October 30, 2010



( Based on open source information )

Q.What materials for assembling an improvised explosive device (IED) have been recovered by the authorities of the Dubai airport and the East Midlands airport of the UK from the cargo planes of the FedExpress and the UPS respectively which were searched on a reported tip-off from the Saudi security agencies?

A.Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) - an explosive favoured by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). PETN belongs to the same chemical family as nitroglycerin. Explosives experts have been quoted by the media as saying that six grams of PETN are enough to blow a hole in the fuselage of an aircraft. The AQAP had used the same explosive in its failed attempt to have an American North-West Airlines plane bound for Detroit in the US blown up on Christmas Day last year through a Nigerian student Abdul Mutallab. That attempt had failed because an alert passenger intervened and overpowered the Nigerian before he could cause the explosion. The CNN affiliate ITN has quoted Col. Richard Kemp, former Chairman of the UK’s COBRA intelligence group, as saying that ‘the quantity of PETN in these devices was about five times the volume used at Christmas.” Abdul Mutallab was alleged to have been carrying about 80 grams of PETN.
The Dubai Police told WAM, the local official news agency, that the explosive materials were "professionally" loaded and connected using an electric circuit to a mobile phone chip tucked in a printer cartridge. According to the CNN, the device was packed in a toner cartridge of a laser printer and designed to be detonated by a cell phone. The package found at the East Midlands Airport contained a "manipulated" toner cartridge and had white powder on it as well as wires and a circuit board. The media has quoted a source associated with the investigationas saying that the detonating substance was Lead Azide, a standard substance in detonations.

The CNN quoted Olivier Clerc, described by it as a hardware application engineering manager for a large U.S.-based cell phone parts manufacturer, as saying as follows on the basis of a study of the images of the neutralized IED carried by the media: “ The electronic component visible in a law enforcement image of an intercepted suspicious shipment from Yemen appears to be a printed circuit board from a disassembled cell phone. This size and the shape of the PCB (printed circuit board) are typical to a handset cell phone type device. The component on the top right part of the device seems to be a digital camera sensor. The area with a rectangular grey material [held] a display that was removed. On the left of the device, under the two metallic shield cans are most likely the baseband processor or the display controller. A baseband processor is critical to the function of a digital cell phone. There is as well a coin type cell (which) is a backup battery, and 2 Board to board connectors. On one of these connectors is plugged a keypad that was as well removed. Another metallic component on the top left of the electronic board (partly hidden under a screw) seems to be a small vibration component, used on cell phones (when vibrate mode is enabled). So this board is very likely to be the main electronic board of a cell phone device."

The CNN further added: “A Google search for the numbered markings on the printed circuit board produced several links to the Bird D736 mobile phone. The D736 is a similar shape to the circuit board. The D736 is a Chinese-brand GSM two-band phone that allows the unit to work in most countries in the world, including the United States. Clerc cautioned, however, that "it was not obvious that this board is the D736 phone." In the law enforcement photo, the cell phone circuit board is crudely mounted with screws, metal and plastic fragments to what appears to be a stout metal case. Wires lead from the circuit board out of the frame. Sources familiar with the investigation tell CNN that the suspicious shipments from Yemen contained computer printers. The metal case on which the circuit board is mounted would be consistent with the frame of a laser printer.” ( My comment: It is not clear whether the printer cartridge modified to conceal an IED was dispatched alone to the synagogues or whether it was in a printer in a consignment of printers sent to the synagogues. Was or were the printers ordered from Yemen or Dubai by the synagogues? If so, was the cartridge of one of the printers in the consignment modified to conceal an IED? Answers to these questions are not available )

Q.Were the IEDs designed to explode mid-air or on reaching the two synagogues in Chicago to which the packages were addressed?

A.There are contradictory versions in answer to this question. According to the British Prime Minister David Cameron as quoted by the BBC: "We believe the device was designed to go off on the aeroplane. We cannot be sure about the timing when that was meant to take place. There is no early evidence that that was meant to take place over British soil, but of course we cannot rule it out." According to the CNN: ”Officials weren't certain whether those behind the plot, who likely would have used cell phones to trigger the devices, wanted to detonate them while the planes were in the air or at their destinations, two synagogues in Chicago, Illinois.” CNN reported that UK Home Secretary Theresa May said authorities do not believe the perpetrators would have known the location of the device had they detonated it.

Q.Are there previous instances of planes being blown-up mid-air using mobile phones?

A.On August 24, 2004, there were two explosions on board two aircraft which had taken off from a Moscow airport which led to the disintegration of the planes and the death of 90 persons, including all the passengers and the members of the crew. The Russian authorities claimed to have established that two Chechen women from Grozny had a role in the explosions. It was suspected that they had checked in their baggage containing IEDs with mobile phones as triggers and traveled by the flight and that the IEDs were activated after the planes had taken off by sending mobile signals. Please see my article of September 6,2004, titled TERRORISM: THE RUSSIAN ORDEAL athttp://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers12/paper1109.html

Q.What has been the progress of the investigation so far?

A.According to the BBC, security forces in Yemen have arrested a female medical student suspected of posting bombs found on two cargo jets in Dubai and the UK. She was held at a house in the capital, Sanaa, after being traced through a phone number left with a cargo company. According to the AFP news agency, the unnamed young Yemeni woman, described as a medical student and the daughter of a petroleum engineer, was arrested at a house on the outskirts of Sanaa. Her mother was also detained but was not a prime suspect, the arrested woman's lawyer said. ( My comments: It is possible she was used as an unconscious cut-out by the AQAP. If she was a conscious cut-out who was aware of the nature of the contents, she might not have left her correct telephone number with the courier company )

Q.Any additional security precautions required for the forthcoming visit of President Barack Obama to India the coming week?

  • Trace all packages that might have been received in India from Yemen in recent weeks and have them examined. Question their recipients.
  • Suspend all parcel movements from Yemen till the visit is over.
  • Suspend all flights from Yemen to India till the visit is over.
  • Step up surveillance of Yemeni and Nigerian nationals studying in India .
  • Strengthen physical security for all Jewish establishments in India. If Obama plans to visit the Jewish establishment in Mumbai which was attacked by the Lashkar-e-Toiba during the 26/11 terrorist strikes, strengthen physical security for it. ( 31-10-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )


- The US president’s trip is clearly focused on enhancing business



Kamal Nath’s tale of a meeting with the European Union petering out in 15 minutes because the Indian side held forth on Iraq and Afghanistan while the Europeans wanted to discuss trade and investment came to mind as I read the transcript of the pre-tour White House press conference. South Block pundits who affect to despise commerce and see the world only in terms of lofty philosophy must have cringed when they read that the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, had no compunction about acknowledging that Barack Obama’s “trip is basically economic in focus”.

Oh yes, there’s a bigger picture too. Assuming that Tuesday’s mid-term Congressional elections don’t reduce Obama to a lame duck president, his travels speak of the grand strategy of a “Pacific President” who sees the United States of America as also an “Asian power”. He set the tone on the eve of setting out by calling Asif Ali Zardari at the conclusion of the third round of the strategic dialogue with Pakistan. Manmohan Singh, just back from Japan, Malaysia and another series of interlocking meetings in Vietnam, where Hillary Clinton will represent the US, will receive him in Delhi. Obama will then go to Indonesia (a homecoming of sorts), Japan and South Korea, where he will meet Hu Jintao and Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

India, soon be the world’s most populous country, with 50 per cent of its people under 25, while much of the industrialized world is ageing, may have a role in Obama’s vision, which does not conflict with the Look East policy. But no one mentioned this until high growth promised to match internal resilience with external aspirations. That was Lee Kuan Yew’s hope way back in the 1960s when he expected India would replace Britain in Southeast Asia. But an India that trails Togo in the world poverty stakes and has more poor people in eight states than in the 26 sub- Saharan African countries will fail Obama as it failed Lee. Indians who claim to prize democracy as an ideal and an end in itself might squirm to hear the US under-secretary of state for political affairs, William Burns, say that democracy “can foster economic development”.

Nevertheless, India’s elite is in a tizzy of anticipation with permanent security council membership heading the list of expectations. Specific complaints refer to the outrageously high cost of H1B and L1A visas, continuing sanctions against strategic institutions like ISRO, BARC and DRDO, demands for further security and inter-operability agreements for the most sophisticated technologies, and exclusion from the nuclear suppliers group. More important, however, are perceptions of Obama acquiescing in China’s territorial belligerence and transfer of nuclear reactors to Pakistan and of his bias on the Kashmir question, presumably because of Afghanistan.

Such differences acquire additional significance from the long history of Indo-American mistrust and the absurd daydreaming that started with Bill Clinton’s visit. India cannot expect to be America’s new Pakistan, as Sitaram Yechury put it, without making unthinkable concessions. But India can still partner the US without abandoning the self-confidence that sustained independence under Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi by equitably harvesting the fruit of today’s high growth.

George W. Bush, Jr started the ball rolling when he told the Asia Society on the eve of visiting India that the rising purchasing power of India’s expanding middle class meant Domino’s pizzas and Whirlpool washing machines. If only Delhi’s policymakers had paid attention instead of being carried away by their own grandiose dreams, they would have known that this has been the theme ever since. The assistant secretary, Robert O. Blake, Jr, reiterated it by citing McKinsey’s prediction of “as many as 91 million middle class urban households in 2030, up from 22 million today”. As Blake says, “Each of these families will want a TV, internet service, washer and dryer,chapatti maker.” Not only are Americans “set to produce and sell the goods and services for this growing middle class”, but also the Marriott group plans to nearly quadruple the number of its hotels in India.

When Blake added that one-third more of US trade is now with Asia than Europe, he did not mention that China mainly accounts for the shift. There is a gnawing sense of dissatisfaction here that, however highly India might be rated as a regional force, Americans treat China like a global power. There is less appreciation of the importance China achieved even before acquiring a stranglehold on US Federal Reserves, by supplying the inexpensive consumer goods — shoes, ready-mades, domestic appliances — that cut American living costs and sustained the standard of living.

Consider some of the salient points to emerge from the White House press conference mentioned earlier:

A major theme Obama will emphasize is that India is a tremendous market, potential more than actual, for US exports, and also a source of investment for the US. American goods exports to India have already quadrupled over the last seven years to about $17 billion. Service exports have tripled to about $10 billion annually. At the same time, Indian companies are the second-fastest-growing investors in the US and employ about 57,000 people.

To a reporter’s mention of Indian orders worth $12 billion (including $5 billion for defence and another $7 billion for commercial deals like Boeing aircraft), which would create 50,000 to 60,000 American jobs, the deputy national security adviser, Mike Froman, replied that “the important thing is that there’s a large potential market there; that the president and the administration are active in promoting exports to ensure that there’s a level playing field there, there’s open markets there, and that our exports have an opportunity to penetrate that market and support jobs back here”. Washington hopes to clinch in the run-up to and during the visit “a number of large contracts being worked on between US companies and their Indian counterparts, oftentimes with the support of the US government”.

Defence cooperation is expanding “in ways that were hard to imagine a decade ago”, according to Burns. India now holds more defence exercises every year with the US than with any other country. American military sales over the last couple of years alone amounted to some $4 billion, with more deals likely now that India has signed the convention on supplemental compensation. Issues like climate change or the Doha round come later.

I will end with an exchange from Thursday’s press conference. Referring to the outsourcing controversy, a reporter asked if Obama was “okay with the number of times Americans pick up the phone and they get somebody in India answering their questions so long as other exports have greater access there”. After a convoluted reference to ensuring that taxpayers get a better deal, Gibbs added tellingly that given the size of the emerging Indian market, the US will not ignore opportunities for big, recognizable US companies “to sell and distribute their goods in India, which creates jobs back here in America”.

When the reporter persisted, demanding to know whether Obama would talk tough “about the imbalance caused by outsourcing”, the more senior Froman cut in with a terse, “I don't want to pre-empt what the President is going to say. I would simply say that a key part of the message is going to be that we want to make sure there’s opportunities for US jobs, US exports. And that’s a big part of his mission there.”

There could be no more lucid exposition of America’s admirable priorities. India can meet the challenge by unleashing the collective creativity of its people so that wealth is not concentrated only in the Ambanis, Mittals, Mallyas and Modis. Deng Xiaoping’s remedy was to “let some people get rich first and then when they get rich, they will move the whole society and the rest will follow”. Perhaps that formula will work in India too.



Mr Obama, do you have real business to talk with us?

DNA / R Vaidyanathan / Tuesday, October 26, 2010 3:10 IST


The next two weeks will be full of atmospherics and inanities linked to the visit of US president Barack Obama. Indians are known to derive satisfaction from symbolism rather than substance. When Diwali was supposedly celebrated by George Bush’s White House — a celebration in which the US president did not participate — we went into raptures. When Rajan Zed of Nevada was called to chant Vedic hymns at a Congressional opening, we were ecstatic. Similarly, when Obama visits India next month, we will drool over Michelle buying Kanjeevaram sarees or Obama savouring a paratha at a Delhi dhaba — or some such meaningless events. There is a move to take Michelle to the Red Light areas of Mumbai to get a feel of “inclusive” growth. Imagine Gursharan Kaur being paraded in Soho in London as part of her itinerary. Sikhs are pleading with Obama to visit the Golden Temple, even if he merely wears a baseball cap to cover his head.

This is how we barter away our self-respect, even as our civil aviation minister Praful Patel is charged a hefty free (£480) for using the lounge at Heathrow airport. Our high commissioner in London had to hurriedly pay for it. In India, even head clerks and deputy assistant undersecretaries of the Anglo-Saxon establishments command red carpet treatment and free VVIP lounges at airports. When Obama arrives, he is going to come as a wounded tiger from a declining empire. His party of change would, by then, have lost its last dime in the Congressional elections to be held on November 2. He could well end up as a one-term president. When American presidents are hurt at home, they try to show off abroad. Nixon made his China trip when his fortunes were going downhill back home. Clinton did mischief in J&K and Bush in Iraq.

Democratic presidents come across as more sanctimonious humbugs and self-righteous compared to Republicans. The latter just bother about business; the former want to be seen as backing causes like human rights — as long as it is done abroad.What should our agenda be with Obama? First, we should ask him to remove every Indian entity which is on the banned export list of the US.

Second, if he even mentions Kashmir, we should request him to carry on to Indonesia — his next stop. We should recognise Bangladesh as the successor country to a united Pakistan because of its size and the number of members in it had in parliament before the break-up. If at all anyone has a say in Kashmir, Bangladesh as the successor entity has a more legitimate case, Obama should be told.

Third, we should insist on the need to split Pakistan into many more countries in the interests of world peace. Pakistan’s army is the world’s terror central and a constant threat to world peace. The David Headley saga reveals that US intelligence and enforcement agencies such as the FBI, CIA and DEA have been infiltrated and compromised by the Pakistani ISI and its creations like the LeT. The billions given to appease Pakistan will not help world peace and it will only increase global terror. Hillary Clinton says her heart is in Pakistan and one wishes her a hale and healthy heart. We should remember that her husband, through Robin Raphael, was instrumental in creating the Hurriyat in the Kashmir Valley.

The fourth point is that India should not bother with the talk-shop called the UN Security Council. It has lost its purpose and role. It helps some Indian government bureaucrats to have untaxed pensions. The only important member is China and we can deal with it directly. Becoming a permanent member of the UNSC is not exactly a big payoff for us. Many UN agencies are a joke. What is one to make of the fact that Saudi Arabia and Libya are on the human rights panels, and Pakistan is heading the International Atomic Energy Agency (no doubt, by rotation), after proliferating nuclear weapons and sponsoring terror.

The fifth point we need to tell Obama is that India will not look at China through the US’s lenses. We will deal with China on our terms. We have no need to play sidekick to the US when it deals with China. A British political leader during World War II is reported to have said that Britain would fight the Germans to the last Indian. We do not want to be in the same situation with regard to US-China conflicts.The sixth point is that any enlarged scope for US companies to do business in India should be linked to India getting unrestricted access to the US markets for onshore and offshore software services, including visas for our professionals. Every additional Coke bottle consumed in India or insurance policy sold should be dependent on how the US puts Pakistan on leash. We need to unashamedly and unequivocally link commerce with US pressure on Pakistan on terrorism.

Declining empires do listen to rising powers if they want market access. We need to ask Obama to address our real concerns instead of getting carried away with all the soft praise he may shower on us. We have to grow up.

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Pakistan On The Mind

Bruce Riedel, Oct 30, 2010, 12.00am IST


Barack Hussein Obama is about to become the sixth American president to visit India and the third in a row to do so. He is going in the first half of his first term; only Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon did so before him. Presidential visits are carefully planned and scripted but events invariably have a way of intruding onto the agenda and the stage. This presidential visit takes place against the backdrop of America's longest war ever in Afghanistan and a natural disaster in neighbouring Pakistan where Obama has invested a huge effort in trying to stabilise a deeply wounded state. The Afghan war and the future of Pakistan will dominate the behind-the-scenes discussions in New Delhi.

Obama does not have a deliverable, as they are called in the White House, of the size and magnitude of the nuclear deal his predecessor, George Bush, delivered in 2005. There will be agreements on security and economic cooperation, perhaps a large arms sale for C17 transports, and renewed commitment to close cooperation on global issues like fighting terrorism and addressing climate change.

But it will be Pakistan that dominates the private conversations between the president, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, because it is the future of Pakistan that is the most uncertain question in South Asia today. Pakistan has become the most dangerous country in the world for everyone, but especially for America and India. It is the epicentre of the global jihadist movementthat attacked New York in 2001 and Mumbai in 2008. Its weak civilian government may have good intentions but seems powerless to address the country's multiple crises. The army remains the patron of parts of the jihadist Frankenstein even as it fights other parts of the monster. The ongoing revelations of David Headley on the ISI's role in Mumbai 26/11 only underscore how dangerous Pakistan is today. All this, and the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world.

The floods this summer graphically demonstrated the problems Pakistan faces: weak governance, poor infrastructure and a thriving Islamist extremist movement. The weak government next door in Afghanistan only makes the challenges harder. The Taliban cancer now dominates both sides of the Durand line. The Pakistani army is at war with those on the south side even as it assists those on the north.

Obama's visit will also take place against the backdrop of the revival of the Kashmir question. Pakistan will surely move to capitalise on the unrest. The intifada that exploded this summer in Kashmir cannot be ignored by the president during the visit but any comments on it will be potentially explosive.

Obama and Singh need to cooperate to help Pakistan solve its jihadist nightmare. It cannot be resolved by outsiders nor can it be contained and isolated from the outside. Senior Indian officials in private say that Washington and New Delhi now share a common diagnosis of the problems but neither has developed a strategy that promises success. It is an increasingly urgent concern but one that does not have any magical answers. Both agree that engagement with Pakistan is the only way forward but neither feels satisfied that its engagement is working.

Despite the difficulties, Obama must try to engage Singh to work together to engage Pakistan, even as both sides know how difficult changing entrenched interests in Pakistan will be in practice.

Afghanistan may be a good place to start. Pakistan's army and the ISI are eager to control any political process in Afghanistan in order to protect their influence with the Taliban and the Pashtun community and to minimise India's role. The army is paranoid about India's diplomatic presence in Afghan cities and concerned that the road India has built to give Afghanistan access to the Arabian Sea via Iran is designed to loosen Pakistan's hold on Afghan trade.

Obama can make clear to Singh that Washington is not going to let Pakistan monopolise Afghanistan and that America wants India to be part of the process of stabilising Afghanistan. More Indian aid for Afghan development is a good idea. More Indian-built roads and more Indian-financed education is good for Afghanistan.

At the same time, Washington needs to assure Pakistan that its interests in Afghanistan will be protected and that Afghanistan will not be a base for subversion. The United States can play the role of intermediary between Islamabad, New Delhi and Kabul to insure a genuinely independent Afghanistan that is no one's satellite or sphere of influence.

Washington should not do this alone. Other parties are also involved. In particular, Pakistan's ally China will also figure extensively in the private talks. Pakistani President Asif Zardari is about to make his seventh visit to China since taking office, underscoring the importance of the Chinese connection. Obama should be keen to find ways to use regional diplomacy to strengthen Pakistan and Beijing must be a player in that process.

By all accounts, Obama and Singh have developed a good working relationship and talk candidly. They will have to brainstorm together about whether they can collaborate to rescue the sick man of South Asia.

The writer is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and chaired President Obama's policy review of Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009.

Read more: Pakistan On The Mind - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/Pakistan-On-The-Mind/articleshow/6836134.cms#ixzz13pwjzBre

Barack Obama could salvage his presidency by containing Pakistani terrorism with India's assistance

The reforming of Pakistan
Barack Obama could salvage his presidency by containing Pakistani terrorism with India's assistance, says N.V.Subramanian.


London, 29 October 2010: There has been some recent commentating about how Barack Obama should salvage his presidency. At least one of those commentaries says he should attack Iran to cause a setback to its nuclear programme. If Iran's nuke plans are jeopardized even temporarily, it would portray Obama as a strong president ready for reelection. Forgotten in all this is the old classicism about war. You can provoke a war but closure is not in your hands. This also holds true for a war with perfectly-crafted political objectives. The US's post-9/11 Afghan war started out well. But it was distracted and subsequently overtaken by George W.Bush's Iraq war. The Iraq war had flawed objectives to start with. It ended up making the Middle East more unstable than before. One of the unintended consequences of that war was to make Iran the preeminent power in the region excluding Israel. The second consequence of that war was to fire Iran's nuke passions to retain preeminence after stoking its insecurities about regime-change. But attacking Iran seems no solution for this. Attacking Iran merely to salvage the Barack Obama presidency is a savage and despicable idea that is bound to fail. What should the US president do instead? It is not really an either/ or question. Iran's illegitimate nuclear ambitions have to be thwarted. But rushing to war is a cure worse than the disease. Obama moved in the best possible way to bring the Iraq war to a closure. He hasn't marketed that particular feat at all well with American voters. Maybe he should. Obama's second move should be to bring orderly termination to the US/ NATO engagement in Afghanistan. The US president blundered by firming a July 2011 withdrawal deadline. The blunder cannot be reversed. But orderly termination of the US war in Afghanistan is still possible if Obama and his advisors have a clear understanding of friends and foes in the region. The US has a trustworthy friend if not open ally in India. On the issue of Al-Qaeda/ Taliban/ Haqqani/ Pakistan military and ISI terrorism both directed against Afghanistan and India, the US cannot find a better and more reliable partner than India. Russia will go along with the US on this subject as will, brokered by India and Russia, Iran. Remains the idiomatic elephant in the room, China, whose responses and reflexes are complex, since they are determined by its alliance with Pakistan. There are at least two and possibly three Pakistans to deal with on the issue of terrorism in the region and as it radiates worldwide. The Pakistan military and ISI are clearly providing sustenance to terrorism in the region. The primary aim of this terrorism is to separate Jammu and Kashmir from India. The second and long-term aim is to Balkanize India. The Pakistan army and ISI fear that India may neutralize their terrorism by threatening Pakistani sovereignty via Afghanistan. So when the US leaves, Pakistan aims to capture Afghanistan with the help of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. While this may or may not assist Pakistan army and ISI designs against India, it exposes Pakistani nukes to huge risks from resurgent terrorism in Afghanistan. And doubtless, this makes the world, and particularly the US, more unsafe than ever. But there is another Pakistan which has tasted democratic freedoms and seen the toll Kashmir-directed terrorism has taken of its body and soul. This Pakistan is a prisoner to the revanchism of the Pakistan military and ISI. Sections of this Pakistan look to the military for succour because Pakistan's political class has failed them now as before. Pakistan's democratically-elected president, Asif Ali Zardari, has become an object of hate and loathing for his corruption and for his lack of empathy for the sufferings of the people. Zardari & Co are threatening Pakistan's democratic future and giving space for Pakistani military and ISI terrorism to grow. What this means is that a healthy and accountable Pakistani democracy is essential to curb terrorism in South Asia, which has become a vehicle for jihad international. A second Pakistani-American has been caught in a US terrorist plot. More Pakistanis are going to fall in the net. The fear is that one of them may escape the dragnet and succeed in terrorism. It is, therefore, Pakistan that needs immediate redress from the US president and not Iran. Even Afghanistan would get by without US military micro-management provided the focus turns on Pakistan. It is this writer's considered opinion that there are limits to the Chinese-Pakistani alliance. China's alliance with Pakistan will be Chinese-centric. It will not come to Pakistan's aid (as it did not during the floods) for Pakistan's sake. To that extent, the US has nothing to fear from China in regard to Pakistan. What Pakistan needs is for its democracy to be strengthened and for its army and ISI to be secularized. The old Turkish model seems best. It is absolutely essential for Pakistan to be denuked. This could be facilitated with cast-iron Indian guarantees not to attack Pakistan. After this, the Pakistan ISI must be weeded off anti-West, anti-India elements and recast to spy exclusively on terrorist groups. Then, the Pakistan military must be downsized and aided and equipped only for counterterrorism functions with robust accountability to the democratic government. Lastly, Pakistan's democracy must be strengthened with the accent on development and integrity. This is a long-term project and may extend to Barack Obama's second term if he gets it. But reforming Pakistan is the agenda to approach US voters with. If 9/11 had the horrific signature of the Saudis, what's coming will be one hundred per cent Pakistani. If the world has to be made safe from terrorism, Pakistan has to be cleaned up. Denuking Pakistan will also fit the Democratic Party's non-proliferation ideology. President Barack Obama should utilize his November state visit to India to gain further clarity on returning Pakistan to civilization. India knows more about Pakistan than any other country, and has considerable stake in keeping terrorism outside its borders. Indo-US relations are lagging in the absence of a great idea to propel them. The reforming of Pakistan could get both countries started as nothing else. That's the big idea that will sell to US voters as well.

N.V.Subramanian is Editor, www.NewsInsight.net, and writes internationally on strategic affairs.



From the sketchy details available so far regarding two packages containing materials for explosive devices found on October 29,2010, on two cargo flights reportedly emanating from Yemen and bound for Chicago via Dubai and East Midlands airport in the UK, the following preliminary observations are possible:

  • Normally, courier companies do not accept closed packages. The packages have to be kept open at the time of handing them over so that their contents could be checked for any suspicious material. The fact that the suspicious materials were not detected at the time of handing over the packages would indicate the possible complicity of some employees of the two courier companies.
  • It is not clear whether the materials for the two explosive devices had been assembled and made ready for detonation at the targeted places. It has been reported that the two packages were meant to reach two Jewish places of worship. The explosive devices----if the assembly was complete---- were not meant to explode during the flights. The effect would have been limited since the two were courier aircraft with no commercial passengers. The terrorists do not appear to have intended to cause mass casualty incidents during the flights similar to the explosions on board an aircraft of Air India (Kanishka) off Ireland in 1985 and an aircraft of Pan Am off Scotland ( Lockerbie) in 1988.
  • Presuming the packages had reached their destination in Chicago undetected, how did the terrorists intend to activate them? Were they meant to explode through spring action or other such device as the packages were being opened or did they intend causing an explosion through a mobile telephone before the packages were opened?
  • It has been reported that the Saudi authorities had alerted the security agencies of the UK and the US about the presence of the suspicious packages and that was how these were detected and deactivated. How did the Saudi authorities come to know about it? Through moles in Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), whose hand is suspected or through informants in the courier companies, who had knowledge of the packages?
  • The AQAP seems determined to carry out a terrorist strike directed against targets associated with the US. It is likely that the focus of the attention of the Indian security agencies, which would be responsible for making security arrangements for the forthcoming visit of President Barack Obama to India, would be on likely threats from India and the Af-Pak region. It is important to pay equal attention to likely threats from Al Qaeda elements outside the Af-Pak region such as the AQAP, Al Qaeda in Somalia and Al Qaeda in Maghreb.

2.This may please be read in continuation of my following articles:

(a). Article dated July 7,2010, titled Singapore and Al Qaeda: International Terrorism Monitor --- Paper No. 662” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers40%5Cpaper3910.html

(b). Article dated December 29,2009, titled “Obama: Al Qaeda Comes Home Calling - International Terrorism Monitor --- Paper No. 597” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers36%5Cpaper3575.html


( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

October 29, 2010

What Obama can accomplish in India

By C. Fred Bergsten and Arvind Subramanian


Thursday, October 28, 2010; 6:40 PM
President Obama travels to India next week for the longest visit to a foreign country of his presidency. His goal is to strengthen India-U.S. cooperation, but standing between the recent heady past and a future full of promise is a highly problematic present.

Last year, the United States and India concluded a landmark nuclear agreement, setting a bar for cooperation that is proving difficult to match. George W. Bush and the neoconservatives, who initiated discussions on this agreement in 2005, felt a visceral affinity for India as a vibrant democracy and as a strategic counterweight to China. But this administration has other priorities and a different worldview. Moreover, it has no Indophiles (no Condoleezza Rice or Robert Blackwill) to emphasize India's importance.

The future of cooperation is bright, nevertheless, because both countries have strong and fundamental commitments to democracy and open societies. This is manifest in growing people-to-people links between the two countries. The Indian economy, which will soon overtake Japan's to become the world's third-largest in purchasing power, only adds to the allure of cooperation. And dealing with a rising China will remain a shared concern.

But current realities are another matter. Shared long-term goals in battling terrorism and bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan quickly give way to sharp differences on tactics and short-term actions.

On trade, India is increasingly alarmed by bipartisan congressional willingness to erect barriers to Indian skilled labor and outsourcing without even a whiff of protest from the Obama administration. It senses what Montek Ahluwalia, a leading Indian policymaker, calls an "intellectual climate change" in U.S. attitudes toward globalization.

For its part, India is deterring U.S. investors with a series of policy actions, impeding the closer ties that could come through U.S. companies' participation in Indian economic dynamism. India has passed legislation creating what seems to be open-ended liability for potential suppliers of nuclear equipment (General Electric, for example). An old case stemming from the deadly 1984 accident at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal (now owned by Dow) that was considered settled in 1989 may be reopened. American investors are reevaluating whether India, despite its rapid economic growth, is friendly to investors and property rights.

Some cooperation is possible in the short run: India, which is also affected by China's undervalued currency, could join with the United States to seek a multilateral solution. India could also find ways to ensure that U.S. firms get a large share of its nuclear and defense equipment purchases. In return, the United States could push for India's inclusion in broader Asia-Pacific economic arrangements, beginning with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

But the dilemma for the two governments is how to keep the embers of the relationship glowing so that its future promise can be realized, even if political constraints will not permit aggressive actions now. One possibility would be to announce objectives that are ambitious enough to differentiate this relationship from others even if they cannot be met soon. These goals could guide the preparatory work for subsequent discussions.

Two objectives in particular might be worthy of public embrace: a permanent seat for India on the U.N. Security Council and a U.S.-India economic partnership agreement, possibly culminating in a "free-trade agreement of the democracies."

The case for Security Council membership is getting stronger. India's economy has more purchasing power than that of Britain, France or Russia. It is a nuclear power, as certified by Security Council members, and unlike China and Russia, it is a robust democracy. It has stronger credentials for the Security Council than some current members. In establishing the Group of 20, the United States took the lead in modernizing antiquated structures of global economic governance. It is time to do the same for the counterpart security institutions.

The case for closer trade relations is also growing. From the U.S. perspective, a series of free-trade agreements being negotiated between India and other major economies (Japan, Korea, the European Union, even Canada) will lead to discrimination against U.S. businesses in the Indian market and greater access for suppliers from Europe and Asia. The faster India grows - and annual growth of 8 to 9 percent is within reach in the next decade - the more business opportunities will be beyond the grasp of American firms. A free-trade agreement would address this problem.

For India, the benefits would be assured access to U.S. markets. Above all, Indian firms in the information-technology sector - the key to India's growth - would want to prevent an outbreak of protectionism that could threaten India's economic prospects.

Bold actions to bring the United States and India closer together are perhaps impossible right now. But ambitious objectives, publicly professed and enthusiastically embraced, could be an acceptable substitute. They would be a major "deliverable" from the president's upcoming trip.

C. Fred Bergsten and Arvind Subramanian are director and senior fellow, respectively, at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: On China -Brahma Chellaney

"Today, whether it is Arunachal Pradesh or Taiwan or the Senkaku Islands or even the Spratlys, China is dangling the threat of force to assert its claims. By picking territorial fights with its neighbors, China is not only reinforcing old rivalries, but is also threatening Asia’s continued economic renaissance – showing that it is not a credible candidate to lead Asia.

It is important for other Asian states and the US – a “resident power” in Asia, in the words of US Defense Secretary Robert Gates – to convey a clear message to China: a peaceful rise and unilateral redrawing of frontiers don’t mix."

A Scramble for Asia?

For Pakistan, the West Is a Scapegoat

Return to the Article

By Dhruva Jaishankar

In recent days, the world's attention has turned once again to the terrorist threat emanating from Pakistan. Last week, the American and British governments issued heightened travel alerts for continental Europe following revelations of an extremist plot hatched in Waziristan. The operationalization of this plot, which reportedly involved coordinated raids on European cities in the vein of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, resulted in a dramatic increase in U.S. drone strikes in northwestern Pakistan over the past month. On Monday, one such attack killed several German militants training in Pakistan's tribal regions. Also last week, a cross-border strike by NATO forces resulted in three Pakistani military deaths and the subsequent closure by Pakistan of vital supply routes to Afghanistan. This was followed by multiple militant raids on depots in Pakistan and the destruction of fuel and other supplies intended for NATO forces. And on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported the presence of a critical White House assessment that bluntly accused Pakistan of being unwilling to take action against militants on its soil.

The centrality of Pakistan has long been acknowledged by members of the counterterrorism community in the West. But Pakistan's approach to the festering terror threat at home -- alternatively defensive and lackadaisical -- has, due to the incapability or unwillingness of its government and security forces to take further action, ultimately been ineffective. For several reasons, the international community has demonstrated a high level of tolerance for Pakistan's apparent ambivalence. As underscored by the recent standoff, the United States and NATO remain dependent on Pakistan as a conduit for supplies to Afghanistan. The United States also lacks an adequate intelligence infrastructure in northwestern Pakistan and consequently relies on Pakistani agencies for their support. Additionally, Pakistan's nuclear weapons -- and the risks they pose both in terms of proliferation and escalation -- further limit the leverage of the United States and its partners.

The dominant Pakistani narrative is colored by several claims: that Western interests in South Asia are short-term and fickle, that Pakistan is limited in its capacity to act due to the threat to its east posed by India, and that the U.S. and NATO military presence in its region is fundamentally destabilizing. That these assessments are often based on selective facts, disavowals of responsibility, and conspiracy theories suggest a state in deep denial about the many problems it faces. It behooves the West to refute such views and instead advance the wider international community's assessment of the problems afflicting the region.

First, the West must make clear that it has a long-term interest in the region due to the nexus of challenges present there, from terrorism and WMD proliferation to political instability and energy security. Despite the announced July 2011 withdrawal date from Afghanistan, the United States underscored its commitment to Pakistan by agreeing last year to a long-term program of development aid.

For its part, India, appreciative of the potentially destabilizing consequences of assertiveness on its part, has to persevere with its admirable restraint in the face of acts of terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil with the connivance of elements of the Pakistani security community. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has risked domestic political support in his effort to forge a lasting peace with Pakistan, even though these efforts have been repeatedly undermined by the Pakistani foreign minister. Pakistan's nuclear deterrent, developed at considerable cost to the country, ought to be another source of security, but is rarely considered in discussions of the perceived Indian threat. The extent of Pakistani paranoia was made evident in a 56-page dossier presented to the United States by Pakistan in April, a dossier that contained a litany of unproven accusations against India.

Finally, the West's objective of a stable, pluralistic, and democratic Afghanistan at peace with itself and in its region must come to be shared by members of the Pakistani ruling elite, many of whom blame the United States and NATO for pushing militancy eastward and view the Karzai government in Kabul as inherently pro-Indian and anti-Pakistani. The United States' drone strikes, while much-maligned and used by Pakistani leaders and opinion-shapers to perpetuate anti-American sentiments, are in fact privately welcomed by the Pakistani leadership, with some reports even indicating active Pakistani collusion in drone operations. While by no means an adequate replacement for a counterinsurgency strategy, the strikes have been successful in decapitating the leadership of Pakistan-based terror groups, including groups bent on destabilizing Pakistan. As long as a full counterinsurgency campaign remains an unrealistic possibility, the drone strikes will continue to be employed out of necessity.

The exploitation of the United States' supposed vacillation and India's alleged belligerence against Pakistan, as well as popular outrage against the military endeavors of the United States and NATO, however justified, suggest a consistent strategy of Pakistani scapegoating that is unlikely to diminish despite the best efforts at the United States and its partners. U.S. officials have vented in private about the reluctance of Pakistani leaders to shape public opinion in the United States' favor. Rather than continue with a regional policy held hostage to Pakistan's whims, the United States and the West should consider alternatives that draw an end to its long-running charade. A necessary step may yet be a finely calibrated and targeted package of incentives and sanctions, for it seems that nothing less than such drastic coercive measures can align Pakistan's objectives with the West's, to the benefit of the long-suffering Pakistani people and regional and global security.


Dhruva Jaishankar is Program Officer for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

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_scapegoat_99219.html at October 29, 2010 - 11:52:19 AM CDT

Intel, Technology Buyers Talk of Freedom in the Cloud

OCTOBER 27, 2010, 5:48 PM ET


It’s hard to find a technology vendor who isn’t vociferously supporting the craze known as cloud computing. But some customers seem to be worried about the pace of progress, judging by comments from Intel and a large group of technology buyers.

The Open Data Center Alliance, whose formation was announced at a news conference Wednesday in San Francisco, seems partly inspired by the fear known as vendor lock-in. That’s an age-old concern in the computer industry, typified by companies that have a hard time moving away from products like IBM mainframes, Microsoft Windows or Oracle databases.

Wasn’t cloud computing supposed to end all that? The phrase, though it tends to mean different things to different people, seems above all to be about businesses exploiting the open technologies that built the Internet.

Cloud computing implies, among other things, that business functions long managed by software installed on a customers’ servers–often requiring complementary software on specific kinds of PC–can be delivered by external services to any device equipped with a Web browser. And companies should be able to flexibly choose which operations to run internally and which to outsource to “public clouds,” companies that operate data centers, servers and frequently used programs and essentially rent out their computing capacity.

Yet there quite a few gotchas, says Marvin Wheeler, who is chairman and secretary of the new alliance as well as chief strategy officer of the cloud service provider Terremark. Many customers, for example, now use a technology called virtualization that effectively bundles up programs with operating systems in ways that allow servers to be used more efficiently.

There are multiple suppliers of such technology–including a key component called a hypervisor–so customers sometimes can’t easily move apps among servers running different virtualization programs. “The hypervisors don’t talk to each other,” Wheeler says.

Companies that sell servers–which seem all but indistinguishable, because most run Intel chips–offer add-ons like “console” programs for managing clusters of machines. But a Hewlett-Packard console might only work with its machines, making it tough for a customer to add Dell machines that has a different console.

Security features offered by different technology vendors and cloud services are another key concern. But they can create problems of their own.

Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel’s data center group, cites the trend among chip vendors to add circuitry to their products that can give customers greater confidence that software running on a server has not been tampered with. But that trend might complicate life for a customer who, say, has software running on a bunch of Intel-powered servers that wants to move them to machines using chips from Advanced Micro Devices, which might have a different security safeguards built in.

Skaugen estimated that $100 billion of potential IT spending is stalled because of customer concerns about vendor lock-in and other issues.

The Open Data Center Alliance says it plans to define technical requirements and recommendations to head off a logjam. Besides Terremark, members include Lockheed Martin, BMW, China Life, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Marriott International, Inc., National Australia Bank and Shell.

Intel, which plans to serve as a technical advisor to the group, says it will listen to the alliance’s ideas while pushing its own developments in three related areas–helping companies share data across internal and external clouds; improving energy-efficiency in moving such applications; and helping cloud providers determine attributes of user devices, such as the battery capacity of smartphones to avoid such problems as streaming data that would cause a device to shut down for lack of power.

Liberalization of India's Legal Services Market and the Impact on the Legal Process Outsourcing Industry

Author: Mark Ross

UK attorney and Director of Business Development at LawScribe, Inc.


I recently returned from the North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA) conference. Out of all the sessions I attended over the course of the three day event by far and away the most thought provoking and certainly the one that sparked the most intense and combative question and answer session focused on the pros and cons of the opening up of the Indian legal services sector to foreign law firms. The position as it stands as of now is that the practice of law in India is governed by the Advocates Act of 1961. Foreign law firms are simply not allowed to engage in the practice of law in India.

Over the last decade we have seen the Western legal community look to find increasingly creative ways to circumvent these restrictions. A number of large multi-national accounting firms have set up offices in India and are clearly providing legal services to their clients, employing large numbers of Indian lawyers. Several foreign law firms have “Liaison” offices (permitted under current legislation) in India while others have developed affiliations with Indian law firms. We have also seen over the last couple of years the dramatic emergence of the Legal Process Outsourcing industry. Offshore Legal Process Outsourcing companies work alongside U.S. and U.K. law firms ensuring strict compliance with the restrictions on the unauthorized practice of law by providing “legal support services” to their clients which the U.S. and U.K. Law Firms ultimately take full responsibility for.

The esteemed panel of speakers at this fascinating session included one of the founders of the NASABA organization, Mukesh Advani of Zenith India Lawyers, Jaipat Jain, Partner at Lazare Potter Giacovas & Kranjac LLP and Yusuf H. Safdari of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw and Pittman LLP.

I have personally been intrigued by the offshore legal process outsourcing industry now for the last 4 years, initially during my time as a solicitor and then partner at Underwoods solicitors and subsequently since joining LawScribe here in the U.S. It has been essential that I keep up to date on the developments within the Indian Legal sector and there have been numerous articles written in relation to this particular issue over the last few years.

There have been fact finding trips to the U.K. by eminent organizations including the All India Bar Association, Memorandums of Understanding entered into between the Bar Association of India and the Law Societies of the U.K., Australia and China and a bilateral working group on legal services set up by the respective governments of the U.S. and India. The Times of India even commented on Friday, March 9th 2007 that “India’s lucrative legal services market may finally be opened up to foreign law firms by the end of the year.”

At first glance the pressure mounting on the Indian government to open up the market to foreign law firms appears to be increasingly exponentially. To the untrained eye the liberalization of the market is imminent. It is clear to me that this is a somewhat na├»ve viewpoint and that there will need to be some substantial “in-house” changes before foreign law firms are allowed to formally set up shop in India.

The major reason why there are regulatory barriers in place is because of the perceived inability of the domestic Indian firms to compete with the major foreign firms that would enter the market once liberalized. The consensus among those reluctant to open up the market is that the best talent will be swallowed up by foreign firms. This will then have disastrous consequences on domestic firms who simply do not have the financial muscle to compete.

Is this an accurate picture of the state of the Indian Legal market? To answer this question it is important to have an understanding of the restrictions placed on domestic firms and why there is this perception that they are unable to compete with their U.S. and U.K. counterparts.

Currently Indian law firms are not permitted to have more than 20 partners. Indian law firms are also prohibited from engaging in any form of advertising whatsoever. This includes a ban on websites, brochures, television, radio etc. Furthermore law firms are also not allowed to obtain any form of financial assistance by way of bank loans. Due to these restrictions there is a feeling among many that Indian law firms will simply be unable to compete with the major U.S. and U.K. firms because they are not operating on a level playing field.

Mukesh Advani advocated a gradual liberalization of the market by initially persuading the Indian government to relax the restrictions on domestic firms. This would allow domestic firms time to increase in size and revenue in readiness for an opening up of the market to foreign firms.

The problem as I see it is that this line of argument assumes that foreign firms are standing still when we know this is clearly not the case. The firms that are investigating setting up liaison offices in India right now, or those that have already done so, are magic circle firms from the U.K. and AM Law top 50 firms from the U.S. These firms are growing at an exponential rate and will continue to do so. The other difficulty with Mukesh’s argument is that according to the many domestic based Indian attorneys I spoke to at the convention the reality of the Indian legal sector is somewhat different from what you might anticipate given the restrictions they are currently operating under. Lawyers across the globe are inevitably trained to both initially locate and then work through loopholes. This is what they are doing in India. Domestic firms are structuring themselves in a traditionally “Western” fashion, with trainees, junior associates, salaried partners and equity partners. Not only are they doing this but they are also associating with other domestic firms, and entering into relationships with firms in the U.S.

There was also a heated discussion around the point that the pool of highly qualified and talented attorneys capable of working on U.S. and U.K. related matters was somewhat limited. My experience with LawScribe and the Offshore Legal Process industry in general contradicts this point of view and I was vociferous in putting forward my own position in the question and answer session that followed. India is second only to the US in the number of qualified attorneys at around 600,000 with approximately 75,000 newly qualified attorneys emerging every year. Now I do agree that by no means all of this number have come from the country’s best law schools or are of a suitably high standard to work on U.S. and U.K. related matters. However, not all law-school graduates here in the U.S. or the U.K. are of the highest caliber. I worked at times, in utter exasperation alongside trainee solicitors and fully qualified solicitors in the U.K. wondering where on earth they had “developed” their legal writing skills. I believe that there is a substantial pool of highly talented individuals, graduating from top tier law schools in India, who with the right training and supervision are more than capable of working on U.S. and U.K. related matters within the offshore legal process outsourcing industry. When the market is eventually opened up these attorneys will be familiar with U.S. and U.K. law and able to work for these firms directly should they so desire.

What I came away with was an overriding impression that despite the plethora of articles, the Memorandums of Understanding and the agreements between governments that this is not something that is going to happen overnight. What I believe will happen is that U.S. and U.K. firms will continue to enter into relationships with Indian law firms and legal outsourcing companies. The Indian government in due course will relax the legislation on domestic firms however this will take time.

During some brief research I undertook prior to attending the session I came across an article entitled: “India may open the door to foreign practices under licensing agreement”. Given my reference earlier to the Times of India article from March 2007 one would be forgiven for assuming that this second quote was taken from another article written this year or possibly last year. This article was in fact published in the U.K. Law Society Gazette on July 6th 2001. For at least 6 years now we have seen articles being written, fact finding trips undertaken by important parties, Memorandums of Understanding and agreements being entered into between India and the U.S. and U.K.

Are we really any closer at all to the legislative liberalization of this huge market? What I do know is that the provision of offshore legal support services from Indian attorneys to U.S. and U.K. law firms and corporations will continue to flourish. Indian Law firms will only increase exploring methods of getting around the restrictions on their practices and U.S. and U.K. law firms will continue to enter into a wide variety of relationships both captive and contractual with their Indian counterparts, and Legal Process Outsourcing companies.

Although the legislation has not yet changed we are seeing right before our eyes the true liberalization of the Indian Legal market. The legal landscape in India is vastly different to what it looked like 5 years ago, and with or without legislative changes it will look vastly different in another 5 years.

Mark Ross was formerly a partner at the UK law firm Underwoods Solicitors. Chambers Guide to

the Legal Profession 07 refers to Underwoods as “a highly influential flagship firm and

model for other firms…It has pioneered offshoring of legal work.” Mark oversaw the firm’s

applications for Investor in People and Lexcel (UK Law Society Quality Standard)

accreditation. He also developed a case management system for the offshoring of personal

injury cases to South Africa and immigrated to Los Angeles henceforth joined LawScribe in

2006. Mark is a regular speaker at legal conferences on outsourcing and offshoring and have

had numerous articles published in legal journals on subjects as varied as: death of the

hourly rate, liberalization of the Indian legal sector and the ongoing salary hikes by the

US and UK’s top law firms. His article calling for Accreditation and Self-Regulation for the

Legal Process Outsourcing Industry has been widely acclaimed and published as a white paper

by the LPO Network, and the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP).

He is a professional member of the IAOP, and Chapter Chair of the IAOP Legal Outsourcing