiment of national belonging, often linked to language, ethnicity and religion, and distrust of foreigners. The love for the place you were born, the trust of the people who surround you, and the fear of what strangers could do to you and your community is a basic human feeling. But in Europe, nationalism is particularly notable for the sheer scale of death and destruction it historically has brought to the Continent.