December 01, 2011

U.S. Naval Update Map


U.S. Naval Update Map: Nov. 30, 2011

The Naval Update Map shows an approximation of the current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), the keys to U.S. dominance of the world’s oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier, which projects U.S. naval and air power and supports a carrier air wing (CVW). The CSG includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked. An MEU is built around a heavily reinforced and mobile battalion of Marines.

Carrier Strike Groups
The USS John C. Stennis CSG with CVW 9 embarked is under way in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) conducting maritime security operations and support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

The USS George H.W. Bush CSG with CVW 8 embarked is under way in the U.S. 6th Fleet AOR after having completed five months of combat operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR.

The USS Carl Vinson CSG with CVW 17 embarked is under way on a deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR.

Amphibious Ready Groups/Marine Expeditionary Units
The USS Bataan ARG with the 22nd MEU embarked is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR.

The USS Essex ARG with the 31st MEU embarked arrived in Manila for a scheduled port visit during its deployment to the western Pacific region and the Indian Ocean.

The USS Makin Island with the 11th MEU arrived in the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR during its maiden deployment to the western Pacific region.

November 29, 2011

China’s Impact on India-Nepal Relations

Hariharan, C3S Paper No 901 dated November 21, 2011

The increasingly loud and belligerent assertion of China’s claims in South China has become a matter of strategic concern for many nations for diverse reasons. It comes at a time when nations with diverse interest in the Southeast Asia from the India to Vietnam to Japan and the U.S. are already concerned about China’s growing strategic strength. Even other nations of

the ASEAN group, who do not vocalise their concerns over this development for reasons of real politick, are equally uncomfortable though China is fully established as a trading partner among them. The recent U.S.-Australian agreement to station U.S. Marines in bases in Australia is directly related to this concern.

For India, it sends clear message of China’s sensitivity to India’s efforts at upgrading its relations in Southeast Asia. Read in the light of escalating strategic collaboration between China and Pakistan including the involvement of PLA troops in the construction of strategic road links in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and build up of PLA force levels in Tibet with better strategic access to Indian borders, the possibility of Chinese belligerence shifting to India’s Himalayan frontiers has increased.

India appears to have at last woken up to the gravity of the situation with the Indian Prime Minister and Defence Minister publicly stating their concerns on China in the recent months. In response to the changing strategic environment along the Northern borders, India is in the process of doubling its force levels in the eastern sector. India has also strengthened its strategic links with Vietnam and Afghanistan. Inevitably, in the coming months Indo-U.S. strategic linkages would also be given more form and substance as indicated in the latest meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Obama on the sidelines of East Asia summit at Bali, Indonesia.

China’s biggest strength has been its tremendous ability to formulate and execute timely, objective-oriented, action strategies in diplomatic, economic and military fronts for three decades. China’s multifaceted military capability has been demonstrated in the recent years in cyber warfare, space missions and anti-satellite warfare, developing and producing fighter aircraft, building aircraft carrier, and building a modern submarine fleet. India’s modest strategic response to these developments had been mostly reactive, lacking long term vision. While its space, missile, naval, air force and electronic warfare capabilities, the process appears to lack dynamism and commitment to produce timely results. Due to lack of goal clarity, even the few successful initiatives have not been translated to strategic advantage.

India also does not appear to be taking full advantage of the tremendous geo-strategic advantage it enjoys by virtue of its location between Central and Southeast Asia. Even in South Asia, only during the last decade or so it has started seriously making efforts to build strategic relations with its neighbours like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. However, Nepal with which it has a complex relationship seems to be an exception to this for various internal and external considerations in both the countries.

India borders Nepal with India on three sides while its Northern frontier lies with Tibet (China). This confers a natural advantage to India as movement from south to north along Terai plains of Nepal is easier than from Tibet across the Himalayan range and through the Northern mountainous regions. So it is not surprising that hundreds of years of interaction between the populations in both Nepal and India have created tremendous religious, ethnic and cultural affinities. The two countries enjoy a special relationship formalised since British colonial days. Although Tibet also enjoys many cultural, ethnic and religious affinities with Nepal, these have been marginalised by China after its occupation of Tibet.

Since the late 90s Nepal had been undergoing tectonic socio-political changes that culminated in the end of monarchy in 2006 and ushering in of multi party democracy. However, political articulation of democracy continues to be stilted and the country retains the potential for eruption of social conflict once again due to political instability.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) CPN (M) – now morphed into the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) UCPN (M) – spearheaded the “peoples’ war” against monarchy and has emerged now as a major political factor in the country. Its impressive performance in the 2008 constituent assembly elections demonstrated its popular support. Its founder Pushpa Kumar Dahal, better known as Prachanda, had shown strong pro-Chinese
leanings all along. He has also articulated anti-India sentiments more vigorously than some of the leaders of other political parties. After the end of monarchy, CPN (M) found it difficult to give up its revolutionary idiom and join mainstream multi-party politics. Its difficulty in resolving the ideological contradictions to suit democratic governance had created factionalism within its leadership. These problems of Maoists had held up the process of drafting a democratic constitution and usher in functional democracy so far.

Given this setting, the recent visit of Nepal’s Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who belongs to UCPN(M), to New Delhi is significant in many ways. It came a few days before four leading parties – the UCPN(M), the Nepali Congress (NC), the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), and the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum agreed on a 7-point deal on
November 1. The deal settled the vexing issue of the future of 19,602 Maoist combatants; it was agreed to integrate a maximum of 6,500 fighters into the Nepal Army, and assist rehabilitation of the rest. They have also agreed to complete the stalled peace process by preparing the draft constitution by end November 2011.

However, implementing the agreement in full, particularly drafting the constitution, within 30 days appears a tall order. Already, Prime Minister Bhattarai has suggested the extension of the life of Constituent Assembly by six months. Much would depend upon the sincerity and determination of UCPN(M) in working with other parties to successfully conclude the task.
There are encouraging indications that increase the chances of success with the UCPN(M) playing a more constructive political role. If Prime Minister Bhattarai can successfully implement the agreement, the country could expect a period of stability so essential for the young democracy to take roots. This would be a welcome development for strengthening India-Nepal relations. And India has to work on it hard as in the past it had given the impression of taking its relation with Nepal for granted.

Among South Asian nations, India’s relations with Nepal are perhaps the most complex, subjected to periodic crests and troughs. Prime Minister Bhattarai, summed up its current state in an article in *The Hindu* on the eve of his recent visit to India: “Nepal and India share a very unique relationship. Nepal is sandwiched between two huge states of India and China. But we are virtually India-locked, as we have an open border on three sides. Most of our socio-economic interactions take place with India. Two-thirds of our annual trade is with India, while only 10 per cent is with China. Given this historic tilt towards India, our bilateral relationship is unique. When you have more interaction, you have more problems and more friction. At times, there are misgivings and misunderstandings on various issues — some are genuine, while others are born out of scepticism.”

The pronouncements of Prime Minister Bhattarai on Nepal-India relations should give India hope that Maoists are perhaps softening their attitude to India. This situation could be rudely changed under political compulsions and when China takes the initiative to further widen the scope and content of its strategic options against India.

Such a possibility is neither remote nor far-fetched in the overall context of China’s ambitious expansion of its power and influence in this part of Asia. When the uneasy relationship between two Asian giants degenerates into a confrontation, Nepal will find it extremely difficult to balance its relations with them. In such a situation, weaknesses in Indo-Nepal relations would be open to exploitation by unfriendly elements. This is the reason why Nepal remains the soft underbelly of India’s strategic security.

Nepal’s unique relationship with India was formalised when Nepal and Britain signed an agreement of friendship in 1923. After India became independent, the traditional close and friendly relations between the two countries with open borders have continued. Independent India avowed its friendly relations with Nepal with the signing of the India-Nepal Treaty of
Peace and Friendship (INTPF) in 1950.

Under this treaty citizens of both nations are treated on par in matters like business, jobs, and owning property. Nepal also has bilateral trade and transit treaties with India. These treaties opened up opportunities for Nepalese citizens to travel, study, and do business freely in India. The extension of non-reciprocal duty free access for Nepalese goods to Indian markets has huge potential as Nepal develops further.

India has contributed significantly for Nepal’s development over the years. Indian development projects include building schools, libraries, campuses, primary health centres, hospitals, micro hydro projects, bridges, drinking water projects, and gift of school buses and ambulances. Major Indian projects include the construction of 200-bed Emergency and Trauma Centre in Kathmandu and assistance to BP Koirala Health Institute in Dharan. Major road construction works include building 1450 Km of feeder roads in the plains next to India, cross border railway links, and integrated check posts at four border crossing points. These links provide strategic access to Nepal from India. Indian outlay for 411 projects under way in Nepal since 2003 is about Rs 4000 crores. The Mahakali Integrated River Project to generate hydro-electric power to benefit both Nepal and India is yet another on-going project, though it is mired in controversy over power sharing.

Though Nepal largely gained from this arrangement, over dependence upon India has created an anti-India backlash. Under the INTPF, Nepal agreed to depend upon India for security, as well as seek Indian consent to import arms, ammunition and military equipment from other countries. As Nepal gained greater international exposure, these were seen as signs of Indian
domination. As a result Nepal has stopped adhering to such stipulations. Many saw the India-assisted development projects as more beneficial to India than Nepal. On trade and transit issues also there had been the strong differences between the two countries as land-locked Nepal was keen to diversify its trade access to other countries over riding Indian concerns.

As Nepal tried to assert its independent stance on both foreign policy and strategic security issues, inevitably the INTPF has come under criticism particularly since King Bhirendra’s rule (1972-2001). As Indian diplomat Rajiv Sikri observed, “Landlocked Nepal’s umbilical and all round dependency on India, understandably made anti-Indianism the foundation of Nepali nationalism. Some of the fault for this lies with India. India’s perceived priority to projects that served India’s security and other needs rather than the development of Nepal aroused animosity and distrust of Nepal in India.” Seen as the ‘Big Brother’, most of the political parties in Nepal find it convenient to flog India for all major problems of the country and Maoists have always focused on this issue. And this situation is unlikely change in multi-party democracy dominated by Maoists. Though India would not like to give up its advantages under the INTPF, it appears to be reconciled to changes in the form and content of INTPF as inevitable. China does not have the socio-political baggage India carries due to its closely networked relations with Nepal. It had been cultivating Nepal particularly after Nepal signed a boundary settlment agreement and a separate treaty of peace and friendship with China in 1960 even as China was increasingly locked in boundary dispute with India.

However, China kept away from getting involved in Nepal’s internal affairs even during the height of Maoist civil war. Actually, it had supplied arms to King Gyanendra when India had not come forward to do so. However, it has strengthened its relationship taking advantage of the pro-Chinese leanings of Maoists. Its long term plan appears to be to link Nepal with Tibet’s large network of road, rail and air infrastructure. This would give a big boost not only to trade but also neutralise India advantage in having better strategic access to Nepal.

In 2007-08, China began construction of a 770-kilometre railway connecting Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, with the border town of Khasa in Nepal. Nepal had requested the link to be extended to Kathmandu. When China completes the ambitious project, it would significantly improve China’s strategic access to India’s borders as Chinese are involved in other communication projects underway beyond Kathmandu.

China’s involvement in a project to build a road link between Kathmandu and Lumbini, an important Buddhist pilgrimage site located very close to Indian border, is one such effort. The Chinese government-backed Asia Pacific Exchange of Cooperation Foundation (APECF) is involved in the project. APECF has already agreed to provide $ 3 billion for the Lumbini Development Project (LDP). (It is interesting to note that Prachanda is the Vice Chairman of the LDP.) APECF was also to begin a survey for construction of a direct fast railway link between Kathmandu and Lumbini as part of the LDP. According to Nepalese media, the $1.5 billion first phase of the project includes construction of an international airport and a fast track railway. The project also includes the construction of five star hotels, convention centres, new highways, Buddhist temples and a Buddhist university.

China’s trade with Nepal had been growing fast, although it is overwhelmingly weighted in favour of China. In 2010-11 bilateral trade was at Nepal Rs 45.63 billion (Nepal Rs 100=$ 1.2) although Nepal exported goods worth only NRs 746 million. But as Tibet develops further the two-way trade would flourish further when multiple communication links with Nepal are completed.

Thus as India-China relations get more complex we can expect China’s multifaceted involvement in Nepal will also to increase in form and content. And as Chinese land and rail links improve with Nepal, its strategic options against India will also multiply. So India will have to fine tune its relationship with Nepal to be more responsive to changing dynamics of strategic environment, drawing upon the advantages it enjoys and try to overcome the latent anti-Indian sentiment. This is the reality.

During Nepal’s period of political instability from 2006 to 2011, despite occasional glitches India had wielded its influence carefully and positively to ensure the peace process is not derailed. In appreciation of this, Prime Minister Bhattarai on the eve of his recent visit wrote “India played a positive role in the peace process in Nepal, and during our transition towards democracy. My visit [to India], at this juncture when we are at the last stage of completing the peace process, assumes special significance.” This probably reflects the growing realisation in UCPN(M) how Indian influence could be useful to achieve win-win results in stabilising democracy.

India has also reciprocated this welcome change in the attitude, during the October visit of Prime Minsiter Bhattarai with the signing of two agreements with Nepal. The Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPAA) was a long awaited one; it would smoothen and encourage the flow of Indian investments in Nepal. Bhattarai had apparently chosen to ignore the objection of hard line faction of his party in signing the BIPAA as evident from the black flag wielding party cadres who greeted him on his return to Kathmandu. However, many analysts in Nepal consider this development as success of the country’s economic diplomacy. The other agreement relates to extension of $250 million Dollar credit line from EXIM bank of India on highly concessional terms (1.75% interest with repayment in 20 years). This will be used to finance infrastructure projects including highway, bridges, railway, irrigation, hydro-power etc. Bhattarai had called this development as historic and a major step towards removing distrust in the bilateral relations between Nepal and India.

More important from Indian security point of view, both countries have agreed to check cross-border crime including smuggling of fake currency into India which had been a major cause for concern to India.

India has also agreed to facilitate the speedy execution of construction of roads, rail and Integrated Check Posts along the border areas of Nepal and India. Hiccups in trade and transit issues are also scheduled to be discussed at the ministerial level. India has also agreed to the use of Vishakapatnam port to facilitate Nepal’s third-country trade. It has also conceded Nepal’s demand for importing 200 MW of power from India.

These developments are strategically significant. It would also demonstrate India’s abiding interest in ensuring political stability in Nepal and help its neighbour to take the peace process to its logical end. In the current state of India-China relations when both countries are focusing on positive aspects rather than dwell on contentious issues, a stable Nepal should be welcome to China also. However, both countries cannot afford to ignore strategic imperatives in their policy perceptions; this would mean continuation of their efforts to further their influence in Nepal. The
importance of steps now taken by India and Nepal to strengthen their relationship would be taken note of by China. Coming in the wake of two Indian strategic initiatives – signing a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan and strengthening strategic security relations with Vietnam – it sends a strong signal that India is taking significant measures to strengthen its strategic relations with Nepal.

(The Writer, Col R Hariharan, is a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, is associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies and the South Asia Analysis Group.

Combating terrorism: three years after 26/11

By Col. R. Hariharan

How is India’s war on terror going on three years after 26-11 Mumbai attacks? Like the proverbial curate’s eggs it is good in parts, while bad otherwise.

But overall, it would be realistic to call it “limping.” In a nutshell, at the Central level the progress is somewhat better while at the state level it is uneven and tardy. At the operational level halting progress has been made in structural mechanisms and in force levels. Leadership drive and commitment to fight terrorism demonstrated in the U.S. after 9/11 attack is missing here. Even well-thought out plans continue to be hobbled by the deadweight of political priorities and considerations, rather than real time needs of counter terrorism.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking at the annual conference of the State police chiefs and Inspectors-General of Police at New Delhi on September 15, 2011 gave an overview of the progress India has so far made in combating terror. He said, “The security environment in the country continues to be uncertain. The recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai and Delhi are grim reminders of the grave challenges posed by terrorism to our national security. Over the last one year, Left wing extremism has also claimed the lives of many innocent persons and police personnel.” It is doubtful whether the situation has actually improved since he made the statement.

After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Dr Manmohan Singh had said he would “take the strongest possible measures to ensure that there is no repetition of such terrorist acts.” So three years later, when the Prime Minister speaks of uncertain security environment, it can only be construed as an expression of helplessness in getting the act together to fight terrorism.

It must have been a painful experience for the Home Minister P Chidambaram to speak at the same conference barely eight days after a terrorist strike in New Delhi. This was evident in his candid comment: “Today, we do not have an organisation devoting its whole time and energy to that task. I hope to secure a government decision on setting up the NCTC [National Counter Terrorism Centre]. Once there is a decision, I am confident that the core team of the NCTC can be installed within 60 days, and the full structure can be put together within 12-18 months.”

Apparently, the Home Minister has now revised his 2009 estimate of getting the NCTC going by the end of 2009 to more realistic levels. The proposal is still bogged down as stakeholders have not been able to overcome their reservations about the concept and its fall out on their domains. Given this situation, perhaps we have to look at a new game plan.

While the NCTC is yet to make progress, the Home Minister had been able to get through his pet database project - the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID). In June 2011, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the proposal for creating the NATGRID. The NATGRID conceived after 26/11 attack is designed to consolidate and make searchable data gathered by existing security and law enforcement agencies to prevent terrorist activity within the country. P. Raghu Raman, An ex-Army officer and former head of Mahindra Special Services Group, a corporate security consulting firm, has been appointed chief executive officer of the agency.

The hard truth is that our security environment continues to remain uncertain because we do not have the will to translate our thoughts into plans and turn plans into action. One cannot entirely blame the Home Minister or the Prime Minister alone for this state of affairs, because there is a lack of national goal convergence on the issue of fighting terrorism.

As the Home Minister quoted in his speech a phrase from the National Strategy for Counter Terrorism published by the US Government in June 2011, the goal must be “to disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat”. In our country even in achieving this simple goal there are differences in many strands of the nation: between the Centre and states, political parties, among bureaucracy, civil society et al. While this is to be expected in a country with so many complexities like India, the real ability of a nation lies in rising up to meet an existential challenge like terrorism. Unfortunately, the country has so far not been able to do this.

But ultimately the responsibility rests with New Delhi as it is a national leadership issue. The core problem in handling terrorism is lack of political will rather than administrative lethargy. In this context, the reaction of some of the political leaders to the September 7 New Delhi terror strike was revealing. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s statement in parliament on the day of the attack was typical. He said: “whenever there is a terror act, a particular community is looked at with suspicion. This is not good. It should stop. It is dangerous. It has happened several times and this still continues.” This is how a major terrorist attack is politically viewed even as the wounded were fighting for their life.

As terrorism analyst Ajai Sahni says, “The real political response to the challenge of terrorism in India has been posturing, diversion and deception. The approach has never been pragmatic, seeking, in good faith to solve a problem, which has been assessed within realistic parameters. Rather, the effort has been to politically exploit both the problem and its purported resolution, or to deflect criticism however this may be possible...”

The politicians are unlikely to change their style and culture unless the twin drivers of powerful national leadership and strong public opinion push them. The momentum generated by 26/11 attack created such a feeling which is petering out. The inept ministers who had to quit in its wake, are back in cosy positions of power now. And politicians are still not tired of talking about the actions they would take at every anniversary of 26/11 attacks.

At the state level, lack of effective policing - the first line of defence in combating terrorism - continues to be our weakest link. According to the Home Minister, states were not pulling their weight in making their police forces viable entities to fight terrorism. There were still over 500,000 vacancies in State police forces although funds have been allotted to states to recruit them. Many states have not enacted the new Police Act; nor have they set up the State Police Establishment Board. Not all states have adopted the Transparent Recruitment Process. This is the state of affairs in spite of the Department of Police Modernisation at the Union Home Ministry doing all the paper work full of ideas to make the states' job easy.

Poor progress made in coastal security is a typical example of the pedestrian approach to the problem at the state government level. Expensive boats provided by the Centre for coastal police are rotting on the beaches as there are no police personnel to man them at sea. Coastal police do not have adequate infrastructure despite Centre’s financial allocation. Police personnel with no aptitude for the job continue to be posted to these forces.

These reflect lack of leadership commitment. And that can be traced to the reluctance of our leaders to give up the use of police force as an instrument of political power, and at times even as a private army.

The Jihadi terrorism in Af-Pak region is poised to be stepped up even as American and NATO forces start pulling out of Afghanistan. The temptation for Taliban to scale up the operations is likely to grow even during the thinning out process. And as India and Afghanistan have a strategic security agreement India is also likely to be involved in the Afghan conflict regardless of its own reservations. With Pakistan locked up in its own internal dilemmas in handling Jihadi terrorism, anti-Indian terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are likely to expand their activity in India.

Already the extremist and terrorism scene in India is undergoing a change with Indian Jihadi terrorists coming into full flow. In addition to their Pak connections, they are networked across the length and breadth of India. There are also a few other disturbing trends noticeable. After the recovery of a car laden with explosives in Ambala in October, there is apprehension that it was part of a joint plot of LeT and Babbar Khalsa (the Sikh extremist group that had been subdued) for carrying out terror strikes in New Delhi. Talking to the media, Defence Minister AK Antony had called this incident as the tip of an iceberg and cautioned “We have to be alert 24/7 along both the land borders and coast lines.”

In the Northeast, Manipur extremist groups have shifted to sanctuaries in Myanmar after Bangladesh started taking action to throw them out of its soil. There are reports of Maoists seeking the assistance of United Liberation Force of Assam (ULFA) holed up in Myanmar for procuring arms. Of course, the shadowy support of Pak ISI continues to be reported in the activities of extremist groups in Northeast.

In this emerging environment, the nation cannot be complacent about its counter terrorism machinery. Present apathy will change only when the public demand greater transparency and accountability from political leaders and government. Otherwise, the public and political leaders may well be shaken up with jolts of few more terror strikes to bring them back to reality. And the nation simply cannot afford it.

(Col R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, is associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies and the South Asia Analysis Group. E-Mail:

NATO Attack on Pak Check Post - Ramifications

On 26th November 2011 (around 2.00 am local time), helicopters/aircraft belonging to NATO/International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) carried out an attack, alleged to be unprovoked by Pakistan, on a military border outpost at Baizai area of Mohmand tribal region a lawless border area which abuts Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, killing about 24 to 28 soldiers including a major and a captain. Fifteen more personnel were wounded and the death toll could rise as condition of some of the injured was reported to be serious. The attack prompted Islamabad to launch strong protest with the United States and close its frontier for supplies to allied forces in Afghanistan. Pakistani authorities responded to the attack by stopping all container trucks and tankers carrying supplies for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The attack threatened to further strain the already tense US-Pak relations.

According to the spokesman for the NATO-led ISAF in Kabul the coalition was aware of "an incident" near the border and was gathering information on it. Security forces blocked all entry points to Mohmand tribal agency after the incident and began checking all vehicles, TV news channels reported. Several crossings on the Afghanistan frontier, including Landikotal and Takhtbai, were closed and over 150 NATO supply vehicles sent back to Peshawar.

Pakistan rejected the regret expressed by NATO and warned that the action would have grave consequences. The regret expressed by NATO over the killing of the Pakistani soldiers is "not enough", chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said. "The NATO strike can have grave consequences," he said. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Sunday said he had written to Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to express regret over the "tragic unintended incident".

Apart from closing all NATO supply routes, Pakistan asked the US to vacate Shamsi airbase within 15 days. The base is believed to be used by Central Investigation Agency for operating drones.

While Pakistan has alleged that the air strike was unprovoked, there are reports suggesting that Afghan troops operating near the Pakistani border came under fire and in response called in NATO air strikes. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said it was unclear who attacked the Afghan troops before dawn Saturday, but that the soldiers were fired upon from the direction of the Pakistani border posts that were hit in the strikes.

The border area where the soldiers were operating contains a mix of Pakistani forces and Islamist militants.

But there are forces working against a total rupture in the relationship. Pakistan continues to rely on billions of dollars in American military and civilian aid, and the U.S. needs Islamabad's help to push Afghan insurgents to engage in peace talks.

Tensions are likely to exacerbate if militants unleash attacks against hundreds of trucks carrying supplies to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan that were backed up at Pakistani border crossings after Islamabad closed the frontier.

Suspected militants had destroyed around 150 trucks a year ago after Pakistan closed one of its Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies for about 10 days in retaliation for a U.S. helicopter attack that accidentally killed two Pakistani soldiers.

The situation could become worse this time because Pakistan has closed both its crossings. Nearly 300 trucks carrying coalition supplies are now stranded at Torkham in the northwest Khyber tribal area and Chaman in southwestern Baluchistan province. A prolonged closure of Pakistan's two Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies could cause serious problems for the coalition. Recent reports suggest that the closure of the crossings is permanent. The U.S., which is the largest member of the NATO force in Afghanistan, ships more than 30 per cent of its non-lethal supplies through Pakistan. The coalition has alternative routes through Central Asia into northern Afghanistan, but they are costlier and less efficient. According to the Telegraph, although the US is transporting more of its equipment, food and fuel through Central Asia in an attempt to reduce Pakistani leverage, the route through Karachi still accounts for 49% of supplies destined for the 140,000-strong foreign force.

The incident will have far-reaching ramifications not only on US-Pak relations, but also for the ISAF operations in Afghanistan and the US-led war on terror.

Firstly, ISAF will have to explore the possibilities of opening and maintaining alternate routes for transport of food, equipment and fuel for its forces stationed and operating in Afghanistan. Secondly, Pakistan’s action of closure of the border crossings will most likely be met with cut US military and non-military aid to Pakistan, something which it can ill-afford.

Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy is highly suspect. The US Government and its lawmakers are highly skeptical of Pakistani intentions and its policy of hunting with the hounds and running with the hare. Western officials have alleged that Pakistan has played a "double-game" since 2001, by allying with the US but at the same time providing support to the Taliban and other Afghan insurgents. US officials suspected that the Pakistani ISI had conspired with the Haqqani network in the September 2011 attack on the US Embassy in Kabul. The relations between the two sides have nose-dived since then. This incident may give Pakistan a pretext to withdraw support to the US war on terror, particularly because of the unpopularity of the drone attacks inside Pakistan. And the US too may be looking for an excuse to carry out military strikes inside Pakistan because of Pakistan’s reluctance to take action against groups like the Haqqani network, which Pakistan considers to be a strategic asset.

The most important ramification of this incident is Pakistan’s call to vacate the Shamsi air base operated by the CIA.

First offered to Washington in the early days after 9/11 by the Musharraf regime when it simpered before the American threat that it will be bombed back to the Stone Age if it did not cooperate, Shamsi's US operations was a well-kept secret till February 2009 when Internet trawlers ferreted out Google earth photos showing drone aircraft at the base. News that the US was using Pakistani facilities to carry out its Predator campaign within Pakistani territory against Pakistani targets embarrassed Islamabad no end, sparking off a campaign to evict American assets. Pakistan, it must be noted managed to get US to vacate the Jacobabad airbase, the second of the air base operated by the US. Reports suggest that Pakistan has not been successful in getting the US to vacate the Shamsi base. How did the US manage to cling on to this base? The answer lay in the fact that the air base was not even under Pakistani control. Like with some other parts of the country like areas of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir ceded to China and parts of the Khyber Pakhtunwa given up to extremists, Islamabad earned itself the dubious reputation as a rentier state, it turned out that Shamsi Air Base had been leased out to some Gulf potentates.

During the Pakistan national assembly debate following the Abbottabad operation, Pakistan air chief Rao Qamar Suleman reportedly told lawmakers in camera than Shamsi has been under the control of the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan Air Force had no say in the matter. In fact, the Shamsi air strip was originally built for Arab sheikhs who flew into Pakistan to hunt for the houbara bustard, a rare bird some Arabs believe has aphrodisiac properties.

Now, the US-UAE arrangement in Shamsi rendered the Pakistani establishment impotent.

In the event of closure of the Shamsi Air Base, the drone operations being carried out by CIA may be adversely affected. The US may have to shift these operations to a secure location in Afghanistan or elsewhere. If such a situation were to arise, then the US may probably adopt a no holds barred approach to taking on terrorists in Pakistan.

In conclusion, Pakistan must realise that playing a dangerous double game as they have done so far in Afghanistan is fraught with serious risks wherein allied forces may carry out military strikes as highlighted by this incident "accidentally". None, but Pakistan alone, will be responsible for such actions.

November 28, 2011

Hindus in Pakistan: The nowhere people

A child peers over to see what her mother is reading

Tarun Vijay in New Delhi

Tarun Vijay visits a tent camp in New Delhi where Hindu refugees from Pakistan try and start a new life.

Pakistan doesn't send just terrorists like Ajmal Kasab. They send Hindus too -- forcing them to flee if they want to save their honour and their lives.

The common Hindu is a mute spectator to the changing times and the Abbotabad, Haqqani and ISI phenomenon.

He cannot comment on the political situation of his country. He cannot vote as freely as a common Muslim Pakistani. He is constitutionally directed to vote only for the Hindu candidates in their designated constituencies.

A country that might have taken birth in 1947, but the land belonged to his ancestors for centuries. He is as much the owner of the land of the 'pure' as any other religionist. But while the 'other' religionist is free to vote and shout for his rights and participate in the mainstream activities, he for just being a Hindu is asked to live in a cocoon.

A woman cooks her family's evening meal

Hindu women do not display the bindi or mangalsutra out of fear. Most of the Hindu temples (except a few I saw in Karachi) have posters and calendars in place of stone images of gods and goddesses. Their kids have to learn, compulsorily Islamiyat in schools.

Even in areas like Sindh and Hyderabad, where Hindu concentration is comparatively larger, no school is allowed for minorities to teach their children their religious books and cultural values. They have to do it silently in their homes.

Hindu priests too wear half skullcaps to look like everybody else around. Identity shouldn't be disclosed, is the first step to survive.

One evening my friend and renowned human rights activist Rajesh Gogna took me to meet some of the Pakistanis who had to leave the land of their ancestors in search of dignity and freedom.

They were in tents and their kids were playing in the dirt. But their faces looked glowing with confidence and assured safety. They were smiling.

Freedom makes even the refugee souls happy.

They are all from Sindh Hyderabad, Pakistan -- 28 families, 151 persons, including women, kids and the old men

(Sitting In the centre) Arjun Das

Arjun Das, their more vocal leader says, "We tried for seven years to get visas from the Indian embassy. Every year we returned with denials. It had become an annual ritual for us to travel to Islamabad, as India has no consulate in Karachi. We would wait for hours and days outside the Indian High Commission for our turn to come. And then they would say -- visa nahin milega (you won't get a visa)."

"This year, fortunately we got the visa and silently came out of Sindh, Hyderabad. We too the train to Lahore and then to the Attari border by bus. We had visa permission to visit Delhi and Hardwar, so reached here in the ashram of our Guru Baba Ghunni Das Maharaj."

Lacchmi with her grandson
Lacchmi is in her early seventies. She was playing with her grandson and said, when I asked why she chose to come to India, she said: "We have had a life full of misery and ghulami. I didn't want that for my grandchildren. They must get a chance to live as Hindus and study. It's nothing but Islamiyat teachings in schools and the entire atmosphere pushed our kids either to convert to Islam or live a rotten life worse than animals."

US Raid in Mohmand-A Strategic Analysis


The US raid on Pakistani infantry company headquarters is not a solitary tactical event which occurred by chance in the fof of undeclared war between the US and Pakistan since many years.

The Mohmand raid is an event of cardinal strategic importance.

On 24th November Chinas PLA commmandos carried out a para drop exercise with Pakistans special services troops SSG at Tilll Ranges Jhelum.The US raid was a quick albeit crude response , in the form of cold blooded massacre of 29 Pakistani troops in Mohmand including a captain.

When the US helicopters took off from Asadabad in Kunnar they had a clear flight plan to eliminate a Pakistani post in Mohmand as part of a aerial raid approved at the White House and war gamed at the Pentagon.

The Mohmand raid is deeper than a stray raid by a drunk US chopper pilot.

The raid has various motives.

Firstly and foremost , an attack in the realm of psychological warfare.Create a feeling of helplessness in Pakistan.This is most dangerous part.To create a strategic anaesthesia in Pakistan where the people lose faith in the military , in the generals and the whole idea of any faith in Pakistans military is buried for eternity.

The Americans want a subalterns coup or a majors coup in Pakistan.

They want Pakistan to become an Iraq and a Somalia

While the US has a clear strategy to reduce Pakistan to size it is not necessarily a sane strategy because the Americans are famous for being barren , infertile women at the strategic level !

What the Americans are doing is playing with fire.One wrong step and a new world crisis far greater in volume than 9/11 is far closer than anyone who authorised the Mohmand massacre of Pakistani Red Indians in Wwashington DC or at the Pentagon may have imagined.

What is not done in Pakistan now to counter this raids affects is crucial for Pakistan at the strategic level.

This is a time to act and regret rather than not to act and regret.

This is a time for hard decisions.

A clean break with an ambiguous friend ! And this is true for both Pakistan and the USA.Both are like an unstable couple cheating each other and sleeping with each other enemies.

Pakistan needs a clean break with the US and the NATO and the US needs greater strategic sanity which is sadly lacking in the cheap social climber from Chicago.This is not a law suit which smart mothers boy can win.This is strategic brinkmanship which can destabilise the whole region.

If Pakistan has to drown so should the greater powers who are thoughtlessly playing with fire.

If Pakistan is condemned to darkness let there be no light in Bagram !

This is time to break with a double game whose bluff has been exposed.

This is a time where Pakistans survival lies in real countermeasures or Pakistan will be lost for eternity.

What General Kiani and his corps commanders decide will decide Pakistans fate ! The decisions that they have to make have to be bold !

BALOCHISTAN: The setting up of 'human right task force' by Pakistan

Paris, November 28: The deteriorating law and order situation, rising cases of target killings, torture and abductions reflect a massive human rights crisis in Balochistan. The crisis in the resource-rich and Pakistan's largest province has been created by the law enforcement agencies and the administration. Recently the Pakistan government has decided to form a Human Rights Task Force under the Ministry of Human Rights that will probe human rights violations in Balochistan.

The deteriorating law and order situation, rising cases of target killings, torture and abductions reflect a massive human rights crisis in Balochistan.

The crisis in the resource-rich and Pakistan’s largest province has been created by the law enforcement agencies and the administration,

Recently the Pakistan government has decided to form a Human Rights Task Force under the Ministry of Human Rights that will probe human rights violations in Balochistan.

The Task Force is being formed following the surfacing of thousands of deaths and abduction cases in the province, where political workers and students are routinely found missing and then dead.

However, the Baloch leaders call it a ploy by Pakistan to dodge criticism by the international community and rights groups.

“This is just a game plan. They have planned it and they are trying to make Baloch people fool. They are also trying to put cover on the eyes of the international community that they are intended and they are willing to probe this issue. Unfortunately, this is not intended to probe it; they are not intended to deal with this issue. In reality, they are intended to do more abuses of human rights, especially the killings, tortures and abductions and they are doing this.” said MUNIR MENGAL PRESIDENT, BALOCH VOICE FOUNDATION, PARIS

Since 1947, Pakistan has been exploiting Balochistan’s mineral reserves without paying royalty.

However, the people of Balochistan have been agitating for a sovereign nation and want complete control of their natural resources.

In response the Pakistan army and spy agencies have been abducting, torturing and killing Baloch political activists, students, professionals and anyone who demands basic rights.

The issue of violation of human rights in Balochistan has been raised by several international rights groups and the United Nations, but Pakistan has always downplayed the issue.

“As far as Balochistan is concerned, whatever Task Force they (Pakistan) form will be a publicity stunt. The situation in Balochistan was really bad during the rule of the military dictator (General Pervez Musharraf). Now Pakistan has had a democratic government for the last 3 years but there is no improvement. The Pakistan government may have announced various relief packages for Balochistan, but in reality they continue killing innocent Baloch people whose bullet-riddled bodies are found dumped all across the region. “KHAN OF KALAT MIR SULEMAN DAWOOD, BALOCH LEADER

To put an end to rising violence in Balochistan, Pakistan had earlier formed Crisis Management Cell (CMC) under the interior ministry.

The CMC spent about 10 million USD by deploying 17 regular units and paramilitary troops in the region.

However, the situation turned more volatile and the incidents of forced disappearances, tortures and killings shot up.

It is clear, therefore, that the formation of Human Rights Task force by the Ministry of Human Rights is just another publicity stunt by the Pakistan government.

Protecting Your Online Reputation

Knowing in real time exactly who is praising or pillorying your company can result in tremendous competitive advantages

Information Management Magazine, Nov/Dec 2011

William Laurent

Admit it: You occasionally run a Google or Yahoo! search to uncover what people are saying about you or your business on the Internet. Personally, I am always on the lookout for public opinion concerning the content and articles that I regularly write. For an independent consultant such as myself, a simple Internet search a few times a year is sufficient to capture the relatively small number of appraisals scattered over the Web. However, for larger organizations, safeguarding a reputation online is a much more arduous undertaking. The larger the company, the more at stake: Respected and trusted brands take years (and often millions of dollars) to cultivate. And yet, a few commentators in a social media venue – such as a blog, forum, discussion board, YouTube video, publicly available wiki, etc. – can literally make or break a product or brand in a matter of hours. At any moment, somebody in cyberspace may be critiquing your business, compromising the privacy of its executives or having impassioned discussions on how your company’s goods and services fare in comparison with the competition. By necessity, companies have started to rely heavily on dedicated software to help with their online reputation management activities. ORM software gives companies of all sizes the ability to track and monitor the Web across multiple search engines, blogs, newsfeeds, etc for mention (good and bad) about their business practices and products. Because knowing in real time exactly who is praising or pillorying your company can result in tremendous competitive advantages, ORM has become an essential part of everyday operations for even the smallest of organizations.

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Establishing a methodology for managing and protecting one’s online reputation can appear formidable at first. There are seemingly limitless numbers of social media and social content sharing sites, news portals, industry journals and other online media, making it very difficult to uncover everything that the Internet community is saying about your organization, let alone try to manage and respond to both negative and positive mentions of products, services and brands. Fortunately, ORM applications and associated automated dashboards can provide comprehensive ORM capabilities – through comprehensive searching (“deep Web” scouring), analytical/trending, sentiment ranking and customizable alert functionality against all types of online content – from YouTube videos to blogs. The most advanced ORM applications employ sentiment tagging functions; these functions are able to intelligently classify Internet statements into positive sentiment, negative sentiment or neutral sentiment buckets. Furthermore, these ORM tools have the capability to search and analyze data across a diverse breadth of demographics, geographies and languages, which is extremely important for organizations that have to manage reputational risk on a global basis.

In order for any ORM tool to achieve its full effectiveness, a large portfolio of key performance indicators and metrics must be carefully established. Hostile and friendly trends must be consistently captured and analyzed so that reputation management becomes less of a reactive exercise and more of a proactive one. Complex comparative metrics must be commonplace, such as those that help track the success of a brand’s reputation over time, or correlate the relationship between volume of conversation and brand reputation, and so on. In tandem with coherent and actionable metrics, a repository of reputation management data will need to be maintained. The repository should archive history in such a way that reports about online threats can be recreated well after the incident has been first spotted. (The Internet has a tremendous rate of change; any aspersion appearing on the Web can disappear almost immediately after it is identified.)

A well-structured rapid response team that is responsible for identifying and rectifying online threats to reputation will be critical to your organization’s ORM strategy. An effective RR team will be headed by a brand evangelist (an increasingly visible position in customer-centered firms) who understands the value proposition of the company’s core products and brands. The brand evangelist’s team will have a playbook, or set of operating principles that formalize how to classify and react to various types of online reputational threats, to turn biting consumer criticism or belligerence emanating from the Internet into opportunities to win over existing and prospective customers. Moreover, resources from an organization’s legal and compliance department will be integral to the team’s success, with their ability to execute cease and desist letters or provide extra muscle in negotiating a final resolution when a website’s content is deemed to be slanderous or libelous.

Maintaining a blog is a surefire way to elegantly acknowledge and address online vitriol aimed your organization. Within the confines of the blog, a brand evangelist can explain what his or her company is doing to correct any consumer issues, clear up misleading rumors in the press and much more. What is important is that organizations indicate a willingness to listen, to resolve complaints that originate on the Internet in a personal manner, over the phone or email, “offline” and off the record. A customer-focused blog, authored or edited by a persona that the public readily associates with a brand or product line, will align corporate marketing and sales strategy with customer service operations in ways that create tremendous value for all.

William Laurent is a renowned independent consultant in data, governance and IT strategy. You can reach him at

Passion or Experience: What Startups should Hire?

By SiliconIndia, Monday, 28 November 2011, 13:50 IST

Fremont: The initial stage of a startup is filled with vacuum that needs to be replaced with people who are able to cope up with the initial difficulties of starting a business. In big companies, employees are conservative and are trained to prepare long and detailed reports, make sure that every document is perfect quality and every bit of diligence has been done. But the case does not stand true for startups.

Startups are always on their toes, ready to run, take decisions instantly and if wrong, admit them and work on refining them. What they need are people who can cope up with these changes as fast as they are made. So, it is a big question whether a startup should hire employees with passion or experience.

Passion can make a person work for the company as if they are the owner of it, and finding such people are the right fit for your organization. A startup employee should have passion for his work along with the growth of self and the company. Such persons are able to dedicate long working hours with enthusiasm to learn more. These people adjust themselves with the changes and trends that the company undergoes. Passion needs to be mentored to stabilize the ship and then experience. However, passion has limits, and without experience, passion will diminish overtime in many cases, leaving the enterprise to decay.

On the other hand, an experienced employee brings with him a long term of work experience with other companies. They are much familiar with the corporate environment and easily fit the work culture of the company. They do not need to be managed through out. Also experience without passion settles for commonplace solutions, ones without risk.

Experienced people sometimes are stubborn enough to accept changes as they are used to a certain situation. They have their own metrics to work on. Even they are comparatively less inclined towards learning new things faster than the passionate one. For a startup, days and nights does not matter, neither should it for its employees. People with passion are stuck around and enjoy the challenges of new things being thrown their way. In certain cases, even hiring people with lack of passion, motivation and drive may lead the owner to realize their decision being inept.

Whatever may be the trait, it is proved that people who are believers in your product have higher rate of committing to their jobs and working with passion than those who need to be trained and thought about what actually goes on in the company. In several cases, the selection between passion and experience depends on the position and the role they need to fill. For certain positions, experience will help fly your company high, but passion is something that is needed to keep the flame of determination burning.

Can India beat China at its own game?

Published: Sunday, Nov 27, 2011, 9:15 IST
By Aditya Kaul | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The Chinese play a game called Wei qi. It is like chess, but with a different philosophy. While a chess player seeks absolute victory by checkmating the opponent’s king, a Wei qi player seeks a strategic edge by encircling the opponent’s pieces. In chess, you have the advantage of knowing the placement of all your opponent’s pieces. But, in Wei qi, strategy unfolds gradually. Pieces are deployed as the game progresses.

In making the comparison between the two strategy games in his recent work, On China, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger traces the origins of China’s “distinctive military theory” to a period of upheaval, when ruthless struggles between rival kingdoms decimated China’s population.

Reacting to this slaughter, Chinese thinkers, he says, developed strategic thought that placed a premium on “victory through psychological advantage” and “preached the avoidance of direct conflict.” What makes China’s case more of an enigma is that it still invokes its millennia old strategic principles in its dealings with the modern world, and fiercely adheres to them.

Wei qi originated in China, and chess in India. As chants for an India-China ‘showdown’ grow louder, a senior Indian diplomat cautions that “nobody has a good understanding of China.”

Global power
The two sides were expected to sit across the table from Monday in New Delhi for the 15th time for Special Representatives’ talks on the border dispute, but there has been a last minute postponement and new dates are yet to be announced. Last year too, India had suspended the talks after China denied a visa to Northern Army Commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal because he came from the “sensitive” J&K, which China considers “disputed territory”, a pro-Pakistan shift from its earlier stand that J&K is an India-Pakistan bilateral dispute.

Outwardly, there appears little movement between Beijing and New Delhi. “China’s primary objective,” says former national security advisor, Brajesh Mishra, “is to have no rival in Asia. Otherwise, how can they claim to be a global power of the standing of the United States?”

It’s precisely for this reason, he says, China has for some years now been supporting Pakistan with money, arms and infrastructure. “Their purpose is to keep India embroiled in South Asia. By working with Pakistan in PoK, it enlarges the scope for this scenario,” says Mishra.

China has a strategic intent to dominate PoK in general and Gilgit Baltistan in particular, says IDSA, a Delhi-based think tank, in its PoK Project Report. “This area is contiguous to its own Xinjiang province where Muslim separatist feelings are strong. Along with Tibet, Xinjiang has become a particularly large belt of instability for China.”

Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal says “PoK is strategically very important for them. The Chinese want to be there in the scenario of a collapse of the Pakistani state.” He says China is one country which has strategically harmed India the most.

“They are upgrading in Tibet, pumping money and nuclear missile technology into Pakistan, developing Gwadar, interfering in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, creating a ‘pearl of strings’ in the Indian ocean, which can also be interpreted as their naval presence in the region. That’s why we have stepped up our naval exercises.”

In January last year, the Pakistani side of the strategic Karakoram Highway connecting Pakistan with the Xinjiang region in China was blocked by landslides in the Attabad area of Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan turned to China for help, and China saw an opportunity. The New York Times reported that China had stationed 11,000 PLA regulars in the Gilgit-Baltistan region.

NYT claimed that through PoK, the Chinese were looking at unfettered road and rail access to the Gulf region and the link-up would enable Beijing to transport cargo and oil tankers from eastern China to the new Chinese built Pakistani naval base at Gawadar, Pasni and Ormara in Balochistan, just east of the Gulf, in 48 hours.

South China Sea
In the South China Sea, on which China claims its sovereign right, the Chinese strategy has had to counter several factors, including a growing Indian assertiveness, and the uncomfortable presence of the US which has minced no words in claiming they are back in South East Asia for strategic reasons, though not containment of China. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bali for the ASEAN summit came against the backdrop of a build-up of tension between the two countries over India’s oil exploration pact with Vietnam in the South China Sea. During their 55-minute bilateral meeting, Singh reportedly told Wen Jiabao India’s oil and gas exploration was a “commercial activity” and “issues of sovereignty should be resolved according to international law.”

Professor Madhu Bhalla who teaches Chinese Studies at Delhi University says the Chinese “irredentist” attitude towards territory has its roots in China’s history, its ancient philosophy of the “middle kingdom” with a “mandate from heaven,” and with peripheral nations as its vassals. “The ‘century of humiliation’ starting with Britain’s opium wars in the mid-19th century have left a deep mark on the Chinese psyche. So, any attempt at a ‘separation’ of their ‘territory’ reminds them of the past. That history is kept intact in their culture, songs, school syllabus, and cinema. It’s the political folklore in China, and breeds a sense of super-nationalism in the Chinese.”

But a senior army officer says the situation is less scary than projected. “Everyone wants influence and China is no different. The Chinese are building roads, but so are we, though not at their pace,” he says, dismissing suggestions of the Indian approach being reactive. “They started modernising in 1978. We started in 1991,” he argues. “Infrastructure is weak on our side. But if you compare the two sides, the terrain on the Chinese side is flat and open, whereas on our side the terrain friction is very high.”

Prof Bhalla also points out that in a globalised world most things are seen in the context of multilateral engagements. “China also realises that it has gained a lot from engagement in multilateral fora,” she says, pointing out that the US and Japan, whom China perceives as its biggest threat, are also its largest trading partners. “Can they cease all trade with the US and Japan?” Trade between India and China has also been rising. This year it reached $70 billion. By 2015, both countries want it to reach $100 billion.

India and China, she says, are encountering each other at several places and we have common neighbours. “So, it’s not just about what they do, but what we do. The challenge for India is to deliver mutually acceptable programmes in its neighbourhood,” she adds.

Aid diplomacy
The Indian diplomatic community has been engaged in hectic diplomatic parleys. In the last 6-7 months alone, India has inked important agreements in the Central, South and South East Asian regions including a strategic agreement with Afghanistan, and trade agreements with Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam, South Korea, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and the Maldives.

India has also been engaged in extended Lines of Credit, including $5 billion to Africa this year.

“Over 40 African countries have availed of over a hundred Indian Lines of Credit so far, aggregating over US $ 4.2 billion. In 2010-11, 14 Lines of Credits amounting to over US $ 1 billion were approved. The list continues to grow,” India’s external affairs minister SM Krishna said at the inauguration of an Indian LoC conference in Delhi last week.

Prof Bhalla however points out that India is in no position to compete financially with China $6 trillion economic might. But India can capitalise on soft power. India’s approach is to better the lives of people they are engaging with, unlike the Chinese mercantilist approach. “In Tanzania a lot of the local market has been taken over by China. They are in Sudan where they have been buying up corrupt leaderships. People get nothing. There is a lot of resentment against China. In Saindak copper and gold mines in Pakistan, Gwadar, everywhere they bring in their own people. Local populations that are mired in poverty get nothing.” In Hambantota, Sri Lankan officials have admitted in the past that local people have been unable to find work because China employed around 7,000 Chinese workers.

“India has been working with democratic governments, building institutions, imparting technical skills. Their credibility is much higher. Africans don’t see India as a threat.”

How ancient India upheld democracy, kept corruption at bay

Published: Thursday, Nov 10, 2011, 16:03 IST
By Brij Khandelwal | Place: Aligarh | Agency: IANS

Team Anna's campaign against corruption may have caught the imagination of the nation, but what is perhaps little known is that though ancient India had a well-evolved democratic system that went down to the grassroots, its elected leaders had to adhere to well-defined laws that prescribed stiff penalties for those who swindled public money or indulged in improprieties.

Aligarh Muslim University historian S Chandni Bi, who has specialised in epigraphy, the study of inscriptions, says around 1,000 years ago there was zero tolerance towards financial bungling. According to him, inscriptions in the southern state of Tamil Nadu clearly indicate how intolerant civil society was against corrupt practices and the violators of ethical framework.

Chandni told IANS in an interview: "A well-evolved democratic system was functional, starting at the Saba level, between the eighth and the 16th century in South India, irrespective of the ruling dynasties: the Cheras, Cholas, Pallavas, Pandyas and Vijaynagar.

"The members of a Saba were elected by the whole community of the village by a system peculiarly known as 'Kuda Olai' system (Kudam-Pot and Olai-Palm leaf). The village was divided into wards called 'Kudumbus', and every ward had to write the eligible person's names on the palm leaves. The bundle of palm leaves was emptied in a pot. The member was chosen by draw of lots."

The most important point to note here was the issuance of strict guidelines by the rulers, inscriptions give fair indication of the clarity of thought and zero tolerance towards financial bungling.

"Among the inscriptions three are very important which belong to the 10th century AD Two inscriptions are found in Vaykundanatha Perumal temple at Uttramerur, Kanchipuram district and another one is from Pallipakkam village of Tanjore in Tamil Nadu state belonging to the rule of Parantaka Chola Ist," Chandni explains.

"The crimes committed by the members of the Saba are divided into three categories. The swindling of funds or public property and those who failed to submit their accounts have been considered as crime number two. Such members were not eligible to contest the Saba election for life long. Not only they but their relatives too could not contest elections, like children, in-laws, brothers and their children, grand -parents, grand- children, relations through wife etc, nearly for three generations. They were called as 'Grama Dhurogis'.

"While murder of even Brahmins was considered pardonable, crimes like cheating or swindling public funds were unpardonable even by gods. Political crime was not pardonable but other crimes could be punished with penalties or performance of penance and charitable deeds, to become eligible for elections again."

There were established codes of conduct laid down for the Saba members as found in an inscription from Mannur village of Tirunelveli district. Among them, the most interesting one relates to obstructing the political processes or functioning of the Saba deliberately. In such cases a penalty of five Kasu (Rupees) was imposed for every such act of mis-conduct, on such members. Yet they were permitted to stay and participate in the proceedings of the Saba. Generally, the Kings' orders were executed by passing in the Saba.

To prevent political power getting concentrated in one family leading to dynastic tendencies, rules were framed. "According to this rule, the present members of the Saba cannot contest the election for next 2 to 10 years. In the same way none of their relatives should have contested for the past five years if one wanted to contest for membership of Saba. There is also a sub-rule to provide equal opportunity for everybody stipulating induction of two new members without any previous experience as members of the Saba."

The Sabas had to be dissolved before the election of the new one and the elections were generally conducted by the village accountant and a judge called 'Madyasthan'. In the public services there were no holidays and therefore no one in authority could neglect public duty. "It was categorically mentioned that the elected members should provide their service for 360 days. The elected members' term of office was only one year and automatically should resign after completion of the term."

They also actively practised the right to recall. "In those days if an elected member of the Saba committed a crime or violated law, he was immediately sacked. Such has been our rich and exemplary past. Let us bring it back instead of looking to the west for solutions," said Chandni who is teaching South Indian History in AMU.

India’s bid for UN Council seat

China should reciprocate a past gesture
by Rup Narayan Das

ADDRESSING the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly which concluded recently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated India’s stance for a stronger and effective UN system and emphasised the need for pursuing with renewed vigour an early reform of the Security Council. He raised the issue again at the fifth India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) summit at Pretoria. It may be mentioned in this context that besides other factors, the support of the permanent five members of the Security Council (the P-5) is essential for India’s bid to be a member of the Council. Four of the P-5 — the US, Russia, the United Kingdom and France — have already extended their support to India in various ways.

Although success for India will be a long-drawn process, the role of China, which has categorically not extended its support for India’s cause as yet, is crucial. The Chinese stand has been that it attaches great importance to India’s position as a major developing country in international affairs and that it supports India’s aspirations to play a greater role in the United Nations, including in the Security Council. Beijing in various bilateral and multilateral communiqu├ęs has reiterated its position from time to time but without a firm commitment.

Recently, however, there were indications that China might consider India’s candidature for a seat at the UN high table. For example, when CPM leader Sitaram Yechury met Chinese leader and state councillor Dai Bingguo on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, he reportedly said that China had no objection to India becoming a permanent member of the Security Council, but not as a part of G-4 which comprises Japan, Germany and Brazil besides India. While such favourable articulation by China about India’s bid for the Council’s membership is reassuring for New Delhi, some of the leading Chinese scholars have also been voicing their support for India’s aspirations.

In an article in the Sunday supplement of a leading English daily, Shen Dingli, a distinguished Chinese scholar from Fudan University, wrote that India deserved a seat commensurate with its rise, and that its attempt “merits China’s consideration”. He further wrote that “India gaining that seat should enhance the representation of the developing countries in the world system, which has long been a tenant of Chinese foreign policy.”

Shen Dingli, who is also the Vice-President of the Chinese Association of South-Asian Studies, has been a strong advocate of Sino-Indian reconciliation.

In this context, it is worthwhile to recall India’s advocacy of China for a membership of the UN at a very critical time in its history when China had not risen to its present international stature and didn’t have enough friends to espouse its cause. India was one of the first Asian countries which supported a resolution for the admission of the People’s Republic of China to the UN. The resolution was moved by the then Soviet Union in the Security Council to unseat the erstwhile KMT regime of Taiwan. The government’s advocacy for China’s entry into the UN system was supported by various political parties, cutting across party lines.

However, the issue of China’s bid to become a member of the UN got entangled with the unfolding of the Korean crisis in 1950. The Korean war broke out in June 1950, and a crisis also erupted in Tibet. This in turn led to some rethinking in India with regard to its China policy. India, however, voted for the UN resolution criticising North Korea’s aggression against South Korea and urged for the withdrawal of the Korean forces. However, India was of the opinion that no settlement of the East Asian imbroglio would be durable and permanent without China’s acquiescence. Articulating India’s position on the Korean crisis in the Lok Sabha, Nehru unambiguously said on August 3, 1950, that China’s entry into the UN might well have prevented the emergence of the Korean problem. Nehru also took up the issue of China’s admission to the UN system with Stalin and US Secretary of State Dean Acheson.

In spite of differences of opinion among the members of Parliament in their understanding and approach to the Korean problem, they largely supported the government’s advocacy of China’s entry into the UN system to normalise the situation in the Korean peninsula. Piloting a debate on international affairs on December 6, 1950, Nehru affirmed the government’s policy on China’s claim to the UN membership. Defending the government’s decision for opposing the UN resolution on endorsing the crossing of the 38th Parallel, he argued that China viewed this as a grave danger to its own security and that it was fraught with the danger of precipitating the situation.

He said, “We had perhaps rather special responsibility in regard to China, because we were one of the very few countries represented there, and we were the only country, apart from the countries of the Soviet group, which could find out through its ambassador what the reactions of the Chinese Government were to the developing events.”

When the Korean crisis deteriorated after the UN forces transgressed the 38th Parallel and China militarily intervened in the conflict, this impelled India to find a diplomatic solution to the impasse. These developments found their echo in Parliament as well. Members cutting across party lines expressed grave concerns. In pursuance of the policy envisaged by Nehru, India opposed the UN resolution branding the People’s Republic of China as an aggressor because of its involvement in the Korean war. Speaking in Parliament on February 12, 1951, he described the resolution as unwise and proposed a negotiated settlement of the impasse.

Thus, India from the very beginning has been adopting a nuanced approach in the case of China, extending its steadfast support to Beijing at a very critical juncture in its history. It is time Beijing returned these gestures in equal measure, particularly at a time when India’s stature has gone up considerably. Now with India joining China in seeking Pakistan’s entry into the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member, both China and Pakistan should jointly support India’s bid for a permanent seat at the Council. The mismatch in the UN system should be corrected by bringing India to the high table. This will also help in realising the dream of the 21st century as an Asian century.

The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.

Memogate" & Manmohan

Never do we learn that peace with Pakistan is a mirage, says N.V.Subramanian.

21 November 2011: "Memogate" proves again how flawed is Manmohan Singh's policy of unilateral peacemaking with Pakistan. To say that the Pakistan army wants peace with India would be foolish if it weren't downright dangerous.

The scandal involving Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari and his ambassador to the US in attempts to turn American heat on the Pakistan army and pre-empt a coup post Osama Bin Laden's assassination was out in the open weeks before Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart in Bhutan and the Maldives. That the Pakistan army was deeply upset with the civilian government apropos "Memogate" was also apparent. In this situation, how did the Indian PM conclude that Indo-Pak peace talks would make headway?

This writer is not accusing Zardari and his ambassador of wrongdoing. Indeed, the unfolding scandal suggests that it may equally be an ISI operation to discredit the PPP government. The ISI chief was rather prompt to interrogate the suspicious Pakistani businessman at the centre of "Memogate" in London much before the scandal hit the headline. Blackberry messages purportedly exchanged between the businessman and the Pak ambassador were leaked to Pakistani newspapers. The leaker was either the Pakistani businessman or the ISI. This casts the ISI in more suspicious light.

The ISI/ Pak military have toppled elected Pakistan governments in the past. The ISI was in the centre of the storm generated by Bin Laden's assassination. It is evident that the ISI had approved the Osama Bin Laden safe house in Abbottabad. When he was killed, the heat hit the ISI. It was most to be upset with the US. Previous to the Bin Laden killing, there was the incident of a US undercover agent killing two ISI stalkers in Lahore. To save its face in the Bin Laden case, it had every reason to get back at the US.

The Haqqani network attacks on US forces in Afghanistan and its embassy in Kabul were the ISI's doing. "Memogate" presented a more daring opportunity in the way it was conceived, if you think the ISI engineered it. With one stone, so to speak, two parties were instantly discredited, namely the US and the Zardari government. The Pak ambassador to the US who is loathed by the Pakistan army and ISI would also go.

Of course, it may be as the accusations are presently portrayed, that Zardari and his ambassador were at the bottom of "Memogate". But at least to this writer, it seems like an ISI operation. Nevertheless, the point is, things were coming to a head in Pakistan between the army and the civilian government. Presumably, India's covert services were focused on this unfolding scandal. Then how did Manmohan Singh presume that the civilian government was on such solid footing as to carry through the peace process with India?

To call the Pakistan PM a "man of peace" as Manmohan Singh did is certainly meaningless. If anyone in Pakistan's civilian government calls the shots, it is the president. And even Zardari survives from one day to another, as "Memogate" proves all over again. On what basis then did the PM advance peace hopes with Pakistan? How could he believe the Pak PM that the Pakistan army was in the loop in regard to making peace with India?

Manmohan Singh's unilateralism in foreign policy has run to excess. He is damaging India's national interests. Specific with Pakistan, he is diluting India's stand on 26/11. Pakistan will not bring the 26/11 terrorists to justice, and Manmohan Singh's peace moves imply that India has forgiven and forgotten the Bombay carnage. The former cricketer, Imran Khan, is now being propped up by the Pakistan army/ ISI as an alternative to Zardari and Nawaz Sharief. Smartly, Imran Khan has made the right noises on Indian news TV. Next you know, the Manmohan Singh government will be wooing the ex-sports star.

Enough. Manmohan Singh must be prevented from his personalized peace moves with Pakistan. He has no sanction for it from the country. His own party is opposed to it. Unless Pakistan stabilizes, the military is brought under civilian control, the ISI is disbanded, and the terrorists are vanquished, there can be no peace with the country. It is not enough that India wants peace. Pakistan must reciprocate. It is in no position to do so. The best India could do for itself and for Pakistan is to keep away and watch its terroristic neighbour do down.

N.V.Subramanian is Editor,, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi). Email: