February 24, 2012

The Analytic Marketing MBA

FEB 24, 2012 12:06am ET

By Jim Ericson


Girish Punj is a professor of marketing and director of executive education at the University of Connecticut School of Business in Storrs. For the last several years he’s been teaching graduate courses to students, mostly full-time managers at mid-Atlantic corporations. For almost 10 years he’s also been using the analytic tools derived from IBM’s acquisition of SPSS, now applied to his classes in a course on business analytics at UConn’s Stamford campus.

Dr. Punj, is your analytics focus part of an IT or business curriculum?It's part of our marketing curriculum. I've found there are IT curricula that focus on analytics but what I think is the greater need is for chief marketing officers or people doing marketing strategy to get deeper into analytics. Until now, the domain of business analytics has mainly been in IT under the CIO. I see this transformation occurring gradually, but I would like my students to be ready.

And your graduate students are taking graduate tracks on their own time and money?
Yes. These students are all working at corporations, mostly private sector in the greater metro NY area so we have students with jobs in services, health care, a whole lot of insurance and financial institutions and banking, even consumer product companies. Most are full-time middle managers seeking career enhancement or better job opportunities within the companies they are working at.

Are they arriving with IT or marketing backgrounds or both?They come from all over. Some have come from IT seeking to make a transition into marketing.

We’ve seen evidence that chief marketing officers will be assuming more of the technology decisions formerly held by the CIO. Does that make sense to you?
I think it might be accurate to call the next generation of chief marketing officers the people with business analytic skills that previous generations of CMOs lacked. They are going to be software savvy and predictive modeling savvy. There will be less reliance on CIOs. We can see that it's not unhealthy for CMOs to become more self-reliant on their IT needs just because of their backgrounds and skills and the people working with them.

How do analytics get into the learning process compared to the way marketing has historically been taught?The history of marketing research goes back almost 50 years, is very statistically oriented and has ties to political science research. Not much has changed in marketing research in the last 30 or 40 years and it is no longer satisfying the needs of companies. In market research the data is usually attitudinal -- as opposed to behavioral -- and based on surveys. You'd call people and ask what they think of a product or service, what they bought, etc. That's old hat because people no longer have time or inclination to respond to phone or email surveys.

And analytics are now applied to data in behavioral and transactional measures?
Yes, the reliance on attitudinal data we once had in market research is fading and being replaced by behavioral data, what people are buying online and their interactions with call centers. The new phenomenon people are calling 'big data' is 80 or 90 percent of the behavioral kind. This means that some of the attitudinal stuff on which marketing research is based is no longer sufficient for companies to make good decisions based on what their customers do.

Are students and academics ahead of this transition?Students are realizing their skills need to be more up to date, but I think that transition is still lacking in academia. We know academia typically lags the business world by 10 years. What I am doing, with some support from IBM, is making the transition to marketing analytics. For instance, we have both marketing research and analytics courses this spring and students are voting for analytics with their feet. I have twice the enrollment there as I do in research. Students are reading about jobs, seeing what their competitors are doing.

How have you worked with IBM and what is the benefit for you?
The support from IBM has been access to their software, specifically SPSS Premium Modeler, the product that evolved out of SPSS. That has been advanced over the years and has about 22 algorithms of various types we use. My own relationship with SPSS began in 2003, but continued after IBM bought them. As the tool has grown, the focus is not for students to learn algorithms, it is to solve business problems. When a provider like SPSS builds an algorithm to do it, that's how it enters the picture.

How immersive is the math and statistics versus the technology you are using in your classes?Students need to know the inputs that are needed, and how to interpret the outputs. So between the input and output a lot of black box stuff is occurring and a lot of complicated and detailed math. We don't get into that, and you would need a master's degree in computer science to decode what's going on there. We want them to have an idea of what's behind it. If we are discussing neural networks I'll give students an idea of what that is and how it works conceptually, but we’re not writing equations.

Is it enough to tell a future CMO they will need a level of statistical understanding to know what that black box is up to?They should have an idea of conditional and joint probabilities, some math and statistics, but not much beyond that. This goes back to the discussion of CMOs becoming self-reliant. A CMO is not going to or be expected to write a complicated mathematical expression, but they should know enough that if the output or the result from a neural network analysis comes across their desk, they should know what it means.

Are these predictive analytics like those we're used to for measuring things like lifetime customer value or propensity to churn?Churn and lifetime value are important concepts but I think the field has moved beyond just those things. There is a new focus on unstructured content we get into, also social media, Twitter, Facebook and all the other verbatim data available. My ultimate goal is some kind of analytics that extracts, on an incremental basis, all the information it can from unstructured data and combines that with the information from structured data. That way you get some kind of internal validation that through people’s behavior you have found some trend and validate that through what they are saying. You are adding predictive power to your research.

What other types of marketing problems do the analytics address?We use predictive analytics and predictive modeling of every kind. I cover artificial intelligence techniques, genetic algorithms -- things not typically found in marketing. It's applied to solve real problems like market basket analysis. It's very difficult to use any statistical technique to do market basket analysis, but an algorithm makes that much easier than doing it statistically. The focus is not on technique, it's on solving a problem. For instance, if your company markets a laptop and a printer, what will your customer buy next?

Are tools like SPSS accessible to a wider and less statistical audience now
Yes, certainly a lot of IBM commercial customers are using this, and among academics there are four or five U.S. institutions using the same software package. From their Information on Demand conference I see IBM is also interfacing elements of SPSS in Cognos and Netezza software, so people who like to use that software can stay with it and use advanced analytics. I also see other tools like SAS; their statistical software gets used a lot in insurance and banking and areas that are very actuary driven, but we don't see it as much in marketing.

We see the corporate demand for analytic skills growing, do your peers in academics also see an urgent need?We are aware, but like I said, students are voting with their feet. I often refer to a McKinsey Global Institute report last year that suggested we are going to face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with these analytic skills. Students are sensing this. It's self-motivation and self-preservation in unsure economic times. They are reading industry reports and sensing that they need these skills.

Jim Ericson is editorial director of Information Management, a SourceMedia publication. You can reach him at Jim.Ericson@sourcemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jimericson (http://www.twitter.com/jimericson) .

A Gloomy Syrian Scenario

Jagdish N Singh

February 24, 2012

Emboldened by the veto Russia and China exercised the other day on the Arab League-sponsored and Western-backed UN Security Council resolution, which sought the transfer of power by President Bashar al-Assad to his deputy aimed at bringing the anti-government forces to the negotiating table for ending the unrest in the West Asian nation, and the support they, together with Iran, extended subsequently to Syria in the General Assembly on the issue, the Bashar regime has intensified its crackdown against the rebels and their supporters. Apparently, the regime seems to be winning with the help of continued weapons supply from Russia and Iran as well as the support provided by the Iranian Islamic revolutionary Guards encampments based throughout Syria and the Iran-backed Hezbollah militants based in Lebanon. But one doubts if the current situation will last long.

Given the pattern of Russo-Chinese behaviour in recent crises, including in former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, one is not sure if they would not ultimately desert, under one or the other pretext, Syria as well in pursuit of their far more well-defined policy of constructive engagement with the Western powers in general and the United States in particular. As for Iran, it has itself been facing serious financial constraints on account of the US-led sanctions and it may find it difficult to support Syria beyond a point.

Besides, more importantly, there are manipulations going on within the United Nations as well as outside to force the Bashar regime out. Reports are that external forces are helping the rebels with funds and armaments. Iraqi Sunnis and Libyan fighters are crossing over to join the rebels in their fight against the current regime. Turkey today is not averse to resorting to some kind of military intervention. Ankara has already openly recognised the legitimacy of the Syrian National Council branding it as a peaceful opposition platform. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has been reported as saying that he hoped an intervention would not be required but “if there was a humanitarian tragedy, a disaster, of course the international community and the UN cannot be silent.” He added that if the Arab initiative failed and the killings continued, Ankara would not tolerate it.

The Turkish position can be very much appreciated in the context of the larger power struggle between the Shiite Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance and the newly emerging post-Mubarak Sunni regional bloc that Ankara seems to be aspiring to lead. Also, Ankara would like the replacement of the Bashar regime in order to neutralise Syria’s well-documented ongoing support for Kurdish terrorist organisations operating in Turkey. Ankara might be thinking that it must intervene, for if the present situation continues, the Bashar regime would continue without fully collapsing and this would be made use of by the Syrian Kurds to assert some kind of autonomy which in turn would also benefit the Kurdish separatists in Turkey. Needless to mention, Turkey can play a very useful role in dislodging the Assad regime. It has the second largest land force in the North Atlantic treaty Organization and shares a land border with Syria.

One, however, wonders if such a possible post-Bashar scenario would be better from the viewpoint of peace and freedom in Syria. Ground realities suggest it could result in a tyranny of the majority given that Sunnis account for 60 to 70 per cent of Syria’s population. Islamist forces in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular are very popular amongst them. If elections are held today, as the trends in neighbouring Egypt show, some group or combination of groups supported by such radical forces might come to power. The possible emergent state is likely to be guided by the Sunni theologian Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328) who preached rigid adherence to the Qur'an and sunna (practices), branding all other schools of Islamic jurisprudence as influenced by Greek logic or Sufi mysticism.

A regime guided by the Brotherhood in Syria might be far worse than the current one for the country’s minorities such as the Kurds (10-15 per cent of population), Christians (eight per cent), Druze (three per cent) and Armenians. It is well documented that the Kurds have already suffered since the Arab nationalist Ba’ath party came to power in Syria in 1963. Some half a million of them are called “maktoum” (people of no country). They lack citizenship and have limited access to education and health provisions. The rest are called “ajanib” (foreigners), who have ID cards but limited rights. The Ba’ath regime has also systematically depopulated many Kurdish areas creating an Arab population belt in and around them. It has banned the Kurdish language and festivals too. Given what has happened to their brethren in other Sunni Muslim states in the region, the plight of the Kurds in a post-Bashar Syria is likely to only worsen. Once out of power, the heterodox Alawites who account for about 12 per cent of the population may also be persecuted. Sunni theologian Taymiyya had long ago branded the Alawites as more dangerous than the Christians and preached jihad to eliminate them. What might follow an Islamist rule could well be imagined.

In view of the afore-mentioned logical implications of the ideology and approach of the Islamist forces in a possible post-Bashar scenario, the leading democracies in general and the United States in particular need to anticipate the dangers ahead in Syria and evolve a policy that does not create, intentionally or unintentionally, a monster bigger than Bashar al Assad whose long dictatorial regime they all want to dismantle. But will they?

Growing Maoist Activism in Assam: Sinister and Calculated Moves

Nihar Nayak

February 24, 2012

The Government of India has, in recent years, suggested to states affected by left-wing extremist/Naxalite/Maoist movements to follow the so-called “Andhra model”. This is because the strategy followed by Andhra Pradesh has resulted in drastic decline in Maoist violence in the state during the past two years. At the same time, it must be noted that the Maoists have changed their tactics and have spread to new areas, Assam being one such area. Maoist presence and organisational activities in Assam are confirmed both by government and private sources, including the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom). Anticipating a further consolidation of the Maoists and their linkages with North-East based insurgent groups, possible arms support from China and, ahead of the visit of CPI-Maoist central committee members to Assam, the Union Home Ministry on February 16, 2012, asked the North-Eastern states to intensify their vigil against the growing Maoist menace.

Most worryingly, some arrested Maoists have disclosed that the CPI-Maoist, in particular, has been trying to establish contact with arms traffickers in Dimapur, Nagaland, for Chinese- and European-made arms. This information confirms that the Maoists are meticulously executing their plans. A 2006 government document indicated that a CPI-Maoist blueprint proposed to step up their presence in Bengal and break new ground in Assam, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh by 2011. A few recent incidents indicate that the Maoists are now in a position to set up guerrilla zones in Assam.

So far, Assam has not witnessed Maoist violence. There are reports, however, of Maoist organisational activities in the 22 police stations of upper Assam districts like Tinsukia, Golaghat, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Sivsagar, Lakhimpur, Jorhat, and Dibang Valley, and the Lohit district of neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh. Their activities are currently mostly confined to the river islands of the Assamese districts. Poor policing in the area aids the Maoist cause.

The Upper Assam districts are within the Maoists’ sights not because of governance issues, but due to their strategic location. According to police sources, the Maoists have established three guerilla zones—the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh, Assam-Nagaland, and Assam-West Bengal border areas—in Assam. The outfit has around 78 regular cadres and has been supporting anti-dam protests in the state. Quoting intelligence reports, the TV channel Times Now claimed on October 31, 2011 that China has been backing the Maoists. J.B. Pattanaik, Governor of Assam, confirmed this piece of information on the same day. He said, “Naxals have started organizing themselves in some parts of the State, particularly in Tinsukia and Dhemaji districts. There is a possibility that the Paresh Baruah group of ULFA may help them with weapons, so the State Government and Government of India must be alert.”1

There is a prevalent view that given the competition for influence between India and China at the regional and global levels, China would logically be expected to keep India tied up in internal matters in order to stifle its global ambitions. The CPI-Maoist and other insurgent groups who have declared a “strategic united front against India” can become a handy tool for China in this endeavour. In the event of any conflict between the two countries in future, China can employ them as a fifth column. As it is, these groups are already engaged in destabilising the Indian economy. For example, most of the iron ore being extracted via illegal mining in India, with the connivance of the Maoists, is reportedly being exported to China. Indian government sources claim that they have “concrete proof of certain elements from the Chinese establishment aiding North-East militants. The Chinese government, at least at the prefecture (provincial) level, was involved in such activity.”2

From the Chinese point of view, a perennial internal conflict in India will slow down its economy and indirectly help China’s rise to superpower status over the next 25 years. The Maoists expect China to actively support their efforts to effect a total regime change in India. In this regard, West Bengal and Assam together are strategically important for the Maoists. Their presence in these states serves as a meeting point with ULFA, NSCN-IM (National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muviah), and the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) of Manipur for purposes of training and weapon acquisition. This region also provides an opportunity for them to forge an alliance with the Maoists in Nepal, Philippines, and other South Asian nations. Kishenji, Eastern Regional Bureau Chief of the CPI-Maoist, was the main architect of this project.3 In March 2010, CPI-Maoist cadre, Telugu Deepak, reportedly told the police that some “members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of Philippines (CPP), camped in dense forests in September 2007 near the Bengal-Jharkhand border for over a month.”4 The Maoists’ link with China was disclosed by two arrested cadres of the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) of Manipur, who talked about forming a “strategic united front” with separatist groups active in various parts of the country. Irengbam Chaoren, chief of the political wing of the PLA, is also reportedly being harboured by China. According to media reports, his organisation has also been planning to liaise with terrorist outfits based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and separatist groups based in Jammu and Kashmir and India’s North-East.5

Before embarking on a full-fledged violent movement, the Maoists usually carry out a feasibility study, which is known as the “documentation stage” in Maoist parlance. One such study was carried out in 2010 in different areas of Assam analysing the socio-economic and cultural aspects of the state. The arrest of three suspected Maoists belonging to Dibrugarh district of Assam on February 12, 2011 in the Sundergarh district of Orissa indicates that the Maoists are in the second sub-stage, where they focus on establishing zonal committees, opening cultural organisations, and infiltrating agitations that break out over local issues. The suspects also confessed to have undergone training at a Maoist camp in Orissa for three months.

Law enforcement agencies have been receiving timely reports about growing Maoist activities in Assam. But it appears that they do not pay much attention to the issue. Granted that the Maoists have been receiving external support; but this cannot be used by the law enforcing agencies as an excuse to hide their inefficiency.

The Naxalite movement in India has been the second-longest conflict in South Asia, continuing from 1967 till date. The sustenance of the movement has been caused by its own determination, aided by factors such as poor governance, support from certain political leaders, and a blurred analysis of the conflict by policymakers. It has repeatedly been said that one of the tragedies of history is that the people concerned refuse to learn its lessons; in this case, the lesson not learnt is the gravity of the threat that Maoism poses to India’s future.

1. http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=nov0111/at05, accessed February 24, 2012.
2. http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/China-given-evidence-of-its-aid-to-NE-insurgents/Article1-810977.aspx, accessed February 24, 2012.
3. For details, see http://www.tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Ne171211Kishenji.asp, accessed February 23, 2012.
4. http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100308/jsp/bengal/story_12190377.jsp, accessed February 23, 2012.
5. For details, see http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-10-08/delhi/30257863_1_..., accessed February 23, 2012.

Syria explained: a losing battle


21 CommentsBOB BOWKER

There will be no winners emerging from the mess unfolding in Syria, only losers. But my best guess is that the Assad regime will survive for an extended period, albeit in a weakened state.

The insurgency has the capacity to continue, but not at a level of intensity or capability that would cause the regime to disintegrate. The militarisation of the revolt also works to the regime's advantage: it rallies the doubters, and leaves the Alawites no prospect of avoiding a sectarian bloodbath if the regime were to collapse.

The sceptic in me also feels that the revolt is going to be the victim of the US news cycle before long. There is a limit to the newsworthiness of continuing carnage (now mostly limited to Homs, it seems). If the regime can bring the level of violence down to some extent after crushing resistance in Homs I suspect the media focus will move elsewhere.

I also suspect Iran will lose less than most.

First, as the process continues, the Assad regime is being driven ever closer to Iran, economically and financially, and in terms of assistance in meeting its security needs. If the regime endures the Iranians will consolidate those gains. They were already building extensive links to the Alawite elite before 2011.
Second, if the regime falls, in the chaos that would follow Iran would have at least as many assets on the ground as any other external player. Any suggestion that a successor Sunni regime in Damascus would have the capacity simultaneously to impose order and to control Syria's borders is fanciful. Iran has the advantage of readily deployable operatives from Hezbollah and can use its own assets through Iraq. Those assets are experienced, capable and committed to a higher degree than any Arab counterpart apart from the jihadists, who for their part represent a tiger few sensible Arab governments would wish to ride. No-one can predict how the cards would eventually fall, but I would expect the Iranians to be more than capable of protecting their interests to a large extent under those circumstances.

I would regard the consolidation of Iranian influence in the Levant as a tragedy for the Arab world, which needs the widening of creative space and political freedoms. But however distasteful the Assad regime is, I am not convinced that its departure would serve that end.

The Saudis are no more popular, or respected, in Syria than the Iranians. Syrians are more secular than most Arabs in their social traditions and image of themselves as both Arab and modern. They fear the home-grown salafists and their Gulf backers, and for good reason.

Although they are rivals, the risk-averse Saudis have accommodated the Iranians before. The Saudi-sponsored Taif Agreement, followed by Saudi pressure for the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon after the Hariri assassination paved the way for Hezbollah's pre-eminence in Lebanon. As the chaos unfolds in Syria the Saudis may yet take a deep breath, and come to prefer a weakened, but basically intact Alawite regime that promised to distance itself from Tehran, as the price of keeping the Iranians from securing an even stronger position from Iraq to the Levant.
But any chance of maintaining Syria within the Arab fold comes back to a fundamental question. The issue is whether the Saudis (and other Gulf Arab rulers) can bring themselves to accept a Shia-dominated Iraq, or an Alawite-dominated Syria and a Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon, all with close ties to Iran, as legitimate members of the Arab club which the Saudis and Egypt expect to dominate.

I am concerned that western countries may be indulging a Saudi and Qatari sense of self-importance under the guise of meeting an Iranian challenge. That rivalry might be better managed, at least in the Syrian context, by building greater dialogue between the Saudis and Iranians.

A sustainable regional security framework will have to be based on recognition by the Saudis that ties with Iran, natural for a host of social, geographic, economic and other reasons, are not necessarily prejudicial to the Arab identity of the region and Saudi Arabia's place in it.

The most important factor determining the outlook for security in the Gulf is not whether Iran is nuclear-capable, or militarily threatening to the Arab states and Israel. It is whether the Arab states, be their leaders Sunni or Shia, are politically strong, economically successful and militarily secure under US protection. The measures being taken and promoted by Qatar and the Saudis in regard to Syria, including the calls for arming the rebels, are not conducive to providing security for the region. Indeed, if anything, they are more likely to be counter-productive.

Bob Bowker was Australia's ambassador to Syria, accredited from Cairo, from 2005 to2008. He also served in Damascus from 1979 to 1981. View his full profile here.

Rohrabacher Believes "Pakistani Government Does Not Deserve Respect"

Posted: 02/23/2012 3:30 pm

Eddie Walsh

Senior foreign correspondent; CSIS non-resident fellow

Last week, Dr. C. Christine Fair of Georgetown University outlined her reasons for attacking the recent U.S. congressional hearing on Baluchistan. Yesterday, she followed up those comments with a new article on Huffington Post. Faced with such strong criticism from one of his witnesses, I wondered what Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), the chair of the hearing, thought about her remarks. We therefore discussed the four major points of criticism so that he could respond.

"Stick it to the Pakistanis"

First and foremost, Rohrabacher assails the claim by Fair that the underlying motive for the hearing was to "stick it to the Pakistanis."

Rohrabacher readily admits that the alleged comment by his staff was "less than professional." But, he is not willing to shy aware from the sentiment behind the comment: "If the comment was made, it was a passing comment. But, it is understandable. They just arrested the doctor who got Bin Laden. It must be understood in that context. It was a knee-jerk reaction from my staff who, like myself, were outraged when they learned of his arrest."

Nor does Rohrabacher feel the need to further apologize for the comment: "Quite frankly, the Pakistani military and leaders that give safe-haven to the mass murderer of Americans should not expect to be treated with respect." He also denies any connection between the hearing and his introduction of the Balochistan self-determination bill before Congress only a week later.

In his opinion, the 'Stick it to the Pakistanis' comment is enabling his opposition to misconstrue the larger motive for the hearing: "The main purpose of the hearing was to start a national dialogue on Balochistan. We wanted to raise human rights violations, discuss U.S. strategy in Pakistan, examine the issue of self-determination, and establish the facts on the ground. To suggest that the hearing was part of a strategy to advance any other goals is just conspiracy theory and nothing else."

"Limiting the Debate"

Rohrabacher similarly rebuts claims that the hearing was intentionally brief.

In an earlier interview, Fair remarked: "Having been a part of hearings in the past, I was shocked by its brevity. Such hearings usually do not have a set time. But, this was the shortest hearing ever. And, look at the reason given -- that the congressmen had to go and vote. Typically, in these sorts of hearings, the witnesses just sit and wait for them to vote and come back. The hearing does not just end." She then openly asked "what were they trying to achieve by this?"

In response, Rohrabacher says that he was not trying to limit the debate: "To make such allegations that the hearing was intentionally cut short is just ridiculous. The hearing was not cut short. I would have preferred keeping it going for another half an hour. But, a lot had already been said and I did not want to keep everyone waiting around while we voted. Whoever suggested that is just naïve about how the process works."

"Witness Bias"

Rohrabacher disagrees with criticism leveled against his witness list by his own witnesses, including Fair and Mr. Ali Dayan Hasan, the Pakistan Director of Human Rights Watch.

Both Fair and Hasan were critical of the inclusion of Ralph Peters as a witness. Fair went so far as to say: "If Congress remotely intended to try to use the hearing to put pressure on Pakistan for its human rights record, they should not have included someone (Ralph Peters) who calls for the halving of their country."

Fair also questioned the decision to include Dr. M. Hossein Bor: "I don't understand why they brought in the Iranian Baloch to testify. His remarks were not particularly relevant." She was not alone in this criticism given that the hearing was supposed to be limited to Pakistan.

While the congressman acknowledges that not all the witnesses remained completely on-topic, Rohrabacher dismisses any criticism of his witness list: "The scope of the hearing was a broad discussion. ... We wanted to open up the discussion and look at what American policy should be and how is the U.S. going to relate to this large group of people. We saw there was a lot of criticism over tweets that there was not a Baloch witness. We thought this was a legitimate issue so we invited one who was a Baloch."

When pressed on the larger narrative on reshaping the region provided by Peters, Rohrabacher says, "We didn't want to limit the discussion. I do not gag my witnesses. It was important to hear a lot of diverse views."

"Driving a U.S.-Pakistan Wedge"

Rohrabacher aggressively defends himself against the allegation that his Subcommittee was trying to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Pakistan governments.

This is in reaction to Fair's recent assessment that the hearing exacerbated the wedge between the U.S. and Pakistan: "It seemed that the people behind this hearing were pandering to diaspora politics just to tick off the Pakistanis at a time when the United States is trying to repair its tattered relationship with Pakistan."

While Rohrabacher acknowledges that hearing probably "made some of our diplomats uncomfortable," he counters by saying that it is Pakistan who is to blame: "I am not the one driving the wedge. The people arming people who kill Americans, proliferating nuclear weapons, and providing safe haven to terrorists are driving the wedge. My words are not the problem but rather the gross violations of trust and ultimate betrayal of the U.S. relationship by Pakistan is instead.''

He then explains that it is not his job to appease the Obama Administration and the State Department, who both favor stronger relations with Pakistan: "Making our diplomats comfortable should not be the goal of Congress. Sometimes, it's our job to make waves. The bottom-line is that the State Department was comfortable when the Taliban provided a base of operation to kill thousands of Americans. They undercut me previously when I tried to create an anti-Taliban coalition in the 90's. These are some of the same guys today."

In any event, Rohrabacher notes, "I have not received any calls from Secretary Clinton or others at State complaining yet."

"Self-determination as Ideology"

Rohrabacher is unabashed in confronting critics who argue that his hearing disregarded Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity in contrivance to international law.

According to Rohrabacher, "if a majority of citizens of a particular region of a country want to be free, then they should have the right to be a free and independent people. I have supported this right throughout my career. Just like in Kashmir, this should be decided by plebiscite. That would bring both of these issues to a close. Further violence is totally avoidable."

Based on this principle, Rohrabacher believes "now is a good time for the United States to assert its belief in the self-determination of the Baloch." When asked whether he supports undermining Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity to do so, he says, "There are links in a society and when they are broken it is no longer up to the state but rather the people who have been subjected to human rights violations by the state."

Eddie Walsh is a senior foreign correspondent who covers Africa and Asia-Pacific. He also serves as a non-resident fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS. Follow him on Twitter: @ASEANReporting

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (Subcommittee Chair) is a California Republican currently serving in his 12th term in Congress. The views expressed by Congressman Rohrabacher do not necessarily reflect those of the interviewer.

Follow Eddie Walsh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/aseanreporting


February 23, 2012

Hearing in Congress on Baluchistan: Crossing the Rubicon or Political Theatre?

by Eddie Walsh

The genocide and Right to Protect (R2P) arguments are two of the most prominent arguments made by the Baloch diaspora in the United States (U.S.) when advocating for U.S. diplomatic or military intervention in Baluchistan. However, it is highly unlikely that these arguments will gain serious traction in Congress absent a complete rupture in U.S.-Pakistan relations. While they might provide compelling “political theatre” for open hearings like the one scheduled for later today a few miles away in Congress, neither the majority of witnesses nor the larger community of outside experts who Congress holds in confidence are likely to support U.S. government and/or military initiatives aimed at so significantly undermining Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It therefore would be a major shock to informed observers if the hearing signaled increasing Congressional support for either the genocide or R2P claims. Instead, it is expected that the hearing will voice strong condemnation for general human rights violations by both sides in Baluchistan. It also could strengthen calls for a re-examination of Pakistan aid under U.S. laws such as the Leahy Amendment. Either of these outcomes probably can be managed by the American Government/military and Pakistani Government and avoid further undermining U.S. – Pakistan relations. However, in an election year in which Afghanistan-Pakistan policy has, in the words of a senior Western diplomat who previously served in Pakistan, “seeped into U.S. domestic politics,” it is becoming increasingly difficult to forecast changes in the U.S. policy approach to Pakistan.

The Genocide Argument.

There is significant support in the Baloch diaspora for the claim that genocide is being committed in Baluchistan. Dr. Wahid Baloch, President of the Baloch Society of North America, is a strong proponent of the argument: “Our strongest argument for foreign intervention is that there is a genocide going on in Balochistan. It was in slow motion in the past but it is now a full-fledged genocide. All these human right violations - tortures, killings, and disappearances of Baloch political leaders, students, activists, journalists and intellectuals by Pakistani and Iranian security forces - constitute crimes against humanity.”

In Wahid’s opinion, international law makes it incumbent upon the “United Nations (U.N.) and International community to fulfill their obligation towards Balochistan. Being [a] silent spectator is not an option. The U.N. and United States should not be selective when it comes to defending the human rights worldwide.” He is joined by Andrew Eiva, an experienced Washington lobbyist, who argues that “the genocide argument would help get us to the tipping point” in terms of Congressional support for the Baloch cause.

However, not all supporters of the Baloch cause believe the genocide claim will win the day in Congress. Malik Siraj Akbar, a Baloch journalist in the United States, recognizes the inherent weakness in the genocide argument: “Genocide is a good issue to sensationalize Congressmen to the issue but it is only one attribute of a larger conflict. The diaspora need to recognize this. Americans have limited interests.”

Wendy Johnson, a leading civic activist for the Baloch cause, also cautions against it: “Claims of genocide will not lead to a change in the American policy approach to Balochistan. The only thing that will change American policy will be geo-politics.”

These views are reinforced by most outside observers who believe Congress is not looking to endorse the genocide claim. Key witnesses will also likely resist any efforts by individual Congressmen to entertain the human rights situation in Baluchistan as genocide.

Ali Dayan Hasan, the Pakistan Director of Human Rights Watch and one of the witnesses set to testify, certainly does not appear willing to back the genocide claim. When asked whether genocide is underway in Baluchistan, he responded: “Genocide is a big word with specific legal implications. It is in rhetorical overuse. The mere accusation is a serious issue. It requires investigation and documentation. In Balochistan, documentation is very difficult.”

Hasan’s position should not be surprising. He has been clear that the Pakistani government does not bear sole responsibility for the human rights abuses in Baluchistan: “the Pakistani military is but one actor in this conflict. Human Rights Watch has documented abuses by not just the Pakistani military but also religious militant groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and by Baloch nationalist groups. While Pakistani military, paramilitary and intelligence personnel are involved in widespread torture, disappearances and targeted killings, Baloch nationalists, by their own admission, are also targeting and killing non-Baloch.”

Carol Christine Fair, an assistant professor at Georgetown University and another of the witnesses, shares this view: “Bad things have gone on in the province. But while the state is mostly to blame, some Baloch are also responsible for targeting killing (e.g. of Punjabis in particular). The state needs to accept responsibility for the lack of law and order and reverse its extrajudicial actions. But the Baloch too need to take some responsibility for poor provincial management, dysfunctional politics, and some among them who have taken violent means ostensibly to advance their agendas and redress their (mostly legitimate) grievances.”

Such arguments of joint responsibility should not be taken lightly in the run-up to the hearing. According to an international expert on Pakistan held in confidence by some members of the hearing’s subcommittee, “if there has to be an allegation of ethnic cleansing, who is there a more compelling case against? The Pakistani military is targeting only those it considers criminals whereas some Baloch nationalists are targeting anyone.”

It therefore remains to be seen how hard Congress pushes the witnesses on not just allegations of human rights violations by the Pakistani Government but also by Baloch nationalists.

Responsibility to Protect Argument.

Since Congress appears unlikely to endorse the claim of genocide, some would argue that the Baloch diaspora should look to the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P). This emerging and hotly contested “international norm,” which has garnered widespread attention following NATO’s intervention in Libya, is regularly invoked - either directly or indirectly - by prominent members of the Western Baloch diaspora.

Eiva is quick to arguethat the NATO-led Libyan operation dramatically lowered the barriers for U.S. support for the Balcoh cause. This is not lost on Wahid, who believes that “the secular and moderate Baloch, who are the victims of Paki and Iranian state terrorism, deserve international help and support. Is Baloch blood cheaper that Libyan, Egyptian or Syrian citizens? The international community is engaged in Libya, Egypt, Syria. Why not in Balochistan?”

Ahmar Mustikhan, a vocal Baloch activist in the United States, takes the argument one step further by using it to justify overt or covert U.S. military aid to Baloch nationalists: “The United States needs to follow the Libyan model. It has a moral responsibility to help the people of Balochistan. But, it has not given any weapons to the Baloch people. When you are protecting terrorists and attacking your own people, you lose sovereignty. It is time for the United States to grab the opportunity and intervene. It is a win-win situation. The United States must be called upon to provide moral support to our cause. If such overt support is not enough, then they need to provide covert support.”

In contrast to the diaspora, many outside experts believe it would be reckless to try to replicate the Libyan Model and start backing insurgent groups in Pakistan.

Stephen Tankel, Assistant Professor at American University and Non-resident Fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is one of those who disagrees: “The Baloch movement is a mixed bag of interests. There is not even one organization to represent it. In addition to the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), there are other groups with different agendas. This raises questions if you want to start talking about backing someone, but that presumes backing one of these groups is in America’s national interests. This debate should not be about which ones we are going to back because to do so would be crossing a rubicon and supporting the very concept of the dismemberment of Pakistan. This is not something the Administration is going to support and Congress should not either. The U.S. is going to be careful not to endorse separatism and should be clear this is an internal issue for Pakistan. It is one thing to support human rights but something quite different to support Baloch independence. The entire government is going to be, or at least should be, leery about sending any message that the U.S. is not willing to respect Pakistan’s territorial integrity. I want to be very clear, Pakistan is incredibly sensitive about violations of its sovereignty and the U.S. should not be feeding into that by considering support for any of the actors in Balochistan.”

Even if Congress was willing to abandon the strategic partnership with Pakistan, experts point out that there remain many compelling arguments against supporting Baloch nationalists. This includes the view that some Baloch already have significant blood on their hands, as articulated by the international expert on Pakistan: “There is no comparison between Libya and Pakistan. Every situation of abuse is not the same. In Pakistan, there are multiple actors committing the violations.”

It also includes the perspective that Baluchistan is not an environment in which the U.S. could have great confidence in probable outcomes, as pointed out by the senior Western diplomat: “As we see with the Arab Spring, the direction that things go is unpredictable. The diaspora might want an independent Balochistan, but no one is going to jump onto it because you don’t know where it is going. The one thing that is probably certain is that you are going to have a lot more deaths and it is not going to be pretty.”

Leahy Amendment Argument.

Of the three main arguments, the Leahy Amendment argument probably represents the greatest opportunity for the Baloch diaspora to increase Congressional support for their cause. Prior to the hearing, the argument to sanction human rights violators in the military and government already has strong support from the Baloch diaspora, the Congressional witnesses, and other outside experts. It also provides one of the easiest mechanisms through which to redress the human rights violations in Baluchistan.

In the run-up to the hearing, Baloch supporters have recognized that legal tools like Leahy provide an opportunity. Eiva and others consequently have tried to strengthen the tie between U.S. aid to Pakistan and human rights violations in Baluchistan: “America has provided Pakistan with American F-16 jets and Cobra gunships which have bombed and strafed the Baluch. The Baluch share the unique distinctio­n as the world’s only people facing genocide from American-m­ade bombs and missiles.” Such emotive arguments almost certainly have not gone unnoticed by Congress.

At the same time, many academics and think tanks fellows, such as Tankel, have voiced strong support for proper oversight of U.S. aid to Pakistan among their other remarks on the hearing: “The U.S. Government must abide by American laws and according to the Leahy Amendment that means making sure that U.S. money is not being used to acquire weapons or that weapons being provided are not used to commit human rights violations within Pakistan. In addition to the laws, there are moral and ethical reasons to investigate this issue and take steps to reduce human rights violation.”

It is clear that witnesses, like Fair, also see the need to ensure that the U.S. Government fully utilizes legal instruments to ensure its aid to Pakistan remains consistent with U.S. laws: “The United States must take advantage of its growing independence from Pakistan to erect increasingly robust containment initiatives that directly pertain to support for terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and murderous abuse of human rights (as we have seen in Balochistan and elsewhere). The United States has considerable tools at its disposal to do so and can certainly innovate new ones where current legislation is inadequate.”

Fair goes so far as to make specific reference to the Leahy Amendment in her draft testimony: “The Leahy Amendment was crafted precisely to punish security forces that engage in human rights excesses, while having the ultimate aim of rehabilitation rather than permanent isolation. U.S. unwillingness to apply this law has contributed to the sense of impunity that pervades Pakistan’s military, police and intelligence agencies. Regrettably, the U.S. record of respecting rule of law and human rights in Pakistan is not unblemished.”

* Correction: Origininal article refered to Carol Christine Fair improperly as an adjunct professor. She is in fact an assistant professor.


CARTE BLANCHE: Balochistan: waiting for closure —Mehmal Sarfraz

The government’s offer, on the face of it, is good. The problem is the government cannot save the Baloch leaders from the military. Let’s not forget what happened to the Baloch leader Nawab Nauroz Khan. An oath taken on the Quran was violated by our military in his case

“Maye sah inth Balochistan, maye jaan inth Balochistan,

Maye zind-e-hamok dard-o-darmaan inth Balochistan.

Percha man naban bandeeg, percha man naban koleeg,

k zahr-en-teer ani dhem paan inth Balochistan” — G R Mulla.

(Balochistan is my heart, my soul,

A cure for all conceivable pains of life.

Why should I not sacrifice,

Or hesitate to suffer indignities of confinement,

When my motherland is facing poisonous bullets.)

Balochistan: a land so beautiful and a people so brave. A land full of hope, a people inspired. But today the soil of Balochistan is soaked with the blood of its children, its mountains reverberate with the harrowing wails of its women, its air haunted by the distraught cries of the older men, its plains full of orphans. The culprit is none other than the Pakistani military. One shudders at the thought of the bloody massacre being carried out in Balochistan by the same military that is supposed to protect its citizens.No wonder the Baloch are asking for freedom. No wonder the Baloch leadership is discussing the Balochistan Liberation Charter. No wonder the veteran Baloch leaders have said they cannot control the outcome of this insurgency. No wonder the media has woken up from its slumber. No wonder a US Congressional hearing on Balochistan took place. No wonder a resolution has been introduced in the House of Representatives supporting Balochistan’s right to self-determination. No wonder the government has finally decided to convene an All-Parties Conference (APC) on Balochistan.

But there is still plenty left to wonder. Why are the military, ISI and the Frontier Corps (FC) still adamant on ruthlessly killing the Baloch? This is the fifth time an insurgency has broken out in the sparsely populated yet immensely important province — first when Balochistan was forcefully made to accede to Pakistan in 1948; the second an uprising in 1958-59 when martial law was imposed; later in 1962-63; then the historic 1973-77 Baloch struggle and the latest ongoing round of insurgency, whose embryonic beginnings were in 2002, and which escalated after Nawab Akbar Bugti’s death in 2006. Unfortunately, we in Pakistan are not taught any of this in our textbooks. Instead, we are fed lies. And once again, we — the citizens of Pakistan — are being lied to. Last year, the Pakistan Army chief General Kayani categorically denied that a military operation was taking place in Balochistan. He also denied that the army or its intelligence agencies were involved in the killings of the Baloch. If that is so, at whose behest is the FC — a paramilitary force — pursuing the ‘kill and dump’ policy in the province? Surely the army chief can rein in the FC if he so wishes.

The Baloch have been killed and maimed over the years without anyone so much as raising a voice in Pakistan. On February 20 this year, former ISI chief Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul acknowledged during a television talk show that Sardar Ataullah Mengal’s son, Asad, was martyred in an interrogation centre during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s era. In actual fact Asad and his friend Ahmed Shah Kurd were ambushed in their car near Muhammad Ali Housing Society in Karachi. Gunshots were heard, their blood was splattered all over the car, but their bodies were never found. Some believe they were killed at the spot and their bodies taken away while others believe they were killed later in a detention centre by the military. Maybe we will never know what really happened to young Asad and his friend that day. Their families have suffered decades of torment just thinking about them. They have never had closure. They are not the only ones. The families of thousands of missing Baloch are still searching for their loved ones.

The resolution tabled in the US House of Representatives by Dana Rohrabacher says the Baloch people “have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country, and they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status”. A lot of Pakistanis went into an outrage mode at this. Instead of focusing on the plight of the Baloch and why they want freedom from Pakistan, our media and politicians made a big fuss over the issue of sovereignty and Balochistan being an ‘internal matter’. It was equally distressing to see the military’s bullying tactics through an ISPR press release dated February 16, 2012, against Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW). The press release was critical of HRW’s statement released on January 30 on the Saleem Shahzad Judicial Commission Report but the ISPR’s ‘late reaction’ can only be attributed to Mr Hasan’s testimony to the US Congressional hearing on Balochistan. A smear campaign against Mr Hasan and HRW has been unleashed in the local media. How will threatening Mr Hasan or anybody else for that matter resolve the Balochistan issue?

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has offered to withdraw cases against Brahamdagh Bugti, Hyrbyair Marri and other Baloch leaders if they return to Pakistan. Mr Malik said he would personally welcome them back. But who is going to ensure the safety of Brahamdagh Bugti and Hyrbyair Marri once they are back? The government’s offer, on the face of it, is good. The problem is the government cannot save the Baloch leaders from the military. Let’s not forget what happened to the Baloch leader Nawab Nauroz Khan. An oath taken on the Quran was violated by our military in his case.

The Baloch have been taken for a ride for the past six decades. They will not fall for such tricks again. If the government is really serious, it should ensure the release of all missing persons immediately, as has been suggested by Mian Nawaz Sharif. The military operation in Balochistan must also come to an end. This is the least that we owe to the Baloch. Mere promises will not resolve anything.

The writer is Op-Ed Editor Daily Times. She can be reached at mehmal.s@gmail.com


Nepal running on empty as energy crisis deepens

Added At: 2012-02-22 1:09 PM
Last Updated At: 2012-02-22 1:13 PM
The Himalayan Times - Saved Articles(s)


Residents desperate for fuel unload cooking gas cylinders to a waiting crowd after stopping a distribution truck in Kathmandu on February 1, 2012. A severe shortage of gas cylinders, essential for heating and cooking in a country with no mains supply, has increased the hardship for Nepalis already enduring seasonal daily powercuts of up to 14 hours.

KATHMANDU: Deepesh Aryal and two of his restaurant staffs set out in the dead of night and brave Kathmandu's biting wintry chill to meet a carefully-cultivated contact.

As they count their cash, they could be planning a drug deal or a cloak-and-dagger meeting of spies -- but the truth is rather more prosaic: they are joining a 10-hour queue for cooking gas.

Like thousands of traders in Kathmandu, 28-year-old Aryal will go to extraordinary lengths to secure the fuel he needs to run his business amid an energy crisis which is crippling life in the impoverished nation.

He is forced to queue for the best part of a day and, after his 4:00 am start, he finally has three full cylinders of cooking gas.

But they will run out and soon he will have to repeat the arduous trip.

"I had to wait until 2:00 pm to get the cylinders filled," he told AFP. "I was lucky because I knew the gas dealer. Imagine how hard it is for people without connections."

A severe shortage of gas cylinders, essential for heating and cooking in a country with no mains supply, has increased the hardship for Nepalis already enduring seasonal daily power cuts of up to 14 hours.

Exacerbating the problem, a shortage of petrol and diesel means people have to queue for many hours or turn to the black market to run cars and the generators which light their shops when the electricity goes out.

The crisis has led to angry criticism of the government and even civil unrest, with protests stopping traffic and citizens resorting to criminality to get hold of fuel.

Earlier this month a group of Nepalis stopped delivery trucks carrying gas on a busy highway and distributed the cylinders among themselves.

The deprivations and sacrifices of the fuel crisis can be seen in every corner of Kathmandu.

Students have raided gas depots, queues of cars and motorcycles snake back hundreds of metres (yards) from petrol stations, fuel trucks require police escorts and restaurants have reduced menus in an effort to save on gas.

Taxi driver Jagaran Tamang, 22, says he is forced to spend half his day queuing for fuel and might even move to South Korea for temporary work.

"These days, I drive to a petrol station and wait in queue for more than five hours. During that time, I could have ferried half a dozen passengers," he told AFP. "It has become hard to survive."

The factors blamed for the crisis are complex but years of political paralysis following the 1996-2006 Maoist insurgency have not helped.

Experts say Nepal's huge mountain river system could be generating up to 83,000 megawatts of power, allowing it to sell surplus electricity to other countries.

But development of infrastructure ground to a halt during the civil war and the nation produces a paltry 688 megawatts a year.

As a result it has to import petroleum products worth 80 billion rupees ($1 billion) a year.

The government-run Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), which provides subsidised fuel to consumers, has fallen behind on its payments to India and in January the NOC hiked petrol, diesel and gas prices, leading to angry protests.

The demonstrators blocked traffic and shut shops across the country, withdrawing only after Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai pledged to address their demands.

The government has since given the NOC two billion rupees to pay off the Indian Oil Corporation, but the crisis continues unabated.

Energy analyst Amrit Nakarmi described the fuel shortages as an "artificially created crisis" caused by the government's failure to institute a pricing structure based on demand and world prices.

"The government has arbitrarily increased the price of petroleum products. It doesn't want to manage the (fuel supply) properly but neither does it want to privatise, which has exacerbated the problem," he said.

"Our dependence on fossil fuel is increasing each passing day with the increase in population and the development of small urban areas where consumers prefer cooking gas. The crisis will be more frequent in coming years."

Riyadh the Rogue Player in Iraq


Saudi Arabia is trying to curb Iran's clout in Baghdad through anarchic means. By: Javad Mohammadi

After formation of the first democratic government in the Middle East in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution of Iran, Iraq was the second country in the region which adopted a democratic system in the post-Saddam era. But from the very beginning of the establishment of such a fledgling democracy in Iraq, Saudi Arabia has taken a hostile approach toward it.

Since 1979, the most prominent regional strategy of Saudi Arabia has been impeding the growth of political Islam led by Iran. The Islamic Republic on one hand is based on genuine Islamic tenets and historical precedent, and on the other, all of its senior officials, including the supreme leader, are elected by Iranian people. Therefore the Islamic Republic has set a unique example of compatibility and synergy between religion and democracy for other Muslims to follow. However the Saudi government on account of existence of the holy Kaaba in this country and the sanctity of this Arabian land for Muslims is claimant to the leadership of Islamic Ummah. Following the emergence of Islamic Republic and its challenging attitude vis-à-vis retrogressive and fanatic Islam led by the Saudi government, this undeserved leadership has been exposed to danger. That’s why undermining Iran’s clout and popularity in the region, especially in Iraq, is defined as the main regional strategy of Saudi Arabia. In this connection, and as a quote from WikiLeaks, Reuters news agency stated that Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah told U.S. diplomats that by toppling the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the U.S. had presented Iraq to Iran "on a golden platter”. Elsewhere one Saudi official was also quoted by Reuters as saying that the Saudi government is worried about the departure of American troops because now there is nothing to balance Iranian rule, so things might get worse. All the foregoing evince the Saudis’ all-out support for terrorism in Iraq.

Furthermore there are still some fundamental reasons behind Saudi’s sabotaging policies in Iraq as follows:

1- The independent and uninfluenced approach of Nouri Maleki towards the Riyadh-Washington coalition is a cause of great concern for the Saudi kingdom and the USA. During recent events in the region it was discovered that not only the Iraqi government has never been playing a part in the US preplanned plots, but it has also directed its efforts to the preservation of Iraq’s independence and the interests of the Iraqi nation and the Islamic Ummah. Iraq’s “no” vote for Syria’s suspension from the Arab League and the outspoken opposition of the Iraqi premier to Obama’s call to overthrow Bashar Assad all provides proof of the aforementioned claims.

2- Establishment of a powerful and stable government in Iraq undermines the Saudi role in regional equations. Hence, despite the fact that Iraq has a coastline of 50 km on the Persian Gulf, its membership in the GCC has been consistently opposed by the Saudi kingdom. But on the other hand Saudi Arabia is strongly supporting the membership of Jordan and Morocco in the GCC, while these two countries are not only not located in the Persian Gulf area but Morocco is not even situated in the Middle East!

3- The terror diplomacy of Saudi Arabia in Iraq-- carried out in coordination with the USA-- is a reciprocal deal with the White House. In other words, Saudi Arabia, by destabilizing this country will achieve its own political goals. And on the other hand intensification of insecurity in Iraq, after U.S. troops’ departure from Iraq, would provide a good excuse for a new U.S. military presence in Iraq.

4- Terrorist acts in Iraq that contribute to a deepening of the Sunni-Shiite split would benefit Saudi government. This is because while the Middle East is moving toward establishing democracy and the main public concern is getting rid of dictators, some people would not be able to make a logical decision and their protests would be directed, in part, against Shiite groups and governments as a result of escalation of religious rifts and the resultant emotional atmosphere. Accordingly, anti-Shiite and anti-Iranian sentiments would escalate.

5- Separatist moves and request for autonomy of Sunni-dominated provinces, led by pro-Saudi Al Iraqiya List, would lead to a split and a weakened Iraq. Given the strong opposition of the Iraqi nation to recognition of the Israeli regime and considering the relations between Israel and autonomous Kurdistan, the division of Iraq would favor Israel and would meet Saudi Arabia’s desire to form a weakened and unstable Iraq as well.

* Javad Mohammadi is an international affairs analyst and a regular contributor to Principlist media such as Raja News, Alef and Resalat Daily.

19 Sunday February 2012 22:37

Israeli Diplomat Car bombing and India Iran relations

A sober and balanced article on Car bomb attack on Israeli diplomat in New Delhi and Tel Aviv’s crude attempt to exploit it to create dissensions between India and Iran .

On the whole Indians barring ignorance based arrogant empty heads like Goswami or US/Mumbai corporate counts and countesses of IndExp , the coverage has been wholesome . 911, many Americans believe had Mossad’s hand. Israeli interlocutors on TV channels were pre-emptory and vulgar as if talking to US senators or congressmen , who if they do not obey Tel Aviv’s dictates can be defeated in the next elections. Even when Washington is not sure who did the bombing, Netanyahu etc, within half an hour were blaming Tehran .Many Indians were not amused and wondered if Israel had a hand in it. Some in Pakistan believe that US sacrificed its Amb with Gen Zia , since the former was not supposed to travel with Zia , who carried the envoy along with him into the plane . Tehran is too sophisticated and would not be party to such crudities .It is believed by some that Lockerberie was revenge for US shooting down an Iranian plane but Libya was framed and paid the price .The trial was rigged up . Cheers Gajendra

Asia Times 23 Feb 2012

Delhi dances, Tehran wants to talk By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

PALO ALTO, California - One week after the Israeli Embassy car blast in New Delhi, reports in India's media indicate that investigators are still in the dark and have not achieved any breakthrough.

This is amid growing speculation that this may have been a case of "homegrown terrorism", ie Muslim militants sympathetic to the Palestinian cause; without ruling out the possibility of a Pakistani hand to harm India's relations with Iran and thus to alter the regional strategic picture.

Yet, it is abundantly clear that the blast has triggered a disproportionate political impact, pressurizing the Indian government, which has decided to continue and even expand its ertvital energy relations with Iran irrespective of mounting Western sanctions.

As expected, the United States, European and Israeli governments and their media mouthpieces have joined hands in a well-orchestrated campaign to criticize Delhi's Iran policy and to try to convince it to curtail or even cut off its Iranian energy imports.

While India has signed on to various United Nations sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, it is not going along with financial measures imposed by the United States and the European Union to stop countries from buying Iranian oil.

India was Tehran's second-biggest crude customer last year after China and Iranian oil accounts for about 12% of its needs, Reuters reported.

Nicholas Burns, a George W Bush administration official, has tried to guilt-trip India by accusing it of giving "a slap in the face to the US" by its "bitterly disappointing" decision to continue business-as-usual relations with Iran, tantamount to a "major setback" for the US's policy of Iran isolationism.

According to Burns, this shows that India is "out of step" with the international community and is still behaving like a "regional power" rather than a global power. [1]

In fact, the opposite is true. By refusing to toe the American and/or Israeli line on Iran, India has demonstrated its autonomy and international prestige as a rising global power that acts according to its own incandescent atmosphere, needs and priorities, instead of melting before outside pressures.

This is not purely a question of India's "energy needs", but rather a delicate balancing act that involves the complicated interplay of several variables beside economics; namely, national identity, sovereignty and independent foreign policy in a complex world that, as in the case of India's cordial relations with both India and Israel, reflects the difficulties of making constant adjustments in a highly fluid milieu.

With its nearly 140 million Muslims, including 36 million Shi'ites, India is compelled to be sensitive to the natural sympathies of its largest minority population that may be radicalized if the government tilts in favor of Israel and sacrifices its Iran interests in order to appease US and Israeli politicians.

This recalls what this author wrote four years ago in Asia Times Online:India does not fully operate as the US wishes and is unlikely to fulfill the new role discretely assigned to it by the direct implications of the nuclear agreement, such as acting as a counterweight to China or even Russia, in light of improved India-China relations. Pursuing multiple win-win scenarios that partially collide, India seeks its own aggrandizement and, quite simply, this may thwart rather than enhance the US's geostrategic interests in Asia in the long run. (Iran heartened by India's nuclear vote August 5, 2008.)Although beholden to Israel for sensitive military technology, India cannot afford to be seen in league with the Jewish state against Muslim Iranians, who are to receive a large trade delegation from India next week, and who have reportedly agreed to barter their oil for Indian wheat.

Nor can Tehran expect New Delhi to sacrifice its ties with Israel, although the Tehran media are pleased by reports indicating that some Israelis suspected of covert activities in India have been deported. [2]

A number of Tehran analysts have suggested that the February 13 blast in New Delhi, that injured the wife of an Israeli diplomat, has the hallmark of a "false flag operation" targeting India's energy relations with Iran. It has been compared to the 1992 bombing in Argentina, which was Iran's sole nuclear partner at the time and immediately ceased all its nuclear cooperation with Iran because of the bombing. (See Interpol's decision time on 'Iranian' bombing Asia Times Online, November 7, 2007.)

"Given the enormous importance of the issue, that is, forcing India to play along with the Western sanctions on Iran, it is not far-fetched to believe that Israelis would orchestrate a make-believe attack on their own interests in India so that Indian politicians would feel the heat and change course," says a Tehran University political science professor who spoke to the author on the condition of anonymity.

He adds that Iran is convinced that public opinion in India is sympathetic toward Iran, which "has heroically stood up to Western bullying. India is still a Third World country in so many ways and has a rich anti-colonial heritage as well as three decades of nuclear embargo by the West that resonate with the Iran scenario."

Inspection time in Iran
On Monday, a delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Iran seeking a solution to the outstanding questions that the United Nations' nuclear watchdog has regarding Iran's nuclear program, which some suspect is designed to build nuclear weapons - a charge Tehran denies.

However, nuclear inspectors said no progress had been made as Iran did not grant requests to visit Parchin, a military site.

"We engaged in a constructive spirit but no agreement was reached," a statement by the inspectors quoted IAEA chief Yukiya Amano as saying.

No agreement was reached on how to begin "clarification of unresolved issues in connection with Iran's nuclear program, particularly those relating to possible military dimensions", the statement, issued on Wednesday, said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Tuesday that the IAEA team was not there to inspect nuclear facilities. "The titles of the members of the visiting delegation is not inspectors. This is an expert delegation. The purpose of visit is not inspection," Mehmanparast said. "The aim is to negotiate about co-operation between Iran and the agency and to set a framework for a continuation of the talks," the Guardian of London reported.

This, together with Iran's official response to the European Union's request for a new round of multilateral nuclear talks, represents a new attempt by Iran to dispel the suspicion of nuclear proliferation and to reassure the outside world that its controversial uranium-enrichment program is peaceful.

Recently, Clinton Bastin, a top US weapons specialists, confirmed that Iran's nuclear program was civilian and not weapons-related and that the US should end its "dangerous threats" and should support Iran's nuclear program.

So should India, which could contribute much to, among other things, Iran's nuclear safety program and medical nuclear research.

But this is not likely, given India's civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with the US that is now being used as leverage to steer New Delhi away from Tehran.

Then again, even the likes of Burns know that it would be foolhardy for the US to risk its strategic relations with India, eyeing China, over Iran's nuclear program that, so far at least, lacks any discernible evidence of proliferation.

1 India's Iran stand a slap for US, says Nicholas Burns The Economic Times, February 20. 2. Israeli couple suspected of being agents, to be deported The Times of India, February 7.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) . For his Wikipedia entry, click here. He is author of Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11 (BookSurge Publishing , October 23, 2008) and Looking for rights at Harvard. His latest book is UN Management Reform: Selected Articles and Interviews on United Nations CreateSpace (November 12, 2011).

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Rohrabacher's "Blood Borders" in Balochistan


C. Christine Fair
Assistant Professor, Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program

Posted: 02/22/2012 6:27 pm

On February 9, 2012, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs convened a hearing on "Baluchistan" [sic], chaired by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R - CA). I, along with Messrs Ralph Peters, T. Kumar, Ali Dyan Hasan and Dr. M. Hosseinbor, testified as a witness in that hearing.

When I agreed to participate, I was told that the hearing was intended to be a general introduction to the various crises in Balochistan, their causes and the impact of these issues on U.S. interests. However, as the date of the hearing neared, I learned that the event would serve other purposes.

When I sought guidance about the precise issues I should discuss in my testimony, the committee staff member told me, in some exasperation, that "we want to stick it to the Pakistanis." He continued that for a decade the Pakistanis have been killing us in Afghanistan. While I fully agreed with the sentiment behind his remarks, I grew concerned that the hearing was not genuinely motivated by concern over the human rights challenges confronting the residents of Balochistan. Instead, this was an opportunity to interfere in the administration's ongoing efforts to develop a policy towards Pakistan, as well as Afghanistan.

Barely a week later, Congressman Rohrabacher introduced a Resolution "Expressing the sense of Congress that the people of Baluchistan, currently divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country." Needless to say, this non-binding resolution does not reflect the sense of Congress and no Congressmen have embraced the measure. However, this resolution and the preceding hearing did much to rankle Pakistan and render any rapprochement between Washington and Islamabad (not to mention Rawalpindi) even more difficult.

Many members of the Baloch diaspora who support an independent Balochistan have been extremely excited by these developments. Unfortunately, there are reasons to suspect that Congressman Rohrabacher's actions are not inspired by any genuine concern over ongoing human rights violations perpetrated against, as well as by, the Baloch inhabitants of the province.

There are multiple reasons for my skepticism. First, prior to the hearing, Congressmen Rohrabacher--with Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX)--had already penned an opinion piece in which he suggested that the United States should lend its"....support for a Balochistan carved out of Pakistan to diminish [Pakistan's] radical power". Second, the integrity of the hearing was immediately undermined by the inclusion of Mr. Ralph Peters, who in 2006 argued for the dissolution of Pakistan in a buffoonish essay, "Blood Borders," in the Armed Forces Journal. Specifically, he called in that piece for a "Free Baluchistan." How could an independent observer conclude that the hearing was anything but an attempt to promote the belief in Pakistan that the world's most powerful parliament was seeking to undermine its territorial integrity?

Unfortunately, this is not the first geopolitical exploit Mr. Rohrabacher has orchestrated. In January of 2012, he and Mr. Gohmert, among other Congresspersons, held a controversial meeting in Berlin with several representatives of the now defunct Northern Alliance. The goal of the meeting was to undermine the administration's current, if difficult and tentative, negotiations with the Taliban. In the Op-Ed already mentioned, Rohrabacher and Gohmert called for a new "Constitutional Loya Jirga, or convention, that will draft a new constitution enshrining federalism as the new form of government. This would break the Taliban's ability to dominate Afghanistan by strengthening those communities opposed to the return of the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies."

This author agrees that the current Afghan constitution, which reflects the interests of the United States and was written as the U.S. was hastily forging its shambolic policies towards Afghanistan, is inappropriate for Afghanistan today and even agrees that the suggestion makes much sense. However, this initiative by a select number of Congressmen, who do not represent the American Congress, harmed the administration's policy towards Afghanistan and its efforts to extract the U.S. from a deadly and flawed counterinsurgency policy that has borne few fruits. Worse, it inflamed the Afghan government, which saw this move as a deliberate effort to usurp its own primary place in negotiating Afghanistan's future. Needless to say, the fixation with the warlords of the Northern Alliance belies an astonishing ignorance about these men's involvement in war crimes and appalling human rights violations (such as the shocking practices of child rape and child concubinage (bacchebazi). While the Taliban are widely seen as violent and illegitimate actors who have killed tens of thousands, for some reason the militias of the former Northern Alliance have managed to distance themselves in the American mind from their own violent and repugnant pasts.

The Obama administration has been busy trying to limit the repercussions of Rohrabacher and Gohmert's machinations. The State Department has had to bear the brunt of Pakistan's considerable and justified anger over Congressional meddling in what is clearly an internal affair-even if that internal affair is appalling. (Can anyone imagine a comparable hearing on the Indian counterinsurgency campaigns in Kashmir? In each case the actions of the state involved raise uncomfortable questions for the United States.) Given that the duo has limited support in Congress for their efforts to change policy towards Afghanistan or Pakistan, and given also that such efforts have been repudiated by the administration, it remains to ask why they continue to pursue this folly.

The most facile reading is that Rohrabacher and Gohmert are genuinely frustrated, both with failed U.S. policy in Afghanistan and with the fact that Pakistan, while continuing to benefit from a variety of U.S. assistance programs, provides support for a wide array of terrorist groups opposed to U.S. interests. (Both Pakistan and the United States disagree on what the amounts transferred are, where they go and how they are used.) If this is indeed their motivation, I share their vexation. But seeking to force U.S.-Pakistan relations to a breaking point does not serve U.S. interests, or Pakistan's for that matter. After all, no matter how much Pakistanis resent the United States, U.S. support at the IMF is critical to keeping Pakistan afloat despite its severe fiscal problems.

A more cynical interpretation of Rohrabacher and Gohmert's actions might involve the desire for access to natural resources in both Afghanistan and Balochistan. In light of this suspicion, one must ask who paid for the Berlin conference? What private sector entities may have a vested interest in pushing this strange, orphaned agenda?
There are no ready answers to these questions. However, I can say with some certainty that the hearing and the Resolution that followed it have much more to do with partisan politics, and possibly resource-grabbing, than with any interest in the ongoing human rights crises in Balochistan.

C. Christine Fair is assistant professor in the Peace and Security Studies Program in Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. Follow her on Twitter at CChristineFair. Her testimony can be found here.

Follow C. Christine Fair on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cchristinefair

February 22, 2012

Will support US, Nato or Indian intervention: Brahamdagh Bugti


QUETTA: Supporting the US congressional bill on Balochistan, Baloch Republican Party’s self-exiled chief Brahamdagh Bugti has welcomed all foreign intervention in the province whether it is by the US, Nato or India.

“America must intervene in Balochistan and stop the ethnic cleansing of Baloch people,” said Brahamdagh, 30, as reporters listened with rapt attention to his telephonic address on Wednesday at the Quetta Press Club. “We know that foreign countries have their personal interest but we must think of our greater interest.”

A resolution was introduced on February 17 by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and co-sponsored by two other congressmen in the US House of Representatives, calling upon Pakistan to recognise the Baloch people’s right to self determination. The bill has outraged Pakistan and leaders and lawmakers have called it against the country’s sovereignty and an unwelcome intervention by the US.

“Baloch women, political leaders, activists, students, writers, poets, professors and intellectuals are being subjected to enforced disappearances and undergoing torture for years. Their mutilated bodies turn up daily. Under such circumstances, we will welcome the support of foreign countries,” he said. “We have been accused of getting support from India but the Baloch movement does not have any foreign support. However, we will welcome any support for independence.”

Balochistan, Pakistan’s least developed but largest province by area, has undergone a separatist insurgency since the country’s inception. The insurgency escalated into rampant violence after the 2006 murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the grandfather of Brahamdagh Bugti.

“The American resolution and committee formed for Balochistan is not against the sovereignty of Pakistan. Every country has the right to interfere or intervene [in another’s affairs] if there are state-sponsored human rights violations,” he said.

‘They are protecting Punjab’s sovereignty’

Sceptical of mainstream politicians’ and media attention to Balochistan’s affairs, Brahamdagh said the change of heart was rooted in apprehensions over Punjab’s sovereignty. “Pakistani politicians like Nawaz Sharif are now visiting Balochistan and inquiring about the plight of Baloch people. There are discussions and talks on TV channels and print media in recent days about Balochistan. Because they are now worried about the sovereignty of Punjab and [want] to protect Punjab’s interest.”

If they were sincere, he said, they should have raised the issue of enforced disappearances, mutilated bodies of Baloch youth and leaders earlier.

Reiterating his stance that there is violation of human rights in Balochistan by security forces and agencies, Brahamdagh said that Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had said that there was no military operation in the province and must stop denying the truth now.

Brahamdagh pointed out that if the lawmakers believe that the situation in Dera Bugti, Kohlu and adjoining areas is normal, they should allow free access to the region for journalists, international humanitarian organisations and citizens.

‘No negotiations’

When asked about an all-parties conference that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had announced over the crisis in Balochistan, Brahamdagh said that Baloch nationalist leaders will not join negotiations. “One the one hand, they are calling an APC while on the other, they are brutally killing Baloch people and throwing their bullet-riddled, mutilated bodies,” he said.

Brahamdagh called on Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Magsi and Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani to also join the Baloch movement, leaving behind their “temporary” and “personal” interest as they will not achieve anything but humiliation from supporting the Pakistani government. “If they do not want to join the movement, they should resign from office and sit quietly because the Baloch movement is nearing its destination. Efforts are being made to unify the rank of Baloch leaders.”

When asked about the recent killing of his sister and niece in Karachi, Brahamdagh said that such brutalities will not compel him to withdraw or surrender from the struggle.

He also lashed out at the ultra-conservative Difa-e-Pakistan Council, which has announced a public gathering on February 27 in solidarity with the Baloch people. “Where were they when Baloch women, children and youth were being picked up and brutally killed by security forces? There is no influence of Jihadi elements in Balochistan. These religious parties are backed by security agencies,” he said.


Khan of Kalat lobbied US lawmaker on Baloch resolution


LONDON: Khan of Kalat Mir Suleman Daud Khan played a crucial behind-the-scene role in lobbying US Congressman Rep Dana Rohrabacher, who last week introduced a resolution in the US House, saying the “Baloch nation has a historic right to self-determination.”

The News has learnt that the Cardiff based self-exiled Khan of Kalat and Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigations of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, held several meetings in European cities in the last few months and discussed the ways of helping Balochistan at the bigger level.

In an email exchange, Dana Rohrabacher, the lawmaker behind the effort, confirmed to The News that during his meetings with Khan of Kalat, they “discussed the repression of the people of Balochistan in Pakistan and Iran and their desire for self determination”.

The two met, along with many influential representatives from the US think tanks and Congressmen, in Berlin, Germany, only a few days before the Balochistan resolution was introduced in the Senate to the utter revulsion of Pakistan.

It was at this meeting that the text of the resolution was also discussed and agreed, which is seen in Pakistan as an attempt to dismember the South Asian country. The US congressman told The News he regarded Khan of Kalat and his family as the “leaders of Baloch” and pledged that he will continue speaking for Balochistan’s separation from Pakistan for as long as the people of Balochistan supported him.

He said Balochistan was of vital strategic importance but insurgency-hit, which needed a solution in favour of its people and urged the diaspora nationalist Baloch to support his cause. The bill states that the Baloch “have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country, and they should be provided with the opportunity to choose their own status.”

When contacted by The News, the Khan of Kalat admitted that he was in contact with the US Congressmen and added: “I have told the US congressmen about our situation with Pakistan since 1947, the human rights violations and the military operations, including the occupation on our sovereignty. I have told US lawmakers that the weaponry being supplied for the ‘war on terror’ is actually aimed at the Baloch people.

“Yours and our founding father have a similar history of struggle. I have held several meetings with them and have many more planned in the coming weeks.” Khan further said that he may visit the US soon to highlight the rights violations.

The self-exiled refugee Baloch leader, who lives with his family in Cardiff, welcomed the efforts of the US lawmaker and said he was owed a debt by those Baloch who believed in human rights and democracy.


Gohmert: Pakistani province’s independence would create ally in Mideast

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert

Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 7:15 am, Wed Feb 22, 2012.

By Glenn Evans gevans@news-journal.com | 3 comments

Independence for an obscure province in Pakistan would be one of the best things America could leave behind when it withdraws troops next year, the congressman from Northeast Texas said Tuesday.

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, says an independent Balochistan would be the “enemy of our enemies,” on a piece of ground through which arms now flow to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“These people are Muslims, but they are friends. They want to be America’s friends,” Gohmert said of the Baloch people of western Pakistan. “Before 1948, they were not part of Pakistan. (Baloch annexation) gave Pakistan some mineral-rich areas as well, and at the same time the Pakistani government has been abusive of the Baloch people.”

It also wouldn’t hurt America’s strategic interests in the region to have a grateful friend on Iran’s eastern border, he added.
Gohmert said he is not advocating a new war front. He said he merely wants discussions to begin about helping the province regain its self-determination.

“I’m for pulling out (of Afghanistan),” he added. “I just want to empower the enemy of the Taliban before we go. ... I want to help people who want to do right and want to be our friends and help us. And I don’t want to help those that want to hurt us — it’s just that simple.”

Gohmert is a co-signer on a House Resolution in support of self-determination for the province on Pakistan’s border with Iran. The resolution’s author, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is a Gohmert ally along with fellow co-sponsor, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.

The trio met in January with Baloch leaders in Germany, Gohmert said.

“They were well aware of the constant flow of the supplies and (improvised explosive devices) and arms coming to the Taliban through the Baloch area,” he said.

The three met separately with leaders of Afghanistan’s so-called Northern Alliance, the tribal chiefs who helped American forces sweep the Taliban from Afghan power in the initial part of the war immediately following 9/11.

Those leaders reported to the congressional delegation the Taliban is putting out word it will fully retake the country when Americans leave at the end of 2013. They said the Taliban demanded any groups “that have not been faithful” to them ask their forgiveness and beg for safety.

Gohmert also said the Baloch leaders disputed official American claims the Taliban is weakening in Afghanistan. As evidence, he pointed to the flow of weapons feeding the enemy through the Baloch province in Pakistan.

“So, let’s empower the enemy of our enemy,” Gohmert said the three lawmakers concluded. “That’s (the enemy) of the Northern Alliance and of the Taliban across the border in Balochistan. They are our friends. They want to be our friends.”

Gohmert said America first armed the Northern Alliance, then took the weapons away and turned support toward the centralized government that forced its will on the alliance tribes.

“There is one president (of Afghanistan) — he appoints the governors, he appoints the mayors, he appoints the police,” Gohmert said. “And the Northern Alliance leaders said, like two things to me: ‘You’re going to desert us, and the Taliban is going to be in charge and kill us. So, give us our arms back and let us elect our own leaders.’ ”

Rohrabacher produced his resolution supporting Baloch independence following a foreign relations subcommittee hearing two weeks ago regarding the province. Leaders of Baloch attended, he said.

“Man, it was packed,” Gohmert said, adding the provincial leaders praised his efforts. “They keep calling me, ‘The Hero of Baloch.’ I’m just an East Texas guy trying to think about the most effective way to not empower your enemy when you leave. They’d be great allies to have. They love America.”




( An edited version of this has been carried by “The Hindu” on February 23,2012 )Before 9/11 the assessment in the US was that terrorist threats to the US from abroad would be more serious than home-based threats.The responsibility for co-ordinating preventive action was, therefore, vested in the Central Intelligence Agency ( CIA), which handles external intelligence.

The CIA had a Counter-terrorism Centre (CTC) to perform tasks of co-ordination and follow-up action on the intelligence collected by the various agencies. The CTC had officers taken on deputation from different agencies. They worked under a CIA officer.

The Government of AtalBehari Vajpayee set up in May 2000 a Task Force for the Revamping of the Intelligence Apparatus headed by ShriG.C.Saxena, former head of the R&AW and the then Governor of J&K. Among its members were ShriM.K.Narayanan, former Director, Intelligence Bureau, ShriK.Raghunath, former Foreign Secretary, Shri P.P. Shrivatsava, former Special Secretary, Home Affairs, and myself.

Its report recommended, inter alia, the setting-up of a CTC on the US model with deputationists from different agencies to improve co-ordination and follow-up action in counter-terrorism.Since in India, the IB had the over-all responsibility for counter-terrorism and liaison with the State Police it suggested that the CTC should be part of the IB and should work under the DIB.

It looked upon the CTC as a clandestine wing of the IB, which itself is a clandestine intelligence collection organisation. It, therefore, did not recommend any legal powers for the CTC so that the clandestine nature of its operations was not affected.

The Vajpayee Government set up the CTC, under an executive order, as part of the IB but, for reasons not clear to me, it named it the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) and not the CTC.

The 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US brought out serious gaps in the functioning of the CTC of the CIA. It was, therefore decided by the Bush Administration in 2004 to set up a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) as an independent institution not under the control of any of the existing agencies. It was placed under the Director, National Intelligence, who is one of the personal staff of the President.
Whereas the US model of the CTC was given up after 9/11 due to inadequacies in its functioning, the Indian model of the MAC, patterned after the US CTC model, has continued functioning. Neither the Vajpayee Government nor the Manmohan Singh Government revisited the recommendations of the Saxena Task Force in the light of the 9/11 lessons.

The 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai brought out gaps in the functioning of the MAC. Flow of preventive intelligence and follow-up action on even the limited intelligence that was available were unsatisfactory. In a statement in the LokSabha after taking over as the Home Minister, ShriP.Chidambaram admitted that the responsibility for follow-up-action on the available intelligence was diffused.
He, therefore, decided to set up the NCTC after a visit to the US.His model of the Indian NCTC differed from the US model in two respects. The US NCTC is an independent institution not coming under the control of any of the existing agencies. In India, it is proposed to be made a wing of the IB and will work under the DIB.

In the US, the NCTC is a legal institution set up under a Congressional legislation after bipartisan consultations, but it does not have any legal powers to act on its own in matters such as arrest, detention, interrogation, searches etc.
The Indian model has been set up under an executive notification under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of 1967. This has obviated the need for fresh legislation for its creation and for fresh political consulations at the Centre and with the States.

More seriously, the Indian NCTC is sought to be given powers of arrest and searches as part of its preventive operations.

The granting of these powers to the IB through the NCTC mechanism could have two undesirable consequences. Firstly, allegations of misuse of the IB for harassing political opponents. Secondly, it will affect the role of the IB as a clandestine intelligence collection organisation. It will be preoccupied defending its arrests before the courts and against allegations of human rights violations.Moreover, presently the IB enjoys protection from the Right to Information Act. If it has these powers and starts functioning as an intelligence collection agency cum central police, it may no longer be able to enjoy this protection.

The Home Minister had two options: Either make the NCTC an independent institution if he felt that it must have the powers of arrest and searches . Or if he felt that it must work under the IB, make it a division of the IB without giving it these powers.
His unwise action in making it part of the IB
with these powers could provecounterproductive. He should not stand on false prestige. He should re-visit the proposed NCTC architecture in consultation with political parties and the States.
It needs to be underlined that there is no opposition in the country to the NCTC concept, which is necessary. The opposition is to the manner in which it has been set up without adequate consultations and to some of its features.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Research & Analysis Wing,Govt. of India )