Fair again!

Christine Fair of Georgetown University, Washington, DC, is proving to be a far more trenchant critic of Pakistan’s strategy of asymmetric warfare — terrorism under the nuclear overhang policies, and more persuasive than any Indian analyst, and more convincing to the US policy establishment than the Indian Embassy working on the margins can ever be. See her piece of clear writing available at:
Her larger case is that the “false equivalency” between India and Pakistan assumed by US policymakers when assessing the situation in South Asia ends up unfairly dividing the responsibility for bad things happening in this part of the world equally between the two countries. Fair argues that at the bottom of Islamabad’s risk-acceptant policy of constantly needling India is its confidence that the US will always come to its rescue. If Washington corrects its posture by warning that it would not intervene in any crisis initiated by terrorism perpetrated by Pakistani supported outlaws, the problem would end because then there would be no one to save Pakistan if Delhi decides to retaliate and Islamabad would be forced to jettison its confrontationist policy. Christine’s case is built around the UN Resolution 47 of 1948, the fact that its conditions have never been met by Islamabad, and the false cultural history (of Muslims mistreated under Hindu majority rule and constituting a separate nation) and flawed Muslim demographics in the subcontinent at the core of the Two Nation Theory, which is the ideological undergirding of the Pakistani state.

In my writings over the last thirty years, I have analyzed the “false equivalence” aspects of America’s South Asia policy (and Western policy, generally) and its deleterious outcomes but from the perspective of the manifest inequality in every respect and the sheer disparity in the size, potential, and capabilities of the two countries which, in realpolitik terms, should have been decisive in influencing Washington’s thinking but wasn’t because short-term benefits and Pakistan’s utility as a “frontline” state ( in the Cold War, and in anti-Islamic terror and Afghanistan military campaigns since) over-rode strategic good sense.

Posted in Asian geopolitics, Culture, domestic politics, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Politics, Internal Security, Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan, Pakistan military, Pakistan nuclear forces, society, South Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Terrorism, United States, US. | 6 Comments

AQ Khan, yoga supporter!

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign to bring universal acceptability to Yoga — reflected in the declaration by the UN of the International Yoga Day — and to popularize yoga at home, especially among the large Indian Muslim community, has, perhaps, got unexpected support with Abdul Qadir Khan, ex-Bhopal and so-called “Father of the Pakistani Atom Bomb”, though he was responsible for no more than stealing centrifuge technology to enrich uranium from the URENCO plant he was working in, in Europe.

In his op-ed published in ‘The News’ (Islamabad) yesterday (June 15, 2015) on “Prayer and Health” (at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-323701-Prayer-and-health ), AQ Khan pretty much repeats/supports what many Hindu leaders are saying that namaz involves various yogic asanas (postures). AQ is here quoted in extenso:

“Namaz, a ceremonious and sedate prayer, is a combination of yoga-like movements and meditation, with the additional advantage of mild isotonic exercise. This leads to a sense of discipline, continuity, physical and mental health, atonement, composure and constraint of body and soul. Religion and ritual have always played an important role in the daily routine of human beings. Whether Hindu, Christian or Muslim, people seek alleviation of their problems through their rituals and convictions. This assists in experiencing great physical and intellectual endurance in the long run.

“Regular prayer is mandatory for every adult in Islam and an earnest disciple will pray conscientiously to the Almighty five times a day, as ordained in the Holy Quran. Apart from the spiritual nature of prayer, this ritual relieves a person from stress of work and other problems and gives him/her repeated unconscious breaks to rejuvenate their physical energy, alleviate mental stress and sooth the soul, enabling work to again be taken up without tension. It also requires regular ablution for physical hygiene before rituals can commence. Namaz at divided intermissions helps keep the body in an appropriate physical and mental state.

“Breathing in a correct manner during namaz ensures that all the bodily systems, both physical and mental, maintain an even balance. At the same time, this also helps to make the person feel relaxed. The yoga-like movements help maintain physical and intellectual fitness. The fundamentals of yoga, which are probably about 5000 years old and have been practiced in the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent, are divided into various categories. Ashtanga yoga consists of yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahar, Dharana, Dhyana and Samdhi.

“When examined closely, one finds a strong resemblance between the rituals of namaz and the routines of yoga. During namaz one is unconsciously performing yoga thereby reaping the benefits of maintaining physical and intellectual equilibrium. Namaz and yoga are both genuine rituals that keep one physically and mentally fit. However, namaz goes a step further in also assuring spiritual health as well.”

Well, well, well,…!

Posted in Culture, Indian Politics, Pakistan, society, South Asia | Leave a comment

Assessing India’s foreign & military policy, and Modi’s initiatives

Bharat Karnad interviewed on India’s Foreign and military policy especially vis a vis China and Pakistan, and Prime Minister Modi’s initiatives in the external realm, by the London-based Oval Observer Foundation involved by its own account in “strategic engagement” and which [is] “an action platform for economic, social and political issues related to emerging markets and high growth nations. Established in early 2014, the Foundation provides a continuous engagement platform to stakeholders interested in increased growth in emerging economies.” The podcast uploaded to the net on June 2, 2015, may be accessed at:

Posted in Asian geopolitics, Australia, China, China military, domestic politics, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Japan, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, society, South Asia, South East Asia, Strategic Relations with South East Asia & Far East, Tibet, United States, US., Vietnam | Leave a comment

Does the Myanmar SF strike redefine Indian policy?

Listen to Bharat Karnad comment on the Myanmar strike by the Indian army
(text of above)
Q: The Myanmar strikes are in the news right now. Do you think it is redefining India’s counter-terrorism policy?

A: Yes, I think it is. Earlier it was a passive mode where you did not really react in the manner you did this time. This is definitely a new approach by the government wherein they are going to retaliate in a very hard fashion if there is a terrorist attack by anybody across any border. So it effectively opens up possibilities against China (since it is a disputed border) and Pakistan as well.

The not so good thing that has happened is that it has taken an anti-Pakistan note because of our usual habit of reducing everything down to Pakistan, and in a sense it defeats the larger strategic purpose that we are trying to signal. Unfortunately, former Colonel and current Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Rathore, putting an anti-Pakistan spin on things in an indirect way has not helped either. Targeting Pakistan is not on because all it does is that Pakistan gets all worked up, everyone starts talking about a possible nuclear scenario, and the essential thing is lost.

Instead, what we are trying to say is – if there is a terrorist strike, we will respond to the strikes by eliminating the terrorists – the groups that are responsible for the strike. Very simple.

The other downside of the strike is that we have also put the Special Forces in the news by sharing their photographs. This is not done. Special Forces are special because they are incognito. Their photographs should never come out because they can become targets. These are secret missions. Now you have gone and said that the 21 Para commandos carried this out. You never let out which commando group did it.

Q: How important is it to have the consent, or the partnership of the country in which you are going to conduct the surgical strikes?

A: When the countries themselves recognise there is a problem, as the Myanmar government does, as the Bhutanese government earlier did wherein we carried out a similar operation in 2003 eliminating ULFA terrorists, then it is fine. This was in that league, where compliant states were aware of the problem and they also needed help to root out terrorist outfits, which had forcibly occupied space in their own land.

In Burma, the Khaplang NSCN faction for instance (which wants an independent Nagaland), has support from Kachin army, also known as Chin army, which in turn is supported by China. The Kachin or Chin army controls Northern-North Eastern Myanmar. This part of Myanmar is controlled remotely by China through the Kachin army.

This is a much larger situation than merely going across the Manipur border and hitting. It points out the rather grave possibility of bigger powers involved, and I am not talking about Pakistan, but China. This raises the question – would India respond, as we seem to have some evidence of the Khaplang NSCN faction being supported by China through the Kachin army, in a similar manner in Northern Myanmar? Interesting thought. That is what we need to worry about. Pakistan is a very minor issue. We always get side-tracked and that’s what we should avoid doing.

Posted in Asian geopolitics, Bhutan, China, China military, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Army, Indian Politics, Internal Security, Myanmar, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan, Pakistan military, society, South Asia, South East Asia, Special Forces, Terrorism | 4 Comments

Devastatingly honest and revealing….

If there’s a one go to-source for insights into the Pakistan Army there’s nothing better than C. Christine Fair’s ‘Fighting to the End: Pakistan Army’s Way of War’. Christine is quite a remarkable scholar having braved some extraordinary threats, such as by ISI of gang rape! In fact she talks about this and generally about the contents of the book, and her take on how and why the Pakistan Army “persists” in banging its head against the wall of trying to wrench Kashmir from India, despite sustaining a bloodied head, contusions, and skull fractures! The reason, she argues, Pakistan is able to engage the US and extract all manner of largesse from Washington, including military arms and assistance to try and address, what Christine believes are entirely spurious security fears of Pakistan (vis a vis India), is by threatening to become a failed state or to use nuclear weapons in hostilities invariably provoked by Pakistan!!! Watch this and learn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMgijhexkqE !

Posted in arms exports, Asian geopolitics, Geopolitics, Pakistan, Pakistan military, Pakistan nuclear forces, society, South Asia, United States, US. | 1 Comment

Encouraging a Gripen push, feeling out Russia on Su-35s

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MOD) is nothing if not completely confused about just how to handle the aftermath of the instantaneous decision by PM Modi in Paris to buy 36 Rafales for the spurious MMRCA slot. Assuming the PM’s word is taken as a firm commitment, then the country will be paying a whole lot of monies for very few aircraft, especially if as Parrikar has said, perhaps reflecting the roiled thinking in MOD and PMO — that there simply are not enough funds to buy more Rafales off the shelf nor to even go in for ToT. In this situation, it’d be reasonable to assume that Modi will have to back down, and tell Paris, er, sorry, but I misspoke! And for GOI to begin thinking entirely anew on the topic of augmenting fighter squadron strength fast.

This conclusion is derived from a couple of developments. (1) The Swedish defence minister Peter Hultqvist is in town, with a virtually single point agenda that Stockholm has been encouraged to if not push than at least air in Delhi. Sweden wants India to offtake the Gripen NG (new generation), flight control laws, source codes, advanced production technology and all, and the rpoduction house of Modi’s choice — HAL, pvt, the whole shabang package for nearly as much money as Delhi is willing to pay for the 36 Rafales, about $8 billion! And (2) in parallel, an IAF-MOD team is revealed by Russia & India Report, a Russian news outlet and hence credible about happenings at the Moscow end, in its story datelined June 2, as negotiating for joint production of the Su-35 (http://in.rbth.com/economics/2015/06/02/india-russia_move_towards_co-production_of_defence_equipment_43451.html ). [Amending: I mentioned wrongly that the Su-35 combat aircraft is what the Strategic Forces Command had asked for as the manned bomber leg of the nuclear triad, a request turned down by the Manmohan Singh regime. It was, of course, the Su-34. Too many ac numerals floating around in my head!]

The Eurofighter option has not gained traction despite very determined canvassing efforts by Berlin and London, because it is just as expensive as the Rafale, but with many more operational kinks to resolve.

Could these developments suggest that Parrikar and Modi are using the Rafale buy as leverage to soften up Sweden and Russia for better terms on the Gripen NG tech for incorporating into Tejas Mk-II and fast-tracking its production with Swedish help from Saab, the Gripen maker, and Moscow re: the Su-35 as the IAF’s main combat platform, especially if this is conjoined to Moscow’s promise to upgrade all Su-30 MKI engines to Sukhoi-PAK/FA engine standard? But all this is affordable only if Delhi finally and irrevocably trashes the Rafale.

Posted in arms exports, Asian geopolitics, civil-military relations, Defence Industry, DRDO, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Military Acquisitions, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, Relations with Russia, Russia, russian assistance, South Asia, Strategic Forces Command, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Technology transfer, Weapons, Western militaries | 20 Comments

Selling the rope that will hang you — US’ China policy

Specialist sites yesterday reported that the PLA General Fan Changlong will be hosted by the US military, taken around sensitive military installations and weapons platforms for a week, including the CVN USS Ronald Reagan, Naval Station North Island, the recruiting centre of the US Marine Corps, Fort Hood, notionally HQrs of the US 1st Cavalry Div and 1st and 2nd Armrd Divs, but better known as the testing ground for all of US army’s latest weaponry, and the Boeing factory in Seattle, possibly the P-8 and F-15 production lines.

Where China is concerned, there’s no such thing as innocuous visits. Expert in picking up pointers on how to do their own things better, Gen Fan and his team will be absorbing what they see and are told.

If the idea is to win trust, such visits won’t do it. In fact, nothing will, because ultimately every little thing that’s learned will be turned against what the Chinese plainly regard as a manipulable and gullible adversary. But this sort of open-ness is a specifically American characteristic. Recall what Lenin said in 1920-21 about the industrialist Armand Hammer seeking to sell all kinds of things, from lead pencils to high technologies to the then young revolutionary Soviet Union in the process of implementing its NEP (New Economic Policy)? The capitalists will sell you the rope to hang them, Lenin had then observed, even as he bought all that Hammer had to offer!

In the present situation, the US is trying desperately to court China in the hope it will get on the duopoly track implicit in Xi Jinping’s new paradigm for “big power relations”. Except the age when a single or a two power-tandem could run the world is long gone. Beijing seems no more to understand this than Washington.

Posted in Asian geopolitics, China, China military, Defence Industry, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, Russia, United States, US. | Leave a comment