Saturday, April 28, 2007

Madam Shamim Akhtar threatens to tell all

Sorry for the scandalous headline.

She is apparently going to get OUP to publish a book where she names here clients.

I think she peddles something more than the usual stuff.

Now if she is willing to share the list with OUP, and she was parked in the Lal Masjid complex for the better part of a week, I ask you, what is it that the Maulanas of the Masjid do not know?

Whoever has access to that list has the National Assembly by the balls.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A summary of reservations on the Indo-US nuclear deal

The recent articles by Siddarth Vardarajan in the Hindu summarise India's objections to the proposed nuclear deal with the US.

The sheer clarity of thought and discussion in these articles is a welcome change from the usual rubbish that is seen in the media and print. If there was more of this kind of reportage, then yours truly would no longer be needed.

It remains to be seen if the US government pays any attention to what the Hindu is saying, or whether Siddarth's statements are dismissed on some pretext. One can almost see that the article being dismissed as appearing in a "Hindu Fundamentalist Rag", after all the article did appear in the "Hindu" ergo it must be the work of Hindu Fundamentalists.

Let me put it very concisely in case anyone is too bored to read a big article in the Hindu.
  1. India is not going to buy LEU fueled PWRs without local manufacture rights on subsystems.
  2. India is not going to buy Uranium under this agreement unless the purchases are disruption proof.
  3. India will do whatever it takes to maintain an absence of disruptions in its MOX fuel programs.
  4. The GNEP is mostly a bailout package for sick units in the US nuclear sector. India likes the GNEP only as long as it likes what India does.
  5. India makes no additional commitments outside of the voluntary moratorium on testing. India reserves the right to make whatever changes it desires to produce a credible minimum deterrence regime against percieved adversaries.

How the US plays with its NPA sock puppets is not really our concern. We can periodically clear the air but it is not in India's power to make the US choose to put is NPA toys away, though one faintly hopes that someday the US will realise how outdated the NPA and their world view has become in the globalised economy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Oh my beloved Pakistan...

As you all have undoubtedly heard, in response to the MQM-PPP rally against Islamisation, the Great and Good Maulana Abdul Aziz, Khatib of the Lal Masjid has said,

"We will not wait more. It will now be Sharia (law) or shahadat (martyrdom),"

This follows close on the heels of two events, the rocket attack on Maulana Fazl ur Rehman's house and the decision of the Tanzeem e Wifaq ul Madaris Arbia. It may be recalled that the Wifaq ul Madaris under the leadership of Maulana Hanif Jallandhari withdrew the recognition of the Jamia Fareedia and the Jamia Hafsa. This effectively cuts off the Jamia Hafsa and the Jamia Fareedia from private aid channels (Saudi and ME based money flow) that that Wifaq board controls. Bearing in mind that Maulana Jallandhari is now the most influential mullah in Pakistan after Mufti-e-Azam Maulana Rafi Usmani, this act of cancelling recognition is a very powerful signal to Maulana Abdul Aziz to dial his efforts down a notch - right now.

It is unclear if the Wifaq board has done this under the influence of Pervez Musharraf's people or perhaps under the influence of the emissaries of the Saudi King or if there is a growing concern about Maulana Abdul Aziz's conduct among leading Deobandi Ulema. The absence of any statement from Maulana Jallandhari or the others on the board is very curious. However it is known that Maulana Taqi Usmani (brother of Maulana Rafi Usmani, Mufti-e-Azam Pakistan) has disowned his former mureed Maulana Abdul Aziz, and one also notes that MMA leaders like Maulana Fazl ur Rehman and others were seen at a peculiar conference opposing Maulana Abdul Aziz's moves to impose sharia in Pakistan.

While observers in the rest of the world are busy turning a deeper shade of purple, most seasoned Pakistan watchers in India are merely shaking their heads and repeating the famous chants

Pakistan sey rishta kya?

La illaha Il Allah...

Yahan kya chalega?

Nizam - e - Mustafa...

Pakistan ka matlab kya?

La illaha Il Allah...





Allah Ho Akbar

Syed Saleem Shahzad speaks of a possible khurooj, a mass mobilization that delegitimizes Pervez Musharraf and establishes the moral supremacy of the Mullahs over the Army. It remains to be seen if this indeed in the works, for that to happen the Mufti-e-Azam would have to withdraw the virtual declaration of Sultan-e-Adil that was conferred on Musharraf the day he assumed power in 1999.

Delhi ... hanuz dur ast

But in the mean time, the people at the desk on the disreputable forum will do well to keep their beards to the stipulated length and greet each only in ways befitting a pious person.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

K Sub weighs in on Credible Minimum Deterrence

In a recent opinion piece in DNA India, K Sub spoke about the factors influencing the notion of credible minimun deterrence in India.

I summarise his list as follows:
  1. Overwhelming numerical superiority does not imply a stable deterrent
  2. Pakistan is a Chinese proxy state in nuclear affairs - so it is not simply a question of what deters Pakistan.
  3. An American intervention in any India-Pakistan escalation is guarenteed.

This is a good baseline for things as they might stand and I would like to add the following comments.

More generally, deterrence works only between nuclear states with the capability to inflict unacceptable losses on each other.

Non-use against non-nuclear states, even "effectively" non-nuclear ones (as in states who have a nuclear arsenal, but do not have the means to deliver them to targets of choice) remains the norm solely because there is a general distaste for the use of nuclear weapons.

In the event that deterrence breaks down between India and Pakistan, there will no longer be any constraints on any declared nuclear state to avoid the use of nuclear weapons. Firstly the very idea of deterrence will have been demonstrated to be inadequate and secondly public attention will have focussed on the breakdown of deterrence itself, this atmosphere of fear will dictate a rewriting of norms.

If one assumes that the deterrence breakdown is local, i.e. declared nuclear states (other than India and Pakistan) do not see any reason to abandon deterrence as a idea altogether, then any nuclear weapons aimed at India or Pakistan by the declared nuclear powers will have to come from existing stockpiles devoted to maintaining their current deterrence relationships.

In the event that such a use of weapons takes place, the people intervening in the India Pakistan dispute will likely retroactively invoke the justification that India and Pakistan were behaving irresponsibly in order to legitimise their (possibly) nuclear attack against an effective non-nuclear power.

If Pakistan successfully articulates a recessed nuclear deterrent vis-a-vis a P5 state, as it might for example, if it were to allude to the possibility of a Jihadi led nuclear strike on their soil if they intervene in an India-Pakistan nuclear standoff in ways that do not meet their approval, then Pakistan gains a small but definete position of advantage.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The test of the Agni III

I would like to start by congratulating the scientists at DRDO for making this happen. They put a lot of work into this and I am glad that their efforts paid off. I wish them all the best for any future projects.

That said, I want to speak to the reactions to the Agni test.

1) The Agni test is not a threat to China. The missile is largely a technology demonstrator. All talk of the Agni doing something to China or Diego Garcia is nonsense and people should stop talking nonsense in matters of national security. (NDTV.. this means you!)

2) There is no connection between the Agni test and the Indo-US nuclear deal negotiations. There is no connection between the Agni test and the latest NPA attack on ISRO. The Agni test is a part of a wider program of testing of advanced technologies, these programs have their own time schedules. There is no connection with any Pakistani tests - all this "tit-for-tat" rubbish should stop (Karan Thapar - CNN IBN - this means you!)

3) The Jpeg-Avi-Photoshop brigade is busy patrolling the internet and I can understand their happiness. However when the Hon. R M says there is no "Sagarika" missile. It means there is no Sagarika missile. Sagarika Annexe is quite simply the annexe to a building called Sagarika. We do not name our buildings after our missiles. There are limits to the kind of things one should make up - remember if you have real faith your beard will turn red on its own, you don't have to apply henna.

Allah Hafiz.

Monday, April 02, 2007

US Attempts to shove the Hyde Act down India's throat

It appears that a number of people in the US Congress actually laboured under the belief that somehow India would accept the dilutions made to the July 18th Agreement. Rumour has it that a great deal of lobbying with the implicit suggestion that despite the fact that India did not like the Hyde Act, India would buy American goods and services.

India had clearly told people in the US Congress that if the Hyde Act did not match the July 18th Agreement, there would be no contracts to US firms. However it appears that the US Congress was not paying attention.

So now as delegation after delegation of congressmen going to India is being politely but publicly told the exact same thing that was told to them privately a year ago... there is much anger on the American side. And as you all probably have come to expect now, given how things are between the Executive branch and the Congress, the Bush adminstration will do some token acts of punishing India to appease Congressional leaders.

I expect that there will be much entertainment in the weeks ahead as people in the US Congress attempt to use the Indian media to push India into buying stuff that their friends want to sell.

I feel this will be at least as idiotic as that show we saw in Pakistan last month, so sit back and have a charminar.