11 June 2014

China: Foreign Minister's India Trip Has 'Great Significance'

China: Foreign Minister's India Trip Has 'Great Significance'
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
With Modi’s election victory in India, China seems to be attempting a foreign policy “reset” with India.
June 11, 2014
Following the conclusion of Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s trip to India on Tuesday, the Chinese foreign ministry stated that the visit was of “great significance.” The foreign ministry emphasized the importance China’s leaders place on their country’s relationship with India. The visit was particularly notable for being the first official interaction between the governments of India and China since India elected a right-wing government led by the pro-business strongman Narendra Modi. Wang, who traveled to New Delhi as President Xi Jinping’s “Special Envoy,” called on Modi on Tuesday. Wang additionally spoke with a range of leaders in the newly elected government of India, including Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

As I wrote yesterday for The Pulse, Wang’s trip was heavy on friendly rhetoric (as most Chinese diplomatic visits tend to be), but was also notable for his insistence specifically on how glad China was to have Modi leading India. Wang referred to Modi as an “old friend” of China’s and said that his election injected “new vitality into an ancient civilization.” Furthermore, he said that closer ties between India and China would “contribute to the national resurrection” of both countries.

On Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying corroborated Wang’s statements. ”From this visit, we know that Sino-India relation is now in a new age of gearing up,” she said. ”I believe that Foreign Minister’s visit sent the following messages, that is, Chinese leaders pay attention to growing relations with India, common interests between the two countries far outweigh disputes. … We are natural partners rather than rivals and the Chinese and Indian dream integrate with each other, so we should build closer development partnership with each other,” she added.

Pakistan's Home-Made Monster: The Taliban

Pakistan's Home-Made Monster: The Taliban
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The attack on Karachi International Airport demonstrates that it is long past time for Pakistan to end the Taliban.
June 11, 2014

Nurtured and nourished by the Pakistani state as a bulwark against its enemies, the Taliban now poses a direct challenge to its own godfather. The armed Islamic militancy was created by the establishment in Islamabad as a means of protecting the country from what they thought of as an existential threat from India. But the group has become a threat to its own people and now calls into question the existence of the Islamic republic.

The two back-to-back daring attacks at Karachi International Airport over the past couple of days demonstrate the strength of the Pakistani Taliban and their direct challenge to the same authorities that honed the Taliban for decades, hoping to use them against Afghanistan. Militants attacked a security training camp on Tuesday just outside the airport. The fire fight there lasted for one hour and ended without any casualties, but created a panic in the country. 

The incident happened on a day when Pakistan’s security forces killed 15 insurgents in an aerial bombing in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency, in the northwest of the country that hosts a large number of terrorist hideouts.

The military offensive is believed to be in response to Sunday’s attack at the airport by the Taliban which claimed around 40 lives, including those of 10 infiltrators.

Tehrik-e -Taliban Pakistan (TTP) took responsibility for the aggression and said that the attack was in retaliation to the killing of its chief last year in a drone attack. The group vowed to launch such an offensive again if security forces keep the operation going in the Khyber Agency.

It is an open secret that the TTP received sustenance and support from Pakistan’s ISI (Inter Service Intelligence) and has been one of the ISI’s tools for fomenting trouble in Afghanistan and other neighboring states. Carlotta Gall in her book The Wrong Enemy vividly describes the role of the ISI, military establishment, and other state agencies in protecting and nurturing the Taliban when they were chased away from Afghanistan.

The attack in Karachi should act as an eye opener not only for the elected government in Islamabad but also other stakeholders in Pakistan – ISI and the army in particular – to stop feeding milk to snakes in the belief that they are going to bite the enemy.

Karachi International Airport is Pakistan’s gateway to the world. With the security situation deteriorating, if some of the international airlines stop flying to Pakistan it would deliver a big blow to the prestige of the nation.

With the nation’s existence and credibility at stake, the government in Islamabad cannot afford to stretch out the futile talks with the insurgents. The dialogue does not serve any purpose; it only grants the Taliban more time to regroup and prepare.

Talking to Pakistan in its language

June 11, 2014

Praveen Swami

The Lashkar-e-Taiba has blamed India for the Karachi airport attack, the latest of many signs that it may be preparing the ground for terror strikes. Mr. Modi promised to hit back, but can he?

Few Indians would have been up before dawn that morning after 26/11, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sat around his office, watching the images of Mumbai burning. He may have wondered if the country would be at war before it woke. Intelligence Bureau officers who had been listening-in to the attackers’ conversations with their commanders in Karachi, had told the Prime Minister that there was little doubt of Pakistani involvement. Dr. Singh seemed stirred: “the people of India will not forgive us if we do nothing,” an aide recalls him saying.

He chose, however, to ignore his instincts. In a speech delivered on November 27, even as the bodies of victims were still strewn on the ground, the Prime Minister promised upgraded security forces, and aggressive diplomacy — everything, other than punitive action against the perpetrators.

“Listen up,” wrote Haruki Murakami, “there’s no war to end all wars.” Dr. Singh’s generals told him much the same thing, and he heard them.

“They did nothing,” said the man who has become India’s next Prime Minister, in a campaign speech centred on 26/11, “Indians died and they did — nothing.” “Talk to Pakistan in Pakistan’s language,” he went on, “because it won’t learn lessons until then.”Looming threats

Ever since that morning, India’s strategic community has discussed what the country ought to do when the next 26/11 happens. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s intelligence services fear, may have to answer that question sooner than most people expect. The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) staged its first operation against an Indian target since 26/11 just hours before Mr. Modi took office, attacking India’s mission in Herat. Lashkar chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed blamed Mr. Modi for this week’s attacks on Karachi — and demanded vengeance.

From past evidence, we know these threats aren’t idle. “The only language India understands is that of force,” a press release issued by the Lashkar’s parent organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa recorded Mr. Saeed as saying before 26/11, “and that is the language it must be talked to in.”

From files he will have read since taking office, Mr. Modi will have learned why Dr. Singh did nothing. Indian combat jets could hit training camps across the Line of Control (LoC), Air Chief Marshal Fali Major said at a November 29 meeting called for by the Prime Minister, but precise coordinates and adequate imaging weren’t available. Later, General Deepak Kapoor, the chief of Army staff, told Dr. Singh he couldn’t promise special forces’ strikes would be successful either.

The question of ownership of media There has to be a limit on how far corporations should go

Kuldip Nayar

I WAS not surprised when television channels did not cover the taking over of a large television news network by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited. Most channels-roughly around 300-are owned by property dealers who can afford to spend Rs 1 crore, an average monthly expenditure, through money laundering. Every one of them wants to be an Ambani one day.

What has taken me aback is that the Press has reported the deal but has preferred to keep quiet. Even though journalism has ceased to be a profession and has become an industry, I was expecting some reaction, at least from the Editors' Guild of India.

But then it is understandable when it has rejected my proposal that editors should also make their assets public, the demand which they voice for politicians. Double standards make a mockery of the high pedestal on which the editors sit.

I am not against corporations investing in the media. Rising costs and shrinking advertisements have famished the media. Still, ideally, the media should be self-sufficient. But since it is not possible for most in the print and electronic media, there has to be a limit on how far corporations should go.

Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had put a ceiling on foreign equity at 26 per cent in newspapers. For some reasons, this limit was not extended to television. Maybe, the air is difficult to control. The principle of curtailing the ownership of outsiders is understandable.

If foreign equity-a Trojan horse-cannot go beyond a limit, Indian corporations too should have a "Lakshman rekha" which they should not cross. But then they are too powerful because politicians depend on them for their luxurious living and for fighting elections. Needless to say that there is quid pro qua. Some politicians are also said to own or have some shares in television channels.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014 |

The US decided not to inform Pakistan about its top-secret mission to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad as it knew that elements in spy agency ISI maintained close ties with the al-Qaeda and the Taliban, according to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In her memoir 'Hard Choices', which hit the book stores today, Clinton says that top US officials, including President Barack Obama and the then Defense Secretary Robert Gates, had detailed discussions on the issue including the possibility of Pakistan using the occasion to launch an attack on India.

But finally it was decided not to inform Pakistan.

"Our relationship with Pakistan, America's nominal ally in the fight against terrorism, was already very troubled. If the Pakistani military, always on a hair trigger out of fear of a surprise attack from India, discovered a secret incursion into their airspace, it was possible they'd respond with force," 66-year-old Clinton writes.

"We had debated whether to inform Pakistan about the raid ahead of time in order to avoid this scenario and the complete breakdown in relations that could follow. After all, as Bob Gates often reminded us, Pakistani cooperation would continue to be needed to resupply our troops in Afghanistan and pursue other terrorists in the border region," she says in the book.

"I had invested considerable time and energy in the Pakistan relationship over the years, and I knew how offended they would be if we did not share this information with them. But I also knew that elements in the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, maintained ties to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other extremists," Clinton writes.

"We had been burned by leaks before. The risks of blowing the whole operation were just too great," said the former Secretary of State, who is considered as a strong potential presidential candidate for the 2016 elections.

Bin Laden was killed in the garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011, in a covert raid carried out by the Navy SEALs on a special order issued by President Obama.

"At one point another senior administration official asked if we needed to worry about irreparably wounding Pakistani national honor," Clinton writes.

"Maybe it was the pent-up frustration from dealing with too much double-talk and deception from certain quarters in Pakistan, or the still-searing memories of the smoking pile in Lower Manhattan, but there was no way I was going to let the United States miss our best chance at bin Laden since we lost him at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in 2001.

"'What about our national honor?' I said in exasperation. What about our losses? What about going after a man who killed three thousand innocent people?" Clinton recalls.

"The road to Abbottabad ran from the mountain passes of Afghanistan through the smoking ruins of our embassies in East Africa and the shattered hull of the USS Cole, through the devastation of 9/11 and the dogged determination of a handful of US intelligence officers who never gave up the hunt," she says.

"The bin Laden operation did not end the threat of terrorism or defeat the hateful ideology that fuels it. That struggle goes on. But it was a signal moment in America's long battle against al-Qaeda," Clinton says.

Foreign direct interference?

 10 Jun 2014

Shankar Roychowdhury

The recent announcement by no less than India’s finance-cum-defence minister himself, permitting direct induction in the country’s defence industry of foreign equity to the extent of 100 per cent, would have occasioned unease, curiosity, concern as well as satisfaction. Indigenous capabilities for defence production are a critically important factor in the national security matrix of any country, and India is no exception. Because of this, defence production has traditionally been kept within the sole purview of the government, and attempts at loosening that grip by introducing larger-scale participation by the private sector, especially foreign, which might push back at the all-pervading civil bureaucratic dominance may create anxieties. The Government of India’s apparatchiki have been unable to impose accountability over defence production, long criticised for low quality and delayed products, especially by its captive market of long suffering users in the defence forces who have no other alternatives.

Defence research and defence production operate in tandem, and India is amongst the fortunate countries which have a substantial infrastructure in both. It would be relevant to note that the foundations of defence production in India were initially established by the East India Company, which functioned as the Government of India of its day, with the establishment of the Gun Carriage Factory in 1801 at Dum Dum near Calcutta and the progressive development of a heavy-industrial complex in the same area consisting of the Ishapore Rifle Factory, and the Cossipore Gun and Shell Factory. After Independence the original skeletal structure was progressively fleshed out by the creation of a large number of defence production units and defence research laboratories in the form of 54 ordnance factories and seven defence public sector units on the production side, and 48 laboratories on the research and development side have been established throughout the country, an impressive scientific-industrial network covering a wide range and variety of military research and equipment ranging from boots and clothing to artillery guns, warships, fighter aircraft and sophisticated electronics equipment.

It must also be noted that India’s developing but as yet comparatively limited private sector too has a history of participation in defence production. During the Second World War, Tata Iron and Steel built the Armoured Combat Vehicle, Wheeled (Indian Pattern) or ACV-IP, a wheeled light armoured vehicle dubbed the “Tatanagar” after its place of origin, which saw extensive service in its various versions in several theatres of the war.

The Government of India has already issued an extensive policy document on defence procurement procedures, which has been periodically refined and reviewed, the latest version in the series being Defence Procurement Procedure 2013. The procedure for defence acquisitions is complex and involved, out of the perceived necessity, to avoid “scams” at all costs. The point is well taken — the sums of money involved in acquisition of defence technology are indeed astronomical, and acquisition prices gallop with each day spent in negotiations. Time is literally money, and acquisition procedures are, indeed, complex. Also, there is always the geo-political necessity to remain strategically independent in defence acquisitions. Squaring multiple circles of these varying dimensions may necessitate require a drastic overhaul of current defence production philosophies.

***** At the 'End of History' Still Stands Democracy

June 2014 

Twenty-five years after Tiananmen Square and the Berlin Wall's fall, liberal democracy still has no real competitors 

A crowd tries to climb the Berlin Wall on Nov. 10, 1989, the morning after it was first breached Getty Images 
Twenty-five years ago, I wrote the essay "The End of History?" for a small journal called the National Interest. It was the spring of 1989, and for those of us who had been caught up in the big political and ideological debates of the Cold War, it was an incredible moment. The piece appeared a few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, right about the time that pro-democracy protests were taking place in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and in the midst of a wave of democratic transitions in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 

I argued that History (in the grand philosophical sense) was turning out very differently from what thinkers on the left had imagined. The process of economic and political modernization was leading not to communism, as the Marxists had asserted and the Soviet Union had avowed, but to some form of liberal democracy and a market economy. History, I wrote, appeared to culminate in liberty: elected governments, individual rights, an economic system in which capital and labor circulated with relatively modest state oversight. 

Looking back at that essay from the present moment, let's begin with an obvious point: The year 2014 feels very different from 1989. 

Russia is a menacing electoral authoritarian regime fueled by petrodollars, seeking to bully its neighbors and take back territories lost when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. China remains authoritarian but now has the second-largest economy in the world, as well as its own territorial ambitions in the South and East China Seas. As the foreign-policy analyst Walter Russell Mead recently wrote, old-fashioned geopolitics has returned big time, and global stability is being threatened at both ends of Eurasia. 

“The problem in today's world isn't just that authoritarian powers are on the move but that many existing democracies aren't doing well either.”

—Francis Fukuyama 

The problem in today's world isn't just that authoritarian powers are on the move but that many existing democracies aren't doing well either. Take Thailand, whose frayed political fabric gave way last month to a military coup, or Bangladesh, whose system remains in thrall to two corrupt political machines. Many countries that seemed to have made successful democratic transitions—Turkey, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua—have been backsliding into authoritarian practices. Others, including recent additions to the European Union like Romania and Bulgaria, are still plagued by corruption. 

And then there are the developed democracies. Both the U.S. and the European Union experienced severe financial crises in the past decade, which meant anemic growth and high unemployment, especially for young people. Though the U.S. economy has now started to expand again, the benefits haven't been evenly shared, and the country's polarized and partisan political system hardly seems a shining example for other democracies. 

So has my end-of-history hypothesis been proven wrong, or if not wrong, in need of serious revision? I believe that the underlying idea remains essentially correct, but I also now understand many things about the nature of political development that I saw less clearly during the heady days of 1989. 

Tunisians rally against authoritarian rule, Jan. 27, 2011. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images 

No restrain in case of second 26/11: Singh told Clinton in 2009


India had made clear to the United States that it would not exercise restraint in case of a second attack on its soil after the 2008 Mumbai assault by Pakistan-based terrorists, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says.
"They made it clear to me that there would not be such restraint in the event of a second attack," Clinton writes in her book 'Hard Choices' referring to her meeting with the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

"She and prime minister Singh explained how hard it had been to show restraint toward Pakistan after the coordinated terrorist bombings in Mumbai the prior November," she writes.

Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Tayiba's terrorists carried out coordinated attacks at several places in Mumbai, killing 166 people including five Americans in November 2008.

"Indians referred to the attack on November 26, 2008, as 26/11, in an echo of our own 9/11," Clinton writes.

"In a show of solidarity with the people of India, I chose to stay at the elegant old Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, which had been one of the sites of the gruesome attack," writes the 66-year-old former Secretary of State in her book that hit the stores on Tuesday.

Clinton, who travelled to India in 2009, said by staying there and paying her respects at the memorial, she wanted to send the message that Mumbai was undeterred and open for business.

In her book, running into more than 600 pages, Clinton describes India as a key part of the Asia Pacific strategy of the Obama Administration.

"Another aspect of our pivot strategy was bringing India more fully into the Asian-Pacific political scene. Having another large democracy with a full seat at the table in the region could help encourage more countries to move toward political and economic openness, rather than follow China’s example of autocratic state capitalism," she writes.

Clinton's second visit to India as the Secretary of States was two years later in July 2011, when she became the first Secretary of State to travel to Chennai.

"No Secretary of State had ever visited this city before, but I wanted to show that we understood India was more than Delhi and Mumbai," she wrote.

"Despite some day-to-day differences, the strategic fundamentals of our relationship with India -- shared democratic values, economic imperatives, and diplomatic priorities -- were pushing both countries' interests into closer convergence. We were entering a new, more mature phase in our relationship," she writes.

Clinton also fondly remembers her first visit to India in 1995, with her daughter Chelsea by her side

Gandhi Was a Crank Before He Was a SaintHis morally nuanced early years in South Africa

Gandhi Before India by Ramachandra Guha (Knopf)

One of the best places to appreciate the struggle and the triumph of post-apartheid South Africa is at the top of Johannesburg’s Constitution Hill. In the center sits the Constitutional Court, established in 1994 to protect the rights of all citizens, and housed in an innovative building that unites motifs from every part of the “rainbow nation.” Surrounding the court, the remains of Johannesburg’s century-old prison complex tell another story. It was here that thousands of political prisoners were jailed for the “crime” of resisting racist laws.

A series of life-size portraits hanging in a former prison block (now a museum) chronicles the trajectory of one of its most famous inmates. The first photograph, taken around 1906, shows a young brown-skinned man standing with his arms crossed and his head cocked. Hair slicked down, black moustache framing his lips, he wears a morning coat, a starched collar, and a jaunty striped tie, every inch the fashionable professional. In a second picture, circa 1908, the man and his circumstances have been transformed. Here he hunches at a desk in a rough loose shirt, pants, and sandals: a prisoner in a Johannesburg cell. By the third image, he has mutated again. Moustache shaved, head tonsured, dressed in a white Indian tunic and dhoti, he stands barefoot with a staff in his hand, like a shepherd of shorn lambs. It is only in the final picture, which shows the man in old age—bald, bespectacled, wearing a homespun loincloth—that most visitors will recognize him as Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most familiar faces of the twentieth century.

How did a provincial young lawyer from western India become a globally recognized icon? The answers lie largely—if not widely known—in South Africa. During twenty years living in and around Durban and Johannesburg, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, once a mediocre student, a shy speaker, and an unsuccessful barrister, turned into a prolific author, a committed social activist, and a galvanizing leader with an international reputation. Nelson Mandela put it best, on a visit to India: “You gave us Mohandas; we returned him to you as Mahatma.”

Gandhi Before India, the first volume of Ramachandra Guha’s projected two-part biography, traces Gandhi’s activities up to 1914, when he returned permanently to India. The central achievement of this book is to establish the South African period—the first half of Gandhi’s life—as foundational to Gandhi’s later career, and worth sustained attention in its own right. What’s more, where authors have generally approached Gandhi’s time in South Africa through his own copious published works—all one hundred volumes of them—including recollections he produced long after the fact, Guha has turned up troves of hitherto unused private papers belonging to Gandhi’s many close friends and colleagues, to develop a far more rounded portrait. Deeply contextualized, dextrously researched, and judiciously written, this deserves to become the landmark biography of the early Gandhi. And it invites a critical question: how well does the familiar later image of the Mahatma hold up?


By Jayshree Sengupta

A striking feature of the recent LokSabha polls was that it clearly showed people are unhappy with doles and handouts. The UPA was known for its kindness/generosity towards the poor and that is why for generations, the poor voted for Congress. Things are changing in rural India. The rights based programmes that the left of centre in the UPA government lauded and took credit for may have created many millions of jobs, but now people want more. Alongside the popularity of MGNERGA, there have been allegations of corruption and deferred payments. People were saved from starvation, no doubt. But they aspired for more.

Aspirational politics is a new reality. It is about the poor aspiring to earn much more and even becoming leaders. The Chaiwala label served Narendra Modi well. It went to show that the arrogant western educated elite of the previous UPA government were not the only ones who are entitled to occupy seats of power and have the right to rule. Modi does not have western education or degrees but people relate to him much more. Many of the members of his cabinet are not even graduates. It is a real paradigm shift from the past.

Secondly, people became fed up of their own miseries while seeing the wasteful foreign trips of ministers of the UPA government as reported in the media. People have not been convinced that it was all being done to serve the country’s interests. More often than not, these were junkets in which ministers and politicians travelled first class with their families and had a great time, living in the best hotels and availing of the local Indian embassy’s hospitality. Profligacy and corruption in the ruling party became apparent to the common man who was stuck fighting inflation and lacked basic amenities. People clearly want more accountability and transparency in all government deals now and Prime Minister Modi has to fulfill this expectation.

UAVs: Tentative Flight

Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

Two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were deployed in Bihar on May 27 and 28, 2014, to monitor movement of Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres in Aurangabad, Gaya and Jamui Districts. Earlier, in February, UAVs had been used in Bihar in anti-Maoist operations for the first time. A senior officer associated with the anti-Maoist operations reportedly disclosed, after the induction of the UAVs, that security personnel had been able to pick up conversations and movements of the Maoists on the ground: “The drones flash real-time images of the movement and conversation of the Maoists and send the data immediately to the commandos. We can also get pictures of the exit routes of the rebels with the help of the drones and take action accordingly.”

However, optimism over the utility of the UAVs notwithstanding, there have been few operational successes to boast of on the basis of data provided by UAVs. Nevertheless, in May 2012, when Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon was abducted by the Maoists, UAV surveillance had spotted Menon and his Maoist abductors and even picked up some ground conversations. However, UAV surveillance was withdrawn as negotiations progressed. Again, in January 2013, when an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter hit by Maoist fire force-landed in Sukma District (Chhattisgarh), and was abandoned along with an injured radio operator by the IAF crew, UAVs reportedly maintained surveillance through most of the night, until Security Forces (SFs) arrived to secure the area.

The most dramatic failure of the UAVs came in May 2013, when they generated no specific intelligence before or after the Maoist attack on the convoy of the Congress party in Darbha Vally on May 25, which resulted in the killing of at least 28 persons, including Mahendra Karma, the controversial architect of the Salwa Judum, and other top Congress leaders. Nearly 300 Maoists had taken part in the attack, but their gathering and movement went entirely undetected. In this case, it was noted that whatever efficiency the drones could have shown, despite the technical weakness of not being able to penetrate foliage and not being able to distinguish a Maoist from an ordinary villager, was undone because of the location of the operational base of the UAVs.

A pilot project to use aerial surveillance in anti-Naxal operations was started in 2006 in Chhattisgarh. However, the UAVs, deployed in August 2006 at the Raipur airfield, were "forcefully grounded" after failing to collect adequate information about Maoist movements in the State. While it was officially claimed that the operation was withdrawn due to bad weather, there was evidence that UAV monitoring was being deliberately undermined by leaks from within the establishment. IAF officers managing the UAV operations in the State complained that 'intelligence leaks on flight details' had undermined the utility of the spy drones. Unnamed IAF officials hinted at a 'lack of will' in the State Government and problems of coordination with the State Forces. In the initial months of UAV deployment, a number of Maoist 'hotspots' had been detected, but there were no follow-up operations by the forces.

After the initial failure UAVs were again tested in 2009. The trials of the UAVs, developed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), were conducted in Hissar and Delhi, while more trials were to be conducted in the jungles of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Then in 2010 a US Honeywell manufactured UAV, whose pilotless planes had reportedly been used successfully by Allied Forces in the hunt for targets in war-hit Afghanistan and Iraq, was tested from the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College in Kanker, Chhattisgarh. The test was witnessed by officials from Chhattisgarh, the Union Home Ministry, as well as Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. The program, however, failed to take off.

How the new government must tackle the Maoist threat

Besides weakening the Maoists' lethal capacities and reducing violence, it is essential to ensure that governance is improved, so that those prone to sympathising with, or supporting, the Maoists would, in the long run, realise the needlessness and futility of doing so, says P V Ramana and Raj Bala Rana.

Displaying a sense of seriousness in dealing with Naxalites of the Communist Party of India-Maoist, or Maoists in short, the new government said it was more than 'the single biggest challenge to internal security.' According to a media report of June 2, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said, 'We want to do away with the term "Naxalism" and want it to be called "Maoism". Earlier, it was different, but now it is straightaway a threat to national security.'

The term Naxalism/Naxalites is generically used to refer to all those who subscribe to the ideology of capturing/seizing State/political power by waging a protracted people's war through the method of guerrilla warfare, on the lines propounded by Chairman Mao Zedong. The term Naxalism has its origins in the Naxalbari village, in the then Siliguri sub-division of West Bengal, where, in 1967, a tribal peasant uprising was staged by extreme left-wing rebels of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, under the leadership of Charu Mazumdar, Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal.

In India, there are three streams of Naxalite groups: Those that participate in parliamentary politics and have 'postponed' their agenda of revolution; those that participate in parliamentary politics and also maintain armed, underground squads; and those that are avowedly committed to waging an armed revolution and consider parliamentary politics a sham.

The two terms, Naxalism and Maoism, are routinely used interchangeably. In this wake, it might be useful to understand the difference between the two. To state briefly, all Maoists are Naxalites, but all Naxalites are not Maoists. According to the Union ministry of home affairs, there are a total of 24 Naxalite groups in India.

On the other hand, the term Maoism/Maoists refers to cadres and leaders of the proscribed Communist Party of India-Maoist, which was founded on September 21, 2004 following the merger of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (People's War), PW in short, (popularly known as the PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre of India, popularly known as MCC. The CPI-Maoist belongs to the last of the three categories mentioned above.

It is the largest and most lethal of all Naxalite groups in operation in India. It is led by Muppala Lakshmana Rao, alias Ganapathy, a native of Bheerpur village in the Karimnagar district of Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana). It has a cadre strength of approximately 13,000 men and women.

Backgrounder on Pakistani Taliban Organization and Terrorism in Pakistan

June 9, 2014

A Look at the History of Militancy in Pakistan
Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — The attack on Karachi’s airport — Pakistan’s busiest — killed 19 security personnel and civilians, along with the 10 assailants. The group that claimed responsibility Monday vowed even more violence. Here are the issues related to the history of militancy in Pakistan:


The Pakistani Taliban, formally known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, was formed in 2007 when various militant groups already operating in the country’s northwest banded together. The group aims to overthrow the government and impose a hard-line form of Islam. It also has called on the government to pull all troops from tribal areas bordering Afghanistan where many of the militant groups are based. The TTP is loosely affiliated with the Afghan Taliban, which is fighting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, and shares similar ideology, but it has a different leadership structure. The TTP focuses its fight in Pakistan.


The attack raises serious doubts about the feasibility of continuing negotiations with the militants. The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has yet to say that it is abandoning talks altogether. The U.S. has said the negotiations are an internal matter but the U.S. has previously pushed for a military operation in North Waziristan, since many militant groups use the area as a base to attack Afghanistan. The U.S. is believed to question the likelihood of talks leading to the Pakistani Taliban disarming.

Pakistan has been carrying out large-scale military operations in the northwest since 2009, when it launched an operation to retake the Swat Valley, a heavily populated area that had been taken over by Taliban militants. That was followed by operations in other regions along the Afghan border that have displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians and killed more than 4,000 Pakistani troops. North Waziristan is the only region where the military has not carried out a large operation so far, and it has become a hub for militant groups.

Pakistani Taliban Launch 2nd Attack on Karachi International Airport

June 10, 2014

Insurgents Attack Pakistani Airport Again Amid Military Raids

Salman Masood

New York Times

An ambulance rushed to a hospital on Tuesday after gunmen attacked a training center for airport security personnel in Karachi, Pakistan. Credit Shakil Adil/Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Insurgents attacked an airport training facility in Karachi Tuesday, two days after the Taliban carried out a daring raid on Karachi’s international airport. The latest attack came as the Pakistani military carried out airstrikes on nine militant hide-outs in a remote valley in the northwestern Khyber tribal region.

Initial reports suggested that the two attackers, riding motorbikes, tried to enter the training facility from a nearby slum but faced stiff resistance from the guards manning the outer boundary wall of the complex, which houses a training academy and lodging for security officers. Still, all flight operations at the airport, Pakistan’s busiest, were suspended in the wake of the latest attack, according to the civil aviation authority.

As airport security forces took up positions, many of them combed out of the training facility and moved toward the edges of the slum. Several television journalists also tried to move in the same direction as bursts of gunfire echoed in the background.

An airport security official, Colonel Tahir Ali, played down the violence, saying that only two attackers engaged the security guards with gunfire.

“It was not an attack as such. They came and fired,” the official said. “We cannot take any risk. We will try to contain them immediately.”

He said a search was under way for the suspects in the slums near the training facility, and added that no one was injured in the gun battle, in which the insurgents came on a motorbike before fleeing by foot after exchanging fire.

Omar Khorasani, a Taliban official, said on his Twitter account that his group carried out Tuesday’s attack. “We are back to ASF academy. Allah is Great. Allah is Great. Allah is Great,” the Twitter message said.

The escalating conflict came as peace talks between the Taliban and the Pakistani government have broken down, leading the Pakistani military to stage a series of raids on insurgent hideouts.

Iraqi Insurgents Adopt New Tactics

Insurgents with anti-tank missiles clash with Iraqi brigades

On April 20, an Iraqi armored platoon was probing into insurgent-held territory near the city of Ramadi. Aside from a dozen MTLB armored vehicles, the Iraqi unit included at least one upgraded T-55 tank.

At least on paper, the platoon was more than enough to defeat lightly-armed insurgents. But as the column passed through the suburb of Al Humayrah—along a road flanked by high-walled compounds—the vehicles began exploding.

Insurgents with wire-guided anti-tank missiles—and professing allegiance to the hard-line Salafist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant— caught the vehicles in a deadly ambush.

By the time ISIL forces were finished, the Iraqi vehicles lay wrecked, burning and abandoned. Insurgent fighters moved in on foot and on gun-toting technicals. The result: One Iraqi column destroyed and at least one T-55 captured.

Obviously, the insurgents broadcast their victory with social media.

Aside from the use of anti-tank missiles—which have destroyed huge numbers of Syrian tanks—in Iraq, the attacks are a sign of the growing strength of Iraq’s Sunni insurgents.

That’s also the conclusion of a recent report from CTC Sentinel, West Point’s monthly counter-terror newsletter. According to the report, ISIL has made major territorial gains in recent months—amounting to the most significant since the early years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq..

That’s the bad news. The good news is that ISIL is also be overextending itself, and the terror group still has only mixed success at taking and holding territory. But if ultimately successful, “the development of a defensible ISIL caliphate just outside Baghdad would be a historic achievement on par with anything the movement has achieved in Syria,” the report warns.

ISIL’s tactics are also important. The insurgents are operating across borders and applying lessons learned in the Syrian civil war.

Civil war spillover

For months, the centerpieces of Iraq’s revived Sunni insurgency have been the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. The former is outside the control of the central government, while Ramadi is the focus of considerable insurgent forces based in the city’s southern suburbs.

Taliban Claim Responsibility for Pakistan Airport Attack

JUNE  2014

The scene at the airport in Karachi, Pakistan, after militants stormed past security, firing automatic weapons and hurling grenades.
KARACHI, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility Monday for a ferocious overnight assault in Karachi that stretched into the morning in which gunmen infiltrated Pakistan’s largest international airport and waged an extended firefight against security forces that resulted in 29 deaths and shook the country’s already fragile sense of security.

The attack “was a response to the recent attacks by the government,” Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said by telephone. “We will continue carrying out such attacks.” He insisted, however, that the group was seeking to resuscitate peace talks with the government.

Explosions and gunfire rang out across the airport through the night as the police and security forces battled with the attackers while passengers waited anxiously in a nearby terminal and in airplanes stranded on the tarmac. Just before 5 a.m., after five hours of siege, the military reported that the last of 10 attackers had been killed.

The chief minister of Sindh Province, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, told reporters that in addition to the 10 attackers, 19 other people had died, including 11 members of the Airport Security Force, five local airline officials and three others. “They were well trained,” he said of the assailants. “Their plan was very well thought out.”

Chinese New Weapons Systems That Scare the Pentagon

June 9, 2014

Sam LaGrone and Dave Majumdar


The Pentagon released its 2014 report to Congress, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China on Thursday. An annual requirement since 2010, the report outlines military technology advancements and the techniques and training the branches of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have undertaken in the last year.

While the report seldom contains any earthshattering revelations on China’s military advancement, it does — in very broad strokes — give insight to the developments in China that give the Department of Defense the most concern.

The following is a selection of Chinese weapons that were highlighted in the report.

China’s Carriers

China’s carrier Liaoning, PLAN Photo

No piece of Chinese hardware in the last decade has prompted more U.S. concern than the China’s first modern aircraft carrier — Liaoning.

The 55,000-ton ship is a former Ukrainian-built, Soviet-era ship the Chinese are using to learn the ropes of carrier operations — some of the toughest and most dangerous work at sea.
“The carrier most likely will conduct extensive local operations focusing on shipboard training, carrier aircraft integration, and carrier formation training for the next three to four years. The carrier conducted operations in the East China Sea and South China Sea in November may be used for other missions as needed,” read the report.

A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) strike group formation operating in late 2013 almost collided with the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Cowpens (CG-63).

The carrier is widely seen as a training ground for a domestic carrier program China first hinted at in 2010 and parts of the Chinese regional governmentdropped more hints in 2013.

“The first Chinese-built carrier will likely be operational sometime at the beginning of the next decade. The formation of carrier battle groups will enable the [PLAN] to conduct comprehensive sea control and power projection operations and enhance its long-range operational capabilities,” read the report.

Though the carrier grabs headlines, the actual military utility of the ship is still very much up for debate.

“Liaoning currently is more of a political statement than a naval threat, posing little operational danger to the United States, its allies in East Asia, or even to smaller regional nations,” wrote Bernard D. Cole, a retired U.S. Navy officer and instructor at National Defense University, in USNI News in May.

China’s Stealth Fighters

Changes between prototypes of China’s stealth fighter prototypes.

China continues development of the twin-engine Chengdu J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighter as part of an effort to “develop aircraft with low observable features, advanced avionics, super-cruise engines.” The Pentagon report insists that the aircraft will not enter service before 2018. The aircraft is described as a multi-role aircraft in the report rather than an air superiority fighter like the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The report notes “China faces numerous challenges to achieving full operational capability, including developing high-performance jet engines.”

Facebook FB Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out The scary future of digital gerrymandering—and how to prevent

JUNE  2014

On November 2, 2010, Facebook’s American users were subject to an ambitious experiment in civic-engineering: Could a social network get otherwise-indolent people to cast a ballot in that day’s congressional midterm elections?

The answer was yes.

The prod to nudge bystanders to the voting booths was simple. It consisted of a graphic containing a link for looking up polling places, a button to click to announce that you had voted, and the profile photos of up to six Facebook friends who had indicated they’d already done the same. With Facebook’s cooperation, the political scientists who dreamed up the study planted that graphic in the newsfeeds of tens of millions of users. (Other groups of Facebook users were shown a generic get-out-the-vote message or received no voting reminder at all.) Then, in an awesome feat of data-crunching, the researchers cross-referenced their subjects’ names with the day’s actual voting records from precincts across the country to measure how much their voting prompt increased turnout.

Overall, users notified of their friends’ voting were 0.39 percent more likely to vote than those in the control group, and any resulting decisions to cast a ballot also appeared to ripple to the behavior of close Facebook friends, even if those people hadn’t received the original message. That small increase in turnout rates amounted to a lot of new votes. The researchers concluded that their Facebook graphic directly mobilized 60,000 voters, and, thanks to the ripple effect, ultimately caused an additional 340,000 votes to be cast that day. As they point out, George W. Bush won Florida, and thus the presidency, by 537 votes—fewer than 0.01 percent of the votes cast in that state.

Now consider a hypothetical, hotly contested future election. Suppose that Mark Zuckerberg personally favors whichever candidate you don’t like. He arranges for a voting prompt to appear within the newsfeeds of tens of millions of active Facebook users—but unlike in the 2010 experiment, the group that will not receive the message is not chosen at random. Rather, Zuckerberg makes use of the fact that Facebook “likes” can predict political views and party affiliation, even beyond the many users who proudly advertise those affiliations directly. With that knowledge, our hypothetical Zuck chooses not to spice the feeds of users unsympathetic to his views. Such machinations then flip the outcome of our hypothetical election. Should the law constrain this kind of behavior?

The scenario imagined above is an example of digital gerrymandering. All sorts of factors contribute to what Facebook or Twitter present in a feed, or what Google or Bing show us in search results. Our expectation is that those intermediaries will provide open conduits to others’ content and that the variables in their processes just help yield the information we find most relevant. (In that spirit, we expect that advertiser-sponsored links and posts will be clearly labeled so as to make them easy to distinguish from the regular ones.) Digital gerrymandering occurs when a site instead distributes information in a manner that serves its own ideological agenda. This is possible on any service that personalizes what users see or the order in which they see it, and it’s increasingly easy to effect. 

A Chinese Monroe Doctrine?

JUN 2014 
Source Link 


Jaswant Singh was the first person to have served as India’s finance minister (1996, 2002-2004), foreign minister (1998-2004), and defense minister (2000-2001). While in office, he launched the first free-trade agreement (with Sri Lanka) in South Asia’s history, initiated India’s most daring

NEW DELHI – Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s upcoming visit to India will include his first meetings with India’s new government, including Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and, more important, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But the trip is about more than getting acquainted. The leaders of both countries will be taking one another’s measure, and their conclusions will determine how the relationship between the world’s two most populous countries evolves.

In some ways, the bilateral relationship is already moving in a positive direction, especially on the economic front. But, as trade imbalances favoring China become apparent, India is growing increasingly frustrated. Wang, an establishment figure well versed in Indian affairs, will make every effort to downplay these imbalances and promote deeper ties.

A far more formidable challenge will be resolving the dispute over the countries’ Himalayan frontier – the world’s longest unsettled land border. Indeed, “special representatives” from the two countries have already met 17 times to settle the issue, but have made precious little progress, not least because of Chinese concerns about the restive border provinces of Tibet and Xinjiang.

As if the conflict were not already complicated enough, China has adopted an increasingly assertive stance in the area, including several incursions into disputed territory. For example, last year, Chinese troops established a temporary camp in Ladakh’s Depsang valley, leading to a high-stakes standoff with India. As long as the “line of actual control” remains undefined, tensions will continue to escalate – raising serious risks for both countries.

Another major point of contention is China’s reflexive support for Pakistan’s efforts to destabilize Ladakh and Kashmir, buttressed by deepening military cooperation. This aspect of China’s foreign policy is puzzling, not only because it undermines relations with India, but also in view of Chinese fears of Islamist radicalism among the Xinjiang’s Uighurs.

All of this highlights a fundamental flaw in China’s external strategy: its efforts to use its increasingly powerful military to intimidate its neighbors come at the expense of its own long-term security. Indeed, instead of trying to build a mutually beneficial relationship with its largest neighbor, China has sought to encircle India by asserting military control of surrounding territories. This so-called “string of pearls” strategy directly threatens India’s national-security interests, rendering the type of robust bilateral relationship that would benefit both countries next to impossible.

China Takes Steps Toward Realizing Silk Road Ambitions

June  2014 

A map published by Xinhua shows the routes of China's two "silk roads."

China’s vision for a new “Silk Road economic belt,” as recently announced by Xinhua, is establishing regional integration around China as an attractive economic direction for Central Asian countries. With a series of strategic agreements between Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders of central Asian countries inked over the last month, the vision for the land- and sea-based Silk Roads is fast becoming reality. As a key component of China’s diplomacy, Beijing is careful to ensure that its bilateral agreements with Central Asian leaders have multilateral implications. Not only are Central Asian states drawing closer to one another, but Beijing’s Silk Road strategy will ultimately link three continents, generating geopolitical reverberations around the world.

Little detail is known about China’s plans for two Silk Roads. Official maps highlight Beijing’s aspirations of an east-west trade route that will reinvigorate Chinese historical and cultural legacies while spreading awareness of China’s friendly policies towards its neighbors (Xinhua, May 8). According a map published by Xinhua, the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt will begin in Xi’an, stretching west through Lanzhou, Urumqi, and Khorgas before running southwest across Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe where it will meet up with the maritime Silk Road in Venice (Sohu, May 2014). The sea-based Maritime Silk Road, hitting Quanzhou, Guangzhou, Beihai, and Haikou en route to the Malacca Strait and Indian Ocean, will traverse the Horn of Africa before entering the Red Sea and Mediterranean. Once complete, the Silk Roads will bring “new opportunities and a new future to China and every country along the road that it is seeking to develop.”


By Nguyen Hung Son

Paracel Islands 


The month’long “oil rig” crisis in the South China Sea has had the world seized by daily footage of clashes and confrontation between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels. The crisis began when China sent its biggest oil rig into water near the Paracels where Vietnam has claimed as its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Many countries have expressed concern over what they see as China’s unilateral attempt to change the status quo in the South China Sea. US President Barrack Obama, in his speech to the West Point’s Graduation Ceremony, even referred to the incident as an act of aggression in the South China Sea. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers, in their meeting prior to the ASEAN Summit in Nay Pi Daw last month saw the new development as a cause of serious concern to regional peace and stability. China, however, dismisses these criticisms and insists it is conducting regular operations in China’s sovereign water.

One of the key problems is the sovereignty dispute over the Paracels. China argues that it has indisputable sovereignty over the Paracels, a claim which Vietnam sternly dismisses. Vietnam insists it has established title to the Paracels since the 16-17th century when no country owned the islands. Since then Vietnam has continually and effectively exercised its sovereignty over the islands until China illegally took them by force in 1974. Vietnam dismisses China’s claim of sovereignty over the Paracels because it considers the activities of private Chinese individuals, who China claims to have discovered the islands or who might have been aware of the islands for a long time, were insufficient to establish China’s ownership over the islands under international law. Unlike the Vietnamese State which has shown interests and continuous efforts in establishing jurisdiction over the islands since the 16th century, the Chinese State showed no evidence of wanting to take the islands into possession throughout its long history. No official Chinese historical book or map recorded the Paracels or the Spratlys as Chinese territory up until the mid 20th century. In all Chinese official documents and maps, the southern most point of China’s territory never exceeded Hainan Island.

The reason for China’s lack of interests in acquiring territories at sea might have been deeply embedded in China’s history and culture. China had long been a massive land power that did not look at the sea favorably and did not see any need for tiny territories at sea. For thousands of years, China always viewed the sea as a source of piracy and insecurity. Hence, many dynasties in China, as late and the Ming and the Qing, continued to ban maritime activities. The well known Haijin policy prohibited maritime shipping and encouraged people to be inward looking. A radical Haijin law during the Minh dynasty even required every coastal citizens to move 40 miles inland, emptying the coast line. Those who ventured out to the sea were charged with treason against the state and the Emperor.