26 April 2013

The Middle East's New Map*

The most appropriate image of the present-day Middle East is the medieval map, which, in the words of the late historian Albert Hourani, depicts an age when "frontiers were not clearly and precisely delimited" and the influence of a regime was not uniform "within a fixed and generally recognized area," but, rather, grew weaker with distance as it radiated outward from an urban core. Legal borders, where the power of one state suddenly ended and that of another suddenly began, were rare. And thus, Hourani was not the only scholar to point this out.

We are back to a world of vague and overlapping shadows of influence. Shia and Sunnis in northern Lebanon cross the border into Syria and kill each other, then retreat back into Lebanon. Indeed, the military situations in Lebanon and Syria are quickly fusing. The al Assad regime in Damascus projects power not unto the legal borders of Syria but mainly along parts of the Sunni-dominated Homs-Hama corridor and also on the Mediterranean coast between Latakia and Tartus, where the regime's Alawite compatriots are concentrated. Beyond that there are literally hundreds of small rebel groupings and half-dozen major ones, divided by their own philosophical and Islamist orientations and those of their foreign patrons. Then there are the half-dozen or so Kurdish factions controlling parts of northern and northeastern Syria. As for the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, there are two main Kurdish groups that are basically sovereign in different sectors. Significant Sunni areas of Iraq, particularly in sprawling Anbar between the Euphrates River and the Syrian border, are in varying degrees independently governed or not governed at all. Even Shiite central and southern Iraq is not completely controlled by the Shia-dominated Baghdad regime, owing to a half-dozen parties that in some cases exercise a degree of sovereignty.

Rather than a temporary situation, this is one that can last for many years. For example, Bashar al Assad's regime need not necessarily crumble immediately but may survive indefinitely as a frail statelet, supported as it is by Russian arms arriving via the Mediterranean and from Iran across the weakly governed Iraqi desert.

Gone is the world of the Ottoman Empire, in which there were relatively few battles for territory among the various tribes and ethnic and sectarian groups, because the Sultan in Istanbul exercised overarching (albeit variable) sovereignty between the mountains of Lebanon and the plateau of Iran. Gone is the colonial era when the British and French exercised sovereignty from the capital cities unto the fixed legal borders of newly constituted mandated states and territories. Gone is the post-colonial era when tyrants like Hafez al Assad in Syria and Saddam Hussein in Iraq ran police states within the same fixed borders erected by the British and French. Further down the road, the only states left that wield real sovereignty between the eastern edge of the Mediterranean and Iranian plateau could be Israel and Iran.

In a cartographic sense then, we are back to medievalism, but without the storied cultural and intellectual benefits that the Middle Ages conferred upon the Arab world. A thousand years ago, what is now known as Iraq was for significant periods under the sway of Iran; but more to the point, Baghdad and Damascus constituted different dynastic poles of pulsating influence that did not always configure with specific frontiers and were contested by Abbasids, Seljuks, Safavids and Ottomans. Of course, the heartlands of Syria and Iraq did, in fact, constitute different agricultural and henceforth different political regions, even as the line between them could be extremely fluid -- as were the distinctions between Turkey and Iran. Places in what is today northern Iraq were linked by caravan routes to Syria, even as places in northern Syria were linked by caravan routes to Iraq. As it concerns the map, subtlety ruled in a positive sense, as it does in a negative sense today.

Security forces can be tried in criminal courts too, says SC

Utkarsh Anand : New Delhi, Fri Apr 26 2013

A view of the Indian Supreme Court building is seen in New Delhi. Reuters

Stating that all security forces personnel accused of crimes against civilians will not necessarily be tried only by their courts, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that criminal courts can also have jurisdiction in such cases.

Setting aside the orders of a lower court and high court in Jammu and Kashmir, a bench led by Justice C K Prasad Thursday ordered that the trial of two BSF personnel, accused of killing a Kashmiri teenager in February 2010, be sent back to a criminal court in Srinagar.

Stating that the BSF director general could move the criminal court within eight weeks if he considered that the trial should be conducted by the security force court, the bench said "the chief judicial magistrate shall consider the plea in accordance with law."

According to the prosecution's case, on February 5, 2010, BSF commandant R K Birdie and constable Lakhwinder Kumar had a verbal altercation with some local youth. On his officer's order, Kumar fired twice, killing Zahid Farooq Sheikh, 16. Birdie and Kumar were first arrested by the police, and a chargesheet was filed in April that year. But the BSF later moved an application asking the magistrate to stay the proceedings and to send the case to the security force court. In November 2010, the magistrate tranferred the case to the security force court. The victim's family and the state government challenged the order in the high court, but to no avail.

The SC held that it was not mandatory to try all such cases in the security force court, and the commanding officer must adduce sufficient reasons on why the case should not be sent to a criminal court. It said specific provisions under the armed forces laws could not summarily take away general laws.

An asymmetric deal

Devashish Mitra : Fri Apr 26 2013

India has limited bargaining power in negotiating the EU-India FTA

India and the EU have been negotiating a free-trade agreement (FTA) for six years now. Despite a recent deferral, reports indicate the agreement, subject to ratification by the parliaments of India and the EU, is close to being finalised. However, FTAs do not always lead to freer trade. Unlike unilateral trade liberalisation or trade liberalisation through the WTO's multilateral framework, FTAs are discriminatory, in that trade is freed up between parties to the trade agreement but trade flows from other countries into member countries of the FTA are subject to barriers. This leads to what is known as "trade diversion" (as pointed out by Jacob Viner in 1950), which, in the EU-India FTA context, means that some products India was importing from non-EU countries will now be imported from the EU, where the costs of production and the prices of these products (exclusive of import duties) may be higher. For example, some of the imports of automobiles and auto parts from the US, Japan and Korea will be replaced by imports from Europe. India clearly loses from this kind of trade diversion and in many cases, this loss can more than offset the gains from "trade creation" that such an FTA can bring about in the form of a net addition to the overall trade volume. Besides automobile and auto parts,the EU-India FTA will also divert dairy imports away from lower-cost producers like Australia and New Zealand. Also, Indian dairy producers will face unfair competition from heavily subsidised European dairy farmers. Overall, it is unlikely the gains to consumers will more than make up for the losses to import-competing domestic producers and government revenues (tariff revenues).

While these concerns would be valid even if negotiations were taking place in a symmetric setting, the extreme asymmetry of the actual bargaining environment makes matters worse. The EU's aggregate GDP is eight times India's. Trade between India and the EU is 2 per cent of the EU's overall international trade, but 20 per cent of India's. Thus, in this bilateral setting, India has limited bargaining power. Besides, research by Wolfgang Mayer has shown that when an FTA is successfully negotiated between a large country (a group of countries in this case) and a relatively small country (in terms of relative economic size), such an agreement ends up with the extraction of important non-trade concessions from the latter by the former. Examples could be intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and harmonisation of environmental and labour standards. These theoretical predictions are not inconsistent with actual large and small country FTAs that have been signed. While both India and the EU have been secretive about the content of the negotiations so far, the leaked draft IPR chapter indicates that there is a strong possibility that the FTA might go beyond the WTO provisions for IPR protection. The WTO provides exemptions to developing countries through which they are allowed to produce generic versions of certain medicines without seeking permission from the patent holder. India has been able to take advantage of these exemptions, while other developing countries have been able to import cheaper medicines from them. As a result, millions of HIV/ AIDS patients in the developing world have been saved and the spread of this virus has been significantly controlled. This would not have been possible without the availability of affordable antiretroviral treatments, much cheaper than in the developed world. Thus, an FTA that restricts the production of generic drugs is going to be costly not only to India, but also to many other developing countries. Besides, if the agreement seeks parity in labour and environmental standards between India and Europe, it would drive up production costs in India's manufacturing sector. This would throw several producers out of business, in turn driving poor workers out of employment. When Europe was at India's current stage of development, it didn't have the existing IPR laws or the current labour and environmental standards. Such laws and standards, and the ability to implement them, are a function of a country's stage of development.

So, from India's point of view, this FTA is a bad idea. In a WTO setting, while rich countries do form coalitions, the interests of countries from different regions of the world often diverge. Still, often, the commonality of interests between some large developing countries leads them to coalesce into a formidable negotiating block with considerable bargaining power. India should not be discouraged by the failure of multilateral negotiations under the WTO in the last decade and keep pursuing them. But the government should realise that there is room for non-discriminatory unilateral trade reform.

The writer is professor of economics and Cramer professor of global affairs at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, US

Why students need the right to copy

Shamnad Basheer

The lawsuit by publishers seeking to stop Delhi University from distributing photocopied course packs goes against the spirit of education for all.

The Hindu BREAKING FREE: The case also shows why it is necessary for academics to explore alternative open access models. A meeting in October 2012 at Delhi University to examine the implications of the case.

Late last year, leading publishing houses including Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press brought a copyright action against Delhi University and a tiny photocopy shop licensed by it, seeking to restrain them from supplying educational course packs to students. This lawsuit sent shock waves across the academic community, leading more than 300 authors and academics including famed Nobel laureate Professor Amartya Sen to protest this copyright aggression in an open letter to publishers. Tellingly, 33 of the authors of various books mentioned specifically in the lawsuit (as having been copied in the course packs) signed this protest letter making it clear that they were dissociating themselves from this unfortunate lawsuit.

For those not familiar with the term, course packs are compilations of limited excerpts from copyrighted books, put together painstakingly by faculty members in accordance with a carefully designed syllabus and teaching plan.

‘Fair use’

What makes the lawsuit particularly egregious is the fact that publishers are effectively seeking an outright ban on all course packs, even those that extract and use no more than 10 per cent of the copyrighted book. Under U.S. law, reproducing up to 10 per cent of the copyrighted books is “fair use” of a copyrighted work, and therefore legal. Given that India is a developing country, with poorer students and more severe educational access constraints, it stands to reason that Indian courts ought to peg this number at 30 per cent or even higher.

Further, the Indian education exception is far wider than its U.S. counterpart. Section 52(1) (a) embodies the “fair use” exception and permits any fair dealing of a copyrighted work for the purpose of research and private study. In addition, unlike the U.S., Section 52(1)(i) embodies a separate exception, under which it is perfectly legal to reproduce any copyrighted work during the course of educational instruction. These exceptions reflect a clear Parliamentary intention to exempt core aspects of education from the private sphere of copyright infringement. Eviscerating these exceptions at the behest of publishers will strike at the very heart of our constitutional guarantee of a fundamental right to education for all.

In fact, copyright scholars have begun labelling these exceptions as “rights” accruing in favour of beneficiaries such as students. In CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada endorsed this sentiment noting that:

“…The fair dealing exception, like other exceptions in the Copyright Act, is a user’s right. In order to maintain the proper balance between the rights of a copyright owner and users’ interests, it must not be interpreted restrictively.”

Public interest

Recently, an association of students and academics applied to be impleaded as parties to the lawsuit, so that they could help the court arrive at a robust interpretation of the copyright exceptions. While allowing these impleadments, the judge noted the critical importance of “public interest” in deciding intellectual property cases. These developments come close on the heels of the famed Novartis decision where the Supreme Court foregrounded the interests of the public in accessing affordable medication.
Danger of this licence

Meanwhile, publishers have offered the tantalising option of acquiring a licence from the Indian Reprographic Rights Organisation (IRRO), an organisation set up by publishers to collect royalties on their behalf. This is a dangerous route to tread for three reasons.

Court at crossroads

Pratap Bhanu Mehta : Fri Apr 26 2013

Like other institutions, it shows a crisis of identity and leadership

In a discussion on the relationship between the judiciary and democracy, Justice Verma once wryly observed that the main challenge for the judiciary was not saving Indian democracy , it was saving itself. As we commemorate the 40th anniversary of Keshavanada, it is important to acknowledge the landmark doctrinal contributions of the judiciary. But there is a more profound sense in which the judiciary is at a crossroads in its relationship with Indian democracy. As with Indian democracy, there is no imminent threat to the institution; but there are more than a few questions about quite what it is up to.

There is a legal Whig narrative, which, to simplify, goes something like this. The Supreme Court used to be a relatively black-letter law, conservative institution, which sometimes stood in the way of social change. Then came the Gajendragadkars of the world, who transformed the court into an agent of social change. Then faced with increasing political corruption, the judiciary, through doctrinal innovation, saved the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. Sure, it capitulated somewhat during the Emergency, but then made up for it by converting itself into a people's court, a voice for the voiceless. And then, in its ever-growing contribution to Indian democracy, it became a new source of rights, and a governance institution to enforce accountability. Of course, many legal niceties were compromised in the process, fine distinctions were blurred, but the court soldiered on, the knight in shining armour.

But the reality has always been messier. Earlier courts were never as conservative as has been made out; and contemporary courts are not as radical as the explosion of rights language would lead one to believe. Through the ups and downs, the court has had to carve out its own political legitimacy. It tried to do this by expanding its normative ambit and setting itself up as an institution of redress on many fronts. It also sensed an opportunity that the public scepticism of politicians was such that the courts could carve out their independent institutional niche. It is only against the backdrop of the political excesses of the 1970s that judges could get away with the idea that we would be safer if only judges appointed judges. The court has to be seen to hold executive power to account, but in a way that does not fundamentally challenge that power. Even in the post-Emergency period, when the court was rehabilitating itself, the dual game was going on: the same Justice Bhagwati who was a judicial innovator in many respects also paid craven homage to Indira Gandhi. Through an artful combination of populism and deference to the executive, the court carved out a political place for itself. It saved democracy by saving itself.

But the elements that allowed the courts to carve out their authority are severely strained. Institutions often gain legitimacy, not by first principles, but by the concrete fears that animate citizens at the time. When the fear of executive usurpation was high, the court could get away by declaring itself to be its own lord and master. It says something that the dominant fear of executive usurpation has now been replaced by the fear that there is no accountability within the judiciary. But this change was not a doctrinal change. It was rather an acknowledgment that the judiciary had a chance to set its own house in order and blew it. The hope that autonomy would produce sterling appointments was dashed. There are some notable exceptions. But the shadow of mediocrity seems to hang over the Supreme Court more than in the past. The court's own capacity to discipline the judicial system is in doubt. Hence, there is growing legitimacy for the idea that judicial accountability and appointments need to be placed in a wider structure like a judicial accountability commission.

India's Economic Rise Is A Firm Rebuke Of Joseph Stiglitz, Brad DeLong, And The World Bank*

The triumph of the great free-market liberalization that took place in India in 1991 is stunning, an advancement for human well-being that is one of the greatest stories ever told. Life expectancy has risen from less than 45 years to more than 60. The poverty ratio, still over 50 percent as recently as 1977-78, has fallen to 20 percent. There were only 5 million phones in India in 1990-91; today there are hundreds of millions, with more than 15 million phones being activated a month.

Who could question this dizzying success? Lots of people, it turns out. Including Nobel laureates Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz, economist-blogger Brad DeLong and the World Bank. All of them and many other prominent theorists harboring suspicions about the marketplace have questioned aspects of the Indian boom, many of them counseling more centralization and less freedom. And all of them get briskly corrected in the new book Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries.

The book by Columbia University economists Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya is a point-by-point rebuke of India’s doubters. Brad DeLong, for instance, is a proponent of the myth that growth was not a result of the post-1991 reforms but instead can be traced back to the 1980s. In the ’80s some mild reforms were first introduced, but on a much smaller scale relative to the 1991 liberalization, when at a stroke India devalued its currency, eliminated most of its licenses and quotas, opened industries to foreign capital, cut taxes, privatized many industries and freed up foreign trade, quadrupling GDP in 20 years. In an introduction to the book containing DeLong’s essay, Harvard economist Dani Rodrik elaborated that “the change in official attitudes in the 1980s,” meaning encouragement of entrepreneurship and further engagement with the world, “may have had a bigger impact on growth than any specific policy reforms.”

But growth in the 1980s was a lackluster 4.6 percent a year until it picked up to a much better 7.2 percent from 1988 to 1991. Bhagwati and Panagariya point out that this later growth was financed by fiscal expansion and external borrowing that were not sustainable and indeed led to the 1991 balance-of-payments crisis that precipitated the major reforms that year. From 2003 to 2012, growth roared along at 8.2 percent a year. “Attributing this latest acceleration to some vague ‘attitudinal’ change in the 1980s strains credulity,” write the authors. Auto production jumped from 180,000 in 1990-91 to two million in 2009-2010. Foreign investment exploded from $100 million in 1990-91 to more than $60 billion in 2007-08. Specific policy reforms caused these changes.

But didn’t India’s worst-off classes – bureaucratically known as the scheduled tribes and scheduled castes — miss out on the boom? A World Bank brief made that case, saying, “It is widely acknowledged that…many groups are left behind amid improving living standards. Among them are tribal groups identified by the Constitution as Scheduled Tribes.” In fact, research shows poverty dropping steadily among these disadvantaged groups, which comprise nearly a quarter of India’s population. For the “scheduled castes,” poverty rates fell from 59 percent in 1983 to 29 percent in 2009-10. The “scheduled tribes” saw a similar improvement, from 64 percent in poverty in 1983 to 31 percent in 2009-10. Moreover, poverty rates are actually declining more quickly among these groups than in the population as a whole. India’s worst-off are seeing some of liberalization’s most amazing gains.

Zero for DRDO

Apr 26, 2013

If DRDO brass were to be hauled up, it would be like pulling out a foundational stone that could bring the whole fraudulent edifice tumbling down

The Indian Air Force has been clever over the years in a petty sort of way. Short-range or medium-range combat aircraft and so on are uniquely IAF nomenclature; no other Air Force has such categories. In the age of aerial tankers, describing warplanes by their radii of action is a distraction.

Forty years ago the IAF invented another category of warplanes — “deep penetration and strike aircraft”, which permitted the purchase of Jaguar. The IAF sees this sort of thing as a harmless ruse to serve its interest. The multiplicity of combat aircraft thus procured allows, the service believes, in a crisis to at least have some squadrons in its fleet not subject to sanctions or the spares-and-servicing tourniquet, which supplier countries in greater or lesser measure always apply, depending on their foreign policy goals and national interests of the moment, and which tool of manipulation is now legitimated by the recent Arms Trade Treaty.

This policy of buying aircraft from diverse sources was first articulated in a 2006 note from Air Headquarters (AHQ) to the ministry of defence (MoD), which stated that the requirement for a sub-30-ton fully loaded combat aircraft was being deliberately proposed to escape the Russian stranglehold, and avoid going in for more Sukhoi-30 MKIs or the upgraded variant the “Super” Sukhois. Thus, Rafale passed the spurious test, clocking in at 27 tons. Of course, the IAF-invented range-dictated categories serve another purpose. They confuse generalist civil servants in the MoD and convincing clueless politicians that there are big gaps in combat aircraft numbers which need filling.

In this game of “fool you, fool me”, where the IAF is being jerked around by supplier countries, the threat to national security stays unaddressed. IAF is principally to blame, of course. But the inability of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and other Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) units tasked with aircraft and on-board systems designs, and the sheer incompetence of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) are equally responsible. So criminally negligent has HAL been that in all the years it assembled a variety of MiG-21s, MiG-27s, MiG-29s, and the Jaguar, and the power plants for each of these aircraft at its Koraput factory, it failed to maintain a database. In other words, for all the licence manufacturing it has done over the years, by failing to compile how every component in the aircraft and in the engines does what and how, it has learnt nothing. Had HAL maintained a database of all the items it has put together, the country by now would have had the built-up capability to manufacture the Tejas Mk-I and Mk-II on the run. But this defence public sector unit has reduced itself to an adjunct of supplier companies. That top HAL leadership has not been brought to account on this score and that the Indian taxpayer continues funding such profligacy only reflects the state of things.

Dwindling Defence Allocations: Towards Smarter Strategies & Robust Strategic Guidance

In India, the first instinct of economists in times of crisis is to slash defence allocations. Superficially, it may also appear to be the most logical thing to do - after all, with the economy not growing adequately, with inflation running higher than growth and a burgeoning deficit to add to the cup of woes, defence cannot but avert the inevitable hit. In fact, when faced with the larger challenges of balancing austerity and populism, inflation and growth, fiscal balance and welfare expenditure, defence, it is argued, can at best be a peripheral consideration. Developments in the western world are also cited to illustrate as to how in an environment of economic austerity, defence cuts are becoming inevitable globally ( proposed job cuts in UK’s armed forces built around redundancies and the impact on defence of the ongoing sequester cuts in USA are offered as examples). So the recent cuts by the union finance ministry seem to be appropriate - slashes to the tune of Rs 10,000 crores from the RE for capital allocations in defence for FY 2012-13 and now in the BE for 2013-14 increased allocations by a mere 5 % (lowest ever) as against 16 % last year. This article questions the wisdom of doing so and attributes such a response to some rather lazy, dated thinking. It further argues that in both good times and bad, the economics of national security merits far greater examination with defence allocations and hedging strategies being conjointly evolved in relation to our national security concerns & aspirations. It is just not enough to cut the defence cloth to the economy’s size ; the cloth must instead be tailored in accordance with looming threats through enablers like strategic guidance and a smarter response strategy.

First and foremost, cuts in defence allocations need to be made after deep debates and a thorough professional analysis of the threat – capability – intent matrix ; they need to be driven by an incisive analysis of the strategic neighbourhood, as also far greater thoughtfulness & coordination and not by cold economic imperatives alone. The urge to find money for other affairs of the state must be intelligently balanced against the need to secure the state against strategic uncertainties. There is need for far greater sophistry than the predictable responses that seem to have become the new norm - in good times assert that money will always be found for legitimate defence needs and increased allocations because the ministry of defence finds it difficult to expend even the amounts allocated and in bad times express inability to provide the necessary money because it is simply not available. These changing rationales & themes to explain inadequate allocations for defence, even as the combat differentials with our most obvious adversaries continue to decline ( the Chinese defence budget now growing in size to three to four times that of the Indian defence budget) are obviously a source for worry. In the final analysis, these rationales will matter little, because in deterrence and in possible conflict the clinching metric is always that of credible capacities / combat readiness, with the rationales at best providing the explanatory footnote. 

It is also necessary to dispel the impression that electoral politics and national security have little or at best a very distant connect. This recent example from UK may help. Gordon Brown, when Chancellor of the Exchequer imposed a series of austerity cuts with a particular fondness for defence. A few years later, now PM Gordon Brown was faced with the global economic slowdown which given his facility with economics he negotiated rather well ; what did him in however, was the war in Afghanistan where inadequacies due to the spending cuts had begun to manifest. UK witnessed the embarrassing spectacle of the PM having to field feeble and public responses to the questions of a widow here and a mother there, as to why helicopters were not available in adequate numbers and why equipment inadequacies were so widespread. In the subsequent elections, Gordon Brown lost, not because he managed the economy badly, but more so, because of the widespread perception that he had underfunded and mismanaged the war effort in Afghanistan. Economics therefore has an intimate connect with national security and sometimes with grim electoral consequences. The practice of prudent politics demands that in matters of national security we harmonise the rationale for spending cuts with the imperatives of combat preparedness with far greater thought and care.

Returning to the Land or Turning Toward the Sea? India’s Role in America’s Pivot

April 25, 2013
By Evan Braden Montgomery

China's rise is pushing America and India closer. But are they focusing on the wrong set of challenges?

While there were many reasons for the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy to mend fences, perhaps the most important reason was the one that few officials could point to in public: the rise of China. In modern times, tensions between New Delhi and Beijing date back to their border war in 1962. In fact, the contested boundaries between these two powers are some of the only land border disputes that China has yet to resolve. To keep up with Beijing’s growing military power, India needs to modernize its armed forces, which means moving away from its reliance on Russian hardware and looking toward Europe and the United States. Meanwhile, Washington is searching for ways to preserve its position in the Asia-Pacific as China’s strength continues to increase. Having the region’s other rising power on its side is a good place to start.

If a partnership between the United States and India makes sense on paper, so far improved relations between the two nations have hardly been game changing. There are a host of explanations why the fruits of strategic collaboration have been relatively modest, from bureaucracies on both sides that have impeded potential arms sales, to broader considerations such as the fear of antagonizing China. One important factor, though, is the mismatch between what the United States wants India to do and what New Delhi is best suited to do.

Proponents of closer ties between Washington and New Delhi often view India as a budding maritime power. As then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declared in 2010, “India can be a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean and beyond.” For example, with a bigger and better navy, India could help patrol vital sea-lanes, deter or counter smuggling operations, combat piracy, provide humanitarian assistance far from home, and respond quickly when natural disasters strike. All of this could help relieve some of the burdens shouldered by the U.S. Navy, which is juggling its day-to-day role as a global security provider and first responder with the longer-term challenge of a shifting military balance in the Western Pacific. Not surprisingly, areas like counter-piracy and humanitarian assistance are at the center of U.S.-India security cooperation today.

The only problem is that India isn’t a maritime power: it’s a land power. To be sure, New Delhi is building and buying new ships and submarines, and seems determined to bolster its naval capabilities, which is hardly surprising given its location astride some of the world’s most important sea-lanes. But the major military challenges it faces come from on shore, and the Indian Army continues to be the nation’s dominant military service in terms of size, influence, and budget share.

Assuming that the underlying goal of closer U.S.-India ties is to help maintain a stable balance of power across Asia, a larger Indian navy is likely to have a marginal long-term impact. Actually, it could even be counterproductive. The rivalry between China and India may have begun on land, but it is starting to move into the maritime domain, particularly as Beijing makes inroads with island and littoral nations in the Indian Ocean while New Delhi continues to bolster its maritime capabilities. Building a robust, blue water fleet that would enable India to project maritime power throughout its region and beyond could give China an added incentive to double-down on naval modernization, conduct more deployments outside of East Asia, and perhaps develop a permanent overseas military presence to secure its sea lines of communication against the latent threat of Indian interdiction. Given the cost and difficulties of fielding a large, modern, and effective naval force, as well as the pull of more pressing security challenges on land, there is no guarantee that India will succeed.

If the current focus of U.S.-India security cooperation seems misplaced, how should it be adapted, particularly if the United States is likely to be engaged in a long-term, peacetime competition with China for regional influence and positional advantage? The answer requires bringing geopolitics back into the picture. While India has traditionally been a continental power focused on threats along its land borders, the same is true of China. For example, it is surrounded by fourteen different countries, including major powers and nuclear-armed nations. It previously fought a series of border wars and conflicts, not only with India but also against the Soviet Union and Vietnam. Its outlying territories are populated by minority groups that pose a continuous threat of internal unrest. And its access to the sea is limited by island barriers and maritime chokepoints. In fact, the main reason that China has been able to scale back the size of its ground forces and invest in naval and aerospace capabilities over the past two decades is that it hasn’t been distracted by serious land-based threats for the first time in a long time. Nevertheless, China remains extremely sensitive about the security of its borders.

Understanding the standoff in Ladakh

Zorawar Daulet Singh 

China’s approach to its core territorial interests has become uncompromising in recent years and is manifesting across the board from a climate of discord in the South China Sea, the dispute with Japan over the East China Sea islands, to the Himalayan dispute with India.

IN the cacophony of media coverage a nuanced portrayal of the Ladakh standoff has fallen by the wayside. Since context is so important, it is worth exploring both the macro and micro causes for such incidents.

A view of the Chinese infrastructure across the LAC in south-eastern Ladakh. After the April 23 flag meeting it is clear that both sides are engaged in probing up to their preferred LAC. 

File photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

The macro-narrative locates the present standoff to China’s stronger periphery control measures that are part of an increasingly sensitive and assertive China across its continental and maritime frontiers. China’s perceptions and its approach to its entire periphery has undergone changes in recent years. The reasons can be attributed mostly to internal political dynamics where the Dengist image of a pragmatic and agreeable China has been trumped by a more assertive self-image of China as a great power. The East Asian geopolitical dynamic, especially the US ‘pivot’ and renewed intra-allied cooperation in the US security network, only reinforces China’s threat perceptions and its assertive posture. This is now an ongoing game as part of the evolving balance of power in the Asia Pacific.

To some extent, locating Chinese frontier activity with India in the context of its evolving worldview makes sense. Yet, the India-China border has a distinct dynamic and Chinese intentions here cannot be simply read off from Beijing’s geostrategic posture toward its eastern seaboard.

Missed opportunities

There have been three opportunities since 1960 in resolving this dispute. Zhou Enlai made an offer to solve the dispute via an east-west swapping of claims during his 1960 visit. India’s reluctance to equate the two sectors would see this offer being rejected. In 1979 Deng Xiaoping made a formal offer for a “package solution” to Foreign Minister Vajpayee during the latter’s visit to Beijing. Once again, the Indian side could not countenance a change in its negotiating position. A third opening came with the April 2005 “Political Parameters and Guiding Principles” Agreement, which indicated that both sides had substantially converged their positions on the overarching principles that would guide a settlement. The 2005 agreement declared that a “package settlement” is the only way forward along with a mutual recognition that this would involve minor territorial adjustments by both sides.

The Ladakh drift

P. Stobdan : Fri Apr 26 2013

As China intrudes, India must pay urgent attention to the region

Since 1986, China has taken land in the Skakjung area in the Demchok-Kuyul sector in Eastern Ladakh. Now, it has moved to the Chip Chap area in Northeastern Ladakh. As in Kargil, India has been lax in patrolling. Unlike the lowlands in Eastern Ladakh, the Chip Chap valley is extremely cold and inhospitable. Until end-March, it remains inaccessible, and after mid-May, water streams impede vehicles moving across the Shyok River. This leaves only a month and a half for effective patrolling by the Indian side. For China, accessibility to Chip Chap is easier. No human beings inhabit the area. No agencies except the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the army have a presence there. And both are locked in inter-departmental disputes.

The Chinese intention is to enter from the south of the Karakoram and cross the Shyok from the east. That would be disastrous for Indian defence, leaving the strategic Nubra vulnerable, possibly impacting supply lines and even India's hold over Siachen. It is quite possible that China is eyeing the waters of the Shyok and Chang Chenmo rivers, to divert them to the arid Aksai Chin and its Ali region. The only provocation from the Indian side was the recent opening of airbases at Daulat Beg Oldi, Fukche and Nyoma.

In Eastern Ladakh, the 45-kilometre long Skakjung area is the only winter pasture land for the nomads of Chushul, Tsaga, Nidar, Nyoma, Mud, Dungti, Kuyul, Loma villages. The area sustains 80,000 sheep/goats and 4,000 yak/ ponies during winter. They consume over 75,000 quintals of tama or dry forage, worth Rs 10 crore annually. The Chinese advance here intensified after 1986, causing huge scarcity of surface grass, even starvation for Indian livestock. Since 1993, the modus operandi of Chinese incursions has been to scare Indian herdsmen into abandoning grazing land and then to construct permanent structures.

Until the mid-1980s, the boundary lay at Kegu Naro — a day-long march from Dumchele, where India had maintained a forward post till 1962. In the absence of Indian activities, Chinese traders arrived in Dumchele in the early 1980s and China gradually constructed permanent roads, buildings and military posts here. The prominent grazing spots lost to China include Nagtsang (1984), Nakung (1991) and Lungma-Serding (1992). The last bit of Skakjung was taken in December 2008. The PLA has also moved armoured troops into Charding Nalla since 2009. It could eventually threaten the Manali-Leh route.

China's assertion in Ladakh has grown after it built infrastructure in its Ngari area to develop Kailash-Manasarovar into a tourist complex to attract affluent Chinese. Ngari's rapid development was a precursor of things to come. China may be applying the Sino-India Guiding Principle (2005) to consolidate its position, for it knows that only 0.6 per cent of the Ladakh region is inhabited. The PLA used nomadism as an instrument for incursion. The migration of Changpa nomads on specific routes has been a key component of national security, something India has never understood. The imposition of multiple restrictions by our authorities has led to a massive shrinking of pastureland and the de-nomadisation of Changthang Ladakh, adversely impacting national security.


Dated 23-Apr-2013
By B. Raman

(To be read in continuation of my article of November 6, 2012, titled “Chinese Checkers” carried by “Outlook” in its online edition at http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?282899)

1.  The continuing (since April 15,2013) Chinese troop intrusion ( about 20 troops) 10 kms into Indian territory near Burthe in the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) area of Eastern Ladakh in the western sector of the Sino-Indian border should be a matter for careful analysis and concern, but not alarm.

2. A spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Office has denied any Chinese intrusion into Indian territory in this area. The Government of India, for the present, has been treating it as one of those intrusions which take place sometimes due to differing perceptions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in this area and trying to deal with it through the normal mechanism for handling such issues without disturbing peace and tranquillity across the border.

3. There is no evidence to show that this could be a prelude to a major Chinese assertion of territorial sovereignty in this area. The Chinese aim seems to be to re-assert their claim of sovereignty over this area without disturbing peace and tranquillity. The Chinese troops are presently camping in the area in a tent. We will have reasons to be more than concerned only if they stay put there and construct permanent defences as they often do in the uninhabited islands of the South China Sea.

4. Since last year, the Chinese have been a little more assertive of their sovereignty claims over the islands of the South and East China Seas. They have reportedly constructed permanent defensive and administrative structures on some of the islands over which they have disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines.

5. In the East China Sea, where they have sovereignty disputes with Japan, they have avoided any such construction, but stepped up seemingly aggressive air and naval patrols of the areas in the vicinity of these islands. The Chinese Navy has also stepped up its visits to the islands in the South China Sea claimed by Beijing.

6. Till now we have seen greater Chinese activism in the enforcement of their sovereignty claims only in the South and East China seas, but not across the Sino-Indian border. If the Chinese troops stay put in the Burthe area and construct defensive structures in the area, that will be an indicator of their deciding to follow a similar policy of activism across the Sino-Indian border too. That should add to our border concerns. We may have to revisit our peace and tranquillity strategy and think of a more activist policy to face the Chinese activism.

7. In the Western sector of the border, which is largely unpopulated, the status quo favours the Chinese. Since 1962, they are already in occupation of whatever territory they have claimed. We have very few options to re-assert our sovereignty in any area of this sector which is under Chinese control.

8. In the Eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh, which the Chinese call Southern Tibet), the area is populated and the status quo favours India. Even though our defensive and administrative infrastructure in the Arunachal Pradesh area is not comparable with the Chinese infrastructure in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), we are in a much stronger position in the Eastern sector than in the Western.

9. While the Chinese continue to repeat from time to time their claims to the Arunachal Pradesh area, they have avoided in the Eastern sector the kind of ground activism that one comes across in the Western sector. There is a noticeable keenness on the part of both China and India to avoid any provocative incident either in the Eastern or Western sector.

10. The Chinese are unlikely to relent in their claims to Indian territory in the Eastern sector till after they have succeeded in imposing on the Tibetans a Dalai Lama chosen by the Communist Party of China (CPC) with the help of the Panchen Lama chosen by the CPC.

11.The wave of self-immolations (115 incidents so far) in the Tibetan areas of China since March 2009 has created concerns in Chinese mind of possible political instability in the Tibetan areas after His Holiness the Dalai Lama when the CPC imposes its nominee on the Tibetans.

12. The older generation of Tibetans continues to abide by His Holiness’ exhortations for peaceful means of protest. The Chinese are worried that the GenNext of Tibetans represented by organisations such as the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) may take to violent means to resist the imposition of a Dalai Lama chosen by the CPC.

Battle of tents and banners on border


New Delhi, April 25: The India-China military face-off in eastern Ladakh has turned into a battle of tentwallahs on a Tibetan plateau.

The Indian Army chief, General Bikram Singh, who returned from Jammu and Kashmir last evening, told a group of military veterans in a closed-door meeting today that the army has pitched eight tents in response to four pitched by the Chinese between the “Lines of Perception” on a dry bed of a rivulet called Raki Nala.

The Chinese move on April 15 and the Indian response has essentially reinforced the policy of “finders keepers” on the undemarcated and disputed common boundaries between the two countries, one officer who attended the meeting told The Telegraph.

The “Lines of Perception” are the notional boundaries till which the troops of either side patrol. The Chinese “Line of Perception” is between 10km and 12km west of the Indian line.

The army chief, who briefed defence minister A.K. Antony and the China Study Group headed by national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon on his assessment of the situation, is also understood to have told the veterans — many of whom retired as senior officers who served in the area — that the government had advised the army not to provoke a situation that could disrupt diplomatic efforts for a resolution.

He said India would try to keep the dispute “localised” and “tactical” to give diplomatic processes more space as New Delhi prepares to welcome the new Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, on his maiden foreign visit on May 20. On May 9, foreign minister Salman Khurshid is to visit China.

There have been two flag-meetings at Spanggur Gap between the Indian and Chinese armies. Both were requested by India. Now China has requested for a third today.

But there was an acknowledgement that by pitching tents and staying put for 10 days, the Chinese had violated the rules framed under the 1993 agreement of peace and tranquillity on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

While the troops are eyeball-to-eyeball at Raki Nala, there has been no firing but each side has held up banners advising the other to vacate the space.

The government also does not immediately favour military moves that may be interpreted as “offensive” by the Chinese. This effectively rules out outflanking manoeuvres that may have been used by the Indian Army to set up a camp behind the Chinese one. It also pushes into the background a build-up of forces.

In 1986, after the Chinese had moved into Sumdorong Chhu, a valley in Arunachal Pradesh, then army chief, General Sundarji ordered Operation Falcon with the government’s nod. Two divisions of the army were airlifted and they occupied high points around Sumdorong Chhu, threatening the Chinese. That led to a “loudspeaker war” — each side warning the other over loudspeaker announcements — that ended in 1987. But it was not till 1995 — nine years after occupying it — that the Chinese vacated Sumdorong Chhu.

A similar long-drawn-out standoff is on the cards in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector unless one or the other side decides to break the stalemate that is now 10 days old since the Chinese set up camp — and altered the status quo — on April 15.

Indian military observers say the Chinese enjoy a military advantage in Sub Sector North (SSN) — as the Leh-headquartered 14 Corps has designated the zone around Daulat Beg Oldi. The area is upwards of 16,000 feet above the Shyok River Valley that is to its west.

Road’s end for Pervez Musharraf

Worse than other Pak military despots
by Inder Malhotra

WHICHEVER way the Hitchcockian drama in Islamabad plays out there is at least one certainty in the grand confusion: that Pervez Musharraf, arguably the most delusional of the four military dictators that have ruled Pakistan for nearly half its existence, has reached the end of the road. His pipedream of landing in his country after five years of exile, like a triumphant Caesar - in the hope of being welcomed by people still nostalgic about what he had done for them in the past and anxious to give him another chance to lead them - has turned out to be a nightmare. He can now rue over his folly during his house arrest in his sprawling farmhouse at the edge of the Pakistani capital.

As a matter of fact, Islamabad-based foreign correspondents who had gone to Karachi to cover Musharraf’s “momentous arrival” have reported that it should have been clear from that moment that the former president had no future. His candidature in the four constituencies has already been rejected and most of the political leaders he expected to be with him have already joined other mainstream parties. He has no role in the ongoing elections or any influence on their outcome.

Incidentally, the most delightful and appropriate comment on his present plight has come from Xinhua, the official news agency of China, Pakistan’s “all-weather” friend where at one time Musharraf used to be welcome. There was, says Xinhua, “poetic justice” in Pakistan when the Islamabad Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant against the former president - something he had done “against dozens of judges when he arrested them in 2007”.

On the fate that awaits him, opinions differ widely. Some hope, rather than think, that the judiciary that he humiliated so disgracefully in 2007 would not be content without hanging him, especially because the three main charges against him are heinous and include the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the murder in cold blood of the eminent Baloch leader, Sardar Mohammed Akbar Bugti. Some others believe that if the law and the judicial process don’t get Musharraf, the lawless Taliban would. In my view, this possibility should also be ruled out in view of the enormous commando security the Pakistan Army has provided this former commando general.

As of now, the most plausible scenario seems to be that Musharraf’s judicial custody up to May 4 will be extended beyond the date of elections that is May 11. Thereafter his trial can begin, if the judiciary and the new government insist on it. But then it can go on and on for years, if only because in this and many other basic practices the underlying unity of the subcontinent endures. However, overall it is a safe bet that Pakistan’s power structure cannot afford to hurt the sentiments of the all-powerful Army by executing or even imprisoning a former army chief.

According to available information, General Ashfaque Pervez Kayani, though a one-time protégé of Musharraf, did not want him to come home, leave alone take part in the elections. It is said that messages to this effect were sent to him several times. However, when the megalomaniac former military ruler having hallucinations about his popularity with the Pakistani masses did arrive, the Army considered it its bounden duty to see to it that no harm came to his person and that his, and more importantly, the Army’s izzat (an expression dear to both the Indian and Pakistani armies) was not besmirched in any way. This situation will prevail regardless of the dispensation resulting from the May 11 poll. It would be no surprise if some kind of an understanding already exists among the major stakeholders in Pakistan on this subject.

Islamists prepare for grand home-coming

Friday, 26 April 2013

People of Pakistan are heading towards a rule by a fractious coalition. But, unlike in the past where moderate parties like the MQM and the ANP held the balance, extremist groups are expected to play a greater role

Pakistan is being torn apart by sectarian and communal violence, in which hundreds of Shias have perished and the Christian and Hindu minorities terrorised by extremist Sunni groups, ranging from the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. The port city of Karachi, always a hotbed of violence, saw new dimensions to sectarian and ethnic violence, as the Pakistani Taliban took control of Pashtun dominated areas in the city, from the moderate Awami National Party. The arrival of the Taliban in Karachi has produced continued blood-letting between Taliban-oriented Pashtuns and Muhajirs, pledging loyalty to Altaf Hussain’s Muttahida Quami Movement.

In Punjab, the extremist Sunni Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which enjoys the patronage of Rana Sanaullah, a senior leader of Mr Nawaz Sharif’s PML(N), has mercilessly targeted Shias, Ahmedis and Barelvis. Its arrested cadres reportedly enjoy benign judicial protection from no less than Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, said to be a cousin of Rana Sanaullah. The situation is even more tense in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, where the TTP is targeting candidates of the secular Awami National Party, whose leader Asfandyar Wali Khan has been unable to campaign even in his hometown Charsadda, near Peshawar. In Balochistan, the Pakistani Army continues its brutal operations against the Balochi tribal resistance, with reports emerging of bodies of Balochi militants being mutilated by the Army.

Pakistanis now appear to have become inured to such violence. Candidates are busy electioneering. The election process has been complicated by constitutional provisions introduced by General Zia ul-Haq. All candidates are required to have “adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practices and obligatory duties prescribed by Islam”. The Constitution also requires rejection of those “opposed to the ideology of Pakistan”. It requires candidates to be “sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and Ameen”. These provisions have led to returning officers initially rejecting the candidature of former Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and General Pervez Musharraf, who now faces court proceedings. Pakistan is paying a high price for its Sharia’h laws, designed to promote Salafi extremism. The ‘blasphemy law’ in the country, also enacted during the rule of General Zia, results in religious minorities being intimidated, arbitrarily arrested and subjected to threats of death penalties.

A recent public opinion poll in Pakistan gave a clear indication of the mood of the youth, which is going to play an important role in the forthcoming elections. 94 per cent of the youth thought the country was going in a wrong direction. Society at large is becoming more religiously conservative. 64 per cent of the male youth and 75 per cent of women are religiously conservative. There is little optimism about prospects of employment for the youth. Islamic Tanzims are drawing more and more disenchanted youth. The survey revealed that, while only 29 per cent of young Pakistanis support democracy, 32 per cent favour military rule, while 38 per cent favour the imposition of Sharia’h laws. Such attitudes are significantly prevalent in the Pashtun-dominated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, in Punjab and also in the tribal areas that border Afghanistan.

With the exception of President Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party, Asfandyar Wali Khan’s ANP and Mr Altaf Hussain’s MQM, virtually all other parties are resorting to anti-American sloganeering. India, though, finds little mention in election rhetoric. There are virtually no references to Kashmir. Mr Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehriq-e- Insaf acknowledges that armed jihadi groups in the country include “Kashmiri militants”.

The garrison state in Pakistan

By Ehsan Ahrari 

The high visibility of Pakistan in regional and global affairs is one of the reasons behind the publication of a number of excellent studies explaining the country's internal affairs as well its regional and global strategic maneuvers. 

Ishtiaq Ahmed's book, Pakistan the Garrison State , is certainly one such book. Borrowing the concept, "garrison state," from noted American political scientist Harold Lasswell, Ahmed develops an engaging but complex narrative of Pakistan. 

His account starts from the birth of that nation in a highly volatile environment, and brings it forward to 2011. Since the Indian top leadership never accepted Mohammad Ali Jinnah's (founder of Pakistan) "two nation theory" as the basis of partition of British India, the chances of any cooperation between the two resulting states after their birth were minimal, to start with.The outburst of the Kashmir conflict in 1947, almost immediately after their inception as separate nations, dealt a severe blow to the prospects of cooperation between the two countries for several decades. 

The notion of a garrison state suits Pakistan to a tee, in the sense that, in such a state, the military not only remains as the most powerful actor, but also frequently becomes the governing entity. It also subsumes the concept of "national security state", where the power elites of the country under discussion are incessantly preoccupied with both external and internal enemies. 

In a garrison state, because of the military's (to be precise, the army, since it is the most dominant service in that country) fetish for devouring a substantial portion of the nation's meager but extremely precious capital in order to modernize itself, other vital societal issues - such as investments in developing modern educational institutions, a multifaceted industrial base, and state-of-the-art health care facilities and institutions, etc -are grossly underfunded. 

The garrison state also describes a state where internal ideological, sectarian, and ethnic conflicts continue to tear the country apart. Sadly, Pakistan not only contains all of these features, but it incessantly suffers from the acutely deleterious effects stemming from them. 

Domestically, Pakistan was never able to develop into a stable democracy. Consequently, its civilian authorities originally (ie, early 1950s) invited the army to intervene when they could not contain domestic violence and disorder. Later on, the army invited itself to become the ruling power of the state, starting with the coup d'etat of General Mohammed Ayub Khan in 1958. 

The gross incompetence of Pakistan's army as a governing entity became abundantly clear in the loss of East Pakistan under the military rule of Ayub Khan's successor, General Mohammad Yahya Khan. That tragedy was followed only a few years later by another coup, when the Islamist General Zia ul-Haq, not only overthrew the elected government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1976, but also hanged him. 

Breaking from the unhappy events that occurred during the Zia regime, the fourth dictator of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf (who captured the reign of government by ousting the elected Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharief in 1999), did not hang any civilian leaders. However, Benazir Bhutto, the prospective prime minister in the then impending elections, was assassinated by Islamist terrorists. 

Thus, Pakistan became a country where democratic governance appeared only sporadically and was frequently interrupted by military dictators. Those autocrats will be remembered for their utmost incompetence, except for Zia, who will be remembered for transforming Pakistan - ostensibly irrevocably - into a highly explosive Islamist polity. 

Ishtiaq Ahmed's use of garrison state also underscores the notion of "fortress Islam", the rhetoric that the Pakistani military leaders used unsuccessfully to underscore their resolve to snatch the Indian-administered Kashmir from the grip of India's powerful military. 

The most disconcerting aspect of that rhetoric is that the Kashmir conflict has been permanently couched as a religious issue dividing the two countries. I say "permanently" because, as far as India is concerned, that conflict was resolved in 1948, and the Line of Control (LOC) separating the armies of those two countries represents the international border between the two countries. 

The militant groups next door

By Stephen Tankel
April 24, 2013 

The looming drawdown of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2014 has raised a multitude of concerns, among them fear that the al-Qaeda organization in Pakistan [hereafter AQC] will return to set up camp. This is overwrought. Any residual U.S. force should contain a heavy concentration of Special Forces operators whose top priority will be hunting al-Qaeda remnants who move back across the border into Afghanistan. AQC may be able to carve out small pieces of territory, but even a small number of U.S. troops in tandem with unmanned aerial vehicles should ensure it enjoys little more freedom of movement than at present in Pakistan's Tribal Areas.

Pakistani militants are likely to receive less attention. This is understandable. Yet their access to territory in Afghanistan, alongside the sanctuaries they already enjoy in Pakistan, is cause for significant concern, as it may amplify the threats they pose to India, to Pakistan, and to U.S. interests in the region. Moreover, as Secretary of State John Kerry seeks to jumpstart stalled peace negotiations, it is worth noting that their presence in Afghanistan further complicates the already tortuous search for a settlement.

Home Away from Home

Most of the major Pakistani militant groups and a host of minor ones are active in Afghanistan. They fight alongside the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network, both of which enjoy sanctuary in and support from Pakistan. Some Pakistani organizations are also engaged in a revolutionary jihad against their own government, with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan leading that charge. Organizationally, whether to wage war against the state is the greatest dividing line among militant groups endogenous to and based in Pakistan. Operationally, it does not preclude collaboration on either side of the Durand Line.

Anti-state militants displaced by Pakistani military incursions into FATA and the Swat Valley in 2009-2010 have regrouped across the border in Afghanistan. From there, they launch cross-border raids into Pakistan. The two countries have been waging a low-level border war since the late 2000s, fueling suspicions in Pakistan that Afghan forces are providing sanctuary and support to these militants. Even if true, such assistance would pale in comparison to Pakistan's well-documented support for insurgents fighting in Afghanistan.

Militants fighting against the Pakistani state are sometimes co-located in Northeastern Afghanistan with those from Pakistan's proxy organizations, most notably members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) who have been active there since the mid-2000s. Though still small in number, LeT's presence in Afghanistan has grown since 2010. This likely owes to an increased need for a safety release valve following pressure on the group to reduce its India-centric activities after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, as well as the appeal of the Afghan front for those motivated to fight America or simply to join the biggest jihad in town. Pakistan's intelligence services also may have endorsed this expansion as a means of gathering information about those anti-state militants pushed across the border. The past several years have witnessed attempts by LeT to solidify its presence in the Salafi-strongholds of northern Afghanistan where the group has longstanding roots.