28 October 2014


How India and Japan can do business with each other
Writing on the wall - Ashok V. Desai

The previous prime minister was a universally friendly man; he did not have an enemy. Unfortunately, his undiscriminating friendliness did not make many friends for India. He got on fairly well with all great leaders, but did not bring any other country closer to India. He went religiously to G20 meetings every six months, greeted his fellow leaders, and returned in his commandeered Air India plane with his flunkeys.

The new prime minister also indulges in the same ritual; but he is warmer towards some countries than others. He is close to Shinzo Abe; he had miso with him, and learnt to shovel slippery foods into his mouth with chopsticks. The Japanese are very good towards anyone who adopts their culture, however partially and imperfectly; so Modi has gone some way towards making friends with them. The question now is whether he will leave it at the level of pleasantries as his predecessor did, or take it to a more national, more material level.

He has invited industrialists from other countries to manufacture goods in India. This is a good idea. Despite half a century of strenuous efforts, India has failed to become a leading industrial country; it is worth taking a close look at our policies towards foreigners and asking ourselves why we have been so ineffective in attracting them. I do not, however, think, that the new government will like the answer, which is that foreigners do not want any privileges; they want to be treated exactly like Indians. They want free entry for their goods, people and capital. For the rest, they would like to see the end of precisely the restrictions that Indian industrialists complain about — principally, restrictions on land acquisition and transfer, and on flexibility of employment. Unless the prime minister himself takes active interest and pushes reforms in these areas, nothing much can happen.

But there are things of interest to Japan that he can advance. When I was in the finance ministry 23 years ago, we were having a terrible payments crisis. Then we had a finance minister who was a great friend of the Japanese; Japan had helped us out in the crisis. So it was the first country the finance minister visited to convey India’s gratitude. I then had an idea — that Japan had an ageing population and could do with some help in reducing the costs of ageing. I had suggested setting up a city on the east coast where Japanese pensioners could settle down and enjoy a quiet life. I favoured the east coast because the Bay of Bengal could supply the Japanese their favourite fish. They could also be given good services — medical services as well as personal care — because of low labour costs in India. If we had set up a city for five million pensioners then, we would have solved our payments problem as it then was. Unfortunately, my superiors were not interested, and nothing came of the idea. The Filipinos picked it up; colonies of Japanese pensioners were created by them, and some pensioners even worked as business process outsourcers for firms in Japan.

I still think that making Japanese pensioners welcome is a good idea. But now that the leaders of the two countries have come closer, they should think more broadly: they should bring the two people closer. Indians as well as Japanese find each other strange. To a Japanese, Indians are noisy, boisterous, unkempt, and fond of impossibly hot and spicy food. Indians find the Japanese cold, distant, inexpressive, incommunicative, and fond of raw fish and tasteless food. All these prejudices are easily removable; the two people only need to be exposed more to each other, and the earlier in life that happens, the easier it will be. So what we need before all else is more people travelling between India and Japan, especially in their youth.

For the Japanese to come to India, we need Japanese-style hotels. They are not necessarily posh; but they must be squeaky clean, quiet, and they must serve Japanese food. They need not be full-scale hotels: they could be sections of larger hotels. But they should be places where the Japanese feel at home. The expense does not matter; the Japanese are rich. But the hotels should not be confined to metros; they should reach out into small cities and the countryside, especially to places of natural beauty — for instance, hill stations and beaches. And they must be planned on a large scale. The Japanese typically travel in groups, and favour tours that take in a number of sights. It would be best to engage Japanese organizations in the planning. If the Japanese begin to come in numbers, Indians will learn Japanese. Although they are rather devoted to English, Indians are not bad at languages. All that will be necessary will be some routine classes.

Defence equipment need indigenisation

Davinder Kumar and Gurmeet Kanwal

If the national aim to make India a design, manufacture and export hub is to be met, the Department of Defence Production needs to be made a separate entity under a cabinet minister with indigenisation and modernisation of the existing manufacturing units

HAL Tejas light combat aircraft takes off for a sortie.

SOON after approving 49 percent FDI in the defence sector, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi exhorted the nation to create a viable “defence industrial base” in India with “indigenisation” as the mission. He launched a “make in India” drive and expressed his government’s intention to permit defence exports.

The long-pending Request for Proposal (RFP) for light helicopters was cancelled by the government and the Defence Minister directed that the helicopters be manufactured in India with appropriate technical collaboration. Now, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has granted industrial licences to 19 private sector proposals and declared that 14 other pending proposals do not need clearance as the manufacture of a large number of defence items has been de-licensed.

All of these are bold steps which send a powerful message and indicate that the much needed “political will” for self-reliance in defence manufacture is no longer lacking. Its translation into action will involve the transformation of the policy framework andprocedures to help indigenous defence manufacturers to flourish.

Historically, despite the fact that India participated in both the World Wars and lost over a quarter million soldiers, the country was denied a viable defence industrial base by our erstwhile rulers. Sadly, we have not been able to improve the situation even 67 years after independence. Our 39 ordnance factories are still designed mainly to manufacture only low-end items like clothing, tents, accoutrements and small arms ammunition.

The situation with regard to our nine Defence PSUs is also not very encouraging considering the huge investments made by the nation. Fifty plus DRDO laboratories also do not inspire much confidence when it comes to the development of weapons technology, its engineering into production and system integration. This situation must change, but where have we gone wrong and what do we need to do?

Successive governments since 2001 appointed high-powered committees headed by eminent persons to make recommendations, with regard to organisational transformation, in-house development of technology and related reforms to involve the private sector in defence production on equal terms. Seven committees have submitted their reports since then. Unfortunately, even the common recommendations made by them have not been implemented. This is primarily due to the lack of political will, bureaucratic lethargy and inadequate public scrutiny.

National security has been treated as a holy cow on the plea of the need for secrecy and the “people” have not been involved in decision making. In a democracy, people’s participation is necessary to justify the budget and establish accountability. We need to build “national security awareness” among the people and create the requisite environment for meaningful interaction between decision makers, manufacturers and the people. Secrecy cannot be an excuse to hide lack of accountability, slippages in the production schedules and escalation of cost. People need to know where and how their money is being spent and be reassured that it would ensure both human security and national security.

Institutions like the Standing Committee for Defence in Parliament require transformation. India must study the Chinese concepts of “leap frogging” of technology across several generations and “civilianisation” to exploit dual use technology. We will have to modify these concepts to suit our conditions and set up a viable defence industrial base by the end of this decade. Those who exclusively promote imports should be guarded against.

The Department of Defence Production must be made a separate entity under a cabinet minister with indigenisation and modernisation of existing R&D and the manufacturing assets as its primary responsibilities. The three Services and the private sector must be integrated with this Department with appropriate representation. The DRDO, suitably reorganised, should also be part of this organisation. The Scientific Advisers to the three Chiefs must be made more accountable. The Army and the Air Force must have integral design and development organisations like the Navy’s Weapons Engineering Electronics Systems Establishment (WEESE).

It would be beneficial to establish a Defence Technology Mission (DTM) and a Project Implementation Agency (PIA). The DTM must develop and hunt for technology in consonance with the concepts of “leap frogging” and “civilianisation” of dual-use technologies and should be placed under the PMO. The PIA should report to the Defence Minister and ensure “on time” execution of all projects without cost overrun. A separate Class A service needs to be raised as a Defence Technology cadre for the MoD and our embassies and missions. It should have linkages with major academic and R&D institutions in the country and abroad.

Indian soldiers prevent Chinese troops from constructing road in Arunachal

Oct 28, 2014

NEW DELHI: Arunachal Pradesh, much like eastern Ladakh, continues to be a major flashpoint between India and China, with Indian troops recently blocking attempts by the People's Liberation Army soldiers to once again construct a road in the Asaphila region.

While the Asaphila incident did not lead to a prolonged military face-off, unlike the serious ones at Chumar and Demchok in eastern Ladakh last month, it's an indication of the continuing shadow-boxing between the two countries all along the 4,057-km long Line of Actual Control.

Both armies undertake regular patrols to lay claim to "8-10 disputed areas" like Asaphila, a remote 100 sq km area along the LAC in Upper Subansiri division of Arunachal, as well as the so-called "Fish Tail-I and II" areas in Chaglagam sector, which take their name from the shape the LAC takes in the region.

Sources said the PLA's "heightened activity" was been witnessed in Asaphila region for some months now. "The PLA troops, with vehicles and other equipment, then tried to build a road till Point 2445. They were then stopped from doing so by our soldiers," said a source.

The last Indian military outpost in the region is at Taksing, which is on the eastern edge of Asaphila, while the PLA bases too are located 40-50-km away. "Soldiers from both sides undertake aggressive patrolling of 7-8 days' duration. Some lead to face-offs, which are quite common in the region," said the source.

(File photo of Indo-China border at Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh.)

Bengal’s burden

Oct 28, 2014

Illegal immigration is a violation of India’s sovereignty. India has to take a sympathetic view of Hindus whose number in Bangladesh has dwindled, but that indulgence can’t be extended to others

Narendra Modi’s warning to “Bangladeshi infiltrators to pack their bags and leave” resonates in the wake of grim revelations indicating West Bengal is on the verge of becoming if it hasn’t already become a hub of international terrorist activity. Not only that, the evidence suggests that instead of a lone wolf as in the Ottawa shooting, a network of jihadi Muslims with Bangladeshi links threatens the state.

Bomb-making is probably Bengal’s oldest cottage industry. The British used to bracket it with the sedition that, they said, was brewed with every cup in Calcutta’s forest of dingy tea shops. But never before has Bengali militancy been tainted by any hint of sectarianism. In fact, the late 18th century Fakir-Sannyasi Rebellion, immortalised in Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel, Anandamath, united Hindu monks and Muslim ascetics in a common cause.

Past violence was directed at Mughal and British rule, as well as the infant Indian state which Bengali Communists denounced in 1947 as a stooge of imperialism. Surya Sen and the Chittagong Armoury raid, Khudiram Bose, hanged at 18, and Bagha Jatin are honoured as much as Benoy Basu, Dinesh Gupta and Badal Gupta who shot dead a brutal British inspector-general of prisons in 1930. The Tamralipta Jatiya Sarkar of Ajoy Mukherjee and Matangini Hazra at Tamluk in Midnapore was a mini-state. The Kisan Sabha’s Tebhaga movement demanded land ownership for sharecroppers. Santhals, Oraons and Muslim peasants were boisterously active in Malda’s Adina (after a 14th century mosque) and Mach-dhara movements against zamindari privileges.

Adivasis spearheaded the Naxalbari upsurge in 1967 but the Naxalite movement embraced thousands of middle class Bengali boys. Four years after the revolt by Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal and Jungal Santhal, I accompanied the Army’s all-night combing operation of Birbhum district. The military was convinced local Bengali policemen were hand in glove with the Santhal rebels they were hunting. Why else did the policemen complain incessantly and noisily of the rigours of marching? Or repeatedly splash equally noisily into the waterlogged fields on either side of the bunds along which we walked?

Long before daybreak, the policemen burst loudly into Rabindrasangeet. I imagined it was Bengali lyricism. But the Army officer in-charge knew better. “They are sending a warning!” he muttered. True enough, a light flashed in the distant foliage to be answered by another light further away. The suspect huts were deserted when we reached them.

Misguided these movements may have been but they were inspired by a concept of public welfare. Today’s bomb-making factories, multiple bank accounts, terror modules and burqa shops, like the names of the people questioned and the localities they frequent, draw attention to Muslim fanaticism. Bengal has become the playground of organisations like the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, Revival of Islamic Heritage (said to operate in several countries), Jamaat-e-Islami, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami (HuJi), and Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. Al Qaeda and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence are believed to direct them. Can the ISIS be far behind?

None of this bodes well for Mamata Banerjee’s already beleaguered government. The Centre’s National Investigating Agency is investigating the possibility of ruling Trinamul Congress leaders with links with extremist Bangladeshi organisations. Acutely sensitive to Muslims comprising 26 per cent of the state’s population (double the national average, and up from 19 per cent in 2001), Ms Banerjee, whose attempt to lavish funds on imams the Calcutta high court struck down, refuses to blame Muslims for the recent bomb outrages. “Those who commit offence are criminals but that does not mean putting an entire community in the dock,” she says. “It is like playing with fire. I fear communal riots.”

This is beyond communalism. The problem is not with West Bengal Muslims but with illegal immigration from Bangladesh which is impacting on West Bengal’s (also Assam’s) demographic and political profiles. Badruddin Ajmal’s All-India United Democratic Front, said to be supported by Bangladeshi Muslims, won three Lok Sabha seats in the recent elections from constituencies with large Muslim populations.

There’s no reliable figure for the flood of illegal migrants. After years of pussyfooting, Jyoti Basu admitted in 1992 that only 68,472 of the 235,529 Bangladeshis who were prevented from entering India between 1977 and April 1992 were Hindus. The majority 164,132 were Muslims. Mullappally Ramachandran, minister of state for home, claimed in 2012 that nearly 1.4 million Bangladeshis had entered in the previous decade. An official estimate six years later claimed some 20 million Bangladeshi illegals lived in India. According to Concern Universal, an international NGO working in 12 countries including Bangladesh, 50 Bangladeshis cross into India every day.

‘Global warming has doubled risk of harsh winters in Eurasia’

October 28, 2014 01:19 IST 

The risk of severe winters in Europe and northern Asia has been doubled by global warming, according to new research. The counter-intuitive finding is the result of climate change melting the Arctic ice cap and causing new wind patterns that push freezing air and snow southwards.

Severe winters over the last decade have been associated with those years in which the melting of Arctic sea ice was greatest. but the new work is the most comprehensive computer modelling study to date and indicates the frozen winters are being caused by climate change, not simply by natural variations in weather.

The origin of frequent Eurasian severe winters is global warming, said Prof Masato Mori, at the University of Tokyo, who led the new research. Climate change is heating the Arctic much faster than lower latitudes and the discovery that the chances of severe winters have already doubled shows that the impacts of global warming are not only a future threat. Melting Arctic ice has also been implicated in recent wet summers in the U.K.

The new research, published in Nature Geoscience, shows that the increased risk of icy winters will persist for the next few decades. But beyond that continued global warming overwhelms the colder winter weather. The Arctic is expected to be ice-free in late summer by the 2030s, halting the changes to wind patterns, while climate change will continue to increase average temperatures. The agreement between observations in the real world and these computer models is very important in giving us more confidence that this [doubled risk of severe winters] is a real effect,i said Prof Adam Scaife, a climate change expert at the UK Met Office and not part of the research team. iThe balance of evidence suggests this is real.

Dr. Colin Summerhayes, at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, U.K. said: “This counterintuitive effect of the global warming that led to the sea ice decline in the first place makes some people think that global warming has stopped. It has not. Although average surface warming has been slower since 2000, the Arctic has gone on warming rapidly throughout this time.”

The melting of sea ice influences Eurasian winters because the open ocean is darker than ice and absorbs more heat. This in turn warms the air above and weakens the high-level winds called the polar vortex. This causes meanders in the jet stream to become stuck in place. This “blocking” pattern pulls freezing air southwards out of the Arctic and, because it is stuck, the resulting severe weather can last for long periods.

Climate scientists have warned for many years that global warming is not simply leading to a slow, gradual rise in temperature. Instead, it is putting more energy into the climate system which drives more frequent extreme events.

Deadly heatwaves in Europe and Australia have already been shown to be many times more likely because of global warming, while some floods were made twice as likely by climate change as long ago as 2000.

“Annual average global temperatures continue to rise, but the distribution of temperature through the year is giving us more extremes, which is highly damaging to food production,” said Prof. Peter Wadhams at the University of Cambridge. “As ice continues to retreat, we can expect these weather extremes to continue to occur and maybe worsen.”— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2014

**** Do We Really Understand Unconventional Warfare?

October 23, 2014 

Do We Really Understand Unconventional Warfare?

America May Not Be Interested In Unconventional Warfare
But UW Is Being Practiced Around The World By Those Who Are Interested In It

David S. Maxwell

The United States has the most powerful conventional military force and the strongest nuclear deterrent in the world. It remains the sole superpower because it is well prepared to fight and win in state on state conflict. Yet the majority of wars, conflicts, and threats in the 21st Century are unlikely to be purely conventional or nuclear. In the 21st Century we are more likely to experience kinds of warfare for which scholars have been hard pressed to find a name. Scholars have used many names including irregular warfare, hybrid warfare, 4th Generation Warfare, and of course the post 9-11 rediscovery of insurgency and counterinsurgency. Yet despite all these various names the one overarching form of warfare that encompasses all is unconventional warfare (UW). However, the fundamental question is do we understand unconventional warfare? And if not, why not?

We know that the Department of Defense (DOD) defines unconventional warfare as “activities to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt or overthrow a government or occupying power through and with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area.”[1] Although this was designed by the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) UW working group in 2009 to be a broad definition and apply generally to this form of warfare and not specifically from a U.S. centric perspective it continues to connote a very narrow description of warfare (e.g., the overthrow of a hostile government) and has often been relegated to the province of Special Operations Forces and more specifically Special Forces.[2] Furthermore many political leaders either fear the blowback from such operations or, perhaps worse, have unrealistic expectations of the efficacy of UW. However, as I have argued before, if the United States is going to consider employing unconventional warfare as an option in support of policy and strategy then it is imperative that policy makers, strategists, and theater commanders and staffs have sufficient understanding of and appreciation for unconventional warfare not only if UW is to be conducted by the US government but also for when the US government must develop policies and strategies to conduct operations to counter unconventional warfare executed by opponents of the US or our friends, partners and allies.[3]

Although this definition now resides in the DOD dictionary there is no DOD or joint level doctrine specifically for unconventional warfare. There is no national policy for unconventional warfare. There is Army Special Operations Forces (SOF) and Special Forces doctrine[4] but, as we know, few people in uniform or out really read, study, internalize, and practice the concepts published in our doctrine. USSOCOM has been working over the past year to remedy the lack of joint and DOD doctrine and will soon publish the first ever joint doctrine for UW; however, that is unlikely to solve the problem of policy makers and strategists not appreciating and understanding unconventional warfare and all that operating in that realm of warfare entails. There seems to be an insufficient intellectual foundation in unconventional warfare.

Before addressing the lack of intellectual foundation let me state for clarity the essence of UW. Definitions and doctrine aside, unconventional warfare at its core is about revolution, resistance, and insurgency (RRI) combined with the external support provided to a revolution, resistance, or insurgency by either the US or others (who may or may not have interests aligned with the US and may in fact be opposed to the US and our friends, partners, and allies). This is a type of warfare that is timeless, timely, and something that we can expect to occur over time in the future. It is both political in nature and at times violent – even as violent as conventional warfare in some cases.

What makes me say that we do not have an understanding of and appreciation for unconventional warfare? Two recent articles from the New York Times and the Daily Beast illustrate this. In the first Mark Mazzetti writes about a classified CIA report that alleges that the US has rarely been successful in training and equipping rebel forces and because of this report the US Administration was reluctant to arm and train Syrian rebels.[5] Christopher Dickey takes issue with the report and claims there have been some successes despite there often being an “acrid aftertaste” as in the case of the Afghan war in the 1980s.[6]

The Case for Cornwallis

October 24, 2014 

Lord Cornwallis has gotten a bum rap in America. He was a gifted troubleshooter who implemented a more streamlined, sustainable version of British power, so that London could emerge triumphant and dominant on the global stage after 1815.

IN ONE memorable scene in the Hollywood spectacular The Patriot, Lord Cornwallis, the corpulent, pompous, preening servant of King George III, unleashes a volley of abuse at his subordinates. He denounces them for their inability to deal with the “farmers with pitchforks” (Mel Gibson among their ranks) who comprise the American revolutionary forces. Cornwallis himself appears more concerned about the whereabouts of his dogs (gifts from the king that had been kidnapped by the insurgents) and his tailored coat and tails (held up at sea because of the need to send rearmaments instead) than about his own men. In sum, the old boy is the epitome of ancien régime loucheness and absurdity—part villain, part bumbling buffoon.

The movie’s depiction taps into a familiar vein of hostility toward him—every American schoolchild knows that 1st Marquess Cornwallis was sent by George III to snuff out the American Revolution, and that his surrender to George Washington at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, effectively signaled the end of the Revolutionary War. As Cornwallis sailed back to the Old World, the ideas of the Declaration of Independence were realized, signaling America’s birth into nationhood and its successful struggle for freedom, which would make it a beacon for many others in the world. There the tale ends.

Or does it? To dismiss Cornwallis so thoroughly comes at the expense of the next quarter century of his life—a panoramic and fascinating career that took him to India, Ireland, France and India again, in a series of bloody sagas, all of which were of world-historical significance. It also saw him play an integral part in setting the foundations for British global power for the next century and allowing Britain to recover from a defeat in America that many feared would be catastrophic—and perhaps even the beginning of the end.

It is not that Cornwallis has been misunderstood, or even so much that he has been caricatured. It is that his life has been strangely neglected. In this regard, the scant attention he has received from British historians is a more important factor than any vilification he has suffered in the United States. Despite being one of Britain’s most important generals—and certainly one of the most politically able—he has no great, iconic victories to his name. Later contemporaries such as the Duke of Wellington or Admiral Nelson have tended to steal his thunder in terms of martial glory. And despite his accomplishments as a statesman, too, he is often relegated to the role of supporting cast in the era of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The British public prefers the swashbuckling heroes of the period. British academics, meanwhile, are much more taken with the leaders, intellectuals or ideologues—the William Pitts, Edmund Burkes and Thomas Paines. Cornwallis seems to fall between two stools in the historical imagination.

Those interested in the various phases of Cornwallis’s life are still best served by the three-volume edition of his correspondence that was edited by Charles Ross and published in 1859. No British historian has ever attempted a comprehensive biography. The likelihood of this changing has actually decreased because of the way the historical profession has been increasingly divided into fields of domestic, foreign and imperial history—categories which would have made no sense to those who lived in Cornwallis’s era but which the aspiring historian of today is expected to operate within. The last sustained discussion of Cornwallis’s life was provided by an American couple, Franklin and Mary Wickwire, whose 1970 volume Cornwallis: The American Adventure was followed ten years later by Cornwallis: The Imperial Years, a sturdy examination of his career after the Revolutionary War. More recently, Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy gave him a sympathetic treatment in his award-winning 2013 book, The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire. O’Shaughnessy suggests that he enjoyed the most successful postwar career of any of the British generals who served in America.

Yet these efforts go against the tide. As William Anthony Hay noted in hisNational Interest review of O’Shaughnessy’s book, “British historians neglected a defeat that complicated the story of their country’s rise to imperial greatness, while Americans operated within the prejudices and assumptions of nineteenth-century patriotic writers.”

So the man who lost America (despite doing a better job than all of his predecessors), secured India for the British Empire, defeated the Irish Rebellion and briefly made peace with Napoleon is in danger of slipping off the historical radar as a result of Yorktown.

Five charts that explain India’s employment challenges

India’s low unemployment rate masks profound challenges it faces in providing regular jobs to a steadily growing workforce T.C.A. Sharad Raghavan | Pramit Bhattacharya 

Hemant Mishra/Mint As is typical of developing nations, most working-age people in India cannot afford to be unemployed. Hence, India’s official unemployment rate is quite low at 2.7%. But the low unemployment rate masks profound challenges the country faces in providing regular jobs to a steadily growing workforce. Roughly nine out of 10 workers are informally employed and lack any social protection. Most workers lack adequate education or skills: less than 30% of the workforce has completed secondary education, and less than a tenth has had any vocational training. The educated youth faces high unemployment rates. Since quality formal employment is rare in India, access to regular jobs is highly unequal among social groups, and across regions. The five charts below explain the key employment challenges the co

China's counter-terror drills with India are really about its fears of Pakistan

Oct 19, 2014 

Interesting developments are taking place in the India-China-Pakistan triangle, which are worth watching out for in the coming weeks and months.

Weeks after the protracted stand-off in Chumar in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region, China will be holding counter-terror exercises with India in Pune next month, the second time when the two Himalayan neighbours would be doing so since the last such exercises were held in Chengdu, China.

However, the original venue for holding these exercises was Bhatinda in Punjab but in view of the fact that since this month India and Pakistan have been exchanging bullets and mortars on the International Border (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC) and since Bhatinda is just about 125 kms away from the IB, China urged India to change the venue of the “Hand-in-Hand” exercise.

The Chinese request for change in venue was understandable for New Delhi as India is well aware of the special relationship between China and Pakistan which the two countries eulogise as “higher than mountains, deeper than oceans and sweeter than honey”.

Therefore, in a spirit of camaraderie and in a bid to be accommodative, India has acceded to Beijing’s request for changing the venue of the joint counter-terror drill and agreed to hold these exercises away from India-Pakistan borders in Pune, instead of Bhatinda.

Representational image. AFP

While 103 specialised military personnel from each side will be participating in mock drills and try to liberate border posts captured by terrorists in simulated exercises in Pune, two important points must be noted in context of the India-China-Pakistan triangle.

The first one pertains to China and Pakistan. Actually, the very fact that China agreed to hold a joint counter-terror drill close on the heels of the Chumar standoff betrays China’s unease with its all-weather ally Pakistan on the terror front. It shows that China trusts Pakistan as little as India does when it comes to the issue of terrorism, particularly the jihadist brand of terrorism.

It shows that China is indeed apprehensive of dangers from Pakistan when it comes to export of jihadist brand of terror. China is extremely sensitive about spread of radical Islam in its restive regions like Xinjiang. The Chinese fears have taken the shape of paranoia in the past few months when it became a victim of several terror attacks, despite the fact that most of these were lone-wolf acts aimed at soft targets.

China’s willingness to engage with India – or any other country, for that matter, on the terror front – emanates from their nervousness. The Chinese know very well that if at all the jihadists are to target their country, the only country they have to fear is their own close friend and ally with whom they enjoy “sweeter than honey” relationship – Pakistan.

That is why China has been holding several strategic talks on Afghanistan in the trilateral format with several nations, including India, wherein they have deliberately excluded Pakistan. Like India, China too is apprehensive of a situation wherein Pakistan-spawned terror outfits (read Taliban) once again seize control of Afghanistan after the American/NATO troops’ withdrawal from the land-locked South Asian country.

In Pakistan, a Coup That Wasn't

OCT. 25, 2014, 

ISLAMABAD — It had all the elements of a classic coup: thousands descending on the capital, clashing with police outside parliament and commandeering state TV to demand the ouster of a civilian leader who had locked horns with the military in a country with a long history of turmoil and dictatorship.

But when the tear gas cleared in Islamabad in August, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif remained in office with the support of the entire parliament, the troops were still in their barracks, and the protesters had dwindled to a few thousand, their "revolution" confined to a festive, shrinking tent camp.

The uprising led by former cricket star Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri failed to overthrow Sharif, but it did rattle the conventional view of Pakistan as a tottering state perpetually leaning on an all-powerful army. "Parliament's unanimous support for Nawaz Sharif played a key role in saving democracy in Pakistan," political analyst Mahdi Hasan said.

Khan and Qadri had accused Sharif of massive fraud in the 2013 election that brought him to office in Pakistan's first-ever democratic transfer of power. International monitors reported irregularities in the vote, but have not questioned the outcome.

Beyond the voting allegations, Khan and Sharif are longtime political opponents, while Qadri holds Sharif personally responsible for the deaths of 14 of his supporters in clashes with police in Lahore in June.

At the peak of the protests in August some 70,000 people thronged the heart of the capital. On Aug. 30 the demonstrators burst through security barricades and clashed with police outside parliament. The police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Three people were killed in the melee and another 500 — including police — were wounded.

The military, which had troops deployed to back the police, might have chosen that moment to side with the protesters and push for Sharif's ouster. The army overthrew Sharif in 1999, ending his previous stint as prime minister. More recently the army had clashed with him over his decision to bring a treason case against Pervez Musharraf, the general who had ousted him, and his support for a private TV channel that accused the country's spy chief of trying to kill its top anchor.

But instead of sweeping Sharif from power, Pakistan's powerful army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif met with the protest leaders to try to convince them to resolve the impasse.

Critics of the protesters say the military should have intervened to disperse them. Defense analyst Talat Masood said the army's "reluctance to forcefully resolve the crisis encouraged the demonstrators."

The army says it deployed troops to protect government buildings but that it was up to the 30,000 police and paramilitary groups — who take orders from government — to handle crowd control.

In the end, most of the protesters left on their own. Qadri officially ended his sit-in in Islamabad this week. Khan's supporters remain, but it's unclear whether the crowds of mainly college students that swell in the evenings are drawn there for political reasons or to hang out and hear popular singers who regularly perform at the rallies.

Sharif's government has said it is ready to let Khan use an open-air theater to "entertain their supporters."

Most of Khan's supporters in parliament, where his Tehreek-e-Insaf party had been the third largest bloc, have resigned from the assembly. And Javed Hashmi, who was president of Khan's party, broke with him over the decision to march on the prime minister's house on Aug. 30. Like other critics, he raised the specter of military involvement in the protests, alleging Khan had endangered democracy. Both Khan and Qadri have denied conspiring with the military.

Islamic State Defections Fracture Pakistan Taliban

By Arif Rafiq
October 24, 2014

However, a jihadist consolidation could take place in the future. 

In an audio statement released last week, the former Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid announced that he and five other commanders from the terror group have given thebay’ah (oath of allegiance) to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-styled “caliph” of the group that describes itself as the Islamic State (IS), and is also known as ISIS and ISIL. This is the first public defection of commanders from the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban groups to IS.

Their defection portends further divisions within Pakistan’s jihadist community, which has rapidly splintered since the killing of the TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud last fall in a U.S. drone strike. These divisions could result in heightened violence between anti-state jihadist groups in Pakistan. But Pakistan is also likely to see a rise in both sectarian and overall violence. Down the road, there is a risk that Pakistan’s disparate jihadist groups could consolidate into a united front, even if the probability of such a scenario is low at present.

None of the TTP commanders who have defected to IS are major figures. They do not command sizable forces. But their standing within the region could be enhanced as a result of their association with IS. Some Pakistani observers claim that the IS brand is increasingly popular with younger, rank-and-file jihadists. Indeed, the al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban brands are two decades old. Shahid and his allies could see a surge in their ranks as a result of their association with IS.

While Shahid has given the oath of allegiance to al-Baghdadi, it’s unclear whether he has been accepted as a member of IS. In his audio statement, Shahid said that he had given the oath of allegiance to al-Baghdadi on three previous occasions via a number of emissaries, but still awaits a response. Evidently, al-Baghdadi has yet to respond affirmatively to Shahid’s overtures, though the reasons for his silence are unclear. It may be that IS has yet to develop an actual strategy for South Asia, though another South Asian jihadist group, Ansar al-Tawhid fi Bilad al-Hind defected from the al-Qaeda orbit into the IS world, but it is India and Afghanistan-centric.

Meanwhile, the core leadership of the two major Pakistani Taliban factions, the TTP and its Jamaatul Ahrar splinter group (TTP-JA) are currently hedging between supporting al-Qaeda and IS – the two major transnational jihadist fronts. Both groups have issued statements calling on al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, and IS to reconcile. They will likely continue to issue statements of support for IS that fall short of making an oath of allegiance to the group.

Both regional and sectarian dynamics tie the TTP and TTP-JA to the Afghan Taliban. The Afghan Taliban, TTP, TTP-JA, and most other Pakistani jihadist groups come from the Sunni subsect known as the Deobandis. And a common attribute of Deobandi militant groups is their nominal allegiance to Mullah Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, who holds the title of amir-ul-mumineen (commander of the faithful). Mullah Omar has a quasi-caliph status, and were the TTP and TTP-JA to declare allegiance to al-Baghdadi, this would likely nullify their allegiance to Mullah Omar.

IS is ascendant in the Middle East and al-Qaeda has been weakened in South Asia. But the Afghan Taliban finds itself in a favorable position as the United States completes the withdrawal of its combat forces this year. It has a decent chance of seizing significant portions of southern and eastern Afghanistan from the Kabul government in the coming years. And so the TTP and TTP-JA cannot afford a hostile relationship with the Afghan Taliban, which could very well be in control of their backyard.

Iran and India’s Road to Afghanistan

Written by C Raja Mohan
October 20, 2014

Delhi’s decision, annonunced over the weekend, to participate in the development of the Chabahar port in Southeastern Iran has not come a day too soon.

The idea was first mooted more than a decade ago during the visit of the Iran’s president, Mohammed Khatami, as the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations in January 2003.

That it has taken so long to move on this important project underlines the fact that the UPA government failed to get its act together on critical projects involving India’s national security.

If the finance ministry refused to fund strategic projects within and beyond borders during the UPA rule, the government of Narendra Modi is eager to press ahead by resolving the inter-ministerial disputes. With Arun Jaitley in charge of both the finance and defence ministries, it has become a lot easier to ‘convince’ the bureaucrats of the finance ministry.

Both Delhi and Tehran value the Chabahar port as a means to improve their geopolitical leverage vis a vis Pakistan and pursue their common interest in providing Afghanistan and Central Asia alternative routes to the Indian Ocean.

The NDA government has sanctioned nearly $85 million the construction of two berths at Chabahar and the development of a container terminal.

The proposal for Chabahar port came up in the context of Pakistan’s plans to develop a greenfield port at Gwadar on Pakistan’s Makran coast with substantive financial assistance from China at the turn of the last decade.

Tehran saw the Gwadar project as undermining Iran’s position as the gateway to Central Asia and decided to develop Chabahar, which is located not too far to the West from Gwadar. Delhi, which long chafed at Pakistan’s refusal to provide overland access to Afghanistan, viewed the Chabahar port as a credible alternative to gaining physical access to Afghanistan. Land-locked Kabul, whose only route to the sea is through Pakistan, welcomed the project as a way to ease its strategic dependence on Islamabad.

Even the United States, which was determined to isolate Iran, chose to support the efforts by Delhi, Tehran and Kabul to develop transport corridors that improve international connectivity with Afghanistan.

The importance of Chabahar project has only gone up over the last decade. Afghanistan’s strategic vulnerabilities are increasing amidst the U.S. plans to substantially reduce its military presence in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile India-Pakistan relations have entered a tense phase.

The hopes for normalisation of trade relations between the two countries have begun to evaporate. There is little prospect that Islamabad will agree to trilateral economic integration with India and Afghanistan.

Delhi and Tehran must now sit down with the new government in Kabul to negotiate trilateral trade and transit agreements that will ensure an early realisation of all economic and strategic benefits that the Chabahar project promises.

(The writer is a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, Delhi and a contributing editor for The Indian Express)

- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/iran-and-indias-road-to-afghanistan/#sthash.qgZUqh2i.dpuf

As possibility of third world war exists, China needs to be prepared

By Han Xudong 

As the Ukrainian crisis deepens, international observers have become more and more concerned about a direct military clash between the US and Russia. Once an armed rivalry erupts, it is likely to extend to the globe. And it is not impossible that a world war could break out.

The world war is a form of war that the whole world should face up to. During human evolution, the world war has entered its third development phase. 

The first phase took place between nomadic societies and farming groups. The second phase was featured by colonial wars, with WWI and WWII as its special representatives.

Currently, the world has entered an era of new forms of global war. 

Outer space, the Internet and the sea have become the battlefields of rivalry. Technology is the key, and the number of countries involved is unprecedented.

The rivalry on the outer space and the Internet takes place with the rivalry on the sea as the center stage. During WWII, some major powers attached significant importance to the sea. 

Alfred Thayer Mahan, a US military strategist who died in 1914, coined the notion of sea power. He advocated valuing the naval forces, commercial fleet and overseas military base, which served for wars on the land.

But nowadays, we stress the importance of power in the sea. Judging from the contention of the global sea space, the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean have seen the fiercest rivalry. It's likely that there will be a third world war to fight for sea rights.

In an era when a third world war may take place, an important topic for the Chinese military is how to develop its power to maintain its national interests. 

This should become the basis for its development, because since the founding of the PRC, the development of its military forces has been centered around maintaining its rights on the land. As the rivalry on the sea grows intense, China's military development should shift from maintaining the country's rights on the land to maintaining its rights on the sea.

Meanwhile, China is standing at the focal point of rivalries. This requires China to develop its military power based on a global war. China is in the heartland of the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. 

The development of China's sea power touches the nerves of many countries. China needs to develop its military power to avoid being squeezed to a passive position.

China's overseas interests have spread all over the world. As the US has been shifting its attention to the Asia-Pacific region, especially aiming at China, China's overseas interests have been increasingly threatened by the US. 

Without large-scale military power, securing China's overseas interests seems like an empty slogan.

Chinese Salafism and the Saudi Connection

In China, the Hui Salafi sect, and its links with Saudi Arabia, have a long and complex history. 

By Mohammed Al-Sudairi
October 23, 2014

Salafism, or Salafiyya, is a doctrinal-intellectual current within Islam that espouses a return to the ways of the Salaf As-Salih (the Pious Ancestors), the first three generations of Muslims who lived during and after the death of the Prophet Mohammed. Often described as being rooted in the works of the medieval scholars Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taymiyyah, Salafism seeks to establish a more “authentic” religious experience predicated on a presumably correct reading of the Quran and the sunnah (the sayings and practices of the Prophet) and away from the supposed bid’ah (innovations) and heretical practices that have “polluted” it.

This current moreover embraces to a certain extent a rejection of the madhhab (legal school) Sunni traditions that had emerged in Islam’s early centuries. As a relatively modern phenomenon building on the Sunni orthodox revivals of the 18th century, the failures of traditional Muslim authorities to contend with mounting internal and external challenges, as well as the spread of new modernistic discourses, Salafism found a popular following across many Muslim societies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its growth was facilitated by Saudi Arabia – which embraced its own idiosyncratic brand of Salafism rooted in the mid-18th century religious revivalism that swept central Arabia (usually denoted by its detractors as Wahhabism after its “founder” Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab) – especially after its annexation of Mecca and Medina in 1924-25, and the subsequent influx of oil wealth, which endowed the country with the religious authority and means (universities, charities, organizations, preachers, and communicative mediums) to promote this current globally.

Among China’s Hui ethnic group, Saudi-influenced Salafism has been present for nearly a century. Aside from the intellectual residue influencing other sects and currents, its most obvious manifestation is to be found in the Salafi sect, which constitutes a small minority within the community of the faithful in China. Concentrated in small clusters across the Northwest and Yunnan, and identified by their “Saudi” clothes, Salafis have elicited fear and opposition from their ideological opponents within the wider Chinese Muslim community, leading at times to outright sectarian conflict.

Since the 1990s, and particularly following 9/11, the Chinese state has placed the Salafi community under close surveillance, fearing that its close connections with Saudi Arabia as well as presumed Uighur Salafi networks, not to mention the sect’s considerable growth over the past few years (attracting not only other Hui, but increasingly Han as well), might herald political and religious violence in the future. These security concerns have only abounded with the rising specter of the Islamic State and the appearance of a few Chinese fighters in the ranks of the contending Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Historical Roots of Chinese Salafism

Although relatively isolated since the 14th century with the disintegration of the Yuan dynasty, the Hui Muslim communities, and especially those in the Northwest of China, remained open to the religious and intellectual influences emanating from other parts of the Muslim world. The spread of the various Sufi tariqas (orders),such as the Naqshibandis, Kubrawis, and Qadiris, during the late Ming and early Qing in China in the 17th century, as well as the consolidation of Sufi tariqas with their own distinct lineages, tombs and practices (such as the Khuffiyya and Jahriyya), is indicative of this permeability, which endured primarily through the Hajj and overland trade networks via Central Asia and Yunnan. Unsurprisingly, the transmission of Salafism – or initially Wahhabi ideas – amongst the Hui follows this template in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Wahhabism gained converts in China throughout the Republican era, primarily as a byproduct of the growing traffic of Muslim pilgrims going to the Hejaz, facilitated by the proliferation of new means of transportation such as the steamship. Between 1923 and 1934, hundreds of Hui Muslims made the Hajj. In 1937 – prior to the full-fledged Japanese invasion of the country – well over 170 Hui reportedly boarded a steamer in Shanghai bound for Mecca. The effects of this were palpable, ranging from a noticeable increase in the availability of Wahhabi literature across China in the 1930s, as observed by the scholar Ma Tong, to high-profile conversions of detractors of the movement, including Sufi Sheiks.

It is from within this context that the first pronounced Salafiyya sect emerged within China and mostly, interestingly enough, in reaction to the perceived “departure” of the Yihewani movement from its puritan and proto-Wahhabi ethos. The founding propagator of an explicit Salafism is usually identified as Ma Debao (1867-1977), originally a Yihewani adherent who officiated in various mosques across the Northwest. His earliest encounters with Salafism came through a visiting – presumably Arab – scholar who settled in Xining, Qinghai in 1934 to teach the Wahhabi doctrine. This exposure led him to reassess some of his views, although his major intellectual transformation would only come when he departed for the Hajj in 1936, a period during which he spent considerable time at the Salafi Dar Al-Hadith school.

On returning to China in 1937, Ma Debao became an enthusiastic promoter of the teachings, quickly gathering a following of his own centered in the Xinwang mosque in Linxia, Gansu and breaking away in turn from the Yihewani movement, whom he perceived to have compromised their beliefs. His Salafi group encountered strong opposition from the established Yihewani clergy and their warlord backers, forcing the movement to assume a more cautious and quietest attitude towards politics for the sake of its survival.

China: Sharpening Swords for War?

October 16, 2014 

From a realist’s geopolitical perspective, the United States needs to keep eyes on global hot spots with concentrations of power that could adversely affect American national interests. Of the three geographic centers of global power today, two are engulfed in war while the third is on the war’s precipice. In Europe, Russia has returned to its quest for global power with its steely paramilitary and military disembowelment of Ukraine. Moscow’s aggression now looms over other states in Europe, especially the Baltic states and Poland. In the Middle East, the Islamic State has lurched onto the international scene with a bloody rampage that has torn apart Syria and Iraq. The Islamic State looks ready is to expand and spill more blood along the borders of Jordan and Turkey and in Kurdish areas in Iraq, notwithstanding the American and international coalition air campaign against the jihadists.

In Asia, China has not yet shed any blood in war. But a read of Robert Haddick’s new book Fire on the Water: China, America, and the Future of the Pacific painstakingly shows through his level-headed, scholarly, and realist analysis that Beijing is sharpening its swords for war while Washington is distracted by chaos elsewhere. Haddick rightly judges that the United States “acting as an outside balancer, has played the central role in East Asia’s security, a responsibility that has boosted the prosperity of all. But just like Europe a century ago, it is doubtful that Asia, left on its own, could shape a stable balance of power in the face of China’s dramatic rise.”

Haddick is deliberate and measured and “calls it as he sees it,” which is a tone to be welcomed in the often ideological debates on China’s future in international security. Nevertheless, with his formidable political-military expertise Haddick makes a damning case that China is wielding astute diplomacy and building-up its military forces to exploit weaknesses in American military force projection capabilities into the Asian theater. China has diplomatically labored to settle numerous land disputes with neighbors. As Haddick tallies the diplomatic score, “Since 1998 China settled eleven lingering land border disputes with six of its neighbors, steps that removed security friction from potential overland threats.” China’s $400 billion deal to buy gas from Russia signed in May 2014 and its economic development agreements signed with India in September 2014 bolster Haddick’s assessment that Beijing is shoring-up relations with land border states.

Settling border disputes allows Beijing to turn and focus its geopolitical attention to the sea. China is using a paramilitary maritime force to place footholds on disputed islands and assert hegemony in the East and South China Seas. Haddick observes a disturbing contrast in behavior. While China has settled land disputes, “it has accelerated its demands for its maritime claims in the East and South China Seas.” China is playing a shrewd “salami tactics” game with assertive actions that taken in isolation fall short of cause for war, but collectively and over time significantly expand Chinese influence and coercion in Asia.

China couples its paramilitary maritime operations with a substantial build-up of military power for deterring and attacking American carrier battle groups. Haddick’s book details that the Chinese are growing land-based and space-based systems for detecting and targeting American battle groups, as well as building surface ships and attack submarines for firing anti-ship cruise missiles. All of these Chinese naval capabilities are designed to push American naval access beyond some 2,000 km from China’s coastline. 

Chinese military capabilities to deny the United States the ability to operate fixed-wing aircraft add to the formidable threats to American forces in the region. As Haddick judges, “China’s Flanker fighter-bombers present a particular challenge to the United States and its allies because of their relatively long combat radius. The Flanker variants have an unrefueled combat radius of at least 1,500 kilometers. Five of the six U.S. air bases in the western Pacific (two in South Korea, three in Japan) lie within the combat radius of China’s Flankers.” China’s increasingly sophisticated and thickening air defenses, moreover, significantly increases the potential costs for American aircraft to hold at risk military assets on the Chinese mainland.

China's Afghanistan policy: Testing the limits of diplomacy

24 October 2014 

In just two months' time, international forces in Afghanistan will hand over security responsibility to local personnel. In preparation for the handover, and the eventual withdrawal of foreign militaries, Beijing has substantially raised its traditionally low-key diplomacy in the country.

An Afghan policeman stands guard at the Chinese embassy in Kabul

China has pursued dozens of bilateral and multilateral diplomatic mechanisms with Afghanistan and surrounding countries that have focused on the issue of security. As I write in a new Lowy Institute Analysis, diplomacy is one of China's two major policy pillars in Afghanistan (the other is to substantially increase economic engagement).

Beijing's key interest in Afghanistan is security. China wants to prevent the spread of terrorism, and in particular terrorist ideology, into the Chinese province of Xinjiang, as well to ensure that Afghanistan does not function as a strong base for Uyghur militancy. Beijing will not commit militarily to Afghanistan, so how will it use diplomacy to prevent new instability spreading to Xinjiang?

Beijing will attempt to reduce the security threat in two main ways.

Stabilise Afghanistan, or prevent further deterioration in the Afghan security environment. 
If 1. fails, limit the spread of new instability regionally and reduce the direct threat to Xinjiang. 

Beijing's direct influence in stabilising Afghanistan is limited. It will commit huge levels of economic support. Diplomatically it is encouraging surrounding countries to contribute to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. But security will be left to Afghan forces and any residual foreign troops. The US will likely play the role of mediator in Afghanistan if necessary, as happened during the recent electoral deadlock. 

On point 2, Beijing has more diplomatic options. China maintains contacts with a broad range of actors and groups in Afghanistan, including the Taliban. Since the Karzai Government came to power in 2001, contact with the Taliban has often been via intermediaries. But more recently Beijing has reportedly rebuilt the direct links it had with the Taliban prior to the US invasion in 2001.

Beijing seeks guarantees that Afghanistan won't function as a base for Uyghur militant groups. It also wants Chinese investments in Afghanistan protected from Taliban attacks. There are mixed views to how effective this approach will be. Some Chinese sources say the Taliban doesn't want to raise the ire of Beijing because this could complicate the Taliban's relationship with Pakistan, which has close ties to China. Others question the Taliban's commitment to China's requests. Insurgents have attacked Chinese resource projects in Afghanistan on numerous occasions, and in 2012 Reuters quoted a Taliban spokesperson saying it opposed China's largest investment in Afghanistan, a copper mine near Kabul.

Beijing has also vastly increased its regional diplomatic footprint. China hopes to achieve a consensus on the Afghan issue among surrounding countries because they are at the front line of containing any new Afghan instability. What this consensus may look like is vague, but could include increasing regional cooperation on issues such as anti-narcotics and counter-terrorism, with practical measures such as intelligence sharing, joint military exercises and judicial or law-enforcement training (some of these already happen bilaterally or through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization).

There are clear obstacles. Officials in Central Asian countries are suspected of close links to the drug trade. And there are long running concerns that Pakistan's security and intelligence services help shelter terrorists. Also, many countries in the region have antagonistic relationships with each other.