23 August 2013

Kishtwar Riots: What lies beneath Communal Violence?

Peace in Jammu and Kashmir is fragile and a small incident could well turn into a major conflagration. The violence that suddenly erupted in Kishtwar during Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations on 9 August and soon took communal overtones is testimony to the brittle nature of peace that prevails in these areas. The violence unleashed in Kishtwar soon spilled over to the neighbouring districts of Udhampur, Samba, Kathua, Reasi, Rajourie and Doda. Curfew imposed in Kishtwar following the violence continued for 12 days, until lifted on 21 August 2013.

What caused the violence? As per local media reports, a group of villagers from Hullar, raising anti-India slogans, were going to the Eidgah to join Eid parayers at the Chowgan ground. This group got into an altercation with a few youth from the other community at Kuleed. At this time, some police personnel, said to be Personnel Security Officers (PSOs) of a local leader, opened fire in air. They were allegedly joined by some Village Defence Committee (VDC) members, who opened fire from their houses. The government version of the events stated, “Some anti-social elements picked up a fight in Kishtwar which turned violent and caused further disturbance to the large gathering on the occasion of Eid festival. As a result of rumour mongering the incident spread to other parts of the city where anti-social elements looted shops and indulged in arson”[1]. The tensions were also heightened if not entirely induced by the killing of five Indian soldiers in cross LoC firing.

Though incidents of violence continue to occur sporadically, it must not be forgotten that Jammu and Kashmir has a rich history of peaceful coexistence between diverse religious communities and ethnic groups. There is no historical basis for animosity between different sections of society, which therefore lends credence to the view that violence is more often than not provoked. To that extent, the threat lies within. Two causative factors merit consideration. First, there are vested political interests who want to perpetuate the tension and chaos in the region. Second, the peace process in J&K cannot be achieved without addressing the intrastate dimensions of the conflict. Jammu and Ladakh do not necessarily identify with the Kashmir nationalism. The latter has its roots in the Praja Parishad Agitation of 1953, which exemplifies the intra state differences that exist within J&K and are often used as a tool by politicians to divide people on communal lines.

Sheikh Abdullah, when elected as the leader of the State Assembly in 1951 launched the ‘New Kashmir Manifesto’, which advocated agrarian reforms, women’s empowerment and employment. This found resonance amongst the progressive elements of Kashmir. However, his unwillingness to ratify the Delhi agreement of 1951 caused unease in the Centre about the regime it had set up in Srinagar. Though the National Conference made secular claims, its policies aimed to secure Muslim votes in the valley of Kashmir. This struck a negative chord amongst the majority Hindu population in Jammu that found itself at the receiving end of these policies as well as an unfamiliar repression. Thereafter, the Hindu majority joined the violent agitation launched by local Praja Parishad Party and the newly formed Jan Sangh (presided over by Dr. Shyam Prasad Mookerjee) against Sheikh Abdullah. They campaigned for revoking the special status accorded to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and demanded its total accession to India. The slogan, “Ek Desh mein do Nishan, Ek Desh mein do Vidhan, Ek Desh mein do Pradhan - Nahin Chalenge, Nahin Chalenge”[2] echoed in the Jammu region.

Ram Chandra Guha, in his book “India after Gandhi” mentioned that, “The popular movement led by Dr. Mukherjee planted the seed of independence in Sheikh Abdullah’s mind; the outcry following his death only seems to have nurtured it”. Abdullah assumed that he could seek American help to carve out an independent nation of Kashmir, something like the “Switzerland of the East”. The unfortunate death of Dr. Shyam Prasad Mukherjee sparked an anti Nehru (who for a long time was indifferent to the chaos in the state)[3] and most importantly an anti Abdullah sentiment across Jammu. Consequently, in 1953 Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed replaced Sheikh Abdullah as the Prime Minister of J&K. He adopted a constitution without any reference to referendum and pushed forward the integration of J&K within India. This incident sowed seeds of factionalism between the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the effect of which exists till date.

Border Management in South Asia: Volatile, Violent and Porous

D Suba Chandran

Ongoing military interactions all along the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan from Mendhar to Kargil sectors, once again have brought the attention of the region and the rest of international community. While the current focus is on the flare up along the LoC after a long period of lull, two larger issues need to be focussed: Is the real problem at the border level, or what is happening in the border is an expression of a larger problem? Should the focus be narrow and limited to political and military issues, or should be broad on the larger failure at the regional level to “manage” our borders in South Asia?

First, a short note on the situation along our borders from the Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan, to the border between India and Myanmar. But for the exception of Indo-Nepal border, rest of the borders, including the maritime border between India and Sri Lanka remains volatile. Many in India consider that even the Indo-Nepal border may remain without violence, there is so much of smuggling human and goods across this border.

What is wrong with our borders? Perhaps, the right question would be: what is wrong in our approach towards the border?

True, the borders in South Asia are artificial. They were created artificially during and after the British rule, to serve the colonial purpose of an imperial power. Undoubtedly, the creation of border across the nations, across the communities and at times even across the families by an outside power has played a substantial role in the subsequent problems. But to blame everything on history and on the British is a part of an escapist mentality; it only externalize our failure to pursue a coherent strategy, and more importantly, our failure to understand what is a border.

Blaming everything on the British undermines how communities lived in this region before the arrival of East India Company to the Mughal courts. It is not that the entire region lived under one roof, peacefully and politically. We were divided under multiple kingdoms, monarchies, tribes and clans. Any casual reading of the Silk Route linking China with Russia and the Grand Trunk Road (before the advent of British) linking Bengal with Kabul will reveal the movement of people and goods passing through different political systems, monarchies and fiefdoms. Besides the above, there was a large swathe of lawless lands all over the region, where chaos prevailed, thanks to the bandit gangs and certain tribes.

Clearly, there were divisions and the political boundaries kept shifting between monarchies and at times between two rulers of the same family. As the story of “chits” would reveal in the case between India and Bangladesh, even a game of cards or a drunken gambling between two local rulers would result in the change of territories and boundaries!

So, what is the moral of the story? It is simple. True, the British drew the boundaries arbitrarily, but the problems we witness today are not only because of that reason. Over the last six decades, we as a Nation and we as a State have failed to understand what the border is, and how to manage it.

First and foremost, we see the borders in South Asia, purely as a “territorial” line and a military issue. We have failed to see them as a region inhabited by people, and not just mountains, rivers and land. This is the case not only in India, but all through the region, starting from Afghanistan to Myanmar.

Indo–Pakistani Cease-Fire No MoreBy Lisa Curtis

Indo–Pakistani skirmishing along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir has escalated in the past 10 days and threatens to destroy a decade-old cease-fire between the regional rivals. A series of incidents along the LoC, including the ambush and killing of five Indian soldiers last week and the killing of a Pakistani civilian on Monday, have led to charged rhetoric on both sides and dashed hopes for an early resumption of peace talks under the new Pakistani civilian government led by Nawaz Sharif.

The level of heavy mortar shelling and automatic-weapons fire along the LoC is reminiscent of the situation in the 1990s when cross-border violence was a daily occurrence. India’s defense spokesman claims that Pakistan has committed 57 cease-fire violations since January—an 80 percent increase from a year ago.

The border incidents occur within the context of other negative Indo–Pakistani developments, including an attempted suicide attack on an Indian consulate in Afghanistan on August 3 that has been blamed on Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Indian claims that infiltration of Pakistan-based militants into Indian-controlled Kashmir is on the rise.

It is possible the Pakistani military establishment is deliberately ratcheting up the tension to demonstrate to the Sharif government that it still calls the shots regarding India–Pakistan relations. The Pakistan army may be trying to warn Sharif off from pursuing any meaningful peace initiatives like he did when he previously served as prime minister in the late 1990s. Back-channel negotiations with India over the status of Kashmir had made significant progress under Sharif’s previous tenure in 1999 until the Pakistani military took over Indian military positions in the heights of Kargil, precipitating a brief Indo–Pakistani border war.

Before the recent border skirmishes, Sharif had indicated his government’s strong interest in improving trade and people-to-people ties with India and its consideration of granting India most-favored-nation trading status to strengthen economic ties between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh until now has shown a great deal of forbearance toward Pakistan. His government reacted with tremendous restraint following the 2008 Mumbai attacks that were carried out by the LeT and that killed nearly 170. But with Indian national elections nine months away and the opposition criticizing his government for being too soft on Pakistan, Singh has little room for maneuver to broker peace with Pakistan.

The Indian prime minister’s attitude toward talks with Pakistan was evident during his Independence Day speech yesterday when he said that “for relations with Pakistan to improve, it is essential that they prevent the use of their territory and territory under their control for any anti-India activity.”

The U.S. should take the recent border flare-ups seriously and do what it can to reduce the military tensions that risk developing into broader conflict. Washington should resist any calls for mediation, however. The U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf was right to dismiss the idea of Washington appointing a special envoy to deal with Indo–Pakistani tensions.

Naxal Violence: Progressive Consolidation

By Deepak Kumar Nayak

The Communist Party of India – Maoist has shaken the country since the killing of ten jawans (nine from the Central Reserve Police Force and one from the state’s commando force Jharkhand Jaguars) in an ambush in Latehar District, Jharkhand, in January 2013. What was more shocking was the later revelation that the Maoists put the bodies of three CRPF jawans over landmines and implanted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the abdomens of two other jawans to maximise police causalities. This mindless attackon the security forces was enough to convey the message that the Maoists are down but not outand still possess the capability to launch major attacks on their targets.

The first six months of 2013 were marked with Maoist resurgence: recruitments, training camps, new geographical spread,change of tactics and progressive consolidation were noted during this time. Reports indicate that the twenty seven most highly affected districts with eighty per cent violence are spread over seven Naxal affected states: Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal. State-wise, the districts are as follows:

• Jharkhand: Garhwa, Giridih, Gumla, Khunti, Latehar, Palamu, Simdega and West Singhbhum
• Chhattisgarh: Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Rajnandgaon and Sukma
• Bihar: Aurangabad, Muzaffarpur, Gaya, and Jamui
• Odisha: Koraput, Malkangiri and Bolangir
• Andhra Pradesh: Karimnagar, Khammam and Visakhapatnam
• Maharashtra: Gadchiroli

Resurgence in Naxal Violence 

The Maoists were able to demonstrate that when it comes to jungle-warfare, they are a force to be reckoned with. After lying low through 2012, the Maoists are gradually resurfacing with their disruptive activities. Numerically speaking, the total number of fatalities (civilians, security forces and Maoists) in the first half of 2013 stands at 243 (till 30 June 2013), as against two hundred elevenfatalities for the same period in 2012. A closer look at the fatality trend reveals that the combined civilian and security forces to that of the Maoists is poor – one hundred fifty seven to eighty six - which is almost double the fatality of the Maoists. Reviews of Naxal-related incidents indicate that there are increasing numbers of attacks engineered by Maoists than the security forces. However, DG CRPF Pranay Sahay said that the trend has reversed and more Naxals are being killed. According to him, on an average, they were killing more than three Naxals against every CRPF personnel killed during operations. He said: “In 2011 we had an adverse ratio of 0.43 Naxals killed per CRPF personnel who lost his life. Three years later we have managed to bring it to 3.14 Naxals killed against each CRPF who lost his life.”

Naxal violence has been reported in areas falling under two hundred seventy police stations in sixty four districts in seven states. The incidence of Maoist attacks indicate that Jharkhand not only fared as the state with the highest incidence of Naxal violence in the first half of this year but also further consolidated its lead over Chhattisgarh with twice the number of incidents and thrice the deaths reported by the latter. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs, in its latest statistics on the activities of Left Wing Extremism,revealed that states like, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar together accounted for over eighty per cent of Naxal violence across the country. (The Times of India, 20 April 2013). However, Jharkhand’s share inNaxal violence nationwide is a disturbing development. The state, which has been under President's rule since January, accounted for over forty per cent of the countrywide incidents and over fifty eight per cent of the deaths in the beginning of 2013. Odisha has shown a significant decline in Naxal violence, while West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh reported nil/negligible violence (The Times of India, 20 April 2013).

Naxal Violence: New Structures and Old Woes in Jharkhand

By Bibhu Prasad Routray

In August 2013, Jharkhand police announced the plan to set up an exclusive cell to deal with Maoist activities. The state's Director General of Police, Rajiv Kumar, told the media, “We have already drafted a proposal for the creation of an anti-Maoist cell.” Expected to be in operation in the coming months, the cell will gather intelligence inputs and execute anti-Maoist operations. With units in all districts, the cell will also coordinate with the central paramilitary and state police forces. According to the plan, the existing Special (intelligence) branch of the police department would staff the new cell and no fresh recruitment and additional resources would be necessary. 

The fact that Jharkhand, one of the two worst left-wing extremism (LWE) affected states of the country, did not have an exclusive anti-Maoist police cell and operated mostly through the police’s intelligence (special) branch, comes as a surprise. Given the functions the new cell is being entrusted with, it is appalling to imagine the way anti-Maoist operations were being carried out in this state till now. On the other hand, such insincerity to solving extremism has remained the hallmark of the country’s approach to fighting LWE. While terrorists incidents propelling strengthening of counter-terrorism measures is a worldwide phenomenon, ad-hocism appears to have remained the perennial guiding principle of India's counter-insurgency strategy. 

It is important to note that police in Jharkhand have operated without much political interference. With the state under President’s rule for a large part of its existence, political masters and their preferences have been kept at bay while formulating anti-Maoist strategy. Such a scenario could indeed be a force multiplier behind a professional police force. Even then, scripting a counter-Maoist success story has remained a un-achievable project for the police, which appears more interested in hailing itself as the best police department in the country. The fact that its recurrent pleadings for additional central forces deployment militate against its boastful ways does not appear to bother many.

Some of the chaotic and unproductive operations Jharkhand police has undertaken in recent months bears testimony to this conclusion.

• In January 2013, on the basis of poor intelligence inputs, forces ventured into the Barwadih forests in the western Latehar district, which shares borders with Chhattisgarh. Nine Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and a commando from the state’s Jharkhand Jaguars were killed in an ambush carried out by a group of Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres. A CRPF officer later said, “We received information that Maoists were hiding at a particular place in the Barwadih jungles and so a contingent left to engage them. But as they reached the area, they were fired upon from atop hills where the Maoists were hiding.”

• In July 2013, joint forces (police and paramilitary) undertook a highly publicised operation in Latehar’s Kumundih forests. Even as the operations continued, top officials kept harping on the fact that the forces managed to “surround 250 rebels.” These cornered rebels apparently included some top leaders of the outfit. Such claims generated the expectation that at the end of the operation, the Maoists would indeed lose a large chunk of their active cadres in the state. However, not a single extremist was arrested. Police later claimed that ‘some lacunae’ on its part allowed the Maoists to escape.

• In July 2013, the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Pakur district, lying in contiguity with the state of West Bengal, was ambushed and killed as he travelled back to his district after attending a meeting in the neighbouring Dumka district. The killing was termed as merely ‘opportunistic’ in a district mostly unaffected by extremism, against overwhelming evidence that it was the result of some smart and prolonged planning by the CPI-Maoist. Forces launched into the forests in search of the retreating extremists returned without any success. Interestingly, a year before the incident, Jharkhand police had announced the implementation of a futuristic policing programme, which would allow a pre-installed software to predict the exact locations of the crimes including extremist attacks. 

India and the Failed States Index

By PR Chari

How one defines state failure lies at the heart of any meaningful analysis of the failed states index (FSI). According to the Washington-based Fund for Peace that designed the index, a failed state is recognized by:

• loss of control over its territory, affecting its monopoly to legitimate use of physical force therein;
• erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions;
• inability to function as a full member of the international community.

The idea of Pakistan failed spectacularly in 1971 when it lost its eastern wing, and Bangladesh was born. The secession of parts of a country would thus seem to offer the ultimate criterion to recognize state failure. Its likely fragmentation would also qualify, which could happen to Afghanistan after 2014. So could their rapid descent into chaos, which makes Somalia, Congo, Sudan, South Sudan and Chad--all Sub-Saharan countries—uniquely singular as the countries most vulnerable to state failure. The international system abhors instability, and is interested therefore in recognizing early signs of states failing to stem this contagion from spreading. 

Still, no state can island itself within the international system. State failure, for example, in any part of South Asia arising from ecological disaster or economic collapse or inability to contain terrorism could transcend borders and affect other parts of the region. Realistically, however, the international system has only a limited ability to influence the domestic processes that predicate state failure in this fashion. 

By contrast, a failing state that is gravitating towards state failure can be recognized by weak and ineffective governance with loosening control over its territory; inability to provide public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movements of people; and sharp economic decline. There are huge difficulties, however, in parsing these subjective judgments to frame foreign policy. For instance, how much is the loss of territory under government control that would qualify a state to be “failing”? Are civil society movements indicting the State for tolerating corruption, providing immunity to criminals, but neglecting education, public health, social and civic services providing a truer identification of a failing state? 

These questions are relevant for India. In 2013 it has been ranked 79 in the FSI listing of 178 states, improving its position slightly from 78 in 2012. Incidentally, Afghanistan (7) and Pakistan (13) lead the 2013 Index in South Asia, followed by Sri Lanka (28), Bangladesh (29), Nepal (30); all them fall in the highest sub-category “Alert” in the FSI, Bhutan (63), India (79), and Maldives (88) are some distance behind in the Index, and are included in the next sub-category “Warning”. 

One must go deeper into the criteria for estimating the vulnerability of states adopted by the FSI to understand its construction. Some 12 factors, grouped under social, economic and political criteria, have been isolated. The social factors include: mounting demographic pressures; massive displacement of refugees; widespread vengeance-seeking group grievances; chronic and sustained human flight. The economic factors include uneven economic development on group lines, and severe economic decline. Political factors comprise criminalization and/or delegitimization of the state; deterioration of public services; suspension or arbitrary application of laws; extensive human rights abuses; security apparatus becoming a "state within a state"; rise of factional elites; and, intervention by external political agents.

Musharraf Indictment Puts Pakistan Military on Defensive

By Lisa Curtis

WASHINGTON - Tuesday’s indictment of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for conspiracy to murder former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto demonstrates that the Pakistani judiciary is increasingly willing to challenge the authority of the powerful Pakistani Army.

While it is in the U.S. interest that Pakistan’s democratic institutions are strengthened and that the military stays out of politics, sentencing Musharraf to a harsh prison sentence or capital punishment is unjustified and could fuel a civil-military crisis that would increase political instability and embolden terrorist forces in the country.

Musharraf has been under house arrest since April and faces other serious accusations, including committing treason by detaining dozens of senior judges after declaring emergency rule in 2007 (which he did), and the murder of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti in 2006 (whom the Pakistani Army killed in an operation ordered by Musharraf).

Charges of a conspiracy to murder Bhutto will likely be difficult to prove, and it is possible the case will drag on for several months. It is widely acknowledged that Musharraf failed to provide adequate security for Benazir Bhutto, but few international observers believe he conspired to have her killed.

A United Nations investigation into Bhutto’s assassination found that security provided to the former prime minister was “insufficient and ineffective” and that the subsequent Pakistani criminal investigation into the murder was “severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other government officials.” However, Bhutto was a target of several Pakistani militant organizations for her liberal views on democracy and tough stance toward terrorism. Her party, the Pakistan People’s Party, went on to win elections four months after her assassination.

Musharraf miscalculated badly in his decision to try to return to the political fray in Pakistan. He underestimated the level of public anger against him for his handling of events in 2007, particularly his undermining of the democratic process.

While the current military leadership does not want to see any of its own dragged through the courts, it is unclear how far Chief of Army Staff General Kayani would go to influence or pressure the courts over the case.

Kayani must pay attention to the public’s attitude toward the military and thus would be unlikely to pursue a high-profile confrontation with the judiciary over Musharraf, who has become widely despised in Pakistan. It is possible that Kayani would try to broker a deal behind the scenes that forces Musharraf to leave the country but spares his life and keeps him out of a Pakistani prison.

While Musharraf is unpopular, he appears to have support from some shadowy elements, and those pursuing cases against Musharraf are clearly under threat. In May, gunmen assassinated the chief prosecutor in the case against Musharraf, Chaudhry Zulfikar Ali, as he drove to work from his home in Islamabad.

It Must Be Summer: Pakistan Shells India

 21 Aug 2013 

The latest round of border tensions along the Line of Control (LOC) separating India and Pakistan began with the ambush of 5 Indian soldiers earlier this month, which has now expanded to heavy exchange fire along the LOC and heightened tensions. Now the real question that is debated vigorously in the Indian media is why can’t and why has not India developed an adequate military response to the border ceasefire violations or pursued other military options. In some ways, this question is a red herring because India has indeed responded by returning fire along the border and sought to maintain the prevailing status quo on the border.

Motivations behind the Pakistani army’s decision to start shelling along the LOC in violation of 2003 ceasefire agreement are not entirely self-evident. Many theories are being floated in the Indian media to explain Pakistan’s violation of LOC. But one explanation stands out. Pakistani army began shelling in order to facilitate the cross-border intrusion of the dreaded jihadi groups such as Lakshar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Lashkar-eJhangvi (LeJ). Pakistani border forces have regularly have relied upon the strategy of lobbing mortar shells and small arms fire to facilitate infiltration of terror groups into Kashmir; this is an annual summer activity.

Two other theories are being floated that are equally plausible. This shelling and provocation serves as an indirect warning to the newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to not move ahead with peace and friendship entreaties towards India. This is the Army’s way of communicating with Pakistan’s weak civilian government and informing it in no uncertain terms that it is in charge of the India Policy. The Indian television and the print media and the blogosphere and twitterverse is filled with messages that lambaste the Indian government for its meek response to Pakistan’s unprovoked firing across the LOC and for the killing of five Indian Jawans.

There is a call for launching punishing raids across the LOC to teach them a lesson. But, why is the Indian Ministry of Defense absolutely loath to pursue military options. First, there is the issue of military readiness or the lack of it. The Indian army’s mobilization takes such long preparation times that it nullifies the effectiveness of surprise raids. The second and probably more important reason for the lack of interest in pursuing military options is because there is no political will in India to pick a fight with Pakistan or escalate it to a level that would require a major military commitment. So why is New Delhi not interested in engaging in a variety of military options?

The answer to this question is best explained by using an appropriate analogy. The India-Pakistan situation is akin to South Korea-North Korea relations. South Korea has absolutely no incentive to aggravate or respond to every North Korean provocation; it has the military might to take on North Korea not counting that this will surely bring the United States directly into the conflict.

But three factors complicate South’s potential decision to counter North Korea’s aggressive actions with military might. One, North Korea has the military ability to cause significant economic and infrastructure damage to South Korea, particularly to South Korea’s capital city Seoul just with its conventional weapons. Two, North Korea could bring out its nuclear weapons; however crude they maybe there are very strong reasons to believe that this would cause serious and substantial damage to South Korea. Third, North Korea is a failed state; a collapsed and destroyed North Korea with refugees streaming into South Korea and China en masse would not be an ideal situation for the region.

One another way of presenting this is through the lens of international relations theory, particularly the theory of deterrence. North Korea has achieved effective and functional deterrence. The costs of war would be far greater for South Korea than on North. One could argue that North Korea has achieved deterrence just with its conventional weapons because the South is so fearful of North’s ability to significantly damage Seoul. There is no one in the South who is willing to provoke the North because of the concern of heavy military retaliation. So the South’s strategy has been to simply ignore every provocation and simply move on with its economic development and maintain its extraordinarily high standards of living.

US-Pakistan nuclear deal

An attempt to catch up with India

By D. Suba Chandran

EVER since the negotiations started between India and the US on a civilian nuclear deal, there has been an expectation within Pakistan that Islamabad should also receive a similar one. This expectation has now become a primary demand from the Pakistani side as the US has started its Afghan countdown towards December 2014. There is a general belief within Pakistan that the time is ripe to squeeze as much as they could from Washington.

What reasons are being projected for such a demand within Pakistan vis-a-vis the US, and what are the real intentions behind?

After opposing the Indo-US nuclear deal in the initial years, ironically, Pakistan is making use of the same reasons that New Delhi projected — a civilian nuclear deal to push the “nuclear” component of energy production within. Undoubtedly, Pakistan is reeling under a huge energy crisis, and needs substantial inputs and investments to its energy sector.

But the crucial question in this context is: Will a civilian nuclear deal with the US help Pakistan achieve the same? Hardly, as the “nuclear component” of energy in Pakistan and India has always been miniscule. Even after the nuclear deal with the US, nuclear energy in India is unlikely to touch two digits in the overall energy contribution. For Pakistan also, it will be the case.

Pakistan is well aware of this. Why then would Pakistan insist on a civilian nuclear deal with the US?

The real reasons are political and strategic, rather than economic or energy related. In fact, the case is the same vis-a-vis Indo-US nuclear deal. How much has the nuclear deal with the US contributed in augmenting India's energy supply so far? How much is it likely to contribute in the next two decades? The real effect of the nuclear deal will always remain marginal in terms of energy production.

However, the Indo-US nuclear deal politically has been a success story for India for it has shown how far the US was willing to go in bending the rules of the international nuclear regime. The nuclear deal was seen by Manmohan Singh’s government as India’s entry into the big club. It was seen as an expression of growing India’s stature and the strategic partnership with the US. Politically, Pakistan is also looking for the same.

The second reason is nuclear commerce. Pakistan also wants to be recognised in the international nuclear regime the same way that India is being recognised now, and the follow-up nuclear commerce. More than a civilian deal with the US, it is the follow-up nuclear commerce at the international level which Pakistan is keen. A civilian nuclear deal with the US will provide a passport into it.

The third reason is to erase the bad reputation that Pakistan has today, thanks to the illegal network led by AQ Khan. Though the State has distanced itself from AQ Khan's network, there have not been many takers at the international level who would give a clean chit to the State in Pakistan. The international nuclear regime, much to the dismay of Pakistan and its scholars, is suspicious of Pakistan's role in the nuclear black market. Pakistan perhaps hopes that a civilian nuclear deal with the US will somehow obliterate AQ Khan's dealings and give a clean chit to its establishment.

***Geography Rules: It's All About Spheres of Influence

August 22, 2013

The media is preoccupied with democracy, human rights and other values-driven elements that reflect the discourse of foreign policy among elites and that often have little to do with the actual motivations of governments behind closed doors. So what is really going on in the world, what really motivates governments? In fact, the globe is a venue for struggles over geographic spheres of influence to the same extent it has been in former ages. Once that reality is accepted, relatively little that happens in the world is surprising.

Take the Middle East. The United States has a security problem in the Middle East because the so-called Arab Spring, rather than lead to democracy, has led to anarchy. The anarchy unleashed has provided opportunities for disease germs such as al Qaeda. Otherwise, the United States is engaged in a balance-of-power struggle with Iran for geographic influence in the Levant. The Iranian leadership uses the language of Islam, even as it also thinks like the pagan Persians of antiquity, in terms of a desired sphere of influence stretching from the Mediterranean to the Central Asian plateau. But as long as the sea lines of communication remain secure and transnational terrorists are containable and kept away from America's or Israel's borders, for example, whether places like Egypt or Libya or Yemen struggle for years on end with enfeebled governments matters only modestly to Washington and is, in any case, something Washington cannot do that much about.

While the media is preoccupied with Middle Eastern chaos, the more significant geopolitical changes occurring in the globe involve the sphere of influence Russia is trying to carve out from the Baltics to the Caucasus, including Central and Eastern Europe, and the one China is trying to carve out in the Western Pacific and Indian oceans as far away as Africa.

Europe's sustained economic crisis and Russia's surfeit of cash from energy revenues has created an opportunity for the Kremlin to establish pipelines and buy up infrastructure, as well as employ other forms of financial pressure, in order to gain political leverage with regimes as far-flung as Hungary, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan, not to mention quite a few others. The Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union are not re-emerging, but a more traditional, soft sphere of influence based on historical Russian geography and empire building is. The media is, by and large, absent regarding this story. The media condemns Russian President Vladimir Putin as a human rights violator who did not return an American defector. But just how often in history has Russia had a sympathetic ruler? Far more important, Putin has what, in terms of Russia's history, is a legitimate geographical vision that he is trying to implement. Hungary's drift to quasi-authoritarianism under Prime Minister Viktor Orban as a possible means to accommodate Putin, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's balancing act between Russia, Iran, Turkey and the United States -- in which he has lately shifted back somewhat toward Russia -- constitutes a register of global geopolitics more telling than any individual development recently in the Arab world.

China, even as its rate of economic growth slows, is continuing to both enlarge and modernize its navy while expanding its commercial interests around the southern navigable rimland of Eurasia. China has been putting money or displaying interest in deep-water port projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Bangladesh, following its hands-on construction and financing of other Indian Ocean ports in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. In addition, China has established a resource-extraction empire throughout sub-Saharan Africa to link up with these budding, western Indian Ocean ports. The Venetian, Dutch and British maritime commercial empires all had their beginnings in less demonstrable form. At the same time, China is trying to develop a full-spectrum naval presence in East Asian waters -- from nuclear submarines to small fishing boats with potential for intelligence gathering. James Holmes, Toshi Yoshihara, Andrew Erickson and many other scholars at the U.S. Naval War College and other places have been meticulously chronicling these developments. China's maritime forces, both warships and other sea platforms, are designed to do what has been a traditional role of world navies throughout modern history: affect perceptions of power by meshing maritime movements with diplomatic, political and economic activity. (For it is in the creative combination of both hard and soft power that true strategy emerges.) If China calibrates its naval expansion well, it will never have a shooting war with the United States -- or with anybody else for that matter -- even as the perception of its influence expands over two oceans.

The “Patriotic Education” of Tibet

By Anand Upendran 
August 21, 2013

If true, reports of an easing of China’s policies on Tibet would come as a welcome relief to a long-repressed people.

In Tibet, the greatest casualties of Chinese governance have been religion and culture. From its invasion, or “liberation” in Beijing’s eyes, of Tibet in 1949, through the years of “Democratic Reforms” and “Cultural Revolution,” to today, China has converted a land of Buddhism and open-minded philosophy into a territory where a government and its laws control faith and dictate belief.

Buddhist monks and nuns have protested numerous times against the denial of religious expression. For instance, the 1987-89 unrest in Tibet was led largely by the monks of Drepung, Sera and Ganden, Lhasa’s three largest monasteries. In turn, the Chinese authorities have looked upon Tibetan religious institutions as breeding grounds for dissent, and have retaliated through greater restrictions and control. One such policy is “patriotic re-education” or simply “patriotic education,” under which “work-teams” (known in Chinese as gongzou dui and in Tibetan as ledonrukhag) consisting of both Chinese and trusted Tibetan officials visit monasteries and nunneries to force on monks and nuns the concept of unity of Tibet and China and to identify dissidents.

Patriotic education was launched in Tibet in 1996 as part of the national “Strike Hard” campaign against crime and corruption. However, the testimonies of Tibetan refugees, documented at the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), suggest that the concept and practice of “patriotic education” flourished well before its official implementation.

Bhagdro was a monk at Ganden Monastery when a work team fifty or sixty strong arrived at the monastery in October 1987, soon after the unrest began. Interviewed by the Tibet Information Network in May 1998 after he escaped to India, Bhagdro recalled:

“The meeting began by condemning the monks of Drepung and Sera for indulging in ‘reactionary activities’ designed to harm the interests of the ‘motherland.’ It was advised that the Ganden monks should not follow the bad example set by the monks of these two Lhasa monasteries. The first meeting dispersed with the distribution of newspapers to the monks who were asked to study them and to learn the ideological overtone of the contents. We were told to be prepared to answer questions along those lines after two or three days. Expectedly, they talked about wiping out ‘separatists,’ about the unity of the ‘Great Motherland’ and how Tibet and China, being like mother and son, were an inseparable entity… In order to make things more manageable to the team, the monks were divided into small groups. This made many of us very angry. For many, this was a moment of political awakening.”

On March 5, 1988, Bhagdro participated in the revolt that took place in Lhasa during the Great Prayer Festival (Monlam Chenmo) and was arrested. In prison, he would face worse: 

Nuclear deterrence is overrated

By Ramesh Thakur

The real risks and costs of having these weapons, both monetary and human, far outweigh their security benefits

The Indian Navy has figured in three recent, global news items. The launch of the indigenously developed aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, expected to be operational by 2018, makes India only the fifth country after the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and France to have such capability. The diesel-electric submarine INS Sindhurakshak caught fire and exploded, causing the tragic death of 18 crew. In the early hours of August 10, the reactor on the nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant (“slayer of enemies”), with underwater ballistic launch capability, went critical.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, launched the 6,000-tonne Arihant in Visakhapatnam on July 26, 2009. In time, it was said, with a fleet of five nuclear-powered submarines and three to four aircraft carrier battle groups, a 35-squadron air force and land-based weapons systems, India would emerge as a major force in the Indian Ocean, from the Middle East to Southeast Asia.

The strategic rationale is to acquire and consolidate the three legs of land, air and sea-based nuclear weapons to underpin the policy of nuclear deterrence. Unfortunately, however, the whole concept of nuclear deterrence is deeply flawed.


Nuclear weapons are uniquely destructive and hence uniquely threatening to our common security. There is a compelling need to challenge and overcome the reigning complacency on the nuclear risks and dangers, to sensitise policy communities to the urgency and gravity of nuclear threats and the availability of non-nuclear alternatives as anchors of national and international security.

A nuclear catastrophe could destroy us any time. Because we have learnt to live with nuclear weapons for 68 years, we have become desensitised to the gravity and immediacy of the threat. The tyranny of complacency could yet exact a fearful price if we sleepwalk our way into a nuclear Armageddon. It really is long past time to lift the shroud of the mushroom cloud from the international body politic.

The normative taboo against this most indiscriminately inhumane weapon ever invented is so comprehensive and powerful that under no conceivable circumstances will its use against a non-nuclear state compensate for the political costs. This explains why nuclear powers have accepted defeat at the hands of non-nuclear states rather than escalate armed conflict to the nuclear level.

Nor can they be used for defence against nuclear-armed rivals. The mutual vulnerability of such rivals to second-strike retaliatory capability is so robust for the foreseeable future that any escalation through the nuclear threshold would be mutual national suicide.

Seeing it like Sen

Aug 22 2013

Long ago, Amartya Sen had refused to choose equality at the cost of liberty. He would pursue welfare in his own way.

I began being overawed by Amartya Sen after reading his Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (2006) while I was trying to make sense of sectarian conflict in the Islamic world in general, and Pakistan in particular. There was something prophetic about the following observation: "Plural identity in individuals will protect a state that does not classify citizens. Imposition of a single identity is the state's pursuit of destiny, which is illusory and gives rise to violence. The descriptive weakness of choiceless singularity has the effect of momentously impoverishing the power and reach of our social and political reasoning. The illusion

of destiny exacts a remarkably heavy price."

I had heard him earlier at a World Bank international conference in Seoul on "Democracy, Market Economy and Development" (February 1999), featuring the then new Nobel laureate for economics as the principal speaker. I remember that visit to South Korea because I also had occasion to carry the bags of my other icon, Ardeshir Cowasjee, the redoubtable columnist of Pakistan, now no more.

Sen spoke in favour of globalisation while many great Indians, including my friend and the late prime minister of India, Inder Gujral, were still leery of it. He didn't think globalisation was repackaged economic imperialism, and his cure was contained in the slogan he gave us in Seoul: If globalisation hurts, have more globalisation! The next I heard him was in New Delhi at the India International Centre, near Lodhi Gardens.

He grew up when socialism was the dominant creed in India, morphing into communism of the Stalinist variety in Bengal. He was a genius in a way that only a Bengali can be. The Sens were in Dhaka when 1947 happened and they had to move to Kolkata. He earned a First Class First in his BA (Honours) in economics from Presidency College, Kolkata. The same year, 1953, he moved to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he earned a First Class (Starred First) BA (Honours) in 1956. Today, he is Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, Professor of Economics and Professor of Philosophy, at Harvard University.

In England, he was soon counted among the post-Keynesian scholars who cared about the welfare side of economics and had to decide whether he would go with the current presiding deity of academia, Joan Robinson, who fascinated her Indian pupils — including Manmohan Singh — because of her frank subordination of liberty to equality, something that Stalin and Mao had accomplished, attracting her to their coercive model. But Amartya would not choose equality (Rousseau) at the cost of liberty (Locke), and pursued welfare in his own way. One can say that Singh has also taken the path of Amartya Sen: capitalist growth is self-defeating if you don't care for the poor. That's why, at Seoul, he debunked my other autocratic icon, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, who had achieved success at the cost of liberty. (It's a pity that people are willing to forget liberty if you give them the good life!) It is understandable that Sen favours Kerala's model of development, as opposed to Narendra Modi's more Darwinist Gujarat preferred by the "free market" Jagdish Bhagwati.

I saw Amartya Sen get deeply offended when someone in New Delhi tried to touch his feet. I thought he was saint-like enough with his magisterial but amazingly current wisdom to deserve it. I found his The Idea of Justice difficult to read but his latest, An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions, co-authored with Jean Dreze (Penguin, 2013), has clarified to me what is wrong with our not-so-Shining India.

Is Gwadar Worth the Theatrics?

By Farooq Yousaf
August 22, 2013 

In February this year, Pakistan finally handed over the operations of Gwadar Port, located in Balochistan province, to China. For both countries the deal was business as usual, but for one neighbor, India, the deal rang alarm bells, with Indian defense minister, A.K. Antony calling it a matter of concern.

In 2007, during the rule of General Pervez Musharraf, the development and operating rights for Gwadar Port were surprisingly handed over to the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) on a forty-year lease. Few had anticipated this decision, given that China had provided eighty percent of the total funding during the first phase of the port's development. However, Musharraf at the time was mindful of displeasing Washington by giving the lease to China.

Along with the PSA deal came mega concessions in the form of tax and customs duty exemptions. Still, it took only five years for the PSA to back out of the deal, citing as primary factors a land transfer deadlock and Pakistan's failure to meet obligations.

Gwadar Port sits just 200 miles from the strategically important Strait of Hormuz – one of the most important oil conduits in the world. Given this, China would have long pondered the possible utility of a port that could shorten its oil transport chain. But oil is not the only game here. India, Pakistan's arch rival and China's competitive neighbor, has voiced concerns on regional and global forums regarding the Chinese takeover.

Soon after the Chinese takeover, the "China encircling India" and "China undermining Indian maritime security" theories began surfacing, with media and analysts floating scores of op-eds and commentaries, accusing China of having military aspirations for Gwadar. But most of these analyses overestimate the immediate potential of project.

Experts and geopolitical analysts in Pakistan believe the port still has a long way to go before it will be fully operational as an international transit facility. This analysis reflect certain realities on the ground.

First and foremost, Balochistan province is experiencing an ongoing insurgency that began in the 1960s. Pakistan’s largest and most resource-rich province has never received the attention it deserves from Islamabad. This oversight has fueled tensions, with locals demanding an equal share of their resources. Given the insurgency, along with military deployments, sectarian militancy, and frequent infrastructure sabotage, it seems improbable that work on the project will be smooth. For Baloch insurgents, the port is just is another attempt at a "conspiracy" to exploit the region's resources. They will be seeking to create as many hurdles as possible.

Old ties lead to new model of mutual trust

S. Jaishankar
22 August 2013

It is fashionable in China today to speak of a "new type" of great power relations, indeed of international relations as a whole. In Chinese terminology, this approach is based on three key concepts: non-conflict and non-confrontation including proper handling of differences, mutual respect including for core interests and major concerns, and common development that seeks win-win solutions. 

We could read these as reflecting the growing interdependence of a globalized world, the increasing dispersal of power, where one power or set of powers are no longer dominant, and the possibility of convergence on some issues coexisting with contradictions on others. 

Applying this approach to India-China relations offers some interesting insights. 

Interdependence has put the premium on stability, predictability and risk management in India-China ties. On mutual respect, it is at the heart of India’s long-standing commitment to non-alignment and multi-polarity. A more democratic world order, reflected in international institutions and regimes, has been a long-standing quest. 

India also believes that global multi-polarity requires one in Asia. It has its own core concerns that it expects to be respected by all. 

In regard to common development, a prime example is China itself where our bilateral cooperation has developed steadily even as our boundary negotiations continue. 

While the last few decades have witnessed the rise of China, they have also seen that of India, even if not to the same degree. 

Assessing the current China-India equilibrium is, therefore, more complex than doing the same for China with more static powers, let alone declining ones. 

India has its own interests, demands and expectations. It is also legitimately concerned that interdependence and connectivity should serve larger global concerns rather than a national agenda. 

It was recognized during the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India in May that India-China relationship was based on coexistence and common development. Mutual sensitivity for each other’s concerns and aspirations was deemed very important. 

It was also noted that there was enough space in the world for the development of both nations. Both sides agreed to respect each other’s path of development and not allow their territories to be used against the other. 

For the first time, there was a commitment to also take a positive view of each country’s friendship with others. 

*** In China, an Unprecedented Demographic Problem Takes Shape

AUGUST 21, 2013

An elderly man in Beijing. 


Chinese society is on the verge of a structural transformation even more profound than the long and painful project of economic rebalancing, which the Communist Party is anxiously beginning to undertake. China's population is aging more rapidly than it is getting rich, giving rise to a great demographic imbalance with important implications for the Party's efforts to transform the Chinese economy and preserve its own power in the coming decade.


Two reports in Chinese media highlight different aspects of China's unfolding demographic crunch. The Ministry of Education reported Aug. 21 that more than 13,600 primary schools closed nationwide in 2012. The ministry looked to China's dramatically shifting demographic profile to explain the widespread closures, noting that between 2011 and 2012 the number of students in primary and secondary schools fell from nearly 150 million to 145 million. It also confirmed that between 2002 and 2012, the number of students enrolled in primary schools dropped by nearly 20 percent. The ministry's report comes one day after an article in People's Daily, the government newspaper, warned of China's impending social security crisis as the number of elderly is expected to rise from 194 million in 2012 to 300 million by 2025.

The Communist Party is already considering measures to counter, or at least limit the short-term impact of, demographic changes in Chinese society. On one hand, the Party continues to flirt with relaxing the one-child policy in an effort to boost fertility rates, most recently with a potential pilot program in Shanghai that would allow only-child couples to have another child. On the other hand, the government has proposed raising the national retirement age from 55 to 60 for women and from 60 to 65 for men. If implemented, this would bring China's retirement policy more in line with international norms and delay some of the financial and other social pressures created by the ballooning number of retirees dependent on government pensions and the care of their children.

Green warrior from a red army

By Ananth Krishnan

The Hindu A PLA veteran who fought in the 1962 India-China war the late Wu Dengming. File 

A PLA veteran who fought in the 1962 India-China war, the late Wu Dengming left the army to become one of modern China’s first environmental activists

The last time I met Wu Dengming was on a grey autumn day last October. We spent an afternoon in conversation in his modest Beijing hotel room, which overlooked an old neighbourhood of courtyard houses that lay right in the shadow of the Forbidden City. Wu didn’t look anywhere near his 73 years of age. He spoke with a passion that appeared to burn as bright as ever, in defiance of his weakening health.

Wu had made the long journey to the capital from his native Chongqing in China’s west at the invitation of government officials, with whom his relations had often been awkward. The non-governmental organisation (NGO) he founded in 1997, the Chongqing Green Volunteers League, had garnered a reputation for muckraking. Wu’s green army revelled in taking on local factories that were polluting the rivers and fields of Chongqing and surrounding Sichuan province. “Lao Wu,” or “Old Wu” as he was known in China’s small but fast-growing community of green activists, took risks, often putting his personal safety on the line, as he encouraged farmers to stand up to polluters and went after the ravagers of Sichuan’s forests.

Undimmed optimism

Wu, when we met, appeared optimistic about the direction in which his country was heading. The increasingly worse air pollution that enveloped the Chinese capital — and left Wu with an uncomfortable cough that day — hadn’t dampened his confidence. In the weeks before we spoke, China had witnessed an unprecedented series of environmental protests in half a dozen cities, as citizens took to the streets to oppose local governments who were setting up chemical factories or waste incinerators in their communities, often without following due process. The protests against P/X chemical plants in Dalian and Kunming, a copper plant in Shifang in Sichuan, and a refinery in Ningbo had been unique in the way a cross-section of society — from college students and white collar workers to retirees and migrant workers — had been mobilised to demand transparency from their governments. Wu told me, “The biggest challenge we’ve faced, since we started this work three decades ago, has been getting people to understand environmental issues and to raise their awareness. That’s now beginning to change.”

My conversation with Wu that October day would be our last. Last month, Wu, who was unused to losing the battles he plunged into, succumbed to illness. He passed away on July 19, aged 73. His family members said he continued working until the very end — disregarding their pleas — displaying that sense of stubbornness with which he pursued his causes. Around a thousand people turned up to pay their respects to Wu in his humble 50-square-metre home, the Chongqing Evening News reported. Among them were five officials who had worked for factories that had been forced to close down and overhaul their operations on account of Wu’s activism.

“Less talk and more action” was the motto that Wu bestowed upon his NGO. It was, in some sense, the maxim that governed his life. Born in 1940 in a working-class family, Wu grew up amid the heady enthusiasm that marked the early years following the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. Enthusiasm soon gave way to the grim reality of economic hardship. Wu was 18 when Mao launched his ruthless anti-rightist campaign and the disastrous Great Leap Forward. Still in high school, Wu discarded his textbooks and plunged into the frenzy of steel-making that would later leave the countryside broken in desperate famine.

India and China's Evolving Competition for Resources

By George Friedman

ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL), the overseas arm of India's state oil and gas firm, announced Monday that it may invoke its right to block Brazilian state firm Petrobras' sale of an offshore oil block to Chinese state firm Sinochem. Under the proposed $1.54 billion deal, Sinochem would acquire a 35 percent stake in Brazil's offshore Parque das Conchas oil project -- a project in which OVL has a 15 percent stake. Interestingly enough, India did not express an interest in acquiring Petrobras' stake when the sale was announced last Friday, instead waiting for Sinochem to make a bid while the Indian firm mulled its options.

At first glance, OVL's decision to block Sinochem's purchase of Petrobras' stake in the Parque das Conchas field may seem like the latest proxy battle in the ongoing competition between India and China. OVL is still reeling from its recent loss to China in the bid to acquire an 8.4 percent stake in Kazakhstan's Kashagan field project for $5 billion. India faces declining oil and gas production at home at a time when the country's energy needs are growing. OVL and its overseas operations are becoming a critical component of India's effort to secure energy supplies for its domestic market as New Delhi aggressively attempts to expand overseas operations and investments.

There is good reason for this competition over natural resources. India's population, the second largest in the world, is growing. New Delhi faces the daunting task of managing a population set to increase by nearly 400 million -- more than the entire population of the United States -- overtaking China as the world's most populous nation by 2050. Taken together, China and India account for more than a third of the world's population, and both are significant importers of fossil fuels such as crude oil, coal and, increasingly, natural gas. Competition over water resources is also expected to rise as both Asian giants seek to provide food and electricity for their enormous populations.

Their size, their proximity to one another, and their similar regional ambitions make India and China natural competitors in the Indo-Pacific basin. But as India and China's consumption of strategic commodities such as oil rises, their competitors are growing to include not only Brazil and Kazakhstan, but Colombia, Afghanistan and African nations as well. 

Still, reality is more nuanced than the media's easy portrayal of India and China as intractable competitors, locked in a zero-sum Great Game over land, sea and resources. India and China obviously pursue their own national interests and policy prerogatives, and these clash at enough points to prevent a formal alliance, but this does not close off all avenues of cooperation. In Brazil, OVL's much larger operating budget versus Sinochem's oil and gas exploration division make the Indian bid much more likely to be about business competition, and not a strategic blow to China's ability to secure energy resources abroad.

Their size and proximity also reveal similar vulnerabilities, and in recent weeks we have seen China and India undertake strikingly similar policy decisions regarding imported commodities. It is Indian and Chinese refusal to continue importing Belarusian potash at high prices that is helping break suppliers' price controls of the fertilizer. Though no formal announcement of coordination was made, both Beijing and New Delhi announced domestic price hikes on natural gas in July, paving the way for increased imports of liquefied natural gas. 

Rising exports of liquefied natural gas to China and India are coupled with Japan and South Korea's already high levels of consumption. This could very well lead to a strategic, geographic concentration of liquefied natural gas importers with enough leverage to push suppliers such as Qatar to abandon the premiums they charge Asian nations for the fuel.

India and China share long, storied and often intertwined mercantile traditions. As in the case of the Brazilian oilfield, sometimes business is just business. But as India and China's scramble for resources increasingly turns global, there are signs that the costs of direct competition between the two Asian giants are becoming too high, leading to more profitable avenues of cooperation instead.

Courtesy : Stratfor (www.stratfor.com)