30 November 2016

*** Impact Analysis of the Indian Defence Offset Program

By Vikram Bihani
29 Nov , 2016

The India Defense Industry has grown from USD 21.9 billion in 2010-11 to USD 37.3 billion in 2016-17, at a CAGR of 9.25%. India ranks among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of its military expenditure and import of defense equipment. It allocates about 1.8% of its GDP to defense spending, of which 36% is assigned to capital acquisitions. However, only about 35% of defense equipment is manufactured
in India. Moreover, even when defense products are manufactured domestically, there is a large import component of raw material at both the system and sub-system levels. 

Given the above, it makes sense to focus on increasing the effort to manufacture in India, to increase self-reliance in arms procurement, and save precious foreign exchange – hence the “Offset Program”.

What is the Indian Offset Policy?

Offset is an element that counter-balances or compensates an act. It is a set-off from a development, in this case, military acquisition. An element of “compensation”is a predominant import of the term. It occurs when a supplier places work to an agreed value with firms in the buying country, over and above what it would have brought in the absence of the offset.

India ranks among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of its military expenditure and import of defense equipment.

We have a formal offset policy in place since 2005, which the Indian Ministry of Defence‘(MoD’) has been operating as part of the Defense Procurement Procedure (‘DPP’), the procurement manual used for capital acquisition for the Indian Armed Forces. The policy has undergone many rounds of revisions over time and its prime objective is to leverage India’s huge arms import for strengthening the indigenous arms industry. The current DPP 2016 lays down various categories of procurement processes namely, in priority, Buy Indian – IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed & Manufactured), Buy Indian, Buy & Make (Indian), Buy & Make (Global) and Buy Global. Based on the Indigenous Content, as you go down the procurement category in priority, 30% offset is applicable on the foreign exchange component.

*** Pakistan: An Army With a Country

The saying goes that most countries have an army, but Pakistan's army has a country. Even when it is not formally in power — as it has been off and on for nearly half of Pakistan's 69-year history — the Pakistani military wields tremendous influence as a kingmaker. Its leaders are no less consequential to Pakistan's political scene. Having been deposed in 1999 during his second term in office by then-Chief of Army Staff Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — now serving an unprecedented third term — is understandably cautious in deciding who will lead the military. On Tuesday, Gen. Raheel Sharif will step down at the end of his three-year term as army chief, turning power over to his successor, Lt. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. The occasion — a significant achievement for Pakistan's government — offers insight into the past, present and future of the country's civil-military relations.

To understand the outsize clout that the military has long enjoyed in Pakistan, one must go back to the country's founding in 1947. At that time, the four provinces that would eventually become West Pakistan — Balochistan, Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province and Sindh — harbored strong autonomous tendencies. Yet to form a unified nation capable of standing up to India, which Pakistan's early leaders viewed as an existential threat, the country's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, favored a strong central government. To that end, he pulled power from the provinces toward Islamabad and devoted the country's scarce resources to national defense. Pakistan's military thrived under this arrangement, especially once the United States began funneling military aid to the country to advance its goals in the Cold War. The country's party system, however, failed to take root, and its democracy languished, leaving a void for the generals to fill.

** 1971 War: Dhaka or Bust?

By Sumit Walia
28 Nov , 2016

1971 war was the finest hour of Indian Army. In a quick, decisive, well planned & well executed campaign, Indian Army carved out a new nation on the face of earth – Bangladesh. It was a remarkable campaign when different departments of Indian Govt. – Armed Forces, Defense Ministry, External Affairs Ministry, Home Ministry, Finance Ministry, Indian Railways, RAW etc worked like well oiled machine to surprise the world with what it achieved in just 12 days. Indian Army was led by Field Marshal S.H.F.J. Manekshaw who had Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora as Eastern Army commander & Lt. Gen. JFR Jacob was the ‘Chief of Staff’ (COS) of Eastern Command.

Gen Jacob claims that it was actually he who insisted that Dhaka must be the final objective & he made final move to capture Dakha.

Gen. Jacob has been very critical of Field Marshal Manekshaw & Gen. Aurora about their operational plans of 1971 war. In his book “Surrender at Dacca – Birth of a Nation”, he has mentioned that the objective of Army Headquarters (HQ) was never Dhaka & it was to capture as much territory of erstwhile East Pakistan as possible to install an interim Govt so that millions of refugees, who had been coming to India since April 1971, can be sent back to their home land. Gen Jacob claims that it was actually he who insisted that Dhaka must be the final objective & he made final move to capture Dakha. Here is a list of some of the statements he made during an interview given to Forbes Magazine on 15th July, 2011: -

(i) Manekshaw was being pushed by the government to move to Bangladesh in April. He was pushing me. I refused and gave him good reasons. (ii) He had asked for a brief and it was my brief that was read out to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. (iii) We had said Dhaka [should be taken first] but he [Manekshaw] said Dhaka was not important and wanted to take the entry ports. But I disagreed violently. Dhaka is the centre of gravity and in war you go for the centre of gravity. (iv) Manekshaw sent us an order that “you will, by so and so hours, capture the following”, and goes on to list every single town, except Dhaka! To make matters worse for us, he copied it to the three corps. I had to speak to them and asked them to ignore orders. I had to ignore orders.

** Fifty Years Later, Moore's Computing Law Holds

APRIL 19, 2015 

An October 1964 Westinghouse display of new molecular electronics able to replace as many as 50 transistors. 

Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corp., published his now iconic article — Cramming More Components into Integrated Circuits — in the journal Electronics on April 19, 1965. In this paper, Moore observed that the number of transistors fitting on a computer circuit board had roughly doubled each year. A decade later the time-scale was revised to 18-24 months and dubbed "Moore's Law." Following this principle, a computer purchased today would cost about half the price in two years. Processing is now down to one-sixtieth the cost it was a decade ago.

Intel co-founders Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce meeting in Intel's offices in 1970.

The operation of Moore's Law over the past 50 years has changed the world in enormous ways. The resilience of his observation has been equally impressive. Within a short time of his formulation of the law, it became the core business model of semiconductor and fabrication companies as well as the foundational logic driving long-term strategy for corporations in the microchip and semiconductor business. The prescience of Moore's vision is most clear in the second paragraph of his 1965 paper, which forecasts many of the devices exhibited at the January 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas:

Integrated circuits will lead to such wonders as home computers — or at least terminals connected to a central computer — automatic controls for automobiles, and personal portable communications equipment. The electronic wristwatch needs only a display to be feasible today.

** You Can’t Argue with Geography

November 14, 2016

Walter A. McDougall is the Co-Chair of FPRI’s Madeleine and W.W. Keen Butcher History Institute, Chairman of FPRI Board of Advisors, Chair of FPRI’s Center for the Study of America and the West, and sits on the Board of Editors for FPRI’s journal, Orbis. He is the Alloy-Ansin Professor of International Relations and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

This article was originally published on September 2, 2000.

I suppose I am an old-fashioned teacher. My subject — diplomatic history and international relations— could not be further removed from the avant-garde of post-modern cultural studies. My methodology is traditional, centering on the critical interpretation of documentary evidence and the logic of cause and effect in the belief that facts exist and falsehood, if not perfect truth, is discoverable. My lectures and books are in narrative form, because in political history sequence is critical to understanding why decision-makers acted or reacted as they did. And my assignments require students to demonstrate knowledge of at least the most important names, dates, and events because concepts and theories are empty unless one knows what factual evidence inspired them and what phenomena they are advanced to explain.

Old-fashioned, demanding, some would say boring— and yet, my courses in diplomatic history draw hundreds of students. Evidently, the collegiate consumers of history, not to mention the book-buying public, find more value and enjoyment in rigorous studies of the origins of wars and peace than in speculative studies of, for instance, the “gendering” of gravestones in 17th century France. The downside of having large classes, however, is that the only students I get to know personally are those who come to my office hours and voluntary discussion sections. So it was that I was taken aback when one anonymous face from my 19th century European diplomacy lectures visited my office accompanied by a big and decidedly businesslike black labrador dog. I was about to make a joke, or a protest, when I looked up and realized the young man was blind.

A new general in GHQ

Silent Whisper 

Qamar Javed Bajwa’s challenge: To turn Pak army into a less-publicity driven, more normal organisation.

According to sources, the general was Nawaz Sharif’s second choice rather than the outgoing army chief’s pick.

Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistan Prime Minister’s advisor on foreign relations, plans to attend the “Heart of Asia” conference. Although there seems very little to talk about on both sides, many around the world will be watching if Aziz brings something fresh to the discussion table now that a new general has replaced General Raheel Sharif at the GHQ.

Domestically in Pakistan, there is an expectation of relative lowering of temperature in civil-military tensions that peaked during the three years of General Sharif. The former army chief’s tenure was akin to a tempestuous love affair for a select segment of society. The emerging elite, the upper middle class and the new political power centre found psychological refuge in the idea of a man they thought would shift the game of civilian political power from old players like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari to new ones such as Imran Khan. In fact, General Sharif turned into a pied piper himself, fighting the battle against corruption through public announcements of disciplinary action against some of his officers, or by drawing a link between terrorism and corruption. Like other parts of South Asia, this message had traction amongst the ordinary people in Pakistan. But the fact that society was not ready for the military taking control of the state, nor was the army prepared to do the same, was one of the reasons that a coup did not happen.


Raghu Dayal 

It does not matter if there has been a change of guard in Pakistan Army, be it General Bajwa or anybody else. Islamabad’s DNA vis-à-vis ‘enemy’ India, will not change, Pakistan has an Army that owns the country

Notwithstanding the perfidy of Kargil, inflicted by Pakistan after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s historic Lahore bus journey, and unoblivious of the dictum that history often repeats itself, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would never have contemplated that the hug with his counterpart during his impromptu stopover at Lahore, in December last year, could unleash an audacious attack on an Indian airbase.

There is now an official confirmation of what has so far been a common belief, that Pakistan’s foreign policy is substantially shaped by its Army. And the very raison d'être of the Pakistani Army is enmity with India. Diplomat Hussain Haqqani corroborates that military domination was thrust on Pakistan; it inherited a disproportionately higher share of military: 30 per cent of British India’s Army, 40 per cent of the Navy, 20 per cent of the Air Force against just 21 per cent of population and 17 per cent of revenue. The Pakistani military is the largest owner of agricultural land, and has made massive investments in manufacturing, banks, trade, transport, real estate and other businesses. 

Radicalisation poses challenge to society

As a society, we have been somewhat accustomed to the problem of radicalisation.

As many as six suspected members of an outfit calling itself the “Base Movement”, an oblique reference to Al Qaeda in India (“Organisation of the Base of Jihad in the Indian Sub-Continent”) and considered responsible for around five court blasts in Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala this year, were taken into custody in Tamil Nadu and are being interrogated. The youths, led by a Chennai-domiciled software engineer, used unusual tactics like trying to leave a message rather than causing great havoc at their blast sites around the Chittoor, Nellore, Kollam, Malappuram and Mysuru courts. Their methods may even have been amateurish (they used low-grade explosives scrounged from firecrackers). But their activities in these southern states suggests a degree of radicalisation that is part of a worrisome pattern — seen more in the south as well as the west, in Mumbai and Gujarat.

If the NIA, along with the Telangana and Tamil Nadu police, has indeed cracked the case, it is a tribute to their dogged work in pursuit of malcontents and anti-social elements. The police intelligence wings are known to work diligently to ferret out terror plots even before they are executed. But what is of more concern is that their work can play into the hands of radicals who find it useful in their propaganda to spread discontent over harsh police methods. Targeting popular leaders is also a secret ambition of all radicals and this group, that appears to owe allegiance to Osama bin Laden but may have no links to his organisation, is no different in having a top leader supposedly in their crosshairs in their war on state power.

India-Japan Nuclear Deal: Setback To International Non-Proliferation Efforts – OpEd

NOVEMBER 29, 2016

The international community today is faced with the dilemma of nuclear proliferation. It has proved to be the gravest challenge for mankind for its catastrophic nature has the tendency to send mankind back to Stone Age.

To fight of this challenge many arrangements such as global peace treaties, regimes and agreements have been established. But these arrangements has a lot of flaw which have been manipulated by the member states to serve their purpose and in turn challenge the efforts of arms control. Recently, Japan and India struck a civil nuclear deal for peaceful use of nuclear energy. This arrangement will permit Japan to supply nuclear-related technology, fuel, and equipment to India. The nuclear deal will directly increase the ability of India to generate nuclear power both quantitatively and qualitatively. Economic, political and strategic interests are considered as an essential foundation for India’s civil nuclear deals.

The India-Japan nuclear deal is an exception for many reasons. First, in the past in reaction to the Pokhran test (1998), Japan had raised many concerns regarding India’s nuclear program and imposed numerous economic sanctions on India. Second, despite been very critical of India’s nuclear program and victim of the nuclear attack, now Japan has signed a nuclear agreement with known violator of IAEA Safeguards and Non-NPT state. Additionally, since its inception, India-Japan nuclear deal is considered as a destabilizing arrangement for nonproliferation efforts and regional stability.

The latest Japan-India nuclear deal comes in the wake of following developments: Boosting economy, military purpose, strategic cooperation and regional politics. First, India-Japan nuclear agreement is an extraordinary step to increase India’s economic development and growth. Bilateral trade and economic relations establish a unique segment of bilateral cooperation.

Pakistan, India And Politics Of NSG – OpEd

NOVEMBER 29, 2016

The last Vienna Plenary meeting of NSG ended without reaching any consensus on the issue of NSG candidature for non-NPT states. India was lately giving the impression that it has won the support of majority of the states including Mexico, Switzerland, Brazil, Russia and New Zealand. But the fact is that New Zealand doesn’t stand a chance against the US pressure. Similarly the countries in Latin American have different interest. However three major countries Ireland, China and Austria have not shown any change in their stance against the Indian membership. However, India wants to send the message out that NSG issue is still alive and India is diligently working for its membership. It’s almost a decade that membership of NSG has become much contested, especially because of India and Pakistan interest into NSG.

Three dimensions to the whole issue are significant, First dimension is Commercial lobby; it is presumed that US Commercial purpose was main idea behind Indo-US nuclear deal in 2005 and later in 2008 when waiver was granted to India. Second is the politics of norms. If norms are main factor behind nuclear politics then Indo-US nuclear deal and NSG waiver should strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The third is the “geopolitical” perspective with strategic undertones. The ground realities illustrate that India’s politics and its membership of NSG has less to do with the economic or norms dimension and more influenced with geopolitics. The Indo-US deal on space technology existed since 2004 long before the Indo-US nuclear deal. Now it is believed that India will be able to enhance the sophistication of its missiles. Things further gained pace in 2010 and the idea was floated that India should be the member of all the cartels such as Australia Group, MTCR, NSG etc. By then the NSG waiver had already been granted to India. India now is the strategic partner of the US and enjoys more autonomy than other allies of the US.

India is being mainstreamed by the US and it has maintained that there is no need for new criteria. It claims that India is already complying with a number of commitments and these commitments are sufficient to guarantee India a membership.

Heart Of Asia Conference In Amritsar: Opportunity Or Exercise In Futility? – Analysis

By Lt Gen P.C. Katoch* 
NOVEMBER 29, 2016

The SAARC summit scheduled in Islamabad in November 2016 was shunned by all SAARC countries forcing Pakistan to sheepishly ‘postpone’ the meet but blame India for ‘influencing’ other member nations to stay away.

This despite Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina going on record to say: “It is over the situation in Pakistan that we decided to pull out from the SAARC summit in Islamabad. Terror from Pakistan has gone everywhere, which is why many of us felt frustrated by Pakistan. India pulled out because of the Uri attack, but for Bangladesh the reason is totally different… One of the other main reasons of my government for SAARC pullout was the hurt felt over Pakistan’s strident criticism of the war crimes process in Bangladesh in which a dozen Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, accused of brutalities during the liberation war in 1971, have been hanged or indicted.”

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s de-facto foreign minister, humorously referred to by a cross section in India as the zombie lookalike of Abdul Basit, Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi, had announced well in advance that he will attend the next Heart of Asia Istanbul conference in Amritsar scheduled in first week December which will be co-chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Why Sartaj Aziz is clubbed with Abdul Basit is because both by their actions and statements encourage terrorism, particularly against India. With the Pakistani military taking away the NSA hat from Sartaj Aziz’s head, which he wore in addition to being the foreign affairs advisor to prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Sartaj has made extra efforts to endear himself to the military-ISI. This has proved beneficial to him – enjoying being de-facto foreign minister, even as Nawaz Sharif is shaky with the Panama papers expose.

Connecting Heavenly Tibet

By Claude Arpi
29 Nov , 2016

The Tibetan plateau is witnessing a great deal of infrastructure development. This is not new, but the Chinese investments have taken much larger proportions in the recent weeks.

According to the website en.tibetol.cn, the Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has vowed to invest 543.1 billion yuan (88 billion US dollar) “to improve transportation conditions and promote the economic and social development during the 13th five-year period (2016-2020).”

What does it means?

Undoubtedly, it will bring tens of millions Chinese tourists on the plateau.

One hundred million soon?

The 12th Five-Year Plan

During the previous five-year period (2011-2015), 300 kilometers of high-level roads were built in the TAR while the Lhasa-Shigatse Railway started its operations in 2014; further 63 new airlines have been opened, linking 40 cities in China.

By the end of the current Plan (13th), the total mileage of highways in Tibet will reach 110,000 kilometers.

New Developments

On November 25, China Daily announced that “more than 20 new highways will be built in the TAR next year, with a total investment of more than 33 billion yuan (5 billion US dollar)”.

According to Ge Yutao, head of the TAR’s regional transportation authority, the new routes will include Lhasa to Nagchu; Derge to Chamdo; Chamdo to Jaka; Lhasa to Shigatse Airport; and Gongkar Airport to Tsethang, as well as the Nyima-Aso section of National Highway 317.

Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar: Opportunity or Exercise in Futility?

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
28 Nov , 2016

The SAARC summit scheduled in Islamabad in November 2016 was shunned by all SAARC countries forcing Pakistan to sheepishly ‘postpone’ the meet but blame India for ‘influencing’ other member nations to stay away. 

This despite Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina going on record to say: “It is over the situation in Pakistan that we decided to pull out from the SAARC summit in Islamabad. Terror from Pakistan has gone everywhere, which is why many of us felt frustrated by Pakistan. India pulled out because of the Uri attack, but for Bangladesh the reason is totally different… One of the other main reasons of my government for SAARC pullout was the hurt felt over Pakistan’s strident criticism of the war crimes process in Bangladesh in which a dozen Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, accused of brutalities during the liberation war in 1971, have been hanged or indicted.”

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s de-facto foreign minister, humorously referred to by a cross section in India as the zombie lookalike of Abdul Basit, Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi, had announced well in advance that he will attend the next Heart of Asia Istanbul conference in Amritsar scheduled in first week December which will be co-chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Why Sartaj Aziz is clubbed with Abdul Basit is because both by their actions and statements encourage terrorism, particularly against India. With the Pakistani military taking away the NSA hat from Sartaj Aziz’s head, which he wore in addition to being the foreign affairs advisor to prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Sartaj has made extra efforts to endear himself to the military-ISI. This has proved beneficial to him – enjoying being de-facto foreign minister, even as Nawaz Sharif is shaky with the Panama papers expose.

Obama Expands War With Al Qaeda to Include Shabab in Somalia

Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti
November 28, 2016

Obama Expands War With Al Qaeda to Include Shabab in Somalia

WASHINGTON — The escalating American military engagement in Somalia has led the Obama administration to expand the legal scope of the war against Al Qaeda, a move that will strengthen President-elect Donald J. Trump’s authority to combat thousands of Islamist fighters in the chaotic Horn of Africa nation.

The administration has decided to deem the Shabab, the Islamist militant group in Somalia, to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to senior American officials. The move is intended to shore up the legal basis for an intensifying campaign of airstrikes and other counterterrorism operations, carried out largely in support of African Union and Somali government forces.

The executive branch’s stretching of the 2001 war authorization against the original Al Qaeda to cover other Islamist groups in countries far from Afghanistan — even ones, like the Shabab, that did not exist at the time — has prompted recurring objections from some legal and foreign policy experts.

The Shabab decision is expected to be publicly disclosed next month in a letter to Congress listing global deployments. It is part of the Obama administration’s pattern of relaxing various self-imposed rules for airstrikes against Islamist militants as it tries to help its partner forces in several conflicts.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

In Context: Pakistan's New Army Chief Gen Bajwa

By Rana Banerji
29 Nov , 2016

Speculation over the appointment of Pakistan’s 16th Army Chief ended on 26 November 2016 when a comparative `dark horse’, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, was declared, with much media fanfare, as the country’s new ` Sipah Salar’ (Commander in Chief). 

Pakistan’s President, Mamnoon Hussain, formally appointed Bajwa as the Army Chief, exercising his powers under Article 243 of the 1973 Constitution. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may have exercised some discretion in making this choice, albeit it is likely that Gen Bajwa’s predecessor, former Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s recommendation was given due weightage. After the 18th Amendment, the prime minister’s advice is binding on the president.

The timing of the announcement was significant. It came just after Prime Minister Sharif returned to the country from a visit to Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, and two days after an elaborately covered reception hosted by the prime minister on 24 November 2016, where all the principal contenders were present. These modalities of transition would suggest careful orchestration by Nawaz Sharif’s media managers to underplay any civil military discord over this selection.

Commissioned in the Baloch Regiment of the Pakistan Army (16 Baloch) in October 1970, Bajwa was the junior-most in the pecking order of the current cohort of 3 Star Generals of the 62nd PMA Long Course who were eligible for selection. Bajwa pips to the tape, two other officers of the same batch – Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed, Corps Commander, II Corps, Multan, and Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday, Corps Commander, XXXI Corps, Bahawalpur.

India Pakistan Conflict: what is next for the historic foes?

17 November 2016 

This report explores the dynamics behind the recent confrontation between India and Pakistan, exploring several different dynamics.

An Indian soldier keeps guard from a bunker near the border with Pakistan in Abdullian 


This report explores the dynamics behind the recent confrontation between India and Pakistan. The analysis has three aims. Firstly, it looks at India’s aggressive approach towards Pakistan. The context of this is the recent terrorist attack in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir State. Secondly, it examines Pakistan’s policy of using non-state actors as one means of foreign policy pressure on India. Related to this is whether Islamabad is likely to crackdown on militant groups after India’s own growing pressure on Pakistan. Lastly, and in light of recent military and diplomatic confrontation, the report tries to explore the prospects of reconciliation between the two historical foes. 


The messy transfer of power in the subcontinent in 1947 from British colonial rule to India and Pakistan left deep scars of mutual suspicion and insecurity in both countries. In Pakistan, primarily, this insecurity has deepened over the last six decades with the policymakers in Islamabad always citing India as a sole external threat to the country’s security and survival.(1) A wide range of bilateral disputes, including the Kashmir dispute, have prolonged this volatile conflict. Pakistan and India have since 1947 gone to war three times with the 1971 Indian intervention in the East Pakistan resulting in Pakistan’s dismemberment. 

The Strategic Importance of Chinese-Pakistani Relation

3 August 2016

The improved relations between China and Pakistan has unveiled plans of a China-Pakistan economic corridor, worth $46 billion, providing Beijing with access to the Arabian Sea, increasing its trade with Europe and the Middle East and Africa.

Mr. Xi held talks with Pakistan's president and prime minister in April of last year, unveiling plans of a China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC), worth $46 billion [Reuters]

Of all China’s neighboring countries, China-Pakistan relations are the closest and friendliest. With the kick-off of Xin Jinping’s proposal, the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”, the relations of both countries have upgraded to a new level from high-level political and military relations, extending to the full range of contacts and comprehensive relations. However, China does have some concerns regarding Pakistan, particularly the problems associated with containing Islamic terrorism as well as the rising Islamic identity within Xinjiang’s Uyghur minority. Nonetheless, both the United States and China have a common interest in allowing China to play a bigger in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and constrain opportunistic moves from Pakistan; and this political change is welcomed mostly by other regional players including Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf countries. 


Of all China’s neighboring countries, China-Pakistan relations are the closest and friendliest.(1) The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1951, making Pakistan one of the first Islamic countries as well as the second country in South Asia after India to establish diplomatic relations with China. The two countries have remained strong allies ever since. The closeness of the relationship between the two countries can be seen from major bilateral interactions over the years. For instance, in the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1965 and 1971, China took the side of Pakistan against India. In addition, China supported the alliance between Pakistan and the United States against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. China also provided assistance for Pakistan to become a nuclear power in 1998, and used its Security Council veto power for the first time in 1972 to block the entry of Bangladesh into the United Nations. Pakistan played a crucial role in the ice-breaking visit of U.S. National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger to China in 1971, and was one of only two United Nations member countries (along with Cuba) to support China following the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989.(2) The two countries enjoy close cooperation in areas such as trade, borders, and their militaries, meaning that Pakistan has a unique status among China’s many diplomatic allies.(3)

CPEC: Corridor of Discontent

November 23, 2016

The flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative - the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has been seen as a ‘game changer’ in the regional geopolitical discourse since its formal unveiling in April 2015. It has become the foremost bilateral initiative between China and Pakistan, entailing a budget above $46 billion. CPEC has captured popular imagination in Pakistan, at a time when it is struggling to get its economy back on track. Through the successful execution of the CPEC, China looks forward to adding a significant brand value to its overseas developmental initiatives enunciated as One-belt-One-Road.

With a spectacular GDP having trillions of dollars in reserve, China is seeking to invest in projects abroad that can enhance connectivity, utilise idle capital and sustain its economic growth. In this context, CPEC is conceived as a project that will give China overland access to the Arabian Sea through the Pakistani port of Gwadar, bring development and prosperity to Pakistan - a long-time friend and ally, and cement strategic ties between the two. Innocuous as it may appear, with its passage through the disputed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan and its access and control of Gwadar port - situated in close proximity to the energy-rich Western Asian region, CPEC has provoked the regional/sub-continental security debate ever since it was announced with great gusto by China and Pakistan.

Enveloped in a geopolitical chimera, the focus of the emerging discourse on CPEC is clearly tilted towards its economic and strategic imperatives. However, the flip side of the project concerning its political viability is being ignored. Considering that the CPEC is set to traverse through Xinjiang, Gilgit Baltistan and Balochistan simmering with large-scale political discontent, there are lurking uncertainties facing the future prospects of the project, widely hailed as a harbinger of enhanced regional connectively and trade.

The staple factors put forth to justify the CPEC include China’s geographical constraints vis-à-vis southern waters in the Indian Ocean as well as Pakistan’s ever intensifying energy crisis. The idea of connecting China to the strategically important waters of the Arabian Sea though has evolved over a period of time, way back to when the Karakoram Highway was constructed during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The strategic highway built through the only land link between China and Pakistan (read Gilgit Baltistan) in many ways blueprinted the idea of an intensive connectivity network of what is today envisaged as the grand CPEC project.

Benefitting from China’s Belt and Road Initiative

By Ambassador P Stobdan
28 Nov , 2016

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s gargantuan cross-continental infrastructure project, launched by President Xi Jinping in September 2013, is not only a foreign policy initiative, but an idea linked to saving the life of Communist Party of China (CPC) which could otherwise tumble like the Communist Party of the Soviet Union did after 74 years of its birth, bringing down the Soviet Union in its wake.

The corridor project has singularly focussed attention within China and outside and aims to improve cross-regional and international connectivity infrastructure to bolster China’s outbound investment and trade. It is essentially about creating a belt of new networks; roads, highways, railways, ports, logistics zones, and economic zones that will begin and end in China.

Internal Factors

For China, after lifting over 600 million of its people out of poverty, sustaining standards of living for people adapted to consumerism is becoming the biggest challenge. Over the years, China has witnessed massive slowing down of economy, mangled by excessive internal debt and surplus industrial output. In fact, some of the traditional easing measures, including numerous stimulus measures (rate cuts, credit backing and currency devaluation) to get the slumping economy moving again, seem to be giving diminishing returns. The massive stimulus package of the past may have spurred debt build-up.

The country has been struggling over how to restructure the massive underperforming state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that are carrying a ton of debt. Most are identified as suffering from overcapacity or marked for clean-up. The task will not be easy; recently, the State Council issued new guidelines to classify SOEs into — strategic, innovative, merger, clean-up – by 2020. Xi has launched a drive to “clean up” these corruption-ridden SOEs –realising that their continuation could bring China’s financial system to its knees and risk hundreds of thousands of workers losing jobs.

Implications of Emerging Chinese Surveillance and Strike Complexes

November 16, 2016

Austin Hale is currently working as a research intern at the National Defense University’s Center for Strategic Research and is a student at George Washington University.

Frank G. Hoffman serves on FPRI's Board of Advisors, and effective June 20, 2011, Mr. Hoffman is serving at the National Defense University as a Distinguished Research Fellow with the Institute for National Strategic Studies.

China appears determined to assert itself throughout the Asia Pacific region and undercut United States’ alliances with potentially destabilizing effects on regional security.[1] Its increasingly aggressive actions in the Western Pacific, coupled with rising defense spending—an increase of 7.6 percent in 2016—have elevated the possibility of conflict between the United States and China.[2] Thus, U.S. analysts and defense scholars have been trying to identify the potential form a future conflict between the two powers may take. In the available literature, this potential conflict is characterized and operationalized as a competition between the U.S. AirSea Battle (ASB) operational concept—now referred to as the Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons—and China’s Anti-access/Area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities.[3]

In their recent article, “Future Warfare in the Western Pacific,” in International Security, defense scholars Stephen Biddle and Ivan Oerlich argue that while advancements in reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) have allowed China to field more advanced sensor, guidance, and communication technologies, the Chinese A2/AD approach is not a decisive, long-term threat to the United States or its allies in the region.[4] This conclusion would suggest that the U.S. Defense establishment need not concern itself with this challenge, undercutting its emphasis in recent Pentagon publications, such as the Quadrennial Defense Reviews and the Pentagon’s emerging Offset Strategies narrative.[5]

Fidel Castro's Ambivalent Legacy

November 28, 2016

Fidel Castro was one of the most polemical political personalities of the twentieth century. His complex historical legacy will be admired by some and despised by others. The son of an affluent Galician landowner who settled in Cuba’s Oriente province, Fidel spent most of his adult life combating bourgeois society.

The young lawyer launched a guerrilla movement to overthrow Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship (1952–58) in Cuba. With the assassination of other leaders of the urban insurrection (such as José Antonio Echeverría and Frank País), Fidel became the undisputed head of the Cuban Revolution. He came to power in 1959 after the collapse of the Batista regime.

He later became Prime Minister, President, Commander in Chief, and First Secretary of Cuba’s Community Party, controlling the most powerful positions on the island for almost five decades. He ruled Cuba with an iron fist until 2006, when he temporarily ceded power to his younger brother Raúl, due to an acute gastrointestinal disease that diminished his physical and mental abilities.

Fidel’s charismatic leadership—characterized by his shrewdness, eloquence, audacity, energy and physical strength—captivated millions of followers in Cuba and elsewhere. A hypnotic and telegenic public speaker who could seduce multitudes, Fidel knew how to take advantage of the mass media to convey his messages. At the same time, impulsiveness, a capacity for improvisation, demagogy and narcissism were legendary traits of the Maximum Leader.

Symposium: Advice to President Trump on U.S.-Russia Policy

November 28, 2016

Editor’s Note: The following is a multi-part symposium commissioned by the National Interest and Carnegie Corporation of New York. Check daily (Monday-Friday) for new entries. Below you will find a brief introduction to the series by Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the National Interest.

With the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, the issue of U.S.-Russia relations is acquiring a new importance. Russia figured prominently in the discussion of the U.S. elections and in debates about the direction of American foreign policy. Now the central question is whether or not the possibility of warmer relations between the two sides—or even a new détente—exists? What would it take to adopt a fresh approach?

To answer such questions, Carnegie Corporation and the National Interestcreated a symposium on Russia and the United States. The essays contained in this collection are particularly pertinent now that the possibility is being discussed, both at home and abroad, of reassessing the frosty relations between Moscow and Washington. These stimulating and enlightening essays, written by an impressive array of leading experts, offer a possible roadmap forward for a new U.S. administration. They consist of analysis and recommendations from policymakers, think tank members and academics. The precise answers may vary, but the authors are receptive to the idea that change is imperative.

How Iran Hopes the Nuclear Deal Will Revive Its Economy

November 28, 2016

From the beginning of his presidency, Hassan Rouhani and his team considered the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated between Iran and several world powers in July 14, 2015, to be a first step in a grander plan to normalize Iran’s international relations with the outside world. As I explained in my previous analysis, managing terror and limiting overt kinetic actions by the Revolutionary Guard and the Quds Force are only second in importance to the project of normalization. The third is economic recovery, including bank reforms and establishing a strong linkage with foreign capitals and internationally accepted standards of banking.

When running for office in 2013, President Rouhani promised to reform an economy ravaged by years of mismanagement, corruption, populist policies and sanctions. Indeed, hope of economic betterment drove popular support for the nuclear deal. Within days of signing the JCPOA, President Rouhani declared, in an open letter to First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, his intention to heal the economy by focusing on the banking system. The economic pledges have been popular enough to give Rouhani an edge in the 2016 parliamentary election.

After analyzing systemic problems, the administration concluded that the cornerstone of the economic recovery should be a reform of the banking system, which operated for decades“with low capital adequacy requirements and inadequate regulatory and supervisory mechanisms.” As a result, the banks have been hobbled by a large inventory of nonperforming loans and have lacked capital for extending credit to business. Valiollah Seif, the governor of Iran’s Central Bank, commented that financial mismanagement left Iran’s financial system in “tatters.” The Banking Overhaul Plan, signed into law by Rouhani in July 2016 was designed to remedy the situation. An official government website promised “to get financing for short and medium-term projects back on track, provide a cash cushion to tackle bad loans, promote competition, reorder the money market by regulating the army of uncertified credit and financial institutions, and increase banks’ lending power by raising their capital.”

Does NATO Need Montenegro?

November 28, 2016

If all goes as planned, Montenegro will be the newest member of NATO. According to NATO Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller, “The accession process is moving forward smoothly” and “pending all those parliamentary processes being complete” Montenegro could become a NATO member in the spring of 2017. But how does the tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro contribute to NATO’s collective security and – by extension – U.S. security?

The short answer is: It doesn’t.

There are currently 28 countries in NATO. Outside of the United States and Canada, they are all European nations. If European defense is the raison d’être for NATO, it’s hard to see how Montenegro contributes to the alliance. The combined GDP of NATO’s European members is over $17 trillion. With a GDP of $4 billion, Montenegro’s economic capability to contribute to NATO is infinitesimal. Indeed, Montenegro’s GDP is about a third the size of Albania’s, NATO’s smallest economy.

Rather than adding a country with such a tiny economy, NATO would be better off getting all of its member nations to meet the 2 percent of GDP defense spending requirement. Right now, the only countries spending at least that much are the United States, Greece, Poland, Estonia and the United Kingdom. Germany – NATO’s largest European economy – spends only about 1 percent of its GDP on defense. The resulting shortfall of Germany and other countries not contributing their fair share to NATO is something like $100 billion. So adding Montenegro will do little to close the deficit.

Thousands flee Aleppo as Assad’s forces move to split Syrian rebel stronghold

Louisa Loveluck
November 28, 2016

Thousands flee Aleppo as Assad’s forces move to split Syrian rebel stronghold

BEIRUT — Thousands of Syrian civilians fled fierce fighting in Aleppo on Sunday as government forces moved within a mile of slicing the city’s last rebel-held stronghold in half.

At least 500 people have been killed and more than 1,000 wounded in a 13-day offensive led by President Bashar al-Assad’s troops on the east side of a city that has taken on huge symbolic importance in the Syrian civil war. Under siege and with no food aid left, a quarter million civilians are now trapped there. On Sunday, residents said they had nowhere left to run. 

“My house is full,” said Bassem, who asked to be identified only by his first name for fear of retribution from the government. “The floors are packed but no one is sleeping.”

The fall of east Aleppo would devastate rebel ambitions to hold onto a rump state in northern Syria, and could hasten the government’s recapture of the entire country.

Assad’s soldiers — supported by Russian- and Iran-backed forces — advanced on the rebel-held districts in a pincer movement Sunday, taking the neighborhoods of Jabal Badra and Baadeen in the east and advancing slowly through al-Sakhur in the west.
Their breakthrough had come Saturday with the recapture of Masaken Hanano, the largest rebel-held district of Aleppo and the first to slip from government control. Its fall underscored how far the tide has turned for Assad’s forces, 5½ years into a war that has killed half a million people and displaced most of Syria’s prewar population.

The rebels seemed ascendant when they seized east Aleppo in 2012, boasting that a march on Damascus would be next. Now, they are being bombed and besieged in pockets of land across the country.

A Trump-Putin Axis? – OpEd

NOVEMBER 28, 2016

US President-elect Donald Trump admires Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. That much became clear during Trump’s presidential campaign, as did his intention when in office to repair the US’s damaged relations with the Russian Federation. At the moment the US and Russia, although both nominally combating Islamic State (IS) in the Syrian civil war, are so far from allies that they are very nearly belligerents.

In September 2014 the Obama administration brought together a coalition of countries to undertake a twin-objective military effort in Syria: to defeat the rampant IS that had seized large swathes of the country, and to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power, establishing democratic governance in his stead. There was one proviso: there were to be no Western boots on the ground. The strength of the coalition was to be focused on providing training, logistical support and air cover for the “moderate” forces fighting IS and opposing Assad, mainly the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Assad, for his part, controlled the formidable Syrian army and was supported by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, by the forces provided by Iran’s puppet, Hezbollah, and in addition, since autumn 2015, by the full weight of a massive Russian military build-up. But although IS was nominally in Russia’s sights from the start, estimates are that less than 10 per cent of Russian air strikes have been targeting it. Russia’s powerful air support, to say nothing of the Kalibir NK cruise missiles first fired on Aleppofrom the Russian frigate Admiral Grigorovich on 15 November, has been directed primarily against the FSA.

So Russia has been battering the FSA while the US-led coalition has been supporting it. In short, Russia and the US are virtually at war with each other in Syria, albeit by proxy. Trump wants to stop that proxy contest turning into a full-scale conflict.