16 October 2013

The U.S. Debt Crisis from the Founders' Perspective

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 
By George Friedman

Read more: The U.S. Debt Crisis from the Founders' Perspective | Stratfor 
The U.S. government is paralyzed, and we now face the possibility that the United States will default on its debt. Congress is unable to resolve the issue, and President Obama is as obstinate as the legislators who oppose him. To some extent, our political system is functioning as intended -- the Founding Fathers meant for it to be cumbersome. But as they set out to form a more perfect union, they probably did not anticipate the extent to which we have been able to cripple ourselves.

Striving for ineffectiveness seems counterintuitive. But there was a method to the founders' madness, and we first need to consider their rationale before we apply it to the current dilemma afflicting Washington.

Fear and Moderation

The founders did not want an efficient government. They feared tyranny and created a regime that made governance difficult. Power was diffused among local, state and federal governments, each with their own rights and privileges. Even the legislative branch was divided into two houses. It was a government created to do little, and what little it could do was meant to be done slowly.

The founders' fear was simple: Humans are by nature self-serving and prone to corruption. Thus the first purpose of the regime was to pit those who wished to govern against one other in order to thwart their designs. Except for times of emergency or of overwhelming consensus, the founders liked what we today call gridlock.

At the same time, the founders believed in government. The U.S. Constitution is a framework for inefficiency, but its preamble denotes an extraordinary agenda: unity, justice, domestic tranquility, defense, general welfare and liberty. So while they feared government, they saw government as a means to staggeringly ambitious ends -- even if those ends were never fully defined.

Indeed, the founders knew how ambiguous their goals were, and this ambiguity conferred on them a sense of moderation. They were revolutionaries, yet they were inherently reasonable men. They sought a Novus Ordo Seclorum, a "New Order of the Ages," a term that was later put on the Great Seal of the United States, yet they were not fanatical. The murders and purges that would occur under Robespierre or Lenin were foreign to their nature.

The founders' moderation left many things unanswered. For example, they did not agree on what justice was, as can be seen in their divided stance on slavery. (Notably, they were prepared to compromise even on something as terrible as slavery so long as the Constitution and regime could be created.) But if the purpose of the Constitution was to secure the "general welfare," what was the government's role in creating the circumstances that would help individuals pursue their own interests?

There is little in the Constitution that answered such questions, despite how meticulously it was crafted, and the founders knew it. It was not that they couldn't agree on what "general welfare" meant. Instead, they understood, I think, that general welfare would vary over time, much as "common defense" would vary. They laid down a principle to be pursued but left it to their heirs to pursue it as their wisdom dictated.

In a sense, they left an enigma for the public to quarrel over. This was partly intentional. Subsequent arguments would involve the meaning of the Constitution rather than the possibility of creating a new one, so while we would disagree on fundamental issues, we would not constantly try to re-establish the regime. It may not have been a coincidence that Thomas Jefferson, who hinted at continual revolution, did not participate in the Constitutional Convention.

The founders needed to bridge the gaps between the need to govern, the fear of tyranny and the uncertainty of the future. Their solution was not in law but in personal virtue. The founders were fascinated by Rome and its notion of governance. Their Senate was both a Roman name and venue for the Roman vision of the statesman, particularly Cincinnatus, who left his farm to serve (not rule) and then returned to it when his service was over. The Romans, at least in the eyes of the founders if not always in reality, did not see government as a profession but rather as a burden and obligation. The founders wanted reluctant rulers.

They also wanted virtuous rulers. Specifically they lauded Roman virtue. It is the virtue that most reasonable men would see as praiseworthy: courage, prudence, kindness to the weak, honoring friendship, resolution with enemies. These were not virtues that were greatly respected by intellectuals, since they knew that life was more complicated than this. But the founders knew that the virtues of common sense ought not be analyzed until they lose their vigor and die. They did not want philosopher-kings; they wanted citizens of simple, clear virtues, who served reluctantly and left gladly, pursued their passions but were blocked by the system from imposing their idiosyncratic vision, pursued the ends of the preamble, and were contained in their occasional bitterness by the checks and balances that would frustrate the personal and ideological ambitions of others.

The Founding Father who best reflects these values is, of course, George Washington. Among the founders, it is he whom we should heed as we ponder the paralysis-by-design of the founders' system and the current conundrum threatening an American debt default. He understood that the public would be reluctant to repay debt and that the federal government would lack the will to tax the public to pay debt on its behalf. He stressed the importance of redeeming and discharging public debt. He discouraged accruing additional debt and warned against overusing debt.

However, Washington understood there would be instances in which debt had to be incurred. He saw public credit as vital and therefore something that ought to be used sparingly -- particularly in the event of war -- and then aggressively repaid. This is not a technical argument for those who see debt as a way to manage the economy. It is a moral argument built around the virtue of prudence.

Of course, he made this argument at a time when the American dollar was not the world's reserve currency, and when there was no Federal Reserve Bank able to issue money at will. It was a time when the United States borrowed in gold and silver and had to repay in the same. Therefore in a technical sense, both the meaning and uses of debt have changed. From a purely economic standpoint, a good argument can be made that Washington's views no longer apply.

But Washington was making a moral argument, not an argument for economists. From the founders' perspective, debt was not simply a technical issue; it was a moral issue. What was borrowed had to be repaid. Easing debt may power the economy, but the founders would have argued that the well-being of the polity does not make economic growth the sole consideration. The moral consequences are there, too.

The Republic of the Mind

Consequently, I think the founders would have questioned the prudence of our current debt. They would ask if it were necessary to incur, and how and whether it would be paid back. They would also question whether economic growth driven by debt actually strengthens the nation. In any case, I think there is little doubt they would be appalled by our debt levels, not necessarily because of what it might do to the economy, but because of what it does to the national character. However, because they were moderate men they would not demand an immediate solution. Nor would they ask for a solution that undermines national power.

As for federally mandated health care, I think they would be wary of entrusting such an important service to an entity they feared viscerally. But they wouldn't have been fanatical in their resistance to it. As much as federally mandated health care would frighten them, I believe fanaticism would have frightened them even more.

The question of a default would have been simple. They would have been disgusted by any failure to pay a debt unless it was simply impossible to do so. They would have regarded self-inflicted default -- regardless of the imprudence of the debt, or health care reform or any such subject -- as something moderate people do not contemplate, let alone do.
There is a perfectly valid argument that says nothing the founders believe really affects the current situation. This is a discussion reasonable and thoughtful people ought to have without raised voices or suspicion that their opponent is vile. But in my opinion, we have to remember that our political and even private life has been framed by our regime and therefore by its founders. The concept of limited government, of the distinction between public and private life, of obligation and rights, all flow from the founders.

The three branches of government, the great hopes of the preamble and the moral character needed to navigate the course continue to define us. The moral character was always problematic from the beginning. Washington was unique, but America's early political parties fought viciously -- with Aaron Burr even shooting Alexander Hamilton. The republic of the mind was always greater than the republic itself. Still, when we come to moments such as these, it is useful to contemplate what the founders had in mind and measure ourselves against that.

Rethinking India-Pakistan Relations

October 15, 2013

By Ram Mashru

Together with growing trade ties, incremental advances like the recent talks in New York are significant.

The story of an enduring Indo-Pakistan rivalry is a familiar one, in which the neighboring states, born of a bloody partition, are trapped in an endless cycle of conflict. But this narrative perpetuates two false habits. The first is a static understanding of Indo-Pakistan relations, pessimistic in its fixation on their violent history. The second is a reductive understanding, in which the emphasis on security obscures the long and successful record of cooperation. In the context of increasingly adverse domestic political environments – with India’s jingoistic right wing and Pakistan’s irredentist military hindering the diplomatic process – there is an even greater need to re-think India- Pakistan relations.

The (in)Security Complex

The two countries have maintained a patchy ceasefire over the de facto border in Kashmir – the “Line of Control” – since 2003. This year’s ceasefire violations began in January with the beheading of an Indian soldier, with a further 150 breaches since then, far exceeding last year’s total of 117. Things came to a head last month when, on the eve of high-profile talks between Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh in New York, militants who had secretly crossed the Pakistani border killed eight Indian security personnel and a civilian. The attack was deliberately timed, and follows a pattern of attempts by terrorists to frustrate the bilateral peace process.

These latest attacks prompted uncompromising statements by Manmohan Singh who chose his speech at the UN General Assembly to denounce Pakistan as the “epicenter of terrorism.” India’s President Pranab Mukherjee, on a foreign trip to Belgium, echoed these 
words, condemning Pakistan for failing to apprehend terrorists operating on its soil. These warring words were fodder to journalists keen to report on “growing tensions.” But the timing and venues are significant: international visits, far removed from governmental roundtables, are opportunities for leaders to send policy-free signals. Singh and Mukherjee’s bold declarations were aimed therefore not at their Pakistani counterparts, but were placatory statements calculated to appease increasingly hawkish elements in India’s domestic politics.
Both sides face powerful obstacles to bilateral talks. In Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif must wrestle control over foreign policy from the army, the institution that toppled him in a coup in 1999, and his ability to tame militant groups, who threaten to jeopardize Pakistan’s security policy, remains in doubt. Across the border, there is a sense of stasis. Singh can do little between now and next year’s national election, when his term as prime minister will end. The ascendant BJP – India’s ultra-nationalist party – advocates a zero-tolerance approach to (alleged) Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Though the foreign policy of Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, remains unclear, many fear he betrayed his position after his vociferous criticism of Singh’s decision to go ahead with talks.

But this preoccupation with cross-border terrorism masks a number of important facts. First, the emphasis on low intensity conflict is the result of Indo-Pakistan relations being largely peaceful. Second, attributing militant attacks to Pakistan is almost impossible. Pakistan is experiencing a “sorcerer’s apprentice problem”: having once funded and trained combatants, militant groups have turned renegade and now act according to their own interests. Third, as recent bomb blasts in Peshawar prove, of the two it is Pakistan is acutely vulnerable to sectarian, extremist and terrorist violence. Lastly, though low intensity conflict persists, figures show a consistent decline in violence between India and Pakistan since the 1990s.
Some insist that the theater of war has moved from Kashmir to Afghanistan. In a provocative essay for Brookings, “A Deadly Triangle,” William Dalrymple argued that Afghanistan had become the site of an Indo-Pakistan proxy war. Pakistan’s attitude to India, he explained, is shaped by its fear of being caught in an Indian “nutcracker”: trapped between an age-old enemy to the south and a war-ridden, pro-Delhi state to the north. But such analyses quickly collapse under scrutiny.

India has many interests in Afghanistan, none of which pose existential threats to Pakistan. First, stability in Afghanistan is necessary for regional stability and so preventing the establishment of terror networks in Afghanistan is India’s security priority. Second, in addition to many historical and cultural links, India and Afghanistan’s social and economic ties run deep. They have signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement, which commits India to a host of post-conflict nation-building efforts. It is for this reason that India is among Afghanistan’s largest aid donors. For India, Afghanistan also represents a prestige project: India takes on the role of a generous ally, assumes the mantle of a democracy promoter and wins credit for its assistance with institution building. India’s activities are not entirely benign – Afghanistan’s mineral deposits are worth trillions of dollars and the country serves as a market for Indian goods and services – but nor are they an attempt to encircle Pakistan.

Water, Trade & Talks
Most problematic however, is the tendency to observe the region through Anglo-American spectacles, a distorting lens that emphasizes conflict, militarism and terrorism. This reductive understanding obscures a successful record of co-operation on, among other things, trade, resources and post-conflict strategies.

India and Pakistan have cooperated, long and successfully, over rights to the crucial water-flow from the Indus river system, a treaty that has remained intact since 1960. The two countries have also maintained ties through SAARC, a regional body that encourages interaction in relation to commerce, culture and technology. People-to-people contact is facilitated by India’s granting of ten thousand visas per month. And in the past decade bilateral trade has increased almost six-fold, from $370 million per year to $2.4 billion. Most importantly, the two continue to cooperate on confidence building measures (CBMs) in Kashmir. Singh and Sharif reaffirmed their commitment to CBMs and also agreed, for the first time, to bring senior military officials to the table in the effort to restore the ceasefire.

Cooperation over water, trade and talks has survived changes in government, of various political stripes, on both sides of the border. Analysts are therefore confident of resource and trade-led rapprochement. Economic ties are underpinned by India’s granting of most favored nation status to Pakistan – a conferral of trade benefits – and though unimplemented, Pakistan has pledged to do the same. Conflict risks severing these economic ties, something Pakistan’s economy can ill afford.

Points of contention remain: India and Pakistan persist in a foolish territorial war over the uninhabitable Siachen Glacier and Pakistan’s failure to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks leaves many in doubt about its willingness or ability to combat home-grown terrorists. But these aside, the recent Singh-Sharif talks in New York are a significant achievement. The talks represented a return on the vast political capital both leaders have invested in making Indo-Pakistan relations durable, the two met in the face of shrill domestic opposition and the inclusion of senior military officials in the Kashmir peace process marks major strategic progress. Underpinned by strengthening trade ties, these incremental advances promise the long-awaited return to good relations.

Ram Mashru is a South Asia analyst and freelance journalist published in a range of leading publications on Indian politics, social affairs, human development and international relations. Follow him on Twitter@RamMashru.


India’s Pipeline Diplomacy: Case of Lost Opportunities

October 14, 2013  
ISSSP Reflections No. 4, October 14, 2013

Author: Mr. Sanket Sudhir Kulkarni

Pipeline I
ndia’s pipeline diplomacy over the past year has been a mixed bag. All the existing cross-border pipeline projects, viz Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) Gas Pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline and Myanmar-Bangladesh-India (MBI) Gas Pipeline have made some headway. India’s participation in these projects will contribute towards improving its energy scenario. The Government of India has already identified the importance of natural gas as a major contributor in India’s future energy mix.
Currently, the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) route is being used to procure natural gas from abroad. But, in comparison to the LNG route, pipelines are considered a more viable method of transporting natural gas. This is because the LNG route needs an elaborate infrastructure, at the supplier’s and receiver’s ends, thereby increasing the costs of energy transportation. Despite the obvious advantages of pipeline projects, the existing proposals face challenges owing to the unique geopolitical and security considerations prevalent in South Asia. 
Out of the three proposed pipeline projects, IPI and TAPI would be transiting through the volatile Af-Pak region. Since the early 1980s, this region has been in a constant state of flux thereby raising concern among Indian decision makers. The other project, i.e. the MBI Pipeline Project (Myanmar-Bangladesh-India) was envisaged with a view to bring natural gas from Myanmar via Bangladesh to India.

According to media reports, the Chinese have recently started drawing natural gas from a pipeline emanating from Myanmar. Few years back, a trilateral pipeline between Myanmar, Bangladesh and India was conceived which would have brought natural gas at India’s doorstep, however the deal did not materialise. This may be attributed to prolonged Indo-Bangladesh negotiations without meeting any success. New Delhi’s refusal to accommodate Dhaka’s demands, like allowing Bangladesh to access electricity and trade commodities originating from Bhutan and Nepal to pass through India and implement corrective measures by India to reduce trade imbalances have also believed to have impacted the success of the project.
A cash-starved Myanmar thus chose to sell the available natural gas to China. Among the three cross-border pipelines, the MBI pipeline was least prone to security risks. A comparative analysis of the existing pipeline project proposals in South Asia goes to show that the MBI project would have been a better bet for India and would have ensured a more secure way of meeting India’s burgeoning energy demands in an economically viable manner, with minimal external pressure and security concerns.

Recently, the IPI gas pipeline project meant to bring natural gas from Iran, via Pakistan to India also achieved an important milestone with the resumption of construction on the Pakistani side despite the United States’ opposition regarding Islamabad’s participation in the project. India’s decision making towards participation in the IPI project seems to have come under American pressure, thereby resulting in a gradual shift away from Tehran.  

Another concern which probably discouraged India’s policy makers from joining the IPI project was a lack of assurance from Iran and Pakistan about pipeline security and non-disruption of energy supplies during crises. The recent impasse in Indo-Pak relations due to ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army is a case in point wherein the proposed peace talks got hampered due to untoward border incidents. The prevailing conflict in Balochistan further complicates the situation. 

Instead, the Indian Government joined the TAPI project in the year 2012 and recently signed the Gas Sales and Purchase agreement along with other participating countries which would bring gas from Turkmenistan transiting through Afghanistan, Pakistan and then into India. Like the IPI pipeline, the TAPI pipeline project too suffers from the prospect of instability in the Af-Pak region.

The situation in Afghanistan can greatly deteriorate following the withdrawal of international forces post-2014, thereby making the materialisation of this ambitious project uncertain. Scholars like Uma Purushothaman have questioned the rationality behind India’s decision to join the TAPI project and ignoring the IPI project, when security threats to the TAPI project is much greater in comparison to the IPI project.

One hopes these facts would compel the Indian establishment to introspect on its policy towards cross-border energy projects. On the issue of cross-border pipeline projects, there seems to be a divide among various sections in the government and policy circles. From the perspective of energy security, these projects make perfect sense, but from the geopolitical and security viewpoint, it could result in making India increasingly dependent on supplier and transit countries for its energy security.  

India’s policy formulations towards existing pipeline projects must come under greater scrutiny and compel decision makers to formulate policies in order to create a healthy balance between energy needs and national security priorities. Harmonisation of our security and geopolitical concerns on the one hand and energy needs on the other hand becomes necessary to make up for the lost opportunities in the past. In an era where China is giving stiff competition to India in the race for energy resources, New Delhi’s policies must be geared up to remove impending hurdles and grab available opportunities.  

About the Author
Sanket Sudhir Kulkarni is Ph.D Research Scholar, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. He can be reached at sank.kulkarni[at]gmail.com
Picture Courtesy: India Today

A bureaucracy that governs, not reigns

RAHUL VERMA , Pradeep Chhibber : Wed Oct 16 2013,


Its poor performance contributes to India's governance problem. Political interference is a partial explanation.

The last few months have seen widespread criticism of the Indian state for poor governance. Most commentators place the endemic problems of corruption, slow growth, riots, lack of decision-making, etc at the door of the political class. They may be correct in much of what they have said, but in their rush to castigate politicians, they have overlooked the role the bureaucratic machinery plays in misgoverning India.

The Indian bureaucracy, once regarded as the "steel frame" that supported the British Empire in South Asia, seems to have become rusty. It is no surprise that the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy rated it as one of the "worst" bureaucracies in Asia for bottlenecking key policies, widespread red tapism in everyday affairs, massive corruption, being uninnovative and insensitive, and harbouring generalist officers who lack expertise.
In our view, the oft-cited conclusion that the average IAS or IPS officer can hardly say "no" to a ministerial fiat, and political interference in the administrative structure by way of promotions or transfers, is, at best, a partial explanation of why the bureaucracy is perceived negatively. Bureaucracies around the world are generally slow-moving, rigid and self-perpetuating. It should come as no surprise that the Indian bureaucracy is similar. But two structural features mark it out as worse.

First, the elite bureaucracy hasn't yet squared with the idea of devolution of power. They tend to seek to manage everything or have a role in every policy. This has overburdened the bureaucracy, but not stopped it from accumulating more power. It is hard to find major legislations by the Centre or states where the bureaucracy has not made a role for itself. These bureaucrats, with the best of intentions, seek to make laws they can implement or oversee. But this leads to no one task being done well.

Our observation is that these "good intentions" cannot be implemented because of the tasks the bureaucracy has accumulated for itself, while limiting who can join the club. The lack of governance at the local level, where citizens interact with the administration on an everyday basis, is acute. For instance, district-level officers in most parts of the world are entrusted with multiple tasks.
However, a district collector (DC) in India seems to operate on a completely different scale. A DC is the principal agency of government in matters of general administration in the district. As an administrator, the DC is responsible for postings, transfers and leaves of subordinate officers, supervision of civil suits in which states are a party, and interaction with members of the public. In a magisterial role, the DC is responsible for the maintenance of law and order, supervision of the subordinate magistracy, inspection of police stations and jails, and cases under the preventive section of the Criminal Procedure Code. The DC also grants recommendations, licences and permits.

As a collector, the DC is responsible for supervising the collection of nearly all government dues and revenue, granting government loans and their recovery, the supervision of the treasury and all matters relating to land records and acquisition. As a development officer, the DC is responsible for all relief measures during natural calamities or riots, implementation of anti-poverty programmes, the rationing system and civil supplies in the district, the management of all developmental work in the district, the coordination of all Central and state-sponsored welfare schemes, overseeing MPLADS and MLALADS, and acting as ex-officio chairman of various district-level agencies.

Original Sin 2.0

Oct 15, 2013
A fidayeen is a Terminator figure, without worldly baggage. He is unlike a bank robber who is conducting a raid for money and who will run rather than fight and would like to survive his foray.
Recollections of the complete surprise at Pakistan’s pre-emptive attack in Kargil in 1999 remain deeply etched in India’s collective psyche as a permanent symbol of Pakistan’s perfidy and treachery. After the recent fidayeen attacks and infiltration by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, the question being vociferously voiced is whether the twin incidents at Samba on September 26 and Keran on October 2 can be the precursors of a “Kargil-like” situation?
It would do well to understand that every ceasefire violation and border intrusion in Jammu and Kashmir, whether along the Line of Control or the international border, carries an inbuilt potential for escalation if allowed to pass unchallenged and without response. Kargil is a good example of “Original Sin” in this matter, and unless India is careful, Keran 2013 could turn out similarly as well.

Firm military action by India to eject and eliminate transborder intruders at Samba and Keran has had the desired effect. The extent and intensity of both incidents has been contained and is now on a downward curve, though Keran will continue to simmer for some time.
Major cross-border violations by Pakistan resulting in armed encounters along the Line of Control or the international border are nothing new. However, it has to be noted that the intrusions at Samba and Keran took place within a few days of each other, something difficult to ascribe to sheer coincidence alone. The twin incidents have to be perceived in the possible context of an overall Pakistani grand design to destabilise Kashmir even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh focuses on his own grand design of peace with Pakistan, in spite of a none-too-responsive Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a hostile Pakistani military.
Hence, Samba and Keran are significant and must be considered holistically, because they have several points of military as well as geopolitical commonalities.

Both incidents are interlinked. They are multiple faces of Pakistan’s strategic doctrine of jihad against India, which is being actively pursued in Kashmir. And for want of any official designation, it is sometimes referred to as “death by a thousand cuts”, after the ancient Chinese torture.

The Pakistan Army and its covert operations wing, the Inter-Services Intelligence, has been conducting a long-running campaign of low-intensity warfare against India, focused on Kashmir. Apparently, this is in total defiance of civil political authority represented by Mian Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan’s jihad in Kashmir is over three decades old and includes linkages with the Mumbai terror attacks of November 26, 2008.

A fidayeen raid as at Samba can best be likened to a bank robbery in, say, New Delhi. To stand any chance of success, both would have to occur like thunderclaps out of a clear blue sky, the quintessential surprise attacks, the only major difference being that of the perpetrators and their motivation.
Samba and Keran re-emphasise several important lessons at the functional level, none of which are new or unknown. First and most important is the requirement of timely intelligence without which preventive action to avert terrorist strikes is not possible.

The Samba attack again draws attention to the vulnerable Pathankot-Jammu highway (National Highway 1A) — the strategic jugular connecting Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country — to interdiction by just about every imaginable type of threat launched from Pakistan, ranging from commando type actions by mujahideen groups to air and missile strikes.
NH1A is the lifeline of Jammu and Kashmir, a vital transport artery running close to the international boundary with Pakistan, and always a major vulnerability in the security profile of J&K. It presents an easily accessible target, and has always been one of the major weak spots in the overall defence profile of Kashmir, its air defence in particular.

The Indian Air Force has been frantically raising an alarm about its rapidly diminishing combat assets, but not to any avail. Its modernisation programme — based mainly on acquisitions of new aircraft — was slow enough to begin with. And now it is facing further slowdown after the government’s decision to institute a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) enquiry into anonymous allegations in the case of the Westland Augusta helicopters.
In short, NH1A is another “chicken’s neck” whose strategic significance rivals and often exceeds that of the Siliguri Corridor, at the other end of the country. It is a critical road axis stretched out like a bird on an extended chopping block under the butcher’s uplifted meat cleaver.

In conclusion, a fidayeen is a Terminator figure, without worldly baggage. He is unlike a bank robber who is conducting a raid for money and who will run rather than fight and would like to survive his foray.

A fidayeen is like a dead man walking who is ideologically brainwashed to commit suicide. He is a religious fanatic crazed by jihad, often supplemented by drugs. His focus is to kill as many innocent people before he is hunted down and terminated.
A fidayeen may well be a woman. None have been encountered in India as yet, but that day may not be too far off. This is because Jihad International considers itself an “equal opportunities employer”, where the female of the species is given the chance to prove herself deadlier than the male.

The writer is a former Chief of Army Staff and a former member of Parliament


Soft approach has led to a hard landing

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 | 

Experts say the Indian Army and the political establishment are self-deterred when dealing with Pakistan. Recent incidents along the LoC reflect a lowering of guard and misplaced virtuosity on strategic restraint

One th0ing is clear: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has accepted cohabitation with the Army for regime longevity. It is also clear that the Army will not rock the boat till its red lines are crossed. Both are learning to work within their own space, and in the main will operate on the same page. Mr Sharif can keep shouting from the rooftops that the people will never be overruled again and democracy will prevail, a sentiment Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani recently endorsed. Still, it is the Army which will call the shots. Civilian control of the military is a bridge too far in Pakistan, though the Army has made concessions, permitting Mr Sharif to become the first Prime Minister to visit nuclear installations.

When he took office it was said that three events will determine Mr Sharif’s stature vis a vis the Army: The fate of Gen Pervez Musharraf; the selection of Gen Kayani’s successor; and, picking up the threads of the Lahore Agreement to jump-start India-Pakistan relations. Gen Musharraf has not been humiliated while he continues to face the courts. Eventually, once Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhry retires in December, Gen Musharraf will be allowed to leave Pakistan gracefully. Mr Sharif has so far kept his part of the bargain not to rub Gen Musharraf’s nose on the ground.

On the next Army Chief, reams are being turned out in Pakistan over the line-up and likely successor. In the order of seniority are Lt Gens Haroon Aslam, Rashad Mehmood, Tariq Khan and Zahir ul Islam. Mr Sharif has said he will follow the seniority principle, which is almost scrupulously followed in India. There is no dark horse, but the one about whom much is being made is Tariq Khan, who won fame in Swat. Gen Kayani’s choice is Mr Mehmood. The new chief will be announced next month, concurrent with the appointment of the Joint Chairman, Chiefs of Staff.
The buzz is that Gen Kayani may be appointed National Security Adviser or head of a revamped Chiefs of Staff organisation. More likely he will ride into the sunset to write his memoirs as the first COAS to be granted an extension by a civilian Government. Bitten once, Mr Sharif will be extremely careful in making his choices.

Despite all the right noises, peace with India has eluded Mr Sharif. Having tested the waters, he chose to collude with the Army to vitiate the Line of Control, and simultaneously made peace overtures. He played up to the Punjabi jihadists by resurrecting the Kashmir issue at United Nations General Assembly, while winking at their anti-India ranting at Lahore and Islamabad. He was quick to realise that Mr Manmohan Singh was a lame duck Prime Minister and that he could deliver on nothing. The New York summit last month was, therefore, the stuff of memorabilia.

The Indian maestro at the summit talks was the National Security Adviser, Mr Shiv Shankar Menon, whose low-key, low-profile style masks the tremendous power he exercises in foreign policy. In his briefings to the Indian and the Pakistani media after the summit, he used the word ‘pre-condition’ twice to categorise the significance of restoring ceasefire on the LoC for resuming dialogue, borrowing from the Line of Actual Control the more prescriptive terminology of maintaining ‘peace and tranquility’ on the LoC. Forward movement on dialogue — not the composite dialogue which Pakistan wants — is for all intents and purposes conditional (a term the Indian foreign office is loath to admit) on good behaviour on the LoC by Pakistan’s military establishment, he said.

Last week, the NSA wrote to the Union Ministry of Defence, directing it to initiate DGMO-level talks for maintaining a stable and peaceful LoC in accordance with the Simla Agreement and terms of delineation of the LoC. Para 4(II) of the Simla Agreement reads: “The LoC shall be respected by both sides who undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this line.” Para 6’s reference to ‘establishment of durable peace and normalisation of relations’ conforms to the present advocacy of restoring the sanctity of LoC for resuming dialogue.

Apparently, there is no record in the Indian foreign office of what is referred to as the Cease Fire Agreement of November 26, 2003. The verifiable facts are that the offer was made following back-channel talks by Gen Musharraf under considerable pressure from the Americans and artillery duels along the LoC during and after Operation Parakram. That is why there was no reference to this agreement in New York during the summit or at the media briefings.

Cast in stone is the fact that the CFA held for the best part till 2011-2012. Cross-LoC infiltration, which is the lifeline of the insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir, was first reduced on orders of Gen Musharraf and acknowledged in August 2002 by the then Indian COAS, Gen S Padmanabhan. Later, fencing the anti and counter-infiltration grids aided with technology, higher density of troops and effective politico-military leadership, resulted in bringing down the terrorist population from a high of nearly 3,000 in 2003-2004 to just about 300 today.

Incidents in Keran and Samba and the unprecedented ceasefire violations this year are part of the Pakistan military design to restore the ‘numbers balance’ in order to what Gen Bikram Singh calls, “keep Kashmir simmering”. The beheading of an Indian soldier, ambush of five others, and Keran and Samba incidents this year have kept the LoC unsettled. This is a familiar replay after a pause of instigated violence in J&K to keep the Kashmir dispute in the spotlight. Blaming Pakistan’s Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence for aiding and abetting infiltration which they consider a legitimate mission is superfluous. Gen Singh is demanding the Pakistan military establishment be held accountable. The remedy, largely in his hands, has to be repackaged and employed creatively to impose costs and deterrence — nothing else will work.
Experts say the Indian Army and the political establishment are self-deterred. Keran, Samba and other incidents reflect a lowering of guard, over-cautiousness and lack of offensive defence. This passiveness is a malignant handicap induced by a misplaced virtuosity on strategic restraint. The post-2014 Afghanistan scare scenario is being overplayed. Pakistan’s military establishment will settle for nothing less than a friendly Government in Kabul, which will not materialise too easily. Instead of reacting in Kashmir, we should consider investing resources pre-emptively in Afghanistan.

Tough times lie ahead as the Pakistani Army has identified our reluctance to act tough. Empty threats of ‘consequences’ are like an old record stuck in its groove.

The U.S. Presence in Afghanistan Post-2014: Views of Outside Experts

Sep 19 2013

Full Committee

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The Honorable Michèle Flournoy 
Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense
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General Jack Keane, USA (Ret.) 
Former Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
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Ms. Clare Lockhart 
Director, Institute for State Effectiveness
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Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann 
President, American Academy of Diplomacy
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Development assistance in Afghanistan after 2014

Development assistance in Afghanistan after 2014: from the military exit strategy to a civilian entry strategy

Jair van der Lijn

SIPRI Insights on Peace and Security no. 2013/4

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After the departure of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), delivering development assistance in Afghanistan can return to common practices and procedures used in other insecure areas such as Somalia and Sudan (and already in areas of Afghanistan). This means that the international community must develop a civilian entry strategy and communicate to the Afghan population that civilian entry, not military exit, is its strategy for the future.
Donors should ignore the current commitment to channel 50 per cent of assistance through the central government budget. Instead, in each sector (e.g. health care, education, security) an effective division of labour must be established between the central and provincial governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. Involving NGOs, the private sector and the local population in the delivery of basic services does not have to be at the expense of government control or legitimacy.

International aid donors need to pay further attention to security and rule of law. But alternatives to the current strategy, which is often perceived as being militarized and short-term, have to be found. It is often more effective to integrate these issues into broader development programmes.

The research for this paper was commissioned by Cordaid.


I. Introduction
II. Provision of development assistance after 2014
III. Distribution channels for development assistance
IV. Continuing support to security and rule of law through development assistance
V. Conclusions and recommendations: a civilian entry strategy


Decoding Pakistan's 'Strategic Shift' in Afghanistan Moeed Yusuf

ISBN 978-91-85114-76-4

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When in early 2012 Pakistan touted a major shift in its Afghan policy, the move was cautiously welcomed given the influence—and spoiling power—Pakistan has displayed in Afghanistan in the past. This paper asks exactly what Pakistan's 'strategic shift' entails, what are the motives behind it, and whether it opens any new opportunities for peace in Afghanistan.
This paper is published under the Wider Central Asia Initiative, a two-year SIPRI project to promote and facilitate dialogue among the main external stakeholders in Afghanistan's future. The initiative is funded by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.


1. Introduction
2. The 'strategic shift': from what, to where?
3. The logic behind Pakistan's paradoxical behaviour in the endgame
4. Approaching the ISAF withdrawal: what has Pakistan achieved?
5. Conclusions and the way forward

Related publications

Europe, Afghanistan and the Transatlantic Relationship after 2014, by Erik Brattberg (May 2013)
Iran's Policy on Afghanistan: The Evolution of Strategic Pragmatism, by Bruce Koepke (Sep. 2013)

About the author

Moeed Yusuf (Pakistan) is Senior Pakistan Expert at the United States Institute of Peace and is responsible for managing the Institute's Pakistan programme. His current research focuses on youth and democratic institutions in Pakistan, and policy options to mitigate militancy in the country. He has worked extensively on issues relating to South Asian politics, Pakistan's foreign policy, the Pakistani-US relationship, nuclear deterrence and non-proliferation, and human security and development in South Asia. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming volume South Asia 2060: Envisioning Regional Futures (Anthem Press, 2013). He has also edited a volume on insurgencies and counterinsurgencies in South Asia, scheduled for publication in spring 2014.