17 March 2013

Synergising the Combat Potential of the Central Armed Police Forces

March 16, 2013 by Team SAISA
Filed under internal security

Gurmeet Kanwal

Since independence, India has faced a large number of external and internal security challenges. The Indian army, the paramilitary forces and the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) have worked hand-in-hand to manage and neutralise these challenges. While the army has been responsible to maintain the integrity of the country’s long land boundaries through four wars and the Kargil conflict, the CAPFs have been largely responsible to manage the land borders and lend a helping hand to the army for counter-insurgency operations. Some insurgencies are now being fought primarily by the CAPFs by themselves.

In May 2001, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had approved the concept of “one border, one force”. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the border with Tibet is now being managed largely by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). In the west, the entire border with Pakistan is manned by the Border Security Force (BSF) except the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Maintaining the sanctity of the LoC is the responsibility of the army and some BSF battalions have been placed under its operational control for this purpose. For over 50 years since the Kashmir conflict began in 1947-48, soon after independence, the two armies were engaged in a so-called ‘eyeball-to-eyeball’ confrontation with daily loss of life and property that could justifiably be called a ‘low intensity limited war’. An informal cease-fire has been in place all along the LoC, including at the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) along the Saltoro Range west of the Siachen Glacier, since November 25, 2003.

The border with Nepal was virtually un-attended till very recently as Nepalese citizens have free access to live and work in India under a 1950 treaty between the two countries. Since the eruption of a Maoist insurgency in Nepal, efforts have been made to gradually step up vigilance along this border to prevent the southward spread of Maoist ideology. The responsibility for this has been entrusted to the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), erstwhile Special Security Bureau that is now a Ministry of Home Affairs force. The Bhutan border is also managed by the SSB. Since the Royal Bhutanese Army drove out the Bodo and ULFA insurgents from its territory some years ago, the border has been relatively quiet. The border with Myanmar also remains operationally active. Several insurgent groups have secured sanctuaries for themselves in Myanmar despite the cooperation extended to India by the Myanmarese army. The cross border movement of Nagas and Mizos for training, purchase of arms and shelter when pursued by Indian security forces, combined with the difficult terrain obtaining in the area, makes this border extremely challenging to manage. This border is manned by the Assam Rifles (AR), India’s oldest paramilitary force.

Along the Bangladesh border that has seen some action in recent years, the BSF is in charge. This border remains in the news as there are frequent clashes between the BSF and the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR). Managing this border is a peculiar challenge that is usually referred to as ‘Enclaves and Adverse Possessions’. There are 111 Indian enclaves (17,158 acres) within Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves (7,110.02 acres) in India.” Thirty-four tracts of Indian land are under the adverse possession of Bangladesh and 40 pieces of Bangladeshi land are in India’s adverse possession. Though the Land Border Agreement of 1974 has provisions for the settlement of the issue of adverse possession, it has not been implemented so far as the problem is politically sensitive.

The CCS had also approved the nomination of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) as the country’s primary counter-insurgency force. Since then, the BSF has been withdrawn from internal security duties in J&K and has been replaced by CRPF battalions. The CRPF is also the primary strike force for anti-Naxalite or anti Maoist operations in the left wing extremism (LWE) affected states in central India. Though it has suffered many casualties in operations so far and is still on a learning curve, it is gradually gaining experience in counter-insurgency operations and can be expected to acquit itself creditably in future.

Democracy and Indian Muslims

March 16, 2013 by Team SAISA
Filed under Analysis

An outstanding article from the Daily Times of Pakistan. This is an article which needs to flow down to all minorities. A country which can look after its minorities eventually thrives. It happened with America. In our context it is a matter of perception. Minorities in any part of the world perceive themselves as a persecuted lot, always unequal to the majority; it is a victim status which comes to human beings when they are outnumbered ethnically, or on religious count. In these circumstances all they need are reminders of the virtues of secular, liberal democracy. These reminders are essential and the Government of the day should emphasise on this.

Pakistan and much of the Arab world is feeling the heat of too much of religion. It is breaking their fabric rather than uniting them. As against this, whatever one may say of the frailty of India’s secular credentials no one can question the success of the model.

By Tufail Ahmad

The organising principles of Indian polity and society are the same that define a western country: a multi-party system, individualism, liberty, a free press and rule of law.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the self-confessed leader of the banned outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, may think that Pakistan is the best Islamic nation for the Bollywood star, Shahrukh Khan to move to, but it is India that is arguably the best Muslim country today. Muslims in India enjoy complete political and religious liberty, a free legislative environment to undertake economic and educational initiatives, a vibrant television media and cinema that teach liberal coexistence, and access to a vast number of universities and institutes of modern education. There is absolutely no Muslim country that offers such a vast array of freedoms to its people.

India is able to offer these freedoms to its citizens because it is a successful democracy. It was good for India to lose the 1857 war; if the British had lost, Indians would have continued to be governed by kings and nawabs, and under shari’a courts that existed during the Mughal era. At the time of independence, the British left behind a justice system that was blind to religious and caste inequities in Indian society, an inclusive democracy that guaranteed equal rights and religious and political freedoms for all; English language that opened doorway to enlightenment and scientific education; and a civil service that treated everyone as Indians rather than Muslims, Hindus or Christians. Muslims in India enjoy these freedoms because India is a thriving democracy, unlike Pakistan that chose a discriminatory constitution, barring its own citizens from holding top positions such as the president of Pakistan because they are Hindus or Christians. Over the past half century, hundreds of millions of Dalits and women have found political empowerment and social freedoms in Indian democracy.

Religion cannot be a good model of governance for modern times because it fails to imagine situations in which non-Muslim citizens could be trusted to govern a Muslim country. Conversely, democracies trust their citizens irrespective of their faith. In a democracy like India, any citizen could compete to be the elected ruler.As democracy matures, India has appointed its Muslim citizens to top positions, currently Hamid Ansari as vice president, Salman Khurshid as foreign minister, Justice Altamas Kabir as Chief Justice, and Syed Asif Ibrahim as the chief of the Intelligence Bureau. It is also true that Muslims lag behind in India’s collective life, but this is because they are under the influence of orthodox ulema or because Muslim politicians fail to imagine themselves as leaders of all Indians. A Muslim politician will be the country’s prime minister the day Indian Muslims begin to view themselves as leaders of all Indians and not only of Muslims, much like Barack Obama who imagined himself as a leader not only of blacks, but of all Americans.

Ends Dealing with Doklam

In laying claims to territories in the SCS and ECS and extending her EEZ beyond the 200 nautical miles norm, China adopted a line drawn by the erstwhile Kuomintang regime that the PRC did not recognise and overthrew. But the Kuomintang drew no such lines to the South along or over the Himalayas. China therefore resorted to improvise through juggling history. Though the northern border of Arunachal Pradesh was signed between Tibet and the British in 1914 when Tibet was not under control of China, PRC refuses to recognise it and claims Arunachal Pradesh as ‘South Tibet’; euphuism for the hegemonic. The Tibet-British boundary accord of 1914 actually followed the McMahon Line. China laid its claims to Tibet based on 13th Century history. So why not go all the way to the 6th and 7th Century when Tibet was a bigger kingdom than China and had even annexed the capital of China. The CCP would do well to read the book ‘Genghis Khan’ but then they would conveniently label it distortion of history.

Coming to the Doklam Plateau of Bhutan, the followers of Sun Tzu apparently slipped for once. The Chinese strategists famed to be distant gazers laid claim to this piece of ground only in early 1990’s. Possibly the strategic significance of Doklam was realised by the Chinese at much later stage because they were eyeing major chunks of Indian Territories as pieces of cake. Perhaps the move by Sunderji through Op ‘Chequer Board’ in occupying forward positions along the Sino-Indian border forced the Chinese to focus on what was left for grabs. Bhutan, with its limited military capability seemed lucrative. Hence claims were laid to the Doklam Palteau. This was accompanied by claim lines in other parts of Bhutan that kept creeping forward like the proverbial Arabian camel with its head inside his master’s tent. It is possible that Arabs may have coined the phrase having studied Chinese moves although Chinese contacts with Arabia were quite unknown then and it took another decade or so for PRC to discover its newfound camaraderie with Al Qaeda spawned by Saudi Arabia’s Osama-bin-Laden. 

The Doklam Plateau lies immediate east of Indian defences in Sikkim. Chinese occupation of Doklam would turn the flank of Indian defences completely. This piece of dominating ground not only has a commanding view of the Chumbi Valley but also overlooks the Siliguri Corridor further to the east. China lays claim to the strategic Doklam Plateau is on account of following: threatens Indian defences in Sikkim; deters possible Indian forays into the Chumbi Valley that may be quid-pro-quo to Chinese offensive actions elsewhere; and provides launch pad to progress operations into the Siliguri Corridor. The latter reason is most important to China who is seeking every possible avenue to reach the warm waters of the Indian Ocean through the land route, be it Myanmar, Pakistan or India. It is also no secret that when the BNP was in power in Bangladesh, their military was practicing a ‘cold start’ to seize the Siliguri Corridor, which may have well been on Chinese advice – similar to Chinese advice to Pakistan to raise a militia to fight in India’s backyard. In case of Doklam, China could not claim any ethnic connections due to the abysmal population in the area. So PLA troops started periodic forays into the Doklam Plateau. The modus operandi was to arrive on the plateau, threaten the Royal Bhutan Guards (RBA) personnel, stay on their post for few hours and tell the RBA they are sitting on Chinese land and they should get out. These incidents were mostly not reported by the Bhutanese and neither in the Indian media for reasons best known to policy makers. Simultaneously, China offered to Bhutan a barter that if Bhutan surrendered Doklam Plateau to China, China would give up equal territorial claims in north-central Bhutan – talk of ‘magnanimity’ of the devil. 

Lawful responses to unlawful actions

Arghya Sengupta 

How the legal complexity surrounding the case of the Italian Marines can be used by India to secure its national interest 

It is not everyday that a seemingly procedural legal question of jurisdiction turns into an inflammatory international incident. When the incident involves two nations that have never shied away from the dramatic, there is always the risk that the ensuing hyperbole will distract attention from the viability of options that each nation has. It is thus imperative for the Government of India to both recognise the legal complexity of the matter involving the killing of two Indian fishermen by two Italian marines 20.5 nautical miles off the coast of Kerala, as well as to respect the rule of law while acting firmly to secure its national interest. Looked at closely, though there is much in the law that has been seemingly intractable so far, there is much else that affords scope for decisive diplomatic action. 

The key issue 

The key legal issue at the centre of the original controversy is which State, India or Italy, may legitimately exercise jurisdiction over the dispute. To answer this involves a determination of three further questions: The interpretation of the applicable jurisdictional provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to which both India and Italy are parties; the extension of domestic criminal law to the Contiguous Zone, an area adjacent to the territorial waters extending up to 24 nautical miles from the coast, and the issue of sovereign immunity of the Marines, which has traditionally been regarded as an exception to the exercise of territorial criminal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court, despite its order on January 18, 2013, has not ruled conclusively on these matters and it is open to the petitioners to challenge India’s jurisdiction at trial. 

In addition, the order of the Supreme Court on February 22, 2013 allowing the Marines to return to Italy must be recognised as an unprecedented order dealing with an unprecedented situation. Unlike the Kerala High Court decision, which allowed the Marines to travel home for Christmas by way of relaxing their bail conditions, the Supreme Court order was passed in a legal vacuum. Given that the Court found that the Kerala courts had no jurisdiction and the Centre had not yet set up a special court, the order to allow the Marines to return for four weeks was an equitable relief, based on good faith and the solemn assurances of the Italian Ambassador to India. 

The legal correctness of both orders of the Supreme Court and the wisdom of actions of the government till date are a subject of intense legal debate. At this time however, as the Government of India mulls next steps, it is imperative that unlike in these two instances, it henceforth uses the extant legal complexity and the unprecedented nature of the situation to its advantage. Doing so will allow it to secure two key interests: Justice for the fishermen and restoring the bruised dignity of the Supreme Court of India. 

A question of justice 

At the heart of this complex diplomatic and legal row lies a human tragedy. Fishermen Valentine and Ajesh died while plying their trade off the coast of Kerala. How they died, whether they were killed and who killed them are questions which can only be conclusively answered at a trial. The path to bringing the accused to justice in India consequently recommends itself to the Central government: proceed with the trial of the marines as per the order of the Supreme Court, as if they were present. 

This involves expeditiously setting up a Special Court, investing it with the staff and resources necessary for a fair trial, summoning the accused, and appointing competent legal aid lawyers to defend them if they are unwilling to appear and co-operate with the court. Such a step will be crucial for three reasons. First, it will reiterate the Government of India’s stated position in both the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court that India is jurisdictionally competent to conduct the trial in this case. This is diplomatically vital for India to demonstrate a consistent position, asserting its own jurisdiction over the dispute. Second, it is essential to ensure that the Supreme Court judgment of January 18, 2013, authoritatively stating that it is the Union of India that is competent to try this matter, is respected. Allowing a judicial order of such importance to become a dead letter would be a serious breach of the rule of law. Third, beginning such a trial would provide a clear legal basis to declare the accused a ‘proclaimed offender’ under Section 82 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This would set the legal foundation for an international arrest warrant against the accused, restricting their right to travel outside Italy, presumably a key facet of their work as naval officers. Justice to the fishermen and their families in the current circumstances would remain illusory without a trial court making at least these preliminary determinations, thereby setting the stage for a final determination of guilt. 

Prosecuting for contempt of court 

Getting the accused back to face trial in India must be sought through alternative, legally tenable means. A key avenue is to sue the Italian Ambassador to India, Daniele Mancini, for contempt of court. If the Marines do not return by March 22, when the four weeks granted by the Supreme Court expires, the Ambassador would be breaching his obligation, to ensure their return to India, in a sworn affidavit in his official capacity before the Supreme Court, thereby committing an egregious act of contempt. 

It is thus imperative that the Government of India files a contempt petition before the Supreme Court at the appropriate time. It has been widely suggested that filing such a petition may be meaningless because the Ambassador enjoys diplomatic immunity. While superficially the objection seems weighty, a deeper legal analysis suggests otherwise. First, the power to punish for contempt itself is a constitutional power vested in the Supreme Court by virtue of Article 129. On the contrary, the principle of diplomatic immunity, well-recognised internationally in numerous conventions, is made applicable in India by Section 2 of the Diplomatic Relations (Vienna Convention) Act, 1972 (hereinafter “Act”). This Section, which gives certain provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, (hereinafter “Vienna Convention”) including the principle of diplomatic immunity, domestic application, starts with a non-obstante clause that implies that it overrides other laws. However it is a fundamental legal fallacy to contend that such a statutory law can override a constitutional power. It is an equal fallacy to contend that it overrides the Constitution on the basis of being customary international law, applicable to all nation states. India’s constitutional scheme is, in principle, unambiguously dualist, i.e. for international law to be binding, it requires domestic incorporation. This is especially so when the international law in question ‘modifies the laws of the state’ [Maganbhai Ishwarbhai Patel v. Union of India, (Supreme Court, 1969)]. 

Second, the Republic of Italy, by approaching the Supreme Court of India through a writ petition itself, has arguably waived its claims to any sovereign immunity in respect of this matter. According to Section 5 of the Act read with Article 32 of the Vienna Convention, sovereign immunity can be waived in respect of counter-claims in matters where proceedings are initiated in a domestic court by a diplomatic agent. In Indian National Steamship Company v. Maux Faulbaum, the Calcutta High Court held that the Government of Indonesia in approaching the Calcutta High Court for relief had waived its sovereign immunity. Consistent state practice in other jurisdictions supports this view that when a state itself institutes proceedings before a foreign national court, it relinquishes its immunity. Italy, and by necessary implication its Ambassador, cannot, in law, be allowed to have its cake and eat it too. 

Finally, Section 4 of the Act can be used by India to withdraw certain privileges and immunities, if it appears that Italy is in breach of its obligations under the Vienna Convention. Under Article 41 of the Vienna Convention, it is a duty on those enjoying privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving (host) state. There is little doubt that by falsely swearing on affidavit before the Supreme Court of India, and brazenly disrespecting its order, the Italian Ambassador has shown wanton disregard for the laws and regulations of India. Moreover, such disregard has fundamentally tarnished the dignity of the Supreme Court of India. In these circumstances, it would be entirely permissible to withdraw Italy’s, and by consequence, its Ambassador’s immunity from jurisdiction of Indian courts in this matter. 

Each of these, and other legal options that exist at this time, must be analysed carefully by the Government of India, in terms of its strategic value, political viability and international repercussions. The law governing the substantive dispute and possible next steps is undeniably complex. The Government of India must view this complexity as an opportunity and act decisively to uphold India’s national interest. 

(Arghya Sengupta is a Stipendiary Lecturer in Law at Pembroke College, University of Oxford and Founder, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, New Delhi 

Neha Jain, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Law, provided inputs on questions of international law)

Pakistan: Myths and consequences

by Omar Ali 
March 15, 2013

The Islamic and irrationally anti-Indian elements in the self-image of the Pakistani state have led it down a self-destructive path. 

Salman Rushdie famously said that Pakistan was “insufficiently imagined”. To say that a state is insufficiently imagined is to run into thorny questions regarding the appropriate quantum of imagination needed by any state; there is no single answer and at their edges (internal or external), all states and all imaginings are contested. But while the mythology used to justify any state is elastic and details vary in every case, it is not infinitely elastic and all options are not equally workable. I will argue that Pakistan in particular was insufficiently imagined prior to birth; that once it came into being, the mythology favoured by its establishment proved to be self-destructive; and that it must be corrected (surreptitiously if need be, openly if possible) in order to permit the emergence of workable solutions to myriad common post-colonial problems. 

In state sponsored textbooks it is claimed that Pakistan was established because two separate nations lived in India — one of the Muslims and the other of the Hindus (or Muslims and non-Muslims, to be more accurate) and the Muslims needed a separate state to develop individually and collectively. That the two “nations” lived mixed up with each other in a vast subcontinent and were highly heterogeneous were considered minor details. What was important was the fact that the Muslim elite of North India (primarily Turk and Afghan in origin) entered India as conquerors from ‘Islamic’ lands. And even though they then settled in India and intermarried with locals and evolved a new Indo-Muslim identity, they remained a separate nation from the locals. More surprisingly, those locals who converted to the faith of the conquerors also became a separate nation, even as they continued to live in their ancestral lands alongside their unconverted neighbours. Accompanying this was the belief that the last millennium of Indian history was a period of Muslim rule followed by a period of British rule. Little mention was made of the fact that the relatively unified rule of the Delhi Sultanate and the Moghul empire (both of which can be fairly characterised as “Muslim rule”, Hindu generals, satraps and ministers notwithstanding) collapsed in the 18th century to be replaced in large sections of India by the Maratha empire, and then by the Sikh Kingdom of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. 

During British rule the cultural goods of the North Indian Muslim elite (Urdu language, literate “high church” Islam, Islamicate social customs, a sense of separateness and a sense of superiority to the ‘natives’) became more of a model for the emerging Muslim middle class. But even as many leading lights of the North Indian Muslim community fought hard to promote what they saw as “Muslim interests”, they were also attracted by the emerging notion of a modern and democratic Indian whole. Some of these leaders (including Jinnah) simultaneously espoused elements of Muslim nationalism and secularised Indian nationalism and sometimes went back and forth between these ideals or tried to aim for a synthesis. Some of this multi-tasking was undoubtedly the result of sophisticated political calculation by very smart people, but it must not be forgotten that a lot of it was also a reflection of the half-formed and still evolving nature of these categories. 

The Pakistani Military's New Coup Playbook

Democracy Is Still on a Leash in Islamabad
March 14, 2013

Will Democracy Survive? Protests in Islamabad, 2013. (Zohra Bensemra / Courtesy Reuters)

Pakistan is on the verge of an historic moment: This spring, for the first time, an elected administration will hand off power to another one after serving out its term. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government, which came into power in 2008 following reasonably free and fair elections, holds a number of dubious distinctions -- its massive corruption, its refusal to expand Pakistan’s miniscule tax base by imposing industrial and agricultural taxes on parliamentarians and their patronage networks, its inability to address the colossal power and gas shortages that have plagued the country, its weakness in addressing Pakistan’s pervasive security problems, and its inability to stem intolerance against religious and ethnic minorities. But despite the litany of shortcomings, the PPP’s achievements are remarkable.

For one, the serving parliament has passed more legislation than any other in Pakistan’s history. The government has also gone a long way toward institutionalizing democracy, including making considerable efforts to take responsibility for foreign and defense policy-making, which are typically the bailiwick of the powerful army. Although the parliament has carefully managed this process so that it does not fundamentally challenge the army, the Pakistani people have nevertheless grown accustomed to seeing politicians weighing in on such hefty issues. Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari is the first sitting Pakistani president to have ever devolved extensive presidential powers to the prime minister, no small accomplishment in a country where the president has often enjoyed more power than the prime minister or parliament. Zardari has also made unprecedented strides to pass power to the provinces, in order to mitigate the long-standing grievances of those in Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the North-West Frontier Province), as well as the tribal areas. The government has even seriously flirted with reforming how the Federally Administered Tribal Areas are governed. The current codes date back to the colonial era and are ill-suited to a modern democracy.

This does not mean, of course, that Pakistan’s democracy is in the free and clear. There are numerous and daunting tasks ahead for the next government. It must consolidate democratic institutionalization, strengthen civilian control over the military, forge consensus among whatever restive coalition partners eventually form the government, resist political infighting and military interference, and bravely seek economic reforms against the wishes of their constituents and their own economic interests. This may prove too herculean an agenda, especially with the military seeking new ways to assert its own power. Although the government has moved forward by leaps and bounds in the last few years, in other words, progress might be slower in the ones ahead. 

Will Beijing step up in Central Asia?

By Deirdre Tynan, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Deirdre Tynan is Central Asia Project Director of the International Crisis Group. The views expressed are her own.

China is spending billions of dollars in Central Asia, and is hoping for two things in return. The first is natural resources measured in cubic meters of gas, barrels of oil and metric tons of minerals. The second is more complicated and harder to measure: Beijing wants Central Asia states to be good neighbors – stable, predictable and not given to extremes. 

Unfortunately, Central Asia is none of these things. What’s more, it borders China’s Xinjiang Province to the east and Afghanistan to the south, places that before the 20th century were linked by cultural similarities that remain as foreign to China today as they did during the reign of khans and emperors. 

What Beijing is looking at beyond its western borders is in fact a region of great political risk and insecurity. Policy makers in Beijing recognize that Central Asia may soon exact a higher price than expected in terms of the political capital required to safeguard China’s borders and contain the brewing threats in the region. But, so far, China’s policy of non-interference prevents it from spending anything other than cash. 

The reality is that Central Asia’s problems cannot be solved by cash alone. They are products of poor governance. Large swathes of the population, even in countries like Kazakhstan, which exudes a façade of progress, live in poverty and often without basic utilities and no political recourse. In Kyrgyzstan, political corruption, economic crisis and rising nationalism make it highly unpredictable, thus deterring foreign investment. Tajikistan is essentially a narco-state with a southern border to Afghanistan so porous it may as well not exist. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are both authoritarian regimes, with the latter in particular having no plan for leadership succession, yet an aging leader. 

Short of a new great wall, nothing will keep fighters originally from Central Asia and Xinjiang confined to Afghanistan if they choose to return home. Although few in Central Asia profess a commitment to radical strands of Islam – let alone to a global caliphate – many are exhausted by the status quo and feel powerless to exact change from a venal and corrupt political elite. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan or the East Turkistan Independence Movement, closely aligned militant organizations, may find that while they cannot win the people’s hearts, they are able to at least find an audience, skeptical but willing to listen to anyone who claims they can do things differently. 

In practical terms, if the IMU and their allies chose to re-engage with Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s security forces, poorly trained and underfunded, wouldn’t be able to give much of a fight. The only military challenge they might face comes from Uzbekistan, which on past form is more likely to over-react in a crackdown that takes more lives than it saves. 

The West’s answer to this is to offer military training and excess military hardware leftover from Afghanistan – the latter a reward for cooperating on logistics matters during the war there. Privately, though, the Pentagon is aware that the states most in need of a boost in military capabilities are the ones that cannot be helped because of endemic corruption and years of decline. 

China’s Looming Crisis: Daunting Troubles Mount

China’s in deep, deep trouble, and its new leaders know it. The growth of the nation’s GDP has continued to slow every quarter since late 2010—though it did tick up slightly in the state’s latest quarterly report, published in January. But that’s just one of many problems. In the simple words of D&B Country RiskLine Reports’ year-end assessment of China, “Trend: deteriorating.” 

Xi Jinping, the nation’s new Communist Party leader, assumes the presidency this March, and the country is hoping, albeit with considerable trepidation, that he will bring positive change. But China’s troubles—economic, political, social—are daunting. And as the full government transition approaches, these problems seem to be converging. One significant symptom: Money is flowing out of the state at an alarming rate, a sign that wealthy Chinese have lost faith in the country. 

Of course, China does not make public any figures of this capital flight. But reliable estimates from several journalists and economists published late last year estimate that between $225 billion and $300 billion has left the country in the past year, three to four percent of China’s economic output for that period. And this has happened even though moving significant amounts out of the country is strictly illegal. The outflow is growing larger every year, just as the GDP continues to fall—not a coincidence. 

Russia and China—either (or both) could collapse soon. Yet neither the president nor his challenger seem alert to, or prepared for, such a possibility. 

In fact, wealthy and successful Chinese aren’t just moving their money. Many are making plans to leave for the West along with their money, with America being the primary destination. Last year, the Chinese magazine Hurun Report, which chronicles the lives and foibles of the wealthy, published that finding after interviewing nine hundred people in eighteen cities. 

The sample was clearly not scientific, but it was given added credibility when many thousands of people responding to the article on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, said they would leave, too—if only they had enough money. 

The wealthy who are moving to America most often use the EB-5 visa, which goes to foreigners willing to invest at least half a million dollars in a business that offers new jobs for at least ten Americans. The Chinese call that “investment migration.” And the China Merchants Bank, along with global consulting firm Bain & Company, concluded in a joint report that it’s “quickly increasing.” 

The two companies said investment migration from China to the US “grew at a compounded annual rate of seventy-three percent over the past five years.” The companies also surveyed wealthy Chinese (one of several organizations to do so) and found that almost sixty percent of them “have either completed investment immigration, applied for investment immigration or are considering it.” 

The Department of Homeland Security reported that seventy-eight percent of the EB-5 applicants last year were Chinese. 

While the wealthy vote with their feet, the lower and middle classes are in open revolt. The Ministry of Public Security estimated that in 2011 the Chinese staged more than 128,000 “mass incidents”—large local protests over corruption, land seizures, pollution, job safety, and a dozen other social ills. The numbers are certainly approximate. But they are almost certainly increasing. In 1993, the official number was 8,709. By 2009, the ministry said the people staged about 90,000 mass incidents. Nearly all the protests are aimed at local authorities, not the national government. For many, the memory of Tiananmen Square apparently remains burned on the brain. 

Not surprisingly, the Chinese government has stopped releasing statistics on mass incidents. But Xia Yeliang, an economics professor at Peking University, said the number has risen “to more than two hundred thousand a year”—more than five hundred every day. “We have our own sources in the central security office,” he said in an interview. 

One of the people’s gravest grievances, the motivation for many demonstrations, is the nation’s growing income inequality. At year’s end, the China Daily reported that the state “has about one hundred and twenty-two million rural people living below the poverty line, meaning they earn less than three hundred yuan [$369] a year”—or one dollar a day. Counting urban poor, the total number of Chinese living in abject poverty reaches almost fifteen percent of the population. 

The newspaper quoted Yu Jiantuo, a researcher specializing in poverty studies at the China Development Research Foundation, as acknowledging that poverty during childhood “can impede a person’s achievements in education, health, and capacity to integrate into society.” And in fact, UNICEF reports that ten percent of China’s children are growing up stunted, meaning they do not grow normally, either physically or mentally. At the same time, three percent of Chinese infants, or about forty million babies, are “wasting”—essentially starving to death. 

Sanitation is a huge problem for these people, too. In fact, nearly half of China’s people do not even have access to a toilet. And “they might get to take a shower twice a month,” Xia Yeliang said. 

Meanwhile, China has more billionaires and millionaires than any nation in the world except for the United States. China’s National Economic Research Foundation, a private think tank based in Beijing, concludes that when so-called hidden income—bribes and related graft—is counted, the income of the richest ten percent of Chinese is sixty-five times higher on average than that of the poorest ten percent. 

Last year, the World Bank published a massive report concluding that the Chinese government must revamp its economy and social services if it hopes to survive. 

“The case for reform is compelling,” the bank’s president, Robert Zoellick, said at a news conference in Beijing shortly before he left office. “China has reached a turning point in its development path.” 

Some Chinese experts have now broken the great wall of denial to say the same things. The situation is growing so serious that Strategy and Reform, one of China’s think tanks, warned publicly last fall that the country “is confronting a perilous jump, one it can neither hide from nor avoid—no matter what. There’s a potential crisis in China’s model of economic growth.” 

Wu Jinglian, a prominent economist writing in Caijing, a leading Chinese business magazine, said: “China’s economic and social contradictions seem to be nearing a threshold.” 

One major threat often mentioned is the radical change in the nation’s labor pool. China has thrived primarily as a low-wage manufacturer of Western products. But as the nation has grown more prosperous, workers’ wages have risen radically—“a very serious problem,” economics professor Xia Yeliang says. India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and other poorer states are now taking away many of these jobs, one big reason the Chinese economy is not growing. A strategy China is pushing to confront this problem is based on the idea that the state should begin relying less on exports and more on domestic consumption—as stressed at a high-level government economic conference in late December. But with a slowing economy, that remains problematic. 

Another big problem, China experts say, is the dominance of state-owned businesses and enterprises—one hundred and forty-five thousand of them that represent thirty-five percent of all business activity in China, according to official figures. And, by their very nature, they are overstaffed and inefficient since they face no true competition. Many are owned by government officials or their relatives, allowing entire extended families to line their pockets. 

In a report to China’s legislature last fall, Wang Yong, director of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, obliquely promised that “more efforts will be made to reform the power, telecommunications, oil, and petrochemical industries. Market entry into these sectors will be expanded based on the development of these industries.” 

Just before leaving office late last year, President Hu Jintao acknowledged the problems China now faces by offering what appeared to be another of his disingenuous reform promises: “We should separate government administration from the management of enterprises, state assets, public institutions, and social organizations.” 

In interviews, a variety of Chinese and China experts told me they are quite pessimistic, foreseeing little if any significant change under the new leadership. Asked about the new government’s ability to make a mid-course correction, a senior journalist with Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, simply pursed her lips and shook her head. (Understandably, she did not want to be named.) 

“Definitely not,” Professor Xia Yeliang, now a visiting fellow at Stanford University, says. “A lot of people are expecting Xi Jinping to make reforms. But he has made speeches saying he will always insist on Communist Party leadership. I think they know they have big problems. But they are still so confident that they have sufficient power to suppress the people” who protest or otherwise cause trouble. 

Andrew Nathan, a China expert at Columbia University, was perhaps the most optimistic source I interviewed. He said he foresaw “change within continuity.” That means “continued reforms that have the purpose of keeping the party in power—in other words, not ‘real’ or Western-style democracy” including “gradually ramping up the attempt to control (as well as to hide) corruption.” 

In foreign policy, Nathan added, “I think China now sees itself as having arrived at the level of a great power and evaluates the US and its allies as weak and hence has embarked on a period of assertiveness in its foreign policy,” particularly in the South China Sea. 

That has ended up alienating almost every one of its neighbors. Even as it tries to deal with its festering internal problems, China is becoming a pariah in its region. Because of its belligerent behavior in the South China Sea, where it claims almost the entire waterway for itself, Beijing has infuriated almost every neighboring state while at the same time empowering the United States as it “pivots” to Asia. 

Its only remaining true ally, in fact, is Cambodia. China has removed the stigma from its prior support of the Khmer Rouge by in effect buying the country with $8 billion in unrestricted aid over the last few years. North Korea could also be considered an ally of sorts, though really it’s closer to a resentful dependent. And Laos has at best an ambivalent relationship with Beijing. Every other country in the region considers China a competitor or opponent—if not an enemy. So does most of the world. 

Watching the coronation of China’s new Politburo last fall, most commentators, Chinese and Western, noted that no known reformers were evident among the picks. Zhang Tianliang, a Chinese émigré who teaches at George Mason University, was extremely negative. 

“The new lineup will completely destroy any remaining hopes that the CCP [the Chinese Communist Party] would improve itself,” he wrote in the newspaper Epoch Times. “The Eighteenth Party Congress lineup tells us that CCP, a cultish criminal organization, cannot even fake reform. The dreams of those who harbored some hope for CCP are now 
completely dispelled.” 

But many China experts are pessimistic about the chance for positive change for reasons different from Zhang’s. Even if Xi wants to bring change, no one can be sure that he’ll be able to pull it off. Since so many Communist Party officials are growing exceedingly wealthy under the current system, won’t they resist significant change? 

After all, Bloomberg News reported that the Chinese legislature’s seventy richest members accrued vastly more wealth in 2011 than the combined net worth of all five hundred and thirty-five members of the US Congress, the president, and his Cabinet. Quoting the Hurun Report, Bloomberg said those seventy delegates now have a combined net worth of $89.8 billion, compared with $7.5 billion for the six hundred and sixty most senior people in the American government. And there was also that New York Times story in October 2012 showing that then Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s family was worth $2.7 billion. 

Some government actions suggest the pessimists are correct. One example is the faked official economic statistics, many of which are just bald-faced lies intended to make the state look better. How mendacious the official figures are is shown in a small way when the US Embassy in Beijing, which maintains a pollution monitoring device on its roof, puts out numbers showing how serious the city’s air pollution is—while the government has been publicizing feel-good numbers that anyone looking out the window could see were obviously wrong. 

The government also claims that the income of the richest Chinese is only twenty-three times higher than the poorest—even though China’s National Economic Research Foundation study put the number at sixty-five times higher. 

China also appears to be faking its GDP numbers, prominent corporate executives and Western economists told the New York Times last summer, apparently to disguise the true depths of the nation’s troubles. Significant drops in industrial electricity and coal usage, particularly, indicate a slowing economy. The economists and executives estimated that China’s gross domestic product is one or two percent lower than the officially stated rate. 

What’s more, a prominent Chinese economics professor, Gan Li of Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, published a survey in December 2012 that showed China’s actual urban unemployment rate to be just over eight percent—double the official rate, and higher than America’s. Gan surveyed eight thousand households for the survey, which also showed that, for middle-aged people, in their fifties primarily, the unemployment rate is even higher: almost twenty-eight percent. 

Xi Jinping knows all this. According to reports from Chinese and Western media, senior people all around him are urging him to set out reforms. In fact, just before he took office as Communist Party chief, Xi sent a team of officials to Singapore. They looked at that city-state as a possible model. Singapore is a deeply authoritarian but prosperous state that does allow free elections for subordinate positions. Still, many social liberties, like freedom of the press and of assembly, are limited. In most experts’ view, the improvements in China from adapting such a model would be small. 

Most China analysts agree that the country’s financial problems should be the government’s most significant concern. After all, for decades the Chinese have lived with a well-known but unspoken pact: The people will accept authoritarian leadership as long as the government makes it possible for them to grow ever more prosperous. Right now, it seems apparent that Beijing isn’t keeping its part of the bargain. 

While the mega-billionaires, including many government officials, may not be feeling the pinch—big-diamond sales are soaring—the mere millionaires may be looking over their shoulders, given that sales of less-expensive luxury goods are falling. The Burberry coat and Hennessy cognac companies recently issued profit warnings because of 
plummeting sales in China. 

Sales of Swiss watches to China have fallen by almost thirty percent in recent months, and sales of ordinary jewelry are bottoming. Yum Brands, owner of the extremely popular Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises, said sales dropped four percent in the fourth quarter—compared to a jump of twenty-one percent in late 2011. 

Despite all the pessimism, Xi has given some cryptic indications that he understands the extent of the problems. For one thing, he declared that widespread corruption will “doom the state.” And during his first weeks in office, half a dozen officials guilty of corruption so blatant that it could not be ignored lost their jobs—probably a record. Xi ordered even more arrests in the following months. He also made some symbolic changes, driving to out-of-town destinations in a minibus, not an Audi limousine; staying in modest hotels and walking around in short sleeves—not the dark-blue suit that’s practically the uniform of government bureaucrats. Trying to make a statement, he is eschewing all the pomp and circumstance that normally characterize government leaders’ trips. 

More significantly, the government now says it is going to pass legislation to rein in land seizures, endemic nationwide. Over the years, local officials have accrued almost $2 trillion in debt that is not on the national government’s books. Year after year, Xia Yeliang said, local mayors grab residents’ property, sell it to developers, and use the money to make the minimum debt payments and then pocket the rest—leaving the standing debt for the next mayor, who is likely to behave the same way. 

These illegal land seizures—often with no compensation—are reported to have netted $482 billion in 2011. And a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences notes that land disputes are the justification for more than half of the nation’s “mass incidents” each year. There’s no indication the problem is abating. Whether the government can actually produce a meaningful law to curtail this remains to be seen. 

In addition, the government is talking about setting up a pilot project in one province requiring officials to disclose their income—an important step toward corruption control. The government has raised the idea of issuing deposit insurance for individuals’ bank holdings . . . and more. But Hu Jintao also promised reform when he took office ten years ago, only to do very little. 

Even the nationalist, state-owned, pro-government newspaper Global Times seems skeptical. A recent article observed that Xi’s initial changes are largely sartorial, then inserted an unveiled warning: “If top leaders cannot deliver what they promised, the public will not remain silent.” 

Joel Brinkley is a professor of journalism at Stanford University and a Pulitzer Prize–winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times.

Armor: Key to the future fight

Mobility, protection and precision firepower are a winning combination 
By Col. David B. Haight, Col. Paul J. Laughlin and Capt. Kyle F. Bergner 

Increasing fiscal constraints, perceived changes in the character and capabilities of future adversaries, and the national strategic shift to the Asian-Pacific lead some to doubt the continuing usefulness of combined arms land forces. 

Some argue that new technologies will enable the naval and air forces, in combination with special forces, to fight and win in future armed conflict without the commitment of significant Army or Marine forces. Others cite a decrease in conventional land armies and an increase in anti-access/area-denial technology and operations as reason to shrink the Army’s ready combined arms forces through various means such as transfers to reserve components or reduced commitments in regions such as South Korea. 

These arguments undervalue the importance of the mobility, protection and precision firepower that combined arms armored formations provide in both decisive action and shaping operations. They underappreciate the value of such versatile formations, and oversimplify the problem of future armed conflict. 

Key Attributes 

To understand the enduring value of mobile protected precision firepower, it is worth examining each attribute in turn. 

• Mobility: In all but the most restrictive terrain, armored forces — in particular, tracked armor and mechanized infantry — provide essential tactical mobility. Tracks distribute weight over a broad surface area, providing much greater cross-country mobility than wheels. Freed of dependence on roads and trails, the combined arms team gains options and becomes more unpredictable. This makes it easier to surprise the enemy and makes it more difficult for him to employ improvised explosive devices, mines, and complex ambushes. 

This is no less true now than it was in World War I, when tanks helped break the stalemate of trench warfare; in World War II, where the German blitzkrieg and the U.S. Army’s breakout from Normandy reshaped warfare; in Vietnam, when armor was essential to security, offensive operations, and area and route reconnaissance; or twice in Iraq, when Operation Desert Storm and the 2003 invasion of Operation Iraqi Freedom hinged on U.S. armored forces’ ability to maneuver quickly through open and restrictive terrain, survive no-notice encounters with enemies and overwhelm those enemies with precision firepower. More recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, this tactical mobility has been crucial in route and area security, counterambush, cordon and search, and quick-reaction missions. 

Bangladesh's Quest for Closure

By SALIL TRIPATHI | 1 April 2010


Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic declaration of independence, 7 March 1971: “Our struggle this time is for freedom. Our struggle this time is for independence.”

AQUARTER CENTURY AGO I met a man who calmly told me how he had organised the massacre of a family. He wasn’t confessing out of a sense of remorse; he was bragging about it, grinning as he spoke to me.

I was a young reporter on assignment in Dhaka, trying to figure out what had gone wrong with Bangladesh, which had emerged as an independent nation after a bloody war of liberation 15 years earlier, in 1971. The man I was interviewing lived in a well-appointed home. Soldiers protected his house, checking the bags and identification of all visitors. A week earlier he had been a presidential candidate, losing by a huge margin.

He wore a Pathani outfit that looked out of place in a country where civilian politicians wore white kurtas and black vests, and men on the streets went about in lungis. He had a thin moustache. He stared at me eagerly as we spoke, curious about the notes I was taking, trying to read what I was writing in my notepad. He sat straight on a sofa, his chest thrust forward, as if he was still in uniform. He looked like a man playing a high stakes game, assured that he would win, because he knew someone important who held all the cards.

His name was Farooq Rahman, and he had been an army major, and later, lieutenant-colonel. He had returned to Bangladesh recently, after several years in exile in Libya. Before dawn on 15 August 1975, he led the Bengal Lancers, the army’s tank unit under his command, to disarm the Rokkhi Bahini, a paramilitary force loyal to President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his Awami League party. When he left the Dhaka Cantonment, he had instructed other officers and soldiers to go to the upscale residential area of Dhanmondi, where Mujib, as he was popularly known, lived. Soon after 5:00 am, the officers had killed Mujib and most of his family.

I had been rehearsing how to ask Farooq about his role in the assassination. I had no idea how he would respond. After a few desultory questions about the country’s political situation, I tentatively began, “It has been widely reported in Bangladesh that you were somehow connected with the plot to remove Mujibur Rahman from power in 1975. Would you…”

“Of course, we killed him,” he interrupted me. “He had to go,” he said, before I could complete my hesitant, longwinded question.

The Rebalance to Asia: Why South Asia Matters

March 13, 2013


America’s rebalancing strategy must extend to South Asia if it is to succeed.

America’s rebalancing strategy must extend to South Asia if it is to succeed, says Vikram Nehru. In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he outlines how Asia’s economic integration is spreading west, why America’s interests in the Indo-Pacific have never been greater, and what steps Washington can take to enhance its position in the region.
Policy Recommendations:
  • Engage China on common concerns: Washington should work closely with Beijing on food safety, a multilateral investment treaty, reforming international financial institutions, and cybersecurity to lay the foundation for resolving larger, more contentious issues. 
  • Deepen relations with India: The United States should consider India a cornerstone in its strategy toward the Indo-Pacific and deepen relations with New Delhi by exporting shale gas to enhance India’s energy security; responding positively to India’s military modernization needs; and simplifying visa requirements to boost India’s exports of services. 
  • Strengthen engagement with Southeast Asia: Using the U.S.-Indonesia comprehensive partnership as a model, Washington should expand bilateral relations with Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Myanmar and strengthen ASEAN’s implementation capacity.
  • Advance trade and investment liberalization in Asia: The United States should push to bring negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, to a successful close.
  • Nehru concludes, “The Indo-Pacific region incorporating East Asia and South Asia—driven by the unrelenting logic of markets and geography—has the potential to become the world’s economic powerhouse. Its peaceful rise should be a core objective of American foreign policy.”

Full Testimony

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you very much for the opportunity to testify before you today on why South Asia matters to the U.S. rebalancing toward Asia.
Senior Associate

Asia Program

Bakrie Chair in Southeast Asian StudiesMore from this author...

The rise of Asia in all its dimensions has profound implications for America’s future. President Obama’s strategic balancing strategy recognizes this and seeks to deepen American engagement with the region at many levels. The ultimate objective of the rebalancing strategy should be to support the rise of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Asia that drives global growth to the benefit of the region and the world and works in partnership with other members of the global community to resolve regional and global challenges. A peaceful and dynamic Asia, integrated with the rest of the global economy, and actively participating in global institutions, is central to America’s interests and will work to the long-term benefit of American companies, American workers, American jobs, and ultimately the American economy.

Extending America’s rebalancing to include South Asia is not just important, it is essential. South Asia matters because a stable, peaceful, and outward looking South Asia that joins East Asia’s production networks will offer a counterpoint to China’s economic predominance in the region and provide additional impetus and resilience to Asia’s rise. The Indo-Pacific region incorporating East Asia and South Asia―driven by the unrelenting logic of markets and geography―has the potential to become the world’s economic powerhouse. Its peaceful rise should be a core objective of American foreign policy.

To be successful, the rebalancing strategy needs to have clear objectives and well-defined indicators of success, be comprehensive in reach, engage China, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, and be coordinated across its security, diplomatic, and economic dimensions in a whole-of-government approach.

A More Equal Union

Milan Vaishnav Op-Ed March 1, 2013 Caravan


For India's states to learn from one another, both the states and the center will need to reform institutional barriers to constructive competition.

We are often told that one of the great virtues of Indian democracy is its federal character. From the outset, India’s founding fathers eloquently argued that it was only through federalism that the nation-state of India could survive after independence. Decentralized power provides space for regional or linguistic identities to assert themselves. States—the constituent units of a diverse Indian union—are free, albeit with some notable constraints imposed by the center, to shape their economic agendas. Federalism allows states to exercise autonomy over critical areas of day-to-day governance. As defined by the Constitution, authority over many crucial sectors—from public health to land to law and order—lies with the states. In numerous other areas—education comes to mind—the states and the center share concurrent responsibility.

South Asia ProgramMore from this author...

Yet federalism is heralded not simply for what its constituent parts are free to do on their own, but also because of how they are able to interact with one another. In the memorable words of the American Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory.” The very existence of a federal union—in India or elsewhere—is thought to provide a venue for states to experiment, compete, and even learn from one another. Federalism, in theory anyway, creates a marketplace for public policy, in which the best policies eventually take hold and are replicated across units, while the worst are relegated to the dustbin of history.

As India’s economic prospects have dimmed and the center has been dogged by corruption scandals and policy missteps over the last 12 months, many inside (and outside) India have turned their attention from the center to the states—in hopes that a competitive spirit amongst the states will be India’s pathway to better economic and social outcomes, not to mention more robust democracy.

Against this backdrop of optimistic expectation, when surveying the present scene in the states, one is faced with a quandary: given the incentives for inter-state competition and rivalry, why aren’t India’s states learning more from one another, especially the laggards from the leaders? Put another way: for all the talk about India’s federal design serving as a laboratory in which state-led experiments can take place, why aren’t we seeing more successful policy experiments being piloted in one place and then replicated in another? This is not to say that there are no good examples of the diffusion of successful policies—mid-day meals in Tamil Nadu, rural employment guarantee in Maharashtra, the right-to-information acts in Delhi and elsewhere were all successful state experiments which later received nationwide acceptance. Yet in many of these instances, it was the center that picked up an idea and then legislated it from the top-down. Organic, bottom-up diffusion seems less common. Quite often, successful policy experiments at the state-level don’t spread laterally (from state to state) at all.

Consider the following thought experiment. One could argue—with the caveat that the media hype has somewhat outpaced the ground realities—that the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar from 2005 to 2010 delivered one of the most marked governance turnarounds we have witnessed at the state-level. Kumar successfully targeted three reforms with transformational potential: fixing the broken state police machinery and re-establishing the state’s monopoly on violence; refurbishing Bihar’s atrocious road network; and providing incentives for parents to send their daughters to school (and keep them there as they get older). So why haven’t more chief ministers of India’s traditionally backward states successfully cribbed from his first-term playbook?