10 July 2013

Delhi on Kabul: All bluster, no bite

Jul 10, 2013

New Delhi’s unwillingness to transfer arms to Afghanistan is not merely baffling but reeks of cowardice

India’s ministry of external affairs has now formally rebuffed Afghanistan’s request for the transfer of lethal weaponry arguing that it is neither able nor willing to meet such a request. There may well be sound political or strategic reasons underlying this demurral.

However, it strains the imagination to believe that New Delhi lacks the capability or the resources to provide small amounts of military hardware. The absorptive capacity of the Afghan armed forces is so limited that any such transfer would amount to a miniscule amount of India’s overall defence spending.

The question of India’s resources to meet the request aside, the rebuff that it has now delivered raises a host of questions about the country’s long-term strategy towards Afghanistan especially as the prospect of the American (and International Security Assistance Force) drawdown looms on the horizon. Ever since the US’ intervention in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the events of 9/11, various regimes in New Delhi have sought a larger role and voice in the future of the country. So this rebuff is odd.

Despite the forging and evolution of India’s strategic partnership with Washington, DC, the two George W. Bush administrations, while in the thrall of yet another squalid dictator in Pakistan, sought to keep India at an arm’s length from Kabul. Islamabad’s, nay Rawalpindi’s, bromides about “strategic depth” and “Indian encirclement” led US policymakers to keep New Delhi away from having any strategic role in the Afghan fray. Policymakers and commentators also paid scant heed to India’s periodic calls for its inclusion in various diplomatic discussions on Afghanistan. In the event, all India could do was to provide developmental assistance to Kabul and deploy small numbers of paramilitary forces for the sole purpose of force protection.

Though New Delhi periodically grumbled about its role being confined to reconstruction and developmental assistance while being denied a seat at the diplomatic high table, for the most part, it went along with these arrangements. In the process it earned some plaudits across the world for the success of its developmental programmes. These came even as Pakistan’s foreign office kept up a steady stream of propaganda about New Delhi’s putatively sinister designs in Afghanistan under the guise of development and reconstruction. A number of pro-Pakistani commentators in the US also chimed in, echoing similar sentiments, often without adducing a shred of evidence.

Of course, given the current government’s reticence to supply weaponry to Afghanistan, one is now forced to wonder whether, despite the clamour for greater representation and voice in various multilateral forums on Afghanistan, any policymaker in New Delhi was ever serious about a strategic role for India in Afghanistan either then or now. The summary dismissal of the Afghan request strongly suggests that New Delhi never possessed and continues to lack the necessary commitment to take on a strategic role in the country that may require it to bear some potentially costly burdens.

New Delhi’s unwillingness to step up to plate is especially disturbing for three compelling reasons. First, as many in the nation’s capital frequently underscore, India’s experience with the Taliban regime was hardly felicitous. During that time Afghanistan not only became a safe haven for any number of Pakistan-based terrorist organisations, but also became the site of the infamous hijacking of IC 814 and its ignominious end. If New Delhi is even halfway serious about ensuring that a neo-Taliban regime does not come to the fore in a post-2014 Afghanistan, it needs to stand its ground, and now. Second, even US intelligence officials, in public testimony before Congress, revealed that the Taliban attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul in 2008 had involved the support of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Given the sheer brazenness of this attack and the evidence of ISI complicity (in the Mumbai attacks of 2008 as well), New Delhi’s unwillingness to transfer arms to Afghanistan is not merely baffling but reeks of cowardice. Third and finally, this reticence to take on a strategic role in Afghanistan also suggests that for all its loose talk of wanting to play a critical role in stabilising the country as well as securing India’s vital interests in the wake of the American drawdown, New Delhi has not given enough thought to how it may accomplish this end.

Serial blasts in Bodh Gaya: Comments

Paper No. 5526 Dated 09-Jul-2013
Col. R. Hariharan

Here is a summary of answers given to print and electronic media questions on the serial blasts in Bodh Gaya on Sunday July 7, 2013.

What is your take on the serial blasts in Bodh Gaya, although the police seem to have had timely alerts before they occurred?

A series of nine explosions rocked the Maha Bodhi temple complex in Bodh Gaya, the holiest of all Buddhist sites, in the early hours of Sunday (July 7, 2013). Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has confirmed that in all 13 explosive devices were planted in and around the temple complex out of which ten had exploded and the other three were defused. Undoubtedly, this was a terrorist attack carried out by an organized body of terrorists.

According to the police improvised explosive devices (IED) using 2-kg LPG cylinders filled with ammonium nitrate, Sulphur and Magnesium and sharpnels were used in the explosions. Analogue timers were used to set off the explosion. The number of IEDs planted would indicate more than one person was involved in the attack.

Fortunately, two of the holy sites - the main temple sanctum, and the Bodhi tree area - the seat of Buddha’s enlightenment, suffered only minor damage. The giant statue of Buddha that overlooks the worshippers was unscathed. The ineptitude in planting IEDs in close proximity to each other to explode at different timings rendered some of the timers ineffective and saved a huge disaster. 

For once neither political leaders nor the media can fault the intelligence agencies which had warned about Jihadi terrorist threats to Bodh Gaya on three occasions in October 2012, January 2013 and last month. In fact, the IB had warned of possible attack on Bodh Gaya when it named three suspected terrorists when they entered Bihar.

After receiving the latest alert, Bihar police met with the temple management last week and discussed the security arrangements in the temple complex! Despite all this effort, the terrorists have managed to carry out their task. This showed the gross failure of Bihar police’s security management set up.

The casualness with which the IB alert was treated in Bihar is evident from the explanation given by the state that the temple authorities were managing the security inside the temple and the police were providing protection outside it. And the blasts have exposed the shoddiness of the argument. .

Whatever be the reasons for the failure to prevent the terrorist attack, it once again confirms that our counter terrorism effort continues to be a never ending 'work in progress' although five years have passed since the 26/11 Lashkar terrorists struck in Mumbai. It is a national shame.

What were the weaknesses in security management?

Bihar has been the home of some of the notorious Islamist terrorists (according to one report as many as 26 of them belonged to Bihar). Maoist extremism also had been thriving in this state, though Bihar Chief Minister Nitesh Kumar seems to have politically managed to keep it on leash at least for the time being.

In spite of such a background, the Gaya terrorist attack shows the state government had not taken terrorist threat seriously and took timely, informed decisions on preventing it. The state has to plan whatever action was required in advance and the state police has to coordinate and rehearse counter terrorism drills involving all stakeholders - the state and central police and intelligence bodies and civilian security guards. Whatever was done did not stop the terrorists from carrying out their deadly mission.

The fact that terrorists managed to carry 13 IEDs each weighing nearly four Kgs in and around the temple complex with impunity showed utter lack of professionalism and poor training of temple security personnel and the police. The temple security personnel did not know how to use the scanners or CCTV.

The Chief Minister has now asked for the deployment of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for the temple security. However, that is no panacea for preventing future terrorist attacks in the state because the problem is multifaceted. It is the responsibility of the state to provide overall policy guidance and make structural arrangements to facilitate security management. Apparently this is lacking.

On the positive side, there seems to be better sharing of information between state police bodies than before. Similarly the central security and intelligence agencies also appear to be sharing their inputs with state police in time. There is better coordination with the NSG and NIA to investigate the incident after it occurred. This would help in identifying the group involved in the terror strike. Media management was better and kept the information flow to the public on a regular basis. 

Chinese Troops Enter Chumar, Vandalise Indian Posts

In another incursion, Chinese troops intruded into the Chumar sector in Ladakh--the same area which had sparked off tensions in April--and smashed some bunkers besides cutting wires of cameras installed at the border post.

Official sources said that today the intrusion took place on June 17 when the troops of China's People's Liberation Army(PLA) entered Indian territory in the Chumar sector and started vandalising the observation bunkers besides cutting the wires which overlook the Chinese territory.

Chumar, located 300 km from here, has always been an area of discomfort for the Chinese troops as this is the only area along the Sino-Indian border where they do not have any direct access to the Line of Actual Control(LAC).

The 21-day face-off between the two sides in the remote Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector on April 15 was triggered by construction of an observation tower in Chumar division which had to be subsequently dismantled by the Army on May 5 before the crisis was defused.

The Chinese side, according to the minutes of the flag meetings in the last week of March this year, had been objecting to the construction of the watch tower along the LAC in Chumar.

After dismantling the observation post and defence bunkers, Army had installed cameras to monitor movement of Chinese troops along the LAC, a step which had irked the PLA.

Chumar, a remote village on Ladakh-Himachal Pradesh border, is being claimed by China as its own territory. The Chinese side also reportedly resorted to helicopter incursions almost every year.

Last year, it dropped some of the soldiers of PLA in this region and dismantled the makeshift storage tents of the Army and ITBP.

This area is not accessible from the Chinese side whereas the Indian side has a road almost to the last point on which the Army can carry loads upto nine tonnes.

Commenting on the incursion incident, Army sources said the camera deployed in Chumar area was non-functional and after an Indian patrol reported its disappearance, a protest was registered with the Chinese side.

After the protest was registered, the Chinese side returned the camera on July 3, a day before Defence Minister A K Antony's visit to China, they said.

Meanwhile, a Defence Ministry official said that during Antony's meetings with the Chinese leadership, the broader issue of incursion and other incidents were raised but no specific incident was highlighted.

The official said the two sides are seeking to address these issues by having "strategic communication" and through efforts to enhance peace and tranquility on the borders.

Talking about Chinese incursions in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said they are a "regular feature".

"There is nothing unusual in it...The fact that we are not firing at each other, the fact that there is no tension along the border, I think should be good enough for us," he added.

Asserting that there is a difference in perception on the Sino-Indian border issue, he said there is a need to sort this out diplomatically.

"China sees the line differently, we see the line differently...Let the diplomats sort this out diplomatically," he told reporters when asked to comment on the latest incursion

"We have been making this case time and again that formal border talks must take place. The border must be notified and this uncertainty done away for once and all," he said.

The Last Thunder?

Uddipan Mukherjee

“Dandakaranya is huge. The undivided Bastar district alone was larger than the state of Kerala. The railway line connecting Delhi to Hyderabad borders Dandakaranya on the west, while the sea, near Vishakhapatnam, flanks it on the east. The railway line connecting Kolkata and Mumbai near Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh marks out its border in the north.”

How apt was Sonu – one of the protagonists of erstwhile BBC journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary’s composition Let’s Call Him Vasu. The very idea of creating today’s dreaded guerrilla zone at Dandakaranya was of Kondapalli Sitaramaiyyah’s, then leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War. And as Choudhary describes the geography of 1,00,000 square kilometre ‘sprawl of trees, hills and treacherous paths……’, one is forced to acknowledge the hazardous terrain which so readily traps India’s security forces and of late, peaceful political marches. Ambushes are the order of the day – in fact, for days.
However, the stealthy attack on the Parivartan Yatra of the Indian National Congress on 25 May was not only the most impactful in 2013 – probably it was the most high profile targeted attack after the assassination bids on erstwhile Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. And as STRATFOR’s Scott Stewart had suggested in their security weekly a couple of years back in June 2011 that “if an assailant has a protectee's schedule, it not only helps in planning an attack but it also greatly reduces the need of the assailant to conduct surveillance -- and potentially expose himself to detection”, such an intelligence malfunction and information leakage turned out to be the two most decisive factors at Darbha Ghati, Jeeram Valley – again in Bastar !

On that Day

27 people, including Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nandkumar Patel, his son Dinesh and anti-Maoist vigilante group leader Mahendra Karma, among others were brutally butchered. Veteran leader and former Union minister V C Shukla was badly injured and later on succumbed to the injuries. Over 30 rank and file of the Congress party had to fall prey to the carefully orchestrated ambush of the Communist Party of India – Maoist (CPI-M), for which the left ultras, later asked an apology in their official proclamation – too late, too little though.

The Darbha Ghati incident was neither the first of its kind, nor will be the last. The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have had to face brutal onslaughts and invariably taken unawares on many occasions – not always in the labyrinthine topography of Chhattisgarh, but at times in Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal – though terrain was almost always the slippery area. Not only that, lack of ground intelligence and exposing their own selves to the guerrillas in the search operations against the Maoists had been lethal to the security personnel – let’s take the planting of IEDs inside the dead bodies of CAPF jawans in Latehar in January 2013 or may we just remember the April 2010 Dantewada massacre of 75 CAPF jawans. Or, for that matter, why fail to recollect the annihilation of 11 CAPF men at Lohardaga in Jharkhand in May 2011.

Nevertheless, the Darbha Ghati event shook many structures – especially the corridors of authority – and the resultant is that two independent probes are on – one by a sitting judge of Chhattisgarh High Court, Justice Prashant Mishra and the other by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). A natural knee-jerk reaction could have been to send ‘more CAPF forces’ against the rebels – however, even though in a phase-wise manner the number of battalions need to be increased in Ground Zero – but that’s not the panacea for this woe.

Ganapathy, the General Secretary of the CPI-M, still has dreams of a Red Flag at the Red Fort. Or may be, since he knows that those are dreams to be seen during the day, he needs to pull off something extravagant from time to time in order to maintain the espirit de corpsof his guerrillas and sometimes, to buttress his own dreams. The Darbha Ghati mayhem needs to be viewed in that context. Apart from the obvious negatives, the positives that could be taken out of the gory bloodletting on 25 May would be the analytic that CPI-M was definitely and still is under pressure – with its top brass either incarcerated or eliminated. Its wings and branches had been pruned in Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal. In fact, after the era of Mallojula Koteswara Rao alias Kishenji, West Bengal’s Jangalmahalregion has had a long bout of serenity and silence. In such a backdrop, it may not be naïve to surmise that 25 May was an ‘act of desperation’ by the Maoists. However, in no way, we can infer that the Maoists are in their last stage or they could be eradicated easily now.

However, it is probably hard to deny that Ganapathy and his party were hard pressed from all directions and they ‘had’ to prove their existence somehow. 

And nothing could have been bigger than Darbha – where their age-old animosity against Mahendra Karma was brought to an illogical fructification. Desperation manifested in diabolism when the demise of the octogenarian politician V C Shukla was justified by the spokesperson of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee, Gudsa Usendi, on 11 June 2013. In their ‘press release’, the Maoists have attempted to paint their devilish actions with the colours of exploitation and deprivation – a bogey with which they have consistently tried to coerce the tribal people join their military dalams.

Eradication or Negotiation?

A baffling situation no doubt, and the Indian policy makers have embarked on a two-pronged strategy to deal with the insurgency. The general principle works on the security-cum-development model. First, ‘clear’ the affected area and then ‘hold’ onto it and pump in thedevelopment as fast as practicable – or may be, faster than normal bureaucratic processes function.

Maoist insurgency and the 'numbers paradox'

Pavan Korada
09 July 2013

Maoist insurgency, dubbed the single most important security threat in the country by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, has resulted in large scale deaths throughout its brutal history. The question arises - did the government take serious notice and thereafter substantive steps to reduce the threat? It is worth to note here that only two types of cases have been able to get the government to take serious steps in this direction. First, when there have been a large number of causalities and second, when there have been high profile causalities. 

This trend has resulted in a dangerous phenomenon of 'numbers paradox'. If numbers are the main criterion to measure the gravity of the Maoist problem, then the government's decision to ignore the large number of minor skirmishes which result in the deaths of a few "low profile" individuals on a frequent basis becomes open to contestation. Evidently, the government's policy of using the corporate phenomenon of 'lumpy adjustment' rather than small incremental steps to tackle this grass root problem has failed. The least the government can do now is to acknowledge the efforts of the martyrs, who lost their life to a cause which continues to remain a national security threat. 

Consider for instance a minor incident. An officer in the Greyhounds police force posted in Chintapalli Mandal, Andhra Pradesh was travelling to a base camp along with 14 constables. He needed a water break and the vehicle halted in front of a tuck shop. There he met a local journalist who offered him a ride to discuss some confidential information regarding the Maoist hideouts. He signalled the constables to move on. A deafening noise consumed the air as the vehicle exploded after travelling roughly 200 meters. "Fourteen precious lives were lost", he reflected callously. 

This is just one of the many minor attacks that go unnoticed in the humbug of daily political news. This attack happened way back in 2003. But April 6, 2010 marked a watershed moment. This was the day when the country woke up from its perception of the Maoist insurgency as a protest by a handful of disgruntled peasants fighting a losing battle for a losing cause, to a more serious national security threat. The ambush which killed 76 CRPF jawans in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh was in response to the 'Operation Green Hunt' launched by the Government of India. Numbers definitely did matter. 

Now let us talk about the recent attack that occurred on May 25 along the road bordering Sukma. Nearly 200 Maoist fighters descended upon a convoy ferrying the top Congress leaders of Chhattisgarh, including Mahendra Karma, the brain behind the now banned controversial Salwa Judum. Though this ampush did not score high in terms of numbers, it definitely tops the now overflowing list of Maoist attacks. Exacted as revenge for the atrocities committed by the armed civilian force Salwa Judum, this attack differs from the previous attacks, despite its obvious conformance with the ultimate aim of overthrowing the Indian state. 

Coming back to numbers, initially the death toll was 28, but later corrected to twenty seven. A life was saved ("numbers do matter, don't they?"). It seemed a minor attack looking at the numbers. A greater number of police eat the earth every week, if not every day. The fact that 27 people were killed in a single attack, spread just over two hours, isn't it enough justification to panic? Certainly, considering numbers are important, taken at face value. More importantly, this time the numbers included almost the entire top tier of the state congress. Karma, reportedly, was stabbed seventy-eight times ("numbers again"). The attackers danced in delirium around his corpse. This is pure revenge, the Maoist leadership claimed. They went back in time to avenge Karma and Salwa Judum. No wonder the government sat up and took notice.

When one talks about the paradox of numbers, a factor that needs consideration is that these lives are being lost not just biologically but also from the memory of the nation. Incidents, which were treated minor or insignificant in the eyes of the government, add up to a huge tally which means operation green hunt and Salwa Judum have failed miserably. Statistics indicate that 1325 security personnel have lost their lives in exchange for 905 Maoists over the last five years. This is besides a larger number of villagers and tribals who were killed in cross fire. However, no one speaks of these numbers, hence, the paradox. 

This paradox will remain as so long as the present attitude of both the government and the media remains unchanged. The government behaviour clearly mirrors the phenomenon of "lumpy adjustment". According to David Autor, an economist at MIT, "many economic actors ("in this case, corporation") don't make lots of little reorganizations each time things get slightly out of true." Instead, "they wait until things are way off, and then make one big adjustment." Thinking like corporations is not the way to go forward. Much needed credibility would be lost if the government continues to ignore minor incidents, which accrue to a major number. Reacting to the so called major incidents defined by "numbers" and the "profiles" of those attacked, in a knee-jerk fashion, makes one question the government's sincerity to take action. 

It would be wrong, however, if one was to blame the media for not reporting these minor skirmishes which have been equivalent, if not less, tragic to the Dantewada incident. The issue is not so much about the media (not) reporting than the government reacting. The government with its reporting system, both at the state and centre, should take these incidents and deaths seriously and start acting for these lives which should be no less important. 

Kashmir again becoming a victim of big power game?

Sanjay Kapoor
09 July 2013

It's May and still cold in Srinagar. "The cool weather is just to help the flowers bloom (phool wali sardi)," I am informed cheerfully by my driver as he shifts the gear of his Innova SUV on the road leading to Srinagar's famed Nishat Garden. Indeed, the old Mughal garden is resplendent with the colours of the most beautiful flowers. Across the road, at the Dal Lake, a shikara lazily moves over its still, but blue waters. It's a perfect picture postcard of peace, but is it for real? 

"No! Don't go by what you see or what you are told by the central or the state government. Peace has not returned to Kashmir," I am informed by a local journalist. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, hardline separatist leader of the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) under house arrest for months, is a little embarrassed when told about how peaceful his valley is. "It's all superficial. If people return to work to earn their livelihood then it should not be seen as if Kashmir has become peaceful again," says the ailing fire-breathing leader. 

"Kashmiri youth have become radicalized and the movement for azadi has become more indigenous and deeper," stresses the young and articulate Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, another APHC leader, though a moderate. Contrary to the narrative of peace built by the central and state agencies that tourism has helped the state recover from violence and terror, many Kashmiris seem to be preparing for the worst as April 2014, the much anticipated date of withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan, comes closer. A piece of graffiti — 'Welcome to Taliban' — scrawled near a bus stop adjacent to Srinagar's famed Hazratbal shrine evidenced dark forebodings for the future. Based in Pakistan, extremist leader Hafiz Sayeed's threat to focus more on India in 2014 deepens these anxieties. Sayeed, protected by certain sections in the Pakistani establishment, has been accused by India of masterminding the 26/11 Mumbai carnage. 

Although Pakistan's assembly elections were disappointingly silent — for separatists — on the Kashmir issue, there were expectations that the radicalization of Pakistani society and the influence the Tehrik-e-Taliban might exercise on the next government would not really leave Kashmir unscathed. Young Kashmiris may have wanted cricketer Imran Khan to win the Pakistan assembly polls, but they are not unhappy with Nawaz Sharif. He, too, is seen to be close to all those who have helped Kashmiri separatists in the past. Sharif may have made friendly noises towards India, but two years of relative tranquility that the two countries have enjoyed along with Kashmir is threatening to become a casualty of the big power game. Some interested powers have begun to show inordinate interest in the Kashmir dispute all over again. 

Despite quiet assurance displayed by security officials in Srinagar and New Delhi ("there are just 70-odd militants left in Kashmir and we are keeping a close watch on them"), violence showed its head in the last week of June. First, two policemen were killed and then a military convoy on the way to Baramulla was ambushed near heavily policed Hyderpura on the outskirts of Srinagar. Eight soldiers were killed in this professionally executed brazen attack. Worse, the attackers escaped unhurt. 

Besides, the incident took place three days before the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who were visiting Srinagar to inaugurate a project loaded with immense symbolism — the Banihal-Qazigund tunnel that connects the valley with the rest of the country. This 11-km link will provide a major section of all-weather rail routes between Jammu and Kashmir. The rail route is also meant to convey another message to the people of the valley and to the separatists — that Kashmir is non-negotiable and the government has the resolve and muscle to defend its projects and interests here.

If the prime minister had come a week earlier, maybe much of what he had said about peace returning to the valley would have sounded credible; but after the Hyderpura ambush, everything looked different. Also, this is the first time in many years that Indian army soldiers had died in the city of Srinagar and not at the border. In that sense, it is a serious setback. 

If these two incidents of terrorism reignited the dying embers of separatism as well as the allegations of cross-border terrorism against Pakistan, then it would begin to lend meaning to the reworked narrative that has been going around in diplomatic circles. This theory, that has been made fashionable by the new Brookings paper titled, 'A deadly triangle: 

'Afghanistan, Pakistan and India', by Delhi-based historian William Dalrymple, claims that Afghanistan's problem cannot be solved till relations between India and Pakistan are sorted out. In his reckoning, India and Pakistan are fighting a proxy war in Afghanistan. Dalrymple, who lives in Delhi, is conscious of Indian sensitivities, but he has a flawed view of history that is bound to outrage the Afghans and Pakistanis and leave Indians wondering what he is trying to imply since he completely bails out the West and its misadventures in Afghanistan.

Net Security Provider: India’s Out-of-Area Contingency Operations

Author 2012

Publisher: Magnum Books Pvt Ltd
ISBN: 978-93-82512-00-4
Price: Rs 395 [Download E-book] [Buy Now]
About the Book

India’s economic growth and prosperity are increasingly being shaped by circumstances outside its borders. Most prominently, trade and access to energy are now critical components of the Indian economy. In addition, the Indian diaspora, which is a source of significant remittances, also needs protection and evacuation. Thus, India’s economic and national interests are gradually spreading outwards from its borders. Also, at times, the Indian military has been deployed for security operations – for instance, in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and in overseas humanitarian and disaster relief operations. In light of its capabilities and possible overseas role, the Indian military has been called a ‘net security provider’ in the region. This report, therefore, focuses on examining the Indian military’s Out-of-Area Contingency (OOAC) operations.

In examining this topic, the report analyses previous deployments of the Indian military outside its borders, including in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO), evacuation of Indian citizens from conflict zones and in active operations like Sri Lanka from 1987–90 and the Maldives in 1988. It then examines the current capacity and trends for executing such operations. Finally, it makes recommendations not only for the Armed Forces but for other relevant agencies as well, such as the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs, the National Security Council and the Cabinet Secretariat.

What Morsi's ouster bodes for Egypt

Manoj Joshi
09 July 2013

Coming from a region which has seen the baleful consequences of military rule, no one in India is likely to endorse the overthrow of the first democratically elected government in Egypt. It is true, though, that President Mohammed Morsi, who came to power in June 2012, did not meet the aspirations of most Egyptians and showed little competence with the enormous job he had been entrusted. 

He was unable to grow beyond his origin as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and sought to run the country as a fiefdom of his organisation, rather than as a politician who was tasked to lead a complex country which had come through the long night of a dictatorship. Just how insensitive he was to the concerns of others was apparent from the fact that he appointed Adel Mohammed al-Khayat as the governor of the province of Luxor, infuriating many Egyptian liberals because al- Khayat belonged to the radical al-Gama al-Islamiya, a once banned radical party that had carried out a massacre of foreign tourists at Luxor in 1997. Public pressure forced al-Khayat to resign. He had similarly appointed Islamist governors in many other Egyptian provinces, but the Luxor appointment was the most blatant. 

The past year had seen a steadily growing tenor of protest against his government indicating that he had failed to seize the opportunity that he had got when he got a narrow victory during the elections. Instead of reaching out to the opposition, Morsi alienated them by declaring that they were traitors. But what probably undid him was the collapsing Egyptian economy, shortages of electricity and fuel. 

The protests began two months ago, beginning as a signature campaign calling for Morsi's removal. Grouped under the name Tamarud -Arabic for rebellion - the petition gathered over 20 million signatures, but the protests at Tahrir which attracted lakhs of people began only in late June and were met by counter-protests by Morsi's supporters resulting in violence which culminated in the military takeover. 

There is an irony in the fact that the protestors of the Egyptian opposition who demanded the ouster of Morsi, took the help of the military. It may be recalled that the last time around in 2011, the demonstrators had at that time opposed the military. The military played a significant role in the overthrow of Mubarak, but this was a negative one. By refusing to crack down on the protestors, they enabled the revolution. But, recall, they did try to cling to power and only left it with great reluctance. Even though Egypt has had a façade of civilian rule, it has in reality been ruled by the military, barring the last two years since the election of Morsi as president. Gamal Abdul Nasser overthrew the monarchy in Egypt and he was succeeded by Anwar Sadat, who had been part of the junior officers group that overthrew King Farouk. Mubarak was a former commander of the Egyptian Air Force. Formally, the current army chief Gen Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi has declared that the military had no special interest in politics and had intervened because of the situation that had been created by the Morsi government's failings. 

Egypt is the fulcrum of the Arab world and developments there can have a profound impact in other Arab nations. That is why it is important to get things right. The immediate challenge for Egypt is to ensure that it does not degenerate into civil war. Just how divided the country is apparent from the inability of the new interim president to appoint a prime minister to run the government. The announcement of Mohammed el-Baradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a Nobel prize winner triggered protests from the Salafist Nusra party which was, oddly enough, part of the coalition that led to the overthrow of Morsi. The interim government hastily withdrew his name and it is not clear who will head the government and whether it will make an effort to be inclusive and reach out to the enraged Brotherhood. 

A major responsibility for what happens now rests on the United States of America which has been a major aid provider to the country and without whose consent the Army is unlikely to have staged its coup. According to reports, the US tried to broker a compromise between the Army and Morsi, but failed because the latter refused to accept the changes in his government that could have defused the situation. 

The Egyptian military does not seem to be inclined to take direct control of the country. It has made its power apparent by its action and it will probably prefer to play a behind the scenes role. They have the support of the liberal elements of the Egyptian middle classes who are looking for stability and an end to the sectarian approach of the Brotherhood. 

But the Islamists are quite another category, as are the Muslim Brotherhood and they are not likely to make the process easier. While the liberals may seek to revise the constitution which has given prominence to Islamic law, neither the Brotherhood, nor the Islamists are likely to support the moves. Likewise, neither the military, nor the liberals are likely to want quick elections because the Brotherhood remains the best organised political force in the country. 

(The writer is a Distinguished Fellow with Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

Pakistan's Air Force Learned About the Bin Laden Raid on TV

Posted By John Reed 
July 8, 2013 

The Pakistani air force learned about the U.S. raid to kill Osama bin Laden from a television news report about a helicopter crash in Abbottabad. Belatedly, they scrambled fighter jets. But by then, the Americans were long gone.

In other words: Pakistan had virtually no chance of detecting U.S. choppers as they flew into the Pakistani equivalent of West Point. And if they raid was done all over again, they still wouldn't catch the aircraft. That's according to a leaked report from Pakistan's independent Abbottabad Commission that was charged by the Pakistani government to investigate the raid.

The commission says the Pakistani military never saw the raid coming because of the American choppers' stealthy, noise-reducing equipment, the skill of their crews at flying below radar, and the fact that Pakistan's air defenses are focused on its border with India, not Afghanistan.

The U.S. "was never expected to commit such a dastardly act," the commission's report quotes the unnamed deputy chief of Pakistan's air staff for operations (DCAS) as saying. The raid was so unexpected that the Pakistanis had no radars looking at the valleys along their northwest border with Afghanistan that the U.S. troops used to fly from Jalalabad in Afghanistan to Abbottabad, Pakistan, according to the report, first published by Al Jazeera.

Even if it had positioned radars to monitor the border, they wouldn't have made much difference. A separate Pakistani air force (PAF) board of inquiry into the raid concluded that "given the current inventory of radars, a repetition of a similar U.S. raid in the future would be difficult for the PAF to handle," the commission notes. "The U.S. was the only country in the world to have mastered stealth technology at an operational level, and the PAF did not have radars that could detect the intrusion of stealth objects."

Here are the key sentences in the report describing how the Pakistani air force learned of the raid, after it was over.

"The PAF first learnt of the Abbottabad raid at about 0207 on May 2" an hour and a half after the raid began and about 40 minutes after it ended, when, the DCAF told the commission, "'Pakistan TV channels started showing an Army helicopter crash at Abbottabad.' After ‘completion of the operation [by the SEALs] in about 40 minutes' the U.S. forces destroyed the crashed helicopter and ‘the other helicopters began their return at about 01110 hours and exited Pakistan airspace at approximately 0200 hours.'"

That means that SEALs along with Osama's body were already back inside Afghanistan by the time the Pakistani air force even knew of the raid. Remember, U.S. officials apparently drew up plans for American troops to fight their way out of Pakistan in case they were intercepted by the Pakistani military.

Nevertheless, Pakistani fighter jets were immediately scrambled and over Abbottabad about 15 minutes after taking off. (Remember: early American news coverage of the raid that said the choppers were almost caught by Pakistani fighter jets.) The report goes on to note that the jets entered the space around Abbottabad with no intelligence on what they were supposed to be looking for.

So, Pakistan couldn't stop the U.S. raid on its territory, period. Just another reason why the raid was "one of the most embarrassing incidents in the history of Pakistan," the report quotes the DCAS as saying. 

CHELLANEY: Afghanistan’s looming partition

It may be time to think outside the borders
By Brahma Chellaney
Monday, July 8, 2013

The United States, still mired in a protracted Afghan war that has exacted a staggering cost in blood and treasure, has agreed to formal peace talks with the Taliban, its main battlefield opponent. With the Obama administration already reducing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan after almost 12 years of fighting, the talks in Doha, Qatar, are largely intended to allow it to do so “honorably.”

How the end of U.S.-led combat operations shapes Afghanistan’s future will affect the security of countries nearby and beyond. Here the most important question is whether the fate of Afghanistan, which was created as a buffer between czarist Russia and British India, will be — or should be — different from that of Iraq and Libya (two other imperial creations where the United States has intervened militarily in recent years).

Foreign military intervention can effect regime change, but it evidently cannot re-establish order based on centralized government. Iraq has been partitioned in all but name into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions, while Libya seems headed toward a similar tripartite, tribal-based territorial arrangement. In Afghanistan, too, an Iraq-style “soft” partition may be the best possible outcome.

Afghanistan’s large ethnic-minority groups already enjoy de facto autonomy, which they secured after their Northern Alliance played a central role in the U.S.-led ouster of the Taliban from power in late 2001. Having enjoyed virtual self-rule since then, they will fiercely resist falling back under the sway of the Pashtuns, who ruled the country for most of its history.

For their part, the Pashtuns, despite their tribal divisions, will not be content with control of a rump Afghanistan consisting of its current eastern and southeastern provinces. They will eventually seek integration with fellow Pushtuns in Pakistan, across the British-drawn Durand Line — a border that Afghanistan has never recognized. The demand for a “Greater Pashtunistan” would then challenge the territorial integrity ofPakistan (itself another artificial imperial construct).

The fact that Afghanistan’s ethnic groups are concentrated in distinct geographical zones simplifies partition and makes the resulting borders more likely to last, unlike those drawn by colonial officials, who invented countries with no national identity or historical roots, lumping together disparate ethnic groups. Afghanistan’s ethnic divide also runs along a linguistic fault line, with the Pashto language of the Pashtuns pitted against the more widely spoken Dari (a Persian dialect). Indeed, both geographically and demographically, Afghanistan’s non-Pashtun groups account for more than half of the country, with Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras alone making up close to 50 percent of the population.

After waging the longest war in its history, at a cost of tens of thousands of lives and nearly $1 trillion, the United States is combat-weary and financially strapped. The American effort, pursued in coordination with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to cut a deal with the Pashtun-based, Pakistan-backed Taliban is stirring deep unease among the non-Pashtun groups, which suffered greatly under the Taliban and its five-year rule. (The historically persecuted Hazaras, for example, suffered several large-scale massacres.)

The rupture of Mr. Karzai’s political alliance with non-Pashtun leaders has also aided ethnic polarization. Some non-Pashtun power brokers continue to support Mr. Karzai, but most others now lead the opposition National Front.

These leaders are unlikely to accept any power-sharing arrangement that includes the Taliban. In fact, they suspect that Mr. Karzai’s ultimate goal is to restore Pashtun dominance throughout Afghanistan.

U.S. Considers Faster Pullout in Afghanistan

Published: July 8, 2013

WASHINGTON — Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.

American soldiers attended a naturalization ceremony on the Fourth of July at the Bagram Air Base north of Kabul.

Mr. Obama is committed to ending America’s military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small “residual force” behind. But his relationship with Mr. Karzai has been slowly unraveling, and reached a new low after an effort last month by the United States to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014.

A videoconference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Karzai designed to defuse the tensions ended badly, according to both American and Afghan officials with knowledge of it. Mr. Karzai, according to those sources, accused the United States of trying to negotiate a separate peace with both the Taliban and their backers in Pakistan, leaving Afghanistan’s fragile government exposed to its enemies.

Mr. Karzai had made similar accusations in the past. But those comments were delivered to Afghans — not to Mr. Obama, who responded by pointing out the American lives that have been lost propping up Mr. Karzai’s government, the officials said.

The option of leaving no troops in Afghanistan after 2014 was gaining momentum before the June 27 video conference, according to the officials. But since then, the idea of a complete military exit similar to the American military pullout from Iraq has gone from being considered the worst-case scenario — and a useful negotiating tool with Mr. Karzai — to an alternative under serious consideration in Washington and Kabul.

The officials cautioned that no decisions had been made on the pace of the pullout and exactly how many American troops to leave behind in Afghanistan. The goal remains negotiating a long-term security deal, they said, but the hardening of negotiating stances on both sides could result in a repeat of what happened in Iraq, where a deal failed to materialize despite widespread expectations that a compromise would be reached and American forces would remain.

“There’s always been a zero option, but it was not seen as the main option,” said a senior Western official in Kabul. “It is now becoming one of them, and if you listen to some people in Washington, it is maybe now being seen as a realistic path.”

The official, however, said he hoped some in the Karzai government were beginning to understand that the zero option was now a distinct possibility, and that “they’re learning now, not later, when it’s going to be too late.”

The Obama administration’s internal deliberations about the future of the Afghan war were described by officials in Washington and Kabul who hold a range of views on how quickly the United States should leave Afghanistan and how many troops it should leave behind. Spokesmen for the White House and Pentagon declined to comment.

Within the Obama administration, the way the United States extricates itself from Afghanistan has been a source of tension between civilian and military officials since Mr. Obama took office. American commanders in Afghanistan have generally pushed to keep as many American troops in the country as long as possible, creating friction with White House officials urging a speedier military withdrawal.

But with frustrations mounting over the glacial pace of initiating peace talks with the Taliban, and with American relations with the Karzai government continuing to deteriorate, it is unclear whether the Pentagon and American commanders in Afghanistan would vigorously resist if the White House pushed for a full-scale pullout months ahead of schedule.

As it stands, the number of American troops in Afghanistan — around 63,000 — is scheduled to go down to 34,000 by February 2014. The White House has said the vast majority of troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of that year, although it now appears that the schedule could accelerate to bring the bulk of the troops — if not all of them — home by next summer, as the annual fighting season winds down.

Talks between the United States and Afghanistan over a long-term security deal have faltered in recent months over the Afghan government’s insistence that the United States guarantee Afghanistan’s security and, in essence, commit to declaring Pakistan the main obstacle in the fight against militancy in the region.

The guarantees sought by Afghanistan, if implemented, could possibly compel the United States to attack Taliban havens in Pakistan long after 2014, when the Obama administration has said it hoped to dial back the C.I.A.’s covert drone war there.

Mr. Karzai also wants the Obama administration to specify the number of troops it would leave in Afghanistan after 2014 and make a multiyear financial commitment to the Afghan Army and the police.


Kanwal Sibal

If the overthrow of President Mubarak by the mass of protestors in Tahrir Square in 2011 was a surprise, the ouster of President Morsi by even larger protests in Tahrir Square and across Egypt in recent days is equally dramatic.

Mubarak was in power for 30 years. The people, tired of his repressive and corrupt rule, wanted change. Morsi, in power for only a year, has alienated the people extraordinarily quickly, forcing a regime change.

Morsi, elected as President through a tortuous but reasonably credible democratic process, differed from the manner in which Mubarak assumed and retained power. Those young, social media activists who sought regime change in 2011 may not have intended power to be transferred to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), with the Salafists in tow. But the MB being far more organized and embedded at the grass root level than the more liberal and secular forces responsible for expelling the Mubarak regime, won the election and acquired political legitimacy. Now they have been ousted by what is effectively a military coup.


This unforeseen development in a country that is the political and cultural heartland of the Arab world cautions against interpreting the nature of forces at play in the Arab world from narrow, self-serving political perspectives.

When political change occurred in Tunisia and Egypt through street protests against dictatorial regimes, it was pre-maturely hailed as the Arab Spring by the West. The Arab world, it was claimed, was moving towards democracy, refuting a widely-held view that Islam and democracy cannot cohabit.

The entry of MB into electoral politics was welcomed as a sign of maturing democratic impulses sweeping the Arab populace. Fine tuned analysis to disarm fears about the implications of this long-banned organization joining politics and aspiring for state power were offered. The MB comprised of various political currents, it was said, with moderates in the ascendant. “Political Islam”, which the MB represented, was seen as the only way that democracy could be ushered into the Arab world. Seen as a hostile force after the Iranian revolution, “political Islam” became an viable and acceptable instrument to promote America’s vocational attachment to the international spread of western style democracy.

Reservations about Morsi were held in abeyance, believing that he could successfully make the transition from military rule to democracy in Egypt. Morsi, in fact, made a fairly positive impression after assuming power, at least externally. He seemed intent on restoring Egypt’s political role in the region, reaching out to Iran, reducing the heavy weight of America on Egypt’s foreign policy, courting China, renewing relations with nonaligned friends of the past like India.

India received him in March this year, signalling our positive view of the political change in Egypt and acceptance of the moderate credentials of the MB. Surprisingly, we found common language on Syria as well as on terrorism in our joint declaration with him.


However, perceived inadequately in their acuteness by the outside world because of tailored international media coverage, serious tensions have apparently been brewing in Egypt because of Morsi government’s policies to islamicize Egyptian institutions and society through appointments and educational and cultural initiatives. With the failure to improve economic conditions, with poverty and unemployment rampant and sectarian strife targeting the Coptic community, public grievance against the Morsi government has been escalating.

It did not seem, however, that matters had reached such a dangerous tipping point. Could such truly massive demonstrations that require huge resources, remarkable coordination skills and identifiable leadership occur spontaneously or erupt primarily through the use of social media, especially in an inadequately wired society? Individuals like El Baradei and Amr Moussa, with limited public following, have emerged as the political face of the popular revolt, which leaves many questions unanswered.


The US seems to have been egging Morsi to bridge growing domestic political differences, with Secretary Kerry, during his March visit to Cairo, while pledging additional aid, calling for restoration of “unity, political stability and economic health to Egypt”. Kerry spoke about the “deep concern about the political course of their country, the need to strengthen human rights protections, justice and the rule of law, and their fundamental anxiety about the economic future of Egypt" that political and business leaders conveyed to him. The US Congress reacted sharply in June to the repression of NGO workers- Egyptian and American- assisting Egypt “as it moves down the path towards democracy, democratic training, the building of civil society, and the establishment of the rule of law”.

The Arab Spring has withered at its roots. The political judgment that MB had evolved into a moderate force has proved faulty. That “political Islam” could usher in democracy in the Islamic world has proved to be wrong. Ironically, opening the doors for more democracy in Egypt allowed conservative Islam to walk in and thwart the wishes of a large section of the population.

Can China Protect Its Citizens Abroad?

By Colleen Wong
July 9, 2013

The crash of the Boeing 777 in San Francisco over the weekend caused an uproar in China’s media, given that there were 141 Chinese passengers on board, with 2 Chinese citizens confirmed dead. Among those on the plane, a day later still only 40 Chinese passengers had been confirmed alive by Chinese Foreign Ministry, although the number was being constantly updated.

Immediately, the Department of Consular Affairs in China’s Foreign Ministry and its Consulate in San Francisco sprang into action, initiating a 24-hour emergency consular protection service, announced through a post on the front page of the Foreign Ministry’s website.

As this effort suggested, since taking office earlier this year, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has made consulate protection a higher priority than his predecessors did. In March, for instance, he personally visited the Department of Consular Affairs. Then, last month, Wang told a senior-level forum: “Let’s make [an] effort to offer safer traveling for Chinese tourists overseas, [a] better educational environment for Chinese students aboard, [a] more friendly commercial environment for Chinese businessmen, and more convenience for Chinese workers overseas, to help them to realize their Chinese dreams.”

However, China’s ability to achieve Wang’s objective is clearly limited. As Wang himself pointed out in the speech, China has “twenty thousand enterprises worldwide and over 80 million” Chinese travel overseas every year. Yet, China’s Foreign Ministry only employs about 140 consular diplomats in Beijing and about 600 spread across more than 250 embassies, consulates and other diplomatic entities abroad.

In an interview with China Daily last year, Huang Ping, the director-general of the Department of Consular Affairs said that in recent years his office has had to deal with about 30,000 cases annually. Thus, the average consular diplomat must handle over 40 cases each year, and this number is growing rapidly as Chinese nationals face more and more insecurity abroad.

The strain on the consular diplomats is likely to increase as the new Chinese government—specially, new Premier Li Keqiang— has said it will not increase the number of civil servants.

This situation is further exuberated by the fragmented state of China’s consular protection apparatus. For instance, Chinese nationals who encounter crises overseas are directed to immediately contact the Chinese embassy for help. But many who try find that no one at the embassy answers the phone if incidents occur outside of normal working hours.

Some steps have been taken to improve the situation. For example, in 2011, the Foreign Ministry began disseminating security information through a website it set up. It has also tried to reach out to Chinese nationals in more innovative ways such as setting up a Weibo account. Additionally, it has signed agreements with Chinese telecommunication operators to ensure that, upon arriving in a foreign country, Chinese nationals receive a text message with basic security information (including contact numbers for the Chinese consulate and local police).