20 January 2013

Unmaking of a great power in the making…

Date : 20 Jan , 2013 

Sixty-five years after Independence, the ‘functional anarchy’ is now increasingly becoming dysfunctional as disorder spreads across the Union of India. 

Midway, even before she could rise and despite the potential, the Indian dream of becoming a great power is coming unstuck due to acute helplessness on display and poverty of leadership at the centre and the states. 

Rapid decline in governance, the crumbling civil administration, the collapse of the policing mechanisms, the divisive vote bank politics and the unprecedented plunder of the treasury are resulting in volcanic disruptions and debilitating internal turmoil. 

…the Indian dream of becoming a great power is coming unstuck due to acute helplessness on display and poverty of leadership… 

Unruly religious forces with belief in extreme philosophies unleashed by various political parties for short-term gains as also uncontrollable, well-armed and entrenched sinister groups like the Maoists will ultimately rule the roost with “political power growing from the barrel of a gun”. 

Indian leaders neither had the vision nor the political will to integrate and consolidate the Union to make it a cohesive ‘whole’ based on rule of law, progress and prosperity for all. The result is the emergence of thousands of isolated compartments based on regionalism. Religion, caste, tribal and non-tribal, dumb inner line permit systems and grant of special status to Jammu and Kashmir and the feudal Khap Panchayats are now taking their toll. 

If the vitals of a system can be weakened and hollowed due to our inability to govern, our enemies may not find it necessary to impose on us a war of attrition. In the coming years, the growing threat of internal upheaval will, in all likelihood, outweigh external threats. 

In the past six and a half decades, the self-serving sins committed by Delhi’s decadent ‘Mughal Darbar’ have led to civil strife, which is becoming uncontrollable. The deep despair now prevalent among the citizens of India is the beginning of the unmaking of a great power that was in the making. 

In times to come, India will be ruled by various groups of mafia, and will begin to resemble Pakistan, if the trends are not reversed firmly, quickly and prudently. Ultimately our adversaries will control these factions of mafia by pitting one against the other! 

Shale gas policy in final lap

The Telegraph
New Delhi
Jan ,19 2013

Under study 

The cabinet is likely to discuss the shale gas policy, which favours market-determined pricing of the fuel, in the next two weeks. 

“Final touches are being given to the policy and will be placed before the cabinet in the next two weeks,” a senior oil ministry official said. 

The schedule for shale gas bidding includes finalisation of the policy this fiscal, identification of the gas blocks for auction, roadshows and the first round of auction before the end of the calendar year. 

The government has identified six basins — Cambay, Assam-Arakan, Gondawana, KG onshore, Cauvery onshore and the Indo-Gangatic basins — for carving out blocks to tap the unconventional fuel. 

The draft policy favours market-determined pricing of shale gas. The policy will mention the terms of exploration and production to highlight the risks involved. 

The draft policy does not permit cost recovery and profit sharing — the two features that came under the criticism of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India during its audit of Reliance Industries' KG-D6 block. 

Bidders will be asked to quote a percentage of output they are willing to share with the government at different production slabs. 

“This will minimise the government’s intervention and remove complications in accounting and incentives for gold plating, which may occur while allowing profit sharing, based on cost recovery… The government’s share of production will be net of all statutory dues,” the draft policy of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons said. 

Demand for natural gas in India is expected to increase significantly from 179 million metric standard cubic metre per day (mmscmd) during 2010-11 to 473 mmscmd in 2016-17. 

Studies have put recoverable reserves of shale gas between 6 trillion cubic feet and 63 trillion cubic feet. 

Shale is a non-conventional natural gas found in non-porous rocks and requires fracing technology for extraction. The unconventional gas has been a game-changer in the US, significantly reducing the country’s dependence on imported LNG.

IMAGINING THE TIMES - India’s painful awakening to modernity

Ananya Vajpeyi

The recent demise of Pandit Ravi Shankar reminded me of the spare, evocative soundtrack of Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy from the mid-late 1950s, of a charming film by Merchant-Ivory made in 1969 titled The Guru, which had music by Ravi Shankar’s arch-rival, Ustad Vilayat Khan, of a photograph of my father with Ravi Shankar, taken in Mexico City sometime in the early-mid 1970s, of Deborah Baker’s lovely 2008 book, A Blue Hand: The Beats in India, and of my own years as an undergraduate at Lady Shri Ram College, when Ravi Shankar gave a concert at the Siri Fort auditorium to help raise money to renovate the LSR auditorium. As a gangly 17-year-old wearing my mother’s beige-and-maroon gadwal sari, matched to the college colours, I was in the van that went to collect him from his Lodhi Road residence just before the show began.

The strings of his sitar, I realized, threaded together for me as for thousands of other listeners, so many decades, so much of our recent history. Preoccupied with memories and associations triggered off by the maestro’s death, I took out and listened to a CD of music from several of Satyajit Ray’s films; I recalled stories of my father’s adventures in India, Europe and Latin America as a young poet and thinker travelling the world and meeting other artists and writers between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. The best music has the capacity to conjure up an entire world; it is after all a way of imagining the times to which it belongs.

In my book Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern India, I try to recapture the ways in which our founders struggled to re-imagine their political world. What kind of exercise of the imagination did it take for Gandhi to posit the relation between self and other as becoming premised on ahimsa, the absence of the desire to harm or injure? How radically would the stance of the self towards the other have to be reoriented through an act of the moral imagination for violence to be removed from the equation between two human beings and eventually from society itself? What techniques of self-discipline and what efforts at self-mastery would be necessary to make such a non-violent world possible? For Gandhi to try to achieve personal and collective ahimsa, tremendous feats of imagination were required — and we find them in his satyagrahas and fasts, his sermons and reflections, his walks and austerities, his mass mobilizations and acts of civil disobedience. We don’t often give him credit for being an imaginative mind, but Gandhi really did spend his life imagining his times, or more precisely, imagining how his times might be made different than the reality of colonial subjugation and civilizational disrepair that he found all around him.

New Order in J&K’s Ruling Camp

January 18, 2013

Zafar Choudhary

Early this week Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah carried out massive reshuffle in his council of ministers and also the ruling party National Conference, of which he is the Working President. Though an exercise in interest of political expediency in view of next year’s elections the reshuffle in the cabinet is a first welcome step in giving voices to the margins. The move has significantly challenged the urban power centres to share the highest decision making table with peripheries of all three regions in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the revamp in the ruling National Conference was essentially an honourable exit of few persons from ministry and other positions to make way for some long neglected people and areas 

Regional dynamics of the cabinet 

The people of Pir Panjal –Rajouri and Poonch districts –and Chenab Valley –the erstwhile Doda district –regions in Jammu Province had a genuine feeling of neglect and political discrimination ever since the formation of present government of National Conference and the Congress in January 2009. Eleven legislators with the ruling coalition from 13-segmented culturally unique two sub-regions and not a single member in the Cabinet made everyone in these areas feel humiliated as power concentrated in urban Jammu. In the new scheme of things, the Chenab Valley has got three Ministers –one in Cabinet and two Ministers of State with independent charge. What is still of greater significance is the allocation of departments. Chenab Valley accounts for maximum number of road accidents in the State. Roads and Buildings department going to Abdul Majid Wani of Doda would be of help in giving a localised attention. Sajjad Kichloo of Kishtwar has become first Minister for Industries and Commerce since 1977 who is not from Jammu district or its immediate periphery. Failure will be entirely his if he is not able to get some industries to the hilly areas. Rajouri and Poonch expected more representation in the ministry but allocation of Health Department to Shabir Ahmed Khan in his upgraded position as MoS with Independent Charge is a significant consolation for the region. Towards the north of Kashmir Valley, Nazir Gurezi’s and Mir Saifullah’s coming into Cabinet, along with Choudhary Ramzan and Akbar Lone is, though, primarily an NC strategy to check the Peoples Democratic Party but representation to these areas was long overdue. It is indeed of much greater significance that Zanskar in Kargil district has got a Minister, the first in many decades. In Ladakh region, on the margins of cultural and administrative headquarters of Leh and Kargil, the remote and largely inaccessible Nubra and Zanskar have always rued their exclusion. Nubra though got a Minister of State in 1996 through 2002 but Zanskar has always remained out of focus. Feroze Khan is now a Minister of State. His department of independent charge, Science and Technology is, though, of significant help to the Zanskar but a wide array of other departments he shares with senior in Cabinet would help him address some of the pestering issues in his fully tribal constituency. In the reshuffle, the vesting in Revenue department in Ajaz Ahmed, a Minister with immaculately clean image in the public estimation, also marks a significant overhaul and so is the case with Public Health Engineering. Khan has actually graduated to this important department in a step by step upgrade since he contested but lost first election in 1996. This gradual rise with experience should be an important benchmark, particularly seen in context of statements of resentment coming from three-time consecutive winning legislators who question appointment of first timers into cabinet. 

The reality principle

Thu Jan 17 2013

The misfortune of our public discourse is that often demagoguery masquerades as realism. It represents restraint as an act of cowardice or naivety. In some quarters, there may be a romantic naivety, but our policy has been a hard-headed realist one. Manmohan Singh has a lot to answer for. He has brought governance and economy to the brink, creating a deep sense of vacuum. But his Pakistan policy cannot be blamed for being naive or woolly headed. On the contrary, it is informed by a profound realism. 

Some defenders of engagement with Pakistan sometimes make the large assumption that Pakistani public opinion has changed decisively. The honest answer is that we do not know. Certainly, there is a great desire in Pakistan to emancipate itself from its current troubles. Confrontation with India does not help. And individual to individual relations are always charming love festivals. But it is too soon to say whether this is a decisive structural shift. The receptivity to conspiracy theories about what India might be doing in Afghanistan is still remarkably high; and public sentiment is often a very contextual thing. So while there is reason to be cautiously optimistic, this cannot be the basis of our dealings with Pakistan. In any case, in Pakistan, the disjuncture between the state security apparatus and public sentiment is deep. The state structure operates almost sui generis, with a logic of its own, and it would be foolish to assume that improving the sentiment among the people will automatically translate into greater security for us. It does not even translate into greater security for Pakistanis. But no sensible peacenik has made this assumption. 

In a curious way, the assumptions behind the prime minister’s policy have always been the opposite. The fact of the matter is that Pakistan is a society in which all its internal domestic contradictions are now playing out with full force: Shia-Sunni tensions, the relations between Islamabad and the provinces, particularly Balochistan, the basic allocation of powers between civilian and military rule, and the role of the clergy, make for a volatile mix. As Farzana Shaikh has powerfully argued, the easiest way to paper over these contradictions is to invoke the threat of the external enemy, India. Some have argued that anti-Americanism now runs deeper in Pakistani politics than anti-Indianism. This may be true. But anti-Americanism has a different political valence, not the least because it is as much a weapon the military uses to extract rents as anything else. Anyone with a deep sense of history knows that an enduring peace with Pakistan can come only if there is a stable resolution of its own identity crisis. We have to prepare ourselves that this resolution may be volatile and we have to deal with the consequences. The best thing we can do is let Pakistan wallow in its own internal contradictions, and not short circuit the process. The surest way of making the military establishment stronger is war talk. 

Handling Pakistan

Jan 20 2013

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was keen on establishing a rapport with Pakistan which would be better than the usual quarrelsome relationship that India had with it. He began this process when he was Foreign Minister and continued when he became Prime Minister. Manmohan Singh was passionate about settling all differences with Pakistan in as amiable fashion as possible. Indeed, he took considerable risks with his parliamentary colleagues in the way he did his diplomacy at Sharm-el-Sheikh and later. 

The result of the effort of these 15 years is hard to see. No doubt we have better a trade relationship, but annoyances like the most recent LoC incursions and total denial of 26/11 involvement by Pakistan continue to irk. Even during Vajpayee’s tenure, Kargil was a rude shock from which India recovered thanks only to some immensely brave fighting by the jawans. 

Why does this pattern of reconciliation punctured by violent incidents continue in India’s relations with Pakistan? Is it just a normal pattern of the younger brother always cocking a snook at the older brother and getting away with it because older brothers have to display forbearance? Is there no end to this schizophrenic behaviour pattern in sight? 

The answer has to be no. It is difficult for Indians to realise the deep sense of inferiority and consequent resentment that Pakistanis feel about their larger neighbour. I learned this when, during a month-long stay in Islamabad, the inevitable second question everyone in Pakistan asked me was, ‘Why don’t you give up Kashmir?’ My feeble answer was that I had a UK passport and even otherwise, countries do not give up what they think is legitimately theirs. I did not thereby stop the argument. Each of my interlocutors went on with a litany of complaints about how unjust the international system was to allow the Kashmir question to remain unsettled, about India’s moral hypocrisy etc. I had a distinct feeling that Pakistanis felt their country was incomplete without Kashmir. 

Talk of firm action, be a war-monger

Author: Rajesh Singh 
20 Jan 2013

Over the last fortnight, various experts from Pakistan have appeared on Indian television news channels and rubbished claims that the Pakistani Army had beheaded an Indian jawan on the Line of Control and that the Pakistani Rangers had breached the LoC. 

They did not consider the event grave enough to halt the peace process and concluded that India was unnecessarily whipping up passions. They said many more things as well which included wild accusations against the Indians. And, they all stated that both India and Pakistan must move on and continue to smoke the peace pipe. These experts need not have taken so much trouble, because there are people out here in India who are doing an admirable job of furthering the views of the Pakistani establishment. ‘We must move on', is the refrain. Among the prominent Indians who are singing the tune the Pakistani Government, its Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence love to hear, is a Member of Parliament from the Congress. An acknowledged expert on Pakistan and one who is considered close to the Nehru-Gandhi family, this eminent gentleman has on channel after channel been advocating the need to continue with peace despite all that has happened, and castigating television anchors for creating ‘hysteria’. No wonder then that a Pakistani expert advised on a television programme that Indians should heed this “patriotic” Indian's advice. 

The patriotic Indian's line is what the Congress-led UPA Government filled with many more patriotic Indians had been following for days after the beheading incident exploded in the public domain. Union Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid called for caution and said New Delhi had invested far too much in the peace process to allow it to be derailed just like that. (The beheading of an Indian jawan by Pakistani Army for him then seemed not worthy enough to reconsider engagement with Islamabad.) Interestingly, this is exactly what his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar had expressed. She too had said that Pakistani had invested so deeply over the last few years in peace with India that it could possibly not have done all the terrible things that India was accusing it of. Union Minister for Defence AK Antony spent agonising days walking a tightrope and balancing the mounting anger within the military establishment with his Government's meek stance. But with public outrage growing and the Opposition breathing down its neck, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress had to rewrite the script that the patriotic Congressmen had been reading from. Suddenly, it was no longer “business as usual” with Islamabad, he said, breaking his silence. The Opposition was happy that the Government was taking some action while the deflated peaceniks called the development “unfortunate” and a blow to peace efforts. 

The problem is that when you talk of taking tough measures or even giving tough messages, you are considered a hawk. If you are a hawk you are also a fundamentalist. If you are a fundamentalist you must be a Right-winger. If you are a Right-winger, you are then a war-monger. If you are a war-monger, you are a hawk. The cycle is complete. It's a threat that many commentators who believe that India has been too soft for too long are learning to live with when they deal with Pakistan. It's almost like they have to battle with some kind of guilt, and only if they emerge unscathed, can they hope to take on the erudite and enlightened lot that comprises the peace-loving experts who open their eyes wide with anger when India talks tough and close them shut when Pakistan 

provokes brazenly. 

By the definition of the peaceniks, the UPA Government has already come close to indulging in war-mongering by bowing to pressure from the fundamentalists and ordering a virtual hold on the peace process. Yet the decisions the Government has taken, albeit late, cannot be called war-mongering. How is the suspension of trade talks, of placing limits on sporting ties, of the delay in implementation of a liberal visa regime, war-mongering? These and such other legitimate measures have been taken to pressure Pakistan to see reason, and they are a far cry from sounding the war bugle. They have served a purpose too, apart from somewhat refurbishing Mr Manmohan Singh's image. While Pakistan still refuses to accept blame, it has toned down its belligerence. Once it had dismissed the beheading; now it is willing to investigate the incident. Once it had accused India of war-mongering; now it wants Foreign Minister-level talks. Once Mr Khurshid was falling head over heels in wanting to talk to Pakistan; now he wants to proceed “step by step”. Once Islamabad had stopped trucks from the Indian side with goods from crossing over to the other side of the border; now it wants uninterrupted trade. Once Pakistan had refused to accept that it had violated the ceasefire agreement; now it has ordered its troops to strictly maintain restraint along the LoC. All of that goes to prove that tough action does work, after all. 

But are all these signals from Islamabad a genuine acknowledgement that it wants to mend its ways or are they just tactical moves by a cornered nation to gain time and wait for the Indian resolve to melt — as it has done on recent occasions in the past, particularly in the wake of the 26/11 incident? Given Pakistan's track record and its experience with India, the latter tactic is more believable, though patriots in the Congress like Islamabad's favourite Indian will still bet their last penny on a good Pakistan. These patriots will even argue that the democratic Government of Pakistan is facing a crisis of existence and that India must reach out to help and not further push it into a corner. But India is neither responsible for the crisis nor is it obliged to shore up the Pakistan People's Party regime. 

This is a crucial moment. We must not let our guard down. It would not be a bad idea to latch on to the present situation and press Islamabad for affirmative action against the 26/11 perpetrators too. India should make that a condition for progress to happen. It may take a while, because the incumbent regime in Islamabad faces an election in a couple of months' time and will probably not do much for fear that it will be seen as capitulating. But then India can and should hold on. It has nothing to lose, except the tag of being a soft state. 

Meanwhile, the patriotic Indian whom Pakistani commentators love so much, will not get a Bharat Ratna for his efforts. Perhaps he should settle for Nishan-e-Pakistan.

Upset India snubs Maldives, refuses to host foreign minister

New Delhi
Jan 20 2013

Sending a strong signal to Maldives that India is not willing to engage with its current leadership after the GMR controversy, the government has turned down an official request from the Maldivian foreign minister to visit India to set up a visit by the Maldivian president. 

Foreign Minister Abdul Samad Abdullah tried his best to reach out to New Delhi on behalf of President Mohamed Waheed but failed. So much so that he came to Delhi on a private visit this month after his official request was rejected and sought meetings in a personal capacity, sources said. 

But he had no significant meeting as South Block gave him the cold shoulder. 

It was Waheed, it is learnt, who was behind this desperate bid to reflect some normalcy in relations. India, on the other hand, was also concerned over the real motive behind these gestures. With elections expected in the next three-six months, South Block was wary about Waheed or his foreign minister wrongly projecting a meeting for domestic political gains in the name of rapprochement with India. 

Waheed has lost all credibility with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he had specifically assured Singh during his visit to India last May that Malé will not rescind on the GMR contract despite political pressure. 

He had said that he was the vice-president when the GMR contract was signed and knew the details well to be certain that it was in Malé’s interest to stay the course. Sources said that at no point later did he alert New Delhi about matters spinning out of control. 

The call to withdraw all high-level contact with Waheed and his government also comes in the backdrop of the fact that India had decided to recognise him almost immediately after he took over despite complaints from his predecessor Mohammed Nasheed. India came to regret this because Waheed was able to ward off any challenge once he projected Indian support. 

National Interest: On the LoC, in fact

Jan 19 2013

Before we decide whether to be liberal or jingoistic following the recent incidents on the LoC, it might be useful to check out the facts. Because facts are important even in times when the idea in many of our TV studios and among some of the commentariat seems to be, don’t confuse me with facts. 

That two Indian soldiers, or rather non-commissioned officers (NCOs), were ambushed, killed and their bodies mutilated, is indeed a fact. That a Pakistani NCO was killed, and another — probably a commissioned officer — grievously injured in another sector along the LoC, is a fact as well. That these hunting missions — that sometimes involved, sadly, head-hunting — were not uncommon along the LoC in the past, is a fact. That there has been heavy and frequent exchange of fire along the LoC in recent weeks, is also a fact. Then what are we arguing about? 

Let’s also examine some currently growing beliefs now and put them to the test of facts. That there was never such a thing as a truce on the LoC, that it has always been ablaze. That there has never been a peace dividend and there never will be, so why waste time. That infiltration, militancy and jihadi propaganda have continued unabated. And the hope that the truce will give India’s army some respite to take some of its units back to its conventional deployment or training areas, and the Pakistanis the reassurance to move some of theirs to their more problematic western borders, is a sham. 

These are the beliefs on which much of the angry commentary has been based over the past fortnight. Now check these out against facts, some of which I have put together with the help of my colleague and Associate Editor Muzamil Jaleel, who is not just brilliant and brave but also a kind of widely acknowledged dean of the school of Kashmir reporters. This is the 10th year since the truce negotiated between Musharraf and Vajpayee (in case the BJP needs a reminder). Each year since then, the number of armed forces casualties in all of Kashmir, and particularly on the LoC, has fallen. In all of 2012, for example, the army lost two lives on the LoC (in fact, in all of Kashmir), while during the peak years before the truce, when the LoC was really ablaze, we lost one or two every day and so, for sure, did the Pakistanis, if not more. The Indian soldier has never been anything but aggressive and effective on the LoC, and again, in the more critical flashpoints along the LoC, India has the tactical advantage, contrary to self-flagellating propaganda by some self-styled apologists. In 1965, ’71, and many minor engagements since then, we have successfully nibbled territories while it was open season along what used to be the Cease Fire Line (CFL), “rationalising” our tactical posture to our advantage. Siachen is one of the more notable examples of this “active” soldiering. Please see the table that demonstrates three things: that the armed forces casualties have consistently fallen since 2006. In fact, in the years just preceding the ceasefire, the army had lost anything between 400-600 lives per year, and that is not counting the Kargil surge of 1999. Of course, the Pakistanis suffered even greater loss of life. So in its 10th year, the ceasefire has already saved a minimum of 8,000-10,000 soldiers’ lives on both sides. 

IMF concerned over Pakistan’s falling reserves

20 Jan 2013

ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund expressed concern over Pakistan's falling exchange reserves on Friday, but stopped short of echoing analysts' warnings that it could face a new balance of payments crisis within months without a new loan package. 

"There is still a balance of payments concern … the foreign exchange reserves in the central bank have declined," Jeffrey Franks, the regional adviser to the Fund on Pakistan told a news conference. "Foreign direct investment has fallen sharply but other capital inflows are also very weak." 

Franks said that Pakistan has not sought a new loan programme. However, if it did, it would have to implement strict measures for achieving economic targets needed to qualify for a new IMF programme, DawnNews reported. 

Pakistan's state bank currently has about $9 billion, enough to cover about two months' worth of imports, if cash deposits in private dollar accounts are not counted, Franks said.

In 2008, the country averted a balance of payments crisis by securing an $11 billion IMF loan package. The IMF suspended the programme in 2011 after economic and reform targets were missed. Some analysts have since warned about the prospect of a new balance of payments crisis. Pakistan owes the IMF just over $6.2 billion. It is due to repay $1.6 billion in the first six months of 2013, Franks said, a schedule that will strain reserves and may accelerate the slide of the rupee currency. The rupee currently stands at 98.6 to the dollar, a depreciation of about 8 per cent over the course of 2012. 

"Those reserves are not yet at a critical level but it's important to address the policy – the underlying policy issue well before you get to the point where they become critical," said Franks.

But the current government has failed to enact the reforms needed to boost reserves and qualify for a new IMF programme.

U. S. nuclear component reaches Pakistan via China

January 19, 2013 20:52
Narayan Lakshman 

"Conspirators used licences of legitimate customers" 

Pakistan is circumventing matters of legality and geopolitical complexities in the procurement process for nuclear components. 

This may well be the conclusion reached in the case of Qiang Hu, a Chinese national who has been charged in Massachusetts with “conspiracy for violating U.S. export controls by allegedly selling thousands of pressure transducers to unnamed customers through his position of sales manager at MKS Instruments Shanghai Ltd. in China”. 

Among the list of nations that use pressure transducers to measure the gas pressure inside centrifuge cascades in nuclear plants is Pakistan. The list reportedly includes Iran and possibly North Korea, but Pakistan, according to experts at the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, is among those nations that “use a considerable quantity of the equipment in their centrifuge plants and have regularly sought them through surreptitious means as used in this alleged scheme”. 

That Islamabad was a likely final customer of Mr. Hu’s deceptions cannot be ruled out. According to a report published by ISIS on this case, “Hu and his co-conspirators allegedly arranged their unlawful export to unauthorised Chinese end-users or to other, unnamed country end-users”. 

The report’s authors, David Albright and Andrea Stricker, told The Hindu that while recent case studies or evidence of Pakistani procurements of pressure transducers may not be available, Pakistan is “likely procuring them, assuming they don’t have enough in their centrifuge plants or haven’t made them themselves”. 

With the general assumption here that illicit procurement of components is quite a common practice experts are now urging that the U.S. ought to designate China a ‘Destination of Diversion Concern’, an action that would then require companies there to apply for special licences to import controlled or sensitive U.S. goods on account of the high risk that they may be diverted to rogue nuclear powers. 

China's me-first foreign policy

By Odd Arne Westad 
January 20, 2013 
The nation's behavior as a modern superpower is reminiscent of its imperial past.

After a series of statements from Beijing, some of them very aggressive, the Japanese have elected an administration that takes a hard line on China. (STR / AFP / Getty Images / January 18, 2013) 

China's more assertive foreign policy over the last two years has played a key role in getting two arch-conservatives — Japan's Shinzo Abe and South Korea's Park Geun-hye — elected to lead their respective countries. Some Chinese observers believe that Abe and Park will be forced by China's inexorable rise to come to terms with their giant neighbor. Don't count on it. To much of its region, China's behavior as it is coming of age as a modern superpower is eerily reminiscent of its past policy as a regional hegemon. 

For a very long time, imperial China dominated its wider region. The Chinese imperial court considered itself the indispensable center of a regional order in which China had the right and the duty to set international norms and standards, and to intervene if these were broken. It was an ideological system in which Chinese principles had to be the starting point for all things. 

Although the Chinese elites' thinking was driven by ideas and cultural norms, their position came down to size, power and military strategy. And from the 16th to the mid-18th centuries, it worked. But from the 1780s on, China's regional role was in decline, it lost wars and unnecessary military engagements followed. 

China's current leadership transition is taking place at a point when the country again has to reevaluate its regional and world engagements. The last couple of years have been disastrous in China's foreign policy. Its regional engagements have backfired, one after the other. Some of this comes from what historian Paul Kennedy calls imperial overstretch: to move faster and further than what material resources and political prowess allows for. It is quite possible to believe both that China is a rising power and that it has overstepped the mark on what it's able to achieve through pressure within its own region. 

China’s Risky Path, from Revolution to War

Content Section 
Jan 20, 2013

As China prospers, it’s also vulnerable. From revolution to foreign war, sinologist Cheng Li explains the potential pitfalls. 

As President Barack Obama begins his second term in office, China poses a major policy challenge to the United States largely because of the unpredictable trajectory of both China’s domestic transformation and foreign relations. While there has been much attention paid to China’s rapid economic rise and growing international clout, two other scenarios have been overlooked: domestic revolution and foreign war. While some might view these events as “black swans”—low probability, high-impact developments—the Obama administration should be proactive and think through its policies options should these events unfold. 

A Chinese Communist Party delegate holds a red voting ticket holder while leaving the Great Hall of the People with other delegates after the closing ceremony for the 18th Communist Party Congress in Beijing on Nov. 14, 2012. (Alexander F. Yuan) 

There are many serious problems in China that could trigger a major crisis, including slowing economic growth, widespread social unrest, rampant official corruption, vicious elite infighting, and heightened nationalism in the wake of escalated tensions over territorial disputes with Japan and some Southeast Asian countries. Either event would be very disruptive, severely impairing global economic development and regional security in the Asia-Pacific; a combination of the two would constitute one of the most complicated foreign policy challenges for President Obama’s second term. 

There are two particularly undesirable outcomes. One is a situation in which the vast majority of the Chinese public becomes both anti-Communist Party leadership and anti-American. The other is a situation in which the new party boss, Xi Jinping, derives his popularity from a strong endorsement of Chinese militarism. 

The scenario of abrupt bottom-up revolution occurring in China has recently generated much debate within that country. One of the most popular books in elite circles today is the Chinese translation of Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1856 classic The Old Regime and the Revolution. In speeches given after becoming Party General Secretary, Xi warned that the Party could collapse if the leadership failed to seize the opportunity to reform and improve governance. 

The new leadership is known for its unprecedented predominance of “princelings” in power—leaders who come from families of high-ranking officials. Four of the seven Politburo Standing Committee members, including Xi Jinping, are princelings. Many prominent Party leaders and their families have used their political power to convert state assets into private wealth; this includes transfers to family relatives who live, work, or study in the United States and other Western countries. This situation is not only undermining elite cohesion and the factional balance of power, but is also generating cynicism among the Chinese public regarding any promises on the part of the leadership to tackle corruption. Furthermore, it may add ammunition to the sensational accusation that the United States provides harbor to corrupt Communist Party officials. 

To avert this first scenario we should, while engaging with the Chinese leadership, more explicitly articulate to the Chinese people both the longstanding goodwill that the United States has towards China and America’s firm commitment to democracy, human rights, media freedom, and the rule of law, which we believe are fundamental to the long-term stability of any country. 

If the first scenario of domestic revolution can be seen as a failure of the Xi Jinping leadership to adopt effective political reforms to prevent crisis, then the second scenario—that of China in war—may be considered one possible “successful” attempt by Xi to consolidate power. This does not necessarily mean that the Chinese leadership intends to distract domestic tensions with an international conflict; contemporary Chinese history shows that the practice of trying to distract the public from domestic problems by playing up foreign conflicts has often ended in regime change. Yet Xi may be cornered into taking a confrontational approach to foreign policy in order to deflect criticism of his own strong foreign connections. 

The scenario of abrupt bottom-up revolution occurring in China has recently generated much debate. 

Even more importantly, we need to pay attention to the emergence of militarism among some military officers. Chinese analysts have observed that these military princelings are interested in bolstering the military’s power in the upcoming Xi era. Such a move would have the potential to increase the risk of both military interference in domestic politics and military conflicts in foreign relations. 

It is not in the U.S.’s interest to see China’s transition to a constitutional democracy proceed in a manner overwhelmingly destructive to China’s social stability or its peaceful relations with any of its neighboring countries, which would risk leading the United States into war. Clarifying to the Chinese public that the U.S. neither aims to contain China nor is oblivious to their national and historical sentiment would help reduce anxiety and possible hostility across the Pacific. Second, enhanced contact between U.S. and Chinese civilian and military policymakers can help us better understand the decision making processes and domestic dynamics within China. It can also aid us in heading off a regional conflict. Finally, when done within a broader strategy with all our allies and neighbors in the region, it could reassure China that the United States is not only firmly committed to its regional security framework in the Asia-Pacific, but also genuinely interested in finding a broadly acceptable solution to the various disputes.

Stakes for France Are High as Hollande Continues an Intervention in Mali

January 18, 2013 

PARIS :- This was not the war President François Hollande wanted. 

In just two hours last Thursday, after a plea for help from Mali’s interim president, Dioncounda Traoré, Mr. Hollande decided to send in French warplanes and ground troops. 

It was supposed to be a quick and dramatic blow that would send the Islamists scurrying back to their hide-outs in northern Mali, buying time for the deployment of an African force to stabilize the situation. Instead it is turning into what looks like a complex and drawn-out military and diplomatic operation that Mr. Hollande’s critics are already calling a desert version of a quagmire, like Vietnam or Afghanistan. 

Some here speak of Mr. Hollande’s “Sahelistan.” Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president, reminded Mr. Hollande of “the danger of a military operation without a clear enemy, with the risk to civilians that is bound to engender hostility among the citizens.” He warned of “neocolonialism.” 

Mr. Hollande, who has a reputation for indecisiveness, has certainly taken on a difficult task. The French are fighting to preserve the integrity of a country that is divided in half, of a state that is broken. They are fighting for the survival of an interim government with no democratic legitimacy that took power in the aftermath of a coup. 

But Mr. Traoré, 70, does represent the internationally recognized government of Mali, said a senior French official, shrugging. And then, like every French official on the topic, he asked a questioner to imagine the alternative — “another Somalia” on the western edge of Africa, lawless and dominated by Islamic radicals close to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, who would set about instituting the harshness of Shariah law all over Mali, stoning adulterers and cutting off the hands of thieves, while engaging in the drug and arms smuggling, kidnapping and terrorism that funds their notion of jihad. 

That prospect, the officials insist, is why the entire region, including Algeria, has supported the French intervention, which was also backed by the Security Council. The French initiative has also had public support, if provoking quiet concern about overreaching, from allies like the United States and Britain. 

Revolution in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

 Jan 20, 2013

The overthrow of the Saudi royals is finally a possibility. In an excerpt from a new Brookings Institution briefing book for Obama’s second term, Bruce Riedel on what a catastrophe it would be for Obama. 

Saudi Arabia is the world’s last absolute monarchy. Like Louis XIV, King Abdullah has complete authority to do as he likes. But while a revolution in Saudi Arabia is still not likely, the Arab Awakening has made one possible for the first time, and it could come in President Obama’s second term. 

A Saudi special forces member stands in front of giant portrait of King Abdullah in the Dorma region, March, 2011. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty) 

Revolutionary change in the kingdom would be a disaster for American interests across the board. Saudi Arabia is America’s oldest ally in the Middle East, a partnership that dates to 1945. The United States has no serious option for heading off a revolution if it is coming; we are already too deeply wedded to the kingdom. Obama should ensure the best possible intelligence is available to see a crisis coming and then try to ride the storm. 

Still , the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a proven survivor. Two earlier Saudi kingdoms were defeated by the Ottoman Empire and eradicated. The Sauds came back. They survived a wave of revolutions against Arab monarchies in the 1950s and 1960s. A jihadist coup attempt in 1979 seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca but was crushed. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda staged a four-year insurrection to topple the Sauds and failed less than a decade ago. Saudi al Qaeda cadres remain in the kingdom and next door in Yemen. 

Today the Arab Awakening presents the kingdom with its most severe test to date. The same demographic challenges that prompted revolution in Egypt and Yemen, a very young population and very high underemployment, apply in Saudi Arabia. Extreme gender discrimination, long-standing regional differences, and a restive Shia minority add to the explosive potential. In recognition of their vulnerability, the Saudi royals have spent more than $130 billion since the Arab Awakening began to try to buy off dissent at home. They have made cosmetic reforms to let women sit in a powerless consulting council. 

Over the Horizon

Five unlikely but extremely destabilizing global crises that Obama must prepare for
JANUARY 18, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama begins his second term at a critical moment in world affairs -- al Qaeda raising its head in North Africa, President Bashar al-Assad possibly preparing to use chemical weapons in Syria, Iran moving toward the nuclear weapons threshold, and tensions rising in Asia. An unstable world promises to present the president with many challenges in the next four years, and his advisors are already grappling with how to confront them. 

Some looming challenges -- like the America's debt or China's rise -- have been the focus of a good deal of attention. However, low-probability but high-impact "black-swan" events could also define Obama's second term, diverting the president from his intended foreign-policy agenda. These events would be so catastrophic that he needs to take steps now to minimize the risk that they might occur. 

Here are some of the black swans that could upend the Obama administration's agenda over the next four years: 

Why Conservatives Should Be Rooting for Defense Cuts

Jan 20, 2013

Deep reductions are coming to the Pentagon, but conservatives have good reason to get on board: no one knows where all of that military spending is actually going. 

He has said I have the integrity of a ShamWow salesman; I’ve called him a hate monger. So, it may surprise you to hear that talk-radio host and provocateur extraordinaire Mark Levin and I are in agreement.

US soldiers from the 145th Field Artillery Battalion and South Korean soldiers participate in Foal Eagle exercise at firing point 180, on Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, on March 15, 2012. The annual combined Field Training Exercise is conducted between the Republic of Korea and United States forces and is one of the largest annual military training exercises in the world. The annual training has in the past caused tensions with North Korea. (Pool photo by Chung Sung-Jun) 
The defense budget could be cut. 

Heretics, we are. 

In my last column urging new thinking about our spending and debt addictions, I recommended we let the delayed defense sequester cuts take effect in March. While it is illogical that half of the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts spread over 10 years hit defense—which represents less than 20 percent of the federal budget—as conservatives we cannot always say “spend more” on defense. If we can easily see ways to cut costs in the Department of Education, we should not be blind to opportunities at the Pentagon.

And as only Levin can write: The president is not wrong “to raise the question of Pentagon ‘bloat.’ The United States has the most lavishly funded military on the planet, and what does it buy you? In the Hindu Kush, we’re taking 12 years to lose to goatherds with fertilizer ... [W]hy shouldn’t the Pentagon get a top-to-toe overhaul—or at least a cost-benefit analysis?” 

The $45 billion in defense cuts likely to come this year will hurt. Though military personnel and war funds are protected, the civilian workforce of 791,000 alone cannot absorb the losses. The budget for civilian pay and benefits is “only” about $70 billion a year. That means contractors, operations, maintenance costs, and weapons programs also are in the cross-hairs. 

Admittedly, this is not a great time to be affecting jobs, but the government is not the most efficient employer. With the Pentagon spending an average of $2 billion to $3 billion every business day, the potential for savings through streamlining, standardizing, prioritizing, and tracking and cutting waste and inefficiency could surely total the needed 10 percent. 

Time to engage

American foreign policy 
Jan 19th 2013

Barack Obama’s first-term caution was understandable, but he must now show
greater resolve 
THERE is much to like about the foreign policies pursued by President Barack Obama during his first years in office. Rational and reasonable, they have blended strategic optimism with tactical caution, and tempered grand visions with a careful weighing of costs. Only one flaw has betrayed Mr Obama’s thoughtful plans. Time and again, they have not really worked. 

To his supporters, this is far from all the president’s fault. Where Mr Obama has gambled to no obvious benefit—whether extending open hands to Iran and Russia, offering a cold shoulder to North Korea, or trying to heal the Middle East by reaching out to the Muslim world, for example—supporters blame the intransigence of other players. Where he has been cautious and slow to act—at the first dawning of the Arab spring two years ago, in Syria today—aides point to the lessons about the limits of American power learned over more than a decade of war. Serving and retired officials, policy experts and diplomats from friendly governments express understanding for the meagre results of Mr Obama’s first-term diplomacy. They see the logic of lowering ambitions and focusing sharply on that which can be achieved. They sympathise with his caution about confronting lobbies and special interests as he sought re-election. But if the president remains as coolly calculating and reluctant to engage in his second term, even firm friends will find it hard to forgive. 

Mr Obama’s first months in office were a time of vaulting ambition. There were hopes he might heal the world as he had seemed to heal racial and partisan divides at home. They were soon dashed. Since then a tone of cool detachment has been his foreign-policy hallmark. From being the “indispensable nation”, Mr Obama’s America seeks to be an indispensable catalyst: present, but not deeply involved. 

The darkest evening 

Thus America has sought to create the conditions for success—as in hotspots like Libya—while resolutely avoiding deeper entanglements. Anne-Marie Slaughter, director of policy planning at the State Department during Mr Obama’s first two years, talks of a global order in which America offers “tough love” while pressing rising powers to share the burden. 

Britain is ill-prepared for this deadly new world

David Cameron must ensure our Armed Forces have the resources and manpower to deny Islamic terrorists their safe havens 

A British C-17 transport plane en route to Mali. Britain has only eight of these aircraft, and France none; America has about 200 Photo: AP 

David Cameron was supposed to have spent yesterday morning delivering his much-delayed speech on the future of Britain’s relationship with Europe. Instead, he had to make his way to the House of Commons for an emergency statement on the Algerian hostage crisis. Having started the week by offering to provide France with two C-17 transport planes to assist with its intervention in Mali, Mr Cameron ended it anxiously trying to discover the fate of the British hostages taken captive after the attack by Islamist terrorists on BP’s In Amenas gas field. 

Mr Cameron’s primary concern, as he told the Commons, has been to establish the identity and ensure the safety of the British nationals involved. To this end, he offered to provide the Algerian government with technical and intelligence support – including SAS units – to achieve a successful resolution of the crisis. To judge by Algeria’s uncompromising military response, which was launched without prior consultation with Mr Cameron, defeating the kidnappers seems to have taken priority over the hostages’ security. The result is that many of the captives are believed to have perished, while the fate of others remains unclear. 

Irrespective of how this particular incident is resolved, Mr Cameron is right to highlight the fact that we can expect more such attacks in the years to come. In particular, he believes that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other north African terrorist groups, which thrive in the ungoverned space of failed states, now have the capacity to pose a “large and existential threat” to our well-being – particularly in Mali, where large tracts of the country have already become a safe haven for militants. By seizing on long-standing local conflicts for their own ends, al-Qaeda and its allies have added a fresh and disturbing dimension to the turmoil in the area, posing a threat far beyond the region itself.