10 June 2014

Victims of political manipulation

 June 10, 2014
Meera Srinivasan

The HinduFisher folk of Pesalai, Mannar, are among those worst hit by the Indian trawlers that trespass into their waters. Photo: Meera Srinivasan

Unless India acknowledges that fishermen from Tamil Nadu trespass into Sri Lankan waters, the northern province fisher folk will have no hope

“I will have a job only if the Indian trawlers stop coming.” Gently nudging a reluctant crab out of the fishing net with a stone, J. Rajeswari speaks of the acute impact the Indian trawlers have had on Pesalai, one of the biggest fishing villages in Mannar, Sri Lanka.

“On the days that the trawlers come our fishermen don’t go to the sea. If they don’t go, I have no job.”

Removing the fish and crab entangled in the muddy net seems a tedious task, but on a good day the seashore has many women like her doing that for hours together to make LKR 500 (about Rs.225) a day. Ms. Rajeswari, who heads a family of five, depends on her daily wage to make sure her school-going children have at least one proper meal a day. Increasingly, fishermen are unable to employ her.

“How do we employ her unless we have a substantial catch? The situation has become worse in the last year and on many days we return from the sea virtually empty-handed,” says Newton, a fisherman. The Indian trawlers, he says, have spelt misery for his village.

Standing under an airy shelter on the Mannar shore on May 31 — the day that the 45-day ban on trawlers observed by Tamil Nadu fishermen ended — he was sure that the Indian trawlers would return. “Come after 7 p.m. tonight, it will resemble Madurai town there,” says Newton, pointing to the emerald sea barely a few yards away.

The Indian fishermen proved him right. Early next morning, 33 Indian fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on charges of poaching. Newton compares the view from his shore to vibrant Madurai, for he has fond memories of the temple town from the mid-1980s, when he spent almost five years there as a refugee.

Issue of survival

Trapped between a natural affinity for Tamil Nadu and growing anger over its response to the fisheries issue, he says: “They [people of Tamil Nadu] are our people and we have very strong links with them. They always speak up for us. But the Tamil Nadu fishermen should realise we are just piecing our lives together after a brutal war. We need to eat. We need to live.”

Of the nearly two lakh people — a fifth of the Northern Province’s population — who depend on fisheries for their income, fishermen like him living in Mannar and Jaffna are among the worst-hit by the Indian trawlers. Mannar alone has nearly 40,000 people whose lives are tied to fishing activity along its 163 km long-coastline. Compounding the issue are a few local fishermen engaging in banned fishing methods, including bottom-trawling, citing the Indian trawlers as the reason.

Keep the focus on South Asia If India becomes disinterested, others would fill the vacuum

Harsh V. Pant

THE decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to invite leaders of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for the swearing-in ceremony of the new government makes a great beginning, underscoring the resolve of the new government to embed India firmly within the South Asian regional matrix. The fact that all of India's neighbours in South Asia and the wider Asian region have reached out to Modi also augurs well for the new government.

Pakistan will remain a major challenge for the new government. The civil-military divide continues to be a significant factor in shaping Islamabad's foreign policy and in particular its approach towards India. New Delhi remains far from convinced that the Nawaz Sharif government is either willing or able to make a decisive positive move towards India. The decision to grant India the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status remains stuck while the rhetoric on Kashmir has become shrill in recent months.

Pakistan had for some time recognised the futility of engaging with the lame duck Manmohan Singh government in Delhi and had been waiting for the new government to take over. Many in Pakistan have suggested that a strong Modi government will provide an opportunity to achieve a long lasting settlement with India. After Modi's election, the Pakistani government has been quick to put the ball back in the new Indian government's court, suggesting that it is up to the new government to make the first move.

The BJP has indicated that high-level talks with Pakistan would proceed only if some basic conditions are met, especially those pertaining to bringing to justice the masterminds behind the Mumbai terror attacks and curbing terror emanating from Paksitani soil. How this rhetoric gets operationalised into actual policy remains to be seen but by inviting the Pakistani Prime Minister to his swearing-in ceremony, Modi managed to successfully regain the initiative.

Bangladesh has also welcomed the arrival of the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to the helm of the Indian polity. Bangaldesh's Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, in her congratulatory message to Modi suggested that he should make Dhaka his first destination abroad. There is considerable merit in the suggestion. Hasina has been a valuable partner for India over the last few years but the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), under pressure from the Mamta Banerjee-led government in West Bengal, was not able to deliver on some key issues which Dhaka feels strongly about.

RETURN TO CAPITALISM - How a bolder government might promote private enterprise

Writing on the Wall - Ashok V. Desai 

Whatever one might say about Manmohan Singh, it would be difficult to deny that he had a unique style. No world leader can even be conceived who has his dress style. He was not demonstrative or expressive, let alone a show-off. That does not mean he was inactive; but he made a great show of inactivity, and he carried conviction. But his inactivity was not entirely for show; he was genuinely inactive if action involved risk. Enterprise is risky; so he avoided it. He did so not only personally; he also generally avoided entrepreneurs, especially big ones called capitalists. He was not against them; he did not rant against them, nor did he obstruct them. He let them do what they wanted, and went on to do what he wanted. This may not be the universal definition of laissez faire, but it was his definition. Capitalists may not dance with joy at his departure, but it is unlikely that any of them will shed tears at his departure.

This is unfortunate in one respect: India has grown to a point where its economic interests have to extend outside its borders. To do so, capitalists often need the support or cooperation of the government, and they did not get it from Manmohan Singh’s government. The most telling example is that of Reliance. It built the world’s largest refinery in Jamnagar. When it tried to sell its products in India, it found that it faced unfair competition from the government, which gave subsidies to products like kerosene made and sold by the refineries it owned, but refused to give the same subsidies to products made by Reliance. This forced Reliance to find markets abroad. The government could have done much to help Reliance do so; a nudge from the prime minister to the head of another government can sometimes move mountains. But I doubt if Manmohan Singh ever did that. It was not only he, but his ministers were equally inactive in promotion of private enterprise. It is very unlikely that he instructed them to be so. But the message was somehow conveyed, by the shake of the head or a dismissive gesture or whatever, that assistance to Indian entrepreneurs was not kosher, so they were left to fend for themselves.

Some of them did so with fair success. Kumaramangalam Birla, for instance, is highly dependent on the rest of the world for his industrial activities; he, for instance, has to have access to its mineral resources. He coped well; but I doubt if he got much help from the government. Mukesh Ambani also managed to find markets abroad for his refined products. NRE Coke managed to find coal abroad. So lack of a helpful hand from the government was not crucial; Indian entrepreneurs coped. But they could have done better with a more active government.

***** China's Budding Ocean Empire

June 5, 2014 

Beijing's might is growing from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. Is a new age of great-power rivaly inevitable?
I am flattered by Nilanthi Samaranayake’s lengthy and respectful treatment of my March 2009 Foreign Affairs cover story about the importance of the Indian Ocean, on the article’s fifth anniversary. It is also five years since I published “Pakistan’s Fatal Shore” in The Atlantic (May 2009), an eyewitness account of several thousand words about my visit to the port of Gwadar in Balochistan. Samaranayake writes that Gwadar has not turned out to be the commercial success that my Foreign Affairs article intimated it would be. But in that Atlanticarticle, I provided a deeply reported summary of Gwadar’s very problems: something for which there was simply no space in my wide-ranging Foreign Affairs article, whose job it was to articulate a general theory of a vast region of the globe. In fact, in subsequent works, Monsoon (2010), The Revenge of Geography (2012), and Asia’s Cauldron, published this year, I have had the space for a full-bodied treatment of power rivalries in the Indo-Pacific. It is these works taken together that represent my thinking on the Greater Indian Ocean, which includes the South China Sea as an antechamber.

So let me summarize some principal themes of these works, to go along with Samaranayake’s many good points:

China is starting to build a commercial empire-of-sorts throughout two oceans—the Western Pacific and the Indian.In regards to the Indian Ocean, trade, rather than military expansion, will be at the heart of it. Empire building is often not the stuff of conscious grand strategy. It occurs gradually, over decades, by experimentation. And the end result is never clear at the beginning or even in the middle. To wit, the Venetian empire in the Eastern Mediterranean began as a limited expedition against pirates in the northern Adriatic. The beginnings of the Dutch and British East India companies were similarly circumscribed. China’s attempts at port building and/or financing from Myanmar to Tanzania are very much in this spirit.

Beijing is attempting to do in the East and South China seas in the early twenty-first century what the United States successful accomplished in the Greater Caribbean in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. It has attempted to take effective strategic control of the blue water extension of its own continental land mass. This is China’s path to a significant presence in the Indian Ocean. For just as the Greater Caribbean unlocked dominance of the Western Hemisphere for the United States, the South and East China Seas can unlock a vast naval footprint for China in the navigable, southern Rimland of Eurasia—from the Horn of Africa to the Sea of Japan. This is a drama that could take decades to play out.

As China and India develop more capable military power, it is likely that there will be a strategic competition between them of a significant degree. The two countries are already playing a kind of game for influence in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. This could be entirely upended by either the implosion of the Chinese economy, the implosion of the Indian economy, or both. Such a circumstance is certainly possible, but looks unlikely at this juncture. It is true, for example, that China sits atop an immense credit bubble. But muddling through over the coming years is still more likely than an economic-political-social collapse or epic upheaval inside China. The atmospherics of Chinese-Indian relations could well be positive, buttressed by mutually beneficial trade and commercial relations and the political need of its leaders to achieve diplomatic breakthroughs. But pay less attention to the statements of leaders at summits than to the trajectory of surveillance satellites in space, the movement of warships on the high seas, or the stronger alliances that India builds with Japan and other rivals of China. India and China, with exceptions such as the spread of Buddhism in antiquity and the Opium Trade in early-modern and modern times, have had relatively little to do with each other over the course of history, separated as they are by the high walls of the Himalayas and Karakorams. But the advance of military technology has shrunk distance, making geography more claustrophobic and therefore, more important than ever. So a new strategic geography of competition between India and China has emerged that never existed before. In such a scenario, U.S. naval and air power will be crucial to keeping the peace.

The level of internationalism in U.S. foreign policy is rarely a matter of engaging in this or that intervention. Rather, it is a matter of the size and deployment of the American Navy and Air Force across the globe, and the heft that this provides to U.S. diplomacy. Land forces are for unexpected contingencies; sea and air forces project power daily and keep sea lines of communication open. In this spirit, a world with a 300-ship U.S. Navy is a very different world than one with a 250-ship U.S. Navy. The latter circumstance means more instability and anarchy and more chance of deadly interstate rivalries in Asia. A peaceful Greater Indian Ocean region, therefore, requires robust American military power in the future.

Robert D. Kaplan is chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor, a private global intelligence firm. He is the author of fifteen books on foreign affairs and travel, including his latest work Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific. He has been a foreign correspondent for The Atlantic for nearly three decades. In 2011 and 2012 he was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers. You can follow him on Twitter:@RobertDKaplan.

Indian Mujahideen Arrests: Lessons Learnt and Future Directions

June 6, 2014

Just a few days before the swearing-in ceremony of India’s newly elected Prime Minister, four Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives were arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Jharkhand. These arrests claim to have unraveled the entire conspiracy behind the Bodh Gaya (July 7, 2013) and Patna (October 27, 2013) blasts. The four arrested include Numan and Taufiq Ansari, Mojibullah and importantly the key IM operative Haider Ali, alias ‘Black Beauty’. Ali – the main accuse in the two blasts – was reportedly recruiting youth in Jharkhand, Bihar and UP before he was arrested. He is, allegedly, the principal link between the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the IM, and is therefore considered an important catch after arrests of prominent IM operatives like Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu and Waqas in March 2014, and Yasin Bhatkal along with aide Asadullah Akhtar in August 2013.

These arrests have been a great success for the Indian Intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Their sustained efforts in analyzing the modus operandi and establishing links to secure intelligence breakthroughs played an important role in initiating these successes. Consecutive arrests of key IM operatives helped in attaining information and locations of the rest and the security agencies bear credence for acting quickly to nab the others. Significant cooperation from the international community in the form of deportations of important catches, willingness to share information and other counterterror initiatives, also played an important part in aiding these successes.

While the success of these arrests has come as a major breakthrough in the fight against terrorism, there are a few causes of concern that needs to be addressed. To begin with, despite repeated emphasis on ensuring synergy between the central agencies and state police forces to fight terrorism, on ground coordination between these agencies remains quite dismal. This lack of coordination is manifested by inter-agency competition, confusions over operational jurisdictions and disputes over investigations and custodies of the operatives. For example, the NIA and Delhi Police have been engaged in a series of turf wars over the investigation of terror cases and custodies of operatives – be it a brawl inside the Delhi High Court for the custody of IM operatives Tehseen Akhtar and Waqas, or a two year court case over confusions in probing the Syed Maqbool and Imran Khan case. Along with this, the fight against terrorism has been hindered by the tenuous relationship between the Centre and the States, highlighted by instances where the State has shown reluctance to handover terror cases to the Central agencies. The denial of Central government’s offer to order a NIA probe into the train blasts at the Chennai Central railway station by the Tamil Nadu government, being one recent example.

India’s ‘China Policy’ Formulations- Imperatives of Pragmatism and ‘Realpoloitik’

By Dr. Subhash Kapila 
Dated 09-Jun-2014 

India’s ‘China Policy’ formulations call for imperatives of hard-nosed pragmatism and ‘realpolitik’ and not be carried away by misplaced Indian euphoria generated by China’s rhetoric attending Chinese Foreign Minister’s ongoing visit to India.

So as the Chinese Foreign Minister calls on the Prime Minister and has meetings with the Indian Foreign Minister and the National Security Adviser, one needs to undertake a brief strategic reality check so that India-China existing state of relationship is contextualised and India does not fall into the Chinese trap of “China stands by you on your side in reforms and development.”

Economics and development cannot be the bedrock of relationships between two powerful Asian nations with competing strategic interests. It is the degree of “Strategic Trust” existent that will determine the future course of India-China relations.

Will China publicly ever affirm like some other major powers have done that China will assist India to emerge as a key global player?

Also, the Chinese Foreign Minister is reported to have stated to the effect that there is more strategic consensus between China and India than strategic differences. I would like to assert that “There are more strategic differences and distrust in China-India relations than strategic consensus,”

India: Modi’s Neighborhood Overtures

By Nitin A. Gokhale
The new prime minister has made a proactive start to relations with India’s neighbors, including China. 

On May 26 and 27, the new Indian government played host to heads of state from seven South Asian countries and the prime minister of Mauritius. The leaders were in Delhi to attend Narendra Modi’s swearing in as India’s 15th prime minister.

High on atmospherics but understandably low on substance, these meetings, including the most high profile one with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, are nevertheless seen as the proof of the new government’s intention to engage with its immediate neighbors first, to ensure peace and stability in the region. It was important for Narendra Modi to start off on a positive note with neighbors since he is seen somewhat of a hardliner on security and foreign policy issues and his rise, predicted much before the election results were out, had created apprehension if not outright insecurity in the neighborhood.

By inviting all heads of states to his inauguration Modi not only disarmed them but also signaled his intention to reclaim India’s leadership position in South Asia, much eroded during the previous government under Manmohan Singh mainly because of domestic political compulsions. New Delhi, for instance, had failed to honor a couple of agreements with Bangladesh, one of its important allies in counter-terrorism efforts, because a regional leader would not play ball. Similarly, India’s Sri Lanka policy was hobbled by political pressure from its allies in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

As a first prime minister in 30 years to win a majority in parliament on his own and therefore not dependent on regional political parties for survival, Modi now has a chance to make bold but calibrated moves to restore India’s credibility in the region. The invite to South Asian countries was a symbolic but important initiative. He did not budge when some of his own political friends in Tamil Nadu protested the invite to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa. As usual, the India-Pakistan meet grabbed all the headlines, although it was nothing more than an ice breaker.


By Shahzad Chaudhry

Modi addressing his first rally after being declared as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the NDA at Rewari, Haryana. Source Wikipedia Commons. 

Two glass ceilings got broken in the first two decades of this century: A black man’s son became the president of the United States — the oldest democracy in the world and a tea boy’s son was elected in a sweeping victory as the prime minister of India — the largest democracy of the world. A third such occasion is likely in 2016 when a woman just might become the first-ever female president of the US. This is paradigms being shattered.

If you want to really celebrate democracy as some in this country are prone to do simply by seeing one civilian government transition to another, note the speed at which from mid-1960s both the ‘colored’ and the women, and the weak, have been able to find their place in the real democracies of the world on their merit alone.

No dynasties, no historical reference of a father or a grandfather having once been at a position of entitlement — simply the capacity and the ability of a person (men, women, ‘colored’) to prove his credentials in a field of play that is cutthroat competitive and where only the best will survive.

There are only two references in a competitive electoral play; the person: His charisma, charm and magical spell over the people — think Jinnah, Gandhi, Mandela, and Bhutto; and the performance — think Manmohan Singh when he got his country some exceptional growth figures under Narsimha Rao, and more recently, Narendra Modi with his outstanding developmental record in Gujarat.

Modi romped home with a strength that was surprising even to him though pundits had already predicted a wave of change. But, what a performance! Kudos to India for such an election; not a murmur of rigging or absence of fair play. To win in such an election and with the margin that Modi has, is simply too big a landmark in contemporary political history. It was a “wow” moment for India and the country needs to be applauded for it.

Caste Reflects the Genius of India, Said Gandhi. Beware of Gandhi, Said Ambedkar. Who Wins?

By T J S George
Published: 08th June 2014

Gracious words in print and speech marked Jawaharlal Nehru’s 50th death anniversary recently. Narendra Modi himself, a day after taking oath as Prime Minister, twittered his respects on the departed leader’s punya tithi. It’s good to be mindful of history, respect the past and generally be civilised. But reality floats above sentiment. And the reality is that historical interest in Jawaharlal Nehru has all but vanished while that in Mohandas Gandhi and Bhimrao Ambedkar is rising spectacularly.

It’s like a reversal of the story of India. The global appeal of Nehru’s glamour was a phenomenon from the 1940s up until the early 1960s. At that time, Gandhi appeared to the world either as a “half-naked fakir” or as a dreamer who wanted India to shun industry and remain a congregation of villages. Ambedkar did not count outside the Constituent Assembly. How things changed in a few years. Today books are coming out one after another on Gandhi and Ambedkar while authors seem to have forgotten Nehru. In terms of popular as well as academic interest, we’ll have to say that Nehru is dead. We cannot say that about Gandhi and Ambedkar. They are not only alive, but kicking.

As irony would have it, the two icons were ideological enemies. Each detested the social-political philosophy of the other. When few dared to take a public stand against Gandhi, Ambedkar fought him relentlessly. It is no surprise therefore that two new books on Ambedkar are as much on Gandhi as on Ambedkar. Narendra Jadhav’s Ambedkar: Awakening of India’s Social Conscience is a collection of Ambedkar’s speeches and writings. Annihilation of Caste, described as “the annotated critical edition”, presents a speech Ambedkar was to deliver at a Hindu reformist organisation’s meeting in Lahore in 1936 but did not because the group considered portions of it “unbearable”. Ambedkar later published it on his own. Now it is republished not only with annotations but also with a fiery introduction by Arundhati Roy.

The Lahore group was not alone in finding Ambedkar’s thoughts unbearable. Many still bristle at his statements like, “inequality is the soul of Hinduism”. When Gandhi talked primarily about winning freedom from the British, Ambedkar put social reform on the agenda. He condemned Gandhi’s stated belief that caste represented the genius of India and was a natural order of society. His 1945 book What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables left nothing to the imagination. “Beware of Gandhi”, said a chapter heading. Ambedkar’s scholarly approach gave a cutting edge to his arguments. Pointing out that political revolutions by Chandragupta Maurya, Shivaji, and Guru Nanak were all preceded by social revolution, he said: “The emancipation of the mind and the soul is a necessary preliminary for the political expansion of the people”.

Narendra Jadhav claims that his book is an “intellectual biography” of Ambedkar, repeating the claim and the phrase several times in his preface. Actually it is neither intellectual nor a biography. Its usefulness is that it presents in one handy volume a compendium of Ambedkar’s ideas. More organised and polished is Annihilation because (a) the annotations are provided by S Anand, co-author of an earlier graphic biography of Ambedkar, and (b) Arundhati Roy’s rigorously researched introduction is 125 pages long with her notes and bibliography taking another 38.

Seven Reasons Why We Need to Disinvest in Ordnance Equipment Factories Group


The Ordnance Equipment Factories Group (OEFG) is one of the five product-based operating groups functioning under the control of the Ordnance Factories Board at Kolkata. The OEFG produces general stores and clothing (GS&C), and exercises control over five out of the 39 operational Ordnance Factories. The Ordnance Equipment Factory Kanpur (OEFC) established post mutiny in 1859, Ordnance Clothing Factory Shahjahanpur (OCFS) set up in 1914, Ordnance Parachute Factory (OPC) set up in 1941 to meet the requirements of the allies during the Second World War, Ordnance Clothing Factory Avadi (OCFA) established in 1961, and the Ordnance Equipment Factory Hazratpur (OEFH) which was set up in 1982, are the five factories which produce GS&C inventory for the three Services. They produce uniforms, winter clothing, extreme cold and high altitude clothing, tentage, water proof covers, water holding equipment, soldier’s personal equipment, boots, saddlery items, and parachutes for personnel, supply dropping parachutes and brake parachutes for aircrafts, amongst many such items. The army is its principal customer and accounts for 77.36 per cent of the OEFG sales. This article presents seven very formidable reasons, supported by factual data, why the government needs to disinvest in the OEFG. 

Firstly, the private sector in contemporary India is capable of effectively meeting the GS&C demands of the services. During the period 2008-2012, the OEFG could meet only 56 per cent of the requirement of the services, and the balance, amounting to Rupees 2141.28 crores, came from trade[i]. The volumes indicate that the private sector is capable, and possesses the requisite potential to deliver the low-technology needs of the Services. On one hand the private sector is keen to generate revenue through supply of GS&C items, and on the other hand, the OEFG suffered a loss of Rupees 226.09 crore in the course of meeting the requirement of services.

Secondly, the OEFG is not responsive to the needs of the Services.In the present system, the OEFG has the first right to book orders against the demands of the Services. The private sector comes in only if the OEFG refuses, or fails to meet the demands of the Services. To illustrate, against the target of 4,87,444 pairs of Boot High Ankle DVS, the OEFC supplied only 32,500 boots in 2009-10. This forced the OEFG HQ to issue a No Objection Certificate to the Director General of Ordnance Services (DGOS) to procure two lakh shoes from trade. The case of boots is not a solitary occurrence; slippages are not uncommon to the OEFG. Against mutually accepted targets of 2011-12, slippages were recorded for 41 items amounting to supplies worth approximately Rupees 170 crores. The OEFG is largely responsible for non-availability and delays in meeting the requirements of the services.

Karachi Airport Siege Ends After 5 Hours; All Taliban Attackers Reported Killed

June 9, 2014
At least 18 Pakistanis killed by assailants who stormed Karachi airport
Tim Craig
Washington Post

Pakistani forces secure a wall after suspected militants attacked an airport in Karachi. 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Militants launched a brazen attack on Karachi’s international airport Sunday night, killing at least 18 people and seizing control of part of the airport in Pakistan’s largest city for more than five hours.

The well-coordinated attack involved 10 assailants who were armed with grenades, rocket launchers and assault weapons, authorities said. Some of them were also said to be wearing suicide vests. They battled Pakistani security forces through the night before all the assailants were slain, officials said.

Several large fires broke out at Jinnah International Airport, but all airline passengers escaped unharmed, according to a Pakistani army spokesman.

But the siege, one of the worst security breaches at a Pakistani airport, is raising serious questions about the country’s ability to protect its major transit hubs amid the persistent threat of terrorism. The attack comes as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the country’s military have been considering a major offensive against the Pakistani Taliban, which has been waging a bloody insurgency.

“This act of terror is unforgivable,” Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Pakistan’s defense minister, told local television reporters. “The state will give an appropriate response to such cowardly acts of terror. Those who plan and those who execute the terrorist attacks will be defeated.”

In a statement, the Pakistani Taliban took credit for the attack.

Shahidullah Shahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the attack was in response to both recent Pakistani military airstrikes in northwestern Pakistan as well as the U.S. drone strike in November that killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the former leader of the militant group.

Shahid added the attack should be viewed as a sign that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s efforts to engage the group in peace talks had failed.

“The message to the Pakistani government is that we are still alive to react to the killings of innocent people in bomb attacks on their villages,” said Shahid, adding the attack followed months of intensive planning.

9 June SWJ Roundup

June 8, 2014 

Small Wars Journal Daily Roundup


ZenPundit - CNA - CNAS - CSIS - ILW - ISW - Rand - TJF - USIP

From Small Unit Leaders to Rugged Diplomats

June 3, 2014
Overcoming the Tactical-Strategic Divide in U.S. Foreign Policy

American foreign policy and its current generation of practitioners suffer from an almost complete lack of understanding of the critical concept of “feasibility” as it relates to statecraft in conflict zones. Broadly speaking, the people who shape foreign policy are highly educated, can speak the languages associated with their area of expertise, and have spent many years living abroad. Unfortunately, in state-building scenarios such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the professional experience of most policymakers is limited to brief tours in the Green Zone or Bagram. These places, while technically in-country, have absolutely no resemblance to the larger situation on the ground.
The problem, stated simply, is a massive disconnect between the tactical reality and the strategic objective. From my perspective in Afghanistan in 2010, there were some really fine foreign policy ideas being promulgated down to the tactical level. Unfortunately, no one had bothered to ask about the feasibility of implementation.

An example of such an effort is the District Reinforcement Program in Khost Province, Afghanistan. This is a great idea in theory: place USAID and State Department representatives on the ground for 72 hours to walk local Afghan officials through bureaucratic processes in order to facilitate governance and development. Setting aside the fact that the processes put in place were opaque and wholly alien to most sub-governors and district officials, the program was doomed because State and USAID weren’t invested in its success at the tactical level. With only one State Department and one USAID representative, the onus for conducting these operations was left to the person who has become the face of American statecraft the last ten years: the 23-year old platoon leader.

The platoon leader is not formally trained in international development, except for perhaps a short brief on Commanders Emergency Relief Program (CERP) funds. Unless his degree is in political science, he’s not initially prepared to have in-depth conversations about any of the governmental challenges facing the district either. Yet, for a decade or more, local officials in Iraq and Afghanistan have looked to these leaders and their experienced platoon sergeants for justice, arbitration, and advice on how to rule in lawless lands. Company Commanders have hosted large shuras and met with sheikhs to resolve disputes. Through a brief evolution, Fire Support Officers became the de facto non-lethal targeting gurus of the military, seeking opportunities to exploit development projects to win the loyalty of the local populace. With the formal training to marry with their experiences, junior officers and senior NCOs can be formidable allies for established policymakers, providing real on-ground insight into questions of feasibility.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have produced a small cohort of men and women who have spent their professional lives immersed in the practice of statecraft. Lacking advanced degrees and or political appointments, this cadre has practiced and enforced American foreign policy in a way few others have.

Is Pakistan’s ISI Still Manipulating Events in Afghanistan? You Betcha!

The ISI’s Great Game in Afghanistan

Omer Aziz
June 2014

On the evening of March 20, two teenagers entered the buffet area of the luxurious Serena Hotel in Kabul. The well-guarded establishment was a popular meeting place for politicians, diplomats, and journalists; a kind of refuge away from the danger constantly present in Kabul. Like the many guests assembled at the Serena this night, the two young men told security officials that they were visiting the hotel for dinner to celebrate the Afghan New Year. As guests filled their plates and live music echoed throughout the hall, the men entered the dining area and began wildly shooting, killing nine people before being killed by security. Among the dead were the noted Afghan journalist Sardar Ahmad, who was killed with this wife and two daughters, and Luis Maria Darte, a longtime Paraguyan diplomat and election observer.

Two days later, Afghan President Hamid Karzai released a statement saying the terrorist attack had been conducted “by an intelligence service outside this country.” Which entity did he have in mind? If there was any doubt, Karzai quickly put it to rest the following week in an interview he gave with an Indian television channel, when he said that terrorism was “nurtured” and “supported” in Pakistan, where the militants had their “ideological roots.”

For four decades,

The Killing of Pakistan’s Journalists

June 07, 2014

The impunity with which journalists are attacked is having a devastating effect on Pakistani democracy. 

Like the grimalkin, bitter, evil and old are the forces that lie behind the threats to free speech in Pakistan. These forces threaten teenage girls like Malala and veteran journalists like VOA reporter Mukkaram Khan Atif. The threats are more severe and more frequent. Brave journalists do still continue to report the issues, but they often do so knowing that they are placing their lives on the line. The culprits meanwhile operate with almost complete impunity.

“If you ignore what we say, you’re picking a fight with us,” said the intimidating voice. “We will come for you again.” Mukkaram Khan Atif had been threatened and followed before, but these calls were becoming more and more regular at the time I began to meet with him in Peshawar in 2011.

Khan held strong views on journalistic freedom, but was nonetheless feeling the pressure. “It’s so hard to know something and not report about it. I feel dishonest when I do that. Thank God I don’t have children to worry about if I am killed,” he told me, his tone a mix of sorrow and relief. “And I surely know they will win, because they are armed and I am not.” Still, Khan continued to do his job.

On January 17, 2012, the Pakistani Taliban shot and killed Mukkaram Khan Atif during Friday prayers.

Khan’s murder sent a message to other journalists in Peshawar and across the country. It was a message from Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP): Report on us, and we will kill you.



The ancient Pakistani town of Bannu, lying just outside the North Waziristan Agency– a stronghold for insurgents operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan – is a now a centre for displaced families escaping a looming government offensive in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Power lines snake across the ground to half a dozen hastily-built brick and dirt compounds, temporary housing built by families from North Waziristan who pooled their funds together in anticipation of a long military campaign.

The offensive has, in reality, begun: tens of thousands of troops have been deployed on the ground in North Waziristan, and jets have carried out airstrikes – yet no official operation has been declared by Pakistani officials, although hundreds of thousands of residents are likely to be caught up in the increasingly deadly conflict between the state and Taliban militants.

At the impromptu camp in Bannu, Hajji Sher Wali Khan, 70, sits surrounded by his extended family – 150 women and children – who arrived from their village near the town of Mir Ali, on the evening of 31 May. The 37-km journey took more than seven hours, stopped at four separate checkpoints and questioned by soldiers.
Bombing raid

“We left because there is continuous fighting. There are bombs and jets. We wanted to save the lives of our children, of our wives,” Khan told IRIN.

Afghanistan Says Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Terrorist Group Involved in Attack on Afghan Presidential Candidate

June 9, 2014
Afghanistan says Pakistan-based group involved in Abdullah attack

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah arrives to attend an election campaign after a bomb attack on his convoy in Kabul June 6, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail

(Reuters) - Afghanistan said on Sunday the intelligence unit of a foreign country and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group based in Pakistan were involved in the failed assassination attempt on presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah.

Front-runner Abdullah escaped an assassination attempt on Friday when two bombs blew up outside a hotel where he had just staged a rally, killing 12 people and wounding 40. [ID:nL3N0ON20P]

"Initial investigation indicates that an intelligence agency of a foreign country and LeT have been involved," said a statement from Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s office after he chaired a security council meeting at the presidential palace on Sunday.

"The terrorists of this group are after disrupting the Afghan presidential election."

The ministers of the security sector briefed the meeting on the attack against Abdullah.

Afghanistan usually speaks of unnamed foreign powers when it wants to hint at a suspected Pakistani role in an incident.

Kabul has often accused the powerful Pakistani intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of orchestrating attacks in the country, including one on Kabul’s Serena Hotel in March in which militants shot dead nine people, including foreigners. [ID:nL6N0MH4XU]

The LeT is founded by Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head. The group, which has been accused of attacking Indian targets in Afghanistan, was also blamed for the 2008 commando-style raid on Mumbai that killed 166 people.

Security is being ramped up so the two candidates in Afghanistan’s presidential election run-off next week can continue campaigning after the attempt to assassinate Abdullah, an Interior Ministry spokesman said earlier on Sunday.

At Least 28 Dead in Pakistani Taliban Attack on Karachi International Airport

June 9, 2014

Note to Readers: This is a very preliminary report based on initial on-the-ground reporting from Karachi by the BBC, which actually has a reporter on the scene. Details of the attack and the casualty count are bound to change dramatically in the hours ahead, so treat this report with a high degree of circumspection. MMA

Taliban claim deadly attack on Karachi airport

BBC News

June 9, 2014 (5:17 EST)

The Pakistani Taliban have said they were behind an attack at the country’s largest airport that killed at least 28 people, including 10 militants.

The raid began late on Sunday at a terminal used for cargo and VIP flights at Karachi international airport.

Following reports of fresh violence early on Monday, airport officials said the siege was now over and flights were set to resume in the afternoon.

Karachi has been a target for many attacks by the Taliban.

A spokesman for the group, Shahidullah Shahid, said Monday’s assault was “a message to the Pakistan government that we are still alive to react over the killings of innocent people in bomb attacks on their villages”.

The dead terminal staff were said to be mostly security guards from the Airport Security Force (ASF) but also airline workers. At least 14 people were wounded.

Analysts say the attack further undermines Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s attempt at initiating peace talks with the Taliban.

The negotiations have made little headway since February. Critics have argued that they could allow the militants to regroup and gain strength.

The Pakistani Taliban’s latest attack was well co-ordinated

The airport raid comes against the backdrop of a major split in the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and threats of retaliation after limited military operations against foreign militants in North Waziristan.

New ASEAN Anti-Cyber Skills Aimed at China

Japan and the U.S. are using ASEAN to further crack down on Chinese cybercrimes.
June 09, 2014

On Saturday, Japanese government sources announced that the U.S. and Japan would work to help the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) boost its technical abilities to investigate cybercrimes, according to Kyodo News. The two countries will contribute $400,000 to send anti-cybercrime experts by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime to ASEAN members.

This news comes just weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had charged five officers in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army with cybercrimes. According to the DOJ press release, the five are accused of “computer hacking, economic espionage, and other offences directed at six American victims in the U.S. nuclear power, metals and solar products industries.”

As my colleague Shannon noted, the Chinese media responded to the charges with two assertions. The first was that the charges were patently false, and that the Chinese government had no part in state-sponsored cybercrimes. The second was that the U.S. charges were hypocritical, with the Chinese press calling the U.S. the biggest cyber bully, and pointing out that it spent $447 million on the U.S. Cyber Command this year. The Chinese media also noted the extensive evidence of worldwide U.S. cyber espionage produced by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

The Japanese government source said it was important to help ASEAN fight cybercrime with technical assistance because “China is suspected of conducting cyberattacks against Japan, the United States and others through servers in the Southeast Asian region.” The two allies hope that by the spring of next year ASEAN countries will have finished training on how to gather evidence and analyze information. Once that is completed, the U.S. and Japanese “governments are considering setting up a consultative body to bolster information sharing with ASEAN.”

While there has been no official response from either ASEAN or any of its individual members, the news will likely be more than welcome for countries like the Philippines and Vietnam that are currently engaged in tense territorial disputes with China. Chinese cyber capabilities are expansive, and so members currently at odds with China will seek added protection. China has yet to respond as well. While the amount of funds Japan and the U.S. are contributing isn’t large, it is the attempt to coordinate anti-cyber activity against China in the region that will give Beijing cause for concern. China will most likely attempt to work with its allies within ASEAN to keep the size and scope of this project to a minimum, while publicly confronting Japan and the U.S. over this latest round of cybercrime accusations.

Xi’s Unlikely Alliance

June 2014

Xi Jingping’s opaque calls for “a new type of relationship between major countries in the 21st century” took more shape recently, when the Chinese President proposed a new alliance system in Asia. At a late May meeting in Shanghai, President Xi called for the creation of a new regional security pact. Xi’s announcement came at the Conference on Interactions and Confidence-Building Measures (CICA) in East Asia, a multi-national forum of Asian states. In his calls for a regional security architecture, Xi sought to elevatethe role of CICA just as China has assumed its chairmanship. Days later, Xi issued a warning that other Asian states should not attempt to use alliances to balance against China. In recent weeks, strategists have argued that China is attempting to erode America’s power in the region byundermining the longstanding US system of alliances. Is a CICA-based security pact part of Xi’s plan to expand Beijing’s influence at the expense of Washington’s decades-old security ties? If so, it is unlikely to work.

CICA is not a cohesive or integrated organization. It is a security “mechanism,” as opposed to a formal alliance. It was founded in 1992 by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and its members did not convene meetings for the first decade of its existence. CICA has focused predominantly on counter-terror cooperation, a mission that overlaps significantly with that of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The SCO itself is not a formal military alliance and has served as more of a forum for China and Russia to manage their differences in Central Asia. Compared to the SCO, however, CICA is even less institutionalized.

Xi has not offered a complete roadmap for his alliance vision, but from the details that exist, CICA would require a comprehensive overhaul to become a true alliance. According to the PLA’s Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Xi sees the American-led alliance architecture in Asia as a vestige of the Cold War that should be replaced by an Asia-centric system—an “Asia for Asians,” as described by one diplomat. Beyond this broad vision for a US-free regional alliance, the Chinese President suggestedmore specifically that the upgraded CICA include a “defense consultation mechanism” with a “security response center” for major emergencies.

Defense consultation and crisis management mechanisms are important features of some alliances, including NATO and the United States’ closest bilateral alliances in East Asia. But these institutions are not simply summoned into being. Rather, they evolve within already-cohesive alliances where close military cooperation has been the norm. CICA is unlikely, however, to become such an alliance, and its membership is unlikely to support the development of such institutions. There are at least two reasons for this.