11 April 2014

Reviving the Maritime Silk Route

Published: April 11, 2014
Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy

APThe thrust on reviving the ancient maritime route is the first global strategy proposed by the new Chinese leaders for enhancing trade and fostering peace. Photo: AP

The Maritime Silk Route emphasises on improving connectivity but more importantly, it aspires to improve China’s geo-strategic position in the world

China is experiencing a “Deng Xiaoping Moment 2.0.” The new Chinese leadership seems fairly optimistic in its effort to reshape the country’s global posture in a bold and creative way, a key element of which is to build up an economic system through external cooperation. Undoubtedly, the proposal of reviving the Maritime Silk Route (MSR) demonstrates this innovative approach. Indeed, the success of the MSR initiative will be consequential to regional stability and global peace. It is little wonder then that this proposal has attracted enormous interests among policy makers and scholars.

The thrust on reviving the ancient maritime route is the first global strategy for enhancing trade and fostering peace, proposed by the new Chinese leaders. The MSR inherits the ancient metaphor of friendly philosophy from the old Silk Route to build the new one. It emphasises on improving connectivity with Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and even Africa, by building a network of port cities along the Silk Route, linking the economic hinterland in China. More importantly, it aspires to improve China’s geo-strategic position in the world. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, “The reason why China proposed the building of the Maritime Silk Route is to explore the unique values and ideas of the ancient Silk Route… and achieve common development and common prosperity of all countries in the region.” In fact, since the Tang Dynasty, the MSR had been a major channel of communication, through which ancient China made contacts with the outside world.Diffusing tension

Amid the ‘irresistible shift’ from the West to the East, Beijing is concerned with the U.S. pivot to the Asia-Pacific region. Also, the MSR could be an attempt to counter the “string of pearls” argument. China’s acrimonious relations with some states in Southeast Asia due to maritime disputes have created complex circumstances for itself in building better relations with its neighbours. Through their vision of re-energising the MSR, Chinese leaders aim to impart a new lease of life to China’s peripheral policy and diffuse the tension. Chinese leaders want to re-assure their commitment to the path of peaceful development, emphasising that “a stronger China will add to the force for world peace and the positive energy for friendship, and will present development opportunities to Asia and the world, rather than posing a threat.” The idea of the MSR was outlined during Li Keqiang’s speech at the 16th ASEAN-China summit in Brunei, and Xi Jinping’s speech in the Indonesian Parliament in October 2013. Chinese leaders underlined the need to re-establish the centuries-old seaway into a 21st century MSR, while celebrating the 10th anniversary of the ASEAN-China strategic partnership. The main emphasis was placed on stronger economic cooperation, closer cooperation on joint infrastructure projects, the enhancement of security cooperation, and strengthening “maritime economy, environment technical and scientific cooperation.”

At sea, Sino-India ties need propulsion

Apr 11, 2014

Arun Kumar Singh
Given that China is looking for countries to invest its surplus $2 trillion, India should favourably consider the recent March 2014 Chinese offer of investing $300 billion to improve India’s creaking infrastructure

For centuries, great powers (initially Europeans and then US) have sent warships to the Indian Ocean (and other oceans, of course) to protect their sea-borne trade, for colonisation, intervention to topple unfriendly governments, influence political events and gather intelligence about regional navies and ocean hydrography, which is vital for submarine operations.

In 2008, China — which had already invested in building ports in Burma, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan — used the pretext of anti-piracy patrols in the Horn of Africa to deploy three to four warships permanently in the Indian Ocean.

A few days before the loss of Malaysian Airways Flight MH 370, the Chinese Navy had informed the Indian defence attache in Beijing that a new Chinese Shang-class tactical nuclear submarine (SSN) had completed a two-month submerged patrol in the Indian Ocean and had returned to its base in Hainan Island after linking up with the Chinese warships on anti-piracy patrol off Somalia.

The message to India was clear — Chinese SSNs, remaining undetectable, could gather intelligence on Indian Navy shipping deployments along with acoustic and electronic signatures of individual warships, while posing an omnipresent threat to disrupt India’s sea-borne trade should hostilities break out. Can India ever consider the option of deploying India’s only SSN (the Russian Akula-class, INS Chakra) on a two-month submerged patrol in the South and East China seas? Possibly not. But India can change the equation by urgently providing funds to induct at least four SSNs and a dozen more long-range maritime patrol anti-submarine aircraft.

Subsequent Chinese Navy deployments have left little doubt in the minds of the international maritime community about Chinese political will to deploy its growing Navy to distant regions in order to further Chinese national interests. These deployments are in addition to the deployment of Chinese Coast Guard and Naval units in the disputed waters of the South and East China seas, and off Somalia on anti-piracy patrol.


Thursday, 10 April 2014 | Claude Arpi |

Neville Maxwell, who recently ‘released’ the Henderson-Brooks-Bhagat Report on the 1962 conflict, claims that Nehru forced the war on Mao. This is a dangerously inaccurate interpretation of history and must be debunked

It is necessary to come back to the Henderson-Brooks-Bhagat Report and the role played by Neville Maxwell. The Australian journalist, who recently ‘released’ the famous report by posting it on his website, has been propagating a wrong interpretation of history, that India attacked China in 1962. Even presuming that Indian troops may have crossed what the Chinese perceived as the international border, many other factors have to be taken into consideration.

At age 87, why Maxwell remains a great advocate of China’s theory that India was the aggressor, is a mystery to me. It is not that I have any doubt that Nehru committed blunder after blunder, but Maxwell’s version is truly a biased over-simplification of the facts.

In an interview with The South China Morning Post, when asked by the Hong Kong newspaper: “What do you hope to achieve with this disclosure?” Maxwell answered: “What I have been trying to do for nearly 50 years! To rid Indian opinion of the induced delusion that, in 1962, India was the victim of an unprovoked surprise Chinese aggression, to make people in India see that the truth was that it was mistakes by the Indian Government, specifically Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, that forced the war on China.”

Reading the HBBR does not show that India forced a war on China, it just proves that India was not prepared to successfully defend some new forward positions ordered by Krishna Menon (and Nehru) in North-East Frontier Agency and Ladakh. It is undoubtedly a Himalayan blunder in itself; it demonstrates the foolishness of the Prime Minister (and his arrogant Defence Minister), but it was certainly not the root-cause of the War. The ‘forward policy’ was, however, the ideal pretext for Mao Tse-tung to show that India could not go unpunished for insulting China by giving refuge to the Dalai Lama and his followers.

String of Ports


In its manifesto released this week, the BJP promises to build new world-class ports and modernise the old ones all along the Indian coastline, as part of what it calls “port-led development”. The BJP’s name for the project, “Sagar Mala”, evokes, perhaps unintentionally, China’s “String of Pearls” in the Indian Ocean. Over the last decade, China has embarked on the construction of a number of ports in India’s neighbourhood, starting with Gwadar, in Pakistan, and Hambantota in Sri Lanka. New Delhi worries that some of these ports might turn into forward bases for the People’s Liberation Army.

India’s immediate problem, however, is not the prospect of China acquiring military facilities in the Indian Ocean. Given the long and vulnerable lines of communication from China’s eastern seaboard to the Indian Ocean, China’s bases will be easy pickings in a war.

The real problem for India is the massive maritime gap with China in the civilian domain. Out of the top 10 busiest container ports in the world, China has seven. India’s JNPT is placed at number 30 and is the only one in the list of top 50.

The story is much the same when we compare the tonnage of merchant fleet or the ship-building capacities. If the BJP is serious about generating millions of jobs through manufacturing and trade, it must necessarily focus on a rapid expansion of India’s maritime infrastructure. “Sagar Mala” could be a good first step.


Without strong national maritime capabilities, Delhi will find it hard to either compete or cooperate with Beijing in Asia’s waters. Beijing has trumped the talk of rivalry with India by inviting Delhi to join China in the building of a maritime silk road across the Indo-Pacific. This has put Delhi in a spot of bother. It is in no position to stop China from building up its presence in the Indian Ocean. But Delhi is also reluctant to “endorse” China’s rising maritime profile in what India considers its backwaters. There is only one way out of this corner.

Sleepwalking to surrender

Khaled Ahmed | April 11, 2014
The Taliban see the tide turning. They say the ‘secular’ PPP, MQM and ANP are their enemies and the rest can be spared.

As the Pakistani state embraces the Taliban, the chorus of the clerics drowns out liberal voices.

TV talkshow journalist Raza Rumi was attacked and nearly killed in Lahore in the last week of March because a) he was seen as a liberal, or b) working for an Ismaili-owned TV channel, or c) for visiting India and writing a book about shrines in Delhi that the non-state actors of Pakistan don’t like. Meanwhile, Pakistan is talking peace.

As Pakistan smokes the peace pipe with the Taliban after yielding 60,000 civilians and 5,000 troops dead to them, the media is measuring the impact. The clerics who never get votes and therefore don’t contest elections have become empowered and appear scary in their aggressive rhetoric. The TV anchor has become anti-American and anti-NGO and warns about “liberals who get paid by America to oppose Islam”.

The Taliban see the tide turning. And they are outspoken in their preferences and discrimination about a nation they have been massacring without distinction. They say the “secular” Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) are their enemies and the rest can be spared. The high-value persons they have kidnapped belong to the PPP and ANP. Out in the street, Islamic practices are in full force; nobody dare stop the illegal use of the loudspeaker blaring the name of Allah. The common man uses speech habits that highlight his faith.



Friday, 11 April 2014 | G Parthasarathy |

India did well to abstain from voting on a US-sponsored resolution of the United Nation Human Rights Council that asked for an international probe into the last days of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka

In April 1977, just after the Janata Party Government assumed office, eminent Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko arrived in Delhi, looking visibly nervous. Having backed Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, Gromyko expected a cold reception in South Block. His counterpart, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee smilingly put him at ease, saying that he had no hard feelings and asserted: “Indo-Soviet relations are strong and do not depend on the political fortunes of any individual or political party”. Happily, that type of statesmanship was retained amidst the heated rhetoric of the current election campaign. Both major national parties have not bickered about the approach to two major foreign policy issues.

As tensions escalated in Ukraine, the UPA Government took the position that while we would like issues to be resolved peacefully between the parties concerned, the legitimate interests of Russia cannot be overlooked. This was followed by the decision for India to abstain in a US-sponsored resolution in the UN Human Rights Council, that sought an international inquiry and involvement in the civilian casualties in the last days of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. This was a sensitive issue, in which passions were being competitively inflamed by political parties in Tamil Nadu, some of whom are allied to the NDA. Despite the surcharged atmosphere in Tamil Nadu, the BJP did not oppose the Government’s action and, in fact, let it be known what it felt about India’s larger national interests.

The UNHRC resolution this year, unlike in the past, included the constitution of an open-ended international investigation into developments in a sovereign member state. This goes well beyond the current understanding and basic operative principles of the UNHRC. Moreover, unlike resolutions of the UN Security Council, resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council are not enforceable by international sanctions. Not surprisingly, this resolution did not secure the support of the majority of members on the council. Only 23 of the council’s 47 members supported the resolution, with the majority either abstaining or voting against. Apart from South Korea, every other member of India’s Asian and Indian Ocean neighbourhood either abstained or voted against the resolution. These included China, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, the Maldives, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Despite their reputed global influence, the US and its allies could pick up support only from a few Latin American and African countries in the end.

***** The Indian Ocean World Order

April 10, 2014

By Robert Kaplan

A noteworthy geopolitical shift is emerging that the media have yet to report on. In future years, a sizable portion of the U.S. Navy's forces in the Middle East could be spending less time in the Persian Gulf and more time in the adjacent Indian Ocean. Manama in Bahrain will continue to be the headquarters of the Fifth Fleet. But American warships and their crews, as well as the myriad supply and repair services for them, could be increasingly focused on the brand new Omani port of Duqm, located outside the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Sea, which, in turn, forms the western half of the Indian Ocean.

High-ranking U.S. defense officials, military and civilian, have been visiting Oman and particularly Duqm of late. A few years ago, Duqm was just a blank spot on the map, facing the sea on a vast and empty coastline with its back to the desert. Now, $2 billion has been invested to build miles and miles of quays, dry docks, roads, an airfield and hotels. By the time Duqm evolves into a full-fledged city-state, $60 billion will have been spent, officials told me during a visit I made there -- a visit sponsored by the government of Oman.

Duqm is a completely artificial development that aims to be not a media, cultural or entertainment center like Doha or Dubai, but a sterile and artificially engineered logistical supply chain city of the 21st century, whose basis of existence will be purely geographical and geopolitical. Duqm has little history behind it; it will be all about trade and business. If you look at the map, Duqm lies safely outside the increasingly vulnerable and conflict-prone Persian Gulf, but close enough to take advantage of the Gulf's energy logistics trail. It is also midway across the Arabian Sea, between the growing middle classes of India and East Africa.

For Oman, Duqm is key to nation building, as it will further link the southwestern Omani province of Dhofar and its port of Salalah with the ports of Muscat and Sohar in northeastern Oman. For theUnited States, Duqm will be a partial answer to the Chinese-built port of Gwadar on the nearby coast of Pakistan. As China continues its growing involvement in Indian Ocean ports (as I documented in my 2010 book, "Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power"), the United States will seek to preserve the balance of power in the Indian Ocean with its own military and commercial footprint. The reported new emphasis on Duqm would be a giant step toward the U.S. Navy becoming an Indian Ocean-Pacific sea force instead of an Atlantic-Pacific one, as it has been for all of its previous history. From Duqm, the U.S. Navy would still be close enough to the Persian Gulf to bomb Iran, yet without American warships being as hemmed-in and exposed to attack as they are in Bahrain. To be clear, this will be a gradual and subtle shift over time. The U.S. Navy is not deserting Bahrain and the Gulf.

For China, Duqm can be a transshipment hub for its consumer goods bound for the Indian subcontinent and East Africa -- especially for the growing markets of Tanzania and Mozambique. In other words, container ships would arrive from China, and the containers themselves would then be off-loaded at Duqm for transport on smaller ships to various points in Africa, India and the Greater Middle East. Salalah, farther southwest, already serves this purpose. But local officials maintain that there will be enough commercial sea traffic in coming decades to make Duqm viable as well. Though China has openly expressed interest in utilizing Duqm, Omani officials assured me that China will never have the influence over this new port as they have at others around the Indian Ocean.

Are the BRICS Irrelevant?

Are the BRICS Irrelevant?


While the collective economic power of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa may be waning, the foundation of the group’s political partnership remains strong.

After a decade as the darling of the economic world, the BRICS group is rumored to be facing its demise. While the collective economic power of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa is indeed waning, the foundation of the group’s political partnership remains strong. Even as China pulls ahead of other countries in terms of economic might, political cooperation will ensure that the BRICS remains a salient grouping in the years to come. 

The BRICS group began as an international political force when Russia initiated a meeting with Brazil, India, and China in 2006. Four years later, China invited South Africa to join the club. And today, the BRICS nations are the self-selected representatives of the world’s emerging economies and developing countries, collectively leading a challenge to Western-dominated international governance. However, most predictions about the association’s future—which are based on the assumption that BRICS is, first and foremost, an economic grouping—regard its demise as imminent. 

CARNEGIE–TSINGHUA CENTER FOR GLOBAL POLICY In recent years, talk of the breakdown of the BRICS and the attendant rise of some new group of emerging countries has come into fashion. Even Goldman Sachs, whose economist Jim O’Neill first coined the catchy acronym BRICs (then without South Africa) in 2001, considered replacing the grouping with the Next 11—Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey, South Korea, and Vietnam. But Next 11 was not nearly as catchy as BRICS, and Goldman Sachs’s campaign had limited success. 

After a series of lesser-known proposals that have not gained much traction, MINT (short for Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey) has joined the field. MINT is the current front-runner to be the next stylish acronym—even O’Neill has endorsed the grouping. 

Can the BRICS survive as a meaningful concept in this post-BRICS world—one in which global growth is powered by MINT or any other combination of letters and countries? 

It is clear that few commentators seriously believe the BRICS grouping is a bloc. With the exception of economic performance and influence—both amorphous concepts—the BRICS group lacks a shared defining characteristic. 

Modernisation of Army Air Defence in India

Date : 10 Apr , 2014

Miniaturised Version of Akash

The air threat envelope is increasing exponentially both in range and altitude, making it essential that the range and altitude of coverage of GBADWS is increased commensurately. Air defence in the emerging battle-space therefore necessitates deployment of multi-layered and multi-tiered mix of weapon systems that are hardened to function in a hostile cyber and electronic warfare environment. Overall, within the gamut of the Indian Army’s vision of the future, AAD must evolve into a modern net-enabled force capable of providing air defence protection to field forces and strategic assets against the complete spectrum of air threat in all operations of war and in all types of terrain. In doing so, the new technologies of stealth, unmanned aerial platforms and the Chinese concept of mass attack using a variety of warheads must be taken into account.

The concept of air defence was actually initiated in India during the British days in 1939…

Army Air Defence (AAD) has perhaps been the most neglected arm of the Indian Army over the years, leading to bulk equipment having going vintage. To start with, the birth of AAD itself had terrible labour pains with the Regiment of Artillery vehemently opposing its break away and delaying the decision as long as possible even once the proposal was approved. Unfortunately, indigenous R&D has not been able to make any worthwhile contribution, which is hardly surprising considering that India continues to import over 70 per cent of its defence equipment. The Indian defence industry has not been able to develop modern assault rifles, carbines and light machine guns, forcing the Infantry as well as the Central Armed Police Forces to resort to imports.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reinforced the significance of air power in modern warfare and in relation to this, the importance of air defence hardly needs elaboration. In fact, the emergence of space and its weaponisation has raised the importance of air defence to the next level. Consequently, future Ground Based Air Defence Weapon Systems (GBADWS) will have to operate well beyond the traditional threat envelope of current generation weapons. This will be vital in the event of a future Sino-Indian conflict. In India, the overall responsibility of air defence rests with the Indian Air Force and perhaps that is the reason that only in recent years, some movement has taken place to modernise the AAD.

Is India About to Abandon Its No-First Use Nuclear Doctrine?

The BJP election manifesto suggests that India may soon adopt a more aggressive stance on nuclear weapons. 
April 09, 2014

The presumed next Indian government could drop India’s no-first use (NFU) nuclear doctrine, if its new election manifesto is any guide

Ahead of the start of elections in India this week, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—which is widely expected to win a plurality of seats and form a government under Narendra Modi—released its 2014 election manifesto

In a section entitled, “Independent Strategic Nuclear Program,” the BJP promised that, if elected, it would “study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times.” It also stated that it would “maintain a credible minimum deterrent that is in tune with changing geostatic realities.” 

The BJP is a pro-Hindu, nationalistic political party that has generally taken a much more strident stance on nuclear issues relative to the Congress Party that is currently in power. It was under BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that India conducted its 1998 nuclear tests, formally declaring itself to be a nuclear weapons state. It is widely believed that Vajpayee had been planning on testing nuclear weapons during his previous 13 day stint as India’s premier in 1996, but was booted out of office before preparations were complete. 

By contrast, under the current Congress-led government, India has focused more on developing its civilian nuclear energy sector, including signing the historic U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal. Moreover, just last week Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for a global convention in which each nuclear-armed country adopted a no-first use doctrine. This would allow nuclear weapons to be taken off hair-trigger alert and theoretically could reduce the potential for accidental launches. 

In the manifesto released on Monday, the BJP sought to reframe the nuclear debate by declaring: “BJP believes that the strategic gains acquired by India during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime on the nuclear program have been frittered away by the Congress. Our emphasis was, and remains on, beginning of a new thrust on framing policies that would serve India’s national interest in the 21st century. We will follow a two-pronged independent nuclear program, unencumbered by foreign pressure and influence, for civilian and military purposes, especially as nuclear power is a major contributor to India’s energy sector.” 

Most news reports on the nuclear section of the manifesto said that the terminology was meant to signal that a BJP government would abandon India’s no-first use (NFU) nuclear doctrine if it prevails in the elections. In its 1999 draft nuclear doctrine, written by the BJP-led government that initiated the nuclear tests a year earlier, India adopted a no-first use nuclear doctrine and pledged to maintain a defense-oriented credible minimum deterrence. 

Situation Report: Pakistan

Situation Report: Pakistan


Religious conflict has been part of Pakistan since its inception. While the state can be said to be a victim of its own policies, it does not face any existential threat.

In our third offering to introduce the new website (find the Nigeria report hereand Thailand report here), Dr Frederic Grare of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace examines the situation in Pakistan, and finds that religious conflict has been part of the Pakistani state since its inception. Pakistan faces conflict on various fronts – those it created and those it did not: separatists, pro–regime jihadists, Islamist revolutionaries and sectarians. Fundamentally, the state can be said to be a victim of its own policies, but it does not face any existential threat.  Pakistan is not the victim of a single conflict, but rather a series of localised conflicts of different natures, which, due to the nature of the actors and the policy of the state, are unlikely ever to coalesce into a single threat. Moreover, violence is hugely variable across the country, and even within provinces.

As such, despite the deaths of over 50 000 people in the past decade[1] through political violence, much of it with religious dimensions, such violence does not pose a threat to the Pakistani state. Neither political violence nor its religious dimension is a new phenomenon. They were intrinsic to Pakistan's creation and independence. All four provinces and the Northern Territories have suffered, but in recent years the hardest hit have been Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as the semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Large areas of the country are unaffected, and poor governance makes it hard to identify the weakness of state institutions with violence. However, its persistence - exacerbated by the use of violent proxies by the security establishment - undermines the confidence of citizens in their government. 

As it has progressed, the religious causes of violence have become unclear, as loose religious ideologies serve as rallying points than drivers of violent action. This ambiguity is made more so by most Pakistani Islamist schools of thought sharing the aim of building an Islamic state by means of jihad. As such, the differentiation between Islamist groups lies in their pro- or anti-state leanings, in either case articulated on theological lines. 


Despite the increased level of violence observed after 9/11, the fullest development of religiously motivated political violence in Pakistan can be traced to the ideologically-charged atmosphere of the 1980s. 

The Islamic revolution in Iran, the Iran-Iraq War, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan all had an impact on the level of violence in Pakistan. Sunni and Shia extremist militant organisations started targeting members of the other sect, and Sunni militant organisations were used by the security establishment to carry out operations in Afghanistan and Kashmir. But these phenomena affected Pakistan mostly because of the Islamisation policies of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the military dictator who had seized power from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1977. 

Point, Counter-Point: ‘Overlooking’ Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers

Point, Counter-Point: A Four Part Series

Mark Fitzpatrick’s argument for “nuclear rehabilitation of Pakistan” in his bookOvercoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers reminds one of a scene from a famous Bollywood movie Sholey. Jai, one of the male protagonists goes to meet the female protagonist’s (Basanti) aunt (Mausi) to ask her consent for the marriage of Basanti and his friend Veeru. Upon enquiry by Mausi regarding Veeru’s character, Jai gives a very quirky response with numerous contradictions. He says that Veeru is a commendable person despite the fact that he does not win every time he gambles. Despite of this, Veeru will surely begin earning responsibly once his gets into a marital alliance. He adds that he is a nice guy but once he drinks he loses control; however if Basanti marries him, he will also stop such activities and would also put an end to his practice of going to brothel. Upon more enquiries regarding Veeru’s ancestral origin, Veeru says that he will inform her once he becomes aware of it. He periodically praises Veerudespite all bad habits he has. Mausi, shocked by the responds, retorts that it is surprising how Jai is appreciating his friend who seems to possess no great quality of a respectable groom. To this Veeru responds, “kya karu mausi, mera toh dil hi kuch aisa hai!” (What to do aunt, my heart is such).

Similarly, Fitzpatrick seems to acknowledge all the problems with nuclear Pakistan – track record of proliferation, a lowered nuclear threshold, command and control prone to human error, warheads not one-point safe, inability to control the terrorists – and still vouches for Pakistan to be recognised “as a normal nuclear state” especially when some may say that Pakistan itself is not a normal state. His compassion is discernible when he says “how long Pakistan must pay the price” for the Khan nuclear proliferation network – “a solitary event.” Drawing a parallel to India’s performance, Fitzpatrick argues that “the time has come to offer Pakistan a nuclear-cooperation deal akin to India’s”.

At the outset, his thesis suffers from the ‘India parity syndrome’, which has in fact drained Pakistan for more than six decades now. The author warns that preferentially accepting India’s NSG membership is “likely to drive Pakistan further away from the West”. However, he has overlooked the repercussions of rewarding Pakistan.

Most disturbing is how the author equates Pakistan’s proven nuclear proliferation record with baseless allegations against India’s without substantiating it with convincing facts. He further says, “India must realise that Pakistan does not control all groups that perpetrate terrorism”. In this context,an observation by George Perkovich is worth noting. He deftly states that in the larger context of deterrence stability, “a state cannot be a responsible possessor of nuclear weapons if it does not have sovereign control over organized perpetrators of international violence operating from its territory”.

Afghanistan Votes Against the Taliban

Afghanistan’s election results aren’t out yet but we know who certainly lost the election: the Taliban. 
April 09, 2014

Six women were arguing with the security guards of Zarghuna High School in central Kabul to let them enter the compound for voting. The guards argued that it was already 5 p.m. and the women could not be let in as voting had closed. Still, the women insisted. The head of security came in and he too tried to drive in the point that the p.m. deadline had passed but the women contended that a few minutes here and there did not make much of a difference and if they missed the chance this time they would have a long wait ahead of them to vote, which they said they did not want to do. Seeing their determination, the chief relented and allowed them to enter the school and they were ushered into the last classroom where the ballot box was just about to be sealed. The women voted and left the school flashing their inked fingers. 

This was the mood in Afghanistan on Saturday when the country voted for in its first democratic transition of government; the country had never seen this kind of zeal to vote. According to initial estimates given by the Independent Election Commission, 7 out of twelve million registered voters cast their vote on April 5th, meaning close to 60 percent of eligible voters came out to exercise their democratic rights. The turnout is double what it was in the 2009 elections. It was higher than the first elections in 2004 as well. 

But elections cannot be confined to numbers only. One has to fathom the enthusiasm and excitement of the voters to quantify the electoral exercise in a country which is making a history by transferring power through democratic means, a feat Afghanistan has never accomplished in its history so far. 

“I was really keen to vote in these elections. I cannot pick up guns, but I have my vote to defeat the forces which have made our life hell and which have reduced such a great country to the margins of all parameters of social and economic development,” says Tahira, one of the six women who were the last ones to vote in Zarghuna elections. 

“You know, the killing of female journalists a few days ago jolted me and disturbed me a lot. How long can we allow the Taliban to treat women as a substandard human beings. We don’t want to see the return of extremist forces in this country again, those who made us refugees in our own country,” retorted Sajida, 49, after casting her vote late Saturday evening. A teacher by profession, she recalls the days lived under the Taliban regime between 1996 to 2001 as “the worst nightmare of my life.” 

Pakistan Unveils Anti - Terror Policy: Confusion or Clarity


Chickens have surely come home to roost in restive Pakistan with the scourge of terrorism - a cardinal of its state policy spearheading its strategy for neighbouring India and Afghanistan, now having assumed such dangerous proportions that Pakistan’s very existence remains under a grave threat. According to conservative estimates, terrorism, since the last decade has inflicted over 50 thousand casualties which includes nearly 19 thousand civilians, 26 thousand terrorists and nearly 6 thousand security personnel inside Pakistan. Besides, this plague had conferred on Pakistan the status of an international pariah and labeled it universally as an ‘epicentre of global terror’. 

An analysis of Pakistan’s counter terror strategy over the past few years reveals that not only it has been knee-jerk, flip-flop but lacking in a determined and coherent nationally unified approach. Pakistan’s attitude towards the terror groups both within Pakistan and outside has been more than selective. Pakistan had belatedly trained its guns on the Hakimullah Mehsud led Pakistan based Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP), but conveniently turned a blind eye to other terror groups like the Haqqani network, the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group in North Waziristan and the Maulvi Nazim group in South Waziristan, which it has been treating as its ‘strategic assets’ for targeting the US, the ISAF and the Karzai administration in Afghanistan. These terror groups have been unifying their agendas to promote their sinister activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They consider the Pakistani Constitution unIslamic and are zealously working for the rule of the ‘Sharia’ in Pakistan, including through the ‘madrassas’ and mosques. This needs to be seriously countered by Pakistan, especially its political leadership, the military, the youth and its dwindling civil society. At the recently concluded Lahore Literary Festival, which was attended by many Indian writers too, former Pakistani Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar courageously expressed Pakistan’s current agony by asserting that “the biggest threat to Pakistan’s existence were the non-state actors created by the state itself to fight its proxy wars.” 

Boiling Cauldron - Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan


Afghanistan and Iraq go for elections this month, while Syria plunges deeper into terror, killings and destruction.While the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has been extended until 17 March 2015 vide resolution 2145 (2014), it was acerbic on part of the UNSC to say that the people of Afghanistan should not allow “spoilers and terrorists” to undermine their democratic future, as if the people of Afghanistan are not nationalists and have any control over the terror flowing in from across the borders, besides the ‘great game’ that the region has been subjected to over the years, which is continuing. No doubt very few Pashtuns in the south and east Afghanistan turned up for the 2009 elections because of Taliban threat and the Taliban have again threatened death to anyone who takes part in the elections but voters have to be provided protection and not left to their fate.The 2014 exit declaration by US, inviting Taliban for talks without participation of Northern Alliance (who helped the US invasion succeed in the first place) and the soft US stance on Pakistan (the prime source of terrorism) have led Afghan’s to say that they are being subcontracted to Pakistan. If Hamid Karzai did not sign the BSA, perhaps the main reason was the underhand deal by the US being worked out that Pakistan Taliban entering Afghanistan would not be targeted as long as they were not operating conjointly with Al Qaeda. Obviously, US interests are to keep Afghanistan on the boil – checkmating China? So, what difference would the BSA make other than granting US troops immunity against Afghan law? As it is, the Taliban had declared that they would disrupt elections and terror attacks are taking place pan Afghanistanincluding in the West and North aside from Capital Kabul while south and east Afghanistan are perpetually violence ridden.An official Afghanistan statement this February put the total number of Afghan soldiers and police officers killed during the war at over 13,000 over and above 3,425 coalition soldiers killed during the 13-year conflict. The numbers also showed more clashes in past three years.With Afghanistan ranked 175 out of 187 countries on UN’s development index, whoever wins Afghanistan's 2014 presidential election will have his hands full with poverty, corruption, ethnic rivalries, terrorism and violent insurgency but the question also remains how the US and the West will continue to manipulate events in Afghanistan and the region, portents of which don’t look good. 

Iraq tops the global terror index. In 2013 alone, 8000 were killed in terrorist violence and over 18,000 injured. While terrorist attacks in the run up to elections would depend upon the degree of political influence wielded over terrorist groups, given the dynamics of the terrorist groups and the spate of incidents it is unlikely Iraq will be able to successfully separate the terrorists from the population and run a successful campaign in combating terrorism particularly with the state of sectarian strife despite the Sahwa movement since 2005 to establish anti-terrorism Awakening Councils against the ISIL, the most prominent terrorist organization. Apparently the terrorist groups cannot dislodge the central government but the latter too does not have the strength to decisively defeat them. ISIL poses the most serious terrorist and military threat, while the other groups primarily constitute a problem for the government to assert control in Sunni Arab areas. Then is the vital question of outside support to terrorism and political will within Iraq to finish terrorism. ISIL whose cadres were estimated at 2,500 by 2012 can undertake over 100 operations in a single month. Iraqi Kurdish recruits of ISIL are going to Syria to aid the rebels and there is also terrorist movement from Syria to Iraq. Despite the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq preceded by the Status of Forces Agreement and a Strategic Framework Agreement, strong suspicion remains of CIA funding terrorism in Iraq. 

Afghan Stability: New Equations

With the NATO drawdown, Afghanistan’s neighbors will have a growing role to play in the country’s stability. 
By SK Chatterji
April 09, 2014

With Afghanistan’s presidential election likely heading for a second round, it may be some time before the result is known. One issue the new president will need to address, though, is the Bilateral Security Agreement with the U.S., which incumbent Hamid Karzai has resolutely refused to sign, despite considerable pressure from the U.S. and the looming pullout of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Karzai’s stance may seem baffling, especially since the BSA was endorsed by a Loya Jirga last November. But he may be making a pragmatic judgment as to Washington’s long-term ability to keep the peace in Afghanistan. 

The “zero option” that Washington has enunciated, if executed, will create a power vacuum in Afghanistan. Even if that option were avoided and a limited American force of approximately 3,000 were maintained, there would still be a steep drop in area dominance capabilities, with Afghan National Security Forces left almost entirely in charge. The Taliban would doubtless attempt to fill the vacuum. 

Equally certain, Afghanistan’s neighbours would not be comfortable with a radical Taliban exporting terror to their countries across porous borders. Even those that do not share borders with Afghanistan would be concerned. What role might these countries play in the wake of the NATO drawdown? 

Among Afghanistan’s more powerful neighbors is Iran. A Shia-majority nation, it feels a sense of responsibility for the considerable Shia population in Afghanistan. The two countries also share ethnic and linguistic overlaps. Iran’s concern for the Shia of Afghanistan is evidenced in its past responses. Following the 1979 Russian takeover and Afghan resistance, Iran provided support for the Persian-speaking Shia groups. When the Taliban came to power, Iranians supported the Northern Alliance partners. In 1998, when the Taliban overran Majar-e-Sharif and massacred thousands of Hazaras and 10 Iranians with diplomatic papers, Iran deployed its Army along its borders with Afghanistan. 

Iran also faces a serious drug problem, with Afghan opium smuggled across its borders. Moreover, it hosts more than two million Afghan refugees. 

Musharraf’s calculated return has achieved its objectives

April 8, 2014 Updated: April 8, 2014

These are historic days for Pakistan. For half of its 66-year history, Pakistan has been ruled by four military dictators, each of them convinced of his own moral and professional superiority over civilian politicians, particularly in the context of a country that’s been a geostrategic buffer state since the advent of the Cold War. During the several short bursts of democratic rule punctuating Pakistan’s political timeline, civilian attempts at reining in the military and its intelligence organisations had either been clumsy or inept, and ended in abject failure, leading to an administration’s downfall and, in due course, a resumption of direct military rule.

Thus the March 31 indictment of a former military president, retired general Pervez Musharraf, on charges of treason holds special significance, six years into a democratic dispensation under which the two top political parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan People’s Party, have adhered to a charter under which each promised to watch the other’s back to avert the perpetual conspiracies of the military’s spy arms. 

With Gen Musharraf indicted, it might be easy to conclude that Pakistan has attained “Arab Spring-plus” status.

Not exactly. Indicted or not, Gen Musharraf has succeeded in achieving many of his reasons for deciding to return to Pakistan in March last year. Sure, his attempt at contesting the May general election was shot down by the election commission, and he has since lived in confinement, whether at his plush farmhouse residence on the outskirts of Islamabad, or at the army-run cardiac hospital in neighbouring Rawalpindi. And now he faces trial for treason. 

However, by appearing in courts to answer four separate murder charges, including the December 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, he has succeeded both in obtaining bail and regaining his considerable wealth frozen by the courts during his absence overseas. Because of this, he has the money required to fight back against his many detractors.

Similarly, he has exposed the reality of relations between the military and the government. His successor as army chief, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, had pleaded with him not to return, because it would establish a precedent of accountability of the hitherto unaccountable. It would also serve as a reminder to the Pakistani public that, however poor the performance of democratic governments, at least they were accountable for their failures. 

However, the wily Gen Musharraf defied his erstwhile subordinates by accusing them of abandonment, a theme that played well to the internal audience of midcareer army officers who had been commissioned under his seven-year leadership. That translated into pressure on Gen Kayani and, in turn, the government’s decision not to proceed against Musharraf until Gen Kayani’s retirement last November, by which time the lack of substantial evidence against him in four murder cases had left the trial courts with no option but to grant him bail. 

As such, he was on the verge of becoming a free man, and well-placed to thumb his nose at prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whom he’d overthrown in October 1999, as well as at the judges he’d sacked in November 2007, who had since been reinstated and had established the judiciary as a powerful new lobby within Pakistan’s body politic. 

Mongolia: Activist and Ambitious

In the past year, Mongolia has experienced a vast proliferation of diplomatic contact with its region and the world. 
April 08, 2014

Mongolia is fast becoming an ambitious country worth watching in the Asia-Pacific. Given its neighborhood, it is perhaps unsurprising that most attention is focused on its two (much) larger neighbors, but under the leadership of President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj the country’s foreign ambitions have grown considerably. 

Nations from the world over have experienced high-level contact with Mongolia in the past year. Part of Mongolia’s diplomatic explosion was driven by a poor foreign direct investment outlook in the beginning of 2013—as a resource rich country, Mongolia’s economic well-being is highly contingent on the health of its mining sector. A 43 percent decline in overall foreign investment, and a 32 percent decline in the mining sector, was thus cause for concern. Mongolia used the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its establishing a professional diplomatic service to pursue its activist foreign policy worldwide — it has set the goal of establishing bilateral diplomatic relations with all UN member states. At the same time, Mongolia, under Foreign Minister Lu Bold, has adopted a “one window” policy wherein its diplomats disseminate information globally about Mongolia as a hospitable destination for foreign direct investment. 

President Elbegdorj himself traveled across Asia and the world to improve Mongolia’s presence on the world stage. He traveled to Japan, North Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, and Norway. The North Korea visit emphasized that Mongolia sought to play a great role in Asia by suggesting that it be incorporated into the Six Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear program (should those ever resume). Mongolia’s desire to act as a mediator between North Korea and the rest of the world highlights its regional ambitions. 

World leaders returned the favor for Mongolia’s outreach efforts by making visits to the country in return. As The Diplomat reported recently, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s April Asia tour includes a stop in Ulaanbatar — the first visit by a U.S. Defense Secretary to the country in nine years. Hagel’s visit seemed to be a reward for Mongolia’s outreach efforts, highlighting a growing U.S. strategic interest in the country (which is located between two major U.S. rivals). That Vice President Joe Biden visited in August 2011 further highlights a growing interest in Mongolia in the United States. Apart from the U.S., Mongolia managed to draw leaders from far outside its region, including Poland and Canada. Furthermore, British Foreign Secretary William Hague visited the country on the occasion of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Britain and Mongolia. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is also serving as an adviser for the Mongolia government on a trove of newfound copper and gold wealth in the Gobi desert. 

U.S.-China Relations: Moving Beyond the Script

OP-ED APRIL 8, 2014


China’s dramatic rise in economic power and international clout presents Beijing and Washington with the challenge of how to manage relations between a rising power and a status quo power.


At the historic U.S.-China Summit in Rancho Mirage, California in June 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping remarked, “At present, the China-U.S. relationship has reached a new historical starting point.”1 Indeed, China’s dramatic rise in economic power and international clout over the past forty years presents Beijing and Washington with the challenge of how to manage relations between a rising power and a status quo power, amid increasing bilateral interdependence, tension, and mistrust. 

Less than four decades ago, the architects of the U.S.-China relationship began building what they hoped would develop into a sustainable and constructive bilateral relationship, through “a handshake across the Pacific Ocean.”2 They could not have foreseen that in such short time, the U.S.-China relationship would become one of the most active, highest-profile, and important bilateral relationships in the world. Since formalizing bilateral relations in 1979, shared interests, strong vision and leadership in the U.S.-China relationship have persevered, delivering great benefits to the citizens of China, the United States, and beyond. 


The inflexion point of relations that both countries face today will be no less challenging or significant than the one in 1979. In fact, history predicts that efforts to avoid destabilizing competition will ultimately be unsuccessful. However, both sides understand the stakes that rest on a strong U.S.-China relationship, the most consequential of any in the twenty-first century.

This paper outlines the necessary elements of a new approach to U.S.-China relations that can carry both sides peacefully through their next stages of development. It argues that Xi’s proposed framework of a “new type of major country relationship” between the U.S. and China will require a new type of U.S.-China interaction—one that is open and candid; one that both presidents take ownership of; and one with a global agenda based on shared interests. 


Today, the media portrays the U.S.-China relationship as one mired in disagreement and destined for conflict. Narratives and issues are framed in zero-sum terms, in which any win for China is a loss for the United States, and vice versa. From Capitol Hill to the presidential campaign trail, the rise of China is described as a threat to U.S. predominance and its long-term objectives. In China, the United States’ strategic rebalancing to Asia is primarily understood as part of a larger effort to contain China’s rise. 

In order to accurately analyze the current state of U.S.-China relations, it is important to evaluate where the relationship between China and the United States originated. For over three decades after WWII, both countries had very little contact or exchange—whether in the context of business, academic, governmental, or otherwise. Until the period of Ping Pong Diplomacy and former U.S. president Richard Nixon’s first secret visit to China in 1972, the leadership of the United States and China were forced to communicate and send official messages through third-party countries, such as Pakistan. 

The Debt Surge Will Not Ruin China

The Debt Surge Will Not Ruin China
Yukon Huang, Canyon Bosler
OP-ED APRIL 8, 2014


China will see a rise in banks’ nonperforming loans and increasingly frequent defaults in the bond and shadow banking markets. This process will be very messy but is unlikely to derail the economy.

The doomsday scenario is concerned with the total debt of Chinese households, firms and the government. This has grown sharply since 2008 to around 210% of GDP in 2013. The rate of increase is much higher than the 40-50 percentage point booms that occurred in the U.S. and United Kingdom before the global financial crisis, Korea before the Asian financial crisis, or Japan before its lost decade.

The more pessimistic analysts also expect China's debt to GDP ratio to continue rising, driving the interest burden of the debt to around 20% of GDP in 2017 from its current 12%. They believe that while the day of reckoning may not be tomorrow, it will likely arrive in a few years. 

More optimistic observers point out that China's debt of around 210% of GDP is not abnormally high. Its ratio is close to that of regional peers Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand and much lower than advanced economies, whose debt has averaged over 300% of GDP in recent years. But while the level of debt may not be a problem, the speed and extent of the rise are seen to create vulnerabilities. 

Even if that's correct, China differs from its predecessors. Its initial rise in debt was the result of a deliberate state-driven stimulus program in response to the global financial crisis, which successfully prevented a sharp downturn. 

In other crisis countries, a credit surge was due to the culmination of a long-term deterioration in financial indicators. This was brought on by excessive external borrowings, rising current account deficits and overvalued exchange rates or excessively leveraged housing markets exacerbated by chronic fiscal deficits. 

China's rise in debt after the stimulus was fed by a construction boom which many see as a property bubble. A more likely explanation for the sharp rise in housing prices is that the market is trying to establish appropriate values for assets previously hidden in a socialist system. 

China’s New Neighbourhood Strategy: Korean and Japnese Reactions

7 April 2014 
East Asia Compass 
Sandip Kumar Mishra
Assistant Professor, University of Delhi and Visiting Fellow, IPCS 

It is interesting to track inter-state relations and equations in East Asia in the context of China’s policy of building a ‘Community of Common Destiny’ (CCD). China, after its first official announcement of the concept in 2007 to describe its special relations with Taiwan, has further expanded its use to describe its relations with Central Asian and ASEAN countries and its neighbourhood. Chinese President Xi Jinping has re-emphasised the concept to introduce a new Chinese contribution to inter-state relations in the region, along the lines of other catchphrases like China Dream, new type of great power relations, and peaceful neighbourhood. Xi Jinping’s emphasis on the concept could also be seen as a counter-balancing measure to US’ ‘return to Asia’ or ‘Asian pivot’.

The trajectory of China’s behaviour in Southeast and East Asian politics in the recent past does not suggest the spirit of the CDCD and might be therefore perceived as another Chinese effort to camouflage its aggressive strategic intents in the region. It seems that China uses the softest terms and language when it wants to pursue the most aggressive political and military intent. The CCD, rather than soothing neighbouring countries, creates a sense of suspicion in their minds. China is perceived as ambidextrous in its policy to create power dominance in regional politics and increase bilateral economic ties with the countries of the region. This basic contradiction in Chinese foreign policy makes all its catchphrases, including the CCD, meaningless, or at least doubtful about their real intentions and implications. 

Having said that, it would not be constructive to write-off the CCD as just a catchphrase and devoid of any serious meaning and intent. The current phase of inter-state relations in Asia and beyond could be characterised by huge networks of transnational interactions, and it is possible to move beyond archaic notions of the balance of power, anarchy, great power rivalry, power transition etc, which are basically products of 19th and 20th century European experiences. It does not mean that inter-state relations have transformed in the current era. It only means that the relations have become much more varied, complex and overlapping, and it is possible to inculcate common cooperative and inclusive security by bringing in non-military elements into the discourse. Since the current phase could be, at best, called transitory, it would be not be possible to abandon military and power dynamics altogether. However, it must be brought to a secondary level. Thus, China’s notion of the CCD is a welcome initiative and it must be appreciated. At the same timne, it must be communicated to China through collective mechanisms and bilateral interactions that its quest for power and dominance would be costly and it must refrain from such behaviour.