July 16, 2011
Published: July 16, 2011
Blockade puts mining at one of the country’s largest sites in jeopardy . DESIGN: ANAM HALEEM
QUETTA: After rejecting a deal reached by fellow tribesmen, hundreds of Marri tribesmen backed by their tribal chief Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri have blocked transportation of coal from Chamalang Coal Mines to other parts of the country.
An agreement signed by Baloch Senator Mir Mohabbat Khan Marri, the elders of the Luni Pakhtun tribe and the government of Balochistan in 2006 led to the commencement of coal mining at the reserves.
The agreement led to extraction of 1.5 million tons coal worth Rs6 billion between 2007 and 2010, according to the official estimates. Chamalang coalmines located 70km south-east of Loralai has proven deposits of approximately 500 million tons worth Rs200 billion.
The establishment hired the services of Mir Mohabat Khan Marri, a known rival of tribal chief Nawab Khair Bakhsh, to reach an agreement between the Baloch and Pakhtun tribes in order to start operations at the coal site that could not be utilised due to clashes for at least 30 years.
Karachi-based Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Marri, who is leading the separatist movement in Balochistan, is against sharing of the coal reserves found in his tribal domain with the rival Pakhtun tribe and the provincial government. The resisting Marri tribesmen claim that Senator Mir Mohabbat Khan Marri was not empowered to sign the accord on behalf of their tribe as Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri was the competent authority.
The Luni tribe which also has a large influence in Loralai district with neighbouring Marri tribes in Kohlu district is also not willing to give up their right of ownership without a fight.
More than 55,000 people from Balochistan, Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa and Punjab have been engaged in coal mining at the project since 2007.
Officials claim that the project is the largest revenue generation venture after Saindak Copper and Chaghi marble mines.
In the latest incident, four tribesmen and a security official were killed on Thursday when tribesmen attacked a vehicle loading coal at the site.
At least five drivers of the trucks transporting coal from the Chamalang mines have been killed by the armed Marri tribesmen in the last month, according to official sources. They have also set on fire two trucks loaded with the coal on the mining site.
More than 800 army personnel, 250 frontier corps, 450 Balochistan constabulary, 50 Kohlu police and 2,000 personnel of Chamalang levies from Marri tribes are employed for security at the site.
The Balochistan Truck Owners Association blocked the Quetta-Dera Ghazi Khan highway for over two hours on Wednesday to protest against the killing of the drivers.
The protestors while demanding protection against the attacks by the Marri tribesmen claimed that more then 12 drivers have lost their lives.
More then 70 people from the rival Baloch and Pakhtun tribes have lost their lives during armed clashes while attempting to capture the coal mining site.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2011.
July 15, 2011
Q.Can the three blasts in Mumbai on July 13,2011, be attributed to an intelligence failure?
A.Yes. I have always held that every successful terrorist strike is due to eitheran intelligence or a security failure or both.
Q.But the Home Minister ShriP.Chidambaram has said that despite there being no flow of intelligence, there was no intelligence failure. What did he mean by it?
A.Many, including some foreign analysts, have been mystified by his remarks.Most of the queries that I received from abroad sought my explanation of his remarks. I replied that what he probably meant was that while there was no intelligence indicating the possibility of the blasts, he would not attribute the paucity of intelligence to any failure on the part of the agencies.They tried their best to collect intelligence, but this particular intelligence did not come their way. That is what he appears to have meant.
Q. Would you accept his explanation?
A. There was definitely a failure of intelligence.Whether this was due to any institutional failure on the part of the intelligence agencies or not could be established only by an enquiry into how the terrorists managed to carry out the successful strikes. Unfortunately, after each terrorist strike, our Government has avoided holding a detailed enquiry as to how the terrorists succeeded. The enquiry ordered by the Maharashtra State Govt after the 26/11 terrorist strikes only went into the deficiencies of the police. The deficiencies of the central agencies were not enquired into by the Government of India.The result: We have not learnt the right lessons. That is why most of our discourse on dealing with terrorism is on general terms and not in specific terms as a result of lessons drawn from each strike. In other countries, each strike involving large casualties or damage is followed by a detailed enquiry to draw the right lessons.
Q.Presuming there was an intelligence failure, where and how did it occur?
A. As of now there are four possibilities.Either the terrorist strike was carried out by a reactivated old cell of an existing indigenous organisation which had been lying dormant because of the stepped up security measures after 26/11 or it was carried out by a new cell of a new indigenous organisation or by one or more angry indigenous individuals with no organisational affiliation.If it was the first possibility, the surveillance of the old cells was apparently unsatisfactory. If it was the second or third, apparently their coming into being had escaped the attention of the agencies and the police. If these three possibilities involving indigenous elements are ruled out, there is a fourth possibility of the commission of the attack by external elements which had managed to sneak into India despite the stepped up immigration controls introduced after the 26/11 strikes.
Q.What could this be due to?
A. Poor penetration of terrorist organisations---old or new. Timely human intelligence comes through successful penetration. Good penetration comes through good contacts in the community from which the terrorist organisation or individual terrorists have arisen. There is always a reluctance on the part of the community to co-operate with the police against its members suspected of involvement in terrorism. The available means of overcoming this resistance have to be examined.
Q. How about technical intelligence (TECHINT)?
A. There does not appear to have been any TECHINT in the form of electronic chatter through telephones or the Internet. This could be due to gaps in the TECHINT capability of the agencies or the successful adoption of evasive techniques by the terrorists or their not adopting any of the technical means for communication among themselves. What exactly was the reason for the non-flow of TECHINT could be established only if and when one or more of the perpetrators are arrested and interrogated.
Q.Any other point that needs to be considered?
A. There was possibly a certain complacency on the part of the intelligence agencies since there had been no major terrorist strike for some months. The terrorists probably noticed the slackening of vigilance and struck.
Q. Could there have been a security failure that was behind the successful terrorist strike?
A. One security dimension comes into the picture in respect of the procurement of the materials required for the improvisation of an explosive device. Three kinds of materials are required for an IED--- the explosive itself, the detonator and the timer or a remote control device. The final results of the forensic examination are not yet available. The present indicators are that the terrorists had used ammonium nitrate possibly with a booster and made more lethal than normal by mixing it with projectiles and furnace oil, and a timer, possibly the alarm mechanism of a mobile telephone. The ammonium nitrate which is the ingredient of nitrogenous fertilisers is easily available for procurement in India. After the use of the ammonium nitrate in large quantities in the attempt to blow up the New York World trade Centre in February,1993, by RamziYousef and its subsequent use in other terrorist strikes many Western countries are reported to have issued instructions to all wholesale and retail dealers in fertilisers that they should alert the police if any suspicious-looking person, who is not a genuine farmer, seeks to procure nitrogenous fertilisers. A terrorist cell was disrupted in Canada when one of its members tried to procure a large quantity of fertilisers and the dealer, who became suspicious, alerted the police. In India, it is difficult to impose such curbs since terrorists can easily procure the ammonium nitrate from friends in the farmer community instead of from a dealer.The alarm mechanism of a mobile telephone can also be easily procured without attracting suspicion. Procurement of detonators can cause suspicion, but here too one can easily procure from friends in the community of industrial users of detonators such as granite quarry owners. Al Umma of Tamil Nadu reportedly stole detonators from quarry owners. It, therefore, becomes difficult to detect the preparations for an act of terrorism at the stage of procurement of the IED components unless the terrorists use military-grade explosives procured either locally or from other countries.
Another security dimension arises in respect of the planting of the IEDs after they have been assembled clandestinely. The planting could be prevented in places where there is an access control. In public places, where there is no access control, it becomes very difficult to prevent the planting of an IED unless it is detected accidentally as it was in respect of the jihadi bomber who sought to plant an IED in the Times Square of New York last year. His IED, at the time of planting, reportedly started emitting smoke. An alert member of the public noticed it and he was caught and the IED neutralised. It was more luck than physical security which prevented this attempted strike.
The third dimension is about the utility of Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) cameras. The CCTV can help prevent the planting of an IED in an infrastructure building where there is a central control room constantly monitoring the happenings with the help of CCTV images. CCTV cameras have a very limited preventiverole in public places such as crowded streets. They are helpful in investigation after the blasts had taken place, but not in detecting the planting of the IEDs. The CCTV cameras in the London tube stations helped in identifying the perpetrators after they had carried out the terrorist strikes in July,2005. They could not help in prevention.
It has been reported that CCTV footages are available in respect of the Opera House scene in Mumbai where one of the IEDs was planted. Their examination could help the investigators if heavy rain during the planting had not affected the quality of the images.
The only way of detecting an IED in a public place with no access control is through the alertness of the public. They have to be constantly briefed by the police as to what to look for.
Q.It has been reported that there were heavy rains before, during and after the blasts. Any comments on that?
A. It is remarkable that despite the rains all the three IEDs detonated at the fixed time without any malfunctioning. This would indicate that the perpetrators had taken the required precautions to ensure that the rains would not affect the detonation of the IEDs at the fixed time. This speaks well of the quality of expertise of the perpetrators. They were not novices.
It has been reported that the police were facing difficulty in determining where exactly the IEDs were planted. This could have been due to the rains. After a blast, two kinds of examinations are done---the visual and the forensic. During the visual examination, one looks for indicators like craters caused by the detonation, the kind of debris at the scene including the remnants of the detonator and the timer etc.The rains would have definitely created difficulties in the visual and forensic examination. It is ironic, but normal that while the rains seem to have created difficulties for the investigators, they do not seem to have created difficulties for the perpetrators.
“The Hindu” (July 16) has reported that the police have since established that one of the IEDs was kept in a scooter.
Q. There has been talk of a wired body being found near the scene in the Zaveri Bazaar area. Could this indicate that one of the blasts might have been caused by a suicide bomber?
A. If a suicide bomber was involved his body would not have been found intact.If the IED was fixed to the upper part of the body his head would have been severed by the force of the blast and thrown far away. If the IED was fixed in the lower part of the body, the legs would have been severed. If the dead body was intact, the possibility of a suicide explosion becomes less. But, how to explain the wires around the body? The answer to this could be found only by the investigators.
Suicide terrorism is a common feature in Pakistan since 2007. In India, we have had instances of suicidal terrorism (fedayeen attacks) against heavily protected targets, but not suicide terrorism except by the LTTE when it killed Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. If it is established that one of the blasts was caused by a suicide terrorist, this would indicate the definitive involvement of jihadi terrorists.
“The Hindu” (July 16) has reported that the Mumbai Police have identified the dead body and ruled out a suicide bomber. There was no wire on his body, but only an electronic chip inside one of his injuries. This might have got embedded due to the force of the blast. However, there has been no official statement from the Police so far.
Q. Who might have been responsible for the explosions?
A. So far, there are no clear indicators. There has been no claim of responsibility. If Indigenous elements were involved there was a possibility that claims of responsibility would have been made. The Indian Mujahideen (IM) had in the past claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks carried out by it. Pakistani organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) claim responsibility when they carry out a strike in Jammu & Kashmir. When they carry out a strike outside J&K, they either do not claim responsibility or do so in the name of a fictitious organisation of India. After 26/11, the LET claimed responsibility in the name of a fictitious organisation called the Deccan Mujahideen.If individual jihadis, without organisational affiliation, who are called Jundullas (Soldiers of Allah) are involved, no claim of responsibility is made.There is no evidence so far on the basis of which a reasonable surmise could be made as to who might have been responsible.
Q. ShriPrithvirajChavan, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, has said that mobile phone services literally collapsed for 15 minutes after the blasts making it difficult for him to communicate with the police.
A. Nothing surprising. This happened in London immediately after the blasts of July 2005. Thousands and thousands of anxious persons were trying to contact their relatives. The mobile services got jammed preventing the Police Commissioner from contacting his men in the field. The police thought of advising mobile companies to suspend their services, but did not do so due to a fear that this might add to the panic. Corrective measures were reportedly taken subsequently. I was under the impression that corrective measures had been taken in India too, because one had not heard of such collapse of the mobile services after the explosions of 2008 by the IM in Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru or during the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai. Why this happened this time? This needs to be examined. ( 16-7-11)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: SORBONNE75 )
F. William Engdahl describes US interventions as "creative destruction." The template for such covert regime change has been developed by the Pentagon, US intelligence agencies and various think-tanks such as RAND Corporation over decades. Engdahl goes back to the beginning with the May 1968 destabilization of the de Gaulle presidency in France. But it has been started in the Arab world from the February uprising in Tunisia this year but after the US franchised street revolutions leading to regime changes and installation of US friendly regimes in Eastern Europe and even in central Asia , where it did not succeed much .
Engdahl observes that “it is a strategy born of a certain desperation and one not without significant risk for the Pentagon and for the long-term Wall Street agenda. What the outcome will be for the peoples of the region and for the world is as yet unclear.” Indians , even diplomats and civil servants ,find such articles and my views anti-American .I only tell the truth and my predictions happen to come true .
I was posted in Jordan (1989-92) and made many visits to Syria and earlier ,visits to Iraq and Iran with 8 years (1969-73 and 1992-92 ) as a diplomat and tw eyars as a journalist in Turkey ,the consequences of US policies make me shudder .Look at Iraq Saudis the bagmen cannot comprehend what they are doing facing an existential threat .Turkey is going Islamic and lecturing Assad of Syria and recognizing Islamist rebels in Benghazi , while its own Kurds remain in semi revolt . .
If Washington succeeds in Syria , the region would as destabilized and embroiled in terror and destruction as south west Asia is .In this Mumbai 13 July 2011 is but a spark from the AfPk creative destruction .After all who financed and trained all these Jihadis and terrorists in AF-Pak since 1980s and copycats.
Ironically , Israel which US is supposed to protect and strengthen is uneasy. Six years ago Lebanese Hezbollah had beaten the hell out of the super IDF commandos Imagine surrounded by Salafis and Zarqavis and their kinds , that too Iraq and Af-Pak battle hardened around and in Gaza ,Palestine and Jordan also.
Below is a very perceptive article on the situation in and around Syria by Alastair Crooke
Amb (Retd) K.Gajendra Singh 16 July, 2011,MayurVihar, Delhi
Unfolding the Syrian paradox
By Alastair Crooke Asia Times 15 July 2011
Can Syria properly be understood as an example of a "pure" Arab popular revolution, an uprising of non-violent, liberal protest against tyranny that has been met only by repression? I believe this narrative to be a complete misreading, deliberately contrived to serve quite separate ambitions. The consequences of turning a blind eye to the reality of what is happening in Syria entails huge risk: the potential of sectarian conflict that would not be confined to Syria alone.
One of the problems with unfolding the Syria paradox is that there is indeed a genuine, domestic demand for change. A huge majority of Syrians want reform. They feel the claustrophobia of the state's inert heavy-handedness and of the bureaucracy's haughty indifference toward their daily trials and tribulations. Syrians resent the pervasive corruption, and the arbitrary tentacles of the security authorities intruding into most areas of daily life. But is the widespread demand for reform itself the explanation for the violence in Syria, as many claim?
There is this mass demand for reform. But paradoxically - and contrary to the "awakening" narrative - most Syrians also believe that President Bashar al-Assad shares their conviction for reform. The populations of Damascus, Aleppo, the middle class, the merchant class, and non-Sunni minorities (who amount to one quarter of the population), among others, including the leadership of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, fall into this category. They also believe there is no credible "other" that could bring reform.
What then is going on? Why has the conflict become so polarized and bitter, if there is indeed such broad consensus?
I believe the roots of the bitterness lie in Iraq, rather than in Syria, in two distinct ways. Firstly, they extend back into the thinking of the Sunni jihadi trend, as advanced by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which evolved in Iraq, surfaced violently in Lebanon, and was transposed into Syria with the return of many Syrian Salafist veterans at the "end" of the Iraq conflict.
Secondly, and separately, the bitterness in Syria is also linked to a profound sense of Sunni grievance felt by certain Arab states at Sunni political disempowerment following Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki's rise to power in Iraq, for which they hold Assad responsible.
In a precursor to present events in Syria, the Lebanese army too in 2007 battled with a group of Sunni militants of diverse nationalities who had all fought in Iraq. The group, Fateh al-Islam, had infiltrated Naher al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon from Syria, and had married into Palestinian families living there.
Although the core of foreign fighters was quite small in number, they were well-armed and experienced in urban combat. They attracted a certain amount of local Lebanese support too. That bloody conflict with Lebanon's army endured for more than three months. At the end, Naher al-Bared was in ruins; and 168 of the Lebanese army lay dead.
That event was the culmination of a pattern of movements from Afghanistan and across the region into, and from, Iraq. Most of these radicalized Sunnis coming to fight the United States occupation had gravitated towards groups loosely associated with Zarqawi. Zarqawi's al-Qaeda affiliation is not of particular significance to Syria today, but the Zarqawi "Syria" doctrine that evolved in Iraq, is crucial.
Zarqawi, like other Salafists, rejected the artificial frontiers and national divisions inherited from colonialism. Instead, he insisted on calling the aggregate of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan, and parts of Turkey and Iraq by its old name: "Bilad a-Sham". Zarqawi and his followers were virulently anti-Shi'ite - much more so than early al-Qaeda - and asserted that a-Sham was a core Sunni patrimony that had been overtaken by the Shi'ites.
According to this narrative, the Sunni heartland, Syria, had been usurped for the last 40 years by the Shi'ite al-Assads (Alawites are an orientation within Shi'ism). The rise of Hezbollah, facilitated in part by Assad, further eroded Lebanon's Sunni character, too. Likewise, they point to Assad's alleged undercutting of former Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi as an act which had delivered Iraq to the Shi'ites, namely to Malaki.
From this deep grievance at Sunni disempowerment, Zarqawi allies developed a doctrine in which Syria and Lebanon were no longer platforms from which to launch jihad, but the sites for jihad (against the Shi'ites as much as others). The Syrian Salafists eventually were to return home, nursing this grievance. Many of them - Syrians and non-Syrians - settled in the rural villages lying adjacent to Lebanon and Turkey, and similarly to their confreres in Naher al-Barad, they married locally.
It is these elements - as in Lebanon in 2007 - who are the mainspring of armed violence against the Syrian security services. Unlike Egypt or Tunisia, Syria has experienced hundreds of dead and many hundreds of wounded members of the security forces and police. (Daraa is different: the armed element consists of Bedouin who migrate between Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria).
It is difficult to establish numbers, but perhaps 40,000-50,000 Syrians fought in Iraq. With their marriage into local communities, their support base is more extensive than actual numbers that travelled to Iraq. Their objective in Syria is similar to that in Iraq: to establish the conditions for jihad in Syria through exacerbating sectarian animosities - just as Zarqawi did in Iraq through his attacks on the Shi'ites and their shrines. Likewise, they seek a foothold in north-eastern Syria for a Salafist Islamic emirate, which would operate autonomously from the state's authority.
This segment to the opposition is not interested in "reform" or democracy: They state clearly and publicly that if it costs two million lives to overthrow the "Shi'ite" Alawites the sacrifice will have been worth the loss. Drafting of legislation permitting new political parties or expanding press freedom are matters of complete indifference for them. The Zarqawi movement rejects Western politics outright.
These Salafi groups are the first side of the Syrian "box": they do not conform to a single organization, but are generally locally-led and autonomous. Loosely inter-connected through a system of communications, they are well-financed and are externally linked.
The second side to the Syrian box are some exile groups: they too are well-financed by the US government and other foreign sources, and have external connections both in the region and the West. Some 2009 cables from the US Embassy in Damascus reveal how a number of these groups and TV stations linked to them have received tens of millions of dollars for their work from the State Department and US-based foundations, along with training and technical assistance. These exile movements believe they can successfully use the Salafist insurgents for their own ends.
The exiles hoped that a Salafist insurrection against the state - albeit confined initially to the periphery of Syria - would provoke such a backlash from the Syrian government that, in turn, a mass of people would be polarized into hostility to the state, and ultimately Western intervention in Syria would become inevitable - ideally following the Libyan model in Benghazi.
That has not happened, although Western leaders, such as French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, have done much to keep this prospect alive. It is the exiles, often secular and leftist, that are trying to "fix" the Syria narrative for the media. These expatriates have coached the Salafists in "color" revolution techniques in order to portray an unalloyed story of massive and unprovoked repression by a regime refusing reform, whilst the army disintegrates under the pressure of being compelled to kill its countrymen.
Al-Jazeera and al-Arabia have cooperated in advancing this narrative by broadcasting anonymous eyewitness accounts and video footage, without asking questions (see Ibrahim Al-Aminehere, for instance).
Yet the Salafists understand that the exiles are using them to provoke incidents, and then to corroborate a media narrative of repression by the external opposition; this might actually serve Salafist interests, too.
These two components may be relatively small in numbers, but the emotional pull from the heightened voice of Sunni grievance - and its need for redress has a much wider and more significant constituency. It is easily fanned into action, both in Syria and in the region as a whole.
Saudi Arabia and Gulf states explicitly trade on fears of Shi'ite "expansionism" to justify Gulf Cooperation Council repression in Bahrain and intervention in Yemen, and the "voice" of assertive sectarianism is being megaphoned into Syria too.
Sunni clerical voices are touting the Arab "awakening" as the "Sunni revolution" in riposte to the Shi'ite revolution of Iran. In March, al-Jazeera broadcast a sermon by Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, which raised the banner of the restoration of Sunni ascendency in Syria. Qaradawi, who is based in Qatar, was joined by Saudi cleric Saleh Al-Luhaidan who urged, "Kill a third of Syrians so the other two-thirds may live."
Clearly many of the protesters in traditional centers of Sunni irredentism, such as Homs and Hama in Syria, comprise of aggrieved Sunnis seeking the Alawites ouster, and a return to Sunni ascendency. These are not Salafists, but mainstream Syrians for whom the elements of Sunni ascendency, irredentism and reformism have conflated into a sole demand. This is a very frightening prospect for the quarter of the Syrians that form the non-Sunni minorities.
The marginalization of Sunnis in Iraq, Syria and more recently in Lebanon has aggrieved the Saudis and some Gulf states as much as it did the Salafists. The perception that Assad betrayed the Sunni interest in Iraq - although inaccurate - does help account for the vehemence of the Qatari-funded al-Jazeera's pre-prepared information campaign against Assad.
The French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur has reported on one Stockholm media activist who paid an early secret visit to Doha, where al-Jazeera executives offered open access to the pan-Arab channel and coached the person in how to make his videos harder hitting: "Film women and children. Insist that that they use pacificist slogans."
In contrast, Arabic press reports have been plain about the demands of Assad that Gulf states (the "Arabs of America") and European envoys are insisting on, in return for their support. Ibrahim al-Amine, chief editor of the independent newspaper al-Akhbar, listed reform steps, which consist of disbanding the ruling party, initiating new legislation on political parties and the press, the dismissing certain officials, withdrawing the army from the streets, and beginning direct and intensive negotiations with Israel.
The envoys also suggested that such reforms might provide Assad with the pretext to break his alliance with Hezbollah and Hamas, in addition to severing the resistance aspect of Damascus's relationship with Tehran.
Making these steps, diplomats have suggested, would facilitate improved relations with Arab states and international capitals and the prospect that oil-rich Arab states would offer Assad a $20 billion aid package, in order to smooth Assad's path away from any economic dependency on Iran.
All of this underlines to the other dimension to events in Syria: its strategic position as the keystone of the arch spanning from southern Lebanon to Iran. It is this role that those in the US and Europe that concern themselves primarily with Israel's security, have sought to displace. It is not so clear, however, whether Israel is as anxious as some Western officials to see Assad toppled. Israeli officials profess respect for the president. And if Assad
were to go, no one knows what may follow in Syria.
The US has a record of attempting to intervene in Syria that even predates the US Central Intelligence Agency's and British intelligence's 1953 coup in Iran against prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.
Between 1947 and 1949, American government officials intervened in Syria. Their aim was to liberate the Syrian people from a corrupt autocratic elite. What resulted was a disaster and led ultimately to the rise to power of the Assad family. Western powers may no longer remember this history, but as one BBC commentator recently noted, the Syrians surely do.
Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US effectively has been threatening the Syrian president with continuing ultimata to make peace with Israel - in a closely worked double act with Paris. Assad's rejection of that 2003 threat has given rise to a ratcheting sequence of pressures and threats to the Syrian president, including action at the United Nations Security Council; the Special Tribunal on Lebanon over the killing of former premier Rafik al-Hariri and Israeli military action to damage Hezbollah and so to shift the balance of power in Lebanon to Assad's disadvantage.
The US also began the liberal funding of Syrian opposition groups since at least 2005; and more recently the training of activists, including Syrian activists, on the means to avoid arrest and on secure communications techniques using unlicensed telephone networks and Internet software.
It is these techniques, plus the training of activists by Western non-governmental organizations and other media outlets, that also serve armed, militarized insurrection - as well as peaceful pro-democracy protest movements.
The US has also been active in funding directly or indirectly human-rights centers that have been so active in providing the unverified casualty figures and eyewitness accounts to the media activists. Some such as the Damascus Center for Human Rights states its partnership with the US National Endowment for Democracy and others receive funding from, for example, the Democracy Council and the International Republican Institute.
The Syrian government's decision to ban foreign journalists has of course contributed to giving external activist sources of information the free hand by which to dominate the media narrative on Syria.
The missing side of the Syrian Pandora's box, which has been omitted until now, is that of the Syrian army and its response to the protests. The largely Russian-trained army has no experience fighting in a complicated urban setting in which there are genuine protesters together with a small number of armed insurgents who do possess urban warfare and ambush experience from Iraq, and are intent on provoking confrontation with the security forces.
The Syrian army lacks experience in counter-insurgency; it was groomed in the Warsaw Pact school of grand maneuvers and heavy brigades, in which the word "nuance" forms no part of the vocabulary. Tanks and armored brigades are wholly unsuited for crowd control operations, especially in narrow, congested areas. It's no surprise that such military movements killed unarmed protesters that were caught in the middle, inflaming tensions with genuine reformists and disconcerting the public.
Initially, army esteem was affected by the criticism. Though the stories of army mass desertion are disinformation, there was some erosion of military self-confidence at lower levels of command. And public confidence in the military wobbled, too, as casualties mounted. But it was a "wobble" that ended with the dramatic conflict around Jisr al-Shagour in mid-June, near the Turkish border.
Just as the Lebanese nation rallied behind its army in the conflict of Naher al-Bared, so too the Syrians rallied behind their army in the face of the Salafist attack firstly on the police, and subsequently on the army and on state institutions in Jisr. And, as the details of the Jisr al-Shagour conflict unrolled before the public, sentiment turned bitter towards the insurrectionists, possibly decisively.
The images from Jisr, as well as other videos circulating of lynchings and attacks on the security forces will have shocked many Syrians, who will have perceived in them the same cruel "blood lust" that accompanied the images of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's hanging in 2006.
The Jisr events may prove to have been a pivotal moment. Army self-confidence and honor is on the rise, and the public majority now see in a way that was less evident earlier that Syria faces a serious threat unrelated to any reform agenda. Sentiment has tipped away from thinking in terms of immediate reform.
Public opinion is polarized and embittered towards the Salafists and their allies. Leftist, secular opposition circles are distancing themselves from the Salafist violence - the inherent contradiction of the divergent aspirations of the "exiles" and the Salafists, from the Syrian majority consensus, is now starkly manifest. This, essentially, is the last side to the paradoxical Syrian "box".
In this atmosphere, dramatic reform might well be viewed by the president's supporters as signaling weakness, even appeasement to those responsible for killing so many police and army officers at Jisr. Not surprisingly, Assad chose to use last week's speech to speak to his constituency: to state the difficulties and threats facing Syria, but also to lay out the road map towards an exit from danger and towards substantive reform.
Western comment overwhelmingly has described the speech as "disappointing" or "short on specifics", but this misses the point. Whereas earlier, a dramatic reform shock, such as advocated by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu might, at a certain point, have had a transformatory "shock" effect; it is doubtful that it would achieve that now.
On the contrary, any hint of concessions having being wrested from the government by the type of violence seen at Jisr would likely anger Assad's own constituency; and yet improbably would never transcend the categorical rejection of the militant opposition seeking to exacerbate tensions to the point of making the West determined to intervene.
By carefully setting out of some very deliberate steps and processes ahead, Assad has correctly read the mood of the majority in Syria. Time will be the judge, but Assad seems set to emerge from a complicated parallel series of challenges directed towards him from movements and states which reflect a range of grievances, special interests, and motivations. The roots of all these are very far removed from issues of legislative and political reform in Syria.
It would hardly be surprising were Assad to see the aggregate of such measures against him effectively to constitute the mounting of a soft coup. He may query the extent of US President Barack Obama's knowledge of what has been occurring in Syria. It seems unlikely that US officials were wholly ignorant or unaware of the matrix of threats converging to threaten Assad's stability.
And if so, it will not be for the first time that Syrian officials have noted a "left" hand-"right" hand dysfunctionality in the Obama style of foreign policy, whereby contradictory policy approaches are pursued simultaneously by different US officials.
If, as seems likely, Assad does emerge from all the challenges, the tenor of his recent response to Arab and European envoys suggests that reform will be pursued, in part, to protect Syria's resistance ethos from such challenges in the future.
In 2007, Assad noted wryly, in an unscripted addition to his speech, that he had not had the time to pursue effective reform: "We did not even have time to discuss any idea related to the party law among others. At a certain stage, the economy was a priority, but we did not have time to tackle the economic situation. We have been engaged in a decisive battle [on the external front]; and we had to win. There was no other option ..."
Now "reform" is the existential external front. But if the intent of all this was intended to shift the strategic balance in the Middle East, it has not worked. It is unlikely that Assad will emerge more pliable to Western challenges - any more than he has in the past.
Alastair Crooke is founder and director of Conflicts Forum and is a former adviser to the former EU Foreign Policy Chief, Javier Solana, from 1997-2003.
(Copyright 2011 Alastair Crooke.)
July 14, 2011
|New Delhi, Jul 14 (PTI)|
Terror attack in Mumbai will lend a sharper edge to the discussions US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will have with Indian leadership next week as part of Indo-US strategic dialogue that will also focus on situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan and nuclear cooperation apart from counter-terrorism.
|Noting that India and the US were "much closer" and the security exchanges were more frequent, Charge d'Affaires Peter Burleigh today said both sides are committed to a "long-term" partnership which covers almost every "conceivable" issue from education to counter-terrorism in the bilateral relationship.|
"We are committed to this important relationship with India with regard to cooperation in counter-terrorism and security concerns and we will be as responsive as we can be.
"We have very close relationship with India in counter- terrorism and security issues, that has thickened and broadened dramatically over the past couple of years. The process has been going for several years but particularly after Mumbai attacks in 2008.... We have been intimately involved," he told reporters here.
Asked if the US had any intelligence input on yesterday's attack, the envoy said, "Not to the best of (my) knowledge" while noting that apart from exchanging views on various groups and challenges that confront both the countries, the US shares any kind of information that "impacts security of India".
On a query whether the US will grant access to India to terrorists David Headley and Tahawwur Rana, currently in custody of the US, he said, "This is something we continue to discuss, US inclination is to be accommodating to Indian request but judicial process makes it more complex."
Burleigh said the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan will also figure importantly with Clinton expected to talk about US relationship with Pakistan and would like to hear about the evolving Indo-Pak discussions from her counterpart S M Krishna.
The Secretary of State would also brief India about Washington's negotiations with a section of the Taliban and discuss the drawdown strategy in Afghanistan, he said, adding, "We have been keeping the Indian government informed about preliminary discussions with a section of the Taliban leadership".
The envoy said the US is also aware of the Indian concerns over some aspects of the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. Noting that the US and India have robust interaction on Afghanistan, Burleigh said his country "welcomes" New Delhi's role in the reconstruction and development of the war-torn country.
He also reiterated his country's commitment for the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement, saying, "We are fully committed to implementing our previous agreement, including the 123 (bilateral civil nuclear accord) and nuclear waiver (granted by the NSG in September 2008)."
"No doubt it will be discussed (during the strategic dialogue)" and like other countries, the US would also want its companies to get nuclear contracts in India, he said.
Emphasising that the US has removed most of Indian entities from the export control list, he also assured that the existing barriers in the way of high-tech trade will come down soon. "We would like to see expanded trade in high technology," he said.
While in the Musharraf era, the focus of the establishment was to eliminate patriots from the Baloch tribal elite such as Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the current strategy has shifted to the destruction of the middle strata leadership to weaken the grassroots connections and Baloch intelligentsia
Despite the tall claims, in the last six decades no Pakistani government has ceased its policy of exploitation, extermination and elimination of moderate Baloch political leaders and activists. The cold-blooded murder of former Senator Habib Jalib Baloch, sectary general of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), including target killing of Maula Bakhsh Dashti in Turbat, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in August 2006, Mir Balaach Marri in November 2007, Zahid Baloch in 2008, brutal daylight abductions and killing of three senior Baloch leaders in April 2009 and assassination attempt on prominent Baloch intellectual Jan Mohammad Dashti in February 2009 are a fraction of systematic and slow-motion “genocide” in Balochistan, an ongoing process that has been taking place since 1948.
Habib Jalib, a former Chairman of the Baloch Student Organisation (BSO), was a committed fellow. He was not just a Baloch nationalist but a human rights defender, intellectual, author, Supreme Court lawyer, ex-parliamentarian and an active political campaigner.
Systematic killing of Habib Jalib Baloch was the beginning of Islamabad’s policy of “kill and dump” in Balochistan. Authorities wanted to ensure that they would continue their brutalities in a threat-free environment, silencing strong Baloch voices before the launch of a full-fledged genocidal operation.
There cannot be a greater loss to the Baloch nationalist movement than the cold-blooded murder of ideological, educated and rational leaders. Jalib was a literate leader of the Baloch movement who had a clear sense of Baloch nationalism. Along with Ghulam Mohammad Baloch and Maula Baksh Dashti, he also belonged to a middle-class family. He was purely a self-made man who was widely respected in the BNP cadre as well as in other political parties. The killing of Dashti and now that of Jalib proves that NP and BNP face a common threat, which needs to be fought with unity.
The people of Balochistan are going through a very painful period of their history. The Baloch history is full of violent conflicts. They had a long struggle against British colonialism, conflict with Afghans, Iran and encroachers, but they did not experience such a brutal and inhuman repression by any regime and state that they are experiencing by the hands of the “rulers” in Islamabad.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP’s) recent report, “By far the largest number of enforced disappearances in any province of the country has been reported from Balochistan. In a recent aggravation, bodies of missing persons have started turning up in the province with increasing frequency. The right to life and freedom from arbitrary detention is violated with impunity.”
The century-long conflict with British started after killing of Khan of Kalat Mir Mehrab Khan in November 1839 and continued till 1947. During the colonial era not a single case of enforced disappearances was reported and neither was there a humiliating case of killing a Baloch elder or political activist. They jailed, punished and even executed several “rebels” but in a very lawful and respectable manner.
But unfortunately, the state of Pakistan and its security apparatus have been employing brute methods to silence the people’s voice for self-determination and equality.
A fresh episode of Baloch-Islamabad conflict intensified in March 2005. The world watched incredulously as Pervez Musharraf declared an all-out war on Balochistan — on Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Makran, Jalawan and particularly against Nawab Bugti. Tanks rolled into Dera Bugti and other parts of Balochistan in January 2005, forces began to smash Bugti’s house and Dera Bugti town, killing dozens of civilians and leaving him besieged in a few rooms without electricity and water. Then Musharraf came up with an aggressive and inhuman plan to use all available air and ground power to eliminate Nawab Bugti.
In order to silence Baloch political dissidents, General Musharraf sanctioned the state-sponsored practice of enforced disappearances, abducting family members, relatives and even female members of top political activists to divert their attention and compelled them to remain quiet during the military operation in the province.
Islamabad could not get away with a strong perception and the fact that prevails in Balochistan regarding the discriminatory and abusive role of military and paramilitary forces in prolonging political conflict. There is a common understanding and opinion that certain security agencies and their death squads are involve in assassinating high-profile Baloch leaders and activists.
While in the Musharraf era, the focus of the establishment was to eliminate patriots from the Baloch tribal elite such as Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the current strategy has shifted to the destruction of the middle strata leadership to weaken the grassroots connections and Baloch intelligentsia.
The impact of Islamabad’s harsh and inhuman policies has been particularly severe in the province. The current and long-term consequences of this practice pose a serious detriment to the living conditions of the Baloch people, including efforts for sustainable development, and to any prospects for peace in the region.
The writer is a Baloch leader and former senator. He can be reached at email@example.com
(May be read along with the previous paper on the subject in paper no. 4585 of 6th July)
During her whirl wind tours to New Delhi, Beijing and other capitals to canvass her candidature, Lagarde made promises and gave assurances to correct the infirmities and deficiencies attached to the management structure of the IMF and to increase their voting strength, etc.
During her one-day stay in Delhi, she was on a ‘charm offensive’ and cooed that if she were to be elected the Managing Director “there would a little part of me turning Indian.” It would have been music to ingenuous Indian ears. She went to say that India- like China - was “massively underrepresented in the fund.”
Of course, kind words and homilies don’t count in diplomacy and did not result in any commitment from India either. Not many would have counted on her
assurance to increase India’s voting strength in the IMF, which was subject to a two-year review over which the M.D. would have no say.
Along her way she was able to get the support of Ethiopia and Egypt. But she secured the most significant support in Lisbon where she met African leaders
who had met for the Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank. She was able to get the support of ten members. As explained earlier, the African states were settling their scores over the reduction of their shares in IMF vote.
It was her visit to China, which assumed great importance. Unlike other members of the BRICS, China did not make any overweening attempt to sponsor any of her candidates. For instance Brazil had its candidate in Augustine Carstens; Russia sponsored one of its own; South Africa was leaning on Manuel’s hopes and India was undecided about Montek Singh’s aspirations. China had its own plans for the capture of the IMF management, but was willing to wait.
It had commenced its plans long before. It had deputed earlier Dr. Zhu Min as Adviser to the IMF Managing Director. In fact, China had groomed him for the post some years in advance. He held senior positions at the Bank of China from 2003 to 2009 and also served as Deputy Governor of the People’s Bank of China from 2009-10. That elevation was to advance his appointment to the IMF post. I had dealt with this at length in an article done earlier.
With the fall of DSK, it was natural that the candidature of Zhu should have been raised. Reuters and the BBC did carry rumours to that effect. However, Chinese authorities were not too eager to push for it. They seemed to have shared the view that Dr. Zhu was ‘not experienced enough for the position of managing director and was not expected to rise further than to a deputy managing director.”
Press reports suggested that Lagarde was more than pleased with her talks in China. Xie Xuren, Vice Premier Wang Qishan and the central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan. All of them were reportedly very friendly and supportive but were non-committal. On her part, she expressed support for changes in the IMF structure that are raising the voting powers of China and other major developing countries to reflect their increased economic stature. She added, “If the Chinese economy continues to grow and to be a driver of growth in the world, then clearly the percentage will have to grow.” These were generalities and platitudes, which would not have excited the Chinese authorities.
She discussed her candidacy with the Chinese Finance Minister The most significant understandings reached were hidden in the press reports. Timesonline mentioned thus: “She also expressed support for a leading role for a former Chinese central bank official Zhu Min who serves as Adviser to the IMF boss. She said it would be ‘fully appropriate if he played a key role’ in the fund’s management.”
While most of the BRICS members were keen about the top post, China showed more interest in getting a higher share in the senior management of the IMF. China Daily3 refers to the views of Chinese academics who supported China’s higher share in the senior management of the IMF. Most of them supported Zhu Min’s rise. In its report4 the Wall Street Journal made a reference to the discussions about Zhu Min’s elevation.
According to a report in the International Political Economy (IPE)5 the rumour was that long before Carsten’s visit to China, the die was cast. As reported by IPE, “The primary interest of China at this time is to get one of its own in a high- ranking position within striking distance of becoming IMF managing director (that is deputy managing director #2 or #3. So, when the post becomes open once again, he will be well-placed to become the first head from an LDC.”
China Daily reported the substance of discussions with Lagarde. It said, “To win over China to her candidacy, Lagarde said she supported the decision to increase China’s voting rights at the IMF from about 4 percent to 6.4 percent. She also said Zhu Min, the former deputy governor of the Chinese central bank and the current economic adviser to the IMF managing director, should play a more significant role in the fund.” The deal was that China would throw its weight behind Lagarde for the top post, but expects the Europeans to do the same with a deputy managing director post for Zhu Min. Incidentally, apart from Lipsky’s post which will fall vacant in August this year, there are two others: one held by a European and the other by half-American. Thus, enlargement or replacement may not be an issue even with the U.S.
The above analysis is not fanciful. It is indeed evident that there was a bargain. This would be seen from the very first statement made by Lagarde after she
took over as the IMF Managing Director on 7th July 2011. Taking over the office, she pledged to give more sway to emerging countries in the IMF’s decision- making process. Institutions like the IMF should better reflect the shifting balance of power in the global economy. She added, “the idea of creating a top ranking post at the IMF to give more say to emerging economies was “not a bad idea.”
In short, Lagarde stands by her commitment made to China while getting their support. China’s long-term strategy is to get a larger share in the senior management of international institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. China was able to send a Chief Economist two years ago. Dr. Justin Lin Fu has indeed brought about changes in the developmental thinking of the World Bank. In the IMF also, China has begun its innings rather well and played its cards well. We have to add this to its achievements on the currency front and related issues, which we have already explained in the main paper.
The Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh's reported decision to visit Mumbai in the wake of the new series of orchestrated and timed explosions on July 13 reflects his embarrassment and concern over the blasts.
3.The embarrassment arises from the continuing deficiencies in our counter-terrorism capability even after the much vaunted improvements introduced after the 26/11 strikes. The deficiencies relate to the preventive and surveillance capabilities of our intelligence agencies and the police. The concern should be over the likely negative political impact of the success of the terrorists in circumventing the security measures.
4. The Government's credibility in relation to counter-terrorism is likely to suffer further erosion----particularly in Mumbai, whose population has been the target of five instances of high casualty terrorist attacks ---in 1993,2003,2006,2008 and 2011. The argument about the difficulties faced by the intelligence and security agencies in preventing terrorist attacks will not carry conviction to the people. While they may accept one or two surprise attacks, they would find it difficult to accept repeated attacks not only in Mumbai but also in other cities.
5. Other cities---
6. Despite arrests made after past attacks, terrorist organisations still have at their disposal a seemingly unending stream of recruits who are willing to be trained and used to carry out attacks. A worrisome aspect is that our security agencies and the police have been unable to quantify the total number of trained terrorists still available to the organizations and neutralize them. They have also been unable to identify and block the sources of recruitment.
7.The attacks of July13,2011, ----like those of 1993,2003 and 2006 and unlike those of 2008--- were multi-targeted and well orchestrated with a single modus operandi. They required good motivation and some training and not sophisticated expertise. The 2008 attacks were commando-style and multi-targeted with multiple modus-operandi---use of explosives and hand-held weapons and hostage-taking. They required considerable training and sophistication. Hand-held weapons were used in addition to explosives in 1993 too.
8.No claim of responsibility has so far been made. There has been no electronic interception of suspect messages----electronic chatter as professionals call it----which might give a clue as to who might have been responsible. The security agencies are, therefore, groping in the dark in identifying the organisation responsible.
9.Coastal security and immigration controls have been tightened up after the 26/11 terrorist strikes. The possibility of outsiders sneaking in to carry out the attacks is somewhat low. The greater possibility is that the attacks were carried out by some people normally resident in
10.The reports about a wired body and a separated head being found in one of the spots need to be carefully investigated. If these reports are correct, this would be a disturbing indicator of an act of suicide terrorism with possible foreign influence.
11.If these reports are ultimately ruled out as not correct, the only other possibility is of timed strikes, which might have been carried out either with mechanical (clocks or the alarm mechanism of a mobile telephone) or with chemical timers. The 1993 strikes were carried out by Dawood Ibrahim's men with chemical timers of US-origin obtained by them from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
12. The reported use of ammonium nitrate speaks of a lethargy in imposing checks on the sale of nitrogenous fertilisers despite this being repeatedly used as the explosive material by different terrorist groups in copy-cat acts in different countries of the world. Western countries have imposed checks on the sale of nitrogenous fertilisers. In
13. Whether it is the Indian Mujahideen (IM) or any other organisation which is ultimately found to have been responsible,it wanted to disprove the official claims of having broken its back. This may not remain a one-city phenomenon. We must be prepared to prevent the danger of similar attacks in other cities.
14. We should not allow the latest blasts to disrupt the on-going dialogue process with
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi)
July 13, 2011
11 July 2011: Pakistan has dug itself into a hole. It can come out of it only if it makes a clean break with terrorism which it cannot and won't. The civilian political leadership (both on the ruling side and the opposition) is too weak and divided to take on the military and save Pakistan, because the Pakistan military is at the root of the present crisis. India can do nothing to save the situation and should not even try. Its entire efforts should be focused on securing its national territories and on countering the fallouts of Pakistan's imminent collapse. The trigger for all this has been provided by the US decision to withhold a little under a third of its military aid to Pakistan which was due for payment ($800 million). The decision has come after much agonizing and dithering. The Barack Obama administration (including the Pentagon) would have preferred the choices not to have turned so stark. But the US Congress had been steadily growing agitated over unquestioned disbursal of vast sums of taxpayer's monies to a country which has established a consistent record of acting against United States' interests. The break in relations came with president Barack Obama's ironic decision to order the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden. It put Pakistan's military in bad light with the people as one not being able to defend the country's territorial integrity. It stoked the already virulent anti-Americanism in the country on account of the US drone campaign in FATA. And it defeated the central purpose of the Pakistan military's show of support to the US campaign against terrorism in FATA and in Afghanistan, which is to protect those terror leaders and groups that could regain Afghanistan after the US pullout and provide Pakistan strategic depth against India. With Osama Bin Laden killed in a US raid, the Al-Qaeda and assorted Taliban groups have naturally questioned the Pakistan military's ability to protect their leaders for the Afghanistan/ strategic depth quid pro quo. To remind the Pakistan military of its Faustian bargain and to show force at the same time, an Al-Qaeda squad attacked Pakistan's Mehran base, destroyed two naval Orions, killed a dozen commandos, and nearly murdered posted US and Chinese technicians. Within the Pakistan military, the army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has become the weakest ever in his three-year service extension. His brief, as prepared by Pakistan's powerful corps commanders, was to extract the most monies and concessions from the US while playing the counter-terrorism game to Pakistan's advantage. Which is, as explained before, instigate and support terrorism against Afghanistan (and India), and use an eventually terrorist-controlled Afghanistan against India. The US is not bothered about Pakistani terrorism against India. It could not, however, tolerate Pakistan's double game in Afghanistan, and a military aid cut has followed weeks after Osama Bin Laden's assassination. With Kayani leading the Pakistani double game on terrorism, naturally he has been hurt the worst by Bin Laden's death. Initial US reports suggested he would be overthrown in a colonel's coup. Follow up intelligence said he had become very vulnerable and was no longer in a dominant position vis-a-vis the corps commanders. This writer assessed Kayani would go. He has no reason to change the analysis. To save himself, Kayani has had to distance from the US anti-terror campaign, and the consequences have followed. It is US aid cut now. The drone campaign in FATA conceivably could increase, peppered with American special forces' actions. While committed to leave Afghanistan, the US cannot show itself as being bogged down by an angry and uncooperative "ally". A section of the Pakistan military has sought to put up a brave face, saying that China will compensate the loss of US military aid. It won't. In the immediate aftermath of the Bin Laden assassination, the Pakistan PM made a panic trip to China. Later, the Pakistani side tried to insinuate Chinese takeover of Gwadar port. China denied it. It also point blank refused military aid, saying it was open to giving limited development assistance. China may still take over Gwadar. But it will not part with treasure as freely as the US does. And it probably knows that, sooner or later, it will provoke the same revulsion as America if it enters Pakistan in a big way. (Not to forget, the Lal Masjid attack was China-instigated.) So, while China has huge strategic stakes in rescuing Pakistan (as a counter to India, as a gateway to mineral-rich Afghanistan, and so on), it is also fully aware of the downside of getting too closely associated with that failed state. China will not commit US mistakes in Pakistan. Indeed, China has been counseling Pakistan not to make a final break with the US. But Pakistan's internal dynamics make such a break inevitable. Anti-Americanism is all-pervasive. The jihadi influence in the military is rising. The Pakistan military also needs the jihadis to advance its interests in Afghanistan and against India. And the civilian political leadership is powerless to break this nexus. Any which way you look, Pakistan is programmed for destruction. India can do nothing to stop this, and it shouldn't. Obviously, India has no role in Pakistan's present turmoil, and that is the way it should be. But in Pakistan's break up lies salvation for India. It could be argued that in deciding to cut military aid to Pakistan, the US has reached the same decision, without knowing it or even articulating it. India has to take the usual precautions in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere. The Pakistan military might calculate that a terrorism-triggered war with India would take the current pressure off it. Insane as it sounds, India should be prepared.
N.V.Subramanian is Editor, www.NewsInsight.net, and writes internationally on strategic affairs.
July 12, 2011
The June meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has legitimized the supply of two additional nuclear reactors to Pakistan by China in violation of its own NSG commitments. This is a blow to our security interests. China presented the NSG with a frontal challenge, and the NSG has buckled.
China has demonstrated how its increasing economic and financial muscle has expanded its political options, even in the sensitive area of nuclear proliferation where its record is extremely tainted. Under the NSG guidelines China cannot engage in nuclear commerce with a country not subject to IAEA full scope safeguards, a category in which Pakistan falls. When China joined the NSG in 2004 it “grandfathered” its right to supply Chashma 1 and 2 reactors to Pakistan under a 1991 agreement, which is permissable under the revised 1992 NSG guidelines.
However, at that time, not only it did not mention any other outstanding previous commitments made to Pakistan, it even affirmed that it would not supply additional reactors beyond Chashma 1 and 2. Yet, the NSG has succumbed to China’s nuclear brinksmanship. The US and its allies want to keep China within the NSG fold, and therefore seem willing to make its regime sufficiently elastic to accommodate China’s infractions, rather than confront it and lose whatever control they think they can exercise on it through such cartels The hope is that as China’s stakes in the international system grow, it will see its own advantage in conforming to the non-proliferation regimes.
China clearly intended to present a fait accompli to the NSG on its renewed nuclear cooperation with Pakistan at a moment of its choosing. To condition international public opinion to expect some development on this score, it followed the tactic of allowing reports to periodically surface that it was preparing to supply additional reactors to Pakistan, without confirming or denying them when questioned. This kind of deception is a hall mark of China’s foreign policy.
The choreography of the Sino-Pakistan civilian nuclear cooperation is instructive. Just as Russia “grandfathered” Kudankulam 1 and 2 when it subscribed to the revised NSG guidelines in 1992, China did the same with Chashma 1 and 2. When India and the US started negotiations over the nuclear deal, China opened up its own negotiations with Pakistan, calibrating the pace of their advance to the progress made by us with the Americans. China needed to do that as the India-US nuclear deal became highly contentious domestically in India, creating uncertainty about its conclusion, and the Chinese knew that they could not give to Pakistan what the US might fail to deliver to India.
The parallel between phases of the India-US nuclear deal and Sino-Pakistan nuclear dealings shows China’s tenacity in its Pakistan policy. When PM and President Bush decided in 2005 to forge a nuclear pact, China signed an energy security agreement with Pakistan that included supply of 4 more PWR reactors of 300 MW each and 7 of 1000 MW capacity, laying out the scope of future cooperation to be pursued as circumstances warrant.
In 2006 the US Congress approved the Hyde Act; the same year during President Hu Jintao’s visit to Pakistan, civilian nuclear cooperation was projected prominently as part of the agenda. The text of the 123 Agreement was released in 2007 and the India-specific agreement was adopted by the IAEA in August 2008. In June 2008 Pakistan announced plans to build Chashma 3 and 4. The NSG waiver for India in September 2008, President Bush’s signature in October 2008 of the legislation enacting the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement and the operationalization of the 123 Agreement in the same month cleared the political decks for China to proceed with its nuclear plans with Pakistan.
Accordingly, in October 2008 a document on civilian nuclear cooperation was signed during President Zardari’s visit to China. In March 2009 reports appeared that the design work for the reactors had been awarded to a Chinese company. In early 2010 it was reported that Pakistan had ratified an inter-governmental agreement with China that provided for Chinese funding for the reactors to the extent of 82%.
At the 2010 NSG meeting in New Zealand, some questions were apparently raised about such reports, but China evaded a direct answer and hid behind a misleading assurance that its cooperation with Pakistan would be within the NSG guidelines. Already reports had begun appearing that China would “grandfather” the supply of additional reactors. In September 2010 China disclosed its hand finally by proposing to the IAEA that Chashma 3 and 4, committed to Pakistan under a hitherto unrevealed 2003 agreement, be placed under its safeguards. In March this year, as a precursor to NSG approval, the IAEA unanimously approved the same type of safeguards for the new reactors as applicable to Chashma 1 and 2.
If China has got away with its NSG defiance, it is because the US has been unusually tolerant of China’s appalling proliferation record. China’s nuclear and missile proliferation activities primarily centered on Pakistan have deeply damaged India’s national security. The US has ignored the China-Pakistan proliferation nexus, to the point of covering it up in A.Q.Khan’s case, even though India is most affected. China, in any case, has now become far too powerful to be forced to conform to codes of conduct established by the West.
The US considers China’s cooperation in dealing with proliferation concerns about Iran and North Korea more important than its Pakistan connection. The overall US diplomatic posture on this issue has been low-key. The State Department has no doubt characterized China’s “grandfathering” ploy for Chashma 3 and 4 as a violation of its 2004 commitments, but what is important are not statements but actions.
Some argue that the supply of two additional nuclear reactors under IAEA safeguards to Pakistan will not harm our security. This is ignoring China’s reasons for supplying them. China has slammed the India-US nuclear deal as discriminatory towards Pakistan. It has earlier provided nuclear weapon and missile technology to Pakistan in order to neutralize India strategically. Now it wants to neutralize any political or strategic gain obtained by India from the India-US nuclear deal and the NSG exemption as a non-NPT country by treating Pakistan similarly.
The political signal is that it will continue to instrumentalize Pakistan to balance India, and that if the US can favour India, it will favour Pakistan. That some Chinese and US circles view the India-US deal as integral to the strategic alignment of the two countries against China, to which China has reacted by strengthening its strategic links with Pakistan, only makes the anti-Indian thrust of China’s step more manifest.
We have contributed to this outcome ourselves by our largely unconcerned posture on the issue. We have downplayed its contentious aspect in our exchanges with China. The overall development of our ties with China may explain our prudence. We may not have wanted to disturb our dialogue with Pakistan. Our discomfiture cannot therefore be blamed on others altogether. If we cannot help ourselves, others will not do so. Even if we could not have stopped this deal, we should have expressed our concerns more visibly to gain strategic ground for the future.
The writer is a former Foreign Secretary(firstname.lastname@example.org)