7 March 2014

China takes Tibet railway network close to Sikkim

Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times
March 07, 2014 

China on Thursday announced that an extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway network will reach Xigase in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), the hometown of the 11th Panchen Lama and located close to the Indian border in Sikkim. 

“An extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, the world’s highest, will reach the residence of the Panchen Lama at Xigaze, Tibet, the contractors confirmed on Thursday,” the official news agency, Xinhua, said on Thursday. 

The headquarters of Beijing-backed 11th Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu is based at Xigaze, also known as Shigatse, located close to the Sikkim border.

China projects the Panchen Lama as an alternative to the India-based Dalai Lama, termed a separatist by Beijing. The announcement of the railway network extension comes during the ongoing sessions of China’s rubber-stamp Parliament, the National People’s Congress and the country’s top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. 

Thursday’s report said the extension will help the faithful to worship “Buddha in Lhasa and Xigase”. Quoting Tob Chung, a lama at the Tashihunpo monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama, the report said: “It is the common dream of all the Tibetan faithful to worship the Buddha in Lhasa and Xigaze. The railway will make the journey safer and easier.” 

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway began service in July 2006 and, according to the report, had positively impacted on Tibet’s tourism, hospitality and manufacturing sectors.

The plateau railway which covers 1,956 km from Xining in Qinghai Province to Lhasa carried 11.7 million passengers and 57.8 million tonnes of cargo in 2013. The announcement comes at a time when the government says that the economy of TAR grew 12.2 percent in 2013.

Tibetan areas in China have witnessed more than 125 cases of self-immolations where monks and civilians have set themselves on fire demanding the return of the India-based Dalai Lama to China and more autonomy. 

Beijing insists that Tibetan regions especially TAR is witnessing impressive development. 

The growth rate of TAR was 4.4 percentage points higher than the country’s average, according to the regional statistics bureau. 


Kori Schake
March 6, 2014

Secretary Hagel claims that the fiscal year (FY) 2015 defense budget “matches our strategy to our resources…Our updated defense strategy,” that is. Updated because the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff memorably said the defense strategy could not be executed if a single dollar was cut from the budget, right before Congress cut about $50 billion of them.

The only update in this Quadrennial Defense Review from earlier strategic guidance looks to consist of narrowing the force-sizing demand to defeat a regional adversary while “imposing unacceptable costs” on another. Otherwise it’s all the usual about the world becoming more volatile, global connectedness, building partner capacity, rebalancing to Asia without diminishing effort anywhere else, the need for “exceptional agility” in our forces and efficiencies in the defense effort. There’s lots of talk about innovation, but little evidence of it—the QDR details forces that would be cut if sequestration goes into effect, but does not explore different ways of achieving our defense objectives.

Even this updated strategy is, by Hagel’s own admission, unexecutable without $115 billion more than the top line legislated in 2010 (separate from the $26 billion “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative” submitted as a wish list along with the budget itself). That completely negates the $113 billion in cuts that the President’s budget “imposes.” So, they’re actually cutting nothing. The Defense Department has had three budget cycles to bring its spending into line with the law, and—even with an $80 billion annual slush fund of war operations—it has not complied. Hagel says “it would have been irresponsible not to request these additional resources.” That twists the argument: it was irresponsible not to develop a strategy consistent with available resources. This QDR has failed in its fundamental purpose.

Perhaps the central issue this QDR should have addressed in detail is where to accept risk as resources become less plentiful: in what areas can we afford to reduce our margin of error, and where would unacceptable dangers be incurred? What missions ought we to stop doing and stop preparing for in order to ensure we are able to meet our highest priorities? Where do redundancies exist that can be eliminated to free up resources? The Department of Defense claimed that the QDR would initiate a serious debate about risk. While the press statements emphasize greater risk in carrying out the strategy, there’s no actual discussion in the QDR about how risk is assessed. The QDR does say we “continue to experience gaps in training and maintenance over the near term and will have a reduced margin of error in dealing with risks of uncertainty,” but does not explain how different choices might aggravate or mitigate those risks. If DOD actually wants a debate about where to accept risk—instead of simply brandishing it as a threat to budget hawks—it will need to establish a metric for evaluating risk.


By Henry A. Kissinger, Published: March 5

Henry A. Kissinger was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ opinions/henry-kissinger-to- settle-the-ukraine-crisis- start-at-the-end/2014/03/05/ 46dad868-a496-11e3-8466- d34c451760b9_print.html

Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.

Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other – it should function as a bridge between them.

Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.

The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet – Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean – is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.

The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.

The Ukrainians are the decisive element. They live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939, when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 percent of whose population is Russian, became part of Ukraine only in 1954 , when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other – as has been the pattern – would lead eventually to civil war or breakup. To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West – especially Russia and Europe – into a cooperative international system.

When soldiers turn on their own comrades

March 06, 2014

Each time I go to the Kashmir Valley – and that is often – I make it a point to engage with the men in uniform. At first, they are wary, even surprised to have a civilian walk up to their bunkers to talk to them. The reaction is the same, irrespective of whether they are from the paramilitary forces or from the army.

Trained to watch out for ‘enemy’ bullets, the soldiers are always on alert; their weapons forever cocked. “We don’t know which side the bullet will come from,’’ is the common refrain. They stay in these bunkers for most of their posting – a minimum of two years – with little or no contact with the civilians around them. 

For the civilians, these soldiers are part of an ‘occupational force’ and there are several reasons why the common Kashmiri feels alienated from the seat of power in New Delhi – which often opts for the more-boots-on-the-ground approach. But we need to examine the soldier and why he feels compelled to either shoot himself or his colleagues. 

The latest instance was last week, when an army sepoy trained his automatic weapon on his sleeping colleagues. Sepoy Ramber Singh pumped multiple bullets into five colleagues. One of the dead had 32 bullets in his body. Singh later shot himself dead. 

Army officials say Singh was a teetotaller, that he had returned from leave in November, and that he was at the fag-end of his two-year-posting. So, why did he go over the edge? 

The shoot-out only came as a reminder of the fact that the army has not been able to successfully deal with cases of suicides or fratricide. The army continues to grapple with this dangerous problem, and has, in internal meetings, looked at the likely causes that propel a disciplined and trained soldier to violent acts that include the vicious emptying of AK-47s into a buddy. Is the soldier not getting enough leave? Is the officer-jawan relationship breaking down? Has easy access to mobile phones brought personal pressures into the work space? Is counter-insurgency taking a toll? 

A psychiatric study by army doctors on ‘Evolving Medical Strategies for Low Intensity Conflicts’ threw up a range of issues that needs to be deliberated upon, not just by army seniors but by politicians as well. One of the key issues that came up was to do with resolving the contradiction between war and a low-intensity conflict. 

Self-interest should guide India’s Arab policy

Hindustan Times
March 03, 2014

India recently played host to Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud — crown prince, deputy prime minister and defence minister of Saudi Arabia. The visit is of the highest level from Saudi Arabia since King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud came here in 2006. This comes as one in a series of high-profile visits by representatives of the Arab world. A week before that India played host to the King of Bahrain, and other high-profile visits from the region have followed since. 

India’s cumulative bilateral trade with the Arab countries is more than $110 billion and the region is home to around 7 million Indians. India’s foreign remittances from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries were $29.7bn in 2011. The region also accounts for 70% of India’s energy imports.

The Arab Spring has presented India with an opportunity for greater engagement with the region. Coming as it does on the heels of India’s ‘look west’ policy the country is helping with institutions and knowledge-building in nascent democracies like Egypt. The GCC countries too are looking to non-Western economies to invest their surplus funds, especially now, given their recent disenchantment with the United States role in the region. India, therefore, becomes a natural choice for playing a leading role. Defence ties between India and the GCC countries are also set to increase. Ties between India and Saudi Arabia assume special significance in this context. The official visit of PM Manmohan Singh to Riyadh in 2010 and the Riyadh declaration signed in 2010, elevated the bilateral engagement to ‘strategic partnership’, covering security, economic, defence and political areas.

What are India’s options in this context?

For one, India-Saudi Arabia ties are no longer seen through the prism of India-Pakistan relations. Next, India’s ties with Iran (the visit of whose foreign minister overlapped with that of the crown prince), has not deterred the deepening of Indo-Saudi ties. 

Third, India’s stand vis-à-vis the Syrian conflict has not always converged with that of Saudi Arabia’s. Saudi Arabia supports the Syrian opposition. India, as was the case with Libya, has always been against any form of foreign intervention. At the same time, in spite of its membership in the BRICS, it has not always converged with them on Syria. On a number of Security Council resolutions on Syria, India, as a non-permanent member of the Council, had abstained from voting.

Air Defense: India Buys Israeli Tech To Stop Hostile Missiles

March 5, 2014
India is hiring several Israeli defense firms to work with DRDO (the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization) and several state-owned defense firms to design and build an integrated anti-missile defense system. India already has a tested and proven anti-missile ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) but wants something like the anti-missile system Israel has developed and deployed over the last two decades. This may involve buying the latest models of Israeli Green Pine radar, which is a key element of the Israeli anti-missile defenses. 

In late 2013 India conducted a final round of development tests of its ABMs. This involved intercepting multiple incoming ballistic missiles and was declared a success. As a result of this, and several other successful earlier tests, Indian missile development officials declared that their anti-missile missiles were ready for mass production and deployment. This would provide some Indian cities protection from Pakistani or Chinese ballistic missiles. But the Indians realized that just having a reliable interceptor missile was not enough. You needed an integrated communications and radar warning system. The Israelis and the Americans are the only ones with years of experience with such anti-missile systems and India was already a steady customer for Israeli weapons and electronics systems. 

The Indian anti-missile missiles come in two sizes. The Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) missile is the larger of the two and is used for high altitude (50-80 kilometers up) interception. The short range Advanced Air Defense (AAD) missile is used for low altitude (up to 30 kilometers) intercepts. The two missiles, in conjunction with a radar system based on the Israeli Green Pine (used with the Arrow anti-missile missile), provide defense from ballistic missiles fired as far as 5,000 kilometers away. A third interceptor, the PDV, is a hypersonic missile that can take down missiles as high as 150 kilometers and is still in development. India is the fifth nation to develop such anti-missile technology. 

The Indian system has been in development for over a decade. Back in 2003 India ordered two Israeli Green Pine anti-ballistic missile radars. That equipment was used in 2007 in one of the first successful Indian tests, where one ballistic missile was fired at another "incoming" one. The Israeli Green Pine radar was originally developed for Israel's Arrow anti-ballistic missile system. Arrow was built, in cooperation with the United States, to defend Israel from Iranian and Syrian ballistic missiles. India has since developed, with Israeli help, the Swordfish radar, which has similar capabilities to the Green Pine and has been operational since 2011. Swordfish is part of a system that integrates data from satellites and other sources in order to detect and track incoming missiles. 

Afghan Stability Is in India’s Interest

Javid Ahmad is a program coordinator for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He is on Twitter.
MARCH 5, 2014

After months of U.S.-Afghan brinkmanship, many now consider an American withdrawal from Afghanistan inevitable. Washington’s “zero option,” however, does not represent the end of international engagement in Afghanistan. For regional stability, India should assume a more active role to ensure a stable post-2014 Afghanistan and to minimize the risk of terrorist resurgence.

Washington’s 'zero option' would not end international engagement. Other nations, especially India, should step up.

India should have no problem with deepening its economic and security links with Afghanistan. Building on its long-term investments in Afghanistan's development, India can consider providing technical assistance in sectors like mining, textiles and information technology that could expand employment and foreign investments. India’s increased role in building Afghanistan’s economy can make the country an integral part of a Central Asian trading corridor.

Aside from the economics, Indian leaders are aware of the security landscape. A complete pullout of American and NATO forces would leave a vacuum to be filled by Pakistan-backed militant groups, which would imperil India’s internal security. To avoid this outcome, India can consider heightening its military cooperation with the Afghan government. This can be done by providing Afghan forces with military hardware, artillery and armored vehicles; training Afghan intelligence operatives in gathering technical intelligence; bolstering the ability of the nascent Afghan air force by supplying necessary spare parts to operate its small fleet of helicopters; and deploying advisory teams to train the technical and maintenance personnel of the Afghan forces.

But there will be obstacles. India’s efforts in Afghanistan could further Pakistan’s many deep-seated insecurities about India’s role there. But it’s not all about Pakistan – and Pakistan should keep this in mind. India’s assistance would be aimed at sustaining the Afghan government to stay operational after 2014 and to ensure regional stability. India’s assistance will go through the Afghan government, and not through any Afghan factions, leaving little room for suspicions. Afghanistan does not choose sides in its ties with India and Pakistan, and, as it does with India, the Afghan government can also work with Pakistan in security and other sectors. Pakistan can consider matching India’s broad support for the nation, rather than betting on one faction or the insurgency.

India had a spike in terrorism in the early 1990s after the Soviets left Afghanistan, including the hijacking of an Indian airliner in 1999 to Kandahar. A terrorist resurgence in Afghanistan could again hurt India. It’s a perilous moment, but full of opportunity as well – a chance for India to ensure Afghan sovereignty and stability, in the interest of both nations.

Further Construction Progress on the Fourth Heavy Water Reactor at Khushab Nuclear Site

ISIS Reports

by Serena Kelleher-Vergantini and Robert Avagyan

December 20, 2013 Download PDF

Pakistan’s Khushab nuclear site is located 200 kilometers south of Islamabad and is dedicated to the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. Originally, the site consisted of a heavy water production plant and a heavy water reactor, both of which became operational in the 1990s. However, Pakistan initiated the construction of a second heavy water reactor between the year 2000 and 2002, a third one in 2006, and the fourth one in 2011. Therefore, today, Pakistan’s Khushab nuclear site consists of a heavy water production plant, an original, estimated 50 megawatt-thermal (MWth) heavy water reactor, two heavy water reactors (reactors 2 and 3) that appear to be operational, and a fourth reactor under construction (see figure 1).

The expansion of the Khushab nuclear site with the addition of reactors 2, 3 and 4 appears to be part of a strategic effort by Pakistan to boost weapon-grade plutonium production. This increased capability would allow Pakistan to build a larger number of miniaturized plutonium-based nuclear weapons in order to complement its existing arsenal of highly enriched uranium weapons.

Pakistan has not provided any public information about these three new reactors, or the power output of the original one, estimated to be 50MWth. The three newer reactors are assessed as generating more power than the first one and thus capable of producing more weapon-grade plutonium per year. A technical consultant to ISIS with years of experience in heavy water reactors also assesses that the power of these newer heavy water reactors is likely to be larger than the first one and that over time their power could be increased. The increase in power can be accomplished by using more advanced fuel or adding heat removal capacity.

For years, ISIS has monitored developments at the Khushab complex using commercial satellite imagery to catalog changes at the site, which are contained in reports available on the ISIS website.

ISIS has also been closely monitoring the construction of Khushab’s fourth reactor since 2011. As figure 2 shows, Pakistan started the construction of the fourth reactor at the end of 2010/early 2011. A January 2011 image shows the building early in its construction. It is evident that the reactor building size, as well as the overall layout, is very similar to the size and layout of reactors 2 and 3.

In April 2011, the frame of the reactor building and the main reactor hall are visible, although it is not clear if there is a reactor vessel in the center of the hall.

In a May 21, 2012 ISIS Imagery Brief, ISIS highlighted enhanced security perimeters surrounding all nuclear facilities at the site, certainly a welcome development, and noted the construction on the fourth Khushab heavy water reactor was halfway to completion. As shown in both figures 2 and 3, imagery dated April 2012 clearly indicated that the fourth reactor building was still under construction. At the time, although the reactor building still lacked roofing, the reactor vessel was not visible within the chamber. Recent imagery from November 1, 2013, however, clearly shows that the external construction of the fourth reactor building appears nearly complete (see figure 2 and 3). The immediate area of the fourth reactor exhibits the same layout as reactors 2 and 3. The reactor stack and four of the six auxiliary buildings also present in reactors 2 and 3 appear complete. Two support buildings located immediately to the west of the reactor building are still under construction. The initial section of the cooling tower row is also visible and compared to reactors 2 and 3 appears about 30% complete. What appears to be an electrical substation, also present near reactors 2 and 3, has been constructed 150 meters north of the fourth reactor building.

However, beyond the immediate vicinity, the wider layout of the fourth reactor complex exhibits numerous differences when compared to that of reactors 2 and 3. A set of three identical buildings not seen in the layout of reactors 2 and 3 has been completed north of reactor 4 building. A number of smaller support buildings are under construction east of the reactor while clearings for several other buildings can be seen to the south-east.

Work on the fourth reactor has proceeded at a slower pace than previously predicted, which could be due to the differences in layout or to factors not evident in satellite imagery. Although work on the immediate area of the fourth reactor might be near completion, the November 2013 image shows that a considerable amount of additional construction is still in progress.

Given that satellite imagery provides limited indication of the reactor’s operational status, predicting when the fourth reactor will become operational is difficult.

Pakistan is believed to have depended on illicit procurements for these reactors. As an April 2011 ISIS Report shows, Pakistan was allegedly operating an illegal network in the United States to procure goods, such as switching equipment, radiation detection equipment and nuclear grade resin, for its Chashma plant and possibly other reactors including the Khushab reactors. Additionally, according to a recent ISIS report, “The Future World of Illicit Nuclear Trade: Mitigating the Threat” Pakistan is expected to maintain or improve its nuclear arsenal via illicit nuclear trade.

Although it remains unknown whether Pakistan intends to build a fifth reactor next to the fourth (as it did with reactors 2 and 3), there is no indication in the recent imagery of any construction of such a facility.

Figure 1. Digital Globe imagery of the Khushab nuclear site on November 1, 2013.

Figure 2. Digital Globe/Newsweek/GeoEye imagery showing the evolution of the fourth Khushab reactor between January 2011 and November 2013.

Figure 3. Digital Globe imagery showing the evolution of the fourth Khushab reactor between April 2012 and November 2013.

The T-shirt revolution


THE days of American pullout from Afghanistan are near. With the exit from next door, a similar emptying is expected in Pakistan: the American turning away is likely to mean an end to the aid economies burgeoning in Islamabad and Kabul. The restaurants that have catered only to foreigners, the landlords who own property in guarded sectors, and the myriad other forms of price-inflated businesses that emerge with war, and with the relief and aid work that surround it, will similarly conclude.

This problem with aid and the world it creates in the societies that it is supposed to assist — the calamitous consequences of the aid-borne relationships of dependence — has been much discussed in recent years. The conclusion of the debates is an expected one: aid, economic or otherwise, does little to help the countries where it is directed. When strategic interests of aid-granting countries divert to other portions of the world, when the pain of one catastrophe-struck area is overtaken by another, projects die on stems, unable to be sustained by the societies they were designed to help.

The complicated case of the Pakistan-US relationship is unsurprisingly similar. The past decade has seen all sorts of efforts to “help” Pakistan. From school projects to women’s aid shelters to rural development initiatives, millions of dollars have been poured into Pakistan’s NGOs and civil society initiatives. Whether it was education they were promoting or sports or literature or anything else, they have failed to birth either the goodwill or the good consequences that both the donors and the recipients hoped for. In the sad saga of aid, the Pakistan-US story had nothing new to offer.

If aid is the overused portion of attempts at alliance, trade is the underfed one. The consequences of this malnutrition are significant and, unlike the malignancies of aid-borne dependence, quite specific. In 2010, before the relationship between the US and Pakistan had soured to its current petulant state, the US Congress approved several billion dollars in aid to Pakistan but remained unwilling to scale back the half a billion dollars in trade tariffs paid by Pakistani exporters. In the years since, little has changed. While aid has rained down, no special incentives have been provided to Pakistani manufacturers and exporters that would allow them an edge in the global marketplace.

The neglect is a tragedy; it ignores the most promising aspect of true transformation. Pakistan is currently the world’s fifth largest producer of cotton. The US is the world’s largest consumer of cotton, with individual consumption standing at 36-37lb per person; the world average is 29lb. According to a governmental economic survey, Pakistan’s textile and garment industry employs 38pc of the country’s industrial labour force and constitutes 46pc of its manufacturing base, consequently generating 54pc of its export income and close to 8.5pc of its gross domestic product.

Combating Sub Conventional


There is plenty of speculation that post 2014, the security scenario in Afghanistan will likely deteriorate and pose heightened terrorist threat to India. Pakistan and Afghan Taliban both want Sharia enacted and an Islamic Caliphate; both are linked to ISI. It was the ISI that facilitated escape of Mullah Fazlullah to Afghanistan last year where he stayed for months as guest of Afghan Taliban before returning to Pakistan. Post US-NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, the terror industry will get a major boost. Pakistani military officers say they are Allah’s Army first and Pakistan comes second. Senior officials admit Brigadier and below officers have been affected by institutionalised radicalisation. Politicians like Imran Khan have been talking radical in the past while Nawaz Sharif’s own brother distributes millions of rupees to terrorist organisations. While Pakistani Government talks to the TTP, Pakistani army undertakes operations in SWAT and ISI plays its own games, there is the inevitable blow back from having spawned the Frankenstein. Pakistan army’s Counter IED, Explosives and Munitions School has recently stated that 4,042 soldiers from the army and Frontier Corps have been killed and more than 13,000 wounded in the war on militants in the country's northwest since 2002. Bulk of these casualties is because of roadside bombs, mines and IED’s, implying little direct ground operations. Taliban have been singling out and executing Shias from captured Pakistani army patrols. Looking at the pace of radicalisation, Sharia becoming law in Pakistan in a few years from now is a distinct possibility. 

How will this heightened terrorist threat manifest in India. It is not that Taliban would come gushing across the border, though some infiltration cannot be ruled out entirely. Significantly, of the 9000 Pakistan Taliban fighting in Afghanistan at the time of US invasion, 6000 were from Punjab. Presently Pakistan is training some 20 Mujahid battalions to invest Afghanistan disguised as Taliban. But, internal turmoil, increased radicalisation and the time elapsed since 26/11 are enticing for ISI to orchestrate the next major terrorist strike in India, which might occur during this summer, accompanied with spurt in infiltration. Such a strike could even entail weapon(s) of mass disturbance. The Cobalt 60 leak in Mayapuri and theft of 15 Uranium isotopes from SAIL (both during 2011) coupled with discovery of 1.5 kg Uranium mine in Assam last January are pointers, not that the material cannot be smuggled in. The planning will likely be done by ISI and ISI-LeT links and IM, Popular Front of India, Maoists could be exploited to provide support. 

Serious thought is required on India’s response options to the above contingencies. For that matter, if there is another terrorist attack on Parliament, are we going to mobilise or launch conventional attack on Pakistan and if so, what do we expect to achieve? If terrorist attack involves a weapon of mass disturbance (chemical, radiological, biological), how will we respond? Surely, the response cannot be second strike. Isn’t this what sub-conventional warfare is all about? This is the major lesson we should have learnt from Op ‘Parakaram’. Ironically, emergence of irregular forces with greater strategic value over conventional and even irregular forces during conflict situations in recent years has not been acknowledged. Hence, we have failed to establish deterrence against irregular forces relying only on diplomacy, which has not sufficed. Current and future threats that India faces dictates there can be no shortcut from having full spectrum conflict capabilities. What should be a matter of serious concern to us is that while both China and Pakistan possess advanced Sub Conventional capabilities and are employing them proactively, India is lagging behind. This is a strategic asymmetry considering sub-conventional war will continue to be the order of the day. 

Five Ways China Spies

Peter Mattis |
March 6, 2014

Every time a fleeing or exiled Chinese official or public intellectual issues a warning about Chinese spies, the statements attain an immediate significance. When ousted Beijing University professor and Cato Institute visiting fellow Xia Yeliang made such remarks on February 27, press the world over picked up his remarks. Dr. Xia said “Every year among those top universities there are some visiting scholars, and among them I can definitely say there are some people who are actually spies…They don’t do any research—probably they just do some surveys for their boss.”

One of the reasons such remarks garner attention is that a mystique surrounds Chinese intelligence. The Chinese have not faced the same exposure that the Russians faced when Westerners helped defectors like Oleg Gordievsky, Vasili Mitrokhin, and Sergei Tretyakov write about the Soviet KGB and its successors. The shroud of mystery has meant Western observers treat Chinese intelligence as a kind of inscrutable beast, operating in fundamentally different ways than their Western and Russian counterparts. However, security services worldwide have uncovered a wide-ranging and familiar set of operational methods used by Chinese intelligence.

One of the reasons Chinese intelligence operations do not seem to make sense to observers is that they mistake intelligence for the theft of secrets. Intelligence does not mean the acquisition of “classified” or “secret” information. Intelligence is the acquisition and processing of information that assists in formulating policy and guiding action. Classification has nothing to do with it; Beijing’s concerns do. China concerns in the United States go beyond U.S. policy, including overseas Chinese populations, democracy activists, counterintelligence, and scientific expertise. And, as will become clear below, the Chinese seem to be very comfortable with merely secondhand access to sensitive information.


By Dr. Habib Siddiqui and A.R.M. Imtiyaz

On Saturday, March 1, more than 10 assailants slashed scores of people with knives at the Kunming train station in Yunnan province in southern China in what state media said Sunday was a terrorist assault by ethnic Uyghur (also spelled as Uighur) separatists from the far west. Twenty-nine slash victims and four attackers were killed and 143 people wounded.

Most attacks blamed on Uyghur (a Muslim, Turkic-speaking people) separatists take place in China’s oil-rich and ethnically sensitive far-western Chinese province of Xinjiang (formerly known as East Turkestan), where clashes between ethnic Uyghurs and members of China’s ethnic Han majority are frequent. But Saturday’s assault happened more than 1,000 kilometers to the southeast in Yunnan, which has not had a history of such unrest.

In July 2009, Xinjiang experienced violence between Uyghurs and Han Chinese (China’s ethno-national majority). Media reported that more than 100 people were killed and 800 injured from the disturbance which broke out in the provincial capital, Urumqi. The disturbances occurred after a year of rising tensions between the dominant Han Chinese authorities and the Uyghur ethnic minority – the historical ethnic majority in Xinjiang – who say they have been socially and economically marginalized by Beijing’s policies that introduce ‘domestication’ – or more properly Hanification (Sinicization) – of the region.

On August 4, 2008, four days before the start of the Beijing Olympics, two ethnic Uyghurs drove a stolen dump truck into a group of some 70 Chinese border police – accused of brutally repressing the indigenous people – in the town of Kashi in Xinjiang, killing at least 16 of the officers. The attackers carried knives and home-made explosive devices.

In recent months, more than 100 Uyghurs have been shot and killed by armed police officers or soldiers. Exile groups attribute much of the bloodshed to security forces who they say have been given a green light to use excessive force, including against unarmed protesters.

The violence in Kunming came at a sensitive time as political leaders in Beijing prepared for Wednesday’s opening of the annual legislature where the government of President Xi Jinping will deliver its first one-year work report.

Learning the truth about such incidents is difficult. Except for the government version of events, the subject is off limits to the domestic news media. Foreign journalists cannot freely report in the region.


March 5, 2014 

Over the last decade, the United States has been drawn into a series of imbroglios in the Middle East and South Asia, sapping military and financial resources and frustrating policymakers who seem to have no good options for managing regional troubles. In Asia, by contrast, the picture is clearer. America has tangible economic, political and military interests there. The region is also where many believe America’s global superpower status faces the most obvious challenge: China. Thus, realists such as John Mearsheimer,writing in The National Interest, approve of the “pivot” or “rebalance.”

In Asia, America is trying to support its allies and preserve regional stability in the face of rising tensions and nationalist recrudescence, while avoiding unnecessary confrontation with China. The recent diplomatic conflicts overair defense zones and increasing confrontations over territorial disputes demonstrate that playing referee in Asia while protecting American interests is no easy task. While Asia deserves America’s focus and resources, the real dress rehearsal for China’s challenge to America’s superpower status is already taking place in the Middle East. Here, Mearsheimer’s insistence on the need for Middle East retrenchment, in order to concentrate on the more serious rivalry with China, suffers from a major flaw in logic.

History suggests that when a great power draws down from a region, another takes advantage and fills the void. As America grows weary of its involvement in the Middle East, China is filling the vacuum. As a result, states in that region are using relations with China to push back against America, with few economic or political consequences. Unfortunately, American policymakers seem blind to this fact, looking at countries such as Syria and Iran, or those in Asia, as discrete issues, rather than as constituent parts of the broader great game that is taking place.

Though many do not see China as a major power in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf, they should. Through its economic strength and power of attraction, the country has made major inroads that cannot be dismissed, and may be laying the key foundations for a new balance of power.

China’s “rise” has captured the imagination of many in the Arab world. Gulf rulers in particular stand in awe of how China’s economy has skyrocketed (see the chart below) while rejecting Western norms and maintaining its own political structures. So fast has China’s rise been that, since 2000, it has achieved practically 30% yearly average trade growth rate with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, 26% with the UAE and Iraq, and 28% with Iran.

Why Washington Can’t Restrain Tokyo

The current U.S. security posture in East Asia leaves it with few options should a crisis escalate. 

By Jake A. Douglas
March 04, 2014

China and Japan are increasingly at each other’s throats. America wants to stand between them, but because of its military presence on Japanese soil, it can only actually stand behind Tokyo. As Japan develops independent, offensive military capabilities, an untenable situation is taking shape: In the future, the United States may have little control over the outbreak of war but a virtually automatic commitment to involvement in it. Instead, a more elastic commitment would give the U.S. greater leverage to restrain Japan and contribute in a balanced way to regional stability.

Faced with greater diplomatic pressure from Beijing and belt-tightening in Washington, U.S. allies like Japan have started to rearm in earnest. Asia is quickly becoming “the most militarized region in the world.” U.S. partners and allies in the region plan to spend 53 percent more between 2013 and 2018 than they did in the previous five-year period. Japan’s security posture in particular is undergoing sweeping changes. Last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reversed a decade of cuts, seeking the largest increases in defense spending since the end of the Cold War.

This still unfolding story represents a substantial shift in burdensharing from the U.S. to its allies. After two major wars and the Great Recession, both major parties in the U.S. are happy to see others carry more of America’s global responsibilities. But in a world dominated by America for so long, there is something of an intellectual vacuum on how to approach multipolarity.

Several Washington think tanks have stepped into this void. The Federated Defense Project at CSIS, the Power Web at CNAS, and the Front Office/Back Office Concept at the Carnegie Endowment are examples. Each offers a new alliance concept that outlines how the United States can do more with less. They applaud the easing of the “free rider problem” and greater allied participation in shared challenges, while stressing that continued U.S. engagement and reassurance is essential. In other words, nothing fundamental will change in the switch away from the old hub-and-spoke model.

Putin to Visit China In 'Near Future'

President Xi told Putin he is looking forward to his visit during a phone call discussing Ukraine. 

March 06, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin will apparently be visiting China in the “near future.”

A news article that appeared in China’s state media said that Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping had talked by phone on Tuesday. It noted that during the phone call Xi said that he “is looking forward to Putin’s visit to China in the near future.” This seemed to suggest that planning had begun for a Putin trip to China, although the wording was rather ambiguous.

This would make sense, however, as a trip from Putin seems long overdue. The last time Putin was in China was in June 2012, before Xi had officially taken the reins of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese state. He had also visited China in 2011.

By contrast, Xi Jinping has made Russia a top priority of his foreign policy, and has traveled to the country on at least three separate occasions since becoming General Secretary of the CCP and President of the PRC.

The first time, in March 2013, Xi traveled to Russia for his first trip abroad as China’s president. He had officially assumed the position just eight days before arriving in Moscow. Xi returned to Russia last fall to attend the G-20 Summit. He was then back in the Kremlin last month to attend the opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.

It seems rather unusual that the Chinese president would make three separate trips to Russia without the Russian President making a single reciprocal visit to China. It should be noted, however, that one of Xi’s visits was for a multilateral conference and another was a special trip for the Olympic Games. Still, if Putin does not travel to China soon, it will likely be taken as a snub by the Chinese government.

Stratfor: The Asian Status Quo

by Robert D. Kaplan and Matt Gerken

Arguably the greatest book on political realism in the 20th century was University of Chicago Professor Hans J. Morgenthau’s Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, published in 1948. In that seminal work, Morgenthau defines the status quo as “the maintenance of the distribution of power that exists at a particular moment in history.” In other words, things shall stay as they are. But it is not quite that clear. For as Morgenthau also explains, “the concept of the ‘status quo’ derives from status quo ante bellum,” which, in turn, implies a return to the distribution of power before a war. The war’s aggressor shall give up his conquered territory, and everything will return to how it was.

The status quo also connotes the victors’ peace: a peace that may be unfair, or even oppressive, but at the same time stands for stability. For a change in the distribution of power, while at times just in a moral sense, simply introduces a measure of instability into the geopolitical equation. And because stability has a moral value all its own, the status quo is sanctified in the international system.

Let us apply this to Asia.

Because Japan was the aggressor in World War II and was vanquished by the U.S. military, it lay prostrate after the war, so that the Pacific Basin became a virtual American naval lake. That was the status quo as it came to be seen. This situation was buttressed by the decades-long reclusiveness of the Pacific’s largest and most populous nation: China. Japanese occupation and civil war left China devastated. The rise to power of Mao Zedong’s communists in 1949 would keep the country preoccupied with itself for decades as it fell prey to destructive development and political schemes such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. China was not weak, as the United States would discover in the Korean and Vietnamese wars and later turn to its advantage against the Soviets. But its revolution remained unfinished. The economy did not truly start to develop until the late 1970s, after Mao died. And only in the mid-1990s did China begin its naval expansion in a demonstrable and undeniable way. Thus the United States, in its struggle with the Soviets, got used to a reclusive China and a subordinate Japan. With these two certainties underlying the Cold War’s various animosities, the United States preserved calm in its lake.

What Can We Learn From Kazakhstan’s Arms Deals?

Recent transactions reflect some underlying trends in the global arms market.

By Stephen Blank
March 05, 2014

Few analysts regularly track the minutiae of arms sales. Who sells what to whom and for what purpose often gets overlooked in regional security analyses. But given Asia’s dynamism, tracking those kinds of questions actually reveals quite a lot about regional security trends.

Take Kazakhstan’s recent arms deals. They tell us a great deal about the global arms market and its interaction with security dynamics in Asia in general and Central Asia and Kazakhstan in particular. Kazakhstan has recently contracted with South Africa to produce and maintain armored military vehicles for local and regional export markets. The two countries also collaborate in space research programs and Kazakhstan’s launch platform at Baikonur has launched South African (and many other countries’) space satellites.

In the meantime, Kazakhstan has signed an accord on security cooperation with Israel that provides a general “umbrella” for cultivating defense trade and future cooperation. This accord formalizes more than a decade of Israeli arms sales to Kazakhstan. Apparently Kazakhstan is especially interested in unmanned systems, border security, command control capabilities and satellite communications – in other words, the leading sectors of military technology.

These agreements tell us a great deal about changing trends in the world of arms sales and Asian security, beyond the highly interesting fact of Israeli arms sales to a majority Muslim country. Two immediate trends stand out. First, the deals confirm the fact that states that are generally considered to be so-called middle powers have increasingly developed the technological basis and infrastructure to compete effectively with the great powers for arms markets in Asia and across the world. This trend reflects the accelerating diffusion of all technologies, not only military, throughout the globe and the benefits that can accrue to countries that effectively take advantage of those technologies. Consequently, the likes of Israel and South Africa now compete with Russia, the U.K., France and the U.S. in key markets.

The second trend reflected in Kazakhstan’s arms deals is the continuing shift towards a buyers market in global arms sales. Increasingly, consumers – and Asia is the most dynamic region of the world with regard to arms purchases or foreign arms sales – can demand from prospective buyers the transfer of technology, know-how and investment, building the skills and technology of the consumer country to the point where they can then become co-producers of the weapons and ultimately sell abroad. This trend thus plays back into the first one as the strengthening of buyers’ positions has provided smaller states with the opportunity not only to demand technology, investment and know-how transfers but ultimately, as Kazakhstan clearly intends to do, to become exporters in their own right and compete with their providers.

Empty Tough Talk from U.S. Hawks

Rajan Menon |
March 6, 2014

You would think it’s self-evident that Ukraine’s current crisis and the controversies sparked before its eruption by Iran’s nuclear program, China’s muscle-flexing against Japan and the Philippines over disputed tiny islands, and Syria’s continuing carnage are distinct—that they have little, if anything, in common. Well, you’d be wrong, at least in the eyes of the staunchest critics of American foreign policy under Barack Obama. In their mind, what connects these conflicts, which are so far apart spatially, is that each has been aggravated, perhaps even enabled, by Obama’s fecklessness, which projects to adversaries America’s weakness instead of its strength. In this reading, America’s friends have lost confidence in wayward Washington, while its foes have developed a contempt for American will, which inclines them to brazenness because they believe there’s no price to be paid. In this portrayal Obama is a stick figure evoking memories of Neville Chamberlain.

Let’s start with Ukraine, skipping the details, which have been explored in numerous pieces published recently on this site. Here’s where we are: Following the ouster of the inept, corrupt Viktor Yanukovych and his regime and the triumph of the Maidan protest movement the proclivity in the West has been to cheer what is hailed as a popular revolution that promises a new beginning—a democratic Ukraine integrated with Europe.

Well, Vladimir Putin, who had been watching Ukraine while attending the Sochi Winter Olympics, has an altogether different assessment. He regards the protest movement’s overthrow of Yanukovych as a coup against an elected president who in December exercised his lawful right to mothball the Association Agreement he had been negotiating with the EU and to opt for a deal with Russia: a $15 billion credit line and a one-third cut in the price of Russian natural gas, which Ukraine relies on to meet its 60 percent of its needs.

Once the curtain fell on the Sochi spectacular, and the tensions between pro-Europe and pro-Russian forces flared, notably in Crimea, which has a near-60 percent Russian majority and is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Putin, no longer worried about bad publicity that would overshadow or tarnish the games, wasted no time. Russian troops stationed in the Crimean port of Sevastopol fanned out, and Putin secured parliamentary approval—no trouble there—to deploy additional forces in Ukraine, ostensibly to protect endangered ethnic Russians.

How Ukraine Spillover Could Complicate the US Withdrawal From Afghanistan

Putin has an ace up his sleeve: shutting down the Northern Distribution Network. 

March 06, 2014

Sometimes timing in international politics can bereally bad – at least this is what those dealing with the Afghan withdrawal plans at the Pentagon must be feeling at this point. After much uncertainty, the zero option for Afghanistan – a complete withdrawal by the end of the year – is being taken seriously. The White House and the Pentagon both see it as a viable endgame situation should the Bilateral Security Agreement remain in eternal limbo. Unfortunately, with recent developments in Ukraine, executing on the zero option might get significantly more expensive for the United States.

The key to pulling off a successful and manageable withdrawal is the Northern Distribution Network – a route established in 2008 to get supplies in and out of Afghanistan while bypassing the risky (but cheaper) Pakistan-based routes entirely. Unfortunately, despite its massive defense R&D spending, the U.S. never quite figured out a way to teleport its equipment in and out of landlocked war zones. The original Pakistan-based routes provided a quick, sea-based route into Afghanistan, over the Durand line.

As the situation on the Afghan-Pakistan border destabilized, it became apparent that approaching Afghanistan via the northern frontier was preferable. In this route, equipment came to Afghanistan from sea, docking first in the Baltic, then on the Georgian and Turkish shores of the Black Sea, and eventually transiting via land to Afghanistan. For the equipment that entered the Eurasian landmass via the Baltic, there was no way around Russia. And it is likely that when American hardware leaves Afghanistan, it will do so via the Northern Distribution Network. There is also an eastern extension of the network that traverses Kazakhstan and eventually ends up in Vladivostok, on the Russian Pacific Coast.

Now what does this have to do with Ukraine?

Well, Russia’s prized geography places it at the center of the network. In the event that the United States and Europe decide to severely punish Russia for its actions in Crimea, Putin won’t be hesitant to play his hand by shutting down U.S. and NATO use of the network’s Russian component – effectively rendering it useless (apart from the Georgia and Turkey-based Black Sea routes, which also require a Caspian Sea crossing given Iran’s geography). An article in the Christian Science Monitor is replete with quotes from senior U.S. defense officials lamenting that a disruption to the network could be disastrous to the U.S. withdrawal effort. “It’s been a heck of a process and of course we’re always looking out for any disruptions to it,” notes one defense hand, adding that “Political problems with Russia is certainly one of them.”

Cyberattacks get bigger, smarter, more damaging

Wednesday, 5 Mar 2014 |
By: Peter Apps

Crashing websites and overwhelming data centres, a new generation of cyber attacks is costing millions and straining the structure of the Internet.

While some attackers are diehard activists, criminal gangs or nation states looking for a covert way to hit enemies, others are just teenage hackers looking for kicks.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have always been among the most common on the Internet, using hijacked and virus-infected computers to target websites until they can no longer cope with the scale of data requested, but recent weeks have seen a string of particularly serious attacks.

On Feb. 10, internet security firm Cloudflare says it protected one of its customers from what might be the largest DDoS documented so far.

At its height, the near 400 gigabyte per second (gbps) assault was about 30 percent larger than the largest attack documented in 2013, an attempt to knock down antispam website Spamhaus, which is also protected by Cloudflare.

The following day, a DDoS attack on virtual currency Bitcoin briefly took down its ability to process payments.

On Feb. 20, Internet registration firm Namecheap said it was temporarily overwhelmed by a simultaneous attack on 300 of the websites it registers, and bit.ly, which creates shortened addresses for websites like Twitter, says it was also knocked out briefly in February.

In a dramatic case of extortion, social networking site Meetup.com said on Monday it was fighting a sustained battle against hackers who brought down the site for several days and were demanding $300 to stop. It would not pay, Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman told Reuters.

DDoS attacks were at the heart of attacks blamed on Russian hackers against Estonia in 2007 and Georgia during its brief war with Russia in 2008. It is unclear if they played a role in the current stand-off between Moscow and Ukraine in which communications were disrupted and at least one major government website knocked out for up to 72 hours.

USAF Announces Intent to Launch 4 New Spy Satellites Into Geosynronous Orbit

The Very High Spy
March 5, 2014

March 5, 2014: The U.S. Air Force recently revealed that it is launching four GSAP (Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program) satellites that will spy on the most valuable and potentially dangerous (to the United States) foreign satellites. Not the low flying ones, which can be monitored from the ground, but the more expensive ones that operate in 36,000 kilometer high stationary (geosynchronous) orbits. Up there you have surveillance and communications satellites that basically stay over the same area on earth.

The four GSAP birds are mobile and will move about in the geosynchronous orbits checking out the competition and, in particular, looking for satellites equipped to attack other satellites in that space. They may spur an arms race up there if other countries, particularly China, suspects that the GSAP birds have a secondary attack function to knock out key (especially in wartime) Chinese commercial and military satellites in the geosynchronous region. The stated reason for GSAP is to give the U.S. (and its allies) a better idea of who has what up there and to have that information first. Two of the GSAP birds go up this year and the second two in 2016. Information on GSAP satellites was made public to try and avoid paranoid and unpredictable reactions from nations with satellites up there once they noted the GSAP birds moving about.

Prior to the GSAP program it was believed that the best way to deal with geosynchronous satellites was via jamming or otherwise messing with the signals going to and from these satellites. This led to the greater use of anti-jamming technologies like frequency hopping and DSSS (Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum) on the sending and earth side command stations. But all users of civilian satellites cannot be equipped with these anti-jamming devices. The satellite operators can use this stuff for the control signals (going to and coming from the satellite) and that is increasingly becoming necessary. Another problem with this approach is that jamming protection reduces the amount of data that can be sent, which is a serious and expensive cost for commercial communications satellites.

Meanwhile, the jamming of civilian users grows, usually as part of a state censorship program. For example, in late 2012 Syria and Iran were accused of jamming news service sent to Iran and Syria by BBC, France 24, Deutsche Welle and the Voice of America via radio and satellite. This jamming was apparently in retaliation for European communications satellite operators refusing to continue carrying 19 Iranian TV and radio channels (as part of the growing embargo on Iran) to audiences outside Iran. Syria and Iran denied they were jamming but there was ample evidence that the jamming was coming from those two countries. Over the last decade the U.S. has developed equipment and techniques for locating the source of jamming with considerable accuracy, and that effort has most frequently caught Iran doing what it always denies.