13 June 2014

Reworking the idea of Pakistan

Husain Haqqani | June 12, 2014 1
Jawaharlal Nehru foresaw how a national state of paranoia across the border imperiled India-Pakistan relations.

Soon after Partition, Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah told the American ambassador, Paul Alling, that he wished for India-Pakistan relations to be “An association similar to that between the US and Canada.” Jinnah had no way of predicting the rise of Pakistan’s military-intelligence complex. Nor did he envision that his successors in the Muslim League would join Islamist leaders in basing Pakistan’s nationalism on the idea of perennial conflict with, and permanent threat from, India. Just as the perceived threat from Hindu domination prompted the call for Pakistan’s creation, the new rallying cry for an ethnically diverse populace was the ostensible threat from India to Pakistan.

This required keeping alive the frenzy of Partition and a contrived historic narrative. It also necessitated the glorification of past and present warriors and the building of a militarised state. Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru foresaw how a national state of paranoia across the border imperiled India-Pakistan relations. He tried to comfort Pakistan’s leaders that disagreement with the idea of Partition before it took place did not mean India would now use force to undo it.

Nehru chose the Aligarh Muslim University, whose alumni had played an active role in the demand for Pakistan, as the venue for a speech that addressed Pakistani concerns as early as March 1948. He reassured those who accused India of seeking to strangulate Pakistan. “If we had wanted to break up Pakistan, why did we agree to Partition?” he asked. “It was easier to prevent it then than to try to do so now after all that has happened. There is no going back in history. As a matter of fact, it is to India’s advantage that Pakistan should be a secure and prosperous state with which we can develop close and friendly relations.”

“Pakistan has come into being rather unnaturally, I think,” Nehru told his audience. “Nevertheless, it represents the urges of a large number of persons. I believe that this development has been a throwback, but we accepted it in good faith.” According to him, “It is inevitable that India and Pakistan should draw closer to each other, or else they will come into conflict. There is no middle way, for we have known each other too long to be indifferent neighbours.” The first Indian prime minister also laid out a vision for India to “develop a closer union” with Pakistan and other neighbouring countries — a vision that seems to be shared by Narendra Modi. But Nehru made it clear that India had no “desire to strangle or compel Pakistan” because “an attempt to disrupt Pakistan would recoil to India’s disadvantage.”

2016, the Kabul story

Frederic Grare | June 13, 2014 
In Afghanistan, the real question lies in the capacity of the Afghan government to survive. (Source: Reuters photo)

On May 27, US President Barack Obama announced that the last American troops would withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

Assuming that the two candidates in the Afghan presidential election run-off make good on their promises to conclude a bilateral security agreement (BSA) that would permit a residual American military presence, some 9,800 US troops will remain in the country after 2014, with half of them slated to depart by the end of 2015. From 2015 onward, the remaining troops will conduct counter-terrorism operations and work to train the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) for two more years, eventually leaving only a token force to protect the American embassy in Kabul. The potential fallout of this relatively rapid departure of American forces does not bode well for Afghanistan’s future, and could exacerbate India-Pakistan rivalries in Afghanistan.

Obama’s decision should not surprise anyone. It is primarily a response to domestic political concerns, addressing the American public’s war fatigue. The swap between the only American prisoner of war in Afghanistan and five senior Taliban commanders, which took place on May 31, was perceived, rightly or wrongly, as evidence of Obama’s willingness to get rid of the conflict and all its consequences. At same time, the US decision to withdraw by the end of 2016 plays opportunistically on the undeniable success of the Afghan elections: even as Obama acknowledges that the United States will not leave behind “a perfect Afghanistan”, he can present the stable political transition as evidence of a successful mission that justifies the withdrawal.

In Afghanistan, however, the real question lies in the capacity of the Afghan government to survive. Whoever wins the presidential election will have to face the daunting task of stabilising the country, with diminishing resources and limited or nonexistent security guarantees in a context of unsolved regional disputes with neighbours.

The 9,800 troops scheduled to remain in Afghanistan will likely be a sufficient force to mitigate the consequences of these unstable circumstances long enough to allow Obama to leave office with the withdrawal complete and the Afghan government still intact. But this respite will probably be only temporary, and a longer-term American military commitment would have provided greater promise of stability.

Terror attacks: Inaction or capitulation?

The Karachi airport attack once again exposed the vulnerability of our security system. The sense of urgency in Islamabad was not commensurate with the scale of the crisis
Zahid Hussain

Planes are seen near a section of the damaged building (left) at Jinnah International Airport after the attack by Taliban militants on June 8 — Reuters

THE ferocious terrorist attack on the Karachi international airport is a grim reminder of a state under siege with little hope of it being salvaged. The security forces cleared the airport after a fierce gun battle stretching to several hours that left over 20 people killed and some aircraft damaged.

Notwithstanding the claim of success in containing the damage, the incident once again exposed the vulnerability of our security system in dealing with such organised and daring terrorist assaults. The most worrisome aspect was the complete lack of leadership at the national level as the country faced one of its most serious security challenges.

The sense of urgency in Islamabad was not commensurate with the scale of the crisis at the country's premier airport that was under attack with thousands of passengers caught in the crossfire. The federal interior minister surfaced the next morning saying that an enquiry has been ordered. He did not satisfy queries when he arrived in Karachi 22 hours later. One was also disappointed that the prime minister, apart from issuing the routine condemnation, in the manner of his predecessors, did not make a TV appearance instilling some confidence in the people during or after the crisis.

Taking on the TTP

This has led to observations in some circles that the prime minister's concern for attacks outside his home province of Punjab is far less than expected. Even though all parties had agreed to give peace a chance, the present government's inaction borders on a capitulation that has further strengthened the militants. There is still no show of any resolve to take on the TTP, which has claimed responsibility for Sunday night's attack. There was a lot of similarity between the attack on Karachi airport and the earlier assaults on the Mehran and Kamra airbases.

All were carried out by highly trained suicide squads armed with sophisticated weapons and aimed at inflicting maximum damage. One more objective of selecting these high-profile targets was to get maximum international publicity. The terrorists seem to have achieved both goals. The attack on the country's biggest international airport and commercial gateway carried much greater long-term consequences for the country's image and economy.

Three elections, one story

Published: June 13, 2014

Vijay Prashad

APSyrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The repression in Egypt, the war in Syria and the political suffocation in Algeria make conditions for an election impossible, with even nominal campaigning by challengers inconceivable

Within a month, Algeria, Egypt and Syria held presidential elections. In all three cases, despite nominal challenges, the elections had only one candidate on the ballot: in Algeria it was Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in Egypt it was the former military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and in Syria it was the incumbent Bashar al-Assad. On the day of the Syrian election, Beirut’s al-Akhbar ran a headline that said, “Assad to be elected today.” No one expected any other result in any of these countries.

According to their national election commissions, their victories came with substantial margins — Mr. Bouteflika won 81 per cent of the votes, Sisi won 96 per cent and Assad 88 per cent. The European Union observer mission said the Egyptian vote was “democratic and free,” while Russia’s election committee mission said that the Syrian vote met “international standards commonly recognised.” Both these judgments beggar belief. Even if the voting stations seemed unprejudiced and if the ballot boxes were not tampered with, the election process raises serious doubts. The repression in Egypt, the war in Syria and the political suffocation in Algeria make conditions for an election impossible, with even nominal campaigning by challengers inconceivable. Besides, the scale of the victory comes with a whiff of the ridiculous.Securing a mandate, not victory

To judge these political events as “elections” is to miss their character. They are less elections and more political rallies. More important than the result was the need to draw in large numbers of people to the polls — the measure of the referendum given by the people to their anointed leader. In Egypt, voters sluggishly came to the polls. This alarmed the Egyptian state, which added an extra day, extended the hours for voting, and offered free transportation to the voters. Enthusiasm had to be drummed up — television anchors in Egypt urged people to go to the ballot. Al-Masry Al-Youm carried a telling headline, “The State searches for a vote.” Exhortations came from cultural icons, including from Emirati singer Hussein al-Jasmi’s “Boshret Kheir” (Good Omen), a take-off of Pharrell William’s “Happy”, asking: “What has Egypt gained from your silence? Don’t deny it your vote.” The point was not to secure a victory — which was inevitable — but to secure a mandate with a high turnout. Official sources said the turnout was a meagre 44 per cent, higher than the 30 per cent seen for Mubarak’s last election in 2005 but lower than the 51 per cent in the 2012 election of Mohammed Morsi. Sisi had raised expectations. He wanted at least 80 per cent of the electorate to anoint him. He did not get it — even by official figures that are open to manipulation.

India’s Nuclear Triad Finally Coming of Age

By Dinakar Peri
India is testing its latest submarine and missile technologies, which could change the regional security equation. 
In the last few months India seems to have reached a major milestone in its quest to field a credible minimum nuclear deterrent. The Hindu has reported that India’s first ballistic nuclear submarine (SSBN), the INS Arihant (which means destroyer of enemies), has been secretly moved out of harbor for sea trials. Contrary official sources have said that it will be moved out very soon. The submarine was launched in 2009 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It has since been undergoing harbor trials, and its 83 MW nuclear reactorwent critical in August 2013. Sea trials represent the final stage before being inducted into the Indian Navy. Another three sister submarines are already under various stages of construction at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, where the first one was also built under a top secret project.

In another development, the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) recently tested a 3,000 km range submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) named K-4, from a pontoon submerged 30 feet deep, off the coast of Visakhapatnam located on the eastern coast. This is the latest in a long line of successful missile tests in recent times by the DRDO, and reflects India’s maturing missile development capabilities. The K series of underwater missiles are named after former President Abdul Kalam, who was instrumental in developing the Indian missile development program.

Once operational, this SLBM will form a crucial leg of India’s nuclear triad, and also the most credible and hardest to detect. It will also make India the sixth country in the world to field nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles. Indeed former President APJ Abdul Kalam has said India has a “sixth nation” syndrome, referring to India as the sixth country in the world to develop many crucial technologies. He has called on India to correct this.

Together, though, India’s technologies give credence to its second strike capability in line with the Indian Nuclear Doctrine. India has pledged a “no first use” nuclear policy, but warns of a swift and massive retaliation in the event of a nuclear strike on its soil, or on its forces or assets anywhere abroad.

The longer range K-4 will complement the shorter range K-15, also known as Sagarika, with a range of 750 km. The K-15’s range is a significant limitation, and constricts room for maneuvering. The submarine has to move close to enemy shores to launch the missile, making it vulnerable to detection. The K-4, with a range of 3,000 km, gives the submarine enough standoff distance to fire while remaining hidden deep in the Indian Ocean, or within territorial waters. Each Arihant class submarine, displacing 6000 tons, can carry four K-4 missiles or twelve K-15 missiles. While the K-15 has been repeatedly tested and validated, the K-4 has only been test fired for the first time. Several more tests are required before it can be cleared for serial production and operationally deployed.

The K-4 has until now been tested from submerged pontoons in the absence of a submarine. During sea trials the Arihant is expected to fire the missile, validating the crucial mating of the missile with the submarine, and completing the triad in the process. It now looks as if that phase is imminent, as the DRDO has said it is confident of its induction in 2015. Coincidentally, this has happened under the new BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government, which carried out a series of nuclear tests in 1998 and originally put forward the nuclear doctrine. Also, in its election manifesto the new government pledged to revise the nuclear doctrine, and there is speculation that there may be a shift from the stated policy of no first use. The nuclear doctrine in fact states that it will be reviewed every five years. So a review incorporating recent developments and the changed reality of the sub-continent is perhaps overdue.

More important than the no first use policy is the need to review and strengthen the C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) capabilities and procedures. In the case of land-based missiles or aircraft, the warheads and delivery systems are at different locations. In contrast, on a submarine both the nuclear warheads and their delivery vehicles (the missile), are close by, and the submarine is far from the mainland, which multiplies the risk of accidental launches or mishaps.

The effect these developments will have on the dynamics of the sub-continent remain to be seen. Nonetheless, they are a significant boost to India’s quest to field a nuclear triad, and will enhance its stature in the international community.

Dinakar Peri is an Associate Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), the autonomous think tank of the Indian Army based in New Delhi. Follow him on Twitter @dperi84

Chinese Foreign Minister Makes Inroads With Modi Government

June 2014

Chinese Foreign Minister Makes Inroads With Modi Government.
China’s foreign minister traveled to New Delhi to forward an economic agenda for bilateral relations. 
In the first major diplomatic interaction between India and China since the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi rose to power, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi traveled to New Delhi to meet Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj. The two-day visit involved a broad strategic dialogue addressing the gamut of bilateral issues between India and China, but focusing mostly on economic matters and trade. According to Xinhua, “Wang [was] on a two-day visit to India as President Xi Jinping’s special envoy.”

The visit was notably warm, with positive rhetoric from both sides. Wang repeatedly praised Narendra Modi’s election victory, referring to him as an “old friend” of China. Wang was likely alluding to Modi’s interactions with the Chinese government as Chief Minister of Gujarat. Wang further commented that the rise of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and Modi in India has injected a ”new vitality into an ancient civilization,” expressing optimism that India would thrive under Modi’s leadership. Wang met with Swaraj on Sunday for a three-hour meeting which was described as ”cordial, useful, substantive and productive” by the Indian side. On Monday, Wang met with Narendra Modi although scant details are available as to what the two discussed. Modi has highlighted China as an important partner for India. Despite his apparent enthusiasm for closer relations with China, during his campaign for prime minister, he took the opportunity in India’s northeast to condemn China’s “expansionist” behavior.

In New Delhi, Wang said closer ties between India and China would “contribute to the national resurrection” of both countries — hearkening back to the sort of rhetoric used by Indian and Chinese leaders in the 1950s, referring to their solidarity against Western imperialism and colonialism. Meanwhile, Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, ran a commentary arguing that China and India are in reality strategic partners, not rivals. Following Wang’s visit to India, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, in a speech before India’s parliament, stated that India would continue to pursue its strategic partnership with China as well. Xinhua took note of the fact that Mukherjee made a point of stating China before any other state in his speech, including Japan, Russia, and the United States. According to Times of India, Chinese premier Li Keqiang was the first foreign leader to call Modi after he assumed office.

During his 45-minute meeting with Modi, Wang conveyed a direct message from Xi Jinping:

Defence needs projects, not FDI

An artillery gun barrel, machined in an Indian private company

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 10th Jun 14

There are widespread misconceptions about raising the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in defence production. This is especially so in the hazy post-Congress euphoria of economic azadi, where any loosening of government controls is reflexively lauded as a progressive step even when it involves issues far beyond economic liberalisation. I observed this while participating in a recent television discussion on the initiative by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to raise the current 26 per cent cap to 49, 74 or even 100 per cent. My co-panellists --- one from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the other from the Congress --- had little interest in debating whether, or how, a higher FDI cap would boost indigenisation. Instead, they squabbled over credit. The BJP member boasted about his party’s purposefulness on defence; the Congressman claimed correctly that the UPA had already permitted 100 per cent FDI for firms that brought in high technology. Ironically, they were both seeking credit for giving foreign arms vendors concessions that are both unprecedented and unnecessary.

FDI in defence is usually considered in a highly simplistic context, summarized in a 2010 proposal by the Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy (DIPP), which has now been dusted out again. The 2010 proposal notes: “Manufacturing within the country… will be a better option than importing the equipment from abroad. The general perception is that the present FDI cap of 26% discourages original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) from bringing in proprietary technology, as OEMs may be reluctant to license their proprietary technology to a company in which their equity is restricted to a minority of 26%. This has resulted in India not being able to access the latest high-end technologies available.”

This argument is plain wrong. Since 2006 the government has permitted 100 per cent FDI in defence on a “case-by-case basis”, i.e. for OEMs who bring in high-end technology to build weaponry in India. Since then, not one OEM has responded with a proposal, nor is anyone likely to. That is because even when a vendor sees a terrific business case in building defence systems in India, it is not her board but her government that will have the final say on technology export. The OEM can release no proprietary technology to an Indian production unit, even fully owned, without the home government’s explicit sanction. This requirement is legislated by every major defence exporter through laws like the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). As the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry wrote to the government in 2010 while contesting the DIPP proposal, “A 100% owned Indian subsidiary (hypothetical case) of an OEM thus has no special status when it comes to obtaining technology from (the) overseas parent company.”


By Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy 

Within a week of the new Indian government assuming office, South Block hosted two important events: the foreign minister of Oman visited the new Indian minister of external affairs, and a ministerial delegation from Qatar followed shortly after, to hold foreign office consultations with their Indian counterparts. 

The timing of these visits is significant. It could indicate some seriousness among the Indian leadership towards deepening New Delhi’s engagement with West Asia. Despite the overwhelming scale of historical and economic linkages, Indian policy-making has not taken substantial concentrated efforts towards expanding this promising engagement. 

A ‘Look West Policy’ (LWP) like India’s famed ‘Look East Policy’ has often been spoken about, but there has not been a formal institutionalisation of the same. This will need a concentrated focus – like the LEP – for the region, to formulate effective policies. While trade is a significant component of this relationship, the essence of the LWP will be the multi-dimensionality of its character. As much as India trades with the region, also important are the issues of security, culture, people-to-people linkages, and those of a wider geopolitical and geostrategic nature. 

Look West Policy: Primary Rationales for Induction 

Diaspora & remittances: The West Asian region is home to millions of non-resident Indians; and they were responsible for approximately half of the US$69 billion worth of remittances that flowed into India in 2012. However, the introduction of the Nitaqat laws in many Gulf countries has resulted in several thousands of these workers having to return to India. While it is unfair to view the returnees as a liability, one cannot ignore the economic and social impact of this mass re-migration. India is not prepared to assimilate all these people into its own economy just yet. Already, unemployment rates are high, and the economy is not doing well. Job creation will take a while, and until then, there will be some strain on the economy. 

Energy: India, being a growing economy, is perpetually energy-hungry. West Asian nations are among the primary suppliers of oil and gas that keep the Indian economy running. Stable and more improved relations between India and the region are key to securing and expanding on these sources. Projects such as the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline lay suspended due to several other reasons. However, proposed projects such as the Oman-India Pipeline, an undersea gas pipeline – that Iran too has expressed interest in – look promising. India’s attempts at ensuring energy security therefore cannot bypass engagements with the region. 

Maritime security: Be it trade or energy supply routes, or even national security, the significance of an effective maritime security infrastructure in the Indian Ocean – the maritime link connecting India with several of its key West Asian partners – is pivotal to ensuring safety, stability, and disaster-management for the region. The Indian Ocean Region is a major geographical stretch through which a large chunk of the world’s business is conducted. Already, there is a constant threat of piracy in the western Indian Ocean. A concentrated policy will be needed to identify specific issues and areas of cooperation between India and West Asia, in order to ensure smooth and secure movement. 

Furthermore, in recent times, there have been many debates on the concept of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ to boost connectivities between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The two regions already have robust connectivities, but more can be done. However, if this concept of the Indo-Pacific has to become a reality, there is a need for enhanced cooperation in various areas among the key players in each region, before connecting the regions. Eventually, the LWP and the LEP can lay the foundations for the realisation of the ‘Indo-Pacific’. 

National and regional security: Any form of tumult in the West Asian region invariably has an impact on India and South Asia as a whole. For strategic reasons, India seeks peace and political stability and security in the West Asian region – sentiments reciprocated by the countries of the region in their assessments towards West Asia as well as South Asia. So far, India has been pragmatic in its policies towards the West Asian region –excellent examples of which are balancing its relationships with Palestine and Israel; and Saudi Arabia and Iran, among others. 

However, there is more that needs to be done, and for that, there needs to be better, more polished and astute understanding of the region in our country – especially in the light of the impending US withdrawal from Afghanistan; the thawing in the US-Iran bilateral; the ongoing civil war in Syria and its implications; implementation of the Nitaqat policies in the Gulf countries; and the rising fundamentalism, especially in the franchisee-ing nature of terror networks, among others. 

These are among the primary reasons why India must and will expedite its engagement with countries in West Asia in the coming months. For the new government that took office in May 2014 – one that won the elections with a campaign based primarily on promises of improved trade, economic development, employment, investment and better infrastructure – there would not be a more apt initiative to begin with than institutionalising the LWP; updating, revolutionising and expanding New Delhi’s linkages with India’s largest trading partner-bloc, West Asia. 

Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy 

Research Officer, IReS, IPCS

4 reasons the Pakistani Taliban is winning

June 2014

Fire illuminates the sky above Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, where security forces fought with attackers Sunday night. (Fareed Khan/Associated Press) 

On Sunday night, Pakistani security forces waged an hours-long firefight with militants who assaulted the main airport in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city. At least 28 people were killed, according to the BBC, including all 10 assailants. Armed with machine guns, grenades, rocket launchers and suicide vests, the attackers infiltrated a part of the airport used both for cargo as well as a terminal for VIP dignitaries. They fought over the course of the night with airport security, police and later Pakistani special forces. 

Pakistani authorities claimed that the heroism of their security personnel prevented further carnage and even the destruction of passenger aircraft. But the militants appear undeterred. On Monday, the Pakistani Taliban took credit for the attack. A spokesman for the group, also known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told a Pakistani newspaper that the assault was in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike in November that killed Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. "This is just the beginning," the spokesman warned. Here's why the Pakistani Taliban has reason to be confident. 

A many-headed hydra
The Pakistani Taliban is in reality an umbrella organization that brought together dozens of militant factions and armed gangs in 2007. It's distinct from the Afghan Taliban, which was more directly the creation of Pakistan's military in the shadow of the Cold War. The Pakistani Taliban rejects Pakistan's constitution, calls for the institution of sharia law in the country and targets institutions of the state as well as civilians, including religious minorities. 

What began as a low-level militancy in Pakistan's tribal belt along the porous border with Afghanistan has now metastasized into a sprawling insurgency that has tapped into nationwide networks of criminal syndicates and other terrorist organizations. The Pakistani Taliban's profile in Karachi has grown in recent years, highlighted by a spate of brazen attacks, including the 17-hour siege of a Pakistani naval base near the airport in 2011. 

The Drone Strike Narrative in Pakistan

By Farooq Yousaf

The discourse surrounding drone strikes in the FATA region has always been complex. 

At least, that is what the New America Foundation’s Peter Bergen said recently, a revelation that was backed by a statement from an unnamed official in Islamabad.

With a sharp decline in the number of drone strikes from 2010 onwards, and no strikes at all so far in 2014, it seems as if the Obama administration, ahead of a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2016, has finally decided to wrap up the CIA drone campaign in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA.

Bergen, while commenting on Obama’s security policies, wrote that the lack of infrastructure due to the U.S. pullout, as well as a shift in drone focus towards Yemen and Somalia, has effectively ended the drone campaign in Pakistan’s lawless frontier.

Professor Brian Glyn Williams, author of Predators: The CIA’s Drone War on Al Qaeda, also believes that Obama and the CIA may have called it a day on drone strikes in FATA. Responding to a question about the future of drone strikes in Pakistan, he said: “The CIA has indeed ended its aggressive drone program in Pakistan. Despite all the claims in the Pakistani media that the drones were killing ‘hundreds of Pakistani civilians a week’ the truth is that the drones had systematically annihilated Al Qaeda and killed thousands of allied Taliban, not innocent civilian bystanders. There are fewer and fewer HVTs (High Value Targets) left to be killed.”

According to Bergen’s New America Foundation, which has tracked every strike over the past decade, drones have killed a minimum of 258 civilians and 1,600 militants in Pakistan, with no civilian casualties reported in 2013. There have been close to 370 strikes since 2004, killing more than 50 high-profile leaders of the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and its affiliates.

During this time, drones been portrayed to the Pakistani people as one of the greatest evils to have ever engulfed the country. This is a narrative driven largely by the Pakistani media and the country’s politicians.

Pakistan’s electronic media has boomed over the past decade, especially during the Musharraf regime, and the country now has close to 90 independent television channels, compared to just three before Musharraf. This boom, coupled with impressive print media circulations, changed not only the political dynamics, but also the way people consumed and synthesized information.

The media in Pakistan now has the power to shape the public discourse on major issues, notably the CIA drone strikes in FATA. And the position of the Pakistani media on drone strikes has been very heavily critical. This discourse is predominantly based on the fact that drones were a U.S. tool, violating Pakistan’s sovereignty, and apparently killing “thousands” of innocent civilians. (Official estimates in Pakistan of civilian casualties have varied: In October 2013, sources in Islamabad claimed the number of civilian deaths to be around 400, but the government late backtracked from this number, reporting a mere 67 deaths since 2008.)

While media outlets occasionally quoted figures from Pakistani and U.S. officials designating victims as “suspected” militants, their commentaries and op-eds insisted that those died were mostly civilians.

Politicians, meanwhile, have also been outspoken on drones, for instance when high-profile Taliban leaders are killed.

The death of Wali-ur-Rehman, a Taliban spokesperson, in a May 2013 drone strike is one example. Imran Khan, the popular politician and leader of the Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, tagged Rehman as a “pro-peace” Taliban, willing to negotiate peace with Islamabad. According to Khan, Rehman should not have been killed. Yet Rehman was associated with, and represented, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, an outfit responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

Khan, the Pakistani politician who has been most vocal against drones, bases his stance on the assumption that the strikes have fuelled militancy. His open opposition to drone strikes, with emphasis solely on civilian deaths and not on those of militants, has resonated among his many supporters.

A more recent example was the killing of TTP head Hakimullah Mehsud in a November 2013 drone strike. At the time, Mehsud was not only Pakistan’s public enemy number one but also one of the most brutal leaders to have led a militant faction in the country. Yet Mehsud’s death was officially condemned by the Nawaz government as an attempt to sabotage the peace process in Pakistan.

Farhat Taj, a Pashtun academic and expert, has debunked the common drone discourse writing that “people of Waziristan are suffering a brutal kind of occupation under the Taliban and al Qaeda. Therefore, they welcome the drone attacks.” Taj’s opinion is supported by many in FATA, who believe that drones, even with their loopholes, are high precision weapons mostly targeting militants.

A student from Mohmand Agency, FATA, while talking to me on the issue, was of the view that “many in his tribal agency, as well as Waziristan, believe that drones are highly precise compared to military operations, and thus result in minimal civilian loss.”

Kabul’s City on the Hill

KABUL, Afghanistan — Just south of the city center is the most famous of Kabul’s many dun-colored mountains. It is called TV Hill, after the telecom and broadcast antennas that crowd its peak like needles in a pincushion. One of the most visible signs of the Western presence in Afghanistan, it is hailed as a symbol of post-Taliban progress.

In fact, TV Hill is a microcosm of a nation divided. Conflict has made Afghanistan, a traditionally rural country, more urban. Since the beginning of NATO’s war in 2001, many people have left their home villages and moved to cities looking for safety and work. These waves of migration have left on TV Hill a kind of sociological sediment, with different groups of different means settling at different levels up the slope. The higher, the poorer.

On Saturday, Afghans will vote in the second round of the election to replace President Hamid Karzai. But for the 20,000 or so families who live on TV Hill, the runoff is yet another distant technicality with a mysterious influence on the minutiae of their lives

One morning in February, several weeks before the first round of voting, my translator, Qadeer, and I set out to climb the hill. The base, a dense warren of flat-topped houses, is home to former refugees of the civil war and the Taliban regime in the 1990s who returned to Afghanistan after the United States-led NATO invasion.

That day, Wali Mohammad Safed, a tall and bearded middle-aged man, was taking a break from selling apples at his stall and puttering around his cement-and-brick house. It stood out against the tawny landscape of mud-walled homes.

Pakistan's balancing act in West Asia

Taruni Kumar
10 June 2014

Saudi Arabia's recent $1.5 billion grant to Pakistan re-affirms the depth of the relationship that the two countries share. It has also brought into focus their expanding defence ties and raised concerns about Pakistan's possible role in the Syrian civil war. The increasing proximity between the two countries is bound to impact Pakistan's relationship with Iran. 

The grant to Pakistan was aimed at bolstering the country's sinking foreign currency reserves. It is expected to lift the reserves by about 18 per cent. Also, Saudi Arabia has reportedly agreed to purchase weapons from Pakistan. The kind of weapons has not been specified and Pakistan has denied that any arms purchased from it will be sent to Syria. In February, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud accompanied by Foreign Minister visited Pakistan leading to speculation that Saudi Arabia wishes to expand its security ties with Pakistan. In the same month, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said that Saudi Arabia was looking for a large number of Pakistani troops to support its campaign along the Yemeni border and for internal security purposes. 

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have historically shared a close defence relationship. In 1979, during Iran's Islamic Revolution, 30,000 Pakistani soldiers were sent to Saudi Arabia. During the 1991 Gulf War, the Saudis employed thousands of Pakistani soldiers. Pakistani troops under Saudi command were also used to quell Shia uprisings in Bahrain in 2011. Pakistan's agreement to support the establishment of a 'transitional governing body' in Syria was reportedly an important aspect that led to the Saudi grant. This grant could be part of a secret deal wherein Pakistan will provide weapons for Syrian rebels. Pakistan's assurances that its weapons will not enter Syria remain questionable. Earlier, Pakistan has tried to remain neutral on the issue of Syria but in February of this year, it shifted its stance and asked Assad to step down. 

Syria is a sensitive issue for Pakistan that requires a delicate balancing act. While the former backs the Sunni militant groups, Shia Iran supports the Assad regime. The change of stance on Syria may not be directly linked to its relationship with Saudi Arabia. However, there is speculation that the Saudis are pressuring the Pakistani Army to recruit and train volunteers to fight against the Syrian regime. 

Meanwhile, the balancing act continues with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif travelling to Tehran to reassure Iran that his country will not play the role of Saudi Arabia's proxy in Syria. Pakistan has swung between Saudi Arabia and Iran often. The most recent example of this would be the pro-Iran Government under Asif Ali Zardari which took the Iranian gas pipeline project forward. During his recent visit to Iran, Prime Minister Sharif also convinced the Iranian Government to waive a $200 million per month penalty which had been stipulated in the pipeline agreement in the eventuality of a delay in construction. 

The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Prime Minister Sharif during his visit that the border unrest between the two neighbours was part of an enemy conspiracy aimed at destabilising the Pakistan-Iran friendship. He hinted at Saudi involvement and specified that the US also played a role. Pakistan cannot afford to allow its relationship with Iran to sour especially since it shares a long border with the country. 

Historically, Pakistan has tried to balance its relationship with Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. It is impractical to take sides in the Middle East. Pakistan benefits greatly from its friendship with both these countries and to side with one or the other would take away an important source of aid and support. But in recent times, the balance seems to be tipping in favour of the Saudis. This raises several questions. Is Saudi Arabia giving assurances to Pakistan that it will help the latter tide over its current economic crisis? In return for this aid, what does Saudi Arabia expect to receive from Pakistan? Will Pakistan manage to maintain a balance between Saudi Arabia and Iran? 

(The writer is a Research Assistant with Observer Research Foundation, Delhi) 

Karachi airport attack: The world is not safe until Pakistan cleans up its mess

Rob Crilly is Pakistan correspondent of The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph. Before that he spent five years writing about Africa for The Times, The Irish Times, The Daily Mail, The Scotsman and The Christian Science Monitor from his base in Nairobi.

Security at Karachi’s airport was never foolproof. Driving up to its departure terminal cars are stopped by armed guards, allowing an officer to walk alongside with something similar to one of those novelty golf ball detectors, the ones marketed as “bomb detectors” by a British fraudster now serving jail time.

But that’s not the issue. There is not much any security can do in the face of a gang of men who have strapped on suicide vests, said their final prayers and have their minds on the 72 virgins that await. No target can be secure enough.

The question now is what last night's attack on the airport says about Pakistan, the Taliban and the continuing drawdown in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The Pakistan Taliban – an umbrella group of thugs, gangster and sectarian terror outfits related to, but distinct from the Mullah Omar’s Taliban in Afghanistan – has had a quiet year. It announced a ceasefire and opened talks with the government while the threat of a massive military operation against its bases loomed.

Talks predictably went nowhere. Yet last month it seemed the Taliban was suddenly on the back foot. A key part of the powerful Mehsud clan broke away, accusing their comrades of un-Islamic practices and saying it wanted to pursue peace negotiations.

At the same time, the military stepped up bombing runs and targeted operations against havens. Could its policy of divide and rule be bearing fruit, splitting the militants before wiping them out?

The bloody assault on Karachi airport last night shows the flip side. Once proxies have been armed and let loose – in Pakistan’s case to act as an informal arm of foreign policy in Kashmir and in Afghanistan – they are impossible to put back in their box.

As savvy analysts told me at the time, the split likely marks a return to Pakistan’s discredited policy of Good Taliban; Bad Taliban. While American troops head home from Afghanistan, while an election is under way, it would be silly of Islamabad to give up its proxies, runs the reasoning. Who knows what might happen across the border? Who knows what allies Pakistan might need? So long as the Good Taliban steer clear of Pakistani targets then all is well.

Rather than clear the militants, the havens can be left for now.

But while those refuges remain, the Bad Taliban will remain too. Security officials might already have started announcing that Chechen and Uzbek nationals were behind Sunday night’s attack, and that they were using Indian-made weapons, but do not be fooled. This is Pakistan’s problem.

Until these havens are cleared, until Pakistan turns its back on the proxies, these attacks will continue.

reasons the Pakistani Taliban is winning

June 2014

Fire illuminates the sky above Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, where security forces fought with attackers Sunday night. (Fareed Khan/Associated Press) 

On Sunday night, Pakistani security forces waged an hours-long firefight with militants who assaulted the main airport in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city. At least 28 people were killed, according to the BBC, including all 10 assailants. Armed with machine guns, grenades, rocket launchers and suicide vests, the attackers infiltrated a part of the airport used both for cargo as well as a terminal for VIP dignitaries. They fought over the course of the night with airport security, police and later Pakistani special forces. 

Pakistani authorities claimed that the heroism of their security personnel prevented further carnage and even the destruction of passenger aircraft. But the militants appear undeterred. On Monday, the Pakistani Taliban took credit for the attack. A spokesman for the group, also known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told a Pakistani newspaper that the assault was in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike in November that killed Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. "This is just the beginning," the spokesman warned. Here's why the Pakistani Taliban has reason to be confident. 

A many-headed hydra

The Pakistani Taliban is in reality an umbrella organization that brought together dozens of militant factions and armed gangs in 2007. It's distinct from the Afghan Taliban, which was more directly the creation of Pakistan's military in the shadow of the Cold War. The Pakistani Taliban rejects Pakistan's constitution, calls for the institution of sharia law in the country and targets institutions of the state as well as civilians, including religious minorities. 

What began as a low-level militancy in Pakistan's tribal belt along the porous border with Afghanistan has now metastasized into a sprawling insurgency that has tapped into nationwide networks of criminal syndicates and other terrorist organizations. The Pakistani Taliban's profile in Karachi has grown in recent years, highlighted by a spate of brazen attacks, including the 17-hour siege of a Pakistani naval base near the airport in 2011. 

Despite its effectiveness, the Pakistani Taliban operates in a fashion that is "not as hierarchical as one terrorist group may be," says Hassan Abbas, author of the new book "The Taliban Revival: Violence and Extremism on the Pakistan-Afghanistan Frontier." Pakistan's government, Abbas says, has struggled to adjust to the threat posed by the militants, who have claimed thousands of lives. "The Pakistani Taliban are as dangerous as al-Qaeda once was," he says. "People think they're just Pashtun tribals. But it has become a much more complicated crisis."

Karachi Airport Attack Shows Vulnerabilities in Pakistan's Anti-Terror Strategy

JUNE 09, 2014
Government's New Policy Focuses on Response to Attacks, Should Stress Preventio
Relatives and colleagues of Airport Security Force soldiers killed on Sunday's Taliban attack on Jinnah International Airport, offer funeral prayers on June 9. Militant fighters stormed the airport disguised as security forces. REUTERS/Athar Hussain

Militants launched a well-coordinated, commando-style attack on Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport Sunday night, killing at least 18 people and seizing part of Pakistan's busiest air-travel hub for more than five hours. Shuja Nawaz, director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, provides an early analysis: 

The talks between the government and the terrorists are going nowhere. This was the second major attack of its kind by the Taliban and most probably Al Qaeda acting in concert. The last one was in 2011 on Pakistan Naval Station Mehran, also in Karachi, when they penetrated the naval air station and burned P-3 Orion aircraft. 

The one before that was on the army headquarters in Rawalpindi. The modus operandi was the same: uniforms and fake ID cards and apparently inside knowledge of weak spots in the perimeter defenses. 

What they are saying to the government is: we can hit you at will at places that you do not expect. This puts the government on the back foot and in a reactive mode. 

That said, one sign of progress on the government side was the Airport Security Force’s ability to divert the attackers away from the main terminal building toward the less populated and used old terminal building. Whether this was by chance or design is unclear.

What To Do About Russia and Ukraine

Speakers: Karen E. Donfried, President, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, Robert Kahn, Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations, and Stephen Sestanovich, George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
June 9, 2014

HAASS: OK, good evening. And welcome on this summer's day to the Council on Foreign Relations. Tonight is either the fourth or fifth -- I've lost count -- of this new series we've started, which is the "What to Do About," and tonight it is Russia and Ukraine. 

And the structure or approach of this series, for those of you who have not seen any of the predecessors, is to take an issue in American foreign policy where in the real world there's lots of debate about what we should do about something and to have a version of it right here. 

And what we do is we take people who are scholar-practitioners and we essentially construct the equivalent of a high-level meeting in the U.S. government. No one acts in a role, so Karen is not representing the NSC or Rob is not representing Treasury and Steve for sure is not representing the State Department. And instead, they are all essentially ministers without portfolio. They are wise women and wise men offering their analysis and recommendations on issues of policy. 

Tonight, as I said, is what to do about Russia and Ukraine. It is on-the-record, I believe. And what we are going to do is start with a little bit of conversation amongst ourselves, and then I will ask you to take over with questions. Just to make sure everybody knows who's up here, Karen Donfried, until recently, was the senior person in charge of all things European on the staff of the National Security Council. And now she is the new -- you're still new... 

DONFRIED: I'm still new. 

HAASS: ... president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Congratulations on your new position. 

Rob Kahn is the not-so-new Steven Tannenbaum Senior Fellow here at the Council on Foreign Relations for international economics. And if you're not a regular reader of his blog, you should be. And what's the catchy title again? 

KAHN: Macro and Markets. 

HAASS: Macro and Markets. Rob is clearly not in charge of branding here at the Council on Foreign Relations, but we're glad to have him all the same. 


Last but far from least, Steve Sestanovich, who has held all sorts of senior positions in the U.S. government, holds academic positions at places like Columbia University, and is also the George F. Kennan Senior Fellow here at the Council for Russia and Eurasian Studies. So that is the line-up; we are in safe hands here. 

So let's start as we would at a meeting of this sort with the setting, essentially what's going on, what's the latest? This situation/crisis has now been unfolding, what, for three, four months. And we're in the near-term aftermath of an election. You were there. 

SESTANOVICH: I was an observer. 

HAASS: So why don't we start with you, Steve? Because you I think have been the most recent to set feet on the ground. So what is the -- let's get a sense of the landscape. We'll look at -- begin with Ukraine and then we'll work our ways out to Europe and Russia. So let's start with that. 

SESTANOVICH: Well, the political landscape in Ukraine is that you now have a legitimate leadership that no one can contest. Mr. Poroshenko, the famous chocolate king, got himself 55 percent of the vote in a turnout that was strong across the country. 

HAASS: Has anyone questioned in any way the legitimacy or fairness of the election? 

SESTANOVICH: It was really an impressive election. You had people saying that -- local monitors saying this is the first European standards election that we've had since 1991. And I was very impressed by the group of people that I saw just in the precinct where I was observing, but I heard the same thing from people who had been all over the country and local monitors -- thousands of them -- who were deployed in all parts of the country, not in Donetsk and Luhansk. And that's the second part of the landscape. 

Poroshenko was inaugurated over the weekend. He gave a speech that combined the outstretched hand and the outstretched fist. He said there's going to be no end to the counterterrorism operation -- a term really like, because that was what Putin called the offensive in Chechnya. 

The -- but he said -- and he said there would be no negotiating with those people. So he's not -- in offering dialogue, he's not reaching out to them. But he is saying he wants dialogue and he's offering an agenda of conciliatory measures, Russian language, local autonomy related to budgets and taxation, and the like. 

Whether he can deliver that at a time where his army is yielding border posts kind of by the day is hard to say. So he has a military question mark about his policy. He's got a strong political mandate. 

HAASS: Let me just ask one more question on the security situation before I turn to Rob on the economics, which is you said his military, which has had trouble from the get-go, is yielding posts and territory in a fairly regular basis. What's our reading of the nature of those they're yielding it to now? To what extent is Ukraine, if you will, those doing the taking here, have they in a sense become Ukrainized, essentially local dynamics? Or to what extent do we think that the dynamic is coming from outside, and more particularly from Moscow? How do we read the security dynamic? 

SESTANOVICH: Well, I think there's -- the U.S. government -- if I can put it this way -- the U.S. government, since we're play acting here, the U.S. government has no doubt that there is a significant infusion of Russian assistance over a pretty porous -- across a pretty porous border. It's not in large numbers. It's mostly special forces advisers. But it is -- it's not an autonomous outpouring. There are -- these groups have been strengthened by getting Ukrainian arms from units that have abandoned their posts. 

HAASS: Well, let me ask the question in a slightly different way, which is, do we think essentially they are now calling their own political shots and decisions? Or to the -- do we think they're listening and waiting for guidance? What's our reading of how independent they are? 

SESTANOVICH: They definitely are listening to Moscow, and there have been some indications of Russians coming in and trying to displace the local hotheads so as to have a more better organized and coordinated operation, but also one that can cut a deal. 

HAASS: Rob, let's talk about the economics for a second, and then I'll turn it to Karen, which is, you've had, what, probably a month or two before the election, you had the massive commitment from the E.U. and the IMF. The United States commitment was, shall we say, on a more modest scale. So what is the state of the economy? What's the stake of international support? And how did the two, if you will, interact? 

KAHN: Well, it's pretty dire. Certainly this was a crisis -- an economic crisis that was many years in the making for economic policies, overvalued exchange rate, unsustainable fiscal policies, and the like. But as you said, the pretty -- a pretty sizable IMF-led rescue package was put together, with -- subject to a set of conditions, and by and large, the government's kept its word and taken the actions it needed to take to get that money going and to keep that money going. 

The problem is that the economy is suffering quite dramatically, because now you've lawyered over on top of it a political crisis and an economic crisis. Growth will probably fall something on the order of 5 percent to 10 percent this year. Fiscal revenue, not just because growth is lower, but because in some parts of the country the fiscal -- the government's not really functioning -- will be a lot worse. And so I suspect that even -- that economic performance will fall significantly short of even what the IMF assumed only a few months ago. 

HAASS: And remind of the numbers. There was $17 billion, $18 billion of aid that was promised? 

KAHN: Of IMF money was $17 billion. The total could have been as much as $27 billion. 

HAASS: And what is your sense -- I mean, if this were Silicon Valley, we'd talk about a burn rate. What is your sense of how long this is going to last, based upon what they're consuming as opposed to producing economically, and at what point we, the United States or other -- the world is going to be confronted, if you will, with the possibility of an additional tranche? 

SESTANOVICH: I think pretty soon. When we talk about burn rate, we should distinguish between what you might call an external burn rate and a government burn rate, because the significant depreciation of the exchange rate -- while it's been very difficult -- helped the current trade accounts quite a bit and reserves have been stabilized. 

But in terms of the fiscal burn rate, that money is not enough, and I'm expecting that probably as soon as the summer we're going to have to take a new look and rewrite that program and find some additional financing to keep this thing going. 

HAASS: So, Karen, a big chunk of our policy has obviously been the political and economic bolstering and security bolstering of Ukraine and the results, I would say, seem to be slightly better on the political side than on the economic or security. And the other part of the policy was obviously -- the flipside was more to try to influence Russian behavior, largely through pressures and sanctions. And we just had the meetings in Europe, and I would simply say that there is something less than consensus between the United States and the European governments. The French government is going ahead with its arm sales. The other governments don't seem particularly inclined to make Russia pay any higher price for what it's done. It's not clear what would -- or even for what it's doing. 

So what is your reading of the transatlantic, if you will, consensus or lack thereof here? 

DONFRIED: Sure, and just a comment. 

HAASS: Yeah, comment on anything, yeah. 

DONFRIED: There's clearly a connection between the politics and the economics, because the fact that you have this unrest being fomented in the east in Donetsk and Luhansk, which are very important in terms of heavy manufacturing, so the longer that unrest continues, the more of a hit the Ukrainian economy takes, so these things are definitely connected. 

In terms of the transatlantic piece, certainly it's been a priority of the Obama administration to keep unity with its allies, and that was on display last week when the president began his trip in Poland, went to Brussels for the G-7, which is the first time in almost two decades that there hasn't been a G-8 meeting with Russia being excluded, and then all of them being on the same stage in Normandy.

What you saw at the G-7, the statements that came out, it wasn't just the U.S. that was accusing Russia of engaging in supporting the separatists in the east. It was the entire G-7. And what President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron and others said is, Putin needs to do three things. He needs to respect Poroshenko as the legitimate president of Ukraine. He needs to stop support for the separatists. And he needs to stop materiel and militias going across the border. And if not, there will be further consequences. 

Now, they didn't define what the consequences were, which gets to your point... 


HAASS: But even before we get to the consequences, do any of you see any evidence that Mr. Putin is going to embrace any or all of those three conditions, he's going to meet them? 

DONFRIED: It's been fascinating to watch President Putin at work. And Steve can speak to this probably better than any of us, but clearly, on the one hand, he's very visibly suggesting that he's stepping back. And he sent his ambassador back to Kiev and intended the inauguration. Today we saw President Poroshenko begin a dialogue with that Russian ambassador. 

Yet on the other hand, it defies belief to think that Putin is giving up his goal of trying to control what happens in Ukraine. So he's clearly using other means to exert influence... 


SESTANOVICH: There's a little more to it than that, although I think that's significant. The Russians have been claiming this is a government of, you know, fascist thugs for months, and now they can't do that. So they're -- they've made their peace with Poroshenko. 

They've called for mediation by the OSCE, kind of unusual in itself. The Russians despise the OSCE. On the other hand, they don't have the greatest regard for its effectiveness, either, and that can be a kind of stalling operation, too. 

Nevertheless, they have said that -- the Financial Times had a nice quote from the Russian Foreign Ministry today saying that the arms flow across the border is the work of the devil, which is to say... 

HAASS: The devil's been busy in that sense. 

SESTANOVICH: You just don't know which -- they don't where it's coming from, but it does put a little bit of distance between themselves and separatists. And the way in which Putin has interacted with Poroshenko suggests there's a message to the separatists there, "I can do a deal with this guy." 

HAASS: But all along, the phrase that's stuck to me is the Russians were essentially intervening in Ukraine without invading. And nothing you said seems inconsistent with that. They may get a little bit more clever about how they mask their intervention. They may be gaming or gauging what it is they can get away with without triggering some unclear trigger across -- with the Europeans in particular, but one gets the sense they are going to continue, if you will, to keep their hands in as much as they can without necessarily incurring more of a penalty. 

SESTANOVICH: I think it's clear that they have been impressed enough by Western unity to give up on the idea of just completely breaking up Ukraine openly, having -- you know, absorbing these eastern territories the way they did Crimea. That just -- that doesn't seem to be on. In that respect, Tom Friedman is right; they've blinked at that thought. 

But you're absolutely right. There isn't any indication that they intend to give up on the idea -- and to make Ukraine whole again. They're not impressed by what the West threatens that they are going to say, "You guys have got to go back and make your peace with Kiev, and, you know, we wash our hands of you." 

HAASS: One or two last questions on this, and then we'll turn to some of the next part of this, which is -- and is it your sense what's influencing the Russians, is it the reality or threat of sanctions? Or is it the cost of Crimea, and that's not something they want to keep paying? It was described to me by one person as three Olympics. It's the new unit of account in Russia, is an Olympic. 


Is it the idea that they don't want a failed Ukraine on their borders, that it's one thing to have a Russian to widely regard over Ukraine, something else to have a Ukraine that's hemorrhaging. What's our sense now of where Russia is? 

DONFRIED: I think it's all of the above and more. I think it was also striking for Russia, when you had the vote in the U.N. Security Council, that China abstained. I think that Russia has found perhaps less support for its intervention in the east of Ukraine than it might have thought. I think there might have been a thought on the Russian side that when they sparked something, that this would ignite a flame and you'd see people demonstrating in the streets of eastern Ukraine in support of Russian action, and that didn't happen. And I do think it was unity in the West that perhaps we hung together more than they thought. I do think the sanctions have had some effect in terms of capital flight and those around Putin who have been targeted, not just personally, but also their businesses. So I think it's the combination of all of this. 

KAHN: But there's one thing that they've gained here, which I think is undeniable, and that is a kind of recognition not just in Kiev, where it's -- that recognition has always been strong but in the West -- that they are a kind of -- they are a power broker that affects the internal course of Ukrainian politics. And they've been -- and that isn't even so much disputed now. The recognition in -- from these meetings, where, by the way, Putin was also -- he was supposed to be disinvited, and he was skulking around, just sitting to the left of the queen of Denmark. 

HAASS: We had two dinners one night. 

DONFRIED: He did. 

HAASS: He had a dinner... 

DONFRIED: With -- Hollande, who had two dinners... 

HAASS: Oh, that's right. 

DONFRIED: ... one with Obama and one with Putin. He had supper with Putin. 

HAASS: I apologize. I apologize. 

KAHN: The -- you know, the West is now kind of imploring Putin to use his influence to calm things down in the east. 

HAASS: Well, let's pick up on that, which -- OK, so we've kind of sketched out the lay of the land. What at this point are our interests? And it seems to me it ranges everything from going back to a status quo ante, where Russia -- the Russian-Ukraine connection is broken, in particular the Russian Crimea hold, to where we simply say, look, we don't like the status quo, we want it to keep it from getting worse, and there's lots of things in between. 

So at this point, what -- what is realistically -- what do we -- what will define as a success? What do we define as acceptable? What is it we're committed to avoiding over, say, the rest of this year? We've got roughly halfway through the year. What is it we're -- what is it we're trying to do? What is it we're trying to avoid at this point? 

DONFRIED: I see Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and the unrest they're trying to spark in the east of Ukraine as a fundamental challenge to our post-Cold War policy in Europe, and by our I don't just mean the U.S. It was a shared policy with our European allies, and that was to try to expand that part of Europe. I mean, the U.S. term was whole, free and at peace. And that was shared by successive U.S. administrations. 

That policy met with a great deal of success, if you think about NATO enlargement and E.U. enlargement. And it was premised on a belief that Russia had made a decision that cooperating with us was more in its interests than engaging in open conflict. And maybe that was already being tested in Transnistria and in Georgia, but, boy, in the case of Ukraine, there's no doubt about it. There was no precipitating factor for Russia to take over. 

HAASS: But given that, what is it now moving forward? So if that was our premise, we are where we are, where in six months do we either want to be or where in six months do we want to make sure we're not? How do -- I mean, do you define success as getting Crimea back? Do you find success as not having any more Crimeas, keeping Russian involvement below a certain level, either through discouraging them or buttressing Ukraine? Is it something else? 

I'm just curious, which is given where we are now, what's our compass? I mean, I know we don't necessarily like where we are, but I can imagine things that are worse as well as better. 

KAHN: Well, on the Ukraine piece of it, I think stabilizing Ukrainian economy is both an objective and a tool, in the sense that presumably we want to signal that their survival as a state, viable state, is critically important, that -- and that we support it and that participation in the Western economy has a long -- the best long-term future for them, but also simply buying time is important in saying that we can withstand this type of destabilization of the sanctions, which do tend to accumulate their effects over time. 

We -- we'll work because we can withstand time or we can -- we can wait it out and because the Ukrainians themselves can wait it out, as well. So I think that idea of showing that there is an economic future for Ukraine is critically important here. 

HAASS: So that -- but just to translate into a clear U.S. objective, one way to say that the U.S. objective might be in the long run, however you define that, is to make Ukraine whole again, to bring Crimea back, but for the foreseeable future, the goal is to not lose any more of Ukraine. And that to me would be one definition. 

And by the -- and as an aside, not to see any more Ukraines out there, to basically not see what was done there replicate in any other country in Russia's near abroad. 

SESTANOVICH: Richard, I think we've probably already succeeded in not having Ukraine break up, in the sense that Crimea was annexed by Russia. But we are probably still at risk of having something like the Georgian situation be recreated, in which parts of Ukraine -- and these are really significant parts of Ukraine -- are sort of no-go territory for the central government. They exist politically and economically within the Russian orbit and with the much greater likelihood that Ukraine is a kind of -- just kind of failed state. 

I think we have -- that's, I would say, the most plausible bad outcome over the next 6 to 12 months, but I think there's a plausible good outcome, since you ask about a range of possibilities, and that is to have something like a reintegration of those territories into Ukrainian state on terms that have some -- that reflect the desires of -- that have been expressed over time by the eastern provinces for more autonomy, that involve a continuing good relationship between Russia and Ukraine, and -- but that is -- that does not involve a kind of de facto partition.