24 September 2016

Water Wars: The Next Great Driver of Global Conflict?

September 15, 2015

As much as oil shaped the global geopolitics of the 20th century, water has the power to reorder international relations in the current century. 

We live in an age of great anxiety about threats to global peace and stability. Among these are worries that intense water-related stresses, now showing up in regions around the world, may become all-too-common sources of conflict. Just as often, however, concerns about water wars are dismissed as much ado about nothing. An influential school of thought has long contended future international conflicts will not be fought over this resource. Water, it says, is of such elemental importance to human existence that even long-time adversaries will be forced to accommodate one another’s needs in a water-scarce future. As water is too expensive to transport over long distances, moreover, it is very difficult to steal or plunder. And history gives some comfort to this forecast: as few wars have been fought specifically over water, it is highly unlikely humanity will start engaging in water conflicts now. Or so the thinking goes.

In the case of water, this logic — of the past as predictor of the future — is compelling and comforting. But it also is dangerously myopic, for it fails to consider the possibility that the future may look nothing at all like the past. From nearly any standpoint, the world we live in is a fundamentally different place compared with the past. Over just the last century, for example, the global population has rocketed upward from roughly two billion to well past seven billion. While population growth is hardly the only driver of social, economic, and ecological change at global and regional scale, it has been among the most important. Nor is this process at an end. Current demographic projections forecast a global population of at least nine billion by 2050 — and possibly more.

Water in the Anthropocene:

The Future of the Army

BY DAVID BARNO AND NORA BENSAHEL
SEPTEMBER 20, 2016


In light of a shrinking force structure and limited resources despite increasing global commitments, the report provides a range of recommendations in three distinct time horizons to help Army leaders build the next Army successfully. From the Army Today, 2016-20, the Army of Tomorrow, 2020-25, and the Army of the Day After Tomorrow, 2025-40+, Lieutenant General David Barno (Ret.) and Nora Bensahel offer fresh ideas that spark debate, challenge hoary assumptions, and animate the need for change.

Hybrid Threats And How to Counter Them

by Ralph D Thiele
September 20, 2016

There’s been a lot written lately about the “gray zone” nature of hybrid warfare (HW), but today Ralph Thiele takes a fresh tack. He explores the relationship between this comprehensive, multidimensional approach to conflict and two other concepts – Clausewitz’s centers of gravity and the notion of anti-access/area denial…

Hybrid concepts and strategies target vulnerabilities – from cyber-attacks on critical information systems, through the disruption of critical services, such as energy supplies or financial services, to undermining public trust in government institutions or social cohesion. To this end public opinion has become an attractive target.

Clearly, the cyber space constitutes the most extreme form of this vulnerability. Via the cyber space everything is connected to everything else: systems, machines, people. And everything can be damaged, disrupted or put out of service practically from anybody anywhere. Defenders don’t know when an attack is being launched, where it will strike and how. The resulting ambiguity makes an adequate reaction difficult, in particular for societies or multinational organizations that operate on the principle of consensus such as the European Union and NATO.

Hybrid warfare is of strategic nature. It is a potent, complex variation of warfare that simultaneously involves state and non-state actors, with the use of conventional and unconventional means of warfare that are not limited to the battlefield or to a particular physical territory. There are three characteristics
The decision of the war/conflict is searched for primarily at a non-military centres of gravity.
Traditional lines of order and responsibilities are being challenged through operations against specific vulnerabilities of the opponent in the shadow of interfaces.
Through combination of different concepts, methods and means „new” forms of warfare and fighting evolve.

Special Forces as Military Observers in Modern Combat

September 19, 2016

Special Forces as Military Observers in Modern Combat by Captain Rick Chersicla, Modern War Institute

An Army Special Forces Officer, having been embedded with a Ukrainian infantry company only days earlier, arrives at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, to give a presentation to a conventional Army brigade preparing for a rotation to Europe. He lectures on the latest anti-tank tactics and counter-drone techniques being used against Russian proxy forces. Across the country, an experienced special operations Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) briefs members of the airborne community at Fort Bragg on the what he observed alongside French paratroopers in Mali, following up on the secure teleconferences that occurred previously while he was still in Africa. These scenarios are hypothetical, but plausible. The situations described are examples of “what could be,” if Special Operations Forces (SOF) were used as military observers in modern combat.

Once a widely practiced tradition, professional soldiers are no longer commonly embedded as official military observers during war. This discontinuation can be attributed to reasons ranging from risk aversion, to feasibility, to military culture. An overview of the insights (and the overlooked, potential indicators) from military observers during the last two centuries indicates that modern militaries may be denying themselves an opportunity for critical insight. By embedding officially sanctioned and uniformed observers with belligerents, countries have the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of conflict without being actively engaged in combat. The networked nature of modern militaries means that reports, pictures and videos can be beamed across the planet in near-real time. Special Operations Forces (SOF) are the best candidates to fulfill this overlooked, but not obsolete, practice.

Before expanding on why SOF can best fulfill this role, a better explanation of how military observers can contribute to increased effectiveness and preparation for future conflict must be offered…

THE GHOSTS OF SOVIETS PAST: UNEARTHING THE MEMORY OF OCCUPATION IN ESTONIA

SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

Editor’s note: In December 2015, two Army intelligence officers set out on a trip to explore the mysterious remnants of the Soviet Union in the Baltic States. This article is the third in a series detailing their journey (Read parts one and two at War on the Rocks).

“Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet.”

The opening lines from Adele’s hit song suddenly came on the car radio after a long stretch of Slavic folk music. It was minutes before midnight, and a detour along our northbound route through the Eastern Baltics had led us straight toward a Russian border crossing. Slightly delirious from hours of driving, we saw an opportunity for amusement and began to sing along to the eerily timed lyrics, attempting to outdo each other with impressions of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. The rows of stadium lights leading to the crossing cast an uneasy glow across the otherwise dark Estonian countryside. Briefly dismounting for an impromptu photo-op, we continued on to the next chapter of our next Baltic journey: Narva, a city transformed entirely by the Soviet period.

23 September 2016

***Pak Terror in Uri-What needs to be done?

By Bhaskar Roy
22 Sep , 2016

The Pakistan-based terrorist strike on an Indian army camp in Uri, Kashmir in the early hours of September 18, has put enormous pressure on Prime Minister Modi to retaliate. Seventeen Indian soldiers were martyred and around thirty injured, some of them critically.

A distinctive element of this attack were the arms and munitions the terrorists used. Apart from AK-47 rifles that Pakistani terrorists normally use, they had grenade launchers and incendiary munitions containing highly flammable white phosphorus, which causes devastating fires .The Indian soldiers who were sleeping at that time were burnt to death as their tents and POL dumps caught fire. The arms and ammunition recovered after the terrorists were eliminated revealed Pakistan ordnance factory markings on them. Most of these lethal weapons are used in actual war and are not available in Pakistan’s arms bazaars .Only the Pakistani army controls access to them.

Initial investigations concluded that the terrorist organization that conducted the operation was the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM).The January 2016 attack on the Indian airbase in Pathankot, near the Pak border was carried out by the JEM too. India has been trying to list JEM chief Masood Azhar an international terrorist in the United Nations Committee, but China has put a “hold” on it on “technical” grounds. China’s advice to India semi-officially is to talk to Pakistan, and if Pakistan agrees with the Indian demand, Beijing would have no problem!

A fabulous proposition from China! Aspiring to be a great world power China claims to be a responsible player in the global arena. China shouts from the roof-tops that it is fighting against the “three evils” (separatism, religious extremism, terrorism), and yet supports terrorism that plagues a neighbour but not itself. Sooner rather than later, the Chinese will realize that what goes around comes around. Religious extremist groups such as the al-Qaeda, Islamic State and others are maintaining a log-book of the Chinese establishment’s atrocities against their Muslim citizens. If they cannot hit inside China they will hit the Chinese outside China. And this is beginning to happen.

*** What after Uri attack?

By K.N. Pandita
22 Sep , 2016

All five permanent members of Security Council have condemned the attack on Uri army camp. However, their language is not the same and condemnation messages are carefully worded. For example, China has issued a subtle warning that the CPEC should not meet with any damage. 

Uri attack has happened because Kashmir traitors had begun lambasting Pakistan for her cowardice of not keeping the promise made to the fidayeen of launching massive attack on Kashmir once internal disruption and subversion reached its climax in the valley. Even China, keeping close eye on developments in the valley, was critical of Pakistan for letting Kashmiri traitors down. That is why China, the lone P-5 member, opposed designating Hafiz Saeed of LeT by the Security Council. The epicenter of Kashmir imbroglio has shifted to Beijing after Pakistan found her proxy war in Kashmir was turning a damp squib.

No doubt, the death of 18 soldiers is shocking and agonizing. However, it is not the one that endangers world peace. Moreover, the soldiers are from the Third World. Therefore, in the eyes of western countries, lip service is more than sufficient that India should expect. They will make U-turn if India strikes back. Be clear about it.

Five meetings of top political, military and security brass of the country have been held and Uri attack deliberated upon. One of these was chaired by the Prime Minister. It reflects sense of seriousness and urgency, definitely different from what we have seen in the past.

Pakistan is desperate that India should retaliate militarily. The attack was well timed to synchronize with the UN General Assembly meeting in NY. If India retaliated militarily and massively, Pakistan would find opportunity ripe to shed tears of feigned victimhood so that GA absolves her of terrorist state tag.

*** The Silent Chinese Invasion

By Bhaskar Dutta Baruah

22 Sep , 2016

In the 1950’s the People’s Republic of China upped its ante for occupying Tibet. In the year 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama escaped from his land and the Chinese occupation of Tibet was ‘complete’.

Besides getting a big boost in its territorial expanse, access to SE Asia and mastery over the huge natural resources of Tibet, China gained control over forty-six per cent of the world’s population (as per current figures), who depend upon rivers originating in Tibet – these rivers include the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween and Mekong.

China’s ambitious plans of becoming a major world power started with this occupation, which the world ignored as an “internal matter”, without realising that it was soon going to be changed in many ways…

China’s ambitious plans of becoming a major world power started with this occupation, which the world ignored as an “internal matter”, without realising that it was soon going to be changed in many ways by this development and these changes started with India’s sensitive frontier regions.

Since the 1960s, China’s unprecedented progress in all tangible spheres like industry, trade, power generation, cultural propaganda etc, have not been in the interest or safeguards of the world. It has adopted a multi-pronged approach towards world domination, something like what the USA had adopted much earlier, but India (especially the northeast and J&K) has much to fear from the policies and demands of this stealthy and overpopulated neighbour controlling our water sources.

Water As A Weapon

Uri: Signals & lessons

Patralekha Chatterjee

Of what use are expensive fighter planes and submarines and state-of-the art armoury if we can’t provide basic protection to our soldiers? This is the lesson of Uri we must not forget.

There are many ways you can react to the dastardly terrorist attack on the Army camp in Uri, close to the Line of Control with Pakistan. Personally, the one image that brought home the human toll of terror was the teardrop rolling down the cheeks of one of the three daughters of slain soldier Naik Sunil Kumar Vidyarthi, among the 18 killed in the pre-dawn attack.

That image of the young girl who had just lost her father knocked one in the jaw. But the three sisters did not let grief immobilise them. Along with their classmates, they headed towards school and took their first semester examinations. That is what their father would have wanted them to do, they said.

This is what living with terrorism means.

Since the attack on the Uri Army camp, experts have spouted zillions of words on what India should do, can do and the pros and cons of each step. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is all set to take over the probe into the Uri attack. The discussions on prime time television will go on.

A pirouette on Pakistan

SUHASINI HAIDAR

Through every attack from across the border the government has flipped and flopped. Until India builds a coherence in its own strategy, it will continue to face such challenges from Pakistan
In February this year, shortly after the attack in Pampore, Jammu and Kashmir, a diplomat belonging to a ‘friendly’ country delicately asked an unusual question. His Foreign Ministry headquarters were asking if they should send a message condemning the terrorist attack in which three Army men, two Central Reserve Police Force personnel and a civilian had been killed in a siege which bore resemblance to the Pathankot attack a month before. The problem, he explained, was that the Indian government itself was making no statements on the incident, and he wasn’t sure if statements of support were welcome or not. A few days after the Pampore incident on February 20, the Ministry of External Affairs had sought to play it down, saying only that the matter was “still being investigated”. Eventually, the Pampore incident, despite the obvious strains of evidence linking it to Pakistan-based groups that officials on the ground pointed to, was buried. At the time, the Indian and Pakistani National Security Advisers (NSAs) were still talking to each other “regularly”, said the government, and a Pakistani investigation team was coming to Pathankot airbase to survey evidence.

It is only now, after the Uri tragedy of September 18, that India has brought up the number of attacks and attempted infiltrations across the Line of Control (LoC) this year. “Seventeen such attempts have been interdicted at or around the LoC, resulting in the elimination of 31 terrorists and preventing their intended acts of terrorism,” Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar told Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit when he summoned him on Wednesday. In fact, there have also been more than 20 attacks on security force installations in Jammu and Kashmir in the past two years, including the Pampore attack; another 15 were foiled.

India-US: National Discourse Needed On LEMOA – Analysis

By N Sathiya Moorthy*
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

The India-US LEMOA – abbreviation for ‘Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement’ – has triggered enough and more controversies in this country even before the proverbial ink had dried and the agreement itself is tested on the ground. It however looks as if the Modi government could have discussed it inside and/or outside Parliament, to arrive at a ‘national consensus’, with the medium and long-term future of the agreement in mind.

There are no free lunches in international politics. LEMOA is thus a ‘fair’ exchange for the US backing India on civil nuclear deal. It is anybody’s guess if and why the Manmohan Singh government sought and obtained ‘national consensus’ on the defence agreement. There was open opposition to the nuclear deal, and the Left parties withdrew support to United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-I on this score. It does not mean that the present-day government should not have had a transparent deal of the LEMOA kind.

Unlike all predecessors, the Modi leadership swears by transparency in all dealings, especially on the defence and strategic fronts. The government has promised to present LEMOA to parliament and the people of this country, post facto. If the government is convinced that LEMOA is only about logistics support and exchanges of a non-combatant kind, there is no justification for such pre-signature secrecy.

Reprisal For Uri Attack: At Time And Place Of Indian Choosing – Analysis

By Cecil Victor*
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

In the clamour for “befitting reply” to Pakistan for the Uri attack, the Indian Army Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) has said that it will come at the time and place of our choosing. Good and sensible because Pakistan did not plan the attack without taking into account and making preparations for an immediate Indian response. India has refused to walk into the trap.

First the timing of the reprisals. September is Pakistan’s season of madness. All its major operations against India have occurred in and around this month in the hope that the issue will, once again, be internationalized during the meetings of the UN General Assembly which happen in September. By holding its hand, India has already set in motion a diplomatic offensive that has evoked encouraging results. The most gratifying is the cancellation of the joint military operations between Russia and Pakistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, or what Pakistan calls ‘Azad Kashmir’. Let us wait and see how many nations support Pakistan in defending the indefensible.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has raised the Uri attack with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but Indians would like to see what action America takes and what exactly would the spirit of the recently signed Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) between India and the US hold. We must not lose sight of the fact that by its brainless or very diabolically calculated manoeuvres in Iraq, Washington has created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Ditto by Britain and France in Libya. The former is a threat to the whole stretch from the Mediterranean to the Pacific and the Al Shabab/Boko Haram/ISIS combine is already in full swing along the eastern seaboard of the African continent.

Post-Uri Attack: Coordination Between India, Iran And Afghanistan Needed To Cut Pakistan To Size – OpEd

By Lt Gen P. C. Katoch
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

The slanging match at UN General Assembly (UNGA) is already underway. Pakistan has already accused India of stage managing the terrorist attack in Uri to divert attention from Kashmir. And this is not the first time Pakistan has displayed such brazenness. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will go hyper to talk about Indian atrocities in Kashmir and need for plebiscite in accordance with the 1948 UN Resolution on Kashmir. The world is perhaps unaware that: one, the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was legally ceded to India in 1947; two, the said UN resolution marked Pakistan as aggressor and that is why Pakistan was required to withdraw its forces from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK); three, issue of plebiscite is dead because Pakistan has deliberately changed the demography of PoK and the 1972 India-Pakistan Shimla Agreement made the UN resolution redundant; four, result of the first ever poll on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC ) in J&K conducted by Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), UK in conjunction with King’s College during 2009-2010 brought out that 98% of people in J&K do not wish to be part of Pakistan and 50% of people in PoK do not wish to remain with Pakistan; five, Pakistan has been waging a proxy war in J&K and inducing Wahabism but only 15% population on 7% territory of J&K is affected, and; six, pellet gun casualties in J&K are nothing compared to the aerial and artillery bombardment and genocide that Pakistan has been doing in Baluchistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The Uri terrorist attack was masterminded by Pakistan through Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists surprising the army in the early hours of the morning, lobbing incendiary grenades and then spraying bullets, some of the grenades setting the diesel dump on fire. 19 soldiers are already reported dead and some 30 injured. 13 of those reportedly killed were in two tents that caught fire. The four terrorists, all foreigners, were eventually gunned down. All four were carrying items with Pakistani markings including map, GPS, explosives (RDX and TNT), a matrix sheet of codes and notes in Pashto besides AK 47 rifles and under-barrel grenade launchers. This is not the first time that Pakistan has used JeM to attack India.

Kashmir Unrest: Indian State Needs To Understand Reality Of Everyday Resistance – OpEd

By Reeta Tremblay*
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

Spiralling unrest has continued in the Kashmir Valley since the July 8 killing of the home-grown Hizbul commander Burhan Wani by the security forces. More than 75 people have been killed and about 15,000 people—some two-thirds civilians—have been injured (official estimates are 62 killed, of which only 2 security forces personnel; with 7,550 civilians and 5,560 security personnel injured). More than 500 people have lost their eyesight as a result of the short-range firing of pellet guns by the security forces used in handling large-scale mass protests and stone pelleting by young men.

Never before has the Valley seen such unrelenting violence, literally on a daily basis. And never before has the Valley witnessed Kashmiri people from all walks of life and from every corner (in all its ten districts) united against the actions of the security forces and united in expressing demands for ‘azadi’ (freedom). Public expression of grief at the death and injury of their loved ones has been met with anger and frustration by both the Indian and the state governments, including the state police. City streets have become the sites for contestation between the security forces and the resisting Kashmiris on almost on a daily basis.

Day-to-day living has been interrupted by the unrelenting imposition of curfews, by restrictions on mobility and communication including the usage of mobile phones, internet services and by the control over information through the censorship of press (the latter, however, short-lived due to widespread national and international condemnation). With the closure of all educational institutions, children have been witnesses to the incessant violence and grief. The images of people with pellet gun injuries and the frequently resulting loss of vision will remain etched in the memories of this new generation, adding to the previous multiple sets of memories of what Kashmiris perceive as their state of subjugation, both political and religious. The 2008 Amaranth land row and 2010 mass unrest with 112 civilians killed are still fresh in their minds. And, indeed, these memories have been instrumental in making Kashmiri Muslims become increasingly aware of the hegemonic forces, thereby enlarging the possibilities for an active and continuing resistance against the State.

The End of the Saga: From Toofanis to Rafale

By Claude Arpi
21 Sep , 2016

According to PTI, Jean Yves Le Drian, French Defence Minister will land in Delhi on September 22.

He will be accompanied by the CEOs of Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA (and Safran?) to seal the 7.87 billion Euros deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets.

PTI says: “Defence sources said if all goes well, the Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) will be signed on September 23.”

Apparently the cost, offsets and service details have been finalised and work is progressing on the IGA. A ‘working team’ from France is in Delhi “with their own translators are going through the contract, running into several thousand pages, with their Indian counterparts.”

It is the end of a long saga which started in 2001.

On this occasion on the conclusion of The Deal, I published below a cable sent by H.S. Malik, the Indian Ambassador to France on October 26, 1953.

The cable is addressed to the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and relates to the sales of Ouragans (Toofanis in India) aircrafts to India.

The planes were sold to India …by Dassault.

One should mention that at the time, the relations were then very tense between France and India over the French Settlements of Pondicherry, Yanaon, Mahe and Karikal.

Here is Ambassador Malik’s message.

It’s time to beat Pakistan at its own game – but India must keep its own hands clean



The task on hand is neither to defeat Pakistan nor embrace it – but to manage it.Image credit: AFP. 

For the present, then, the government seems to have decided to undertake only non-military action against Pakistan. Speaking on behalf of the government which was involved in extensive consultations throughout Monday, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that the United Nations should take up the issue and that the time had come for the world body to declare Pakistan a terrorist state.

Of course, there is some rhetoric here since designating specific countries as “state sponsors” of terrorism is a US national policy, not something that other countries follow or accept. The UN only designates entities and individuals, as it has done in the case of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed.
Fourth-generation warfare

By now it should be clear that dealing with Pakistani attacks like the one in Uri will not be a simple task. Military options are attractive, but very dangerous because of the fear that they could a) escalate to nuclear war if our strikes hit the Pakistani heartland of Punjab, or b) be insufficient to influence Pakistan to shut down its jihad machine if they are confined to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. At the end of the day, we need to understand that the task on hand is neither to defeat Pakistan nor embrace it – but to manage it in a manner that it does not derail our primary national goal – transforming the economic life of the country and its hundreds of millions of poor people.

This is where hybrid warfare comes in. Essentially it means the blending of conventional warfare with irregular warfare. But its more interesting variants include cyber warfare, lawfare and diplomatic warfare. Another term for it is fourth-generation warfare.

'Uri won't lead India to undertake major military action'

September 21, 2016


'As outrageous as the attack was, it was against a military installation in Kashmir, not a civilian target in the heartland.'

'So, for India to react disproportionately would be to invite further damage that would be much greater than that which occurred on Sunday.'

'Diplomatic isolation of Pakistan, including by having it recognised as a State-sponsor of terrorism, may not satisfy the crowd, but it will deeply affront Pakistan and add leverage against it, and will come with none of the risks that war could bring.'

IMAGE: Soldiers search for terrorists in Lachipora in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir, September 20, 2016. Photograph: Umar Ganie

'If Indian armed forces entered Pakistan and succeeded in inflicting major damage on the Pakistani army and occupied territory in the Pakistani heartland,' says Dr George Perkovich, 'there is reason to think the Pakistani military would use some nuclear weapons against the incoming Indian forces to compel India to stop.'

Testifying before the United States Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces on February 25 last year, Dr George Perkovich, arguably the world's leading expert on nuclear politics in South Asia, warned that a Pakistan-inspired terrorist attack in India could provoke an Indian military retaliation and in turn provoke a Pakistani nuclear response.

Pakistan Army Chiefs’ Adventurism 2016 And India’s Options – Analysis

By Dr Subhash Kapila 
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

Pakistan Army Chiefs have compulsively resorted to Kashmir-centric military adventurism against India based on flawed and misconceived assessments on Kashmir Valley being ripe for secession from India and a misreading of firmness of resolve of Indian political leaders in responding to their military adventurism.

The Pakistan Army supported and facilitated terrorist attacks against the Indian Army have increased for over a year now during the incumbency of the General Raheel Sharif, the present Pakistan Army Chief due to retire in November 2016. In case of General Raheel Sharif what requires to be noted is that his adventurism is not confined only to military adventurism against India but also extended to political adventurism in Pakistan’s domestic politics. For all practical purposes, he had carried out a ‘soft coup’ against Pakistan’s duly elected PM Nawaz—reflected in one of my papers of that time. Having carved a larger than life domestic political image with his disputable counter-terrorism offensive in frontier regions, General Raheel Sharif seems to be having second thoughts on living upto his January 2016 public announcement that he will not seek extension. What better way to get out of his commitment than to escalate tensions with India and thereby facilitating an extension to be thrust on him. Be as it may, what is of concern to India as to what impelled the Pakistan Army Chief to indulge in conflict-escalation with Kashmir Valley-centric contours?

Afghanistan: A Long Way From Anywhere – Analysis

SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

Afghanistan has been teetering at the edge of a precipice ever since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001. The situation has become further precarious, if such a thing is possible at all, after the current President Ashraf Ghani took over the reins of government two years back.

The embattled nation has been in a state of persistent turmoil for the past four decades, after the Soviet Union’s invasion in 1979. For the first ten years after that invasion, the country was engulfed in a US-sponsored/supported proxy war, fought by several groups of Islamists, which lasted till the Soviet withdrawal in 1988-89. The Islamist groups that had successfully pushed the Soviet Union out almost immediately started to fight each other to grab power and form the government. The result was that the nation descended into further chaos and became unstable. A power vacuum was created in the centre with no group able to deliver any semblance of governance. Into this chaos stepped the Taliban with their version of puritanical Islam and the urge to take control of the nation.

The Taliban, an Arabic word meaning student, were mainly resident in the Islamic seminaries established on the Pakistan side of the Afghan-Pakistan border. Their encroachment into Afghanistan was gradual, done with the direct aid of the Pakistan Army. In 1996, the Taliban took control of the entire country, establishing and ruling the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from then to 2001. During this period Osama bin Laden and his extremist group al Qaeda were allowed to establish themselves in the country, from where they master minded the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in 2001. This led to the US-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan that, in collaboration with the Northern Alliance group dethroned the Taliban and pushed them out of the country. This was punishment for support and sanctuary that was provided to al Qaeda. The US installed a new government in Kabul and almost immediately the Taliban commenced a virulent insurgency that has continued ever since.
Politically Influenced Policy Shifts

Pakistan’s Terrorism: A Case Of Dangerous Psychological Disorder? – Analysis

By Bhaskar Roy* 
SEPTEMBER 20, 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.