Monday, December 29, 2008




Gen.David Petraeus, the Commander of the US Central Command, who previously headed the US forces in Iraq, was credited with bringing down the level of violence in Iraq and weakening the capability of Al Qaeda in Iraq by creating a divide between the secular Baathist Arabs of Saddam Hussein's army and local administration and the Wahabi Arabs of Al Qaeda by strengthening various local militias with names such as the Awakening Councils, which had come into existence even before he took over in Iraq.

2. When he was appointed by President George Bush to be the head of the Central Command, which, inter alia, is responsible for the US operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and in the bordering Pashtun areas of Pakistan, he was reported to have set up a brains trust to advise him on a new strategy to be followed against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. While the new strategy is still being worked out, some elements of it are already in the process of being implemented.

3. These include a planned surge in the US forces in Afghanistan in the coming months by inducting another 30,000 troops and the setting up of local militias, which would work on the pattern of the Awakening Councils in Iraq. Many Afghan observers have been expressing doubts whether Petraeus' ideas would work in Afghanistan. The Pashtun society---particularly in Afghanistan--- is different from the Iraqi society. Hatred of non-Muslim foreigners is very strong among the Pashtuns and the hatred of Pashtuns who are perceived as collaborating with non-Muslim foreigners is even stronger. Moreover, the Pashtuns look upon the Arabs of Al Qaeda, now operating from sanctuaries in the North Waziristan area of Pakistan's Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), as their honoured guests and as their co-religionists, who had helped them in driving out the Soviet troops in the 1980s and who are now helping them in their fight to drive out the Americans and other NATO forces.

4. These observers have been saying that the intensifying violence in Afghanistan and the inability of the US-led forces to control it are due to the sanctuaries available to Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban in Pakistani territory and the inability or relcutance of the Pakistan Army to destroy these sanctuaries. While the sanctuaries of Al Qaeda in North Waziristan and of the Taliban in South Waziristan are being repeatedly attacked by the unmanned Predator aircraft of the US intelligence community, those of the Taliban in the Quetta area of Balochistan have largely been left untouched with neither the Pakistan Army nor the American Predator aircraft targeting them. These observers are of the view that unless these sanctuaries are destroyed no amount of surge and local militias will help.

5. The current operations of the Pakistan Army in the Bajaur Agency of the FATA and the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) are mainly targeting the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which poses a threat to Pakistan and not the Afghan Taliban, headed by the Quetta-based Mulla Mohammad Omar, which the Pakistan Army continues to perceive as its strategic ally. While the Pakistan Army has reduced the scale of its operations in the Bajaur Agency and its presence in South Waziristan, where Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the TTP is based, in order to re-deploy the troops thus relieved on the Indian border particularly in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), its operations against the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), headed by Maulana Fazlullah, in the Swat Valley have not so far been reduced.

6. While the Mehsuds and the Ahmedzai Wazirs of South Waziristan, who were in the forefront of the Pakistani invasion of Kashmir in 1947-48 and in 1965, have informally agreed not to take advantage of the thinning out of the Pakistani forces in these areas, the Pakistan Army has not yet been able to reach a similar informal agreement with the TNSM, despite the fact that it is a component of the TTP. Moreover, the Pakistan Army is prepared to face the risk of a temporary dilution of the Pakistani writ in the Bajaur Agency and South Waziristan if the Mehsuds and the Ahmedzai Wazirs do not keep up their informal agreement not to create problems for the Army and the Frontier Corps.

7. It is not prepared to face a similar risk in the Swat Valley, which it sees as important for maintaining its writ in the NWFP. It is concerned over the recent increase in the activities of the Pakistani Taliban in Peshawar and is determined not to allow the TNSM undermine the Government position in the NWFP. The operations against the TNSM in the Swat Valley, which started in November,2007, have been continuing for over a year now without the Army and the Frontier Corps being able to make any headway in neutralising the TNSM. Even long before the Pakistan Army thinned out its presence in the FATA in the wake of the tensions with India after the terrorist attack by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET)----acting alone or in association with Al Qaeda--- in Mumbai from November 26 to 29,2008, it was facing difficulty in reinforcing its presence in the Swat Valley.

8. Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), borrowed some of the Iraqi ideas of Gen.Petraeus even before the latter assumed command of the US Central Command. He set up in some villages of the Swat Valley as well as the FATA people's militias called Lashkars, which were trained and armed to counter the Sunni forces of the TNSM and the Pakistani Taliban. A large number of Shia Pashtuns were recruited by Kayani into these Lashkars and they were given the task of countering the TNSM and the TTP. The Sunnis of the Pakistani Taliban retaliated with vigour against these Lashkars and killed a large number of them.

9.In October, 82 persons were killed and 241 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a grand Jirga held at Khadizai area of the predominantly Shia Alikhel sub-tribe of the Pashtuns. The Jirga was specially convened to form a tribal Lashkar against the Taliban.

10.Thirty-two people were killed and over 120 others injured in a blast just outside a Shia Imambargah called Alamdar in Koocha-e-Risaldar, located behind the historic Qissa Khwani Bazaar, in the Peshawar area on December 5,2008. A vehicle driven by a suicide bomber destroyed a multi-storey hotel, a girls’ school, and dozens of shops selling crockery and plastic-wares.

11.On December 7,2008, the Afghan Islamic Press disseminated a message purported to have been issued by Mulla Omar, which warned the US as follows in response to the reported new strategy of Petraeus without, however, naming him: “Today the world’s economy is facing growing risk from meltdown owing to the belligerent and expansionist policies of US. This has left its negative impact on the globe and it is the collective duty of all to work for a lasting peace in the world. You should understand that no puppet regime will ever stand up to the current resistance movement. Nor you will justify the occupation of the Islamic countries under the so-called slogan of rehabilitation anymore. Deployment of more troops (by the US) would lead to battles everywhere. The current armed clashes will spiral and your current casualties of hundreds will jack up to thousands.The US has imposed the war on the Afghan nation and the followers of the path of Islamic resistance will never abandon their legitimate struggle. The invading forces wrongly contemplate that they will be able to pit the Afghans against the mujahideen under the so-called label of tribal militias. No Afghan will play into the hands of the aliens and fight against his own brothers for worldly pleasure.”

12.On December 13,2008,Pir Samiullah, who had formed one of the Lashkars at the request of the Army, and eight of his followers were killed by the TNSM in Swat . The TNSM members captured over 50 AK-47 rifles with ammunition and two rocket launchers issued to the Lashkar by the Pakistan Army

13.Over 40 persons, many of them Shias, including two policemen and four children, were killed and 20 others injured when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into a polling station set up in a school in Shalbandai village, located about six kilometres south of the Buner district headquarters, Daggar, on December 28,2008.The Swat chapter of the TTP has claimed responsibility for the attack.Speaking on the group’s illegal FM radio channel, TTP Swat chapter Deputy Head Maulana Shah Dauran said the bombing was in retaliation for the death of six TTP members gunned down in Shalbandai by a local Lashkar set up by the Army.He warned that the revenge wasn’t yet over and that every person in Shalbandai would be eliminated for killing the Taliban members.

14. In addition to stepping up the attacks on the Lashkars, the TTP has also embarked on a programme of disrupting the movement of supplies to the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan from the Karachi port.About 150 containers go to Afghanistan from Karachi every day. A majority of these containers crosses the Torkham border in the NWFP into Afghanistan while others take the Chaman route in Balochistan. In addition to this, about 150 to 200 oil tankers transport fuel from Karachi to Afghanistan via Torkham every day.About 100 tankers carry fuel through the Chaman border post.Around 300 vehicles and containers have been burnt in six attacks since December 1. The TTP has projected these attacks as in retaliation for the Predator strikes on the TTP hide-outs in South Waziristan.

15. Concerned over the attacks, US and other NATO officials have reportedly been negotiating with the authorities of Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for alternate routes to reduce their dependence on the Pakistan route. Not only the TTP, even the religious political parties of Pakistan and Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League are opposed to the movement of supplies to the NATO forces in Afghanistan through Pakistani territory.

16. The TTP, which has till now been attacking the trucks and tankers only after they reach Peshawar, has warned that if the Predator strikes do not stop it will start attacking the supplies everywhere in Pakistan. This would include at the Karachi port itself as the supplies are brought by ships. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Group (IMG), a splinter group of the IMU, are also likely to attack the supply convoys in Central Asia when the US starts using the alternate routes. (29-12-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Saturday, December 27, 2008



Three ships of the Chinese Navy------ the missile-armed destroyers "DDG-171 Haikou" and "DDG-169 Wuhan" and the suply ship "Weishanhu"---are reported to have sailed from the Yalong Bay naval base on the Hainan Island on January 26,2008, on a three-month mission toundertake anti-piracy patrol for the protection of Chinese ships and crew from attacks by Somali pirates. This will be the first time ships ofthe Chinese Navy will be operating in far-away waters outside the Pacific on defensive missions----though only against non-State actors. The three-ship task force will have a Chinese special forces unit (strength not known) and two helicopters.

2.The Chinese announcement came shortly after nine pirates attacked "Zhenhua 4", a Chinese cargo ship with 30 crewmen, in Somaliwaters on December 17,2008. The Chinese ship, owned by the China Communications Construction Co, was rescued by two warships and ahelicopter of Malaysia.Twenty per cent of the 1,265 Chinese ships that have passed through the Somali waters in the first 11 months of thisyear, have faced pirate attacks, according to a spokesman of the company. Seven of these ships were hijacked, and the pirates were stillholding a Chinese fishing ship and 18 sailors.China's decision came after the UN Security Council, in an unanimous vote on December16,2008, gave nations fighting against pirates in the Gulf of Aden a one-year mandate to act inside and off Somalia.

3.The State-owned Xinhua news agency quoted Wu Shengli, the Commander of the Chinese Navy, as telling the 1000 sailors of the threeships at a function before the Task Force set sail as follows: "It's the first time we go abroad to protect our strategic interests armed withmilitary force.It's the first time for us to organise a naval force on an international humanitarian mission and the first time for our navy toprotect important shipping lanes far from our shores."

4. The Chinese task force will be joining more than a dozen warships from Italy, Greece, Turkey, India, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, France,Russia, Britain, Malaysia and the US, who have already undertaken an anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden. With China sending its ships, theNavies of all the five permanent members of the UN Security Council will now be co-operating in the fight against piracy. Japan has alreadyannounced its intention of sending one of its ships too.

5.Even though Admiral Timothy Keating, the Commander of the US Pacific Command in Hawaii, has welcomed the Chinese decision andexpressed the hope that the operations of the US and Chinese naval ships side by side in the Somali waters might lead to a resumption ofthe military-military contacts between the two countries, which are in a state of suspension since October, 2008, due to Chineseunhappiness over the supply of US military equipment to Taiwan, the US cannot but be concerned over the long-term implications of theChinese naval presence in an area of strategic importance to the US.

6.Admiral Keating was quoted by the media as saying immediately after the Chinese announcement of its decision to send the ships onanti-piracy patrol: "China's plans to join the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia could lead to a renewal of military exchangesbetween Beijing and Washington. I think this could be a springboard for a resumption of dialogue between PLA forces and US PacificCommand forces."

7.Commenting on the US Admiral's statement, Peng Guangqian, a Chinese strategic expert working in the Chinese Academy of MilitarySciences, was quoted as saying on Decemmber 22,2008, that the armed forces of China and the US would be cooperating for the first timein a real security environment off Somalia's coast. He added: "The military cooperation between the two sides should be based oninternational laws and codes, mutual respect and equal consultation. Only this way can bilateral military cooperation proceed steadily."

8. The Chinese decision has been widely welcomed by Chinese Internet chatters and bloggers as a moment of great pride for China. It hasalso been welcomed by the community of Chinese strategic experts;. Typical among the comments are:

Li Wei, Director of the Anti-terrorism Research Centre of the China Institute of Contemporary Relations: "It is a huge breakthrough in China's concepts about security.It sends a strong political message to the international community that China with its improved economic and military strength is willing to play a larger role in maintaining world peace and security."

Prof. Li Jie, a naval researcher: "Joining other countries to fight Somali pirates would be a very good opportunity for the Chinese Navy to get into the thick of the action. Apart from fighting pirates, another key goal is to register the presence of the Chinese Navy.If the navy's special forces join in, that will be in order to counter the pirates' attempt to board other ships. In general, the mission is to deter pirates, because that is the basic objective."

Prof Pang Zhongying at Renmin University of China: "Joining other fleets in the Somali waters will contribute to international security. Earlier, Chinese army personnel joining UN peacekeeping missions were engineering and medical staff, police, or peacekeepers. But now, dispatching naval ships would not be a problem as the menace of Somali piracy has become a common threat to the whole international community.China's image as a responsible sovereign nation will improve by participating in such missions.The number of troops in any such mission would not be high. It would be on a limited scale initially." .

9. It is not yet clear which port the Chinese ships will be using for refuelling and re-stocking purposes during the three months they will beaway from China, but reports from Pakistani sources say that the Pakistan Navy has already offered the use of the Karachi port for thispurpose. The Gwadar port is not presently under consideration for this purpose since part of the construction has not yet been completed.Even though Part I has been completed and a small number of foreign commercial ships has started using it, the refuelling and re-stockingfacilities in Gwadar are not yet satisfactory.

10. The Pakistani offer of the use of Karachi was reported to have been discussed with Chinese officials during the recent visit to China bythe Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Tariq Majid for the sixth round of the Pakistan-China Defence and SecurityTalks. On December 15,2008, Gen.Majid and General Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff, People's Liberation Army, signed anagreement on military co-operation. Though details of this agreement were not disclosed, it is believed that Pakistan has offered the use ofthe Karachi port to the Chinese ships under this agreement. This visit was fixed long before the Chinese decision to undertake anti-piracy patrols.

11.India, which has sent a ship of its own navy to the Gulf of Aden on anti-piracy patrol, cannot object to the Chinese ships joining the patrol,but it would be justified in keeping a wary eye on the Chinese ships. What is now projected by the Chinese as a temporary measure ofself-defence and peace-keeping against pirates, could develop into a permanent presence of strategic value to the Chinese Navy in terms ofpower projection in the waters to the West of India. It could develop as a Chinese counter to India's power projection in the seas to the Eastof India.

12. Pakistan's immediate interest in the Chinese using Karachi as a possible base for their operations in the Somali waters arises from thehope that it could act as a deterrent to any Indian threat to Karachi in the event of the current tensions between India and Pakistan afterthe terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26,2008, leading to a military confrontation between the two countries. (27-12-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

Monday, December 8, 2008



The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not such cat's whiskers in counter-terrorism as it projects itself to be.

2. That seems to be the conclusion of the voters in the elections to the State Assemblies of Delhi and Rajasthan, the results of which wereannounced in Delhi on December 8,2008. The Congress (I) has retained power in Delhi despite any public anger over its failure to prevent theterrorist strikes of September 13 and to have them investigated satisfactorily . The BJP has failed to retain power in Rajasthan, which alsosaw serial explosions in Jaipur in May.

3. If one excludes the terrorist strikes in Assam in October, the responsibility for which is not yet clearly established, there have been fivemajor terrorist strikes this year---three of them in the BJP ruled States of Rajasthan, Karnataka and Gujarat and two in Cong (I) ruled Delhiand Maharashtra. These strikes clearly showed that the counter-terrorism machinery in the BJP-ruled States is as bad as it has been in theCongress (I) ruled States. Both parties are equally responsible for neglecting the important task of revamping the counter-terrorismapparatus.

4. Despite this, the BJP might have still got the support of the voters on the terrorism issue if it had placed before them a comprehensivealternate strategy for dealing with terrorism. Despite the strong rhetoric of the BJP on the terrorism issue, its campaign did not show that itunderstood the issue of terrorism any better than the Congress (I). The two showed themselves to be equally confused on the issue ofcounter-terrorism. If the BJP was good in rhetoric, the Congress (I) was good in giving sermons to the people on the issue of terrorism.Caught between the rhetoric of the BJP and the sermons of the Congress (I), the voters decided to keep aside the issue of terrorism andvote on the basis of other issues, which are very important for their day-to-day living.

5. Apart from advocating the restoration of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), the BJP has hardly come out with any new ideas on howit will deal with terrorism, which will be qualitatively different from the way the Congress (I) has been dealing with it.

6. The people are greatly concerned over terrorism----not merely in the urban areas. They want more energetic steps by the Government todeal with it. They are not satisfied with the way it has been dealt with by the BJP-ruled as well as the Congress (I)-ruled States. But theywant new ideas and signs of a clear determination to implement them. Rhetoric alone will not do.

7. There is a rhetoric fatigue on the issue of terrorism. This has come out clearly in the just announced State Assembly election results.(8-12-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Wednesday, December 3, 2008



You cannot convince somebody, who does not want to be convinced, who is not prepared to be convinced.

That has been our experience since 1981 when Pakistan started using terrorism as a weapon to keep India bleeding and to weaken it, in the hope that, by doing so, it will be able to force India to agree to a change in the status quo in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).

The recovery by the Dubai authorities in 1983 from a Khalistani hijacker of a revolver which the German authorities certified in writing was from a consignment sold to the Pakistan Army; the recovery from the perpetrators of the March,1993, blasts of hand-grenades which Austrian experts certified in writing had been manufactured in Pakistan with technology and equipment sold by Austria to the Army-run Pakistan ordnance factories; the recovery from them of a chemical timer which the US certified in an unsigned note was part of a consignment supplied by the US to Pakistan in the 1980s and more and more and more.

The more the evidence we collected, the stronger the rejection---particularly from the US. Not sufficient enough. Does not directly implicate the Government of Pakistan. That was the stock reply we received repeatedly.

The US was interested only in protecting the lives and property of its citizens and in preventing another 9/11 in the US homeland from Pakistani territory. So long as Pakistan was co-operating with the US in action against Al Qaeda, the US closed its eyes and continues to close its eyes to Pakistani support for acts of jihadi terrorism directed against India.

One would have expected that the US attitude after the Mumbai terrorist strikes would have been different because the terrorists of the Pakistan Government-raised and backed Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) killed not only about 160 Indians, but also 25 foreigners-----six of them Israelis and another six Americans.

The Jewish civilians killed by the terrorists in the Narriman House were subjected to brutalities the like of which the world has not seen since the brutalities inflicted on the Jewish people by the Nazis during the Second World War.

And yet, the attitude of the US and other Western countries has been the same as it has always been. Where is the evidence, we are asked.

What evidence?

Evidence of the death of 160 Indians?

Evidence of the death of six Americans?

Evidence of the death of six Israelis?

Evidence of the brutalities inflicted by the terrorists on the Jewish people?

Is not the capture by the public of one of the perpetrators, a Pakistani national, who has confessed that he is from Pakistan and that he belonged to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and that the entire operation was mounted by the LET evidence enough?

Are not the intercepted telephone conversations between the perpetrators and their handlers in Pakistan evidence enough?

Are not the movement and activities of Prof.Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the political wing of the LET, in Pakistan as reported in the Pakistani media and in its own web site evidence enough?

Is not the continued existence of the training camps of the LET in Pakistani territory, including at Muridke, its headquarters near Lahore, evidence enough?

Is not the refusal of the Pakistan Government----whether of Pervez Musharraf or Asif Ali Zardari---- to arrest the operatives of the LET and close their camps despite an ostensible ban on it evidence enough?

What more evidence do the Americans want?

What evidence did they have when Ronald Reagan ordered the bombing of Libya in 1986 after an explosion in a West Berlin discotheque, which killed some Americans?

What evidence did they have before Bill Clinton ordered the Cruise missile attacks on jihadi training camps in Afghan territory in August,1998?

What evidence did they have against Al Qaeda and the Taliban before they bombed Afghanistan from October 7,2001?

What evidence did they have against the Saddam Hussain Government before they invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003?

In every case affecting American nationals and interests, they bombed and then collected evidence. They did not wait till they had collected all the evidence possible before they bombed.

They did not act on the basis of evidence accepted by the international community. They acted on the basis of their conviction as to where from the attacks on Americans came.

Their actions were motivated by the need to show that nobody can play with American lives and get away with it.

We should stop demeaning ourselves as a nation by going to the Americans and others with evidence. I am shocked by suggestions that we should produce the evidence before the UN Security Council. I cannot think of a more naïve idea. It is as stupid as the advice given by the British to Jawaharlal Nehru to take the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council with a promise that it would do justice by India.

The time for action against Pakistan has come. Action based on our conviction that the terrorists came from a Pakistani terrorist organization, which enjoys the patronage of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The objective of the action should be to force Pakistan to act effectively against the LET and its terrorist infrastructure. It should also be to mount a no-holds barred covert operation against the LET through our own resources and methods.

Two steps the Government can take immediately:

STEP No.1: Downgrade the diplomatic relations with Pakistan, terminate all economic relations including bilateral trade and communication links, suspend the confidence-building measures and the so-called peace process, terminate the talks on the gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan and withdraw from the so-called joint counter-terrorism mechanism, which has been a farce forced on Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh by the US. Announce that these actions will remain in force till Pakistan acts against the LET and its terrorist leaders and infrastructure and hands over to India the terrorists wanted for trial in India.
STEP No. 2: Revive immediately the covert action capability of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), which was wound up by Inder Gujral, when he was the Prime Minister in 1997, and empower it to impose prohibitive costs on Pakistan till it stops using jihadi terrorism against India. The R&AW imposed heavy costs on Pakistan for supporting the Khalistanis and should be able to do so now for its support to the LET and other jihadi terrorist organizations.

If step 2 has to be effective, there is an urgent need for a revamping of the R&AW. The organization has been in a bad state of affairs with low staff morale, factionalism and internal bickerings. Unfortunately, at this critical time in the nation’s history, the R&AW has no covert action specialists at the top of its pyramid. Get a suitable officer from the IB or the Army. If necessary, make him the head of the organization..

This is not the time for a direct military confrontation with Pakistan. It could prove counter-productive. It would enable the Pakistan Army to divert its troops from the Pashtun tribal belt to the Indian border and could unite the various jihadi organizations against India.

A divided Pakistan, a bleeding Pakistan, a Pakistan ever on the verge of collapse without actually collapsing----that should be our objective till it stops using terrorism against India.

We should be realistic enough to anticipate that Pakistan will step up terrorism in Indian territory if we adopt such a policy. This should not deter us from embarking on this policy. The policy of active defence against Pakistan should be accompanied by time-bound action to strengthen our counter-terrorism capability at home. (3-12-08)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Sunday, November 30, 2008


by B. Raman

( This is the text of a presentation made by me at a seminar on China at New Delhi on November 27,2008. This incorporates and updates some of my earlier views on the subject as expressed in articles written after the Tibetan uprising of March-April,2008, in China. The updating has been done in the light of subsequent developments -----B.Raman)

The Government of India adopted a two-pronged policy in relation to the outbreak of a revolt in Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas of China in March,2008, in protest against the continued occupation of Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas by China and the violation of the human rights of the Tibetans by the Chinese.

2. It prevented the Tibetan refugees in India from indulging in activities which might have resulted in acts of violence or disruption directed against Chinese nationals and interests in India and in dramatic acts such as their professed intention of crossing the border into Tibet. At the same time, it expressed its distress over the situation in Tibet and called for a dialogue so that the Tibetans didn't feel the need to take to acts of violence in their desperation.

3.A spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India said on March 15, 2008: "We would hope that all those involved will work to improve the situation and remove the causes of such trouble in Tibet, which is an autonomous region of China, through dialogue and non-violent means."

4. This was the right approach--- expressing our moral support to the Tibetans in accordance with our national interests without identifying
ourselves with the attempts of anti-China activists in the West---particularly the US--- to exploit the continued alienation of the Tibetans and their desperation to create embarrassment for China.

5. Our aim should be not to embarrass and humiliate China, but to persuade it to change its policy on Tibet and reach a negotiated settlement with His Holiness through a sustained dialogue. India should play the role of a facilitator of such a dialogue. After the March-April ,2008, uprising in the Tibetan inhabited areas, India did well in expressing openly
its distress over the turn of events in Tibet and in expressing its interest in a dialogue and not a street confrontation between the Chinese
and the Tibetans.

6.India should consider one more step at this important point in the history of the Tibetan issue----- removing all informal restrictions on official and social interactions with the Dalai Lama and his advisers. Though not openly admitted, such informal restrictions exist. We saw it at the end of last year, when the Cabinet Secretary to the Government of India was reported to have advised all Ministers of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, not to attend a public reception for the Dalai Lama to felicitate him on the award of
the Congressional Medal of Honour to him in the US. After the uprising, there were reports in sections of the media that His Holiness was to make a courtesy call on Dr.Hamid Ansari, the Vice-President. This was strongly denied by the Government, presumably because the news had leaked out. What was the need for secrecy in this matter? What was the need for canceling any meeting with His Holiness just because the media had come to know about it? Why the reluctance to interact with him publicly?

7. Till now, our policy has been to make a clear distinction between the religious and political dimensions of our stand with regard to the
Dalai Lama. We have been saying that the courtesies and honour extended by us to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees is because of his stature as a highly respected Buddhist leader in the land where Buddhism was born, but it has no political significance and does not
imply our tacit support for his political views. We should now make it clear that we consider that the Dalai Lama is also an important
political figure in the eyes of the Tibetans and hence, his political views have to be considered in determining our policy on Tibet.

8. Expressing our moral support to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans, without damaging our relations with the Chinese leadership and
people----that should be the objective of our policy.

9. There will be many landmines in the path of policy-making and implementation. As we fine-tune our policy and push it forward gradually,
there could be misperceptions and misinterpretations in China with not only negative impact on our relations with China, but also with renewed tensions across the border, particularly in the Arunachal Pradesh sector. We are seeing a possible reversion back to the period between the 1960s and the 1980s when the Chinese military was in the driving seat of policy-making on Tibet. It was during that period that we saw the military confrontation of 1962 and the subsequent tensions in Sino-Indian relations.

10.The Advisers of His Holiness attribute the failure of their eighth round of talks with the Chinese held at Beijing from October 30 to November 5,2008, and the post—Olympics hardening of the Chinese stand on Tibet to the fact that hardliners are back in the driving seat of policy-making on Tibet. Recent writings by supposedly non-Governmental Chinese strategic analysts in the Chinese language press and Chinese blogs analysed by Shri D.S.Rajan, who had worked for over 30 years as a China analyst in our intelligence community, are disturbing. ( ).They indicate that the official hardening of the attitude on Tibet has been accompanied by a surge in non-governmental rhetoric on relations with India, in the light of the continuing border dispute and India’s refusal to concede their demand on Arunachal Pradesh.

11.Some of these so-called non-Governmental experts are even talking of the possibility or feasibility of what they describe as a partial war to restore what they project as Chinese sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, which they call Southern Tibet. We should not dismiss such writings as non-governmental jingoism, which would have no impact on the cordial relations with China.

12.The post-Olympics hardening of the Chinese stand on Tibet has been reflected not only in their refusal to discuss the issue of autonomy with the advisers of His Holiness, but also in their repudiation of promises and commitments made in this regard by Deng Xiaoping on March 12,1979, during a meeting with Gyalo Thondup, the elder brother of the Dalai Lama, and reiterated subsequently by Li Peng, the then Prime Minister, on May 19, 1991. If they can so brazenly, without batting an eyelid, repudiate their solemn promises to discuss the issue of autonomy with the representatives of His Holiness, what is the guarantee that they will not similarly repudiate their commitments on Sikkim or their policy of peace and tranquility in the Arunachal Pradesh sector?

13. The confidence of the Chinese political leadership that they have pacified Tibet and its people once and for all has been badly shaken.
The revolt of March-April, 2008,showed that there has been no emotional integration between the Tibetans and the Han settlers in Tibet. The fear of the masses could once again distort the Chinese military mindset in Tibet. They would not admit that their policies towards the Tibetan people are responsible for the continuing alienation. Instead, they would see with greater conviction than in the past that the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees
in India are the source of all their problems in Tibet and not their policies. The temptation to divert international attention away from Tibet
to Arunachal Pradesh and Dharamsala by engaging in military moves in the Arunachal Pradesh area would be strong.

14. Renewed cross-border military tensions----even Chinese incursions of a major nature--- in the Arunachal Pradesh sector if the Tibetan issue keeps bothering the Chinese and if India remains firm in its stand that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India are a possibility to be factored into in our scenario-buiding and policy-making exercise.

15.The debate on Tibet, which started after the violent incidents of March-April, 2008, in the Tibetan inhabited areas has failed to distinguish between the "Tibetan card" and the 'Tibetan issue". Many in India and the West look upon the post-March developments as providing a "Tibetan card", which can be exploited against China for different strategic objectives.

16.Many in India want the Government to use the Tibetan card to correct the past policy mistakes relating to the totally unwise Indian action in recognising Tibet as an integral part of China without a quid pro quo from Beijing in the form of a recognition of Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India.

17. This will be an unsophisticated approach which could prove counter-productive. We should not give the impression that we are exploiting the spilling of Tibetan blood and the justified emotional outburst of Tibetan youth not for getting a better future for the Tibetans, but only to serve our own national interest. Nothing can be more unfortunate than such an mpression among the Tibetans.

18. We need policies and an approach in India as well as the West based on the conviction that the long-neglected Tibetan issue---meaning the observance of human rights and giving the Tibetans a genuine voice and genuine political opportunities and religious freedom in their own homeland-- has led to the present situation and that unless the grievances and anger of the Tibetan people are addressed in a satisfactory manner the problem is likely to continue. Our policies should be based on a genuine interest in the Tibetan people, their plight and their future and not on exploiting their uprising for serving our own national interest. We must keep the spotlight on the TIBETAN ISSUE and resist the temptation to use the Tibetan anger as a card for our national purposes.

19.Despite the widespread adverse reactions against China all over the world, the Chinese have not blinked and are unlikely to blink even if there are more violent incidents in Tibet. In their
apprehension, any weakening of their stand on Tibet could mark the beginning of their losing control over China's sensitive periphery consisting of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.

20. A message, which comes out loud and clear , is that despite being away from Tibet for nearly 50 years now, the Dalai Lama continues to command the respect of the Tibetan people inside China. Chinese attempts to demonise him and project him as the problem have not succeeded. A vast majority of the Tibetan people in China continue to look up to him with undiminished reverence as their political and spiritual leader.

21.By solely relying on their security forces and on the Han settlers for strengthening their hold on the Tibetan-inhabited areas, the Chinese have created for themselves a situation similar to what the Soviets had created for themselves in the Baltic States. They forcibly incorporated them into the USSR and tried to change the demographic complexion of the States by settling a large number of Russians----many of them ex-servicemen-- in the Baltic States. They got caught in a vicious circle. The more the suppression, the more the people's anger. The more the people's anger, the more the suppression. The more the Russian settlers, the more the hatred for them. The more the hatred for them, the more the Russian settlers. Ultimately, the Soviets had to watch helplessly as the Baltic States threw off the Soviet yoke and re-gained their independence. Can a similar situation develop in the Tibetan-inhabited areas and in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia? If it does, what should be India’s options? These questions need careful consideration.

22. China is waiting for the Dalai Lama to die so that it could nominate his successor. It is hoping and calculating that the death of His Holiness would mark the beginning of the end of the Tibetan issue. There ought to be a convergence between Indian and Tibetan interests in ensuring that even after his death, the Tibetan issue would not disappear from the attention of the world till a settlement on their future acceptable to the Tibetans is reached. The Tibetan issue should not be allowed to die with His Holiness.

23.How to help the Tibetans in keeping alive their cause and ultimately securing their goal of autonomy without our help leading to a confrontational situation with China on our border with that country? How to prepare ourselves for such a confrontation if it materialises despite our best efforts to avoid it? These are questions which need careful consideration.

24.So long as the Tibetan issue is not resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the Chinese and the Tibetans and so long as the border dispute is not resolved to the mutual satisfaction of India and China, we cannot rule out another military confrontation imposed on us by China. The implementation of the projects already initiated by the Government for strengthening the infrastructure in the Arunachal Pradesh area and for giving our armed forces greater teeth to meet any Chinese miscalculation should be pushed ahead. Avoidance of unwise rhetoric, which may bring about a confrontation before we are ready for it, and a quiet determination and preparedness to face such a confrontation, if it is forced on us, should be the cornerstones of our policy. (27-11-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies.E-mail: )

Monday, November 24, 2008



( To be read in continuation of my article of November 3,2008, titled TIBET: 'STATUS QUO PLUS' AS AN OPTION? available at )

How trustworthy is China on Tibet? Do the words, promises and commitments of its leaders have any value? What are the options available to the Tibetan people in dealing with an economic power, which the international community is not prepared to displease because of the perceived dependence on Chinese co-operation for re-stabilising the global economy? Are the Tibetan people condemned to extinction, with neither India nor the West prepared to support their cause for autonomy? What after the Dalai Lama? Will his death also mean the death of the Tibetan cause?

2. These were the questions and concerns that were uppermost in the minds 560 prominent Tibetan personalities from the Tibetan diaspora in India and the rest of the world, who participated in a Special General Meeting convened by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh " to hold an extensive discussion and debate with regard to the Tibetan cause in the light of recent emergency events in Tibet and the international scenario."

3. His Holiness himself did not attend the meeting, which was held from November 17 to 22,2008.The meeting was held against the background of the ruthless crushing of the uprising in the Tibetan majority areas of China in March and April last by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the failure of the resumed dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the representatives of His Holiness to find a way forward for meeting the aspirations of the Tibetan people. The Chinese had agreed to the resumption of the dialogue earlier stalled by them under international pressure after the uprising. The two meetings held in China by visiting representatives of His Holiness made it apparent that the Chinese were merely buying time in order to prevent a boycott of the Olympics by world leaders.

4. Hopes that after the Olympics, the Chinese leaders would adopt a softer line on the future of Tibet have been belied. There was one meeting before the Olympics and one after the Olympics. The meeting held after the Olympics ( 8th round from October 30 to November 5, 2008) made it painfully clear that the Chinese stance has further hardened. During the seventh round of talks in Beijing on July 1 and 2, 2008, the Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the Minister of the Central United Front Work Department, Mr. Du Qinglin, invited suggestions from His Holiness for the stability and development of Tibet. The Executive Vice Minister of the Central United Front Work Department, Mr. Zhu Weiqun, further said they would like to hear the views of the Dalai Lama's representatives on the degree or form of autonomy they were seeking as well as on all aspects of regional autonomy within the scope of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China (PRC). In response to the Chinese request, the Dalai Lama's team, which, as before, consisted of Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen submitted to their Chinese interlocutors during the 8th round a Memorandum outlining the position of His Holiness on the autonomy issue. To their surprise, the Chinese contemptuously rejected the Memo and refused to discuss the issue of autonomy. A summary of the Memo as released by the Tibetan delegation is annexed.

5.The hardening of the Chinese stance after the Olympics can be attributed to the following reasons:

Firstly, the manner in which France and other Western countries eased their pressure on the human rights issue after the Chinese people threatened to boycott Western goods made Beijing realise the power of the economic card which it now wields against the West.

Secondly, the economic melt-down in the West and its anxiety to secure Chinese co-operation and assistance for re-stabilising the global economy made it even more unlikely than in the past that the West would extend any concrete support to the Tibetan cause apart from pro forma lip sympathy.

Thirdly, speculation about health problems faced by the Dalai Lama made them feel that it was only a question of time before he disappeared from the scene and that once he is dead they can have a Dalai Lama of their choice nominated and sound the death-knell of the Tibetan cause.

6. The Tibetans have been shocked by the Chinese repudiation of a commiment made by Deng Xiao-ping on March 12,1979, that "apart from independence, all other issues can be discussed." He gave this solemn assurance during a meeting with Kasur Gyalo Thondup, the elder brother of His Holiness. While replying to a Japanese correspondent in Beijing on November 10,2008, Zhu Weiqun asserted that Deng had never made such a statement. He said: “ It is a falsehood made by Gyari and is a complete distortion of Deng Xiaoping’s statement.”

7. Taken aback by this denial which came on the eve of the Special General meeting, Gyalo Thondup addressed the international media, which had assembled at Dharamsala, on November 19,2008, to give his version. To quote him: “I am shocked to hear such a statement from the Chinese officials because it was myself to whom the late paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, said, “except independence all other issues can be settled through discussions,”.Deng Xiaoping is no longer with us today. But to put the record straight I would like to clarify in front of international media that during my first visit to China in 1979 I met the paramount leader Deng Xiaoping on 12 March 1979. He told me “except independence all other issues can be settled through discussions.”

8. Juchen Thubten Namgyal, who also addressed the press conference, said: "I am totally surprised to learn that Mr Zhu Weiqun recently denied Deng Xiaoping’s statement. As a member of the first Tibetan exploratory mission, we met with Vice-premier Yang Jireng, who was also the head of the Central United Front Work Department and Nationality Affairs Commission and others on 29 April 1982. I sought confirmation from Yang Jireng whether Deng Xiaoping had made such a statement. He did not deny this fact.”

9. According to the advisers of His Holiness,on March 1,1979, Ulanfu, Minister for Nationality Affairs Commission, told Gyalo Thondup: “ The Dalai Lama and the Tibetans in exile are welcome to return to their home and contribute towards the development and progress of the nation. Suitable arrangements could be made for everyone upon their return. The Dalai Lama had not made contacts with the Soviet Union. Therefore, apart from independence, we can solve any problem."

10. The advisers of His Holiness pointed out that a record of statements made by former Chinese leaders and official documents authenticated the statement made by Deng and Ulanfu. In an interview with the Xinhua News agency on May 19,1991, China’s then Premier Li Peng said: “All matters except Tibetan independence could be discussed”. His statement was later emphasised in a newsletter released by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington DC, regarding the “Questions concerning negotiations between the Central Government of China and the Dalai Lama.”

11. According to the advisers, during a state visit to China from May 18 to 23, 1992, the then Indian President R Venkataraman was told by Premier Li Peng that “ … we are willing to talk to him about anything except the issue of the so-called independence of Tibet.” A White Paper released by the Information office of the State Council of the PRC in September 1992 reiterated that “all matters except Tibetan independence can be discussed”.

12. Gyalo Thondup told the media: "Some hardliner communist officials, who hold high up position in the Chinese Government, treat Tibet as a personal belonging in their pocket and deliberately intend to scuttle the dialogue process to resolve the issue of Tibet.The Tibetan people will continue to demand their legitimate and reasonable rights as given to other minority nationalities entitled in the constitution of the People’s Republic of China.The legitimate rights of Tibetans are rights to freedom, thinking, speech, religion, travel, to promote and preserve Tibet’s culture. We must not lose faith and plead to the Chinese Government for our legitimate rights.As a Tibetan, I'm convinced that we must all live together. Therefore it is very important for the Tibetan people not to lose hope and to keep a good relationship with people in China. We are sandwiched between China and India, both very important countries. I was always critical with the Chinese face to face in Beijing, and now I'm desperate, that's why I told people in the Chinese Embassy in Delhi that there's no choice [but to talk]. We must face the reality that we have to deal with China. The people of China will eventually realize that what we are asking is legitimate.”

13.A commentary on Tibet disseminated by the official Xinhua news agency on November 21,2008, coinciding with the meeting, said: " Its purpose is to set up a 'half independent' or 'covertly independent' political entity controlled by the Dalai clique on one quarter of the Chinese territory.And when conditions are ripe, they will seek to realise 'complete Tibet independence'." Qin Gang, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, was quoted as saying as follows: "Our position on Tibet is clear and resolute. Any attempt to separate Tibet from China is doomed to fail.The so-called Tibetan government-in-exile is not recognised by any government in the world."

14. In the light of the Chinese repudiation of their past commitments and statements, the Special General Meeting discussed whether any useful purpose would be served by continuing with the dialogue with the Chinese and whether the time had not come to call off the dialogue with the Chinese officials, abandon the Middle Path of autonomy so far followed and start a full-fledged struggle for independence. This view is particularly shared by the younger Tibetans belonging to the Tibetan Youth Congress. A question posed by many during the discussions was: When the Chinese are not even prepared to discuss autonomy, what is the point in continuing the dialogue with them?

15. There was unanimity against accepting the status quo. The meeting reiterated its faith in the continuing leadership of His Holiness and decided to continue with the present objective of a Middle Path. It also stressed that the Tibetans would continue to adhere to non-violence. The relevant portions from the final summary of conclusions of the meeting are given below:

(a). "The Central Tibetan Administration is the sole and legitimate representative of the Tibetans in and outside Tibet, which the CTA has inherited from many centuries. This historical experience of the Tibetan people proves the baselessness of the recent rhetoric and propaganda of the Chinese Government, which says that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration have no right to represent Tibet and the Tibetan people. The Tibetans in and outside Tibet strongly oppose such remarks."

(b)."Based on the suggestions received to this Special General Meeting from in and outside Tibet and after frank and candid discussions held by the delegates in regard to the future policy of Tibet, it came to an unanimous decision to straightly follow the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama based on the prevailing situation from time to time. Majority decision was to continue the policy of Middle-Way-Approach. Besides that, looking at the Chinese Government's behavior in the past, views to stop sending envoys and to pursue complete independence or self-determination if no result comes out in the near future, were also strongly expressed."

(c)."The Middle-Way-Approach, independence or self-determination, whatever is pursued in the Tibetan struggle, we shall not deviate from the path of non-violence to achieve our aims."

(d)."His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration in an effort to resolve the Sino-Tibetan problem, by adopting the Middle-Way-Approach, a memorandum on genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people, within the framework of the constitution of the PRC, was recently presented to the Chinese Government. Leave alone giving positive response, the PRC Government rejected every single clause of the memorandum and accused the CTA of seeking independence, semi-independence or independence in disguised form. Therefore, the dialogue process did not produce any substantive result to the Sino-Tibetan problem and the whole responsibility of this failure is solely with the PRC government."

(e). "Because the PRC had alleged that they have evidence to prove that the recent unrest in Tibet had been 'triggered, instigated, planned and orchestrated' by the 'Dalai clique', His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration insisted that an international investigating body be allowed to travel to Tibet to verify the PRC's claims. And that delegates from China can also visit Dharamsala to investigate and validate their allegation. However, the PRC did not have the gumption to accept both these suggestions. Moreover, the PRC could not even bring forth one single evidence in support of their claims before the world audience. This has clearly pointed to the fact that demonstrations and protests in Tibet since March this year are because of the repressive policies adopted by the PRC towards Tibet and Tibetans since its occupation. Therefore, the PRC government should accept responsibilities for their mistakes."

(f)."This is to reiterate, through this Special General Meeting, that the cause of the Tibetan struggle is a struggle for the rights of Tibetans. It is a struggle against the wrong policies of the PRC towards Tibet and Tibetans. The Tibetan struggle is in no way against the Chinese people, as it is being portrayed by the PRC."

(g)."In order to destroy Tibetan Buddhism, the PRC instituted new regulations on measures for the recognition of incarnate lamas or 'Living Buddhas'. We totally oppose any interference by a Government which is avowedly atheist in spiritual affairs for political advantage. We strongly oppose the 'Patriotic Education' campaign that is being increasingly forced down in various monasteries in Tibet."

16. It is not clear whether His Holiness would take the initiative for another round of talks with the Chinese. The position seems to be that while the doors are open for more talks, the initiative has to come from the Chinese. It needs to be noted that the post-Olympics hardening of the Chinese stand on Tibet has been accompanied by what seems to be a post-Olympics hardening of the Chinese position on the Sino-Indian border talks during which the Chinese continue to insist on the transfer of at least Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh to China. It is understood that the Dalai Lama proposes to hold a meeting of the international well-wishers of the Tibetan cause to brief them on the deliberations of the Special General Meeting, which was restricted to Tibetans and seek their views. (24-11-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )



The Constitution of the PRC contains fundamental principles on autonomy and self-government whose objectives are compatible with the needs and aspirations of the Tibetans. Regional national autonomy is aimed at opposing both the oppression and the separation of nationalities by rejecting both Han chauvinism and local nationalism. It is intended to ensure the protection of the culture and the identity of minority nationalities by empowering them to become masters of their own affairs.

To a very considerable extent Tibetan needs can be met within the constitutional principles on autonomy. On several points, the Constitution gives significant discretionary powers to state organs in decision-making and on the operation of the system of autonomy. These discretionary powers can be exercised to facilitate genuine autonomy for Tibetans in ways that would respond to the uniqueness of the Tibetan situation. Given good will on both sides, outstanding problems can be resolved within the constitutional principles on autonomy. In this way national unity and stability and harmonious relations between the Tibetan and other nationalities will be established.


Tibetans have a rich and distinct history, culture and spiritual tradition all of which form valuable parts of the heritage of humanity. Not only do Tibetans wish to preserve their own heritage, which they cherish, but equally they wish to further develop their culture and spiritual life and knowledge in ways that are particularly suited to the needs and conditions of humanity in the 21st century.
As a part of the multi-national state of the PRC, Tibetans can benefit greatly from the rapid economic and scientific development the country is experiencing. While wanting to actively participate and contribute to this development, we want to ensure that this happens without the people losing their Tibetan identity, culture and core values and without putting the distinct and fragile environment of the Tibetan plateau, to which Tibetans are indigenous, at risk.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s commitment to seek a solution for the Tibetan people within the PRC is clear and unambiguous. This position is in full compliance and agreement with paramount leader Deng Xiaoping's statement in which he emphasised that except for independence all other issues could be resolved through dialogue. Whereas, we are committed, therefore, to fully respect the territorial integrity of the PRC, we expect the Central Government to recognise and fully respect the integrity of the Tibetan nationality and its right to exercise genuine autonomy within the PRC. We believe that this is the basis for resolving the differences between us and promoting unity, stability and harmony among nationalities.


Subject Matters of Self-government1) Language2) Culture3) Religion4) Education5) Environmental Protection6) Utilisation of Natural Resources7) Economic Development and Trade8) Public health9) Public Security10) Regulation on population migration11) Cultural, educational and religious exchanges with other countries


Tibetans belong to one minority nationality regardless of the current administrative divisions. The integrity of the Tibetan nationality must be respected. That is the spirit, the intent and the principle underlying the constitutional concept of national regional autonomy as well as the principle of equality of nationalities.

There is no dispute about the fact that Tibetans share the same language, culture, spiritual tradition, core values and customs, that they belong to the same ethnic group and that they have a strong sense of common identity. Tibetans share a common history and despite periods of political or administrative divisions, Tibetans continuously remained united by their religion, culture, education, language, way of life and by their unique high plateau environment.

The Tibetan nationality lives in one contiguous area on the Tibetan plateau, which they have inhabited for millennia and to which they are therefore indigenous. For purposes of the constitutional principles of national regional autonomy Tibetans in the PRC in fact live as a single nationality all over the Tibetan plateau.

In order for the Tibetan nationality to develop and flourish with its distinct identity, culture and spiritual tradition through the exercise of self-government on the above mentioned basic Tibetan needs, the entire community, comprising all the areas currently designated by the PRC as Tibetan autonomous areas, should be under one single administrative entity. The current administrative divisions, by which Tibetan communities are ruled and administered under different provinces and regions of the PRC, foments fragmentation, promotes unequal development, and weakens the ability of the Tibetan nationality to protect and promote its common cultural, spiritual and ethnic identity. Rather than respecting the integrity of the nationality, this policy promotes its fragmentation and disregards the spirit of autonomy.


The exercise of genuine autonomy would include the right of Tibetans to create their own regional government and government institutions and processes that are best suited to their needs and characteristics. It would require that the People’s Congress of the autonomous region have the power to legislate on all matters within the competencies of the region and that other organs of the autonomous government have the power to execute and administer decisions autonomously. Autonomy also entails representation and meaningful participation in national decision-making in the Central Government. Processes for effective consultation and close cooperation or joint decision-making between the Central Government and the regional government on areas of common interest also need to be in place for the autonomy to be effective.
A crucial element of genuine autonomy is the guarantee the Constitution or other laws provide that powers and responsibilities allocated to the autonomous region cannot be unilaterally abrogated or changed. This means that neither the Central Government nor the autonomous region’s government should be able, without the consent of the other, to change the basic features of the autonomy.
Implementation of genuine autonomy, for example, requires clear divisions of powers and responsibilities between the Central Government and the government of the autonomous region with respect to subject matter competency. Currently there is no such clarity and the scope of legislative powers of autonomous regions is both uncertain and severely restricted. Thus, whereas the Constitution intends to recognise the special need for autonomous regions to legislate on many matters that affect them, the requirements of Article 116 for prior approval at the highest level of the Central Government - by the Standing Committee of National People’s Congress (NPC) - inhibit the implementation of this principle of autonomy. In reality, it is only autonomous regional congresses that expressly require such approval, while the congresses of ordinary (not autonomous) provinces of the PRC do not need prior permission and merely report the passage of regulations to the Standing Committee of the NPC “for the record” (Article 100).

The exercise of autonomy is further subject to a considerable number of laws and regulations, according to Article 115 of the Constitution. Certain laws effectively restrict the autonomy of the autonomous region, while others are not always consistent with one another. The result is that the exact scope of the autonomy is unclear and is not fixed, since it is unilaterally changed with the enactment of laws and regulations at higher levels of the state, and even by changes in policy. There is also no adequate process for consultation or for settling differences that arise between the organs of the Central Government and of the regional government with respect to the scope and exercise of autonomy. In practice, the resulting uncertainty limits the initiative of regional authorities and impedes the exercise of genuine autonomy by Tibetans today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008



( These comments were sent by me in response to a query from a leading Washington DC-based think tank on Indian perceptions ofPresident-elect Barrack Obama)

There were initial concerns in India over the likely implications to India's national interests during an Obama Presidency. These concernsarose from the following factors:

(a). Obama's initial opposition in the Senate to the Indo-US civilian nuclear co-operation agreement, though he subsequently supported it.

(b). The reportedly active role played by Richard Holbroke and Madeleine Albright in advising him on foreign policy issues during the electioncampaign. Both were seen in India as advocates of a more intrusive role by the US in matters such as a settlement of the Kashmir issue andaddressing the Pakistani concerns over the increasing Indian presence in Afghanistan.

2. The fact that a large number of influential Americans of Indian origin had supported the Bush administration and that many ofthem---except Americans of Indian origin in Chicago--- had switched their support to Hillary Clinton during the primaries also influencedIndian perceptions of Obama.

3. These concerns are likely to be mitigated by reports that Obama is likely to nominate Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. She enjoysa positive image in the Indo-American community as well as in India. It is remembered that the Indo-American community played an activerole in her campaign to win the election to the Senate. They remained loyal to her during the entire primary campaign and switched theirsupport to Obama only after she had withdrawn from the race.

4. There were ups and downs in India's relations with the US during the presidency of Bill Clinton. During his first term he was viewed asinsensitive to India's interests and concerns. This perception got strengthened after his negative reaction to India's nuclear tests in 1998.The Kargil military conflict between India and Pakistan in 1999 saw a thawing of the cold vibrations, which had set in between India andthe US. What was seen as his support for India and his criticism of Pakistan for violating the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu & Kashmir andthe active behind the scene role played by him in pressuring Pakistan to withdraw its troops from Indian territory in the Kargil areacontributed to a change in the Indian perceptions from negative to positive. This change was reflected in the extraordinarily warm welcomehe received during his visit to India in March 2000.

5. Despite this, the Clinton Administration, like other Democratic Administrations that preceded it, thought of India more tactically than strategically.-----more in terms of American business interests in catering to India's large middle class than in terms of the role which Indiacan and ought to play in the Asian---and ultimately global--- stage in the years to come.

6. It goes to the credit of President George Bush and his Secretary of State Condolleezza Rice that they started thinking of India morestrategically than tactically---- as an Asian power on par with China, as a power to be reckoned with and as a power with a tremendouspotential for playing a benign role on the world stage. The remarkable improvement in Indo-US relations under the inspiration of Bush andRice---- adequately reciprocated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh--- has been a turning point in Indo-US relations since India becameindependent in 1947.

7. Will Obama continue with the Bush-Rice policy of dealing with India strategically and strengthening their relationship or will he revert tothe traditional tactical Democratic reflex? This was the question that bothered many Indian opinion-makers as they heard with concernspeculation about the likelihood of Holbroke or Albright becoming the Secretary of State. There is a sigh of relief over reports of thelikelihood of Hillary Clinton taking over as the Secretary of State. She has enjoyed positive vibrations with influential Indians andIndo-Americans. There is a confidence that Indo-US relations will be safe in her hands.One has to wait and see whether this belief proves tobe correct or mere wishful-thinking.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )



(What will be the impact of the global financial and economic melt-down on the Chinese economy? This question should be of interest to the other countries of the South and the South-East Asian region. If the Chinese economy is badly affected, they too are likely to feel the negative consequences of the down-turn in the Chinese economy. Keeping this in view, we have been bringing out a periodic "Chinese Economy Monitor" based on open information. This is the fourth in the series---B. Raman)

2.China announced on November 9,2008, an economic stimulus programme amounting to US $586 billion to be spent over a period of two years. It described its aims as to bolster domestic demand and help avert a global recession. According to analysts, these figures seemed to include expected expenditute on already on-going projects for which money had already been set aside in the past as well as newly-planned expenditure on new projects to be launched in the coming two years. The announced sum represents about 16% of China's economic output last year, and is roughly equal to the total of all central and local government spending in 2006. New spending of even half that amount would be a substantial addition to the amounts already budgeted for during the current financial year. Most of the allocated amount is proposed to be spent on new housing, new infrastructure, agriculture, health care and social welfare. It also includes a tax deduction for capital spending by companies. China's stimulus package is substantially higher than that of the US ( US $ 168 billion), Japan (US $ 51.5 billion largely in the form of payouts to families and tax reliefs to business companies) and Germany (US $ 29.9 billion mainly tax reliefs and loans). The German package has a four-year duration as against two years in the case of China. The time period in the case of the US and Japan is not known. The Chinese contention is that the best way they could contribute to re-stabilising the global economy is by a substantial increase in expenditure in those sectors such as housing and infrastructure, which would create new jobs at home and, at the same time, maintain a high level of imports of raw materials and other items such as minerals and metals required for this purpose.

While the outlook for China's once-booming economy has rapidly worsened, the country remains comparatively well-placed to deal with a slowdown. The boom years have been well used by China to clean up its banking system, return state enterprises to profitability and shore up government finances. Now the state is putting its significant financial resources -- including a budget that for the moment is still in surplus -- into play to shore up the economy. China's financial system remains largely unscathed by the global credit squeeze, but prospects for the country's continued rapid growth have quickly deteriorated. Export orders from the U.S., Europe and Japan are weakening, causing factories around China to trim work forces or shut down entirely -- leading to unemployment that could undermine popular backing for the Government.Urban consumers are pulling back from China's housing market, causing new construction to collapse to its worst level in a decade. With construction weak, support for other key industries such as cement and steel has declined, and they are cutting output and canceling orders for raw materials -- moves that are being felt by commodities firms around the world. The downward spiral in confidence is likely to depress growth even further. China's leaders "realize this is really about sentiment and confidence, which needs a very fast and strong policy response," said Wang Qing, an economist with Morgan Stanley.Based on recent trends and without a policy response, China could have seen only a GDP growth rate of 5% to 6% next year, according to Mr. Wang. With the stimulus measures that include previous moves to cut interest rates and end caps on bank lending, he said China now has a good chance of achieving a growth rate of 8% to 9% in 2009.

Economists said China's new stimulus plan represents an even more dramatic policy response than China adopted in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis, when Beijing spent heavily to counter a similarly worrisome combination of an external financial crisis and a sharp domestic slowdown."As the global economic and financial crisis has become more severe in the last two months, China must take flexible and prudent macroeconomic policies to resist the negative impact of the international situation and deal with these complicated and ever-changing trends," the State Council said in its statement announcing the package. Another question is how quickly the effects of the stimulus package will be felt in the real economy. While the Government's statement urged local officials to rapidly put new money to work, some lag is unavoidable. And since infrastructure spending has already been growing by about 20% annually for the past couple of decades, there may be physical and logistical limitations to how much spending can be further accelerated.

The Government is presenting the program as an opportunity to do many things that would be worth doing anyway. These include helping companies upgrade to higher-tech equipment, improving irrigation in rural areas, raising pensions and social-security payments, and improving water and waste treatment in cities.

----- Extracted from an article by Andrew Batson in the "Wall Street Journal" of November 10,2008.


3.In its monetary policy report for the third quarter of the year ending on September 30,2008, the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, said as follows: "Inflationary pressures had eased alongside falling commodity prices. The Bank will focus on preventing deflation in the short term. It will use open market operations to help increase liquidity and will ensure that adequate credit is available in the financial system to complement the Government's fiscal stimulus policies. Uncertainties in the domestic economy are increasing. The risk of an economic downturn is getting bigger. China's macro-economic controls are facing a more complicated and fast changing situation. Problems in the property sector could spread to other parts of the economy. Monetary policy should prevent deflation in the short term, but prevent inflation in the long run. The current stimulative policies should not sow the seeds of inflation down the road."

----- a Reuters despatch as carried by the "Wall Street Journal" of November 18,2008.


4.Describing the jobs situation as grim, Human Resources and Social Security Minister Yin Weimin told reporters on November 19,2008, that it could worsen from the impact of the unfolding global financial crisis. With company bankruptcies and a slowdown in production creating stresses in labour relations, he said, dealing with labour strife was now his Ministry's top concern. Shortly after unveiling the economic stimulus plan, China is now turning its attention to managing the more intractable social fallout from the downturn ---- growing discontent fuelled by rising unemployment. New measures aimed at easing labour disputes and job losses launched in recent days, coupled with calls from top security officials for the appropriate handling of protests, all point to the fact that maintaining social stability has become one of Beijing's most pressing tasks at hand. The policies range from setting up a fast-track system to nip labour disputes in the bud, providing financial aid to firms to help them retain workers, improving job search services for rural workers and clearing a backlog of sensitive court cases. 'The root cause of unhappiness is unemployment. Without a job it is hard to survive in China because of weak social protection,' said Professor Hu Xingdou, an expert in economics and China issues with the Beijing Institute of Technology. He added: "If leaders want to defuse tensions, they must solve the job problem."

Social Security Vice-Minister Zhang Xiaojian revealed on November 19,2008, that demand for workers in 84 cities across China in the third quarter of this year had fallen by 5.5 per cent - the first third-quarter drop in "many years".China's official urban unemployment rate was currently about 4 per cent, but could hit 4.5 per cent by the year-end. Next year, the rate could climb even higher, Zhang said.Yin identified October as the month when "employment in China began to show the impact of changes in the international economic situation".Up to then, he said, the "employment situation was basically stable". Looking at next year, he said the first quarter would be "more difficult" but expected a turnaround in the second quarter when the effects of the massive stimulus package would become evident.

Even before the current crisis, China's 24 million urban job-seekers outnumbered new jobs two to one. With even fewer jobs next year, the fierce competition among the country's university graduates, for instance, is set to intensify. The number of graduates will rise to 6.1 million next year, up from 5.59 million this year, said Zhang. Rising unemployment among China's 230 million rural labourers - about half of whom toil far from their hometowns - is also a major problem. The authorities are concerned that they could be the biggest source of unrest.

China's official jobless rate does not take into account these unregistered, highly mobile migrant workers. It would be much higher if they were included. Unemployment was most severe in China's southern manufacturing and export hub where thousands of labour-intensive firms which employ migrant labour have collapsed due to weakening external demand, said Yin. Already, there have been isolated protests by workers over unpaid wages at shuttered factories. But of increasing concern for the Chinese Communist Party is the widening scale of unrest and scope of issues that are fuelling public dissatisfaction. In recent weeks, taxi drivers upset over falling incomes have staged strikes in at least three Chinese cities, including Chongqing. Earlier last week, a two-day protest over home demolitions in Gansu province left more than 70 injured.
Yin denied that there were currently any "large-scale retrenchments" or mass movement of jobless migrant workers back to their hometowns, but admitted that the "situation was still developing".
----- Source:- The Straits Times of November 23,2008

5.Yin acknowledged that labor unrest was the Ministry's “top concern,” following recent protests from workers who have lost their jobs and are demanding back wages. According to him, the Government would try to curb labor unrest by solving half of disputes at the grassroots level. A fast-track system to deal with labor disputes will be put in place as well. Yin reiterated that the Government would help enterprises through the crisis to reduce unemployment. He pledged that his Ministry will ensure that employees receive wages due to them in situations where factory closures are inevitable. Industries will also be required to uphold their legal obligations. He added: “The global economic crisis is picking up speed and spreading from developed to developing countries and the effects are becoming more and more pronounced here. Our economy is facing a serious challenge.” \
---- Source Reuters of November 20,2008

6.China announced measures on November 20,2008, aimed at absorbing job losses and staving off civil unrest, amid rising concerns the economic crisis was fuelling long-simmering social tensions across the country.The policies cover a wide range of areas, such as raising compensation for farmers kicked off their land, helping laid-off workers, ensuring police handle protests correctly and clearing a backlog of sensitive court cases."The campaign will help to ease social conflicts, protect the people's legal interests and maintain social stability," Zhou Yongkang, China's top law enforcer, said in detailing the eight-month programme to clear the court cases.China's Communist Party has long been obsessed with social stability, concerned that any type of protest could escalate into a major challenge to its 59-year rule. With China's economy slowing, a series of high-profile protests have erupted recently over job losses and long-standing grievances over the many injustices in Chinese society such as powerful interests taking people's land. Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu warned police chiefs they "should be aware of the challenge brought by the global financial crisis and try their best to maintain social stability", the official "China Daily" reported. Highlighting the concerns, thousands of people took to the streets this week in northwest China's Gansu province wielding axes, chains and other weapons to confront authorities over a typical "land grab" dispute.Meanwhile, tensions remain high in southern Guangdong province, China's manufacturing heartland, where thousands of manufacturing workers have gathered in recent weeks outside closed-down factories to demand unpaid wages.Social Security Minister Yin Weimin admitted that an expected spike in unemployment was a serious concern for the Government."We have called on all levels of the Human Resources and Social Security Ministry to place priority on the stabilisation of the employment situation as the top task that we must tackle," Yin told reporters.He announced a series of measures to try to stave off unemployment and to help those who have lost their jobs, particularly among the 230 million rural migrant workers who form the backbone of China's struggling export industry.Yin said measures included helping migrants find a job when they come to urban areas and providing extra training for those returning home. The Ministry of Land and Resources, meanwhile, announced it would increase compensation for farmers' land from 2009 "to guarantee the lawful rights of farmers whose land has been taken", in a statement on its website on November 20.Government-backed "land grabs" are a common occurrence in China and have sometimes fuelled violent protests as owners of the properties are forcibly moved away to make way for new developments.These issues were the backdrop to this week's two-day riot in Longnan, Gansu province, which left many people injured.The "land grab" issue was also being addressed as part of the campaign to clear the sensitive court cases announced by Zhou via the official Xinhua news agency.Six types of court cases were listed as priorities to be fast-tracked, including those linked to land disputes, others delayed due to local government interference and ones involving migrant worker payments, Xinhua reported.
---- Source: A despatch of the Agence France Presse (AFP), dated November 20,2008.


7. During October,2008, the import of crude oil increased by 28 per cent as compared to imports during October,2007, kerosene imports increased by 24 per cent and gasoline imports by 5 per cent. As against this, diesel imports declined by 46 per cent, LPG imports declined by 25 per cent, and fuel oil imports declined by 13 per cent. China's petroleum data often show big, unexplained short-term swings. Analysts, therefore, caution against making any assessment on the basis of figures for just one month. Diesel stockpiles appear to have steeply risen before the Olympics. Part of the steep drop in imports of diesel in October could have been the result of the excessive pre-Olympics build-up of stocks. China never publishes data on stocks held in respect of any of the items. However, analysts estimate that diesel stocks in the first nine months of 2008 were more than twice in the same period of 2007. The increase in the import of crude oil during October could indicate that the oil companies are taking advantage of the fall in crude prices to build up their stocks. The Government may also be doing so to build up its strategic reserves. Jiang Jiemin, the head of the China National Petroleum Corporation, has said in a statement put on its web site: " Demand for fuel has fallen sharply since September, pushing up stockpiles of unsold gasoline and diesel. As the global financial crisis and its impact on China's economy deepen, the company's business has also been significantly affected."
---From a report by David Winning and Shai Oster in the "Wall Street Journal" of November 18,2008.


8.Statistics from the Chinese Customs indicated that during the first nine months of this year, China's textiles and clothing exports touched $136.94 billion, a rise of 8.1% over the same period of 2007. But the growth rate is 11.9 percentage points lower than that of the corresponding period of last year.
------ Source, TV News Channels of November 20,2008.


9.The latest statistics issued by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) indicate that in September 2008, there were 1,883,300 international tourists to China, down by 15.10% compared to the same period of last year. This September, China achieved a total of US$ 3.142 billion in tourism foreign exchange earnings, a decrease of 11.36% year-on-year. From January to September this year, the number of international arrivals visiting China went down by 3.53% to 18,352,700; and China's total tourism foreign exchange earnings was US$29.828 billion, a decrease of 3.26% from the same period of last year. According to the analysis of CNTA, due to the series of serious natural disasters and "unexpected incidents" that took place in China this year, the Chinese tourism industry has been affected to a certain degree. Also, the global financial crisis has had an adverse impact on tourism
---- "China Hospitality News" of October 24,2008


My Comments: The Chinese banks and other financial institutions have not been facing any problems till now. The economy has started doing badly as compared to the past double digit growth rates due to a continuing decline in exports, which has particularly affected small and medium scale enterprises. However, it has been doing better than the economies of other countries. The decline in exports in an exports-dependent manufacturing sector has been leading to job losses, which are particularly affecting migrant labour from the rural areas, who had found jobs in the coastal areas. This has already started causing sporadic instances of social unrest. The introduction of economic reforms in China since 1978 was not accompanied by the introduction of appropriate labour reforms to ensure for the workers fair wages, timely payment of wages, protection against arbitrary dismissals and retrenchment and expeditious disposal of labour disputes in a manner that is viewed as fair by the workers. This could aggravate the social tensions at a time of economic decline. The Government has embarked on a two-pronged policy---- a fiscal stimulus package to dramatically step up expenditure on new infrastructure and other projects to create new jobs and modernisation of labour reforms and their strict enforcement. The Government's assessment is that the present decline will continue till June 30 next and even worsen. It is hoping that by then the benefits of the stimulus package will start flowing in and that the new US President Barrack Obama would have succeeded in reversing the melt-down in the US. If (it is a big IF) that happens, things could start looking up again from July. The Government is also embarking on a policy of restructuring the manufacturing sector in order to expand the domestic demand and decrease the present over-dependence on exports. If the Government makes its labour laws more labour friendly than foreign investor-friendly as they are now, China could to some extent lose its attraction to foreign investors as compared to India, which is viewed by many foreign investors as over-friendly to labour. However, the superior state of Chinese infrastructure, which is now sought to be improved even further, will continue to give an advantage to China as compared to India with the woeful state of its infrastructure. (23-11-08)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

Friday, November 21, 2008




The policy of the Indian Navy in its operations against Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden area can be characterised as one of active defenceof Indian shipping. That means, protection of Indian commercial ships and foreign ships with a large complement of Indian crew transitingthrough these waters and action in self-defence against pirate boats and ships, which threaten Indian lives and interests and threaten toattack Indian naval ships patrolling the seas in this area. The indications till now are that their role will not be extended to cover activeintervention to free already hijacked ships. If preventive measures fail, the responsibility for getting a hijacked ship released from thecustody of the pirates will be largely that of the company owning the ship.

2. Any active intervention role will require the presence of more ships with more specially-trained commandoes on board. Moreover, if theintervention attempt fails, there could be diplomatic and other complications. It has been reported that the Ministry of Shipping of theGovernment of India is keen that at least four ships of the Navy should be on anti-piracy patrol. The present policy seems to be to have oneship on rotation on permanent anti-piracy patrol. At the most, this may be increased to two if resources and circumstances permit. AdmiralSureesh Mehta, the Chief of the Naval Staff, told the media on November 20, 2008,that the Navy was also considering the option of an aerialrecce of the region. He has also been quoted as saying: "We are considering augmenting our efforts to keep the Indian traffic in the regionsafe.”

3. The Government of India has reasons to be gratified that the successful action of INS Tabar, the frigate presently on patrolling duty, insinking a suspected mothership of the pirates on November 18,2008, has been positively viewed by the countries of the region as well as bythose outside the region. It has also been uniformly hailed by private shipping companies using the Gulf of Aden. It is equally gratifying thatthe Government of Pakistan, which under Pervez Musharraf was opposed to any Indian role in maritime security in this region, has not so farreacted adversely to the proposed permanent presence of one or two Indian naval ships in the waters of this region.

4.Was the US consulted before India decided to deploy INS Tabar in the Gulf of Aden? An answer to this question is not available. It may berecalled that in the past the US had tried to have India's role in maritime security confined to the seas to the East of India. It was opposedto any Indian role in the seas to the West of India out of deference to the sensitivities and concerns of Pakistan.Now, it seems to bereconciled to India's role even if it had not actively encouraged it.

5.Pakistani sources, however, suspect that India would not have taken this initiative without an approving nod from the US and that the USwould not have given this nod without consulting the Government of Pakistan. If it ultimately turns out that the US did consult Pakistan andthat it did not object to the Indian role, this would mark a qualitative change for the better in the perceptions of the present PakistaniGovernment towards India.

6. It is, at the same time, intriguing that the US has not hailed the successful action of INS Tabar as enthusiastically as one would haveexpected it. Official US comments on what is perceived by private shipping companies as the weak response of the US-led coalition to thesurge in piracy in this region have emphasised caution in dealing with the piracy. According to a despatch of the Agence France Presse(AFP), Geoff Morrell, a media spokesperson of the Pentagon, told pressmen in Washington DC on November 19,2008, that a militaryapproach was not the answer to a surge in piracy off the Horn of Africa and said that the shipping companies should do more on their ownto protect their vessels. "You could have all the navies in the world having all their ships out there, you know, it's not going to ever solve thisproblem," he said, and added: "It requires a holistic approach from the international community at sea, ashore, with governance, witheconomic development."

7. According to the AFP, Morrell said that at least 18 ships are currently being held for ransom by Somali pirates, along with 330 crewmembers taken hostage. This year there have been 95 attempted ship seizures by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, 39 of them successful.Notonly has the incidence of piracy increased, but pirates are going farther out in the high seas. He then said: "Trust me, this subject is beingdealt with at the highest levels of this Government.It is a real concern. And we are constantly evaluating what the best approach is.I'm justtrying to get you to think beyond the notion of, 'The answer is strictly kinetics. We've got to board more ships. We've got to fire on morepirates.'

8. Commenting on the hijacking of a Saudi oil supertanker, another Pentagon spokesperson Dana Perino said: "The White House saidPresident George W. Bush had been briefed about the seizure of the Saudi supertanker. Ensuring the safety and well being of the crew is ofparamount importance in preventing or dealing with issues of piracy.And the goal would be to try to help get this ship to safety, secure thecrew, and then work with our international partners to try to alleviate the piracy problem. Washington is working with other members of theSecurity Council right now to work out how to more effectively fight against piracy.It's a very complicated issue. There's a lot ofinternational laws that factor into these efforts."

9. According to the AFP report, Morrell urged that the UN Security Council should vote a resolution that authorizes anti-piracy activities. Hesaid that commercial shipping companies also should stick to safer sea lanes away from shore and invest in protective measures, includingtechnical devices and armed guards."The shipping companies also have an obligation to secure their ships to prevent incidents such thatwe've been seeing at alarming rates over the past several months," he added.

10.The State Department convened a high level group of officials to examine the issue, but Sean McCormack, a spokesperson of the Department, called piracy "an international problem" that the US was not going to solve alone.

11. Do the guarded comments of the Pentagon and the State Department and the absence of appreciative references to the action of INSTabar in US Governmental circles indicate a discomfort over India's unilateral and proactive role? Such guarded comments, however, arenot new. In the past too, the US attitude to its anti-piracy role in the Horn of Africa region lacked clarity and a readiness to act.Caution indealing with the increasing problem of piracy in the Horn of Africa area has been a defining characteristic of the US policy and this is one ofthe reasons which had contributed to the surge in piracy.

12.After launching its military action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom on October 7,2001,the US took the initiative in setting up a joint naval task force called the Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, with headquarters in Djibouti. ThePakistani Navy was invited to be a member of this Task Force. Musharraf agreed to the Pakistani Navy joining it on condition that the IndianNavy would be kept out. The Task Force is commanded by naval officers from different member countries by rotation. It is presentlycommanded by Commodore Per Bigum Christensen of Denmark. It conducts Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulfof Oman, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

13.According to a US Navy website, "the MSO help develop security in the maritime environment, which promotes stability and globalprosperity. These operations complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violentextremists’ use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material." Since its inception,its focus was mainly on anti-smuggling and anti-infiltration tasks----meaning preventing the smuggling and pentration of men and materialto Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and to Al Qaeda in Iraq. Counter-piracy was given a low priority.

14.On August 22,2008, the Task Force established a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) in support of the International MaritimeOrganization's (IMO) call for international assistance to discourage attacks on commercial vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden. According tostatements issued by the US Navy, the MSPA is a geographic area in the Gulf of Aden utilized by Combined Maritime Forces to focus theirefforts against destabilizing activities. These activities include, but are not limited to: criminal activities, drug smuggling operations thatsupport terrorist and violent extremist organizations and human smuggling. Coalition forces patrol the MSPA, which is not marked or definedby visual navigational means, on a routine basis.Vice-Admiral Bill Gortney, Commander, Combined Maritime Forces, was quoted as saying:"Coalition maritime efforts will give the IMO time to work international efforts that will ultimately lead to a long-term solution." He said thatthe shipping industry must consider hiring security teams for their vessels.

15.Even after the setting-up of the MSPA, the US response to the surge in piracy has been cautious. It has been trying to discourage anyundue expectations from the shipping companies that this probably presaged a more robust role by the US Navy against Somali piracy. Theonly Navies, which have so far shown a readiness to play a robust role are those of France, the UK and India. The reasons for the continuedUS caution are not clear.

16. India's decision to send INS Tabar to the Gulf of Aden to protect Indian shipping was triggered off by the hijacking of a Japanese shipwith largely Indian crew and the emotional criticism by the families of the crew of the seeming Government inaction. It was a tactical movetaken in a hurry without much thought being given to the development of a strategic martime security architecture in the region to protectthe region against piracy as well as maritime terrorism, in concert with other affected countries. The development of such a mechanismneeds attention.

17. The Chinese are as much worried over piracy in this region as we are.A Chinese fishing vessel with a 26-member crew, 17 of themChinese, was hijacked recently by Somali pirates. It is not known whether the vessel is still in the custody of the pirates or has beenreleased. Our support for any Chinese role in a multilateral maritime security mechanism should be made conditional on their supportingIndia's permanent membership of the UN Security Council. (21-11-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )