21 September 2016

The best among limited options

September 21, 2016

In an interconnected world where India is seen as a rising, responsible power, it is necessary to temper the voices being heard about paying Pakistan back in its own coin

In the early dawn of September 18, Pakistani irregulars belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) attacked an Army camp in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, killing 18 jawans and inflicting grievous casualties on many more. The fidayeen were able to breach the Line of Control as also the camp’s security, employing a combination of incendiary grenades and close-quarter weapons to inflict heavy casualties.

Questions are being raised as to how this could happen when Jammu and Kashmir was on maximum alert — this being one of the worst periods in the State’s history since the 1990s. This is, however, not the time for introspection on security breaches and failures; there are far more serious matters on hand.

Uri and the UN

The Uri attack had an eerie similarity to the attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in January this year, in which seven security personnel were killed. Lessons from that incident obviously have not filtered down. What is significant is that the JeM was responsible for both attacks. The JeM — even more than the Lashkar-e-Taiba — is the handmaiden of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). It obeys implicitly, and acts directly on, the directions of the ISI. There is, hence, a message in the latest attack, coming as it does straight from the deepest recesses of the ‘Pakistani Deep State’.

The timing is hardly fortuitous. The carefully planned attack — with intelligence obviously provided by the ISI — was timed to coincide with the debate in the UN General Assembly (featuring both Pakistan’s Prime Minister and India’s External Affairs Minister), thus helping rivet world attention to an otherwise hardy annual event. Whatever be the nature of evidence produced by India, Pakistan will still remain in denial.

The question is: quo vadis, India-Pakistan relations? Tensions remain high on both sides. All of India feels that mere impotent rage and euphuistic excesses are insufficient. There is clamour for action, all the more because the present government had come into office promising strong action against Pakistan after accusing the United Progressive Alliance government of pusillanimity vis-à-vis the neighbour. The shoe is now on the other foot, and the wearer is since learning where the shoe pinches.

Words, options and actions

*** Pakistan’s Terrorism: A case of Dangerous Psychological Disorder?

By Bhaskar Roy
20 Sep , 2016

Narendra Modi, a sharp critic of Pakistan when he was in the opposition, completely changed his approach when elected an Indian Prime Minister in 2014. The BJP won the elections with a huge majority and he could have easily hardened India’s Pakistan policy. His party and the right wing Hindutva politicians would have been only too glad to back him to the hilt. Instead, Modi did the opposite, to the surprise of many. He reached out to Pakistan, invited Pak Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration ceremony and continued to pursue this line despite criticism at home. To be fair Sharif also responded.

Not surprisingly, however, history repeated itself in Pakistan. The deep state (the army and the ISI) stepped in with handsome support from the Pakistani foreign ministry. The Jehadi groups, the army’s acknowledged foreign policy assets like Jamat-ud-Dawa (JUD) Chief Hafeez Saeed and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) founder Masood Azhar were brought in. Terrorism against India from Pakistan continued to increase. Modi remained undeterred. His visit to Islamabad on December 25, 2015 to wish Nawaz Sharif on his birthday was reciprocated by a JEM attack on India’s air force base in Pathankot. Modi still stood his ground, allowing an investigation team from Pakistan which included an ISI Officer, to visit the airbase to collect evidence. The team came, saw and investigated, but did not allow an Indian team’s reciprocal visit to Pakistan. Indian officials decided to view the Pakistani visit as a positive move that would result in a joint counter-terrorism effort. Nothing of the sort happened.

The international community witnessed the Indian government’s restraint against grave provocations. But things had to give at some point. The unprecedented violent protests that followed the (July 8) killing of Hizbul Mujahidin (HM) terrorist Burhan Wani by Indian Security Forces in Kashmir was found to be fuelled from Pakistan, and their friends in the Kashmir valley like the Hurriyat Conference and woman separatist leader Ayesha Andrabi. The HM is based in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK), and its leader Sayed Salahuddin roams freely in Islamabad and Lahore, giving speeches and planning terror attacks with elements like Hafeez Saeed. Salahuddin also heads the United Jihad Council (UJC), based in Pakistan.

Indian politicians in Kashmir played questionable roles. Jammu and Kashmir (J & K) Chief Minister Ms Mehbooba Mufti, whose PDP runs a coalition government with the BJP in J & K first kept silent and them gave confusing and contradicting statements on Burhan Wani’s death. She has a track record of, “running with the hare and hunting with the hounds”. When in power she is with the central government, and when out of power colludes with the separatists.

** The Ships are not Built for the Harbours

By Danvir Singh
20 Sep , 2016

On September 18, Home Minister Rajnath Singh cancelled his overseas visit after hearing of the attack on an army camp in Uri. Back in 2014 on December 05, six terrorists had attacked the Indian Army’s camp at Mohura in Uri. The Army then had retaliated killing all the six terrorists. Our own losses included eight army soldiers and three Jammu and Kashmir policemen. In all, 17 human lives were lost.

Every attack is followed by high level meetings followed by dossiers and diplomatic sparring. On the other side, the cunning Pakistani leaders snigger at the Indian rhetoric, quietly…

In a rerun of sorts, a similar audacious attack was launched in the wee hours on September 18, 2016 at Uri on an Army Camp by Pakistani terrorists. Amazingly the response of the government of India, the media and the analysts appeared to be eerily similar to that which followed the earlier attacks. A response that has been well rehearsed over and over again. Something that has been perfected, as it appears, in the ongoing proxy war unleashed by our revisionist neighbour, Pakistan.

No one seems to have learnt a lesson. The Army always blames it on the harsh inhospitable terrain to cover up its ineffectiveness in checking infiltration. This despite the fact that millions of rupees have been invested in erecting the fence along the LoC and three tier counter infiltration Army deployment providing depth to the obstacle.

The politicians have their responses ready depending upon the forthcoming elections and their political constituencies and compulsions. The media goes berserk chasing prime time headlines. National fervour, emotions, melodrama and the aggressive argumentative Indian makes a perfect TRP recipe.

The Uri challenge

Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Repairing structures to reduce vulnerability, provide deterrence, is a better tribute to jawans than adventurism.

The gruesome death of 18 jawans in Uri is, arguably, a defining moment for PM Modi’s foreign policy. But India’s larger enduring strategic conundrum remains the same. How do you deal with a nuclear state that uses terror as an instrument and which is still bankrolled by major powers? How do you deal with a state where the army has incentives to maintain its centrality, whose identity is marked by resentment? There are no easy or comforting answers. India is well within its rights to take any action that it thinks appropriate. But this will be a game of many moves. There are not too many new ideas on the table. It bears repeating that whatever one may think of strategic restraint, it was not a doctrine of defeatism. It makes realistic assumptions about the nature of the Pakistani state. Remember, this is a state where defeat led to even more militarisation and radicalisation; this is a state that is willing to bear the cost of great internal violence, so a little more experience of internal violence will hardly dent it. It makes reasonable assumptions about the risks of escalation.

The power of balance - India's internationalization of the Kashmir issue after Uri

K.P. Nayar

The Uri attack poses a major challenge to the method in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government's strategy to counter the internationalization of the Kashmir issue on an intensified scale, which is clearly on the cards in the coming months.

In a generic sense, the steadily deteriorating conditions in the Valley since the death of Burhan Wani, the militant social media propagandist, have internationalized Kashmir and brought the issue back into global focus. The Narendra Modi government knows that unless it has a cogent strategy, further internationalization can compromise the core of its global agenda, which is focused on economic and social development. Well before the Uri attack, the government, therefore, crafted a plan that it has already put to work quietly without fanfare. In order to make this plan work effectively, the ministry of external affairs does not want to even acknowledge that it is engaged in an out-of-the-box diplomatic offensive with the aim of neutralizing Pakistan's efforts to take its relations with India to the global centre stage.

Mending Pakistan’s behaviour

Narendra Modi’s credibility is at stake after the Uri attack. He must retaliate by using the Indus Waters Treaty

After the bloody cross-border terrorist attack on an army camp in Uri, near the Line of Control with Pakistan, it will be difficult for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to return to business as usual.

Uri is just the latest in a string of important Pakistan-orchestrated strikes on Indian targets since Modi’s 2014 election victory: The other attacks occurred at Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif and Jalalabad in Afghanistan and at Gurdaspur, Udhampur, Pathankot and Pampore in India.

New Delhi’s response to all the attacks has been characterized by one common element—all talk and no action. This is no different from the response of the governments of Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee to major terrorist strikes on their watch, including at Mumbai and on Parliament and the Red Fort. It would seem that Indian leaders live up to the biblical adage, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

With successive governments failing to pursue a coherent, resolute and unflinching strategy to combat Pakistan’s proxy war by terror, India continues to be terrorized, assaulted and bled by a smaller neighbour. A scofflaw Pakistan believes it can continue to gore India with minimal or manageable risks of inviting robust Indian retaliation. The Indian public’s patience, however, has worn thin, putting pressure on the government to start imposing deterrent costs on Pakistan so as to stem the increasingly daring terrorist strikes.

Not all Goliaths are Bullies

By Brig Deepak Sinha
20 Sep , 2016

A recent issue of weekly magazine, Outlook, carried an article on Kashmir by Dr. Ashish Nandy, whom the magazine refers to as “India’s foremost public intellectual and renowned political psychologist.” There is much that Ashish Nandy has accomplished over the years that certainly add to his achievements, though whether that qualifies him to be considered the “foremost” public intellectual within the country is a matter of debate.

…all the ongoing stone throwing that we witness is nothing but a poor copy of the Palestinian “Intifada”.

One thing one can be certain of though is that he has not added to his reputation with the piece in question (The State Can Only be a Goliath). Not only is his basic premise of comparing the Kashmir issue with the ongoing situation in Palestine wholly at odds with reality, but he is also completely erroneous in his understanding of the manner in which the Army has been employed there over the years and the conclusions he arrives at. Sadly, it is intellectuals of his heft, who play to the international gallery for their own selfish purposes, using arguments which are a mix of half- truths and outright falsehoods, and probably unaware that they are being played by separatist elements, who compound the existing problem.

India-US Partnership Lifted to New Height

By Sumit Kumar
19 Sep , 2016

Two recent profound developments took place in the relationship between India and the United States. One was the signing of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in Washington and another was the second meeting of the India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue in New Delhi.

These two developments certainly have given an idea of the transformational shift that has taken place between New Delhi and Washington over the last two years. When the Modi government came to power in May 2014, the relationship between the two countries was at a low level. However, soon after coming to power in May 2014, Prime Minister Modi decided to redirect his government’s efforts to sustain and deepen ties with the United States. President Obama warmly reciprocated to Prime Minister Modi’s attempt to forge a new bonhomie between New Delhi and Washington. This, in turn, elevated the relationship to the height of India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.

True, as the Indian External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Foreign Secretary John F. Kerry held the second India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue on 30 August in the background of an unprecedented political unrest in which Pakistan role is seemingly visible, the Indian strategic community eagerly waited to see how Secretary Kerry would react to these developments. Undoubtedly, his stand on both the issues bolstered India.

Despite Pakistan’s efforts to internationalise the political unrest in the Kashmir Valley, the US has chosen, rightly so, not to extend any attention to Pakistan’s outcry. Instead, the joint statement released on the meeting of second India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue has once again asked Pakistan to bring Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks, vindicating India’s concerns over Pakistan’s role in exporting the menace of terrorism into its territory including the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Time to hit and hurt the Pakistan Army!

By Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal
19 Sep , 2016

The Pakistan-sponsored fidayeen attack on an army camp in Uri on September 18, that resulted in the martyrdom of 17 soldiers, is the worst since 2002. Though all four fidayeenwere killed, that is cold comfort for an army at the receiving end.

Such large-scale casualties must not go unpunished.

The Pakistan army believes that the balance of terror must be in its favour, especially when the balance of power is not.

Clearly, India’s carefully calibrated strategy to fight Pakistan’s proxies within its own borders and on its own side of the LoC, in order to keep the level and the intensity of conflict low and maintain a stable environment for rapid economic growth, has not yielded the desired dividends.

The increasing attempts at infiltration across the LoC and the spurt in encounters with terrorists in the Kashmir valley recently show that Pakistan’s proxy war against India is continuing unabated.

In order to reduce casualties and damage to property, India’s response needs to be reviewed and upgraded to a more pro-active one that raises Pakistan’s cost for waging a proxy war.

Despite facing seemingly insurmountable internal security challenges, the Pakistan army and the ISI — together constituting the ‘Deep State’ — have been engaged in a low-intensity limited war against India for almost three decades.

The Pakistan army believes that the balance of terror must be in its favour, especially when the balance of power is not.

Hyderabad Did Not “Merge” With India, It Was Liberated

September 18, 2016

It is astounding that some people still call the liberation of Hyderabad a “merger” and not the “surrender” of the Nizam–ruled State.

On 18 September 1948, the army of the Nizam of Hyderabad— commanded by General Syed Ahmed El Edroos— surrendered to the Indian Army commanded by Major General J.N. Chaudhuri, after five days of battle. It is astounding that some people call the event a “merger” and not the “surrender” or “liberation” of the Nizam–ruled State of Hyderabad.

The events narrated below bear out the evil intentions of the Nizam who was, in turn, backed by the murderous, roguish, power-drunk Islamist Razakars. There were about 200,000 of them, led by Kasim Razvi— founder of the Ittehadul Muslimeen. While over 500 states— including large ones like Mysore, Baroda, Travancore and Indore— signed the instrument of accession and after amicable talks merged their territories with India, Junagadh and Hyderabad didn’t.

Junagadh acceded to Pakistan but its ruler had to flee the state in the face of a popular uprising. A referendum confirmed the merger of Junagadh with India. Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India at the last moment when much of its territory was overrun by Pakistan–supported tribesmen.

The Nizam of Hyderabad had the intention to become independent. He issued a firman (vetted by Muhammad Ali Jinnah) on June 11 1947 that he was entitled to assume the status of an independent sovereign on 15 August 1947. He wanted a treaty with India and not accession to it. Islamist Razakars and an equally Islamist Prime Minister, Mir Laik Ali, tightened their grip on the Nizam. Jinnah, the creator of Pakistan, encouraged this intransigence but stopped short of militarily, or otherwise, supporting the Nizam. He was content in receiving a “loan” of Rs 20 crore which, in effect, was a donation to Pakistan by the Nizam.

DAC Finds Reliance Defence Financially and Technically Fit for Defence Projects : Sources

September 17, 2016 

Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd (RDEL) – formerly known as Pipavav has got clearance from the Defence Ministry to participate for defence projects following a detailed financial and technical capability check of the company’s shipyard.

Sources said the clearance to Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd, owned by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, was accorded by the ministry in the last meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) after carrying out a detailed financial and technical capability of the company’s shipyard.

The capability check was ordered in October 2015 followed corporate debt restructuring and management changes at RDEL following its takeover of the Pipavav Defence. A similar technical and capability check was also ordered for ABG Shipyard, which sources said has failed on the capacity assessment carried out by the defence ministry.

The clearance to Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd assumes significance as it comes just a month ahead of the opening of the bids by defence ministry for the biggest warship construction project or the Rs 20,000-crore project of making Landing Platform Dock (LPDs).

Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd and L&T are now the two companies in the fray for this billion dollar order for the four LPDs for Indian Navy.

While two LPDs contract will be awarded to a private sector player based upon technical capabilities and financial bids, the winning firm would also assist state-owned Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) to construct the remaining two.

When Indian troops entered Congo 55 years ago

The Congo crisis is an excellent instance of India’s active role in securing the international order

History may not be a series of accidents, but accidents have certainly left their mark on history. One such occurred just past midnight on 18 September 1961. An aircraft flying from Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) in the Congo to Ndola in the British colony of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) crashed near its destination. Among the 16 passengers on board was the secretary general of the UN, Dag Hammarskjöld. Fifty-five years on, his death remains a mystery. The sole survivor, who died within days, claimed there had been an explosion in the plane. Strangely, while the other victims had been charred, Hammarskjöld’s body had no burns. Other such anomalies fuelled speculation that it might have been an assassination.

Over the decades, no fewer than four public commissions have inquired into Hammarskjöld’s death. But the controversy has not been stilled. Earlier this year, the South African government announced that it had found a cache of documents pertaining to “Operation Celeste”—an alleged plot to kill Hammarskjöld that had the Central Intelligence Agency’s backing. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon recently said this “may be our last chance to find the truth” and urged all states to share more information.

All this has sparked considerable interest in the Congo crisis of the early 1960s. It is a measure of our historical amnesia that the Indian media has barely noticed the anniversary. For India played a pivotal role in the crisis. It is also telling that in the recent discussions elsewhere there is no mention of India.

Military needs Modi

Sep 18, 2016

Mr Modi has done extremely well on most diplomatic fronts, specially in Saarc (minus Pakistan), BIMSTEC, Indo-Pacific Region and West Asia. He now needs to focus on the domestic front... 

Like many other Indians, I was hopeful that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would bring in quick, discernible change, even though the massive problems facing India require Mr Modi to have at least a 10-year tenure. There is no doubt that Mr Modi’s numerous international trips have added to improving India’s image, but his domestic record is not as good in some critical areas impacting national security. Unfortunately, his first 28 months in office indicate that unless he pulls off a miracle (e.g. creating 13 million new jobs annually, bringing peace to Kashmir, resolving domestic river water disputes, getting palpable growth by attracting FDI), the chances of a clear win in the 2019 elections appear bleak.

However, this article focuses on two other issues, which impact national security, one of which could further add to Mr Modi’s problems in trying to win the 2019 elections.

The first issue is demoralisation of the military, and the recent unprecedented “request” by the three Service Chiefs to the PMO, to “reconsider and put on hold” its order of implementing the Seventh Central Pay Commission award for the military. As a veteran who served four decades in the Navy, I am disappointed with the government’s recent approval of the 7th CPC report with respect to the armed forces.

The military is regularly called out to sort out the failures of civil administration during floods or recent riots in Haryana, and the present turmoil in Kashmir. Rumours indicate that Mr Modi, who started his tenure by having monthly meetings with the three Service Chiefs, has not met them for the last seven months. When this demoralisation of the military is considered along with the extremely slow pace of military modernisation (the $37 billion defence budget leaves very little for new inductions of military hardware, with the deal for 36 French Rafale jets for 7.8 billion euros slated to be signed on September 23), then we can see that despite Mr Modi’s enormous successes on the diplomatic front, India’s security stands weakened, and he needs to urgently take a political decision to bring parity in pay and allowances to the military with civil services.

India driven to the wall, must mount response: diplomats

September 19, 2016 

An Army helicopter flies above the military base which was attacked by militants in Uri on Sunday. 

They call for measured and effective response.

India has a wide range of options for a “measured and effective” response to the attack in Uri, veteran diplomats and experts said on Sunday. They said India was left with no option but to retaliate, heightening the possibility of an imminent escalation of violence.

“Pakistan is isolated within SAARC, as three members of the regional group have accused it of sponsoring terrorism. Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India have accused Islamabad of sponsoring terrorism that ISI continues to generate, irrespective of the condition of the bilateral ties with India. Such attacks take place irrespective of the ties being temporarily good or continuously bad. A response therefore has to be forcefully enunciated,” said G. Parthasarathy, former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan. He said India could choose from a “wide range of options” to deliver a response to the latest attack.

The attack in Uri, close to the Line of Control (LoC), revived memories of the Kaluchak attack of 2002 which claimed at least 31 lives. Mr. Parthasarathy said the government could consider a mix of diplomatic and multilateral response. “We have already recognised the suffering of the Baloch people which has sent out a message about our strategy,” he said. Pakistan’s attacks were based on the support that it drew from its “all-weather friend” China.

Diplomats said a major challenge in crafting a suitable response to Pakistan was its ability to use its nuclear umbrella as a shield for unconventional warfare with India. However, India could engage the Pakistan military in response for Uri without triggering a war.

Of Article 370, Plebiscite & Hindu Refugees Of POJ&K Flogging Dead Horses And Ignoring Live Issues

September 13, 2016

Kashmir is in churn. A full historical analysis of the problem, how successive Central governments have bungled, and why Article 370 is hardly the issue.

Whenever Kashmir witnesses a new violent upsurge, with pro-Pak secessionists gathering fresh steam to demand a plebiscite so that they can exercise their right to secede to Pakistan, the nationalist opinion in India responds by pressing the demand for the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which assures a “special status” to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, the demand for plebiscite in the state is met with jingoistic assertion that Kashmir is an “integral part of India” which no power on earth can take away. The emotional attachment to Kashmir is understandable but not the political jingoism backing it.

India has, thus, far fought a defensive battle on the Kashmir issue against the illegitimate claims of Pakistan, because the Indian government has never bothered to counter the systematic disinformation campaign unleashed by that country. This article is an attempt to shed light on vital but ignored facts behind the Kashmir dispute.

The foundational principle of Jinnah’s two-nation theory was that Hindus and Muslims were distinct and irreconcilable nationalities, not just two religious communities co-inhabiting the same land. Therefore, they could never co-exist in peace on equal terms. The logical outcome of this ideology was the bloody Partition of India in 1947 based on the bizarre principle that Muslim majority states would go to Pakistan and Hindu majority to India, with Pakistan making no commitment towards protecting the Hindu minority under its jurisdiction, in the way India did with regard to the millions of Muslims who continued staying in India. Pakistan solved its “minority problem” by near-total genocide and ethnic cleansing of Hindus and Sikhs while India tried to build special protections for minorities, which has enabled the Muslim population to grow both in size and political clout. Having finished off its own minorities, Pakistan began getting more and more belligerent in claiming Kashmir as the “unfinished agenda” of the Partition. The ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits was meant to perform the same role that Jinnah’s Direct Action Call did in forcing the Partition of India.

Reliance And L&T Competing For $2 Billion Defence Deal- How The Navy Is Promoting Indian Shipbuilding Capabilities

19 Sep, 2016

The Defence Ministry has cleared Reliance Defence and Engineering and L&T Shipbuilding Company for undertaking shipbuilding projects following a capacity assessment of various private shipbuilders in the country. Being the only two private shipbuilders cleared by the process, the two are set to compete for a $2 billion defence deal to construct four Landing Platform Dock (LPDs) for the Indian Navy. 

LPDs are amphibious transport docks capable of transporting troops to the war zone and are designed to act as landing decks for helicopters. The 20,000-tonne LPD would be the largest warship to be built in an Indian yard after the aircraft carrier under construction in Kochi.

As per the deal, the winning bidder will be awarded a contract to construct two LPDs and will assist the state-owned Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) to construct the remaining two LPD platforms. Being the biggest warship construction project set aside for private shipbuilders, the project has the capacity to transform the winning bidder into a leading player in the industry. 

While the defence ministry operates five front-line shipyards, they are not enough to satisfy India’s strategic needs. Private shipyards that have recently displayed promising capabilities but are often regarded as “inexperienced” and only given orders for smaller, less complex vessels. In this regard, the clearance could be seen as Navy’s attempt to develop indigenous shipbuilding architecture by utilising the capability of under-utilized private shipbuilders in the country.

Demography Watch: Christianity Is Spreading In Northeast Through Conversion Of Scheduled Tribes

September 19, 2016

The Centre For Policy Studies (CPS) has published its latest note on the Religion Data Census of 2011. In this note, the CPS analyses the spread of Christianity among the individual Scheduled Tribes of Assam, Tripura and Sikkim.

It says that Christianity in the Northeast has spread mainly through the conversion of the Scheduled Tribes (STs) of the region. There are numerous tribes that live here, specific tribes often dominate a specific district or even a sub-district.

Here. it is pertinent to look into how the religious demography of different tribes has changed over time, how and when they have moved away from their native religions—which in their doctrine and practice fall within the Hindu fold—to Christianity.


In Assam, the situation is very different from other states of the region. The spread of Christianity in Assam has been limited and, more surprisingly, less than 20 percent of the Christians in the State are from the Scheduled Tribes (STs). This is very unusual. Elsewhere in the Northeast, the Christians are almost entirely tribal. The peculiar situation of Assam is because several essentially tribal communities of Assam have not been included in the ST list. Such communities include the tea tribes, one-fifth of whom are said to have been converted. Estimates indicate that perhaps all of the non-ST Christians of Assam are from the tea tribes.

There is a long-standing demand for the tea tribes and five other communities—the Tai Ahom, Moran, Matak, Chutia and Koch-Rajbongshi—to be included in the ST list of the State. The current Government at the Centre seems to be serious about accepting this demand. If and when that happens, Assam shall become a tribal-majority State, and the non-tribal component of the population shall become largely Muslim. This is likely to drastically reorder the political and religious demographic profile of the State.

After Pak Uri Attack, Isn’t It Time We Stopped Bluster And Started Acting?

September 19, 2016

If the Pakistan-backed terrorist attack at Uri does not lead us towards long-term strategic action, we might as well resign ourselves to becoming the punching-bag for that terrorist state.

If the Pakistan-backed terrorist attack at Uri yesterday (18 September), which killed 17 armymen, does not lead us towards long-term strategic action, we might as well resign ourselves to becoming the punching-bag for that terrorist state, with negative consequences for us in the long run.

In the wake of the attack, we saw strong words from the Prime Minister, who said the attack “won’t go unpunished”, and even stronger rhetoric from Ram Madhav, party spokesman, who said: “for one tooth, the complete jaw.”

But with Modi’s Pakistan strategy in tatters, talk is not enough. Nor is blind rage or short-term action the answer. A week of retaliatory firing on the border, or some attack on terror camps in Pakistan is not good enough. What Uri should prompt us to do – if we have not already started doing so – is to prepare for a long-term war of attrition where the costs to Pakistan will be greater than ours. Small retaliations right now will serve no purpose. For punitive action to work, the one doing the punishing has to have disproportionate strength against the weaker opponent. But this is not the case, Pakistan which can match us firepower for firepower, nuclear warhead for nuclear warhead, and then some. We have to think deep and strike deep. We cannot afford to be just reactive. We have to take the war where it needs to go – inside Pakistan.

Here Are Eight Steps India Must Take To Counter Pakistan-Sponsored Terrorism

19 Sep, 2016

ISIS flags being waved in Kashmir in 2014 

If India does not give an apt response to the Pakistan-backed terrorist attack at Uri, we might as well resign ourselves to becoming the punching-bag for that terrorist state. The point is clear: Pakistan is the original Islamic State. Its national focus is enmity towards India, not the upliftment of its own people. 

Pakistan’s enmity is not about Kashmir; it is about Islamism and defeating “Hindu” India. Hence dealing with such an enemy needs long-term counter from India. The following initiatives should be part of the counter-

1. Raise military spending

We have to consistently raise military spending by up to 1 percent from current levels. Over a decade, or more, Pakistan will be forced to match it, leading to its economic implosion. The Soviet Union imploded not because of military failures, but because the US upped its military spending under Reagan.

2. Develop a formal military-industrial complex

Linked to the above, we have to simply develop a formal military-industrial complex with both private and public sector participation. Building up our military-industrial complex has to be the core of Modi’s Make in India. We have to act against the corrupt defence establishment, which is used to making loads of money from foreign defence salesmen.

3. Engage actively in strategic goals-based diplomacy

India’s Military Engagement In Afghanistan Could Ruffle Many Feathers – Analysis

By Amitava Mukherjee*
SEPTEMBER 17, 2016

The apprehension has come true. The Taliban has now expressed its displeasure over India’s decision to supply arms to the Afghanistan government. New Delhi has already supplied to Afghanistan three Russian made Mi-25 gunship helicopters and the fourth one is likely to be delivered soon. But Afghanistan has requested for more lethal arms of different kinds. There is a buzz in concerned circles that Afghanistan has requested for supply of Mi-35 attack helicopters also.

This could be a complete departure from India’s earlier policy on Afghanistan when New Delhi chose to restrict itself to giving economic aid only – up to USD 2 billion till now which has gone towards capacity buildings in the field of infrastructure, education, agriculture etc. This apparent change of attitude on the part of India may have been prompted by a sustained deterioration of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations and rapid spread of Islamic State(IS) influence in the eastern part of Afghanistan.

But, by sticking its neck out into the Afghan quagmire India has certainly taken a great amount of risk. It maybe a calculated one given the fact that Pakistan is now raising barbed wire fences on a two kilometer stretch near Torkham which is situated on the Durand Line, the cartographical border between Pakistan and Afghanistan ,which the latter never accepted as. Recently there was heavy fighting between the Pakistani and the Afghan army at Torkham, as Pakistan tried to build up a post on its side of the border and the Afghans tried to stop it. Relation between the two countries is likely to deteriorate further as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is wreaking havoc inside its own country with active support from the Afghan Taliban.


by Shawn Snow 
September 18, 2016

Afghanistan’s Air Force is still in its infancy; however, it is slowly building the capabilities and receiving the necessary air platforms to maintain sustained operations that will assist struggling Afghan forces facing a resurgent threat.

Just this past August, Afghanistan received delivery of the final four out of 27 MD-530 Cayuse Warrior helicopters from the U.S. Air Force. On Thursday morning, four of those aircraft were delivered to the Shaheen Military Corps in northern Balk province. Presiding over the ceremony in Mazar-i-Sharif was Afghan Air Force Chief Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak, who lauded the delivery as strengthening the Afghan Air force.

Afghanistan has struggled to field a competent air force over the years, somewhat in part to U.S. delays in building and training the new unit. An air force for any country is expensive, and for a country like Afghanistan that translates into fielding aircraft that the war torn region can afford to maintain and equip.

Afghanistan’s fleet of aircraft largely consists of Russian made Mi-25 helicopter gunships and Mi-17 transport helicopters. The United States has provided Afghanistan with MD-530 Cayuse warriors that come equipped with light rockets and .50 caliber machine guns.

New to the battlefield this year is the A-29 Super Tucano, a fixed wing light attack propeller based aircraft. Afghanistan is contracted to receive 20 and so far has received eight of these air frames. The A-29 provides new capabilities to include longer flight durations, heavier munitions capabilities, and longer loiter periods over targets. The airplane has already been put to considerable use, with 260 sorties flown reported in May alone.

Air support is a necessary component in any counterinsurgency; considering Afghanistan’s mountainous and formidable terrain, it is vital.

How al-Qaeda Survived the Islamic State Challenge

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Nathaniel Barr 

The Islamic State’s (IS) emergence—with its control of territory, social media proficiency, and unprecedented ability to mobilize supporters—threatened al-Qaeda’s position of dominance within the global jihadist movement. For a time, the majority of analysts believed that IS would eclipse al-Qaeda, if it had not done so already, and that IS’s rise threatened to make al-Qaeda irrelevant or even defunct. The conventional wisdom held that al-Qaeda could only remain relevant by either carrying out terrorist attacks abroad or else trying to replicate IS’s brutality and ostentatious growth model. But al-Qaeda defied conventional wisdom. It not only survived the challenge posed by IS, but emerged stronger by pursuing a strategy of deliberate yet low-key growth. Al-Qaeda was able to “rebrand” itself by contrasting with IS’s over-the-top shows of brutality, and thus gain more room to operate within the region. This article maps the evolution of al-Qaeda’s model for growth over the past decade, and illustrates how the group has repeatedly overcome challenges through a combination of shrewd planning and strategic patience. 

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in July 2011 claimed that the United States was “within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaeda.”1Panetta was not the first to remark on al-Qaeda’s imminent collapse, nor would he be the last. Observers in both the Middle East and the West saw the Arab uprisings of early 2011 as a repudiation of al-Qaeda’s worldview because dramatic political change had been accomplished largely without violence. They anticipated that al-Qaeda’s importance and popularity would drop sharply in the post-revolutionary period.2

Why Pakistan Sticks to Its Guns

Kashmir’s summer of unrest looks to be showing no signs of letting up. The Wall Street Journal:

A mounting death toll in Kashmir, where street protests erupted after security forces killed a well-known separatist fighter this summer, is stoking long-smoldering public anger with Indian rule in the Himalayan region.

Efforts by New Delhi to calm tensions across the mostly Muslim section of Kashmir it controls—neighboring Pakistan administers another—have foundered as the violence stretches into a third month, fueling resentment and raising the prospect of a return to armed struggle. […]

More than 70 people have been killed, almost all of them civilians, and thousands injured in near-daily clashes between law enforcement and stone-throwing demonstrators demanding more autonomy and fewer Indian troops. Security forces have fired birdshot into crowds, tearing flesh and lacerating eyeballs.

Americans look at the India-Pakistan rivalry and ask why Pakistan continues to overspend on the military and focus its foreign policy on what looks like a hopeless struggle with its larger, richer and stronger neighbor. Why not move away from radical Islam, American diplomats and visitors have been asking their Pakistani counterparts for years, and do the sensible thing: cut defense spending, increase spending on education, and concentrate on building a normal, peaceful Pakistan that can join other Asian powerhouses (including India) on the export-led growth bandwagon?

Stratfor: Is the West Being Overrun by Migrants?

By Ian Morris 
7 September 2016.

Summary: People often compare today’s waves of immigration with those that played a large role in the destruction of the Roman Empire. Here Stanford Professor Ian Morris describes, the similarities, the differences, and the lessons this history holds for us. Morris focuses on the danger of migrants as organized military forces; he gives little attention to their disruptive domestic effects. 

Is the West Being Overrun by Migrants?

Are the barbarians at the gates? Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, has no doubt that they are. “Without any action,” she told a rally at Amiens last year, “the migratory influx will be like the barbarian invasion of the fourth century, and the consequences will be the same.” That would be bad. According to St. Orientus of Auch, who lived through the original event, “Throughout villages and farms, throughout the countryside and crossroads, and through all districts, on all highways leading from this place or that, there was death, sorrow, ruin, fires, mourning.”

The Parisian political establishment turned up its collective nose at Le Pen’s analogy (being France, the newspapers concentrated on correcting her chronology: The invasions came mostly in the fifth century, not the fourth). And despite all his talk of building a wall to keep invaders out, Donald Trump has so far resisted likening himself to Emperor Hadrian. Not since Pat Buchanan, in fact, has an American presidential hopeful called Mexicans barbarians.

The internet, however, is full of comparisons between the end of ancient Rome and current events in the United States and European Union, and I find that when I give public lectures I regularly get asked how much the two periods have in common and how much we should worry about it. (Being both an immigrant and an ancient historian, I probably get this more than most people.)

If Chinese Weapons Are So Great, Why Won’t Anyone Buy Them?

Richard A. Bitzinger

If Chinese weapons are so great, how come hardly anyone wants them?

Though most Chinese arms are better than what they used to be, Western, Russian, and Israeli weapons systems still outclass them. Most of what China sells is low-end kit and its main arms buyers are from South Asia and Africa. To remain a leading arms exporter, Beijing needs to come up with more competitive products and expand its customer base.

One of the frequent arguments made about China’s 20-year-long military buildup is that its locally produced weapons are better than they used to be. To a certain extent this is true, if hardly surprising. Relatively modern systems, such as the J-10 fighter jet, the Yuan-class submarine, and the Type-99 main battle tank, are certainly superior to the weapons systems they replaced, that is, the J-7, theMing-class sub, and the Type-59 tank – all basically copies of Soviet weaponsdating back to the 1950s. They could not help but be better.

China’s advanced fighter jet, JF-17, has so far been purchased only by Pakistan

At the same time, it is true that some current Chinese arms are highly competitive with their Western or Russian counterparts. These include unmanned aerial vehicles, anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, and lightweight trainer jets. But all this raises an important point: if Chinese weapons are supposed to be so great, how come hardly any other country wants to buy them?

On paper, China looks like a quite successful arms exporter. Last year, Beijing transferred nearly $2 billion worth of arms, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Moreover, SIPRI data for the period 2011 to 2015 showed that China was the world’s third largest arms exporter, accounting for nearly 6% of the total arms market. This is nearly double what China exported during the period 2006 to 2010.

In recent years, Beijing has chalked up some impressive overseas sales, including deals to export eight Yuan-class submarines to Pakistan and three to Thailand. China has also sold tanks to Myanmar, ASCMs to Indonesia, and armed drones to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, and Egypt.

Still a niche exporter

Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war — on Twitter

Sep 16, 2016

Saudi Arabia and Iran are waging a proxy war for dominance of the Middle East and the broader Muslim world that is playing out on battlefields from Yemen to Syria.

This past week, though, the hottest front in the Saudi-Iran cold war wasn’t in some war-torn country in the Middle East. It was on Twitter and in the pages of one of the world’s leading newspapers.

Over the past several days, the two countries have engaged in an escalating series of tit-for-tat attacks in the press and on social media, accusing each other of being terrorists, murderers, purveyors of sectarian hatred, and not real Muslims.

On Tuesday, the New York Times published a scathing op-ed by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in which Tehran’s top diplomat argues that “the key driver of violence” in the Middle East has been Wahhabism, the “extremist ideology promoted by Saudi Arabia.” Zarif writes, “[T]he worst bloodshed in the region is caused by Wahhabists fighting fellow Arabs and murdering fellow Sunnis.”

In response, the Twitter account of the Saudi Embassy in the US put out a series of tweets with infographics (and one six-second Vine video) documenting the various sins of the Iranian regime over the years:

Iran has a well-documented history of aggression, watch 37 years of hostile action in just 6 seconds https://t.co/xRv26uU08z

— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) September 15, 2016

Keyboard commandos, here's one simple reason why nuclear war is a bad, bad thing

The Uri attacks have inspired some ballistic bombast.

A horrible attack on an Indian Army base in Uri, Kashmir leaving 18 dead and 19 injured.

Social media, with characteristic restraint, decided to demand retribution by asking for more to be killed. Many, many, many more.

Here, an instant classic example:

Are we Indians prepared for a nuclear war for finishing Pakistan as a country. Many of us may die in the process— Sanjay Dixit (@Sanjay_Dixit) September 18, 2016

That's a former Indian Administrative Services officer who works with the Rajasthan government choosing to run a Twitter essentially calling for nuclear warfare. That might be worth underling and putting in bold:Nuclear warfare.

On TV last night, @sushantsareen literally said: '500 mn Indians might die, but remaining 500 mn will make a stronger India.' Yay patriotism— Raghu Karnad (@rkarnad) September 19, 2016

This bellicosity was not restricted to social media – the television channels certainly got in on the game too – but it thrived online.

Social media by its nature can be both trivial-seeming and more serious-than-you-realise, so it's worth spelling out exactly what is being demanded here: The use of nuclear weapons against Pakistan, a move that would almost certainly result in the use of nuclear weapons against India and kill untold millions.

Let's spell that out even more. There are a lot of nuclear weapons on this planet. 15,375 according to the World Nuclear Weapon Stockpile. India and Pakistan have 250 between them. Even North Korea is believed to have a few. Despite all these weapons out there, using technology that was developed in the 1940s, nuclear bombs have only been used twice.