June 13, 2009
By the yardstick of Jacques, the melancholy philosopher-clown in William Shakespeare's play As You Like It, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has indisputably passed the stage of "Mewing and pucking in the nurse's arms".
Nor is SCO anymore the "whining schoolboy, with his satchel/And shining morning face, creeping like snail/Unwillingly to school". The SCO more and more resembles Jacques' lover, "Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad/Made to his mistress' eyebrow." Indeed, if all the world's a stage and the regional organizations are players who make their exits and entrances, the SCO is doing remarkably well playing many parts. That it has finally reached adulthood is beyond dispute.
But growing up is never easy, especially adolescence, and the
past year since the SCO summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, has been particularly transformational. What stands out when the SCO's ninth summit meeting begins in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg in Russia on Monday is that the setting in which the regional organization - comprising China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - is called on to perform has itself unrecognizably shifted since last August's gathering of leaders in Dushanbe. First, the big picture.
The locus shifts east
The world economic crisis has descended on the SCO space like a Siberian blast that brings frost and ice and leaves behind a white winter, sparking mild hysteria. The landscape seems uniformly attired, but that can be a highly deceptive appearance. Russia and China, which make up the sum total of the SCO experience, are responding to the economic crisis in vastly different terms.
For Russia, as former prime minister and well-known scholar academician Yevgeniy Primakov observed ruefully in a recent Izvestia interview, "Russia will not come out of the crisis anytime soon ... Russia will most likely come out of the recession in the second echelon - after the developed countries ... The trap of the present crisis is that it is not localized but is worldwide. Russia is dependent on other countries. That lessens the opportunity to get out of the recession in a short period of time." 
Primakov should know. It was he as president Boris Yeltsin's prime minister who steered Russia out of its near-terminal financial crisis 10 years ago that brought the whole post-Soviet edifice in Moscow all but tumbling down.
Russia's economic structure is such that 40% of its gross domestic product (GDP) is created through raw material exports, which engenders a highly vulnerable threshold when the world economy as a whole gets caught up in the grip of recession. But what about China?
This was how Primakov compared the Chinese and Russian economic scenario:
In China too, as in Russia, exports make up a significant part of the GDP. The crisis smacked them and us. The difference is that China exports ready-made products, while on our country [Russia] a strong raw material flow was traditional. What are the Chinese doing?
They are moving a large part of the ready-made goods to the domestic market. At the same time, they are trying to raise the population's solvent demand. On this basis, the plants and factories will continue to operate and the economy will work.
We [Russia] cannot do that. If raw materials are moved to the domestic market, consumers of such vast volumes will not be found. Raise the population's solvent demand? That merely steps up imports.
This is only one part of a complex story, but the short point concerns the vastly different prospects of economic stabilization in the current crisis that China and Russia face. To be sure, its impact on the geopolitics of the SCO space cannot be overlooked. Simply put, China's profile as the "donor" country in the SCO space is shining brighter than ever before. China has given US$25 billion as a loan to Russia and $15 billion as a loan to Kazakhstan, the two big-time players in the SCO, during the April-May period.
Last week, in yet another breathtaking move, China offered a loan of $3 billion to Turkmenistan. The loan for Russia is a vital lifeline for its number one oil major Rosneft and its monopoly pipeline builder Transneft. The loan for Kazakhstan, which goes partly towards acquiring a 50% stake in MangistauMunaiGaz, increases China's share of oil production in Kazakhstan to 22%. Again, the loan for Turkmenistan ensures that China has the inside track on the fabulous Yolotan-Osman, which is reputed to be one of the biggest gas fields in the world.
No heartburn in Moscow
In short, if the law of nature is such that gravitation in life is inevitably towards where the money comes from, the locus of the SCO has shifted to Beijing more than ever before. In any other context, this would have straightaway introduced a high state of disequilibrium within the SCO. It took decades for France and Germany to figure out cohabitation within the European Economic Community. The China-Russia equilibrium within the SCO has always been delicate, but it may have prima facie become more so than ever before. But in actuality, it isn't so.
It goes to the credit of the leaderships in Moscow and Beijing that they have steered their relationship in a positive direction by rationally analyzing the imperatives of their strategic partnership in the overall international situation rather than in a limited sphere of who gains access to which gas fields first in the Caspian or who is a lender and who is a borrower in these extraordinary times.
Thus, the frequent tempo of Russia-China high-level exchanges has been kept up. Both sides are sensitive to each other's core concerns and vital interests. Russia's conflict in the Caucasus last August was a litmus test and Beijing passed the test. The Russia-China mutual understanding survived intact without bruises.
Despite China's highly principled position on the issue of political separatism and secessionism, and despite all efforts by Western propaganda, China kept a watchful position on Georgia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and silently took note of Moscow's recognition of their unilateral declaration of independence, but on balance remained broadly sympathetic to Russia's concerns and predicaments, which Moscow duly appreciated.
Again, belying all Western expectations that Russian and Chinese priorities in energy security diverge, the two countries have finally begun taking big strides on the ground in energy cooperation. A variety of factors went into it - the fall in demand for energy in the recession-struck European markets; strains in Russia-European Union energy relations; Russia's own search for diversification of its Asian market; Russia's energy rivalries with the European Union and the United States in the Caspian and so on - but the fact remains that Moscow is increasingly overcoming its hesitancy that it might get hooked to the massive Chinese energy market as an "appendage", as a mere provider of raw materials for China's economy.
The 25-year $25 billion China-Russia "loan-for-oil" deal signed in April alone amounts to Russian oil supplies equivalent of 4% of China's current daily needs. Not bad at all. But it is in the sphere of natural gas that we may expect big news in the coming period. This is virgin soil. Russia at present does not figure as a gas exporter to the Chinese market. And natural gas is where the world's - and especially China's - focus is turning in the coming decades.
Powerful Kremlin politician Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin is on record that the Russian leadership will be making some major proposals to Chinese President Hu Jintao during his visit to Russia to attend the SCO summit. ("Whatever amount they [China] ask for, we [Russia] have the gas," Sechin reportedly said.) It cannot be lost on observers that the Kremlin has earmarked the SCO summit event for taking such a strategic step in energy cooperation with China.
Thus, it has become a moot point whether Moscow has or has not yet realized the then president Vladimir Putin's four-year-old idea of forming an "energy club" within the SCO framework. Effectively, a matrix is developing among the SCO countries (involving member countries as well as "observers") in the field of energy cooperation. It has several templates - China on the one hand and Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan on the other; Russia-China; China-Iran; Russia-Iran; Iran-Pakistan; and, of course Russia's traditional ties with the Central Asian states. (If the current Iranian plan for an oil pipeline linking the Caspian Sea and the Gulf of Oman materializes soon, yet another template may be formed involving Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.)
Arguably, so far these vectors have not collided with each other, despite the prognosis of Western experts that Russian and Chinese interests in the Central Asian and the Caspian region will inevitably collide . Moscow seems to be quite comfortable with the idea that the Chinese are accessing the region's surplus energy reserves rather than the US or EU countries. As a commentator put it, "Russia is also doing its damnedest to keep Europe out of Central Asia ... In Central Asia, it's starting to look as if Moscow and, to a lesser extent, Beijing ... may have already outmaneuvered Europe." 
SCO gatecrashes the Hindu Kush
Less than three years ago, a leading American expert on the Central Asian region, Dr Martha Brill Olcott of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, described the SCO as "little more than a discussion forum". Olcott said, "Today, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization does not pose any direct threat to US interests in Central Asia or in the region more generally." 
That was a debatable point even three years ago, more so now. What seems to have happened is that the US simply has had no choice but to learn to live with a unique regional organization that insists on keeping it excluded. Any regional body that includes Russia and China cannot but be of interest to Washington. No doubt, SCO has been an object of intense curiosity for US regional policies through the past decade. American diplomats did all they could to debunk it in its formative years. Finally, Washington reconciled. This was evident from the fact that eventually the US began making efforts of its own, vainly though, to gain observer status in the SCO.
The list of participants at the SCO summit in Yekaterinburg testifies to the SCO's steady evolution as an influential regional and international body. Curiously, the list of participants includes Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of Sri Lanka, as a "dialogue partner". In terms of realpolitik, SCO has broadened its reach to the Indian Ocean region. Clearly, it is a matter of time before Nepal, Myanmar Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are associated with the SCO processes one way or another. The SCO already has institutionalized links with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
A stage has come when the SCO's common stances on regional and international issues are widely noted by the international community and discussed threadbare by regional experts. Quite likely, this year's statement will reflect a common SCO position strongly endorsing the Sri Lankan government's policy of rebuffing the Western intrusive approach in terms of humanitarian intervention in the island's current problem affecting displaced Tamils.
For Colombo, the SCO support will come as a much-needed shot in the arm in warding off Western pressure in the period ahead. Already in the United Nations Security Council, Colombo depends on the robust support of Russia and China, both veto-holding powers from the SCO.
Again, the SCO's formulations this year on the North Korean and Iran nuclear problems will be read with interest. Last year's statement on the conflict in the Caucasus was widely discussed by regional experts.
During the past year, the SCO has virtually gatecrashed into the Afghanistan problem, so much so that it is going to be counter-productive for Washington to shut out the regional body altogether from the Hindu Kush. The SCO has rapidly built on its nascent idea of a "contact group" with Kabul. It has maintained a smooth working relationship with the government led by President Hamid Karzai. If anything, Karzai's recent difficulties with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) capitals have prompted him to reach out to Moscow.
United States pressure on Karzai to keep him away from the SCO is unlikely to work again. Karzai will be present at the Yekaterinburg summit meeting. His vice presidential running mate, Karim Khalili, recently visited Moscow. Karzai's other running mate, Mohammed Fahim, has old links with Russia's security agencies.
The SCO conference on Afghanistan held in Moscow on March 27
was primarily intended to challenge the US's monopoly over conflict resolution in Afghanistan, though its focus was on the problem of drug trafficking. It followed three years of futile efforts by the SCO to forge a partnership with NATO for the stabilization of the Afghan situation, which Washington kept frustrating.
Finally, the US was compelled to attend the Moscow conference lest Russia and China dissociate from similar American-sponsored forums on Afghanistan. The conference has opened a window of opportunity for regional powers to get involved with Afghanistan's stabilization, independent of US strategy. Countries like India, which are being left out of the loop, will find the SCO as a useful framework to work with. (India will be represented at the SCO summit for the first time ever at the level of the prime minister.)
The SCO conference also assumes significance in the context of the Barack Obama administration's AfPak strategy, which envisages "grand bargains" with regional powers. The SCO sized up that Washington's game plan would be to strike "grand bargains" individually and separately with each of the countries in the region, which would effectively ensure that the US retained the monopoly of conflict resolution and enabled the US to give new underpinnings to its regional policies aimed at broadening and deepening its influence in Central Asian and Southwest Asian geopolitics.
Bush's policies continue
NATO has officially invited Kazakhstan, a major SCO member country, to take part in its Afghan operations.  This is despite Kazakhstan being an active promoter and a prominent member of the Collective Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the SCO, both of which have repeatedly offered partnerships to the Western alliance for its Afghan mission. 
Robert Simmons, the NATO secretary general's special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, is on record as saying that the Kazakh army has already achieved "interoperability" with NATO forces and could make a good showing in the Afghan mission. Clearly, NATO is sidestepping the CSTO and the SCO and would prefer to deal with Central Asian capitals individually. The US is striking similar "grand bargains" with other Central Asian capitals in terms of gaining access to new military base facilities.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated in April that Russia and China would strengthen their military cooperation through the SCO and engage in several joint military maneuvers. He implied that these plans were aimed at limiting the US's presence in Central Asia. From the Russian and Chinese point of view, it is obvious that the erosion of the US's economic foundations is not preventing Washington from pursuing with renewed vigor its project aimed at regaining lost influence in Central Asia.
The Obama administration's proposed budget for the State Department allocates aid of $41.5 million for Kyrgyzstan and $46.5 million for Tajikistan, whereas the corresponding figures for the current fiscal year are $24.4 million and $25.2 million, respectively. US military aid to the two countries will also similarly be increased under the new budget.
The justification given is that Central Asia's strategic importance has risen of late for US regional policies. According to budget justification documents released by the State Department in Washington on May 7:
Central Asia remains alarmingly fragile: a lack of economic opportunity and weak democratic institutions foster conditions where corruption is endemic and Islamic extremism and drug trafficking can thrive. For this region, where good relations play an important role in supporting our [US] military and civilian efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, the [budget] request prioritizes assistance for the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan.
The political rationale of the aid request makes no bones about the fact that geopolitics is a factor in Washington's decision to step up aid to Central Asia at a time when the Russian capacity to bankroll Central Asian economies is in serious doubt. "The United States rejects the notion that any country has special privileges or a 'sphere of influence' in this region; instead the United States is open to cooperating with all countries in the region and where appropriate providing assistance that helps develop democratic and market institutions and practices."
Curiously, Washington has lately made it clear that it has no intentions of vacating the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan in August without a last-ditch effort to get Bishkek to reconsider its decision. Apart from sustained US diplomatic efforts to persuade a rethink in Bishkek, Washington has also sought the good offices of Karzai to raise the issue with his Kyrgyz counterpart President Kurmanbek Bakiyev - interestingly enough, on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Yekaterinburg.
Therefore, it is against the backdrop of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, which causes concern among the SCO member countries, as well as the robust US diplomacy in the Central Asian region to expand American influence that the Chinese and Russian decision to step up SCO military cooperation will be viewed. The SCO defense ministers' meeting held on April 29 in Moscow confirmed reports that China and Russia would hold 25 joint maneuvers this year. (In the entire period since 2002, China has held only 21 military exercises with foreign countries.)
Interestingly, all these proposed maneuvers will be focused on the "war on terror". The SCO war games for 2009 began with a joint "anti-terror" exercise in Tajikistan near the Afghan border. The main exercise, codenamed Peace Mission 2009, is planned for July-August. This year's exercises assume the nature of a conventional drill operation insofar as they will involve more than 2,000 Russian and Chinese troops with heavy weapons such as tanks, transport planes, self-propelled artillery and possibly including strategic bombers.
The exercises will be held in three stages inside Russia and in northeastern China. Unmistakably, closer Chinese-Russian military cooperation within the SCO framework has been prompted by their perception that the US is pressing ahead with its strategic plans to bring the energy-rich Eurasian region under its influence.
Can Obama become a heretic?
In a remarkably candid interview recently, well-known Russia scholar Professor Stephen Cohen at New York University said he didn't believe "anything substantially or enduringly good" is about to happen in US-Russia relations in the foreseeable future. Nor is a "real partnership" possible between the two countries.
More ominously, he warned that the US-Russia relationship was fast getting "militarized", as it used to be during the Cold War. He said, "NATO expansion has militarized the relationship between the US and Russia, between the United States and the former Soviet republics, and between Russia and the former Soviet republics. Remove NATO expansion, remove the military aspect, and let them compete otherwise." 
More startlingly, Cohen assesses that despite the Obama administration's call to "reset" ties with Russia, the "old thinking" prevails in Washington - "that Russia is a defeated power, it's not a legitimate great power with equal rights to the US, that Russia should make concessions ... that the US can go back on its promises because Russia is imperialistic and evil."
Cohen said Russia hands in the Obama administration - Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor General James Jones, National Security Council member Michael McFaul - are all in one way or another associated with the "old thinking" toward Russia. "So there are no new thinkers in Obama's foreign policy okruzhenie [circles]. There is enormous support in the US for the old thinking. It's the majority view. The American media, the political class, the American bureaucracy - they all support it. Therefore, all hope rides with Obama himself, who is not tied to these old policies. He has to become a heretic and break with orthodoxy."
Now you and I might say that's impossible, but there is a precedent. Just over twenty years ago, out of the Soviet orthodoxy, the much more rigid Communist Party nomenklatura, came a heretic, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev. It's not a question of whether we like Gorbachev's leadership or we don't. The point is that he came forward with something he called "new thinking", breaking with the old Soviet thinking, and the result was that he and [president Ronald] Reagan ended the Cold War, or came very close to doing so. So the question is whether Obama can break with the old thinking.
Thus, the extraordinarily high degree of mutual understanding that the Russian and Chinese leaderships have been able to work out in the recent period within the SCO has a much broader framework than appears at first sight. US policies towards Russia have significantly contributed to these regional compulsions felt by Moscow and Beijing. Chinese commentaries are consistently sympathetic towards Russia apropos the range of issues affecting US-Russia relations in Eurasia.
In an extremely meaningful political gesture on April 28, Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guangalle, heading a military delegation and visiting Moscow in connection with the SCO defense ministers' meeting, traveled to Russia's North Caucasus Military District to discuss regional security with Medvedev. This happened just two days ahead of the formalization of the Russian decision to deploy troops for the defense of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
What emerges is that both Russia and China remain skeptical ZAfghanistan. Izvestia wrote recently, "Today, despite their hypocritical talk of 'cooperation' (by which they mean the shipment of NATO military freight across Russia), the [US-led] coalition is keeping Russia away from Afghanistan as much as possible, even though their own policies in Afghanistan are the worst possible example of a murderous neo-colonial regime." 
Izvestia continued the tirade:
Mass killings of the civilian population by the American army such as bombing wedding and funeral processions, extending the fighting to Pakistan and dragging it into Afghanistan's internal ethnic and political feud - all these and similar actions, which have been without any social or commercial investment in Afghanistan, threaten the whole world, Russia included.
The Afghans, sick and tired of the pointless presence of foreign military forces, have asked Russia to restore its clear-cut peaceful Afghan policy. A delegation of influential Afghan politicians will arrive in Moscow to attend the May 14 Russian-Afghan forum. The group mainly includes Pashtun leaders, who have shaped the country's political and state backbone for centuries. They are convinced that the way to peace and settlement in Afghanistan will depend on Russia's policy.
CSTO to counter NATO
Does all this add up to the SCO becoming a military alliance?
This is a question that has come up frequently during the past decade. It still refuses to go away. There has been even some degree of characterization of the SCO at times as an "Asian NATO". But the answer is a firm "no'. The plain truth is that neither China nor Russia would be comfortable for the foreseeable future with the idea of a military alliance between them, although both have shared concerns over the US agenda for NATO's eastward expansion.
Besides, we should not overlook that Central Asian countries also have their own so-called "multi-vector" foreign policy, which places primacy on national autonomy and independence that precludes the possibility of their becoming part of a military bloc as such.
At any rate, Uzbekistan, the maverick of them all but a key country all the same in regional security, will forever keep everyone guessing whether its mind is on the same thing that it speaks about at any given time, or whether its actions are going to be in conformity with its own words. Tashkent stayed out of the SCO exercises in April in Tajikistan. It is right now having a slinging match with Kyrgyz border guards about recent incidents of violence in the Ferghana Valley.
However, Moscow has been steadily working on another option. The CSTO - Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia Uzbekistan and Tajikistan - is transforming into a full-blooded military alliance. "The National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation Until 2020", which was recently approved by Medvedev, says that Moscow views the CSTO as the key instrument to counter regional challenges, and political and military threats. The document says pointedly that the struggle for energy resources in the Caspian and Central Asia may conceivably lead to armed conflicts.
The special summit meeting of the CSTO held in February in Moscow decided to set up a collective rapid-response force to help bloc members to repulse aggression or to meet any emergency. Moscow has been focusing for some time on the strengthening of the CSTO and recent strides in this direction are a major foreign-policy success for the Kremlin. No doubt, the impetus is to keep "third countries" out of Central Asia. Medvedev has said that the rapid-reaction force "will be just as good or comparable to NATO forces". The CSTO's joint rapid-reaction force will hold military exercises in August-September in Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus.
The force will comprise an airborne division and an air assault brigade from Russia, and an air assault brigade from Kazakhstan. The other CSTO members (except Uzbekistan) will contribute a battalion-size force each. To quote a Russian expert, "A collective rapid-reaction force will give CSTO a quick tool, leaving no time for third parties to intervene." 
"The rapid-response force is a major but so far only one of the first steps toward creating a powerful military political organization," he added. Indeed, Kommersant newspaper broke the news on May 29 that Russia was planning to build a strong military contingent in Central Asia within the framework of the CSTO, which will be comparable to NATO forces in Europe. "Work is being conducted in all areas, and a number of documents have been adopted," the report said, quoting Russian Foreign Ministry sources.
The unnamed Russian official said, "It will be a purely military structure, built to ensure security in Central Asia in case of an act of aggression." It will include armored and artillery units and a naval flotilla in the Caspian Sea, according to the CSTO spokesman. The Russian news agency Novosti reported that the new force would comprise large military units from five countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It commented, "The creation of a powerful military contingent in Central Asia reflects Moscow's drive to make the CSTO a pro-Russian military bloc, rivaling NATO forces in Europe."
Interestingly, a summit meeting of the CSTO is scheduled for Moscow on Sunday on the eve of the SCO summit in Yekaterinburg. The million-dollar question is the co-relation, if any, between the CSTO and the SCO summits in the scheme of things in Moscow and Beijing. The political and diplomatic symbolism in the timing of the two summits on successive days cannot be lost on observers. There has been some talk that the CSTO and the SCO would eventually have an institutionalized back-to-back relationship of sorts. (All the SCO member countries except China are also CSTO members.)
Conceivably, Moscow and Beijing have been exchanging views on the CSTO's emergence as a coherent military bloc in Central Asia, with which China shares thousands of kilometers of border. What seems to be happening is that China tacitly welcomes the Russian initiative to build up the CSTO's capabilities as a military setup. At the very least, Beijing isn't doing anything to dampen Russia's enthusiasm, let alone counter the Russian move through countervailing steps. There could be several factors at work here.
One, any strengthening of security in Central Asia also benefits China. Two, to the extent that the CSTO becomes a bulwark against any NATO expansion into Central Asia, it also works to China's advantage. Three, Moscow's determination to stand up to the US's containment strategy serves Beijing's purpose. Four, the CSTO's build-up means the consolidation of Central Asian countries, which precludes opportunities for the US to expand its influence in the region, let alone roll back Russian and Chinese influence.
Five, the emergence of the CSTO in Central Asia virtually forecloses any future US attempts to place elements of its missile defense system in the border regions of China close to the Xinjiang autonomous region, where China has located important missile sites. Finally, the CSTO harbors no animus against China insofar as all the CSTO members except Armenia and Belarus are in any case SCO members. China's rapidly expanding influence in Central Asia ensures that the bulk of the CSTO countries will have high stakes in friendly relations with Beijing.
Thus, an intriguing security paradigm is developing in Central Asia. Quintessentially, the SCO will keep shying away from becoming a military bloc. This is not feigned posturing. It is real. At the same time, in political terms, the SCO is the facilitator of a regional security understanding that is leading to the full-blooded evolution of the CSTO as an anti-NATO military bloc.
Arguably, in the absence of the SCO, Moscow and Beijing would have to invent such a body. For, without the SCO, any such formation under Moscow's leadership of a NATO-like military bloc shaping up right on China's sensitive border regions would have been simply unthinkable.
1. Marina Zavada and Yuriy Kulikov, "Yevgeniy Primakov", Autopilot Does Not Work in a Crisis, Izvestia, May, 8, 2009.
2. According to the data from the US Energy Information Administration, the three “Stans” of Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan - have more than 7 trillion cbm of proven gas reserves, or around 4% of the global share, and much of the has hasn’t yet been harvested. The "Stans" have committed much of their harvestable gas to Russia and China through the next decade.
3. S Adam Cardais, "Central Asian Gas Not a Panacea for Europe", Business Week, February 3, 2009.
4. Dr Martha Brill Olcott, "The Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Changing the Playing Field in Central Asia", testimony before the Helsinki Commission, September 26, 2006.
5. "NATO invites Kazakhstan to join Afghan peacekeeping operation", Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May, 14, 2009.
6. Significantly, the next round of the SCO joint military exercises will be held in 2010 in southern Kazakhstan.
7. "Interview with Stephen F Cohen on US-Russia Relations", Washington Profile, April 2009.
8. "Afghanistan: Russia’s chance to influence global politics again", Izvestia, May 13, 2009. 9. Ilya Kramnik, "CSTO: joining forces in a crisis", RIA Novosti, February 5, 2009.
Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.
(Copyright 2009 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)
Sunday , Jun 14, 2009 at 1128 hrs
Giridh, Jharkhand : The Naxals, who surprised everyone by using rocket launchers for the first time during the Lok Sabha polls, have already set up about four units to manufacture weapons and ammunition, say central security agencies. The Naxals, who usually target security forces with manual improvised explosive devices, are now slowly developing remote-controlled IEDs which can be activated from a distance with just the push of a button.
The improvement in fire-power is being supported by intensive training on the lines of regular forces,say sources. Central security agencies and local police sources say the Maoists have started two factories each in the dense forests and hills of both Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Sources say that though another such factory existed earlier in Bihar, the Naxals have dismantled it.
Early last year, a combing team of the CRPF and the local police had come across one such unit used for making small bombs and mortar shells in Jharkhand. The Naxals who are trying to improve their firepower have also come out with the deadly 'Claymore Mines', or what are often called 'directional IEDs'.
Unlike in the past, when IEDs use to be buried beneath the road in a small can, the Claymore Mines, which come with a thick aluminium plate, can be fitted to a tree.
The IED, when exploded, will deflect the shrapnels in a direction opposite to the plate, thus focusing them to a particular area as against conventional IEDs where the impact is in a circular area around the device. Certain blasts in Chhattisgarh have pointed to the possibility of remote-controlled IEDs being used but they are yet to become a standard strategy for the Naxals, say sources. "Naxals are constantly trying to improvise and have also set up factories for this. During searches by security personnel, they have come across few chips which suggest that they are trying to develop remote-controlled IEDs. If they succeed, it would prove deadly," according to a source. "The Naxalites also make their own guns besides those snatched from policemen and procured from outside. Their locally-made guns called 'pahar' can be used to severely injure a person if not kill him. The pellets break into pieces on impact and hence are deadly," the source says.
The left-wing extremists are known for using gelatin sticks in their explosives. They are sourced from mining areas, say sources. A source says that the Maoists also undergo military training similar to that of securitymen, which "suggests a possibility of ex-army or ex-policemen" helping in preparing training modules, whether due to force or their own wish.
One of the Naxal training CDs seized by security forces in Andhra Pradesh gives an insight into the training modules with the militants practising crawling backwards. Security forces have also come across abandoned centres of Naxals having rope climbing, ladder, crawling tunnels and other obstacles used for hard training. The Naxals have also hit upon an innovative way to store their ammunition by hiding it in branded plastic water tanks placed in the ground and covered with mud and stones. Sources said the logic behind it was that there are less chances of formation of moisture, which might damage the ammunition.
12 Jun 2009, 0000 hrs IST, Prakash Singh
Times of India
The president's address to Parliament unveiled an ambitious agenda for reforms in which internal security has been given high priority, and rightly
so. The country has been reassured that the government would follow a policy of ''zero tolerance'' towards terrorism and that ''stern measures'' would be taken to deal with insurgency and left-wing extremism.
Unfortunately, there is a sense of complacency that has set in here because there has been no major incident since 26/11. We must remember that the reason there has been no major terror strike since the Mumbai attacks has been more due to the international pressure on Pakistan and the action taken by that country against terrorists operating within its boundaries rather than any strengthening of the security apparatus by our government.
As soon as Pakistan is able to get the economic assistance it desperately needs, it would revert to its old game of sponsoring terrorism. The manner in which Hafiz Saeed, chief of the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and founder of the outlawed Lashkar-a-Taiba (LeT), has been let off the hook is evidence, if needed at all, of Pakistan's ambivalence. It is absolutely essential, therefore, that the government improves our security architecture comprehensively. Else, all our efforts in other areas would come to a naught. Economic development can take place only in a secure environment.
It may be recalled that the Rand Corporation, a US think tank, had, in the aftermath of the 26/11 incidents in Mumbai, clearly warned that ''India will continue to face a serious jihadi terrorist threat from Pakistan-based terrorist groups for the foreseeable future''. In fact, it even said ''the threat will continue to grow''. Another US think tank, Stratfor, also said that in the context of ''jihadi insurgency along India's western frontier and Pakistan seemingly losing control of its militant proxies, another major Islamist attack in India is inevitable''.
Meanwhile, the US state department, while ranking India ''among the world's most terrorism affected countries'' deplored that ''the Indian government's counterterrorism efforts remained hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems''. Government no doubt took some positive measures in the wake of 26/11. However, our overall preparedness leaves much to be desired.
The police and intelligence organisations in the states continue to be in poor shape. The majority of states have been lackadaisical in implementing the Supreme Court's directions on police reforms. The Centre has been dragging its feet over introducing the Model Police Bill for Delhi and the Union territories. The police force is woefully short of manpower, apart from the fact that a sizeable chunk of the force is diverted to protect so-called VIPs. There is misplaced emphasis on open-ended expansion of the paramilitary forces. What we need to actually augment is the civil police force.
The 'thana' does not inspire any confidence either by its appearance or by its resources and equipment. Beat constables, the crucial link in internal security, exist on paper alone. Modernisation of the police has been slow, as has been highlighted by the Comptroller and Auditor General. Recruitment procedures are tainted and training continues to be neglected. The executive has, in some states, devastated the chain of command with deleterious effects on discipline in the ranks. If the morale of the police is low today, it's thanks to the politicians and the bureaucracy.
The Congress party, in its manifesto, recognised the ''imperative of police reforms''. It stated, ''A clear distinction between the political executive and police administration will be made''. The manifesto also assured that the police force ''will be better provisioned especially in the matter of housing and educational facilities''. The president has also reiterated the government's commitment to police reforms. It is high time that these promises are acted upon.
At the national level, our anti-terror policy must be defined in explicit terms. The National Investigating Agency and the Central Bureau of Investigation need to be merged. Having two parallel central investigating agencies makes no sense. The performance of the Research & Analysis Wing remains a matter of concern. It must develop offensive capabilities. The Intelligence Bureau needs to be depoliticised. The National Security Council is almost dysfunctional and the National Security Advisory Board has become a parking spot for retired officers who are in the good books of the establishment.
The problem of Bangladeshi immigration was dusted under the carpet by all previous governments. That cannot continue. To start with, fencing our borders with Bangladesh should be completed expeditiously overruling all political objections at the local level. The scheme to give multi-purpose identity cards to all Indian citizens should be implemented post-haste. In due course, government must prevail upon Bangladesh to accept the fact of illegal immigration and take back at least some of its nationals on the basis of a mutually agreed cut-off date.
It was unfortunate that in the wake of 26/11, the government did not appoint a national commission to examine the lapses in security and suggest comprehensive measures to overhaul the security matrix. Perhaps those in power scuttled the proposal lest they were exposed and held accountable. Though belated, the new government may still consider appointing such a commission to investigate systemic failures and recommend appropriate remedial measures.
The writer is a former director-general, BSF.
Friday, June 12th, 2009 AT 10:06 PM
MUMBAI: Senior IPS officer and former Pune Police chief Jayant Umranikar was on Friday promoted as Director General of Police and has been tasked with combating Naxal violence in the Vidarbha region, where more than 30 policemen has been killed in two major ambushes this year.
Umranikar, an officer of the 1973-batch of the IPS, is currently Additional Director General of Police in-charge of training. An experienced officer he had a stint with Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) in the eighties and nineties. The development of Umranikar being made the chief of ANO indicates that the post has been upgraded to the rank of DGP.
On joining the Maharashtra-cadre, he has served in Aurangabad, Jalgaon, Bhiwandi, Thane and Satara. In the late eighties, he went to Cabinet Secretariat and during this stint with the R&AW he has served in Pakistan and some Gulf countries.
In 2001, he returned to the parent cadre and joined as Joint Commissioner of Police in Nagpur and then as Addl DG (ANO). Subsequently, he became the Commissioner of Nagpur and then went to Pune where he headed the CID before becoming the Pune Police Commissioner. Last year, he was transferred to Mumbai.
As a matter of fact, the Democratic Front government was concerned with the ground situation particularly in Gadchiroli district – where more than 30 policemen had died in two major ambushes. In both the cases, policemen were lured into a trap. As a matter of fact, DGP SS Virk too is concerned about this and hence the post of ANO was elevated.
Also a major plan awaits Umranikar, when Gadchiroli is bifurcated into two police districts and besides this Gondia would be combined into a focused area which would be looked after as a range with an officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector General.
Home Ministry reorienting strategy
Naxals exploiting lack of coordination among government agencies and police
Police not following standard operating procedures
NEW DELHI: Concerned at the spate of deadly naxal attacks targeting police personnel, the Centre has rushed a high-level team to Jharkhand. Over the past two days 20 policemen have been killed in the State.
Union Home Ministry officials said the team comprising an Additional Secretary and a Joint Secretary would assess the ground situation.
Maoist cadres have attacked policemen in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh over the past two months, either blasting police vehicles by detonating landmines or ambushing police parties and shooting personnel dead.
As the new UPA government is chalking out a 100-day action plan for all ministries and departments, the Home Ministry is also reorienting and fine-tuning its response to naxal violence. Officials say the attempt is to elicit the response of the naxal-affected States to improve the ground-level policing and accelerate development plans.
A time-bound initiative in this effort could be included in the Ministry’s 100-day action plan, say informed sources.
Even as the Multiagency Centre (MAC) has been made operational and intelligence inputs are being shared among all States, the fact remains that naxals are exploiting the lack of intelligence and coordination among the government agencies and the police.
“Police teams end up as sitting ducks and Maoists are able to gather in large numbers, network themselves and attack the security personnel,” say the officials.
The first and foremost task is to achieve perfect coordination among all arms of the State governments and the Centre, on the one hand, and the police forces and the intelligence gathering machinery, on the other.
The officials have indicated that development initiatives, taken at the level of the Union Cabinet Secretary in selected districts affected by naxal violence, are also being pushed vigorously and monitored regularly.
The officials point out that State police teams often failed to adhere to the guidelines sent by the Centre and standard operating procedures (SOPs) that lay down the practice to be followed in search and raid operations or while acting on a tip-off.
Many a time, the police and Central forces left for engaging Maoists without adequate reinforcements and communication back-up.
In some instances, they have taken their vehicles on known routes and roads instead of going on foot, or taking with them road opening parties (ROPs) who will sanitise the route, say the officials.
Maoist cadres have also taken advantage of thick forests, particularly in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, and used the cover for getting away after the attack.
The sources say development measures, coupled with a flexible, highly mobile and disciplined police force that can quickly respond to real-time intelligence and other inputs, are the need of the hour.
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, soon after assuming charge of the Ministry last month, said a concerted offensive would soon be launched against the naxalites.
Mr. Chidambaram said the two-pronged strategy of combining police action with stepped-up development in the naxal-affected districts would be taken up.
American Reporter Correspondent
WASHINGTON -- He was forced to live like a blind man in a dark dungeon for eight months, so completely denied daylight that he could not know if it was day or night, after Pakistan's Military Intelligence secretly abducted him on suspicion of promioting U.S. interests.
"I literally lived like a blind man," says Sohrab Sarki, 43, bursting into tears. A motel business owner from Yuba City, Calif., he recalls the horror he felt when he first saw his face in the mirror after 20 months of army torture. "I never cried as much [in my life]. I could not recognize my face. I thought I was looking at the skeleton of my father," he said, after he was allowed to shave and provided with a mirror.
"The major question they asked was what is the agenda of the USA," he said. Sarki, a naturalized American, said he told his tormentors the U.S. was a friend of Pakistan and had poured billions of dollars into the country's coffers - Pakistan got upwards of $12 billion in U.S. assistance, mostly military aid, since 9/11 - and what made them think the U.S. would be pushing a secret agenda?
"On the table we do one thing, under the table we do another," the investigating officer responded, implying that in spite of best diplomatic relations the two countries now were estranged bedfellows. Sarki's 27-month ordeal began on Feb. 24, 2008, when more than two dozen armed members of Pakistan's Military Intelligence raided his home in Karachi. Whe he asked army officers to show him their warrant, one responded, "We never show any warrants."
Soon he was blindfolded and whisked away to an interrogation unit of the Military Intelligence in downtown Karachi, near the army corp commander's office.
"I was made to stand in a three-by-three-foot cell for many days. Once my feet got swollen, they struck it with rods, which hurt in the extreme," he recalls.
Sarki's narrative shows that Pakistan's generals are extremely suspicious of the U.S. role in the troubled southwest Asia region. "How are your brothers in the Baluchistan mountains doing?" Sarki said he was asked as interrogators grilled him about his links with two prominent slain leaders from Baluchistan - former chief minister and governor of Baluchistan, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, who was assassinated on August 26, 2008, and provincial assembly member Nawabzada Balach Marri, who was killed November, 2007.
Sarki was also questioned about his ties with Sardar Ataullah Mengal, another former chief minister of Baluchistan. Pakistani intelligence killed Mengal's son, Asadullah Mengal, in the mid-1970s and as in the case of Nawab Bugti, his remains were never returned to his family. To this day, none knows where Mengal was buried.
When Sarki went missing in Pakistan, members of Congress asked Islamabad about his whereabouts. "In a written response, Pakistan government lied to the U.S. Congress that they do not know Sarki's whereabouts," said Iqbal Tareen, chief coordinator of Forum for Justice and Democracy in Pakistan.
Bush Administration officials have become wary of Pakistan's support of the Taliban in Afghanistan and in recent months haven demanded that Islamabad do more to fight extremist Islamic terrorism. Afghanistan, India and the CIA have accused Pakistan of secretly helping the Taliban.
According to a recent report in the Frontier Post, a U.S. online military newspaper, U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen suggested to Pakistani officials in a July meeting they should carry out a referendum in Baluchistan and Frontier provinces if they are unable to quell Islamic terrorism on their own.
Many analysts believe Baluchi and Pahstun nationalism are the best antidotes against extremism.
The Texas-sized Pakistani state of Baluchistan has been the scene of a bloody insurgency, which the Baluch call the Fifth War of Liberation. They say their native land was forcibly annexed by Pakistan in March 1948, more than seven months after the British granted the Baluchi independence separately from Pakistan and India.
Baluchi rebels accuse Islamabad of stealing their national wealth at the point of a gun. Under the de jure ruler of Baluchistan, the Khan of Kalat Beglar Begi ["The Prince among Princes"], Suleman Daud Ahmedzai, Baluchis are now knocking at the doors of the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
Before the start of Operation Enduring Freedom - launched by the U.S. to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan - Pakistan often tortured political activists after charging them with promoting India's political agenda. Sarki said he was himself surprised the line of questioning had changed and asked one of the Military Intelligence officers about it. "You are of a higher level," the colonel responded in what he presumed was an oblique reference to Sarki's U.S. nationality.
"I am indebted to Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry for bringing people like me out of these graves [military torture cells]," Sarki said. Chaudhry was sacked by ex-President Gen. Pervez Musharraf for his judicial activism in spring lat year, but when he was restored by the Supreme Court of Pakistan the following fall. Musharraf sent him and the other judges back home one more time after imposing a state of emergency in November, but Musharraf has now resigned and Chaudry's reinstatement has been urged by some in the country's transition government
The judge is still opposed by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the senior member of the coalition of parties currently ruling Pakistan. The issue threatened to undermine the entire coalition after the other main opposition leader, former presidential candidate Nawaz Sharif, delivered an ultimatum to the PPP demanding Chaudry's reinstatement within 72 hours and then walked out on coalition talks.
"I also believe it was the sacrifice of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto that put the army on the back foot," Sarki said. Though the C.I.A. named Baitullah Mehsud, a shadowy Taliban warrior from Southern Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas as Bhutto's killer, most Pakistanis accuse the Punjabi and Mohajir generals and the country's secret services of being responsible for Bhutto's death. Before her death, Bhutto had accused Musharraf's alleged henchman retired Brig. General Ejaz Shah, chief of the Intelligence Bureau and former I.S.I. official, of being the main person behind plots to have her killed. Shah remain untouched as Pakistan newspapers said he is close to present home minister, Rahman Malik.
A U.N inquiry is also underway that may lay bare the facts about Bhutto's assassination. Sarki also credited Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Ill.), Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for helping him win freedom and returing to America in one piece.
Sarki met U.S. Department of State officials, who said they were sorry they could not do more for him while he was enduring torture in Pakistan.
"I saw adults wiping away tears from their eyes when he related his story of torture and the agony that he suffered at the hands of Pakistani intelligence services," said Khalid Hashmani, a Sindhi activist and intellectual who lives in McClean, Va.
Sarki believes a point of no return has reached in Pakistan's relationship with the rebellious Baluchistan and Sindh provinces, where nationalist sentiments run high over the alleged plunder of their resources by dominant Punjabis and Mohajirs.
"One's death will be the life of the other," he said, expressing Baluch and Sindhi fury against Islamabad. He said he had told his tormentors that Pakistan was an unnatural country and that a solution lies in freedom for the federating units.
Some constitutional experts say Pakistan's 1973 Constitution in letter grants full autonomy to the four federal units, but two military regimes that lasted two decades since 1977 have rendered the country's constitution into something lerss reliable than than toilet paper, they say.
"Pakistan is now under a cloud. The world has realized Pakistan is the problem [with regard to terrorism]."
Sarki was one of the founders of the World Sindhi Congress, which is active in the U.S. and U.K. for securing the rights of the Sindhi people and other minorities in Pakistan. He lives in Yuba City with his wife and two sons.
Copyright 2009 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.
June 12, 2009
The foundation for the construction of a modern port with Chinese assistance at Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka was formally laid in October, 2007. The construction actually started in January, 2008.
2. It is a 15-year project to be completed in stages. The entire project is estimated to cost US $ one billion. The present Chinese commitment is for the construction of the first stage only, which is estimated to cost US $ 360 million. China has agreed to give 85 per cent of this amount at concessional interest. The balance is being contributed by the Government of Sri Lanka.
3. The first stage of the 15-year (2008-2023) project is expected to be completed by the end of 2010. This stage envisages the construction of a 1000-metre jetty, which will enable the harbour to function as an industrial port for the import and export of industrial chemicals, fuel and heavy machinery. By 2023, Hambantota is projected to have a liquefied natural gas refinery, aviation fuel storage facilities, three separate docks giving the port a transshipment capacity and dry docks for ship repair and construction. The project also envisages that when completed the port will serve as a base for bunkering and refueling.
4. The draught (depth) of the new harbour will be 16 metres against 15 metres in Colombo. A 230 metre passage-entrance channel will be created at the breakwater which is 988 metres long on the west end and 311 metres long on the east end.
5. The Government hopes that as a refueling location Hambantota will have many advantages over the Colombo port or ports in South India. The construction has been undertaken by a consortium of Chinese companies headed by the China Harbour Engineering Company and the Sino Hydro Corporation.
6. The project doesn’t have a separate consultant. The Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA) is functioning as the client-cum-consultant while the China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd is the contractor. In September, 2008, there were 328 Sri Lankans and 235 Chinese working at the site-----engineers, administrative personnel and others. The present number is not known.
7. The first stage due to be ready by end 2010 will allow three ships to berth. The final stage, for which there is no offer of funding yet from China, is planned to accommodate more than 30 ships, which is the present capacity at Colombo.
8. Reliable reports say that while the Sri Lankan authorities want Hambantota to emerge as a modern port with better facilities and efficiency than any of the ports in South India, they do not want the present importance of the Colombo port to be reduced. Colombo presently has the reputation of being the most modern and most efficient port in South Asia. They want this reputation to be maintained. There is no proposal at present to set up container yards and cater to container ships at Hambantota.
9. The present Chinese interest is in the use of the docking and refueling facilities that would come up in Hambantota for their commercial and naval ships. There is no proposal at present for a Chinese naval base at Hambantota.
10. The Chinese have helped Pakistan in the construction of a similar port at Gwadar on the Mekran coast in Balochistan. The first phase of the construction has already been completed and the port was commissioned when Pervez Musharraf was the President. The contract for the running of the port has been given to a Singapore company.
11. From the beginning, Gwadar was planned as a naval-cum- commercial port. Both Pakistan and China were interested in its naval potential. Pakistan wanted the naval facilities in Gwadar to give a strategic depth to its navy and reduce its dependence on the Karachi port, which is vulnerable to attack by the Indian Navy in times of war. The Chinese were interested in the use of the refueling and docking facilities of Gwadar for their naval ships visiting the Gulf area.
12. The Pakistanis had and continue to have ambitious plans for the development of Gwadar as a port to cater to the external trade of the Central Asian Republics (CARs) and the Xinjiang and the Sichuan provinces and the Tibetan region of China. They also offered to the Chinese the use of Gwadar as a transshipment point for oil and gas, which could be brought to Gwadar and from there moved by pipelines to Xinjiang. They also proposed the construction of a rail and road network between Gwadar and Xinjiang. They are also interested in the construction of a huge oil refining capability in Gwadar. Beyond agreeing to feasibility studies in respect of these proposals emanating from Pakistan, the Chinese have not made any firm commitments regarding their participation in any other project in addition to the port construction.
13. Even though it is about two years since the Gwadar port was commissioned, it has not been attracting many ocean-going ships. Most shipping companies prefer the continued use of the Karachi port despite its inefficiency. This is mainly due to the poor security situation in the Makran coast and the failure of the Pakistani authorities to develop the road and other infrastructure, which could sustain an increased level of activity at Gwadar. Even the Chinese preferred using the facilities at Karachi for the ships of their anti-piracy patrols than the facilities at Gwadar. Unless and until there is peace and stability in Afghanistan, the prospects of Gwadar emerging as the gateway for the external trade of the CARs will remain weak.
14. In contrast to Pakistan, Sri Lanka’s interest in developing Hambantota has remained purely commercial. It has very limited external trade. The Colombo port is able to meet satisfactorily its external trade needs. It does not need another port for this purpose. Its interest in Hambantota is as a source of additional foreign exchange earned by offering world class facilities and efficiency to international shipping companies. It is hoping that the present Colombo port and the new port coming up at Hambantota will give it an advantage over India, whose ports are not known for their modern facilities and efficiency.
15. The Sri Lankan Navy has a long history of cordial relations and co-operation with the Indian Navy. It fears no threat from the Indian Navy. As a result, the interest of the Sri Lankan Navy in Hambantota is minimal. But the Chinese interest is more strategic than purely commercial. It is very unlikely that Sri Lanka would allow the Chinese Navy to use Hambantota against India. But a Chinese naval presence in Hambantota would add to the concerns of the Indian Navy by increasing the vulnerability of the South to pressures from the Chinese Navy.
16. Reliable reports say that the Chinese have not so far raised the question of developing Hambantota as a naval base which they can also use to ensure the security of their oil and gas supplies. But they do not rule out the possibility of the Chinese raising it if and when negotiations are held for additional Chinese financial commitments for the subsequent stages of the project.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
NEW DELHI: Although a nuclear deal between US and India is a wrap, the wheels are moving at a grinding slow pace on implementing the deal, with the
US dithering on starting negotiations for the reprocessing agreement.
Government sources said civil nuclear issues occupied a large part of the discussions between William Burns and foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon on Wednesday. It's likely they will come up for talks again when Burns meets NSA M K Narayanan on Thursday.
Negotiations for a reprocessing agreement is yet to start, because Washington, Indian officials said, was yet to set a date. India is insistent that a reprocessing deal is absolutely necessary for the nuclear deal to be meaningful. The deal said negotiations would start within six months of the signing of the agreement, but the US is yet to do so. The newly nominated US undersecretary of state for arms control, Ellen Tauscher, told the US Senate at her confirmation hearing that negotiations would start before August 2. In her hearing, she even promised that the entire process of implementing the deal would be completed a year from that date. Given the present pace, there is some scepticism here, and it's not clear whether US tardiness is just bureaucratic or deliberate.
Indian public and private entities seeking to reap early harvests from the deal have complained that around a score of licenses for nuclear and conventional dual use technologies and equipment are hanging fire with the US administration. The nuclear deal transferred dual-use licensing from presumptions of denial to presumptions of approval — but from all accounts, the Obama administration is yet to approve. Sources here said it would help if a political statement of intent from the top levels of the US government were sent down the system.
Sanctions and bans remain on Indian entities by the US despite the deal, these haven't yet been lifted.
Just as a sign of how long things can take between the two countries, a technology safeguards agreement (TSA) allowing India to launch spacecraft with US components is yet to be signed, though officials on both sides expected it to be signed on Thursday. This agreement has taken years of painful negotiations and has had to be delinked from a commercial space launch agreement (CSLA) which is still to be negotiated, but could be a boost for India's civilian space sector.
US sources said India should quickly name sites for US reactors and make them public. India had, in a letter of intent by the foreign secretary, told the US that it would buy reactors with a minimum of 10,000 Mwe of new power generating capacity from US companies. This was given to the US on September 10, 2008. Whether the reprocessing negotiations should precede the naming of sites or vice-versa is not yet clear.
For its part, India needs to take steps to formalise the safeguards agreement with the IAEA by submitting a separation plan, as well as sign up to the CSC convention. The convention for supplementary compensation on nuclear damage has been agreed to by India and is necessary, say officials, to enable US firms to participate in the civil nuclear sector in India. International nuclear firms, led by US companies, have been lobbying hard for India to adopt the convention under the IAEA. The global treaty allocates legal responsibility with the installing state and company for compensating nuclear damage caused by a nuclear incident.
QnA: Should India and Pakistan allow USA to intervene in matters not concerning them?
By Dr Jay Dubashi
In India, it is a free house for foreigners. We are like a dharmashala where anybody can come and stay, and take any job and even become the president of a national political party. Any Tom, Dick and Harry from anywhere in the world can come and work in India, collect money by the bagful and go back—or remain here—no questions asked.
Many people in the world, particularly the blacks and the browns, identify with the American President, Barack Obama, so much that they consider him as their President. After all, he looks like them, has more or less the same background, and also talks like them. Obama's father was an African, his mother, a white woman, married an Indonesian after she divorced his father, and Obama himself lived in Indonesia for some time and went to school there. Obama's grandmother still lives, or used to live, in Africa.
But, as the whole world knows, Obama is neither an African nor an Asian. He is very much an American. After all, when every thing is said and done, he is President of the United States, is paid by US taxpayers, and lives in the White House. For him, US interests come first; everything else is secondary.
During the presidential campaign, Obama used to say that American companies were, investing too much outside America and were not creating jobs for Americans inside the US. According to him, this was wrong. After all, it stands to reason that US companies, no matter what business they do and where, should create jobs in the US, and pay US taxes. Instead, they were creating too many jobs outside America and many of them were not paying taxes in the US at all.
Obama now says that US companies should prefer Buffalo, New York, to Bangalore, India, meaning they should create more jobs in the US. He has therefore decided to bring in a new tax code, under which US companies will have to pay taxes on their profits outside the US, and will have to do without subsidies. This is going to hurt their so-called business out-sourcing, business outside America and therefore their overall profits. It is also going to hurt their Indian and other local employees, but that is not Obama's concern.
This means that US companies like Hewlett-Packard, IBM etc, which do business in India and do not pay taxes on the profits they make here, will be affected. It also means that they will employ fewer Indian employees than before.
The main thing to remember is that Barack Obama is taking steps to safeguard the interests of Americans who have elected him their President. The fact that it will also affect the interests of Indians and others adversely is not his concern. They did not elect him president; the Americans did.
The Americans are very particular when it comes to jobs inside America. It is extremely difficult for US companies to employ non-Americans without going through a large number of steps and legal hurdles. Even in Hollywood, which has the image of a free-wheeling city where anything goes, outsiders can be employed only with the permission of trade unions. You cannot bring in a non-American script-writer without the permission of the script-writres' guild—in the US. There are actors, guilds, there are photographers' guilds and there are electricians' guilds. You cannot bring in foreign actors or actresses without the permission of the Actors' Guild, which, at one time, was headed by Ronald Reagan, before, of course, he became US President.
In her autobiography, Ingrid Bergman, a Swedish actress, describes what she had to go through to secure the permission of the Actors Guild to enable her to work in Hollywood, and how she had to humour Ronald Reagan and others to get a permit to act in US films. This was also the case with actresses like Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren and others, and actors like Maurice Chevalier and Laurence, Olivier, who were not Americans.
In India, it is a free house for foreigners. We are like a dharmashala where anybody can come and stay, and take any job and even become the president of a national political party. Any Tom, Dick and Harry from anywhere in the world can come and work in India, collect money by the bagful and go back—or remain here—no questions asked. Gazal singers come here regularly from Pakistan and sing to bejewelled women in Delhi and Mumbai, and go home loaded with goodies, also no questions asked. Such a thing can never happen in America or Britain, where even Charlie Chaplin was threatened with jail, unless he paid up.
The other day, there was a court case about a Pakistani singer called Adnan Sami who has or apparently been working in Bollywood for the last decade or so and has collected crores and amassed a huge fortune, according to his own wife. He owns dozens of flats in Mumbai and elsewhere and is said to be worth more than Rs 50 crore. In Pakistan, he was a nobody. In India, he is a celebrity of sorts and the twenty—some thing females who man our TV channels swoon, or used to swoon, at his appearances. Incidentally, he has brought his whole family to India, including his father.
The question is: how did he come to India in the first place? Who gave him permission to come and work in Bollywood? Does he have a permit and, if so, how did he get it? Does he pay taxes here at all? There are scores of Indian singers of a vastly superior calibre than Sami. Is there a Pakistani ring in Bollywood that works for Pakistani performers? If so, who patronises it? Incidentally, did Indian singers lodge a protest against foreign singers performing in India? And if not, why not?
This is the main difference between the US and the Indian government. The US government, including the US President, works for Americans; the Indian government works for foreigners. If a man like Quattrocchi, can get away with murder, figuratively speaking, and of course, Rs 64 crore, what is the government doing? By this time, Quattrocchi should have been in jail, along with his Indian patrons, for looting Indian taxpayers' money. Instead, this commission agent from Italy is richer by Rs 64 crore and enjoying the loot in Switzerland or wherever it is that Italians go after robbing other countries where they do their business.
Under Obama, people come first, companies afterwards. Obama is working in the interests of the country that elected him President, not foreigners who work for US companies. Companies in India can and do purchase politicians and get their work done. That is how we find Adnan Sami and others making money in India. But men like Barack Obama are made of sterner stuff. This is the main difference between India and the United States of America.
June.12 : I must state at the outset that in my opinion good India-US relations, based on mutual benefits, are important for strategic, economic and technological reasons. Unfortunately, media reports indicate a growing chill in India-US ties since President Barack Obama took office in January this year. Past history shows that Republican administrations in the US have been friendlier towards India. This is, indeed, confusing since any country's foreign policy is presumably based on long-term vision and goals and not on which party is in power.
On June 6, media reports leaked the worst-kept secret in South Asia — a confirmation by the Pentagon that Pakistan used over $5 billion of American aid, meant for the "war on terror", to acquire conventional military weapons for use against India. The list is known and, perhaps, someone in the American government may like to ask how the "war on terror" justifies Pakistan acquiring 18 F-16 fighter jets, eight P-3C Orion Long-Range Maritime Patrol (LRMP) aircraft, 500 American Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missiles (capable of shooting down enemy aircraft at over 60-km range), 5250 TOW anti-tank missiles and 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
The Pakistani Air Force chief recently stated that his Air Force would counter the Indian Air Force's Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance planes with 500 American BVR missiles. Pakistan is, of course, getting its own AWACS aircraft from Sweden in October this year, and it is presumed that payment for these six aircraft would also come from the American aid meant for the "war on terror".
Pakistan's growing conventional warfare arsenal assumes a more ominous form when we include its made-in-China weapons in the pipeline, at "friendship" prices — 150 JF-17 and 40 JF-20 fighter jets, two AWACS, four frigates, 155 mm artillery and medium-range 300 mm rockets. Pakistan may be a bankrupt nation which is sliding backwards in time (its illiterate population grew from 55 to 57 million in the last seven years), but it has a massive military which is armed to the teeth and is itching to use its new weapons against India.
Last fortnight, the American government let out the second worst-kept secret in South Asia: Pakistan possesses 60 uranium bombs for use against India, and that it has set up two more nuclear plants with Chinese assistance to produce the more-effective plutonium bombs, also for use against India.
Amazingly, Pakistan told America to "concentrate on Afghanistan and not to worry about Pakistan's nuclear weapons" and, almost in the same breath, asked for more aid. And a few days later "requested" the US to "write off Pakistan's debts" while simultaneously warning India that "peace will come only when the Kashmir problem is solved".
The US has, of course, responded with another $300 million humanitarian aid in addition to the new multi-billion "performance linked" five-year aid package already announced.
Indians who are over 60 years of age will have unpleasant memories of how the America-gifted F-86 Sabre jets, F-104 Starfighter jets and Patton tanks were used against India during the 1965 war, and how Chinese-American weapons were used in the 1971 war.
The recent discovery of terrorist weapons and grenades with Chinese markings in Kashmir also indicates an indirect Chinese connection to the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba's (LeT) anti-India terror modules.
The impact of recent happenings, along with silent American pressure on India to "talk to Pakistan on Kashmir", has made Pakistan bolder in its Kashmir rhetoric and its covert-cum-overt actions — a top LeT operative was caught in India on June 4, while Pakistani troops opened unprovoked fire across the Line of Control (LoC) the same day.
All American statements on AfPak mention only the Al Qaeda (basically Arabs who threaten the Western world) and Taliban (Pashtuns who threaten the AfPak region). No mention has ever been made of the LeT and Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD, Pakistani-Punjabi terrorists who, under the Inter-Services Intelligence, control attacks on India, for example Mumbai's 26/11). Fortunately, the new Indian government has stood its ground and stated: "Talks with Pakistan will only commence once Pakistan takes action on its home-grown anti-India terrorists".
It appears that both China and the US, in pursuance of their long-term national interests, have decided to once again back Pakistan which has a strategic geographical location and, unlike India, is far more "servile and pliant" (last week Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and AfPak emissary Richard Holbrooke appeared at a joint press conference in Islamabad, raising questions of protocol).
The Indian defence preparedness will need to factor in this reality, along with China's claims on Arunachal Pradesh. Indeed our defence acquisitions (including the much-touted $10-billion fighter jet deal), along with major commercial transactions (acquisition of nuclear power plants), need to reflect our national interest (assured supplies, support for UN Security Council seat, transfer of dual-use technology and assistance in manned space exploration), rather than purchasing from the lowest bidder.
We must also have contingency plans with regard to punitive conventional strikes which may become necessary should Pakistani-backed terrorists repeat 26/11 attacks or the 2001 attack on Indian Parliament.
India must continue its efforts to improve relations with the US, but it also urgently needs to keep its "powder dry" and be ready for conflict.
In all this how do we factor in China's growing nuclear arsenal (estimated at about 400 weapons), along with its massive conventional military massed at our northern borders? Should India's nuclear policy be slightly modified to include Indian retaliation by using nuclear weapons against a nuclear adversary whose military has penetrated deep into Indian territory? How many nuclear weapons and delivery systems (missiles, fighter aircraft, submarine-based) do we need? The answer to this must take into account some losses during an enemy first strike (Pakistan or China or both) and the need to keep a reserve after our "second retaliatory strike". Do we need to carry out simulated exercises involving theoretical threats from our two nuclear neighbours?
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton is expected to visit India in early July. She needs to be politely reminded that America-funded weapons in Pakistani hands are a threat to Indian security. And President Obama, fresh from his recent Cairo speech to the one-billion-strong Islamic world, needs to realise that there are over one billion Indians living in the only secular, stable, democratic nation in South Asia.
Irrespective of how Indo-US relations shape out, in the near future India must be prepared to defend itself without relying on foreign powers for assistance. A large country of a billion people, which has independently overcome the impact of global recession, must also independently overcome threats to its national security.
Vice-Admiral Arun Kumar Singh retired as Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam
The "Global Times" is a a tabloid brought out by the "People's Daily" group, which is controlled by the Communist Party of China.It largely focusses on foreign affairs and has the reputation of being very nationalistic in its views on developments abroad.While the "People's Daily" sticks to the Party and Government lines on matters relating to China's relations with other countries, the "Global Times" takes a little more liberty in its comments.
2.Before April,2009, the "Global Times" was published in the Chinese language. Since April 20, 2009, the "People's Daily" group has been bringing out an English language edition, which is also available online. This new edition attracted attention recently when it came out with an article on the Tiananmen Square incident of !989, whereas the rest of the Chinese media had ignored its 20th anniversary.
3. In an article carried on June 1,2009, it made a reference to the "June 4 incident" without referring to the Tiananmen Square, but in a subsequent write-up of June 4,2009, it specifically referred to the " Tiananmen incident" and justified the action taken by the authorities in handling the incident. The write-up even carried a photo of the Tiananmen Square. It said: “Twenty years after the June 4 Tiananmen incident, public discussion about what happened that day is almost non-existent in mainstream society on the Chinese mainland.” It referred to a visit paid by its reporter in New York to the local office of the China Democracy Party to meet some of those who are still “sticking to their old cause.” It quoted a Chinese expert as justifying the handling in the following words: " “The Chinese Government made a sober and sensible decision to overcome hard times, restore social stability, and enhance economic reform in the 1990s.”
4.The exceptional reference to the Tiananmen Square incident was seen by many as indicating an attempt by the Party to justify to foreign audiences the party and Government line on sensitive issues on which discussion is not allowed inside China. Interestingly, on June 11,2009,the "Global Times" came out with a hard-hitting editorial against India on the issue of the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh, which is not accepted by China as Indian territory. China describes Arunachal Pradesh as "southern Tibet" and has been laying claim at least to the Tawang Tract, if not to the whole territory. The long-continuing negotiations between the two countries on the border question have not made progress due to the Chinese insistence on their claim to at least Tawang, if not to the whole of Arunachal Pradesh.
5. The hard-hitting editorial was provoked by some comments reportedly made by Gen.J.J.Singh, the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, on the continuing high-level of Chinese troop intrusions into the Indian territory in this sector and the action taken by the Government of India to protect its territory through measures such as the deployment of additional troops in Arunachal Pradesh. A copy of the editorial is annexed.
6. The editorial warned: "India's current course can only lead to a rivalry between the two countries. India needs to consider whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation with China. It should also be asking itself why it hasn't forged the stable and friendly relationship with China that China enjoys with many of India's neighbors, like Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Any aggressive moves will certainly not aid the development of good relations with China. India should examine its attitude and preconceptions it will need to adjust if it hopes to cooperate with China and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome."
7. The fact that this editorial was reproduced by the "People's Daily" the same day strongly indicated , firstly, that it could not have been carried by the "Global Times" without prior vetting by the authorities and, secondly, that the editorial was written for the benefit of not only the foreign audience, but also the domestic readers. It was an instance of a governmental view conveyed through seemingly non-governmental channels.
8. The "Global Times" did not stop with that. The next day, it carried briefly the results of an online public opinion poll carried out on June 10 by one huanqiu.com. According to it, the results showed that 90 per cent of the participants believed that India posed a big threat to China after India announced it would dispatch 60,000 troops to the border with China. About 74 per cent of the participants believed that China should not maintain friendly relations with India anymore after its military provocation. And more than 65 per cent believed India's actions were harmful to bilateral ties---- more harmful to India. It quoted Dai Xun, a military expert, as saying that
India's military moves could cast a shadow over bilateral relations and could destroy the mutual trust between the two countries .
9. In a factual report on June 11,2009, the "China Daily" quoted Ye Hailin, an expert in India studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), as saying as follows: " New Delhi is strengthening its control because it knows clearly that China will not resort to military action to solve the problem. India is adopting this means to make its control over the area an accepted fact." It quoted Sun Shihai, another expert in the CASS, as saying: "It (additional deployment) is not helpful to resolve the border dispute, and could easily cause regional tension.The chance of a border conflict is not big, if India does not instigate it."
10.Since the beginning of this year, there have been fresh signs of a hardening of the Chinese stance on its claim to Arunachal Pradesh. This became evident when it opposed a proposal for a loan to India from the Asian Development Bank for a flood control project in Arunachal Pradesh. The criticism voiced in sections of the Chinese media, which do not carry anything without the prior approval of the Government and the party, of reported Indian moves for enhanced security in Arunachal Pradesh has been in unusually strong language.
11. The message, which the Chinese seem to be seeking to convey, is, firstly, that there cannot be a solution to the long-pending border dispute without a mutually satisfactory solution in the Arunachal Pradesh sector; secondly, despite the continuing differences, China will not take the initiative in making any military moves; and, thirdly, there could be a confrontational situation due to the reported additional Indian troop deployments in Arunachal Pradesh.
12. Arunachal Pradesh is Indian territory. India has the legitimate right to strengthen its capability to protect its territory through the required development of the infrastructure and troop deployments. India should go ahead with its plans in this regard. At the same time, India should refrain from projecting these moves in public as in response to a possible Chinese military threat. It will be better for all public statements in this regard to be made carefully from New Delhi and not from Arunachal Pradesh. (12-6-09)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com)
ANNEXURE (EDITORIAL CARRIED BY GLOBAL TIMES ON JUNE 11,2009)
INDIA'S UNWISE MILITARY MOVES
In the last few days, India has dispatched roughly 60,000 troops to its border with China, the scene of enduring territorial disputes between the two countries.
J.J. Singh, the Indian governor of the controversial area, said the move was intended to "meet future security challenges" from China. Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh claimed, despite cooperative India-China relations, his government would make no concessions to China on territorial disputes.
The tough posture Singh's new government has taken may win some applause among India's domestic nationalists. But it is dangerous if it is based on a false anticipation that China will cave in.
India has long held contradictory views on China. Another big Asian country, India is frustrated that China's rise has captured much of the world's attention. Proud of its "advanced political system," India feels superior to China. However, it faces a disappointing domestic situation which is unstable compared with China's.
India likes to brag about its sustainable development, but worries that it is being left behind by China. China is seen in India as both a potential threat and a competitor to surpass.
But India can't actually compete with China in a number of areas, like international influence, overall national power and economic scale. India apparently has not yet realized this.
Indian politicians these days seem to think their country would be doing China a huge favor simply by not joining the "ring around China" established by the US and Japan. India's growing power would have a significant impact on the balance of this equation, which has led India to think that fear and gratitude for its restraint will cause China to defer to it on territorial disputes.
But this is wishful thinking, as China won't make any compromises in its border disputes with India. And while China wishes to coexist peacefully with India, this desire isn't born out of fear.
India's current course can only lead to a rivalry between the two countries. India needs to consider whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation with China. It should also be asking itself why it hasn't forged the stable and friendly relationship with China that China enjoys with many of India's neighbors, like Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Any aggressive moves will certainly not aid the development of good relations with China. India should examine its attitude and preconceptions it will need to adjust if it hopes to cooperate with China and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.
Source: Global Times
The Erie City Schools, in cooperation with the Institute Of Intelligence Studies here at Mercyhurst, recently announced that they would begin to offer an intelligence analyst track in one of their high school career academies.The full news article is here but there is more to this story. This is another one of Bob Heibel's visionary initiatives and it appears to me to be a natural extension of the increasing number of colleges and universities that are offering intelligence courses or even full programs. While this may sound a bit too visionary for some, let me put it into perspective. We are in the middle of a study that is trying to get at the size, in dollars and people, of the "real" intelligence community. This real community includes all the law enforcement analysts and intelligence professionals in business as well as those in the national security community. Our initial estimates indicate that there are as many analysts in the US national security community alone as there are petroleum engineers in the entire US (17,000).
Our rough estimate suggests that, when you add in all of the law enforcement, competitive intel and other analysts in the business community, the total number of intel analysts in the US doubles. This exceeds the number of chemical engineers (30,000) in the country.According to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the chemical engineering profession, however, has nearly 150 colleges and universities feeding it qualified graduates and STEM programs have become a staple offering in virtually every high school in the country. In contrast, there are only a handful (a growing handful but still a handful...) of colleges and universities offering even introductory intel courses, much less a full four year program.Nearly 20 years ago, Bob started the Mercyhurt program based on a single insight: If the government can depend on academia to educate its entry level doctors and lawyers, engineers and architects, computer specialists and military officers, why can't it depend on academia to provide entry level education to its intelligence analysts? In this light, extending this vision to the high school level makes it seem less radical -- in fact, it looks downright logical.
Source: Sources and Methods
Central Tech program focuses on intelStudents to learn in-demand skills
BY VALERIE MYERS firstname.lastname@example.org [more details]
Published: June 12. 2009 1:15AM
There's a world of new opportunities at Central Career and Technical School.A new intelligence technologist program beginning there this fall will prepare students for careers in demand by government, military, law enforcement and industry nationally and worldwide."The workplace is changing so rapidly that we can't keep up with it," Erie schools Superintendent Jim Barker said. "But we do know that training students to be proficient in intelligence gathering will open up a world of new job and educational opportunities."Central Tech's existing information technologies program has been retooled to emphasize intelligence gathering. Students will be trained to research issues and trends via computers and the Internet, in communications skills, in world cultures and geography, and to work as part of a team. Graduates of the four-year program will be ready for jobs working with intelligence analysts.The FBI alone has hired 540 analysts in the past year, said Robert Heibel, director of Mercyhurst College's Institute for Intelligence Studies. High school-trained technologists in time will do most of the research for those analysts."Ideally, they will work as a team," Heibel said.Mercyhurst's Institute for Intelligence Studies developed the new Central Tech program in cooperation with the Boys & Girls Club of Erie and the Erie School District. The Boys & Girls Club piloted the intelligence technologist program as a summer camp for 45 city children in 2007. The program was continued and expanded to an after-school course for Jefferson Elementary School seventh- and eighth-graders in 2008-09.Eleven students so far have enrolled in the new Central Tech program, said David Kranking, Erie School District director of career and technical education. Enrollment for 2009-10 is still open."We expect that, in time, the program will attract as many as 50 students each year," he said.Mercyhurst's Institute for Intelligence Studies will help Central Tech intelligence graduates find jobs."We have the contacts in the intelligence community to do that," Heibel said. "I guarantee that government and the military will snap these students up."Graduates alternately could go on to earn an associate degree in intelligence technology at Mercyhurst North East or a bachelor's degree in intelligence studies at Mercyhurst.Central Tech seniors and best friends Anita Brkic and Alma Mehinovic are keeping their options open. Originally enrolled in marketing at Central Tech, they switched to protective services and will take intelligence technologist courses this fall."I'm interested in CSI, and this is an opportunity to do something like that or even to work with spies and work in Washington," Brkic, 17, said."It's way out of the ordinary, and we don't want ordinary lives."VALERIE MYERS can be reached at 878-1913 or by e-mail.
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