September 12, 2009

GILGIT-BALTISTAN: THE AQ KHAN PROLIFERATION HIGHWAY---PART I

B.RAMAN

On September 7,2009, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan signed what was called the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, purporting to introduce administrative, political, financial and judicial reforms in the Northern Areas of Jammu & Kashmir, which has been under Pakistani occupation since 1947-48. The order re-names the Northern Areas as Gilgit-Baltistan, thereby seeking to obliterate the linkage of the area with Jammu & Kashmir.

2..Addressing a press conference the same day, the President of the Gilgit-Baltistan branch of the Pakistan People's Party ( PPP) Syed Mehdi Shah said that Zardari had instructed the authorities concerned to prepare a comprehensive plan to accelerate economic development in Gilgit-Baltistan. He claimed that the Zardari Government had given internal freedom and all financial, democratic, administrative, judicial, political and developmental powers to the Legislative Assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan. He said that a Gilgit-Baltistan Council, to be headed by the Prime Minister, would be set up and that Zardari had ordered the early initiation of a Gilgit-Skardu road project, the establishment of regional branches of the National Bank of Pakistan, the National Database and Registration Authority and the House Building Finance Corporation in the area.

3.Explaining the changes sought to be introduced by the Government in the status of the area to the media, Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani stated as follows on August 29,2009:


“All the stakeholders were taken on board prior to getting the approval from the Cabinet to give internal and political autonomy to the Northern Areas, which shall be now called Gilgit-Baltistan.”
The Foreign Office was consulted on it and they have cleared it. “Every aspect was taken care of.”
The Cabinet decision will empower the Gilgit-Baltistan Council and the Assembly to make laws. “The subjects about which the Assembly shall now have power to make law have been increased from 49 to 61 while the Council shall have 55 subjects.”
There will be a Governor for Gilgit-Baltistan, who will be appointed by the President of Pakistan. Till the election of the Legislative Assembly, the Minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas will be acting as the Governor. “There will be a Chief Minister, who shall be elected by the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly and will be assisted by six Ministers with the provision of two advisers.”
The Legislative Assembly will have 24 members, who will be elected directly and in addition, there will be six women and three technocrat seats. In order to empower the Council and the Assembly on financial matters there would be a consolidated fund.The budget of the area would be presented and approved by the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly.
The Chief Judge of the Appellate Court will be appointed by the Chairman of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council on the advice of the Governor, and other judges will be appointed by the Chairman on the advice of the Governor after seeking the views of the Chief Judge.The number of judges will be increased from three to five.
A Gilgit-Baltistan Public Service Commission, a separate Auditor-General and an Election Commissioner will be appointed.
Answering a question, Gilani said under the Constitution, the Northern Areas could be given the status of a province, “but we have given them internal autonomy as per the Constitution.”
Answering another question, he said Gilgit-Baltistan could not be given representation in Parliament. Responding to a query, the Minister for Information, Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Qamar Zaman Kaira said the measures would be enforced through a presidential order replacing the Legal Framework Order of l994.
4. In an article on the subject titled "The Gilgit-Baltistan Bungle" published by the "News", on September 10,Asif Ezdi, a retired officer of the Pakistan Foreign Service, stated, inter alia, as follows:
"The Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order, 2009, approved by the Cabinet on Aug 29 seeks to grant self-rule to the people of the area on the pattern of the autonomy enjoyed by Azad Kashmir. As the Government itself admits, the promulgation of this Order, which has now been signed by Zardari, implies a rejection of the demand that Gilgit-Baltistan be made a province of Pakistan and that its people be given the same constitutional rights, including representation in the National Assembly and the Senate. The reason given by the Government is that acceptance of these demands would go against Pakistan's obligations under UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir, which give Islamabad administrative powers over the territory but debar any change in its status.

"Given this self-imposed constraint, the Government had only limited room for action. It could only make those changes in the constitutional structure of Gilgit-Baltistan which would devolve more powers to the people of the territory, but not affect its international status. The last two constitutional measures adopted by the Government for the Northern Areas – in 2000 and 2007 – had also sought to give more powers to the elected Assembly within this constraint. The scope for further devolution was thus quite small. It is therefore no wonder that the changes introduced by the latest constitutional package are by no means of a radical nature.

"The most significant change is that a Council has been set up on the same pattern as exists in Azad Kashmir. It will have the power to legislate on more or less the same subjects as the Azad Kashmir Council. The federal Government will have a built-in majority in the Gilgit-Baltistan Council, as in the Azad Kashmir Council. The practical consequence is that legislation on these matters will continue to be controlled by Islamabad.

"Some of the changes made in the new law are cosmetic, such as renaming the Chairman as Governor, the chief executive as Chief Minister and advisers as Ministers. On the one hand, the new designations seek to highlight similarities with a province; and on the other hand, they underscore difference from Azad Kashmir.

"Since the purpose is to equate Gilgit-Baltistan with Azad Kashmir, the Government needs also to do two more things. One, it should rename the new legal framework for Gilgit-Baltistan as the Interim Constitution, just as the fundamental law of Azad Kashmir is called. Two, the new constitutional package should be passed by the elected Assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan, just as the Azad Kashmir Interim Constitution was passed by the elected Assembly of Azad Kashmir, instead of being promulgated through executive fiat.

"The concerns of Kashmiris are two-fold. First, their position has been that Gilgit-Baltistan is part of Jammu and Kashmir and cannot accede to Pakistan separately from the rest of the state. Second, Kashmiri leaders have expressed the fear that the accession of Gilgit-Baltistan would be taken as Pakistan's acquiescence in the permanent partition of Kashmir and would harm the freedom struggle. Such misgivings have been voiced by Yasin Malik ( of the J&K Liberation Front) and by some political circles in Azad Kashmir.

"Typically, the new law was not presented before its adoption for public or parliamentary debate. Instead, the Government only held some closed-door briefings for the parliamentary committee concerned and a few selected leaders from the Northern Areas. Representatives of Azad Kashmir and the APHC were not consulted. The Government clearly still treats the matter as a bureaucratic issue to be tackled bureaucratically."

5. MY COMMENTS: The Northern Areas of J&K, now re-named as Gilgit-Baltistan in violation of the UN resolutions by the Zardari Government has a total area of 28,000 sq.miles as against the only 4494 sq.miles of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), which Pakistan calls Azad Kashmir. It had a population of a little over 1.5 million in the 1990s. It was part of the State of J&K before 1947 and was called "the Northern Areas of J&K" to distinguish it from the Valley, Jammu and Ladakh.

6.In 1935, Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of J&K, transferred the territory on a 60-year lease to the British authorities from whom it reverted back to the ruler under the Indian Independence Act of 1947. Upon its reversion, the ruler appointed Brig. Ghansara Singh as the "Governor of the Northern Areas of J&K" with headquarters at Gilgit. During 1947-48, the Pakistan Army illegally occupied the entire Northern Areas and parts of the Districts of Poonch, Mirpur and Muzaffarabad.

7. The Government of Pakistan constituted the occupied areas of Poonch, Mirpur and Muzaffarabad into the so-called autonomous State of Azad Kashmir. The Northern Areas were separated from the POK by a proclamation of April 28,1949, and placed directly under the administration of the Federal Government under the changed name of the "Northern Areas of Pakistan". Before doing so, it transferred some territory of the Northern Areas in the present Chitral region to the jurisdiction of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The suffx "of J&K" was deleted because Pakistan no longer considered the Northern Areas as part of J&K though it continued to say that its future, like that of POK and India's J&K, would be decided by a plebiscite under the auspices of the UN. In 1963, the Government of military dictator Ayub Khan ceded to China under a 99-year-lease 6000 sq.miles of Kashmiri territory from the NA--- that is, nearly, one-fourth of the NA territory. This has been incorporated by China into the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

8.In 1982, Gen.Zia-ul-Haq proclaimed that the people of the NA were Pakistanis and not Kashmiris and that its future had nothing to do with that of J&K. However, his successors as rulers retained the fiction that the future of the NA would be decided under a plebiscite along with that of J&K and the POK.

9. The NA is divided into six districts called Hunza-Nager, Gilgit, Koh-e-Ghizer, Ghanche, Diamir and Skardu. These districts are grouped into three agencies or Divisions called Diamir with headquarters at Chilas, Gilgit with headquarters in Gilgit Town and Baltistan with headquarters in Skardu Town. Of the total population of the NA, 50 per cent used to be Shias, 25 per cent Ismailis, who are close to the Shias, and the remainig 25 per cent Sunnis. While the Sunnis were in a preponderant majprity in the POK, they were in a minority in the NA. The Sunnis were in a majority in the Diamir District and in a minority in the remaining five districts.

10. Under Zia, a programme was initiated to change the demographic composition of the NA and reduce the Shia-Ismaili preponderant majority by re-settling a large number of Sunni ex-servicemen ----Punjabis as well as Pashtuns--- in the NA. This policy has been continued by subsequent Governments.No authentic census has been held in the NA and the POK and the results released to the public. As a result, one does not know the demographic composition of the present population of the NA and the POK.But the systematic Punjabi-Pashtun colonisation of the NA and the POK----which is similar to the Han colonisation of Xinjiang--- has reduced the percentage of ethnic Kashmiris in both POK and the NA and the number of Shias and Ismailis in the NA.

11. It is this attempt to change the demographic composition of the NA population and reduce the Shias-Ismailis to a minority in their traditional homeland that led to the start of a movement for a separate and autonomous ----not independent--- Shia province to be called the Karakoram province when Zia was in power. The ruthless suppression of this Shia-Ismaili movement by Zia and the resentment over his actions played a role in the crash of the plane in which he was travelling from Bahawalpur to Islamabad in August,1988, resulting in his mysterious death. Even though no proper enquiry was held into the plane crash, very reliable reports received by the Indian intelligence at that time had indicated that the plane crash was caused by a resentful Shia airman from Gilgit who released a can of some harmful gas in the cockpit thereby disorienting the crew.

12. The NA is one of the least developed areas of Pakistan. Successive Pakistani Governments took no interest in its development because of its Shia-Ismaili majority. Whatever development took place in the area was because of the interest of the Aga Khans, who started a number of rural development projects for the welfare of the Ismailis. The Sunnis, with the Sunni extremist Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) in the forefront, started a campaign against the Aga Khans by projecting them as Western agents and anti-Islam.

13. The local Shias drew their subsistence from tourism and the Armed Forces, which they used to join in large numbers. There was a time when many of the airmen in the Pakistani Air Force were Shias from Gilgit. After the crash of the plane carrying Zia, the Pakistani Armed Forces drastically reduced the recruitment of Shias from the NA into the Armed Forces thereby adding to unemployment.

14. Next to tourism and military service, Government service attracted a number of Shias. Punjabis and Pashtuns serving in the Government service in the NA received a 25 per cent extra allowance to which the locals were not entitled. This added to the resentment. Whereas the Mirpuris from the POK have been able to migrate in large numbers to the West from where they support their families, this avenue is not open to the natives of the NA because they require an exit permit for going abroad which is rarely issued. (12-9-09)---To be continued

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

September 10, 2009

Should RMB be a reserve currency?

http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=4&theme=&usrsess=1&id=267982

I find it strange that people should debate whether the RMB should be a reserve currency when it is officially still under exchange control. We still remember that as late as 1993, China used foreign exchange certificates.

As we have seen from the experience of Yen and Euro in the previous articles, there are both advantages and disadvantages for a national currency being used as a reserve currency. The obvious advantage is the seigniorage, but in a world of almost zero interest rates, this benefit is very small indeed. The second is the increase in financial services and commercial business that comes from the global use of the reserve currency. New York and London benefit considerably as international financial centres that trade financial products denominated in global currencies. The third advantage is the prestige of having a reserve currency.

There are also disadvantages. A reserve currency means that foreigners will hold large amounts of currency that can freely move in and out. Hence, one of the pre-conditions of any reserve currency is the ability of the issuing central bank to control the value of the reserve currency through appropriate monetary policy. This implies a stable exchange rate and also low level of inflation.
This is precisely the problem faced by the US dollar, called the Triffin Dilemma ~ the tension between national monetary policy and global monetary policy. In 1998, when the Fed realised that the world was plunging into a global crisis, it lowered interest rates and reflated not only the US economy, but also the global economy. The USA could do that because it was fundamentally strong and US consumption was the real engine of global growth.

But continuous deficits add up to excess borrowing that is unsustainable. The dilemma is that in a world of free capital flows, any central bank that raises interest rates to control domestic borrowing will invite in a ton of hot capital flows, creating more asset bubbles. If the country maintains flexible exchange rates, the country will not only have exchange rate appreciation that encourages imports, but also worsening current account deficit funded by short-term capital inflows.

In other words, the Triffin Dilemma imposes large costs on the reserve currency country, because if the world demands greater liquidity, the reserve country must run a deficit in order to increase global money supply. But if the reserve country runs too large a deficit, then a financial crisis is inevitable. There is no free lunch.

Can we solve the problem by creating a global central bank and a global super-regulator? The answer is no, because if we have a global monetary policy, some regions and sectors will be winners and some will be losers. Thus, the pre-condition for a global central bank is a global fiscal mechanism that is able to tax the winning sectors to compensate the losing sectors.

Without such a fiscal compensatory mechanism, no sovereign country will be willing to cede its monetary policy to a global central bank without some assurance that they could receive some fiscal assistance. The Euro can work with a European Central Bank because such a fiscal mechanism exists in the EU.

A further issue for any currency becoming a reserve currency is that this is not a policy issue, but really a market decision. Ultimately the market decides if the currency becomes a reserve currency. The Yen experience shows that if there is high volatility in the exchange rate, the market will not use the currency extensively as a reserve currency. With a zero interest rate policy, the central bank cannot use interest rates as a tool to stabilise the exchange rate, so that speculative forces, largely the yen carry trade, move the exchange rate.

This is why the present decision to establish several pilot RMB clearing centres in Hong Kong and border cities is a pragmatic move to facilitate market needs. Trade in the border areas of China with other countries is facilitated when the traders are willing to use RMB as a convenient medium of exchange. The RMB swap arrangements with various central banks are also trade-facilitating moves to help the use of domestic currencies on a bilateral basis.

Some people think that high foreign exchange reserves are a pre-condition for reserve currency status. Central banks used to measure foreign exchange reserves in terms of months of imports. But this is an outdated measure. Annual world merchandise exports amounted to 15.8 trillion US dollars in 2008, whereas foreign exchange transactions amount to 3.2 trillion US dollars daily or roughly 800 trillion US dollars annually. This means that exchange rates are determined not by physical trade, but by capital market flows.

In other words, one of the conditions for RMB opening up is whether the exchange rate is stable over the long term. This requires very skillful monetary policy to sterilise speculative flows, supported by strong fiscal conditions with very resilient and strong domestic financial systems that can absorb external shocks. In an era of global zero interest rates, it will not be easy to manage market stability because of hugely leveraged speculative flows. At near zero interest rates, the cost of speculation is very low, but the costs to each economy of de-stabilisation are very high.
Who else wants to be a reserve currency?

Andrew Sheng is author of the forthcoming book, published by Cambridge University Press, "From Asian to Global Financial Crisis".

CHINESE MILITARY "GREATLY DISPLEASED" BY INDIAN MEDIA CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHINA

B.RAMAN

In a report under the heading "China Refutes Trespass Claims" carried on September 10,2009 , the "Global Times", the English-language daily published by the Communist Party-owned "People's Daily" group, has quoted a spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of National Defence as saying that Chinese border patrols strictly abide by the relevant agreements on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the India-China border and have never carried out "provocative actions" towards India. According to the paper, he said on September 9: "The recent reports by Indian media of intrusions are groundless and irresponsible." The previous day, Jiang Yu, a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, had described the India reports of a Chinese troop intrusion into Indian territory near Mount Gya in the Ladakh region as "groundless and incorrect."

2. The "Global Times" has quoted a source "close to the Chinese military" as saying as follows: " "Indian media always quotes government officials as their sources, but the Chinese military has not received any protests from the Indian Ministry of Defense recently." It further quotes the same source as saying that the reports have "greatly displeased" officials in the Chinese military.

3. The paper also quotes Ouyang Wei, a Chinese military expert from the University of National Defense, as claiming that the negative reports on China by Indian media far exceeded negative reports on India in the Chinese media. He described this as a very significant problem in the bilateral relations and added: "The Indian government should investigate the irresponsible reports, to find the sources of the fake news, and refute the rumors."

4.Chinese non-governmental analysts have also been critical of the way sections of the Indian media sensationalised an incident involving the temporary detention of a plane of the UAE Air Force at Kolkata earlier this week for not correctly declaring that it was carrying a consignment of arms and ammunition and "combat missiles" to China. According to them, these arms and ammunition and missiles, which were manufactured in China, had been sent to Abu Dhabi for displaying in an international exhibition of military equipment and were being taken back to China after the exhibition was over. These analysts have expressed surprise over the manner in which the whole issue was sought to be sensationalised by sections of the Indian media as if it was a sinister development.

5. The same report of the "Global Times" cited above has stated on this incident as follows: " Dai Xu, a renowned military expert, said that the actions by Indian authorities violated diplomatic rights as the cargo on board belong to China. "Any inspection onboard, which may have violated China's property rights and constituted spying on its military secrets, should be approved by both the UAE and China," Dai said.
An unnamed military source told the Global Times the UAE airplane was on a mission transporting Chinese arms from an arms expo in Abu Dhabi. "When the airplane stopped in Kolkata Sunday to refuel, the UAE crew member used the empty cargo certificate it used when it flew to China to carry the weapons at the beginning."

6. My comment: While it is important for the media to report instances of alleged Chinese troop intrusions into Indian territory, it should take care at the same time not to cretate an anti-China frenzy, which may get out of control. One was disturbed by the way a national TV channel played up in a jingoistic manner the incident in the Ladakh sector in which a Chinese patrol was alleged to have intruded into Indian territory and painted on a stone "China". Two acknowledged experts on China, who have an excellent knowledge of the Chinese language, appeared on the programme---- a reputed academic of Delhi and a retired China expert of the Government of India. One would have expected the anchor to ask them to translate for the viewers what was written on the stone and to comment on the implications of it. If he had done it, the entire jingoistic programme might have ended in a fizzle. He did not do so. Instead, most of the time, the viewers were subjected to an anti-China harangue by a retired Army officer. I myself do not know Chinese, but I am told by those who know Chinese that what was written on the stone was "MiddleYellow River". It could also be translated as "Central Yellow River".

7."Middle" can also refer to China----an allusion to the so-called Middle Kingdom. What should have been discussed at the very beginning of the programme was: Normally, detractors of China refer to it as suffering from the Middle Kingdom mentality. Would a Chinese Army soldier use it? Why the reference to the "Yellow River"? Where is this river? Instead of having a balanced debate on such questions, the anchor went bang, bang, bang against China without first ascertaining from the two Chinese experts what exactly was written in Chinese script on the stone, which was shown in a sinister manner to the viewers.

8.We have a very strong case against the Chinese on the border issue, which we should project in a non-sensational, non-jingoistic manner, but by indulging in such methods we might find our credibility weakened in the eyes of the international community.(10-9-09)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

September 09, 2009

DESPITE HARMONIOUS URUMQI CAMPAIGN, CITY FAR FROM NORMAL

B.RAMAN


The authorities of Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, have launched a 'Harmonious Urumqi' campaign to improve the relations between the Uighurs and the Hans and between the residents and the administration. Under this campaign, which was launched on September 6,2009, 7,000 police officers and other public servants described as 'harmony squads' have been visiting families in various sensitive parts of the city to appeal to the families to help the authorities maintain inter-community harmony and social order. While launching the campaign, Wang Lequan, the Secretary of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said: "The officials will go door to door to explain policies and solve disputes."

2. In spite of this campaign, the atmosphere in the city is far from normal. Though there have been no public demonstrations by the Han residents after September 5 and the local mosques have been holding their Ramadan prayers, there is an undercurrent of tension and the panic over the needle-stabbings still remains. Despite the stern warnings issued by the Public Security Department that those indulging in syringe-needle stabbings will be held guilty of an act of terrorism and may be sentenced to death, if guilty, reports of needle-stabbings continue to be received from different parts of the city.

3. Among the various measures taken by the authorities to improve the security situation and remove the panic in public are: Warnings of stern action against those indulging in needle-stabbings as well as against those making false reports of needle-stabbings; identity checks of all those buying chemicals and syringe needles; and warnings of strong action against those lynching suspects instead of handing them over to the police.

4. These measures have not had any impact so far. It has been reported that there is a scarcity of syringe needles in the pharmacies and doctors and hospitals have been facing difficulties in procuring them for their legitimate use. The" China Daily" of September 9,2009, has quoted the local Police as saying that there were 77 reports of needle-stabbings between 5 PM on September 6 and 5 PM on September 7. The police arrested 45 suspects of whom 33 were released after investigation for want of evidence against them of indulging in needle-stabbings and the remaining 12 have been detained for further investigation. The paper also reported that eight of those released have been sent to drug rehabilitation centres. This indicates that the police are rounding up known drug addicts in order to check whether any of them are indulging in needle-stabbings.

5.As a precautionary measure after the fresh reports of needle-stabbings, the authorities directed all shops to close early on the evenings of September 6 and 7 and imposed an undeclared night curfew on the two nights under the guise of traffic regulations for security reasons. Nothing untoward happened.

6. The authorities have ordered the demolition of a building in Urumqi belonging to Mrs.Rebiya Kadeer, the US-based head of the World Uighur Congress (WUC), on the alleged ground that it had become dangerous to public safety because of poor maintenance. The building was having a shopping complex with about 500 shops.

7.It was announced on September 8 that the fourth plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will be held at Beijing from September 15 to 18 to discuss a draft document on improving Party building. Even though this has been projected as a routine meeting scheduled earlier before fresh troubles broke out in Urumqi, it is likely that the handling of the Urumqi situation by the local authorities will aso be discussed. Hu Jintao will chair the meeting. (9-9-09)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Indo-Tajikistan Relation on a convergence course

http://www.dayafterindia.com/sep109/international5.html

Quaisar Alam


Tajikistan is on a high prism of India’s foreign policy radar for quite sometimes. With India heralding its presence globally, strategically, economically, and diplomatically, the resonance is bound to reflect on the geo-strategic continental shift. Yes, Indo-Tajikistan Relation is on a convergence course!

The current visit of Indian President Pratibha Devising Patil to Tajikistan on September 6 provides a rare backdrop to pin our thoughts on India’s perception to regional security issues in South and Central Asia. The area is caught in the vortex of security threats and security challenges that may emerge episodic but are formative. The major threat to regional stability originates from Afghanistan-Central Asia border in the sphere of drug traffickers and radical extremists besides, commonality on a host of issues underlining between India and Tajikistan.

Agreements

After making her successful trip to Moscow, Indian President, Pratibha Devising Patil is in Dushanbe on a state visit. India considers Tajikistan as one of the important strategic areas for the present and long-term geo-strategic partnership. India already is on a developmental trajectory mode with Tajikistan in Central Asia. With the present visit to Tajikistan it will only cement further.

Way back, in 2006, India and Tajikistan had signed four bilateral pacts resolving to fight global terrorism and agreed on strengthening cooperation in the fields of science and technology and energy, besides, culture and foreign office consultation. The agreement had been signed between Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and then visiting Tajikistan President his Excellency Emomali Sharifovich Rahmonov in New Delhi on the issues convergence of regional and bilateral international developments.

Background

Historically, Tajikistan gained independence from the Soviet Union in September 1991. Tajikistan is bordered by Uzbekistan to the West, Afghanistan to the South, China to the East and Kyrgyzstan to the North. The country is largely (93%) mountains, with around half its territory lying above 3,000 meters. The highest peak in the former Soviet Union, Peak Somoni is found in the Tajik Pamir mountains. However, what is Tajikistan today, much of what if not all was part of ancient Persia’s Achaemenid Empire (sixth to fourth centuries B.C).

Tajikistan was created in 1924 as an autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) within the Uzbekistan (SSR). In 1929 Tajikistan was detached from Uzbekistan and given full status as a Soviet socialist republic. In many respects, Tajikistan was one of the least developed of the Soviet Republics, and has suffered particularly severely from the collapse of the previously unified Soviet economy.

Issues of Bilateral Interest

During the visit, Mrs.Patil will hold talks with the Tajik leadership on a number of issues including efforts to tackle terrorism and participate in the country’s Independence Day celebrations. Akil Akilov, the Prime Minister of Tajikistan received Mrs Patil and was accorded a ceremonial welcome on her arrival in Dushanbe. This is the maiden visit for any Indian President to Tajikistan. She will have discussions with her Tajik counterpart Emomali Rakhmon, the Prime Minister, the speaker of the Parliament Sadullo Khairullayev.

The talks, which will figure prominently during the talks in Dushanbe with Tajik leadership, will be of bilateral significance as well as on the developmental modes in the whole of Central Asia and the world, aimed at consolidating the ties in economic and political spheres. Though, no bilateral official documents are hoped to be signed during the current visit.

Defence and Security

There are warm relations between India and Tajikistan regarding defence and security. India and Tajikistan enjoy a close strategic relationship and Tajikistan plays host to India’s first overseas military air base. Both countries are fighting tremendous problems over the issues of terrorism and Taliban resurgence along with the international coalition forces. New Delhi has a well-established and clearly stated policy over the issue of fighting terrorism. Needless to underscore, India has been a victim of terrorism for quite a longer period, be they external security, cross terrorism or internal thereat. Precisely on that assumption, the consistent effort of New Delhi’s foreign policy related to North east, Kashmir or Naxalites, or terrorism and violence of any sort, India is along with international community regarding combating terrorism.

Independence Day

It’s a great honour for India as Tajikistan has accorded Indian dignitary whereby the President of India would be the special guest in the Independence Day celebrations in Dushanbe. International analyst believes that India has great stakes in this part of the world in the changing dynamics of the global paradigm shift. The joint efforts of the two countries India and Tajikistan would make concerted efforts against extremism and terrorism. This would greatly contribute to peace and stability in the region.

Analysis

In near future, as Washington, political engagement of the Taliban grows traction; U.S will definitely hope New Delhi to maintain a low-key affair. Since India’s communication of Tajikistan is also linked with Af-Pak policy of Obama administration, so, India may have common factors confronting with a regional security paradigm with contradictory tendencies.

Obviously, there is a need to keep the lines of communication open with Pakistan, name it composite dialogue, consultations, or exchange of views, come what may we have no options but ‘sense the urgency of the needs of the region.’ A saving grace is that, in retrospect, India rejected any Indian military deployment in Afghanistan which could have bearing in Tajikistan, though sections of our strategic community rooted for some adventure in geo-political frontiers. Finally, one hopes the current visit of Indian President will have far reaching ramifications on the bilateral discourse between India and Tajikistan.

Global solidarity to denuclearize

By DAISAKU IKEDA
Special to The Japan Times

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20090908a1.html

If nuclear weapons epitomize the forces that would divide and destroy the world, they can only be overcome by the solidarity of ordinary citizens. This solidarity has the power to make hope an irresistible force transforming history.

Although the threat of global nuclear war has diminished since the end of the Cold War, the number of states with nuclear arms has nearly doubled since 1970, when the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) entered into force. There are still some 25,000 nuclear warheads in the world.

At the same time, there is rising fear that the spread of nuclear weapons technologies and materials through the black market will unleash the nightmare of nuclear terrorism.

In recent years, there have been signs that at last the world is getting serious about eliminating nuclear weapons. In a speech delivered in Prague in April, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his resolve to realize a world without nuclear weapons. When Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April and again in July, they agreed on the broad outlines of a nuclear disarmament treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which expires in December.

The NPT Review Conference scheduled for May 2010 will be crucial in determining whether these positive signs coalesce into real progress toward a world without nuclear weapons.

On Sept. 8, 1957, my mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, issued an impassioned call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. His speech, which denounced these weapons as an absolute evil, contains three themes of particular relevance for today: the need to transform the consciousness of political leaders; the need for a shared vision toward the outlawing of nuclear weapons; and the need to establish "human security" on a global scale.

Using very powerful language — "devil incarnate," "fiend" — he denounced those who would use nuclear weapons. While we may find such terms disconcerting today, Toda's intent was to expose the aberrant nature of nuclear deterrence — the cold and inhuman readiness to sacrifice vast numbers of people in order to realize one's own security or dominance.

I believe it is possible to lay the foundations for a world without nuclear weapons during the next five years, and to this end propose a five-part plan. I call on:

• 1. The five declared nuclear-weapon states to announce their commitment to a shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons at next year's NPT Review Conference and to promptly initiate concrete steps toward its achievement.

• 2. The United Nations to establish a panel of experts on nuclear abolition, strengthening collaborative relations with civil society regarding the disarmament process.

• 3. The states that are party to the NPT to strengthen nonproliferation mechanisms and remove obstacles to the elimination of nuclear weapons by the year 2015. The 2010 Review Conference should establish a standing working group to focus on these issues.

• 4. All states to actively cooperate to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national security and to advance toward the establishment of security arrangements that are not dependent on nuclear weapons by the year 2015.

• 5. The world's people to clearly manifest their will for the outlawing of nuclear weapons and to establish, by the year 2015, the international norm that will serve as the foundation for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC).

The path to the adoption of an NWC is likely to be a difficult one. But, rather than be paralyzed by this difficulty, we should take action now to generate overwhelming popular support for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, such that calls for the adoption of an NWC become impossible to ignore.

In his Prague speech, President Obama noted the moral responsibility of the United States as the only country to have actually used nuclear weapons; he also announced the scaling back of the role of these weapons in U.S. security strategy and urged other states to follow suit.

However, U.S. disarmament efforts will be complicated if allies insist on continuing or strengthening the "nuclear umbrella." Such a demand would constitute a violation of the spirit of the NPT.

It is crucial for nuclear-weapon states and their allies to engage in careful and earnest deliberations regarding extended deterrence. Together, they should develop alternatives, starting with effective measures for reducing regional tensions.

A clear demonstration of political will on the part of the United States and Japan could transform conditions in Northeast Asia, specifically the stalemate surrounding North Korea's nuclear development program.

I urge all the countries currently engaged in the six-party talks — China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia and the U.S. — to declare Northeast Asia a nuclear non-use region.

Universalizing the commitment that no country or people should ever fall victim to the horrors of nuclear weapons should be the pivotal element of U.S.-Japanese partnership in the 21st century.

Together, our two countries should take the lead in creating a world free from nuclear weapons.

To put the era of nuclear terror behind us, we must struggle against the real "enemy." That enemy is not nuclear weapons, per se, nor is it the states that possess or develop them. The real enemy is the way of thinking that justifies nuclear weapons — the readiness to annihilate others when they are seen as a threat or as a hindrance.

This was the "enemy" that Josei Toda had in mind when he spoke of "declawing the threat hidden in the very depths of nuclear weapons." He was convinced that a shared determination to combat this evil could serve as the basis for a transnational solidarity among the world's people.

Let us abandon the habit of studiously ignoring the menace posed to Earth by nuclear weapons and instead prove that a world without nuclear weapons can be realized in our lifetimes.
Daisaku Ikeda is president of Soka Gakkai International, and founder of Soka University and the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research. (www.daisakuikeda.org)


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Burma a Thorny Territory for China

By Michael Sainsbury

http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2009/09/08/burma_a_throny_territory_for_china_97142.html

The tarred and guttered road that runs through the new part of the sleepy town of Nansan in the remote south of China's Yunnan province suddenly turns to dirt. As it continues, there's a small border post, and lo, it's the northern part of Burma's multi-ethnic Shan state.

Last week, a stream of about 30,000 refugees walked and drove across that border fleeing an attack by the Burmese government that killed as many as 500 people, mostly ethnic Han Chinese. While some returned, many have not and more are coming across at Qingshuihe, 80km down the road.

In that rugged and often impenetrable country, China just got itself a new headache to add to the freshly throbbing one in its racially riven province of Xinxiang. It's a problem that has highlighted the increasingly deep and potentially fragile ties China has with its fellow totalitarian regime across the border.

It's hard to believe that only 70 years ago, Burma was the rice bowl of Asia - a country that was for 100 years the biggest state in British India and the brightest facet in that shining jewel. Since the coup in 1962, the vast teak forests of central Burma have been stripped, denuding the land and causing its once mighty river, the Irrawaddy, to silt up; its infrastructure has collapsed; most of its universities have been shuttered; and unless they join the mercenaries, many young men end up serving in the army on subsistence wages for the junta's rapacious leaders.

These days, Burma is awash with infrastructure projects, highways are being cut through its northern jungles, a series of culturally devastating and environmentally disastrous dams are being planned on the Salween River for hydro-electricity.

Mines are being built to extract its potentially vast deposits of minerals. A giant oil and gas pipeline, thousands of kilometres long, is being laid through the country and into Yunnan. The teak forests to the north are being logged for furniture. The country's jade and rubies are being shipped to adorn the bodies and houses of the wealthy. There is even a blueprint to dredge the Irrawaddy and make it navigable all they way to the Chinese border.

And who is this for? Well, the booty is being split: China gets the goods and energy, Burma's generals get the money. Certainly, China is not alone in the rape of Burma. The Japanese were the first to prop up the regime in the 1960s and 70s, along with the South Koreans. Thailand sucks up vast quantities of its natural gas, its looming regional nemesis. And now India is also seeking out its own spoils.

But China has the cash, the proximity and less scruples. In the past 15 years, an increasingly confident and wealthy China has ramped up its offshore investment program seeking energy and food security.

Chinese business has always been a part of the fabric of the region. In every major mercantile centre, the Chinese have money and influence. Coming from a more sophisticated and aggressive culture with long and deep roots in trade and, at one time, innovation, the Chinese have understood the importance of taking control of critical institutions, such as banks, in order to make money and wield influence. The Chinese control many of the banks in Burma today. Because of this, the Chinese have been reviled in Burma and in many other countries in the region. Singapore was formed so the Chinese could create there own enclave away from the Malays.

Since its vast investment program in Burma began, Chinese nationals have flooded into Burma, particularly in the north. The country's second-largest centre, Mandalay, is conservatively believed to be at least 20 per cent Chinese. The total number of Chinese living in Burma is thought to be one million or more, but the Burmese government has not conducted a census since the early 1990s.

In Kokang two weeks ago, the Chinese were being targeted with bullets, their shops and homes looted. Many are afraid to go home.

For several decades after Burma's increasingly isolated and repressive military regime took charge of the place in 1962, battles raged between the government and a multiplicity of armed militia representing a range of ethnic minorities. One of these was the Kokang, a group of about 150,000 ethnic Han Chinese who have lived in the region for centuries. Militarily, they are the weakest of the militias and until last week they had a 20-year truce with the junta. Kokang is more Chinese than Burmese - they speak Mandarin, use the renmimbi and the Chinese mobile system.

It's the same story with many tribes close to China's borders and markets. Still, the Chinese are not particularly fond of the 50 or so casinos the Kokang run in the town of Laogai just down the road from Nansan, in exchange for promising to give up the drug trade in 2003. The Chinese are even less fond of the vast quantity of heroin and methamphetamine that cross its borders from the Wa ethnic group, now surrounded by the Burmese military and possibly its next target. There is a rapidly growing meth and ice problem raging across southern China and creeping its way north.

One theory says the attack on the ethnic groups by the junta government came at the behest of the Chinese to wipe out the drug trade, but China's reaction and a bald statement about protecting "Chinese people" would seem to counter that. China has close links to the Wa, too.

Burma is also looking elsewhere. Many in the US and Europe are urging the lifting of economic sanctions, saying they have only isolated Burma and forced it into China's arms. A change in that policy would threaten China's position in Burma. And Burma is getting closer to North Korea, which has spooked China's military. The threat of Burma getting nuclear weapons is enough to cause panic as this would leave China with the problem of two of the world's most erratic regimes with nuclear arms to its north and south - North Korea and Burma.

As China continues to have problems with its own internal ethnic tensions, some of those it faces in Burma are richly ironic, but the entire situation is becoming more complex and fraught by the day.

sainsburychina@gmail.com

CHINA WATCH: Flawed response to incursions

Claude Arpi

http://www.dailypioneer.com/201314/Flawed-response-to-incursions.html

Incursions by the Chinese Army into Indian territory are making headlines in the media again. This is good. Not because the Chinese persist with trespassing into Indian territory, but because media coverage brings to light such disturbing happenings. Instinctively, not to say genetically, India’s political leadership prefers to hide the truth, to not “hurt our Chinese neighbours’ feelings” or “makes things worse”.

Keeping with India’s diplomatic tradition, Foreign Minister SM Krishna said after recent incidents of Chinese incursion, “With China, I think the boundary has been one of the most peaceful. So, there is no issue on that.” He added that there “is a built-in mechanism which is in place and which takes care of such incursions. India has so far acted with restraint, maintaining that the Line of Actual Control with China is not very well defined”.

We could ask the question: Why is the LAC not well defined? What is the point of successive National Security Advisers meeting their Chinese counterparts (they have met on 13 occasions since 2003) if they are not even able to define an ‘actual’ line? Apart from the fact that it proves the insincerity of the Chinese who are not ready to take the first step to calm the tensions, the exercise seems a waste of public money.

This time, the Army has had the courage to acknowledge the facts. The Army chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, has admitted that New Delhi lodged a protest with Beijing following the incursion by a Chinese helicopter into Indian territory and the painting of some rocks along the presumptive LAC in red.

According to reports in the media, “the army is gathering evidence from the spots where Chinese troops had painted the rocks red”. What does ‘gathering evidence’ mean? Does it imply that the Army is not aware of what is happening on the LAC? If true, it is a serious and worrying lapse. This reluctance of India’s politicians and officials to acknowledge the truth is not new. It is probably a genetic feature of the Indian Foreign Service.

In May, when I spent some time in Munsyari, the last town before the India-Tibet border in the Kumaon Hills, I located the ‘historian’ of the area. Till the 1962 War, this tehsil used to be the main centre for business with western Tibet. Most of the Bhotias, the local tribe, lived on trade. Caravans used to depart from Milam, a village in Johar Valley, north of Munsyari, and proceed to the trade markets around the Kailash-Mansarovar area.

The old ‘historian’ told me a story which flabbergasted me. A gentleman native to the area, called Lakshman Singh Jangpangi, had joined the Foreign Service in the 1940s as a senior accountant posted at the Indian Trade Mart of Gartok, east of Kailash. In 1946, he was promoted to the important post of British Trade Agent. When India became independent, he continued to serve in the same position till he was transferred to Yatung in 1959.

I was told that Jangpangi, who from Gartok had a panoramic view of what was going on in western Tibet, had informed his Minister (Jawaharlal Nehru) that the Chinese had started to build on the arid Aksai Chin plateau. That was in 1951-52. Crossing the Indian territory, the road only became the address for official correspondence with the Chinese Government seven years later. It was finally debated in Parliament in 1959. Probably, the Government did not want to ‘hurt Chinese sentiments’; or it believed that the issue would be solved with the passage of time.

The most ironic part of the story is that Jangpangi was awarded the first Padma Shri given to a Kumaoni ‘for his meritorious services’. Was it for breaking the news or for having kept quiet? We will probably never know.

Today, if a courageous historian requests the Government to declassify the relevant file, he will be quoted Article 8 (1) (a) of the Right to Information Act: “There shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state.”

Incursions by the Chinese continued in the 1950s in Garwal (Barahoti), Himachal Pradesh (Shipki-la) and then spread to Ladakh and NEFA. Mao’s regime could have only felt encouraged by the Government of India’s feeble complaints. New Delhi was probably satisfied with its seasonal protests and the immediate denials by Beijing. Hundreds of such complaints have been recorded in the 14 Volumes of the White Papers published from 1959 to 1965 by the Ministry of External Affairs.

A telling incident is worth recalling. In September 1956, a group of 20 Chinese soldiers crossed over Shipki-la pass into Himachal Pradesh. A 27-member Border Security Force team met the Chinese the same day. The BSF team was told by a Chinese officer that he had been instructed to patrol right up to Hupsang Khad (four miles south of Shipki-la, the acknowledged border pass under the Panchsheel Agreement).

However, the BSF team was advised “to avoid an armed clash but not yield to the Chinese troops”. New Delhi did not quite know how to react. A few days later, Nehru wrote to the Foreign Secretary, “I agree with (your) suggestion … it would not be desirable for this question to be raised in the Lok Sabha at the present stage”.

The policy of the Government of India was to remain silent on this issue and eventually mention it ‘informally’ to Chinese officials. Finally, the Ministry of External Affairs informed Beijing: “The Government of India is pained and surprised at this conduct of the Chinese commanding officer.” That was 53 years ago. Is the situation any different today?

There is another irony. The Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Mr Omar Abdullah, has said that India has the right to respond: “It is our right to respond in case of ceasefire violations.” Of course, he was speaking about Pakistan and the other corner of his State. He would not have dared to use these words with China.

It is rather depressing. I have an Indian friend, knowledgeable in defence matters, who always tells me that one should not worry, that genes can evolve, even Darwin had said so. Is it just a matter of one or two generations before Indians get to acquire Chinese genes? Let us see.

The Chinese Conundrum

The days when enthusiastic young Indian politicians spoke of Chindia are long over. China did not respond in kind, either then and certainly not now. The 'trust deficit' remains

Arundhati Ghose


http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?261739

At a recent Conference in Shanghai discussing ways in which bridges could be built to span the 'trust gap' between India and China, a visibly perturbed Chinese scholar felt that there was more that was negative about China in the Indian press than the other way round. Having assured him of the freedom of the press in India, the Indian side responded with equal concern at the spate of virulent articles on India in the Chinese media. There has been, of late, a spurt of articles critical of either country, and while many of the views from India do not reflect the government's position and the Chinese articles might, the possible reasons for the recent increase in these adversarial verbal exchanges need to be addressed.

Since the consequences of the '62 war still remain, the relations between the two countries have been stable but fragile. The Chinese attempts to block the waiver to global civilian nuclear cooperation at the NSG, the objection to a Chinese visa to an official from Arunachal Pradesh and more recently, the ferocious Chinese opposition to a development project in Arunachal Pradesh at the ADB, strained relations already tenuous with the unending border talks, China's nuclear assistance to Pakistan whose nuclear doctrine is purely India-centric, China's plans regarding water diversion in the Himalayas acting as major and almost permanent burdens in need of discussion if not resolution. At the same time, government to government relations move cautiously ahead with high level visits and increasing trade and economic relations. In fact, President Patil is scheduled to visit China shortly, and there has apparently been an agreement between India and China and
other Asian countries to fight protectionism at the global level.

On the Chinese side, and one can only speculate: the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement has caused concern; if a country like the US, which has non-proliferation as a major element of its foreign policy could change its domestic laws for India, a non-signatory to the NPT, the reasons are likely to be more far reaching than immediately apparent. Clearly, China does not object to India building more nuclear reactors! At the same time, China feels it has not been able to make the kind of inroads into the Indian market as it would like. Of course, the continuing irritant of the respect which the Dalai Lama receives in India remains. Most important, however, is perhaps the fact that India is rising economically in global perceptions. India's 'Look East' policy and the slew of pacts signed with ASEAN would seem to China, to infringe on China's own sphere of influence.

The days when enthusiastic young Indian politicians spoke of Chindia are long over. There is space for both countries to grow together in cooperation, said the Indian government. Interestingly, China did not respond in kind, either then and certainly not now. On the other hand, with the global economic recession impacting the developed world, dependence on China's growth has made it 'the indispensable country' to quote a mesmerized British politician. The US has maintained that Sino-US relations are the most important of bilateral relations. All this has led to a spring in China's step, a gleam of satisfaction in China's eye and a confidence that today it is part of a G-2 condominium which would lay the ground rules for the rest of the world. It is also leading, unfortunately, to a flexing of muscle, particularly in its neighbourhood.

A sobering assessment of India-China strategic relations was made by the former Indian Chief of Naval Staff. We need to cope with the new-found assertiveness of the emergent China, and not only in the strategic field. It is undeniable that China, economically, is in another league; it is more organized , appears to have been able to give most of its peoples the basic needs, and as a member of the UN Security Council, feels that it cannot be restricted to a region- it sees itself as a global 'stakeholder'. All of this would be admirable, if India, too, in her own way, did not have the same aspirations. A hegemon, regional or global, does not brook even the semblance of challenge. In the midst of India's chaos, accurately portrayed in devastating detail by her own media, her achievements in IT, in Space technology, in the unveiling of the Arihant, in her ability to (somehow) cope with the global economic down-turn, all must act as unpleasant reminders to
an almost smug China, that India exists and has ambitions. China would see its interests in ensuring that those ambitions were kept within bounds.

Do these hiccups presage more serious developments? At the governmental level, it would appear not -- the Chinese suggested the 'hotline' between the two Prime Ministers and India's President visiting. While the latest round of boundary talks produced little that was concrete, the atmospherics appeared cordial enough. The 'trust deficit' remains, however, and at the people to people level, there is either indifference, apprehension or outrage at every critical incident or article.. As the stronger and more prosperous country, it would be in China's interest to start a process of winning friends, or if that is not desirable, influencing a sceptical Indian public.

Arundhati Ghose is a former Indian ambassador to the United Nations, Geneva. A Hindi version of this appears in Outlook Saptahik that is currently on the stands

Northern Errors

Rekha Chowdhary
Tags : Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan, Kashmiri separatists
Posted: Tuesday , Sep 08, 2009 at 0246 hrs




http://www.indianexpress.com/news/northern-errors/514237/0


A significant development has taken place with regard to the status of Gilgit-Baltistan — a part of the erstwhile undivided state of Jammu and Kashmir under Pakistani control since 1947. Bordering Afghanistan, China and India, the area was perceived as strategically important for Pakistan and therefore was isolated from the rest of ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’. Treated as a separate administrative unit comprised of Gilgit, Baltistan, Hunza and Nagar, it was designated as the ‘Northern Areas’ and was denied any kind of legal or political status. While Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (though controlled by the federal ministry of Kashmir affairs) had some semblance of political governance, this area merely had administrative status. Under the direct control of Islamabad, it was governed by civil administrators. And because of the ambiguity about its legal status, the people belonging to this area were not represented in the Pakistan National Assembly.
The right of democratic representation, therefore, was not extended to them in any form. Worse, they were also denied access to justice. The Judicial Commissioner had supreme power and people had no right to appeal. The Supreme Court of Pakistan had no jurisdiction; nor did the judiciary of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir have any role for the people in this part.


Due to this, the area has suffered unrest for quite some time. Local grievances forcefully articulated during the last few decades, have not only been in the context of lack of a modern democratic system but also the suppression of the political identity of the area and the people. By denying it its traditional name, Gilgit-Baltistan, its status was reduced merely to that of a geographical entity. Further, there were allegations of substantial demographic and territorial interventions by the Pakistani state. Apart from the transfer of around 5000 sq km of the area to China, which is aggressively pursuing its interests in the area, the Pakistani government has been accused of pushing demographic change in this Shia-dominated area. It is alleged that Pakistani rulers by allotting the land to outsiders, especially Punjabis, Pathans and other Sunnis, encouraged them to settle in this area. There is a general feeling that this demographic engineering has
altered the area’s traditional culture of harmonious co-existence. There have been several incidences of sectarian violence in the last few years.


With the increasing discontent, nationalist sentiments have been sharpened and many groups have been involved in the political movement in this area. Demands have ranged from political autonomy to a separate nation of Gilgit-Baltistan. It is a consequence of the growing political unrest within the region that the ‘issue of Gilgit-Baltistan’ is being raised at par with ‘Kashmir issue’ in international forums. Though Pakistan refused to recognise the issue for a long time, it has lately been a part of the peace discourse, especially during Musharraf’s time. While offering a self-rule formula, Musharraf has referred to the ‘Northern Areas’ along with ‘Azad Kashmir’ as the two regions on the side of Pakistan where the formula needs to be applied.


Last week, the federal cabinet of Pakistan approved the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009. By virtue of this order, the official name of the area has been changed from ‘Northern Area’ to Gilgit-Baltistan, and it has been granted political autonomy. The people of Gilgit Baltistan are supposed to have now the right of representation, the freedom of party politics as well as access to justice. The area will have its own elected assembly, chief minister and a centrally appointed governor.


To what extent the order will satisfy the aspirations of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan is difficult to predict at the moment. Nationalist sentiments may not be placated by the package of autonomy. What is clear however, is that the order might further complicate the thorny Kashmir issue. There are already voices expressing concern over the unilateral change in the status quo of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is being seen as a step towards the merger of Gilgit-Baltistan with Pakistan. It is not only India that has expressed its apprehensions in that direction, the political leaders of ‘Azad Kashmir’ and the Kashmiri separatists have also reacted in a similar manner. The leadership of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, contesting the official position of Pakistan, has always asserted that Gilgit-Baltistan is a legal and constitutional part of Jammu and Kashmir — a position established by the high court of ‘Azad Kashmir’ in a famous verdict
given by Chief Justice Majid Malik.

Even Kashmiri separatists are not happy with the development, seeing it as a move to dilute the Kashmir cause. Autonomy to this area would amount to its separation from the rest of the state; further, it may become a precedent that could be applicable to other parts of the state too. According to Syed Salahuddin, since the political status of the state is still unresolved, any change in its territorial integrity would have a negative impact on the issue. JKLF leader Yasin Malik and other separatist leaders echo this stand.


While it is important to recognise the political rights of people of Gilgit-Baltistan, the step taken by Pakistan has serious implications for the peace process in Jammu and Kashmir. The logic of the ongoing peace process has been a ‘notional unity’ of the state through the concept of irrelevance of borders. The autonomy of Gilgit-Baltistan may start a trend in the reverse direction and may just justify the division of the state.


The writer teaches political science at Jammu University.

Saudi Arabia's political clout in Pakistan

C. Raja Mohan
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/saudi-arabias-political-clout-in-pakistan/513951/0



AMIDST the clamour in Pakistan to put the former president Pervez Musharraf on trial for his many unconstitutional acts, one of his advisers Mushahid Hussain declared that 'just one phone call from Saudi Arabia will stop all the non-sense' about sending the General to the prison house.


Hussain is a former editor who morphed himself into a politico and served many masters including Nawaz Sharif. Hussain has not lost any of his reputation for utter clarity (bordering on the cynical) and the capacity to cut through a complex debate.

The House of Saud has not yet dialled Islamabad. It has done one better. It has summoned all the top figures of Pakistan to discuss the latest political crisis. Among those who serenaded themselves in Riyadh last week were Rehman Malik, a close adviser to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Gen. Musharraf himself. Sharif heads for Saudi Arabia this week.


The latest crisis follows Sharif's campaign to have Gen. Musharraf tried and sent to prison. Sharif wants revenge for Musharraf's coup against him in October 1999. Zardari, who is in power because of a deal between his late wife Benazir and Musharraf, has no reason to ask the judiciary to revisit that mutually beneficial understanding. We don't know where the current Army Chief, Gen Ashfaq Kayani, stands. Will he protect his predecessor or hang him?


It is into this minefield that Saudi Arabia has boldly stepped into.

This is certainly not the first time. In the last two decades, Saudi power in Islamabad has grown enormously. More than the US President, it is the Saudi King who is now the real arbiter of Pakistan's domestic politics.


After Musharraf's coup against Sharif, the Saudis got the former prime minister out of prison and gave him political asylum. When Sharif broke his promise not to play politics and landed in Pakistan, the Saudis lifted him right back from the airport tarmac. When the US was brokering a deal between Musharraf and Benazir, the Saudis put Sharif back in play against the wishes of President George Bush and Musharraf. That Saudi Arabia can exercise such influence in a country of more than 160 million people with a powerful army equipped with nuclear weapons should tell us two things about Pakistan.


One. For all the shared history and culture, the Pakistani state is very unlike ours. As a 'frontier state' (some Pakistani liberals might call it a 'rentier state'), Pakistan is organised on a different set of rules. In a frontier state, there is no separation between the internal and the external. The frontier and rentier states deal with external benefactors with a kind of ease that normal states can never imagine. They don't define national sovereignty in opposition to the external world.

Two. If the House of Saud is now an integral part of Pakistani politics, it makes sense for Delhi to treat Riyadh as a neighbour and engage it intensively and on a strategic basis.


(C. Raja Mohan is currently the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Affairs at the Library of Congress, Washington DC).

‘Pak plans plutonium push’

Rashme Sehgal

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/top-story/‘pak-plans-plutonium-push’.aspx

New Delhi

Sept. 7: Pakistan is poised to expand its nuclear bomb-making facilities by producing an additional 20 kg of plutonium each year from the two plutonium-producing reactors nearing completion at Khushab, situated on the border of Punjab and the North West Frontier Province.

In an article titled "Uranium Constraints on Pakistan’s Fissile Material Production", to be published in Routledge’s prestigious magazine Science & Global Security, a group of scientists monitoring Pakistan’s atomic weapons programme believe this will push Pakistan’s capacity to produce an additional four atomic weapons every year.
Dr Rajaraman, co-chair, International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), pointed our that as of 2007 Pakistan was likely to have accumulated a stock of over 1.4 tons of highly enriched uranium, which would enable them to make between 50 to 60 nuclear bombs. "This is based on the assumption that 25 kg of enriched uranium is used for every warhead," said Dr Rajaraman in the course of an exclusive interview. "This is in addition to it possessing 90 kg of weapon-grade plutonium from its existing Khushab reactor, which produces 10 kg per year, which means they are in a position to increase their stock (atomic bombs) by six weapons worth ever year," said Dr Rajaraman.

Commercial satellite photos published in Fissile Materials in South Asia, with inputs from leading scientists, including Dr Zia Mian working with the IPFM, Dr A.H. Nayyar who retired from Islamabad’s Quaid-i-Azam University, and Dr M.V. Ramana from Bengaluru’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment and Development, show images of the new Khushab reactors under construction and also stress that Pakistan is working on a new reprocessing plant at Chashma to reprocess spent fuel from these new reactors.
"The spent fuel from Pakistan’s Khushab reactor is believed to be reprocessed at the new labs facility near Islamabad, which has a capacity of 10-20 tons per year of heavy metal," the article states. "In comparison, India’s weapon-grade plutonium is coming from its Cirus and Dhruva reactors, which have produced a cumulative 234 kg and 414 kg of weapon-grade plutonium up to 2006 from the time they were commissioned," added Dr Rajaraman.
These scientists have calculated that some of this weapon-grade plutonium has already been consumed in India’s nuclear tests. "We estimate about six kg was used in India’s 1974 nuclear test and another 25 kg in the five more advanced tests in 1998. As for reactor fuel, 20 kg was used for the core of the Purnima-1 research reactor and 60 kg for the first Mark-1 core of the Fast Breeder Test Reactor, while 20 kg was lost in processing," the article states. "In all, 131 kg of weapon-grade plutonium has been consumed, leaving India with a current stockpile of 500 kg of weapon-grade plutonium, sufficient for around 100 nuclear bombs," the article adds.

These experts point out that the six nuclear tests Pakistan conducted in 1998 used around 120 kg of enriched uranium, leaving them with a stockpile of 1,300 kg, sufficient for 65 weapons.

They also believe that the enrichment capacity of the existing Kahuta reactor was increased and that it was able to produce a stockpile of 1,100 kg of highly enriched uranium by 2003. "This would have produced about 1,400 kg of weapon-grade uranium by 2006-end," Dr Rajaraman said.

US NO HURDLE IN INDIA-RUSSIA TIES

President Patil’s Russia visit from September 2-6 to launch the Year of India signifies continuity in our close ties with Russia. The foundation of this relationship was built during the Soviet era and both countries benefit from this legacy. Its underlying durability resides in shared geo-political interests, a strong defense relationship, Russia’s willingness to go further ahead with us than others in the nuclear and space sectors and in transferring sensitive technologies, its readiness to acknowledge our primacy in our region and shun policies that may encourage our neighbouring countries to counter us. Our respective views on acceptance of diversity, respect for national sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of countries on the pretext of promoting specific political and economic values, and multi-polarity as a code word for more participative decision making in international afairs, have much in common. A critical element is the trust we can repose in Russia in either standing by us in difficult situations or showing more understanding of our positions than others. This kind of political trust is not easy to build, given the self-interested and competitive nature of international relations. It develops over long years of experience of each other and the conduct of concerned countries during periods of crisis. Such trust is even more difficult to retain when the relationship is not backed by any legal instrument or obligation, as is the case when countries are tied to each other through an alliance.

The challenge before us has been to effectively nurture this vital relationship with a weakened Russia for all the actual and potential advantages it gives us, while improving and strengthening our ties with the US as the dominant global power. The latter has been a difficult exercise as differences on nuclear and space issues, technology denials, India-Pakistan questions, J&K, human rights, India-related terrorism issues, UNSC expansion etc have stood in the way. While the economic dividend of the end of the Cold War, which more or less coincided with the liberalization of the Indian economy, was available to us as the response of the US business to our economic liberalization programme was by far the strongest, with the growth of India’s IT sector being its most spectacular result, the political dividend eluded us for almost 15 years and it is only in the second Bush term that a breakthrough, albeit one that has been questioned domestically because of the thick overlay of non-proliferation conditions, was achieved with the India-US nuclear deal and the subsequent NSG waiver. Because the nuclear deal got embroiled in domestic politics, with the Left characterizing it as a political sell-out to the US, the perception has grown that India has made a decisive foreign policy lurch towards the US, to the extent of compromising the independence of its foreign policy.

Does Russia view with suspicion India’s considerably improved relationship with the US and is this undermining the basis of the Indo-Russian strategic partnership? It would be natural for Russia to assess the implications for it of developing India-US ties. There could be an assessment that the India-US relationship may acquire in due course some of the dynamism of the US-China relationship on the economic side because of high Indian growth rates, the potential of India’s human and technical resources and increasing US investment in India, and that, unlike in the Chinese case where the relationship has undercurrents of competition for power and influence exacerbated by differences in political systems, the engagement with India may acquire all round depth. This could then lead to a further widening of the gap between the India-Russia and the India-US partnerships, to the disadvantage of the former. The improvement in India-US ties is occurring at a time when the US-Russia relationship is deteriorating. It is for the pragmatic Russsian leadership to understand why the dynamics of the two processes are unrelated and why India would want to leverage to its advantage US economic and technological strengths, long denied to it. Russia should look askance not at better India-US relations but at signs of subservience to US policies. The general view in Russia is that India’s record, its size and the spirit of the country’s leadership favours the retention of independence of judgment and action in international affairs. This judgment should be reinforced.

Rather than looking at the India-Russia relationship in the competitive perspective of a growing India-US relationship, which would be counterproductive, India and Russia should actively maximize the potential of their bilateral relationship. The real question is whether Russia will cede ground it already occupies to the US or will the ground itself expand as India grows, providing enhanced opportunities for all.. No country should aspire to have monopolistic positions in another that is open and integrated globally. In the nuclear field, for instance, India has committed itself to the supply of US reactors producing 10,000 MWs of power at two different sites. Russia is presently building two nuclear reactors in Kudankulam and it has been agreed it will supply four more at the same site, adding up to about 6800 MWs in all, which is short of the figure promised to the US, though negotiations for the Russian reactors are in much more advanced stage than in the US case. India’s plans to produce 20,000 MWs of nuclear power by 2020 and double that amount by 2030 implies considerable future opportunities for outsiders depending on performance, costs, technology transfers, building up indigenous capacities etc. In the field of defence Russia occupies a dominant position, and this situation will continue in the foreseeable future, despite Israeli penetration and aggressive US efforts to increase its share, about which Russia would be particularly watchful. This is a vital area of the India-Russia relationship as is shown by the leasing of a nuclear powered submarine and technical assistance for building an indigenous one, Nevertheless with international tendering and indigenizing of production some new equilibrium will be found.

While the Indian business constitutes the strongest pro-US lobby in the country, with the US being India’s biggest single country economic partner, the weakest link in the India-Russia relationship is the economic relationship. At $7.5 billion in 2008 (Russian figures), the two way trade is unimpressive. The target of $10 billion trade by 2010 set by the two governments seems unachievable because of the current economic downturn in Russia and fall in Indian exports worldwide. A breakthrough in energy cooperation can transform the economic scenario between the two countries, but India is not an obvious partner for Russia, with Europe, China and Japan taking precedence. But India has needs and Russia can fulfill them. Despite lack of notable success so far, India should continue to press the Russian side for openings for its companies. Some win-win linked tie-ups in the hydrocarbon and nuclear sectors could be explored.

In sum, in our longer term interest, India-Russia relations must not be weakened as India-US relations get strengthened.

The writer is a former Foreign Secretary(sibalkanwal@gmail.com)

Will Gulf of Aden be a new LoC for Navy?

Shankar Roychowdhury

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/opinion/opinion/will-gulf-of-aden-be-a-new-loc-for-navy.aspx

Sept.08 : A few months back the Russian warship Admiral Panteleyev, reportedly responding to a distress signal from the tanker Bulwai Bank, under attack from Somali pirates 120 km east of the Somali coast, tracked down a captured Iranian trawler being used as a command-and-control ship for pirate vessels, and apprehended 12 Pakistani nationals on board, including its captain, Mohammad Zamal. Russian investigators found that those apprehended were well trained and familiar with weapons handling (seven AK-47 assault rifles as well as pistols were recovered), as well as with military and naval procedures. There are other persistent media reports of "well-trained" Pakistanis directing Somali piracy operations near the coast of East Africa — off the Somali coast and in the Gulf of Aden. If this is correct, it would appear to indicate that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, that country’s official clearing house for covert and subversive
operations, may have extended its charter to Somalia and the Horn of Africa. This is a matter of concern for India, since in addition to general piracy, smuggling and gun-running, there is every likelihood of the ISI directing its marine jihadis to specifically seek out and target Indian merchant shipping, or ships bound for or out of Indian ports, and interdict or interfere with Indian maritime activity to whatever degree feasible. Indian economic interests and energy security are likely to be particularly affected because the Afghanistan experience indicates that these are always primary targets of Pakistani quasi-state covert entities, whether labelled Al Qaeda, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba or any other.

Ninety per cent of India’s total overseas trade, in particular the vital energy resources on which the country is critically dependent for 80 per cent of its demand, is carried by sea routes focusing in and out of Mumbai, the principal port in the country. The country’s maritime jugular traverses westwards through the Arabian Sea and connects with destinations in Europe and the energy centres of the Persian Gulf and elsewhere in the West Asian region through strategic choke points along the East African and Arabian littorals around the Horn of Africa. Notable among these are the Gulf of Aden and the Straits of Hormuz at the entrance to the Red Sea en route to the Suez Canal and beyond, and the Straits of Bab el Mandep at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. These waters are India’s new frontiers for national security.

Somalia lies on the East African coast of the Arabian Sea, across the street from Mumbai as it were, in a position strategic to India’s maritime interests, dominating the Gulf of Aden through which passes India’s main maritime expressway. A predominantly Muslim country, the largest in the Horn of Africa, Somalia’s traditional faith has now acquired increasingly radical overtones under the influence of indigenous jihadi organisations like the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and Al Shabab ("The Youth"), which have taken root in the region, reinforced by foreign fighters from ongoing conflicts in Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, with its lack of any central authority, and very strong clan-based affinities and culture, Somalia has much in common with the Pashtun regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, notwithstanding the obvious differences in ethnicity, and provides similar environments for rapid spread of jihadi influence. The country has been ripped
apart by bitter and intermittent inter-clan wars ever since the collapse of President Mohammad Siad Barre’s national government in 1991. A United Nations Peacekeeping Force was sent to maintain peace and restore order in the country, in which the Indian Army’s 66 Mountain Brigade formed part of the mission. As always, the Indian contingent performed outstandingly, but the United Nations were unsuccessful overall and had to withdraw after suffering casualties. (The Hollywood movie Black Hawk Down is based on a true incident during that period.) Since then, constant internecine conflicts between warring clans and warlords, military intervention by neighbouring Ethiopia and the increasing intensity of radical jihad have almost totally destabilised the country and reduced Somalia to a status worse than Afghanistan. The prevalent state of total anarchy has impacted not only neighbouring Ethiopia and Kenya, but also spread to the seas around the Horn of
Africa, particularly the Gulf of Aden, which have become zones for free enterprise for increasingly well-equipped and directed Somali pirates preying on international merchant shipping from fishing trawlers to supertankers which traverse these waters at their peril.

Notwithstanding any potential fallout targeted specifically at Indian shipping, piracy in the Gulf of Aden is also a cause of major international concern. After a slow start, Western governments dispatched naval ships to safeguard shipping in the region, irrespective of nationality. Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) was established as an American-led multinational naval anti-piracy mission, based on logistical facilities in the adjacent French African enclave of Djibouti on the Red Sea. The task force consists of ships from seven nations, with a rotating command structure between the members. The Indian Navy has not contributed to CTF-50, but operates independently with a naval detachment in the region, initially based on INS Tabar, later replaced by INS Mysore, on a bilateral understanding with the Somali government, which though severely incapacitated and barely functional, nevertheless remains the legitimate national authority. The Indian Navy has
performed very successfully ints anti-piracy mission, in many ways a marine replica of the counter-insurgency operations being conducted by its sister service in the Kashmir Valley. However, Somalia and the Gulf of Aden are as yet small clouds on a distant horizon. But if, as in Afghanistan, a "plausibly deniable" Pakistani intervention through the tested pattern of jihadi surrogates is developing on the East African littoral to turn the Gulf of Aden into a maritime Khyber Pass for Indian shipping and trade, the Indian government will have no choice but to put appropriate counter-measures in place at the earliest, to forestall a Limburg-type suicide bombing or an Achille Lauro-type hijacking and passenger hostage situation involving Indian shipping or personnel. All in all, the Gulf of Aden (and possibly even the Persian Gulf) might turn into a long-duration "Line of Control" proxy war commitment for the Indian Navy.

Gen. Shankar Roychowdhury (Retd) is a former Chief of Army Staff and a former Member of Parliament

September 07, 2009

Scientists need to reassure army on H-bomb yield: Ex-Indian Army chief

Agencies Tags : VP Malik, Pokhran, nuclear tests, APL Abdul Kalam Posted: Sunday , Sep 06, 2009 at 1448 hrs New Delhi:

VP Malik
"I don't think we can be convinced easily by people who are not scientists": VP Malik

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/scientists-need-to-reassure-army-on-hbomb-yield-exindian-army-chief/513569/0


With some scientists questioning the efficacy of the hydrogen bomb tested in Pokhran over a decade ago, former Army chief V P Malik has said the armed forces need to be "reassured" by the nuclear establishment on the exact yield of the weapons developed by them.

"They need to be reassured about the weapon system they use and about the planning of what kind of the yield they have when they hit the target," Malik, the Chief of the Armed Forces during the Pokhran-II nuclear tests, said to a private TV channel.

Terming the recent comments of former DRDO scientist K Santhanam, questioning the yield of the thermonuclear device tested on May 11, 1998 as "shocking", he said doubts over the efficacy of the weapon affects the armed forces.

"Yes, it affects the armed forces. Particularly, because, when they plan the task given to them then they have to know what kind of yield that each nuclear weapon has," he said stressing that it was important to remove doubts. Malik also dubbed as "unconvincing" former President A P J Abdul Kalam's remarks virtually rubbishing Santhanm's claims on the yield of the thermonuclear device tested in 1998.

"Let us not forget that Dr Santhanam was part of his (Kalam's) team. And it came as quite a shock with Dr Santhanam himself mentioning that it was a fizzle. Of course, again he was referring to the thermonuclear weapon. So, Dr Kalam's statement was not quite convincing," he said.

The former Army chief said that the team of scientists led by then Chairman of the Atomic Energy commission R Chidambaram should reassure the armed forces on the yield of the weapons.

"You can convince people only through the scientists, particularly those who participated in this exercise. I am referring to Dr Chidambaram and his whole team from the Atomic Energy Commission.

"I don't think we can be convinced easily by people who are not scientists. This is a matter of technology and these are the people who can discuss and reassure you," Malik said.

Asked whether he found Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remarks on the controversy convincing, Malik said "well that was a political statement. In things like this, particularly for the armed forces, they have to be convinced by people who have developed these weapons."

He said the reassurance by nuclear scientists need not be in the form of a public debate but can be done privately. Malik, who is credited with the victory in the Kargil war, termed as "worrying" reports about Pakistan stepping up nuclear weapons programme and modifying the Harpoon missiles acquired from the US.

"It is not only the low intensity conflict but even the ongoing proxy war may get extended because they are so reassured, so confident that we will not be able to do anything, even Kargil-type incursions can take place," he said about perceptions that Pakistan had gained confidence with the steady build up in its arsenal.

"I am absolutely convinced that we need to build our deterrence capability much more than what we have today," Malik said noting that the Pakistan gaining confidence after the 1998 nuclear tests was one of the reasons for the Kargil incursion.

The former Army Chief said that the reported modification of the Harpoon missiles has brought several cities and key establishments in the country within the strike range of Pakistani weapons.

A Consulate in Lhasa

Is China Really Serious About Improving Ties With India?Claude Arpi

http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=3&theme=&usrsess=1&id=267498

Jujian Hua, a director at the Tibet's Foreign Affairs Office, recently made a startling declaration: "India can set up a Consulate in Lhasa". He kindly added: "That depends on India." Jujian told an IANS correspondent: "The local government (of the Tibetan Autonomous Region) attached great importance to trade, culture and tradition, including tourism."

A day later, the Indian government clarified that it had never approached the Chinese authorities for permission to open a Consulate in Lhasa. An official said that there was no question of discussing this issue with China: New Delhi had no plans to open a Consulate in the Tibetan capital.

In the not too-distant past, India had more than a Consulate in Lhasa; it had a full-fledged Mission till the end of 1952. India had inherited several rights and privileges in Tibet from the 1914 Simla tripartite conference (between British India, Tibet and China).

Apart from the Mission in Lhasa, there were three trade marts managed by Indian Agents posted in Gyantse, Gartok (Western Tibet) and Yatung (in Chumbi Valley near the Sikkim border). These Agents were entitled to a military escort. The Post and Telegraph service, a chain of rest-houses and the principality of Minsar (near Mt Kailash) were also under the Indian government's control. Over the years, all this would be `offered' to the Chinese, without any compensation or even trying to get a fair settlement of the border issue.

Ideologically, the first Indian Prime Minister was not comfortable with what he called `imperialist sequels'. He realized, however, that these `privileges' were useful for trade, as was the McMahon Line, delineated in Simla, marking the border between NEFA and Tibet.

After the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1950, the Indian government found it increasingly difficult to retain these facilities on the ground. Visitors, traders and officials from India began to be unnecessarily harassed or put to hardship.

In the summer of 1951, KM Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador to China, came to Delhi for consultations; by that time he was already fully in love with the Communist regime in Beijing. Nehru too was convinced that the future of India lay with the East: "For the first time, China possesses a strong Central Government whose decrees run even to Sinkiang and Tibet. Our own relations with China are definitively friendly." However, Nehru had to admit that there were some differences of perceptions. The Mission in Lhasa was one of them. On 3 November 1951, when asked about this during a press conference, Nehru remarked that the Mission would continue to remain there.

A few months later, when questioned again on the same subject, Nehru vaguely answered that the Mission was dealing "with certain trade and cultural matters more or less [sic!]". He added that technically the Mission never had any diplomatic status. This was not true since the British and later the first Indian Representatives definitely had the status of a full-fledged Mission till autumn 1952.

During the same press conference, the Indian Prime Minister declared that he was not aware of "any infiltration of Chinese troops in India." Rumours were afloat about Chinese incursions through the UP-Tibet border (today Uttarakhand) as well as through the Ladakh-Tibet border. The first Chinese surveys for the Sinkiang-Tibet highway cutting through the Aksai Chin occurred at that time (Nehru was informed by LS Jangpangi, the Indian Trade Agent in Gartok).

In June 1952, Nehru had become prudent: "the status of the representative in Lhasa has never been defined for the last thirty years." The Prime Minister pointed to the changed circumstances: from an independent country, Tibet had become a country under Beijing's effective suzerainty: "China is now exercising its suzerainty". Nehru explained that as Tibet was no longer an independent country, the decision had been taken to demote the diplomatic relations between Tibet and India: the Indian Representative in Lhasa would soon be re-designated as a Consul-General. During the same month, the smart Zhou En-lai told the gullible Indian Ambassador in China that he "presumed that India had no intention of claiming special rights arising from the unequal treaties of the past and was prepared to negotiate a new and permanent relationship safeguarding legitimate interests."

Not only did the Chinese offer nothing to India in exchange for her generosity, but Delhi accepted to open a Chinese Consulate in Bombay. Unbelievable! In a cable to Panikkar, Nehru stated: "We would naturally prefer a general and comprehensive settlement which includes the frontier." But he did nothing more. A few months later, Panikkar, who had been transferred to Egypt, wrote: "The main issue of our representation at Lhasa was satisfactorily settled… there was no outstanding issue between us and the Chinese". Again no reference was made to the border issue.

Richardson, the last Head of the British Mission in Lhasa, saw this development quite differently: "That decision adroitly transformed the temporary mission at Lhasa into a regular consular post. But it was a practical dimension of the fact that Tibet had ceased to be independent and it left unresolved the fate of the special rights acquired when Tibet had been in a position to make its own treaties with foreign powers and enjoyed by the British and Indian Governments for half a century."

In April 1954, the `born-in-sin' Panchsheel Agreement was signed. Though the status of the Consulate-General and the Trade Marts was confirmed, all the other privileges were surrendered. Over the years, the situation became more and more untenable for the Indian officials. After the Dalai Lama took refuge in India in 1959, the Chinese authorities constantly harassed the staff of the Consulate and Trade Marts. When the Panchsheel Agreement lapsed in April 1962, there was no point in renewing it. The Trade Marts were closed and China asked the officials to vacate the premises. As the building in Yatung belonged to the Government of India, the Chinese even asked India to take the building away. This became the subject of prolonged correspondence between the two governments.

On 3 December 1962, the Ministry of External Affairs sent a stern note to its Chinese counterpart: "The Government of India has decided to discontinue the Indian Consulates-General at Lhasa and Shanghai from 15 December, 1962, and to withdraw their personnel manning these Consulates-General. The Government of the People's Republic of China are requested to take reciprocal action on the same date in regard to their Consulates-General in Calcutta and Bombay." Since then, there has been no Indian representation in Tibet. As for the proposal sent by the Chinese to reopen the Consulate in Lhasa in the near future, one could ask: what is the point?

It was recently reported that traders using the centuries-trade route crossing into Tibet at Lipulekh-la have only imported a few lakhs of goods this year. The business over Nathu-la is not flourishing either (Rs 9 lakhs in July after a two-month lull) and the pilgrims to Kailash-Manasarovar do not need a Consulate to reach the holy mountain. Beijing probably wants to `balance' the negative reports in the press about the deterioration of the bilateral relations with Delhi. A more effective (and sincere) action could be to stop their nearly-daily infiltration of troops (and more recently of a helicopter) into Indian territory.

And if China is really serious about an improvement of its relations with India, the traditional border posts in Demchok (Ladakh) and Bumla (Arunachal Pradesh) could also be reopened. This would definitely benefit the people on both sides of the LAC. But Beijing does not seem to be ready to accept the present LAC in Arunachal and Ladakh.