25 April 2014

Problem-creating more than problem-solving

Friday, 25 April 2014 | G Parthasarathy

The US is India's most important and largest trading partner. Annual trade in goods and services is $120 billion. But this relationship is now facing challenges from threats of sanctions and from non-trade areas

Faced with growing domestic challenges from an assertive Republican Party, US President Barack Obama also faces a credibility deficit in his conduct of foreign and security policies. He is widely depicted domestically as being “weak” on issues of national security and foreign policy. The insensitive and transactional handling of relations with India is a symbol of the malaise which afflicts his second term as President. In fairness, allegations of his being “weak” and “indecisive”, are somewhat uncharitable. He faces accusations that he should have resorted to military force in Syria and beefed up the Nato alliance after the Russian actions in Crimea. He is also accused of being “weak” and vacillating in the face of Chinese military pressures against allies like Japan, the Philippines and South Korea. But, at the same time, he cannot ignore public weariness at recent military misadventures and large losses of American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a larger perspective, the American establishment has yet to come to terms with the reality that unlike in the years immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world order is today more democratised and no longer unipolar. American military involvement in Syria would have been counter-productive and resulted in a takeover of the country by Al Qaeda-linked Salafi extremists. Mr Obama acted wisely by listening to Russian advice on the subject, but then sought to undermine Russian influence in Ukraine, resorting to not-so-covert and clumsy means. He only found that while Right-wing Ukrainian mobs could forcibly takeover the capital Kiev, they would inevitably provoke President Vladimir Putin to retaliate in the Russian-dominated eastern Ukraine. The reintegration of Crimea with the Russian Federation and the takeover of cities in eastern Ukraine with large Russian populations, by armed Russian resistance inevitably followed. Moreover, Americans constantly threatening sanctions nowadays sound like the boy who cried ‘wolf’ too often!

Similar bungling in dealing with China’s growing assertiveness has cost the Obama Administration dearly, both domestically and internationally. After objecting to China’s unilateral declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone, in violation of international norms, the Obama Administration meekly asked all its civilian airlines to observe Chinese demands on the ADIZ. Shockingly, this came just after Japan and South Korea refused to fall in line with Chinese demands. Moreover, while Tokyo has reacted strongly to Chinese transgressions of international law close to the disputed Senkaku Islands, which have been controlled by Japan since 1895, the US has spent time on counselling ‘restraint’ on Japan and nitpicking on issues pertaining to the Yasukuni Shrine.

Nuclear normalcy


NUCLEAR weapons raise many questions and provide few answers. Can Pakistan become a normal state possessing nuclear weapons? How can this aspirational goal be translated into reality? And what is the best way to codify ‘nuclear normal’?

The George W. Bush administration ran interference for India to join the nuclear club by promoting a civil-nuclear agreement which the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) approved. Is this route available to Pakistan, as well?

An important new book by Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London proposes a path to nuclear normalcy for Pakistan. The author is a careful, respected chronicler of proliferation, so his recommendations carry weight. He reasons that Pakistan’s gravest nuclear challenge is its competition with India, and that by signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and by stopping production of bomb-making fissile material, this competition will be tamed. In return for Pakistan’s help, the international community would treat nuclear-armed Pakistan as a ‘normal’ state.

This logic chain is sound, but it rests on questionable assumptions. These treaties could certainly change Pakistan’s outlier status, but many Pakistanis don’t think they advance national security. And how can Pakistan be considered ‘normal’ when the writ of the state shrinks while its stockpiles of weapons and fissile material grow?

Treaties would no doubt help defuse Pakistan’s nuclear competition with India if both countries were willing to sign up. But neither is ready to close the door permanently on nuclear testing, and because they aren’t sure how many nuclear weapons they need. The problem is circular: Treaties can help with security, but powerful domestic constituencies don’t feel secure enough to sign up.

New Delhi will compete harder in the years ahead, which raises the question of whether Pakistan’s decision-makers will, as well, or decide instead that they have enough nuclear firepower to protect against India. The biggest existential threat to Pakistan at present, as noted by civilian and military leaders, is violent extremist groups, not India. Nuclear weapons and fissile material are no help with internal security, and if protection of these crown jewels is not completely foolproof, they could be turned against civil and military authority.

THE WEST STRIKES BACK - The international media’s approach to Modi is an eye-opener



Earlier this week, the film-maker, Mahesh Bhatt, referred to an old advertisement, which used to claim that four out of every five doctors recommended a particular brand of Aspirin. “I want to hear what the fifth doctor has to say,” said Bhatt, with passionate intensity. The Bollywood celebrity was, of course, alluding to the ongoing election campaign, in which opinion polls suggest that Indian voters are inclined to prefer Brand Narendra Modi over the competition. Bhatt, needless to say, is not a Modi supporter, but was asserting his right to go his own way. 

Doubtless, he had a point. It would be a sad day for democracy if the only voices heard in the public domain were one-sided and reflective of majority opinion. Mercifully, that is not the case in India. On the contrary, we are confronted with the bizarre situation of the intellectual establishment being dominated by the opinions of the dissidents. It is not that the voices of the so-called ‘moral majority’ have been driven underground, as happens in crude dictatorships. It is just that a small group has such a stranglehold over the levers of intellectual power that dominant sentiment is either deemed to be non-respectable or intimidated into occupying the fringe space reserved for contrarians. A thorough content analysis of the media (both print and electronic) for the past six months may be able to identify the quantum of bias. However, it is very hard to shake off the impression that the big guns have chosen to direct their fire at Modi. 

The international media’s approach has been an eye-opener. Earthy wisdom would have us believe that what The Economist recommends to the Indian voter is going to have zero impact on the voting classes. At best, it could be a one-day talking point among bankers and diplomats and, at worst, was calculated to raise nationalist hackles. However, when adverse comments on a Modi-led India become the theme song of almost all the ‘quality’ publications of the West that can be bothered to devote editorial space to the world’s largest festival of democracy, the group-think is bound to have some effect. 

Chinese takeaway: Obama’s pivot

C. Raja Mohan | April 25, 2014 

Barack Obama might have a hard time convincing the region that his confrontation with Russia over Ukraine does not further undermine his much-touted pivot to Asia. 

Three years later, Asian allies of the US are worried that America may not be able to sustain the pivot to the region because of financial difficulties. 

As he swings through Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia this week, US President Barack Obama might have a hard time convincing the region that his confrontation with Russia over Ukraine does not further undermine his much-touted pivot to Asia. When Obama outlined the policy of rebalancing to Asia in late 2011, America’s regional allies were enthused and China was deeply concerned. 

Three years later, Asian allies of the US are worried that America may not be able to sustain the pivot to the region because of financial difficulties, lack of political will and preoccupation with the Middle East and Europe. As its power continues to grow, Beijing appears to be far more confident today that the bark of the US pivot to Asia might be worse than its bite. 

If Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state during Obama’s first term as president, was an active champion of the pivot to Asia, her successor John Kerry has been devoting most of his diplomatic energies to the Middle East peace process. Obama’s vacillations in Syria, too, tended to reinforce east Asian worries that America is in a mood of retrenchment. The unexpected crisis in Ukraine and the consequent tensions between the US and Russia have made matters worse. America’s inability to prevent the Russian annexation of Crimea in Ukraine has made many of China’s neighbours ask if Washington will acquiesce in the face of similar actions by Beijing in Asia. Many countries in Asia, including Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and India, are locked in intensifying territorial disputes with China. 

Obama’s strategic problem now is to reassure east Asian allies of the strength of American commitment to them without provoking an unwanted conflict between the US and China. To be sure, the Obama administration has cautioned China against forcibly changing the territorial status quo. At the same time, the US has until recently been unwilling to take sides in territorial disputes between China and its neighbours. Obama did extend guarded support to Japan on the territorial dispute with China during his visit to Tokyo. Obama has no desire to abandon US allies in Asia. But he is also deeply aware of the growing economic interdependence with China and the imperative of deeper political engagement with Beijing. If Obama tilts too far in either direction, he could shatter the increasingly fragile stability in Asia. 

Divided Flock 

The contradiction between deterring China from military adventures and reassuring Beijing’s neighbours is only one part of Obama’s problem. The other is the deepening division among US allies and friends in Asia. In north-east Asia, Obama is trying hard to bridge the differences between Japan and South Korea. The nationalism of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is generating deep anger, not only in China but also South Korea. In Southeast Asia, the ASEAN is increasingly divided in its responses to China’s territorial assertions in the South China Sea. Those countries that do not have territorial disputes with China seem unwilling to stand firmly with those who have. 

For its part, the US is stepping up defence engagement with the ASEAN both bilaterally and collectively. Earlier this month, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel convened the first-ever joint meeting with all the defence ministers of the ASEAN. During his visit to Manila, Obama is expected to announce agreements that will allow an increase in the US military presence in the Philippines. 

Eurasian Balance 

Obama’s simultaneous troubles in dealing with Russia in Europe and China in Asia underline the importance of seeing Eurasia as a single theatre. India can no longer afford to see Europe and Asia as separate realms. Delhi must come to terms with the strategic consequences of developments in one region of Eurasia for the other parts of what has long been known as the geopolitical heartland of the world.
As they stare down each other in Europe, both Washington and Moscow are looking for China’s support. As a result, they inadvertently help shift the Asian balance of power in Beijing’s favour. If they are convinced that no great power is willing or capable of balancing China, many Asian states might come to believe that strategic deference to Beijing is the only option they have. 

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


Urbanisation Where China’s future will happen

For the world’s sake, and its own, China needs to change the way it builds and runs its cities Apr 19th 2014 | From the print edition

“A GREAT city”, said Benjamin Disraeli, “…is the type of some great idea. Rome represents conquest; faith hovers over the towers of Jerusalem; and Athens embodies the pre-eminent quality of the antique world, art.” In building its cities, China’s officials have had only one great idea in mind: growth. That has brought huge benefits, and problems too. 

In the three decades since economic liberalisation began, China’s urban population has risen by more than 500m, the equivalent of America plus three Britains. China’s cities, already home to more than half the country’s people, are growing by roughly the population of Pennsylvania every year. By 2030 they will contain around a billion people—about 70% of China’s population, and perhaps an eighth of humanity. China’s fate, and that of the Communist Party, will be determined by the stability of its cities (see special report).

Much of what has happened is breathtakingly exciting. Shanghai, a drab communist-era sprawl with a few 19th-century relics until the 1990s, has been used as the cosmopolitan backdrop for a James Bond film. Chengdu, whose population has grown by 50% since 2000, boasts the world’s largest building: the New Century Global Centre, which includes a shopping mall and a 300-metre-long indoor artificial beach. Zhengzhou now claims the largest bullet-train station in the world: the $2.4 billion edifice and surrounding area covers the equivalent of 340 football pitches. China’s urbanites whizz from city to city at 300kph (186mph) on a bullet-train network that did not exist six years ago yet now is longer than all of Europe’s. By 2020 it will expand by another two-thirds, or 7,000km (4,300 miles), and every city with a population of 500,000 or more will be connected to it. 

Cracks in the façade 

Yet the model of pell-mell urbanisation is breaking down. Even the government recognises this. In March the prime minister, Li Keqiang, described the noxious smog that shrouds China’s cities as a “red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development”. The World Bank and a Chinese government think-tank have just produced a 544-page report on urban China. It praises China for avoiding ills common in the developing world such as urban poverty, squalor and unemployment. But it says that “strains are starting to show” and that the model is “running out of steam”. 

Japan Navy chief’s message for new Indian govt

Apr 24, 2014
By Ananth Krishnan 

Admiral Kawano wants India to build closer ties with Japan

The new government that will take charge in New Delhi next month has been given a clear message from Japan’s top-most naval official: Tokyo hopes the Indian political establishment – which under two terms of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has generally been cautious on boosting military ties with Japan keeping China’s concerns in mind– will do “much more” to build closer relations.

Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, Chief of Staff of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), said his country has been “wanting very much” to re-join the bilateral Malabar sea exercises between the United States and India. Japan was last invited to join the exercise in 2007, but has subsequently been kept out after China protested the three-way exercises and suggested they were aimed at Beijing.

“We have been wanting very much to join the Malabar sea exercises, with United States and India,” Admiral Kawano said. “As I understand, the Indian Navy is keen and willing. But Indian politics is very complicated,” he said, speaking to The Hindu.

Admiral Kawano was among top naval officials from the U.S., China, Canada, France and New Zealand present at a reception Tuesday evening on board India's missile frigate INS Shivalik, which is in this northeastern Chinese port city – the headquarters of the Chinese Navy’s North Sea Fleet – to participate in multilateral maritime exercises to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

“We very frequently hold exchanges with the Indian Navy, but we want to do much more,” Admiral Kawano said.

While he did not elaborate further, the Admiral appeared to be referencing the Indian government’s caution about going forward with the trilateral exercises. After a five-year hiatus, the Indian government told Japanese officials in January, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited New Delhi, that Japan would be included in exercises later this year. The change in stance comes as the UPA’s second-term comes to an end.

The Admiral’s comments about the “complicated” politics in New Delhi however suggested that from the Japanese point of view, there was still some uncertainty about how committed the Indian government was to the idea amid different prevailing views in the government.

Some officials in New Delhi acknowledge that the government may have been excessively cautious in this regard. The policy now, they say, is to actively develop and improve ties with both Japan and China. One observer noted how “tabled have turned” in the past decade, when Japan was initially focused on mending ties with China and lukewarm towards India’s proposals to enhance then-limited naval drills between coast guards.

But under Mr. Abe, ties with China have plummeted over disputed East China Sea islands and questions of wartime history.

Piracy and Floating Armouries in the Indian Ocean: Risk or a Solution?

23 April 2014 
Riddhi K Shah
Research Associate, National Maritime Foundation (NMF), New Delhi 

Rising trends in piracy in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Somalia, over the last few years have forced States to adopt innovative and collaborative approaches as effective counter-measures.The once tabooed private military security companies (PMSCs) are an attractive option today, which has triggered a huge demand for it. As of 2013, close to 140 security firms reportedly operated in the Northern Indian Ocean, the bulk of which were conceived in 2011. 

The modus operandi is generally to place a team of four armed contractors on each ship for a specific length of the transit; these are generally passages that have been declared as High-Risk Areas (HRA). It is when these ships carrying armed PMSC contractors enter ports that the legal complications begin. Use and transport of arms are subject to international maritime conventions and treaties. Declaration of arms onboard before entry into territorial waters is mandated by several States, while a select few choose to completely debar weapons onboard any visiting vessel.

Regardless of the nation’s preference, carrying arms is accompanied by complex legalities and even high costs.To avoid this, floating armoury ships have sprouted across the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Their use allows companies to embark their personnel onboard ships from ports, who then pick up their equipment including weapons and ammunition from these ships outside the country’s territorial waters.Their use however is not limited to merely those passing by. Armed contractors can even seek food and lodging on board these ships until their next deployment.

Floating armouries rather than being a pragmatic and simple solution to the problems of the security companies have themselves morphed into another source of anxiety confronting the international community. Their existence on the ‘fringes of legality’ and frequent use of open registers coupled with a dearth of objective information has created reservations and even outright suspicion in States over these entities. Moreover, the active use of old ships to store large caches of weapons has sparked fears that they may be vulnerable to the very malefactors that they are intended to guard against – pirates.

India, after two harrowing incidents near its coastline, both of which involved States or private companies hiring out personnel for anti-piracy operations, perhaps has far more cause for concern. In 2009, the high-risk zone was shifted from 65 degrees to 78 degrees – all the way to the coast of Tamil Nadu. This development has two serious implications. First, it has resulted in merchant ships sailing closer to Indian shores, sometimes even in the territorial waters, as a safeguard against pirates. Many of them tend to carry armed guards on board, who like in the EnricaLexie case may mistake Indian fishermen for pirates or may conduct a rendezvous with floating armouries in Indian waters.

Challenges in dealing with US

Threats of sanctions on Indian exports

FACED with criticism from an assertive Republican Party, President Obama also faces a credibility deficit in his conduct of foreign and security policies. He is widely depicted as being “weak” on issues of national security and foreign policy. The insensitive handling of relations with India is symbolic of the malaise which afflicts his second term. In fairness, allegations of his being "weak" and “indecisive” are somewhat uncharitable. He faces accusations that he should have resorted to military force in Syria and beefed up the NATO alliance after the Russian actions in Crimea. He is also accused of being “weak” and vacillating in the face of Chinese military pressures against allies like Japan, the Philippines and South Korea. But at the same time, he cannot ignore public weariness at recent military misadventures and the loss of many American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a larger perspective, the American establishment has yet to come to terms with the reality that unlike the years immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world order today is more democratised and no longer unipolar. An American military involvement in Syria would have resulted in a takeover of the country by Al Qaida-linked Salafi extremists. Obama acted wisely by listening to Russian advice on the subject, but then sought to undermine Russian influence in Ukraine, resorting to not so covert and clumsy means. He found that while right wing Ukrainian mobs could forcibly take over the capital Kiev, they inevitably provoked President Putin to retaliate in the Russian-dominated eastern Ukraine. The reintegration of Crimea with the Russian federation and the takeover of cities in eastern Ukraine with large Russian populations by armed Russian resistance inevitably followed. Moreover, Americans constantly threatening sanctions nowadays sound reminiscent of the boy who cried “wolf” too often!

Similar bungling has characterised the Obama Administration's dealings with China’s growing assertiveness. After objecting to China's unilateral declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), the Obama Administration meekly asked all its civilian airlines to bow to Chinese demands on the ADIZ. Shockingly, this came just after Japan and South Korea refused to fall in line with the Chinese demand. Moreover, while Tokyo has reacted strongly to Chinese transgressions of international law close to the disputed Senkaku Islands, which have been controlled by Japan since 1895, the US has spent time on counselling "restraint" on Japan and nitpicking on issues pertaining to the Yasukuni shrine. 

The US has stood by silently as the Chinese have used force to militarily take over the Mischief Reef, located well within the Philippines Exclusive Zone and the Scarborough Shoal. With Indonesia now joining other affected ASEAN countries to challenge China's exaggerated claims on its maritime borders, American credibility, in the Asia Pacific, is being called into question. Relations with India have also entered into a tailspin in the second Obama Administration, after John Kerry took over as Secretary of State. In the days of Hillary Clinton the State Department engaged in a robust dialogue with India on the Asia-Pacific. Under Kerry's watch, this dialogue has been virtually discontinued. 


24 April 2014 | Claude Arpi

Let alone the people, even foreign policy experts in the country continue to gush over the ‘visionary’ preamble to the Panchsheel agreement between India and China, but gloss over the contents that damaged New Delhi

On April 29, India will ‘celebrate’ 60 years of the Panchsheel Agreement with China. But is there anything to celebrate? What JB Kripalani once called an “agreement born-in-sin”, is the worst blunder Jawaharlal Nehru ever committed. The 1962 border war was only a consequence of that original ‘sin’. Nehru is often eulogised for having introduced the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence into foreign policy; he shouldn’t be.

Several years ago, at a conference in an Indian university, the chief guest, a senior Indian diplomat who had served at the UN, pontificated on the inclusion of the Five Principles. He said that it was Nehru’s greatest gift to humanity. That gentleman probably had no clue about what the agreement really signified for India and Tibet. The Panchsheel was the last nail in the coffin of a 2000 year-old nation.

The signature of the agreement between India and China marked the tail-end of events set in motion by the entry of Chinese troops in Tibet in October 1950.

Signed after months of negotiation between New Delhi and Beijing, the agreement did not talk about ‘principles’, but buried India’s ancient cultural and economic links with Tibet. The objective of the ‘Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet region of China and India’, as its title indicates, was to regulate bilateral trade and the visit of Buddhist sites on both side of the Himalayas. It was a historic victory for Beijing, as for the first time, India, in the title itself, acknowledged that Tibet was merely a ‘region’ of China. Though the agreement only dealt with Tibet, the Lhasa regime was shamefully kept unaware of its content.

This put a legal end to Tibet’s existence as a distinct nation, with incalculable consequences for India and the entire Himalayan region.

Though the agreement itself lapsed in June 1962, India still pays dearly today, 60 years later. To give one example, the cultural and trade exchanges which existed for centuries between Tibet and India, are no more.

Unfortunately the Indian public, like the envoy quoted earlier, still remember the “visionary” preamble (the Five Principles) and have long forgotten the content.

The preamble too played a role in the destruction of the ancient Tibetan culture. It speaks of non-interference in the other’s affairs and respect for the neighbour’s territorial integrity. Since India had agreed (in the title itself) that Tibet was part of China, thereafter whatever happened inside Tibet ‘was none of India’s business’, as New Delhi was repeatedly told.

A spiritual civilisation was turned into a communist realm without the possibility of any legal resort. Simultaneously, the agreement opened the doors to China’s military control over the Roof of the World. The Machiavellian Zhou Enlai was of course delighted; he declared, “Let the Panchsheel shine like a sun over the universe”.

India in the United States: Economic Engagement in the 21st Century

An Interview with Vinod K. Jain
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By Sonia Luthra
April 23, 2014

The last decade has seen growing momentum in U.S.-India engagement in several areas. This includes bilateral economic relations, where the impact of Indian firms’ investments and operations in the United States has been increasing. According to a 2013 survey conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industries, Indian firms have cumulatively invested $17 billion in the United States—across sectors such as IT, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals—and created employment for over 81,000 people. With hundreds of Indian companies now operating in the United States, their overall economic impact is substantially greater. To learn more, NBR spoke with Vinod Jain, President and CEO of the India-U.S. World Affairs Institute, about the nature of India’s economic engagement with the United States, the contributions of Indian Americans and the Indian diaspora, and prospects for economic engagement to continue its upward trajectory. 

How has Indian investment in the United States changed over the past decade? 

Indian companies’ foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States has fluctuated over the last decade, partly as a result of the global financial crisis of 2008-10, though it has generally followed an upward trajectory. While India provides only a small portion of the total direct investment in the United States, it is one of the ten fastest-growing sources of inward FDI. According to the Reserve Bank of India, which approves foreign investments by Indian companies, the United States is among their top five FDI destinations. Firms typically make investments through greenfield projects or through mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Making a greenfield investment involves constructing new operational facilities from the ground up and creating new jobs, whereas investment via M&A is when a firm takes a controlling stake in an existing enterprise, which can involve saving jobs or even creating new ones. Indian firms made an average of $800 million in greenfield investments in United States each year during the last decade, with peak dollar investments occurring in 2008 and 2011. These investments created about 38,500 jobs in United States. The number of greenfield projects ranged from a low of 10 in 2005 to a high of 48 in 2013. The number of M&As by Indian firms in the United States rose from 17 in 2004 to 31 in 2005 and 63 in 2007, just before the global financial crisis hit. Indian firms made 34 M&A deals in the United States in 2010, 26 in 2011, 18 in 2012, and only 14 in 2013—reflecting a general slowdown in the India economy and the falling value of the rupee. 



The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was set up shortly after the 2005 quake that killed at least 87,000 people in northern Pakistan to act as the “implementing, coordinating and monitoring body” for disaster management.

What the government wanted was an NDMA that stands ready to pre-empt and respond to natural disasters as they occur. Did it get it? Opinions vary.

“Right now, we see problems with disaster management – and were just discussing why the drought and famine in Tharparkar had been allowed to occur despite the existence of the disaster prevention bodies,” Mushtaq Ahmed Jan, lecturer at Peshawar University’s Centre for Disaster Preparedness and Management told IRIN, blaming the problem on the Meteorological Office’s failure to predict low rainfall, followed by mismanagement at several levels.

Other experts echo this view. Disaster management in Pakistan has “not been very effective”, Abuturab Khan, assistant professor at the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, based in Abottabad, told IRIN. Khan was one of the authors of a report Natural hazards and disaster management in Pakistan produced in 2008 and published by the Munich Personal RePEc Archive.

“Disaster management aims to reduce, or avoid the potential losses from hazards, assure prompt and appropriate assistance to victims of disaster, and achieve rapid and effective recovery,” the report says. It questions Pakistan’s capacity to achieve this and says many flaws remain in delivering what people need in disasters of various kinds.

“These bodies lack coordination, expertise and suffer from poor governance,” Khan said. Since the 2005 disaster, landslides, earthquakes, droughts, cyclones and monsoon flooding have killed at least 4,000 people and displaced tens of millions.

But for Brig Kamran Zia, in charge of operations at the NDMA, the institution has come a long way in its short institutional history. “We have learnt a lot since we first began work,” he said, adding that the organization had “improved its capacity immensely”.

He said NDMA was a “very lean” organization, with limited staff and resources, but that despite these challenges, it had worked hard to improve training, and now had teams who had learned techniques for urban rescue and other hazards, and had been able to cope with recent disasters “very effectively” whenever it was called on to do so. “The learning process continues for us,” he said.

What Pakistan wants from India

April 23, 2014

TRANSITION: Pervez Musharraf's indictment reveals that the Pakistani military's undisputed dominance may be eroding, but transition to complete civilian supremacy may take a while. 

Election watchers in Pakistan realise that much would depend on the extent of the BJP’s mandate and who its allies would be in an expected coalition government

Pakistanis have been watching the election scene in India with considerable trepidation. The intellectual elite and some sections of the media are aware that détente has progressed better whenever strong leadership has existed in both countries. However, an almost visceral dislike of Narendra Modi seems to blur perspectives, not only on account of the 2002 Gujarat riots but also in expectation of a turn towards ultra-nationalism, accompanied by chest-thumping, anti-Pakistani belligerence and a revival of Hindutva politics.

Observing that the umbrella secular vote, normally spearheaded by the Congress, has come under severe strain mainly because of anti-incumbency, analysts question whether there will be a new articulation of ‘post-Nehruvian centrism,’ leading to an embrace of the unfettered market model of ‘Modinomics.’ Doubts have been raised over whether this will lead to exclusivism or provide a mask for religious supremacism. While acknowledging the impact of Indian Muslims as an aspirational community in at least 110 out of 543 Lok Sabha seats, they are depicted as fragilely trying to negotiate space between victimhood and tokenism, without benefitting adequately from opportunities for education, employment or material security.What India needs to understand

Pakistanis hope that decision-makers in the new Indian government would try to understand that Pakistan has changed in the last five years. As was observable in the 2013 election campaign, its parliamentary mainstream no longer claims to think obsessively about India. Democrats across the political spectrum in Pakistan want better regional co-operation in future, premised on mutually beneficial terms of trade, though they believe trade alone will not alter the baggage of the past.

There is a need to correctly assess the nuances of political transitions underway in Pakistan. These include the rise of a ‘nativised,’ right-of-centre bourgeoisie that occupies urban space, the emergence of newly empowered religio-political groups and a changing balance of power between institutions of state.

Civil-Military Equations in Pakistan: Que Sera Sera

24 April 2014 
D Suba Chandran
Director, IPCS 

During the last two weeks, there have been a series of statements and meetings highlighting a possible divide between the civilian leadership and the General Head Quarters (GHQ ). While the relationship between the two have never been cordial historically, the current round of tensions emanate from two ongoing political developments – the talks with the Taliban and the “treason” case against Gen Musharraf.

Though two meetings between the civilian and military leadership during the last one week seem to have defused the present tension, this is an issue that the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Army Chief Raheel Sharif have to deal with maturity along with understanding the current situation.

First, a short analysis of the trigger that seems to have affected the civil-military relations. It appears the Prime Minister cannot be faulted totally on General Musharraf’s treason case. True, Nawaz Sharif has an issue with him, for deposing him as the Prime Minister, jailing and subsequently exiling him. Sharif will always nurse that grudge against Musharraf.

But is the treason case, how much ever it appear as politically not expedient, to be blamed only on Nawaz Sharif? When Musharraf decided to return to Pakistan, he was well aware what he was getting into. In fact, if the news reports and other stories are to be believed, the former chief of army staff and Musharraf’s successor – General Kayani did advice him not to return. For want of any other phrase explain his decision, caught by the “Musharraf syndrome” of things that none can explain, he had decided to come back to Pakistan.

What did Musharraf have in mind when he landed in Karachi? Did he think that the entire Pakistan would come down to Airport and receive him as a new messiah and saviour who had come to rescue the people? Didn’t he realise there were enough cases against him, and that it would be a long drawn battle? Why did Musharraf decide to return, even against the advice of his own military? Obviously, he was not on a State visit. And he was returning more as a leader of a political party than the former military chief.

Unfortunately for Musharraf, people did not turn up to the Airport to receive as he thought, or as made to believe by the Musharaffites. In fact, the first thing that happened when he landed in Pakistan was the thinning down of the Musharaffites themselves. Equally unfortunate for Musharraf, the Supreme Court, then led by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the entire legal community turned hostile.

Learning from China: A Blueprint for the Future of Coal in Asia?

The surge in coal consumption in emerging Asia and how to mitigate the environmental impact
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An Interview with Armond Cohen 
By Jacqueline Koch 
April 21, 2014 

This April, NBR and the Slade Gorton International Policy Center, in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, will co-host the 2014 Pacific Energy Forum, focusing on “New Frontiers in Trans-Pacific Energy Trade,” in Seattle, Washington. The forum gathers high-level policymakers, industry leaders, and government representatives from across the Asia-Pacific region to explore shifting dynamics in the trans-Pacific energy trade and the challenge to help Asia meet its energy demand while safeguarding the environment. 

Coal will dominate China’s power landscape for decades to come and is increasing in Southeast Asia’s energy mix as well. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has reported that coal will replace natural gas as the dominant power-generating fuel in the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). At the same time, energy consumption in this region is expected to double in the next twenty years, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that coal will account for approximately 83% of electricity production in the Asia-Pacific by 2035. In advance of the 2014 Pacific Energy Forum, NBR spoke with Armond Cohen, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Clean Air Task Force, to explore the implications of coal’s growing role in the fuel mix of China and ASEAN countries—as well as India—and assess the tools and policy options available to reduce the environmental impacts. 

Why is coal growing rapidly in South and Southeast Asian countries? 

First and foremost, coal consumption is accelerating because of sheer power demand growth, combined with coal’s rapid scalability. China offers a key example. It is already the world’s largest coal consumer and has a coal power fleet that is two and half times the size of the United States’ fleet. China also expects to move another 100 million people from the countryside to the city in the next 12 years and grow its middle class by 200 million by 2035. Given these projections, China estimates electric demand to roughly double by 2030. Let’s also consider India, a nation of 1.2 billion people—four times the U.S. population—where the rapid growth of the middle class is also underway. It has only 211 gigawatts of installed electrical generating capacity, equivalent to approximately one-fifth of the capacity of the United States, and India is expected to triple its electric demand by 2030. 

Negotiating Asia’s Troubled Waters


WASHINGTON — The mounting tensions between Tokyo and Beijing over the small chain of islands in the East China Sea called the Senkaku by Japan and the Diaoyu by China have profound implications for United States interests and the future of Asia.

Both Tokyo and Washington can do more to reduce tensions, but the fundamental problem is China’s pattern of coercion against neighbors along its maritime borders. Any American plan to ease the strain between Japan and China should convince Beijing that coercion will no longer work — but that dialogue and confidence building measures might. 

The competing Japanese and Chinese claims to the islands, which are under Japanese control, are rooted in obscure historical documents and verbal understandings. Japan argues that China’s historical claims to the islands are revisionist, noting that Chinese officials never asserted sovereignty over the islands before 1971. Chinese officials say that by purchasing several of the islands in 2012 from private Japanese landowners, the Japanese government broke a tacit bilateral agreement dating from the 1970s to set the dispute aside.

Yet while each side says the other broke the status quo, China has been pressing its claim by increasing maritime patrols in the waters around the islands, embargoing strategic metal exports to Japan (in violation of international agreements), and expanding military operations around — and even through — the Japanese archipelago.

Maritime states from India to the Philippines are watching the friction between China and Japan with great concern. Beijing has used similar pressure tactics in disputes with those countries since the Central Military Commission approved a “Near Sea Doctrine” five years ago with the aim of asserting greater control over the waters of the East and South China Seas. The doctrine includes not only the sea, but also the air, as Beijing demonstrated last November when it announced an Air Defense Identification Zone over a range of small islands and waters in the East China Sea administered by Japan and South Korea.


Are China and India allies or enemies in the South Asian economy? Well, it seems they are both; working together in healthy and profitable partnerships while maintaining armies in the contested China-India borders. This article explains the paradoxical nature of the China-India relationship and its impact and implications for the smaller countries in South Asia and neighboring Southeast Asia.

The rise of China and India over the last two or three decades continues to make global news headlines. Competition between these two global powers in economic, political and diplomatic domains has garnered scholarly and media attention. Yet we know much less about China’s growing ties and contention with India that are also spreading across the South Asia subcontinent and beyond. As China-India trade has grown, India in 2006 opened the historical trade route, Nathula Pass, which had remained closed for almost 50 years as a result of a border war with China in 1962. Today in the presence of several persistently disputed border zones in South Asia (see Map 1), China is beginning to build dams on the rivers in the Tibetan Plateau, including the upper Brahmaputra (yarlung tsangpo or Yarlung River), which could impact populations living downstream in India and Bangladesh (see Map 1). China has taken over the construction of Gwadar Port in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, on the Arabian Sea. China has also begun building the Gwadar road corridor all the way north to Xinjiang.

These developments in South Asia are not unusual considering that China has expanded its trade ties with many developing countries, secured more energy supplies from them and built extensive transport and urban infrastructure (roads and municipal buildings) there in recent years.1 At first glance, China’s growing presence in South Asia is part and parcel of its global reach of economic activities. A closer look reveals distinctive regional challenges facing China in the presence and growth of India as a major geopolitical power. Unlike in any other world region, China has to contend with India, not so much in direct economic competition but rather in restricting the latter versus its long-time ally Pakistan, thus maintaining a rough balance of power in South Asia.2 This broad geopolitical concern shadows any moves of China and India and their impact in the region.

Container Shipping routes and Chinese Energy Import Routes

The following two graphics of container shipping routes and Chinese energy import routes once again highlight the crucial importance of the Malacca Strait to Chinese and global trade:


By M S Prathibha

China’s National People’s Congress in March 2014 announced that it would increase its defence budget to 808.23 billion yuan (132 billion dollars). In 2013, it was 720.2 billion (117 billion dollars) yuan amounting to an increase of 12. 2 per cent (See, Table 1). China does not release any more than the breakdown of expenditure at broad categories, complicating investigation about the priorities. However, it is possible to assess broadly its defence expenditure through statements from officials, news reports and white papers. The 2014 budget does not show any drastic increase and low compared to the GDP ratio. It however emphasises China’s shift to structural reforms for the military, in particular utilisation of defence spending towards boosting investment in training, weaponry and equipment.

China’s defence budget roughly covers personnel expenses renyuan shenghuo fei (military officers, civilian cadres, soldiers and employers wages, insurance, food and clothing); secondly, training and maintenance xunlian weite fei (troops training, college education, engineering facilities construction and maintenance, and everyday expenses); third, equipment expenses zhuangbei fei (weaponry and equipment research, testing, procurement, maintenance, transportation and storage). From 2013, China started emphasising on structural reforms and reorganisation for the military. The 2014 budget therefore stresses the shift towards training and investment in new high-technology weapons and equipment by encouraging more private enterprises to enter military procurement. In Chinese view, it would reduce reliance on foreign imports and boost defence industry and in turn, economic growth. The PLA Navy, Air Force, Army Aviation, Aerospace, and the PLA Second Artillery would receive more attention.

Xi Jinping vision for the PLA, the dictum of ‘fight war, win war’ (neng dazhang, da shengzhang), would provide the theoretical structure for China’s military construction. The General Staff Headquarters had identified Xi’s vision for as the fundamental goal that would drive military construction.1 This budget adheres to this policy, which underlines capability to win a war. The military would “develop new type of weapon equipment and strengthen military exercises” and “improve army informationalisation under deterrence and combat conditions”.2 Apart from equipment, the PLA Navy would receive more expenses for conducting exercises in the high seas.

Three Reasons Why Ukraine Matters for the U.S. Pivot to Asia

April 22, 2014

As with any presidency, Barack Obama's agenda has been heavily driven by external events. His landmark foreign policy initiative (if one doesn't count ending the two wars in the Middle East) was supposed to be the so-called pivot to Asia. Instead, events at home -- such as the government shutdown -- and abroad have repeatedly hijacked the White House's foreign policy agenda. But rather than bemoaning this, the president should now prioritize the Ukraine crisis in order to also rescue the Asia pivot.

This, of course, is a tough message for Obama to deliver to America's allies in Asia when he arrives in the region this week. Countries such as Japan and South Korea, who originally welcomed the pivot to Asia with open arms, have lately grown wearier about Washington's follow-through. They want to see a stronger security and political commitment from the United States.

These Asian allies may now worry that the Ukraine crisis will further jeopardize the U.S. role in the Asia-Pacific by consuming valuable time, energy and resources. Obama must therefore use some of his face time with Asian leaders to explain to them why they too have an interest in Washington focusing on Europe at the moment. In fact, there are several good reasons why doing so could be a good thing for the Asia pivot. Let's consider three of them.

First, and perhaps most obvious, the situation in Ukraine is still very tense and can easily take a turn for the worse. The most serious crisis since the Cold War, Ukraine illustrates that Europe is still far from "whole and free." Countries such as Moldova and Georgia or the Western Balkans may well be next in line for Putin. Unless the United States steps up its efforts, it could risk getting bogged down in potential future crises in the region. Asian allies should therefore welcome efforts to complete the European project once and for all.

Second, Washington must be deeply engaged politically on the other side of the Atlantic today to reassure NATO allies, as well as putting pressure on them to step up their own defense efforts. Allies such as Poland and the Baltic states are feeling particularly vulnerable at the moment. High level visits by top U.S. leaders and concrete steps to reinforce the American military presence there are already in play, and more may still come. How Washington responds to its allies in Europe could be seen as a litmus test for how it would support Asia-Pacific allies in need. Regional allies concerned with whether the U.S. still remains fully engaged to its alliance commitments should therefore favor strong U.S. reassurance measures in Europe. But they should also know that such efforts are not likely to significantly alter the overall trend toward downsizing the U.S. military footprint on the European continent -- something that is also reaffirmed by the new Quadrennial Defense Review.

Bad Idea of the Day: Bomb Syria to Save Ukraine

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
April 24, 2014 

It’s not every day that you see a writer assert that the way to solve a crisis in one country is to conduct military strikes in a different one. However, that is precisely the argument that Anne-Marie Slaughter makes [4] at Project Syndicate regarding Syria and Ukraine. According to Slaughter, the problem now is that Russian president Vladimir Putin feels as though he can act virtually without constraints in Ukraine. And so the answer is to use military force against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, as “shots fired by the US in Syria will echo loudly in Russia.” In her words: 

It is time for US President Barack Obama to demonstrate that he can order the offensive use of force in circumstances other than secret drone attacks or covert operations. The result will change the strategic calculus not only in Damascus, but also in Moscow. 

Leave aside the fact that Obama has done exactly that on more than one occasion: in the 2009 “surge” in Afghanistan, and in the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya. The more basic flaw is that there is no reason to think that bombing Syria would do anything to meaningfully change Putin’s calculus in Ukraine. Slaughter never even clearly describes the causal mechanism by which she thinks that it would. The closest that she comes is when she says: 

Putin may believe, as Western powers have repeatedly told their own citizens, that NATO forces will never risk the possibility of nuclear war by deploying in Ukraine. Perhaps not. But the Russian forces destabilizing eastern Ukraine wear no insignia. Mystery soldiers can fight on both sides. 

The argument appears to be that the point of striking Syria would be to try to convince Putin that the United States and its Western allies might actually be willing to send troops to Ukraine. There are two problems with this. First, a military campaign against Assad would be overwhelmingly unpopular with the U.S. public (based on the polling last fall), and it would serve to divert American attention and resources toward Syria. This would make the leadership in Washington even less inclined to take an aggressive stance in Ukraine, not more. 

Asia-Pacific Perspectives on the Ukraine Crisis


The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has reverberated throughout the global strategic landscape, including in the Asia-Pacific. Have Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the subsequent U.S. response caused countries in Asia to question the reliability of U.S. security guarantees and wonder whether U.S. rebalancing towards Asia can be sustained? Or are the dynamics in Asia and Europe vastly different, since U.S. commitments, interests, and influence in Asia are more substantial than what currently exists in Ukraine? 

In this roundtable, thought leaders and policy expects from key Asia-Pacific states comment on the crisis in Ukraine and the U.S. response to it. Contributing experts include Rory Medcalf (Lowy Institute for International Policy), Brahma Chellaney (Centre for Policy Research), Alexander Chieh-cheng Huang (Tamkang University), Tetsuo Kotani (Japan Institute of International Affairs), and Seong-hyon Lee (Stanford University). 

Download all five essays in PDF format or access them online below. 
3. Taiwan Is No Crimea, But...By Alexander Chieh-cheng Huang

By Seong-hyon Lee

How to navigate the East China Sea dispute between Japan and China

By Joseph Nye and Kevin Rudd, Published: April 19

Joseph Nye is a professor at Harvard and former dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Kevin Rudd was prime minister of Australia from 2007 to 2010 and again in 2013.

While the world focuses on Ukraine, ships and planes from Japan and China challenge each other almost every day near a few square miles of barren islets in the East China Sea that Japan calls the Senkaku and China calls the Diaoyu islands. This dangerous rivalry dates to the late 19th century, but the flare-up that led to widespread anti-Japan demonstrations in China in September 2012 began when the Japanese government purchased three of the tiny islets from their private Japanese owner. The issue is bound to arise during President Obama’s upcoming visit to Japan.

When the United States returned Okinawa to Japan in May 1972, the transfer included the disputed islets that the United States had administered after 1945. A few months later, whenChina and Japan normalized their relations in the aftermath of World War II, Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka asked Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai about the islands. Zhou replied that rather than let the dispute delay normalization, the issue should be left for later generations. Both countries maintained their claims to sovereignty over the islands.

For decades, this formula worked. Although Japan had administrative control, Chinese ships would occasionally enter Japanese waters to assert their legal position. When incidents occurred, Japan sometimes would detain the Chinese crew members but would soon release them. Exaggerated reports of undersea oil and gas reserves sometimes raised concerns, but as recently as 2008, the two countries agreed on a framework for joint development of disputed gas fields in the East China Sea.

It’s All About May 25

APRIL 22, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — The word “maidan” means “square” in Ukrainian and in Arabic. And the “Independence Maidan” of Kiev, like the “Tahrir Maidan” of Cairo, has been the scene of an awe-inspiring burst of democratic aspirations. The barricades of piled cobblestones, tires, wood beams and burned cars erected by Ukrainian revolutionaries are still there — indeed, it looks as if it could be the set of “Les Misérables” — and people still lay fresh flowers at the makeshift shrines for the more than 100 people killed in the Maidan by the old and now deposed regime here. Walking through it, though, I tried to explain to my host that, while I was incredibly impressed, a lot of Americans today have “Maidan fatigue” — too many dashed hopes for democracy in too many squares — from Afghanistan to Iran, Iraq to Egypt, Syria to Libya.

Get over it, Ukrainians tell me. Our revolution is different. There are real democratic roots here, real civil society institutions and the magnet of the European Union next door. With a little help, we can do this.

The more I learn here, the more I think they’re right. Something very consequential has happened here. In fact, I think the future of Ukraine is one of the most consequential foreign policy challenges of the Obama presidency because it will not only determine the future of Ukraine but of Russia.

It would have been nice if we could have forged a compromise with President Vladimir Putin of Russia that would have allowed Ukraine to gradually join the European Union and not threaten him. President Obama tried to find such a win-win formula. But Putin is not into win-win here. He is into win-lose. So he must lose, for the sake of Ukraine and Russia.

That won’t be a cakewalk. We and our European allies will have to overcome our fatigue, and Ukrainians will have to unite more than ever. The first test will come on May 25 when Ukraine holds presidential elections. Putin is working to prevent or discredit those elections by bombarding the more pro-Russian eastern Ukraine with propaganda that the Maidan movement was led by “fascists” and using his agents and hooded local thugs to keep the region in turmoil so people won’t vote.