November 20, 2010

Does The Future Belong To Robots? (Institute For the Future)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

http://sourcesandmethods.blogspot.com/2010/11/does-future-belong-to-robots-institute.html


The Institute For The Future does some interesting long-range analysis. In the past they have focused on a variety of issues including things such as health and food but recently they decided to take on robots.


The method in this most recent effort seems to be a more or less straight line extrapolation based on existing trends but, as with all deep-future work, one of the real benefits of the analysis is the mental model of the question.

The Institute sees robots participating in our lives at three levels (see the embedded graphic below for more details or download the PDF). The first, automation, appears to be where we are now, with robots automating processes that were formerly done by humans. The second level is augmentation, where robots add to our existing capabilities, such as driving the car for us. The final level is understanding, where robots begin to interact with us in ways that are indistinguishable from the ways we interact with other humans.

The Institute is also very good at visualizing their data and this chart is no exception. I think visualizing the results of analysis is a pretty important skill for all analysts, so I always take a look at their stuff for new ideas. The small embed below may be difficult to read or navigate so I strongly suggest downloading the PDF file so you can examine the style of report more easily and in more detail.

Another thing that might be interesting to readers who don't track this technology very closely is how many examples of each of these levels (and in how many areas) the analysts at the Institute were able to find. It seems that the robot future may be closer than we think. It is thought-provoking analysis on many levels.

http://www.closr.it/show/DJ3cjkBAtAm

NEW GERMAN ANTI-TERROR ALERT

B.RAMAN



”The Madrid terrorist strikes of March 2004 and the London terrorist strikes of July 2005 were directed against the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. The terrorist strikes planned now would seek to punish the West for its involvement in Afghanistan.”

------Extract From My Article of October 7,2010, titled “ Al Qaeda--Taliban in Europe” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers41%5Cpaper4083.html

The German authorities have ordered a new security alert under which physical security has been stepped up----particularly for civil aviation and rail transport. Thomas de Maiziere, the German Interior Minister, has been quoted by the media as saying as follows: “ Since the middle of 2010, the security services have noticed increased indications that the terrorist organisation Al Qaeda has been planning attacks in the United States, in Europe and in Germany. Officials now have more details which justified increased concern about sustained efforts to mount an attack. It is the unanimous assessment of the security services that we are currently dealing with a new situation. We have concrete indications of a series of attacks planned for the end of November. "

2.He also indicated that the latest information emerged from the attempt to bomb two courier aircraft on their way to Chicago last month ---- both with printer cartridges filled with explosive. One of the aircraft went through Cologne airport with the explosive device undetected. One does not know whether the earlier warnings about the two parcel-bombs and the latest warning of a conspiracy to launch a fresh terrorist attack in German territory came from the same source. Since the earlier warnings, which reportedly came from Saudi Arabia, proved to be correct, the latest warning, even if from a different source, is being treated seriously by the German authorities.

3. Whereas the earlier warnings about the two parcel bombs were fairly precise thereby enabling the Dubai and British authorities to intercept and de-activate the explosive devices before they could cause any harm, the latest warning appears to be vague and lacking in essential details. Despite this, the German authorities are taking it seriously. They have alerted their public in order to seek their co-operation and stepped up physical security in all vulnerable areas.

4. The commendable German reaction to the warning---though vague it is--- stands in sharp contrast to our lethargic response to the warnings reportedly received from the US intelligence in September,2008, about the danger of a sea-borne terrorist attack by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) on seafront establishments in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal Hotel. The intelligence which our security agencies had received from the US intelligence was much more specific than the intelligence now received by the Germans. We failed to alert the public and did not step up coastal surveillance and physical security for the Taj Mahal Hotel and other seafront establishments. The result: the 26/11 terrorist strikes.

5. Al Qaeda and the Afghan and Pakistani Talibans have stepped up their propaganda against the UK, France and Germany because of their participation in the NATO operations in Afghanistan. France has come for additional criticism from Osama bin Laden because of the restrictions sought to be imposed on Muslim girl students wearing the veil in schools. While there have been no attacks by Al Qaeda in Europe after the London blasts of July,2005, a number of planned attacks in the UK, Spain, Denmark, Norway and Germany were detected in advance and thwarted. There were two attacks by suspected Al Qaeda elements against French experts in Africa. A retired French engineer was kidnapped in Niger in April last and subsequently killed. In September, Al Qaeda in Maghreb kidnapped five French nationals working for two French companies in the uranium mines of Niger, along with two others from Madagascar and Togo. They have not so far been released.

6. In a message addressed to the French people disseminated on October 27, bin Laden admitted these kidnapping by Al Qaeda in Maghreband justified it in the following words: "The taking of your experts in Niger as hostages, while they were being protected by your proxy agent there, is a reaction to the injustice you are practicing against our Muslim nation. How could it be fair that you intervene in the affairs of Muslims, in North and West Africa in particular, support your proxies against us, and take a lot of our wealth in suspicious deals, while our people there suffer various forms of poverty and despair? If you unjustly thought that it is your right to prevent free Muslim women from wearing the face veil, is it not our right to expel your invading men and cut their necks?” bin Laden urged France to withdraw from Afghanistan, calling it an unjust war - and pledged more kidnappings if his warnings were not heeded.

7. Compared to the warnings addressed by Al Qaeda to the French, there have been no similar warnings addressed recently to the Germans. Germany has not figured in any recent message of Al Qaeda. There have been no attacks on Germans outside Europe and the Af-Pak area. Despite this, the threat to Germany is rated high because Al Qaeda---directly as well as through the Islamic Jihad Union, an Uzbek terrorist organization with headquarters in the North Waziristan area of Pakistan and with a presence in Germany--- has the trained volunteers and the capability for carrying out a terrorist strike in Germany. A number of Muslims from Germany, including some white converts to Islam, have received training in the camps of the IJU in North Waziristan and have constituted themselves into a German Taliban.

8. These elements have the required motivation, capability and support in the local Muslim community in Germany to be able to carry out a terrorist strike similar to the Madrid attack of March,2004 or the London blasts of July,2005 but their ability to carry out a commando style attack similar to the 26/11 one in Mumbai is doubtful. The German authorities are taking no chances and have stepped up the physical security. (20-11-10)

( 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 )

NEW GERMAN ANTI-TERROR ALERT

B.RAMAN



”The Madrid terrorist strikes of March 2004 and the London terrorist strikes of July 2005 were directed against the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. The terrorist strikes planned now would seek to punish the West for its involvement in Afghanistan.”

------Extract From My Article of October 7,2010, titled “ Al Qaeda--Taliban in Europe” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers41%5Cpaper4083.html

The German authorities have ordered a new security alert under which physical security has been stepped up----particularly for civil aviation and rail transport. Thomas de Maiziere, the German Interior Minister, has been quoted by the media as saying as follows: “ Since the middle of 2010, the security services have noticed increased indications that the terrorist organisation Al Qaeda has been planning attacks in the United States, in Europe and in Germany. Officials now have more details which justified increased concern about sustained efforts to mount an attack. It is the unanimous assessment of the security services that we are currently dealing with a new situation. We have concrete indications of a series of attacks planned for the end of November. "

2.He also indicated that the latest information emerged from the attempt to bomb two courier aircraft on their way to Chicago last month ---- both with printer cartridges filled with explosive. One of the aircraft went through Cologne airport with the explosive device undetected. One does not know whether the earlier warnings about the two parcel-bombs and the latest warning of a conspiracy to launch a fresh terrorist attack in German territory came from the same source. Since the earlier warnings, which reportedly came from Saudi Arabia, proved to be correct, the latest warning, even if from a different source, is being treated seriously by the German authorities.

3. Whereas the earlier warnings about the two parcel bombs were fairly precise thereby enabling the Dubai and British authorities to intercept and de-activate the explosive devices before they could cause any harm, the latest warning appears to be vague and lacking in essential details. Despite this, the German authorities are taking it seriously. They have alerted their public in order to seek their co-operation and stepped up physical security in all vulnerable areas.

4. The commendable German reaction to the warning---though vague it is--- stands in sharp contrast to our lethargic response to the warnings reportedly received from the US intelligence in September,2008, about the danger of a sea-borne terrorist attack by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) on seafront establishments in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal Hotel. The intelligence which our security agencies had received from the US intelligence was much more specific than the intelligence now received by the Germans. We failed to alert the public and did not step up coastal surveillance and physical security for the Taj Mahal Hotel and other seafront establishments. The result: the 26/11 terrorist strikes.

5. Al Qaeda and the Afghan and Pakistani Talibans have stepped up their propaganda against the UK, France and Germany because of their participation in the NATO operations in Afghanistan. France has come for additional criticism from Osama bin Laden because of the restrictions sought to be imposed on Muslim girl students wearing the veil in schools. While there have been no attacks by Al Qaeda in Europe after the London blasts of July,2005, a number of planned attacks in the UK, Spain, Denmark, Norway and Germany were detected in advance and thwarted. There were two attacks by suspected Al Qaeda elements against French experts in Africa. A retired French engineer was kidnapped in Niger in April last and subsequently killed. In September, Al Qaeda in Maghreb kidnapped five French nationals working for two French companies in the uranium mines of Niger, along with two others from Madagascar and Togo. They have not so far been released.

6. In a message addressed to the French people disseminated on October 27, bin Laden admitted these kidnapping by Al Qaeda in Maghreband justified it in the following words: "The taking of your experts in Niger as hostages, while they were being protected by your proxy agent there, is a reaction to the injustice you are practicing against our Muslim nation. How could it be fair that you intervene in the affairs of Muslims, in North and West Africa in particular, support your proxies against us, and take a lot of our wealth in suspicious deals, while our people there suffer various forms of poverty and despair? If you unjustly thought that it is your right to prevent free Muslim women from wearing the face veil, is it not our right to expel your invading men and cut their necks?” bin Laden urged France to withdraw from Afghanistan, calling it an unjust war - and pledged more kidnappings if his warnings were not heeded.

7. Compared to the warnings addressed by Al Qaeda to the French, there have been no similar warnings addressed recently to the Germans. Germany has not figured in any recent message of Al Qaeda. There have been no attacks on Germans outside Europe and the Af-Pak area. Despite this, the threat to Germany is rated high because Al Qaeda---directly as well as through the Islamic Jihad Union, an Uzbek terrorist organization with headquarters in the North Waziristan area of Pakistan and with a presence in Germany--- has the trained volunteers and the capability for carrying out a terrorist strike in Germany. A number of Muslims from Germany, including some white converts to Islam, have received training in the camps of the IJU in North Waziristan and have constituted themselves into a German Taliban.

8. These elements have the required motivation, capability and support in the local Muslim community in Germany to be able to carry out a terrorist strike similar to the Madrid attack of March,2004 or the London blasts of July,2005 but their ability to carry out a commando style attack similar to the 26/11 one in Mumbai is doubtful. The German authorities are taking no chances and have stepped up the physical security. (20-11-10)

( 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 )

IAF COPTER CRASH IN TAWANG AREA---AS REPORTED BY CHINESE MEDIA


B.RAMAN

An M-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed near Tawang in India's Arunachal Pradesh on November 19,2010, killing all the 12 persons---11 from the Indian Air Force including the two pilots, and a Lt.Col from the Army---who were on board.

2. "The Hindu" of Chennai quoting Indian defence sources reported that "the chopper, bound for Guwahati, crashed minutes after it took off from the helipad of the Army Brigade Headquarters in Tawang at 12.04 p.m. It was on an air maintenance sortie. " It added: "IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ranjib Sahoo, based in the Eastern Air Command headquarters in Shillong, told The Hindu that all the bodies have been retrieved from the crash site, about 10 km from Tawang. A court of inquiry has been ordered."

3. The Government-controlled Xinhua news agency of China disseminated two different versions of the news about the crash----one for the English language media of China and the other for the Chinese language media.

4. The version for the English language media stated as follows: " According to AFP news, an Indian military transport helicopter in the northeast, in the border areas crashed, killing all 12 people.The plane is Russian-made military helicopter . It crashed shortly after take-off. The cause of the accident may be due to local weather. Indian Defense Ministry spokesman told the media that 12 people were on the helicopter.There were no survivors. All the dead bodies have been found." ( My comment: This English version has been taken from a Chinese blog. This has not yet been carried by the English language editions of the "Global Times", the "People's Daily" and the " China Daily")

5. The Chinese language version, as translated in Chinese blogs, stated as follows: " Press Trust of India quoting Indian military sources reported that 12 o'clock noon, local time, the Indian Air Force transport helicopter Mi -17 in the so-called "Arunachal Pradesh" fell to the ground.Two pilots and 9 flight trainees killed . Indian Air Force has ordered a cause of the accident investigation. The so-called "Arunachal Pradesh" is located in southern Tibet, China, which has always been Chinese territory. China's repeated solemn declaration that China never recognized the illegal "McMahon Line" and the Indian authorities in February 1987 announced the establishment of the so-called "Arunachal Pradesh." Unquote .(21-11-10)

( 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 )

NATO Summit and Increasing Tensions

"You may not be interested in war but war is interested in you." Leon Trotsky

Whether we like or not India must remain aware of what is happening or might happen in our neighbourhood ie South West Asia ie Afghanistan ,Iran etc .

North Atlantic according to Washington definition now covers the entire world .US led Nato warlords aka military-industry complex in axis with energy and financial interests now consider the rest of the world its enemy without saying so .

In any case with defense spending of US alone at US$ 700 billion as much as the rest of the world put together plus huge sums being spent by other 26 Nato members , the sums are colossal .Quite obviously the intentions are far from defensive but to continue to dominate and threaten the rest of the world .Never mind US is fast declining needing another infusion 0f $600 billion to add to 2 trillion added on computer screens two years ago , with nothing to back these massive sums EU finances are in turmoil with Ireland needing a bailout .Something has to give in sooner or later .

Then there are reports and statements that US is building bases in Iraq and Afghanistan , in the north . First time since 2001 heavy tanks are being used by US marines in Afghanistan. Is it whistling in the dark to browbeat Tehran and Taleban .It is unlikely to succeed .

Again all options remain on the US /+ Israeli table including bombing Iran , which most analysts feel will trigger WWIII and a demi Armageddon .

As for India we have a history of waking up only after the invaders have reached Panipat in medieval times and now a days our inability to inflict damage after the attacks on Parliament in 2000 and 2611 public rape of Mumbai after 10 (!) Pak commandos landed at Mumbai beach with FBI’s complicity.

In 1960s US Amb John Gailbraith had described India as a functioning anarchy .Since long India has morphed into a dysfunctional state with no comprehension or respect for rule of law . “ I have done no wrong ‘ say politicians , since what they is OK in their book .”Law will take its own course “In India it takes a course decided by the politicians.

Then we have a dopey looking slow witted External affairs Minister Remember his performance in Pakistan with Qureishi .What leadership can he provide !

NATO leaders agree to new missile shield

According to media reports NATO leaders meeting in Portugal have agreed to a new missile defence shield to cover the whole of Europe as well as the US.

The ambitious project would see US anti-missile interceptors strategically placed across Europe to protect every country on the continent.It would include bases in Romania, Poland and possibly Turkey and would be linked to existing European defences.

The system would stop incoming missiles and rockets from an enemy state.(Syria, Iran. Lebanon, north Korea or ---Russia ,China !!)

It is estimated the expanded anti-missile defence would cost more than $250 billion over the next 10 years.According to info available tens of billions spent on this Star Wars technology remains unproved .Do they expect Iran etc to cave in as did Gorbachev to Reagan’s Star War threats.

Russia has previously opposed such plans,

Below is a very superb article by Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar full of black humour and wit on Nato policies and plans At the end is an article by Russian foreign minister Lavrov outlining firmly Moscow views.

We in India and our media are sunk in covering and exposing the bottomless pit of corruption and venality by the political elite across the board .

Plus ce change plus ce la meme chose .This French proverb means the more it changes the more it remains the same .In India it only becomes worse .

Take care, Gajendra 20 November , 2010

PS ;Indians ingrained complex and proclivity to look up to the western leaders even failures and frauds for guidance remains sickening. For a HT leadership forum in New delhi , they have Al Gore , who got a Nobel with Indian fraudster Pachauri and wants to make billions in carbon tax on developing countries see

http://tarafits.blogspot.com/2010/01/charade-of-climate-change-and-other.html

and that spin master Tony Blair’s failed sidekick Gordon Brown. Amazing

THE ROVING EYE
Welcome to NATOstan Atimes 20Nov2010
By Pepe Escobar

Be afraid. Be very afraid. At the Lisbon summit this Friday and Saturday, a gargantuan, innocuously sounding, self-described "military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America" that happens to be a Cold War relic sits in its own nuclear-adorned couch to speculate what it is actually all about.

In this otherwise Freudian scenario, the guest of honor is United States President Barack Obama, who imperially presides over the other 27 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, all duly acknowledging their tributary vows and commitments on everything from European-wide missile defense (subjected to the US global missile shield) and permanent stationing of hundreds of US nuclear bombs in Europe to the turbo-charging of cyber warfare (subjected to the Pentagon's new Cyber Command), a blitzkrieg of navy patrol stunts on the globe's strategic sea lanes, and the spread of military bases guarding strategic nodes of Pipelineistan.

In short: the menu in Lisbon is a Pentagon steak with bearnaise sauce. Indigestion guaranteed - and no money (as in overvalued euros) back.

Less is more is not our thing
In Lisbon, NATO is endorsing a new "Strategic Concept" - a sort of letter of intentions reviewed every decade. This is the first one since 1999 - and consequently the blueprint for the early 21st century. NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been spinning it as "more effective" (as in improved missile defense and cyber defense); "more engaged" (as in swarming with global "partners'); and "more efficient (as in firing 4,000 people from their command structure).

Here - complete with made in China piped bird singing - [1] one may see how NATO loves to bathe itself in a "hills are alive with the sound of music" atmosphere. And here, one sees what "Strategic Concept" seems to be about. [2]

Add the Rasmussen rant, and one finally finds what's been lost in translation: NATO is now effectively being christened as the ultimate Transformer global Robocop, consigning the helpless UN to a New York sand box.

NATO has left Western Europe a long time ago; too small, too provincial. It's already in Central and South Asia as well as Northeast Africa, interlinked with the Pentagon's AFRICOM (only five countries - Eritrea, Libya, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sudan and Zimbabwe - are not Pentagon-related). Way beyond the Afghan killing fields, NATO is fast becoming a huge "forward operating base" for policing the Middle East, Africa, Asia and even the South Atlantic, where the Pentagon reactivated the Fourth Fleet; as much as the 2009 military coup in Honduras worked and the 2010 in Ecuador didn't, Brazilians are very much aware of the Pentagon and NATO's designs in Central and South America, and will definitely put up a fight.

Spoiler alert: Americans not anesthetized enough by the current porno-scanner/federal pat-down theater of the absurd taking place at their airports, and impoverished, crisis-hit Europeans won't fail to notice that "more effective, more engaged and more efficient" NATO is spectacularly losing a war in Central Asia as we speak.

Gucci in da house
Anyway, soon Europe may be wildly celebrating a continent-wide missile dome able to protect everyone from Ibiza to Innsbruck and Munich to Monte Carlo from those evil (non-existent) Iranian missiles, as well as from those existent, zany but effective Taepodong-2 from Pyongyang. Call it the Gucci Star Wars.

The Gucci shield will be duly joined by the Dior bombshells - as in the US-owned 200 to 350 nuclear weapons sleeping in NATO bases in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy and Turkey (plus the 300 nuclear bombs owned by France and the 225 by Britain). Crucially it is these five "bomb resident" countries that would launch the US babies in any eventuality, something that makes a mockery of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which, by the way, Iran has subscribed. The bottom line: NATO may hold a portfolio of as many as 900 nuclear weapons in Europe. It's like comparing Real Madrid or Bayern Munich with a North Korea third division team.

Last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not allow any ruffles in her Hermes scarf, forcefully stating, "NATO must remain a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons exist." And Rasmussen hit the home run, adding, "the anti-missile defense system is a complement to nuclear deterrence, and not a substitute."

Is anybody complaining about all this nuclear paranoia? Not really. Rasmussen is right when he spins about NATO's "partners"; it's virtually everyone and his neighbor (75 nations, almost 40% of the UN), from the Central Asian "stans" in the Partnership for Peace to the Middle Easterners in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative; from the "contact countries" in East Asia/South Pacific to the Troop Contributing Nations for International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (that includes Mongolia and Tonga). Not to mention the all-important NATO-Russia Council (Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is the first Russian leader to actually go to a NATO summit). Needless to say, all these "partners" have also gone to Lisbon.

Turkey shoot, anyone?
Even though its raison d'etre was to defend Western Europe from the Soviet Union, it's useless to expect NATO at the Lisbon summit to clarify what the hell it is actually accomplishing in Central Asia/ Afghanistan (see Have (infinite) war, will travel, Asia Times Online, November 18, 2010). It's safer to attribute to the realm of a Tom & Jerry cartoon the fact that NATO is more terrified of some ragtag Taliban than it was of the Red Army.

Anyway, what matters is the infinity of it all. Not only US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General David Petraeus, the coalition military commander in Afghanistan, are lobbying for Infinite War. British Defense Chief General Sir David Richards has just told the Daily Mail, "NATO now needs to plan for a 30- or 40-year role to help the Afghan armed forces hold their country against the militants." Talk about Enduring Freedom.

Yet Afghanistan, that infinite quagmire, is just an appetizer. NATO is being cannily sold to world public opinion as being entitled to raise hell anywhere it pleases - leaving the UN Security Council, expanded or not, in the dust. Precedents exist - as in the illegal, failed narco-mafia state Kosovo, not by accident extensively dubbed NATOstan.

A convincing argument can be made that everywhere the Pentagon/NATO "intervened" - from the Balkans to Afghanistan to Iraq - the mess has reached Gotterdammerung proportions. Who cares? The Pentagon has planted Camp Bondsteel - its largest base in Europe - in Kosovo; and it has also planted precious mega-nuggets in the Empire of Bases in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

The "spoilers" in the Pentagon/NATO's Brave New World blockbuster are undoubtedly Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and Myanmar. None of them will be easily intimidated. Russian leadership is too wily to be easily co-opted - although Pentagon/NATO encroachment in the form of missile defense bases along the entire length of Russia's borders is relentless.

NATO claims that it welcomes its "partnership" with Russia. But now there's a new element in the game to force - or not - Russia to play the missile defense ball (after all the decision to go all out has already been made.) Let's call it the Turkey shoot.

The Pentagon/NATO ploy of building a multi-layered missile defense system to "protect Europe" from those non-existent Iranian nuclear-armed missiles would be a dim-witted prank if it had not already attracted the attention of the usual Eastern Europe suspects -Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania. Turkey is a much more complicated case.

According to Turkish press reports, Ankara will only accept a missile defense system if the system is NATO's, not American; if the system is deployed in all 27 NATO countries; and if NATO does not place Turkey in the unenviable position of frontline state just as it was during the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

But part three of this equation is exactly what the Pentagon has in mind - especially now that the axis Ankara-Tehran-Damascus is a reality, not to mention the developing entente cordiale between Ankara and Moscow. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu anyway has made it clear, "We do not want a Cold War zone or psychology around us."

But Cold War remix it is, and Turkey runs the risk of being just a paw in their game. Profiting from NATO's new Strategic Concept, the ultimate goal of the US global missile dome - complete with cyber warfare and Prompt Global Strike - is to encircle the heart of Eurasia and isolate, who else, Russia, Iran and China. War is peace. Welcome to the pleasure dome. Welcome to NATOstan.

Notes
1. Click here.
2. Click here.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) andRedZone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obamadoes Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

INFORMATION AND PRESS DEPARTMENT
_______________________________

32/34 Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl., 119200, Moscow G-200;
tel.: (499) 244 4119 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (499) 244 4119 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, fax: (499) 244 4112
e-mail: dip@mid.ru, web-address: www.mid.ru

/foto.nsf/AA14C049EE2C1591C32577DC0047F038/$FILE/12345s.jpg


Article by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, "In the Same Boat," Itogi, November 15, 2010

15-11-2010

What does Russia stand to gain from a partnership with NATO

There is much talk today about a rapidly changing world and the ongoing transformation of the core of the postwar system of international relations. The world has become less predictable and more dangerous: we all, regardless of the country in which we live, feel vulnerable. Acute regional conflicts linger on, as does the danger of international terrorism, drug trafficking, WMD proliferation, climate change, natural and technological disasters and other challenges that do not respect borders. Counteracting them is possible only through collective efforts of all nations.

Raison d’etre

Yet over the past couple of years, the climate has warmed in international life. There is a positive change in the atmosphere of relations between Russia and the US, and the Russian-American Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms has been signed. The principles of equality, parity, and equal and indivisible security, embodied in it, provide the basis for effective collaboration in the most diverse fields. Our strategic partnership with the European Union grows deeper, agreement has been reached on the formation of a modernization alliance between Russia and the EU, close bilateral cooperation is developing with many partners of Russia across the world. The groundwork has jointly been laid for a breakthrough into the future in Russian-Polish relations. Settled is the chronic problem of delimitation in the Barents Sea between Russia and Norway, which has once again confirmed the inevitability of solving any problems in the Arctic on the basis of international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. An important contribution to the construction of modern international relations on the principles of equality and polycentricity is made by the states in the CIS space, where the integration processes are deepening.

Positive changes have also touched Russia's relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Initially, this structure was created as a military-political bloc to counter the “Soviet threat.” In the first NATO Secretary General Lord Ismay’s figurative expression, the alliance’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Under today’s conditions NATO, even by the admission of a number of western politicians, has lost the classical meaning of its existence, raison d’кtre, is actively searching for its place in the new European security architecture, and selecting the spheres of application of its hard power, military staff and logistical capacity amassed over the decades.

But the big possibilities of the alliance are also a great temptation to try to tackle complicated international problems outside the global security network that presupposes equal cooperation with other regional organizations and individual players. Such attempts were made; their results are for all to see. But now in the world, including among the member states of NATO, there is a growing awareness of the fact that there is no alternative to collective decision-making, and that it is necessary to take into account the security interests of other partners, including Russia, and to respect the principles of international law, the competence and authority of the UN and its Security Council.

This approach opens the way for joint equal work, and corresponds to the philosophy of Russian foreign policy. Foreign policy, as is known, is just an extension of domestic policy. Its mission is to create favorable external conditions for ensuring the security and prosperity of our citizens: for comprehensive modernization of the country, the diversification of the economy and its transition to an innovative model of development. Russia is interested in investments, the newest technologies and innovative ideas, stable and open world markets. We are ready for fair competition in trade and investment areas, but strongly against the competition of politico-military potentials and different kinds of power balances. We do not need confrontation and won’t let ourselves be drawn into any confrontational arrangements.

Word and Deed

Today there would be no problems if those declarations made at the end of last century both in the OSCE and at the founding of the Russia-NATO Council, about the indivisibility of the security of the countries in the Euro-Atlantic area, were translated into concrete actions. President Dmitry Medvedev has suggested that these declarations be given a legally binding character by signing a European Security Treaty. The fact that NATO is still not ready for this raises questions about the sincerity of the assurances given to us in the past. And yet the conviction grows that it is in our common interest to finally ascertain, and most important, embody in practice the definitive overcoming of the Cold War logic. This will make it possible to move at last to a strategic partnership for joint action on common problems, action that is dictated by life and brooks no delay.

On November 20, Lisbon will host a summit of the Russia-NATO Council. It will bring together leaders of 29 countries to discuss cardinal issues of European security and the prospects for our relationship. This meeting must, in our conviction, demonstrate a common resolve to bring our relations to a qualitatively new level, and work out responsible, forward-thinking decisions conducive to stronger mutual trust as a solid foundation for effective collaboration and the coordination of efforts.

We are convinced that the bloc approach in the modern world is an anachronism that hinders realization of the opportunities for joint strengthening of our common and indivisible security. It regenerates the political and behavioral stereotypes of the past, diverting resources from urgent needs. The huge, albeit still largely “dormant,” potential for international solidarity extends far beyond the existing military alliances. This was shown by the reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when not only the members of NATO, but also Russia and other non-NATO countries, offered a supportive shoulder to America in distress. We least thought about whether we were bound by allied obligations with the US then.

Multiplication of Strengths

The Russia-NATO Council was established in May 2002. This is a unique mechanism for regular political consultations, where our interlocutors according to the founding documents of the RNC are 28 states in their national capacity, rather than a bloc voicing a pre-agreed position. The RNC gives the opportunity on an equal and consensus basis to work out and make decisions, prepare and implement joint actions. During its existence the Council has accumulated valuable experience of political dialogue and practical collaboration with NATO on a wide range of security issues.

RNC as the engine of Russian-NATO cooperation was designed and assembled quite recently in historical terms. Naturally, it needs finishing and adjusting. Its work is by no means all smooth running yet – somewhere it tended to gain quite good momentum, but somewhere malfunctioned. And in August 2008, it even almost stalled – was stifled by the very same bloc approach that demanded a manifestation of solidarity with the “Euro-Atlantic” leadership of Georgia. Our proposal to urgently convene an emergency meeting of the RNC in the midst of the crisis was rejected. There is reason to believe that correct conclusions have been drawn from this failure. In December 2009, the foreign ministers of the RNC member countries took several important decisions on how to troubleshoot defects in the mechanism of our interaction and how to upgrade it.

I will give a few illustrative examples of when joint work with the alliance brings tangible results.

On the basis of the RNC Action Plan to combat terrorism, we share information and exchange practical experience in preventing and responding to terrorist attacks in places of mass gathering. We are engaged in developing remote explosive detection systems capable of detecting a “shahid’s belt,” and we are conducting joint exercises. Our Black Sea Fleet is taking part in NATO’s antiterrorist Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean Sea. We are also cooperating in the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia. The establishment of a joint system for the exchange of radar data on the air situation along Russia's western border with NATO countries in order to prevent seizures of aircraft by terrorists is near completion.

We are helping each other during floods, fires, man-made disasters. Military-technical ties are being developed with the NATO countries. The application of advanced foreign experience enables us to raise the effectiveness of the Russian system of cataloging products and to start working to bring samples of Russian-built exported equipment into conformance with international standards. Stable cooperation in the area of submarine-crew search and rescue at sea has been established. We remember the selfless camaraderie assistance provided to us by British sailors in the rescue of the Russian bathyscaphe in the Far East.

Russia is engaged in active and multifaceted cooperation with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operating in Afghanistan under a UN mandate. We provide transit opportunities, and this is very much appreciated by our partners, especially when other routes have become more costly and risky. One of the priority issues for Russia in our relations with NATO is the need for a more resolute struggle against drug production in Afghanistan, which has reached the level of a threat to international peace and security. Training antinarcotics specialists for Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Central Asian countries at the Russian MVD training center in Domodedovo is one of the largest projects undertaken by us, which not only works rhythmically, but is also expanding.

Our military universities train officers for the Afghan army. Russian companies, including helicopter firms, are working in Afghanistan. On all these fronts, we stand ready to step up cooperation with NATO, because we believe that we are making common cause. Russia is keen to ensure that after the withdrawal of ISAF from Afghanistan, that country is not a source of destabilization in the region.

An important new thrust area for the RNC is preparing a Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges and Threats. Approval of this review will lay the groundwork for further action to jointly respond to common challenges.

With the shield

Quite naturally, there are a number of international problems on which we do not see eye to eye with the alliance. On some issues there are fundamental differences, and somewhere the hindrance is just a misunderstanding of the situation and the interests of each other, largely due to the lack of clear and accurate information. But we aren’t obsessed by it, and do not put our differences in front of those topics where we have overlapping interests.

A lot of work is ahead. Take, for example, the proposal by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to create a joint anti-missile shield for Europe with the participation of Russia. We welcome the very desire to tackle the problem collectively, especially since we have our own views on this subject, including the well-known initiative to create an anti-missile “pool” of the nations concerned. So we are ready to seriously explore the idea of Rasmussen. We want to understand how NATO envisions the architecture of and the prospects for developing a hypothetical missile defense system, by whom and how it can be controlled and what means are planned to be activated.

In any case the talk about Russia's participation in the European missile defense system can proceed only on the basis of equal cooperation at all stages. We must have assurances that under no circumstances will strategic stability be upset and that there will be no actions that may adversely affect the legitimate interests of each other.

Building confidence and predictability is needed in other areas too. In particular, consistent effort is required to resolve the problems that gridlocked the regime of control over conventional forces in Europe, to forge dialogue on military doctrines as well as greater exchange of experience in reforming the armed forces and to return to a systemic discussion about military restraint. In the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act the alliance assumed a commitment not to deploy “substantial combat forces” in the territory of its new members. This term has not yet been specified. In December 2009, we suggested our interpretation to the RNC members. We are waiting for a substantive response.

We often hear that arms control came from the past and drags us back into the past. But the Cold War legacy cannot be overcome merely by statements about the new character of relations. We need practical steps, including in the most sensitive area of defense planning, that support partnership intentions.

The North Atlantic Alliance is finalizing its new Strategic Concept. We’re not indifferent to what kind of document this will be. The chief thing perhaps is that NATO must clearly determine its attitude to Russia. Up until now, NATO’s position was characterized by ambivalence. On the one hand, they asserted that Russia was a partner, and on the other they sort of hinted that Russia might be a problem in the security field. I think the maturity of our relationship speaks in favor of fully clarifying this issue.

A second point is related to the positioning of NATO in the global security system. We believe that under all circumstances the alliance must be guided by the UN Charter, especially in regard to the possible use of force in international relations. I will note in this connection that both the Founding Act and the Rome Declaration concerning the establishment of the RNC expressly provide that cooperation between Russia and NATO shall be done only in the framework of international law and in the domain of peacekeeping by decision of the UN Security Council.

The line on non-stop enlargement of NATO “in spite of everything” hardly corresponds to present-day realities. Today’s need is not a rearrangement of fences, but effort to successively remove the obstacles to cooperation with all and to provide equal security guarantees for all states regardless of their political and military status.

The basic principles of Russian foreign policy are pragmatism, openness, multi-vector diplomacy and the non-confrontational advancement of national interests. Our concerns with some aspects of NATO activities are honestly identified in our doctrinal documents. Such transparency is necessary for mutual trust, based on which one could build a common future. In this case, we do not consider NATO as a threat to our security.

Objective reality creates the conditions for partnership between Russia and NATO. It should not cause concern for anybody. Either for those who fear that Moscow would wield a “veto” over the alliance’s decisions, or for those who think that Russia will start cooperating with NATO against someone. Russia is disposed to build an equal partnership strictly on an international legal basis and in a way that avoids even the slightest suspicion that this is done at the expense of the legitimate interests of other countries. We presume that the alliance is guided by the same approach. If Russia and NATO together devise the right implementation algorithm for the tasks before us, this will benefit all who are interested in strengthening security and stability in Europe, across the space from Vancouver to Vladivostok and around the world.

India in Afghanistan

http://www.caravanmagazine.in/Story.aspx?Storyid=5
India in Afghanistan
Nation building or proxy war?
By MATTHIEU AIKINS
Published :1 October 2010



THEY WERE BOTH YOUNG. One had just the first wisps of hair on his cheeks, like an adolescent. The other was not much older, his short-trimmed beard caked with dried blood. There were gaping exit wounds in his shoulder, and in the pale skin of his belly, where his undershirt had been pulled up to reveal the damage. The two boys were lying dead

amongst scattered bricks, at the feet of a crowd of gaping onlookers and journalists, in an abandoned construction site in Kabul.

“Where do you think they’re from?” a reporter asked the policeman who was taking a picture of the bodies with his cell phone, his assault rifle dangling from his other hand. The glaze of adrenaline still shone on the cop’s cheeks and eyes. “Pakistan,” he said. “Definitely not Afghans.” They always say that here, as if you could tell. They looked like Pashtuns, at least.

It was just one of several attacks in Kabul this summer, unremarkable in its execution and impact, but as a result, a series of extraordinary events had been triggered that would serve as a bellwether of India’s waning influence in Afghanistan. It was 29 May, the first day of the National Consultative Peace Jirga, and the two militants had managed to set up in the empty site and fire rockets at the Polytechnic University, the site of the peace jirga—a carefully stage-managed event that had brought handpicked tribal elders and civil society figures to endorse President Hamid Karzai’s plan to reconcile with the Taliban.

Karzai was furious that the jirga had been disrupted, in the middle of his inaugural speech, no less. One of the rockets had severed the leg of one of his personal bodyguards, and the two attackers had held out for several hours in a gun battle with police before finally being shot to death.



The following week, Karzai called a meeting with Hanif Atmar, the Minister of the Interior, and Amrullah Saleh, the chief of the National Directorate of Security (NDS)— the Afghan intelligence service—where he accused them of deliberately failing to provide adequate security in order to undermine the jirga. In a heated exchange, both offered their resignations. It wasn’t the first time that either of them had offered their resignations in response to an angry outburst by Karzai, but this time the president accepted.

Of course, there was more to the forced resignations than just the incident at the peace jirga. Both Atmar and Saleh were favourites of Afghanistan’s Western donor countries, particularly the United States. They had been responsible for Western-backed reforms in Afghanistan’s internal security agencies. They were also officials who had been seen as very friendly to India, in particular Saleh, who had shown a marked and public hostility towards Pakistan, and was a strong opponent of reconciliation with the Taliban.

“It’s clear from what’s been said around the palace that the president had issues with Atmar and Saleh and suspicions that they were too loyal to the foreigners,” said Kate Clark, a political analyst in Kabul. “He’s tried to get rid of Atmar before and the foreigners said no.”

OMAR SOBHANI / REUTERS


Amarullah Saleh, former chief of Afghani intelligence, a favourite of the Americans and Indians, resigned in June as Karzai edged closer to Pakistan.
The incident showed how much India’s fortunes have been bound to the US-led nation-building project in Afghanistan, and how much the downward spiral of that project has diminished India’s position here. Saleh’s ouster was particularly damaging to India, as it has hampered co-operation between the NDS and India’s external intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and was seen as a significant milestone in the rehabilitation of Karzai’s once-tense relationship with Pakistan.

“By and large, India for a long time has put all its eggs in one basket and that is American presence,” said Harsh Pant, a professor and expert on Indian foreign policy and security issues at King’s College London. “America will sort everything out and will not leave Afghanistan until it’s achieved its objective. Suddenly, that has come crashing down because of the West’s desire to leave.”

Today, almost nine years after a US-led invasion deposed the Taliban regime, large swaths of the south and southeast have fallen under Taliban control, while Kandahar city, the linchpin of the south, has become a battleground of targeted killings, air strikes and improvised explosive devices. Even once-safe areas in the north and west have become dangerous. The rising insecurity is not simply a function of the insurgency, but a revival of centrifugal forces that have plagued the Afghan state for centuries, with local warlords and criminal gangs increasingly emboldened to defy a corrupt and ineffectual central government.

SAYED SALAHUDDIN / REUTERS


Portraits of the once influencial Ahmad Shah Massoud, who faught the Soviets in the 1980s, was killed by the Taliban two days before 9/11. Massoud’s deputies swept into power when the US arrived in 2001.
The final elements of the US military surge arrived at the end of this summer without any significant gains. The Taliban in Baghlan Province is now threatening the main highway north from Kabul to Mazar-e Sharif, as well as the road south to Kandahar, and the result is an atmosphere of pessimism and mounting panic that has reached even into the relatively secure bubble of the capital. In September, when the top officials of the country’s largest private bank, Kabul Bank, were removed over revelations they had made hundreds of millions of dollars in bad loans to politically connected businessmen, thousands of Afghans mobbed bank branches around the country, desperately seeking to withdraw their deposits. The incident added to the ‘end of days’ sensation in Kabul and cast a pall over Eid-ul-Fitr.

In several months of conversations over the course of this summer—many of them off-the-record—in Kabul and Delhi with current and former Indian bureaucrats with the Ministry of External Affairs and with India’s intelligence services, as well as with Afghan, Pakistani and Western officials and observers, the consensus was that India’s policy in Afghanistan is facing the seemingly impossible task of managing the collapse of the nation-building project in Afghanistan and containing Pakistan’s rising influence. Despite a massive commitment of 1.3 billion dollars in Indian aid, the Karzai administration and Pakistan have drawn closer, both as a result of the failure of US-led efforts to contain the insurgency, and the rising momentum for negotiations with the Taliban. There was confusion, however, over India’s basic interests in Afghanistan and what sort of plausible situations might be imagined. One thing was clear though: the growing fragmentation of Afghanistan could conceivably herald a return to the chaos of the civil war in the 1990s.

I F YOU VISIT THE BORDER CROSSING at Spin Boldak, between Kandahar city and Quetta in Pakistan, you’ll find a sort of semi-organised mayhem. Here, hundreds of local Pashtuns pass back and forth without documentation each day. This is, in fact, one of the best controlled places along the Durand Line, demarcated by the British Empire and the Emir of Afghanistan,
Abdur Rahman Khan in 1893, which extends through the Pashtun heartland—rugged tribal country where clans overlap the border, on up through to the Khyber Pass and then into the western reaches of the Himalayas.

Like they were in the time of the British Empire, the lands skirting the Durand Line are barely controlled or controllable, and are rife with smuggling and militancy. They have been a continual source of contention between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Relations between the two countries worsened when Daoud Khan, who in 1973 deposed his cousin King Zahir Shah to become the first president of Afghanistan, revived the Pashtunistan issue. Pakistan began to support traditional Islamic rebels who were resisting Daoud’s attempts at state modernisation, while in turn, Daoud hosted thousands of displaced Baloch and Pashtun fighters.

The Soviet Union first supported the Afghan communist groups that led a coup in Afghanistan in 1978, and then, 20 months later, invaded in order to prop them up. India, though initially uneasy about the wisdom of the invasion, gave its support. “We were taken by surprise, they hadn’t told us they were going to invade,” said Vikram Sood, a former head of RAW who retired in March 2003. “Both of the superpowers have made a mess for our policies.”

CAREN FIROUZ / REUTERS


Abdul Rashid Dostum, former pro-Soviet fighter, received money and weapons from Russia and India in the 1990s to fight the Taliban.
Although a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement, India had then moved into closer co-operation with the Soviet Union, signing the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 1971 and receiving significant Soviet military aid. Pakistan, for its part, had fallen into the US sphere of influence, signing a security agreement in 1959 and, in time, becoming the conduit for billions of dollars in US aid to the mujahideen.

With the war in Afghanistan fuelled by the two competing superpowers, the border also became another front in the conflict between India and Pakistan, which after flaring into full-scale wars in 1965 and 1971, was then being carried out in several parts of South Asia. As RAW already had a close relationship with the KGB, this extended to cooperation with Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, KhAD, the predecessor to NDS. They had a common enemy in Pakistan.

“It was a close relationship,” said Sood of the three intelligence services, KGB, RAW and KhAD. “It was a closeness that flowed from the political closeness of our governments.”

The KGB and KhAD carried out assassinations and sabotage in Pakistan, and RAW found its cooperation with them useful; in particular for intelligence on Sikh groups training in militant camps, according to the memoirs of Bahukutumbi Raman, a former RAW officer.

When, after ten years of a fruitless counterinsurgency campaign, the Soviet Union withdrew its troops from Afghanistan, a brutal civil war broke out between mujahideen factions. It was the sudden rise of the Taliban, a group of strict Islamic fighters who brought order to the south of Afghanistan, as the country’s pre-eminent military force that coalesced the conflict into sharp geographic, ethnic, and regional battle lines. The Taliban had indigenous beginnings that stretched back through the anti-Soviet jihad, but once they began to gather momentum, Pakistan threw its support behind them, supplying them with weapons, logistics, and battlefield guidance.

“There was a feeling in Delhi at the time that all was lost,” said Sood. “We were the guys who said ‘no, it’s not over, something can be done.’”

To counter the Taliban, Russia, Iran, and India gave weapons, money and supplies to the United Front, commonly known as the Northern Alliance, which included in a loose confederation Abdul Rashid Dostum and his Uzbek militia in the northwest, Ismail Khan in the west in Herat, and Karim Khalili in the Hazara-dominated central highlands, along with the forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud, whose Shura-e Nezar, or ‘Supervisory Council,’ drew on a core of loyalists from the Panjshir Valley, a Tajik-inhabited valley north of Kabul that successfully held out against both the Soviets and Taliban. Massoud, a charismatic leader, soon became the most prominent figure in the Northern Alliance.

“He was a man who could have easily disappeared with a lot of money but he stayed and fought until the end,” said Lieutenant General Ravi Sawhney, who was the director general of Indian military intelligence throughout the 1990s until his retirement in October 2001. He would meet Massoud in Iran and Tajikistan, where India has a small airbase and field hospital at Farkhor, through which they brought in supplies. “There was no contiguity of the borders, we couldn’t do much besides financial aid.”

TOMAS MUNITA / AP PHOTO


Gul Agha Sherzai, Governor of Nangarhar, a principal rival of Karzai was in Delhi in this August to meet with Indian officials. His visit was not announced.
Dostum and Ismail Khan were eventually forced to flee Afghanistan, while Massoud’s forces were pushed by the Taliban into a tiny northern corner of the country. A Taliban victory seemed near, but the attacks of 11 September and the US military intervention abruptly altered the course of Afghanistan’s history. Though Massoud had been killed by al-Qaeda in a suicide attack two days before those at the World Trade Center (he died in Farkhor’s field hospital), his deputies swept into power on the back of the US-led bombing campaign that led to the rapid collapse of the Taliban regime.

Pervez Musharraf, then Pakistan’s military dictator, had offered his support to the Americans, but according to recently declassified diplomatic correspondence, he repeatedly expressed his concerns that the Northern Alliance would take over Kabul. His fears were realised when, despite US pressure, forces led by the Shura-e Nazar entered Kabul in strength and occupied the ministries.

The northerners consolidated their strong position on the ground at the 2001 Bonn Conference, which charted a roadmap for Afghanistan’s political future. The most important ministerial positions in the interim government were entirely occupied by Shura-e Nazar figures, who simply took on the roles they had had under Massoud’s administration: Marshal Fahim as Defence Minister, Yunus Qanuni as Interior Minister, Abdullah Abdullah as Foreign Minister, and as head of the newly-formed NDS, Muhammed Arif Sarwari, who had been the CIA’s primary liaison under Massoud. With the exception of Qanuni, who became the Minister of Education and the Special Advisor on Security to Karzai, all of these figures kept their positions through the Transitional Authority that oversaw the Constitutional Loya Jirga in 2003, up to the first presidential elections in 2004.

For the first time in Afghanistan’s history, you had an interior minister, defence minister, a foreign minister, and a chief of intelligence who were all from the Panjshir Valley. These were men who had been, a month before, fighting desperately against a Pakistani-supported Taliban while taking military and financial aid from India. Now they were the masters of Kabul, far more powerful than Karzai, who had just arrived from exile in Pakistan and had no military base of his own.

These were good times for Indo-Afghan relations, and India reciprocated with substantial support, committing 1.3 billion dollars in development projects such as roads, dams, the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital, a power line between Kabul and Uzbekistan and sponsoring hundreds of scholarships for Afghan students to India, making it the largest bilateral donor in the region and the fifth largest overall, after the US, Britain, Japan and Germany.

Even the new parliament building on Darulaman Road is being built by India for 83 million dollars, though Afghans are beginning to wonder when it will ever be finished (the government says 2011). The Manmohan Singh administration has also embraced co-operation in security matters with Afghanistan, seeing it as a crucial battleground in fighting terrorism in the region. Though India, primarily due to US objections stemming from Pakistan’s concerns, has not sent its military to take part in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, it has helped build the capacity of the Afghan security forces, providing pilot and counterinsurgency training and even mentoring the Afghan Army’s marching band.

The NDS figured prominently in this scheme. The CIA, which directly controlled the NDS’s budget until 2008, has worked to grow what is widely regarded as one of the most effective and cohesive institutions in Afghanistan, outperforming the Afghan Army and the dismal Afghan National Police. “It’s been a tremendously powerful institution in Afghanistan, certainly since the 1978 revolution,” said analyst Kate Clark.

The basic material for the organisation came from two sources: Shura-e Nazar’s pre-existing intelligence men, and former members of KhAD. They had previously been merged during the short-lived Rabbani government in 1992, when Fahim was put in charge of the intelligence service. After the Northern Alliance took Kabul in 2001, that setup was reconstituted. It was not unusual for communist-era figures with experience in security or bureaucracy—particularly those associated with Najibullah’s rule—to participate in the post-2001 regime, as they represented some of Afghanistan’s most well-trained talent.

EMILY WAX / THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES


An Indian engineer at the construction site of the new Afghan parliament, funded by the Indian government.
Both the Panjshiris and the former KhAD members had experience working with Indian intelligence against Pakistan and its proxies in Afghanistan. RAW picked up these pre-existing relationships after 2001. “We knew a lot of these guys from their KhAD days,” said a former Indian intelligence official who recently retired. According to current and former intelligence officials within RAW and the NDS, the relationship between the two agencies had been co-operative, though less close than in the KhAD days, with NDS officials visiting India for training and RAW maintaining information gathering operations in Afghanistan.

Saleh, who took over as NDS chief in 2004 and had been groomed for the position by the Americans, is also from the Panjshir Valley, though at 38 he had been a relatively minor figure in Massoud’s administration. As a director in the Northern Alliance’s office in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, he had been a liaison with foreign intelligence services. “One of the most brilliant people I’ve met,” said Sawhney. “Slightly short-tempered, but if there’s anyone who knows the Taliban and Pakistan’s hand in the game, it’s him.”

During his tenure as NDS chief, Saleh would publicly accuse the Pakistani government of waging an active campaign of support for militant groups in Afghanistan. “The tribal agencies of Pakistan, like Bajaur and North and South Waziristan, are kept by the government as a strategic pool of fighters. From there, fundamentalist warriors are sent to fight in Afghanistan or elsewhere,” Saleh told Der Spiegel, a prominent German magazine, in 2009.

“Amrullah Saleh was very hostile,” said a senior Pakistani official. “He gathered Panjshiris and Karmalists [former communists] around him who were ideologically opposed to Pakistan.”

The extent of the NDS’s operations in Pakistan is a matter of dispute. As a function of its counterintelligence and counterterrorism roles, the NDS has been working actively to penetrate the Taliban and other insurgent groups, both within Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan’s tribal areas, where the CIA has active intelligence gathering operations as well. (A key figure in this had been Dr Abdullah Laghmani, the Pashtun deputy head of the NDS who was killed in a suicide attack in Mehtar Lam in 2009.) However, Pakistani officials claim that NDS under Saleh has gone further than that, taking the fight to Pakistan by cultivating links with militant groups on Pakistani soil.

One Pakistani official in Kabul accused the NDS of actively supporting elements of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan that had turned against the Pakistani military, namely groups in Orakzai, the Swat Valley and South Waziristan— all locations of Pakistan’s selective military campaign in the tribal regions. “They were working very closely in Orakzai with NDS,” he said. “NDS had contacts with Maulana Fazlullah and with Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan.” Afghan officials denied providing any support to militant groups.

The NDS has also been accused by Pakistan of harbouring militant Baloch separatists, including Brahamdagh Bugti, leader of the Baloch Republican Party. In November 2007, Balach Marri, a key militant separatist leader, was killed in Afghanistan, according to some news reports at the time, due to a NATO air strike that mistook him and his men for Taliban. The Pakistani source claimed that Marri had in fact been killed in a suicide attack in Uruzgan. “They brought his dead body here to the military hospital in Kabul. The family got in touch with us and they wanted the body.” Initially, the Afghan government was too embarrassed to give up Marri’s remains, but, the source said, “eventually they gave us the body.” Marri was later buried by his family in Balochistan.

Pakistan’s further suggestion is that RAW has been working with the NDS inside Pakistan. “India was essentially using Saleh’s networks,” said the Pakistani official. In the minds of many in Pakistan’s military and intelligence community, today is a replay of the jihad period, when KhAD and the KGB launched assassination and sabotage campaigns in Pakistan, and RAW played an active, if minor role, in the covert war against Pakistan. Yet the NDS today is not what KhAD was at its full strength. For one, it has a far less effective penetration of the current Taliban than KhAD did of mujahideen groups, due to its relative weakness as an institution and its lack of the same deep links among Pashtuns. For another, the NDS’ close co-operation with the CIA would likely place limits on actions that might be seen to jeopardise American co-operation with Pakistan.

Indian intelligence officials denied any active involvement in Pakistan, a contention that has been supported in public by the US. Regardless of their truth, however, allegations that India has been meddling in Balochistan have been effectively used by Pakistan to pressure India over Afghanistan and Kashmir.

D ELHI HAS SEEN a number of high-profile visits from Afghan politicians since this summer. The most significant, of course, was President Karzai’s two-day visit at the end of April, his last stop on a circuit of Islamabad, Tehran and Beijing. Karzai
discussed his plans for the reconciliation process and the then-upcoming peace jirga with Manmohan Singh, who expressed cautious support, and their joint statement expressed their intention “to combat the forces of terrorism which pose a particular threat to the region.” This was followed up by Delhi visits from Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasul and National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta, both of whom are considered friends of India.

One visit that was not announced, however, was that of one of Karzai’s principal rivals among southern Pashtuns— Gul Agha Sherzai, Governor of Nangarhar. Sherzai arrived the first week of this August and met with a number of Indian officials, including YP Sinha, the Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary in charge of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan and Alok Prasad, the Deputy National Security Advisor, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the visit.

A garrulous bear of a man with a popular touch, Sherzai is a former mujahideen commander and the Karzai family’s strongest rival in their home province of Kandahar. Originally installed as governor of Kandahar by the Americans in 2001, he was transferred to Jalalabad in 2003 after losing a power struggle with Ahmed Wali Karzai. Despite his reputation for brutality and corruption, he is looked favourably upon by Western donors, particularly the Americans, for his relatively trouble-free tenure in Nangarhar Province that has seen, among other things, a drastic reduction in opium cultivation.

JOHN MOORE / GETTY IMAGES


Afghan patients waiting to consult Indian doctors at Indira Gandhi Hospital in Kabul.
Sherzai had been considered one of the leading contenders to Karzai in the 2009 presidential elections, but the two brokered a last-minute deal that saw Sherzai withdraw his candidacy just prior to the end of the nomination period. Nangarhar, whose capital city of Jalalabad sits astride the Kabul-Peshawar route, is a strategic province in which India has heavily invested in infrastructure and development projects, as well as provided support for media and broadcasting.

Sherzai’s visit is part of India’s new strategy of broadening its outreach to better include southern Pashtuns, in response to increasing concerns about Karzai’s reliability as an ally and to the prospect of future peace negotiations that will bring groups associated with the insurgency back into power. “I think one thing that has gotten through to the government is that you have to talk to absolutely everybody,” said Radha Kumar, an Indian academic and expert on Afghanistan.

Karzai, who received his postgraduate degree in political science at Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla, has long been considered a friend of India, something that had been strengthened by the intense personal animosity that developed with Pakistan’s former military dictator.

“He had a personal rift with Musharraf,” said a Pakistani diplomat who had been personally familiar with the relationship between the two. “There was a personal angle to that bad relationship between the two countries.”

But India’s close relationship with Karzai has been overshadowed by the even closer relationship with the US that the Manmohan Singh administration has charted both in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The deterioration of the US-Karzai relationship has thus brought significant negative fallout for India.

AHMAD MASOOD / REUTERS


Indian security personnel in Kabul salute the body of an Indian road engineer, killed by the Taliban, before being brought back to India in 2005.
As part of its strategy of shaping up Afghanistan enough to begin to effect a withdrawal, the Obama administration has been determined to pressure Karzai into reducing corruption, which it sees as fuelling the insurgency. Part of this has involved a shift in public rhetoric right from the beginning, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referring to Afghanistan as a “narco-state” during her confirmation hearings before the US Senate. The choice of Karl Eikenberry as ambassador was seen as another move towards getting tough on Karzai. Eikenberry had been the top American commander in Afghanistan during the period that saw Karzai’s increasing estrangement from the West, when Karzai had been forced by the internationals to remove two of his allies that he had appointed as the governors of the key southern provinces Helmand and Uruzgan: Sher Mohammad Akhundzada and Jan Mohammed Khan. In a leaked set of classified cables to Washington sent in November 2009, just prior to the decision to surge in 30,000 additional US troops, Eikenberry criticised the military’s counterinsurgency strategy and argued that “President Karzai is not an adequate strategic partner.”

Relations further deteriorated as a result of the presidential elections, when high-ranking US officials such as Richard Holbrooke openly met with opposition candidates, in particular Abdullah. India came along for the ride, offering its own measured support for other candidates, as well as Karzai. At the Independence Day celebrations at the Indian Embassy on 15 August 2009, five days before the presidential election, Abdullah Abdullah was the most prominent Afghan guest in attendance. India’s then-ambassador, Jayant Prasad, took him from table to table, where he posed for pictures and chatted in his fluent Hindi with the guests, according to a source present at the event.

“Perhaps because the West was so critical of Karzai, India thought that perhaps the West would have enough leverage to bring in another candidate,” said Pant. “To balance that possibility, India started its outreach to other candidates, and that damaged the relationship with Karzai.”

In the end, India and the West miscalculated badly. Karzai hung on to office, and indeed, there was little chance that Abdullah could have won, especially in the south of the country. After all, despite the massive fraud, it was clear that out of all the candidates, Karzai had received the most support from the populace. The battle between Karzai and the international community only served to delegitimise both parties.

Even more serious damage to US-Karzai relations has been done by aggressive US efforts to tackle corruption within Karzai’s government, which was almost certainly an important factor in precipitating Atmar and Saleh’s downfall. Over the summer of 2009, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration moved to create two new units within the Ministry of the Interior: the Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF) and the Sensitive Investigations Unit (SIU). The idea was to insulate them politically from the rest of the government by providing them with their own judges, prosecutors, police officers and investigators, operating in conjunction with international mentors. Around the same time, the CIA helped the NDS and the Ministry of the Interior establish a joint wiretapping centre on the northern outskirts of Kabul. Karzai was reportedly unaware of the nature of these developments.

In January this year, the MCTF and the SIU raided the hawala money-transfer agency, the New Ansari Exchange, and seized some 42,000 documents. New Ansari was Afghanistan’s largest hawala company and had deep connections with the administration, including to Mahmoud Karzai, the President’s brother. Karzai was furious about the raid, summoning Hanif Atmar to an emergency cabinet meeting to complain, where he threatened to disband the investigative units, though Atmar himself had not been notified of the raid until moments before it occurred. There was a sense in the palace that these were American-controlled units that were running amok.

In March, Karzai issued a presidential decree bringing the Electoral Complaints Commission, which had been a thorn in his side during the election, under his direct control. In response, the White House revoked an invitation to visit that month, and Karzai, tit for tat, invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit, who flew to Kabul and delivered a speech laced with trenchant anti-American rhetoric.

In May, the White House and Karzai patched things up enough for Karzai to visit and hold a joint press conference with Obama. Then in June, at the height of international goodwill over the peace jirga, Karzai provoked Atmar and Saleh into resigning. The internationals were completely blindsided by the move.

US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS


Pakistan Military General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI Chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha have recently stepped up their visits to Kabul, influencing domestic matters. Here they meet US Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen and Scott Van Buskirk in 2008.
“The peace jirga, even though it was political theatre, it did actually empower Karzai,” said Kate Clark. “The foreigners were not in any position to go against him.”

Now Karzai had cleared the way for the coming showdown: In late July, the investigative units made their first move against a member of Karzai’s inner circle, arresting Mohammed Zia Salehi, Head of Administration in the National Security Council. Included in the evidence for the arrest were recorded conversations provided by the wiretapping centre set up under Atmar and Saleh. Karzai reacted immediately, personally ordering Salehi’s release and opening a commission tasked with an investigation into the MCTF and the SIU for, among other things, “human-rights abuses.”

The battle that ensued between Karzai and the US escalated to a level of open, public animosity not seen since the presidential election, with US officials leaking to the press that members of Karzai’s administration, including Salehi, were taking payments from the CIA. (Salehi, incidentally, is a former aide to Dostum who spent several years post- 2001 in Delhi serving as a key liaison with India.) In August, Karzai fired Fazel Ahmed Faqiryar, the Deputy Attorney General, for his resistance to blocking the investigations, and the Western-mentored corruption inquiries have been frozen, according to news reports. As a replacement for Saleh, Karzai selected the little-known engineer Rahmatullah Nabixl, a protégé of Ibrahim Spinzada, another Karzai loyalist who has become the eminence grise on the National Security Council and now the NDS. The appointment of Nabil, who had been head of Karzai’s security detail at the Presidential Palace, was a move seen to weaken the NDS and bring it more directly under his supervision. “He worries most about the Americans,” said a non-Western diplomat who meets regularly with Karzai.

The other factor behind India’s decline in influence in Kabul is that its erstwhile Northern Allies in the civil war, so dominant in 2001, have been gradually but inexorably pushed out of that position in a process that has been on one hand a natural reflection of the Pashtun plurality, and on the other a testament to Karzai’s cunning for consolidating his own power base. In the early years, Karzai deftly used international support for ‘institution-building’ to sideline mujahideen-era figures he found troublesome. In addition to pushing out Sherzai from Kandahar, Karzai had Ismail Khan removed as governor of Herat in 2004, and Dostum was forced to spend a year of exile in Turkey after he was nearly put in jail for kidnapping and assaulting an opponent in 2008, before Karzai enlisted him in his re-election campaign. Karzai has also succeeded in splitting and weakening many of the former northern blocks, a task made easy by the voracious corruption endemic to Afghanistan’s ruling elite, fuelled by international cash. For his vice presidents in the 2009 election he chose Karim Khalili, the Hazara warlord and Fahim, whose family’s business interests have become tightly interwoven with Karzai’s. The move put Khalili at odds with the leading Hazara politician, Mohammad Mohaqiq, and Fahim—who is now seriously ill with diabetes— has since fallen out with Abdullah Abdullah and Massoud’s two brothers, splitting the Panjshiris.

In his search for alternate allies, Karzai has made common cause with a number of former members of Hizb-e Islami, particularly at the district and provincial level. He's also brought some political operators who have helped build closer connections with elements of the former Taliban regime into his inner circle. One of the most important examples is Omer Daudzai, from Qarabagh, a former UNDP officer in Peshawar during the jihad. "He had very good relations with the Taliban when he was with UNDP," said a UN staffer in Kabul who had been present then.

Daudzai became Karzai’s chief of staff in 2003, and apart from a stint as ambassador to Iran from 2005 to 2007, has kept his influential position. He is now considered to be one of Karzai’s closest and most trusted aides, and India has watched his rising influence with anxiety. “Close to Iran, close to Pakistan, rumoured to still have good links with the Taliban,” was how a current Indian intelligence official categorised him.

Of course, Karzai continues his deft balancing act on the contradictory forces around him, and India doesn’t remain without friends in his government. Appointed as interior minister was the friendly figure of Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, a senior Shura-e Nazar figure close to Fahim, whose children are studying in India. “India insisted on someone who could guarantee their interests,” said a source familiar with discussions between Indian and Afghan officials in the wake of Saleh and Atmar’s resignations.

And Spanta—who went public with his unhappiness at Saleh’s resignation—remains Karzai’s designated man for moments when anti-Pakistan rhetoric needs to be cranked up. In a recent blistering op-ed in The Washington Post titled, ‘Pakistan is the Afghan war’s real aggressor,’ Spanta downplayed Afghan corruption as a cause of the insurgency and stated that “Pakistan continues to provide sanctuary and support to the Quetta Shura, the Haqqani network, the Hekmatyar group and Al Qaeda.”

Still the long-term trend seems clear to most observers. Karzai and Pakistan have powerful interests in common, given the American withdrawal. Nor is it just Karzai who is interested in improving relations with Pakistan. One Pakistani diplomat in Kabul ticked off a list of powerful northern figures who he claimed had made overtures to Pakistan, and then explained how the surge in ‘stabilisation’ funding for insurgency-afflicted areas in Afghanistan—most of it US money—has created powerful incentives for Afghan government figures to get a cut by working with Pakistani companies that could operate in Taliban-held areas. “Even Fahim has accepted the situation, and we’re getting along,” said the diplomat. “India can’t compete with Pakistan.”

T HE HAMID GUESTHOUSE sits on a busy side street in the heart of Kabul. It feels about as far away as you can get from the war in Afghanistan, but this February two gunmen rampaged here for hours, killing six Indian nationals, including two army officer
and an engineer, as well as eight Afghans, a French filmmaker and an Italian diplomat.

According to statements by Afghan and US intelligence officials, the attackers, who spoke Urdu to each other during the raid, were members of Lashkar-e Taiba that had been brought into the city via the logistics lines of the Haqqani network, an Afghan militant group based in North Waziristan in the Pakistani tribal areas that has close links with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Like the massive suicide car bomb attacks on the embassy in 2008 and 2009, Pakistan was a prime suspect, though the accusations were more muted than in 2008. At that time, immediately after the bombing, Manmohan Singh announced an additional 450 million dollars in aid to Afghanistan, a sign to Pakistan that India would not be deterred from its involvement there, but also a move that had some scratching their heads at the perverse incentives this involved. “What are we rewarding Afghanistan for?” said an Indian observer in Kabul. “Every time India gets attacked, the government responds with another pledge of millions of dollars.”

The lack of success of the US military’s surge and counterinsurgency campaign, and President Obama’s commitment that July 2011 will mark the beginning of the US troop withdrawal, has focused the region’s attention on a post-US Afghanistan. A high-level strategic review scheduled for December could bring additional impetus for a faster drawdown of US forces. While, given American concerns over the potential for terrorist attacks against the US emanating from the tribal regions, it seems implausible that the American military will completely leave Afghanistan in the near future. What has been abandoned is the hope of a military victory over the Taliban. In June, Admiral Michael Mullen, the highest-ranking officer in the US military, stated that there were no purely military solutions in Afghanistan and that “the only solution” was a political one.

“It came into focus earlier this year at the London conference,” said Pant, “where it was clear that India was marginal to the strategic landscape.” At the top-level London Conference on Afghanistan this January, it was established that a negotiated settlement was necessary, and that there should be a two-tiered process—a reintegration process where low-level combatants would be encouraged to quit fighting via economic incentives and the promise of amnesty, along with a reconciliation process whereby the Taliban leadership would be engaged in negotiations.

The problem, from India’s perspective, is that Pakistan retains close oversight over the senior Taliban leadership within its territory and thus an effective veto over the negotiation process. While Karzai has held discreet talks with members of the Taliban and other insurgent groups in the past, including recent meetings with delegates from Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s group, this January, Pakistan arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the number-two figure in the Quetta Shura, the Taliban’s senior leadership council. Afghan, US and Pakistani officials told The New York Times, among other newspapers, that Baradar had been arrested because he had been overly independent in his approaches with the Karzai administration.

Pakistan’s message seems to be: you go through us, or not at all. And the carrot has followed the stick: both General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha stepped up their visits to Karzai in Kabul this summer, reportedly offering to broker a deal with Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani. At the same time, there have been persistent rumours among palace insiders that Daudzai might be appointed as special emissary to Iran and Pakistan, a position that would put him in a key position in reconciliation efforts. Daudzai has played an active role in the past in organising the Karzai’s administrations contacts with insurgent groups.

One response to the increasing likelihood of a negotiation process is that India has sought greater cooperation with Iran and Russia on Afghanistan. “If the West is going to leave, if Pakistan retains an upper hand, we would once again see the kind of alliances and the kinds of things that were happening when the Soviets left,” said Pant.

Iran in particular has deep ties—it once hosted Gulbuddin Hekmatyar for six years after he fled the Taliban regime— and US and Afghan officials have accused it of low-level support to militant groups fighting in Afghanistan. Recently, there has been an increase in high-level diplomatic activity between Iran and India. “Suddenly there is a new momentum in the relationship,” said Pant. “Afghanistan has been big factor in cementing this relationship.”

A series of meetings held over the past three years in Dubai and the Maldives between current Afghan politicians and prominent figures linked to the Taliban and Hizb-e Islami have been partially funded with Iranian support via Hekmatyar’s son-in-law Humayoun Jarir, according to Afghans who have participated. But the US has been wary of a regional peace process, not least because Russia and Iran would both like to see the Americans eventually withdraw their troops from the region, a point of disagreement they have with India. There is also serious friction over one of India’s largest projects in Afghanistan, the 116 million-dollar Salma Dam in Herat, delayed by years because of insecurity and political issues, which Iran is disputing because of its effect on the Hari Rud, a river which flows across the border into eastern Khorasan.

The prospect of a US withdrawal, a collapse of the Karzai government in the face of an emboldened Taliban and increasing interference from regional actors has also raised the spectre of a resurrection of the centrifugal dynamics that plunged the country into its brutal civil war during the 1990s. In July, after his resignation, Saleh toured northern Afghanistan, holding public meetings where he warned of the danger of Karzai’s negotiations with the Taliban (he’s also started a popular Facebook page).

At the beginning of September there were rumours, carried by local television, that Abdullah, Saleh and Dostum had been in Delhi to receive Indian endorsement for the formation of a northern coalition, which were denied by Abdullah and Saleh. (Dostum had in fact visited Delhi during the last week of August, according to an Afghan source who met him while he was staying at the Taj Palace Hotel, though he said at the time that it was just to get his liver looked after.)

Some have even suggested that splitting Afghanistan along ethnic lines—an impossible task in reality—would be a solution to the country’s troubles. Robert Blackwill’s recent op-ed in the Financial Times, which called for a de facto partition of Afghanistan, has been well read and much discussed in Delhi. Blackwill, the US ambassador in Delhi during the first George W Bush administration, has worked as a paid lobbyist for the Indian government. There seemed to be the sentiment in Delhi that this was an eventuality that was at least no longer unthinkable. Of course, there is an element of strategic communication in the suggestion that a revival of a post-Soviet proxy war might be in the cards.

SHAH MARAI / AP PHOTO


Manmohan Singh is greeted by Karzai in Kabul in 2005. The first visit to Afghanistan by an Indian leader in 29 years.
“The idea is that by making the threat of a post-West Afghanistan look like a post-Soviet Afghanistan,” said Pant, “America can be forced to pressure Pakistan into some sort of accommodation with the other regional powers.”

The prospect of a divided Afghanistan, thrown back into brutal civil war, or a Taliban-governed Afghanistan, no longer so friendly to India, begs the question of what India’s vital interests in Afghanistan really are. The Indian government says that it wants a stable, democratic Afghanistan friendly to India, but the prospect of one that has all three characteristics is looking increasingly dim. Others would say India’s interest is access to Central Asian energy, or reducing the potential for terrorism such as the attacks in Mumbai. But on those grounds, India has little to show for its investment. Of course, one can make the case that the violence and destabilisation in Afghanistan has actually benefited India by weakening Pakistan and tying up its resources and military forces on its western border.

“When has a stable, strong enemy ever been to your benefit?” asked Sood. “That being said, they’ve diminished in a very dangerous kind of way.”

Of course, India has staked so much on its play in Afghanistan— its very role as a rising regional power—that its involvement has become something that justifies itself. “It has become almost a test case for India,” said Pant. And some wonder whether it has blinded India to larger concerns.

“Is it not our stakes in Afghanistan that have made us take Pakistan more seriously than they perhaps deserve to be seen nowadays?” asked one veteran Indian observer in Kabul.

If Afghanistan returns to a state of chaos, India may once again reap the whirlwind. But in preparing for the worst, whether with covert or overt action, might India hasten its onset? The tragedy, for ordinary Afghans, Indians, and Pakistanis alike, is that the Great Game might once again go from a nation-building project to proxy war.