26 May 2014

China: Can we reset ties?


May 26, 2014

Mohan Guruswamy

In the 52 years that have followed the debacle of 1962, little has changed. We do not seem to have as yet grasped the real and futile nature of the border dispute. It seems that to us country no longer means people, but land.

Many challenges face the Modi government. On the international arena the most urgent and the most doable is a settlement with China. The new government’s plans to vastly expand infrastructure with a hundred new and modern cities, a high-speed rail network, the clean-up of our rivers, and to make India an industrial nation instead of the services-oriented economy, it is going to entail an investment of the scale we have never imagined.

India has a propitious demographic window from now till about 2060 when it must transform itself into a modern and prosperous nation. After that the demographic situation will start turning adverse with an ageing population and an increasing dependency ratio. So not only is time money, but money is also time. The time is now and ours. But we need to look for credit to build our nation. Right now the only countries with the cash reserves to be bankers to India’s plans are China and Japan. China has reserves amounting to over $3.5 trillion and Japan has a little more than $1 trillion. India has to turn to both or either. Only they can lead to the fruition of our plans.
China is in a semi-adversarial relationship with the US, and even more so with Japan. Japan is its biggest trading partner. And the US is its biggest export market and gives it a trade surplus of about $200 billion each year. It is this trade surplus that has made China wealthy as King Croesus. But it has a problem too. Most of this cash horde sits in US banks or in US treasury bonds earning it between zero to one per cent a year. With the US dollar depreciating at about four per cent a year, this Chinese reserve will turn into dust in about 30 years.
The US also has a worrying habit of freezing reserves when the going gets hot. Iran has several hundred billions in frozen assets. With so many flashpoints, particularly the South China Sea and the Senkaku Islands disputes with Vietnam and Japan, the chances of the US raising the ante should not be rated low. The Chinese need to invest this money elsewhere to get them a rate of return and also benefit Chinese industries. Right now their options are few and poor. China cannot pull back this hoard into its domestic economy, as that will cause hyperinflation. It cannot let this hard-earned money, earned by severely exploiting its own working classes, languish either. It has to put it to work. It is no secret that China is interested in investing some of the hoard in India. India has always been a good place to invest and India has never defaulted on a loan ever.

Assessing the K-solution Progress possible if the pre-conditions are met

Gen VP Malik

A few days ago, S. K. Lambah, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Af-Pak Special Envoy, addressed a seminar organised by the University of Kashmir. He spoke about a seven-point (some media reports have condensed them into five points) J&K solution (K-solution) on which New Delhi and Islamabad have been working 'quietly' for many years. These points, according to him, are (1) No redrawing of the current territorial disposition in J&K (2) Free movement of people across the Line of Control (LoC) (3) Progressive removal of trade barriers in specified locally produced goods (4) End to hostility, violence and terrorism (5) Minimum deployment of military on both sides of the LoC (6) Self-governance on both sides, and (7) Respect for human rights and reintegration of militants into society.

The seven-point K-solution has not come as a surprise to India's strategic community. But since negotiations on this subject have been kept under wraps and have not been shared in political circles, the timing and place of its articulation, when the UPA-2 government was about to exit, surprised many. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had once stated that he was close to an ‘important breakthrough’ in the talks with Musharraf. Lambah’s repeated assertion that he was speaking in his personal capacity, therefore, convinced no one.

I heard about such a proposal nearly a decade ago when an academic friend, part of the Prime Minister's inner circle on Kashmir, had unofficially asked my opinion on such a K-solution. Despite experience of the Kargil war and considerable cross-border violence in J&K and outside, I did not reject it outright. I do believe that it is the prerogative of statesmen to find solutions to complex political problems, sometimes out of the box. However, these solutions, in my opinion, are possible only when the opportunity and timings are right, or made right. My response was that both India and Pakistan will find it extremely difficult to pave the way towards such a solution. I pointed out that although Musharraf had assured Prime Minister Vajpayee in January 2004 that he would ‘not permit any territory under Pakistan’s control to be used to support terrorism in any manner’, his assurance had remained only on paper. I also expressed doubt if the Pakistan Army in its self-interest would let people in Pakistan forget the two-nation theory, or allow long-term peace with India.

In his Srinagar address, the Af-Pak Special Envoy said that 'the efforts to seek a bi-lateral K-solution have gathered momentum' and 'the process has survived and sustained itself despite brutal and high visibility assaults'. This claim requires analysis and justification.

Let us start with Pakistan. Despite decade-long discussions on this proposed K-solution, its most important premise and pre-condition on ending violence and terrorism across the border has never been met. Every year has seen acts of violence and terrorism, both in and outside Kashmir. Among the prominent ones have been the Mumbai train bombing in 2006, bomb blasts in Ahmedabad and Delhi and the 26/11 Mumbai incident in 2008, the Pune blast in 2010, and the Hyderabad, Srinagar blasts and the Samba terror attack in 2013. Ever since 2005, about 5,400 people have died in terror incidents in J&K and 825 people outside J&K (and Northeast) due to Islamist extremism. The trend of a sustained decline in terrorism-related fatalities since 2001 got reversed in 2013, with J&K recording 181 fatalities as compared to 117 in 2012. The LoC ceasefire too has become fragile on account of head hunting and retaliation.

In July 2009 at Sharm-el-Sheikh, Manmohan Singh’s government made a surprise shift in its Pakistan policy by foregoing terrorism linkage with the composite dialogue. Instead of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, Baluchistan was recorded in the bilateral document. Soon after a second electoral mandate, the Prime Minister appeared over keen to befriend Pakistan to be able to make history in India-Pakistan relations. As the K-word was not mentioned in the joint document, many strategists wondered if this significant climb down was to promote the end-solution on J&K.

The change of baton from Musharraf’s military dictatorship to elected governments in Pakistan has permitted no progress on the K-solution endeavour except to continue the movement of some local goods and passenger buses across the LoC. In fact, soon after Musharraf’s exit, the Pakistan Army under Ashfaq Pervez Kayani lost no time in disassociating itself with the K-solution proposal. In 2008, the proxy war against India was extended to the Indian establishments in Kabul.

No meaningful effort has been made by the elected governments to prosecute the 26/11 perpetrators or to check ‘hate-India’ rhetoric of the extremist ideologues. In fact, Nawaz Sharif, the present Prime Minister of Pakistan, had last year described Kashmir as a ‘flashpoint’that could lead to the ‘fourth India-Pakistan’ war.

Lately, the proliferation and increased influence of Taliban and other extremist groups in the Af-Pak region and the possible spillover of militants into Kashmir has created further impediments for the K-solution proposal. Many analysts believe that after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan this year, a major ISI-backed Taliban may be expected in the region.

Yet another development affecting the K-solution is from China — Pakistan's strategic partner and ally. Already in occupation of the Shaqsgam valley and having PLA presence in the Gilgit-Baltistan area of Kashmir, China seems to be challenging India's sovereignty over J&K. It has positioned itself as the third party in the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir.

In India, Parliament's unanimously adopted resolution of February 22, 1994 emphasising that 'the state of J&K has been, is, and shall remain an integral part of India' makes it mandatory for a government to take all political parties into its confidence before any K-solution can be formalised. Now we have a new government, which according to sources, is willing to engage and make peace with Pakistan, but with a clear policy that the continuing use of proxy war and terrorist violence against India will entail a significant cost. Many political leaders in the new establishment are known to be averse to accepting the unilateral status quo. But considering the overall interest of the people of J&K, they may not be so averse if the pre-conditions mentioned in the K-solution are met in letter and spirit. That, at present, appears very far away.

The K-solution proposal in the India-Pakistan dialogue reminds me of a quote from Thomas Kempis who once wrote, “Without the way there is no going; without the truth there is no knowing”.

The writer is a former Chief of the Army Staff

Indian foreign policy at the crossroads

Zorawar Daulet Singh

The Modi regime is arguably placed at the crossroads where the imperative for deeper engagement with Asia and the world can only be sustained on a foundation of internal stability, institutional renewal, robust economic growth and development

WESTERN political science has yet to offer an analytical template to study foreign policy change. Conceptually, there are two approaches to analyzing foreign policy. One is an “outside-in” approach where opportunities and constraints in the external environment shape foreign policy. The other is an “inside-out” approach where domestic factors are seen as the key drivers for foreign policy.

In practice, both these levels are inter-connected, and, changes in the international environment and domestic perceptions together shape foreign policy. Relying on such a framework, we can anticipate some of the broad contours of Modi’s foreign policy.

(Clockwise from top) US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

A multipolar world

In 2009, the outgoing National Security Adviser (NSA) summarised India’s perception of the post-Cold War era: “In many ways, the period after 1991 has been the most favourable to our quest to develop India. The post-Cold War external environment of a globalising world, without rival political alliances, gave India the opportunity to improve relations with all the major powers. The risk of a direct conflict between two or more major powers had also diminished due to the interdependence created by globalisation. And the strength of capital and trade flows was directly beneficial to emerging economies.”

When the fighting has to stop

Inder Malhotra | May 25, 2014
The “goongi gudiya” of yesteryears suddenly morphed into the invincible goddess Durga.

Around the time Henry Kissinger, US President Richard Nixon’s national security advisor, was trying unsuccessfully to persuade China, through its ambassador to the UN, Huang Hua, to intervene in the India-Pakistan war in Bangladesh, desperate Pakistani generals, especially Major General Rao Farman Ali, were requesting the UN representatives on the spot to arrange for a ceasefire and bring the war to an end. Confused and contradictory directives from Islamabad were a huge roadblock to this objective, while the ground situation for the Pakistani army was becoming worse by the hour.

At the same time, the Nixon-Kissinger duo ordered the Sixth Fleet to send a naval task force, headed by the nuclear aircraft-carrier Enterprise, with marines on board, to the Bay of Bengal, obviously to support those who were morally in the wrong and militarily doomed to defeat. But by the time these warships could reach anywhere near the scene of action, the game was up.

After tersely denouncing the American attempt to “browbeat” India, Indira Gandhi took a profoundly important decision, of which the country became aware much later. She quietly called in Raja Ramanna, then director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the premier nuclear scientist of his time, and directed him to start preparing for an underground detonation. This became a reality on May 18, 1974, and India joined the world’s exclusive nuclear club.

On December 16, 1971, no fewer than 93,000 officers and men of the Pakistan army surrendered to Lieutenant General J.S. Aurora, the GOC-in-C of the Indo-Bangladeshi Command. Not since World War II had surrender on this scale taken place, nor has it been repeated afterwards.

NOTE OF CAUTION - A majority in Parliament is not enough

Commentarao: S.L. Rao 

The prime minister and his initial list of ministers will be sworn in today. In Parliament, the Bharatiya Janata Party has its own majority and an overwhelming one with its allies. The prime minister knows that this must not induce complacency. There is much to be done and achieved quickly. Implementing new policies to revive the economy is an urgent imperative. It is most urgent to dampen inflation. Faster and more balanced economic growth, substantial additions to employment, infrastructure maintenance and development, railways, roads, inland waterways, airports, electricity generation, transmission and distribution, increasing domestic oil and gas supplies, as also supply of coal, rural and industrial development, massive inflows of domestic and foreign investment, and restoring the balance in the current account are some priority areas. For this, he must appoint qualified and hard-working ministers and bureaucrats, and change the system of accountability while improving coordination in the government.

What are the pitfalls that could prevent speedy policy-making and implementation?

Narendra Modi is not the man to appoint people to jobs because of pressure or political considerations. He knows that he has only a year, or at most two, before an expectant electorate, rises in anger against him. To perform, he must have the right people and quickly change the organizational structure of the government.

Modi must be aware that despite the party’s majority, his government does not represent the whole of India. The BJP’s overwhelming majority in Parliament has been given by only 31 per cent of votes cast by 66 per cent of the population of voting age. Like most governments in a “first past the post” electoral system, the Modi government actually represents only a minority of the population. There is therefore a large number who are not followers of the BJP and might oppose its government’s policies. The Modi government must make a special effort to carry them along.

Further, the BJP is detested and feared by millions of Muslims. It has no Muslims among its parliamentarians while the total number of Muslim parliamentarians has actually dropped to 22. The Modi government must announce some measures soon to reach out. The number of women in this Parliament has crept up to 61, the BJP contributing 28 of them. Apart from talk, the BJP government must immediately pass the women’s reservation bill and those related to women’s safety, rights and so on.

The BJP is non-existent in south India except for small numbers in Karnataka and Kerala. A self-confident and egotistic leader like J. Jayalalithaa could, if thwarted, revive the North-South conflict of over fifty years ago. A further aggravation is the north Indian (Hindi-speaking) composition of the BJP leadership (except for a politically-ineffectual M. Venkaiah Naidu). It is imperative for this government to induct southern faces in important positions. Ideally, Modi should induct the most powerful south Indian politician, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu with 37 seats in Parliament, as the deputy prime minister.

Five-point someone

C. Raja Mohan | May 25, 2014

For Modi, Nawaz Sharif’s willingness to show up at the launch of his government is a political bonus.
Although Pakistan’s  Nawaz Sharif will draw most of the media attention at the anointment of Narendra Modi as India’s 14th prime minister at Rashtrapati Bhawan today, there is no underestimating the importance of the seven other regional leaders who will be present at the occasion.

For Modi, Nawaz Sharif’s willingness to show up at the launch of his government is a political bonus. If Modi is luckier than Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he might make some sustainable progress with Pakistan. As a realist, however, Modi should be aware that major breakthroughs are unlikely amid the current political flux within Pakistan and Sharif’s deteriorating relations with the all-powerful army.

But it is with the other neighbours that Modi has the opportunity to transact much economic and political business in his five-year tenure as prime minister of India. Modi’s determination to pursue a vigorous regional diplomacy appears to rest on five foundations.
For one, Modi has appreciated the much-neglected fact that foreign policy begins at the nation’s borders. India’s traditional diplomatic discourse is obsessed with grand concepts such as non-alignment and the elusive quest for the leadership of the global South.

It has been rather easy for the Indian strategic community to forget the critical importance of tending one’s own neighbourhood in the subcontinent and the Indian Ocean. Worse still, Delhi has been unwilling to confront and address the reasons for the steady loss of Indian influence in the region over the last many decades. An India that fails to reclaim its primacy in the subcontinent, Modi can now see, can’t really make a lasting impression on the world beyond.

Second, Modi has understood the importance of discarding the diplomatic formalism that has bedevilled India’s engagement with the region. Consider, for example, Manmohan Singh’s legacy on regional diplomacy. In his decade-long tenure as PM, Singh was either unwilling or unable to step across the borders to catch up with the leaders next door. Singh travelled for regional summits once each in Dhaka, Colombo, Thimphu and Male. He travelled twice to Kabul and once each to Dhaka and Thimphu on bilateral business. By any measure, this is a dismal diplomatic record.

Uncertainty in Libya

Published: May 26, 2014 Vijay Prashad

APIn this May 17, 2014 photo, Libyan Gen. Khalifa Hifter addresses a press conference in Benghazi, Libya.

Instability in the country cannot be explained away by clichés of tribalism or fanaticism. Politics is at work here

Monday morning began in Tripoli with what one doctor described to me as “eerie calm.” Gunfire the previous day had sent the people of the Libyan capital into their shelters. From 3p.m. to 9p.m. on May 18, the sounds of anti-tank guns and heavy arms emanated from the area between the airport and the Parliament building. “This was the worstfighting seen in Tripoli since August 2011,” says the doctor, whose reticence with his name is a sign of the fear that pervades the population. The fighting has intensified with Grad rockets being fired into residential areas.

Political turmoil 

Libya has been in turmoil over the past year. Since March, the country has had three Prime Ministers. Parliament’s term expired on February 7, but political uncertainty has stymied elections.

This weekend’s attack began in the eastern city, Benghazi. General Khalifa Hifter, who had been in hiding since his failed coup attempt of February 2014, led what he called “Operation Dignity.” His troops assaulted three neighbourhoods, going after the various Islamists militias. Colonel Mohammed Hijazi, Gen. Hifter’s deputy, went on television to warn residents in the area to evacuate their neighbourhoods “to preserve their lives and for their safety.” The targets of the assault included Ansar al-Sharia, the group blamed for the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Gen. Hifter described his assault at the “cradle of the revolution” as a response “to the demands of the Libyan people for their armed forces to step up and protect them.” Benghazi’s military commander, Special Forces chief Col. Wanis Abu Khamada, one military officer told me, fully supports what he called the “Benghazi purge,” as did Major General Suleiman Mahmoud and, most significantly, air defence commander Juma al-Abani. Mr. Zeidan backed Hifter from exile, while Culture Minister Habib Amin did so from Tripoli. Ansar al-Sharia had executed nine of Col. Abu Khamada’s men in early May during a morning raid at the Saiqa Special Forces post. Gen. Hifter’s attack was designed to jolt the Islamist militias from their lairs and raise the morale of the military.

As Gen. Hifter’s troops attacked Benghazi’s Islamists, the Qaaqaa and Sawaiq brigades overran the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli after fierce fighting. These two brigades owe their loyalty to the town of Zintan, and had been sent to Tripoli to protect Mr. Ali Zeidan. They did not succeed on that mission, but they did, however, establish themselves in the city. These brigades arrested a number of parliamentarians, accusing them of being allied to the Islamists whom they despise. On the surface, the anti-Islamist attack in Benghazi seemed in harmony with the anti-Islamist attack in Tripoli. Late into the evening on Sunday, Col. Mukhtar Fernana, a former head of military intelligence, came on television to announce the dissolution of the GNC as well as the creation of a proper military chain of command and security apparatus. He spoke in the name of the Libyan National Army, as did Gen. Hifter. The Zintan brigades said that they had nothing to do with Gen. Hifter, and it seems that neither did Col. Fernana. In keeping with the kind of political chaos one has seen in Libya, what appeared to be a straightforward coup was nothing of the sort.

A window of opportunity

Published: May 26, 2014

Jayant Prasad

Geo-strategically, some of the big issues that confront the United States today, China, Pakistan, and the shaping of the post-2014 transition in Afghanistan, all happen to be in India’s periphery. A more rapid expansion of India’s economy can accelerate the creation of a common economic space in South Asia

India’s weak economic performance, the 2008 financial crisis and the economic downturn in the United States have all diminished the India-U.S. relationship in recent years, after the two countries had come a long way together since the 1950s. When I arrived in Philadelphia in early April, Prof. Surjit Mansingh — once an Indian Foreign Service officer and now teaching at the American University — ruefully said, “Nothing can be expected from a U.S. government that has relegated South Asia, India included, to the strategic unimportance it had during the Cold War.” While the two governments remained somewhat somnambulant, business and industry leaders and the Indian-American community, the other drivers of the relationship, became dormant too. Extricating it from the depth it has sunk will be no easy task.

Consonance of interests

Post-election, there has been a visible change in the outlook of experts on India within think tanks, universities and the beltway in Washington DC. There is a sense that India’s destiny depends not just on economic progress; it also needs governance that has a social vocation, public institutions that are accountable, and a society that is tolerant and secular. From Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statements, they hope he might turn out to be different from how he has been portrayed by the Opposition. They believe it is time to re-engage with an India that is energised, self-confident, and which will grow faster under a new government.

On his part, Mr. Modi has set aside the personal affront of his visa blacklisting. Declaring that national interest is higher than individuals, he has committed himself to work for improved India-U.S. ties. He fought the election on an agenda of development, for which India needs markets, investments and technology. For India, the U.S. remains the prime source of all three.

Geo-strategically, some of the big issues that confront the U.S. today, China, Pakistan, and the shaping of the post-2014 transition in Afghanistan, all happen to be in India’s periphery. A more rapid expansion of India’s economy can accelerate the creation of a common economic space in South Asia. Such an India can better contribute to the design of the currently absent security architecture in Asia and the Indo-Pacific. India’s contribution to stabilising the subcontinent, underwriting its integration and development through its own growth, and investment in building regional infrastructure and connectivity, as also India’s growing role in protecting maritime routes in the Indian Ocean, all benefit the U.S too.

Defence preparedness

Besides the economy, India’s focus externally will be on improving relations with the contiguous countries, including China. Given our experience since Independence, this also requires better defence preparedness, for which the relationship with the U.S. will be critical in the years ahead.

** Why Was India's Herat Consulate Attacked?

India’s consulate in Herat, Afghanistan was attacked. Why?
May 24, 2014

You cannot drive up to the gate of the Indian consulate in central Herat. The road leading to the consulate is blocked 200 meters before the entrance and anyone wanting to reach the main office has to walk down and pass through at least three layers of security before entering the facility. The level of security enjoyed by the consulate is matched only by the American consulate. Within a five hundred meter radius lie Pakistan and Iran’s consulates — both of whom operate without too much in the way of security paraphernalia.

This same high security Indian consulate came under attack recently. In the latest attack in a series of aggressive moves against Indian establishments in Afghanistan, the consulate in western Afghanistan came under fire on Friday morning. Reports say that four gunmen started firing on the consulate early in the morning from a nearby building and it took over 10 hours for security forces to tame the infiltrators. There were no casualties on the side of the Indian and Afghan security personnel, but were some injuries to a couple of the Afghan National Army soldiers who responded. One attacker was shot in the altercation.

Can we look at the incident through the prism of the “Spring Offensive” launched by the Taliban recently? Is the latest attack one more in the series of attacks that have taken place on Indian offices in the trouble-torn country?

“You know the first thing that comes to mind when you hear of attacks on Indian establishments is the Haqqani network. It is only this group which has the sophistication to launch and execute a high profile attack. This we have seen in 2008 when the Indian embassy was attacked in Kabul. The group enjoys the backing of the ISI, hence the precision and sophistication in attack,” says Bilal Sarwary, a BBC journalist based in Kabul. However, he further adds that “this time nobody is accepting the responsibility. It’s intriguing. But the timing of the terrorist attack is suspect.” Herat police chief General Samihullah Qatra also blames the Pakistan-based terrorist network for the attack.

It’s the timing of the attack which is important. On Monday, a new government under the Hindu right-wing leader Narendra Modi is going to be sworn in. Modi has invited all the South Asian leaders who are part of the regional organization, SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), to the ceremony. With the exception of Pakistan, all other seven members have confirmed the participation of their leaders.

Blinded By Ideology

Instead of seeking to understand why Indians voted for the BJP in such great numbers, they are being presented as an irrational mob ‘misled and intimidated by a mammoth election campaign funded by big business’. 

The European response to the BJP’s landslide victory has been troubling. All too often its analyses of the Indian elections are shockingly one-sided and disparaging towards the Indian voters. Fortunately, this reflects only one dimension of European culture.

From The Guardian to The Economist, Modi has been depicted as a Hindu fanatic who bodes ill for India. After the BJP’s victory, many comments took an ugly turn. One piece on the Guardian’s website carries the following title: ‘NarendraModi and the BJP bludgeoned their way to election victory’. A cartoon depicts a victorious Modi surfing on a landslide with a dark cloud looming over him that says ‘Gujarat riots’. In France, the leading newspaper Le Monde writes that one only has to observe the conduct of this ‘corpulent Hindu extremist’ in order to realize that ‘something very troubling is about to happen in India’.

We find few attempts by European commentators to understand why Indian citizens voted for the BJP in such great numbers. Instead, they characterize these Indians as an irrational mob that has let its dream of economic growth and a shining India override all ethical considerations. Basically, such analyses transform the BJP voters into cretins and cowards, ‘misled and intimidated by a mammoth election campaign funded by big business’.

Such accounts reflect ideological platitudes rather than genuine understanding. If the European intelligentsia is this blinded by ideology, it will not be able to prepare our youth for the world of the 21st century, where India is bound to be a major player. Worse, our politicians, diplomats and business people will succumb to ideological stories about Indian politics and society.

Indeed, this has happened many a time. Between 2002 and 2012, the diplomats of EU member states refused all contact with Modi. This policy was based on allegations of his complicity in the Gujarat riots of 2002 and claims that he is a ‘Hindu fascist’.

The LoC Fence has delivered

You may never have seen the LoC Fence or felt it but the Nation and the Army needs to thank a few good men for the monumental task they performed in constructing this Fence and continue to do so year on year after the degradation it suffers in winter at lofty heights. We called it a Diwangee, a Madness but we did it and it succeeded in achieving for India exactly what the then Army Chief, Gen Nirmal Vij, desired....reducing the strength of terrorists in the Valley to below 1000. The tone and tenor of conflict changed with the coming of the Fence. Understand the dynamics of it here, in the cover story of this month's issue of South Asia Defence & Strategic Review.


The LoC Fence has delivered

by: Lt Gen (Retd) Syed Ata Hasnain, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM & BAR


The Tenth Anniversary of the completion of the LoC Fence falls on 01 Jul 2014. The Fence has been drawing some attention from military analysts in recent months mostly leading to its criticism without any experienced military practitioner taking up cudgels on its behalf. Here is a Boots on Ground assessment based upon experience of the LoC Fence's first construction, subsequent annual refurbishment and tactical exploitation.

Statements such as the one above may smack of ego, delinquency and cynicism. After all every analyst cannot have a boots on ground experience to write about an issue. Yet, a degree of cynicism is required when an innovative military experiment is successful and contributes towards a game changing strategy. Visions of the larger picture and even basic facts have eluded some analysts who continue to believe that the LoC Fence, more commonly referred as the Anti-Infiltration Obstacle System (AIOS), is a dampener of offensive spirit and not cost effective. I think not only warriors of the Indian Armed Forces but the nation deserve to be told how 1150 Cr Rupees was well spent in 2003-4, how much is spent to refurbish it every year and what its overall effect has been and will continue to be. Besides being there at the LoC when the fence was constructed and leading the effort at one of its large segments, I returned twice to the Valley to exploit it and oversee the transition of a most dangerous situation. I have had extensive discussions with Gen Nirmal Vij, former Army Chief under whose overall command the fence was constructed. As late as April 2014 I met Lt Gen Hari Prasad, former Army Commander Northern Command, the man responsible for overseeing the construction and conceptualizing the tactical exploitation. Extensive discussions with both the apex level generals of that time and my own experience as a Division and a Corps Commander put at rest most prevailing doubts. 

Faster, Stronger, Worse

Why Narendra Modi's new foreign policy won't make Washington happy.
MAY 23, 2014

India is about to install a new prime minister who is not a Gandhi, not a member of the Congress party, not a policy intellectual, and not a product of India's westward-looking professional class. After a decade of increasingly stagnant Congress rule, India is heading into the great unknown. Narendra Modi had said a great deal about how he wants to change India's economic policy -- even if most of it is vague and hortatory. But he has said next to nothing about foreign policy. A figure as forceful as Modi and as disdainful of the country's political class would seem likely to reshape India's posture toward the world. But how?

First, it's worth noting that, like the United States, India is a continental nation with water on either side; very few people live near a foreign country. Questions of poverty, economic development, political corruption, and caste identity are vastly more pressing for voters than India's relations with its most powerful neighbors, China and Pakistan. Even India's professional and policy elites are far more preoccupied with domestic concerns than with foreign issues. For this reason, India's conduct of foreign policy has changed very slowly since independence and almost always owing to an evolving consensus rather than a change of government. Modi could, in fact, choose to let the machine run on its own.

I called Hardeep Singh Puri, Modi's spokesman on foreign affairs and India's former ambassador to the United Nations, to ask whether his new prime minister had a worldview and, if so, what it was. "Modi's worldview," Puri responded, "is captured in the Indian concept of 'the whole world is one family.'" That's good to know, but it doesn't dictate much in the way of policy choices. I posed the same question to a seasoned Indian diplomat whom Modi had consulted on foreign affairs. "His worldview is more economic than geopolitical," he said. "He speaks very warmly of East Asia and how they have outdistanced us economically. I have no doubt that Japan will be the first country he will visit." That was more helpful.

As chief minister of Gujarat, Modi visited China, Japan, and Singapore, seeking investments in his state. He is likely to focus his attentions as prime minister on countries that can increase investment in India. Modi would like to see the country urbanize, as China has, by developing the industrial sector, which now constitutes only 14 percent of India's GDP. He would also like to increase spending on infrastructure. Japan has been a major player in Indian infrastructure, including as a partner on the construction of highways to connect New Delhi to Mumbai and Chennai to Bangalore -- a crying need for a country with calamitously poor roads. (Even a quick trip on an Indian highway is both frustrating and terrifying.) India under Modi may thus practice a more frankly mercantilist policy toward the world, as China does.

Modi and the World

May 22, 2014

Often fiery and intermittently reasonable, sometimes banal but occasionally innovative, Narendra Modi’s statements on foreign policy over the past few years have been so meager and uneven that they cannot readily serve as a guide for how he will act as India’s Prime Minister. Wonks call him a realist. Political admirers and critics both say he’s hard-line. But the specifics of what he might do in office are unclear.

In the past, Modi has berated the Manmohan Singh government for being weak in its dealings with Pakistan and China, two of India’s most important neighbors. During the election campaign, however, he was careful not to paint himself into a corner. In his first major foreign policy speech, he gave pride of place to a corny slogan—“Terrorism divides, tourism unites”—but also showed a capacity for out-of-the-box thinking, saying India should convene a global summit with countries interested in developing solar power as a major source of future energy.

While there is likely to be continuity in many aspects of India’s foreign policy—its stand on major international issues, its bilateral and multilateral partnerships—Modi’s tenure will be defined by how he responds to four specific challenges.

The first is economic, where everything depends on his ability to boost growth. Besides strengthening India’s economic partnerships with the U.S., Europe and Asia, a stronger economy will give the country the heft it needs to play a larger role on the world stage.

Politically, the big challenge for Modi will be to move away from his Bharatiya Janata Party’s rhetoric of “Hindu nationalism” and find ways of forging closer ties with India’s two Islamic neighbors, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In opposition, the BJP attacked Singh for his initiatives on this front. During the campaign, Modi played on the sentiment of Hindus living near Bangladesh, describing Muslim migrants as “infiltrators” out to destroy India. The reality is more complex. While there are large numbers of Bangladeshi migrants in India, many Indians work in Bangladesh and send back nearly two-thirds of the amount of money that Bangladeshis in India transmit out of the country every year, according to the World Bank. Closer ties with Dhaka, and Islamabad, are clearly in New Delhi’s interest. Inviting neighboring leaders, including Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif, to his inauguration is a good first step by Modi.

Demilitarizing Siachen: Trading Strategic Advantage for Brownie Points

Issue Net Edition | Date : 22 May , 2014

The troubled India-Pakistan relationship has been punctuated by four military conflicts and decades-long military face-off across the IB and LOC, the most recent starting in 1984 on Siachen glacier in Ladakh. The illegal ceding of areas of north Ladakh by Pakistan to China, and China’s occupation of the Aksai Chin area in east Ladakh make Siachen glacier a regional strategic flash-point.

While over the past few months, the Siachen glacier (hereinafter referred to as “Siachen”) has been in the news, recently there has been a flurry of correspondence within the Indian strategic community on its demilitarization, some arguing for and others against it. There is a lobby favouring demilitarization, especially of Siachen, and meetings to discuss it have been held by an India-Pakistan group, the so-called Track-II team, comprising retired military officers and retired diplomats of both countries. Siachen-experienced retired Indian army officers are strongly opposed to demilitarizing Siachen for strategic and tactical reasons. There are no two opinions within Pakistan on this issue, because Pakistan only gains politically, economically and militarily by demilitarizing Siachen. This article examines demilitarization of Siachen without prejudice to demilitarization elsewhere or CBMs between the two countries.

Siachen-experienced retired Indian army officers are strongly opposed to demilitarizing Siachen for strategic and tactical reasons.

In a recent diplomatically-savvy initiative, Pakistan army chief General A.P.Kayani “advocated peaceful coexistence with India, adding that the civil and military leaderships of the two countries should discuss ways to resolve the issue” [of] “demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier” [Ref.1]. This initiative, triggered by the loss of 139 Pakistani soldiers killed in an avalanche at Gayari in April, is said to be driven by the need to cover up the long-standing lie sold to the Pakistani public that their soldiers were dying on Siachen facing Indian troops. The fact is that Gayari is in the Siachen region and not on Siachen itself, and there are no Pakistani troops on Siachen because Indian troops occupy Siachen and its commanding heights.

Pakistan’s Choice

By Michael Krepon

Pakistan has been failing for a long time. There have been periods of economic growth, backed up by foreign patrons – mostly the United States and increasingly China -- but for the most part, Pakistan’s economy and internal security continue to slide. Successive military and civilian leaders have sidestepped inherited problems or made them worse. Predictions of failure, however, have been wrong, or at least premature. The Pakistani state has demonstrated great resiliency. There have been many opportunities for course corrections that haven’t been taken. Another lies ahead.

The dynamics of decline have accelerated since President and Army Chief Pervez Musharraf stepped aside. Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari was elected in 2008 with room to maneuver on domestic issues, but he succeeded mostly by staying in office. Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister for the third time in 2013. He was also elected by a healthy margin, but has started out badly. Civil-military relations are once again frayed. Internal security threats grow as Musharraf is on trial for treason, even as Nawaz’s government seeks to accommodate violent groups with treasonable agendas.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The Army and intelligence services still do not appear to be on the same page with the government in seeking more normal ties with India. Every firing incident along the Line of Control dividing Kashmir reminds Nawaz that he must reckon with his military when trying to improve ties with India. Pakistan’s diplomatic corps is not known for risk taking. Distinguished veterans of diplomatic skirmishes with India offer cautionary notes in the press about allowing trade to proceed if other contentious issues languish.

India and Pakistan have agreed to a “composite dialogue” where they discuss trade, strategic, water and humanitarian issues. Many agreements have been drafted but have been gathering dust, including nuclear risk-reduction agreements and military confidence-building measures that could demonstrate responsible nuclear stewardship. None have been concluded since the brazen 2008 siege of Mumbai luxury hotels, a train station and a Jewish center by militants who took direction from their Pakistani handlers.

The most important agreements, by far, would permit a significant increase in trade across the Punjab and Kashmir, along with seaborne commerce between Karachi and Mumbai. Trade is the lifeline Pakistan needs for economic growth to outpace population growth. For Pakistan to demand progress on multiple fronts before trade deals can be settled would constitute yet another self-inflicted wound.

The time has long since passed when Pakistan has been able to force terms of engagement with India. The campaign by Pakistan’s intelligence services to destabilize the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir was supposed to provide such leverage while pinning down and punishing Indian troops. In reality, India took the punishment while Pakistan lost international standing and suffered blow-back. Pakistan’s standing diminished further after the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament and the 2008 attacks on Mumbai. Pakistan effectively lost these engagements without New Delhi having to fire a shot in retaliation.

The Afghan Civil Transition Crisis: Afghanistan's Status and the Warnings from Iraq's Failure

MAY 18, 2014 

For more than a decade, the U.S. and its allies have been issuing claims about the progress being made in Afghanistan, and have tended to focus on success as measured in holding elections rather than the quality of governance and real world economic progress.

It is now a matter of months before the U.S. and its allies withdraw virtually all of their combat troops from Afghanistan. As yet, the U.S. has no meaningful public plan for transition, has not proposed any public plan for either the civil or military aspects of transition, and remains focused on the quality of the Afghan election rather than the quality of the leadership, governance, and conditions of Afghan life that will follow.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) – the organization theoretically in charge of assessing and coordinating all international aid in Afghanistan - has never written a single report on the overall structure and progress of aid. USAID and DoD have failed to demonstrate they have reliable methods of accountability for aid spending, and neither have developed overall plans for Afghan development or any reliable measures of effectiveness.

It is unclear that any other donor nations have done better, or that the Afghan government has made serious progress in their ability to handle the civil problems of Transition or carry out the key reforms they pledged at the Tokyo Conference.

The Burke chair has expanded past reports to provide a summary overview of the civil challenges Afghanistan faces. This report provides a graphic assessment of UN, World Bank, CIA, SIGAR, Transparency International and other data that show the seriousness of the problems in Afghan governance and economics entitled Afghanistan’s Civil Transition Challenges: Governance and Development Indicators. This report is available on the CSIS web site athttp://csis.org/files/publication/140518_Afghan_Civil_Transition_Rev.pdf.

These challenges do not mean that the Afghan government cannot carry out an effective civil transition in 2014 to 2015, but they may well mean that the U.S. and other donor states must be prepared to help Afghanistan through far more serious problems in governance and economics than they currently budget for.

They also provide a striking comparison to a similar assessment made of the failure to develop Iraq, and the gross corruption, failures, and human rights abuses of the Maliki government in Iraq. These failures are laid out in detail in another Burke Chair report entitled Hitting Bottom: The Maliki Scorecard in Iraq, which is available on the CSIS web site at http://csis.org/publication/hitting-bottom-maliki-scorecard-iraq.

Taken together, the data on Afghanistan and Iraq are a grim warning about the shortfalls in the US and other outside efforts to transform the civil government and economy of both Afghanistan and Iraq, and the limits to what can be accomplished in any real world counterinsurgency operation. They warn about the need to be far less ambitious and far more honest about the limits of outside aid and intervention, and to develop far more competent and well-managed aid efforts tied to realistic plans, metrics, accountability, and measures of effectiveness.

The comparison between Afghanistan and Iraq is particularly striking because of the degree to which it warns that even the most successful elections are not a credible path to success, and because Afghanistan has no past base of economic development or equivalent to oil wealth to help it through Transition.

As other Burke Chair reports show, these challenges are further compounded by the fact that Afghanistan has made far less progress in security than Iraq has made at the end of 2011 – although the Maliki government has largely thrown that progress away. These Burke Chair reports include: 
The Challenges to Transition in Afghanistan: 2014-2015;http://csis.org/files/publication/140410_Transition_in_Afghanistan.pdf
Shaping the ANSF to meet the Challenges of Transition,http://csis.org/files/publication/140416_Future_of_ANSF.pdf




Post-Election Transition in Afghanistan

A US Leadership Vacuum that Urgently Needs Hard Decisions and Real and Honest Leadership 
MAY 19, 2014 

Ever since Vietnam, the US has faced three major threats every time it has attempted a major counterinsurgency campaign in armed nation building: 
  • The actual hostile forces, both in terms of native insurgent elements and outside support from other states and non-state actors. 
  • Existing challenges in host country, including corruption, internal tensions, weak governance, and uncertain economics, that make it as much of a threat in practical terms as the armed opposition. 
  • The failures within the US government to deal honestly and effectively with both the military and civil dimensions of the war, including attempts to transform states in the middle of conflict rather than set realistic goals; levels of costs and casualties that make sustaining the US effort difficult or impossible; and a failure to sustain the effort necessary to achieve a lasting impact. 
The Need for Real Leadership by the Administration

It is now May 2014 and some 17 months after the time that the US, NATO/ISAF, and aid donors should have had in place realistic plans for Transition, and the US and its allies should have clearly laid out the strategic case and the cost and conditions for continued aid. The Obama seems committed to an almost endless cycle of reviews and requests for new options, but has failed to put forth any credible plans, costs, and conditions or make a meaningful strategic and political case for its position and the role the US should play in Afghanistan after 2014.

These issues are laid out in depth in an updated analysis by the Burke Chair at CSIS entitled The Post-Election Challenges to Transition in Afghanistan: 2014-2015,(http://csis.org/files/publication/140518_Transition_in_Afghanistan_Rev.pdf.) 

This analysis has just been updated to fully reflect new reporting by the US Department of Defense, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan, the World Bank, NATO/ISAF, the UN and other organizations. It makes it clear that the Administration has exaggerated progress in security, governance, and the economy – even if one ignores outside issues like the role of Pakistan.

The Administration has already waited far too long to determine whether the US will stay in Afghanistan on realistic terms and to create clear plans for the kind of funding and advisory presence that is needed. It needs to act now to persuade the American people and Congress it has a credible strategic rational and plan for staying.

It needs to act now to make sure the Afghan people and new Afghan government know and accept the conditions for continuing US support, and determine how much real world support it can get from its allies and outside donors. It needs to honestly assess the current challenges in Afghanistan, and not under-resource Transition. If it does not, the war may not end with a bang, but it may well end with a whimper.

Islamabad will not give Modi time for pleasantries

May 20, 2014

India’s new government will face a rapidly changing and dangerous challenge in Afghanistan, similar in some ways to the crisis in the late 1980s, when the Soviets withdrew from Kabul. The Pakistani ‘deep state’ then and now wants to make Afghanistan a puppet satellite regime, an outcome contrary to Indian interests. 

As planned, the American and Nato withdrawal from Afghanistan is well underway. All combat forces will be gone by the year’s end. Press reports indicate counter-terrorist and intelligence capabilities have already been significantly reduced. 

There has not been a lethal drone attack from Afghan bases inside Pakistan in over four months. 

Like Moscow in 1989, Washington in 2014 hopes it has built an Afghan army and state that can survive without foreign boots on the ground to help it defeat an insurrection. It’s a strategic gamble but it’s the option US President Barack Obama chose in 2009. It took five years to get the Afghan army ready to fight alone, now we will see if it manages or fails. 

Of course, today’s Afghan government is democratically elected and a run-off will probably make Abdullah Abdullah the next president this summer. 

The first round election this spring had an unprecedented turnout. In contrast, the Soviet-backed regime in 1979 was put in power by a series of communist coups orchestrated by Moscow and the KGB and had no legitimacy. 

The United Nations backs the Nato mission in Afghanistan today and endorses the elected government. In the 1980s the UN condemned the Soviet invasion and the Soviet client state in Kabul. 

The generals, who run the Pakistani army and the ISI, are the one constant in the two eras. Their deep state uses the Afghan Taliban, including Mullah Omar, and the Haqqani network today just like their predecessors used the Mujahideen in the 1980s. 

The ISI is the guiding hand and the quartermaster for a proxy war today as it was a quarter century ago. Zia-ul-Haq is long dead but his spirit lingers. 

Pakistan’s civilian governments have little or no authority over the deep state. 

Like Benazir Bhutto in 1989, Nawaz Sharif is not in charge of the Afghan portfolio. Sharif also knows the serious risks of crossing the generals, especially while the Musharraf trial is unresolved. Sharif will let the generals and ISI call the shots in Afghanistan. 

The deep state tried hard to disrupt the Afghan election and it successfully intimidated most foreign observers. 

The slow end of ideology

May 19, 2014
[India has rejected the politics of loyalty and legacy. Can Pakistan move on too?]

In his book, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, American political psychologist Drew Westen argues that feelings trump cold analysis in the making of political choices. What, then, was the dominant sentiment that resulted in the massive mandate for Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party in India’s latest general election?

As an India-friendly Pakistani currently living in exile in the US, I observed the Indian election through the media as well as the eyes of many Indian friends. That, admittedly, does not qualify me as an authority on Indian politics. But as Benazir Bhutto used to say “There is a bit of India in every Pakistani and there is an element of Pakistan in every Indian.”

Pakistan’s democrats admire Indian democracy and have always done so, even at the risk of being accused of being pro-Indian by the country’s military-dominated establishment. 

Linked by a shared civilisation and having been one country until 1947, the political sentiments on both sides of the border have remarkable similarities.

Indians have adhered to democracy consistently while the democratic aspirations of Pakistanis have been devoured by an overwhelming military-intelligence complex. 

But, like India, Pakistan’s democratic process (whenever it is allowed to operate) is influenced by familiar feelings about caste, religion, feudal loyalty and ethnic identity.

In the first few elections after Independence, Indian politics was dominated by the sentiment of gratitude towards those who led the country to freedom from the British.

The foremost sentiment in Pakistan, of trying to forge a new nation and to justify the two-nation theory, ended in the military’s dominance. The task of defining Pakistani nationhood could not be left by the military to feudal politicians prone to cutting deals among themselves.

The death of Jawaharlal Nehru resulted in contention for leadership among many equals within the Indian National Congress. 

Indira Gandhi could claim Nehru’s legacy through the bloodline, making it easy for the people to transfer their emotional loyalty from Nehru, the freedom fighter, to Indira, the freedom fighter’s daughter. 

Taliban Fighters Overrun District Center in Northern Afghanistan

May 24, 2014
Taliban overrun district center in northern Afghan province
Bill Roggio
The Long War Journal

The Afghan Taliban overran a district center in the remote northern province of Badakhshan and captured 27 government officials. A local militia commander and an Afghan intelligence official are among those captured during this week’s assault.

The Taliban began the assault on Yamgan district on May 19 as part of “Operation Khaibar,” this year’s spring Taliban offensive, the jihadist groupstated in a press release on its website, Voice of Jihad.

According to the Taliban, “the warden of the prison, Mano, an Arbaki commander, Abdul Bain, the assistant of NDS and other top level puppets are among this captured.”

"Mujahideen also captured 25 Kalashnikov rifles, 3 P.K heavy machine guns, 2 rocket-propelled grenades," the Taliban continued.

Afghan officials confirmed that 27 security and government officials were captured, and said another 13 officials, including the district governor, have retreated to a hilltop, The New York Times reported.

The district remains under Taliban control and Afghan forces have delayed an operation to oust the Taliban.

"Due to inclement weather conditions in the area, security forces have been unable to regain the territory and have temporarily halted the assault," Badakhshan security chief Fazludin Ayar told Ariana News.

The once-peaceful province of Badakhshan has become increasingly unstable over the past several years, as the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have exerted their influence in the remote northeastern area. The province was transferred from ISAF to Afghan control at the end of January 2012.

The Taliban have taken control of districts in Badakhshan two other times since the end of last summer. In September 2013, the Taliban overran the Wardoj district center, prompting an Afghan military operation to retake the government complex. Shortly after the government claimed Wardoj was cleared, the Talibanambushed an Afghan police convoy, killing 23 police officers and capturing more than 20. The Taliban denied that they were driven from the district.

Also in September 2013, the Taliban seized control of the Karan wa Munjan district center in Badakhshan. Shortly after the Taliban seized the district, Afghan security forces claimed to have regained control of Karan wa Munjan.

Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan presence in Badakhshan

ISAF conducted eight raids against the IMU in Badakhshan between September 2011 and June 2012, and another in August 2010 that targeted a Taliban operative who aided “foreign fighters,” according to ISAF press releases compiled by The Long War Journal. The last reported operation against the IMU in the northern province took place on June 18, 2012; an IMU commander was killed and several fighters were captured. The IMU is known to have a presence in the districts of Argo, Faizabad, Kishim, Shahr-e-Buzurg, Surkh Rod, and Yaftal-e Sufla. In June 2013, ISAF ceased issuing daily operational reports that detailed raids against al Qaeda and allied groups such as the IMU.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is a key ally of al Qaeda and the Taliban, and has been involved in supporting their operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and plotting attacks in Europe. The IMU is known to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and has integrated into the Taliban’s shadow government in the north [for more information on the IMU, see LWJ report, IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan].