25 February 2013

Teesta Water Accord: Expectations for Indo-Bangladesh Water Diplomacy

By Roomana Hukil
Research Officer, IReS, IPCS 
25 February 2013 

Recent talks of optimism over the Teesta accord by Indian Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai and Minister of External Affairs, Salman Khurshid have defused a striking political assertion of bringing a cut to the impending decade-long water deal between both countries. With the cross-border exchange of premier visits nearing this year, a greater expectation garners public attention and raises the question of the underlying profound inadequacies. As technical data on the Dalia and Gazaldoba barrages on the Teesta River is presently examined in Kolkata, this article highlights the palpable expectations of both countries in regard to the Teesta water sharing arrangement. It simultaneously draws attention to the propelling shortfalls that surface as major bottlenecks in addressing these concerns given the histological accounts. What do the Indo-Bangla governments anticipate from each other in terms of sanctioning the Teesta river agreement? What are the impelling factors that provide rationale to their core essential position on the issue?


In view of boosting its agricultural production and providing protection to the 21 million people who live along the river basin, Bangladesh expects an equitable 50 percent distribution of the remainder 25 percent portion with India over the Teesta River. Failing to fulfil this proportionate requirement, the recipients along the river basin will be worse affected. More so, the Dalia barrage that was constructed along the Teesta River, in an attempt to revive cultivable land during the dry season, has been adversely impinged upon. This is due to the erroneous construction of the Gazaldoba barrage by the upper riparian state on its part of the Teesta River. Ever since the Dalia barrage project has come to a point of closure, Bangladesh anticipates remedy as against the acute water shortage it faces in the downstream areas during the dry season, primarily the northwest. Amounting to a severe concern as it is amongst the utmost drought prone regions of Bangladesh during the lean season (January-February), the Teesta Barrage Project (TBP) case study suggests that the present flow in the Teesta River is extremely scarce to meet the present irrigation demands, as fluctuations in the river flow affect the provision of water in the TBP area.

Hard Truths

India and Bangladesh share 57 transboundary rivers but only have an agreement for one. Since 1974, Bangladesh has perceived India as having failed to deliver and act upon the promising ‘big brother’ it presupposes in the region. India substantiated the standpoint by violating the clauses of the Ganges Water treaty and supplies excess water during floods and a reduced amount during the dry season, which ultimately triggers draughts. Disagreements over Tipai Mukh dam, Teesta River, and river-linking projects for trade and transit add to the already situated tensions between the two countries.

A system of neglect

By Rohan Joshi 
February 24, 2013

India doesn’t need more ideas in tackling its internal security challenges; it needs action. 

Another terrorist attack in a major Indian city this week left 16 dead and over 50 injured. Yet, within hours of the attack, India’s elected leaders were busy passing the buck and hypothesizing on the intent and “color” of the terrorist attack before a formal investigation had even begun. 

There is something sadly predictable about all of this; the incident in Hyderabad itself — going by the dilapidated state of India’s internal security apparatus — and the indulging in parochial rhetoric thereafter that our leaders find so irresistible. Shouting free-for-alls followed when Pune and Varanasi were hit in 2010, and when Mumbai and Delhi were hit in 2011. Yet, not one terror case since 2008 has been solved. While our internal security agencies battle for their own credibility and relevance in the absence of strong political leadership, the cycle of terror continues. 

In response to the attacks on Mumbai in 2008, the government set up the NIA, whose mandate could, at best, be described as confused. India’s “FBI-style” agency, meanwhile, hasn’t produced the results to even remotely warrant a comparison with the FBI. Centre-State issues have stalled essential progress on NATGRID and the NCTC. And internal security at the Centre continues to be the part-time responsibility of the Home Minister, whose other responsibilities include areas as varied as dealing with Centre-State issues and the implementation of the provisions of the Official Languages Act. 

Can Indian citizens really harbor any expectations of reasonable safety and security when there is such abominable neglect on issues related to national security? India’s internal security apparatus is rotting. And this rot is merely a microcosm of a much larger problem that India faces, which is that there is systemic institutional atrophy in varied velocities across the country. The aspiring India of 2013 has government institutions built to govern an India of the 1940s. Where there are incidents that expose these very apparent gaps, we apply short-term Band-Aids when our institutional structures are falling apart at their very core. 

Jammu and Kashmir 2012- An Overview

By H S Gill

The year gone by in Jammu and Kashmir was characterised by relative peace amid development activities.For the second consecutive year Kashmir Valley witnessed a relatively peaceful summerwith declining violence indicators reported across the state. As per state CID, violent incidents dropped to 124as against 195 violent incidents in 2011 with violence being largely confined to the Kashmir Valley.The incidents of grenade throwing however recorded an increase indicating a change in tactics. The number of terrorists eliminated in the year decreased by 25 per cent indicating reduced terrorist presence. Perhaps this accounts for the surge in infiltration attempts from across the border starting from June 2012 and some reports indicate that the year saw comparatively more successful infiltrations. Pakistan thus continues to follow its strategy of destabilising Kashmir through terrorist violence and civil unrest. ISI attempts towards higher infiltration rates are indicators of this effort. 

Peace Indicators 

There was an upsurge in the number of tourists visiting the Valley with 1.5 million footfalls recorded in 2012 against a million footfalls in the previous year. The signs of prevailing peace were evident with return of Bollywood to the Valley during the year with shooting of a movie by late Yash Chopra in Kashmir Valley and Ladakh which prompted others to also follow suit.TheAmarnathYatra was largely peaceful and free of terrorist related incidents, although comparatively more number of pilgrims died due to physical and medical reasons. An intervention by the Honourable Supreme Courtled to orders being issued on December 13, 2012 for improvement of infrastructure and medical amenities on the AmarnathYatra route.This led to sharp protestsfrom separatist leaders,who contended that any such move would violate forest laws and disturb the region's delicate ecological balance. They also cited the order as an instrument to perpetuate military control over the State.The Supreme Court Bench clarified “Neither have we directed nor should we be understood to have implicitly directed that there should be metalledmotorable road in place of the walking tracks/ passages” as they passed a slew of directives for improving the infrastructure and other amenities including health care for pilgrimage to AmarnathShrine in Jammu and Kashmir.

The year saw improved political activity in the state with 1930 political rallies and meetings taking place as compared to 1740 in the previous year.In Jammu & Kashmir, four Legislative Council (LC) seats are reserved under rural local bodies’ (Panchayat) quota. After 1980, for the first time the Panchayat members voted for these four LC seats which had 37 candidates in the fray. The Electoral College for the LC polls consisted of 33,540 panches and sarpanches with 46.56 percent in Jammu region and 53.4 percent in Kashmir region. There were strong rumours about the possible boycott of the polls by some panchayat members in particular after the killing of at least five panches and sarpanches by suspected terrorists and subsequent threats to elected panchayat members to resign and the poll boycott calls given by militant/terrorist organisations. Even the separatist HurriyatConference (G) had asked panchayat members to boycott these polls. Defying the terrorists, the people voted in large numbers, the state recording 93 percent polling with 95 percent voting in Jammu and 91 percent voting in Kashmir and Ladakh divisions.This reflects the firm belief of the grass root people in the Indian democratic system and the yearning for return to peace and normalcy. 

The limits of technology

25 Feb 2013

One of the interesting features of this newspaper is its conscious attempt to look at the past. Major political and social events are recounted in the section titled “This Day That Age”. On the sport and cultural fronts, many columnists recollect the past and provide a context to the present in an engaging manner. “Blast from the Past” by Randor Guy belongs to this genre. Last week (Cinema Plus, The Hindu, Feb. 17, 2013, Tamil Nadu editions) he wrote about the TKS Brothers’ film Bilhanan (1948). And there was a spelling mistake in the article where poet Kavimani Desiya Vinayagam Pillai became Caveman Desiya Vinayagam Pillai. 

This error raises some interesting questions about man-machine interface, the growing dependence on technology and reduced human intervention in copy. First, how did the mistake happen? The spell check feature in any Word document would have corrected the perfectly right “Kavimani” (gem among poets) to a wrong “Caveman”. The mistake may have happened at any point: it could have been in the writer’s original copy, sub-editor may have not noticed the error the machine was introducing, or at the page-making end someone would have run a spell check. All of them are human and are capable of relying on the magic of the machine to clean their copy. 

Before exploring the impact of technology on our writing skills, let me tell you that my respect for sub-editors is no less to that of Edward Shanks, the biographer of Kipling and a journalist of repute in the first half of the last century. Nearly seventy years ago Shanks wrote: “Of all created beings I think it is the sub-editor who most commands my timorous admiration. The news is thrown at him in huge miscellaneous masses, which, but for his labors, would kill the reader stone-dead with mental indigestion. He has to cook this mass, having first trimmed it into reasonable proportions, keeping one eye on the probable accuracy of the facts as stated, another on the law of libel, another on various other considerations which crop up from time to time, such as the law relating to elections, and yet a fourth, which must be no less vigilant than the other three, upon the clock. Sub-editors, when I meet them, seem to have only two eyes just like other people; where they keep the other two I cannot say, but I know they must have them.” 

I have been reflecting on the impact of technology on writing for nearly a decade and a half. The questions that came to my mind when I wrote the essay ‘The muse in the machine’ for Outlook way back in 2000 seem to be relevant even today. That essay was a product of a long discussion with social scientist Shiv Viswanathan. 

Chinese Nuclear Capabilities Deployed in Central China

By Maj Gen Afsir Karim
25 Feb , 2013 

Source: Department of Information and International Relations, Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamsala, India. (Map 

By 1971, the first-known nuclear weapon was brought to Tibet and installed at Tsaidam Basin in northern Amdo (Ch: Qinghai).1 Today, the defence arsenal is believed to include 17 top-secret radar stations; 14 military airfields, 11 of which are now being lengthened for new long-range combat aircraft; 8 missile bases; at least 8 ICBMs, and 70 medium-range and 20 intermediate-range missiles. 

China has constructed 14 major air bases on the Tibetan Plateau and a score of tactical airstrips. These bases give the Chinese air force control of Tibet’s air space, the forward edge of battle in the event of war with India… 

China’s own nuclear programme was partially pioneered on the Tibetan Plateau at the Northwest Nuclear Weapons Research and Design Academy (the “Ninth Academy”) 100 kilometres west of Amdo’s capital, Siling (Xining). The academy worked on nuclear bomb prototypes from the early 1960s, and the first batch of nuclear weapons produced there were stationed at two nuclear missile deployment and launch sites at Tsaidam Basin by the early 1970s. 

Today, China’s DF-4 ICBMs with ranges of 4,000 to 7,000 kilometres are stored at the Tsaidam sites. Further, DF-4 missiles are deployed 217 kilometres southeast of Tsaidam, at Terlingkha (Delingha) headquarters of a missile regiment with four launch sites. A fourth, new nuclear missile station, located in southern Amdo bordering Sichuan, houses four CSS- 4 missiles with a range of 12,874 kilometre. 

The 1970s also saw work on a missile base near Nagchuka in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), where underground complexes now house intermediate- and medium-range ballistic missiles at a site that was selected as an alternative to Xinjiang’s Lop Nor for possible nuclear testing. Another underground complex close to Lhasa stores ground-toair and surface-to-surface missiles, which are paraded through the capital annually on Chinese Army Day. Further, stockpiles of these missiles are kept at Kongpo in southeast TAR. With China rapidly expanding and modernising its defence arsenal and continuing its programme of nuclear stockpiling, Tibet’s strategic value for military deployment and proliferation can only escalate this century. 

China takes Operational Control of Gwadar Port

By Sameer Chauhan

On 18 February 2013, Pakistan and China signed an agreement to hand over control of the strategic Gwadar port to a Chinese company, 'China Overseas Port Holding Company' (COPHC) from the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA). Under the agreement for transfer of concession rights, the deep sea port will remain the property of Pakistan but will be operated by this Chinese state owned company which will share profits from its operation with the Pakistani State. As per one of the Pakistani publications, 'the state of Pakistan used to rent its “strategic assets” to Americans and other foreign powers and now, a new chapter begins with China having control of a strategic port - Gwadar. The State of Pakistan seems to be perpetually condemned to being a tenant in its own house'. 

Background and the Chinese Involvement 

The development of the major deep water seaport at Gwadar was approved in 1994 and the project was finally launched in March 2002. Phase I of the Gwadar port was completed with Chinese help in 2005/06 at a cost of USD 248 million, 50 million of which was contributed by Pakistan and the rest by the Chinese government. This phase included the construction of three multipurpose berths with capacity for handling bulk carriers of 30,000 dead weight tonnage (DWT) and container vessels of 25,000 DWT. Thereafter, on 1 February 2007, the Government of Pakistan signed a 40-year agreement with PSA International for the development of phase two and operation of this tax-free port and duty-free trade zone. As part of the agreement, the government of Pakistan had committed to ensure the connectivity of the port through the construction of highways linking it not only to the rest of the country but onwards to Afghanistan, China, Iran and the Central Asian Republics, but it failed to do so. The government also failed to provide 2,250 acres of land to the PSA for the development of an industrial zone as per its commitment. Thus, although nominally open for business for nearly three years, the port had attracted little trade. In December 2010, the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued a stay order against the allotment of land belonging to the Gwadar Port Trust Authority. The court had directed that the land measuring 600 square km must not be transferred to the PSA until the final verdict of the case is delivered. Also, it allowed the Baluchistan government to become a party to the case in an attempt to assuage the aspirations of local provincial government. 

PSA was to spend USD 525 million in the project in five years, but since the government was barred from transferring immovable property to it, which in essence denied the PSA’s demand for allotment of land worth Rs 15 billion for development, it made no further investments. Finally, PSA abandoned the project on the plea that Pakistan failed to meet obligations under the 40-year port-handling agreement signed in Feb 2007. Almost at the same time, in Dec 2010, China had offered the provincial government of Baluchistan, to construct 20 more berths and make the port fully operational if the port was handed over to it. Apparent Chinese Energy Security Interests are: 

Nepal: Inching Towards an Agreement for CA Elections

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan. 

It looked as if the major political parties having realised the urgency of holding the CA elections before mid June, had come to an agreement to have a "non partisan" government immediately under the Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi. 

But they did not reckon that the Chief Justice himself is reluctant to get into the act and given the complications involved in seeing the election through, his ‘hesitancy’ is perhaps justified. It is also to be noted that the Chief Justice was never consulted before the four main parties decided to get him involved in running the administration after Bhattarai’s exit. 

On the 16th of the month the leaders of the four main parties- the UCPN (M), the Nepali Congress, the UML and the ruling Madhesi outfit SLMM ( Samyukta Lok Tantric Madhesi Morcha) met at Shital Nivas- the residence of the President and , struck an agreement for a non partisan government led by the Chief Justice and to hold the Constitution Assembly (CA) elections before end May. 

The leaders also formed an eight-member task force to propose a "package deal" for this purpose within two days as time was running out for conducting the elections before end May or the first week of June, before the monsoon that arrives sometime in the first or the second week of June. 

The task force consisted of Mahara and Khimlal Devkota of UCPN (M), Bimalendhu Nidhi and Minendra Rijal of Nepali Congress, Bhim Rawal and Agni Kharel of UML and Jitendra Dev and Hrieyesh Tripathi of the SLMM. 

This task force produced quickly a twelve point report that included- 

* The Chief Justice would lead a 9-11 member executive body to conduct the elections. 

* The CJ himself would choose the persons to run the administration( interim council members or ministers. 

* A High Level political mechanism will be created for updating the voters list, distribution of citizenship certificates, making appointment to constitutional bodies and decide on the tenure of the new CA and the electoral system. 

You Call This an Army? The Terrifying Shortage of U.S. Cyberwarriors.

By Brian Fung
February 25, 2013

Cybersecurity analysts work in the "watch and warning center" during the first tour of the government's secretive cyberdefense lab on Sept. 29, 2011, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) 

When the Soviet Union launched the first satellite in 1957, it set off an intellectual arms race that led to more than $1 billion of federal investment in science education. Within a decade, Americans were sending their own expeditions to outer space. Presidents and other public figures since then have made a tradition of referring to Sputnik to push their political agendas. But just because it's a convenient rhetorical lever doesn't invalidate the analogy. And when it comes to cybersecurity, it hits pretty close to the truth.

The United States doesn't have nearly enough people who can defend the country from digital intrusions. We know this, because cybersecurity professionals are part of a larger class of workers in science, technology, engineering, and math--and we don't have nearly enough of them, either. We're just two years into President Obama's decade-long plan to develop an army of STEM teachers. We're little more than one year from his request to Congress for money to retrain 2 million Americans for high-tech work (a request Republicans blocked). And it has been less than a month since the Pentagon said it needed to increase the U.S. Cyber Command's workforce by 300 percent--a tall order by any measure, but one that's grown even more urgent since the public learned of massive and sustained Chinese attempts at cyberespionage last month.

Where are Cyber Command's new hires going to come from? Even with so many Americans out of work, it isn't as though there's a giant pool of cyber professionals tapping their feet, waiting to be plucked up by federal agencies and CEOs who've suddenly realized they're naked in cyberspace. In fact, over the next couple of years, the manpower deficit is only going to get worse as more companies come to grips with the scale of the danger.

Demand for cyber labor is still far outstripping supply, Ron Sanders, a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, told National Journal in a phone interview. "With each headline we read," he said, "the demand for skilled cyber professionals just increases."

Thousand days in a nightmare

By  Sattwick Barman 
25 Feb 2013

WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning’s incarceration under dehumanising conditions continues 

In the last 1,000 days, four of the world’s five largest economies held elections, with China heralding in a once- in-a-decade leadership change; a wave of revolution spread through the Arab world, toppling autocratic regimes; Syria has been ravaged by a civil war that has killed an estimated 70,000 people and shows no signs of abating; Osama bin Laden was bumped off by U.S. Navy Seals in a daring raid in Pakistani territory; the world held its breath as Japan almost faced a nuclear meltdown; the Occupy movements generated a new grammar of protests against the profligacy of their governments. The list is unending.

All this time U.S. Army soldier Pfc. Bradley Manning, who allegedly blew the whistle on the excesses committed by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world, has been in prison suffering dehumanising treatment meted out by the U.S. military. Mr. Manning, who is celebrated as the source behind the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history was arrested a month after WikiLeaks released a military video showing a helicopter gunning down a number of civilians, including two Reuters journalists.

Then began his Kafkaesque nightmare. At his pre-trial hearing he described how during his detention in Kuwait he was locked up in“animal cages.” From there, Mr. Manning was transferred to the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia where he was put on suicide watch and held in solitary confinement for one whole year, despite a psychiatrist testifying that he posed no such risk.

Mr. Manning, who is facing a life sentence in military prison, has been charged with aiding and abetting “the enemy.” During the pre-trial hearing in January his whistleblower defence was denied, barring him from presenting evidence regarding his motive or to establish that WikiLeaks caused little or no damage to U.S. national security. 

Speaking to The Hindu, Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network, which fully funds Mr. Manning’s legal costs, said by preventing the defence from “proving Manning had noble and patriotic motives in passing these documents to WikiLeaks the government doesn’t want Manning’s motive to come to light in court because that would undermine their ludicrous claim that Manning intended to ‘indirectly aid the enemy’.”

The Continent without a Military

By Doug Bandow 
February 25, 2013 

Europe once was a military power—many military powers, in fact. But no longer. Today Europe is turning into a continent without a military. 

In January Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO secretary general, lauded France for taking “decisive action” in Mali. Of course, Paris is likely to find that it is easier to disperse jihadist rebels than reestablish a stable state. 

At the same time Rasmussen noted Europe’s gradual disarmament. The other European states have offered little help, prompting Arnaud Danjean, a French member of the European Parliament, to complain that “Europe cannot always give responsibility to one member state.” 

His sentiment was echoed by Nick Witney, who once headed the European Defense Agency, who argued that the European Union “is paralyzed, seemingly unable to do more than offer rhetorical support to France and the individual member states that are chipping in with logistical assistance.” So Paris, naturally, has turned to America. 

Alas, Rasmussen’s efforts to strengthen the European alliance so far have had little effect. Over the last five years, as noted by Stars and Stripes, “Cuts by countries as large as Germany and as small as Latvia have resulted in program cancellations, changed equipment orders and, in the case of Britain, a plan to mothball a new aircraft carrier.” Clara M. O’Donnell, a European scholar with the Brookings Institution, explained that “what we’re seeing is basically cuts in capability and little thought on what to replace them with.” 

Libya was the Europeans’ war, yet they punched far below their weight. As Con Coughlin observed last month in the Daily Telegraph, in Libya “shortages of fundamental equipment, such as air-to-air refueling tankers, cruise missiles and ships, meant that the European military effort found itself at a distinct disadvantage the moment American firepower was no longer available.” 

Nevertheless, NATO officials like Rasmussen count Libya a success. A year ago he contended: “If we are to respond to the challenges of tomorrow just as effectively [as in Libya], more allies should make sure they obtain and maintain those kinds of critical capabilities.” But the latest report acknowledged that the gap in military capabilities is widening among the European NATO members and between Europe and America. 

An Iran Nuclear Deal Must Be Broad

By Mohammad Ali Shabani 
February 25, 2013 

After lengthy stalling, Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) are set to finally meet. The good news is that overall, we’re moving towards a resolution to the nuclear standoff. After a decade, the contours of a final accord have become clear. 

The P5+1 will have to recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes and gradually lift sanctions. In return, Tehran needs to cap enrichment at five percent, give up higher-grade nuclear material and pledge not to enrich more uranium than what’s agreed as consistent with its civilian needs. Moreover, the Islamic Republic will be expected to agree to transparency measures going beyond its obligations as a NPT member and explain allegations of past suspect activities. 

The not-so-good news is that it doesn’t seem like things will get resolved in Kazakhstan. With the West unwilling, and Iran unable, to offer serious concessions with the right sequencing, both sides will likely agree to kick the can down the road on Tuesday. 

Under these circumstances, it is clear that the real window for dialogue will open after the inauguration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s successor in August. 

The significance of a new Iranian president coming into office is not his potentially different approach or influence. It is the senior leadership’s ability to channel new initiatives via the president and easily deflect blame on him for any potential failure. Moreover, domestic tensions in Iran are likely to diminish as soon as Ahmadinejad steps down. This will aid talks, as the Islamic Republic will only seriously negotiate from a position of perceived strength. 

From a Western perspective, the next Iranian president would not only be a welcome new face to deal with, but post-Ahmadinejad Iran will also be seen as more likely to follow through on a deal. This might open the door for more serious consideration of the kind of sanctions relief necessary to get the ball rolling. 

The prospect of a six-month wait until the opening of the real window for diplomacy need not necessarily be a bad thing. If the time from now until then is used wisely, things can be set up for rapid movement on the nuclear issue this fall. 

Nuclear Weapons: Can They Be Made Obsolete?

By Shubhra Chaturvedi
Research Officer, NSP, IPCS 
25 February 2013 

As an aftermath of unintended proliferation, strategic exchanges have taken place for better, substantial and productive steps towards nuclear disarmament. The process of reflection on the political, economic, moral and defensive connotations of the possession of nuclear weapons is a consistent one. It is well accepted that nuclear weapons are highly destructive in nature. What then, are the reasons behind the failure of nuclear disarmament initiatives? Is strategic obsolescence feasible or attainable?

Is Strategic Obsolescence of Nuclear Weapons Possible?

There can be different reasons that eventually lead to the obsolescence of any category of weapons ranging from technical to functional, to planned or strategic ones. It is hard to imagine nuclear weapons as a part of any of the categories. Nuclear technology is much coveted and, for a majority of the states, is still under development; hence, technical obsolescence is out of question. The functional aspect does not apply to them since their use is not the reason for their possession.

The last category implying a strategic or planned way for obsolescence is highly unlikely, given that states would rarely abide with or follow such a strategy. Moreover, the problem of verification of the intentions and the abiding of the states would stay in that scenario as well. How then, does one see the establishment, if ever, of strategic obsolescence of nuclear weapons? The suggestion towards a conventional and economic parity as the way to make nuclear weapons obsolete, and expecting it to materialise, is perhaps a highly delusional way of looking at it. It is important to kill the rationale behind the possession and development of nuclear weapons. Can norms ensure that?

Effectiveness of Norms in the Nuclear Domain

Nuclear disarmament makes a consistent appearance in the foreign policies of several states. Iran and North Korea have ensured that the call for nuclear disarmament is taken seriously. It is precisely because of these states that, along with serious efforts towards arms reductions taken by the US, there is always a fraternity that believes that the outliers are the reasons to not go ahead with arms reductions. It is because of these states that the norms in favour of disarmament are questioned.

Sharper eye on earth’s waters

By N. Gopal Raj 
25 Feb 2013

The Saral satellite (top) and smaller satellites being attached to the PSLV at Sriharikota. Photo: Special Arrangement 

A product of Indo-French collaboration, the Saral satellite will help better monitor sea levels 

In October 2011, an Indo-French scientific satellite, Megha-Tropiques, designed to measure rainfall over the tropical regions of the world, took to the skies. A continuation of that collaborative effort has now produced another scientific mission, this time to monitor the oceans. The ‘Satellite for ARgos and ALtiKa’ (Saral) is to be launched by India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle today. 

Ties between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its French counterpart, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), go back five decades to the early years of India’s space programme. 

“We started to think about increasing and reinforcing the long-term cooperation in the late 1990s by developing together … a scientific satellite,” according to Sylvie Callari, head of International Relations at CNES. Finding that they were pursuing similar scientific objectives in terms of earth observation, the two space agencies joined hands to develop the Megha-Tropiques satellite. “Very quickly we started to think about doing another one … and we ended up with this altimetry programme for the study of oceans,” she told this correspondent. 

A satellite altimeter works on the principle of the radar, emitting microwave pulses and picking up signals that bounce back. The time taken for the signal to return provides a measure of the distance between the satellite and the surface of an ocean. By establishing the satellite’s position in orbit very precisely, the sea surface height can then be determined. The returning signals can also be used to estimate wave heights and winds over the ocean. 

France flew its first altimeter on the Topex/Poseidon, a spacecraft built jointly with the U.S, which was launched in 1992 and worked till 2006. French altimeters also went on Jason-1 and Jason-2 spacecraft that the two countries sent up in 2001 and 2008 respectively. 

Advanced instrument 

The French ‘AltiKa’ altimeter on the Saral will operate in a higher frequency band (known as Ka) than previous satellite altimeters. Use of a higher frequency, along with correction for atmospheric delays, will allow this altimeter to determine sea surface height with greater precision. In addition, its higher spatial resolution confers the ability to gather data closer to the seashore than before, and also supply more accurate information about inland water bodies, like rivers and lakes. 

China disarming India without fighting

By Claude Arpi
February 24, 2013 

More than 2,000 years back, Sun Tzu, the author of the Art of War wrote, “For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill; to subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” 

If I was a Chinese general and keen to defeat India without combating, do you know what I would do? 

I would provide ‘proofs’ that foreign arms dealers have corrupted some Indian officials or politicians by paying hefty ‘commissions’. I would repeat this for each and every armament deal. 

The result would be terrific. The Indian Ministry of Defence would immediately cancel all the deals, no more arms for the three Indian services! It would be rather easy to realise. One just has to ‘inform’ the Indian Government that something has gone wrong in the procurement process, and ‘someone’ has taken money. 

So easy to do and easy to believe! The reverse would be unbelievable. 

A few days ago, a US company, Mandiant, identified the People’s Liberation Army’s Shanghai-based unit 61398 as the organisation behind most computer attacks against the United States. Through Unit 61398, I would leak some ‘details’ about the bribes to the MoD or better, to a gullible ‘breaking news’ channel. 

Mandiant’s detailed 60-page study tracked individuals of a sophisticated hacking group, known in the United States as ‘Comment Crew’. The report said, “The activity we have directly observed likely represents only a small fraction of the cyber espionage that APT1 has conducted.” APT1 stands for ‘Advanced Persistent Threat’, the most dominant being termed APT1. 

The report continues, “We have analysed the group’s intrusions against nearly 150 victims over seven years. We uncovered (in Shanghai) a substantial amount of APT1’s attack infrastructure, command and control, and modus operandi (tools, tactics, and procedures) Our research found that People’s Liberation Army (PLA’s) Unit 61398 is similar to APT1 in its mission, capabilities, and resources.” 

Further, it was discovered that PLA Unit 61398 is located exactly in the place from which APT1 activity originates. 

Hyderaqbad Blasts: A Quick review

By Col R Hariharan  

[This background paper was used for a TV discussion by Col Hariharan on February 22, 2013. It was based on open source information] 


Two improvised explosive devices (IED) kept in tiffin boxes strapped to bicycles had exploded minutes apart, in Dilsukh Nagar, a congested Hyderabad suburb, around 7 pm on February 22. So far 17 people are reported to have died. Over 100 people were injured – some of them seriously – in the explosions. The area, which was also the scene of an earlier terrorist strike, has two cinema theatres. The explosions occurred 200 yards from a popular Sai Baba temple which is located in the area where devotees throng on Thursdays. 

Forensic evidence from the site is being collected. NIA and NSG teams have reached Hyderabad and to assist local police in investigations. Delhi and Maharashtra police are also in close touch with Andhra Pradesh police to help their investigations with their own input. In fact Maharashtra police is sending a seven-member team to Hyderabad. Media reports indicate Ammonium nitrate, freely available for agricultural use, was used in the IEDs triggered by timers. The media cited a Delhi Police interrogation report of November 2011 in which Maqbool, an IM suspect had revealed that he and Imran had reconnoitred Dilsukhnagar and Begum Bazaar localities of Hyderabad on the instructions of IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal. While media has played up this angle, police appear to be not so sure of IM involvement in the explosions. 

At the government level there were contradictory statements from different functionaries in the same department as well as at the Centre and State. Both the political class and the Police (perhaps prodded by them) have been reactive to the barrage of media conjectures which could prejudice objective analysis. 


Intelligence failure 

Everyone talks of intelligence failure in this incident because that is the easiest way of explaining all other shortcomings. Terrorists, unlike other kinds of extremists, operate in extremely secretive ways. Many times the operatives may not know the whole scheme of things in carrying out a particular strike. They also plan lone wolf operations involving only one person. So the question of predicting terror strikes with 100 percent accuracy is near impossible. Ideally there should be a central structure to correlate all inputs and analyse them to evolve to identify preventive and offensive strategies in vulnerable areas and on likely targets. In the current terrorist strike, it is too early to objectively assess as all investigative reports will have to be studied. 

Media bytes: India and Sri Lanka war crimes issue

By Col R Hariharan  

[This is a summary of the comments made by Col Hariharan in TV discussions and to print media on February 20 to 22, 2013.] 

On photographs showing Prabhakaran’s son’s death 

On the eve of the release of a full length film on Sri Lanka’s alleged war crimes, the British daily the Independent carried an article along with two photographs showing Prabhakaran’s son eating a snack before his Sri Lankan captors allegedly shot him dead in cold blood. This serious allegation pertaining to a war India supported. It is about a brutal and heinous act by a state with very friendly to India. So apart from humanitarian concerns, India in its own interest, needs to get the allegations investigated impartially. If proved true it will undoubtedly be considered a war crime committed by Sri Lanka. 

It is important not because the boy was the son of Prabhakaran, but because he was an innocent boy – not a LTTE cadre - who was killed in captivity either during or after the war, like thousands of others who are alleged to have faced the same fate. It further reinforces allegations beamed earlier by Channel 4 that included custodial killings of LTTE prisoners carried out by Sri Lankan soldiers and strengthens the allegation. 

For the last four years these allegations have been coming up in public domain one after the other. Undoubtedly, it is a part of a global campaign by Tamils and international civil society groups to bring to book the alleged perpetrators of war crimes during the Eelam War in which thousands of civilians died. But there is nothing wrong in it because that in no way lessens the seriousness of the allegations or the magnitude of the crimes. So they cannot be ignored on this count. 

The UN after a preliminary examination of the allegations discussed the subject with the Sri Lanka government both on one to one basis as well as in UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). As a result of these efforts Sri Lanka President appointed the Lessons Learnt and Recommendations Commission (LLRC) and assured its recommendations would be implemented. However, the promised implementation of the LLRC recommendations is unsatisfactory and incomplete. So the UNHRC last year passed a U.S. sponsored resolution seeking accountability from Sri Lanka in implementing the recommendations. And India for the first time supported the U.S. move and voted for the resolution. Sri Lanka’s progress on the subject is due for review at the UNHRC meeting in March 2013. 

Iran’s Speaker coming to India; N-plan in focus

Ashok Tuteja

24 February 2013

Ahead of the next round of talks between Tehran and the P 5+1 countries in Kazakhstan over the controversial nuclear programme of the Islamic republic, Iran is sending its Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani to India next week for talks on a range of issues.

India is expected to impress upon Iran to fulfil its international obligations and to address questions raised in the IAEA about its nuclear programme. New Delhi would also try to assess how Iran proposes to end its stand-off with the West over the nuclear issue.

Larijani has been a key player on the Iranian political scene since the Iranian Revolution and is important in the decision-making process at the highest echelons of the regime.

Larijani, who is coming here at the invitation of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, is understood to have sought meetings with President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders. Larijani will be visiting Mumbai and New Delhi during the course of the visit.

He had recently met Indian Ambassador to Iran D P Srivastava in Tehran and emphasised the role the two countries could play in the international arena. Both sides are confident that the visit would prove to be an important step towards expansion of bilateral ties.

On the eve of the visit, informed sources said India believed Iran has a right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme but not one designed to manufacture nuclear weapons. At the same time, New Delhi believes that the issue needs to be resolved through peaceful talks and not by extreme measures like sanctions which only affect the common people.

New Delhi is also hopeful that the Kazakhstan meeting on February 26 between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council-the US, Britain, France, China and Russia-and Germany would make progress in resolving the issue.

Since India has had age-old links with Iran, major world powers have from time to time urged New Delhi to use its good offices to impress on Iran to abandon its nuclear programme. Earlier this month, French President Francois Hollande, during his visit to New Delhi, had urged India to ‘convince’ its ‘close friend’ Iran to enter into serious negotiations with major powers over its nuclear ambition.

The US, meanwhile, continues to mount pressure on India to reduce its economic engagement with Iran.

To fight India, we fought ourselves

Mohsin Hamid

At the heart of Pakistan’s troubles is the celebration of the militant

On Monday, my mother’s and sister’s eye doctor was assassinated. He was a Shia. He was shot six times while driving to drop his son off at school. His son, age 12, was executed with a single shot to the head. 

Tuesday, I attended a protest in front of the Governor’s House in Lahore demanding that more be done to protect Pakistan’s Shias from sectarian extremists. These extremists are responsible for increasingly frequent attacks, including bombings this year that killed more than 200 people, most of them Hazara Shias, in the city of Quetta. 

As I stood in the anguished crowd in Lahore, similar protests were being held throughout Pakistan. Roads were shut. Demonstrators blocked access to airports. My father was trapped in one for the evening, yet he said most of his fellow travellers bore the delay without anger. They sympathised with the protesters’ objectives. 

Minority persecution is a common notion around the world, bringing to mind the treatment of African-Americans in the United States, for example, or Arab immigrants in Europe. In Pakistan, though, the situation is more unusual: those persecuted as minorities collectively constitute a vast majority. 

A filmmaker I know who has relatives in the Ahmadi sect told me that her family’s graves in Lahore had been defaced, because Ahmadis are regarded as apostates. A Baluch friend said it was difficult to take Punjabi visitors with him to Baluchistan, because there is so much local anger there at violence toward the Baluch. An acquaintance of mine, a Pakistani Hindu, once got angry when I answered the question “how are things?” with the word “fine” — because things so obviously aren’t. And Pakistani Christians have borne the brunt of arrests under the country’s blasphemy law; a governor of my province was assassinated for trying to repeal it. 

The majority myth

What then is the status of the country’s majority? In Pakistan, there is no such thing. Punjab is the most populous province, but its roughly 100 million people are divided by language, religious sect, outlook and gender. Sunni Muslims represent Pakistan’s most populous faith, but it’s dangerous to be the wrong kind of Sunni. Sunnis are regularly killed for being open to the new ways of the West; or for adhering to the old traditions of the Indian subcontinent; for being liberal; for being mystical; for being in politics, the army or the police; or for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Pakistan arrests Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader Malik Ishaq

By Bill Roggio
February 22, 2013 

Malik Ishaq, the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, waves to throngs of supporters after he is released from custody in 2011. 

Pakistani police arrested Malik Ishaq, the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, at his home in Rahim Yar Khan, just one week after his terror group claimed credit for a bombing in Quetta that killed at least 90 people. Ishaq has been accused of direct involvement in numerous terrorist attacks but has never been convicted in a Pakistani court. 

Pakistani police have not disclosed the reason for Ishaq's arrest, nor how long he will be in detention. "It was not immediately clear on what charges he was arrested," Dawn reported. 

Last week, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed credit for the murder of more than 90 Pakistanis, mostly minority Shia, after detonating nearly one ton of "high-grade" explosives in the capital of Baluchistan province. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed credit for numerous terror attacks in Pakistan, and has released videos of executions of captured Shia prisoners

Ishaq has been in the custody of the Pakistani government in the past. He was detained in 1997 after admitting to murdering more than 100 Pakistanis, but was subsequently released by Pakistan's Supreme Court in July 2011. Ishaq has dodged numerous convictions by murdering and intimidating witnesses, and even once told a judge that "dead men can't talk." [See Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the "lack of evidence," from Dawn, for more information on Pakistan's inability to convict Ishaq and his intimidation of witnesses.] 


By Monish Golati


Kicking-off the first phase of the US pull-out from Afghanistan, two convoys of 25 containers each crossed the Torkham and Chaman border check-posts in Pakistan on 10 Feb 2013. The containers, "part of the US redeployment of equipment from Afghanistan", were on way to Karachi to be shipped back to the US. The move oddly signifies the start to what president Obama termed in his SOTUS to the American nation on 12 February 2013, the "end of our war in Afghanistan". At the same time in sharp contrast yet within the same process,Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the leader of Pakistan's Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) faction with tacit approval of the Pakistan federal government, met with the Afghan Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar. A move that sees Pakistan 'upgrade' itself into the lead role in the 'Afghan-owned' peace process after the London trilateral summit meeting held on 3-4 February 2013. 

Mawlana Fazlur Rahman, the leader (amir) of the JUI-F left for Qatar on 09 February to hold talks with Taliban.[1] According to a report, it was on the invitation of the Taliban. The Maulana was accompanied by a member of the Pakistan National Assembly from the tribal areas, Haji Munir Khan Orakzai. They met a group of Taliban representatives led by Tayyab Agha and assisted by Shahabuddin Delawar on 10 February 2013 at a farmhouse in the suburbs of Doha in a first such direct meeting between representatives from Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban.[2] Tayeb Agha, is a close aide and former secretary to Mullah Omar, and Shahabuddin Delawar, was the Taliban envoy to Riyadh during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. 
Though Mawlana Fazlur Rahmanis currently in the political opposition, the influential politician is believed to have been holding talks with the Taliban on behalf of Pakistan. There is no official confirmation from either Pakistan or Afghanistan about the nature and the exact purpose of the talks in Doha. However, as reported by the Pakistani media the JUI-F leader went to Doha as part of the Pakistani efforts to persuade the Taliban to come to the negotiating table.[3] In an interview on 09 February 2013, the central leader of JUI-F, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed stated that JUI-F chief had been invited to participate in the reconciliatory process between the US and Taliban.[4] He added that negotiations were also aimed at exploring ways of how Pakistan could become part of the Qatar initiative (Doha process).[5] 

Afghan Position
Commenting on the trip of Maulana Fazal-Ur-Rahman to Qatar, the Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul said that no talks had started with the Taliban officials in Qatar as yet and no office had been opened for the Taliban in Qatar as yet.[6] There were also reports that the Mawlana's trip to Qatar has neither been welcomed by the High Peace Council (HPC) nor by the Afghan Government.[7] However, according to some reports in the Afghan media the HPC welcomed the recent of visit of Pakistan's JUI-F leader, but said the Council had no prior information about the trip. The HPC added that despite being unaware of the nature of negotiations in Qatar the talks will have a positive impact on the peace process. [8] 

Pak Taliban renews talks offer; to approach political leaders

 24 February 2013 

altPakistani Taliban will directly approach three political leaders, including PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, to become guarantors for the peace talks, as it renewed its offer of dialogue with the government. 

The decision that Ihsan should approach Sharif, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Munawar Hassan was taken at a meeting of the 'Shura' (council) of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan held yesterday. 

"We had earlier urged these three leaders to become guarantors between us and the government in peace talks but they were telling the media that the Taliban had not contacted them personally," an unnamed senior Taliban commander was quoted as saying by The News daily. 

The commander said the Shura decided Ihsan should personally speak to the three opposition leaders and request them to become guarantors. 

The commander further said the Taliban would think about a ceasefire after talking to the three leaders and after assessing whether the government was serious about "meaningful peace talks". 

Ihsan told reporters in the northwest that the meeting of the Shura reviewed the situation in Pakistan and core issues related to the proposed peace process. 

Ehsan said Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud and deputy chief Waliur Rehman attended the meeting. 

Mehsud stressed on dialogue with the government according to the Taliban's conditions, Ihsan said. 

The Pakistani Taliban chief has twice offered peace talks to the government but made it clear that his group will not disarm. 

Ihsan said the government should stop cooperating with the US in its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, rewrite Pakistan's constitution to bring it in line with Shariah or Islamic law, and apologise for military operations in the tribal areas. 

The Taliban subsequently toned down some of its demands and emphasised the need for having three guarantors to make any talks meaningful. 

The United States Heads to the South China Sea

By Michael T. Klare
February 21, 2013

Why American Involvement Will Mean More Friction -- Not Less 

In official statements, the United States claims to be a neutral observer in disputes over islands in the South and East China Seas. In fact, major U.S. energy firms have already partnered with Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Philippine state-owned oil companies to develop promising reserves in maritime territories claimed by those countries as well as China -- and the United States appears intent on protecting those projects and other interests in the region with military might. 

Until recently, Asian countries' competing claims in the seas around China did not cause outright conflict. But now that drilling technology can tap gas and oil beds there, Asia capitals are stepping up their games. 

With little fanfare, Beijing has recently taken an unusually moderate approach in the seas surrounding its territory. With the friendlier policy, the country hopes to restore its tarnished image in East Asia and reduce the temptation for Washington to take a more active role there. 

A Norweigian- and Chinese-owned offshore oil rig in the South China Sea, May 2006. (Bobby Yip / Courtesy Reuters) 

When U.S. officials are asked to comment on disputes over contested islands in the western Pacific, they invariably affirm that the Obama administration has no position on issues of sovereignty but opposes any use of force to resolve the matter. "Whether with regard to disputes in the South China Sea or in the East China Sea," Deputy Secretary of State William Burns declared last October in Tokyo, the United States "does not take a position on the question of ultimate sovereignty." True to form, he continued, "What we do take a position on is the importance of dealing with those questions through dialogue and diplomacy and avoiding intimidation and coercion." In this and other such statements, the United States projects an aura of neutrality -- even suggesting, on occasion, that the country could serve as a good-faith mediator between disputants. But Washington's stance is less neutral than it appears and more geared toward violent conflict than talking it out. 

China Keeps the Peace at Sea

By Allen Carlson
February 21, 2013

Why the Dragon Doesn't Want War 

In the past few months, China and Japan have appeared to come close to blows over disputed islands in the East China Sea. Yet an outbreak of fighting is unlikely. War would run counter to Beijing's two most fundamental national interests: promoting stability in Asia to foster China's economic growth, and preventing the escalation of radical nationalist sentiment at home. So don't expect China to unsheathe its sword any time soon. 

Until recently, Asian countries' competing claims in the seas around China did not cause outright conflict. But now that drilling technology can tap gas and oil beds there, Asia capitals are stepping up their games. 

With little fanfare, Beijing has recently taken an unusually moderate approach in the seas surrounding its territory. With the friendlier policy, the country hopes to restore its tarnished image in East Asia and reduce the temptation for Washington to take a more active role there. 

A dragon-shaped lantern in Anhui province. The Chinese characters on the board in front of the lantern read "Diaoyu Islands," referring to the disputed islands called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan. (Courtesy Reuters) 

At times in the past few months, China and Japan have appeared almost ready to do battle over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands --which are administered by Tokyo but claimed by both countries -- and to ignite a war that could be bigger than any since World War II. Although Tokyo and Beijing have been shadowboxing over the territory for years, the standoff reached a new low in the fall, when the Japanese government nationalized some of the islands by purchasing them from a private owner. The decision set off a wave of violent anti-Japanese demonstrations across China.