6 April 2013

The Acute Jihadist Threat in Europe

By Scott Stewart, Vice President of Analysis, and Sidney Brown 
April 4, 2013

On March 26, the Belgian federal police's counterterrorism force, or Special Units, conducted a felony car stop on Hakim Benladghem, a 39-year-old French citizen of Algerian extraction. When Benladghem reacted aggressively, he was shot and killed by the police attempting to arrest him. The Special Units chose to take Benladghem down in a car stop rather than arrest him at his home because it had intelligence indicating that he was heavily armed. The authorities also knew from their French counterparts that Benladghem had been trained as a paratrooper in the French Foreign Legion. 

Additional intelligence showed that Benladghem had traveled extensively and that, through his travels and email and cellphone communications, he appeared to be connected to the international jihadist movement. Rather than risk a confrontation at Benladghem's apartment, where he had access to an arsenal of weapons as well as a ballistic vest and helmet, the police decided to arrest him while he was away from home and more vulnerable. The Belgian authorities did not want to risk a prolonged, bloody siege like the one that occurred in April 2012 in Toulouse, France, when French police attempted to arrest shooter Mohammed Merah. 

The intelligence regarding Benladghem's arsenal was confirmed when a search of his apartment revealed several weapons, including an assault rifle, a submachine gun and a tactical shotgun. He also possessed a large collection of tactical equipment, including a ballistic vest, a Kevlar helmet, a ballistic shield and two gas masks. With such equipment and training, Benladghem would have been well-equipped to not only handle an assault on his apartment but also to conduct an armed assault -- intelligence indicating that he was preparing to conduct such an attack March 27 is reportedly what led the police to try to arrest him. Authorities are still closely guarding the identities of Benladghem's targets, but given France's involvement in the case, it is likely they were transnational in nature; there are a number of such targets in Brussels, which houses NATO and EU headquarters. 

Belgian authorities are now undoubtedly working with their European and other allies to investigate Benladghem's contacts in order to determine the scope of the network he was a part of and what threat his associates still pose. This potential threat is a reminder of the challenges that radicalized European Muslims present for European authorities. 
The Roots of the Problem

There are long, historical ties between the Muslim world and Europe. From the earliest days of Islam and the Umayyads' invasion of Spain and France in the early 700s, through the Crusades and the European colonization of North Africa and South Asia in the 1700s and 1800s, to the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the wake of World War I and the European colonization of the Middle East, the threads of Europe and the Muslim world have been tightly woven together by geopolitics into a vivid tapestry of conflict and cooperation. 

The proximity of North Africa to southern Europe and the Europeans' colonization efforts, combined with the many people in the Muslim world seeking education and employment in Europe, have resulted in large populations of Muslims living on the Continent. 

But this close relationship has not been without friction. Though a large portion of Muslims in Europe come from families who have lived there for four or five generations, many have not become integrated into European society and frequently live in isolated, Muslim-dominated areas. Moreover, while Europe as a whole is suffering from the economic crisis, the Muslim population has been hit particularly hard and the unemployment rate for young Muslims is alarmingly high in many parts of Europe. This, in addition to the frequent discrimination against Muslims in the job market, leaves many Muslims feeling alienated, disenfranchised and resentful. When this resentment is combined with the European welfare state, in which working is not necessary to survival, many of these Muslims have the opportunity to be exposed to radical discourse and to become involved in radical political or even militant activity. 

A dangerous connivance

By Garga Chatterjee

It is worrying that West Bengal’s political class remained tactical spectators to the Kolkata rally organised by Muslim groups in support of Bangladeshi war criminals

West Bengal looked to the Shahbag protests in Dhaka with hope. In 1971, a massive relief and solidarity effort was undertaken in West Bengal for the millions trying to escape a veritable genocide. The then leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami in East Bengal and its students wing organised murder and rape squads in collaboration with the Pakistani forces. Their crimes included mass murder, rape as a weapon of war, arson and forced conversions. Post-1975, generals used them to cast an Islamic veneer of legitimacy over their illegal capture of power. Their immunity lasted until the present Bangladesh government restarted the legal proceedings in the War Crimes tribunal. The Shahbag protests demanded maximum punishment for the guilty. 

In West Bengal, a few meetings have happened around Shahbag, mostly expressing support. But, shockingly, the largest was a massive rally held in Kolkata on March 30, explicitly against the Shahbag protests and in support of the war criminals already convicted. Various Muslim groups, including the All Bengal Minority Council, the All Bengal Minority Youth Federation, the Madrassa Students Union, the Muslim Think Tank and the All Bengal Imam Muazzin Association, organised the rally. People arrived in buses from distant districts of Murshidabad and Nadia, as well as from neighbouring districts. Students of madrassas and the new Aliah Madrassa University were conspicuous at the gathering. 

The old rallying cry, “Islam is in danger in Bangladesh,” was heard. We heard a similar cry in 1952 during the mother-language movement, in 1954 when Fazlul Haq and Maulana Bhashani challenged the Muslim League, in 1969 when the Awami League made its six demands and during the 1971 liberation struggle — basically during every secular movement for rights and justice. The rally thundered that West Bengal would be “cleansed” of supporters of war crimes trial and the present Prime Minister of Bangladesh. They promised that political forces supporting Shahbag would be “beaten with broom-sticks” if they came asking for Muslim votes. Like Taslima Nasreen and Salman Rushdie, Sheikh Hasina would not be allowed inside Kolkata. They expressed solidarity with the anti-Shahbag “movement” in Bangladesh. This assertion is worrisome, as the anti-Shahbag forces in Bangladesh have initiated a wave of violent attacks on Hindus, Buddhists and secular individuals, and the destruction of Hindu and Buddhist homes, businesses and places of worship. Amnesty International documented attacks on over 40 Hindu temples as of March 6. That number has increased. 

This large gathering and its pronouncements have been in the making. A collapse in the Muslim vote was important in the Left Front’s demise. Muslim divines regularly remind the present government of this. The Trinamool Congress wants to ensure a continued slice of this vote. In an unprecedented move, the government handed out monthly stipends to imams and muezzins to build a class of Muslim “community leaders” who eat out of its hand. The debt-ridden, vision-deficient government is unable to solve the problems that are common to the poor. It has wooed a section of the marginalised on the basis of religion by selective handouts. These are excellent as speech-making points masquerading as empathy. This also gives fillip to forces whose trajectories are not under usual political control. 

Lashkar despatching best brains to die in Kashmir, says study

By  Anita Joshua 

A detailed analysis of over 900 biographies of dead Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives has revealed that some of Pakistan’s best educated men are being “dispatched to die” in the unending conflict with India over Kashmir with Punjab providing the bulk of this cannon fodder. 

Based on historical precedent, the study on ‘The Fighters of LeT: Recruitment, Training, Deployment and Death’ warns that the reduction of the U.S. footprint in Afghanistan could bring them back to Kashmir. While admitting difficulty in predicting the directional priorities of Pakistan-based militant groups, it warns that internal security challenges faced by Pakistan and the State’s own shifting threat priorities could result in some of these groups reorienting and investing more broadly in the conflict in Indian Kashmir; the preferred “fighting ground” for 94 per cent of LeT recruits. 

The study — conducted with the support of the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point — challenges the official narrative that Pakistanis are not involved in acts of terrorism, and only “diplomatic and moral support” is rendered to indigenous mujahideens fighting in India. “There is considerable overlap among the districts that produce LeT militants and those that produce Pakistan Army officers, a dynamic that raises a number of questions about potentially overlapping social networks between the Army and the LeT.” 

In fact, according to the study, the expansive and overt presence of LeT throughout the country and its ability to recruit from schools, mosques and madrasas besides circulate its publications “speaks to a degree of tolerance if not outright assistance from the Pakistani State.” 

As for the best-educated men being sent for jihad by LeT, it does not reflect the quality of their education but the level. The biographies challenge conventional wisdom that these terrorists are the product of low or no education and are being produced in madrasas. The “LeT militants are actually rather well-educated compared to Pakistani males generally” and the data shows that a bulk of them are products of regular schooling, not madrasas. 

About 63 per cent of them have at least a secondary education; “suggesting that their educational distribution is slightly higher than the national attainment levels.” A majority of them have completed secondary school with high grades and quite a few of them have gone up to graduation levels. 

Reflecting a concern expressed in several quarters that Pakistan’s breeding grounds for terrorism are not just the tribal areas but a more fertile ground exists in the heart of the country, the study shows that 89 per cent of LeT terrorists are recruited in the country’s most populous and prosperous province of Punjab. 

India’s Foreign Policy

By Priya Kale
April 5, 2013 

The 2012-2013 annual report of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) begins with the statement that “India’s foreign policy (is) rooted in national ethos”. This seemingly innocuous sentence is indicative of all that is wrong with policy formulation at the MEA. It is not ambiguous and pompous concepts such as a national ‘ethos’ that should guide foreign policy (what does it even mean?) but something much more real and tangible – national interest. If the Union Government gets pushed around on matters of foreign policy, there is a two-fold reason for it; coalition politics and vague goals. 

The latest temper tantrum thrown by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its subsequent withdrawal from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has brought into sharp focus how the fragmentation of governance has crippled the government’s ability to take interest-driven decisions. One of the biggest hurdles that India faces today is a lack of a cogent and coherent set of policies by which she conducts herself in international fora. For instance, regular abstentions on resolutions and treaties of landmark importance (Arms Trade Treaty, Syria, Libya) gives an impression of her being a light-weight in international governance. While this does not imply that resolutions passed in the UN necessarily have an on-ground impact, they certainly convey the ‘camp’ in which one belongs. 

When one tries to think of the three most important policy goals which India pursues, one is at a loss. Logically, safeguarding economic interests, defending her territorial integrity and ensuring the well-being of India’s citizens abroad (a highly underrated goal) should be the primary concerns a well thought out foreign policy must address. 

Has India displayed a commitment to safeguarding her economic interests abroad? Consider this: In April/May last year, ONGC Videsh Limited decided to pull out of the block 128 in the South China Sea which it was exploring with PetroVietnam. While the official reasoning was the block’s lack of commercial viability (an entirely plausible reason), the belligerent tempo of Chinese opposition was too conveniently timed for the pullout to be a coincidence. While this incident by itself is not very significant, when one looks at it in conjunction with the reaction of the National Security Advisor (NSA) when the Chinese took Objection to the Chief of Naval Staff’s (CNS) comments on the South China Sea, it is illustrative of what India’s stance (or the lack of it) on the region is going to be even at the cost of its own energy security. 

Moreover, foreign policy is not just about diplomacy in the international system. It is also about one’s domestic economic policy towards foreign businesses. In the recent past, India has threatened three major MNCs (Vodafone, Shell and Nokia) with tax investigations, placing tax burdens on the first two which are, prima facie, unfair and arbitrary. Simply put, short-term revenue maximization is coming at the cost of long-term foreign investor confidence. Consider the case of Shell (full disclosure: this author has been an intern with Shell India Markets Pvt Ltd in the past). There is a difference in the methods adopted by the Income Tax department and Shell India in the calculation in the price of the shares that the latter sold to its parent company, Shell Gas BV. While the MNC priced each share at INR10, tax officials claimed it should have been INR187 per share. In a nutshell, Shell India is being taxed USD1 billion on an investment of USD160 million! Yasmin Hilton, Chairperson of the Shell group of Companies in India has called it a tax on FDI. While the immediate fallout of such a move is that investors get spooked by an unstable tax regime, from the point of view of this discussion, India doesn’t have a leg to stand on when a GMR unfairly (and unceremoniously) gets tossed out of the Maldives on a mere technicality. The lesson here? Stability in international political economy depends to a large extent on economic quid pro quo. 

India's strategic culture is plain to see

By Namrata Goswami 

WASHINGTON - The Economist, in two recent lead articles titled "India as a Great Power" and "Can India become a Great Power?", has severely faulted India for its striking lack of a strategic culture. Both articles strongly argue that India's aspirations towards becoming a "Great Power" are undermined by

the unwillingness of its politicians and civilian bureaucrats to have anything to do with the idea of "grand strategy". 

The articles caution that with Pakistan in a dangerous internal web of jihadist violence, radicalization of its military and possession of nuclear weapons; China, an ever increasing threat from across the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean, harboring covert plans of arming Pakistan with nuclear weapons, puts India on a tight spot. 

To my mind, strategic culture is just how elites perceive threats and opportunities, and both The Economist authors more or less perceive what that fundamental Indian strategic culture is: they appear just not to like it - and hence the recommendation in one of the articles that India should join Western-backed security alliances in order to realize its Great Power ambitions. 

To be even more precise, what I understand by strategic culture is an ideational milieu by which the members of the national strategic community form their strategic preferences with regard to the use and efficacy of military power in response to the threat environment. Each country has its own way to interpret, analyze and react to external opportunities and threats. 

As a member of the Indian strategic community, let me assure you that we do have a strategic culture where we closely assess the external environment and debate on the efficacy of the use of military power in addressing external threats. That India tends to give priority to dialogue over the use of military power in foreign policy does not mean that it does not have a strategic culture; it just means that the strategic preferences are different from the normal understanding of how Great Powers behave. 

India may lack a plan explicit enough to satisfy these observers ... or complain that its strategy is not what they want - the reality is that India has in fact already shed its non-alignment - but the new alignments are contingent and based on shared interests, and can never be total alignments of the "Cold War" variety. 

What the authors of The Economist articles are more likely saying is not that India lacks a strategic culture, but rather that it lacks a culture of strategic planning ... of identifying desirable future goals, and plotting a series of sequential steps to reach them versus just pursuing an opportunistic policy of what appears preferable in the moment without a clearly defined end in mind. 

This interpretation may have been true in the past, but the authors should be aware of the evolution that is taking place in the Indian strategic community today. 

Bribe, Cut and Run: Britain's retreat from Afghanistan

The withdrawal from Afghanistan will be one of the most daunting challenges ever undertaken 
by the British army 

16 March 2013 

Retreating from Afghanistan has never been a task at which the British military has excelled. Our first incursion in 1839 resulted in the wholesale massacre of an entire division, save for an army doctor by the name of Dr William Brydon, who was spared only so he could tell the tale. Troops fighting the Second Afghan War of the early 1880s only avoided a similar fate through the exertions of General Frederick ‘Bob’ Roberts, who rescued a British force on the outskirts of Kandahar as it was on the point of being overrun. Now we are about to attempt this tricky business for a third time. 

Not that you’d know it from listening to David Cameron — whose attention has moved on to Mali and Syria — but the attempt to extricate our army from Afghanistan will be one of the most daunting challenges ever undertaken by the British military. Retreat is often the most dangerous part of a deployment, especially when the military falls below the critical mass required to protect itself. Our plan depends on trusting Afghan troops who have already shown a worrying ability to switch sides. No wonder army wives have begun to pass around copies of Florentia Sale’s hair-raising account about the first retreat from Kabul — and shudder. 

The first great danger for all troops was exemplified horrifically this week. Two American soldiers were killed on Monday when their Afghan ‘trainee’ turned his gun on them during a morning meeting. The US military denounced the attack as a ‘betrayal’, but it fits a trend of ‘green on blue’ killings over the past few months. As the allied forces grow thinner, far more British and American lives will depend on the soldiers of the country we are leaving — having failed to reach a political settlement with the Taleban, far less defeat them. 

We have been here before, of course, during our ignominious retreat from Basra during the Iraq conflict, when Gordon Brown’s unilateral decision to halve the strength of the British contingent left it at the mercy of the Mahdi Army militias. To save our own skins we abandoned Basra to the death squads, with the result that the Americans had to retake the city. This sent a message: the Brits have no staying power. When Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith led Britain’s Helmand taskforce five years ago, he told The Spectator that ‘this is a task which one measures in decades’. In Washington and London, they decided differently and a 2014 withdrawal deadline was set two years ago. 

Few of our senior military officers have much enthusiasm for the manner of our departure from Afghanistan. They mutter darkly about the Obama administration having pulled the rug from under what was a perfectly well-conceived counter-insurgency campaign, and fear all the gains and sacrifices of recent years will be for nothing. Even if we could rest assured that the Afghan troops would cover our backs, the logistics of withdrawal are mindboggling. 

The scale of Britain’s military investment in Afghanistan has grown beyond all recognition from the modest base at Camp Bastion I first visited six years ago. Then, the beleaguered garrison was overseen by Brigadier Ed Butler and comprised a few air-conditioned containers and tents. Today Camp Bastion, which is situated to the northwest of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, is a vast, sprawling complex, four miles long by two miles wide. It accommodates around 28,000 people. 

The Great Afghan corruption scam

By Dilip Hiro 

Washington has vociferously denounced Afghan corruption as a major obstacle to the United States' mission in Afghanistan. This has been widely reported. Only one crucial element is missing from this routine censure: a credible explanation of why American nation-building failed there. No wonder. To do so, the US would have to denounce itself. 

Corruption in Afghanistan today is acute and permeates all sectors of society. In recent years, anecdotal evidence on the subject has been superseded by the studies of researchers, surveys by NGOs, and periodic reports by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC). There is also the Corruption Perceptions Index of the Berlin-based Transparency International. Last year, it bracketed Afghanistan with two other countries as the most corrupt. 

None of these documents, however, refers to the single most important fact when it comes to corruption: that it is Washington-based. It is, in fact, rooted in the massive build-up of US forces there from 2005 onward, the accompanying expansion of American forward operating bases, camps, and combat outposts from 29 in 2005 to nearly 400 five years later, and above all, the tsunami of cash that went with all of this. 

Last month, when an Afghan court sentenced Sher Khan Farnood and Khalil Ullah Ferozi, the chairman and chief executive of Kabul Bank, for looting its deposits in a gigantic Ponzi scheme, the event received some media attention. Typically, however, the critical role of the Americans in the bank's murky past was missing in action. 

Founded as a private company in 2004, Kabul Bank was promptly hailed by American officials in Afghanistan as a linchpin in the country's emerging free-market economic order. In 2005, action followed words. The Pentagon, paymaster for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), signed a contract with the bank to disperse the salaries of ANSF soldiers and policemen. 

With that, the fledgling financial institution acquired an impressive cash flow. Moreover, such blatant American support generated confidence among better-off Afghans. Soon enough, they were lining up to deposit their money. Starting in 2006, the surging inflow of cash encouraged Farnood and Ferozi to begin skimming off depositors' funds as unsecured loans to themselves through fake front companies. Thus was born the world's largest banking scam (when calculated as a percentage of the country's gross domestic product) with the US Embassy in Kabul acting as its midwife. 

How it all happened

There exists a statistical connection between the sums expended by Washington in Afghanistan and worsening corruption in that hapless nation. It is to be found in Transparency InternationaI's Corruption Index. In 2005, Afghanistan ranked 117th among the 158 countries surveyed. By 2007, as American greenbacks poured into the country, only two of 179 nations surpassed it in corruption. Since 2011, it has remained at the very bottom of that index. 

What changed between 2005 and 2007? By the spring of 2006, the Taliban insurgency had already gained control of 20 districts in the southern part of the country and was challenging US and NATO forces in the strategic Kandahar area. With a sectarian war by then raging in US-occupied Iraq, secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld felt that he could increase the American military presence in Afghanistan only marginally. 

This started to change when Robert Gates took over at the Pentagon in December 2006. He began bolstering US combat units there. As a result, forward operating bases multiplied, as did combat outposts and military camps. Building new sites or upgrading old ones on the double meant that the Pentagon started awarding contracts to local Afghan construction companies unaccustomed to handling such tasks quickly. They, in turn, subcontracted tasks out to those who greased their palms. With the infusion of ever more piles of Pentagon dollars, corruption only spread. 

The shame of Kolkata

Apr 01, 2013 

On March 30, members of the All Bengal Minority Youth Federation and various other affiliated Islamist groups held a rally in central Kolkata in support of the perpetrators of the genocide in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1971. 

Their principal argument, it appears, was that they believe that those who have been indicted for war crimes did not receive a fair trial. As the noted journalist, Praveen Swami, argued in a recent article, these protesters had every right to hold a rally even if their views are utterly loathsome and, frankly, beneath contempt. The Indian constitutional dispensation, after all, does grant the right of free speech subject to some limited constraints.
Six elements about this protest require comment. First, apart from the attempt of these demonstrators to sanitise a particularly squalid period in the subcontinent’s history, this protest amounts to a calumny against the Indian forces whose actions had ended the reign of terror of a genocidal regime.

The charge of genocide had come from multiple sources. Anthony Mascarenhas, a noted Pakistani journalist, had made the initial charge in the Sunday Times, after fleeing Pakistan. However, few were as significant as that of Archer Blood, the US consul-general in Dhaka, and a significant number of his colleagues had used the “dissent channel” of the US department of state to protest against American support for Pakistan during this crisis. In that justly famed telegram, Blood had written, “the much overused term ‘genocide’ is precisely applicable in this case”.

Second, it is also appalling that the Communists in Bengal who are no strangers to holding rallies and public protests on the slightest political pretext and do not lack street power, have done little or nothing to mount a counter-protest. This deafening silence from a party that has long professed to decry any form of communal sentiment simply underscores the utter bankruptcy of their ideological stance let alone moral authority. They, like, any number of their counterparts, have their eyes firmly cocked on the very substantial Muslim voters and the possible stranglehold that the most obscurantist elements from within that community can exercise on the electorate.

Third, in an entirely related vein, the Trinamul Congress, despite its much-vaunted claims of “paribartan” (transformation) has now shown that it is no better than its Communist counterparts. In a fashion that is equally craven, it has abjectly failed to speak out let alone organise a counter-protest to this despicable demonstration. Like its Communist nemesis the Trinamul Congress, too, can ill afford to displease what it deems to be a critical constituency. Instead of standing its ground and demonstrating that it can take an ethical position it has simply caved in, once again, before the forces of communal hatred.

Other parties, such as the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, have a limited presence in West Bengal. The Congress, which many decades ago held sway, could have nevertheless issued a token protest. However, given its acute dependence on Muslims elsewhere in the country, its silence is hardly unexpected. The BJP, given its own fraught history with India’s largest minority, has probably decided that discretion may well be the better part of valour.

Fourth, the postures of the Communists, and the Trinamul Congress in particular, reveal that they deem the Muslims of West Bengal to be an undifferentiated mass. By indulging a vocal minority who may well not reflect the wider body of Muslim public opinion they are allowing an extremist fringe to define the views of a larger community. This approach will invariably play into the hands of other communalists who will inevitably harp on the pandering to these parochial fanatics from within the community. In the end, this form of gutless behaviour will prove costly for the well-being of secularism in India as parties will all seek to outbid religious zealots.

Western-Asian fusion causing a storm

By George Kerevan
 5 April 2013

Nepal's capital Kathmandu is sandwiched between several major theatres of war. 

EUROPE has been too preoccupied with its economic woes to really notice what’s going on in Asia, but that’s nothing new, writes George Kerevan

THE world takes on a very different perspective from the middle of Asia. I’m here in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, a sliver of country the size of England and Wales that is sandwiched between the two rising (and rival) powers of China and India. 

To get here I had to fly over a civil war in Syria, the fractious and fragile polity that is Iraq, and teetering Pakistan – meanwhile skirting bellicose Iran and the quagmire that is Afghanistan. Little wonder the papers here have scant time for rich Europe’s economic tantrums. 

Nepal is a good place to ponder the mess the West has made of its relations with Asia over the past 20 years – especially as North Korea and America start rattling nuclear sabres at each other. No matter how comical the North Koreans seem, or how statesmanlike US President Barack Obama appears, just remember than no-one thought a World War would occur in the summer of 1914, because a minor Austrian archduke had been shot in the Balkans. 

Just down the road from Nepal is another mountain country, Afghanistan. It should serve as a lesson in the ignorance, short-sightedness and stupidity of Western involvement in Asia. America and Britain are planning to withdraw their military from Afghanistan. We are told by Mr Obama and David Cameron that Afghanistan’s security is being entrusted to a new, well-trained Afghan National Army which you, dear taxpayer, are funding. We are told our own soldiers died in Afghanistan to protect us from terrorism and ensure Afghan girls receive an education. 

Don’t believe a word of it.

Whatever merits there were in overthrowing the Taleban regime back in 2001, the West instantly squandered any advantage gained. First, we tried to impose – overnight – a form of democracy it took Britain and America 300 years to evolve. We did this in the middle of a civil war in Afghanistan that had been going on for a generation. Then we helped into power Hamid Karzai, an émigré with no popular base. 

He preferred the safety of the presidential palace in Kabul so the country remained in the hands of regional warlords and the Taleban. That’s not quite true: Karzai handed control of Kandahar Province to his half-brother Ahmed Wali, who had previously run a restaurant in Chicago. Ahmed Wali proceeded to amass a fortune, allegedly from drugs, protected by his sibling. 

Meanwhile, president Karzai, having lost all credibility, proceeded to use the Afghan military and police to steal the next election. That’s what our boys are really dying for.

Why did no one in the White House appreciate this? But they did. However, they needed an ally in Kabul to justify the intervention, the billions invested and the dead Allied soldiers. So Karzai had to be supported, even when he started double-dealing and taking bribes from the Iranians. And did this have anything to do with fighting al-Qaeda? No, they are in Pakistan. 

Even a known devil cannot be trusted

06 April 2013

It is not just war crimes. The fight is between the ethos of the Liberation War of Bangladesh and the Jamaat's intolerant obscurantism. The demand for justice has to be met, and met soon 

Today (Saturday) may turn out to be a turning point in the continuing confrontation in Bangladesh on the immediate issue of the trial and punishment of those guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War in 1971. It is the day on which Hefazat-e-Islam, a spawn of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, is scheduled to conclude a ‘Long March’ to Dhaka to press its 13-point programme including the arrest and trial of bloggers at the forefront of the Shabagh movement, whom it has dubbed as “atheist” and accused of “defaming” Islam and Prophet Muhammad. 

On April 4, 23 pro-liberation organisations had called for a 24-hour hartal from 6 pm on April 5 to protest against the ‘Long March’ which, they claimed, had been planned at the behest of the Jamaat and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, and which they said, might lead to atrocities and destroy the country’s democratic process. One hundred organisations, including the Sector Commanders’ Forum, had lent their support to the strike. Reacting, the Hefazat has threatened to launch an indefinite hartal from tomorrow (Sunday) if the 23 organisations did not withdraw their call, which, it claimed, was a part of the Government-sponsored move to foil the ‘Long March’. 

The call for the ‘Long March’ and indefinite strike is clearly a part of the Jamaat and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s plan to bring down the Awami League Government by creating a civil war-like situation that would enable the Army to take over. It is also clear that the aim of the Jamaat and its allies is to reverse the surge, generated by the Shahbagh movement, that has taken the secular and democratic values of the Liberation War to the centre-stage of Bangladesh’s political discourse, and replace it by their ideal of an authoritarian, theocratic fundamentalist Islamist society. The BNP and constituents of the 18-party alliance that are not directly linked the Jamaat, have fallen in line with the latter. 

As to the first objective, BNP leader Khaleda Zia let the cat out of the bag when she said at a rally in Bogra on March 24 that the Army would not play the role of “a silent spectator” while people were getting killed and that it would “play its role in due time”. Stating, “The Army is a part of our country and, therefore, it has responsibilities towards it”, she had added that members of the Armed Forces would not be selected for peace keeping missions abroad if there was “no peace in Bangladesh” as “foreigners would then say that the Army is not capable of maintaining peace in other countries. It is time we thought about such matters.” 

The last observation made it amply clear that her remark was not made off the cuff. It was carefully calculated to alarm the Army into intervening, as Bangladesh’s military personnel account for perhaps the largest chunk of the uniformed forces of various countries deployed on United Nations peace-keeping missions round the world, and the higher wages earned during such postings is a major source of additional income for the country’s Armed Forces personnel. The BNP’s acting secretary-general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, has no doubt denied any such intention on her part and has blamed the media for not reporting her statement correctly, adding, “In no way she provoked the Army in her March 24 speech in Bogra.” His claim, however, has carried little conviction. As an editorial in The Daily Star of March 27 has stated, “Perhaps BNP Acting Secretary General Mr Islam ought to have checked the footage of Khaleda Zia’s speech before bashing media. But perhaps that is asking for too much in our political culture!” 

The editorial further observed, “Khaleda Zia’s statement counselling the armed forces not to sit on the sidelines in the present political situation is highly irresponsible by any standards.” Noting that it was “a standard practice anywhere in the world to clarify a statement and try and allay any misgivings that may have arisen out of it”, that “even a retraction would be in order if what was reported was not intended,” it stated, “Without having gone for any of those options, Mr Alamgir put the wholesale blame on the media.” 

The clerics have it

Apr 06 2013

There is little question that the government of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is under siege. A broad sign of the predicament it is caught in comes through the move, on Tuesday, to take into custody three bloggers allegedly responsible for making unflattering comments on Islam and its Prophet on social media. The government, which only weeks ago publicly cheered the youth movement initiated by bloggers and online activists in early February to protest what they considered to be inadequate justice meted out to the war criminal Abdul Quader Mollah by a special tribunal, has now adopted a completely different stance. In the face of the unending agitation spearheaded by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Hefazat-e-Islam and other extremist organisations, the government has beaten a clear retreat through taking action against the three bloggers. 

The move has dismayed the country. Where it had been expected that the youth movement, known alternately as the Shahbagh movement and the Projonmo Chottor movement, would provide fresh impetus towards a definitive resolution of the issue of war crimes committed by local Bengali collaborators of the Pakistan army in 1971, it now appears the government has chosen a path of appeasement of the extreme right. To what extent the move will help hold back a further escalation of the political crisis in the country remains a question. An early hint of what might happen comes from the fanatical Hefazat-e-Islam, which has vowed to march to Dhaka from outside the capital as part of its campaign to have, in its formulation, the atheists and bloggers of Shahbagh punished. The clerics have made it known that the arrests of the three young bloggers are not enough, which sends out an ominous message: having made one concession, a beleaguered government might now be compelled to go for more. 

The crisis has been exacerbated by the decidedly negative role played by the BNP, led by former PM Khaleda Zia. In a move as unprecedented as it was scandalous, Khaleda Zia warned the government at a recent public rally in Bogra that the Bangladesh army would not sit idly by and would act when the time came. The remarks were seen, for obvious reasons, as an open invitation to the military to intervene in a situation where the BNP, in alliance with assorted right-wing political parties and extremist Islamists, remains engaged in a violent campaign to overthrow the elected government of Sheikh Hasina. Zia has been fierce in her criticism of the Shahbagh youths, accusing them of apostasy and political partisanship. Her strident statements have placed many in her party in a quandary in the sense that it has left them surprised at the manner in which the party chief has chosen to side with the Jamaat, an organisation whose leaders are now on trial for war crimes committed in the course of Bangladesh's liberation war 42 years ago. The BNP's popularity has taken a slide. But what the party has lost in terms of public support, it chooses to make up for through an agitation that has seen policemen and common citizens brutalised and killed, vehicles torched and railway tracks uprooted around the country. In bizarre fashion, the former PM, widow of Bangladesh's first military dictator Ziaur Rahman, has accused the government of committing genocide in the country. 

Khaleda Zia's provocative statement on the role of the army has had severe ramifications among civil society in Bangladesh. Even as her deputy in the BNP has been trying to put a different spin on her statement, through stating that her comments had been misreported and misconstrued by the media, it has sparked worries in light of the several military interventions in Bangladesh's democratic politics since it emerged as an independent state in 1971. A violent coup d'etat led to the assassination of Bangladesh's founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family in August 1975. Barely three months later, the coup plotters murdered four leaders of the 1971 Bangladesh government-in-exile in prison. A series of coups and counter-coups led in the six years between 1975 and 1981 to the murder of some of the most prominent of military officers who had distinguished themselves on the battlefield during the war. In March 1982, the army chief, Hussain Muhammad Ershad, overthrew the elected government of President Abdus Sattar and went on to preside over a junta that was finally forced to hand over power to a caretaker administration in 1990. 

Against such a background, Khaleda Zia's remarks about a probable need for the army to intervene flies in the face of political realities in Bangladesh today. And those realities converge around the popular urge for a return to full, unfettered secular democracy in the country. Making matters even more embarrassing for the BNP is the reluctance — or even refusal — of its leadership to condemn the anarchy the radical Islamists have let loose in the country. The economy has been taking a mauling, trade is nearly at a standstill and education has almost gone missing. Khaleda Zia's party colleague Moudud Ahmed — who has switched political loyalties a number of times in his career, going from the Awami League to the BNP to Ershad's Jatiyo Party and back to the BNP — smugly told the media a week ago that educational institutions must reschedule their academic calendar through adjustment with the agitational programme of the opposition. 

China’s Afghanistan Challenge

By Raffaello Pantucci 
April 06, 2013 

China has an opportunity to assert leadership in helping steer Afghanistan in a more positive direction. Investing in Afghanistan now will save years of trouble later. 

The 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is fast approaching. China has just over a year before Afghanistan fades from the West’s radar and Western attention toward the country shrinks substantially. However, it is not clear that Beijing has properly considered what it is going to do once NATO forces leave and pass the responsibility for Afghan stability and security to local forces. 

And more crucially, it is not clear that China has thought about what it can do with the significant economic leverage it wields in the region. Afghanistan offers China the opportunity to show the world it is a responsible global leader that is not wholly reliant on others to assure its regional interests. 

Traditionally, Chinese thinkers have considered Afghanistan the “graveyard of empires.” They chuckle at the ill-advised American-led NATO effort and point to British and Soviet experiences fighting wars in Afghanistan. 

But in reality, the presence of NATO forces provided China with a sense of stability. Beijing correctly assumed that NATO’s presence in Afghanistan would mean regional terrorist networks would remain focused on attacking Alliance forces rather than stirring up trouble in neighboring countries like China. NATO’s targeting of Islamist groups also had the effect of striking anti-Chinese Uighur groups that had sought refuge in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban or al-Qaeda. These Uighur groups would otherwise have focused their attention on targeting China. 

Yet as the date of American withdrawal from Afghanistan approaches, this security dynamic is changing. While China does worry about the threat of Islamist Uighur groups striking from their Afghan bases, this concern is relatively marginal. The bigger problem is the potentially negative repercussions for the rising number of investments from China’s private sector in Afghanistan and its surrounding region. These investments are part of a broader push into Central Asia that flows from an effort to develop China’s historically underdeveloped province of Xinjiang, which borders Afghanistan. 

The prospect of an Afghanistan returning to chaos is, therefore, not appealing to policymakers and business people in Beijing. This scenario would bring instability directly to China’s doorstep, and this instability could potentially expand northward into Central Asia or southward into Pakistan. China would suffer from further chaos in either direction. 

The solution to this problem is complex. China is not necessarily expected to invest heavily in security efforts and rebuilding Afghanistan’s security apparatus, though a more substantial contribution in this direction than the offer to train a nominal 300 policemen that China made last year in Kabul would be helpful. Rather, China could focus on what it is able to do best: invest in Afghanistan and develop its abundant natural resources. 

China’s Maritime Disputes in the East and South China Seas

APRIL 4, 2013


Maritime disputes constitute the single likeliest source of instability and military conflict with China.

Maritime disputes constitute the single likeliest source of instability and military conflict with China, says Michael Swaine. In testimonybefore the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, he explains the primary drivers of tension in the East and South China Seas and identifies steps Washington can take to reduce the risk of hostilities. 
Support a code of conduct: Washington should strongly encourage development of a binding code of conduct governing behavior in contested waters. 

Pursue quiet diplomacy: The United States should engage in a sustained diplomatic campaign emphasizing close personal interactions with all parties and a low public profile. 

Encourage joint development of resources: Washington should encourage the establishment of a multinational joint venture capable of adjudicating exploration rights and addressing environmental concerns. 

Maintain perspective: The United States should keep maritime disputes in perspective, recognizing their deep historical roots and resisting the temptation to view them as a barometer of the U.S.-China strategic relationship. 

Swaine concludes, “There is no quick fix or silver bullet for resolving these complex and longstanding maritime disputes. It will require patience, sustained effort, and a very deft hand on the part of the United States.” 



China’s maritime disputes with other states over territorial sovereignty and resource claims in the East and South China Seas constitute one of three related but distinct categories of maritime disputes or sets of concerns that exist between Beijing and other nations. 

Aside from the Taiwan issue (which is arguably a maritime dispute of sorts, but not the focus of this hearing), maritime sovereignty and resource disputes center on (a) the Sino-Japanese imbroglio concerning both overlapping maritime resource claims and sovereign control over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands northeast of Taiwan, and (b) the complex web of disputes between Beijing and several Southeast Asian entities (Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan) over many islands, atolls, reefs, and shoals in the South China Sea. 

A second set of disputes centers on the activities of naval military operations within China’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and “near seas” (jinhai), including U.S. Navy ISR operations and exercises along China’s coastline, allied concerns over PLAN naval transits and the growing PLAN presence in sensitive waters near other states, and contending interpretations of the rights of foreign navies to operate in EEZs, as defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

On the broadest level, a third set of concerns (they have not yet risen to the level of an active dispute, constituting instead an intensifying competition) is more strategic in nature, affecting the entire area of the so-called “first island chain.” They derive from the contradiction between a long-standing American assumption of the need to maintain military supremacy across the Western Pacific and the recently emerging Chinese capability to challenge certain elements of that supremacy through the deployment of increasingly capable “counter-intervention” or anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD)-type weapons systems along China’s maritime periphery. 

This contradiction to some extent underlies and sharpens the above two categories of disputes by placing them in a larger strategic context involving the shifting balance of power in the Western Pacific. That is, maritime disputes in the other two areas take on a degree of potential strategic significance because many observers view them as possible indicators of this shifting military balance. In particular, the increasing capabilities and resolve that Beijing is displaying in its disputes with the U.S. and other nations over the above two sets of maritime issues are viewed as an indirect challenge to the overall maritime status quo as defined largely by Washington. 

Taken as a whole, these maritime issues are vitally important because they constitute the single most likely and significant potential source of instability, and even military conflict, with China over both the near and at least the medium (if not the long) term. Moreover, such dangers—and especially those associated with the disputes in the East and South China Seas—are particularly acute as a result of the involvement of strong (and apparently rising) nationalist emotions on all sides, and the overall zero-sum nature of the sovereignty issues, which inclines claimants to adopt absolutist stances and in many instances over-react to perceived challenges to one’s position. 

U.S.Trade War With China?

By David Cohen 
April 5, 2013 

A good way to directly or inadvertently start a trade war with China would be to take on the economic development goals expressed in the Five-Year Plan. After all, China's leaders see continued economic growth as the key to their survival. 

Conscious that massive investment in heavy industry is unsustainable, Party planners have focused for years on “innovation.” In the future, they believe, China must change from manufacturing goods for multinational companies to selling products developed by Chinese companies under Chinese brands. Thus, China's leaders hope to avoid the “middle income trap” and a prolonged recession that could fatally undermine the legitimacy of the Party. 

After the first five years of the “indigenous innovation” policy, it has become known in the international business community as a massive scheme for protectionism and technology theft. Dealing with its impact remains a top priority for American trade negotiators. But a few Chinese companies have emerged as global brands during this period, establishing a niche in international markets as reliable low-cost alternatives – PC maker Lenovo, the appliance company Haier, and the network equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE. 

So the way that the U.S. has dealt with Huawei and ZTE, pillars of China’s economic development, over the past year is remarkably ill-advised. Friday's Wall Street Journal suggests that American regulators are taking a page from China's protectionist playbook – using vague national security concerns, secret hearings, and behind-the-scenes pressure on private companies to exclude Chinese competitors from American markets. This is hardly consistent with Washington’s efforts to open Chinese markets to American IT equipment – an issue which dominates. 

Most recently, U.S. regulators have pushed Japanese and American telecom operators Softbank and Sprint to swear off using Chinese-made equipment as a condition of their proposed merger. The move was driven by concern about Chinese hacking and intellectual property theft. This follows a move by Congress two weeks ago that added language to a budget resolution strongly discouraging government agencies from buying IT equipment from companies “owned, directed or subsidized by the People's Republic of China.” 

As the Journal shows, the decision in the Sprint-Softbank deal was suggested by the national security apparatus, and doesn't appear to have followed any set rules – it differs from the deal worked out by the Federal Communications Commission in the T-Mobile/Metro PCS deal also under negotiation. Federal officials have evidently settled on a ban that isn't a ban: 

“Because of concerns about violating trade rules, any constraints wouldn't specifically exclude gear from Huawei, which Softbank has used in its home market of Japan, or ZTE, a person familiar with the process said. Nor would they explicitly give the government a veto, this person said. But U.S. officials have made no secret of their distrust of the Chinese companies and are aiming to make sure their equipment doesn't become a core part of U.S. telecom infrastructure, the people said. 

Kowtow Now

Why foreign companies need to swallow their pride and get used to apologizing to China. 

APRIL 4, 2013 

This week, after Apple apologized to Chinese consumers for arrogance and substandard service, a cold wind blew through the foreign business community in China. The American computing juggernaut had made small, dumb mistakes with its customer service policies. It boasted about its revenues in a region where doing so can attract jealousy and scrutiny from the wrong quarters. And unlike other top tech executives, its legendary founder and late CEO, Steve Jobs, never deigned to set foot in the country. But there was no schadenfreude from Apple's competitors, for the leaders of China's global business community understood a simple fact: Tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, that could be them. 

Despite 35 years of rhetoric about China being open to foreign business, and explicit promises China made on its accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, foreign companies in practice have no right to operate in China. China's policy makers -- and no small number of its people -- still maintain that it is a privilege for foreign firms to be allowed to access the Chinese market. Moreover, that privilege may be revoked at any time for a range of reasons, some of which are not laid out in law or on contracts. 

One unwritten clause attached to every business license granted to large foreign firms in China is that they are expected to set an example of a higher level of corporate behavior than local firms. A central government official speaking at a conference several years ago was asked what kind of corporate social responsibility activity foreign firms should undertake in China. His answer was revealing: Obey the law, pay their taxes, and treat their workers fairly. Simply by doing that, they could improve China by their example. 

At another conference in Beijing some years later, an exasperated young Chinese executive blurted in frustration to her foreign bosses: "Don't you realize? What the Chinese people want from foreign companies is to show Chinese firms how to behave." Technology and capital are not all foreign firms are expected to bring to China: Their standards of corporate citizenship and customer service are also part of the package. 

The implications of this insight, lost on many companies operating in China, are staggering. Suddenly, Apple blaming local retail partners for service lapses, for example, or excusing its warranty policy by citing the law of the land offers but the thinnest of fig leafs. "When in Rome, do as the Romans," coming from foreign firms rings in Chinese ears as hollow at best, and at worst, as betrayal. If you are going to behave just like local firms, consumers and government think, then why do we let you do business here? What good are you? 

China’s Growing Indulgence in India’s Neighbourhood

China’s newly elected President’s recent remarks about carrying forward China-Pakistan relations to new dimensions in the near future does not seem to be merely acustomary clamour. When seen in the backdrop of its indulgence with other countries in India’s neighbourhood it gives multi-dimensional indicators to any South Asian analyst. Considering that the bulk of ISAF troops are going to pull out by 2014 from Afghanistan, China seems to be ready with its strategic moves tosatiate the arising vacuum. Realising the diminishing interest of US and Russia, Pakistan seems comfortable with its old backdoor ally making overt moves in the region.

The newly acquired warmth betweenChina and Pakistanwas further evident at a seminar arranged by the Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar, in collaboration with Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Chen Jidong, Director, Sichuan University, Chengdu China Pakistan Study Centre,said, “The railway project will connect Pakistan with Xinjiang region in China and enhance the capacity of transportation between the two countries. As per the Express Tribune(A Pakistan Daily) dated 16 March 2013, Jidong claimed that the project has strategic advantage for Pakistan and will build trade and transport corridors by connecting South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia and Western China. 

Inspite of India’s position over the 1300 km Karakoram Highway project, Pakistan and China have already initiated a dialogue about a railway transportation corridor in the region. With China already having the Gwadar port project in hand, gas/oil pipeline project doesnot seem too far either. With each new project between Pakistan and China which will pass through the Gilgit Baltistan regionof Pakistan occupied Kashmir(POK), India’s claim over the region will increasingly be contested not just by Pakistan but by China as well.

China’s success story in Myanmar was also scripted on similar lines.In 1990, when India and the world shunned Myanmar’s military regime, China moved swiftly and provided much needed succor to the military Junta in terms of political and economic support. In spite of the past bitternessin their relations, Chinaalso supplied large amount of military hardwareand training. Politically, China blocked the US backed UN resolution against Myanmar in 2007. As a result, it gained not only close proximityto the regime but went a step closer to the shores of coveted sea lanes of communication in the Indian Ocean. Immediately after this it bagged the pipeline project from Shwe oil and gas fields of Myanmar to Yunnan province. This was considered to be a big leap towards securing its energy needs for the underdeveloped southern province and would in turn reduce its dependence on Straits of Malacca in future.

Another very recent and noticeable involvement of Chinais seen inSri Lanka. While India dithered in either supporting or opposing the US backed resolution in UNHRC, China assured SriLanka of its unflinching support.It may be remembered that China had backed SriLanka when US had brought a similar resolution of human rights violation and reconciliation with ethnic Tamils in 2012. Recently, Chinese premier gave a verbal assurance to his Sri Lankancounterpart of Chinese support. India’s actions on this score stand in contrast.

China’s indulgence in Nepal is over a decade old and is known to all. Its recent interest in Bhutan too has not gone unnoticed by India. These subtle but strategic moves by China cannot be ignored by India as all itsbenevolenceis directly directed towards India’s immediate neighbours.As far as India is concerned, the writing on the wall is crystal clear; China wants to degrade India’s position as a key player in South Asian affairs.

These developmentspurportedly are indicative of three specific Chinese aimsin the region. One, China wants to juxtapose new markets in the developing economies of South Asian nations with its under developed western and southern provinces namely Xinjiangand Yunnan Provinces and connect them with rail and road communications. Secondly, itapparently aims to display(to US and Europe) its ‘big brotherly’ role in safe guarding the interests of smaller nations in the region. Also, by displaying empathy for the smaller nations in South and South East Asia, it hopes to win their confidence and their markets. While doing so, it is ready to compromise on even the actual situation on ground and turn a blind eye to blatant human right abuses.Thirdly, and of greatest consequence to India, such moves by China are blatant attempt to seriously degrade India’s influence not only in the region but also in its immediate neighbourhood.

China nurtures its nuclear nexus with Pakistan

April 5, 2013

Once again, and not surprisingly, China and Pakistan have been in the news for making a mockery of the global nuclear order and also exposing its weakness. Bill Gertz, who has the reputation of breaking news on China, reported in the Free Beacon (March 22, 2013) that by cleverly using the ‘grandfather clause’ China and Pakistan have reached a formal agreement in February 2013 to construct a third nuclear reactor in Chashma. The ‘grandfather clause’ refers to the agreement to construct two nuclear reactors in Pakistan before China joined the NSG in 2004. The Free Beacon report on the 1000 MW Chashma-3 was followed by several other reports clarifying that China and Pakistan had not only signed Chashma-3 but also Chashma-4.

To recall, on March 8, 2011, the IAEA Board of Governors endorsed a safeguards agreement for the collaboration between Pakistan-China to build Chashma-3 and Chashma-4. The agreement very clearly mentions that both the reactors will be of 340 MW. The operational Chashma-1 and Chashma-2 which are 300 MW reactors are also under IAEA safeguards. All are covered under type-66 safeguards. Interestingly, India was on the Board of Governors when the safeguards agreement for Chashma-3 and Chashma-4 was unanimously approved. As usual, the strategic and political community had not been involved in the debate.

The Chashma deal from the very beginning was shrouded in secrecy. China and Pakistan may have signed the secret deal for Chashma-3 and Chashma-4, even possibly Chashma-5. There is still speculation whether there is a provision for additional reactors in the original Chasma agreement which allowed China and Pakistan to build the first two reactors, though the secret deal for Chashma 3 and 4 was later approved by the NSG and subsequently the safeguards agreement approved by the IAEA.

After the Free Beacon report the Chinese government stated that “the recent cooperation between China and Pakistan does not violate the relevant norms of Nuclear Suppliers Groups.” Surprisingly, the Chinese government somewhat confirmed the Free Beacon report. If some of the reports are to be believed then only preparatory work for 340 MW Chashma-3 and Chashma-4 has been undertaken. These preparatory activities will be useful for the increased capacity of reactors.

The safeguards agreement entered into force on April 11, 2011. Sections 8 and 9 of the agreement, listed as INFCIRC/816, dated May 17, 2011, have provisions for receiving information regarding transferred items to Pakistan from China. Section 12 prescribes: “The notification of transfers referred to in Section 8 may also be made by China.” The international community has a right to know about the precise details of the agreement.

Some argue that China may put pressure on France and the US to accede to the Chinese view on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The nature of the Chashma agreement is a reflection of the secret clandestine non-transparent China-Pakistan nuclear relationship. However, the biggest challenge is the credibility of the NSG and the future of the global nuclear order. If the agreement is not for Chasma-5 but for Chashma-3 and Chashma-4 then it means that Pakistan and China have already violated the international commitment given to the IAEA.

The 2011 IAEA safeguards agreement allows ‘the supply of nuclear material, facilities and equipment from China to Pakistan within the framework of the Co-operation Agreement’.1 The cooperation agreement is for 340 MW reactors or power plants, not for 1000 MW power stations. The March 2011 agreement is a result of the undertaking/ understanding given to the members of the NSG possibly in the 2010 Christchurch meeting or possibly before.

If the reactor in question is Chashma-5, it raises yet another serious issue. Is the ‘grandfather clause’ going to become an alternative to the global nuclear order or at least of the global non-proliferation system? Will China continue to supply nuclear facilities and materials ignoring any existing international arrangement or regime? Isn’t this agreement throwing a challenge to the NSG members?

Some reports suggest that for getting the approval of Chashma-3 and Chashma-4, China gave an undertaking or had an understanding with some key NSG members, which resulted in the approval in the IAEA Board of Governors. Not just China and Pakistan but also the NSG members will have to some explaining. These countries need to inform the international community whether or not China gave any such undertaking to stop building any reactor after Chashma-3 and Chashma-4.