Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Infiltration Situation: The core issue in Indo-Pak Relations

As you are all aware, Minister Pranab Mukherjee has indicated that there has not been satisfactory progress towards reducing infiltration of terrorists into India.

I mentioned earlier that Pakistan has deliberately and repeatedly tried to fashion its sense of national identity through its hostility towards India.

Pakistan has thus cultivated a habit of providing a home to anti-India terrorists and creating ways for them to secretly enter India. It is finding it hard to kick this habit despite the fact that the psychopaths they have collected under their roof in this process are now tearing Pakistan to shreds and undermining its relations with Pakistan's greatest mentor, America.

The NDA government had repeatedly mentioned that infiltration of terrorists was the key problem in India-Pakistan relations, and it had largely stuck to the stand that ending cross border terrorism was to be the cornerstone of India's policy towards Pakistan. Towards the end of the NDA tenure, the Musharraf regime finally undertook some measures to control infiltration into India.

The UPA inherited this general policy direction and the present government has patiently executed a policy of peace despite growing evidence that General Musharraf is becoming lax in controlling anti-India elements in Pakistan. It was this sense of patience that the Government drew upon in the face of terrorist attacks inspired by Pakistani backed networks in Bangladesh.
There is growing criticism of the government's handling of Pakistan, and with terrorist attacks occuring in India, not just Kashmir, people are beginning to question whether such the patience the government displays with Pakistan is really a virtuous thing. It has certainly been quite an act of patience to sit through the attacks on Mumbai and Ayodhya. The recent attack on Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, strains the a weary mind...

One is only too well aware that India is not the only country that has deep concerns about Pakistan's attitude towards cross border terrorism and the inability of the Musharraf regime to act satisfactorily against it.

The Joint Counter Terrorism Mechanism as you all know was set up to address such concerns, but I for one am not entirely convinced that it can be used to communicate to everyone in Pakistan that supporting attacks that damage the communal fabric of India is not the way to go.

There is much soul searching that will occur in Pakistan soon and it is understandable at such a time for people to start asking themselves what exactly being "Pakistani" is all about, but Pakistan's search for a national identity need not draw on a hostility towards India, especially when there is no guarentee that any (or even) Pakistanis can hold off India's reciprocating such an act of kindness.

Please understand, it simply does not make sense to bite of more than you can chew.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

India US Nuclear Deal: 90 Percent Progress

As I said earlier in the US, the appearance of progress is more important than actual progress.

There is now a media psywar underway to paper over the American inability to make any substantial moves towards resolving Indian concerns on the deal.

Let me briefly summarise for you all the 90 percent progress that has taken place thus far...

It all began when the Indian PM and the American President carried out negotiations and reached an agreement as per their executive powers.

The Non-Proliferation Ayatollahs realised that this agreement signalled the end of their reign and began a vicious assault on President Bush. They relied heavily on anti-Bush sentiments in the Senate and Congress to buoy their own political stock at the expense of President Bush.

Over the second Bush tenure, things have gone far from smoothly for the President. President Bush is widely viewed inside the US as someone who makes what appear to be half hearted and misguided attempts at doing things that only sort of make sense. High ranking officials in the government routinely make open ended and ambigious statements that suggest that President Bush is at best a harmless moron of the Dan Quayle variety, and it is largely respect for Bush Sr. that keeps a lot of this dissent within the adminstration's own people from coming out into the media.

The Non-Proliferation Ayatollah launched anti-deal Jihad created a maelstrom that sucked down many a national security analyst in India. The Indian national security community is by far the most distrustful and skittish in the world, and there was no way they could ignore the Non-Proliferation Ayatollah's defiance of President Bush. As the South-Asia Pakistan Lovers Association joined up with the Non-Proliferation Ayatollahs in opposing the deal, the die was cast. When only token punishments were issued to the Non-Proliferation Ayatollahs for their defiance of the President, the Indian national security community, could only conclude that President Bush was not in a position to guarentee the political security of any trading arrangement of this nature. Sans political security, a new negotiating position had to be created in India, a form of leverage had to be invented.

The construction of this new position required a wider debate inside India as it went beyond the established limits of debate that had existed for well over a decade. The Americans made misguided attempts to modulate this Indian internal debate by planting editorials in the lay press and organising numerous press conferences where people, mostly pro-deal lobbyists, spoke out of turn. This made it look like the Americans were openly peddling influence and this over-aggressive marketing style did not go down well in India. The Indians don't like being pushed into something and so the tide of the debate turned against any further overt compromise with the US. It did not help matters that some idiots tried to tag India-Iran relations on to this negotiation cycle. If the Bush Adminstration wanted India to buddy up with Haliburton's ventures in Iran, then surely other ways of communicating that could have been used.

As the Indian negotiators turned from their diffident manner to a more legalistic and narrowly worded communication, the Americans sensed the failure of their pre-publicty campaign and are now moving to secure a new position from where they can avoid blame for the failure. If it can deflect blame for this failure, the Bush Adminstration can hope to save face internally. The time honoured tradition of blaming top bureaucrats for the failure of a policy cannot be pursued in the US at this time. President Bush has already fired Rumsfeld and practically fired the Attorney General Gonzales. If he fired another second rung bureaucrat, it will only add to the pool of former national security grey suits now openly turning against President Bush. So the only alternative left to the US is to try and push the blame on India. That is what is being done with this carefully orchestrated media campaign. The best skills of the US, their unbelievable lead over the world in the area of film making is being used to produce mockumetraries that will lay blame for the failure of this deal on India's doorstep. It is unlikely India will be able to hold its ground in this offensive, the American film making process is the by product of well over fifty years of the most intensive and well organised research into human psychology. This research was carried out by the American intelligence establishment at great cost and was the key to success in the American propaganda during the Cold War. It is always important to bear in mind that the Russians did not believe their own propaganda, the Americans did... thats how good it was. Documentaries made for Discovery Channel, History Channel or Public Broadcasting are seen as impartial information in the US, they are not seen as government propaganda (as for example they are in India).

From an Indian perspective, it does not make sense to fall prey to the American national obsession with television dramas. We have other pressing concerns. So long as the communication is clear, the prospect of further negotiations remains. To the best of my understanding the PM has done everything in his power to get the Indian point of view out. Despite what you hear, he is not to blame for this mess. If anything keep a careful eye on the Karan Thapar types who will promptly air the American inspired blame card.

At the present time the Non-Proliferation Ayatollahs have been able to save themselves, however their time is largely coming to an end. The present success will blind them to the reality that the bulk of the nuclear industry's interests are now turning against them. Unlike the Non-Proliferation Ayatollahs, the nuclear industry views reprocessing as an inevitable consequence of global energy utilisation patterns. The nuclear industry implicitly supports an expansion of its markets. This is a far cry from the 70s when the NPT was concieved. At that time the nuclear industry was small, and largely devoted itself to making weapons. Uranium was the king and as long as the P5 could make enough of it for their bombs, controlling reprocessing and limiting Uranium access in places like India was acceptable. That is how this regime came about. Today this is no longer so, and it is quite obvious that none of the Non-Proliferation Ayatollahs grasp this.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Post-Musharraf Pakistan - Some Comments.

The Daily Times has quoted the Economist Business Asia Intelligence Unit report and listed the range of options for a post-Musharraf Pakistan.

I don't read the Economist, I feel it all too often suffers from the bias of its reputed observers. In short I think they are idiots when it comes to India and Pakistan.

The prevalent western bias when talking about India and Pakistan is that the symptoms of discord are mistaken for the cause of discord.

For example, someone like Naom Chomsky talks about the Kashmir issue as if it is a "cause" of substantial discord between India and Pakistan. He does not grasp that Kashmir is the symptom of a greater failing in India-Pakistan relations. Kashmir is merely a way of Pakistan articulating its hostility towards India, there is nothing specific to Kashmir and the Pakistanis could as easily choose a number of other topics to articulate their hostility.

The core of Pakistani hostility lies in their fear of Indian dominance.

This fear of dominance is the result of a peculiar national philosophy, which stressed that a "Hindu" India was trying to undermine a "Muslim" Pakistan. In order to defeat this evil "Hindu" scheme, "Muslim" Pakistan was to project its leadership of Muslims in the subcontinent. Kashmir is simply *a* way to project Pakistan's leadership of the subcontinent's muslims, and tragically for the Pakistanis, it is a way that is not working too well for them.

The fear of Indian dominance actually reflects a deeper crisis in Pakistani nationalism, the inability to articulate a workable vision of a nation. The absence of a visible icon of nationhood, the Pakistani search for a national vision intensifies.

The removal of Musharraf can only occur if the SSG units guarding him switch loyalty. This is in the nature of the praetorian state.

Such an act will demonstrate two things: firstly the "Unity of Command" no longer works reliably, and secondly the moral leadership of the Army will now be tightly bound to the dictates of the Mullahs.

These two things will diminish the dominance of the Army on Pakistani national affairs. Thanks to the Pakistan Army, no structure of power, and no logic of power other than the language of violence survives in Pakistan today. The Pakistan Army legitimised the use of violence of political ends and after their removal from a position of dominance, all forces in the Pakistani polity will act to seek leadership of Pakistan through violence and the Pakistani Army will not be able to stop them. This is a slipperly slope which will eventually lead to the Pakistan Army losing its place at the apex of Pakistani society.

What does this mean for India?

I do not wish to comment on the implications in the nuclear arena. On more general matters I can say the following.

We in India have relied on the Pakistani Army to ensure that violence inspired by Pakistani interest follows a somewhat predictable pattern. By controlling access of groups to arms and money, the Pakistani Army has been able to imprint its will on violent acts inside India's borders. If the Pakistan Army loses its dominance inside Pakistan, its control over the arms trade could weaken. The violence within our borders would become less predictable as it would not be correlated to the political health of some Pakistan Army supported government.

A rise in the levels of violence in Pakistan will most certainly consume some of the arms stockpiled in Pakistan. Additionally if the Pakistan Army falls into factions, then the control over the arms dumps will be a source of strife. Maintaining control over these dumps will also require trained and reliable manpower. Such manpower is easily found in most Jihadi groups in Pakistan. With Jihadis running around in Pakistan desperate to protect their homeworlds, the outflow of Jihadis from Pakistan will largely ebb.

As things currently stand in Pakistan, certain groups control the flow of narcotics in Pakistan and the banking of economic gains from such trade. It is possible that sufficient unrest in Pakistan could disturb this pattern and disrupt the flow of heroin into India. Street prices of heroin could rise as a result of such disruptions. Higher prices would ensure that local underworld faction compete aggressively for control over the trade and that could ensure more violence on India's streets.

There are likely to be other political problems as well. A number of political groups in India have attempted in the recent past to build bridges to Pakistan by agreeing to be Pakistan's proxies in India. The loss of their political partners will cause them to act erratically as they will assume that their adversaries will soon move to eliminate them.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Indispensible General Musharraf... ?

There seems to be a growing unease in the West with Pakistan's current leadership.

The number of anti-Musharraf editorials in the American inspired press are going up and the great Aziz miyan, economic miracle worker of Pakistan, is being targetted. Aziz miyan is Musharraf's link to the major money movers. If Aziz myan has to be axed, well then, General Musharraf has to go around and find a replacement. Finding a financier you can trust, that is a lot of work.

Utterances attributed to the British Ambassador in Islamabad are quite scandalous. If this is the mood in Britannia, well... that can't be too good for the indispensible Gen. Musharraf.

Gen. Musharraf is facing another problem, he is seen as President Bush's friend. Domestically this can have some benifits... but internationally this can be very bad, President Bush has few admirers and those that can't strike against Mr. Bush may choose to vent their bile against Gen. Musharraf. Certainly nailing General Musharraf to the wall is a way for some people to get back at President Bush.

As the Indians that count are now finding out that shaking hands with Bush means becoming the target of everyone who has a reason to dislike that name.

For the record, I would like say that "We" (i.e. me, my tapeworm - Maurice, and my friends) are apolitical people. We do not get drawn into the politics of personalities and are more directly concerned with national interests.

I find myself thanking Allah for blessing us unbelievers with great treasures... the treasures of a inward looking national philosophy, a tradition of tolerance, and above all else a constitutional sense of nationalism.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Lal Masjid Operation: Hamid Gul's Assurances.

Hamid Gul gave a speech to the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA). The LHCBA usually seats some of the most influential lawyers in Pakistan. Hamid's presence here speaks to an attempt by the Islamists in the military to reach out to civilian groups in their anti-Musharraf agitation.

In his speech Hamid Gul said

"I will act as a safety valve between the army and the masses if Musharraf tries to confront the masses."

The Lal Masjid operation and an offensive of sorts against Maulana Fazlullah in the tribal areas have both been shelved. The reason may have been resistance from within the Military Islamists like Hamid Gul. Hamid's talk at the LHCBA may be his all too famous big mouth at work, Hamid is full of ambition and often rushes where others fear to tread, but it may (in an imperfect way) reflect a deeper fact which has thus far eluded our attention.

If this is the case, i.e. if the Hamid Gul types in the Pakistan Army have been able to stop Musharraf from beating up the Lal Masjid people, then I submit to you that the balance of power has already shifted in Pakistan. The ISI Core - that fine mix of serving and retired military Islamists in the Inter Services Intelligence - have positioned themselves at an advantage. Maulana Ghazi's self congratulatory speeches are evidence of this sense of victory.

A critical piece of the puzzle fell into place yesterday where I read this piece by Alex Stolar in the News. Alex works for Micheal Krepon, and I think is voicing things Alex is writing things he has heard Krepon mutter off camera, how else does an undergraduate on an summer internship know that

"Today, the (Pakistan) military's Strategic Plans Division devotes over 8,000 men, mostly undercover, to protecting Pakistan's weapons and fissile material"

The Stolar piece reeks of over confidence in the Pakistani ability to keep things managed. Granted Stolar is kid with a pen and thinks he is smarter than everyone else, but is he really stupid enough to go charging into an issue like Pakistan's nuclear C&C, when most American experts are giving Pakistan a wide berth? I doubt it. Stolar is reflecting the general unspoken consensus among US experts about Pakistan.

This kind of talk hints at the possibility that the Lal Masjid drama is being staged. One can only wonder if the Pakistan experts in the US are able to grasp that the actors have a mind of their own in this drama and that the mind of the average Pakistani is what this battle is for.

Surely they realise that the man with the finger on the big red button in Pakistan may be a Pakistan Army man of the suit and boot variety but what goes on in his mind - especially in that sphere of his brain where right and wrong are decided - may become more susceptible to the views of the Islamists than to the entreaties of America's Pakistan experts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lal Masjid Operation: Some basic points

The operation at Lal Masjid appears to have been shelved, for the moment ... or so they say.

We may have a little time to discuss some of the fundamentals at work here.

All "Khakis" support Musharraf. No Khaki wants to be second to a Mullah, not in Pakistan. The ISI may be heartily sick of Musharraf's unannounced policy detours and they may want to convey to Musharraf that this is not the way a fauji behaves with another but they have to back him if they are to have a counterbalance to the Mullahs.

The ISI's double game makes a surgical operation difficult. Musharraf will need all manner of troops for post-operational contingencies so any operational troops will have to come from reserve units from places like Gujranwala or Bahawalpur. I anticipate that the operation itself will not consume more than a brigade of soldiers and at least a company of the "Counter Terrorist" SSG which we saw "exercising" around at Cherat recently will be involved in actually securing the leadership of the Masjid. The Lal Masjid people will not be able to resist such a force, even when applied with a paucity of actionable intelligence.

The Mullahs know that Maulana Aziz will lose so they are making sure that he fights this battle alone. The MMA and the rest of the groups are distancing themselves from him so as to avoid negative fallout from the incident. From the MMA perspective Lal Masjid is just a pawn on the chessboard. The MMA is keen to depict credible leadership, and not seem like zealots. If Musharraf approaches the MMA and the Deobandi top brass for approval for a military operation, they will give it to him, after all they were the ones that declared him Sultan-e-Adil.

Thus in a battle for control over the Lal Masjid compound- Musharraf will prevail.

However this is not a really a battle for physical space. This is a battle for control over the Pakistani soul, the national sacred space, the moral sphere of Pakistan. Musharraf's tactical thinking style makes grasping this difficult. A victory on the tactical plane will only come at great moral cost. Musharraf will be seen to have used force against a man advocating the most simple of moral choices. The Khakis will be seen as a bunch of school yard bullies. It is unclear if the "unity of command" will survive in an atmosphere where the Army is seen as a morally corrosive influence. If and when he strikes the Lal Masjid, Musharraf will win the battle but lose the war.

A number of attacks are occuring on fuel tankers going across the Pak-Afghan border to resupply US troops stationed there. The presence of these tankers is a manifestation of Pakistan's much advertised role as the "entrepot to Central Asia". Choking this supply line destablises the entire US military presence in Central Asia and negates Pakistan' projected role in the region. If the security of the supply line continues to be eroded in this fashion, the US will have to insist that Musharraf deal with Anti-US groups in Pakistan more firmly and that could act as a trigger for the operation against the Lal Masjid.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Confrontation at Lal Masjid: A Pakistani Bluestar in the works

It appears that the confrontation at the Lal Masjid is slipping into a Pakistani version of Bluestar.

It may be recalled that Op Bluestar in 1984, was able to check the slide in the security situation, however both actions deeply alienated the Sikh population and the deeply controversial operation still inflames passions among people today.

The tactical success of Bluestar was limited by the availability of actionable intelligence to the conflict resolution team. At least a part of this failure was due to the demoralisation of the Punjab Police and the infiltration of Bhindranwale sympathizers into the ranks of the local administration and political groups. The ineffectiveness of the Punjab Police effectively blinded the conflict resolution team and led them down a path which prevented a surgical solution of the dispute.

In Pakistan, the conflict resolution team will have to rely on support from ISI and their role in this matter has been dictated by their interest in keeping good offices with the various Jihadi groups. It is unlikely they will approach the provision of intelligence support to this operation with any degree of enthusiasm. And so any operation of this nature is going to quickly run aground, even if the ISI just assumes a passive agressive posture.

The analogy between Maulana Abdul Aziz and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale grows. It may be worthwhile for the old hands re-read Bulbul Brar's book at this point to see what other similarities pop up.

Tackling the NPA.

The NPA will be much happier if India makes some promises to get this deal through and then breaks them at some later date. This will allow the NPA to go on with their ritual abuse of all things Indian for another eternity. By going down this path India will hand America the moral upper hand and the NPA will emerge as the uncontested moral leaders of the world. A possible gain in this is that the US will then be able to anything it pleases to its vast nuclear stockpile without the slightest scrutiny.

This desire for dominance is the root of the NPA moralising and after the July Agreement, the NPA feared a loss of status inside the US. So they have repeatedly attempted to discredit President Bush and his Adminstration publicly in an effort to bouy their own failing political stock in D.C.

Unfortunately the NPA have met their match in India. The political descendants of Mahatma Gandhi, innately grasp the nature of moral supremacy and everything it entails. They also know that the US seeks to whitewash its actions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki by asserting the moral leadership of the world in the matter of nuclear weapons. The descendants of Homi Bhabha are all too aware of the fact that the entire US technological might is being used to leverage this outcome.

Gandhiji taught people that its okay to take blows and bullets if you have to, but there is no sense in conceding the moral upper hand.

The Indian Government will not acquiese to conceding the moral imperative. The NPA and their agitation over the India-US nuclear deal is unlikely to bring India any closer to the the US desire to pretend that Hiroshima and Nagasaki simply happened due to no fault on part of the US.

As long as the NPA continue to dominate the public stage, any meaningful progess on the India-US nuclear deal will remain absent.

Events in Pakistan

A recent article by Seema Goyal.

After 1998, any occasion where someone attempts to rework political contracts in Pakistan, automatically becomes a matter of interest to India.

Even if its the so called "best bet" or any other player. We have to watch it. No it is not distracting, it is what some people in India do for a living.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Aahh... Seema Mustafa... (Roll Eyes)


I came across this gem from Seema Mustafa.

It has many quotable quotes such as,

So in off the record briefings that governments excel in — the more insecure they are the more comfortable they feel the need for select, unattributable briefings — the scientists have been roundly criticised for opposing the nuclear deal, and not allowing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his government to completely compromise Indian sovereignty in the process.

Seema dear, no government official is under an obligation to tell you a damn thing... especially if they don't trust you.

At every attempt the media has tried to shape the debate on the nuclear deal to suit the interests of external powers. The consistent overuse of media penetrations by interests hostile to this deal in the US is gravely limiting what the Government can/cannot say to reporters about this matter.

The Indian media will now have to prove its ability to function as a responsible creature before it is ever entrusted with information of value!

Let me tell you a few fundamental things about the Indo-US nuclear deal, this is something that is fundamentally obvious, but might get lost in the large amount of pillow talk with "sources".

1) The biggest problem right now in India is a growing nexus of disparity in an extremely large population size. We anticipate that the population of India will be 1.6 Billion by 2050. Not even in mythology have so many people lived off this land. The strain on resources will be indescribably intense. Disparity forms a basis for political features in any society, so it is in India, and maintaining even the most basic political stability mandates maintaining a tight grip on the nexus of disparity.

2) Some 600-800 million of these 1.6 Billion are going to be young i.e. less than 30 years old. They will have wants and desires and they will agitate intensely for satisfaction. They will feel the nexus very sharply. We are an advanced civilisation capable of sustaining multiple narratives under one roof, but the ability to satisfy the demands of the young is the key to the stability of the entire political system.

3) One of the biggest demands will be for steadily improving living standards, we are going to have to improve the entire populations access to food (and water) resources, energy, healthcare, ecological protections and information on a scale that has never been attempted before. This requires the government to take very big steps to setup local reserves of required to meet contingencies on a long time scale.

4) Without a domestic source (i.e. cheap!! subsidised!! easily accessible for the poorest of the poor Indians!!) of energy, the Government will not be able to meet the nation's needs. Emerging global constraints on energy use demand that the energy resource be renewable. This means we have to go in for Homi Bhabha's closed fuel cycle. However this also means we reduce our dependence on imported carbon fuels.

5) This is where the confrontation with the US begins. The entire US economy runs on cheap energy. The energy in the US is cheap because the "Government of the US" (that fine mix of public institutions and private industry) effectively subsidises the price of energy. Any attempt in India to restructure its energy market (i.e. with 800 million customers) will theoretically impair the American ability to keep their subsidy racket going. So a sense of paranoia over inflating energy costs could make America want to control India's access to new energy resources.

6) From India's perspective this is unacceptable. We cannot become dependent on foreign fuel imports. If we import Uranium from the US sources, we cannot allow the trade to come with constraints on our development of the three phase cycle. We cannot buy Uranium from them if they won't let us reprocess it. We can't buy reactors from them, if they won't share the technology required to manufacture the spares in India. We cannot allow them to dictate what weapons we make or how we make them - that completely contravenes all notions of soverignity.

7) We are willing to observe certain voluntary moratoriums but we can't make any bigger promises that we wont do whatever it takes to protect ourselves - if the situation goes south - as it might when the heavily planned American restructuring of their energy inefficient economy runs into turbulence.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My guesstimate of the maximalist American position


I am attempting to guess what the maximalist US position on the Indo-US nuclear deal might be.

Here is what I could come up with:

1) The US believes it dominates the World. India by consequence should submit to the US by allowing its ideas a "right of way". By imposing unacceptable ideas on India and then forcing India to negotiate for their removal the US makes India confront the issue of their dominance and ultimately accept it. Please understand the mere act of allowing the US to make such imposing demands on India's behaviour itself can be construed to be an acceptance of their dominance. By ritually emasculating the democratically elected leader of the Government of India, the US brings India - as a whole - to a position of subservience.

2) Containing any expansion of India's weapons making capacity or capability is vital to reduce belligerence in India's elite. The delicately set table of the high powers of the world is not prepared to recieve another major player. India must be made to sit at the little table. If India becomes bigger than it is seen right now, America - heretofore the only nation that could rightfully lay claim to being the greatest democracy will have fallen by the wayside.

3) Irrespective of whether India accepts US demands on its behaviour in the nuclear weapons arena, US firms must be given access to India's energy market. Ensuring a presence of US firms on the Indian energy market will allow the US to maintain its cross subsidising scheme in the global energy market. This in turn will allow the US to defray the costs of maintaining its own highly inefficient and polluting national economy. The US posture on India's nuclear weapons can be deliberately hardened if need be to secure concessions for US firms in India's energy sector. Pakistan's current utility lies only in its ability to frustrate India's solo attempts to access the carbon energy resources of West and Central Asia.

4) Indian access to the US market constitutes an element of strong leverage with the US. India is not the first country to have a major stake in the US economy, Japan, China and Saudi Arabia have their stakes too, why should India be given leverage when these other "play by the book" powers don't have it? India should never be in a position to use this leverage to America's disadvantage. Keeping the Indian IT giants and the "outsourcing" buddies in the US in constant fear of being shut down by legislative means is a logical way to minimise the risk of them turning against the US itself.

5) The Indian economy is service sector driven and still largely agricultural, it is unprepared for a confrontation with a first world state as it lacks the industrial and mineral resources necessary for such a conflict. Goading India into a confrontation against even a pseudo first world power like China is likely to create sufficient economic strain to permit considerable maneouver room for US policy. Precipitating such conflicts, i.e. ones India is unprepared for, is a good way to keep the Indians off balance. Leveraging US information dominance in certain sectors is the key to making such a thing happen.

I do not know if this is a correct view of things, I may even be completely wrong about this. But it is time this came out into the open. There seems little sense in keeping this to whispers in back offices.

Like the man said, "Voldemort is back"

Computer simulations and testing: A small clarification


The issues of using computers to test nuclear weapons designs has been brought up in some contexts. Some of this needs to be clarified.

Computers can be used to carry out some simulations which can aid in weapons design, but there are aspects of weapons design that cannot be simulated on a computer, and these simply have to be tested.

Computers can be used to solve certain equations. As long as the behaviour of the weapon can be described by those equations, the computer can in theory be used to address that design issue, if computational resources are available.

There are other aspects of a weapon (for example age related deterioration of warheads, or the sort of stuff that makes the American W76 warhead seem like a near total waste of money) which cannot be described by a "nice" equation and these problems can then only be crudely approximated on an exceptionally powerful computer which India has not yet built. ... a powerful computer that can also be used to solive "nice" equations very very fast.

Like the nuclear reactor itself, a very high performance computer is itself a "dual use" technology and the development of such systems eg. computer arrays for parallel processing usually makes the NPA's see red.

Computations can be used to optimise the yeild of a weapon. However in order to make this claim with credibility, a weapon has to be optimised with the computer aided design process and then field tested.

As I had said earlier, India can have an arsenal of a few weapons if it is allowed to optimise and test new designs with better yeild or it can have larger arsenal with smaller yeild but then it will have to vastly expand its high performance computing ability and it will still have to carry out periodic field tests to make sure that the computations are giving the right answers.

The Americans will also need to carry out such tests to ensure that their stockpile preservation programs and simulations are yeilding the right answers and that is why they have not signed any test-ban treaties. The prospect of a W76 going off when it is not supposed to has kept many of Americans up at night and a lot of money has been spent on understanding what happens when a weapon ages. This kind of activity has remained a largely hidden cost in the maintenance of such a large arsenal.

If India carries out more tests, the CTBT will suffer extremely unpleasant shocks. If India goes in for a larger arsenal, the FMCT will lose relevance *and* India will build a very large (essentially dual use) high perfomance computation capability essentially hollowing out the entire framework of computation related technology control regimes.

Either way we play this game, the NPA world view is going to have to be adjusted.

People have to make that choice what they prefer, an India with a larger arsenal and vastly expanded high performance computational capability or an India with a smaller arsenal but testing higher yeild weapons.

No one in India can make that choice for them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The India US nuclear deal: an incipient conflict


There is a total mismatch between what the Indians want and the Americans want from the deal. I am not talking about the long term aspects of the deal - I am talking about what the people want right now.

The Americans want the Indians to pretend that something is being done towards clearing the hurdles for the deal, even if nothing is really being done. This is a face saving measure to ensure that the Bush Administration does not lose its standing among the captains of American industry. Unlike other face saving measures to appease the NPA jihadis or the NSG riff-raff like the low countries of Europe etc... this is a real credibility problem. Please try to understand that no one gives a hoot if some some two bit European bureaucrat or NPA webmaster feels slighted by President Bush's gesture towards India, those people count for nothing. But if President Bush appears to be unable to make India receptive to the idea of imports from American industry - then he loses face among the only people that matter in the US. The Americans want the appearance of "progress" to keep face with the Industrialists.

The Indian Government on the other hand cannot be seen to bend even a micron at this stage. The political mood on the Indian side says that it is best to openly say nothing is being done, especially if nothing is being done... There are all manner of political pressure points on GoI and the Prime Minister right now, his ability to indulge in amateur political theatrics so popular with the American public is next to nil. What applies to the PM applies twice as much to his men on the ground. I know it doesn't seem that way, but GoI has its back the wall, and we can't be seen to make any concessions at this point. It is quite simply political suicide and the PM is not in the habit of drivelling, so don't suddenly expect him to start something like that for the benifit of the US public.

The NPA as you all know have literally laughed their way to the bank on this deal. They first took money from every Bush hater, Pakistani and Chinese handmaiden they could find and created that god-awful mess in the Congress. Now they are going to garner support from the very same industrial houses that initially supported the deal in Congress by promising the industrialists that "getting tough" on India is the way to get India to open its nuclear markets.
This allows the NPA to keep spouting out the same anti-India bullshit. In the long run this sea of bullshit from them is going to drown everyone including the NPA themselves, and they know it, but you are never going to get people like Kimball, Krepon etc... to admit to that.

A way has to be found to navigate this conflict.

A step in the right direction is recognise the reality of the situation and adjust expectations accordingly.

The aftermath of Maulana Dadullah's death


It appears that Maulana Dadullah is actually dead.

When the reports first emerged, I did not know whether to believe them, the US campaign in Afghanistan has been marked by many claims and counter claims and the Pakistanis for their part have kept the picture cloudy with deliberate leaks of juicy information. It is nearly impossible to trust a media report in this environment coming from the region.

This action is incredibly provocative and will spark a serious bout of violence inside Pakistan. The Pakistani ISI asked the remanents of the Taliban to fight the Americans in Afghanistan. In return the ISI promised that it would give them shelter in Pakistan. It was under this contract that the Neo Taliban was raised and it was Pakistani military support that enabled the Neo Taliban to become an effective challenge to the US in Afghanistan.

Now the Pakistanis are suggesting that Mullah Dadullah was killed in an airstrike at night. The Afghans are disagreeing with this account and claiming the kill for themselves. The Coalition forces are keeping very quiet about who exactly did this. This confusion caused me to wonder if this was some morale boosting psyop by the Americans, given the hammering they have been taking recently over Iraq and the "War on Terror", it would not have been entirely unexpected.
What should however have been expected is that the lack of information has compounded the ignominy of the Kakar tribe now having to bargain for the release of Maulana Dadullah's body.

Though Maulana Dadullah was killed in Afghanistan, the Neo-Taliban probably suspect that his death could only have been caused by accurate intelligence on his movements having been leaked from Pakistan. Taliban friendly elements of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammedi (now led by Maulana Fazlullah) and a number of Waziri tribes have had occasion to see how the Pakistani ISI and Pervez Musharraf periodically let the American surge across the Afghan border and attack the "sanctuaries". It is said that in the past Mullah Omar, Maulana Dadullah's boss, indicated that he did not believe the "sanctuary" idea put out by the ISI.

I feel that reflexively the Neo Taliban will place blame for this incident on the ISI and on Pervez Musharraf. The current environment with Khatib of Lal Masjid pouring scorn on the dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf does not help ease the situation. Islamists everywhere, even those not connected with the Neo Taliban are more likely to believe that the ISI sold Maulana Dadullah out under Musharraf's orders.

We have already seen a gunfight at a Pakistan Afghanistan border post, and we have seen an bombing of the Marhaba Hotel in Peshawar. In the gunfight at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border post, an officer of the Pakistan forces suddenly got up and shot an american officer sitting in front of him to death. The suicide bomber in Marhaba blast is believed to have been a member of the Maulana Dadullah's Kakar tribe and he was supposed to be targetting "American spies" in the hotel. It may be recalled that the Kakar clan are one of the few Afghani tribes that weilds considerable influence inside the Pakistan Army.

Though the immediate burst of violence seems to be targetting Afghans and American/ISAF troops in revenge, it is only a matter of time before the Kakar tribesmen make their displeasure felt elsewhere. It is going to take some serious footwork on the part of the ISI and Gen. Musharraf to ensure that the Kakar angst is deflected on to someone other themselves.

The crises seem to be multiplying rapidly.

Each crisis strengthens the call for a reform of the political contract between Musharraf and the Pakistani people. It is often hard at times like this to remember that open discord in society strengthens the case for dictatorship.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Understanding what is going on in Karachi

Pakistani politics is a complicated affair.

In the time that Musharraf has been at the top, the situation for the traditional political forces in Pakistan has worsened. All the big three parties , the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP-P) of Benazir Bhutto and the Muttahida Qaumi Mahaz (MQM) of Altaf Hussain have lost ground politically. In order to provide a "King's Party" all three formations were dissected and that peculiar entity the "PML- Qaid-e-Azam" group was created to be Musharraf's civilian cabinet.

In Musharraf's time the Islamists have grown stronger and their political front end, the Muttahida Majlis e Amal have established a sizable electoral presence. As things stand today, Musharraf's bizarre position on affairs is providing an excellent focal point for Islamist activity. Even a relatively low ranked mosque like Lal Masjid is able to openly challenge his office without fear of repraisals. It seems that Musharraf's actions on Sept 12 have left in some kind of perpetual moral debt to the Islamists and they have used that to leverage a bigger political spread.

This does not work well for the PML-N, the PPP-P and the MQM. Unlike the Army, these political parties actually have to have an electoral presence and so they are keen to see something similar to the leverage of the Islamists appear. The PML-N was very skilled in picking up the CJP issue. The PPP for its part offered itself as a political proxy for Musharraf in his problems with the Islamists - this was the secret deal that the Bhutto/Zardari clan and Musharraf's people were negotiating. The MQM has come out in support of Musharraf claiming kinship and opposition to Islamist ideology.

In Karachi we are seeing the three political parties parrying in an effort to showcase their street presence and power. Karachi is the life line of Pakistan, over 90% of Pakistan's external legal and illegal trade is sourced via the Karachi Port. Karachi is the center of all Pakistani financial activities. A show of dominance in Karachi is vital to proving your claim to status in Pakistan.

Needless to say the violence provides just the provocation Musharraf needs to impose an emergency and suspend the parliament. This act might seem inviting to Musharraf as it will apparently set the clock on the Islamists access to parliamentary power and leverage. If Musharraf can then agree to a political contract with the PML-N, the PPP-P and the MQM afterwards (as Tanvir Ahmad Khan suggested earlier), then it is possible that an MMA-free parliament can be "re-elected", and the Islamist influence in Pakistan brought to more manageable levels.

Ofcourse it may also be that the situation can proceed more smoothly if Musharraf steps aside and someone else takes his place. That ofcourse may explain the not so silent whispers of replace Musharraf emanating from Washington.

It seems entertainment is imposed upon us.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tanvir Ahmad Khan's article - Fissures within the Pakistani State

Foreign Secretary (r) Tanvir Ahmad Khan has written an article on the prevailing situation in Pakistan. The article is a wonderful summary of the state of things in Gen. Musharraf's reign. In the article he says,

Pakistan needs a new compact between army and the political class, a serious redefinition of civil-military relations. The present movement has not as yet attained a critical mass to force Musharraf to write this compact. But national interest demands that he should lead this transition rather than preside over political regression.

Secy. Tanvir Ahmad Khan is echoing the tone of what another member (now departed) of the disreputable forum stated many moons ago,

Pakistan will collapse when the Army, the Mullahs and the Drug Barons cannot reach a workable contract.

Such a situation could easily arise when the Army and the Mullahs demand revenue from drug transactions for conflicting political aims.

The new enlightenment: Enron and the Nuclear Deal

Once upon a time, in a place I had almost forgotten, I had the pleasure of having coffee with two gentlemen. The first was a new age Raushania(*) somewhat ambitious and adventurous sort, the second was enthusiastic but steeped in the ways of old. Both were keen to be the next big thing on Wall Street and both had that most annoying of Wall Street youngling habits - incessantly talking big. Their differences however became apparent as soon as the talk turned to Enron.

I was young then, and quite frankly not the malevolent old bat I have become of late, so I chose to keep quiet and listen when the Raushania sang out in favour of Enron and its "business model". The first chap argued that Ken Lay was genius, because he constantly sought out new ways of making money and quite frankly as long as he found *a* way of making money, the rest didn't matter. This stance produced an extremely discordant note from the second. The second abandoned his traditional southern drawl and in a voice more reminiscent of old New England, said that Ken was playing with fire, for all his new ideas, he had to show returns on old ones and demonstrate that he was actually capable of making projects work. Rolling in debt, was not going to work to his credibility, the second man boomed.

Predictably the conversation ended there and I drifted off to get something to eat. Once the second gentleman was out of earshot, the Raushania started up again, and I let him continue. "They have lived in darkness all their lives, and are afraid to come into the Light" he thundered, "In a globalized investment environment, with imperfect access to information, it will always be possible to sell yourself." I couldn't decide whether I wanted milk in my coffee or not and I forget where his rants went after that.

In retrospect, it seems the Raushania was on to something.

In the corporate world it is not so much about how well your current enterprise does. Ultimately all enterprises have a lifespan and it is difficult to keep any enterprise profitable at all times. So what really matters is your mental agility. How quickly can you turn a bad situation around into a good one... You have to show the ability to come up with new ideas and turn them around into new ways of making money. There is really no emphasis on sustainability.

In the US this culture is particularly prevalent. At the top echelons of the corporate ladder, everything below you largely runs itself and your input is only required when it doesn't. So after a point the only thing for the corporate people to do is strategise new ways of making money. The strategising involves doing all manner of paper work and intelligence gathering to evaluate risks in possible future ventures. The higher the project future value of a venture, the higher is your apparent stock inside the company and the corporate world. Your wealth is virtual, in much the same way as the feudal lord had "family wealth", i.e. a position of social dominance transmitted via inheritance - not necessarily translatable into actual physical wealth.

This culture influences the way things are done in the US. Per the dictates of this culture, every attempt is made to overproject the apparent value of a"deal". All manner of histrionics and public dramas accompany the pitch. A very targetted psywar is an integral part of the "deal". The emphasis is on creating as much interest in the venture as possible while making as little commitment on the ground as possible. In the US itself, if the deal does not eventually go through it is fine, because all that is important is that it look like the deal maker "at least tried to do something about a difficult problem" and the spin machine can always make it look like it was a "no fault or someone elses' fault" failure. No one asks whether he or she actually made the situation worse by "trying" (i.e. indulging in a foolish publicity stunt), the British concept of "queering the pitch" does not exist in the US. Since so much of the American grand narrative is about "starting afresh in a land of opportunity", Americans actually believe that there is no such thing as lasting negative consequences.

Everyone in the US loves getting cash in hand (and who doesn't!?), but only the US is a vague promisory note of payment considered equivalent to actual cash in hand, only in the US are they willing to use a "Future Projected Value" as some sort of indicator of how valueable a transcation might be. This culture of "Projected Value" worship is supported at the very least by a large pool of individual investors - gamblers - that access the market via the internet, but also many a time, larger financial institutions keep this going as well. Despite all the appearances of a studied sense of neutrality and objectivity, as Arthur Anderson proved, people are always fallible.

We Indians think differently. Given the peculiar situation regarding resources in our country, we cannot afford any other way of thinking. Ours is not a forgiving political culture, memories tend to be nearly infinite on our side and having suffered a lot during the thousands of years of evolution as a culture, we tend not get carried away by youthful exuberance that pervades all things American. We are open to change if it takes us towards our goals (note emphasis). We are less interested in youthful frivolity if we aren't really going to get anywhere with it. A billion Indians offer us overwhelming amounts of mindless crap to deal with on a day to day basis, we are not interested in travelling 10,000 miles to get more of the same. A situation where there is no immediate progress towards our goals will be left as is. There are too many demands on our time in India.

Ofcourse my friend on the disreputable forum would argue that this is identical to a "Monkey Trap" scenario that he so ablely crafted years ago.

Yes, as always, what he says is true also.

(*) Raushania: a follower of the Prophet "Roshan" Bayazid. Raushanias (or Illumnati) accepted the arguments of Pir Bayazid that the soul was the only transmigrant and that the Divine manifested in through Prophets (note plural! that kind of thing in 1500-1800 period could get you into a lot of trouble). They mounted a rebellion against the Mughal Empire after a complicated series of political circumstances, and were defeated in the battle of Nangarhar. Pir Bayazid's was rumoured to have made an association with "Hindu Seers" and his challenge to Muslim orthodoxy during the reign of Abul Fath Jalalluddin Akbar was not well recieved....

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The real reason why the NPA hate Indian Mangoes


I recieved a telephone call a week or so ago.

The caller at the end of the line told me that an Air India 747 had landed in New York.

In the hold of this airplane was a consignment of mangoes, some 200 odd kilograms of it, bound for the people that matter in Washington D.C. The Mangoes were only allowed to be exported to the US when they were irradiated to remove harmful bugs in them. This was all part of the July 18th Agreement.

The reporters at the US end might have missed something that our NPA friends picked up.

The irradiators used to treat the mangoes were made by DAE!

After all the effort that the NPA put into labelling the DAE in India as dangerous and incompetent bunch of rogues intent only on making WMD, the policymakers in D.C. still thought it was okay to eat mangoes that had been treated by a DAE manufactured gamma ray irradiator.

The DAE's gamma ray irradiator offers the prospect of revolutionising the American produce storage industry. This industry is currently dependent on very wasteful and inefficient refridgeration technology to transport fresh vegetables. The high cost of this technology contributes to making fresh fruit and vegetables expensive on the American dining table. This high cost of fresh fruits and vegetables plays a significant part in precipitating the obesity crisis in the U.S.

Ofcourse the DAE had only started the gamma ray irradiator program to deal with storage problems the Food Corp. of India godown system. The persistent shortages due to poor storage of things like onions had led to the irradiator technology being embraced by farming collectives in India which could not easily access cold storage facilities.

But it seems that the DAE's irradiator has applications in the US too.

This is the key notion that the NPA have been battling to remove from the minds of US policymakers. They are desperate to ensure that no one in the US thinks that the DAE can do anything useful for the world.

The mangoes change all that. Not only is a technology developed in the third world is finding an application in a first world economy - it is a technology developed by the DAE of India - much reviled by the NPA.

Remember the DAE is currently implementing a number of biodigestor systems. At least one of these is being successfully tested at the Siachen Base camp. A large DAE manufactured biodigestor has been operating at an abattoir and a hospital in Mumbai for well over two years.

Could this technology too find application in the US? perhaps as part of a hybrid power source for cattle farms? or perhaps as part of a captive generation plant at a waste management facility?

Given the amount of biodegradable waste the US generates in a day, I don't see why not!

All it took to push the Mangoes thing over the edge was interest in the NRIs. So think about the biodigestor, and look at the DAE annual report for other things you might be able to use in other countries.

Now do you understand why the NPA hate the mangoes so much?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Reinventing the wheel and assorted bullshit


I was following a discussion on the disreputable forum.

There is some talk of Indian efforts at DAE being akin to reinventing the wheel. This reinventing the wheel is actually very old NPA psyops and so now it needs to be answered.

The CANDU series had to "reinvented" in India after the technology denial regime was put in place in 1974 by the NPA.

Today the FBR technology can't be "reinvented" because it has not been "invented" anywhere else. Yes other nations have developed Fast Breeders but this technology was never allowed to progress to a really commercially viable stage, so most of the technology to make breeders work commercially has to be "invented" in India.

The three stage closed fuel cycle can't be "reinvented" in India because it has not been "invented" elsewhere. That means things like commercially operated Thorium-Uranium MOX fueled reactors or Thorium-Plutonium MOX reactors are all going to be "invented" in India.
A few countries have tried out some experimental designs but no one has any working technology that can be "reinvented" in India (or China for that matter).

Is nuclear power a risk? yes it is, but so is continually exploiting carbon fuels without thinking about the environmental impact.

At least in the case of nuclear power the risks are known.

What is the price of remaining dependent on carbon based fuel sources?

At this point the NPA are going to put on a huge show, they are going to do everything in their power to avoid being blamed for the trade disaster that is going to follow India's refusal to buy any American reactors until the July 18th agreement is met to India's satisfaction.

The NPA unwisely put on a show and blocked President Bush's initiative to open the trade door to India for US nuclear industries. The NPA pretended that they could subdue India with such "hard negotiation" tactics. It has not worked, India is far from subdued, the NPA and their South Asia colleagues have misread the GoI.

If the July 18 the agreement is not implemented to our satisfaction, India will seek what is best in its national interest, even if it mean approaching Iran for the necessary fuel supplies. I do not need to tell you what that means for Pakistan, I am sure you can figure it out on your own.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Maulana Fazl ur Rehman: Some Comments


I am disturbed to see certain kinds of remarks being made by some Indians about Maulana Fazl ur Rehman of the Jamaat ul Ulema Islami (JuI-F).

There is a lot of nonsense doing rounds about "lifafas" changing hands and other rubbish about diesel purchases. This is an unhealthy line of thinking for Indians although it may be par for the course in Pakistan.

Maulana Fazl ur Rehman is the son of the Mufti Mehmood who hails from the Dera Ismail Khan area. The late Maulana Mufti Mehmood was a Deobandi scholar who was close to the late Maulana Hussein Ahmad Madani, who as you all know firmly opposed of the partition of India and is the author of the seminal work, Islam aur Muttahida Qaumiyat (Islam and a Unified Nationhood) . This extremely influential document laid the foundation for an extraordinary body of work on pluralism and democray from Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani's successors at Dar ul Uloom Deoband like Maulana As'ad Madani.

It is correct that Maulana Fazl ur Rehman played a major role in the creation of the Taliban and other Islamist radical group (esp. the Harkat ul Mujaheddin) along with other Pakistani Deobandi luminaries like Maulana Shamzai and Maulana Yousuf Ludhianvi. It is also true that Maulana Fazl ur Rehman today exercises considerable influence on the Muttahida Majlis e Amal and on a substantial fraction of the Deobandi seminaries in Pakistan and by consequence he has some influence among the "big five" (HuM, JeM, SSP, LeJ and HuJI). However his name does not elicit a positive response with the LeT and many Jamaat-ud-Dawah (the prosletysing wing of the LeT) and Ahl-e-Hadith leaders are on record openly condemning him.

It is a matter of considerable speculation what precisely goes through the mind of a Pakistani Deobandi jihadi these days. The few that have been captured speak only reluctantly and it is unclear what their real thinking is. All the regular channels of expression, their magazines, the pronouncements of their Maulanas and the speeches of friendly khatibs have been carefully smothered under Pakistani government's censorship. After all the changes that one has seen Gen. Musharraf's "about turn" on Afghanistan and Kashmir put the Jihadis through, one really has only a passing grasp of what their true feelings are on these matters.

Despite what everyone says, it is a matter of record that any meaningul progress in Op Rakshak has been achieved lately only after a careful appraisal of the position of the Pakistan Army and the Muttahida Jihad Council's true position on affairs. People will do well to remember that a deeper understanding of this has allowed the Unified Command to direct its energies in the most efficient and productive manner imaginable. It is foolish to expect the security forces to make progress in a difficult situation without a political policy that is more sensitive to the details of the matter at hand and is thus capable of setting achievable goals for them. Ofcourse these days "Deoband" has become a bad word among some people, but this is a passing fad, and history will very differently.

It is important to keep an eye on the facts of the matter before rushing to conclusions or developing unrealisitic ideas.

India and China: A Perspective.


In response to an email from a reader, I composed the following essay on India-China relations and the situation on the LAC. I am now making the reply public.

The local tactical situation along the Arunachal LAC (Line of Actual Control) has been slowly sliding into China's favor for the better part of his decade. The slide began in the late 60s, but now over the past 40 years things have begun the Chinese have built up Tibet to the point where they can have a barrel over us if they choose to... at least for a month or so before they run out of gas.. quite literally.

What I anticipate is a local flare up where the Chinese may attempt to leverage their local superiority to precipitate a confrontation (you know like the Pakistanis did in Kargil).

Ofcourse as with all things Chinese, this action will be symbolic, more about putting us Indians in our place in Asia. The Chinese will have to be seen to prevail in such a conflict otherwise the pecking order in Asia will change and the matter will escalate to a level where the Chinese might really experience some discomfort. The Chinese for their part are keen to test out their rapid deployment and land-air battle concepts in a relatively controlled battlefield environment with all manner of escalation controls built in. An apparent easy victory against India could get them immense psychological leverage in Taiwan and Burma and even perhaps in Vietnam.

The Americans for their part are really keen to see India and China have a go at each other. The Indian Army of today has forgotten what happened in 1962 and the extent to which US activities at Kalimpong provoked the Chinese. All the Army seems to remember is that China won in 1962. Some people want to avenge that. This makes the views on this matter in India -- seem rather predictable. Ofcourse to face China off in a bigger fight India will have to procure more advanced weapons. Weapons which can only come from the Americans, that creates all sorts of enthusiasm to go to war among the weapons traders and bribe takers. A war where India "loses" will be perfect in some sense because then even more justifications can be made for buying American garbage like C-130s and F-16s.

A war - even a stalemate with China would create negative perceptions of China in India. This would impact the India-China trade which is growing quite steadily and is threatening to overtake India's trade with the west. It should come as no surprise if western powers feel the need to curb this trade in some way.

So a great many forces are pushing us towards a conflict with China, we have to pick our battles carefully and leverage our strengths appropriately.

In such an environment, I feel the key is not be influenced by news items appearing in the media which is vulnerable to foreign influence. Also I feel we need to eschew negative feelings towards the Chinese and shun any idiotic notions of "payback for 1962". There is no point in wasting the lives of Indian soldiers fighting a meaningless showpiece battle over a godforsaken rock. Given the all too delicate Chinese ego, one must also avoid making unnecessarily confrontationist statements about China and about altering the pecking order in Asia, this will force their hand in a conflict.

Unfortunately this message is not reaching those young-at-heart (yes... you know who you are...) in India. The Young-at-Heart think that they need to encourage young people to talk big and aspire for positive things even ones they cannot achieve. That is all fine as long as they also teach the young to talk with a sense of responsibility. Teaching the young to rant uncontrollably is inviting the same sort of menace that Pakistan currently faces.

Despite the compulsive bellyaching of the chatterati, we are in a fine position in all our external conflicts. We have prevailed in the Op. Meghdoot, Vijay and Rakshak theatres. Other places like Rhino, Hifazat, Orchid and All-Clear have shown meaningful gains, and 3 Div has held the line! A few reverses in the Op Falcon theatre should not cause people to lose their heads.

Great care must be taken so as not to squander the gains we have made elsewhere.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The India-Meso American connection

There appears to be an interesting discussion on the disreputable forum.

I don't know the first thing about mesoamerican history but the "connections" being paraded about don't sound very credible.

That said it is true that this topic has not been investigated in the recent past.

Actually most Indian perceptions of history especially those from the last 50 years are all highly eurocentric. That kind of thing was fine as long as Europe was our major trading partner, but this view does not sit well in a globalized world order where the economies of the Americas, China and India are the main drivers of growth.

Times change, and change should not always be unwelcome.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ah... the blame game and another reason to love Pakistan

The blame game has begun.

When Enron fell, no one in the Bush Administration wanted to have anything to do with it. It was no one's fault, certainly not anyone in the Bush Administrations... for sure.

So it has come to pass with the Indo-US nuclear deal, with India clearly batting down for a long fight over the so called "sticking clauses", the Americans who went around selling the idea that India could somehow be coerced into accepting this deal are now trying to back away from and pretend like India never told them anything.

Blame India, that is the new mantra.

A thinly vieled fluff piece in the media here, a tut-tutting editorial err... I mean advertorial in the Indian newspaper of choice there, something that repeats the same message

"Government of India is a bunch of novices, they are naive, they should have known the US would never back down from its own laws.... its all the Indian Government's fault... they are incompetent, they didn't properly represented their interests" etc... etc...

If you want to see who are the US plants in the Indian media just keep an eye on who says that it was India's fault that the agreement failed.

Sit back and relax guys, the fun has just begun.

I note with some amusement, a letter from Hon. Rep. Ed Markey to the President asking him to call on India to cut ties to Iran, how convenient... err.. is Rep. Markey finally realising that the US just lost its leverage in the matter? or does he actually want the US to go to war with Iran?

Does the Hon. Rep. Markey realise that if this deal does not give India the energy it needs, it will take a much deeper interest in Iran. Does he realise what lies between India and Iran? What does Rep. Markey consider of India desire to open new energy routes to the middle east?

Our oblivious NPA friends will ensure that the US ends up going to Iran.

Others certainly do... that would explain why this suddenly appeared.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Redeployment of forces in the Op Rakshak theatre

I note a sense of growing concern over the redeployment of forces in the Op Rakshak theatre. The move has been accompanied by a gradual relaxation of communication barriers between the Srinagar and Muzzafarabad. There is also talk of opening the traditional link to POK via Poonch.

The concern is not misplaced. This is a dangerous but necessary endeavor.

The dangers in it are obvious to all of you, so let me tell you why I feel it is necessary.

Lets start with what Kashmir means to the Kashmiris. The Kashmiri muslims view Kashmir as their homeland, a place to do as they please without external scrutiny. They resent the fact that a large number of troops are stationed there. We in India are familiar with their distaste for all things Indians, we have watched this hatred mature over the last twenty years. The Pakistanis however think that because the Kashmiris are Muslims, they will never be unhappy about Pakistani presence there. Unlike us the Pakistanis are blind to Kashmiri resentment, and given the culture of terror and repression popular among the elite of praetorian Pakistan, the Pakistanis probably believe they can smash the Kashmiris to bits if they want to. The Kashmiris hated having Indian police and army units trampling all over their homelands. I empathise, but I also recognise that the Kashmiris will not exactly welcome Pakistani troops either. A fact that is lost on most Pakistanis.

Kashmiris probably hate the Indian Army to the point where they do not see that the Indian army is the only thing that is now keeping the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba at bay. Once the Indian Army leaves LeT sympathisers and agents will move to wipe out any Kashmiris that disagree with them. It is a naive belief that the Hizbul Mujaheddin will be able to provide security against Lashkar operations. As long as the JeI(J&K) remains closely tied to its Pakistani counterpart, the HM will not be an effective deterrent to the LeT especially in an environment where the LeT is retains its Pakistani military support but the HM loses it. Violence will become endemic here as the Pakistanis will most certainly pursue Kashmir with the desire to secure better access to water from the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers. Whether the politicians in Srinagar like it or not, all work on development projects especially those related to hydelpower and transport will effectively stop when the security forces leave. Kashmir will only sink faster into a mess of its own making.

It is fair to say that Kashmir lacks a leadership that can steer it clear of such troubled waters. The Kashmiri political elite is split. There is a small (and terribly marginalised) faction that favours pluralistic democracy and then the rest are all political opportunitists willing to swing any which way the money flow goes. The bulk of the Kashmiri elite are unrepresentative of the populations and most live atop a mountain of inherited wealth from a land ownership system that never really underwent reform like it did in the rest of India. There are no new economies in place, and the only new economy that the last 20 years had seen, the support and services economy that had built up around the presence of a large number of security troops there, will collapse when the soldiers leave. By contrast the instinct to opportunistically seek short term alliances among the Kashmiris will not cease and slowly but certainly Kashmir will turn into an Afghanistan. Who knows in a decade from now American bombers may even be dropping daisy cutters on Kupwara.

So why am I suggesting that Kashmir be left to the wolves?

Firstly because I am a great believer in the Indian idea that everyone knows what is best for themselves and true to their nature. I admit we cannot save the Kashmiris from themselves. The Kashmiris so far have carefully nurtured a culture of extremely poor political choice, and I see no reason why this choice could be any different. Already a generation of Kashmiris have been murdered in a pointless pursuit of "azaadi", I see no reason to stop the present Kashmiri leadership from sacrificing another generation on the altar of "Kashmir banega Pakistan".

Secondly, I grow increasingly concerned about our troops and their welfare. Prolonged deployments in hostile populations deeply undermine troops morale and effectiveness, so I am not keen to keep our security troops where they are not wanted.

Thirdly securing the valley was necessary only as long as the NH-1A (Western Tier) was the only viable LOC in the region. This is no longer the case. A lot of the vitality of NH-1A was a self fulfilling affair, we secured the 1-Alpha because it was the only route to conflicts in Kargil and Siachen, and we fought the conflicts in Siachen and Kargil because we needed to secure the 1-Alpha. This paradigm has proved costly but there were no alternatives in the age when air mobility and alternatives were limited. Times have changed.

Lastly, many Indian advocates of pluralism argue that a victory of the forces of intolerance would deeply undermine the Indian state. If the state was shown to fail to protect Kashmir from the ravages of the Islamists of Pakistan, then there would be a big crisis of confidence about the Indian government. It is true that if the GoI loses to the Islamists in Kashmir, people will distrust the government but consider the flipside, what will happen when the Islamists win in Kashmir? You all know what sort of a man Geelani is? You know how little he values his own people? What do you feel he will do once he takes over Kashmir? All those of you who saw what the Taliban did know full well what the Islamists will do if they take a hold of Kashmir. Sure today if an Indian Army fellows looks the wrong way at a passing Kashmiri woman, she instantly becomes polluted and impure, but tomorrow when a LeT Jihadi rapes her in the name of Allah or just for fun, will she be considered a houri? okay what if he doesn't rape her just throws acid on her face? will she still be Kashmir ki kali that her family loves and cares for?

I hope I have given you all something to think about.