13 February 2014

Pranab’s R-Day address is the most honest public expression

Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 07, 2014

President Pranab Mukherjee is a political artist.

His address to the nation on the eve of Republic Day, this year, was a triumph of this artistry.

He spoke about political concepts with deftness, used words nimbly. He sketched, drew, brushed, painted thin and painted thick. Let us look at the picture he gave us.

Like all artists, he must have kept others’ examples, other Presidents’ examples, in mind. The valuationally restive Rajendra Prasad spoke with a controlled intensity. The Upanishadically-charged S Radhakrishnan spoke with the detached confidence of wisdom, the thoughtful Zakir Husain’s words came from pure-heartedness, and, in more recent times, a brooding KR Narayanan gave the nation grave, even pained, messages. “Beware”, President Narayanan said, “of the fury of the patient man”.

President Mukherjee introspects no less than these great predecessors of his. And he knows the impact that a President’s ‘open introspections’ can exercise over the country’s mind. And so, in his Republic Day address this year, when he spoke about corruption, about elections, about the dangers of anarchy, he did what he knew was expected of him.

He gave us this proposition: “Corruption is a cancer that erodes democracy”. Who would disagree with that? No one. But anyone and everyone would wonder: Surely corruption does more than that, does worse than that. When it infiltrates the ranks of our bureaucracy, our magistracy, our media, our corporates, our educational system and even the impeccable cloisters of our armed forces with audacity, corruption is gross. It corrodes the core of civilised nationhood — trust.

It undermines faith in all our institutions, those that create governments as well as those that sustain the limbs of society. Corruption mutilates confidence in the fairness of our swaraj. It reduces the accessing of entitlements to a scramble, faith in our Republic to a gamble.

We still have the ‘pure’ in India, though not in politics. We have the clean, even in politics, the not so dirty and the dirty. Then we have in Indian politics those that are worse than the dirty. They are the downright filthy. This is the politico who with the mafiosi’s help pushes drugs, buys and sells illegal arms, mines coal and ore clandestinely, compromises the police and the bureaucracy routinely and can have Right To information activists bumped off.

The Abe visit boosts bilateral ties

India, Japan agree to craft a stable balance of power in Asia

G. Parthasarathy

WHEN Prime Minister Narasimha Rao embarked on his "Look East" policy as India moved from an era of socialistic stagnation to economic liberalisation, his primary aim was to accelerate economic growth by integrating India's economy with the fastest growing economies in East and Southeast Asia. The primary focus of attention was on closer economic integration with ASEAN members across the Bay of Bengal with Myanmar acting as the land bridge to these countries. The relationship with Japan remained stagnant because of strong Japanese objections to India's nuclear programme and tests in 1998.

Just over 15 years later, India's relations with Japan are blossoming. This was evident in the reception accorded to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he was the chief guest at this year's Republic Day celebrations. Japan has for too long chosen to remain on the sidelines, on issues pertaining to regional security, as some of its neighbours and even allies like the US, never tired of reminding it, of alleged atrocities in World War II. But leaders like Prime Ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe believe that the present generation of Japan need no longer feel inhibited in playing a role commensurate with the immense economic power and military potential of their country. While linked to the US in a military alliance, the Japanese feel that recent American actions indicate that the two countries are not entirely on the same page on how to respond to growing Chinese aggressiveness on its maritime borders with South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. China has not hesitated to use force in asserting its maritime border claims with Vietnam and more recently the Philippines.

Tensions between Japan and China have escalated sharply over the disputed Senkaku Islands, which have been under Japanese control since 1895. The US-Japanese Defence Treaty covers defence of these islands. Provocative Chinese maritime actions near these Islands and beyond, together with a unilateral Chinese declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) require all foreign aircraft flying across the East China Sea to identify themselves to the Chinese authorities. These actions have raised serious concerns. The Chinese ADIZ unilaterally extends Chinese sovereignty over the East China Sea. It challenges Japan's sovereignty over the Senkaku islands. Unlike India, which responds meekly to Chinese intrusions, Japan has reacted strongly to Chinese provocations.

The Abe government has commenced strengthening its already formidable defence forces. On December 12, 2013, Japan announced a new five-year plan aimed at filling gaps in its defence in the event of a military conflict with China. The defence buildup includes the acquisition of maritime surveillance aircraft, mobile fighting vehicles, aerial refuelling aircraft and advanced fifth generation fighter jets. On December 18 Japan hosted a significant regional summit, attended by nine of 10 the ASEAN Heads of Government. A Japanese aid package of $ 20 billion was announced. The summit declaration was critical of Chinese policies asserting the "importance of maintaining peace and stability in the region, promoting maritime security, freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce by exercise of self-restraint and resolution of disputes by peaceful means". Japan and ASEAN also agreed to strengthen maritime cooperation to meet these objectives.


Thursday, 13 February 2014 |

While diplomats from New Delhi and Beijing talk about border issues, Chinese engineers continue to firm up plans to divert the Brahmaputra river. This is despite assurances that the project has been shelved

Recently, India had the 17th round of talks with China on the Sino-Indian border. Mr Shivshankar Menon, the National Security Adviser (and Special Representative) and Mr Yang Jiechi, his Chinese counterpart, discussed not only the possibility of fixing the 4,057km frontier, but also common strategic issues. Before the routine exercise, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin explained: “The Special Representatives are expected to focus their discussion for a framework for the resolution of the boundary.” He added: “The two Representatives will also discuss the bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.” That sounds good, especially as a fifth meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on the India-China border affairs was also held at the Joint Secretary level, in Mr Akbaruddin’s words, “To review recent development on the India-China border areas especially the western sector and the implementation of Border Defense Cooperation Agreement.”

Unfortunately, while diplomats talk, Chinese engineers continue to plan to divert waters from the Brahmaputra. During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing in October 2013, the Chinese and Indian Ministries of Water Resources inked a Memorandum of Understanding on Strengthening Cooperation on Trans-border Rivers. The MoU says: “The Chinese side agreed to extend the data provision period of the Brahmaputra River [Yarlung Tsangpo].” The Indian side was delighted; China had generously increased the period for providing hydrological information on the Brahmaputra River from May 15 (instead of June 1) to October 15 of the same year. Frankly, this amounts to little when there was not a word about the planned diversion of the Brahmaputra’s waters. Of course, South Block can argue that the project has been denied by China.

In October 2011, Mr Jiao Yong, China’s Vice Minister of Water Resources, told a Press conference in Beijing that although there was a demand in China to use waters of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra), “considering the technical difficulties, the actual need of diversion and the possible impact on the environment and state-to-state relations, the Chinese Government has no plan to conduct any diversification project in this river”. A month earlier, returning from the UN General Assembly on September 27, Prime Minister Singh in one high-flying interaction with the media affirmed: “I have myself raised this issue with both the President as well as the Prime Minister of China on a number of occasions. They have assured us that they are not doing anything which will be detrimental to the interests of India.” Already in 2006, the Water Resource Minister, Mr Wang Shucheng, had publicly stated that the proposal was “unnecessary, unfeasible and unscientific. There is no need for such dramatic and unscientific projects.”


Thursday, 13 February 2014 | Hiranmay Karlekar

The Lok Sabha election should hopefully yield a strong Government that will firmly back Sheikh Hasina and her crackdown on fundamentalists in Bangladesh

India faces a grim security environment as it prepares for Lok Sabha election scheduled later this year. Americans would be leaving Afghanistan by the end of 2014. A danger that cannot be discounted is that of the Taliban and Al Qaeda taking over the country with the help of Pakistan. This will take till about 2016 to happen — if it does at all — as there will be resistance. Mohammad Najibullah held the Mujahideen at bay until 1992 even though Soviet troops had withdrawn completely from Afghanistan by February 1989.

Once Afghanistan falls, Pakistan, its terrorist creations like the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, and the Al Qaeda and Taliban will escalate their unconventional war through terrorism against India (see Syed Saleem Shahzad's Inside Al Qaeda and the Taliban) to the point where it escalates into a conventional war, which in turn will carry the threat of a nuclear blackmail by Pakistan.

Things would have been grimmer if the Awami League had lost power in Bangladesh. A Government led by Begum Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party and elements of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, would have been a disaster for India, toward which both are pathologically hostile. The Jamaat is banned from contesting election as Bangladesh's judiciary has held its fundamentalist Islamist ideology violative of the canons of secularism enshrined in the country's Constitution. Its members, however, could have contested under the BNP's electoral umbrella or as independent candidates.

Meanwhile, attempts to pressure Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina into holding another, and what is being described as more inclusive and credible, election to the National Parliament, continue, albeit with diminishing conviction. It is another matter that the implied oblique reference to the election already held is breathtaking; it was the BNP's choice not to participate in these and it stuck to its guns despite persistent efforts, including by diplomats of countries now demanding a new election, to reverse its stand. Equally, the widespread violence that kept the polling relatively low was the work of the Jamaat and the BNP, not the Awami League.

There is, therefore, no reason why the Awami League should hold a fresh election. In fact, there is every reason for it to rule for the next five years, ensure punishment of the war criminals who perpetrated unspeakable atrocities during the 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan, neutralise the pro-Taliban and Al Qaeda Islamist terrorist groups spawned by the Jamaat, which threaten not only the country's secular, democratic polity but the whole of South Asia, even the whole world. 9/11 and 26/11 have underlined the devastating effectiveness of long-distance terrorism.

India must continue to stand unflinchingly by Ms Hasina for the Awami League to do all this. It is Delhi's resolute support that helped her considerably to withstand relentless pressure, first to hold the elections under a Government that did not have her as Prime Minister, and then to postpone it to allow more time for persuading BNP to participate, and finally, to call for a new election as soon as possible. India's stand was in its own, Bangladesh's and the entire world's interest. To continue playing such a role-and also to intervene effectively in Afghanistan to prevent a Taliban Al Qaeda takeover, it must have, post-Lok Sabha poll, a Government that is strong and committed enough to cope with the challenges facing it. For this, it needs either a single party Government sworn to India's security and greatness or a cohesive coalition with the same goals and a pre-dominant constituent as the guarantor of its stability. A ruling coalition of squabbling parties without a common national perspective and pulling in different directions will be a disaster.


US Disputes Indian Solar Power Policy At WTO

A U.S. complaint over India’s solar program is the second of its kind in a year.

February 12, 2014

India and the United States are engaged in a trade dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) after the U.S. filed a complaint that India unlawfully restricts imports of solar equipment by requiring indigenous manufacturers to use domestically made solar cells and modules. According to Bloomberg, the complaint is the second lodged by the United States “against what it called India’s ‘unfair barrier to U.S. exports’ of solar components.” India’s solar program aims to lessen the impact of chronic energy shortages in the country and expects to double India’s renewable energy output by 2017.

Indian Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher stated in response to the complaint that India’s “current policy is WTO-compliant.” He also noted that India would participate in consultations on the matter should the United States initiate them. India’s Commerce Minister, Anand Sharma, added that the import restrictions on solar equipment are justified because phase II of India’s solar program includes major government subsidies and public money shouldn’t be used to pay for imports.

“These domestic content requirements discriminate against U.S. exports by requiring solar power developers to use India- manufactured equipment instead of U.S. equipment. These unfair requirements are against WTO rules, and we are standing up today for the rights of American workers and businesses,” U.S. trade representative (USTR) Michael Froman told reporters.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s Livemint, this is the second dispute over India’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. The U.S. Trade Representative issued its first complaint against India’s solar program in February 2013 and requested consultations over its first stage.

The trade dispute comes shortly after a diplomatic row that began in December 2013 over the arrest and treatment of an Indian diplomat in New York City. The ensuing spat brought U.S.-India ties to their lowest point since India tested a nuclear device in 1998. The United States’ image in India declined significantly amid public protests and a broad media campaign criticizing the manner in which American authorities handled the arrest of the diplomat. Following that incident, several U.S. delegations were forced to cancel scheduled visits to India and diplomatic ties suffered.

India's Indigenous Nuclear Submarine, Agni-V ICBM Set To Launch In 2015

India’s DRDO confirmed that its new SSBN and ICBMs are on schedule for 2015.

February 11, 2014

Last Friday, India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said that that India’s first indigenously developed nuclear submarine, theINS Arihant, and the 5,000 km-range Agni-5 ballistic missile will be operational and ready for use in the armed forces in 2015. DRDO chief Avinash Chander confirmed that he was confident that the submarine and the missile would both be ready by next year at India’s biennial defense exposition Defexpo.

The Arihant is a 6,000 ton nuclear-power ballistic missile submarine and is the first of five planned ships in its class. It is powered by an 83 MW pressurized light-water reactor, which operates with enriched uranium fuel.Arihant’s inclusion in the Indian Navy will solidify India’s bid to field a credible nuclear triad. The Arihant will be equipped with the12 nuclear-tipped variants of the K-15 underwater ballistic missile, which was tested in January 2013. The K-15 (also known as the BO-5) has a range of around 750 km.

The Agni-V is a three-stage, solid fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of 5,500-5,800 km. According to Livemint, the Agni-V is the most advanced iteration of the Agni series of ICBMs with “new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.”

The Agni-V has already been test-fired from mobile launchers successfully. Earlier reports from 2013 indicated that India is reconfiguring the Agni-V to carry Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs), essentially allowing it to carry multiple nuclear warheads. The Times of India notes that the Agni-V “brings the whole of China within its strike envelope.”

The INS Arihant was delayed going into its sea trials after its reactor went critical last August. ”The submarine is undergoing the power-raising (in the miniature nuclear reactor) phase, which I am sure will be completed in a month or two. Thereafter, it will go for sea trials. The K-15 missiles (nuclear-tipped with a 750 km strike range) are fully ready and will be tested from the submarine this year,” Chander confirmed.

Reform Is a Dirty Word in India

Without a party committed to a reform agenda, India will struggle to realize its potential.

By David J. Karl
February 11, 2014

India’s difficulty in advancing serious economic reforms is ultimately due to the lack of a home-grown intellectual tradition that can underpin them. The Congress Party, long a bastion of statist thinking, is proof of this proposition. But fresh evidence comes courtesy of the Aam Aadmi (“Common Man”) party, the rising anti-establishment movement that oddly combines an emphasis on clean government with backward economic views.

In far too many quarters, the reforms adopted during the 1991 economic calamity are regarded as the modern equivalent of the British East India Company, something imposed on the country by overwhelming external forces. Thus, no political leader of any note embraces reform as a concept and when it occurs nonetheless, it is usually the product of technocratic subterfuge. As business leader turned public intellectual Gurcharan Das noted the other week, India is bereft of “a liberal party that openly trusts markets and focuses on economic and institutional reform.”

This void accounts for a number of striking paradoxes. India has made a name for itself as a mainstay of the global technology sector, yet remains one of the world’s least globalized economies. A new study ranks it 123rd out of 139 countries – and 8th out of 12 in the South and Central Asia region – when it comes to various dimensions of global connectedness. Likewise, India ranks 100th out of 132 countries on the World Economic Forum’s global enabling trade index.

Another paradox: As finance minister back then, Manmohan Singh famously inaugurated the 1991 reform era by quoting French novelist Victor Hugo: “No power on Earth can stop an idea whose time has come.” Yet as the incumbent prime minister he was all but mute when the 20th anniversary of these reforms came around and now gives every sign of being trapped in Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play, Waiting for Godot.

Singh, who is ending his time in office, has received much criticism for what The Economist terms ”Brezhnev-grade complacency.” But the real source of India’s travails is much more entrenched. The Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty running Singh’s Congress Party has a long history of anti-business sentiment. Jawaharlal Nehru reportedly once told J.R.D. Tata that he considered “profit” to be a dirty word. The 1991 reforms created great dissension within Congress, with the party’s own newspaper lambasting them as doing little more than giving “the middle-class Indian crispier corn flakes or fizzier aerated drinks.” “That,” the paper wrote, “could never have been the vision of the founding fathers of our nation.” And the party has devoted much of its time in power over the past decade instituting expensive, market-distorting social welfare schemes instead of productivity-enhancing measures.


16 January 2014 

Seminar Report 

Inaugural Session 

The Director welcomed all present and briefly spoke on the need to have both conflict prevention measures as well as conflict resolution measures in place, if India was to achieve her rightful place in the comity of nations. While the Indian Army is capable of dealing with conflict situations, steps must be taken to improve justice delivery mechanisms, social and economic equity norms as conflict prevention measures. He also briefly touched upon the need to improve defence preparedness through improved decision-making processes and indigenisation in the defence industry. Thereafter, the Director read out the address by the Honourable Lt Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lt Gen AK Singh, as the Lt Governor could not attend due to a sudden bereavement in his family. 

Address of Lt Gen AK Singh, Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands (As read out by the Director) 

Ex Chiefs, Director CLAWS, members of the strategic community, academia, industry and media, ladies and gentlemen.

Rapid Strides in Indigenous Defence Industry

Col Ashwani Gupta

Rapid Strides in Indigenous Defence Industry
Ashwani Gupta

The high participation of private firms at the Defence Expo from 6 to 9 Feb 2014 at New Delhi is an indicator of the enlarging footprint of the Indian defence industry. A wide array of equipment, ranging from vehicles, radar systems, 155 mm guns, remotely controlled sensors, missiles to helicopters and aircraft highlights the growing interest of the private sector in defence production. A responsive and participative private defence industry base will ensure that quality equipment will be available to the armed forces in the required timeframe and at affordable cost. They will no longer be dependent on the “take what is available” syndrome dictated by the defence PSUs.It is common knowledge that much of the equipment has been in the development stage for decades at DRDO or the defence PSUs and is yet to reach production level. Tejas fighter aircraft and Arjun tank are two examples of timeless research and development. Also, on display are a large number of indigenous components which can form the backbone of a robust repair chain in future so that the armed forces will not be dependent totally on the foreign companies especially during the repair or overhaul stage.

The reconnaissance and surveillance segment has two major systems on display; the first is a vehicle mounted surveillance system by Mahindra Telephonics, which can detect a moving target upto a range of 12 km and a vehicle upto 30 km. Effective within 15 minutes of deployment, the system can have a useful employment along our porous borders. The second is a remote controlled, ground reconnaissance vehicle having an operational range of 50 km being developed by Kalyani Forge. Three 155 mm indigenous artillery guns, TRAJAN of L&T, BHARAT-52 of Kalyani Forge and Dhanush developed by OFB are a first step towards achieving in-house self-sufficiency. A capable indigenously manufactured 155 mm gun will be able to accelerate artillery’s modernisation programme and have a profound impact on own combat effectiveness. Also on display is a vehicle mounted 105 mm gun, GARUDA. Having a range of over 14 km and a fire and move capability, it may render the infantryman’s artillery, the 81 mm mortar, an outdated concept in the coming years. A battery of these guns as an integral part of an infantry battalion can alter the conduct of the contact phase of the battle.

Survivability enhancing systems on display like the TATAs APC, a mine protection vehicle (MPV) and Mahindra’s MPVI are already in service with units in Naxal-affected states. Improved small team protection platforms like the Scorpio based Marksman vehicle or the new RakshakPlus are available at affordable prices and comparable with any equivalent platform. The TATAs wheeled amphibious vehicle, Kestrel, developed jointly with DRDO may cater to the requirements of the armed forces in near future. The troop mobility platforms feature the new Ashok Leyland, GARUDA, equivalent to existing 2.5 tonvehicle and the improved Stallion 6x6 besides a 10x10 stallion vehicle capable of carrying upto 42 tons of palletised load. Personal protection gear features an improved helmet, manufactured by TATA Advanced Materials effective against a 9mm round unlike the present FRP helmet, besides, other protection equipment like lightweightbulletproof jackets.

Infrastructure Challenges in India: The Role of Public-Private Partnerships

Geethanjali Nataraj
10 February 2014 

Issue No. 49 

The lack of proper infrastructure pulls down India's GDP growth by 1-2 per cent every year. This Paper gives an overall perspective on the infrastructure challenges facing the country. It argues that public investment will have to be supplemented by private sector investments, in PPPs, to boost the physical infrastructure sector in the country. 

How India lives

The improvement in key indicators of living conditions such as housing, drinking water, sanitation and hygiene has not encompassed the entire population, says the latest NSSO survey. By ROSHIN MARY GEORGE

DO you know that nearly 60 per cent of rural households in India did not have latrine facilities as late as 2012? Or that over 50 per cent of households in rural India had to travel for about half a kilometre to fetch drinking water? However, it is heartening to note that 94.2 per cent and 71.3 per cent of the households in rural and urban India respectively had secured tenure in 2012. And that, at the all-India level, only 10.8 per cent of urban dwelling units were situated in slums.

This information was gleaned by the 69th round of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) in its nationwide survey on “Drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, and housing condition in India” conducted from July to December 2012, covering 4,475 villages and 3,522 urban blocks.

Drinking water

The survey found that 86 per cent and 89.5 per cent of households in rural India and urban India respectively got sufficient water throughout the year.

“Improved source of drinking water” is an indicator for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Many households attempt to improve the quality of the water they drink by adopting various methods for treating it. It was observed that 88.5 per cent of the rural and 95.3 per cent of the urban households had improved source of drinking water in 2012.

As opposed to 76.8 per cent of the households in urban India, 46.1 per cent of the households in rural India got drinking water within their premises, and 50.2 per cent and 21.1 per cent of the households in rural and urban India respectively had to travel less than half a kilometre to fetch drinking water. Members of rural households had to wait, on an average, 15 minutes and members of urban households 16 minutes in a day at the principal source of drinking water.

How did Reimagining India come about?

By Justin McDonnell
February 06, 2014

The dialog about India around the world had deteriorated significantly and was being driven by headlines. We wanted to have a broader and more positive dialog about India that highlighted the issues but also the opportunities, and suggested ideas for achieving India’s potential. We believe 65 different voices writing short essays would help reach a wider audience. We were fortunate to bring together an unprecedented group of leading thinkers from around the world to write, which was very exciting. Two years ago, McKinsey & Company’s Japan office did something similar with Reimagining Japan successfully.

Among the array of essays in your book, you’ve included contributions from a classical dancer and a chess master. Could you tell us a little bit about their insights and how they reimagine India?

There is a dedicated chapter of nine essays on “India’s soft power” which discusses cricket, chess, food, and dance. The authors talk about the huge goodwill that these art forms have created for India by their global acceptance. Viswanathan Anand, past chess champion, talks about his drive to get more people in India interested in taking up chess and how he has succeeded. Harsha Bhogle describes how it took 15 years of low performances by India to emerge as a genuine cricket superpower. Jerry Pinto describes how Bollywood is popular and impacts the life of Indians around the world.

Taking on Taliban

Pakistan: With the repeated targeting of the Army in North Waziristan and the recent terror attacks elsewhere in the country, the government seems to have little option but to go in for a military operation against the Taliban. By MEENA MENON in Islamabad

IT WAS an enterprise doomed from the start. When the All Parties Conference (APC) held on September 9, 2013, gave the government the green signal for dialogue with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), there was a surge of hope for peace. Subsequent events proved that it was short-lived. A week after the APC, militants killed two Army officers in Upper Dir district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. This was followed by a spate of bombings in Peshawar, including a suicide attack on a church, killing over 80 persons at Sunday prayers. Yet, the government persisted with its efforts at mediation, and just as it was planning to send a team of negotiators to meet TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, he was killed in a drone strike on November 1, 2013. An outraged Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was swift to pin the blame on the United States for deliberately snuffing out what was the start of a peace dialogue. Events since then have indicated that dialogue with the TTP, over which there was much scepticism anyway, will be difficult. Incidents in the new year have effectively put an end to that process for now.

The government is weighing targeted military strikes in the tribal areas, as discussed in a recent high-level security meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The military had resorted to targeted operations in December after the attack on a check post in North Waziristan. But in the wake of two bomb blasts recently, in Bannu Cantonment and near the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, in a rare use of air power it bombed militant hideouts in North Waziristan and killed over 40 militants, including four Taliban leaders. Thirty-three of those killed were Uzbek nationals and three were Germans.

The government has still kept the dialogue option open, but by now it is clear that there is little to talk about. The former Army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who attended the APC, was on the same page as the government and had, in a public statement, made his position clear, favouring dialogue. But the repeated targeting of the Army in North Waziristan and the recent terror attacks have prompted the military to show readiness for what could be a full-fledged operation, backed by the federal government, against the Taliban.

What Is Hamid Karzai Thinking?

And should we even care anymore?

February 10, 2014

For years, a debate has raged in Washington: Is Hamid Karzai on another planet?

Lately, those who think Afghanistan’s mercurial president has left this earthly plane have had the upper hand. Much recent reporting paints a picture of a paranoid man sequestered in his palace, fuming over American slights, threatening to release dozens of terrorist suspects from prison and plotting to join forces with the Taliban.

All this comes against the backdrop of U.S.-Afghan preparations to make 2014 the year of transition to full Afghan control of their own destiny, a goal President Karzai has repeatedly embraced. A key first step would be endorsing the already completed U.S.-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement permitting a modest number of American troops to stay beyond the 2014 withdrawal deadline—but Karzai has adamantly refused to sign. Meanwhile, Karzai’s fulminations comparing the United States to a “colonial power” and his denunciation of NATO have drawn warm praise from the Taliban. All this for a man through whom the United States has funneled nearly $100 billion in aid, to say nothing of the billions that have been spent trying to stabilize his country.

So, what is Karzai up to?

To answer that question, let’s first remember that Hamid Karzai is a politician. And while he’s not running in the Afghan presidential campaign that began Monday, Feb. 3, he does seem to be maneuvering for future relevance, drawing on his period in office and on his tribal status as leader of the important Pashtun Popalzai tribe in southern Afghanistan. Karzai may see the predominantly Pashtun Taliban gaining strength after the U.S. withdrawal, reckoning that he has much to gain and little to lose by bashing America. And becoming a more vocal critic of the United States obfuscates the American support that lifted him into the presidency after 9/11.

J&K Pakistan’s Kashmir dilemma

12 February 2014
Shujaat Bukhari
Editor, Rising Kashmir

When Pakistan officially observed February 5 as ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ Wednesday last, the atmosphere was more euphoric this time. The main reason could be the transition of power from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to Pakistan Muslim League (N) headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PPP government was not averse to Pakistan’s Kashmir cause but since it was heavily burdened with security challenges in the country, it could not devote much time towards this fundamentally important issue for Pakistan.

Except for getting the hard-core constituency involved in the renewed Kashmir ‘strategy’, though only at the public posturing level, Nawaz Sharif has also been treading a cautious path since he took over in May last year. Right from his campaigning to initial statements as Prime Minister, he did not sound belligerent vis-a-vis India. He invoked the 1999 Lahore Declaration, of which he and the former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee were the architects, to pick up the threads on the peace process. He did not come clear on Pakistan’s Kashmir policy and continued to go in circles, singing the peace tune for resolving all outstanding problems with India.

However, at the same time he did not oppose any hardliner as well. Since Nawaz Sharif owes his return to power partly to extremists in Pakistan, he continues to keep his Kashmir policy under wraps except a few pronouncements mainly when he is in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK). When he was quoted as having cautioned about a fourth possible war in case Kashmir was not resolved, during a meeting of Kashmir Council in Muzaffarabad, his office not only denied it but also suspended three officials responsible for the “leak”.

Nawaz Sharif has left the questions on Kashmir mainly to be fielded by his Foreign Policy Adviser Sartaj Aziz and others. He tries to distance himself from making a direct or meaningful reference over Kashmir when it matters a lot. And to re-infuse official confidence on days like February 5 is no more than posturing to keep Pakistan’s Kashmir constituency as well as separatists in Valley in good humour. There is no denying the fact that Pakistan is a principle party to Kashmir dispute and its involvement in final resolution cannot be ignored and is rather inevitable. 

But the way Islamabad has been handling Kashmir during past 65 years is full of flaws and backward moments. With reference to KSD, Pakistan’s leading English newspaper Dawn observed in its editorial that the country’s K-policy has all along been dominated by the security establishment. “Even as Kashmir Day was observed on Wednesday, few people realised the enormous damage done to the cause of Kashmir’s freedom by Pakistan’s past cultivation of non-state actors. True, some political governments were mindful of the hazards inherent in such a policy but they were helpless in the face of the military’s stiff opposition to their views. The generals insisted that they alone knew how to run Pakistan’s security policy. Conceding this point meant handing over to the army the gamut of security issues from Afghanistan and Kashmir to N-weapons” the paper wrote in its hard hitting editorial on February 7.

Pakistan: Prospects for 2014

12 Feb , 2014

The conflict within Pakistan has multiple dimensions. Three of Pakistan’s four provinces, Baluchistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continue to be plagued by violence, and FATA is, for the most part, outside the control of the state. With Pakistan’s Punjab province increasingly being subjected to terrorist attacks, some form of terrorist violence now affects the whole country. While terrorism within Pakistan is not a new phenomenon, what gives the current narrative reasons for increased concern is the multiplicity of threats against the state, which cannot but bode ill for its stability.

While terrorism within Pakistan is not a new phenomenon, what gives the current narrative reasons for increased concern is the multiplicity of threats against the state, which cannot but bode ill for its stability.

Insurgency and terrorism through the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has not only not been controlled, but the militants appear to be on the ascendant; sectarian violence is creating deeper schisms between the majority Sunni and minority Shia populace of Pakistan, and also between the Deobandhi and Barelvi factions within the larger Sunni group. Insurgency in Baluchistan remains worrying, with Karachi, the heart of the country’s economy, in flames. The message emanating from opinion makers and thought leaders in Pakistan appears increasingly gloomy and pessimistic. Consider just two statements from the many, which have emanated from the Pakistani media over the last fortnight.

Ejaz Haider is caustic when he states…“Let no words be minced. The rats are winning. They are winning the war psychologically and ideologically. That is always the essence in any war but more so of irregular wars.”[1] Aasim Zafar Khan says much the same thing… ‘Thirty attacks. In 24 days. And that’s assuming there won’t be one today and tomorrow when this column appears in the paper. Must be some kind of new grisly record. And yet, the state remains deep in an opiate slumber.[2]

But what of the thought leaders of Pakistan[3]. As per Riffat Hussain, academic and security analyst, Pakistan’s foremost challenge in 2014 is ‘the poor health of the economy with stagnant exports, rising imports, dwindling foreign exchange reserves, a depreciating rupee, severely reduced FDIs, crippling energy shortages and galloping inflation. Unless the government makes a concerted effort to reverse these negative trends on a war footing, the country’s social stability cannot be guaranteed’.

Drugs and the Golden Triangle: Renewed Concerns for Northeast India

February 10, 2014 

India has been working on plans of building economic corridors in Northeast India’s neighborhood to boost foreign trade and to give the economy the much needed leap forward. Execution of these plans is crucial to achieve the goals of India's Look-East policy.

Northeast India can develop, prosper and eventually overcome its troubles by engaging eastern foreign neighbours. Especially with the recent agreement on the Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor blueprint, India can access markets in China's west and southwest, through the Northeastern borders. Yunnan, the neighbouring province in China is the network hub for trade and connectivity with the rest of the country. Equally important for Northeast India is the regional connectivity under the sub-regional and regional cooperation such as ASEAN, SAARC, and the Greater Mekong Sub-region Cooperation (GMS). That said, a word of caution is appropriate to understand the ugly behemoth of narcotics trafficking intertwined with ethnic insurgencies in the neighbouring Golden Triangle. Huge quantities of illicit narcotics can easily ride the new access routes of greater connectivity and can blow up already existing issues of secured human health and wellbeing of society.

India’s security strategy for the economic corridors and connectivity will have to entail water tight anti-drugs control measures and mechanisms to snuff out the possibilities of surges in narcotics trafficking that may result from better connectivity and established networks of peoples across the region.

Bordering Myanmar to the east are the four Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. Each state’s data from the National AIDS Control Organisation reports show high numbers of HIV-related diseases and volumes of drug trafficking. Narcotics and contraband firearms are regularly trafficked across the unmanned border as the routes of western Myanmar are controlled by India’s north-east insurgents. In recent years, Manipur has witnessed huge quantities of contraband high Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride (PH)-content drugs, manufactured in India, being trafficked into Myanmar for processing narcotics especially heroin. The thriving ethnic insurgencies of Manipur with their own “tax structure” help to exacerbate the problem. Pseudoephedrine is smuggled from New Delhi to Myanmar and China via Guwahati by conduits based in Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram (See Figure I)

Figure I: Flow of Drugs in the Golden Triangle and Northeast India

Source: Namrata Goswami

Traditionally, the Golden Triangle is a region between the borders of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand; a famous region for its opium production. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) latest Southeast Asia Opium Survey 2013, opium cultivation in the Golden Triangle went up by 22 per cent in 2013 propelled by a 13 per cent growth in Myanmar. This registered a 26 per cent rise from 2012 in opium cultivation and yield.1 A decade ago, the Golden Triangle supplied half the world’s heroin, but drug barons backed by ethnic militias in Myanmar have turned to trafficking massive quantities of amphetamines and methamphetamines – “which can be produced cheaply in small, hidden laboratories, without the need for acres of exposed land”2 and these narcotics now dominate the Myanmar part of the Triangle. Insurgencies in Myanmar have been funded by narcotics trafficking. Cease-fires with the civilian government of Myanmar have left rebel groups free to continue their manufacturing and smuggling without interference. Since insurgencies based on purely ethnic issues are on the way out, high profits and access to the lucrative Thai and foreign markets now drive narcotics production and trafficking. The Myanmar government can do little to counter drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle as traffickers are well organized Chinese syndicates operating from outside Myanmar.3

Myanmar and the Geopolitics of the Bay of Bengal

K. Yhome
10 February 2014 

Issue No. 68 

The opening up of Myanmar has added a new strategic value to the Bay of Bengal. Isolated for decades, Myanmar is actively engaging the world's major players in redefining its geopolitical identity today. This has further encouraged naval exchanges, exploration of energy resources and development of connectivity infrastructure in a vital littoral of the Bay. 

Sri Lanka: Sobitha thero’s Advances and Retreats

Guest column by Dr. Kumar David

Venerable Maduluwave Sogitha thero is a highly respected Buddhist monk and chief incumbent of the Kotte Naga Vihare. He is particularly well known for a campaign on good governance and a group under his leadership also produced a set of proposals to amend the constitution.

The key element in the proposals was the abolition of the Executive Presidency. Furthermore it has long been rumoured that he was a potential candidate for a short-term presidency, purely to push through constitutional changes after which he intends to leave the political scene altogether.

Therefore it was quite sensational when he gave an interview to a Tamil paper confirming his readiness to go ahead with this commitment. The interview, to a bright young journalist E. Jayaooriyan, received full page coverage in the Sunday Thinakural newspaper (Tamil) of 2 February, URL:

This is the most significant political interview of the last 6 months, a stunner. I rubbed my eyes and had some difficulty, so I made it a point to meet Jayasooriyan and ask him: “Even if the therodid say all this, did he agree to have it published? Is he OK about going public?” Young J assured me that Sobitha had no problem in publicising his views. My conversation with J took place in the presence of the Editor, Sunday Thinakural and the Chief Editor. I have complete confidence in what Jayasooriyan told me.

Abolishing the Executive Presidency

Sobitha hamuduruwo said two things, one a significant and timely intervention, but the other was a volcano. The significant intervention was when he asserted: ‘Yes I am ready to stand as a Single-Issue (SI) presidential candidate, but if a former Chief Justice or a former President is interested, no problem, I am happy to step aside. I will serve for six months only within which time I will abolish the Executive Presidency (EP) and institute a parliamentary system by constitutional methods. The roots of bribery, corruption, nepotism and bad governance lie in EP”.

Sea change of China power

Rory Medcalf and C Raja Mohan
11 February 2014

The Chinese navy's recent foray into the waters between Indonesia and Australia is one more milestone in Beijing's increasingly bold maritime posture in the Indo-Pacific. 

The three-ship exercise was also a wake-up call to anyone still doubting China's long-term intention to be able to project force in the Indian Ocean. 

This demands new kinds of maritime security dialogue and practical surveillance co-operation among the region's maritime democracies, including Australia, Indonesia and India. 

There was no warning of the exercise, but no lack of transparency in the subsequent Chinese official media reports. These referred to China's first combat simulation drills in the Indian Ocean as well as less warlike activities. 

The amphibious warship Changbaishan, a so-called landing platform dock displacing 20,000 tonnes, is one of Beijing's more modern and sophisticated ships, and can deploy hundreds of marines. Together with the two destroyers accompanying it, Wuhan and Haikou, the squadron was an unambiguous demonstration of China's emerging ability to project force. 

Since the end of 2008, China's navy has been one of many conducting anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. Although this activity has been seen as a testimony to the new Chinese commitment to safeguarding the global commons, it also has underlined the PLA navy's new capacity to carry out what it calls "far sea operations". 

Some observers have claimed that the focus on territorial claims in the South and East China seas would downgrade the importance of the Indian Ocean in Beijing's strategic calculus. 

Now, facts in the water have challenged those assumptions. China is going Indo-Pacific. 

After crossing the South China Sea from its base on Hainan Island, the squadron transited south through the Sunda Strait, separating Indonesia's Sumatra and Java islands. 

Somewhere between there and Australia's Christmas Island territory, it apparently conducted the combat simulation before turning east and sailing the length of Java. 

It went back up north through the Lombok Straits between the Indonesian islands of Bali and Lombok, then the Makassar Straits between Borneo and Sulawesi and into the western Pacific. 

Moderating The China Threat

Will China continue to be perceived as a threat by its neighbors? What does it need to do to moderate itself?

February 12, 2014

The empirical limitations of classical realism’s focus on balances of power are well understood. The theory goes that states balance against other threats simply based on the arithmetic of military hardware, which leads to all sorts of nasty arms races and security dilemmas. Of course, empirically we see examples of states – particularly smaller states – not balancing against states with massive military power. The United States’ situation following the second World War, during the Cold War, and during its famous “unipolar moment” in the 1990s demonstrates as much. NATO and major non-NATO allies of the US could have easily perceived the American war machine coming out of World War II as a threat worth balancing against but instead they chose to side with the United States.

The explanation for this is simple and has been known since the late 1980s. States tend to balance against threats, not mere power. Stephen M. Walt first explained the phenomenon in an International Security article in 1985 and since then threat-based analysis has become somewhat of a mainstay among contemporary realists and Western foreign policy elites. Understanding how perceived threats shape foreign policy is invaluable for foreign policy makers. The entirety of Cold War strategic missile defense and proxy-state acquisition was based around the notion of maintaining a favorable game-state on the global chessboard based on the mutual threat perceptions between the United States and the Soviet Union. Ideology mattered to an extent in framing the distrust, but what really mattered in the creation of foreign policy was the notion of a monolithic external threat.

The Unfolding China’s Indian Ocean Strategy

By D. S. Rajan

“ The Greater Indian Ocean region stretching eastward from the Horn of Africa past the Arabian Peninsula, the Iranian plateau and the Indian subcontinent, all the way to the Indonesian archipelago and beyond, will be the centre of global conflicts, because most international business supply will be conducted through this route. Most important of all, it is in this region the interests and influence of India, China and the United States are beginning to overlap and intersect. It is here the 21st century’s global power dynamics will be revealed……. two key players in this region are India and China- India moving east and west while China to the South”- Robert Kaplan, in “Monsoon- the Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power”, 21 November 2010.

2. The quote above undoubtedly leads to a pertinent question – in what way the policy makers in the three potentially big players in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), are now preparing to meet the long term projections made in Kaplan’s obviously accurate prognosis? In other words, what is the nature of current IOR strategies of these powers and what will be their geo-strategic implications?

3. Taking the case of People’s Republic of China (PRC) , it cannot be denied that the PRC’s strategic focus till now continues to be on the Pacific and not on the Indian Ocean region. It would however be a folly to ignore the gradually unfolding changes in the perceptions of Beijing on the IOR’s strategic importance; they are indeed pointers to the future. As for now, Beijing’s principal interest seems to lie in the need to protect the Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOCS) along the Indian Ocean, vital for the country’s energy imports. While this is being so, official-level articulations on China’s IOR views are gradually gaining intensity, which may culminate in China’s coming out with a comprehensive Indian Ocean doctrine ultimately.

4. It is not difficult to trace the connection between the changing Chinese perceptions on the IOR and the steady emergence of maritime security interests, marking a new trend since the end of cold war, as a key element of China’s overall national security strategy. To help achieving the declared goal of turning the country as a fully modernised one by middle of the century, the PRC has evolved an overall strategic approach enmeshing the requirements of land, maritime, economy and energy security. Out of these, the criticality of maritime aspect has risen as a result of the compulsions which China began to experience for getting access to all strategic resources and protecting critical sea lanes transporting energy supplies from abroad, in the overall interest of its development. As corollary, the PRC’s naval objectives have undergone a shift – from that of conducting coastal defence activities to offshore defence and ultimately to far sea defence. A case in point is the stress noticed in China’s latest Defence White Paper (2013) on “protecting national maritime rights and interests” and “armed forces providing reliable support for China’s interests overseas”. It is clear that the PRC intends to expand the capabilities of its Navy, especially to operate abroad; this indeed marks a new stage in China’s development which has come into being due to the increasing needs being felt by a rising China to secure its growing global interests.

Is the PLA Going Rogue?

February 10, 2014

One of the worries many people have about a potential military confrontation between China and its neighbors in East Asia is whether Beijing’s civilian leadership has a firm grip on the military. This particular concern has been aroused by a series of disturbing incidents going back a decade—the collision between a Chinese jet fighter with an American naval surveillance plane near Hainan Island in April 2001, the surprise test of an anti-satellite weapon in January 2007, the rollout of a stealth fighter during the visit by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in January 2011, and various others.

Most recently, as territorial disputes between China and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands escalated, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) actions triggered even louder alarms. One of its warships aimed its fire-control radar at a Japanese destroyer in February last year, an act that could have provoked an accidental conflict. In November 2013, the PLA suddenly announced the establishment of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) that overlaps with those of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and covers the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.

In early December last year, in another hair-raising encounter, a Chinese naval vessel intentionally cut in front of an American missile cruiser, which was monitoring a Chinese naval exercise in the international waters in the South China Sea. Only the quick reaction by the American crew averted a collision that could have resulted in a maritime disaster.

These incidents have raised serious questions about the degree of control exercised by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which the PLA is supposed to serve, over the actions of the Chinese military.

The most alarming concern is that the PLA (or at least some of its commanders) has been pursuing an agenda that is in conflict with that of the civilian leadership. The Chinese civilian leaders believe that the imperative of maintaining economic development as the principal means of regime survival dictates strategic restraint. However, the PLA may prefer a more confrontational security posture, because tensions with Chinese neighbors and the U.S. would support the case for more defense spending, which would benefit the PLA.

Another explanation, albeit less worrisome, is that the Chinese national-security apparatus suffers from the same problem of poor bureaucratic coordination as in most other countries. According to this interpretation, the Chinese national-security apparatus has a “stove-piped” organizational structure, in which interagency communication and coordination are poorly conducted. Consequently, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

While these two explanations may have some partial truth to them, they are too simplistic and ignore the real political context in which the PLA operates and the incentives that motivate Chinese military commanders. In deciphering the strategic intentions of the Chinese military, a more productive approach is to analyze the degree of operational freedom enjoyed by the PLA in the context of a one-party regime that has consistently failed to penalize excessive risk-seeking behavior.