November 05, 2011

US forces had orders to target Indian Army in 1971

Josy Joseph, TNN | Nov 6, 2011, 04.17AM IST

Pakistani Army Commander in the Eastern Command, Lt General AAK Niazi, signing the Instrument of Surrender in front of General Officer Commanding in Chief of India and Bangladesh Forces in the Eastern Theatre, Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora on December 16, 1971.

NEW DELHI: A set of freshly declassified top secret papers on the 1971 war show that US hostility towards India during the war withPakistan was far more intense than known until now.

The documents reveal that Indira Gandhi went ahead with her plan to liberate Bangladeshdespite inputs that the Nixon Administrationhad kept three battalions of Marines on standby to deter India, and that the American aircraft carrier USS Enterprise had orders to targetIndian Army facilities.

The bold leadership that the former PM showed during the 1971 war is well known. But the declassified documents further burnish the portrait of her courageous defiance.

The documents show how Americans held back communication regarding Pakistan's desire to surrender in Dhaka by almost a day.

That the American establishment had mobilized their 7th Fleet to the Bay of Bengal, ostensibly to evacuate US nationals, is public knowledge. But the declassified papers show Washington had planned to use the 7th Fleet to attack the Indian Army.

They also show that Nixon administration kept arming Pakistan despite having imposed an embargo on providing both Islamabad and New Delhi military hardware and support.

They suggest that India, exasperated by continuing flow of American arms and ammunition, had considered intercepting three Pakistani vessels carrying war stores months before the war. The plan was dropped against the backdrop of the Indian foreign ministry's assessment that the interception could trigger hostilities.

The pro-Pak bias of the then US President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is vividly brought out by their decision to keep three battalions of Marines on standby: a decision which has so far not found mention in any record of the 1971 war.
Documents blame Richard Nixon for Pakistan tilt
A six-page note prepared by India's foreign ministry holds then American president Richard Nixon responsible for the pro-Pakistan tilt during India's 1971 war with her neighbour.
"The assessment of our embassy reveal (sic) that the decision to brand India as an 'aggressor' and to send the 7th Fleet to the Bay of Bengal was taken personally by Nixon," says the note. The note further says, the Indian embassy: "feel (sic) that the bomber force aboard the Enterprise had the US President's authority to undertake bombing of Indian Army's communications, if necessary."

As early as June 1971, New Delhi weighed the possibility of intercepting three Pakistani ships loaded with US weapons. This leaves only two other courses regarding interception: That India may intercept the ships before they reach Karachi, or impose a blockade of the Bay of Bengal. Either of these might involve the use of force and would be treated as acts of war, wrote the director (legal and treaties) of MEA.

On December 14, Gen A A K Niazi, Pakistan's military commander for erstwhile East Pakistan, told the American consul-general in Dhaka that he was willing to surrender. The message was relayed to Washington, but it took the US 19 hours to relay it to New Delhi. Files suggest senior Indian diplomats suspected the delay was because Washington was possibly contemplating military action against India.

Rahul Gandhi lacks a Prime Ministerial drive

B.Raman's thoughts on Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi

Some thoughts from Delhi's S&S circuit:

1. If Manmohan Singh goes, he would prefer to be succeeded by Rahul Gandhi and not by anybody else.

2. But Rahul Gandhi is not yet mentally ready to take over as PM.Nobody has a better idea of his limitations than Rahul Gandhi himself.

3. Rahul Gandhi doesn't think of himself as PM material--at least for present.He lacks a prime ministerial drive.

4. Rahul Gandhi thinks he is better suited to lead the party than the Government.

5 . Rahul Gandhi would prefer continuation of present arrangement where he, like Sonia Gandhi , exercises de facto prime ministerial authority.

6. Sans de Jure prime ministerial spotlight on him.The family (Sonia Gandhi family) is showing signs of dilution in its allergy to Pranab.

7. Pranab Mukharjee is increasingly seen as the man of the hour who can set right the governance before 2014.

8. Pranab Mukharjee is also sending out signals that he would pose no hindrance to Rahul Gandhi one day sitting in PM's chair.
Disclaimer: Pronouns are changed to nouns to enhance clarity and 'reference back'(anaphora).Some other changes made to original tweet are RG = Rahul Gandhi, SG = Sonia Gandhi, Pranab = Pranab Mukharjee. To see original source please visit.!/SORBONNE75

Bahukutumbi Raman (also referred to as B. Raman) is a former Additional Secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat of the Government of India and former head of the counter-terrorism division of India's external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).[1] He is currently the director of the Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai. B Raman is also a contributor to the South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG). As a former intelligence official, B Raman regularly writes about security, counter-terrorism and military issues regarding India and South Asia.

CIA following Twitter, Facebook

AP Exclusive: CIA following Twitter, Facebook
By KIMBERLY DOZIER, AP Intelligence Writer
Friday, November 4, 2011

(11-04) 04:13 PDT McLean, Va. (AP) --

In an anonymous industrial park in Virginia, in an unassuming brick building, the CIA is following tweets — up to 5 million a day.

At the agency's Open Source Center, a team known affectionately as the "vengeful librarians" also pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms — anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly.

From Arabic to Mandarin Chinese, from an angry tweet to a thoughtful blog, the analysts gather the information, often in native tongue. They cross-reference it with the local newspaper or a clandestinely intercepted phone conversation. From there, they build a picture sought by the highest levels at the White House, giving a real-time peek, for example, at the mood of a region after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden or perhaps a prediction of which Mideast nation seems ripe for revolt.

Yes, they saw the uprising in Egypt coming; they just didn't know exactly when revolution might hit, said the center's director, Doug Naquin.

The center already had "predicted that social media in places like Egypt could be a game-changer and a threat to the regime," he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press at the center. CIA officials said it was the first such visit by a reporter the agency has ever granted.

The CIA facility was set up in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, with its first priority to focus on counterterrorism and counterproliferation. But its several hundred analysts — the actual number is classified — track a broad range, from Chinese Internet access to the mood on the street in Pakistan.

While most are based in Virginia, the analysts also are scattered throughout U.S. embassies worldwide to get a step closer to the pulse of their subjects.

The most successful analysts, Naquin said, are something like the heroine of the crime novel "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," a quirky, irreverent computer hacker who "knows how to find stuff other people don't know exists."

Those with a masters' degree in library science and multiple languages, especially those who grew up speaking another language, "make a powerful open source officer," Naquin said.

The center had started focusing on social media after watching the Twitter-sphere rock the Iranian regime during the Green Revolution of 2009, when thousands protested the results of the elections that put Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad back in power. "Farsi was the third largest presence in social media blogs at the time on the Web," Naquin said.

The center's analysis ends up in President Barack Obama's daily intelligence briefing in one form or another, almost every day.

After bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in May, the CIA followed Twitter to give the White House a snapshot of world public opinion.

Since tweets can't necessarily be pegged to a geographic location, the analysts broke down reaction by languages. The result: The majority of Urdu tweets, the language of Pakistan, and Chinese tweets, were negative. China is a close ally of Pakistan's. Pakistani officials protested the raid as an affront to their nation's sovereignty, a sore point that continues to complicate U.S.-Pakistani relations.

When the president gave his speech addressing Mideast issues a few weeks after the raid, the tweet response over the next 24 hours came in negative from Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, the Persian Gulf and Israel, too, with speakers of Arabic and Turkic tweets charging that Obama favored Israel, and Hebrew tweets denouncing the speech as pro-Arab.

In the next few days, major news media came to the same conclusion, as did analysis by the covert side of U.S. intelligence based on intercepts and human intelligence gathered in the region.

The center is also in the process of comparing its social media results with the track record of polling organizations, trying to see which produces more accurate results, Naquin said.

"We do what we can to caveat that we may be getting an overrepresentation of the urban elite," said Naquin, acknowledging that only a small slice of the population in many areas they are monitoring has access to computers and Internet. But he points out that access to social media sites via cellphones is growing in areas like Africa, meaning a "wider portion of the population than you might expect is sounding off and holding forth than it might appear if you count the Internet hookups in a given country."

Sites like Facebook and Twitter also have become a key resource for following a fast-moving crisis such as the riots that raged across Bangkok in April and May of last year, the center's deputy director said. The Associated Press agreed not to identify him because he sometimes still works undercover in foreign countries.

As director, Naquin is identified publicly by the agency although the location of the center is kept secret to deter attacks, whether physical or electronic.

The deputy director was one of a skeleton crew of 20 U.S. government employees who kept the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok running throughout the rioting as protesters surged through the streets, swarming the embassy neighborhood and trapping U.S. diplomats and Thais alike in their homes.

The army moved in, and traditional media reporting slowed to a trickle as local reporters were either trapped or cowed by government forces.

"But within an hour, it was all surging out on Twitter and Facebook," the deputy director said. The CIA homed in on 12 to 15 users who tweeted situation reports and cellphone photos of demonstrations. The CIA staff cross-referenced the tweeters with the limited news reports to figure out who among them was providing reliable information. Tweeters also policed themselves, pointing out when someone else had filed an inaccurate account.

"That helped us narrow down to those dozen we could count on," he said.

Ultimately, some two-thirds of the reports coming out of the embassy being sent back to all branches of government in Washington came from the CIA's open source analysis throughout the crisis.

PM’s opening statement at Press Conference in Cannes

November 04, 2011

The summit had before it an extensive agenda, on which work had been going on over the past two years. It was overtaken by sudden developments in Greece which could have broader spillover effects. The Summit reviewed progress on the existing agenda and also discussed the implications of the Greek crisis.

As far as the ongoing agenda is concerned, the communique brings out the significant progress made in all the important areas. These include the outcome of the Mutual Assessment Process (MAP), progress in financial regulation and banking transparency, and improvements in the functioning of agricultural and energy markets, including futures markets. The communiqué welcomes the IOSCO recommendations for improving regulation and supervision of commodity markets to manage volatility in prices.

The MAP process represents the first time that the major economies have undertaken a collective commitment to fiollow policies which meet their national objectives while also being consistent with promoting global growth.

I am particularly happy to note that the communiqué endorses our call for increased banking transparency and exchange of information to combat tax fraud and evasion and other illicit flows. This was an important part of our agenda

The Communique emphasizes the importance of social inclusion, the establishment of social protection floors based on national policies and promotion of employment, especially among the youth. These emphases are fully in line with our own priorities.

The summit also reviewed the position regarding the Doha Round of negotiations, which have not made progress. The summit has endorsed the importance of the Doha Round and the mandate of the Doha Development Agenda. To give a forward push in this area, it has tasked the G20 Trade Ministers to explore all possible approaches at the next WTO Ministerial Meeting in December and report back at the Mexico Summit. The Summit has also reaffirmed the standstill agreement on new protectionist measures which was adopted in Toronto

The Summit also discussed issues arising from the Greek crisis and the need to take protective measures to avoid contagion, We had stated that management of the Eurozone crisis is primarily the responsibility of the Eurozone countries and this assessment was shared by many other delegations. The Eurozone countries did undertake extensive consultations among themselves and have reported some progress. The Greek referendum announced earlier has been withdrawn and the Greek Government has indicated that it will proceed with implementing the package agreed earlier.
We welcome this development, and hope that it will lead to an early resolution.

On the issue of the contagion spreading to other Euro zone countries, Italy announced that it has agreed to a monitoring arrangement under which the IMF will report every quarter on Italy’s performance under the existing programme agreed with the EU. This is meant to send a signal of confidence to the markets. We have taken the view that the IMF should keep the situation under close watch and we would support the IMF in playing an appropriate role to backstop preventive steps taken within the Eurozone. The communiqué has stated that the G-20 will ensure that adequate resources will be available with the IMF. This issue has been referred to the Finance Ministers for their next meeting in December.

The crisis in the Eurozone is a potentially grave threat to the stability. There was obviously too little time in the Summit to resolve all the issues. However, I hope that unresolved issues can be quickly resolved. The outcome of the Summit on this issue should be seen as a work in progress.

November 4, 2011

Exposing Black Money: Varun Gandhi filed RTI Application

Questions Raised in RTI Application
Annexure 1

Filed RTI application as promised. Trust it will lead to exposure of rich & powerful harbouring illegal funds abroad.

– If the Finance Ministry/Central Board of Direct Taxes/Directorate
of Criminal Investigation possesses a list of Indian citizens who are
account holders of HSBC Geneva?

– According to the information held by the Finance Ministry/Central
Board of Direct Taxes/Directorate of Criminal Investigation, which
are the present Members of Parliament and former Members of
Parliament who were found to be account holders of HSBC Geneva?

– According to the information held by the Finance Ministry/Central
Board of Direct Taxes/Directorate of Criminal Investigation, what is
the list of persons who have more than Rs.50 crore in Bank deposits in
HSBC Geneva?

– What are the names of the individuals account holders who have been
subjected to questioning/Search & Survey operations by the Income
Tax Department in conjunction with the possession of illegal bank
accounts in HSBC Geneva?

– Has there been any recovery made by the Income Tax Department from
these HSBC Geneva account holders of Indian origin?

– What is the period of time for which Indian citizens who were account
holders in HSBC Geneva maintained their accounts?

AP: CIA eyes up to 5M tweets a day

By: Tim Mak
November 4, 2011 09:26 AM EDT

The Central Intelligence Agency is systematically monitoring Twitter, following up to 5 million foreign tweets a day, according to a new report.

The CIA’s Open Source Center reviews and analyzes information widely available to the general public, including Twitter and Facebook, and keeps eyes on everything from blogs to tweets to more traditional media, The Associated Press says in a feature article on the unit.

Analysts monitor information in an array of languages and cross-reference it to existing intelligence, and are often called on to provide information on the mood of a region after a foreign policy event.

For example, the Open Source Center built a picture of the real-time reaction from the Middle East after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May to give the White House an idea of public sentiment.

When President Barack Obama gave a speech addressing Middle Eastern issues a few weeks later, the center monitored negative Arabic and Turkic tweets, denouncing the president as too pro-Israel, and Hebrew tweets criticizing the president for being too pro-Arab.

The center’s analysis ends up in Obama’s daily intelligence briefing in some form almost every day, reports the AP.

The CIA started reviewing social media after watching Twitter’s influence during the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran, when thousands protested the contested results of an election that kept Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in office.

The Dragon enters the Heaven

A Adityanjee

China launched an unmanned spacecraft the Shenzhou VIII (literal meaning the “divine vessel”) from the Gobi desert base in the far north-western city of Jiuquan at 5.58 AM on November 1st to carry out an important docking mission scheduled within next two days. This launch was personally witnessed by Chinese Vice-premier Zhang Dejiang along with German and European space experts. The docking finally took place successfully 343 km above the surface of the Earth on November 3rd. The process of docking took 8 minutes and was aided by microwave radars, laser distance measurers and video cameras. The joint assembly will orbit around the Earth for the next 12 days while conducting a number of tests. Earlier, on September 29th, China had launched its first module for the space station named Tiangong-1 literally meaning “The Heavenly Palace”. This Tiangong-1 module weighs 8.5 tons and is expected to stay in space for two years. The launch of Tiangong-1 was also proudly witnessed by the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao personally while the President Hu Jintao watched from a space flight control center in Beijing.
The ability to dock successfully was very crucial for the success of the proposed Chinese permanent space station. All the parts of the docking mechanism and more than 600 onboard instruments were designed and made by Chinese companies both state-owned and privately owned. The space-craft Shenzhou VIII will return to the Earth after separating initially and then carrying out a second docking operation. Incidentally, the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao watched the docking operation also from an aerospace center in Beijing. China has, now, time-bound plans to develop a manned permanent space station by the year 2020. China, thus became the third space-faring nation after the US and Russia to successfully launch a space portal and build a space station.

The docking technology is hard to perfect because the two space-modules placed in the same orbit and revolving around the Earth at high speed must approach each other without mutual destruction. China decided to launch its own space station after being denied membership of the 16-nation international space station, primarily owing to the US objections. The US was concerned about sharing dual use technology with China owing to opacity and military linkage of Chinese space program. China is playing catch-up game with the US and Russia who achieved these technological capabilities in the 1960s. Following the Shenzhou VIII, there will be two more spacecraft launch missions next year including one manned mission with astronauts staying for up to one month. Two female Chinese astronauts are being trained currently for the proposed mission. China has already trained its astronauts with Russian help. In September 2008, Chinese Astronauts carried out China’s first spacewalk while piloting the Shenzhou VII.

China has also plans to launch a space laboratory before 2016. The proposed Chinese space station will weigh approximately 60 tons when completed in three sections between 2020 and 2022. It will be considerably smaller than the Russian space station Mir and the international space station. Chinese space station will consist of a module, two labs, a cargo ship and a manned rocket. The Shenzhou VIII will serve as the prototype for future Chinese space-ships. China plans more than 20 manned space flights in the next decade.

Exclusive Club of Space Superpowers

China's stated goal is to give itself parity with the other two space-faring superpowers and not be left behind. However, the Chinese space trajectory is going to be much faster. The state-run mouth-piece Global Times while appreciating the launch, highlighted the fact that China was playing a 30 years late catch-up game with the US and Russia. It further said: “But there is no choice. As long as we are determined to rise in the world and pursue rejuvenation, we need to take risks. Otherwise, China will be a nation with prosperity but subordinated to top powers, and such prosperity depends on the attitude of others”. The Global Times editorial did caution about the fiscal implications for China to go to outer space while strongly justifying the need on strategic grounds. It further rationalized: “It is impossible for a destitute China to go to outer space, but without the support of strategic tools, it can not walk far. China's future is destined to be entangled by all kinds of demands and goal. But they need to be well-balanced”.

China is, thus, openly and unabashedly advocating using its space program for strategic purposes in future. Sitting on cash-reserves of two and a half trillion dollars, a self-effacing “destitute” China remains committed to achieving space parity with the other two space super-powers at any fiscal cost.

Space and Military Implications

In January 2007, China tested an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon against one of its ageing weather satellites orbiting at 500 miles above the earth. The anti-satellite weapon was anon-explosive “kinetic kill vehicle” that destroyed its target by colliding with it. China succeeded in the 4th attempt in the series of ASAT tests. Following the successful interception, there was total silence for two weeks from the Chinese political leadership who did not acknowledged the test. China diplomatically invoked the fig-leaf of communication gap between the central Chinese government and the PLA leadership. Since the Chinese Communist party’s doctrine is that “the party controls the gun”; it was impossible for the Peoples’ Liberation Army to conduct an ASAT test without the approval of Chinese Central government. China has also developed navigation satellite jammers that are equipped to disrupt the GPS. There have been instances of China secretly firing powerful laser weapons to disable the US spy satellites by “blinding” their sensitive surveillance devices and preventing spy photography when they pass over China. Chinese acquisition of these offensive space military capabilities forced the US to conduct an ASAT test under the garb of saving the earth from the impact of one of its dysfunctional spy satellites. The US glibly claimed that the missile strike on satellite was meant to prevent the toxic 1000-pound hydrazine tank from scattering the debris over populated areas. Clearly, there is an ongoing race amongst the three space super-powers over both militarization as well as weaponization of the space. Both China and Russia have made attempts at Geneva to bolster an international effort to ban weapons in the space in order to corner and contain the US.

South China Sea Paradigm

In the 14the century CE, Chinese eunuch Admiral Ho went on a sea voyage around the Indian and Pacific oceans. Based on these “historical conquests” China wants to control the whole of the “South China Sea” as its own sovereign territory. These medieval sea voyages are also the historical basis behind Chinese so-called legal claims on the islands and atolls in the South China Sea for their mineral and hydrocarbon wealth. China insists on dealing with each of the ASEAN nations bilaterally to resolve these claims instead of dealing with the issue multi-laterally. Based on a similar imperialistic and ancient paradigm of tributary or vassal nations, Communist China has expanded its western borders to include Tibet and East Turkistan (Xinjiang) after the defeat of the Kuomitong (KMT) government. China is desperately trying to get a toe-hold in the Arctic region so that it can lay claims to the arctic mineral wealth.

Dragon’s Divine Right to the Heavenly Space

China’s strategic thinking and behavior is stereotypically “predictably predictable”. Chinese emperors in the middle kingdom were always considered “God-Kings”. Like the South China Sea paradigm, future Chinese Governments, after having achieved space superpower status may start threatening other space-faring nations. It is possible that China in future may invoke the doctrine of “China's Heavenly Space” after having constructed a “Heavenly Palace” that mated successfully with the “divine vessel”. China has used historical precedents to justify its hegemony on both land and the sea; it will reflexively claim Chinese “divine” right to sovereignty over the space as well.

Space as China’s Core issue

The list of core issues for China is ever expanding. Starting with the historical two T’s (Tibet and Taiwan), now it includes Tibet, Taiwan, East Turkistan (China's far-western Xinjiang region), Sovereignty, Splitting the motherland; South China Sea and everything else that China can lay claims on. As the comprehensive national power of China increases, the number of China’s core issues multiplies like a hydra-headed monster. China has a predictable national habit of leaving issues dormant but ambiguous, only to rake them up when China has the power to force the issue down the throats of strategic adversaries or peer competitors. Of course from the times of Sun Tzu, China, unlike the US likes to win the war without even fighting a battle. It is not merely hypothetical but a very real possibility that China may include access to the space as one of its “Core issues” in future.

Implications of China’s “Heaven” in Space for India

Unlike India’s space program, China has not experienced any major setback in the development of manned space flight technology. One of the recent Indian launches were infected by the Stuxtnet worm that caused malfunction and failure of the launch. China is taking rapid steps to close the space technology gap with the two other space-faring superpowers. China’s ultimate imperialistic ambition is to be the divine master or the supreme hegemon on the land, sea and the space. Such a scenario would be very similar to the contemporary situation whereby China now controls the global rare earth metals market single-handedly. China wants to control the access to the space for any other aspiring power but would be content to share the right to denial with the other two space super-powers for the time-being. China will do everything to limit India’s access to space akin to its clumsy attempts to torpedo Indo-Vietnamese collaboration in the South China Sea for hydro-carbon exploration. China wishes to keep India boxed in forever in the South Asia tinder-box. China is using the 7200 km-range DF-31 nuclear ballistic missiles to target India. These nuclear missiles are being deployed in ever increasing numbers at Delingha in central Qinghai province, only 2000 km from Delhi.

India will have to take serious notice of Chinese space program sooner than later owing to its military and strategic implications. India’s satellites and other space assets face the risk of being destroyed, incapacitated or jammed by The Chinese. ASAT capability allows states that possess it threaten India’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (CS4ISR) architecture. In order to achieve strategic parity with the US, china will continue to advance its cyber-war and space war capabilities. Chinese sham pledges not to proliferate these technologies to its minions are not worth the paper they are written on. Given the historical experience-from nuclear weapons, to ballistic missiles to advanced fighter aircrafts-it is imprudent to dismiss the possibility that China will transfer the space weapons technology to Pakistan.

India will have to master these space weapons capabilities instead of always lagging behind. India must look at military uses of space technologies and must develop her own ASAT capabilities. India will have to increase the budgetary allocation several folds for her space program as matter of urgency. India will have to develop a comprehensive space strategy that incorporates both civilian (read commercial) and strategic components. The space is indeed spacious enough for Sino-Indian sibling rivalry to play out without either side getting seriously hurt. The Space and its numerous applications are too important to leave to the Chinese Dragon alone to swallow!

Dr. Aditynajee is the President of the Council for Strategic Affairs, New Delhi, India

The views expressed are personal.


1. Adityanjee: Pining for Paros or Parity:

2. Adityanjee: Securing Space on the Table:

November 04, 2011

Tracing the historical roots of Pakistan’s current plight.

Fereydoun Majlesi

Cloaking the tensions seems an ever-difficult burden for Islamabad and Washington these days. Pakistan, which relies on the United States’ financial and political support, sweats blood to reconstruct relations with its powerful partner; relations that are not fully under the control of Pakistan, but are also affected by the interplay of several regional and internal actors, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, India and malignant groups inside the country’s byzantine power structure. To develop a better understanding of the problem, an in-depth look at Pakistan’s history and its key developments seems necessary.

1) Inception of Pakistan and the significance of the Iranian element: Pakistan is an ‘artificial state’, formed by eight distinct ethnicities inhabiting seven separate regions, with Islam serving as the glue which held these incompatible fragments together and facilitated Pakistan’s separation from Greater India two years after independence from British rule. As an historical empire, Indosphere carried the potential to incorporate the Muslim-dominated region on its western flank –the subsequent Pakistan- within its borders. Nonetheless, Islamabad, fragmented in nature, coveted an independent Pakistani identity for itself. These compartments included:












Baluchi and Persian (spoken by the Hazara minority)







East Pakistan



* Immigrant Muslims from mainland India



While the eastern bank of the Indus River (which snakes through Pakistan) has been politically, socially and culturally under Iran’s influence (and occasionally Iran's rule) throughout history, the western bank of the river has been historically more connected to India. Persian served as thelingua franca of the Indian Subcontinent up until 1857, when the British rulers replaced it with their own language out of fear of Iran’s expansionist predisposition.

During the rule of the largely maladroit Qajar Dynasty in Iran (from the early 18th century to the early 20th century) Britain adopted a two-faceted approach towards Iran, i.e. as a buffer against the Tsarist Russia, Iran was taken care of, while contained in the meantime in order not to restore its historical power. Upon the formation of Pakistan, anti-colonialist fervor and the need to create a national identity dictated choosing supra-ethnic Urdu as the official language of the country. Heavily influenced by Persian, Urdu would create no schism and was well-learnt by all ethnicities. Pakistan’s national anthem is actually quite readable in Persian. Two Pakistani presidents, General Iskander Mirza and Zulfiqar,Ali Bhutto married Iranian women. Up until the mid-1960s, during the years when Islamabad sought preferential ties with Tehran, Persian was officially taught in Pakistan’s schools. Islamabad’s membership in the Baghdad Treaty (later CENTO, after Iraq’s withdrawal in 1959) blessed the relations with a strategic flavor. Up until the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Islamabad also enjoyed the Shah’s generous financial aid. Iran’s approach towards the Pashtunistan region –claimed by Afghanistan- was also uplifting for Pakistan. While forming only one-third [sic] of Afghanistan’s population, Pashtuns dominated Afghan politics, believing in an inherent right to rule the country. Afghanistan never yielded to Pakistan’s mandate over the Pashtunistan region and floated the idea of annexing it to its own territory. Iran, wiling to see the Persian language and Iranian culture retain its dominance in Afghanistan, did not support Kabul’s territorial claims, which could eventually cast the shadow of the tribal culture of Pashtuns over the Persian culture.

2) Expanding its clout, Saudi Arabia –intoxicated by considerable oil revenues- upped the ante in its rivalry with Iran, cautious to mask it under a friendly face. Since the mid-1960s, the Sunni denomination of Pakistan, forming 80% of the country’s population, became the target of Riyadh, which tried to increase its influence via construction of traditional madrassas [Islamic seminaries] in the country, where students were indoctrinated with fundamentalist teaching. By the end of 1960s, Saudi petrodollars managed to replace Persian with Arabic in Pakistan’s schools.

3) In the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which toppled Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi’s secular regime and replaced it with a theocratic Shi’a establishment; Saudi Arabia, unofficial patron of the orthodox Wahhabi sect, kicked the rivalry up a notch. Traditional madrassas mushroomed across Pakistan -particularly in the Baluchistan and Pashtunistan regions, with thousands of Talibsinstructed in radical Islamic teachings.

4) The end of the Vietnam War and the rise of a Soviet Union puppet state in Afghanistan provided Washington with a golden opportunity to use the ‘Muslim Viet Congs’, that is, the Muslim fighters combating Communist pagans as proxies to weaken the Soviet Army. From the westernmost frontiers of the Arab World to the Persian Gulf coast, thousands of Sunni Arabs departed for Afghanistan. Pakistan served as the logistic procurer of this devoted army that was led by the US-educated, English-savvy Osama bin Laden. Saudi and Emirati petrodollars, American direction and Pakistani intelligence, combined with Afghan zeal struck such heavy a blow to the Soviet Army that they eventually catalyzed the Communist empire’s meltdown.

5) For Washington, it seemed that all it had coveted for years were now materialized. Withdrawal from Afghanistan ushered in the gradual collapse of USSR. Sensing no need for alQaeda or the Afghan Mujahedeen, the White House left Afghanistan to itself to turn into the battleground of former US allies. The Mujahedeen were now preoccupied with domestic conflicts, stemming from the agenda of their financial supporters or influenced by alliances between Shia and Sunni groups (which was frowned upon by radical Wahhabis). Pakistan’s Army, humiliated by several blows from its Indian rival in successive wars, had now found a chance to up the ante and play a more influential role. Pakistan wielded its Pashtun community as a proxy to turn Afghanistan into a client state, under Islamic rule. Islamabad’s intelligence service marshaled thousands of idle Pashtun insurgents, led by the one-eyed Mullah Umar, to establish the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Resistance to the new rulers was stronger among the citizens of Persian-speaking cities of Herat, Mazar Sharif, Balkh, Bamiyan and the Panjshir Valley (the last one under the rule of the legendary Ahmad Shah Massoud).

6) The genie was now out of the bottle: the Taliban, recognized only by its breeders, i.e. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, embarked on a campaign of purging the Persian-speaking Shia’ Hazaras. Their Arab brethren, alQaeda, which had paved the way for Mullah Umar’s control over 95% of Afghan soil, now turned towards their most formidable enemy, the West and its purported modernism. The US Embassy blast in Nairobi and the Gulf of Aden suicide attacks convinced President Clinton to fire Cruise missiles at Bin Laden’s compound in Afghanistan. But in a war-ridden country, where almost everything was leveled to the ground, there was nothing to lose. Clinton’s preoccupation with the Monica Lewinsky scandal denied him further focus on Bin Laden’s capture.

7) Pakistan is on the verge of collapse. Abject poverty, the military’s monopoly, corrupt bureaucracy, ailing economy, increasing population, disposition to dominate Afghanistan, the burgeoning power of radical Islamists and their mulawis, armed tribes, ethnic clashes (particularly between the economically dominant Urdu-speaking population on the one hand, and the Sindhis and Punjabis on the other), failure to consolidate a national identity and a nation-state centered around a common language, dispersion of power centers, and conspicuous conflict between the interests of domestic groups and foreign powers—all have placed Pakistan in a plight. In a recent remark, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf confessed that his government’s support for the Taliban was aimed to curb India and Iran’s influence in Afghanistan (though for Tehran and New Delhi, Afghanistan looks more like a liability than an asset.)

8) Saudi Arabia and Israel’s efforts, along with Pakistan’s conduct and Iran’s reluctance to continue cooperation with the United States, have significantly contained Iran’s influence in Afghanistan. The Mujahedeen have fallen victim to their cultural and language affinities with Iran. Thus, the seasoned troops of Ahmad Shah Massoud who could serve as the backbone of Afghanistan’s nascent army were disbanded while Pashtun gunmen, many of whom sympathized with Taliban, replaced them. Statistical manipulations have fragmented the Persian-speaking population of Afghanistan (which amounts to two-third of the country’s overall population) into Tajik, Hazara, Herati and Uzbek communities, while ignoring the Persian-speaking Pashtuns of northeast Afghanistan. Persian was relegated to the secondary official language of Afghanistan. The currency is published with Pashtun legends and the national anthem is sung in Pashtun.

9) Pakistan’s hopes for reconciliation with Taliban appear dim, while Islamabad still enjoys US financial aid. In the meantime, Islamabad has not wavered in its approach towards Afghanistan as its political backyard. Nonetheless, Pakistan’s challenge with a deep identity crisis renders its dissolution a likely option. Americans, perhaps, are not very upset about the prospect of this disintegration. If Pakistan is divided into Sindh, Punjab, Kashmir and Waziristan regions, no singly powerful state would remain to exert leverage through the country’s N-bomb stockpile.

10) Iran can administer fruitful diplomacy in the region only if it dispels concerns about its religious and political ambitions; substitutes the ineffective attitude of winning the support of the Muslim World’s street with relations with the states and a resumption of decent ties with West; otherwise, the outbreak of a new war in the region won’t be a far-fetched concept.

Fereydoun Majlesi is a historiographer and international affairs analyst