11 April 2013

Airlift Capability of the Indian Air Force

Issue Vol. 28.1 Jan-Mar 2013 | Date : 09 Apr , 2013

C-130J Super Hercules

In the context of a resurgent and globalised economy, India’s security interests in the future would no longer be confined to its national boundaries or be limited to the region between the Gulf of Aden to the Strait of Malacca but would have even a larger international footprint. Besides, India has entered into a strategic partnership with the lone superpower, the US. The rising status of the nation will surely be accompanied by new responsibilities for maintaining peace and stability in the region or undertake military intervention in different parts of the world either on its own or in collaboration with the strategic partner. Inter-operability of transport forces of the IAF with those of the US Air Force will, therefore, be an important dimension in the plans for modernisation.

Over the years since its inception, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has evolved both in size and shape in keeping with the demands of national security and the rising status of the nation. However, quite understandably, the thrust of modernisation programmes in the IAF has generally been focused on enhancement of combat capability. This has been achieved through the induction of fleets of new generation top-of-the-line fighter aircraft that fly at higher speeds, have larger operating radii and are equipped with better avionics as also with the most potent aerial weapon systems. And rightly so, as the combat capability of the IAF is a critical and an indispensable component of air power which, in turn, is an important constituent of national military power.

The thrust of modernisation programmes in the IAF has generally been focused on enhancement of combat capability.

On the other hand, when compared with the combat fleet, efforts at modernisation in the transport aircraft segment of the IAF have been of a relatively lower order. Since the birth of the IAF, the transport fleet has been strengthened now and then through the acquisition of military transport aircraft from abroad. These included aircraft such as the C47 Dakota, the C119 Fairchild Packet, the Russian AN12 and a few de Havilland DHC4 Caribou from Canada. All these aircraft were in the ‘tactical’ category and many of them were refurbished old airplanes. However, beginning in the 1960s, the IAF inducted a fleet of 64 new Hawker Siddeley HS 748 Avro twin-turboprop transport aircraft of five-tonne payload capacity. Bulk of this fleet was produced indigenously under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at its facility at Kanpur.

Although originally designed for civilian use, the Avro was employed by the military as well, essentially to ferry passengers. The intrinsic design of the aircraft was not suited for military tasks such as delivery of para-troopers or air supplies. The Indian version, however, had modified cargo doors for loading of military cargo such as light vehicles and was also used for delivery of para-troops. Though obsolete, the fleet of 50 odd Avro aircraft continues to linger in service with the IAF.

Face to Face: Air Commodore Jasjit Singh (1962 Indo-China war)

We provoked the Chinese

Akash Bisht/ Sadiq Naqvi Delhi 

As a fighter pilot, Air Commodore Jasjit Singh has served the country at the frontline in many a battle, including in the war with China in 1962. A decorated soldier, he was posted at Tezpur in Assam when the war broke out. Post-retirement, he has served as the director general of premier strategic institutions like the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA). Currently, he now heads the Centre for Air Power Studies. Excerpts from an interview with Hardnews: 

What was the immediate provocation of the war with China in 1962?

My opinion is a minority view. We provoked the Chinese. Jawaharlal Nehru was famous and the media quoted only half the sentences of what he said. Like, he had given orders to get certain areas vacated and the army had been given orders to do this. However, what went missing in the whole concept was the second part of the sentence — when the army is ready. So, I can’t see how the PM can be faulted on this subject. This, many believed, led to the provocation.

The Chinese had already prepared and we had enough military intelligence in May 1962. I was in the Air Force. We flew over the area and there were no signs of tension. At that point of time, there were no roads in the Himalaya and the British had built hill stations at 5,000 feet and only Shimla was higher at 7,000 feet. Beyond that there was a road for next 15 miles till Kufri. From there the Tibet border was 140 miles, there was a similar scenario in the east, and in Ladakh. Between 1947 and 1962, the elected government had a compulsion to feed the 85 per cent people living below the poverty line. So, roads were not the government’s priority, development was. There was Gandhi’s model of development of villages and Nehru’s vision of putting the industry first. He was of the opinion that unless we produce steel and cement, we won’t be able to even build houses, in villages. 

Also, at that time, the world admired India which was full of paradoxes. The first paradox was that India had such great poverty and yet it was treated as a major power that was invited for the conference that created the United Nations. India’s example was sought by the bulk of the decolonising world. Therefore, this global status of India added up with the charisma of Nehru. And then there was China with similar situations. They had enormous poverty, but they followed a different route under Mao and communism. There was a great difference between the power flows from the barrel of the gun principle and the power of ideas that functioned in India. It was inevitable that the two would a clash. On two counts, Mao had problems with India. One was that the developing world should be looking at China as the leader of the third world. He was worried. Why are they going to India? Nehru, educated in the West, a neocolonial, used the language that suited that particular period. Mao became paranoid with this issue of leadership. Why Nehru? Former diplomats would tell you that the real tension started 
in Bangkok during the Afro-Asian meeting.

The other issue with Mao was that he was willing to accept the leadership of Stalin as long as he was alive. His methods and that of Stalin weren’t very different. After Stalin died and Khrushchev took over, Mao felt that China should now be the leader of the Socialist bloc. And there was no way that Khrushchev was going to give him that and that is where the real Soviet-Sino tensions grew. The classified documents of that period reveal that meetings between Mao and Khrushchev between 1956 and 1958 turned into heated discussions. These two factors played very heavily on Mao and one of them was that Khrushchev was doing his best to come closer to India. What we tend to forget about Indo-Soviet friendship is that, for the first eight years after Independence, the Soviet Union didn’t like India and there was serious tension. Then Nehru sent some high-profile people as ambassadors to Soviet Union and because of his standing as a philosopher gained some respect from Stalin.

Scrap Rafale, Viva Tejas!

Apr 11, 2013

The UPA can approve Rafale’s $22 bn contract and benefit France. Or, it can choose Tejas that can revive a comatose Indian aircraft industry.

The credibility of WikiLeaks has never been questioned. The WikiLeaks documents that reveal Rajiv Gandhi’s role as a commission agent for the Swedish defence major Saab-Scania peddling its Viggen combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force in the mid- to late-Seventies, only confirms the centrality of middlemen in defence deals.

It sets the context for the commission-mongering in the contracts for the German HDW submarine after Indira Gandhi’s return to power, for the Swedish Bofors gun during Rajiv Gandhi’s prime ministership, and in the subsequent high value deals approved by the Congress coalition government since 2005.

The IAF sought an aircraft that could fly low to attack targets deep within Pakistan, and Viggen was entered into the contest which was eventually won by the Anglo-French Jaguar, a deal pushed by defence minister Jagjivan Ram during the Janata Party interregnum for a hefty consideration, as was reported at the time by Surya magazine, edited by Maneka Gandhi. The Jaguar deal proved to be the death knell for the Mk-II version of the first indigenous combat aircraft — the HF-24 Marut, configured by the legendary German designer of Focke-Wulfe warplanes, Dr Kurt Tank, who had been brought in by Jawaharlal Nehru to seed an Indian aviation industry. Its aerodynamics proved excellent for low-level flying and, powered by a Bristol-Siddeley engine, it would have matched Jaguar’s performance. The IAF leadership used the political cover provided by politicians inclined to rake in the moolah to kill the Marut Mk-II, thereby snuffing out the best chance for the Indian aviation industry to take wing.

Forty years on, the country is faced with a similar setting and choice — a Congress coalition government is in power and yet another aircraft deal, for the French Rafale medium range multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), is on the anvil. The Manmohan Singh regime can approve the $22 billion contract facilitated by corrupt practices that will become known soon enough, and benefit France. Or, it can choose an indigenous option that can revive a comatose Indian aircraft industry.

France and Rafale-maker Dassault Avions have offered sufficient provocation. After agreeing with India during the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations that the supplier obligation had to be balanced with buyer responsibility, Dassault has refused to abide by the provisions in the Request for Proposal (RFP) that made it responsible for the quality of the 108 Rafale MMRCA produced under licence by the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) designated in the RFP as prime contractor for the project. If Dassault had doubts it should have clarified this aspect before bidding for the deal, not after winning it, which prima facie suggests bad faith — enough cause to junk it.

Plummeting influence of India

Effect of economy heading for a tailspin
by G. Parthasarathy

NATIONS inevitably lose international influence and power when they are either militarily unprepared or floundering economically. We are still to recover psychologically from the humiliating military defeat inflicted on our underprepared armed forces by China in 1962. The 1962 conflict led an adventurist Field Marshal Ayub Khan seeking to seize Kashmir and failing to do so, in a largely inconclusive conflict in 1965. This conflict had disastrous diplomatic consequences, with the once friendly Soviet Union seeking the role of a mediator, ready to supply weapons to Pakistan. India became a classical basket case dependent on the Soviet Union for arms and on the US for IMF assistance, to deal with a balance of payments crisis. With a begging bowl in hand, India sought American food aid as chronic food shortages led people to the verge of starvation.

Things turned for the better when Indian agriculture revived, in the wake of the Green Revolution spearheaded by then Agriculture Minister C Subramaniam. The Soviet Union came out in support of an economically self-reliant, rhetorically left-leaning Indian government. The dark shadows of 1962 receded when, backed by the Soviet Union, India emerged victorious while pitted against a Nixon-Mao-Yahya axis in the 1971 Bangladesh conflict. By the early 1990s, however, we were hit by a “double whammy” when the Soviet Union collapsed and we had to mortgage our gold reserves to stay afloat. Worse still, a malevolent Clinton Administration was prepared to go to any length, including putting pressure on the Russian Federation to end cooperation even in space with India, in a relentless effort to “cap, roll back and eliminate” India’s nuclear weapons programme. Our prestige sank so low that we were trounced and humiliated in an ill-advised contest against Japan for a seat in the UN Security Council in 1997.

It was only when the revolutionary economic reforms and liberalisation initiated by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao took effect that India’s economy recovered enough for the country to withstand global economic sanctions, which it faced after the nuclear tests of 1998. A chastened Bill Clinton visited India once he realised that it was pointless to impose sanctions on an economically vibrant India. The NDA government under Mr Vajpayee accelerated growth rates steadily and observed the fiscal prudence required not to let runaway inflation to break the backbone of people. The UPA-I built on all these developments. Global nuclear apartheid against India ended, with the country assuming a larger global profile by its participation in forums like G-8, G-20 and BRICS. But the UPA political dispensation is still dominated by powerful elements, wedded to populism and fiscal irresponsibility. The much-touted loan waiver to farmers and a series of so-called “entitlements” orchestrated by the extra-constitutional National Advisory Council led to an era of unrestrained populism. Few people remembered that the economic disaster in 1991 immediately followed a populist loan waiver for farmers by then Prime Minister VP Singh.

The unbridled populism saw the deficit of the Union Government, the net of asset sales, rise to 6.6 per cent of the GDP by March 2011, rising dramatically from 3.9 per cent of the GDP, in a very brief time span. Growth in the last quarter plummeted to 4.5 per cent. A populist Environment Minister brought in regulations destined to inordinately delay project clearances. The lack of transparency in decision making has led to a situation where despite its vast resources of coal, imports of coal are rising alarmingly. With the prices of imported coal rising, power shortages are becoming endemic even in traditionally well-administered states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Industrial growth is slowing and new investments are becoming scarce as Indian entrepreneurs seek greener pastures abroad for investment. Every rating agency, foreign investor and foreign government knows that India has become a difficult investment destination.

Pakistani Taliban hold ground in northwest Tirah Valley

By Jennifer Rowland 
April 10, 2013

New Post: Arsla Jawaid, "Failed city? Karachi's violent spiral" (AfPak).

Valley redoubt

Pakistan's military is struggling to push the Taliban out of the Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency, where some 30 soldiers and 100 militants died in five days of fighting recently (NYT). The Taliban remain entrenched, though, using a combination of honed guerrilla warfare tactics and extensive tribal connections to avoid defeat, which current and former Pakistani officials worry will allow the insurgents more influence over the upcoming elections.

The Taliban defeated a local pro-government militia in the Tirah Valley last month, then joined forces with another militant group, Lashkar-e-Islam, and on Tuesday made local tribal leader Mangal Bagh the supreme leader of both groups (Dawn). In neighboring Orakzai Agency, at least two Pakistani security forces and eight militants were killed in clashes on Tuesday (Dawn).

Meanwhile, Taliban threats continue to prevent Pakistan's main secular parties from convening large campaign rallies, even in the country's urban centers, forcing them to conduct small-scale door-to-door campaigns for votes (ET).

A Pakistani policeman was shot and killed while escorting a group of health workers administering polio vaccinations to children in the northwestern town of Mardan (AFP, Dawn). Three members of a human trafficking ring have been arrested in Balochistan for their roles in illegally smuggling almost 100 Pakistani Hazaras last June from Indonesia to Australia, on a boat that sank and killed 94 of the asylum seekers (ET).

Just hangin' around

The eight or so Taliban officials who flew to Qatar in 2010 to begin a process of peace negotiations with the United States remain there even though peace talks have been stalled since early 2012 over a proposed prisoner exchange of five Taliban leaders being held at Guantanamo Bay in return for U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (NYT). "They are just living here enjoying the air-conditioning, driving luxury cars, eating and making babies," according to one Afghan diplomat in Qatar who sees the Taliban officials when they come to the Embassy to register the birth of a child. "It's all they can do; they have no work to do."

A helicopter crashed in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar on Tuesday, killing the two U.S. service members on board (Reuters, AP). An Afghan National Army soldier reportedly shot and wounded two Lithuanian forces on Sunday in what appears to be the latest insider attack (Pajhwok). And one Afghan civilian was killed when NATO forces opened fire on a vehicle in the western province of Herat on Wednesday (Pajhwok).

Party platform? Everything

Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) unveiled a 13-page manifesto on Tuesday that presents a buffet of lofty promises to the Pakistani people (ET). Under the PTI, "there will be no difference between rich and poor," corruption will be eliminated within 90 days after the party comes to power, the nation will withdraw completely from the U.S.-led "war on terror," and Pakistan's women, minorities, impoverished, dispossessed, and disabled will see justice.

-- Jennifer Rowland

How a Single Spy Helped Turn Pakistan Against the United States

Photo illustration from photographs by Arif Ali/AFP, via Newscom (left) and Douglas County sheriff’s office (right).
Published: April 9, 2013 163 

The burly American was escorted by Pakistani policemen into a crowded interrogation room. Amid a clatter of ringing mobile phones and cross talk among the cops speaking a mishmash of Urdu, Punjabi and English, the investigator tried to decipher the facts of the case.

“America, you from America?”


“You’re from America, and you belong to the American Embassy?”

“Yes,” the American voice said loudly above the chatter. “My passport — at the site I showed the police officer. . . . It’s somewhere. It’s lost.”

On the jumpy video footage of the interrogation, he reached beneath his checkered flannel shirt and produced a jumble of identification badges hanging around his neck. “This is an old badge. This is Islamabad.” He showed the badge to the man across the desk and then flipped to a more recent one proving his employment in the American Consulate in Lahore.

“You are working at the consulate general in Lahore?” the policeman asked.


“As a . . . ?”

“I, I just work as a consultant there.”

“Consultant?” The man behind the desk paused for a moment and then shot a question in Urdu to another policeman. “And what’s the name?”

“Raymond Davis,” the officer responded.

“Raymond Davis,” the American confirmed. “Can I sit down?”

“Please do. Give you water?” the officer asked.

“Do you have a bottle? A bottle of water?” Davis asked.

Another officer in the room laughed. “You want water?” he asked. “No money, no water.”

Another policeman walked into the room and asked for an update. “Is he understanding everything? And he just killed two men?”

Hours earlier, Davis had been navigating dense traffic in Lahore, his thick frame wedged into the driver’s seat of a white Honda Civic. A city once ruled by Mughals, Sikhs and the British, Lahore is Pakistan’s cultural and intellectual capital, and for nearly a decade it had been on the fringes of America’s secret war in Pakistan. But the map of Islamic militancy inside Pakistan had been redrawn in recent years, and factions that once had little contact with one another had cemented new alliances in response to the C.I.A.’s drone campaign in the western mountains. Groups that had focused most of their energies dreaming up bloody attacks against India were now aligning themselves closer to Al Qaeda and other organizations with a thirst for global jihad. Some of these groups had deep roots in Lahore, which was why Davis and a C.I.A. team set up operations from a safe house in the city.

But now Davis was sitting in a Lahore police station, having shot two young men who approached his car on a black motorcycle, their guns drawn, at an intersection congested with cars, bicycles and rickshaws. Davis took his semiautomatic Glock pistol and shot through the windshield, shattering the glass and hitting one of the men numerous times. As the other man fled, Davis got out of his car and shot several rounds into his back.

He radioed the American Consulate for help, and within minutes a Toyota Land Cruiser was in sight, careering in the wrong direction down a one-way street. But the S.U.V. struck and killed a young Pakistani motorcyclist and then drove away. An assortment of bizarre paraphernalia was found, including a black mask, approximately 100 bullets and a piece of cloth bearing an American flag. The camera inside Davis’s car contained photos of Pakistani military installations, taken surreptitiously.

CIA collaborated with Pakistan spy agency in drone war

By Jonathan S. Landay 
McClatchy Newspapers 
Published: April 9, 2013

People shout slogans during a protest rally against U.S. drone strikes in central Pakistan's Multan on Jan. 8, 2013. At least eight people were killed and four others injured in two separate U.S. drone strikes.


WASHINGTON — Even as its civilian leaders publicly decried U.S. drone attacks as breaches of sovereignty and international law, Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency secretly worked for years with the CIA on strikes that killed Pakistani insurgent leaders and scores of suspected lower-level fighters, according to classified U.S. intelligence reports.

Dozens of civilians also reportedly died in the strikes in the semi-autonomous tribal region of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan that is a stronghold of al-Qaida, Afghan militants, other foreign jihadists and a tangle of violent Pakistani Islamist groups.

Copies of top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy Newspapers provide the first official confirmation of joint operations involving drones between the U.S. spy agency and Pakistan’s powerful army-run Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, as well as previously unknown details of that cooperation. The review takes on important significance as the administration reportedly is preparing to expand the use of drones in Afghanistan and North Africa amid a widespread debate over the legality of the strikes in Pakistan.

The documents show that while the ISI helped the CIA target al-Qaida, the United States used drone strikes to aid the Pakistani military in its battle against the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, or TTP — assistance that the Obama and Bush administrations never explicitly acknowledged or legally justified.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for a comment on McClatchy’s findings. The Pakistani government denied there was ever any cooperation on drone strikes.

The partnership was so extensive during the Bush administration that the Pakistani intelligence agency selected its own targets for drone strikes. Until mid-2008, the CIA had to obtain advanced approval before each attack, and under both administrations, the Pakistanis received briefings and videos of the strikes.

The U.S. intelligence reports illustrate how the Pakistani army retained its grip on national security policy after 2008 elections ended the nation’s fourth bout of military rule and brought to power a civilian government, which condemned drone strikes as violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty and international law. The strikes killed hundreds of civilians and produced new recruits for Islamist extremist groups, charged the government, which resigned last month in advance of May 11 parliamentary voting.

What remains unclear is the degree to which the government under President Asif Ali Zardari, which tried unsuccessfully to wrest control of the ISI from the military, acquiesced in the CIA-ISI collaboration.

The ISI is a domestic and international spy and paramilitary service that officially reports to Pakistan’s prime minister. In reality, however, the agency answers to the chief of staff of the army, which has ruled Pakistan for most of its 66 years. Former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in 2011 called the army a “state within a state.”

An Inconvenient Truth

Finally, proof that the United States has lied in the drone wars.

It turns out that the Obama administration has not been honest about who the CIA has been targeting with drones in Pakistan. Jonathan Landay, national security reporter at McClatchy Newspapers, has provided the first analysis of drone-strike victims that is based upon internal, top-secret U.S. intelligence reports. It is the most important reporting on U.S. drone strikes to date because Landay, using U.S. government assessments, plainly demonstrates that the claim repeatedly made by President Obama and his senior aides -- that targeted killings are limited only to officials, members, and affiliates of al Qaeda who pose an imminent threat of attack on the U.S. homeland -- is false.

Senior officials and agencies have emphasized this point over and over because it is essential to the legal foundations on which the strikes are ultimately based: the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force and the U.N. Charter's right to self-defense. A Department of Justice white paper said that the United States can target a "senior operational leader of al-Qa'ida or an associated force" who "poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States." Attorney General Eric Holder said the administration targets "specific senior operational leaders of al-Qaeda and associated forces," and Harold Koh, the senior State Department legal adviser dubbed them "high-level al-Qaeda leaders who are planning attacks." Obama said during a Google+ Hangout in January 2012: "These strikes have been in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] and going after al-Qaeda suspects." Finally, Obamaclaimed in September: "Our goal has been to focus on al Qaeda and to focus narrowly on those who would pose an imminent threat to the United States of America."

As the Obama administration unveils its promised and overdue targeted-killing reforms over the next few months, citizens, policymakers, and the media should keep in mind this disconnect between who the United States claimed it was killing and who it was actually killing.

Landay's reporting primarily covers the most intensive period of CIA drone strikes, from September 2010 to September 2011. "[T]he documents reveal estimates of deaths and injuries; locations of militant bases and compounds; the identities of some of those targeted or killed; the movements of targets from village to village or compound to compound; and, to a limited degree, the rationale for unleashing missiles," he writes.

While he provides few direct quotes from the documents, his most important finding is this:

At least 265 of up to 482 people who the U.S. intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were not senior al Qaida leaders but instead were "assessed" as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists. Drones killed only six top al Qaida leaders in those months, according to news media accounts.

Fisheries in Palk Bay: Facts, Fist Fights and Remedies

Paper No. 5456 Dated 10-Apr-2013

Guest Column by Commodore R. S. Vasan (Retd.)

It is difficult not to come across print or a visual media report that does not carry news almost on a daily basis, about the intrusion of the Indian fishermen in to Sri Lankan waters and being apprehended by the SL Navy.

That the Indian fishermen are violating the Sri Lankan waters is reported rarely. Then there are routine reports ad nauseum about the strong statements issued by the CM of Tamil Nadu and the protest letters sent out to Delhi for stern action against a small neighbour . The undisputed facts of the case and the remedies suggested are covered in the subsequent discussions.

The Indian fishermen exercised their fishing rights right till 1974 when India ceded Kacchativu to Sri Lanka to demarcate the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).Unfortunately, it has been recorded that then PM Indira gandhi had said that it is a barren Island little realizing that the barren Island was surrounded by rich fishing grounds. The agreement in 1974 allowed the Indian fishermen to dry their nets on this ceded Island around which there was always good quantity of fish. The clarification that they cannot fish but could dry their nets defied any logic. Why would fishermen dry their nets if they were not interested on fishing in that area? Why should he come to this Island only to dry nets after fishing elsewhere??? . It is possible that the intention was to continue to allow the Indian fishermen to fish in the areas around Kacchativu where they had exercised the traditional rights for fishing through generations. Though, the Indo Sri Lankan IMBL has been resolved, India is yet to resolve its maritime boundary issues with the other two neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

In 1976, the then External Minister Swaran Singh clarified in the parliament that Indian fishermen did not have the right to cross over to the Sri Lankan side of the IMBL for fishing and therefore, the question of either fishing or drying nets in Kacchativu did not arise.

Both in 1974 and in 1976, the Tamil Nadu Government did precious little to protest if it felt that the action by the Centre was not in order. It is now being argued by the State, that the Centre had no right to cede any Indian territory without a parliamentary debate and approval. The Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has indicated that she would move the Supreme Court for seeking legal remedy on this constitutional mistake committed by the center. There are questions about why there is such unprecedented delay and inaction by the State which feels that the nearly three decade old decision was not right.

The fishermen from Tamil Nadu have never heeded to advice from any quarter and have continued to fish in the troubled waters inviting the wrath of the neighbouring fishermen who are also Tamils from Sri Lanka. The Tamil Nadu fishermen had free access to the rich fishing grounds as the Sri Lankan Government had banned fishing in the areas of conflict till the defeat of the LTTE. Many fishermen used this opportunity to also support the LTTE by smuggling essentials required for the war effort. With the defeat of the LTTE the Sri Lankan fishermen have started fishing in their own waters and feel threatened by the intrusion of the Indian fishermen. The Sri Lankan fishermen have also objected to the use of mechanized trawlers by Indian fishermen who have indiscriminately fished in Palk bay by bottom trawling and have contributed to near complete depletion of fish stock in Indian waters by over exploitation. The Sri Lankan fishermen fear that their fishing grounds will meet similar fate.

The routine crossing over of fishermen from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in to each other’s territory is not uncommon and there are mechanisms to ensure that the fishermen are not unduly harassed due to navigational mistakes or even intentional crossing of the IMBL. India has even set up a hotline between Islamabad and New Delhi to exchange such information. All the nations involved continue to detain erring fishermen. If India has a right to arrest the poaching fishermen from the neighbouring countries, the neighbouring countries have the same responsibilities in their respective areas and are well within their rights to exercise similar responses. It is of course expected that due care would be taken to handle the offenders humanely.

'Way of the Knife': Mark Mazzetti's lively tour of the third war we've been fighting

Posted By Thomas E. Ricks  
April 10, 2013

The estimable Micah Zenko wants a "first draft" of "the Third War." Actually it has been written, and is being published this week. It is The Way of the Knife, by Mark Mazzetti. It has all sorts of interesting details, like that the United States has the ability to remotely turn on a cell phone in Pakistan and then collect the precise coordinates of whoever is carrying it. 

Here is an interview I did with the author by e-mail:

Tom Ricks: What are we going to learn from your book that we haven't gotten from others, like those by Peter Bergen?

Mark Mazzetti: Peter's books are absolutely terrific, and a hard act to follow! And, there have certainly been a number of terrific books covering the war on terror. What I've tried to do in my book is tell a story of a secret war, and how that war has changed places like the CIA and parts of the Pentagon. The CIA is now at the center of waging covert wars in places like Pakistan and Yemen. The agency certainly has had a history of far flung military adventures, but then it tried to get out of the killing business -- only to come back at it in a big way since the September 11 attacks. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has become more like the military, sending soldiers into the dark corners of the world on spying missions. There's been a real blurring of the lines between soldiers and spies.

With the "big wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan either over or winding down, I think that these secret wars have become the default way of doing business. And, only now is the pressure growing for the White House to bring greater transparency to the shadow wars.

TR: What was the biggest surprise to you in reporting and writing the book?

MM: I think that the biggest surprise was how much this type of warfare brings various colorful characters to the forefront. When the United States determined it couldn't send the 101st Airborne into a country, it began to rely on private contractors and other types of individuals to do things like gather intelligence on the ground. I spent a chapter on the private spying network run by Duane Clarridge, a former CIA officer and one of the figures in the Iran-Contra scandal. A Pentagon official hired Clarridge's team to gather intelligence in Pakistan because there was a belief that the CIA wasn't up to the task, but the entire operation ended up in recriminations and a Pentagon investigation. It's stories like this that I really tried to highlight in the book.

TR: Why do you think drones have become so controversial only recently in the United States?

MM: That's a good question. I think that up until recently, at least in Washington, you had both Republicans and Democrats uniformly supporting targeted killings and there was no constituency calling for greater transparency and accountability for these kinds of operations. Since the November election, you have seen Democrats become more vocal in challenging the Obama administration on the use of targeted killings. And, of course, there is Rand Paul's now-famous filibuster that captured concerns among Libertarians about secret government operations.

What can we learn from the last 200 million things that happened in the world?

Posted By Joshua Keating
April 10, 2013

If you've been following the political science geek Twitter/blogosphere for the last few days, you've probably come across the mysterious acronym GDELT. The excitement over Global Data on Events, Location, and Tone - to give its full name -- is understandable. The singularly ambitious project could have a transformative effect on how we use data to understand and anticipate political events.

Essentially, GDELT is a massive list of important political events that have happened -- more than 200 million and counting -- identified by who did what to whom, when and where, drawn from news accounts and assembled entirely by software. Everything from a riot over food prices in Khartoum, to a suicide bombing in Sri Lanka, to a speech by the president of Paraguay goes into the system.

Similar event databases have been built for particular regions, and DARPA has been working along similar lines for the Pentagon with a project known as ICEWS, but for a publicly accessible program (you can download it here though you'll need some programming skills to use it) GDELT is unprecedented in it geographic and historic scale. The database updates with new events every night following the day's news and while it currently goes back to 1979, its developers are working on adding events going back as far as 1800 according to lead author Kalev Leetaru, a fellow at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science. (I've previously written about his work here.)

"It's the sheer size," says Leetaru, when asked what makes the project unique. " And the resolution. It's not just saying an event took place in Syria. It's saying who did what to whom. It will tell us that it was the military who attacked Christian civilians in this city on this day. If the article says it was worshippers who were attacked in their church, that will all be captured."

Events are classified by four different types: material conflict, material cooperation, verbal conflict, and verbal cooperation. Within those categories, events are classified using a 300 category taxonomy system called CAMEO, developed by Penn State's Philip A. Schrodt, to provide detail on the actors and the action that occurred.

Fewer than 2 percent of drone-strike victims in Pakistan are senior al Qaeda leaders

Posted By John Hudson
 April 10, 2013

Despite White House assurances that its lethal drone policy merely targets "senior operational leaders" of al Qaeda and its associates, a new McClatchy report finds that the majority of drone targets in Pakistan include a mix of unidentified "extremists" and lower-level Afghan and Pakistani militants.

The blockbuster report is based on copies of "top-secret U.S. intelligence reports" obtained by reporter Jonathan Landay and includes data on drone strikes in Pakistan in a 12-month period ending in September 2011. Here's Landay's breakdown of the data:

- At least 265 of up to 482 people who the U.S. intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were not senior al Qaida leaders but instead were "assessed" as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists. Drones killed only six top al Qaida leaders in those months, according to news media accounts.

Forty-three of 95 drone strikes reviewed for that period hit groups other than al Qaida, including the Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as "foreign fighters" and "other militants." ...

- At other times, the CIA killed people who only were suspected, associated with, or who probably belonged to militant groups.

A pie chart of the data quite dramatically demonstrates how few senior al Qaeda members were targeted in the year analyzed by McClatchy:
People Killed By Drones inPakistan*Senior AlQaedaLeadersNot SeniorAl QaedaLeaders98.8%

*Between September 2010 and September 2011.

According to McClatchy, the documents "show that drone operators weren't always certain who they were killing," which raises questions about Barack Obama's assurances that lethal killings are "not speculative" and that targets must be plotting "imminent" attacks on America. If you don't even know the identity of the target, how is the decision not "speculative"?

Some advocates of the drone program trust the administration's judgment, and feel that the White House deeming targets dangerous -- even if they had no association with al Qaeda -- is sufficient. But for others, the McClatchy report may only confirm allegations that terror suspects are killed with an insufficient degree of background information and oversight.

Pakistan: Myths and Consequences

Omar Ali, Pragati, Mar 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 theSikh 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 secularized 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.

Why the North Korean stand off?

Issue Net Edition | Date : 10 Apr , 2013

There are both contemporary and historical reasons behind the North Korean threat to launch an offensive against South Korea and strike at U.S. bases in Guam and Hawaii. North Korea (Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea –DPRK) and South Korea have been having an uneasy relationship since the singing an armistice in 1953 after the Korean War ended in a stalemate. At that time a De-militarized Zone (DMZ) was created along the 38th parallel between the two countries to prevent breaking out of fresh conflict. However, DPRK has not recognized the maritime boundary between the two countries; this continues to be an irritant in their relations. Annual joint exercise by South Korean and U.S. troops and navy is yet another major source of irritation for the North. The Kim regime has repeatedly used these irritants to whip up anti-U.S. hysteria and talk tough on attacking South Korea.

Due to the strategic alignment of China and North Korea on one side and South Korea, Japan and the U.S. on the other, any conflict initiated by North Korea has every possibility of enlarging into a much bigger conflict particularly if North Korea uses nuclear weapons.

A contemporary reason could be South Korea’s emergence as a democratic nation with strong economic power next only to China and Japan in East Asia, in sharp contrast to DPRK’s dismal performance.

During the last six decades, North Korean regime has left the land and people impoverished. Food shortages have become endemic as the farm productivity is low. Though the regime has achieved moderate success in producing some conventional weapons like multi-barrel rocket launchers, and short range missiles derived from Chinese and Soviet originals, it has made little industrial progress.

The North Korean regime has gained international notoriety for its ruthlessness and insensitivity to international concerns on nuclear proliferation, human rights and governance. It has been branded as one of the rogue states for its penchant to be a clandestine source of weapons to terrorist organizations and nations under arms embargo.

Kim Jong-un succeeded his father Kim Jong-il as the President of DPRK in 2011. The Kim family’s maverick style of state craft has made DPRK loose cannon in the East Asian region dominated by the U.S. and its allies for long. North Korea had periodically used the threat to develop nuclear weapons and long range rockets to extract concessions mainly from the U.S. The Yongbyon nuclear site was closed in 2007 after a similar standoff. So many analysts feel the newly anointed Kim was probably trying to establish his leadership credentials by following the time tested method of talking tough to rally the masses in his support.


25 MARCH 2013
Research Article
Demystifying China's Defence Spending: Less Mysterious in the Aggregate
Adam P. Liff  and Andrew S. Erickson


China's limited transparency concerning its defence spending harms strategic trust, but foreign analysts often lose sight of important realities. Specific details remain unclear, but China's defence spending overall is no mystery – it supports PLA modernization and personnel development as well as its announced objectives of securing China's homeland and asserting control over contested territorial and maritime claims, with a focus on the Near Seas (the Yellow, East, and South China seas).This article offers greater context and a wider perspective for Chinese and Western discussions of China's rise and its concomitant military build-up, through a nuanced and comprehensive assessment of its defence spending and military transparency.

Whatever the exact size of the People's Republic of China's (PRC) actual defence spending, it is now the world's second largest. Its rapid increase over the past two decades is a development of considerable significance to the world, yet it remains poorly understood. Many analysts have a tendency to focus on the most unsettling aspects of China's military strategic and budgetary opacity while overlooking the context in which relevant policy choices are made. The result is often an over-simplistic narrative about China's rise and long-term strategic intentions. A salient example of the problematic, decontextualized discourse about China's defence spending is the charge of Donald Rumsfeld, then US secretary of defense, at the June 2005 Shangri-La Dialogue: “Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment [in defence]? Why these continuing large and expanded arms purchases? Why these continued deployments?”

As this article will demonstrate, however undesirable to foreign observers the PRC's military build-up may be, the trajectory of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is increasingly amenable to external analysis: it is focused primarily on explicitly identified contingencies and is not particularly surprising. To be clear: to say that China's military trajectory is not as mysterious as is commonly believed is not to say that the PLA's growing capabilities should not be an issue of concern to other states or that China's military has achieved a sufficient level of transparency; nor is it to deny that some of China's recent rhetoric and behaviour toward its neighbours in East Asia has had a deleterious effect on regional stability. Nevertheless, inferences about China's strategic intentions and judgments about the appropriate policy response should be based on a full consideration of the available data, rather than focused only on the concerns raised by what some might term the “known unknowns” about China's military trajectory.2

To be sure, remaining uncertainties are significant. The lack of reliable open-source data, and infeasibility of confirming the veracity of those data that are available, hinders efforts to determine total military spending figures and intra-PLA spending priorities and capabilities. Given this reality, such figures are best estimated deductively from doctrine and inductively via an examination of procurement patterns of specific platforms and weapons systems. Specific estimation is extraordinarily complex and depends on data typically unavailable to scholars.3 For these reasons, linkage of funding estimates to specific capabilities is beyond the scope of the present study.4

Although many of these and other specific criticisms raised about China's defence spending are valid, the conclusions about the broader strategic uncertainty surrounding China's short-term military development that many observers reach based on those criticisms are often over-wrought. While China's official defence budget does not capture all defence-relevant spending, it is not exceptional in this regard: estimates of any country's total defence-related spending, to the extent that they are possible at all using open sources, are contingent on a subjective judgment about what constitutes “defence-related spending.” Despite perennial limitations in China's budgetary transparency, the information currently available about China's priorities and investment is sufficient to develop a good sense of its broader military trajectory. A more complete understanding of the drivers of and trends in China's military development and defence spending and the international context in which China's rise is occurring, as well as a forecast of likely developments in the future, are necessary to ensure appropriate policy responses from the international community.

This article argues that what open-source data reveal in aggregate about broader trends in China's defence spending is significant. The growth in spending over the past two decades is driven primarily by a desire to modernize and professionalize the PLA after decades of neglect and military backwardness. Throughout much of the post-1978 reform era the real-world effects of China's nominal defence spending have been mitigated heavily by rampant inflation. Even during recent periods of relatively low inflation, rapid defence budget increases have been roughly consistent with overall GDP growth and outpaced by the growth in total state financial expenditures. Beijing's official defence budget increasingly captures actual PLA funding, and the PLA's widely criticized opacity is improving gradually; it is not as exceptional among countries at its stage of economic development as is widely believed. Defence spending growth over the past two decades has led to significantly improved military capabilities, the most significant of which are designed primarily to address contingencies in the Near Seas and their immediate approaches rather than further afield. Recent defence spending increases are sustainable, at least in the near term, and could be augmented considerably and directed to support selected overseas contingencies. However, in the medium to long term, worsening economic and demographic pressures may impel China's leaders to shift budget resources elsewhere and thereby limit further military spending growth.

This article is divided into six sections. We begin with an overview of recent trends in China's defence spending. Second, we summarize remaining extrabudgetary funding and common Western criticisms of China's defence spending. We delineate several salutary trends resulting from recent budget reforms, the inclusion of several frequently overlooked spending categories, and gradual improvements in budgetary transparency. Third, we briefly summarize Chinese responses to Western criticisms about China's military transparency and defence spending in order to help elucidate the manifold drivers of China's rapidly increasing defence budget. Fourth, we highlight the problems inherent in over-simplified analyses of China's military development that view budget increases in isolation and mystify China's current and likely future military trajectory. We argue that China's military development targets conspicuous objectives, and that a more comparative and nuanced approach offers a more complete understanding of trends in China's defence spending. Fifth, we discuss several important implications of China's improving military capabilities and assess the prospects for the future growth of its defence budget. A final section concludes.

Defence Spending Trends

Beijing announces a single overall figure for its official defence budget for the year during the annual March session of the National People's Congress. This figure is usually revised at a later date to reflect routine adjustments to actual spending during the course of the year.

China’s great water wall

Posted on April 8, 2013
By Brahma Chellaney, Washington Times, Monday, April 8, 2013

Damming downstream flow to neighbors could trigger water wars

The Chinese government’s recent decision to build an array of new dams on rivers flowing to other countries seems set to roil inter-riparian relations in Asia and make it more difficult to establish rules-based water cooperation and sharing.

Asia, not Africa, is the world’s driest continent. China, which already boasts more large dams than the rest of the world combined, has emerged as the key impediment to building institutionalized collaboration on shared water resources. In contrast to the bilateral water treaties between many of its neighbors, China rejects the concept of a water-sharing arrangement or joint, rules-based management of common resources.

The long-term implications of China’s dam program for India are particularly stark because several major rivers flow south from the Tibetan plateau. India has water-sharing treaties with both the countries located downstream from it: the Indus pact with Pakistan guarantees the world’s largest cross-border flows of any treaty regime, while the Ganges accord has set a new principle in international water law by assuring Bangladesh an equal share of downriver flows in the dry season. China, by contrast, does not have a single water-sharing treaty with any neighbor.

Yet most of Asia’s international rivers originate in territories that China annexed after its 1949 communist “revolution.” The sprawling Tibetan plateau, for example, is the world’s largest freshwater repository and the source of Asia’s greatest rivers, including those that are the lifeblood of mainland China, South Asia and Southeast Asia. Other Chinese-held homelands of ethnic minorities contain the headwaters of rivers such as the Irtysh, Illy and Amur, which flow to Russia and Central Asia.

China’s dam program on international rivers is following a well-established pattern: Build modest-size dams on a river’s difficult uppermost reaches, and then construct larger dams in the upper-middle sections as the river picks up greater water volume and momentum, then embarking on megadams in the border area facing another country. The cascade of megadams on the Mekong River, for example, is located in the area just before the river enters continental Southeast Asia.

Most of the new dam projects announced recently by China’s state council, or Cabinet, are concentrated in the seismically active southwest, covering parts of the Tibetan plateau. The restart of dam building on the Salween River after an eight-year moratorium is in keeping with a precedent set on other river systems: Beijing temporarily suspends a controversial plan after major protests flare so as to buy time — before resurrecting the same plan.