22 July 2014

On pensions, it is rank injustice

Published: July 22, 2014 

Chander Suta Dogra

The HinduDISILLUSIONED: Between 2009 and 2011, some 22,000 medals were returned by ex-servicemen and war widows to the President in protest against non-implementation of OROP. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

The euphoria generated by Narendra Modi’s election promise of One Rank One Pension is fast dissipating

With Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley setting aside only Rs. 1000 crore for One Rank One Pension (OROP), there is disquiet within the defence fraternity combined with apprehension that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pre-election commitment to give soldiers this long-pending entitlement may perhaps be diluted yet again.

“We reaffirm our commitment to our brave soldiers. A policy of One Rank One Pension has been adopted by the government to address pension disparities. We propose to set aside a further sum of Rs.1,000 crore to meet the year’s requirement,” Mr. Jaitley said in his budget speech. He followed it up with a meeting on June 12 that was attended by three service chiefs, officers from the defence service headquarters, top officials from Defence Aaccounts and the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and representatives of four major ex-servicemen organisations to deliberate on the modalities. The meeting ended in an impasse as differences over the very definition of OROP and the consequent impact on payment of pensions emerged between the departments of the MoD on the one side and the service headquarters and military veterans on the other.

The accepted definition

Speaking to The Hindu, Maj Gen. (retd.) Satbir Singh, Chairman of the Indian Ex Servicemen Movement (IESM), who was present at the meeting, said: “We understand that processes in the government take time. But after the meeting we have begun to doubt the government’s intentions because it appears to be succumbing to the confusion deliberately created by the civilian bureaucracy, represented by the MoD, to scuttle OROP.” The ex-servicemen fraternity has roped in former Army Chief Gen. (retd.) V.K. Singh, now a Minister in the Modi government, to mediate on its behalf. Maj Gen. Satbir Singh is among those who threw the weight of the five lakh-strong IESM behind the Bharatiya Janata Party because Mr. Modi made commitments on several issues of interest to ex-servicemen, chief among them being OROP.

A common refrain among veterans is that they are being asked to scale down their entitlement when the definition of OROP has already been accepted by the government

The definition of OROP, given by former Defence Minister A.K. Antony in February this year and accepted by the government, is the same as the one that was accepted by the Petition Committee of Rajya Sabha on OROP, which was chaired by Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. The Committee presented its report in December 2011. According to this definition, “OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to Armed Forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement, and any future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to past pensioners. This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pensions of the current pensioners and the past pensioners and also future enhancements in the rate of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.” According to the Koshiyari Committee’s calculation, Rs.3,000 crore would be needed to implement this. With 10 per cent inflation this year, it is now estimated to be about Rs. 4,000 crore. The UPA government had earmarked Rs.500 crore with additional funds, as per requirements, to be made later. It was also accepted that disabled and family pensioners will be included.

Now, however, an alternate model has been floated by the departments of the MoD, namely the Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA), the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) or PCDA, and the DESW. They have proposed that pensioners before 2006 be paid pensions that were given at the start of the Sixth Pay Commission (on January 1, 2006). This will mean that a sepoy who retired prior to 2006 and who was receiving a pension of Rs.5,196 a month, would receive Rs.6,450, according to this model, instead of the Rs.8,349 that a sepoy who retired in 2014 would receive. A common refrain among veterans is that they “are being asked to scale down [their] requirement when the correct definition of OROP has already been accepted by the government.”



Tuesday, 22 July 2014 | Abhijit Iyer-Mitra |

While the Government has done well to keep the public sector out of the HS-748 Avro deal, its decision to replace an aircraft that has almost been retired, is not rational, and shows that the new administration is walking down the same path of fiscal profligacy as its predecessor

In 1952, the British Raj civil servant Ivor Jennings came to the conclusion that Partition had very little to do with the Hindu-Muslim divide. He predicted, rather presciently, that the net effect of Partition was that Pakistan got the military, India got the bureaucracy, and that these would hang around their respective necks like a hangman’s noose. Sixty-seven years down the line, we now have two countries whose deep states are almost mirror images of the other.

In Pakistan, civilian Governments come and go, but the Army goes on forever. In India, Prime Ministers may come and Prime Ministers may go, but the bureaucracy goes on forever. There is probably no better wisdom on how bureaucracies work than the BBC drama Yes Minister. Consider these immortal words regarding the ‘house training’ of overly enthusiastic ministers by bureaucrats — “It used to be said there were two kinds of chairs to go with two kinds of Minister: One sort folds up instantly; the other sort goes round and round in circles”.

In this context, what exactly do we make of this year’s defence allocation? When assessing the Budget, we need to look not just at the figures themselves but also important policy announcements that have followed since. The Budget as a standalone seems to be a continuation of the policy emphases placed by the previous UPA Government. No programmes have been modified and none have been cancelled or rationalised.

NATIONAL SECURITY FORUM Synergy between Centre & states a must


In the concluding part of the article on management of national security, the writer calls for the Centre to take a more proactive approach by adopting various initiatives for promoting trust and mutual understanding with the states.
N. N. Vohra

FOR progressively enhancing meaningful Centre-states relations in regard to national security management it would be useful for the Central Government to also consider various possible initiatives for promoting trust and mutual understanding between New Delhi and the state capitals. Towards this objective, to begin with, the Central Government could consider inducting representatives of the states in the National Security Advisory Board and the National Security Council, even if this is to be done on a rotational basis. The Central Government could also consider setting up an Empowered Committee of Home Ministers of states to discuss and arrive at pragmatic solutions to various important security- related issues, including the long-pending proposal to set up the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). In this context, it would be relevant to note that the nation-wide consensus for introducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime in the country, a crucial tax reform which involves a Constitutional amendment for replacing the current indirect taxes, has been achieved by an Empowered Committee of Finance Ministers. It is reported that GST is likely to be enforced in the very near future.

Some of the doubts voiced by the states about the management of security-related issues arise from the style of functioning of institutions which are exclusively controlled by the Central Government. In this background, perhaps a more productive approach may lie in moving towards certain important institutions being jointly run by the Centre and the states.

Learning from other countries

An excellent example in this regard is the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), established by USA in the aftermath of 9/11. The Joint Terrorism Task Forces located in various cities across the USA include representatives from the Federal, State and Municipal enforcement agencies and perform several important roles, including the clearing of all terrorism-related information. Over time, functioning through joint institutions will enable the states to gain a well-informed, all-India perspective about the complex and sensitive issues which concern national security management and, in this process, also defuse their perennial complaint about the Central Government “interfering with the powers of the states in the arena of internal security management”. Needless to stress, if national security is to be satisfactorily managed, the states must effectively maintain internal security within their territories. Towards this end, they must urgently get to work for enlarging and upgrading their Intelligence and police organisations and security-administration systems. In this context, it is a matter of serious concern that the annual allocations for police comprise an extremely low percentage of the total budgeted expenditure of all the states and Union Territories in the country.

RISK AND PARANOIA - The Reserve Bank’s distaste for competition

It may not always be evident from what I say about it, but I have enormous respect for the Reserve Bank. It is a part of the government, and yet it is entirely clean: there is not a whiff of corruption about it. It makes rules, and publishes them: everyone knows, or can know, what it is imposing on him. And as long as he lives by the rules, he has to fear nothing. There is no arbitrariness, no show of power. In all these respects, the Reserve Bank is an ideal official institution. If the rest of India’s government were to work like the Reserve Bank, India would be a paradise. Well, that is an exaggeration, in view of what I am about to say; but despite my reservations, the Reserve Bank is an institution that must be preserved — although a bit of reform would do it no harm.

Where the Reserve Bank does not suit my taste is in its distaste for competition. It loves its daughters, the government banks, and does not like the idea of new competitors making their lives difficult. It would not quite put it that way. It would deny that it loves its daughters; it just hates the private sector. It would never be so undiplomatic to say that; but the conditions it placed on new private banks say it all. Basically, private citizens who aspired to set up a bank had to be enormously rich: they had to plank down a hundred or five hundred crore as equity even before the Reserve Bank would look at them. They had to find a number of equally wealthy friends, for they were not allowed to bring in more than 10 per cent of the equity. They had to make a success of the bank within five years, against the combined might of established public sector banks. And after having won the battle, they had to turn tails and run away: they had to sell their stake in a dozen years, and hand the banks over to someone else. The Reserve Bank did not place any conditions on that second generation of owners because it knew it had plenty of time to make their lives miserable.

Having set these impossible conditions, the Reserve Bank invited applications. India has a private sector of more than a million enterprises and a financial sector of more than 10,000 firms — ones identified in the Reserve Bank’s view by a negative characteristic, and christened non-bank financial companies. Many of them would like to start banks, but they took one look at the Reserve Bank’s conditions, read its intentions and gave up the idea. But a couple of dozen hardy souls applied. The Reserve Bank was surprised, but it had an answer for their audacity. It appointed a committee — predictably chaired by a former governor of the Reserve Bank — to examine the applications. It did such a leisurely review that I have forgotten what conclusion it came to. But after all that ritual, the Reserve Bank gave TWO licences.




The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor is an experimental fusion reactor being constructed at Cadarache in the south of France. It is the most challenging of all the research and development taking place in science and technology in the world today, and promises to go a long way in solving the world’s energy problems. This is an instance when Homi Bhabha was quite wrong; he had predicted in the 1950s that fusion power was just round the corner, but we are still thinking of uncertain dates at least 10 to 20 years hence.

The atomic nucleus holds the key to both nuclear fusion and fission. The energy in the fission reactor leads to electricity but one has to take great precautions against radioactivity. In the fusion process, deuterium and tritium are produced and there is no radioactive fallout. If and when the fusion experiment is eventually successful, it will provide unlimited energy to mankind that will last for more than 1,000 years.

The ITER is a magnetic toroidal device and is being built by several countries in a collaborative venture; the European Union, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States of America. An agreement was signed on November 2006 by India with ITER for this unprecedented partnership covering more than half the world’s population.
The ITER will produce 500 MW of fusion power with an amplification of 10, that is, the generation of ten times the input energy of 50 MW, from fusion reactions between deuterium and tritium atoms. It will start its first plasma operations around 2023 and the D-T operations around 2030. Even at that stage, it will still be a long way from commercial production.



Hardly anything remains secret or classified these days, owing to the availability of open-source information thanks to real-time reporting by the electronic media and the mass access to information technology. It is, therefore, time to recapitulate the life and times,the acts and utterances, of Hafiz Saeed, about whom some Indian celebrities appear to be intensely enamoured of. In fact, the list of Indian admirers of Saeed appears to be growing by the day, thanks to India’s benign tradition of tolerating wrong-doers, including terrorists and non-State actors operating from across the border.

Hence, the recent meeting between an Indian scribe and the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai massacre is neither surprising nor shocking. The Indian scribe appears to have tried hard to project himself as an ace, super-sleuth journalist. However, his admission to the charmed world of back-door diplomacy with Pakistan needs to be analyzed in the backdrop of a sustained and orchestrated conflict by Islamabad against India.

Some of Saeed’s utterances merit closer scrutiny. In November 1999, the founder of the Jamat-ud-Dawa is reported to have stated, “Jehad is not about Jammu & Kashmir only. About 15 years ago, people might have found it ridiculous if someone told them about the disintegration of the USSR. Today, I announce the break-up of India... we will not rest until the whole of India is dissolved into Pakistan.”
Again, in October 2008, Saeed, allegedly, stated, “India has blocked the Chenab waters and constructed the Baglihar Dam. The only reason all this has happened is because jehad-e-Kashmir has been abandoned by the rulers. India understands only the language of jehad, which cannot be suppressed. In fact, with some support, jehad can break up India like the former USSR.”

'MBA Culture' Crushes Caste in India

JUL 20, 2014 

(Corrects fourth paragraph to use Bloomberg data and to reflect that Mukesh Ambani is not a Marwari.)

As anyone who has ever studied business in India knows, the country does not offer a level playing field for new entrepreneurs. Not only does the large, if slowly crumbling, scaffolding of India’s socialist heyday allow government and encrusted special dispensations of various kinds to inhibit competition, but there also seems to be a deeply ingrained bias among Indians themselves about who is capable of doing business and who is not.

And who can blame them? For at least two millennia, the "jati," orcaste system -- the form of social stratification, and indeed suffocation, unique to Hinduism and India -- has regulated society into different orders of mainly hereditary occupations. According to this vastly influential scheme, which allocates kingship to the so-called warrior castes and religious authority to the priestly castes, business is best done by the mercantile castes, and best scorned by the high or middle castes. When the outsider demands proof of how genes, or a combination of genes and culture, can make for such a head start in the very adult, secular, learnable activities of trade and commerce, the answer is often sounded: “You don't want to compete against a Marwari!”

They seem to have a point. The most ubiquitous of the mercantile castes, the Marwaris have a certain mystique in India for their legendary ability to make and manage money. As Thomas Timberg, author of a recent monograph on the Marwaris, shows, the Marwaris have for hundreds of years served as merchants, bankers, venture capitalists, speculators and brokers, the managers of both trust and risk in the Indian economy.

Although entrepreneurial aspirations have skyrocketed in India since liberalization in 1991, evidence of the old caste-based structure continue to show on surveys of wealth creation. According to theBloomberg Billionaires list of the world's richest people, three of the nine richest Indians are Marwaris. The combined wealth of Lakshmi Mittal, Kumar Mangalam Birla, and Savitri Jindal is nearly $35 billion.

A group more dispersed and more enduring than even the great business families such as the Rothschilds or the Rockefellers, and enabled by social structure and history as much as dynasty and accumulated wealth, the Marwaris are an interesting example of an indigenous capitalism pursued, one might say, in a partly collectivist spirit, an essential case study of the relationship of capitalism to culture and social organization.

The Marwaris, though far-flung today across India and the world, trace their roots to the harsh desert region around Marwar, in modern-day Rajasthan in western India. The term “Marwaris” is in fact not a caste name but an ethnic catchall for various merchant castes from the region. According to Timberg’s survey, the influence of the Marwaris began to spread outside their traditional domicile around the 16th century, when they emigrated in significant numbers to places as far east as Calcutta (today, Kolkata) and Dhaka (today the capital of Bangladesh) as bankers and financiers to the great Mughal dynasty.

British Reforms to Its Higher Defence Organisation: Lessons for India

Rajneesh Singh

All is not right with the Indian Higher Defence Organisation (HDO) became public knowledge, perhaps for the first time, after the Kargil War in 1999. There have been significant changes in the geo-strategic situation and the nature of threat faced by India over the years and yet little has changed in the higher defence management and the HDO of the country. There is an urgent need for a greater understanding and a clearer vision of the security management of the country and the road map to implement the desired reform. It is in the area of the reform process, the HDO structure and the inter-relationship amongst the principal constituents of the HDO that India can benefit from the best practices available in United Kingdom and the world. This monograph is the first in the series of two monographs. The second deals with lessons for India from the analyses of the United States reforms to its HDO. The two monographs are intended to provide stand alone and focused studies to those interested in the higher defence management and study of HDO.

About the Author

Col Rajneesh Singh was commissioned in Infantry in December 1989 and has varied operational, staff and instructional experience. He has commanded a Rashtriya Rifles company and battalion in Jammu and Kashmir. He has been a military observer in Congo for a year. His staff experience includes tenure in the Military Operations Directorate and in Military Secretary's Branch. The officer has also been an instructor at the NDA, Khadakwasla and at DSSC, Wellington. Col Rajneesh Singh is presently pursuing PhD at the JNU, New Delhi. 

Management of National Security: Some Concerns

NN Vohra
July 18, 2014
Source Link

First Air Cmde Jasjit Singh Memorial Lecture 

I feel privileged to have been asked to deliver the First Air Cmde Jasjit Singh Memorial Lecture to remember Jasjit Singh who, after a long and distinguished tenure as Director General, Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, served as the Director of the Centre for Air Power Studies from the day it was established till he passed away last year.

I compliment the Chief of Air Staff, the Chairman and Members of the Board of Trustees and Director of the Centre for Air Power Studies for establishing an annual lecture in the memory of Jasjit Singh. My very long association with this scholar air-warrior commenced in the mid 1980s when the Air Hqrs released him for joining the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis. For nearly three decades, till he passed away last year, I had known Jasjit closely and was associated with several of his initiatives to enlarge awareness about security related issues.

Jasjit Singh had a very distinguished career in the Indian Air Force. During the 1971 War he led a Fighter Squadron and was awarded the Vir Chakra for gallantry in the face of the enemy. He later commanded a MIG-21 Squadron, served as Director of Flight Safety and Director of Operations at Air Hqrs before he retired from the Air Force to join the IDSA, which he steered for nearly a decade and a half. A prolific writer, he authored and edited several dozen books. Among the many important tasks handled by him, Jasjit served as the Convenor of the Task Force which was set up by the Central Government in 1998 to pave the way for the establishment of the National Security Council. He also served as a member of the first National Security Advisory Board (1999-2001). For his long and outstanding contribution in the arena of strategic studies, Jasjit was awarded Padma Bhushan by the President of India. 

My association with Jasjit was founded in our deeply shared concern about the progressively enlarging challenges to internal and external security and the need for evolving a holistic national security policy. Some years ago, we had planned to bring out a volume on the varied complex aspects of national security, in which Jasjit would write on issues of external security and I would deal with the challenges on internal security front. As it happened, soon thereafter, I had to leave for Jammu & Kashmir and this project could not proceed further. However, many of Jasjit’s old friends and admirers present here today would be happy to know that the very last book which he wrote, “India’s Security in a Turbulent World”, came out a few days after his sudden passing away! Earlier this year, the publishers of this book, the National Book Trust, brought out a reprint of this volume.

In today’s Lecture, I shall speak about the most urgent need for the Central Government to secure appropriate understandings with the States for finalising an appropriate national security policy and putting in place a modern, fully coordinated security management system which can effectively negate any arising challenge to the territorial security, unity and integrity of India.

It would be useful, at the very outset, to state that, in simple language, the term “national security” could be defined to comprise external security, which relates to safeguarding the country against war and external aggression, and internal security which relates to the maintenance of public order and normalcy within the country.

The first generation of India’s security analysts, who focused attention almost entirely on issues relating to external security, had found it convenient to distinguish issues relating to external and internal security. However, such a segregated approach is no longer feasible, particularly after the advent of terrorism which has introduced extremely frightening dimensions to the internal security environment. I would go further to say that issues of internal and external security management have been inextricably intertwined ever since Pakistan launched a proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir in early 1990 and Pak based Jihadi terrorists started establishing networks in our country.

Our national security interests have continued to be influenced and affected by geo-political developments in our region and far beyond. In the context of the experience gained, it is extremely important that, besides all necessary steps being taken for safeguarding India’s territorial security and establishing a very strong machinery to counter terrorism, close attention is also paid for effectively securing other important arenas, particularly those relating to food, water, environment and ecology, science and technology, energy, nuclear power, economy, cyber security, et al. 

The Gaza Debate: A View Point

19 Jul , 2014

The Rajya Sabha had been pressing for a debate on the Gaza action of Israel, and with overwhelming pressure, including by threatening to forestall all other discussions in the Rajya Sabha, they were able to pressure an unwilling government to debate the issue.

…India will now not sacrifice or de-recognize Israel for the sake of vote-bank, and that Israeli-Indian relations are here to stay.

The government did not want a debate for good reasons, pivoted on the security of the nation and India’s consequently changing foreign policy. Not only that, but India’s foreign policy is overdue for a drastic overhaul, given that our erstwhile Arab friends never support India vis-à-vis Pakistan, while Israel comes to our material defense in time of conflict and has become a large arms supplier to poor India.

But, Rajya Sabha members, mostly from opposition ranks, that motivated by vote-bank politics, it is not surprising that they wish to discuss the Gaza issue with an aim at condemning Israeli action there, and embarrassing the incumbent government.

But, the Indian government needn’t feel ashamed of their stance and friendliness for Israel. But, it will come out in the debate that India is now a partly different nation, with revised priorities, that India will now not sacrifice or de-recognize Israel for the sake of vote-bank, and that Israeli-Indian relations are here to stay.

The Israeli History

A brief history of the Israeli case and India’s foreign policy gaffs is necessary. First, Israel never started any war with the Arabs. Even if you trace the entire chain of each and every violent event since 1948, you will discover that Israel never started any conflict, and that every action of Israel was a reaction to the Arab killing of Jews and attacks on Israel.

The present episode started after Palestinians killed three Jewish youths, made their bodies disappear for a few days, and then dumped the bodies in the open some place for Israeli security forces to pick up. This was outright and horrific provocation.

The State of Israel recognized by the United Nation was not a Jewish State: it was a state where Arabs and Jews were to live together, much as all religious groups live together in India and other democratically open countries. But, the Arabs were intolerant, wanted the whole of Palestine to themselves to the exclusion of Jews, and attacked their Jewish neighbors in 1948. That was the simple start, after which the Palestinians never relented, but after which the Jews never looked back.

The Jews, however, allowed Palestinians to stay in Israel. Even today, there are 1.6 million Arabs living in Israel, comprising 20% of Israel’s population[i], earning a good living, and not disloyal to Israel. But, guess how many Jews the Arabs will allow to stay in their countries? That’s right, zero. This first of all shows the Israeli tolerant viewpoint in contrast to that of the Arabs. So, who’s side would India rather be on: a religious sycophant’s or a tolerant group’s?

Attacks on Israel

Again, never once has Israel attacked without provocation – not in the 1948 or 1956 or 1967 or 1973 wars. It invaded Lebanon in 1980 upon increased rocket attacks from there on its territory, while the same reason was valid for 2007. Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear plant because it was an existentialist threat to them, plain and simple, a morally justified action against a mad dictator[ii]. It has threatened to bomb any Iranian nuclear plant for the same reason. Israel exhibits guts, unlike Indian governments of the past. It is a perfectly logical and rationale reaction to seek survival. So, Israel is not wrong in their reactions by a long shot. What would you expect: Israel to roll over? Sorry, you’ll have to fight for that.

"New Delhi's Long Nuclear Journey: How Secrecy and Institutional Roadblocks Delayed India's Weaponization"

Indian Army officer stands near a Prithvi missile carried on display during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, on Jan. 26, 2005.

Ajit Kumar/ AP

Journal Article, International Security, volume 38, issue 4, pages 79-114

Spring 2014

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Quarterly Journal: International Security


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many international observers came to perceive India as a de facto nuclear power. New evidence shows, however, that India lacked the technical means to deliver nuclear weapons reliably until 1994–95. Further, political leaders did not render the weapons militarily operational until 1999. These deficiencies can be traced to a regime of secrecy stemming from Indian decisionmakers’ fear of international pressures for nuclear rollback.

Pakistan and China: A Precarious Friendship?

By Alessandro Rippa
July 17, 2014

In contrast to the public posturing, the relationship on the ground is more complex and multilayered. 

What do a Communist state and an Islamic Republic have in common? Not much, perhaps, and yet in the fast-changing world of international relations, China and Pakistan have managed to maintain a strong friendship from the 1960s onward. Today, despite its growing isolation on the international stage, Pakistan can still counts on China as its closest ally. Particularly as the country’s troubled relation with the United States seems to deteriorate by the day, China has emerged in the eyes of many Pakistanis to the image of a peaceful, supportive neighbor. As a recent survey has shown, 81 percent of Pakistanis view China favorably, second in this special chart only to China itself. Recurrent protestations of friendship and reciprocal approval seem to reinforce this view, as do public announcements of triumphal development projects such as the China-Pakistan economic corridor, the Gwadar Port, and other initiatives.

On a different note, however, some analysts have pointed out that the waters beneath the surface of this relation might, in fact, be much more agitated than the public displays would suggest. In particular, it has been argued that the alleged presence of Uyghur militants in North Waziristan, which Beijing hold responsible for several terrorist attacks on its soil, might represent a source of tension between the two countries. In this sense Mushahid Hussain, head of the Defense Committee of the Pakistani Senate and chairman of the Pakistan China institute, in a recent interview seemed to imply that Chinese pressure played some kind of role in the ongoing military operation in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, where several ETIM militants are allegedly based. And yet, in this as in other public statements by Pakistani and Chinese officials, always the “convergence of interest” between the two countries, and a mutual appreciation of each other’s efforts, are underlined. The issue of Uyghur militants in Pakistan, moreover, seems of little concern for Pakistan’s general public, rather concerned with an Islamist threat in its own country and with the US’s activities along its borders.

Recently, however, a few stories show a different side to this relationship, one that is not always considered when it comes to the heights and depths of the two countries’ “all-weather” friendship. The first is the story, widely reported and discussed in Pakistan, of the Chinese government banning Xinjiang officials from fasting during Ramadan. The news sparked an array of surprised and angry responses, but also a more interesting debate on the value of Pakistan’s friendship with China. Many, like Rafia Zakaria for Dawn, have called out Pakistan’s hypocrisy in its relations with China, accusing the country of being eager to stand up to injustices committed against Muslims only when those are not perpetrated by its “friends.” In a late – and rather paltry – move, the Pakistani government eventually adopted a public stance, in which it allied itself, once again, with the Chinese government. Asked about the issue, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam was reported as saying that “The Chinese have clarified that there is no such ban on fasting and that they respect the freedom of religion,” adding that these reports were just rumors and factually incorrect. Few, however, seemed convinced by those words.

China Not Having Much Success In Its Efforts to Hide Its Global Espionage Operations

  1. July 21, 2014

    The Plot To Oppress China


    Recently the U.S. charged a Chinese citizen (Su Bin), based in Canada, of working with two Chinese hackers to steal technical data for American military aircraft (especially the C-17, F-22 and F-35). The thefts took place between 2009 and 2013. These three appear to be freelancers, although Su Bin had plenty of contacts with Chinese aviation firms and thus had no problem finding buyers for whatever the trio obtained. Su Bin was recently arrested in Canada and is being extradited back to the United States for trial.

    In the last few years more American officials have come to openly admit that a whole lot of American military and commercial technical data has been stolen via Chinese Internet (and more conventional) espionage efforts. The Americans are not providing details of exactly how they collected all the evidence, but apparently it is pretty convincing for many American politicians and senior officials who had previously been skeptical. The Chinese efforts have resulted in most major American weapons systems having tech details revealed, in addition to a lot of non-defense technology. It’s not just the United States that is being hit but most nations with anything worth stealing. Many of these nations are noticing that China is the source of most of this espionage and few are content to remain silent any longer.

    It’s no secret that Chinese intelligence collecting efforts in the last decade have been spectacularly successful. As the rest of the world comes to realize the extent of this success there is a growing desire for retaliation. What form that payback will take remains to be seen. Collecting information, both military and commercial, often means breaking laws and hacking back at the suspected attackers will involve even more felonies. China has broken a lot of laws. Technically, China has committed acts of war because of the degree to which it penetrated military networks and carried away copies of highly secret material. The U.S., and many other victims, has been warning China there will be consequences. As the extent of Chinese espionage becomes known and understood, the call for “consequences” becomes louder.


July 21, 2014 

Because an indefinite deterioration in U.S.-China relations would have such serious consequences for global order, policymakers and analysts in both countries are keen to develop a high-level framework that can prevent their competition from devolving into hostility. Earlier this year the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation published a major report—based on a high-level track II dialogue in Beijing last September—that justifies that pursuit. A CAP paper in the report explains that “[u]ntil the United States and China develop a shared vision for where they want the relationship to go, it is difficult to determine what mutually beneficial policy steps they should take now.” Another paper in the report, this one by three scholars at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, concludes that if they can converge on some basic understanding of…the principles governing the global and regional order in transition, and on the responsibility each side should take during this transition, it would be relatively easier for Beijing and Washington to explore the cooperative areas and specific roadmap for policy collaboration between themselves.

This mutual search for a framework—whether one characterizes it as a “shared vision” or “basic understanding”—reflects the U.S.-China relationship’s exceptional importance: it is central to global order not only because they have the two largest economies and defense budgets, but also because their cooperation is essential to meeting the challenges of our time. The search also highlights the absence of an organic basis for building ties:

— The United States is less than 250 years old; China’s history spans millennia.

— The United States is undergoing demographic shifts that could render non-Hispanic whites a minority by 2050; China remains about 90% Han.

— The United States has two friendly neighbors and two security buffers (the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans); China has 14 neighbors, some of which are unstable, and most of which are concerned about its strategic intentions.

— The United States generally believes in the universality of liberal values and pursues a foreign policy that attempts to spread them; China also believes in the strength of its values, but it rejects their promotion as a form of interference in other countries’ internal affairs.

— The United States seeks to entrench today’s liberal international system; China asks why it should be beholden to a system it played little role in designing.

— Neither the United States nor China has any experience sustaining global order in partnership with another country.

Without a natural foundation for their relationship, the United States and China have had little choice thus far but to manage their dealings on an ad hoc basis and hope that these accumulated improvisations will reveal a concept in due course. There is much to recommend this approach, and as James Steinberg and Michael O’Hanlon argue persuasively in their new book, the potential dividends from creative, concerted incrementalism are far from exhausted. The trouble, as Kenneth Lieberthal and Wang Jisi explained in an influential March 2012study, is that strategic distrust between the United States and China is growing more rapidly than the countries’ ability to improvise.

As forcefully as the two countries insist they will avoid the mistakes of history, moreover, they confront a sobering record of power transitions.According to Graham Allison—who coined the term “Thucydides Trap” to describe the inbuilt tensions between leading powers and rising ones—11 of the 15 transitions that have occurred in the past 500 years have ended in war. A war between the United States and China would not only threaten their own economies, but also risk a global recession of far greater severity and duration than that which struck in Fall 2008.

Why China Must Pay Attention to the Israel-Palestine Conflict

July 19, 2014

Beijing wants to remain neutral on the Israel-Palestine issue, but Chinese public opinion is increasingly polarized. 

Tensions in the Middle East have grown sharply as Israel stages air attacks (and now a ground assault) against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Compared to the high-profile reports on the crisis from the U.S. and other Western countries, China’s official comments are more low-profile and cautious. However, Chinese netizens have showed unusual passion about and interest in this distant, ongoing conflict. What is going on?

To understand netizen attitudes, we first have to understand China’s position on Israel-Palestine relations. For decades, China did not try to stay out of the conflict. Under Mao Zedong, China sided with Palestine. Former Chinese leaders such as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping had almost unconditional support for the revolutionary cause led by Yasser Arafat, who was called “an old friend of the Chinese people.” The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) obtained both funds and weapons from China.

The Palestinian case was a rare example of China directly interfering with the affairs of the Middle East. Aside from being an example of China’s idealist foreign policy during this period, support for Palestine also represented Beijing’s political calculations. As Palestine had widespread support from other Arab countries, China’s stance helped it win influence in the third world. Under these circumstances, China was unwilling to accept positive overtures from Israel. Even though Israel was the first country in the Middle East to acknowledge the founding of PRC, the two countries would not establish official diplomatic relations until 1992.

During the 1980s, China began to abandon ideologically-driven diplomacy as part of its reform and opening process. China gradually began to draw closer to Israel. The reason is quite simple: Israel’s defense technology was attractive to China. Israel’s advanced technology and investments also were a good match with China’s developmental needs. Today, China-Israel military exchanges and economic cooperation have become two major pillars for bilateral relations. At the same time, China’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has changed from unilateral condemnation of Israel to a neutral stance. Palestine was not happy, but had no choice but to accept the change.

Nowadays, China is still gradually revising and improving its diplomatic policies. With an increasing focus ondiplomacy in the Middle East, China is increasingly called on to take a stand on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

All 13 Israeli Soldiers Killed So Far in Gaza Strip Invasion From the Elite Golani Brigade Commando Unit

Author’s Note: Israeli sources report that in addition to losing 13 of its soldiers in yesterday’s fighting the Gaza Strip, the commander of the Golani Brigade, Colonrl Rasan Alian, was wounded in yesterday’s fighting and taken to a hospital in Beersheva. Sources differ as to whether Colonel Alian’s wounds are serious or not. The Israeli military death toll now stands at 18 dead (2 of whom were American citizens) and over 100 wounded in two days of fighting.

Six fallen Golani Brigade soldiers named by IDF

Gili Cohen

Haaretz, July 21, 2014

The Israel Defense Forces has released the names of six of the 13 Golani Brigade soldiers killed early Sunday: Major Zafrir Bar-Or,32, from Holon, Captain Zvika Kaplan, 28, from Meirav, Sergeant Oz Mendelovich,21, from Atzmon, Sergeant Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, from Ra’anana, Sergeant Gilad Yaakobi, 21, from Kiryat Ono, and Moshe Malko, 20, of Jerusalem.

The 13 soldiers killed Sunday in different incidents across the Gaza Strip bring to a total 18 troop fatalities in less than two days.

The IDF spokesman released a statement confirming that the soldiers had fallen, and said that two of the soldiers were U.S. citizens.

"The IDF is currently completing the identification process; when the process is completed, and with the families’ approval, the names of the fatalities will be released," the statement said.

In one incident in the Tufah neighborhood north of Shujaiyeh, Golani troops fell into an ambush in which an RPG was fired at their APC, killing seven and severly wounding two. Senior IDF officers criticized the use of the aging APC, built in the 1960s. In another incident, three soldiers were killed, including two officers in the battalion. Three more soldiers were killed in another gun battle nearby.

In another incident, an anti-tank rocket was fired at a building in Shujaiyeh where troops were staying, killing three and wounding many more.

Six Golani soldiers were wounded in another incident, when a grenade exploded near their positions. Army officials do not know whether the grenade was thrown by army troops and wounded the soldiers afterward, or thrown at the troops by armed Palestinians. In yet another incident, several soldiers suffered from smoke inhalation.

Five soldiers were killed on Saturday: First Sergeant Eitan Barak, 20, of Herzliya; Major Amotz Greenberg, 45 of Hod HaSharon; Sergeant Adar Bersano,20, of Nahariya; Second Lieutenant Bar Rahav, 21 of Ramat Yishai; and Sergeant Bnaya Rubel, 20 of Holon.

Army officials said that 130 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the ground incursion, 60 of them overnight Saturday-Sunday. Army sources say that more than 110 of those killed were involved in terrorist activity. Army officials say that another 800 Palestinians were wounded in fighting in the Gaza Strip since Thursday night. So far, army troops have found 36 shafts leading into tunnels, of which 14 tunnels were intact. The troops are currently operating to destroy these tunnels.

Daily Iraq Situation Summary

July 21, 2014

Iraq Situation Report, 
Institute for the Study of War

Ahmed Ali is the Iraq Team Lead and senior Iraq analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. 

Asia's Most Dangerous Rivalry Heats Up: China vs. Japan

July 21, 2014

With China rising and Japan seeking to become a "normal nation," the stage is set for increased tensions.

Japan has taken a fateful step toward becoming a “normal” power by adoptingthe doctrine of “collective self-defense”, paving the way for Tokyo to play a more direct role in ensuring stability in international waters as well as in aiding allies in times of crisis. It took a combination of iron-willed leadership, under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and deepening territorial disputes with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea to force Japan to take greater responsibility for its own national defense.

Uncertainties over Washington’s commitment to rein in China’s territorial ambitions and growing concerns over the strategic impact of long-term defense-budget cuts at the Pentagon have only encouraged Japan to become more self-reliant. Washington has welcomed Tokyo’s decision to adopt a more flexible defense doctrine, facilitating broader efforts to upgrade U.S.-Japanese bilateral defense guidelines, which were last revised back in 1997. Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing regional-security environment, the aim is to create a more dynamic U.S.-Japanese alliance, where Tokyo contributes more proportionately to regional stability in East Asia. After all, throughout the post–Cold War era, the U.S. has repeatedly sought to mitigate “free riding” by well-endowed allies, such as Japan.

As expected, China has been perturbedby the resurgence of its archrival, Japan. And the Xi Jinping administration has spared no efforts to denigrate its counterparts in Tokyo. Aware of lingering regional anxietiesover Japan’s early-twentieth century imperial aggression, especially in South Korea, Beijing has sought to convince the world that Japan is purportedly reassuming its militaristic past. Any sober analysis, however, would suggest that the real bone of contention is an emerging Chinese-Japanese contest for regional leadership, as Washington gets more comfortable with playing the role of an offshore balancer. Gradually, bitter territorial disputes have seemingly rekindled a century-old rivalry for the soul of Asia.

Reinventing Japan

Japan’s recent lurch toward a more proactive foreign policy, however, has met stiff domestic resistance. Pacifism continues to be a cornerstone of Japan’s national psyche, preventing the Abe administration—and its like-minded predecessors—from garnering sufficient public support as well as a legislative supermajority to amend Japan’s constitution.

The tumultuous memories of World War II continue to cast a long shadow on Japanese society. But as any astute political leader, Abe has instead opted for reinterpreting existing provisions of the Japanese constitution, striking a tenuous balance between Tokyo’s evolving security calculus, on the one hand, and the pacifist spirit of Japan’s constitution, which prohibits the country from using coercive means to settle international disputes, on the other.

Far from introducing a new approach, however, Abe has simply followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, who didn’t shy away from reinterpreting Japan’s constitution to pursue specific political goals. After the Korean War (1950-53), the Japanese leadership reinterpreted Article 9 of the Japanese constitution—particularly vis-à-vis prohibitions against developing a “war potential”— to allow for the establishment of the Self Defense Forces (SDF), which purportedly only served exclusively defensive objectives bereft of any aggressive operational capability to project power beyond Japan’s immediate territories.

Tomgram: Dahr Jamail, Incinerating Iraq

 by Dahr Jamail  
July 17, 2014

Who even knows what to call it? The Iraq War or the Iraq-Syrian War would be far too orderly for what’s happening, so it remains a no-name conflict that couldn’t be deadlier or more destabilizing -- and it’s in the process of internationalizing in unsettling ways. Think of it as the strangest disaster on the planet right now. After all, when was the last time that the U.S. and Russia ended up on the same side in a conflict? You would have to go back almost three quarters of a century to World War II to answer that one. And how about the U.S. and Iran? Now, it seems that all three of those countries are sending in military hardware and, in the case of the U.S. and Iran, drones, advisers, pilots, and possibly other personnel.

Since World War I, the region that became Iraq and Syria has been a magnet for the meddling of outside powers of every sort, each of which, including France and Britain, the Clinton administration with its brutal sanctions, and the Bush administration with its disastrous invasion and occupation, helped set the stage for the full-scale destabilization and sectarian disintegration of both countries. And now the outsiders are at it again.

The U.S., Russia, and Iran only start the list. The Saudis, to give an example, have reportedly been deeply involved in funding the rise of the al-Qaeda-style extremist movement the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Now, facing that movement’s success -- some of its armed followers, including undoubtedly Saudi nationals, have already reached the Iraqi-Saudi frontier -- the Saudis are reportedly moving 30,000 troops there, no doubt in fear that their fragile and autocratic land might someday be open to the very violence their petrodollars have stoked. Turkey, which has wielded an open-border/safe haven policy to support the Syrian rebels fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime, including ISIS and other extremist outfits, is now dealing with kidnapped nationals and chaos on its border, thanks to those same rebels. Israel entered the fray recently as well, launching airstrikes against nine Syrian “military targets,” and just to add to the violence and confusion, Assad’s planes and helicopters have been attacking ISIS forces across the now-nonexistent border in Iraq. And I haven’t even mentioned Hezbollah, the Jordanians, or the Europeans, all of whom are involved in their own ways.

Since 2003, Dahr Jamail, a rare and courageous unembedded reporter in Iraq, has observed how this witch’s brew of outside intervention and exploding sectarian violence has played out in the lives of ordinary Iraqis. It couldn’t be a sadder tale, one he started reporting for TomDispatch in 2005 -- even then the subject was “devastation.” Nine years later, he’s back and the devastation is almost beyond imagining. As he now works for the website Truthout, this is a joint TomDispatch/Truthoutreport.Tom

A Nation on the Brink 

How America's Policies Sealed Iraq's Fate 

[This essay is a joint TomDispatch/Truthout report.]

For Americans, it was like the news from nowhere. Years had passed since reporters bothered to head for the country we invaded and blew a hole through back in 2003, the country once known as Iraq that our occupation drove into a never-ending sectarian nightmare. In 2011, the last U.S. combat troops slipped out of the country, their heads “held high,” as President Obama proclaimed at the time, and Iraq ceased to be news for Americans. 

Neighborhood Ravaged on Deadliest Day So Far for Both Sides in Gaza

JULY 20, 2014

GAZA CITY — The mayhem began in the early hours of Sunday morning in Shejaiya, an eastern neighborhood of Gaza City, where Israeli forces battled with Hamas militants. Terrified civilians fled, sometimes past the bodies of those struck down in earlier artillery barrages. By dusk it was clear that Sunday was the deadliest single day for the Palestinians in the latest conflict and the deadliest for the Israeli military in years.

At least 60 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers and officers were killed in Shejaiya alone, and the shattered neighborhood was quickly becoming a new symbol of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict, underlining the rising cost of this newest Gaza war.
The death tolls and the withering assault on Shejaiya appeared to shake the international community, with world leaders continuing to carefully call for both sides to step back but with criticism of Israel rising. Within hours, President Obama had called the Israeli prime minister for the second time in three days, the United Nations Security Council had called an emergency session at the urging of the Palestinians, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had issued a statement calling the attack on Shejaiya “an atrocious action.

By early evening, the Obama administration announced that Secretary of State John Kerry would head to Cairo to meet with Egyptian officials in an attempt to negotiate a cease-fire to end the bloodshed.

Throughout Gaza, at least 87 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on Sunday, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, bringing the death toll there since the Israeli air offensive began on July 8 to at least 425, with more than 3,000 injured. The toll includes more than 100 children.

Israel has lost 18 soldiers so far, as well as two citizens killed by rocket and mortar fire. Two Americans were among the soldiers killed in Gaza; Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, identified them as Max Steinberg and Sean Carmeli. Mr. Steinberg’s family lives in California, and Mr. Carmeli was from Texas, The Associated Press reported.

In Shejaiya, the panic Sunday was palpable. Some of the men, women and children who streamed out of the area were barefoot. Israeli shells crashed all around, rockets fired by Palestinian militants soared overhead in the direction of Israel and small-arms fire whizzed past. Asked where they were going, one woman said, “God knows.”

The casualties quickly overwhelmed local hospitals. Doctors treated some victims on the floor.

As the day wore on and the casualties mounted, it became apparent that what had begun on Thursday night as a limited ground invasion to follow 10 days of intense airstrikes had developed into a more extensive and dangerous phase for both sides.