September 05, 2009

Indian Scientists Call UN Glacier Retreat Claim Unscientific

Aug. 28, 2009 (EIRNS)—Disputing the forecast made by the United Nations body studying global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned in early May that the glaciers in the world's highest mountain range could vanish within three decades, V.K. Raina, a leading glaciologist and former Additional Director-General of Geological Survey of India (GSI), claimed recently that the issue of glacial retreat is being sensationalized by a few individuals. Raina, who has been associated with the research and data collection in over 25 glaciers in India and abroad, debunked the theory that the Gangotri glacier is retreating alarmingly. He maintains that the glaciers are undergoing natural changes which are witnessed periodically.

The issue of carrying out a joint research on the Himalayan glaciers that store more ice than anywhere on Earth except for the polar regions and Alaska, and the steady flow of water from these glaciers that fills seven of the mightiest rivers of Asia, is now under discussion between India and China. Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told newspersons on Aug. 28 that a comprehensive agreement for joint research on Himalayan glaciers will be drawn up after another round of talks when a Chinese delegation of environment scientists and officials visit New Delhi in October. Both Indian and Chinese rivers and underground aquifers depend heavily on the snow melt during the dry summer season. Glacial runoff also is the source of the headwaters for the Indus River in Pakistan, the Brahmaputra that flows through Bangladesh, the Mekong that descends through Southeast Asia, the Irrawaddy in Myanmar, and the Yellow and Yangtze rivers of China.

Raina's views were echoed by Dr. R.K. Ganjoo, Director, Regional Centre for Field Operations and Research on Himalayan Glaciology, who is supervising study of glaciers in northern Kashmirs Ladakh region, including one in the Siachen area. He also maintains that nothing abnormal has been found in any of the Himalayan glaciers studied so far by him. He points out that Indian glaciers are at 11,500-13,000 feet above the sea level, whereas those in the Alps are at much lower levels. Certainly, the conditions under which the glaciers in Alaska are retreating, do not prevail in the Indian sub-continent, he explained.

LaRouche on Afghanistan:: 'No Alternative To Total Victory'

This article appears in the September 4, 2009 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
LaRouche on Afghanistan:
'No Alternative To Total Victory'
—Over the British Empire
by Jeffrey Steinberg

Aug. 27—It is growing more and more clear that President Barack Obama is on the verge of committing another, perhaps fatal policy blunder, this time having to do with Afghanistan. According to Washington sources, we are days, or, at most, weeks away from a decision by the President to again escalate the U.S. troop deployments to Afghanistan, as soon as the U.S. and NATO forces commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, delivers his much-awaited recommendations. According to sources close to the Administration, McChrystal is certain to ask for more troops—an initial boost of 17,000 soldiers—and the President is likely to grant his request, despite warnings from some of his top advisors, including his National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones.

According to one senior U.S. intelligence source, there is a broad institutional consensus that the United States cannot withdraw its forces from Afghanistan until a stable government has been secured in Kabul, and the Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgency has been defeated. "We have no choice, no matter who is President," the source recently reported. The source noted that there is no longer any distinction between the Taliban and the drug lords, who are behind the opium and heroin production, that accounts for 95% of the world's black market supply.

This irrational "institutional consensus" was on full display Aug. 26, at a Brookings Institution event, featuring some top Obama Administration Afghan policy advisors. Bruce Reidel, the chairman of Obama's Afghan task force; Michael O'Hanlon, an advisor to Gen. David Petraeus, the Centcom commander; Anthony Cordesman, a Pentagon advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Kimberly Kagan, wife of "surge" author Fred Kagan, and herself a leading neocon, all rationalized why there would be no pullout or drawdown of forces from Afghanistan—for at least the next five years—without providing a single explanation for why U.S. and NATO forces remain in Afghanistan, eight years after the 9/11 attacks, or what an exit strategy would even look like. In fact, Reidel and Cordesman candidly admitted that the U.S. and NATO could be defeated militarily, and that the current situation on the ground is already dire.

Lured into a Trap

Briefed on these developments, Lyndon LaRouche had a clear explanation for why the United States is stuck in Afghanistan. "The British have lured us into this trap, and they want us to stay there until we have failed altogether." LaRouche noted that, since the time of the Seven Years War (1757-1763), when the British Empire first emerged in its current form, the British have pursued a policy of inducing targeted nations to destroy themselves, by being trapped into wars they have no business fighting.

LaRouche elaborated:

The British manipulate the United States from the outside—not through some little conspiratorial cabal. Look at the case of Vietnam: When President John F. Kennedy accepted the wise advice of top American retired generals, including Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower, that the United States should never to get caught in a land-war in Asia, and began plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Indochina, the British assassinated him. After that, as Lyndon Johnson candidly admitted in his final interview before his death, JFK's successor plunged headlong into Vietnam—out of fear of the assassins' bullets that took down Kennedy.

Now, we are once again being lured into a land war in Asia. It is Vietnam, all over again, and the British are pushing us in, deeper and deeper. The enemy is not, fundamentally, the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The real enemy, the real threat, comes from the British Empire. If you don't have a top-down understanding of the role of the British, and the specific kinds of manipulations they run—like Tony Blair's 'sexed-up' Iraq disinformation dossiers in 2002—you will almost invariably fall into the trap.

LaRouche concluded:

Every war, since the middle of the 18th Century, that has erupted, anywhere on the planet, has been manipulated by the British. That is how they operate. They exploit the ideological blinders, the petty hatreds, and induce nations to self-destruct. Often, they take actions that appear to jeopardize Britain itself, to win their objectives. This is what the Harold Wilson government did in 1967-68, when they wrecked the pound sterling. They did it to induce the United States to abandon the Bretton Woods System altogether—which is exactly what Richard Nixon, under the sway of George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, did in 1971.

In 1992, again, the British had their little Nazi-collaborator puppet, George Soros, run a $2 billion attack on the pound sterling, which busted up the quasi-fixed-exchange European Rate Mechanism. The breakup of the ERM was the pivotal event, that opened up continental Europe for self-destruction, under the Maastricht Treaty.

This is how the British Empire operates. And unless some people around the White House wise up soon, the United States is going to be dragged even deeper into a catastrophic failure in Afghanistan. There is no alternative to victory—victory over the British Empire

Nepal: The Gurkha Exodus

4 Sep 2009

After discriminating against its famous Gurkha soldiers from Nepal for almost 200 years, Britain has now amended its resettlement policy, but the olive branch could cost both countries dearly, writes Sudeshna Sarkar for ISN Security Watch.

By Sudeshna Sarkar in Kathmandu and Pokhara for ISN Security Watch

From his bed in the city of Pokhara, Nepal, Captain Lalit Bahadur Gurung is fighting his final battle, watched closely by hundreds of other retired soldiers like him.

The 81-year-old, who joined the famed Gurkha Brigade of the British Army as an 18-year-old, received the Military Cross in 1964 for outstanding valor during the war in Borneo and Brunei. Today, paralyzed by a stroke, he is fighting a dogged legal battle against his former employer, the British government.

“His family has been struggling with his medical expenses, which are enormous,” says Mahendra Lal Rai, general secretary of the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen’s Organisation (GAESO), an association of British Army veterans that has been campaigning since 2002 for equal pay, pensions and compensation.

“Also, the hospitals in Pokhara are not well-equipped. On the other hand, as a former British soldier, he can avail of National Health Service and get free medical care if he goes to Britain,” he tells ISN Security Watch.

Until this summer, going to the UK would have been an impossible dream for Gurung and thousands of other soldiers like him due to the British Army’s discriminatory resettlement policy. While soldiers recruited from Commonwealth countries had the right to live in the UK after four years’ service, Gurkha soldiers’ entry was restricted: Only those who had retired after 1997 - when their base moved from Hong Kong to Britain - were allowed to live in the UK.

However, the situation changed dramatically this May after a high-profile campaign led by British actress Joanna Lumley caused the government of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown an embarrassing defeat in the House of Commons.

On 21 May, British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that all British Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 were also entitled to settle in the UK, provided they had served for at least four years.

The decision means that now some 36,000 Gurkha veterans are eligible to live in the UK, along with their spouses and minor children under the age of 18.

The healthcare lure

The waiting room in the GAESO office in Kathmandu valley is packed with people who have applied to move to the UK: they include veterans, widows and their children.

Lieutenant Dhan Bahadur Rai, 68, retired in 1982. Now that the laws make him eligible to resettle in the UK, Rai is keen to go mainly to seek medical treatment for a heart condition.

Dhanmaya Gurung, 74, is the widow of Corporal Ram Bahadur Gurung who died six years ago. “My father died of a brain tumor,” Dhanmaya’s son Himal tells ISN Security Watch. “We lived in a hospital for six months and it wiped out all our savings. Now we think, what will happen if mother falls ill? We have applied for her to live in the UK so that she receives adequate medicare.”

“People want to go to the UK for mainly two reasons,” says Rai, whose father had served in the British Army before him and whose son is currently in the Gurkha Brigade. “For medical treatment and to ensure a better future for their children since Nepal is still an insecure country, both in terms of job opportunities and safety.”

GAESO has received about 900 applications so far, which means nearly 3,600 people are ready to move out. However, the number is expected to escalate if Lalit Bahadur Gurung wins his case.

A big hurdle for applicants is the fee they are asked to submit with the resettlement application. It is nearly $990, a hefty sum in a country like Nepal, which is among the poorest in the world. GAESO has filed a petition on Gurung’s behalf, asking the British government to waive the fee. The hearing starts this month, and if he wins, it would be a test case that could eventually lead to the scrapping of the fee.

However, once the Gurkha exodus starts, neither Nepal nor Britain has estimated what the fallout could be. On one hand, Britain would have to pay millions of pounds more in terms of health care for the elderly and allowances. Brown had told parliament that resettling the vets alone would cost 1.4 billion pounds and put immense strains on stretched public finances. On the other hand, Nepal would also suffer from a flight of capital as the vets withdraw their pensions and savings.

Notes of discord

A day after the new resettlement policy was announced, the London Times carried a letter striking the first discordant note. The author was Lady Hunt-Davis, wife of Sir Miles Hunt-Davis, a former brigadier and trustee of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, a 40-year-old British charity assisting Gurkha vets and their dependants in Nepal.

“These men do not live in poverty on their return to their native land,” the letter said. “Their British army pensions make them extremely rich men [...]. In the hills, the houses of British ex-servicemen stand out from those who have never benefited from foreign service, often being the only homes to have running water and lavatories, and they serve as a beacon of excellence to others.

“In addition, the Gurkha Welfare Trust exists to assist ex-Gurkhas, their widows and dependants in times of hardship. Projects such as footpaths, bridges and water installation that benefit entire villages and communities are run by ex-Gurkhas, whose technical expertise is invaluable to those among whom they live.

“If all retired Gurkhas settle in the United Kingdom there will be inevitable consequences. First, will the Gurkha Welfare Trust continue to attract the large charitable income that it now enjoys, and if not, what will happen to those too old or infirm to move here? Second, why should Nepal continue to allow recruitment of its brightest and fittest young men to a foreign army if it gains no financial benefit from so doing?”

Capital flight

The government of Nepal, racked by political instability and trying to cope with its former communist insurgents, is yet to grasp what the long-term implications are. However, bankers are already apprehensive that the exodus will fuel illegal fund transfers.

“Nepal’s laws do not permit a citizen to take his capital out of the country,” says Trilochan Pagini, spokesman at Nepal Rastra Bank, the republic’s central bank. “According to the Foreign Exchange Act, the principal member of a migrating family can take only $5,000 with him while the other members are allowed $2,000 each,” Pagini tells ISN Security Watch.

Yet there are reports of Gurkha veterans selling their homes in Pokhara and towns in eastern Nepal in preparation for the departure. Faced with the bank restrictions, migrants are likely to approach clandestine agencies that operate what is known as the hundi or hawala system. Huge sums of money are transferred from one country to another through a network of brokers, leaving no traces.

Mahendra Lal Rai tries to downplay the fears. “There may not be a flight of capital from Nepal,” he tells ISN Security Watch. “Many of the vets are undecided if they would spend their last days in Britain. They want to go there and check out the situation first. Many of them could come back.”

He also points out that every year hundreds of Nepalis migrate to western countries, especially the US. “Doesn’t that mean a bigger flight of capital?” he says. “But Nepal has still survived.”

Sudeshna Sarkar is ISN Security Watch's senior correspondent in Nepal.

Democracy in danger in Afghanistan

Raja Karthikeya

The fraudulent practices that marred the historic elections in the country need to be investigated and correctives applied.

The recent elections in Afghanistan were historic, but fraud eclipsed it. Democracy has never been easy in Afghanistan, but it now faces the twin challenges of surviving the vicious propaganda of the Taliban and the unscrupulousess of the Afghan polity. The elections were rife with fraud, especially in the insurgency-hit parts of southern Afghanistan. Terming them an unmitigated success or failing to investigate the fraud would constitute an injustice to the Afghan people.

The presidential and provincial elections were supposed to be a watershed. Unlike the 2004 presidential and 2005 parliamentary elections, these were not conducted by the U.N. An indigenous election commission (which was commendably efficient) was in charge. The Taliban called for a boycott, and rejected offers for a ceasefire during the elections. It warned voters of dire consequences. Given the deteriorating security situation since 2006 and the state of governance, there was strong support for opposition candidates.

The U.N. and its agencies that were assisting in the conduct of the election tried to keep expectations low. What could be expected was an “acceptably credible” election, they said, rather than an “expression of the will of the people” or a “free and fair election.” Such semantic acrobatics failed to predict the travesty that transpired.

The pre-election period was marked by intimidation of voters and candidates. While the Taliban threatened voters with bodily harm, the candidates bribed them. While focussing on the Taliban threat, the international community has ignored the corruption. Several instances of malpractice have come to light. There were significant complaints of intimidation of opposition candidates’ supporters and campaigners by police and security agencies. Some police officers allegedly took ballot boxes home in the guise of “protection” and returned them stuffed with ballots.

Voter turnout is being taken by much of the international media and observers as the barometer of the success of the elections. But in reality, the turnout varied widely. In the north, despite violence by the Taliban in provinces such as Kunduz, it was rather high, touching 50 per cent in some towns. This was due to better security there, and the desire of the ethnic minorities to make their presence felt in the next government.

But the clincher was going to be the south. There were two reasons. First, the leading opposition candidates who belonged to ethnic minorities such as Tajiks and Hazaras had their largest support base in the north. Notwithstanding last-minute deals with Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostum and others which helped Hamid Karzai get a foothold in the north, Mr. Karzai’s main constituency lay in the Pashtun-dominated south. Secondly, the Pashtuns feel victimised by both sides of the war. They have borne the brunt of coalition airstrikes that went wrong; the majority of casualties in Taliban suicide attacks have also been Pashtuns. Secular Pashtun nationalism as a political force has been decimated by Islamic extremism. The Pashtuns feel the former Northern Alliance-dominated government in Kabul has been unrepresentative and unresponsive to them, with Mr. Karzai as a figurehead. Thus, the vote bank of the Pashtuns, who comprise the largest ethnicity in Afghanistan and are concentrated in the South, was crucial.

Naturally, the elections in the South were expected to be close. In the run-up, most of the candidates tried to identify themselves with voters in the South through tribal or other ties of kinship. But on polling day, the region was under siege by the Taliban. It would be surprising if the elections are considered to be a nation-wide success.

The elections were needed to legitimise the Karzai government and its political-military actions to fight insurgency. The fraud has thus created a Catch-22 situation. Questioning their credibility would aid the Taliban propaganda and would amount to a strategic loss for the coalition. Declaring them a success would fuel the sense of injustice among Afghans, creating recruits for the Taliban and feed conspiracy theories about the elections being stage-managed by the West. While this dilemma is not easy to resolve, declaring the elections a complete success would prove more costly than admitting the faults and investigating them.

Fundamental to such dilemmas are questions about the wisdom of having a democratic system for Afghanistan. One influential tribal leader in southern Afghanistan summed it up thus: “Why is democracy being imposed on us? Under the tribal system, people obeyed us leaders. They came to us to resolve disputes and we protected them.” His contention was that the West was asking Afghanistan to achieve democracy in a span of a few years, a task that the West itself took centuries to accomplish. Voting for a candidate was still largely along tribal lines. Tribal voters considered voting as a method of buying the patronage and protection (even from the law) of a powerful candidate. The argument is that democracy as the rest of the world understands it is unsustainable, if not unsuitable, here. This theory has several takers in the West; they think the political solution to Afghanistan’s travails is to accommodate the Taliban in the Kabul government.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Nobody has considered what the average Afghan wants. Afghans, especially the youth, desire democracy. They have respect for the jirga system, but do not want to see it become the de jure system of national governance. Nor do Afghans, even in the Pashtun areas, desire the return of the Taliban. The U.S. and its allies may be in the throes of redefining their mission in Afghanistan as one of “denying Al-Qaeda the possibility of revival” rather than state-building, but for Afghans a Taliban triumph would amount to a renewed betrayal of the Afghan people by the West.

The value of the elections to the Afghan people cannot be under-estimated. Voter cynicism, caused by misgovernance, should not be mistaken for apathy. Justice should be done to Afghans by means of a thorough investigation of the cases of fraud, indictment of the fraudsters and revision of election results where necessary.

(Raja Karthikeya was an international observer for the elections in Afghanistan.)


The demonstrations by a large number of Han residents of Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China, from September 2 to 4,2009, to protest against the failure of the local authorities to stop the wave of mysterious attacks by hypodermic syringe needles since August 17,2009, have claimed their first victims--- one at the level of the Urumqi city and the other at the provincial level..

2. The officially-controlled Xinhua news agency announced on September 5,2009, that the regional committee of the Communist Party of China for the Xinjiang Autonomous Region has replaced Li Zhi, who was the Secretary of the Urumqi Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, by Zhu Hailun, who was the Secretary of the Regional Political and Legislative Affaitrs Committee of the entire province.

3. At the provincial level, Xinhua reported that the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the province, which is the provincial legislature, has replaced Liu Yaohua, who was the Director of the Public Security Department of the province, by Zhu Changjie, who was the party chief in the Aksu Prefecture of the province. The Public Security Department of the province, which works under the Ministry of Public Security of the central Government in Beijing, is responsible for internal intelligence and internal security. The police also comes under its supervision. In China, the head of the Public Security Department of a province is generally referred to as the police chief of the province and the Minister for Public Security at Beijing is referred to as the police chief of China. All police chiefs are appointed by the respective legislatures on the recommendation of the party--- the provincial police chiefs by the provincial legislature and the Minister for Public Security by the National People's Congress or by its Standing Committee, if it is not in session.

4.Some interesting points about these two changes need to be underlined. Firstly, the two decisions have been projected as taken at the provincial level, but the instructions for the changes must have come from Beijing. Secondly, while the change at the party level has been restricted to the municipality of Urumqi, the change at the governmental level has affected the head of the Public Security Department for the entire province. There has been no announcement regarding the head of the Public Security Department in the Urumqi municipality. Any decision regarding him has apparently been left to the new provincial chief.

5. It is also interesting to note that Wang Lequan, the head of the Communist Party of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, has not so far been affected. He is the provincial head of the party continuously since 1994 and is considered very close to President Hu Jintao. During the demonstrations, most of the slogans were against him. Large sections of the Hans of Urumqi blame him for the failure of the police to protect them, but he can be removed only by the central party Politburo or its Standing Committee in Beijing. It would be interesting to see whether he too is removed by the Politburo or whether he is protected from any humiliation by President Hu Jintao.

6. If he is removed, that could be an indication that Hu's position in the party has been weakened by the developments in Xinjiang. If he manages to stay on despite his alleged mishandling of the situation, that could be an indication that Hu's position remains strong.

7. The other person whose future requires watching is China's Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu, who rushed to Urumqi from Beijing on September 4. He is responsible for supervising the work of the Public Security Department of the province. If the provincial chief is removed because of the situation, can Meng in Beijing escape responsibility for failing to supervise his work effectively. Meng can be removed only by the National People's Congress or its Standing Committee on the recommendation of the party.

8. One possibility is that Wang and Meng may be allowed to continue till the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China next month are over and may be eased out thereafter. Will the Han residents of Urumqi remain quiet till then or will they resume their demand for sacking Wang immediately. If the Hans resume their demand for removing Wang and if Hu doesn't do so, there is a danger of the public anger turning against him.

9. In the meanwhile, there was relative calm in Urumqi on September 5. There was one attempt by a group of about 1000 young Hans to gather at the central square, but this was thwarted by the police without using force. The authorities allowed the local mosques to hold their Ramadan prayers. Many shops were open. However, there was a heavy presence of the People's Armed Police all over the city. Despite this, more incidents of needle-stabbings were reported. There have been no fatalities due to the stabbings, but for the last three days rumours have been circulating in the city that the Uighurs have been trying to infect the Hans with the HIV virus. This has added to the panic. A team of Army doctors has been rushed to Urumqi from the PLA headquarters in Beijing to examine the persons injured by the needle-stabbings and to dispel these rumours.

10.The local security agencies are totally non-plussed and do not know how to deal with the new modus operandi of the Uighurs, which amounts to the use of soft terror, that is, criminal intimidation, causing polarisation between Muslims and non-Muslims and discrediting the security agencies in the eyes of the public through means, which do not cause mass fatalities. Or are some local irrational elements, having nothing to do with terrorism or extremism, causing a scare in the population similar to the anthrax scare in the US after 9/11? (5-9-09)

( 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:

'Pakistan has Pitted Radical Taliban Against Secular and Democratic Baluchi Forces

August 26, 2009 No. 2506
Senior Pakistani Journalist on Baluchistan Problem: 'Pakistan has Pitted Radical Taliban Against Secular and Democratic Baluchi Forces… Promot[ing] Religious Radicalization'

In an article, senior Pakistani journalist Malik Siraj Akbar analyzed the Baluchi movement for independence from Pakistan, arguing that Pakistan's state institutions are supporting the pro-Taliban groups and eliminating progressive forces in Baluchistan province.

Akbar, who is the Baluchistan bureau chief of Lahore-based Daily Times newspaper, pointed out that in its bid to crush the Baluchi independence movement, Pakistan is not only using American weapons against the Baluchis, but is also supporting non-Baluchi refugees so as to create demographic imbalance in Baluchistan.

Following are some excerpts from the article, entitled "A Home-grown Conflict:" [1]

"Baluchi Youth Have Removed the Pakistani Flag from Schools and Colleges… Punjabi Officers Refuse to Serve in Baluchistan, Fearing They Will Be Targeted"

"When the first Baluchi insurgency broke out in 1948, to resist the illegal and forceful annexation of the Baluchi-populated autonomous Kalat state with Pakistan, Manmohan Singh - today Indian prime minister - was barely a teenager, while his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani had not even been born to witness the rebellion's magnitude. Yet, last month, both leaders in Sharm El-Sheikh discussed for the first time the indefatigable Baluchi insurgency.

"Pakistan has been blaming India for causing trouble in its resource-rich province. Gilani broached the issue with India at a time when disgruntled Baluchi youth have removed the Pakistani flag from schools and colleges and stopped playing the national anthem. Punjabi officers refuse to serve in Baluchistan, fearing they will be targeted and killed.

"Islamabad attributes the unrest to 'foreign involvement.' India is not the first to be blamed. Similar allegations were levelled in the past against the now defunct Soviet Union, Afghanistan, and Iraq, to discredit the indigenous movement for retaining a distinct Baluchi identity. [The idea of] Indian assistance sounds ridiculous, given that the Baluchis do not share a border, common language, religion or history with India. Hardly one percent of Baluchis have visited India."

"Islamabad Has Applied a Multipronged Approach to Dealing With Baluchistan… First, It Kept the Province Economically Backward"

"The idea of Pakistan never attracted the secular Baluchis. Ghose Baksh Bizanjo, a Baluchi leader, said in 1947: 'It is not necessary that by virtue of our being Muslims we should lose our freedom... If the mere fact that we are Muslims requires us to join Pakistan, then [why shouldn't] Afghanistan and Iran... also amalgamate with Pakistan.'

"Over the years, Islamabad has applied a multipronged approach to dealing with Baluchistan. Apart from military operations launched in 1948, 1958, 1962, 1973, and 2002 to quash the rebellion, Islamabad adopted other tactics. First, it kept the province economically backward by denying it good infrastructure, mainly in education and health. Natural gas was discovered in Baluchistan in 1951 and supplied to Punjab's industrial units. The Baluchis barely benefit from their own gas.

"Second, Baluchis, whom the state views as traitors, were denied representation in the army, foreign services, federal departments, profitable corporations, Pakistan International Airlines, customs, railways and other key institutions.

"Third, Baluchistan has historically been remote-controlled from Islamabad. A Pakistan army corps commander, often a Punjabi or a Pathan, and the inspector general of the Frontier Corps, a federal paramilitary force with less than two percent Baluchi representation, exert more power than the province's elected chief minister. The intelligence agencies devise election plans and decide who has to come to the provincial parliament and who should be ousted."

"Islamabad Has Created a State of Terror Inside Baluchistan"

"Fourth, Islamabad has created a state of terror inside Baluchistan. Hundreds of checkposts have been established to harass people and restrict their movement. Forces and tanks are stationed even on campuses of universities.

"Fifth, national and international media are denied access to conflict zones in Baluchistan. Several foreign journalists were beaten up, supposedly by intelligence agencies personnel, or deported when they endeavored to report the actual situation.

"Sixth, international human rights organizations are denied access to trace the whereabouts of some 5,000 'missing persons.' Pakistan is also in a state of denial about the existence of around 200,000 internally displaced persons in Baluchistan.

"Seventh, Islamabad has been engaged in systematic target killing of key Baluchi democratic leaders. Ex-governor and chief minister of Baluchistan, Nawab Akbar Bugti, 79, became a victim [of army operation] once he demanded Baluchis' rights. Balach Marri, a Baluchistan Legislative Assembly member, was killed to undermine the movement. In April this year, three other prominent leaders were whisked away by security forces and subsequently killed."

"Pakistan Has Pitted Radical Taliban against Secular and Democratic Baluchi Forces… Promot[ing]Religious Radicalization'

"Eighth, Pakistan has pitted radical Taliban against secular and democratic Baluchi forces. The state is brazenly funding thousands of religious schools across the province, with the help of Arab countries, to promote religious radicalization.

"Elements supportive of the Taliban were covertly helped by state institutions to contest and win general elections. They now enjoy sizeable representation in the Baluchistan Assembly to legislate against the nationalists and secular forces."

"Islamabad has Been Using Sophisticated American Weapons - Provided to Crush the Taliban - Against the Baluchi People"

"Ninth, Islamabad has been using sophisticated American weapons, provided to crush Taliban, against the Baluchi people. This has provided breathing space to Taliban hidden in Quetta and weeded out progressive elements.

"Finally, Afghan refugees are being sponsored, in order to create demographic imbalance in the Baluchi-dominated province.

"Baluchi leaders are critical of many democratic countries for not doing 'enough' to safeguard a democratic, secular Baluch people. I asked Bramdagh Bugti, a Baluch commander, about the India link. He laughed and said, 'Would our people live amid such miserable conditions if we enjoyed support from India? We are an oppressed people... seeking help from India, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union to come for our rescue."'

"The Baluchi Movement is Rapidly Trickling Down from Tribal Chiefs to Educated Middle-Class Youth"

"The Baluchi movement is rapidly trickling down from tribal chiefs to educated middle-class youth, who are aggressively propagating their cause on Facebook and YouTube. This generation would understandably welcome foreign assistance, but will not give up even if denied help from countries like India.

"The Baluchis insist their struggle has never stopped, even at times when India and Pakistan enjoyed cordial relations."

[1], India, August 11, 2009. The article was republished on the author's blog It has been slightly edited for clarity.

Pak army banks on US : India watches with cautious optimism

by Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (retd)

Pakistan’s current war against the Taliban represents the first real war between the Islamic extremists and the army. The army had to employ all sorts of heavy weapons that are normally not used against the insurgents or the terrorists. However, it managed notable successes against the Taliban in Swat and elsewhere in months.
The army even pulled out troops from the eastern border with India for action along the western border with Afghanistan, some thing the army would never have done normally. The army’s outlook changed largely after May 2009.
Whatever the reason for this change, the American pressure on account of their own Afghan-Pak policy compulsions or their economic aid so urgently needed or Pakistan’s own internal threat perception that it was time for action and curtail likes of Baitullah Mehsud and his hordes who were gradually marching ahead with impunity.
Obviously, Pakistan and the army are entirely dependent on American largesse. Apparently, the army is no longer as powerful and dominant as hitherto. These developments are a welcome step from both India and Pakistan’s point of view.
Pakistan Supreme Court’s judgement on July 14 declaring November 2007 emergency imposed by Musharraf unconstitutional has also far-reaching consequences for Pak society. Even the lower judiciary has displayed rare courage by ordering registration of an FIR against the General for illegally detaining 60 judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts after promulgating emergency. These measures have emboldened the democratic forces in Pakistan which may change its future course besides deterring any General in the future from imposing dictatorial rule as in the past.
Though the Supreme Court judgement makes it easier to try Musharraf for high treason in Pakistan Assembly, the army may not be happy with the government taking such an extreme action against its former Chief. The fact that General Kyani has met Prime Minister Gilani a couple of times suggests army’s concern about it. Besides, some Generals including General Kyani himself were Musharraf’s “consultants” and hence a party in imposing the emergency in 2007.
Prime Minister Gilani took a cautious line that Musharraf could be tried for treason only if the National Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution which he knew wouldn’t be possible. Besides, President Zardari is also one of the beneficiaries of Musharraf’s clemency. The fact that such unprecedented measures are being considered publicly by the government against a former army Chief for usurping power is a positive indicator of gradual changes taking place in Pakistan society. The Army exercising authority without legitimacy is not being taken kindly any more.
Again, by presenting a list of 25 banned terrorists’ outfits to the National Assembly, the government seems to be telling the nation that it is fully conscious of its responsibility of tackling terrorism that has begun to hurt the very roots of Pakistan society. Hard to believe but the banned outfits include the likes of Jamaa-ud-Dawa (JUD), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, amongst others. These were the groups that were involved in a variety of destructive activities including suicide bombings etc, often with the covert support of security agencies.
That’s how the Jud founder Hafiz Saeed was let off despite sufficient proof of his involvement in Mumbai rampage on 26/11. Unfortunately, the army still considers some of them as its useful “strategic assets.” Only time will tell whether Pakistan has really realised the dangers it faces to its own existence as a state from their home grown terrorists of varying hues.
Interestingly, President Asif Ali Zardari’s uninhibited address to former civil servants at the presidency on July 7 about the extremist shows how the thinking in Pakistan is changing as regards Indo-Pak relations. However, the President was careful in not stating that the security agencies under the military rulers created and nurtured these extremist organisations for meeting the requirements of internal and external agenda. In fact, these outfits were dubbed as “assets” in furtherance of strategic objectives in Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Apparently, this realisation has come about only after the extremists attacked the Continental hotel in Peshawar on June 9, the Federal Investigation Agency headquarters in Lahore on May 27, the police academy in Lahore on March 30 and the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore on March 3, 2009.
This is the first-ever admission by the Pakistan President days after he said that the army would even target militants it had backed in the past for use against India as a proxy force. There has to be some understanding amongst the “top three”. Otherwise, such statements cannot not be aired in public so blatantly. Moreover, unlike in the past, President Zardari’s utterance have neither been denied nor retracted. The Army’s acquiescence in all these cases only suggests that it now stands weakened.
President Asif Ali Zardari also told his audience while speaking on the occasion of 62nd Independence Day, “From today, political activities will be started and will be allowed in FATA.” He further said” In the long run, we must defeat the militant mindset to defend our country, our democracy, our institutions and our way of life.” This can be seen as Pakistan’s attempt to draw the lawless region closer in main stream politics in order to overcome the problem of terrorism within the country. This also fits in well with the US strategy to defeat the Taliban and the Al-qaeda insurgents in Pakistan and Afghanistan
Over a period, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan had become a strong hold for hundreds of extremists who escaped from adjoining regions of Afghanistan into FATA after the Americans toppled the Taliban regime towards the end of 2001. These comprise seven “agencies” and six “frontier regions” and are governed through political agents who are appointed by the President. Political activities are banned in FATA and no foreigners are allowed there without the government’s permission.
By all accounts, while the Pakistan army and its ISI are seriously engaging the terrorists of varying hues operating along the western borders, they continue to provide shelter and succour to those operating across the eastern border. These extremists are considered “national assets” to be employed for destructive activities against India. As long as the Pakistan army remains paranoid of India, it is unlikely to shed its dual approach and Pakistan will remain embroiled in chaos. Terrorism ultimately strikes at its own mentor; a lesson the army refuses to learn despite the chaos created by multifarious terrorist organisations operating within Pakistan and having varying aims and objectives; some of them even challenging the state as well as the society. The army, despite its diminishing dominance, continues to assert itself.
Thus, the Pakistan government’s quest for restarting the dialogue with India in pursuance of trade and economic benefits urgently required for the country’s long-term interests will come to naught only. India at best can view these developments in Pakistan with cautious optimism.

The writer is a former Director-General, Defence Planning Staff

September 01, 2009

BALOCHISTAN: Abducted Baloch leader Rasool Baksh Mengal found dead

Islamabad/Lahore, Sep 1 (PTI) A leading Baloch nationalist leader was found dead more than a week after he was abducted by armed men, triggering violent protests in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province that claimed at least two lives.

The body of Balochistan National Movement leader Rasool Baksh Mengal, which was found hanging from a tree in Lasbela district of Balochistan yesterday, bore marks of torture, reports said.

Mengal, a well-known human rights activist, was abducted by unidentified men on August 23. Mengal's son had accused intelligence agencies of abducting him and expressed the fear that he might be killed.

Two persons of Punjabi-origin were killed as violence broke out in various Baloch-dominated districts last evening after Mengal's body was found. Protesters set fire to banks and government offices in Maskhy area, the reports said.

Rezaul H Laskar and M Zulqernain

A shutter down strike is being observed in certain parts of Balochistan against the killing of Baloch National Movement leader Rasool Bakhsh Mengal.

Rasool Bakhsh went missing on August 23rd from Uthal area of Lasbela district and his body was found by police on the 30th of August from Bela area of the same district.

The call for the strike had been given by the Baloch National Front which was also endorsed by other Baloch nationalist parties.

The strike is being observed in Turbat, Awaran, Panjgur, Khuzdar, Kalat and some other parts of the province.

Sources say that all markets and shopping centres in these areas are completely closed and no business activity is being witnessed anywhere. Traffic was minimal on the roads while the turn out in offices and schools was also low.

The local administration has taken strict security measures to avert any untoward incident.

BNF in a statement on Tuesday strongly condemned the killing of Junior Joint Secretary Rasool Baksh Mengal who was first abducted and then later killed.

They were of the view that such acts of violence and brutalities would not create hurdles for their justified goals.

They termed the killing of Rasool Baksh as gruesome and demanded that the perpetrators not be spared at any cost.

Taking belligerent notice of the ghastly act of hostility, the BNF announced the three-day complete shutter down wheel-jam strike.—Online

Clinton has her own problems

By Peter J Brown

Much has happened since United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her first trip to Asia in February. She has demonstrated that she is a capable partner with President Barack Obama, and that she can excel as a strong team player in his cabinet. Clinton is riding a wave of popularity that grows with each successive trip she takes, and abundant optimism surrounds her.

As Clinton reacts to changing realities abroad, the US Department of State itself warrants her immediate attention. In the process, she will have to wear many hats, including a few that may not fit too comfortably as she addresses problems involving staffing, security and strategic communications.

When she presented her department's 2009 budget to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations earlier this year, Clinton frankly admitted that far too many key staff positions overseas remained vacant, "for the simple reason that we don't have enough personnel". In Beijing, 18% of US Embassy positions are open. In Mumbai, she estimated that it was 20%, and in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, it's 29%.

The immediate objective is to recruit 740 new US Foreign Service personnel as part of a long-term expansion of the US Foreign Service by 25%. Over at the United States Agency for International Development, which oversees an annual foreign assistance budget of over US$13 billion, the situation is "more severe", said Clinton.

As a result, one might think that recruitment is a top priority at the State Department, but as summer comes to a close, Clinton confronts a sticky security problem that apparently prevented many young interns from coming in the door in 2009.

Obtaining first-time, entry-level security clearances has become an unpredictable process. Well-qualified young Americans with linguistic skills and a strong interest in global commerce and international affairs might find that getting a job in China is easier than getting an internship at the State Department.

The scope of the problem at the department is hard to gauge. In his August article on this troubling situation, for example, National Journal reporter David Herbert found that most of his sources "asked to remain anonymous because they feared damaging their career prospects at the State Department down the line". He also raised questions about possible discriminatory practices during the applicant screening process.

Keep in mind that this situation came to light months after Clinton declared that in order for the Obama administration to meet its ambitious goal of doubling foreign assistance by 2015, "We need more people manning the decks." And it may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Besides the procedures surrounding the issuance of clearances, other security-related concerns stare Clinton in the face.

As pressure mounts on her to quickly deploy more civilians in Afghanistan, she must also determine what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to the true scope of Xe - formerly Blackwater - covert missions and activities with other government agencies well outside the domain of State Department security operations.

Whether or not Clinton believes that Xe suffers from an image problem, Xe remains a vital player on the State Department's security team via a multi-million dollar contract. But because so many in the Islamic world are critical of Xe’s prior track record in Iraq, the State Department must figure out how to cope with this widespread perception. Timing is everything, and right now the State Department is keen to send the right message to millions of people in the Islamic world as part of the reinvention of the department's ambitious strategic communications campaign in the region.

The revelations surrounding Xe also serve as a reminder that maintaining transparency is often a very delicate proposition indeed, and Clinton has already been counseled about the need for her team to embrace greater transparency for a number of reasons.

"Obama administration officials have been engaged in international talks on enormous budgetary commitments that could go well beyond the $53.9 billion that we are considering today," said the committee's ranking minority member, Senator Richard Lugar, at the senate budget hearing. "The administration chose not to include its $108 billion request for the International Monetary Fund as part of the regular 2010 budget, [and although] the IMF [International Monetary Fund] is essential to shoring up the international financial system, [this has] encumbered the public transparency of the administration's proposal, which is critical to building broad support for the US commitment to the IMF - not just this week, but looking forward in the months and years to come."

This call for greater transparency is something that Clinton cannot overlook, especially when many people are wondering about the roster of top players that surround her. Very powerful personalities like special envoy Richard Holbrooke and Robert Hormats, the State Department's new under secretary for economic, energy and agricultural affairs, advise Clinton.

As expected, she will keep some State Department matters well out of sight. At the same time, however, she cannot allow this to become the rule rather than the exception, and she may find this hard to do.

She is getting high marks now, and that matters. Right after her first trip to Asia in late February, for example, Victor Cha, director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University wrote in The Chosun Ilbo, "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first trip to Asia demonstrated well the Obama administration's commitment to the region. Her stops in Japan, Indonesia, Korea and China displayed her ability to handle a brief quite well. Her mastery of the material was clear, and she demonstrated an understanding of the nuances in the region like an experienced Asia hand."

In late August, however, warning lights began flashing. Last week, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, chairman of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs sub-committee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told PBS Newshour viewers in the US that,
"The most important thing, actually, right now is that we have an opportunity here to try to construct a new formula, and it's vital for the interests of the US in SE Asia that we re-engage across the SE Asian mainland," said Senator Webb, who is just back from his two-week, five-nation tour of Southeast Asia. "We are in real danger of losing our position, with the expansion of China, with this whole series of countries that I visited."
While Clinton already acknowledged that the US position regarding Myanmar was not working, Webb, and his sub-committee, which includes Clinton's replacement from New York State, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand - an Asian studies major in college who is the only US senator proficient in Mandarin - is perhaps prodding Clinton and the State Department to move more quickly on a number of important matters related to all Southeast Asian nations and not just Myanmar.

Professor Peter Dutton of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the US Naval War College testified at a hearing a few weeks ago entitled, "Maritime Disputes and Sovereignty Issues in East Asia" which addressed, "current challenges of the disputed territories in the region, including the Senkaku Islands, Spratly Islands, and Paracel Islands". He stated that the US needs "to reassert our position as the global advocate for access-oriented approaches to international law of the sea".

"The federal government would benefit from a comprehensive national oceans policy, and flowing from that policy, a comprehensive strategic communications plan to explain the benefits and strengths of the American perspectives on the oceans," said Dutton, who also pointed out, "Today, however, there is not even complete unity of perspective across the various federal agencies that have a hand in oceans policy."

Even if she wants to move more quickly as Webb and Dutton recommend, Clinton cannot dictate how things will unfold inside Washington in terms of interdepartmental relations. And all the talk of a "comprehensive strategic communications plan" raises the important issue of how Clinton is going to select the fires she intends to fight as well as how she goes about putting them out, especially situations involving close interaction with the US Department of Defense.

Despite the fact that Holbrooke has observed that the US is losing the information war in Afghanistan, which he contends must be waged at the same time as counter-insurgency efforts - the US is now launching another $150-plus million "strategic communications campaign" there, too - chairman of the Joint

Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, on the other hand, is saying the opposite - enough is enough.

Mullen's view is that this sort of intensive US public relations activity abroad is tantamount to a waste of time, and this puts him on a collision course with Clinton.

"To put it simply, we need to worry a lot less about how to communicate our actions and much more about what our actions communicate," said Mullen. "Because what we are after in the end - or should be after - are actions that speak for themselves, that speak for us. What we need more than anything is credibility. And we can't get that in a talking point."

The State Department is listening, but is no doubt baffled at the same time by the actions of the Defense Department's new African command, AFRICOM, which are running counter to Mullein's comments. Somehow, AFRICOM ended up with a strategic communications budget in Somalia estimated to be perhaps 20 times larger than what the State Department has been allocated for the same purposes.

Strategic communications headaches aside, Africa is already a source of many sleepless nights in the State Department. Morale and managerial performance may be improving there, but Africa must now be seen in the context of someone else's rapidly expanding sphere of influence. Because China is becoming hyperactive in so many African countries, the US must be more responsive and ready to execute programs more quickly.

Clinton's advisors are watching China as it maneuvers its way through Africa and Latin America, knowing that she has gone to great lengths to be cautious in her statements about China, both here and in Beijing earlier this year. With each passing day, however, Clinton is exposed to many valid and meaningful viewpoints, which serve to pull her in different directions simultaneously. For example, in his August Pacific Forum CSIS paper, "Obama and East Asia: No Room for Complacency" Professor Gerald Curtis of Columbia University wrote:
The Obama administration went overboard in treating China as a kind of peer partner during the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Washington in July 2009. President Obama's statement that the US-China relationship "will shape the 21st century" implies much greater Chinese power to influence global affairs than it actually possesses or is likely to possess for many years to come ... It is one thing to seek closer US-China relations - and continued Chinese purchases of US Treasury notes - but quite another to suggest that China in its relationship with the United States has the power to "shape the 21st century" or that it is in the US national interest to encourage it to think that it has.
In addition, Curtis urged Clinton to pay closer attention to East Asia because, "President Obama and Secretary Clinton might find themselves treating East Asia with a kind of benign neglect, camouflaged with ritualistic rhetorical affirmation of East Asia's importance to the United States. Inattention and complacency, however, would leave the administration in a position of constantly having to catch up with developments in East Asia rather than do what it should do, which is to design a strategy that can help shape those developments."

Such statements along with the signals being sent by Webb and his sub-committee must drive Clinton's staff crazy. After all, she is not a figurehead or someone who is content to sit on the sidelines.

Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and likely the next prime minister, is not making things any easier for Clinton. His recent article entitled, "My Political Philosophy" in the September issue of the monthly Japanese journal Voice is, in effect, an attempt to prod Japan into abandoning globalization and establishing a new sense of East Asian community.

"The East Asian region, which is showing increasing vitality in its economic growth and even closer mutual ties, must be recognized as Japan's basic sphere of being. Therefore, we must continue to make efforts to build frameworks for stable economic cooperation and national security across the region," wrote Hatoyama. "As a result of the failure of the Iraq war and the financial crisis, the era of US-led globalism is coming to an end and we are moving away from a unipolar world toward an era of multipolarity."

It is not clear how Clinton will respond. She may elect to immediately send someone to convince the DPJ's senior advisors that Japan stands to win more than it might lose by maintaining its strong support for globalization. Or perhaps, she will prefer to do nothing, at least for the next month or so.

New US ambassadors have just arrived in Beijing and Tokyo. And while Hatoyama sounds like a radical, he makes it clear that "the Japan-US security pact will continue to be the cornerstone of Japanese diplomatic policy". He goes on to state, "China, which has by far the world's largest population, will become one of the world's leading economic nations, while also continuing to expand its military power."

Perhaps this is merely an attempt to catch Clinton's attention, especially now that China has established itself as Japan's largest trading partner. The DPJ's upset victory, and the toned down mood of North Korea might allow Clinton a bit of time to reflect and reset in East Asia.

Unfortunately, she has little time to spare thanks to the deteriorating situation in Pakistan, and the fact that President Hamid Karzai may emerge the winner in a rigged election in Afghanistan just after he insulted Clinton with his support for a measure which will compel women in Afghanistan to forget their dreams of living free in the 21st century.

With all this swirling around her, there is still no question that Clinton is firmly at the wheel of the US State Department. She must constantly check all the dials to ensure that the engine is running smoothly as she hurtles down the highway - hoping to avoid any roadside bombs around the turn.

Peter J Brown is a freelance writer from the US state of Maine

Border war rattles China-Myanmar ties

By Larry Jagan

BANGKOK - Myanmar military operations against an ethnic insurgent group have forced tens of thousands of refugees across China's southern border and ratcheted up bilateral tensions between the usually allied neighboring nations.

Now there are growing fears that Myanmar army actions against the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) could explode into a wider conflict as other ceasefire groups, including the heavily armed United Wa State Army (UWSA), are dragged into the fighting.

The 20-year-old ceasefire agreement between the ruling junta and MNDAA has fallen victim to the government's attempts to exert its authority over border areas before democratic elections are held next year. Some analysts believe the guerilla MNDAA has suffered heavy casualties and that at least one-half of their estimated 1,500 armed forces have fled into China.

In response, Beijing has deployed extra troops and armed policemen to the area to guard against a possible spillover of the violence across its border. A senior Chinese envoy has been dispatched to the Myanmar capital at Naypyidaw to convey Beijing's "serious concerns" about the situation, according to a senior Chinese government official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

By the weekend, an estimated 50,000 refugees had fled from northeastern Myanmar into China, a local Chinese government official in the Yunnan province city of Kunming told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity. The first wave of refugees crossed the border nearly three weeks ago, he said. "First, they came in dribs and drabs, and then in much larger numbers," according to a resident on the Chinese side of the border.

Up to 30,000 people earlier this month streamed into the Yunnan provincial town of Nansan and other nearby villages from ethnic Kokang areas in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State, according to Kitty McKinsey, regional spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees based in Bangkok. "Chinese authorities are providing emergency food, shelter and medical care," she said.

Over the weekend, the apparently defeated remnants of the Kokang army fled across the border, a Kokang military leader told Asia Times Online. At least 700 soldiers handed over their weapons to Chinese authorities as they crossed the border, discarded their green military uniforms and donned blue overalls supplied by their Chinese hosts. They are being held close to the border in a separate camp from the other refugees by heavily armed Chinese security forces, the Kokang military leader said.

Chinese refugees
Some of those who have fled the fighting are believed to be Chinese citizens, including businessmen and workers who in their thousands have migrated to Myanmar's Kokang areas over the past decade. Most businesses, including money changers, restaurants, casinos and entertainment venues in Kokang areas are either owned or run by Chinese citizens. Hundreds of traders also cross the border every week to do business and trade in the Kokang capital. They have been advised to suspend their activities until the situation stabilizes, according to Chinese sources.

One Chinese official, who requested anonymity, said that Chinese central authorities were "extremely upset" by the spillover effects of the Myanmar military's actions and were "furious" that they had not been forewarned about the offensive. After a flurry of diplomatic contacts, both in Beijing and Naypyidaw, Myanmar has "apologized" for the instability caused across the Chinese border, according to a Myanmar Foreign Ministry official.

It appears the military operations were aimed primarily at capturing a Kokang arms factory, Myanmar leaders told their Chinese counterparts. But Myanmar analysts remain skeptical and believe this was a pretext at best. "The junta knows it must move to disarm these ethnic rebel groups, and the Kokang are the weakest militarily," a Burmese academic and military specialist at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, Win Min, told Asia Times Online. "Before the military launched this attack the authorities have been trying to portray the Kokang leaders as drug dealers."

The Kokang are ethnically Chinese and speak a dialect of Mandarin, but have lived for many decades inside Myanmar. They have their own armed militia and fought against the Myanmar army for several decades demanding autonomy. They were part of the Burma Communist Party and agreed to a ceasefire in 1989, which until now had held.

The Kokang were also heavily involved in the narcotics trade and were known until recently to be major opium producers. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, their area has been poppy-free since 2003, though some analysts have contested that assessment.

Well-planned assault
Tensions had been rising in Myanmar's border areas for months as the military junta pressured various ethnic rebel ceasefire groups - including the Kachin, Kokang and Wa - to surrender their arms before democratic elections planned for next year. The Myanmar government wants to integrate these groups under the national government as border police guard units, but these and other ethnic groups along the Chinese border have resisted integration.

Thousands of Myanmar troops took up positions in the Kokang area in early August before launching their major offensive last week. Security along the way to the Kokang headquarters at Laogai had been tightened by the Myanmar military, while rice and food supplies were prevented from entering the area, according to one resident.

On August 8, a local Myanmar officer sent soldiers into the area to investigate reports that the Kokang forces were operating an arms factory. They also reportedly entered the home of Kokang military leader Peng Jiasheng in search of narcotics. He has reportedly since fled into the neighboring area controlled by the UWSA, which is believed to have more than 15,000 troops under arms.

Since the fighting subsided, the Myanmar army is in total control of the Kokang capital, Laogai. Once a bustling border town, full of bars, discos, karaoke clubs and gambling dens, the town center is now virtually deserted except for Myanmar soldiers. Most of the refugees fled with only the clothes on their back and a suitcase and left most of their possessions behind, according to aid workers.

Some refugees are now weighing whether to return to their homes for fear that their property will be looted by the soldiers. But they are also worried about living under Myanmar army rule. "We fear that the soldiers will not treat us well," a 53-year old Kokang woman told Asia Times Online. "We have heard how the army rapes women and children, forces the men folk to carry supplies and executes anyone who refuses to obey them," she said.

But with the Kokang promising to retaliate, and with the more powerful UWSA coming to their aid, the prospect for an orderly return of displaced persons is distant. "More confrontation and military encounters are expected in the following days and thousands of villagers are fleeing to the China-Burma border to avoid the war, and subsequent human-rights abuses," said a statement from the Kokang group.

Analysts believe other ceasefire groups could be targeted next. "This does not augur well for the other ceasefire groups like the Kachin and Wa," said the academic Win Min. "This may be a preview of what's to come," he added. Earlier this month, the Kachin, Kokang and Wa leaders all formed an alliance, known as the Myanmar Peace and Democracy Front, in which they mutually agreed not to surrender their arms before the scheduled elections.

Now there is a very high risk of a return to widespread armed conflict along the China-Myanmar border, according to a Chinese government official who closely follows events in Myanmar. "The problem is that the Wa are very close to the Chinese government and it would be very hard for them to desert them at this crucial point in time," he added.

At the same time, China wants to restore peace to border areas before it destabilizes areas of China. Beijing has advised Myanmar to stop fighting and encouraged a new ceasefire settlement with the Kokang, an arrangement China has offered to mediate, according to Chinese government sources. Beijing wants the refugees to return to Myanmar as soon as possible, but has no intentions of pushing them back, said the official. At the same time, Chinese authorities are guarding against the refugees traveling and attempting to settle further inland.

The military offensive bears out recent suggestions that Myanmar is bidding to assert itself against China, widely seen as the reclusive regime's main international backer. In the past few months, the ruling junta had reportedly become disillusioned with Beijing's lack of support for its attempts to disarm the rebel groups, including those that enjoy a special relationship with China.

Some say the enthusiastic reception the junta recently gave to United States Senator Jim Webb - usually only reserved for heads of state - was a clear sign of the junta's attempt to move away from its diplomatic reliance on China. In another jab at Beijing, this week's edition of the Myanmar Times ran a short agency news story on Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, visiting Taiwan, after it was approved by government censors.

It represented the first time Myanmar's tightly controlled media had even mentioned the Dalai Lama in more than 20 years, according to Yangon-based diplomats.

Larry Jagan previously covered Myanmar politics for the British Broadcasting Corp. He is currently a freelance journalist based in Bangkok.

India reels under explosive nuclear charge

By Neeta Lal

NEW DELHI - In an explosive revelation that may well have unsavory foreign policy repercussions, a senior official of India's premier defense organization - the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) - who played a pivotal role in orchestrating India's nuclear program during the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998, has declared that the tests that year were a dud and not nearly as successful as projected to the world.

The declaration by K Santhanam - remarkable as it comes from a top nuclear scientist directly associated with India's nuclear program - has stirred a hornet's nest in New Delhi.

The scientific community and political parties - primarily the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and its principal right-wing opposition Bharatiya Janata Party under whose stewardship the tests were conducted - are scrambling to offer explanations to counter Santhanam's statement.

Home Minister P Chidambaram said he was "puzzled" by the scientist's remark and acerbically added, "If you are not, then you are a genius."

Santhanam's comments were also contested by Brajesh Mishra, national security advisor in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government (1998-2004) who said R Chidambaram, then chairman of the Department of Atomic Energy, had reported to him on May 13, 1998, that all parameters had been met in the five tests carried out and there was no need to undertake a sixth one.

Chidambaram has maintained that the Bhabha Atomic Research Center had done numerous measurements on site during the Pokhran-II experiments, analyzed global seismic data and the radioactivity in samples recovered post-shot from near the emplacement points of the nuclear devices to conclude that the tests were indeed a success. Even erstwhile president A P J Abdul Kalam, who as director-general of the DRDO spearheaded the nuclear tests in 1998, said the tests were "successful".

India conducted five nuclear tests on May 11 and 13, 1998, at the Pokhran range in the western state of Rajasthan. These included a 45-kiloton (kt) thermonuclear device, also called a hydrogen bomb. Other tests on May 11 included a 15-kt fission device and a 0.2-kt sub-kiloton device. The two simultaneous nuclear tests on May 13 were also in the sub-kiloton range - 0.5 and 0.3 kt.

According to Santhanam, the yield of thermonuclear explosions was below par and hence not sufficient to meet India's strategic requirements. The scientist's contention is that since India still needs to carry out more tests to fine-tune its nuclear program, it should not rush to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Many Western seismic experts, too, had challenged India's claim of a 60-kiloton (kt) yield on May 11 and 700 tons on May 13, 1998. They approximated that the output was about 10-15 kt on the first day and about 100 tons later. US intelligence was of the view that India's claim of testing a "thermonuclear device" actually amounted to no more than a hydrogen bomb.

The latest revelations have hit like a whiplash at both the Vajpayee-led government which conducted the tests and Manmohan Singh's current administration. The Vajpayee government - which had steamrolled world opinion to go ahead with the nuclear tests within a few months of coming to power that year - was keen to impress the world with India's newfound nuclear prowess.

The "dud tests" theory has also complicated things for Singh, and might even jeopardize his carefully choreographed civilian nuclear deal signed with the United States last year, which catapulted India into mainstream international nuclear commerce, that too without signing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Santhanam's outburst implies that India requires additional nuclear testing for its program to be perfected and to gain credibility. This will obviously be anathema to America as the India-US nuclear agreement comes with a clear caveat - that another nuclear test would lead to its abrogation.

Foreign policy experts point out that the nuclear deal is premised on a waiver to the US's Atomic Energy Act which bars nuclear trade between the US and countries that are not signatories to the NPT. This waiver covers only Indian nuclear tests until May 13, 1998. Any fresh tests would bring the ban on nuclear trade into immediate force.

The exact yield of the thermonuclear explosion is vital to gauge a country's defense preparedness. This was evident during the heated debate in the wake of the India-US nuclear deal, when many top scientists argued that the disincentives the nuclear deal imposed on testing won't be relevant to India as no further tests were required for its nuclear program.

Santhanam's assertion might well mess up things for Manmohan on the CTBT front too. The treaty has gathered immense salience under US President Barack Obama who, unlike his predecessor George W Bush, is keen to push the treaty through the senate. If it comes through, India will again face the same dilemma it did before the Pokhran tests - to test or not.

Once the CTBT is ratified in the US Congress, probably within a few months, every other country will toe the line. India, which maintains that it will not come on board, will then seem recalcitrant if it goes against the tide of world opinion.

But more than anything else, what this development might do is seriously undermine India's much-vaunted claim of possessing a world-class nuclear deterrence capability. It also riddles holes in the country's nuclear force claims, as the whole idea behind the Pokhran tests was to strengthen the view that India possessed a credible nuclear deterrent.

Thus, Santhanam's revelations are likely to have far-reaching reverberations in the country's security policy. Many attribute Santhanam's outburst to political motivation. Why else, they argue, would the scientist feel the need to rake up the issue after 11 years? Others feel Santhanam has put forth this view now because he's not keen on India signing the CTBT. The scientist maintains that India should not rush to sign the treaty before conducting more tests and augmenting its nuclear weapons program.

Many in the Indian scientific establishment are against India giving up the option of further tests. They feel it is vital to conduct more tests to calibrate India's thermonuclear bomb to perfection. Another theory doing the rounds is that raking up the nuclear tests issue now may well be a devious ploy to test again.

Neeta Lal is a widely published writer/commentator who contributes to many reputed national and international print and Internet publications.

Strange Bedfellows

China's problems in Xinjiang are forcing it to reach out to India. But does India care?


In its attempt to stomp out the pro-Uighur movement in its restive western autonomous region, Xinjiang, China might be looking for help from a surprising partner: its major rival in the region, India, according to a recent report in the South China Morning Post.

The two countries don't have a history of ground-level cooperation on counterterrorism -- far from it -- but they could end up moving in that direction as the anarchy in the North Waziristan area of Pakistan begins to spill over into China as well as India. But major questions remain: How far will China go to win India's help? And is Beijing sincerely looking for advice, or just fishing for intelligence from the other rising powerhouse in Asia?

Before attempting to answer these questions, it's important to note that the pro-Uighur movement in Xinjiang is actually two distinct movements. First, there's Western media darling Rebiya Kadeer's Munich-based group, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), which has been a major irritant to the Chinese, launching demonstrations that led to July's riots in Urumqi. But the Chinese government is also contending with a lesser-known, but more threatening Uighur group -- the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which draws its funding and membership not from the West, as with the WUC, but from the Uighur diaspora in Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, and Turkey.

The ETIM labels itself an agitator for the religious rights of Xinjiang Muslims. It looks upon Xinjiang, which the Uighurs call East Turkestan, as a traditionally Muslim land that has been occupied by non-Muslims. Unlike the WUC, which focuses on Uighur ethnicity -- not religion -- the ETIM's ideology is pan-Islamic, and it claims to fight for the restoration of Eastern Turkestan to the ummah, or the worldwide Muslim community.

The Chinese claim that more than 1,000 ETIM members had been trained by al Qaeda in Afghanistan before the September 11 terrorist attacks, but their claim is treated with some skepticism by the United States and refuted firmly by the ETIM leadership. Still, the U.S. State Department said in 2005 that the two groups were linked, and the United States has listed ETIM, which is based in North Waziristan, as a terrorist organization since 2002.

Because of the ETIM's suspected links with al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, another terrorist group operating from North Waziristan, China has reached out to its ally Pakistan for help. But repeated requests to Pakistan for action against the terrorist infrastructure of the ETIM have not produced satisfactory results. Pakistan arrested and deported to China some identified anti-Beijing Uighurs, but it has not been able to dismantle the ETIM's terrorist infrastructure, as China had hoped. Nor has Pakistan been able to offer much help on the intelligence front, due to the government's weakness in Waziristan.

After China's striking out with Pakistan, then, it seems only logical that Beijing should move on to India -- asking not for operations against the ETIM infrastructure, but for intelligence. There has so far been no reliable information that India has received such a request. But a request to New Delhi would probably not bring the results Beijing wants. For one thing, the focus of Indian intelligence is Pakistani Punjab and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the source of most terrorist threats to India. Thus Indian intelligence is not particularly well-informed on the Waziristan area. Second, China has never criticized Pakistan-sponsored terrorism against India. There is, therefore, no built-up reservoir of goodwill that would induce India to help China with its ETIM problem.

Still, the request itself, if correct, is part of a larger movement toward greater cooperation between the two countries on counterterrorism efforts. Since 2002, China has welcomed meetings between Chinese and Indian counterterrorism experts to exchange views and assessments on the state of jihadi terrorism in the region, hoping to benefit from India's experience and expertise on this subject.

India has responded positively to the general Chinese interest, and the cooperation has been expanding through mechanisms such as a joint working group on terrorism that periodically exchanges views and assessments and the joint counterterrorism exercises by the countries' armies that allow each country to learn from the other's tactics.

This new partnership only goes so far, however: Although cooperation against acts of terrorism will continue to expand, the chances of China and India working together against terrorist organizations are remote. The two countries agree on what constitutes an act of terrorism, but not on which are the terrorist organizations of the region. China, for example, agrees with Pakistan's view that the violence in Kashmir is a freedom struggle and not terrorism. It has also blocked a consensus in the U.N. Security Council on declaring certain Pakistani organizations terrorists, against India's wishes. And China -- hoping to maintain good relations with Pakistan in order to keep the threat of a two-front war hanging over India's head -- is unlikely to change its mind on these positions, no matter how unhappy it gets over Pakistan's failure to stamp out the ETIM in North Waziristan.

Working with China on ground-level counterterrorism is also difficult for India because India has the second-largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia, and members of this community might not want India to help China in what they see as repression of their coreligionists. What's more, the pro-West Uighurs led by Kadeer are close with the Dalai Lama, who is based in India and commands considerable respect there not only as a Buddhist leader, but also as a thorn in the Chinese side. He and the large Tibetan refugee population in India would oppose helping the Chinese out in Xinjiang.

More broadly, relations between China and India in most other areas, though improving, still have their problems, which act as speed bumps: the ongoing border dispute, Indian allegations of the dumping of cheap Chinese goods, competition for oil and gas, and naval competition in the Indian Ocean. However, cooperation over counterterrorism, if it comes about, could bring the two Asian giants closer together.

Bahukutumbi Raman served in India's intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, for 26 years before his retirement in 1994. He was a member of India's national security advisory board from 2000 to 2002.

August 31, 2009

Swiss Banking Secrecy: Today's news rooted in records from recent past

SOURCE: Swiss Info

Banking secrecy and the country's tax policy were also concerns in Swiss international relations in the 1960s, as diplomatic documents show.

The latest volume in a series of foreign policy files from the time has been published, and the contents should be of interest to a wider public, argue the editors.

"The topics of the early 1960s are issues that still make today's headlines," says Hans-Ulrich Jost, president of the research group's editorial commission.

The retired history professor dismisses suggestions that the publication of key diplomatic documents is primarily intended for academics and students.

One report by the Swiss ambassador to Washington follows an informal conversation with a security advisor to President John F. Kennedy. The official, McGeorge Bundy, reportedly hinted that the United States government was concerned about Swiss banks accepting what was described as "dirty money".

"This documents from 1962 show the core of a problem which has led to today's disaster about banking secrecy," says Jost. "It is an example of how these files can also take non-historians on a trip into the past and confront us with relevant political issues of today."

Other examples cited in the volume highlight the beginning of Swiss interest in European integration, the immigration of foreign labour, relations with international organisations, including the United Nations or the debate over whether Switzerland's armed forces should be equipped with nuclear weapons.

"Reading some of documents you realise the Swiss perception has not changed much since. It is almost as if the texts were written today."

Jost said he found passages in the files which made him want to take out his marker and highlight the words, notably on a request for financial aid by the UN to help the conflict in the breakaway Nigerian republic of Biafra.

"A document from a cabinet meeting reveals a very low, almost nasty opinion of the UN. The Swiss attitude was also clearly that they are not giving anything if they don't get anything back in return."

« History does not repeat itself, but it grants us an insight into long-term political and social developments. »

Hans-Ulrich Jost, president of the research group's editorial commission "Appetisers for the mind"
Volume 22 of the Diplomatic Documents uses a thematic approach focusing on seven main themes of 1961 to 1963. It is complemented by additional documents accessible online.

Andreas Kellerhals, director of the Federal Archives, stresses the importance of extending access to the diplomatic files both for researchers abroad and a wider public in Switzerland.

"They are only a small selection of the files stored in archives but they are like appetisers for the mind."

Nearly 500 key files are in the printed version, while another 150 are accessible over the internet.

"The online offer allows us to reach out to an audience which normally cannot come to the Federal Archives in Bern to consult the files," says Kellerhals.

There is considerable interest in Swiss foreign policy from researchers in France, and Germany, but also from Britain and even the US and Canada.

Technical upgrades of the system are underway to further ease the handling of the database in the future, according to research director Sacha Zala.

The research team also hopes the series will contribute to breaking the political and academic isolation of Switzerland.

Future insight
Just how inspiring the historical documents are for specialists was proven during a recent presentation of the volume by Antoine Fleury, who was in charge of the research project until 2008.

The retired professor of history at Geneva University launched into a colourful lecture on Switzerland in the early 1960s.

Foreign Minister Friedrich Traugott Wahlen and Hans Schaffner, as economics minister, helped shape Switzerland's international relations in these years, including development cooperation on a bilateral rather than multilateral basis.

Fleury also pointed out that Swiss tax policies were mentioned in a document by the US administration about fiscal reform plans.

"The Swiss federal authorities used the opportunity to put pressure on the cantons to harmonise their fiscal rates", as he added with a quick smile.

However, there are no lessons to be learned from history, says his colleague Jost.

"History does not repeat itself, but it grants us an insight into long-term political and social developments," Jost says.

"History helps us understand how things have come about. It might encourage us to look into the future and consider possible options for our actions."

Urs Geiser,


Historical glimpses
The Swiss National Museum reveals Swiss history in a modern and refreshing way.


CONTEXTVolume 22 of the Swiss Diplomatic Documents covers the years 1961-63.

It contains nearly 500 printed files and additional 150 documents accessible over the internet.

The research project, which was launched in 1973, deals with the post-war years and includes about 8,000 electronic files.

The project is funded by the Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences and the foreign ministry, and has the backing of the Federal Archives.

Official documents in Switzerland are banned from publication for at least 30 years. The research group says it hopes to bring the publications as close as possible to the limit.



Swiss Diplomatic Documents (
Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (German, French) (
Swiss Federal Archives (
Swissworld - politics (

U.S. Says Pakistan Made Changes to Missiles Sold for Defense

Published: August 29, 2009

WASHINGTON — The United States has accused Pakistan of illegally modifying American-made missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets, a potential threat to India, according to senior administration and Congressional officials.

The charge, which set off a new outbreak of tensions between the United States and Pakistan, was made in an unpublicized diplomatic protest in late June to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and other top Pakistani officials.

The accusation comes at a particularly delicate time, when the administration is asking Congress to approve $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan over the next five years, and when Washington is pressing a reluctant Pakistani military to focus its attentions on fighting the Taliban, rather than expanding its nuclear and conventional forces aimed at India.

While American officials say that the weapon in the latest dispute is a conventional one — based on the Harpoon antiship missiles that were sold to Pakistan by the Reagan administration as a defensive weapon in the cold war — the subtext of the argument is growing concern about the speed with which Pakistan is developing new generations of both conventional and nuclear weapons.

"There's a concerted effort to get these guys to slow down," one senior administration official said. "Their energies are misdirected."

At issue is the detection by American intelligence agencies of a suspicious missile test on April 23 — a test never announced by the Pakistanis — that appeared to give the country a new offensive weapon.

American military and intelligence officials say they suspect that Pakistan has modified the Harpoon antiship missiles that the United States sold the country in the 1980s, a move that would be a violation of the Arms Control Export Act. Pakistan has denied the charge, saying it developed the missile itself. The United States has also accused Pakistan of modifying American-made P-3C aircraft for land-attack missions, another violation of United States law that the Obama administration has protested.

Whatever their origin, the missiles would be a significant new entry into Pakistan's arsenal against India. They would enable Pakistan's small navy to strike targets on land, complementing the sizable land-based missile arsenal that Pakistan has developed. That, in turn, would be likely to spur another round of an arms race with India that the United States has been trying, unsuccessfully, to halt. "The focus of our concern is that this is a potential unauthorized modification of a maritime antiship defensive capability to an offensive land-attack missile," said another senior administration official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter involves classified information.

"The potential for proliferation and end-use violations are things we watch very closely," the official added. "When we have concerns, we act aggressively."

A senior Pakistani official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity because the interchanges with Washington have been both delicate and highly classified, said the American accusation was "incorrect." The official said that the missile tested was developed by Pakistan, just as it had modified North Korean designs to build a range of land-based missiles that could strike India. He said that Pakistan had taken the unusual step of agreeing to allow American officials to inspect the country's Harpoon inventory to prove that it had not violated the law, a step that administration officials praised.

Some experts are also skeptical of the American claims. Robert Hewson, editor of Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, a yearbook and Web-based data service, said the Harpoon missile did not have the necessary range for a land-attack missile, which would lend credibility to Pakistani claims that they are developing their own new missile. Moreover, he said, Pakistan already has more modern land-attack missiles that it developed itself or acquired from China.

"They're beyond the need to reverse-engineer old U.S. kit," Mr. Hewson said in a telephone interview. "They're more sophisticated than that." Mr. Hewson said the ship-to-shore missile that Pakistan was testing was part of a concerted effort to develop an array of conventional missiles that could be fired from the air, land or sea to address India's much more formidable conventional missile arsenal.

The dispute highlights the level of mistrust that remains between the United States and a Pakistani military that American officials like to portray as an increasingly reliable partner in the effort to root out the forces of the Taliban and Al Qaeda on Pakistani territory. A central element of the American effort has been to get the military refocused on the internal threat facing the country, rather than on threat the country believes it still faces from India.

Pakistani officials have insisted that they are making that shift. But the evidence continues to point to heavy investments in both nuclear and conventional weapons that experts say have no utility in the battle against insurgents.

Over the years, the United States has provided a total of 165 Harpoon missiles to Pakistan, including 37 of the older-model weapons that were delivered from 1985 to 1988, said Charles Taylor, a spokesman for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

The country's nuclear arsenal is expanding faster than any other nation's. In May, Pakistan conducted a test firing of its Babur medium-range cruise missile, a weapon that military experts say could potentially be tipped with a nuclear warhead. The test was conducted on May 6, during a visit to Washington by President Asif Ali Zardari, but was not made public by Pakistani officials until three days after the meetings had ended to avoid upsetting the talks. While it may be technically possible to arm the Harpoons with small nuclear weapons, outside experts say it would probably not be necessary.

Before lawmakers departed for their summer recess, administration officials briefed Congress on the protest to Pakistan. The dispute has the potential to delay or possibly even derail the legislation to provide Pakistan with $7.5 billion in civilian aid over five years; lawmakers are expected to vote on the aid package when they return from their recess next month.

The legislation is sponsored by Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the top Democrat and Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Representative Howard L. Berman, a California Democrat who leads the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressional aides are now reconciling House and Senate versions of the legislation.

Frederick Jones, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry, declined to comment on the details of the dispute citing its classified nature but suggested that the pending multifaceted aid bill would clear Congress "in a few weeks" and would help cooperation between the two countries.

"There have been irritants in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship in the past and there will be in the future," Mr. Jones said in a statement, noting that the pending legislation would provide President Obama "with new tools to address troubling behavior."