April 05, 2013

Pakistani Terror Group Recruits 'Best and Brightest'

Imagine a terrorist group that recruits tens of thousands of young men from the same neighborhoods and social networks as the Pakistani military. A group whose well-educated recruits defy the idea that poverty and ignorance breed extremism. A group whose fighters include relatives of a politician, a senior Army officer and a director of Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission.

That is the disconcerting reality of Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the world's most dangerous militant organizations, according to a study released today by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. The report helps explain why Pakistan has resisted international pressure to crack down on Lashkar after it killed 166 people in Mumbai — six U.S. citizens included — and came close to sparking conflict between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India.

The findings, which draw on 917 biographies of Lashkar fighters killed in combat, illuminate "Lashkar's integration into Pakistani society, how embedded they are," said co-author Don Rassler, the director of a research program at the center that studies primary source materials. "They have become an institution."

The three-day slaughter in 2008 drew global attention because it targeted Westerners as well as Indians and implicated Pakistan's spy agency. The Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) continues to protect the masterminds, according to Western and Indian counterterror officials. U.S. prosecutors indicted an ISI major in the deaths of the Americans: He allegedly provided funds, training and direction and served as the handler of David Coleman Headley, an U.S. reconnaissance operative now serving 35 years in a federal prison.

The 56-page West Point report is titled "The Fighters of Lashkar-e-Taiba: Recruitment, Training, Deployment and Death." Though it refrains from policy suggestions, there are implications for U.S. counterterror strategy. Lashkar's popularity and clout defy conventional approaches to fighting extremism, said co-author Christine Fair, a Pakistan expert at Georgetown University.

"When you have an organization that enjoys such a degree of open support, there are no options for U.S. policy other than counterintelligence, law enforcement and counter-terrorism targeting," Fair said in an interview.

Lashkar was founded in 1989 by Hafiz Saeed, its spiritual chief today, and other ideologues. The ISI deployed Lashkar as a proxy force against India, especially in the disputed Kashmir region. Although banned by Pakistan in 2002, the group still functions unmolested, the ISI provides funds, military training and arms, and ISI officers serve as handlers for Lashkar chiefs, according to Western and Indian investigations. The U.S. officially declared Laskhar a terror group in 2001.

The West Point researchers said they used "massive amounts of material that the group produces about itself" to analyze the trajectories of Lashkar fighters who were killed between 1989 and 2008. The researchers translated from Urdu the 917 biographies that appeared in four extremist publications, including one written by mothers of fallen militants.

Recruits often become holy warriors with the help of their families, which admire Lashkar's military exploits in India and Afghanistan and its nationalism and social service activities at home, the study says. Unlike other terrorist groups, Lashkar does not attack the Pakistani state.

The group's vast training camps have churned out fighters at an alarming rate. The study gives an estimate of between 100,000 and 300,000 total trainees. By comparison, a U.S. counterterror official told ProPublica he has seen figures as high as 200,000, though he put the number in the tens of thousands.

Most recruits examined in the study joined at about age 17 and died at about 21, generally in India or Afghanistan. Their backgrounds contradict "a lingering belief in the policy community that Islamist terrorists are the product of low or no education or are produced in Pakistan's madrassas," the report says.


"These are some of Pakistan's best and brightest and they are not being used in the labor market, they are being deployed in the militant market," Fair said. "It's a myth that poverty and madrasas create terrorism, and that we can buy our way out of it with U.S. aid."

Lashkar's publications downplay its longtime links to the security forces, the authors said. But connections emerge nonetheless. Lashkar recruits aggressively in the districts of the Punjab region that produce the bulk of Pakistan's officer corps — "a dynamic that raises a number of questions about potentially overlapping social networks between the army and (Lashkar)," the report says.

"It looks like based on what we have as if there's a considerable degree of overlap," Fair said. "The military and Lashkar are competing for guys with the same skill set."

At least 18 fallen fighters had immediate family members who served in Pakistan's armed forces. Although most recruits were working or lower middle-class, some "had connections to elite Pakistani institutions and Pakistani religious leaders and politicians." The study cites Abdul Qasim Muhammad Asghar, son of the president of the Pakistan Muslim League╩╣s labor wing in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Another case stands out: a fighter known by the nom de guerre of Abdul Razzaq Abu Abdullah. His 2003 obituary by his mother describes his maternal uncle as "a director of Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission."

Abdul, one of four brothers from the town of Chak Deenpur Sharif in Punjab province, showed interest in holy war as a teenager. His uncle tried to discourage him and found him a post in the military, the biography states. But the young man finally joined Lashkar and died in combat in Indian Kashmir at age 20, the report says.

The authors did not substantiate the account or identify the Pakistani official at the atomic energy commission. But the allusion evokes persistent fears that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is vulnerable to Islamic terrorists. Pakistani nuclear officials have had contacts with al Qaida in the past.

The CIA has had particular concerns about Lashkar in this regard, according to veteran counterterror officer Charles Faddis. Between 2006 and his retirement in 2008, Faddis led a CIA unit dedicated to preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Lashkar's influence with the Pakistani security establishment and its reach into the Pakistani diaspora were worrisome, Faddis said.

"They were the kind of group that concerned us," Faddis said. "They operated in Pakistan with a lot more ease than al Qaida. They had the ability to make connections with military officers, well-educated people abroad, scientists. The Pakistani government was extremely reluctant to confront them.

"All of this added up to a bad situation," he said.

Lashkar's impunity is reflected in the continued defiance and power of Saeed, the spiritual chief. Although India charged him for Mumbai and the State Department offered a $10 million reward for his arrest, Pakistani authorities have done nothing except to provide him police security, U.S. and Indian officials say.

Saeed denies involvement in Lashkar's military wing, a claim disputed by the study. In a "surprising number" of cases, Rassler said, trainees who were deployed on combat operations went to Saeed to seek his personal approval.

"In their own publications, they are saying he plays an operational role," Rassler said.

Lashkar has not carried out a major attack since Mumbai, devoting more energy instead to political activism. But the group continues to engage in terrorist activity outside Pakistan and has cranked up its anti-American rhetoric, Fair said.

Lashkar is among the militant groups that use the tribal areas of Pakistan as a base for attacks on U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan, according to U.S. counterterror officials. Nonetheless, Fair said U.S. forces have not targeted Lashkar fighters in Pakistan with missile strikes out of concern that this would anger Pakistan, whose help is needed in Afghanistan. Instead, there are discussions of taking more aggressive action against Lashkar in other countries.

"We are essentially being held hostage by the war in Afghanistan," she said.

North Korea threat sparks Trident cheerleading from Cameron

Contributor:  Andrew Elwell
Posted:  04/04/2013 

In an article inThe Daily Telegraph today, David Cameron has used the backdrop of North Korea's increasingly "aggressive regime" as a platform to advocate the need to replace Trident, the UK's nuclear armed submarine capability.
"We need our nuclear deterrent as much today as we did when a previous British Government embarked on it over six decades ago," said Cameron.

"Of course, the world has changed dramatically. The Soviet Union no longer exists. But the nuclear threat has not gone away.
"In terms of uncertainty and potential risk it has, if anything, increased."

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government is ideologically opposed on the issue of nuclear deterrence. The junior collation partners are seeking alternatives to the costly Trident programme, which is currently in a new design phase as Cameron and his Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, push forward on a direct like-for-like replacement.
Last year Hammond announced that a £1 billion deal has been struck to develop the next generation of nuclear reactors that will replace Britain's current Vanguard class submarines, which carry the Trident nuclear weapons.
Around the same time The Henry Jackson Society, a cross-partisan British-based think-tank, released a report entitled 'The Necessity of Nuclear Deterrence.' In the report, Peter Cannon argues that Trident "provides a deterrent effect which no other military capability could match. Other nuclear powers are not considering giving up their nuclear weapons, countries such as Iran are seeking nuclear weapons and we cannot predict what threats may emerge in the future.

"For the capability which it offers, the UK's nuclear deterrent is good value for money.
"Alternative systems offer an inferior, not an improved capability. Land-based missiles are vulnerable to pre-emption.  Cruise missiles are slower and fly lower than Trident ballistic missiles and would require a new missile and warhead to be designed. Any alternative system which ended the principle of continuous at-sea deterrence would leave the UK vulnerable to a pre-emptive strike and remove the guaranteed 'second strike' capability offered by Trident."
Although a recent poll by Defence IQ indicated that the threats and rhetoric from North Korea were unlikely to evolve into anything other than bluster, all respondents underlined the Kim dynasty menace and warned that its actions should not be taken lightly.

The mocking, pop culture references to North Korea are ubiquitous. It can be difficult to establish the credibility of North Korea's actions, but Cameron isn't being complacent.

"The highly unpredictable and aggressive regime in North Korea recently conducted its third nuclear test and could already have enough fissile material to produce more than a dozen nuclear weapons," said Cameron.
"Last year North Korea unveiled a long-range ballistic missile which it claims can reach the whole of the United States. If this became a reality it would also affect the whole of Europe, including the UK. Can you be certain how that regime, or indeed any other nuclear armed regime, will develop? Can we be sure that it won't share more of its technology or even its weapons with other countries?

"Does anyone seriously argue that it would be wise for Britain, faced with this evolving threat today, to surrender our deterrent?"

Where do you stand on Trident? With Cameron and a like-for-like replacement? Or are there cheaper, better alternatives? Send in your views to haveyoursay@defenceiq.com.

A Global Stalemate

March 26, 2013 Andrei Volodin, specially for RIR
The current state of the world is a result of a long social evolution or, to use academic terminology, a shift in the social development paradigm
As it is known, a stalemate is a situation on the chess board when the player whose turn it is to make a move is not in check, but has no legal space for motion. Thus, a stalemate may be normally treated as a draw.

It is nevertheless timely and relevant to put aside the intricacies of the ancient art of playing a game whose terminology is so admired by analysts of various kinds. What's important in this context is that the modern world has already reached this very stage of stalemate. And this didn't happen overnight or by some accident.

Understanding the reasons why a global stalemate did take place would undoubtedly facilitate humanity's movement to a new stage of development where a group of countries would stop driving the entire Ecumene, including themselves, into an impasse by trying to pursue their own interests at the expense of others.

In May 2009, The London Times published an article by Anatole Kaletsky, an influential expert on "unorthodox" methods of forecasting the international financial mega-trends. His forecast seemed to make sense at the time: the driving force of world development was named a group of "new" (and super large) nations – China, India, Brazil and Indonesia. These super-large entities were in theory considered as capable of liberating the world of chaos (tactfully called "a crisis") by actively enlarging the purchasing power of the populations of those giant countries thus expanding their respective middle classes.

Although the process of middle class formation was expected to take quite a bit of time and cover at least several decades, on the whole, this new construct has been addressed as politically attractive over the past decade.
But the concept – like human nature – turned out to be far from perfect, and the entire Ecumene has been deprived of this "last" hope.

This thesis doesn't require special proof: The West's best and brightest, including Nobel Prize winners, have thus far been unable to offer a "new economic model", a "Capitalism 4.0" in Kaletsky's terms.

According to the economist's logic and terminology, the first stage of the tremendous global industrial transition/transformation ran from the victory over Napoleon in 1815 to World War I. This period of relative stability of the international system ended with the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Great Depression in the United States.
These unprecedented political and economic "traumas" destroyed "classical" laissez-faire capitalism and created different "versions" –models of industrial development including Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, and various versions of Western European "welfare states" and "democratic socialisms."

Then, 40 years after the Great Depression, the crisis of the late 1960s and the 1970s inspired the "new political economy" associated with such political figures as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. "Capitalism 3.0" spawned the systemic crisis of 2007–2009, which is still with us today.

Anatole Kaletsky argues that this crisis is paving the way for a new, "fourth" version of the capitalist system free from the weaknesses of the two preceding models.

The "free-market" paradigm that destroyed the global economy, so the argument goes, spanned only three decades (1980–2009), that is only a small part of the long history of modern capitalism as a system of political economy. "As Karl Marx might have predicted, Capitalism 3.0 was destroyed by the contradictions of its own antigovernment ideology," Kaletsky wrote.
According to Kaletsky, the essence of the "Capitalism 4.0" paradigm is to acknowledge the imperfection of human nature (because both governments and markets make "erroneous decisions"), implying a "collaboration" between politics and economics, something that was allegedly absent at the time of Thatcher, Reagan and their ideological successors.
The alternative to "Capitalism 4.0" is that the global system will be inevitably shaped by China (and "other authoritarian neo-capitalist nations"), pushing aside "Western democracies".

So the progressing weakening of the West – or more precisely of the American neo-colonialist model, with most countries (in the not too distant past addressed as "satellites") unable or unwilling to support this leader – is one of the main routes for a new global project.

However, the overall picture of the future global system's  is basically more complicated, requiring a diversified approach as well as "non-trivial" solutions in an attempt to transform it.

Factors that affect this process include, above all, the continued geopolitical rise of a number of nations – the so-called "new influentials" – which started asserting themselves in the second half of the 1980s. Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and India were named by experts at the time. Indonesia also figured in the list, while China, Iran and Turkey were omitted for various reasons.

The rising potential of those countries, as well as their increasingly articulated contradictions with the dominant "global systems" led by the USSR and the United States respectively, raised hope that the "new actors" would emerge as independent "gravitational fields" within the international system. But, after the collapse of the USSR and the "global socialist system", and the introduction of the "Washington Consensus" as the basis for shaping global trends, this group of nations was quietly forgotten.

But history is on the move all the time. The "new influentials" have transformed themselves into "new regional leaders" – influential actors of global politics – over the past quarter of a century. The configuration of the global system itself is taking an increasingly complex and diverse shape.

Secondly, "Capitalism 4.0" needs a new international context, one that is qualitatively different from the current environment, whose resources have been depleted.

The "Versailles-Washington system" has put processes in the international system after World War I "in order" and eased the disintegration of the British-led "unipolar world", which was gradually replaced with more sophisticated models of submission and co-submission under US hegemony. The Yalta–Potsdam "peace", in turn, made mankind more manageable. This was largely thanks to the "vertical" rise of the United States, as well as the Soviet Union, which started catching up with America, particularly in the military and technical field.

The superpower rivalry was recreating Hegel's dialectics of the "unity and war of opposites", which was objectively strengthening control over the manageability of the global system and making the functioning of its complex mechanism more predictable. In a certain sense, the United Nations became a geopolitical "manifestation" of this global trend, as it partly regulated (with the "superpowers' " consent) international and regional conflicts of various types of intensity.
The self-liquidation of one of the geopolitical hubs – the collapse of the USSR and the "global socialist system" – stripped the international system of its internal dialectic and its external dynamic.

As a result, the paradigm shift in international life has increasingly manifested itself in: the inability of the monocentric/ "unipolar" system for self-development and self-correction (resulting in a permanent systemic crisis); economic de-industrialisation in the absence of a real rival-"stimulator"; and the de-democratisation of public life after the disappearance of an alternative political system and its global "gravitational field".

Thirdly, the current state of the world is a result of a long social evolution or, to use academic terminology, a shift in the social development paradigm.

A gradual "unfreezing" of the social structure is taking place all across the Ecumene – a long and irregular process pulling more and more regions and continents into its whirlwind.

It's possible to describe the key phases of this process: (a) the transformation of the "traditional human being" into a modern individual possessing all the key "industrial characteristics" (this process lasted at least five centuries in Europe: from the end of the 13th century to the early 19th century); (b) the "awakening" of the oppressed, i.e., the inhabitants of colonised and dependent territories – largely as a result of the "transformational" activity of the colonisers; and (c) the emergence of left-of-centre political sentiments during the "awakening of the oppressed". Over the course of the evolution of the social and political structure of Latin American societies – reflecting the objective processes of growth and social self-assertion of the continent's "indigenous" population – these tendencies had an undeniable "demonstration effect," triggering off an "unfreezing" of the social structure, institutions and mechanisms of the "old order" in the Muslim world, including its Arab part.

Unlike Western Europe, these processes had not been prepared by the historical development that had come before (the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the non-enclave industrial revolution, the "administrative revolution" of the 1830-1850s, etc.), and thus have a largely spontaneous, reversible, undulating and generally frightening nature for average human beings. Nevertheless, judging by the experience of the Arab world in 2011–2012, reversing these processes by military force or "innovative" political technologies (such as "colour revolutions") is doomed; it seems to be a kind of political wishful thinking.

Fourth, the West itself, led by the United States, has contributed a lot to the creation of an impasse/stalemate in international politics. For instance, the destruction of Libya's political system, followed by the chaos in that country (under the pretext of UN resolution No. 1973), resulted in the devastation of its social and institutional structure (which, according to the West's logic, had to be modernised rather than "exploded").
This carnage has kindled internal strife in Libya and also, according to the American think tank Stratfor, set practically the whole of North-West Africa on fire.

Further, the situation in Afghanistan (more precisely, in the AfPak region) also looks like a stalemate that is not going to be resolved spontaneously once the American pullout from the country is complete. Political manoeuvring and preliminary agreements with the Taliban will only have force on paper, so there's a need for meaningful, binding and long-term agreements that America will have to honour and comply with. Any attempts to "outwit" the negotiation partners, something the Americans have demonstrated on more than one occasion, will only make matters worse and turn the situation into an endless and unmanageable chaos for the US political establishment.

Fifth, the creeping chaos in the world order is directly linked to the loss by international political institutions – above all the United Nations – of their efficacy. The helplessness of the United Nations has become appalling lately in light of the developments in Libya and Syria, North-West Africa, and the Korean Peninsula. To be able to act effectively, the main international institution must possess two essential qualities: (a) to integrate the full diversity of international life – new countries, processes, and ideas – on a permanent basis; and (b) to transform all the time and to adjust spontaneously (without being "nudged" by leading powers) to new and more complicated realities of international as well as regional milieu.

History teaches us that humanity evolves (to preserve itself from self-destruction) amid more or less orderly systems of international relations. Those systems can simultaneously combine the principles of coordination and subordination, i.e., relations of horizontal and vertical origins.

It can be argued in this context that the Versailles-Washington system that was in place before World War II wasn't particularly effective, while the Yalta-Potsdam system, which had a higher degree of institutionalisation, survived the entire Cold War, deterring humanity from further partition of the world by, among other things, the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

After the disintegration of the Ecumene's bipolar set-up, humanity has languished in an "institutional" vacuum of sorts. A case in point is the out-of-control development of chaotic tendencies (in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and many other low- and medium-intensity conflicts). Furthermore, a "dangerous turn" is taking place in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf's "oil monarchies" (the tentative dismantling of obsolete autocratic political systems) as well as in Pakistan (under increased pressure from a nebulous "post-American peace settlement" in Afghanistan).

The West is weary (or "exhausted", to quote Ronald Reagan's relevant description of the USSR back in the day), while there are no candidates to assume the role of the United States and its satellites
But wait. Anarchy cannot last forever. It's here that I see a ray of hope in the otherwise dark universe of chaos and total destruction. America is a major world debtor, which is not bad because this will keep excessively "heated" politicians from emotional and thoughtless actions.

Stalemate is neither a loss nor a win for chess players and politicians alike, provided both have a sense of time and keep a bigger perspective in their mind. That's exactly the point where the need arises for a non-trivial outlook on the modern world and its institutional organisation.

International legal regimes and systems were originated from the consensus among "major" powers on key geopolitical issues of humanity's development. We are also taught by History that throughout the modern time, the circle of consensus participants has been constantly widening.

I believe the time has come to form a new consensus, and to develop "fundamental" principles for a new concept of international institutional and political world order, at least by the end of 2014. Because, as we all can see, the old one is historically and politically defunct.

Most LeT recruits are from Pakistan, view J&K as a fighting front: US report

Washington: A staggering 94 per cent of fresh recruits of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) see Jammu and Kashmir as a "fighting front" and hail mostly from Pakistan's Punjab province from families having links with the powerful army and intelligence network, according to a US military report. The report from the US Military Academy in West Point is result of a multi-year research effort conducted by a lead team of five eminent authors including C Christine Fair, Don Rassler and Anirban Ghosh, and is based on a study of over 900 biographies of the deceased LeT militants.

According to the report that runs into nearly 60 pages, the vast majority of LeT's fighters are recruited from Pakistan's Punjab province and are actually rather well educated compared with Pakistani males generally. While LeT's recruitment is diversified across the north, central and southern parts of the Punjab, the highest concentration of militants have come (in order of frequency) from the districts of Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Sialkot, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Khanewal and Multan.

LeT training has historically occurred in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's capital Muzaffarabad and in Afghanistan. Together these two locations have accounted for 75 per cent of LeT militant training over time, the report said.
"Ninety four per cent of fighters list Indian Kashmir as a fighting front," the report said. Although less relevant, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Tajikistan and Bosnia are also identified in the biographies as other fronts. According to our data, the districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and Poonch in Indian Kashmir account for almost half of all LeT militant deaths since 1989. Kupwara, the district with the largest number of militants killed, appears to be becoming less important overall as a fighting area, with its share of deaths declining over time," it said.

The report added that the number and share of LeT deaths in Baramulla and Poonch have been increasing. The report 'The Fighters of Lashkar- e-Taiba:Recruitment, Training, Deployment and Death' by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point identified 12 different channels of LeT recruitment, the most common forms of which include recruitment via: a current LeT member (20 per cent), a family member (20 per cent), mosque or madrassa (17 per cent), LeT speech or literature (12 per cent) and friends (5 per cent).

"Since 2000 there has been a strong upward trend in recruitment via family members and by 2004, this channel contributed to over 40 per cent of LeT recruitment," it said. Siblings and parents are central characters in the biographies and they play important roles in a fighter's entry into and journey through LeT, the report said.

For example, siblings or other immediate family members were often the one to drop off a LeT recruit at a training camp or at the border. The report said the mean age when a recruit joins LeT is 16.95 years, while the militants' mean age at the time of their death is 21 years. The mean number of years between a LeT militant's entry and death is 5.14 years.
"The most common level of non religious education attained by LeT fighters (44 per cent of available data) before their entry into the group is matric (10th grade), indicating that on average the group's cadres had higher levels of secular education than other Pakistani males," the report said, adding they do not have high levels of formal religious education.
It declares "false" the Pakistani government's assertion that its citizens are not engaged in acts of terrorism in India or elsewhere; rather, is only providing diplomatic and moral support to the militants fighting in India. "While few entertain these claims as credible, our database indicates that this claim is false. First, the vast majority of LeT fighters are Pakistani and most are Punjabi, not Kashmiri. It is noteworthy that there is considerable overlap among the districts that produce LeT militants and those that produce Pakistan army officers, a dynamic that raises a number of questions about potentially overlapping social networks between the army and LeT," the report said.

Notably the uncle of one militant was a Director at Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission, while the father of another was the president of the Pakistan Muslim League's labor wing in Islamabad/Rawalpindi, it added. "At least eighteen biographies in our data set describe connections between LeT fighters and immediate family members (i.e. fathers or brothers) who were currently serving or had served in Pakistan's army or air force. In several of these cases, the militant's father had fought with the Pakistani army in the 1965 war in Kashmir and/or during the conflict in 1971 over the status of then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). In one case a militant's father was described as a senior officer in the Pakistani army," the report said.

"Equally notable is the fact that the vast majority of the fighters in this database died in Indian-administered Kashmir. This truth, taken with the predominantly Pakistani-Punjabi origins of the fighters, collectively puts to rest any of Pakistan s claims about the nature of its citizens and their activities," it said.

It also challenges the lingering belief that Islamist terrorists are the product of low or no education or are produced in madrassas, despite the evolving body of work that undermines these connections in some measure. "LeT militants are actually rather well educated compared with Pakistani males generally. This is an important contribution to the ongoing debate about the relationship between education and militancy in Pakistan," it said.

"In our data, we see that 63 per cent of LeT militants have at least a secondary education (matric or above), suggesting that their educational distribution is slightly higher than the national attainment levels, although the numbers are not exactly comparable," the report said.

The highest level of training reported by most LeT militants (62 per cent of available data) was specialized training (Daura-e-Khasa, LeT's advanced course), the majority of which occurred in Muzaffarabad. An additional 12 per cent of militants were able to name other specific training courses, which potentially followed Daura-e-Khasa, it said.
Referring to the strong links between LeT and the Pakistani establishments, the report said should elements of Pakistan's security establishment view it in their interest to spoil peace or reignite conflict in the region (potentially to serve as a release valve for domestic challenges or to redirect the actions of militants actively waging war against Islamabad), they will likely turn to trusted militant groups, such as LeT, to do their bidding.

"For the past two decades LeT has steadily emerged as one of Pakistan's most lethal and capable militant proxy groups. While the group has historically been used by Islamabad as an agent of regional foreign policy and one that has been mostly focused on waging a low-level war of attrition in Kashmir a steady array of incidents tied to the group over the last decade strongly suggest that LeT's interests are evolving and that its operations in the future might be less constrained," the report said.

According to the report, LeT militants are typically low-income workers who come from the poor or middle-lower classes. The top five occupations of the militants, as revealed by the data, are factory worker, farmer, tailor, electrician and laborer. The number of LeT members who previously served in Pakistan's armed forces is remarkably small, only 7 out of 270, or less than 3 per cent, it notes.

April 02, 2013

Beyond the Post-Cold War World

April 2, 2013 | 0901 GMT

By George Friedman
Founder and Chairman

An era ended when the Soviet Union collapsed on Dec. 31, 1991. The confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union defined the Cold War period. The collapse of Europe framed that confrontation. After World War II, the Soviet and American armies occupied Europe. Both towered over the remnants of Europe's forces. The collapse of the European imperial system, the emergence of new states and a struggle between the Soviets and Americans for domination and influence also defined the confrontation. There were, of course, many other aspects and phases of the confrontation, but in the end, the Cold War was a struggle built on Europe's decline.

Many shifts in the international system accompanied the end of the Cold War. In fact, 1991 was an extraordinary and defining year. The Japanese economic miracle ended. China after Tiananmen Square inherited Japan's place as a rapidly growing, export-based economy, one defined by the continued pre-eminence of the Chinese Communist Party. The Maastricht Treaty was formulated, creating the structure of the subsequent European Union. A vast coalition dominated by the United States reversed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Three things defined the post-Cold War world. The first was U.S. power. The second was the rise of China as the center of global industrial growth based on low wages. The third was the re-emergence of Europe as a massive, integrated economic power. Meanwhile, Russia, the main remnant of the Soviet Union, reeled while Japan shifted to a dramatically different economic mode.

The post-Cold War world had two phases. The first lasted from Dec. 31, 1991, until Sept. 11, 2001. The second lasted from 9/11 until now.

The initial phase of the post-Cold War world was built on two assumptions. The first assumption was that the United States was the dominant political and military power but that such power was less significant than before, since economics was the new focus. The second phase still revolved around the three Great Powers -- the United States, China and Europe -- but involved a major shift in the worldview of the United States, which then assumed that pre-eminence included the power to reshape the Islamic world through military action while China and Europe single-mindedly focused on economic matters. 

The Three Pillars of the International System

In this new era, Europe is reeling economically and is divided politically. The idea of Europe codified in Maastricht no longer defines Europe. Like the Japanese economic miracle before it, the Chinese economic miracle is drawing to a close and Beijing is beginning to examine its military options. The United States is withdrawing from Afghanistan and reconsidering the relationship between global pre-eminence and global omnipotence. Nothing is as it was in 1991.

Europe primarily defined itself as an economic power, with sovereignty largely retained by its members but shaped by the rule of the European Union. Europe tried to have it all: economic integration and individual states. But now this untenable idea has reached its end and Europe is fragmenting. One region, including Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, has low unemployment. The other region on the periphery has high or extraordinarily high unemployment.

Germany wants to retain the European Union to protect German trade interests and because Berlin properly fears the political consequences of a fragmented Europe. But as the creditor of last resort, Germany also wants to control the economic behavior of the EU nation-states. Berlin does not want to let off the European states by simply bailing them out. If it bails them out, it must control their budgets. But the member states do not want to cede sovereignty to a German-dominated EU apparatus in exchange for a bailout.

In the indebted peripheral region, Cyprus has been treated with particular economic savagery as part of the bailout process. Certainly, the Cypriots acted irresponsibly. But that label applies to all of the EU members, including Germany, who created an economic plant so vast that it could not begin to consume what it produces -- making the country utterly dependent on the willingness of others to buy German goods. There are thus many kinds of irresponsibility. How the European Union treats irresponsibility depends upon the power of the nation in question. Cyprus, small and marginal, has been crushed while larger nations receive more favorable treatment despite their own irresponsibility. 

It has been said by many Europeans that Cyprus should never have been admitted to the European Union. That might be true, but it was admitted -- during the time of European hubris when it was felt that mere EU membership would redeem any nation. Now, Europe can no longer afford pride, and it is every nation for itself. Cyprus set the precedent that the weak will be crushed. It serves as a lesson to other weakening nations, a lesson that over time will transform the European idea of integration and sovereignty. The price of integration for the weak is high, and all of Europe is weak in some way.

In such an environment, sovereignty becomes sanctuary. It is interesting to watch Hungary ignore the European Union as Budapest reconstructs its political system to be more sovereign -- and more authoritarian -- in the wider storm raging around it. Authoritarian nationalism is an old European cure-all, one that is re-emerging, since no one wants to be the next Cyprus.

I have already said much about China, having argued for several years that China's economy couldn't possibly continue to expand at the same rate. Leaving aside all the specific arguments, extraordinarily rapid growth in an export-oriented economy requires economic health among its customers. It is nice to imagine expanded domestic demand, but in a country as impoverished as China, increasing demand requires revolutionizing life in the interior. China has tried this many times. It has never worked, and in any case China certainly couldn't make it work in the time needed. Instead, Beijing is maintaining growth by slashing profit margins on exports. What growth exists is neither what it used to be nor anywhere near as profitable. That sort of growth in Japan undermined financial viability as money was lent to companies to continue exporting and employing people -- money that would never be repaid.

It is interesting to recall the extravagant claims about the future of Japan in the 1980s. Awestruck by growth rates, Westerners did not see the hollowing out of the financial system as growth rates were sustained by cutting prices and profits. Japan's miracle seemed to be eternal. It wasn't, and neither is China's. And China has a problem that Japan didn't: a billion impoverished people. Japan exists, but behaves differently than it did before; the same is happening to China.

Both Europe and China thought about the world in the post-Cold War period similarly. Each believed that geopolitical questions and even questions of domestic politics could be suppressed and sometimes even ignored. They believed this because they both thought they had entered a period of permanent prosperity. 1991-2008 was in fact a period of extraordinary prosperity, one that both Europe and China simply assumed would never end and one whose prosperity would moot geopolitics and politics.  

Periods of prosperity, of course, always alternate with periods of austerity, and now history has caught up with Europe and China. Europe, which had wanted union and sovereignty, is confronting the political realities of EU unwillingness to make the fundamental and difficult decisions on what union really meant. For its part, China wanted to have a free market and a communist regime in a region it would dominate economically. Its economic climax has left it with the question of whether the regime can survive in an uncontrolled economy, and what its regional power would look like if it weren't prosperous. 

And the United States has emerged from the post-Cold War period with one towering lesson: However attractive military intervention is, it always looks easier at the beginning than at the end. The greatest military power in the world has the ability to defeat armies. But it is far more difficult to reshape societies in America's image. A Great Power manages the routine matters of the world not through military intervention, but through manipulating the balance of power. The issue is not that America is in decline. Rather, it is that even with the power the United States had in 2001, it could not impose its political will -- even though it had the power to disrupt and destroy regimes -- unless it was prepared to commit all of its power and treasure to transforming a country like Afghanistan. And that is a high price to pay for Afghan democracy.

The United States has emerged into the new period with what is still the largest economy in the world with the fewest economic problems of the three pillars of the post-Cold War world. It has also emerged with the greatest military power. But it has emerged far more mature and cautious than it entered the period. There are new phases in history, but not new world orders. Economies rise and fall, there are limits to the greatest military power and a Great Power needs prudence in both lending and invading.

A New Era Begins

Eras unfold in strange ways until you suddenly realize they are over. For example, the Cold War era meandered for decades, during which U.S.-Soviet detentes or the end of the Vietnam War could have seemed to signal the end of the era itself. Now, we are at a point where the post-Cold War model no longer explains the behavior of the world. We are thus entering a new era. I don't have a good buzzword for the phase we're entering, since most periods are given a label in hindsight. (The interwar period, for example, got a name only after there was another war to bracket it.) But already there are several defining characteristics to this era we can identify.

First, the United States remains the world's dominant power in all dimensions. It will act with caution, however, recognizing the crucial difference between pre-eminence and omnipotence.

Second, Europe is returning to its normal condition of multiple competing nation-states. While Germany will dream of a Europe in which it can write the budgets of lesser states, the EU nation-states will look at Cyprus and choose default before losing sovereignty.

Third, Russia is re-emerging. As the European Peninsula fragments, the Russians will do what they always do: fish in muddy waters. Russia is giving preferential terms for natural gas imports to some countries, buying metallurgical facilities in Hungary and Poland, and buying rail terminals in Slovakia. Russia has always been economically dysfunctional yet wielded outsized influence -- recall the Cold War. The deals they are making, of which this is a small sample, are not in their economic interests, but they increase Moscow's political influence substantially. 

Fourth, China is becoming self-absorbed in trying to manage its new economic realities. Aligning the Communist Party with lower growth rates is not easy. The Party's reason for being is prosperity. Without prosperity, it has little to offer beyond a much more authoritarian state.

And fifth, a host of new countries will emerge to supplement China as the world's low-wage, high-growth epicenter. Latin America, Africa and less-developed parts of Southeast Asia are all emerging as contenders.

Relativity in the Balance of Power

There is a paradox in all of this. While the United States has committed many errors, the fragmentation of Europe and the weakening of China mean the United States emerges more powerful, since power is relative. It was said that the post-Cold War world was America's time of dominance. I would argue that it was the preface of U.S. dominance. Its two great counterbalances are losing their ability to counter U.S. power because they mistakenly believed that real power was economic power. The United States had combined power -- economic, political and military -- and that allowed it to maintain its overall power when economic power faltered. 

A fragmented Europe has no chance at balancing the United States. And while China is reaching for military power, it will take many years to produce the kind of power that is global, and it can do so only if its economy allows it to. The United States defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War because of its balanced power. Europe and China defeated themselves because they placed all their chips on economics. And now we enter the new era.

Read more: Beyond the Post-Cold War World | Stratfor 

March 31, 2013

The Dragon Covets the Arctic


The Dragon Covets the Arctic

by Dr. A. Adityanjee


China's lust for oil, minerals, rare earths, fish and desire for an alternative northern sea route boils the Arctic Geopolitics!


Iceland is a small, sparsely populated island nation with a population of only 320,000 and area of 40,000 square miles. It is the only member of the NATO that does not have an army of its own. Icelandic banks were part of the 2008 global financial crisis and meltdown when they exposed the Icelandic government of huge financial risks by indulging in risky loans and speculative foreign currency transactions without having enough liquidity and capital reserves. The fiscal crisis led to a former Icelandic prime minister losing his job and being hauled to court of law for not supervising the banks enough.
In an international capitalistic, mercantile system, if Iceland were a company, it was "sitting duck" for outright purchase and acquisition. Fortunately, foreigners are not allowed to buy any property or real estate in Iceland and need a special permit.
And here comes the Peoples' Republic of China, rich with $ 3.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves in its kitty. It has built a palatial embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland worth $250 million with only 7 accredited diplomats. China is negotiating a free trade area with Iceland, the first with any European nation. Former Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao even paid a state visit to Iceland for two full days in 2012. Other Chinese ministers and officials have also been very active in Iceland with bilateral visits and cultural events.

In 2010, Huang Nubo, a "poetry loving" Chinese billionaire and former communist party official visited Iceland to meet his former classmate Hjorleifur Sveinbjornsson, a Chinese translator with whom he had shared a room in 1970s in the Peking University. He expressed his intense love for poetry and put up $ one million to finance Iceland-China Cultural Fund and organized two poetry summits, the first one in Reykjavik in 2010 and the second one in Beijing in 2011.

Last year (2012), Huang Nubo and his Beijing based company, the Zhongkun group offered to buy 300 sq km of Icelandic land ostensibly to develop a holiday resort with a golf course. This Chinese billionaire wanted to pay $7million to an Icelandic sheep farmer to take over the land and build a $100 million 100-room five star resort hotel, luxury villas, an eco-golf course and an airstrip with 10 aircrafts. A state owned Chinese bank reportedly offered the Zhongkun group a soft loan of $ 800 million for this project.

The deal was blocked by the Icelandic Interior Minister who asked many pertinent questions but reportedly got no answers. Huang would not take no for an answer and has submitted a revised bid for leasing the land for $ one million instead of outright purchase. He makes an unbelievable assertion that there is a market demand for peace and solitude: "Rich Chinese people are so fed up of pollution that they would like to enjoy the fresh air and solitude of the snowy Iceland".

The current Icelandic government, a left-of-center coalition has given this proposal a cold shoulder. But, with elections due in April 2013 in Iceland, China is hoping for a more sympathetic government to approve the project. Iceland looks like an easy bird of prey for the wily red Dragon with insatiable appetite.

China is showing generosity to another poor and sparsely populated, self-governing island of Greenland by offering investments in mining industry with proposal to import Chinese crews for construction and mining operations. Greenland is rich in mineral deposits and rare earth metals. China wants Greenland to provide exclusive rights to its rare earth metals in lieu of the fiscal investments. Under one such proposal, China would invest $2.5 billion in an iron mine and would bring 5000 Chinese construction and mining workers whereas the population of the capital of Greenland, Nuuk is only 15000.

Arctic Council Membership:

There are eight members of the Arctic Council that includes Canada, Denmark (including Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA. All these eight countries have geographic territories within the Arctic Circle. It was constituted in 1996 as an intergovernmental body but has evolved gradually from a dialogue forum to a geo-political club and a decision making body. There are continuing territorial disputes in Arctic Circle. Ownership of the Arctic is governed by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, which gives the Arctic nations an exclusive economic zone that extends 200 nautical miles from the land. Member countries signed their first treaty on joint search and rescue missions in 2011. A second treaty on cleaning up oil spills is being negotiated. The group established its permanent secretariat at Tromso, Norway in January 2013.

Arctic Melting and Opening of Newer Sea Lanes:

With global warming becoming a reality, the Arctic ice has started to melt rapidly opening the northern sea-lanes that were frozen earlier. In summer of 2012, 46 ships sailed through the Arctic Waters carrying 1.2 million tonnes of cargo. There are legal questions about the international status of the northern sea lanes.

China's Lust for Arctic Resources:

The Arctic has 13% of the world's undiscovered oil and 30% of gas according to the US Geological Survey. Greenland alone contains approximately one tenth of the world's deposits of rare earth minerals. China which already has a monopoly on world's rare earth metal trade wants to continue controlling this global trade. China piously claims that the Arctic resources are the heritage of the entire mankind while insisting that the South China sea is its exclusive sovereign territory.

In 2004, China set up its first and the only Arctic scientific research station, curiously named "Yellow River Station" on the Svalbard Island of Norway. China, so far, has sent 6 arctic expeditions. China plans to build more research bases. In 2012, the 170-meters long ice-breaker "Snow Dragon" (MV Xue Long) became the first Chinese Arctic expedition to sail along the Northern Sea Route into the Barente Sea. Incidentally, as early as 1999, this 21000 metric ton research ice-breaker Xue Long had docked in the Canadian North-Western territory unexpectedly. China is building another 120-meter long ice-breaker with the help of Finland while the Polar Research institute in Shanghai trains scientists and other personnel for Arctic expeditions.

China's Previous Use of Deception:

There is no mandarin character for word transparency. China has been known to use duplicity and deception since the Art of War was written by Sun Tzu. China's rhetoric of "peaceful and harmonious rise" and hegemonic behavior are predictably diametrically opposite to each other. China's use of deception to camouflage its intentions in geopolitical matters is not surprising. While China joined the NPT in 1991, it provided 50 kg of highly enriched uranium to Pakistan, provided that country with a nuclear weapon design and supervised Pakistan's first nuclear test at the Chinese nuclear testing site of Lop Nur. China purchased in 1998 an unfinished aircraft carrier from Ukraine after the break-up of Soviet Union ostensibly for developing a floating casino. The same "floating casino" is now China's first aircraft carrier projecting Chinese naval and maritime power in the South China Sea.

China's Application in Arctic Council Membership:

China currently has an ad hoc observer status with Arctic Council. China's application for permanent observer-ship was denied by Norway in 2012 owing to bilateral dispute over awarding of Nobel peace prize to China's Liu Xiabo in 2010. China still has a pending application to be decided in May 2013 Arctic Council summit in Sweden when Canada takes over the chair for the next two years. With a permanent observer status, China would get full access to all Arctic Council meetings. Permanent observers do not have voting rights in the council but can participate in deliberations.

China is trying to distinguish itself from the rest of the applicants as a "Near Arctic State" on the perniciously clever but fallacious grounds that the northernmost part of China in the province of Manchuria (the Amur river) is only one thousand miles south to the Arctic circle. The fallacy is that Manchuria was a separate, independent country that was annexed by China after the Communist take-over. Manchus had ruled over China for centuries during the reign of Manchu dynasty and last Chinese Emperor Pu Yi was actually the last Manchu emperor. Chinese ownership and annexation of Manchuria (Manchu-Kuo) is still not settled. A disputed territory cannot be used by China to make a geo-political claim for being a "Near Arctic State".

Other Pending Applications:

Other countries or non-state actors with pending applications for permanent observer-ship status include Japan, South Korea, India, Singapore, European Union, and non-state actors like Greenpeace and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers. All these applications will be decided one way or the other in May 2013. The vote has to be unanimous for acceptance and how the US and Russia will vote is the crucial issue. In the past, Norway had vetoed China's membership application. Some of the Arctic Council members may not approve European Union's application because of EU's penchant for restrictive and narrow rulings. Whereas Sweden, Canada, Iceland and Denmark may support China's application, there are doubts about Norway, Russia and the US. Russia is currently the most vociferous member of Arctic Council that has serious reservations in expanding the Arctic club.

Strategic Issues:

China has voracious appetite for new territories and has been seeking new frontiers for the last three hundred years with Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Xinjiang and Tibet. China's list of "core issues" is ever-expanding, starting with Taiwan and Tibet. China has included the whole the South China Sea and its islands as a core issue. China is aggressively claiming sovereignty on these islands based on historical maps and manufactured mythological evidence. China has now a license from the UN for deep sea bed mining for minerals in the Indian Ocean and has developed naval bases in Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea ports. If China manages to get a toehold in Arctic Circle, its behavior will become as belligerent in Arctic as it is in the South China Sea. It might claim sovereignty over the whole of the Northern route sea lanes based on "historical evidence". If in 22nd century, China decides that the Arctic Circle is its core national issue, one would be seeing Chinese aircraft carriers in the Arctic Sea and Chinese nuclear powered submarines in the Barente Sea along with military bases with "Chinese characteristics" in the Iceland and Greenland.


More by :  Dr. A. Adityanjee

Karachi; from Melting pot to Melt down

Can the state remain one
A very frightening picture of once a throbbing metropolis , a magnet for south Asians before the Partition .The division by the perfidious Albion after igniting religious passions , then separation of ill-treated and exploited East Bengalis and Islamisation begun by Gen Zia-ul Haq and creation of nurseries of terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan by US led West and Saudi led Muslim states have led Pakistan towards a melt down with Karachi as the worst case .
The other Metropolis Mumbai on the West coast of India is also suffering from ethnic , religious and linguistic divisions .
Violent crime, extremism and divisions haunt Pakistan

In Karachi, life is cheap

With legislative elections in May, tensions are rising in Pakistan. In Karachi, murder for profit or political gain is a commonplace, as are demands for protection money, energy blackouts, and ethnic and religious violence.  by Ashraf Khan

Laiq Hussain, a member of the radical Sunni group Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, was riding his motorbike down a busy street in central Karachi, with a friend on the pillion, when they were ambushed. A bullet hit Hussain in the right temple: "I thought someone had thrown a sharp stone at me. My friend told me to start reciting verses from the Holy Qur'an; that's when I realised someone was shooting at us, probably using a silencer." Hussain was blinded; his friend Mufti Saud Rehman died. Theirs is a common story: over 2,400 Karachi residents were shot in the street or kidnapped and tortured to death in 2012.
"Target killings", as the police and media call them, have become a daily nightmare in Karachi, where security and policing are poor. "We were watching the news about the latest target killings and feeling sad for the parents who had lost their beloved children," said Fatima Tanveer. "Then someone knocked at the door and told us our son was a victim. He was going to be married in a few months."

"The wave of killings is mainly due to an increase in sectarian violence, though killings for political or criminal motives are contributing," said Zohra Yusuf, chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). But the authorities seem to be in denial. In November 2012 Sharjeel Memon, then information minister for Sindh Province (of which Karachi is the capital), told a press conference: "Out of more than 2,000 homicides, only 370 were reported to the police as target killings."

Nearly everyone in Karachi, regardless of religious, ethnic or political affiliation, fears for their own life or those of their relatives when they leave the house. Huma Habib, 45, a human resources manager for a private company, has great hopes for her two sons, who are currently at university: "But my heart nearly stops every time they leave the house. Life is cheap here." One can be killed just for a mobile phone.

Many see the lack of security as a kind of social protest, the precursor of a social revolution, yet Shahid Hassan Siddiqui, chairman of the Research Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance, said: "We are going through the worst economic and political turmoil this country has ever known, but I don't see any revolution emerging from this mess."
Pakistan has no middle class

The chaos has put many companies out of business, depriving hundreds of thousands of workers of their livelihoods. Tension is high. "Nearly half the year, work is at a standstill because one [political] party or another has called for a strike," said Amjad Ali, 65, a porter at the Judia Bazar, Pakistan's biggest market. Ali has a family of seven, but earns 200-300 rupees ($2-3) a day, and he is one of the lucky ones. According to Hassan, 40% of the population earns less than 100 rupees ($1) a day, and a family of two adults and two children living in one room needs at least 12,000 rupees ($120) a month to maintain an adequate calorie intake: "Pakistan has no middle class. Most people live in grinding poverty; a handful are filthy rich." Economists estimate that Pakistan's richest 2% control most of the economy.

Even the richest have known easier times. Pakistan suffers from a chronic shortage of electricity, due to the growing gap between supply and demand. Daily power cuts have had a disastrous impact on every industry, especially the garment and textile sectors, which are major generators of underpaid jobs and foreign currency earnings. "The electricity crisis cost our exporters over a billion dollars in lost contracts," said Ahsan Bashir, chairman of the trade association All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA). This is significant as Pakistan's total textile exports were expected to generate $13.5bn last year. In 2012 the industry accounted for more than 50% of Pakistan's exports and employed 39% of the workforce (1). Without unions to defend them, many workers have found themselves jobless.

Social instability and power cuts have prompted a wave of industrial relocations to Bangladesh and Malaysia. The government has offered generous financial incentives for companies to come back, but without much success. "I believe a few companies have returned because of tariff concessions," said Yasin Siddique, head of APTMA in southern Pakistan. But it would take more to reassure his colleagues: "If your livelihood, your property and your business are threatened, to avoid economic death you just have to find another solution."

Businesses unable to find "another solution" face another obstacle: extortion by gangs. This is a growing phenomenon, especially in the Lyari district, next to the port and the country's biggest industrial estate. Traders and industrialists who refuse to paybhatta (protection money) run the risk of assassination or kidnapping and torture. Many end up in a sack dumped at the roadside. Meetings, protests and lockouts to pressure the administration into taking action have had no result. "To stay alive, many of our members have agreed to pay monthly protection money to the gangs," said Atiq Mir, head of the All Karachi Traders' Association. "The government has totally failed to protect us and it feels as if the whole city is falling into the hands of the gangsters. They already control many districts."

The growth of violent crime is a huge challenge for the authorities, whose incompetence and lack of commitment have never been so obvious. "The pattern of killings in 2012 differed from 2011," said Zohra Yusuf of the HRCP. In 2011 ethnic conflict was limited to a few districts such as Katti Pahari, which saw bloody clashes between Pashtuns and Urdu-speaking Muhajirs. Today, the violence has spread across the city and permeated every social class. Sharfuddin Memon, security advisor to the government of Sindh Province, talked of "multidirectional killings", with a variety of motives, political, ethnic, religious and criminal. Some killers, he said, take advantage of the confusion to settle personal scores.
Extremist religious groups play a major part. They exist throughout Pakistan, and have a long history in the country. In 1971 it was ethnic sectarianism that led to the division of Pakistan, the eastern part declaring dependence to become Bangladesh, the land of the Bengalis. Successive Pakistani governments have failed to learn from history, allowing ethnic divisions to grow.
Internal tensions

The Muhajirs fled to Pakistan from India in 1947, after Partition (muhajir means migrant in Urdu). Educated and qualified, they made an important contribution to the new country's development. Over the years, quotas established by the government have given them privileged access to jobs in government and teaching. This has resulted in tensions and bloody clashes between the Muhajirs and indigenous populations, especially the Sindhis and Pashtuns, who have united under the banner of the Awami National Party (ANP).

The clashes intensified as a result of the dispute between Muhajirs and Sindhis in 1972, when the Sindhis refused to accept Urdu as the official language of Sindh Province. In the mid-1980s, the establishment of a Muhajir political party, the National Movement for Refugees (MQM), led to massacres of Muhajirs, instigated by Pashtun drug lords. This violence deepened the divide between Karachi's two main ethnic groups.

Tensions remained high with further clashes between Sindhis and Muhajirs in 1988 and 1990, and military and police repression of the MQM between 1992 and 1995. These did not prevent the MQM from attracting supporters from beyond its ethnic base, and in the general election of 2008 it won 69.2% of the vote in Karachi.

Karachi has become a battleground for criminal gangs involved in racketeering, drugs, arms and human trafficking. Ethnic and political divisions fan the violence. Turf wars between the many gangs in Lyari, where the ethnic majority are Baluchs, often turn into ethnic clashes. Organised crime is also manipulated by political parties and linked to terrorist movements, which further strengthens its hold on society and economic life. The Lyari gangs wield immense power: they could paralyse the Judia Bazar, or even the entire city centre, if traders grew tired of paying for protection.
The situation worsened in 2007, with the arrival of a new wave of Pashtun refugees. Displaced by the military operations against the Taliban in the tribal regions of Swat and Waziristan (2), a million ended up in the suburbs of Karachi, especially the shantytowns. The authorities hoped to tame the Islamist fighters by letting them live in relative peace, providing healthcare and allowing them to raise funds. But they have declared war on every secular organisation in Karachi, including the MQM and its main rival, the ANP. Although the ANP's members are almost all Pashtun, the Taliban regard them as traitors, for adopting secular positions and taking part in government in Islamabad. Police sources say attacks by Islamists have weakened the ANP considerably, even in its traditional strongholds.

Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam, a senior police superintendent in Karachi who has led many operations against the Taliban, told how, last year, two men claiming to be volunteers working for Tablighi Jamaat (Society for Spreading Faith) — a widely respected Islamic movement, with a non-violent reputation — recruited seven teenage boys in Karachi. The parents were told the boys would be going to the relatively quiet eastern city of Lahore, to be educated by the movement. Instead they were taken to Miranshah, administrative capital of North Waziristan, on the border with Afghanistan. They were held at a training camp for suicide bombers, directed by a senior Taliban commander, Wali Mohammad. After a US drone hit the camp, killing 17 recruits, the survivors told their story to the police and the principal recruiters were arrested. They told the magistrate who recorded their confessions: "We will attack and kill policemen, soldiers and law enforcement officers, because they are agents of America."
No mercy for 'traitors and tyrants'

It was not an empty threat. More than 150 police officers and magistrates were killed in Karachi during 2012 — most, probably, at the instigation of the Taliban. The message is clear. According to Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, there will be no mercy for "the traitors and tyrants of Karachi". Wasay Jalil, a spokesman for MQM, said: "We warned the authorities about the growing presence of the Taliban a long time ago, but they didn't believe us. The war really has come down from the north." But opponents of MQM shrugged off the warning as a publicity stunt, because of the party's ethno-political rivalry with the Pashtuns.

The Taliban have followed the example of the gangs and taken up racketeering, attacking uncooperative traders with hand grenades. They also support extremist Sunni groups' attacks on the Shia minority. In some of the Pashtun areas of the city, barbers are not allowed to shave beards and women cannot go out without a veil. The police offer no estimates of Taliban numbers in Karachi, but insiders say there may be 4,000-5,000 fighters. These numbers could mean trouble not only for Karachi residents, but for the US and its allies: Karachi is the only port through which Nato can import materials for its operations in Afghanistan.

According to Aslam, the Taliban were responsible for 14 bombings in 2011. This January his men seized 100kg of explosives in the Mangopir district. "It's time to stop [the Taliban], otherwise the city will see bloodshed on an unprecedented scale," said political analyst Tauseef Ahmed Khan. "That would be a severe setback for secular and progressive Karachi, and might take years to recover from." But secular and progressive Karachi is already under threat from the violence used by political parties vying for power. "The political divisions here are extremely complicated, and the financial stakes are very high," said Zohra Yusuf. "Criminal gangs, the Taliban, political decision-makers, banned extremist organisations — there are plenty of people ready to shed blood and burn buildings."

Criminologist Fateh Muhammad Burfat, head of the sociology department at the University of Karachi, said: "There is only a 5% conviction rate in criminal cases, and 90% of inmates in Pakistan's jails are awaiting trial." Sharfuddin Memon blamed "institutional incapacity, due to insufficient police numbers and an intelligence network that is growing weaker."
Is there a risk that the system will collapse? "We have to accept that the state has failed," said Burfat. "All political parties should accept this harsh reality if they have any commitment to the nation." Economist Shahid Hassan Siddiqui pointed out that Pakistan's education budget is smaller than Ethiopia's, while its health budget is the lowest in the world, and asked: "How can we hope for even a slight change for the better, let alone a revolution, when the economy is in such a poor state?"



The violent incidents in Central Myanmar, which initially targeted Muslims, their places of worship and properties at Meikhtila on March 20,2013, have since spread to other areas north of Rangoon and there have been reports of Muslims as well as Buddhists now being targeted often by the same mobs which move on motor-bykes.

2. In the fresh incidents, there have been no fatalities. Rioting groups have been attacking places of worship and properties of both the communities. These have strengthened suspicions that the violence directed against both the communities has been instigated by anti-reform elements in the Army in a bid to discredit President Thein Sein.

3. Members of both the communities allege that the police are remaining passive spectators so long as only places of worship and properties are attacked without causing any loss of lives.

4.In an open letter to President Thein Sein, leaders of four Muslim organizations, including the Islamic Religious Affairs Council and the Myanmar Muslim National Affairs Organisation, have accused the security forces of standing by as rioters went on a rampage.

5. Min Ko Naing,  a member of the 88 Generation movement which organized the students movement against the Army in 1988, alleged in an interview that  the mobs attacked both Buddhist and Muslim prayer houses. He recalled that  the military was swift and used brutal force to suppress protests by monks and students during the decades of junta rule in the past and added:" In the past, when high school students were marching with peacock flags and when Buddhists monks were marching peacefully, they got shot by security forces. That was an extreme measure. Now, they cannot stop and arrest the trouble makers behind this violence."

6.Stung by widespread  criticism of inaction by the security forces, President Thein Sein, in a televised address on the evening of March 28, said he had authorized the use of force by authorities to prevent the spread of violence and told "religious extremists" that they would not escape prosecution for participating in acts of violence.

7.He said:"I would like to warn all political opportunists and religious extremists who try to exploit the noble teachings of these religions and have tried to plant hatred among people of different faiths for their own self-interest: their efforts will not be tolerated."

8.Thein Sein said the riots had been caused by organized "instigators [who] exploit the situation to engineer violence in other parts of the country."


( 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. Twitter: @SORBONNE75)