April 21, 2012



The Maoists have been increasingly resorting to abduction as one of their tactics for cowing down the State and society and for demonstrating their ability to enforce their will on the State.

2. The recent incidents of abduction of two Italian nationals and a member of the legislative Assembly of Odisha to force the State---unfortunately successfully--- to concede their demands for the release of some arrested Maoists have been followed by the abduction of Alex Paul Menon, the32-year-old Collector of Sukma District in Chattisgarh, on April 21,2002.

3.Citing Ram Nivas, Additional Director of Police in charge of Naxal operations in the State, media reports have stated that a group of 20 Maoists killed the two personal security officers of the Collector and abducted him while he was having a meeting with some villagers in the Majhipara village of the District. The Collector had reportedly gone to the village on a motorcycle as part of a Government-initiated campaign to wean the villagers away from the Maoists. S.K.Vaidya, a Sub-Divisional Magistrate, who had accompanied the Collector, was not abducted.

4. The young Collector, like other officers of different services serving in the areas affected by the Maoist insurgency in different States of India, deserves the highest praise from the citizens of this country for his personal courage and devotion to public service. Unmindful of the dangers faced by him, Menon had kept up his village touring in order to interact with the people and address their grievances against the State. It is the courage and devotion of officers like Menon which gives us hope that we will ultimately prevail over the Maoists despite the gloomy situation that prevails at present. It is important to underline this before discussing the options available to the State in dealing with the use of repeated abductions as a tactic by the Maoists.

5. Denying success to rural insurgents operating from forests who indulge in such tactics is always much more difficult than denying success to urban terrorists who operate from urban hideouts. Collection of preventive and operational human intelligence is more difficult in  rural areas ---particularly with a heavy forest cover---than in an urban area.Technical intelligence is equally difficult to come by since rural insurgents do not use modern means of communication like the urban terrorists do.

6. Confronted with a situation of almost zero intelligence regarding the specific plans of the Maoists, the only preventive option is a heavy security cover for touring officers and political leaders and a saturated security presence in the areas worst affected by the insurgency. It is not an uncharitable criticism of the young officer to state that one was surprised that Menon ventured into an area reportedly heavily affected by the insurgency with a very thin security cover. One is not certain whether Menonwas accompanied by a police contingent in addition to his two personal security officers. Apparently not, because otherwise, there might have been an encounter between the police contingent and the Maoists who came to abduct him.

7. It is important for our officers and political leaders to keep travelling in those areas without letting themselves be cowed down by the insurgents. At the same time, they should ensure that they do not neglect the importance of a heavy security cover in the form of personal security officers and a protection contingent which would provide area protection.

8.Touring officers and political leaders probably avoid a heavy protection contingent as the presence of a large number of policemen in their entourage might unnerve the villagers and defeat the purpose of their touring for interaction with the people.But this cannot be helped. There is no point in venturing out into such areas without a satisfactory security cover.

9. The Maoists have also been abducting not only public servants, but also innocent civilians as one saw in the case of the two Italian tourists. It would become difficult for the State to provide dedicated protection to all civilians who have to travel in the areas under the control of the Maoists.All that the State can do is to brief them periodically on the dangers that they might face and what precautions they should take.

10. The Maoists have been using two tactical weapons effectively in their attempts to intimidate public servants and discourage them from touring--- the use of road mines and abduction. We still do not seem to have an effective answer to deal with the use of landmines by them. This calls for action on various planes such as preventing the flow of explosive material and mines into the hands of the Maoists and effective mine-clearing operations in the areas where the Maoists are active.

11. To ensure that normal village administration and village touring for interactions with the villagers is not affected by the intimidatory tactics of the Maoists, we should provide helicopters to all Districts in the areas affected by the insurgency.

12. There is no satisfactory answer to the question as to how to deal with an abduction in a rural or forest area. The basic principle is never concede the demands of the insurgents to secure the release of the abducted persons. Once a person is abducted, various pressures start operating on the political leadership and the administration----from the relatives, sections of the political class itself, human rights activists etc. It becomes difficult for the political leadership to resist these pressures and stick doggedly to the principle of not conceding the demands of the insurgents, come what may.

13. Dealing with abductions is partly a game of patience, partly a psychological game and partly a game of calculated risks. Patient negotiations with those involved in the abduction are necessary to give the police and the intelligence agencies time  to collect intelligence and to the special intervention forces to prepare themselves for a possible rescue operation. The psychological game involves giving the abductors cause for hope that the State may concede their demands while sticking to the principle of not doing so The game of calculated risks is about undertaking a rescue operation if there are reasonable chances of success.

14.The difficulties faced by our political leadership in dealing with an abduction in a rural or forest areas arises from two factors--- the lack of precise intelligence as to where the abductors have kept their captive and the absence of a specially trained force for interventions in the rural and forest areas. The National Security Guards is more a special intervention force for urban than for rural areas or forests. The time has come for us to think in terms of a special intervention force for rural areas and forests.

15. Ultimately, the decision as to what the State has to do has to be taken by the political leaders and professionals jointly. There will always be political and public criticism of their final decision. If they concede the demands of the abductors they will be accused of being soft. If they stand firm and the victim is killed by the abductors they will be accused of being heartless and incompetent. It is an occupational hazard for a public servant having to deal with terrorism or insurgency.He should act according to his best judgement unmindful of the brickbats that might follow.( 22-4-12)


( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )





April 20, 2012

Analytics, Big data - the emerging revolution of Data Science

Guest post by Arindam Banerji, Unit Technology Officer, Manufacturing, Infosys Limited

Like it or not, how we think of data science and business intelligence is changing; not only in terms of technologies and capabilities, but also in terms of what consumers of such technologies expect. The changes are drastic enough to warrant thinking about this as the new era of how science is done - its impact could be as large as the introduction of the web, with new business models, sub -industries and entirely new ways of doing science.

Based on Turing award winner, Jim Gray's work, Jnan Dash offers up, why data science is quite probably an entirely new model of doing science:

[So what is the Fourth Paradigm? Here is the explanation.
1. Thousand years ago - Experimental Science
- Description of natural phenomena
2. Last few hundred years - Theoretical Science
- Newton's Laws, Maxwell's Equations...
3. Last few decades - Computational Science
- Simulation of complex phenomena
4. Today
- Data-Intensive Science (unify theory, experiment, & simulation)] - Jnan Dash in "The Fourth paradigm in Science"

Not surprisingly, Mike Loukides in his blog http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/06/what-is-data-science.html observes:

"The future belongs to the companies and people that turn data into products"

Definitions being what they are, analytics, BigData or data science or call it whatever you will, is changing how we think of running our companies, make decisions, create new business models, manage risk and reinvent the nervous systems of the IT that run our institutions (corporations, non-profits).

So, what are the changes that are revolutionizing business intelligence, data and our products?

Predict the Future
Volatility in markets and the globally connected nature of disparate businesses, make gut-feel decisions ineffective. The parameters for business decisions are now so complex, that decision makers across corporations are asking us data scientists - "help us predict the future - simple post-mortems of the past will not cut it".

So, a windshield maker may want to predict the changes in Chinese auto industry growth, to help bring accuracy in sales & operations planning. A fast food restaurant chain needs a better handle on prices of buns in the market, 2 months out. As we'll see later, the source of such analysis cannot be based simply on our traditional sources of data.

Depending up-on who you ask, at most 5% to 8% of people who should be using BI tools within corporations actually do end up using them. The result is poor decision making and sub-optimal visibility into events.

The fix for this, is not just a question of training or overcoming inertia - but, fundamentally rethinking the science of data visualization or as some people call it - "telling a story with data". Thankfully, this is happening and good examples of this exist - such, as the visual growth of Walmart stores in the US at http://projects.flowingdata.com/walmart/. Visualizations, that can be easily contextualized for the kinds of problems and decisions at hand and also be made more sensitive to the needs of the decision-maker skills, are critical next steps. I find, initiatives, such as Many Eyes (IBM) that allow you to experiment with different visualization models, to be very helpful in deciding on appropriate models for telling-data-stories.

Big Data
What is Big data - several definitions exist but perhaps one of the better definitions is "big data is when the size of the data itself becomes part of the problem". The volume or size of data that we're beginning to deal with is almost oppressive - as far back as 2007, Hilbert surmised "human kind was able to store as much as 295 exabytes (trillion megabytes) of optimally compressed information in their technological devices". Martin Hilbert's analysis of technology capacity is an eye-opener (see http://martinhilbert.net/WorldInfoCapacity.html). But, we'll be remiss if we just focus on the volume/size of data, as Doug Laney points out; Velocity or the speed with which data gets built up/output and variety in data sources and formats are all critical elements of big data.

At sizes/varieties such as many researchers predict, traditional tools and approaches become ineffective - but, they also open up new opportunities. So, the insurance industry is now able to experiment with pay-as-you-go warranty schemes, as telematics in cars can collect myriad of information about our driving behavior - this was not possible, till a few years ago.

Clearly, the science of BI has changed - but, the possibilities are enormous, as we'll see in future posts; consider as an example, the ability to predict epidemic outbreaks.

[Scientists may have found a way to counter an upcoming influenza outbreak - Google.
"Researchers at Johns Hopkins have found 'Google Flu Trends' a powerful early warning system for emergency departments. They say monitoring Internet search traffic about influenza may prove to be a better way for hospital emergency rooms to prepare for a surge in sick patients compared to waiting for outdated government flu case reports"] - Times of India, Jan 12, 2012.



During a visit to the site of the devastating avalanche near Skardu in Pakistan-Occupied Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) on April 18,2012,which killed about 125 military personnel and 15 civilians,Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), is reported to have made ----for the first time since he took over as the COAS from Gen.Pervez Musharraf--- some positive references to India.

2. The Pakistani media has quoted him as saying as follows: “Peaceful coexistence between the two neighbours is very important so that everybody can concentrate on the well-being of the people……The decades of enmity between India and Pakistan should be resolved through negotiation.”

3.It needs to be underlined that these remarks should not be interpreted as indicating a change in the hostile mindset of the Pakistan Army towards India.Nor do they indicate a definitive desire of the Pakistan Army for a thaw in Indo-Pakistan relations.
4. These remarks were made by Gen.Kayani in the context of the tragedy caused by the avalanche and were apparently designed to prod the international community to revive pressure on India to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement with Pakistan on the Siachen issue that could lead to a mutual withdrawal of troops from the glacier.

5. Pakistan is paying a heavier price than India in Siachen in terms of financial and human costs. Moreover, signs of alienation among the Shia population of GB have been increasing steadily. The fact that the majority of those who perished in the avalanche were from GB--- possibly Shias--- and that none of them could be rescued has added to the anger against the Army in the area.

6. Talk on the urgent need for a stand aloneSiachenagreement with India is, therefore, assuming a desperate urgency for Pakistan. Kayani has to respond to this desperation if he has to prevent a further erosion of support for the Army from the people of the area.

7. His remarks have the tactical objective of responding to the local anger and projecting India as responsible for the lack of a forward movement on the Siachen issue.His remarks thus have an international and domestic angle.

8. It would be unwise for India to agree to any stand alone agreement on Siachen. Any ultimate agreement on Siachen has to be part of an overall package that would address India’s concerns relating to the suppression of the Shias of GB who have ethnic links with our Shias of Jammu and Kashmir and the increasing Chinese presence in the area.

9. The induction of Chinese construction teams and security personnel ---all reportedly from the People’s Liberation Army---- into the GB area have totally changed the complexity and complexion of the Siachen issue. It is no longer a simple question of mutual withdrawal of troops. Other dimensions having an impact on our security interests in Jammu and Kashmir have emerged since we started talking to Pakistan sporadically on Siachen.

10. This is not the time for re-opening any talks---substantive or exploratory --- on Siachen. We need to have a clear understanding of the implications of the recent developments in GB in order to revisit our strategy in respect of Siachen-related talks.

11.While we should be cautious and slow-moving on this particular issue, we should not spurn cynically the new---a little more benign--- rhetoric of Gen.Kayani on Indo-Pakistan relations in general. This seeming willingness to move away from a compulsive demonization of India has to be encouraged.

12. I have been advocating for more than a year the beginning of a military-military relationship between the two countries in order to enable senior military officers of the two countries, including the chiefs, to know and assess each other personally instead of depending on third parties and sources for this purpose.This is the time to take advantage of the overtures of Gen.Kayani to set in motion an exercise in this direction.Let us invite Gen.Kayanifor an exploratory visit. If he seems reluctant to come, let us request him to depute some other senior officer to come to India on a getting to know each other visit--- without a formal agenda. ( 19-4-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

April 18, 2012



All is not yet lost in Afghanistan. The Taliban and its affiliates such as the so-called Haqqani Network are alive and active not only in the interior provinces, but even in Kabul.They still retain the surprise element in a large measure. Their morale is undented.So too their capability to improvise and innovate complex attacks on multiple targets using multiple modus operandi.The flow of suicide volunteers for their operations is not showing signs of drying up.

2.Their Tet-like co-ordinated attacks in Kabul and some provinces on April 15,2012, were almost as spectacular as the co-ordinated attacks launched by the Vietcong on the Vietnamese New Year's Day (called Tet) in 1968, but not as effective and as lethal.

3. Just as the US and South Vietnamese intelligence were taken by surprise by the Vietcong attacks of 1968, the US and the Afghan intelligence were also taken by surprise. They had failed to detect the infiltration of the cadres of the Taliban and its affiliates into the areas to be targeted and their preparations for the attacks.It is easy to infiltrate men undetected, but should have been difficult to infiltrate RPGs and other medium weapons and the explosive devices if the physical security barriers had functioned effectively.

4. The fact that neither the intelligence agencies nor the physical security barriers could detect the smuggling of such weapons into Kabul and other cities indicates that the Taliban has probably built up caches of arms and ammunition in different parts of the country that could be used for such surprise attacks.

5. While there was thus a worrisome failure of intelligence and physical security as there was in Saigon and surrounding areas in 1968, the Afghan Security Forces----unlike their South Vuietnamese counterparts--- have shown a remarkable agility to recover quickly from the surprise and retaliate and repulse the attacks. Whereas the South Vietnamese Army---with odd exceptions---literally folded up before the Vietcong's wave of attacks, the Afghan security forces stood and fought valiantly thereby denying a spectacular victory to the Taliban and its associates. This speaks highly of teir training, reflexes and motivation.

6.Whereas the US failed to train and mould the South Vietnamese Army into an effective fighting force, they have done a better job of their training in Afghanistan.The Americans should slow down their pull-out from Afghanistan and spend more time and money for further training the Afghan security forces.

7.It may not be a walk-over for the Taliban and its affiliates in Afghanistan as many of us fear it would be.The Afghan security forces could still prevail if they maintain their unity.It is the lack of unity among soldiers of different ethnic origin that had in the past proved the bane of Afghanistan. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops in the late 1980s, the Soviet trained Afghan Army headed by Najibullah fought valiantly against the Mujahideen and repeatedly repulsed their attacks.

8. But once Najibullah, a Pashtun, and Rashid Dostum, an Uzbeck, fell out and many Uzbecks deserted from the Army, the effectiveness of Najibullah's Army evaporated,paving the way for the Mujahideen take-over.Pakistan is hoping a similar scenario will be repeated after the US troops withdraw, but this should not be allowed to.The ability of President Karzai to maintain inter-ethnic unity will determine whether history will be repeated in Afghanistan.

9.The other ever-worrying danger is the infiltration of the Taliban into the security forces and intelligence agencies and the creation of sleeper cells which can be activated at short notice.This has to be guarded against by strengthening the Karzai Government's counterp-intelligence capability.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Body Language: How good are you interpreting it?

P5+1 and Iran’s meeting in Istanbul cools War Hysteria

Ever since the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq , Western leaders and Israel and media have talked of taking out the other axis of evil i.e. Iran .From time to time the cacophony rises , on the pretext that Tehran is enriching Uranium for nukes (Never mind Tel Aviv has a few hundred nukes ).My feeling and assessment has been that end 2003 or early 2004 was the time when Washington led by the Zeocon crazies under blank slate Bush could have created a bigger catastrophe after Afghanistan and Iraq .And so I have written many times . Any attack by mistake or otherwise would be catastrophic for the region and the world. India foolishly voted against Tehran in Vienna for the case to go to UNSC when even Pakistan had abstained, advised by policeman NSA with many US pensioners in key positions.

A Swiss assets manager , after reading my pieces on Middle East used to telephone me every few months from 2006 and I would always reassure him to take it easy .Since a year or so his calls have declined since he is by now convinced of the bluff and psychological war propaganda being carried out by the west , more so after even USA’ own assessment of 2007, that leaked out , that Tehran is far from any near preparations for a nuke program .I had last written a piece based on El baradei’s book that western attitude on Iran and other nations in South was hypocritical and immoral ,quite often based on lies and half truths.


After the Istanbul meet ,Netanyahu remains most unhappy .From time to time to time US had to curb Israel propaganda and statements of alone or joint bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities .Incidentally Ehud Barak , who also now leads the chorus of bombing Iran with megalomaniac Netanyahu and extreme US Republican leadership , had asked Dick Cheney in 2005 , after clear signs of a disaster in making in Iraq , if Washington had a plan B .There was none .In fact the Israeli leaders had not bought the Operation Iraqi Freedom , which was then sold to Neocons and Zionists in USA.

After a gap of more than a year the meeting between Iran and 5 nuclear armed bullies and Germany took place in Istanbul and the propaganda heat of an imminent Israel/US or joint attack has been cooled.

Some earlier articles on Iran West stand down.


Some extracts of interest on Indian Iran similarities from


“--Numbering perhaps 25 million, India has the second largest Shi'ite population in the world. Oudh , Bijapur, Ahmednagar and Golconda were its kingdoms in the past. Shi'ites are now concentrated in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar , Andhra Pradesh and Ismaili Khojas in Mumbai. (Incidentally, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan , was an Ismaili Bohra).

Old linkages between India and Iran
India 's linkages and relations with Iran are ancient and almost umbilical. Not far from Iran 's western border, around the junction of Turkey , Syria and Iraq in the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates , a chariot-riding Indian-Iranian military aristocracy, embedded among indigenous Hurrians, ruled its Mitanni kingdom between 1500 BC to 1200 BC. It used pre-Vedic Sanskrit phrases, worshipped common Daivya and Assura gods like Indira, Nasatya and Varuna, Mithra. The Mitannis had apparently separated from the main Aryan body, which after many centuries in the region of Amu and Syr Darya had moved on to Iran . Then after some acrimony there was a split into factions: Vedic with Daivya gods and Avestan with Assura gods, with the Vedic stream going on to the land of Sapt Sindhu, i.e. northwest India and beyond. On a theory based on linguistic, cultural, religious and other similarities, Iranian and Indian Aryans are, if not racial cousins, at least linguistic and cultural ones.

During the Muslim rule, Persians came as bureaucrats with the Turkish rulers in India and left a deep influence on Indian culture, civilization and languages; Hindustani, Urdu and Hindi. From Akbar's time, the Persians formed the majority of the Muslim Amir ul Umra, that is, courtiers and civil servants. To get in with Persian and its derivative Urdu as the language of the court and administration (even during the British era), even the Hindus took on some of their traits, like Moghului cuisine (Persian cuisine is the mother of most cuisines, except French and Chinese) and meat eating. Also adopted were a love of music and dance. Kayastahs dominated the civil services during the British rule.

Iran: A cradle of civilizations
situated at the crossroads and itself a cradle of many great civilizations; Iran has exercised great civilizing influence since ancient times. Whosoever (King of Kings, Sahanshah in Darius's words, its Hindu equivalent being Maharajdhiraj) ruled what now constitutes Iran , they exercised great political and cultural influence not only in the neighborhood but also in far-off places.

During the classical Greek political and social evolution in western Asia Minor which Turkey was then called, the Persian Achaemenid dynasty had its satrapies and outposts on the Aegean coast, known as Ionia , from which the word Yunan for Greece entered the eastern lexicon. In 517 BC it was Persian Emperor Darius who ordered Scylax, his Greek subject from Caria (western Turkey ) to survey the river Indus from Peshawar to its exit into the sea, part of his empire. And for the first time, the West became acquainted with India . Herodotus's chapters on Indian history were based on records of that exploration.

The Persians routinely crossed over to European Thrace and a Greek victory over the Persians in 490 BC at Marathon , perhaps the first of the West over the East, is still commemorated as an athletic event in the Olympics (showing Western bias in sports). The Trojan war of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey was a small event militarily and a storm in tea cup. Troy was a marginal appendage of the huge Hittite empire in Asia Minor ruled from Bogazkoy, northeast of Ankara .

Later, even in defeat, the Persians civilized Alexander the Great and his Macedonian and Greek hordes, introduced the small town boys to the protocol, trappings and grandeur of an imperial power and implanted the strongly held belief in the divine right of the kings, later adopted by Alexander's military commanders and successors. On these beliefs were laid the foundations of the structure for the Roman and Byzantine empires. The Islamic Omayyed Caliphate in Damascus and later the Abbassid Caliphate in Baghdad also borrowed from the same state structures and ceremonies. Up to the 7th century, the Persians disputed with the Romans control of Asia Minor and Syria , which exhausted them both, making them easy prey for the Muslim Arabs. Persians then acted as a civilizing sieve to nomad Turks, Mongols and others from the horse-riding nurseries of the Eurasian steppes who played such havoc for centuries in Asia and Europe alike. Whoever ruled Persia, Seljuk rulers in Anatolia (Turkey) or even Delhi's Turkish Sultans and early Moguls, for them the Iranians were the bureaucrats without equal?

Persia's conversion to Islam, which forced Zoroastrian Parsees to migrate to India in the 7th century, disrupted mutual interaction and enrichment of Indian and Persian social and cultural streams in place since Achemenean days, if not earlier. It isolated and weakened Hindustan , when the likes of Ghajnavi, Nadir Shah and Abdali could raid Hindustan with impunity.

But Islam did not liberate the sophisticated and evolved Persians, deeply influenced by spiritual and speculative Avestan, its excessive rituals and love for the intoxicant soma having been curbed earlier by Zoroaster's reforms (Buddhism was a similar attempt against Brahmanical rituals and excesses in India around the same time). Then the Persians lost their language, Pehlavi, which emerged a few centuries later as Persian in modified Arabic script. Having been ruled by Arabs, Turks, Mongols and Tartars for eight-and-half centuries, there emerged the Sufi-origin Persian Safavids, who became finally masters of their own land, which more or less comprises present-day Iran . At the same time, to preserve their sect and survive, Iranians after centuries of foreign rule developed an uncanny ability not to bring to their lips what is on their minds, and have institutionalized it as takiyya, i.e. dissimulation.

They had modified simple Arab Islam into a more sophisticated and innovative Shiite branch, with the direct descent of Imam Ali's progeny from Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, echoing their deeply ingrained sense of the divinity of rulers. They strengthened (against the Arab caliphs and Turkish sultans) the status of the imams, who among more egalitarian Sunnis are no more than prayer leaders, in line with the Indian-Iranian tradition of placing priests higher than rulers (as are Brahmins in the Indian caste system). By tradition, Azeri (Turkish) speaking Iranians become chiefs of the armed forces. Ayatollah Ali Khameini is an Azeri speaking Iranian.

The status of the imam evolved into the doctrines of intercession and infallibility, i.e., of the faqih/mutjahid. (Somewhat like Hindu shankracharyas and the fraternity of learned pandits). The speculative Aryan mind fused the mystic traditions into Sufi Islam, bringing out the best in Islamic mysticism and softening the rigors of austere and crusading Islam which had emerged from the barren sands of Arabia . There were unparalleled contributions by Rumi, Hafij, Attar, El-Ghazali, Firdaus, Nizami, El-Beruni, Omar Khayyam and others to Islamic philosophy and civilization. Their answer to interminable Islamic theological arguments on free will vs. predetermination was that the opposites were the obverse and reverse sides of the divine mind, similar to the concepts in Hindu philosophy. Hindustani poetry, music, painting and architecture owe much to their Iranian cousins. Sufis played more than an equal role in the conversion to Islam of India as did the sword or material inducements. Sufi pirs are still as revered as Hindu or Sikh holy men in India .

From Shi'ite variants like the Ismailis emerged the "assassins" from the mountain vastness of Iran and later Syria , representing an individuals' ultimate and sublime sacrifice for a cause (or his master) against the tyranny of the absolute or collective power of the caliphs and sultans, inspired by Imam Hussein's martyrdom. The assassin's modern-day versions, the suicide bombers of the Hizbollah, Hamas, Sikh or Tamil Tiger, have become the terrors of mankind.”

Now back to the Istanbul meeting . 18 April 2012.

After Istanbul, confidence for confidence
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi Asia Times 17 April 2012

On Saturday, the world stepped back from the brink of a showdown on Iran's nuclear program as both sides in the multilateral nuclear talks emerged from 10-hour negotiations in Istanbul in a positive mood, setting the stage for a follow-up "substantive meeting" in Baghdad in late May.

The talks, after a 13-month hiatus, included representatives of the "Iran Six" - also known as the P5+1 - the United States, Great Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, labeled the talks as "constructive and useful" and added that the

Baghdad meeting will be guided by "the principle of a step-by-step approach and reciprocity ... We were assured that Iran is serious."

Indeed, reciprocity and mutual respect are key ingredients of the confidence-building process that is the sine qua non for a successful nuclear diplomacy, given the preponderance of confidence deficit and mutual distrust that has dominated the negotiation scene until now.

The talks come after months of increased tensions between Iran and the US, along with other Western countries, which suspect that Tehran's nuclear program is not peaceful, as it claims. Sanctions have been placed on Iran by the United Nations as well as individual countries, including the US.

In his press conference after the talks, Saeed Jalili, the resourceful Iranian nuclear negotiator, spoke under a banner showing the faces of Iran's assassinated nuclear scientists, defending Iran's nuclear rights under articles of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - to which Iran is a signatory - and elaborating on what the agenda of the Baghdad round would consist of. That is nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and access to peaceful nuclear technology.

On the sidelines, Jalili held bilateral talks with the Russian representative, Sergei Rybakov, and reportedly denied an American request to hold a similar bilateral meeting.

Irrespective, the mere fact that US and Iranian officials met for 10 hours, albeit in a multilateral setting, and then refrained from vilifying each other and, instead, praised the talks' "serious and constructive" atmosphere, is definitely a good omen for the much-troubled US-Iran relations.

Israel, on the other hand, has criticized the lack of concrete progress in the talks and the decision for a follow-up in Baghdad, Iran's backyard. Therefore, the powerful pro-Israel lobby might increase pressure on the Barack Obama administration for a "get tough" approach on Iran during the next 40 days.

According to reports, Jalili reiterated the religious edict, fatwa, by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei against nuclear weapons and sounded conciliatory on the subject of transparency, enhanced cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the prospects for Iran's adoption of the intrusive Additional Protocol of the NPT. He also indicated support for a uranium swap for the Tehran medical reactor, while rejecting the Western demand to shut down the uranium enrichment facility at Fordow and to suspend 20% enrichment activities, as anticipated by this author. (See Nuclear chess in Istanbul Asia Times Online, April 14).

The mere agreement by Western governments to adopt NPT standards as the framework for the discussions has been hailed in Iran as a major victory, since there is no legal bar to Iran's possession of a nuclear fuel cycle and, inevitably, this represents a US retreat from the previous "red line" of not tolerating any centrifuges spinning in Iran; that arbitrary line has now been replaced with a more realistic approach that is focused on objective guarantees that Iran is not engaged in proliferation activities.

"This was a victory for the supreme leader's strategy of 'threat and sanctions in response to threats and sanctions on same level' that was spelled out by Khamenei in two key speeches recently," says a Tehran University political science professor who spoke on the condition of anonymity. This was in reference to Iran cutting off oil supplies to some European countries and the threat to close the vital Strait of Hormuz.

According to the Tehran professor, Iran's successful counter-strategy had worked with China and Russia, both of whom have opposed Western unilateral sanctions and threats of military action, as a result of which "there was no united front against Iran in Istanbul, only a united concession on Iran's nuclear rights".

By all indications, at the Baghdad meet, hosted by the pro-Iran Shi'ite-dominated government, the US and other Western powers will be further oriented to Iran's regional clout that requires reckoning with along the lines of political realism. This is not to mention Tehran's clout with Damascus and Iran's nod to the Syrian ceasefire brokered by former United Nations head Kofi Annan, who was in Tehran recently and praised Tehran's constructive role.

On the other hand, coinciding with fresh, and impressive, assaults by Taliban insurgents in Kabul and three other Afghan provinces, thus reminding the world of the unfinished business of Afghan security, the Istanbul round may have served another purpose, that is, to at least indirectly flesh out the "common points" between Iran and the West.

Iran's moderate Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who penned an opinion article in the Washington Post under the title "Iran does not want nuclear weapons", blamed the US for reneging on its contractual obligations toward Iran's US-built medical reactor in Tehran, and he implicitly touched on the subject of future US-Iran nuclear cooperation - that was also touted by the Barack Obama administration in the initial nuclear talks with Iran in 2009 and 2010.

Both in the areas of upgrading the Tehran reactor and managing nuclear waste, the US could provide key assistance to Iran, should Washington's concerns about Iran's "nuclear weapons intentions" be put to rest as a result of Iran's guarantees.

For the Obama administration, which badly needs some concrete evidence of foreign policy success to secure re-election, the renewed fighting in Afghanistan, whose government is backed by both Tehran and Washington, is a complicating factor that, once again, draws attention to the need for a "regional solution" encompassing Iran, which has long and porous borders with Afghanistan and which could play mischief if the nuclear talks failed and the US resorted to more coercive tactics against Iran.

In light of the above-said, it makes sense to add another item on the agenda for the Baghdad talks: regional security. Much as Baghdad may be elated by the instant global attention that will be accorded to it by hosting the next round, by the same token neither Saudi Arabia nor the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) appear to be very thrilled about this news, hence their lukewarm if not outright negative reactions to the results of the Istanbul talks.

The trip by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to the island of Abu Mussa last week has raised the ire of GCC states that support the United Arab Emirates' claim to that island, thus portending a vigorous Saudi-led campaign in the coming weeks to convince the White House to keep the pressure on Iran.

But, with Iran and the US as essentially de facto allies in their common support for the present regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House may now be caught in the dilemma of conflicting priorities.

In conclusion, we may now be on the verge of a new beginning marking the gradual end of the Iran nuclear crisis. The road ahead must be paved with good intention or it will be derailed by the multiple barriers that challenge both sides.

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.)

April 17, 2012

Regional Issues, Defence Dominate Indo-US Talks

PTI | Apr 17, 2012


India and the US today held intensive discussions on East Asia in the backdrop of tensions in South China Sea and the recent defiant rocket launch by North Korea, a day after the two countries held political- military dialogue.

The two countries are having a series of meetings this week, including one on Homeland Security on Thursday and Friday apart from a trilateral with Japan on April 23.

After a gap of nearly six years, India and the US had held their first political-military dialogue here yesterday which was led by Javed Ashraf, Joint Secretary (Americas) in the Ministry of External Affairs from Indian side and by Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J Shapiro from the US.

The two sides discussed key issues such as defence, trade including US reform process in their export policy, counter-piracy and regional political-military issues.

The American side raised the issue of recovery and repatriation of US service members lost during the Second World War. To which, the Indian side expressed the openness to consider it on humanitarian grounds, official sources said.

In recent years, the US and India have significantly broadened their defence cooperation, as demonstrated by their robust engagement in bilateral dialogues, military exercises, and personnel exchanges, as well as nearly USD 9 billion in defence trade since 2008.

On the fifth India-US dialogue on Asia Pacific region, the US Embassy here said "both sides discussed a wide range of global trends and regional issues of mutual concern and committed to continue the exchange regularly in the future."

Asked about the dispute between India and China over exploration in South China sea, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell said the laws of the seas should apply and issues should be addressed through dialogue.

While Campbell led the US delegation, Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in MEA was heading the Indian side. US Special Representative for Myanmar Derek Mitchell was also accompanying Campbell.

Michell's presence reflected the importance the US gives to India's views on Myanmar which is witnessing transition towards democracy with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's recent victory in parliamentary bypolls.

"Frankly, I must say we have received very good advice and counsel from India over the course of last couple of years. An encouragement about engagement, and we think that advice has been good advice in terms of how we should approach the opportunities that we are facing today," Campbell said.

On North Korea, both India and the US have voiced deep concern over the recent failed rocket launch by Pyongyang.

After the East Asia dialogue, the two countries will be holding a 'Review Meeting of Homeland Security' on Thursday and Friday which will be led by Home Secretary R K Singh and US Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security Jane Lute.

This will be followed by the India-Japan-US trilateral dialogue in Tokyo on April 23.

This is the second round. The inaugural dialogue took place in December last in Washington.

Apart from discussing South China Sea, North Korea related developments and the situation in Myanmar, India and the US discussed other regional issues like ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)and East Asia Summit, official sources said.

According to sources, the US also explained the "Strategic Pivot" to Asia, largely focusing on East Asia during the talks.

In 2011, the Obama administration announced that the US needed to make "a strategic pivot" in its foreign policy, where over the next decade the dynamic will be to downsize the United States’ presence in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and to invest more and pay greater attention to the Asia-Pacific, particularly Southeast Asia.

In the past year, the US accelerated its relations with Southeast Asia in a number of symbolic and important ways.

Balochistan: Time for a ceasefire and political settlement

Proposals for military de-escalation & a referendum on self-determination

By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

The Samosa - London & Islamabad - 16 April 2010


The case for a negotiated political settlement in Pakistani-annexed and occupied Balochistan is overwhelming. The Baloch people have a right to live without persecution and to decide their own destiny. History is on their side.

Much of what now constitutes Balochistan was a self-governing British Protectorate from 1876. The Baloch people secured their independence from Britain in 1947. The following year, they were invaded and incorporated into Pakistan. They did not vote for incorporation. Their consent was neither sought nor given.

For more than six decades, Balochistan has been under Pakistani military occupation. Although all five major nationalist rebellions have been suppressed by Islamabad, this has not extinguished the desire of the Baloch people to determine their own future. On the contrary. Pakistan's ruthless brutality has increased support for outright independence.

This has prompted even greater Pakistani repression. In the last two years, the extra-judicial killing of Baloch activists has intensified, despite public claims by the Pakistani government and security forces that they have been curtailed.

Indeed, a new death squad has emerged, Tehreek-e-Nefaz-e-Aman Balochistan (TNAB); apparently with the collision of Pakistan's intelligence and military agencies.

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), in January this year alone the bullet-riddled bodies of 23 nationalist sympathisers were discovered in Balochistan, with six of these killings being claimed by TNAB.

From August 2011 to January 2012, 56 Baloch activists are known to have been murdered and dumped on roadsides.

The total number of extra-judicial killings since July 2010 is at least 271, reports the AHRC.


These escalating human rights abuses in Balochistan are also independently corroborated by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. These organisations have documented not only extra-judicial killings but also the Pakistani security forces widespread resort to kidnapping, disappearances, torture and detention without trial. They offer strong evidence that the police, army, ISI and Frontier Corps are complicit in atrocities that amount to crimes against humanity, which are illegal under international law.

Some Baloch campaigners are urging the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants and put on trial key Pakistani political, intelligence and military leaders, including the former dictator president, Pervez Musharraf, who allegedly authorised indiscriminate air strikes against defenceless Baloch villages.

In the meantime, they want the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to head a UN fact-finding mission to Balochistan; in order to ensure that the atrocities committed by Pakistan are subject to independent international scrutiny and documentation.

The UN also has a crucial role to play in facilitating a military ceasefire and a negotiated political settlement.

While this is important for the long-suffering people of Balochistan, it is also important for the Pakistani government. The human rights abuses in Balochistan are causing huge damage to Islamabad's international reputation. The military occupation of Balochistan is costing Pakistan millions. It is a financial drain on the economy. The vast sums of money spent on military garrisons and operations would be better spent on health and education.

However, the most fundamental and important issue is the right to self-determination of the Baloch people. This principle of self-determination is enshrined in the UN Charter and has been applied to secure the statehood of new emergent nations, from Slovenia to East Timor and South Sudan. Why not Balochistan?

Pakistan can delay Balochistan's right to self-determination - at great financial, moral, political, military and reputational cost - but the right of the people Balochistan to decide their own future cannot be denied forever. History shows that no amount of repression can hold back a people who yearn to be free. Ultimately, justice will triumph. It is therefore in Islamabad's interest to secure a lasting political solution.

Last month, at the invitation of Baloch nationalists and human rights defenders, I spoke at a forum held at the UN in Geneva during the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council. My fellow speakers included the Pakistani author Tarek Fatah and the Baloch campaigners Mehran Baluch and Noordin Mengal. I supported their affirmation of the right to self-determination.

The big challenge that Baloch campaigners now face is how to achieve this goal.

While the terms and conditions of a peace deal must be decided by the people of Balochistan, in consultation with Baloch activists I have suggested the following six-point programme to deescalate the conflict and secure a negotiated political settlement:

Ceasefire and the cessation of all military operations, withdrawal of Pakistani troops and paramilitaries to barracks and a halt to the construction of new military bases and outposts - with independent monitoring and supervision by UN observers and peace-keepers.
Release of all political prisoners and a full account of the fate of all disappeared persons.
Open access to all parts of Balochistan for journalists, aid agencies and human rights organisations.
Right of return of displaced refugees, restoration of their property and compensation for losses caused by the conflict.
End inward colonisation of Balochistan by non-Baloch settlers.
UN-supervised referendum on self-determination, including the option of independence.

I reiterate that these are proposals for consideration and debate; with any final decisions being a matter for the people of Balochistan - hopefully with the support of their friends and allies in Pakistan. Six decades of conflict and repression is enough. It's time to talk peace, with justice.

Peter Tatchell is Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation. For further articles by him about Balochistan: http://www.petertatchell.net/international/baluchistan/index.htm


Turkey's Strategy


April 17, 2012 | 0858 GMT

By George Friedman

Turkey is re-emerging as a significant regional power. In some sense, it is in the process of returning to its position prior to World War I when it was the seat of the Ottoman Empire. But while the Ottoman parallel has superficial value in understanding the situation, it fails to take into account changes in how the global system and the region work. Therefore, to understand Turkish strategy, we need to understand the circumstances it finds itself in today.

The end of World War I brought with it the end of the Ottoman Empire and the contraction of Turkish sovereignty to Asia Minor and a strip of land on the European side of the Bosporus. That contraction relieved Turkey of the overextended position it had tried to maintain as an empire stretching from the Arabian Peninsula to the Balkans. In a practical sense, defeat solved the problem of Turkey's strategic interests having come to outstrip its power. After World War I, Turkey realigned its interests to its power. Though the country was much smaller, it was also much less vulnerable than the Ottoman Empire had been.

The Russia Problem

At the same time, a single thread connected both periods: the fear of Russia. For its part, Russia suffered from a major strategic vulnerability. Each of its ports -- St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, Murmansk and Odessa -- was accessible only through straits controlled by potentially hostile powers. The British blocked the various Danish straits, the Japanese blocked access to Vladivostok and the Turks blocked access to the Mediterranean. Russian national policy had an ongoing focus of gaining control of the Bosporus both to prevent a blockade and to project power into the Mediterranean.

Therefore, the Russians had a particular interest in reshaping Turkish sovereignty. In World War I, the Ottomans aligned with the Germans, who were fighting the Russians. In the inter-war and World War II periods, when the Soviets were weak or distracted, Turkey remained neutral until February 1945, when it declared war on the Axis. After the war, when the Soviets were powerful and attempted covert operations to subvert both Turkey and Greece, the Turks became closely allied with the United States and joined NATO (despite their distance from the North Atlantic).

From 1945 until 1991 Turkey was locked into a relationship with the United States. The United States was pursuing a strategy of containing the Soviet Union on a line running from Norway to Pakistan. Turkey was a key element because of its control of the Bosporus, but also because a pro-Soviet Turkey would open the door to direct Soviet pressure on Iran, Iraq and Syria. A Soviet-allied or Soviet-influenced Turkey would have broken the center of the American containment system, changing the balance of power. Along with Germany, Turkey was the pivot point of U.S. and NATO strategy.

From a Turkish point of view, there was no other option. The Soviets had emerged from World War II in an extremely powerful position. Western Europe was a shambles, China had become communist and the surplus military capability of the Soviets, in spite of the massive damage they had endured in the war, outstripped the ability of nations on their periphery -- including Turkey -- to resist. Given the importance of the Bosporus and Asia Minor to the Soviets, Turkey was of fundamental interest. Unable to deal with the Soviets alone, Turkey thus moved into an extremely tight, mutually beneficial relationship with the United States.

During the Cold War, Turkey was a strategic imperative of the United States. It faced the Soviets to the north and two Soviet clients, Syria and Iraq, to the south. Israel drew Syria away from Turkey. But this strategic logic dissolved in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. By then, the union had fragmented. Russian power withdrew from the southern Caucasus and Balkans and uprisings in the northern Caucasus tied the Russian military down. Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan gained independence. Ukraine also became independent, making the status of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea unclear. For the first time since the early years of the Soviet Union, Turkey was freed from its fear of Russia. The defining element of Turkish foreign policy was gone, and with it, Turkish dependence on the United States.

The Post-Soviet Shift

It took a while for the Turks and Americans to recognize the shift. Strategic relationships tend to stay in place, as much from inertia as intention, after the strategic environment that formed them disappears; it often takes a new strategic reality to disturb them. Thus, Turkey's relationship with the United States remained intact for a time. Its ongoing attempts to enter the European Union continued. Its relationship with Israel remained intact even after the American rationale for sponsoring Turkish-Israeli strategic ties had diminished.

It is much easier to forge a strategic policy in the face of a clear threat than in the face of an undefined set of opportunities. For Turkey, opportunities were becoming increasingly prevalent, but defining how to take advantage of them posed a challenge. For Turkey, the key breakpoint with the past was 2003 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq. From Turkey's point of view, the invasion was unnecessary, threatened to empower Iran, and posed domestic political challenges. For the first time since World War II, the Turks not only refused to participate in an American initiative, they also prevented the Americans from using Turkish territory to launch the invasion.

Turkey had encountered a situation where its relationship with the United States proved more dangerous than the threat an alliance with the United States was meant to stave off. And this proved the turning point in post-Soviet Turkish foreign policy. Once Turkey decided not to collaborate with the United States -- its core principle for decades -- its foreign policy could never be the same. Defying the United States did not cause the sky to fall. In fact, as the war in Iraq proceeded, the Turks could view themselves as wiser than the Americans on this subject and the Americans had difficulty arguing back.

That left the Turks free to consider other relationships. One obvious option was joining with Europe, the leading powers of which also opposed the American invasion. That commonality, however, did not suffice to win Turkey EU membership. A host of reasons, from fear of massive Turkish immigration to Greek hostility, blocked Turkey's membership bid. Membership in the European Union was not seen in terms of foreign policy alone; rather, for secularists it symbolized the idea of Turkey as a European country committed to European values. But the decision on membership was not Turkey's to make. Ultimately, the European decision to essentially block Turkey's membership left Turkey with a more dynamic economy than most of Europe and without liability for Greece's debt.

The failure to integrate with Europe and the transformation of ties with the United States from an indispensible relationship to a negotiable (albeit desirable) one finally forced Turkey to create a post-Cold War strategy. That strategy grew out of three facts. First, Turkey faced no immediate existential threat, and even secondary threats were manageable. Second, Turkey was developing rapidly economically and had the most powerful military in its region. And third, Turkey was surrounded by increasingly unstable and dangerous neighbors. Iraq and Syria were both unstable. Iran was increasingly assertive, and a war between Iran and Israel and/or the United States remained a possibility. The Caucasus region was quiet, but the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and ongoing tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia were still significant factors. The Balkans had quieted down after the Kosovo war, but the region remained underdeveloped and potentially unstable. In the past year, North Africa became unstable, Russia became more assertive and the United States began appearing more distant and unpredictable.

Three processes define Turkey's strategy. The first is its rise in relative power. In a region of destabilizing powers, Turkey's relative strength is increasing, which provides Ankara with new options. The second is the possible dangers posed to Turkish interests by the destabilization, which draws Turkey outward, as Ankara seeks ways to manage the instability. The third is the reality that the United States is in the process of redefining its role in the region following the Iraq War and no longer is a stable, predictable force.

The Transitional Stage

Turkey is emerging as a great power. It has not yet become one for a host of reasons, including limited institutions for managing regional affairs, a political base that is not yet prepared to view Turkey as a major power or support regional interventions, and a region that is not yet prepared to view Turkey as a beneficial, stabilizing force. Many steps are required for any power to emerge as a dominant regional force. Turkey is only beginning to take those steps.

At present, Turkish strategy is in a transitional stage. It is no longer locked into its Cold War posture as simply part of an alliance system, nor has it built the foundation of a mature regional policy. It cannot control the region and it cannot simply ignore what is happening. The Syrian case is instructive. Syria is Turkey's neighbor, and instability in Syria can affect Turkey. There is no international coalition prepared to take steps to stabilize Syria. Therefore Ankara has taken a stance in which it refrains from overt action, but keeps its options open should matters become intolerable to Turkey.

When we consider the Turkish periphery as a whole, we see this transitional foreign policy at work, whether in Iraq or in the Caucasus. With Iran, it avoids simply being part of the American coalition while refusing simply to champion the Iranian position. Turkey has not created a regional balance of power, as a mature regional power would. Rather, it has created a Turkish balance of power in the sense that Turkish power is balanced between subordination to the United States and autonomous assertiveness. This period of balancing for an emerging power is predictable; the United States went through a similar phase between 1900 and World War I.

Turkey obviously has two main domestic issues to address as it moves forward. We say "as it moves forward" because no nation ever solves all of its domestic problems before it assumes a greater international role. One is the ongoing tension between the secular and religious elements in its society. This is both a domestic tension and an occasional foreign policy issue, particularly in the context of radical Islamists, where every sign of Islamic religiosity can alarm non-Islamic powers and change their behavior toward Turkey. The other is the Kurdish problem in Turkey, as manifested by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group.

The first problem is endemic in most societies these days; it defines American politics as well. It is something nations live with. The PKK problem, however, is unique. The Kurdish issue intersects with regional issues. For example, the question of Iraq's future involves the extent of autonomy enjoyed by Iraq's Kurdish region, which could have an effect on Turkish Kurds. But the major problem for Turkey is that so long as the Kurdish issue persists, foreign powers opposed to Turkey's rise will see the Kurds as a Turkish weakness and could see covert interventions into the Kurdish regions as an opportunity to undermine Turkish power.

Turkey is already wary of Syrian and Iranian efforts to constrain Turkey through Kurdish militancy. The more powerful Turkey gets, the more uncomfortable at least some in the region will become, and this actually increases Turkey's vulnerability to outside intervention. Therefore Turkey must address the Kurdish issue, since regional unrest and separatism fueled by outside enemies could undermine Turkey's power and reverse its current trend toward becoming a great power.

There is a paradox, which is that the more powerful a nation becomes, the more vulnerable it might be. The United States was undoubtedly safer between the Civil War and its intervention in World War I than any time since. So, too, Turkey was likely safer between 1991 and today than it will be when it becomes a great power. At the same time, it is unsafe to be simply a junior ally to a global power given to taking risks with other countries.

The idea of safety among nations in the long run is illusory. It doesn't last. Turkey's current strategy is to make it last as long as possible. This means allowing events around it to take their course on the reasonable assumption that at present, the outcome of these events doesn't threaten Turkey as much as Turkish intervention would. But as we have said, this is a transitional policy. The instability to its south, the rise of an Iranian sphere of influence, a deepening of Russian influence in the Caucasus and the likelihood that at some point the United States might change its Middle East policy again and try to draw Turkey into its coalition -- all of these argue against the transitional becoming permanent.

Turkey is interesting precisely because it is a place to study the transition of a minor country into a great power. Great powers are less interesting because their behavior is generally predictable. But managing a transition to power is enormously more difficult than exercising power. Transitional power is keeping your balance when the world around you is in chaos, and the ground beneath you keeps slipping away.

The stresses this places on a society and a government are enormous. It brings out every weakness and tests every strength. And for Turkey, it will be a while before the transition will lead to a stable platform of power.

Read more: Turkey's Strategy | Stratfor



A National Democratic Think Tank on Minority Issues

3145 Gilbert Ave., Roseburg, OR, USA

Fax & Tel: 541-9578414

Mr. Ban Ki-moon

Secretary General

United Nations Organization Date 12, 2012


Sub: United Nations betrayal of the people of Jammu& Kashmir, India

Ref: UN demand that India repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from militant and terrorist infested areas.

Dear Secretary General,

In a recent public statement Mr. Christof Heyns, a U.N Special Rapporteur, has demanded that India repeal its security related law, “The Armed Forces Special Powers Act” (AFSPA), from militant and terrorist infested areas in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) State and in its other States in the North Eastern Region since such laws had no role in a democracy. Like scores of other UN officials who previously visited Kashmir from the West Mr. Heyns also ignored the existing ground realities and favored Jihadists and terrorists as against the people craving for peace and normalcy. Here we would like to deal with J&K since the UN has been debating and dealing with the Kashmir issue ever since the formation of India and Pakistan. To state briefly, the role of the world body relevant to this issue during the past 63 years has been disgustingly poor, irrational and hugely guided by the wishes and desires of the cold war antagonists. In its latest initiative asking India to repeal AFSPA, which in actuality means restoring the freedom of terrorists, Islamists and militants, the UN has betrayed the peace loving people of Kashmir who have waited for more than six decades for the removal of occupation of their territory by the external aggressors that include Pakistan and China and for unification of the State. The patriotic people of Kashmir have suffered enormous losses of lives and properties at the hands of terrorists yet the UN wants India to restore their freedom. It is clear from this policy that the UN does not hesitate to support terrorists, Islamists, murderers and plunderers if its manipulators ask it to do so. The history of UN betrayals in Kashmir runs deep but here we produce some noteworthy examples:

The UN betrayed Kashmiris by not recognizing the accession of J&K State to the Republic of India legally and constitutionally executed by Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of the state, on Oct. 26, 1947. The accession enjoyed over whelming support of the people and their leader Sheikh Abdullah. The instrument of accession was executed in accordance with the provisions and processes of the Independence of India Act duly adopted by the British Parliament.

The UN betrayed Kashmiris by not removing the illegal occupation of J&K territories by Pakistan and China. Both of these countries in collusion like land grabbers and expansionists had committed unprovoked aggression against the J&K State and occupied nearly half of the State;

The UN betrayed Kashmiris by not acting against the aggressors for radically altering the status quo in the occupied territories. The maintenance of status quo was a binding requirement under the provisions of the Security Council Resolution passed on March 30, 1951;

The UN betrayed Kashmiris by not demanding Pakistan, the epicenter of Islamic Jihad, first demolish and destroy the terrorist training camps, Jihad factories and militant organs set up throughout the PoK and Pak frontiers for destroying peace and tranquility in J&K. Osama bin Laden who resided in Pakistan was the number one enemy of the United States and was one of the front line generals of this civilizational war;

The UN betrayed Kashmiris by not stopping and punishing Pakistan for merging Kashmir’s northern territories with Pakistan and placing that entire area directly under Islamabad administration. By doing so Pakistan had seriously violated the directive of the Security Council;

The UN betrayed Kashmiris by not wiping out Pakistan led Mujahideen, Taliban, Al Qaeda, locally built Huriyat and other Islamist organizations for infiltrating in to J&K, launching Islamic crusade, ethnic cleansing, genocide, expelling more than a million ethnic minorities, becoming instrumental for killing more 100,000 Kashmiris with terrorist, Jihadi and militant attacks;

The UN betrayed Kashmiris when it did not stop Pakistan led Islamists from taking forcible control of all movable and immovable properties, businesses, institutions, jobs and professions belonging to ethnic minorities in the Indian part of Kashmir. The world body did not give a damn when the Islamists destroyed and looted hundreds of temples and places of worship belonging to non-Muslim minorities and took control of their estates and institutions;

The UN betrayed Kashmiris when it did not recognize the ousted non-Muslim minorities of Kashmir as refugees and/or internally displaced persons. It did not provide them necessary aid and relief as it had done in other places nor did it take any action towards restoring their human rights, civil, property, religious and political rights. Even now a large number of them survive as homeless wanderers around India and the globe. Countless appeals, petitions and representations to various organs of the UN including your office and the Human Rights Commission brought no relief;

The UN betrayed Kashmiris when it did not direct Pakistan to stop ethnic cleansing in PoK where the population of non-Muslims (Pandits, Sikhs, Dogras, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and others) used to be 20 to 25%. Today there is not a single member of these communities left there. In characteristic Islamist method they were killed, driven out of the country or forcibly converted to Islam;

The UN betrayed Kashmiris by not taking stern action against Pakistan when in 1963 it concluded an illegal boundary agreement with China and bartered away more than 5180 square kilometers forming Kashmir territory to gain Chinese support against India. Islamabad ignored the fact that Kashmir, presently under its illegal occupation, was well within the sovereign domain of India and it had no right to hand over its control to yet another expansionist country. This act of Pakistan constituted a serious breach of the UNCIP resolutions of 13th August, 1948 and Jan. 5, 1949. These serious violations did not bother the lords of the Security Council who deliberately remained hibernating;

The UN betrayed Kashmiris when it did not punish and extract a heavy price from Pakistan nor clipped its wings after it launched one after the other unprovoked wars against India in1948, 1965, 1971, and 1999 to take forcible control of Kashmir. The single ground for Pakistan’s claim upon Kashmir is the Muslim religion of its people yet Islamabad showed no hesitation or reluctance in handing over to China more than 5180 square kilometers of Kashmir’s land without bothering to ascertaining the views of Kashmiris;

The UN betrayed Kashmiris when it did not condemn, intervene and punish

Pakistan for transferring de facto control of Gilgit, Baltistan, Hunza and Nagar regions, (72,971 Km) parts of J&K State within the Indian sovereignty but under the illegal occupation of Pakistan, to China for crushing a strong autonomy movement by Shiia Muslims. These non-Sunni Muslims had launched a popular rebellion against Pakistani iron fisted Sunni rule. To oblige its partner in crime, according to the available reports, China has detailed an estimated 20,000 members of its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) not only to bring rebellious Shiias under control and through brutal means bring them to their knees but also to build a fast rail link, Old Silk Road and Karakoram Highway. These roads will enable China to extend its grip on the region and speed up its tankers from China to the Persian Gulf in 48 hours as against 25 days it takes now. Pakistan has condemned this portion of the Kashmiri Muslim population to be ruled by Chinese PLA (military rule) and democracy, freedom, government of the people and Islamic rule all have been bid good-bye. Furthermore, the Chinese are building some 22 huge tunnels on these roads without disclosing their dimensions and purpose. It is believed that they would be big enough to house missiles and other modern weaponry. For maintaining the occupation uninterruptedly the PLA personnel are building permanent enclaves for housing the occupation authority and administration;

The UN betrayed Kashmiris by tricking India in to accepting its nuclear disciplinary regime thus prohibiting New Delhi from producing and or deploying nuclear weapons for its defense. On the other hand China and Pakistan both possess nuclear weapons and are free from the nuclear disciplinary regime of the UN. Therefore, they can move their weapons freely on the newly built Old Silk Road and Karakoram Highway from Tibet to Baluchistan, very close to the boundaries of J&K State. The presence and close proximity of these deadly weapons to Kashmir and India’s volatile region seriously jeopardizes the security of the rest of J&K state and India. Clearly the world body has acted absolutely irresponsibly by allowing the Sino-Pak partners to militarize and nuclearise this region.

The UN betrayed Kashmiris by ignoring these extremely important factors and asking India to repeal AFSPA without realizing its consequences in the region. The Islamists, separatists, Pak-agents and militants who welcomed and celebrated the UN announcement are already enjoying freedom to function without any restrictions as long as they remain peaceful and non-violent. Accepting the UN demand would mean allowing them to convert the Kashmir Valley into yet another Islamabad, Kabul and Kandahar. That should not be unacceptable to freedom loving and anti-terrorist people any where in the world.

The above stated instances establish that the UN has done nothing to render any type of support, assistance or action which could provide any kind of aid, relief or support to the peace loving Kashmiri and victims of Islamic Jihad. And in its initiative under discussion the UN has also disregarded and trampled upon its own aims and objectives and provided support and legitimacy to the very people who have set Kashmir on fire and who are committed to building an Islamic world order in a “world Caliphate”.

We demand that the UN should be supporting the victims of Jihad, militancy, terrorism and those who genuinely aspire for a durable peace and tranquility in the region. If the goal of the UN is to crush and defeat terrorism then despite the short sighted ideas of its keepers and the temptation of petro-dollars the world body’s present policy must be turned upside down.

One of the major steps forward in defeating terrorism in Kashmir would be to resettle the victims of Islamic Jihad back in their traditional habitat, in a territory carved out for their homeland under their own authority and away from militant Wahabi fundamentalism which has been the root cause of communal upheaval and genocide. The creation of such a territory among other things will most certainly serve as a front line fortress for combating Islamic Jihad and terrorism. For the realization of this noble goal the United Nations should stand by the patriotic Kashmiris who are determined to defeat and bury Wahabbism and its Jihadi arms.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely yours

Dr. Jagan N Kaul, Chair

April 16, 2012

Between Washington and Tehran

in PERSPECTIVE by Neil Padukone — April 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm | 0 comments


Resolving India’s Iranian conundrum will require some creative diplomacy

As even a cursory look at Western newspapers these days will show, the world has entered a new round of antagonism in the confrontation over Iran’s alleged atomic weapons program. Ronen Bergman’s article in the New York Times is the latest to suggest that Israel is on the verge of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Since both US and Israeli intelligence have concluded, however, that there is no evidence that Iran has actually decided to build a nuclear weapon, this cycle of sabre-rattling is better seen as part of a larger effort to ensure that punitive measures (and not diplomacy) remain the preferred means of dealing with Tehran. Thus Washington has succeeded in convincing the Europeans, and ostensibly the Russians and Chinese, to participate in ever-tighter sanctions against Iran, persuading Saudi Arabia to increase energy outputs to make up for the shortfall.

In this context, India, Washington’s “natural ally,” appears to be a potential spoiler. It was in the middle of this standoff that India eclipsed China as the number one importer of Iranian crude oil, relying on Iran for about 12% of its supply. And for a time, India had provided Tehran with over 30% of the refined gasoline that Iran consumed. This energy relationship has been so intimate, in fact, that many of India’s refineries have been constructed to run on Iranian crude, and would have to go through difficult retrofitting procedures to be able to process oil from other countries.

New Delhi has kept this economic relationship alive in the face of sanctions by devising “creative” means of engaging Iran. These include creating new corporate entities that are independent of Western financial institutions, purchasing Iranian oil with gold rather than dollars (reverting to a barter system that requires Iran to buy Indian goods), and sending currency through institutions such as Turkey’s Halkbank, which remains outside the purview of Western sanctions. New Delhi worries that if it drops Iran, Beijing could easily the pick up the pieces under preferential financial terms, while any shock to India’s energy supply could threaten its growth in the midst of a global recession.

Photo: Basheem

Former US Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, long a staunch supporter of India’s rise, recently lambasted New Delhi for its intransigence on the issue of censuring Iran, arguing that despite this energy dependence, “India has had years to…make alternative arrangements.” Indeed, the foundational document of Indo-US amity, the 2006 nuclear deal, contains multiple references to India’s full participation in efforts to “dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran.”

Yet, forsaking Iran would not be as simple as shifting energy suppliers. Because Pakistan has not allowed open transit trade between Afghanistan and India, New Delhi is forced to look further afield. By constructing a road from Iran’s Chabahar port on the Arabian Sea to western Afghanistan, India has gained strategically pivotal access to Central Asia. This 135-mile road, along which India is constructing a railway, is far shorter and more reliable than the two other routes in Pakistan that connect landlocked Afghanistan to the sea. The road is the most efficient transit route to Central Asia and ends Pakistan’s monopoly on Afghanistan’s maritime trade, which has been a key enabler of Islamabad’s pernicious influence in Kabul’s affairs. The link gives India direct access to the mineral resources of Afghanistan and ultimately the vast energy supplies of Central Asia, including Iranian, Turkmen, and even Kazakh — natural gas — not to mention the ability to physically step into the political fray should it come to that.

Given the fact that it is a relatively stable, energy-rich geographic lynchpin, Iran cannot be discounted so easily. And of course, given India’s long-term objectives of balancing China, cooperating in defence matters, and accessing markets, neither can America. Or even Saudi Arabia and Israel — Delhi’s number one sources of hydrocarbons and foreign exchange, and arms, respectively — relations with whom may also come under the weight of New Delhi’s ties with Tehran.

In balancing these divergent interests, it appears that India has little choice but to continue to juggle its ties with both blocs; to oscillate between siding with Washington (as in India’s IAEA votes condemning Iran and decision to prohibit oil purchases through the Asian Clearing Union) and supporting Tehran (as in Delhi’s continued investment in Iran) as situations arise.

Yet given the current configuration, this will inevitably amount to each relationship severely limiting the other. One of the most emblematic examples of Indo-Iranian cooperation, for example, the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, was thwarted due primarily to pressure from Washington and the resulting disputes with Tehran over pricing. An alternative proposal to access Iranian natural gas — liquefied natural gas plants that keep imports fungible and reduce dependence on any one country — also requires American-made parts that are restricted under the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), which limits annual investments in Iran’s energy sector exceeding $20 million. US-Iranian enmity is a fly in almost any ointment.

Of course, none of these countries deal with New Delhi out of the kindness of their hearts; they do so because they too need Indian money or longer-term strategic assistance. India is not without leverage. Still, faced with such a conundrum, India ought to revamp its nonalignment doctrine for the new world — and do so by taking a page from the other “swing states” in the international system. Turkey in particular has used its multi-civilisational clout and broad-ranging interests to successfully mediate between parties from the Balkans to Mesopotamia and the Levant. In 2010 Ankara even joined forces with Brasilia to broker a deal in which Tehran agreed to parameters on its nuclear program recognized by US President Barack Obama: that Iran’s low-enriched uranium (LEU) be shipped abroad, that a swap for fuel rods take place outside of Iran, and that the rods be delivered to Iran after nine to twelve months. (Washington nonetheless rejected the resulting ‘Tehran Declaration’ for being too little, too late).

India ought to take a turn at facilitating an unofficial dialogue between Washington and Tehran — perhaps in tandem with countries like Turkey and Brazil — until a more public engagement is possible. In addition to stabilising Afghanistan, countering Sunni militants like the Taliban, enabling energy and commodities trade throughout the region, reducing regional dependence on Pakistan, working toward a stable Gulf, and limiting Chinese influence in the region, paradoxically, nuclear issues, which Washington insists on addressing above all, may in fact be an area of confluence.

An early hiccup in the US-India nuclear deal was what was to be done with spent nuclear fuel, radioactive waste that is no longer able to generate energy but can be reprocessed for industrial and medical uses. That question was resolved in 2010 with the establishment of an international reprocessing centre in India that would serve the entire region. The centre could tie up the loose ends of the US-India nuclear deal while serving as a credible host to Iran’s LEU while the latter awaits reprocessed fuel for its own civilian reactors.

Of course, given the current standoff, it appears unlikely that either side is ready to compromise at the moment; both are taking pains to convince the world of the wisdom of their positions and dragging it down with them.

Yet, as Trita Parsi writes, “only through sustained, persistent, and patient diplomacy” that engages “the many power centers in each country — the supreme leader’s office, the parliament, the president’s circle of advisers, the National Security Council and influential clergymen…the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and Congress,” the private sector, media, and K Street — can agreement be reached. For India, this would include more effectively (and less self-righteously) projecting its own narrative on events in Central Asia in global and American media.

Though Washington stayed in constant contact with Moscow even at the height of Cold War tensions, it has not had a direct means of communicating with Tehran in over thirty years. New Delhi can provide that bridging power to ensure that its own interests — and the world’s — are reconciled and not threatened through a debilitating regional conflict.

Neil Padukone is the Fellow for Geopolitics at the Takshashila Institution

New Delhi's balancing acts in West Asia



Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are being pushed closer together by Iran's nuclear ambitions and the Arab Spring — creating new challenges for India.

India's foreign policy in West Asia lies at its most crucial juncture in two decades. In recent months, the debate has focused on India's delicate balancing act between Iran and the United States. This should not be taken lightly. American technology, weaponry, and diplomatic backing will be important to India's security and prosperity over the coming decades. At the same time, India is in danger of overlooking another balancing act.

A sectarian, geopolitical and strategic cold war is unfolding between Saudi Arabia, protector of the Sunni Arab order, and Iran, a Shia Persian revolutionary power with a mission to subvert that status quo. The battlefields are Syria and Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq. For India, the stakes are high.

Saudi-Iranian rivalry has ebbed and flowed for decades, but two developments — the acceleration of Iran's nuclear ambitions and the Arab Spring — have sharpened the antagonism. In the coming years, that will likely push Saudi Arabia closer to Pakistan and exacerbate threats to India.


First, consider that the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme is unlikely to be resolved by this month's talks, given the inflexible positions held by each side. If Iran is attacked, it will respond by rushing for a bomb. If it isn't attacked, it will drift towards the threshold of weapons status (much like India in the 1970s). Either way, the Saudis will feel the need to hedge — and they will turn to Pakistan, whose nuclear programme they funded and fostered for years.

Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have reasons not to flout American concerns, and each would proceed with caution. But it is plausible that Pakistan might covertly transfer nuclear technology, engineers and even fissile material to its Saudi Arabian patrons — buying itself some diplomatic clout in return.

Second, Saudi Arabia remains shaken by the Arab Spring. The country's Shia-dominated Eastern Province is growing restive. Riyadh is also paranoid that Shia Iran is meddling there and in other Sunni Arab regimes like Bahrain.

That's why there are reportedly 10,000 serving and retired Pakistani military personnel in Bahrain — including a battalion of the Azad Kashmir Regiment. In the 1980s, Pakistan had tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen in Saudi Arabia — including an entire division and two armoured and two artillery brigades. These reliable Sunni forces are still seen in Riyadh as a crucial instrument of repression.

Saudi Arabia is not immune from the unrest that swept the Arab world last year. If oil prices fall, it'd struggle to pay for the massive public spending programmes it introduced last year in an effort to stave off discontent. Its refusal to undertake real political reform, and the poisonous anti-Shia rhetoric it has ramped up to vilify protesters, could further radicalise young Saudis.

If this resulted in widespread disorder, the regime would depend on Pakistan to send manpower and military expertise.

In fact, it's highly likely that contingency plans are already in place.

Even if there's little chance of Pakistani nuclear weapons on Saudi soil, the prospect of Pakistani access to Saudi airbases and missile facilities should be cause for Indian concern.

Finally, there's a third strand to the Saudi-Pakistan nexus: religion. Whenever Saudi rulers have felt under threat they shore up their legitimacy by looking to the ulema. In 1979, the Iranian revolution and the siege of Mecca spooked the monarchy into giving more money and power to the clerics. That fuelled the growth of violent Sunni extremism over the subsequent decade — and in South Asia in particular. Last year, similarly anxious to bolster their Islamic credentials, the regime responded in the same fashion — funnelling a part of its $120 billion spending package to the religious establishment and reaching out to some of the most extreme strands of regional Islamist movements.

That will have profound and pernicious effects not just in the Middle East and North Africa, but also in the jihadist heartlands of Punjab and even within India. Sunni terrorist groups, including Pakistan-sponsored outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, will have new resources and political allies. That throws up fiendishly difficult intelligence and counterterrorism challenges for Delhi.

Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief once claimed that his country's relationship to Pakistan was “probably one of the closest relationships in the world between any two countries.” Whether or not that's hyperbole, it's going to get closer. Both are growing apart from the United States. Riyadh was alarmed over the way in which Washington dumped Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, and Islamabad is not blind to the growing exasperation with its policies.


How should India respond? There are three imperatives. First, Delhi should be actively mediating between the U.S. and Iran.

This is hard, as India sits outside the formal nuclear non-proliferation regime. But, as the International Crisis Group's most recent report put it, “those engaging [Iran] ought to include a larger variety of countries, including emerging powers with which it feels greater affinity.” Since Iran and Turkey are clashing over Syria, this is a perfect opportunity for India to pursue its own interests and demonstrate international leadership.

Second, a diverse alliance portfolio is crucial. India imports over half its oil from Arab countries, dwarfing the roughly 15 per cent it gets from Iran. But Saudi oil dominates those flows. It's in India's interest to strengthen its energy and security relationship with the smaller Arab states.

Qatar, a diplomatically innovative and energy-rich state whose ruler visited Delhi this week, is an excellent place to start. Doha also hosts the Taliban's political office, of great interest to India as an Afghan settlement is discussed over the coming years.

Third, and finally, concerns over a Saudi-Pakistani axis should not prevent India from clearly signalling to Iran's leadership that unfriendly acts — from attempting assassinations on Indian soil, to shutting the Strait of Hormuz — will not be taken lying down.

With the Iranian nuclear crisis at an impasse, and the royals in Riyadh moving closer to the khakis in Islamabad, the challenge for Indian diplomacy policy is to keep these multiple balancing acts in view.

(Shashank Joshi is a doctoral student at Harvard University, and a Research Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute. Email: shashj@gmail.com)

April 15, 2012

Kudankulam- Foreign Hand- How Big A Threat Is It

By Rakesh Krishnan Simha , April 2012 [ rakeshmail@gmail.com]


After decades in cold storage, the “foreign hand” is back on the front pages in India. It was in the mid 1970s that the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi first used the expression, specifically naming the CIA as one of the plotters against her Government. Nearly 40 years later another Prime Minister from the same party has gone on record, saying there is a foreign hand operating in India. Manmohan Singh was referring to the anti-nuclear protests in Kudankulam, which he claimed were orchestrated by American-backed NGOs.

Just how credible is this foreign threat? Is there really a foreign hand working against India? Are Indian politicians ratcheting up the scaremongering to further their narrow domestic agendas?

Back in the seventies Indians were – and today still are – extremely dismissive of Indira Gandhi’s allegations. Her political opponents and the media said she was being paranoid, claiming she was using the foreign hand bogey to silence those who challenged her increasingly autocratic ways. It is fact that she was a virtual dictator in democrat’s clothing and lost no opportunity to destabilise popular opposition party chief ministers.

But was Indira Gandhi lying about the foreign hand? Well, yes and no.

New Delhi’s more or less independent stance during the Cold War saw to it that neither the Americans nor the Russians trusted India. Consequently, India became a hotbed of foreign intelligence activity. Beginning in the 1950s both the CIA and the KBG started recruiting Indians in key positions – especially in the political leadership, military and intelligence. The reason was simple – neither side knew which way India would swing, so they basically decided the best thing to do was penetrate India at every level.

At the same time, the American and Russian spooks in India were playing a cat and mouse game with each other. In 1971, the KGB officers tailing the CIA agents in India observed that one of them, an agent named Leonard, a Third Secretary at the US embassy in New Delhi, was conducting his meetings and recruiting activities in an extremely incautious manner, unintentionally exposing the CIA's contacts in the Indian military, intelligence and political circles. Within a year the KGB's dossier of his contact with the Indians had become a big fat one.

Oleg Kalugin, who was the KGB’s station chief in New Delhi, decided he had enough evidence to trap Leonard. However, his efforts to turn the American into a double agent did not work as the CIA dispatched its spy back home.

Kalugin, however, had other ideas and decided it was a rare opportunity to embarrass the CIA in India. He sent the dossier to the Indian press. The leaked story of the brazen American spy created a huge outcry in India, with Indira Gandhi publicly lashing out at the CIA. This is the origin of the much berated foreign hand, which the Indian media and commentators have forgotten. If anything, the reach of the foreign arm was longer than anyone suspected.

The “foreign hand” was once a friend
However, there is a deeper – and ironical – twist to this episode. The KGB’s revelations had succeeded in planting in Indira Gandhi’s mind that there was an American conspiracy against her. She became paranoid and believed that like President Salvador Allende of Chile, who had been assassinated by the CIA in September 1973, she too would be targeted.

In November 1973 she told Fidel Castro at a banquet in New Delhi, “What they have done to Allende they want to do to me also. There are people here, connected with the same foreign forces that acted in Chile, who would like to eliminate me. When I am murdered, they will say I arranged it myself.”

Perhaps to preempt the CIA, Indira Gandhi organised a series of political rallies in which she made speeches about the CIA’s plans to eliminate her and destabilise India. This was turning out to be quite a public relations nightmare for the Americans. KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin reveals what happened next, in the Mitrokhin Archives.

Irritated by these speeches denouncing the ever-present menace of CIA subversion, the US ambassador in New Delhi, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, ordered an investigation which uncovered two occasions during her father Jawaharlal Nehru’s premiership when the CIA had secretly provided funds to help the Communists’ opponents in state elections, once in Kerala (where cash was supplied to the Roman Catholic Syrian Christian church to destabilise the democratically elected Communist Party of India) and once in West Bengal.

And just who was the conduit for these funds? According to Moynihan, “Both times the money was given to the Congress Party which had asked for it. Once it was given to Mrs Gandhi herself, who was then a party official. Still, as we were no longer giving any money to her it was understandable she should wonder to whom we were giving it.”

Wholesale penetration
Kalugin, who retired as a KGB general, went on to write his gripping memoirs, Spymaster, in which he briefly mentions his stint as station chief in New Delhi. If you are Indian, you might find further reading not very pleasant.

“We had scores of sources throughout the Indian government—in intelligence, counterintelligence, the defense and foreign ministries, and the police,” writes Kalugin.

“The entire country was seemingly for sale, and the KGB and the CIA had deeply penetrated the Indian government. After a while, neither side entrusted sensitive information to the Indians, realizing their enemy would know all about it the next day.”

On one occasion, a senior Indian minister offered to pass information to the Russians for a fee of $50,000. This was such a serious matter that the KGB reported the matter to their top boss, Yuri Andropov, in Moscow.

“Do we need him?” Andropov asked his subordinates.

“Not really,” replied an agent. “We’ve got all the documents from the foreign and defense ministries. Anyway, why pay $50,000 to him? There might be a scandal.”

“You are right,” said Andropov. “Tell the minister, ‘Russians and Indians are friends, and we do not conduct intelligence work in your country’.”

The Krishna Menon episode
Mitrokhin reveals how Moscow decided to influence V.K. Krishna Menon, who became India's Defence Minister in 1957.

In May 1962 the Soviet leadership “authorised the KGB residency in New Delhi to conduct active-measures operations designed to strengthen Menon's position in India and enhance his personal popularity”.

Until more documents become unclassified it cannot be established if Menon really became a KGB recruit, but it remains a fact that during his tenure of the Defense Ministry, India's main source of arms imports switched from the West to the Soviet Union. Mitrokhin claims the Indian decision in 1962 to purchase MiG-21s rather than British Lightnings was due chiefly to Menon.

The frustrated British envoy in New Delhi reported to London, “Krishna Menon has from the beginning managed to surround this question with almost conspiratorial official and ministerial secrecy combined with a skilful putting about of stories in favour of the MiG and against Western aircraft.”

The wrong arm of the RAW
Rabinder Singh was a major CIA mole in India’s external intelligence agency, the Research & Analysis Wing. In the early 1970s, it was a crack agency that played a key role in breaking Pakistan, and if it hadn’t been for the pusillanimity of India’s leadership RAW would have achieved the useful task of liberating Sindh and Balochistan as well.

Things changed after 9/11 when RAW was asked to liaise more with Western governments, ostensibly to cooperate against terrorism. These liaisons, under which at one time Indian agents were studying in 80 American courses, proved disastrous for India’s external intelligence. This was because the increased contacts with the Americans led to the exposure of hundreds of Indian intelligence agents. Some of them may have become double agents working for the CIA.

One of these turncoats was Rabinder Singh. His rise within the organisation started when he procured classified US government documentation through a relative, an American citizen who worked in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID, which like several American aid agencies worldwide have dubious roles).
But in reality Rabinder Singh had been compromised on one of his RAW-sponsored trips to the United States. While the spy was feeding RAW with CIA-supplied intelligence of dubious value, he was passing on to the CIA through his relative with secret documents he was frantically photocopying at RAW’s New Delhi office.

What is unique about the Rabinder Singh case in the annals of spying is that the US embassy in New Delhi reportedly gave him an American passport so he could escape via Nepal. This was extraordinary because plausible deniability is at the core of all intelligence operations. But the Americans clearly did not care that by issuing a document to Rabinder Singh they would not be able to deny their association with him.

Former chief of RAW’s counter-terrorism wing, B. Raman, wrote in his column in Rediff: “The fact that they did it without worrying about its likely impact on Indo-US relations indicates that despite all the talk of close Indo-US relations and close co-operation between the agencies of the two countries in counter-terrorism, the US agencies couldn't care less about Indian sensitivities over their continuing efforts to penetrate the Indian official set-up and Indian NGOs.”

That neatly ties in with Manmohan Singh’s claims that NGOs funded by the Americans are leading the protests against the Russian-built nuclear reactors in Kudankulam.

The Hindu’s Pravin Swami agrees: “Despite all the global spy bonhomie that is supposed to have broken out after 9/11, the CIA, like any competent espionage organisation, has continued to target India. The Pokhran-II nuclear tests of 1998 brutally exposed the CIA's human intelligence limitations in South Asia and it does not wish to be caught by surprise again.”

Swami argues that India's establishment is more vulnerable now than at any point in the past. “The large number of politicians, bureaucrats and military officers whose children study or work in the US provide an easy source of influence. Efforts to recruit from this pool are not new. In the early 1980s, the son of then RAW chief N. Narasimhan left the US after efforts were made to approach the spy chief through him. Narasimhan's son had been denied a visa extension, and was offered its renewal in return for his cooperation with the US’ intelligence services. According to a senior RAW officer, not all would respond with such probity."

The hard-to-spot spies
Indians working as spies for foreign intelligence can sometimes be outed – by counter intelligence, or by another foreign spy agency wanting to curtail the advantage of its rival.

However, there are others more difficult to spot and generally impossible to prosecute. These are Indian academics, journalists and researchers who often inadvertently, but sometimes willingly end up working for anti-Indian agencies.

On March 30, 2012, Ghulam Nabi Fai, a Pakistani-American was sentenced to two years in jail for conspiracy and tax violations while acting as an unregistered lobbyist for Pakistan.
Fai, a 62-year-old US citizen living in Washington, DC, ran the Kashmiri American Council, which was being funded by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, which has conducted terror ops in India and other countries.

It is disturbing that many who attended his anti-India seminars were reputed writers and civil rights activists: Dileep Padgaonkar (who was one of Manmohan Singh’s three interlocutors on Jammu & Kashmir); Rita Manchanda, local partner of the India/Pakistan Women Waging Peace movement; Ved Bhasin, editor of Kashmir Times; and Praful Bidwai and Gautam Navlakha, rights activists and writers.

Worse, as many as 53 of them wrote a letter asking the US court which convicted Fai to show him leniency. Among the writers were Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Bhasin and Navlakha.

Many of these luminaries continue to be unapologetic about their ties with Fai, but Navlakhia’s stance is the most bizarre. He claims the US law enforcement authorities had “magnified” the “crime that Fai sahib committed” by not disclosing where he got his money. He complimented Fai for doing “marvellous and effective lobbying” on the $3.5 million he received from the ISI.

And just what are his credentials? If the US attorney who sought Fai’s sentencing is to be believed, Navlakha was “introduced to an ISI general for recruitment by Fai at the ISI’s direction”.

Roman philosopher Marcus Cicero (106-43 BCE) probably had such people in mind when he wrote: “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.”

The hand is here to stay
Kim Philby, the KBG’s spy who singlehandedly wrecked Britain’s intelligence agency MI6, memorably said, “If one attempt in fifty is successful, your efforts won’t have been wasted.”

Foreign intelligence agencies will continue to stalk India primarily because it is an overwhelmingly significant country, comprising nearly a sixth of humanity. One good spy on the ground is better than a billion dollar spy satellite because he can sniff out, say, a big-ticket defence deal or forewarn a shift in policy. Under such circumstances it is naive to expect the foreign hand to go away. Even two-bit players like Sri Lankan and Polish intelligence have been caught plying their trade in India. Indeed, as long as there are embassies and consulates, there will be spies and influence peddlers. By that reckoning there is a foreign hand operating in every country.

The best India can do is step up counter-intelligence.

This story was first published at www.indrus.in

(About the author: Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand based writer and a columnist with Russia Behind the Headlines. He has previously worked with Businessworld, India Today and Hindustan Times, and was news editor with the Financial Express.)