Tuesday, February 19, 2008



The expression co-habitation came into vogue in France when the late Francois Mitterrand, the leader of the French Socialist Party, was thePresident in the 1980s. In the elections to the French National Assembly held when he was the President, his party was badly defeated andthe Gaullists under Jacques Chirac won a majority.

2. Mitterrand chose to interpret the results as not reflecting on his presidency and he, as the President, and Chirac, as the Prime Minister,decided to co-habit. Under the French Constitution, the President is not just a figure-head. He has more powers than the British PrimeMinister, but less than the US President. All powers relating to decision-making in respect of foreign policy and national security areexercised by the President who chairs the Cabinet meetings. The Prime Minister exercises all powers relating to domestic policy. Theco-habitation arrangement between Mitterrand and Chirac worked with some periodic tensions, though.

3. The 1973 Pakistani Constitution, which the late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto gave to Pakistan, resembled the Indian Constitution with all powers inthe hands of the Prime Minister and with the President reduced to a figurehead. Before appointing Mohammad Khan Junejo as the PrimeMinister, Gen.Zia-ul-Haq changed this to give the President all the powers relating to foreign policy and national security and the power todismiss the Prime Minister. He used this power to dismiss Junejo in 1988 when differences developed between the two over the handling ofthe Afghan proximity attacks in Geneva and over the enquiry into a serious explosion in an arms and ammunition storage depot of the Armyand the Inter-Services Intelligence at Ojehri near Islamabad.

4. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan use this power against Benazir Bhutto in 1990 and Nawaz Sharif in 1993. President Farooq Leghari of thePakistan People's Party, who developed differences with Benazir, used this power to dismiss her in 1996 following allegations of corruptionagainst Asif Zardari and his interference in the administration. The mystery surrounding the death of Murtaza Ali Bhutto, her youngerbrother, in police firing in Karachi in September,1996, after he returned to Karachi from Islamabad where he had allegedly a fierce quarrelwith Zardari and Benazir over dinner regarding his right to be nominated as the Vice-Chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, alsocontributed to Leghari's dismissal of Benazir. The cases filed against Asif Zardari at the instance of Leghari are sub-judice.

5. Nawaz Sharif, whose party won a two-thirds majority in the 1996 elections, used this majority to abolish the power of the President todismiss the elected Prime Minister.After seizing power in October,1999,Pervez Musharraf had this power restored in the Constitution. Healso instituted the National Security Council chaired by the President, and transferred to the President all powers relating todecision-making in foreign policy and national security matters. The Constitution, as repeatedly re-cast by Musharraf, resembles more theFrench than the Indian Constitution. Musharraf, therefore, need not necessarily resign because his opponents or critics have secured amajority in the elections.

6. Unless and until the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of Nawaz Sharif are able to have theConstitutional amendments removed, Musharraf will continue to exercise the power of dismissal of the Prime Minister and handle allimportant decision-making in foreign policy and national security matters. That is why when Benazir was negotiating with Musharraf shewas demanding the abolition of the power of the President to dismiss the elected Prime Minister and of the NSC. Musharraf rejected both these demands.

7. A major point of difference between the PPP and the PML (N) related to Nawaz's demand for the reinstatement of Chief Justic IftikharAhmed Chaudhury, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, removed by Musharraf. Benazir found it difficult to support this demand because,in her view, the dismissed Chief Justice was taking undue interest in the expeditious disposal of the case relating to the alleged murder ofMurtaza Bhutto, which has been going on for 12 years with frequent adjournments like the case relating to the kidnapping and murder ofDaniel Pearl, the US journalist by pro-Al Qaeda elements in the beginning of 2002.

8. The national reconciliatuion orders which Musharraf issued last year under an understanding reached with Benazir at the instance of theUS related to all corruption-related cases, but not to the case under the Anti-Terrorism Act under which Nawaz stands convicted and thetrial relating to the death of Murtaza Bhutto. Nawaz is keen to have the dismissed Chief Justice reinstated because firstly, he thinks he willhave the re-election of Musharraf as the President set aside, which Nawaz cannot achieve without a two-thirds majority in the NationalAssembly, and, secondly, he hopes that the reinstated Chief Justice will have his own conviction under the Anti-Terrorism Act set aside,thereby enabling him to be the Prime Minister. Till his conviction is set aside, he cannot be the Prime Minister.

9. The two most liked leaders in the eyes of the Army and the US are Maqdoom Amin Fahim, the Vice-Chairman of the PPP, who used to bethe Minister For Petroleum under Benazir Bhutto during her second tenure as the Prime Minister, and Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother ofNawaz Sharif. Amin Fahim was immensely liked by the US oil companies, particularly UNOCAL. When the UNOCAL hosted a dinner to the thenPresident of Turkmenistan in New York, Benazir deputed him to attend the dinner. After the elections of 2002, Amin Fahim, who is close toMusharraf, was Musharraf's first choice as the Prime Minister. Fahim declined the offer and refused to betray Benazir. Shahbaz Sharif wasvery close the US State Department. Amin Fahim and Shahbaz Sharif are both liked by the Punjabi Generals and the US, who strongly dislikeAsiz Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. One of the reasons for the PPP not doing as well in Southern Punjab as it was expected is the unpopularityof Zardari among the Punjabis.

10. The election results, which are still coming in, have highlighted an interesting outcome. No party has acquired a majority on its own. ThePPP has emerged as the largest single party and will, therefore, have the right to be called first to attempt to form a Government. It willhave two options--- either form the government in co-operation with the PML (N) or in co-operation with PML (Qaide Azam) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Altaf Hussain---both supporters of Musharraf. If Nawaz Sharif strikes a hard bargain by demanding there-instatement of the sacked Chief Justice, Zardari might be reluctant to agree to it. On the contrary, the PML (QA) is unlikely to impose anyconditions to co-operate with the PPP. The only conditions which the MQM might impose are the recognition of its importance in anyGovernment formed in Sindh. A major difficulty for the PPP in co-operating with the PML (QA) would be the presence of some remnants ofthe Zia ul-Haq regime in it. It strongly suspects that these remnants must have played a role in the assassination of Benazir.

11. The US and other Western countries are interested in Musharraf continuing as the President. They don't trust Nawaz Sharif because ofhis links with the Jamaat-e-Islami of Qazi Hussain Ahmed. The Jamaat-e-Islami boycotted the elections, but its cadres campaigned forNawaz's Party in Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province. They would like to work for a co-habitation arrangement with Musharraf asthe President and Amin Fahim or Shahbaz Sharif as the Prime Minister. Will they succeed or will Musharraf have to quit? The answer to thisquestion lies as much in Washington DC as in Islamabad. Musharraf still has some wriggle room, if he wants to exercise it. Will he wriggle or call it quits? (19-2-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd) , Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Monday, February 18, 2008


The final results of the Pakistani elections are yet to emerge. However, the unofficial indications till now are that the Pakistan People'sParty (PPP) of Mr.Asif Zardari, the Pakistan Muslim League of Mr.Nawaz Sharif (PML(N) ), the Muittahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Mr.AltafHussain and the Awami National Party (ANP) of Mr.Afsandyar Wali Khan have been doing well. They are likely to play an important role in theGovernment formation and in policy-making---the PPP and the PML (N) at the national level and the other two at the provincial levels---theMQM in Sindh and the ANP in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Of these, the MQM is closely identified with President PervezMusharraf, while the other three are strong critics of him.

2.What was the stand of these four parties on various national security issues of interest to India during the election campaign? Their views as expressed by them are given below. This is based on a collation by Mr.Qudssia Akhlaque carried by the "News", the daily of Pakistan, intwo parts on February 17 and 18,2008.He posed the questions on various national security and foreign policy issues, among others, to AsifAli Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, MQM Deputy Convener Dr. Farooq Sattar, and Afsandyar Wali Khan .

3.Nawaz Sharif's replies are particularly interesting. He has been guarded and his views on issues such as the command and control overPakistan's nuclear arsenal, the security of the arsenal, action against Dr.A.Q.Khan, the role of the army in national security policy-making,control over the Inter-Services Intelligence, and the perceived inadequate progress in the dialogue with India on the Kashmir issue havebeen framed in such a manner as not to make the Punjabi Generals of the Army uncomfortable. Nawaz Sharif and particularly his brotherShahbaz Sharif have been in touch with many of the serving and retired Punjabi officers and he has kept in view their sensitivities. Of all thefour leaders, he is the only leader who has given equal priority to Pakistan's relations with India and China. On the question of relations withthe US, there has been a certain lack of enthusiasm in his replies.

ANP: There is no need for a National Security Council or any other supra constitutional bodies. Matters of National Security should be debated in the Parliament and a parliamentary body formed for it.

MQM: The Parliament of Pakistan is the supreme body and in its presence the concept and existence of the National Security Council is rather redundant; most certainly the very presence of the NSC looks upon the democratic institutions with distrust and questioning their validity. However, the NSC was a bitter pill that had to be swallowed but with conditionality through an amendment introduced by the MQM, that all decisions taken by the NSC have to be ratified by the Parliament and this was accepted by the coalition. The NSC cannot be looked in isolation, independent of certain hardcore facts namely: (1) The history of covert and overt actions and State oppression, such as against the MQM; (2) The post 9/11 scenario and (3) To avoid situations like the imposition of the emergency. The positive political involvement of the MQM with the coalition de-clawed the NSC and brought it under the political umbrella of parliamentary democracy.

PPP: The PPP does not support the National Security Council. The NSC would be abolished and replaced with a Defense Committee of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister.

PML-N: It has expressed two contradictory views. In his reply to the questions, Nawaz Sharif said that the NSC should always be headed by the Chief Executive which is the Prime Minister and not the President, but in its manifesto, the party had said:“ The National Security Council will be abolished. The Defense Committee of the Cabinet will be reconstituted as the Cabinet Committee on Defense and National Security and will be chaired by the Prime Minister.”

ANP: The question does not arise as it wants the NSC to be abolished.

MQM: Security no more consists of only traditional concepts of external threat or aggression. It also addresses internal threats and aggression as well. Similarly, the much neglected and rapidly emerging economic, trade and natural threats need serious attention. Military has an important role to play, but under the official subservience of elected government.

PPP: As it does not support the NSC, the question of military representation in it does not arise. However, the Defense Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) under the Prime Minister should continue to have the military’s representation.

PML-N: If the NSC continues, the Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff ,and the chiefs of the three Services can be represented at the NSC, but it should also include the Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister, the Interior Minister and the Finance Minister, but not the four Chief Ministers as at present, if the Council is to perform genuine security functions and is not meant to oversee the political system of the country.

ANP: There are a number of concerns and questions about the role, structures and accountability of the ISI which need a critical review and reform to make it an effective, accountable and useful body working for the national interest. The body needs to be made accountable to an elected government with a professional civilian setup.

MQM: Absolutely not. The ISI historically speaking was created to collect, research, analyze and manage intelligence from the services that come under the Armed Forces. Unfortunately it was a civilian Prime Minister who created the political wing that was subsequently used to spy on politicians for blackmailing and buying their loyalties and has since then become a norm. The MQM condemns and abhors all such activities that ISI’s political wing practises. We would like the ISI to revert back to its original role and focus its eyes, ears and energies onto the military instead of civilians.

PPP: It is not very important who heads the security agencies. The important thing is that all security agencies, including the ISI, should be answerable to the elected Prime Minister and the Parliament. It is also important that the functioning of agencies like the ISI is regulated by legislation.

PML-N: No. The ISI, as an inter-service organization, has to be headed by a military Director-General.


ANP: The past perpetual military dictatorships have weakened every institution in the country and placed the entire nation at a serious risk. Thus it is difficult for anyone to have confidence in a command and control structure managed under such dictatorial regimes. Also, the Party strongly believes that Pakistan should support international moves for arms reduction and abolition of nuclear weapons on an universal and non-discriminatory basis.
MQM: We have faith in Pakistan’s command and control structure to safeguard our nuclear assets but we are concerned by all this unwanted attention it is getting in the foreign press. No system is 100 per cent fool-proof and we need to be vigilant 24/7, 365 days a year and to effectively weed out elements and threats who pose a threat to our nuclear assets. This is the price one pays to have these very expensive and deadly toys that supposedly bring strategic balance and peace. Pakistan more than anything needs peace of mind, social and economic development. No nuclear arsenal is strong enough to protect us if the supreme will of the people is not there.

PPP: The present command and control structure of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is under the President. The PPP has demanded that the Nuclear Command and Control be placed under the Defense Committee of the Cabinet under the Prime Minister.

PML-N: Yes. Satisfied with the existing command and control


ANP: Pakistan is the only nuclear power in the Islamic world. Given the present tensions in the world, this nuclear capability can present a grave threat to the country’s security rather than guarantee it, which was the reason for going nuclear in the first place. The country’s foreign policy has, therefore, to be finely adjusted to guard against these dangers while at the same time, it must serve to further the national interest in terms of economic and commercial progress.

MQM: This is a technical question and since being no security expert or having no access to privileged information I may not be able to answer this question. But in this age and all things considered, nothing is invincible or inviolable. If nuclear faux pas and serious security breaches like 9/11 can happen in the West, how can we be so confident in this over-crowded country of 160 million people?

PPP: Musharraf has in his biography accused some Pakistani scientists of setting up a clandestine international market of nuclear weapons. If one were to believe his claim that the nuclear weapons were being sold in the black market by some individuals it would appear that our nuclear arms are vulnerable. However, we have received international assistance for putting in place a nuclear command and control structure. Therefore our nuclear assets ought to be safe. But God forbid, if the country begins to fall apart and armed militants march on to Islamabad supported by another Red Mosque type mutiny, the situation would be extremely dangerous. This is why, as the democratic alternative,we believe it is essential to restore democracy, mobilize the strength of the people and create political stability to secure the integrity of the country.

PML-N: No.


ANP: No.

MQM: Dr. A.Q. Khan affair was handled unprofessionally and was humiliating for Pakistan as well as the person who was instrumental in Pakistan’s nuclear program. But no person should be above the law and there are procedures to handle such situations. There was no need to have public circuses. The establishment created this hero culture for its own ulterior objectives. Pakistan can do better without this lame culture; what this country needs more than anything else is men and women of substance.

PPP: The regime has already allowed IAEA access to A. Q. Khan by transmitting written replies of Dr. Khan to the Agency. Parliament is the best forum for considering direct access to Dr Khan if ever such a demand was made.

PML-N: No.


ANP: Yes. However, if Dr. Khan is guilty of a criminal offense, he should have been charged and allowed a fair trial.

MQM: Dr Khan is under protective custody. But again the Government should be clear, straightforward and take people into confidence but not procrastinate. If Dr AQ Khan is guilty then do the necessary under the law and if he is innocent then do the necessary as well. Individual & State can both make mistakes. We need to move on.

PPP: Yes.

PML-N: Yes.


ANP: Yes. He or any other citizen should not be held without a charge.

MQM: If he is innocent why not.

PPP: We advocate a parliamentary probe into the nuclear proliferation and due process of law. The PPP has called for a parliamentary inquiry because Pakistan cannot afford to endanger its own nuclear system by smuggling and proliferating weapons of mass destruction.

PML-N: Yes.


ANP: There are different forms of terrorism and militancy in the country which can be traced mainly to the state policies and patronage.

MQM: Terrorism is not merely a problem any more. The dark reality is that it will soon be touching epidemic proportions if radical measures are not taken immediately and with the utmost sincerity. Everyone talks of democracy and how it will eradicate the evil of terrorism without bothering to take into consideration the root causes that have prevailed and need equal attention and importance as terrorism as well. The fact is that with over160 million people, decadent feudal practices, over centralization of power, limited resources, high illiteracy, shifting rural-urban dynamics and widening gaps between haves and have-nots, the increasing sense of deprivation will only breed fanaticism, sectarianism and extremism. These terrorists are cashing in on the poverty struck people and exploiting their sentiments and handicaps. Every underprivileged and socio-economically disadvantaged person is a potential Al Qaeda recruit in this world today and by default West with all its success and its allies becomes the hateful target. A lot needs to be acknowledged, understood and corrected besides radical measures and this means political changes and reforms in Pakistan and the Muslim world as well. With specific reference to Pakistan we have to place special emphasis on fundamental reforms in FATA (Federally-Administered Tribal Areas) and bringing them in the national and political mainstream.

PPP: Yes, terrorism is a serious problem facing the country. In her last political testament, Shaheed Mohtarma Bhutto said that she feared for the future of Pakistan at the hands of militancy and exhorted the Party to ‘continue the fight against extremism’.

PML-N: Yes. ( It is a serious problem)

ANP: We cannot see any positive impact of such an illegal war which has directly targeted the Pukhtuns and caused severe threat to peace and security in the region.

MQM: We have been on the receiving end. We received aid worth 12 billion US dollars and we received the wrath of Al Qaeda and Taliban and the hate of the masses for the rulers’ for siding with the US in spite of being the target of bomb attacks as well. We certainly won’t call it the best bargain especially so since this war is bringing terror now to GHQ doorsteps and cantonments across the country. As if this is not enough, we are now earning the suspicion of Americans regarding the sincerity of our intentions. It is rather unfortunate that it had to take a 9/11 like incident to wake us up. What we are doing today is sorting our house that should have been done long ago; if we had done so, we could have very well prevented the shame and unnecessary attention that Pakistan had to face because of the myopic and visionless policies in the past. It’s not a question of negative and positive impacts here; at that time (after 9/11) it was a matter of choice between the devil and the deep blue sea and the best possible decision under the circumstances was taken in Pakistan’s interest. These Johnnies who are critical of Pakistan’s decision are still living in a fool’s paradise and need to get a reality check. Every dark cloud has a silver lining and we need to find ours; as long as we take home a lesson and apply it for an egalitarian, democratic Pakistan then we have hope. If nothing, 9/11 has opened our eyes to the reality we had been avoiding for so long. 9/11 is a wake up call for us as much as it is for rest of the world.

PPP: It is in our interest to participate in the war on terror and root out the scourge of terrorism from Pakistan. On the negative side, however, the dictatorship has manipulated the war on terror to perpetuate itself and deny the people their democratic rights. The regime seems to be running with the hare and hunting with the hound and thus invited incalculable damage.

PML-N: The negative consequences of Pakistan’s participation in the war against terror far exceed any positive (economic) impact it may have yielded.


ANP: We firmly believe in finding peaceful and non violent ways of addressing external and internal threats. The party will seek political solutions to such problems rather than use of force. Much of the problems of extremism have exacerbated in the country because of extended periods of military dictatorships and total breakdown of state institutions. The situation can only be reversed by a legitimate and democratically elected government with a focus on needs, interests and aspirations of the people. Uphold democracy, rule of law and independence of the main pillars of the state, protect rights and freedoms.

MQM: Terrorism today is the culmination of the political processes and strategic seedlings planted jointly by one man and a superpower namely, Zia-ul-Haq and the US in their passion to bleed the heathen Russians in Afghanistan. Thus it is a joint moral responsibility of Pakistan and the US to bring sustainable political solutions to redress the mess we are in today. Pakistan’s counterterrorism measures have to be carefully balanced against long term domestic and foreign policy goals in order to get maximum advantage. For Pakistan to be a strong self sufficient nation, it will need to rethink its current spending of Western aid, shifting resources to improving the country’s socio-economic strata while defending itself against potential threats and a new class of radical groups. Any effective policy will have to be based on a multi-pronged approach with critical appreciation, acceptance and analysis of historical facts, mistakes made and the ground reality today before we embark on any new policy making adventure. Essentially, the political leadership will have to be taken into confidence. The Civil, Military and Feudal troika (Establishment) can no longer be trusted with what is national interest and defining our future. It has to be a participatory exercise for it to be effective and of consequence.The MQM is aware of as well as deeply concerned over the lack of any reforms in FATA and how these critical political gaps are being used by extremist elements as launch pads to strike deep into Pakistan and to spread terror, fear and hate. The political parties should be given free access to the FATA and allowed to practise as well. The black FCR (Frontier Crime Regulations) law in FATA needs to be abolished and a solid socio-economic reform package introduced encompassing wide scale and meaningful madrassah reforms to bring them into the national mainstream with proper audit and regulations.Healthy and educated people are less likely to become the cannon fodder for terrorists. We have neglected education & health for far too long and it needs urgent attention with an increase of 10 % each of GDP within the next ten years. Of equal importance is population control which is a demographic termite that will erode us from within if not snipped in the bud.

PPP: The Party is committed to vigorously confront militancy and terrorism. We do not support appeasement or dialogue with the militants who have taken on the state. We will talk with those who will lay down arms and accept the state and the Constitution. The military government has relied solely on the use of force in dealing with extremism in the tribal areas. We believe that alongside the use of force, we also need to take political steps and improve the socio- economic conditions of the people in the tribal area.Poverty and social isolation also breeds militancy. We will address issues of poverty and social isolation in the tribal areas. The PPP has already filed a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court seeking the extension of the Political Parties Act to the tribal areas. We want to bring the people of the tribal areas into the 21st century and make them stake- holders in fighting militancy and extremism. We would interrupt the flow of drug funds that finance militancy as well as spread education and employment.We need to bring in education and development in the tribal areas, which have remained cut off from the rest of the world since the last PPP government was dismissed in 1996. But we will not compromise with the extremists. We have prepared a blue print for the socio-economic development of the tribal areas in which the elected Agency Councils will have administrative and financial powers to undertake development activities. We also plan to give them an independent judicial system with the right to appeal. PML-N: The use of force is and will remain necessary against foreign and local terrorists who take innocent lives and also to prevent infiltration across the Pakistan border. But it is even more important to win the hearts and minds of people who support them, through a concerted process of political engagement.

PML-N is committed to pursue this dual track approach and take resolute steps to eradicate the menace of extremism and terrorism. During its previous tenure from 1997 to 1999, the PML-N government took a series of measures to control terrorist groups and counter their activities. It also supported the efforts of the international community to deal with this threat. In keeping with this policy, the party will intensify these efforts by: strengthening the capacity of law enforcing agencies to detect and control terrorist groups and their supporters; influencing the groups which directly or indirectly support terrorism, through political intermediaries and civil society organizations to adhere to basic Islamic principles of peace, moderation and justice. Also, promoting the rule of law, tolerance and mutual respect in the country to overcome the sense of desperation; taking steps to mainstream the tribal areas into the political, economic and cultural activities of the country and accelerating the pace of economic and social development in these areas.


ANP: Pakistan needs to pay special attention to building its relations with all its neighbours especially Afghanistan and India. In view of the commonalities in culture, faith, language and history between the people of Pukhtunkhwa and those of Afghanistan, determined efforts should be made to promote cooperation in every field including economic, commercial, educational and cultural. Similarly, establishment of peaceful, cooperative good neighbourly relations with India should be given high priority. All issues including Jammu and Kashmir should be solved through peaceful negotiations and open dialogue. Bilateral relations with any country should be conducted strictly on the basis of sovereign equality and non-interference in each others’ internal affairs.

MQM: Pakistan and India have been bitter enemies from day one since independence and spent more time in propaganda and destabilizing each other than developing their people and countries. India was better in managing open fronts as well as managing hot spots due to internal and external reasons and threats. Also, it was not burdened by the religious fervor that messed up our foreign policy and resulted in delusional and divine agendas of questionable validity and poor reflection of our global needs. There is no reason that we cannot have a South Asian Fraternity like EU in certain areas like trade and travel to be followed by a No War Pact as well as agreement to totally destroy respective nuclear arsenals by a certain date. We favor a Nuclear Free South Asia.Most importantly, if India and Pakistan can bilaterally settle all issues amicably, Pakistan will have no more issues with Afghanistan or Iran either and this will be a big victory for our foreign policy.

PPP: We need to improve relations on priority basis with the SAARC countries and more importantly with India. The PPP policy is to improve relations with India without prejudice to the Kashmir dispute. It is manifest from the signing of the Simla agreement in 1972 and December 1988 agreement not to attack each other’s nuclear installations. The PPP had been called a security risk for its farsighted vision, which was now being embraced by all its then critics.

PML-N: A peaceful settlement of all outstanding issues with India, in a spirit of fairness and equity would be accorded special priority by the Party. Also, every effort would be made to strengthen and enhance the relationship with Pakistan’s time tested friend China so as to make it truly strategic, by imparting greater substance and depth to it.


ANP: Same as the answer to the previous question.

MQM: Certainly relations with India are better than ever before. But a lot more needs to be done and for it to be sustained. There is better interaction between the people of the two countries and you are seeing the emergence of a social dialogue between the intellectuals, academics, think tanks, artists, NGOs and others besides the government to government interactions as well as track II diplomacy in the sidelines. Yes, we do need to resolve issues like Kashmir and water before we can put a closure on past, but it should not deter us from seeking peace and prosperity.\

PPP: The PPP has welcomed the regime taking a leaf from its manifesto for the normalization of relations with India. However, we are not sure whether it is merely tactical in nature or it is a strategic shift in policy thinking.

PML-N: On the whole ‘Yes’ but there is still considerable mistrust between the two countries which has to be removed.


ANP: Same as above....

MQM: It is high time and we both need to move towards a resolution. Pakistan and India cannot afford to have this bleeding sore forever. Most importantly, the Kashmiris need to take a front seat and claim it from Islamabad and New Delhi or stay confined to headlines forever. There have been human losses on both sides and billions of dollars wasted on expensive military hardware, upkeep of forces.It is time to go beyond Shimla summit & Lahore yatra, and work towards a permanent and lasting peace and let us make it happen within the next two years.We fully endorse the joint statement between Pakistan and India at the SAARC Summit on Jan 6, 2004 for a composite framework and dialogue. The spirit has to continue and materialized for the benefit of the two countries and in the shortest possible time.

PPP: We think that without compromising our position we still can take step by step measures that will enhance confidence and create an environment for the people of Kashmir to determine their future. Some measures that can be taken immediately are facilitating meeting of divided families, Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Bus Service ,a seminar of lawyers from both sides of the LOC at Muzaffarabad and Srinagar to discuss existing laws against basic Human Rights, organizing Intra Kashmiri dialogue and a seminar of businessmen from both sides of the LOC to discuss the possibilities of promoting business within the State.

PML-N: India has not so far responded positively to the flexibility shown by Pakistan for resolving the Kashmir issue. More intensive dialogue is needed which hopefully would be possible with the revival of a democratic government after the next elections.


ANP: The relations with the US need to be characterized by dignity and self respect and must result in mutual benefit. The basic principle of sovereign equality and non-interference needs to be instituted. The main focus of the relationship needs to shift from military to social and economic development.
MQM: There is no shortcut to achieving Pakistan’s interests’ better with the USA. Both the US and Pakistan are deeply disillusioned with each other due to bitter experiences on our part and non satisfactory relationship complaints on their part in the past. It is very important that US-Pakistan relationship extends beyond the relationship between the Pentagon and the Pakistan Army. It has to be a people to people contact and relationship that will establish trust and bridges that will last. The Pentagon-Pakistan Army relationship is a vestige of cold war that should not come in the way of exemplary relationship between the two nations. The US needs to realize that linking aid with war on terror is not enough; it has to identify the root causes that have led us to this situation today and link aid with effective measures towards sincere steps towards implementation of provincial autonomy. True democracy and democratic reforms are a farce in a feudal setup that only thrives on clans, tribes, race, ethnicity and sectarian issues. The US needs to study these root causes and address Pakistan’s predicaments and grievances accordingly.

PPP: The foreign policy must be shaped by the Parliament and the Cabinet.The PPP would discuss and debate the foreign policy issues in the Parliament to bring them in consonance with the nation’s aspirations.

PML-N: The new government that takes over, after the next elections, will have to undertake a thorough review of its relationship with the USA keeping in view the following objectives: i) Convince the US that while Pakistan will continue to cooperate with the US to curb cross border activities into Afghanistan, dealing with the extremist threat within Pakistan will remain Pakistan’s own responsibility.ii) There is need for a deeper mutual understanding of the causes of extremism in this region and for a new strategy to deal with it, on the basis of this understanding.iii) Urgent steps have to be taken to mainstream the tribal areas in the political, cultural and economic life of Pakistan.iv) It will be necessary to spell out the rights and obligations of being a non-Nato ally for Pakistan, to put the US - Pakistan relationship on a firm and sustainable basis.

ANP: The matter needs to be debated in the Parliament to build a consensus on the issue. The party doesn’t believe in the clandestine dialogue process with Israel pursued by the present and any past governments.

MQM: Holy Prophet and his wife Bibi Khatijah used to trade with Yehudis (Jews) besides the social and intellectual interactions. Pakistan’s national interest should not be subservient or linked to any other country’s national interest.

PPP: Pakistan supports the Peace Plan proposed by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. We believe in taking whatever steps are necessary to implement that plan efficaciously.

PML-N: No. (19-2-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Sunday, February 17, 2008



"Good riddance."

2.That has been the reaction of a large number of Chinese to the announcement of Hollywood film director Steven Spielberg that he has resigned as an artistic adviser to the forthcoming Beijing Olympic Games because of China's continued support to the Sudan.

3.In a letter to the Chinese Ambassador in Washington and the Beijing Olympics Organising Committee released to the media on February 13,2008,he said that his "conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual" while China failed to use its economic, military and diplomatic ties with Sudan to end the crisis in Darfur. He added : "Sudan's Government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these ongoing crimes.But the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering there."

4. The reactions of spokespersons of the Chinese Government and the Beijing Olympics Organising Committee to his surprise announcement have been measured and polite without any show of anger. They have explained the various measures which China has taken bilaterally and within the UN to contribute to the efforts of the international community to restore normalcy in the Darfur region and deplored the apparent attempts of some interested elements in the West---particularly in the US--- to politicise the Olympics by linking the Games with political issues, which would be totally against the spirit of the Games.

5.Liu Jianchao, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in Beijing: "It is understandable if they do not understand the Chinese Government policy on Darfur,but if they are politically motivated, we will not accept." He added: "China has made unremitting efforts to resolve the Darfur issue, a fact that is obvious to anyone in the international community that is not biased against China. China helped push forward the Sudanese Government, African Union and United Nations reaching consensus on sending a peace-keeping force to Darfur.This did not come easily and our efforts have been recognized by the international community.In order to improve the humanitarian situation in Darfur, China has provided material assistance worth 80 million RMB (11 million U.S. dollars) to Darfur, 1.8 million U.S. dollars aid to African Union, and 500,000 U.S. dollars donation to the U.N. fund for solving Darfur issue.China has promised to send a 315-strong engineering unit to Darfur. A 140-member advance troop is already in Darfur, and more will be gradually deployed. Besides, China's special representative has visited Sudan three times since taking office last May. Chinese enterprises in Sudan also provided much assistance and constructed many projects there. In recent years, Chinese companies have helped dig 46 wells, build 20 small-scale power plants in Darfur and water supply projects in southern and northern Darfur states, as well as provide teaching equipment. On the issue of Darfur, empty rhetoric will not help.What is most important is to do substantial things to promote peace process there and alleviate the humanitarian crisis."

6.Concerned over the attempts of some anti-China elements in the US to exploit China's close relations with the Government of Sudan for calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese Government has taken a number of steps since May last to remove misperceptions about its policies relating to Darfur. Similarly, to create a positive image of China, it has been playing a constructive role on the question of the denuclearisation of North Korea and nudging the military junta in Myanmar to receive the UN Special Representative and resume talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The US itself has praised China's positive role on the issue of North Korea and UN officials have highlighted the constructive role played by Beijing in Myanmar in the wake of the large-scale demonstrations by the Buddhist monks last year.

7. In spite of this, Dream for Darfur, a U.S.-based rights group which is supported by Hollywood actress Mia Farrow, has been carrying on a campaign against China on the issue of its relations with the Sudan for the last one year and calling for a boycott of the Olympic Games if China does not change its policies. It was also exercising pressure on Spielberg to quit his job as the adviser to the organisers of the Games.

8.In April last year, the Beijing Olympics Organising Committee hired the services of Spielberg and Ric Burch, an Australian, to advise the organisers on how to choreograph the opening and closing ceremonies. Even at that time, Spielberg was under pressure from Mia Farrow and others not to accept the contract. Even though he must have been aware of the situation in Darfur, he resisted their pressure and accepted the high-paying contract and worked for nearly nine months accepting the emoluments offered by the Organising Committee. Suddenly,less than six months before the Games, his heart has started bleeding for the human rights of the people of Darfur and he has quit.

9. While the Chinese officials' reactions have been polite, the reactions of the common Chinese people have been anything but polite. They have been criticising their own Government for inviting foreigners to advise them as to how to organise the opening and closing ceremonies when enough talent is available in China. Instead of making it an Olympics in Chinese Colours, they sought to make it an Olympics In Hollywood Colours or rather an Olympics in Spielberg's Colours. And he has let them down very badly. Some are demading that the Organising Committee should release to the media the text of the contract with Spielberg so that people can know how much he was paid.

10. Given below are some of the comments of ordinary Chinese which I picked up while going through the reactions in various Chinese Internet discussion groups:

"First it was Prince Charles , now it is Spielberg . At this rate the Beijing Olympics will be the cleanest games of all time . These trash need to understand that it is the generosity of the Chinese government and people who allowed them the privilege of being involved. Charlie has nothing to offer at all and although Spielberg has some good form , it is not as if he knows anything about Chinese art and celebrations . Good riddance to bad rubbish ."

"Darfur as a beating stick is so juvenile . This horrendous human tragedy has been in the making for a long time : long before China was even heard of in African affairs. The British colonized the place in !916 and they have neglected the infrastructure till independence in '65 . The present conflict is the result of global warming , famine and survival .The Europeans , Americans and Brits have had their paws all over the oil and other resources for the past centuries . They are the most influential powers and they have happily sold arms to them for years . Suddenly , Farrow and Spielberg cooked and sexed up this Hollywood block buster and accuse China of " failing to use her close connections with the Sudanese government " to alter the course of events ! Whatever happened to the shrinking violets and coy maidens called USA , UK & Europe ? Whatever happened to the UN and its peace keeping responsibilities ?"

"This is an example of grasping at straw . Instead of looking into the mirror and see who those ugly ducklings are , this convenient finger pointing is too cute by half . China has business relationship with every country on earth : so has the US , UK and others ."

"It is the measure of the Western supremacist attitude and thinking that they feel this will be a " blow " to the Chinese . No sir , it is NOT Some Chinese may have heard of Farrow and Spielberg , most don't recognize them from a bar of soap !"

"It is that old time colonial mentality that if the whites pull out or do not " help " the Chinese will not know what to do . Well buddy baby , they do , and they will do much better without your " help ".

11. Having tasted blood,the group led by Mia Farrow is planning to approach all Western corporate sponsors of the Beijing Olympics and pressurise them to withdraw from their sponsorship. Some Chinese are now expecting the heart of Richard Gere, another Hollywood actor close to the Dalai Lama, to start bleeding for the human rights of the Tibetans. Unlike Spielberg, he has not accepted any contract from the Games Organisers, but he and other-linked people in Hollywood and outside are expected to try to embarrass the Chinese by organising demonstrations when the Olympic flame comes to the US and India as well as during the Games at Beijing itself.

12. A number of other groups in the US are also trying to embarrass the Chinese over issues such as human rights and religious freedom in China and freedom of the media. The Chinese have assured all participating countries that their team members would be provided all facilities for their prayers and allowed to bring their personal copies of their religious books, but they would not be allowed to bring extra copies for distribution to the public. These groups are wanting to create an embarrassing situation by smuggling in extra copies and distributing them and also by gifting to their interlocutors T-shirts with the picture of the Dalai Lama.

13. Western business houses are very keen that no attempt should be made to politicise the Games. President Bush has already announced that he would attend the Games. The business houses do not want any damage to their vast business interests in China. Moreover, this is the first time in the history of the Olympics that the games are being held in a country with a population of over a billion with a vast consumer market. This provides these business houses with an additional opportunity for the exposure of their products to the Chinese consumers. They feel uncomfortable with the attempts of the China-baiters in the non-governmental community to needle China before and during the Games.

14. The intelligence and security agencies of the Western countries have assured the Chinese of all co-operation to prevent any terrorist threat to the Games. Robert Mueller, the Director of the USA's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), visited Beijing for three days in the last week of January for discussions with Chinese police, intelligence and security officials. He told the media: " My concern is to ensure that the 2008 Olympics are not a target for terrorist attacks. China's leaders are doing a good job making Olympic venues secure.I am very much impressed by the preparations that have been made to accomplish that, and I fully anticipate that the Olympics will be secure and safe.We are concerned about foreign threats, which is why it is tremendously important for us to share intelligence with regard to threats that may be originating outside China, as China itself addresses threats from within the country.The Olympics are an opportunity for my agency to further enhance its relationship with its Chinese counterparts. I hope this cooperation on counter-terrorism will last well past the Games." (17-2-08)

(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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Friday, February 15, 2008


Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), has sought to ensure that the elections could be held on February 18,2008, as scheduled by entering into an informal cease-fire agreement with the Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan headed by Baitullah Mehsud, its Amir, and the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) headed by Mullah Fazlulla of the Swat Valley. There has been a sharp drop in acts of terrorism involving these organisations since February 4.

2.Gen.Kiyani has already withdrawn regular Army troops from South Waziristan as demanded by Baitullah and lifted the economic blocade imposed against the Mehsuds. He has also entered into talks with Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghazi of the Lal Masjid of Islamabad through the intermediary of Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI) Pakistan and Chaudhury Shujjat Hussain of the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam), which is close to President Pervez Musharraf. Maulana Ghazi is presently under detention along with some others, who were arrested by the Army during the commando action in the Masjid from July 10 to 13,2007. Their unconditional release was another demand of Baitullah. There has been speculation that at least the Maulana, if not the others, might be released if the Tehrik-e-Taliban does not disrupt the elections. Both these organisations have publicly stated that they will not disrupt the polls.

3. Despite the drop in acts of terrorism as a result of this cease-fire, unidentified elements, presumably not belonging to the Tehrik and the TNSM, have kept up sporadic acts of terrorism. There were two deadly attacks on election rallies of the secular Awami National Party (ANP) in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and North Waziristan, one ambush of an Army convoy in North Waziristan in which a Major and two others were killed and attacks on the telecomminication towers in the Darra Adam Khel area of the NWFP. There are many jihadi organisations in the NWFP, which are not part of the Tehrik or the TNSM. It should not, therefore, be a surprise that they have kept up their attacks, which are, however, on a reduced scale.

4. Musharraf, Kiyani and the Election Commission are confident that the elections would be held as scheduled without any serious disruption, but some disruptions in the tribal areas cannot be ruled out. The Election Commission is concerned that the voter turn-out may be very low partly due to security concerns and partly due to general disenchantment among the people with the military as well as the political leadership. There is a widespread sense of public fatigue with the present crop of leaders. The Commission has been appealing to the people to come out and vote. It is concerned that a very low turn-out might itself discredit the electoral process even if the elections are free and fair.

5. Unlike the 2002 elections, which were hardly monitored by the international community, the elections of February 18 are expected to be monitored by at least about 1000 international montors. The expected presence of powerful US Senators John Kerry and Joseph Biden among the monitors would impart force and credibility to the monitoring process. However, even 1,000 monitors cannot be every where to ensure comprehensive monitoring. There will be many gaps in the monitoring, which could be exploited by Musharraf and his supporters to have the elections rigged.

6. Musharraf knows that if his supporters win a majority, the elections would not be accepted as free and fair by his opponents and the international monitors. There will be a strong presumption of rigging even if the suspicion cannot be proved. Musharraf' is, therefore, hoping and working for a hung National Assembly in which no party will have an absolute majority on its own. He is reconciled to the prospect of his opponents----mainly the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of Mr.Asif Zardari and the Pakistan Muslim League (N) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif---- together acquiring a majority in the National Assembly. He can live with an Assembly in which his opponents have a simple and not a two-thirds majority.

7. When he got himself re-elected as the President in October last by the previous Assembly, he had promised that he would get his re-election endorsed by the new Assembly. This would be out of question if his opponents acquire a majority---simple or two-thirds. His inability to have his re-election so endorsed need not make his position difficult. Such an endorsement was a moral commitment made by him, but it is not a constitutional requirement.

8. Both the PPP and the PML(N) have been saying during the election campaign that if they get a two-thirds majority they would work for the abrogation of all the constitutional amendments promulgated by Musharraf in December last before lifting the State of Emergency and restoring the Constitution. This would pave the way for his impeachment.

9. If the elections are free and fair, three scenarios are possible:
SCENARIO NO.1: The PPP wins a simple or a two-thirds majority. The US has a strong influence over the PPP, which might let itself be persuaded by Washington DC to co-habit with Musharraf provided the conditions of co-habitation are worked out to its satisfaction.

SCENARIO NO.2: The PPP and the PML (N) together win a simple, but not a two-thirds majority. Musharraf may be able to survive as President by manipulating the one against the other.

SCENARIO NO 3: The PPP and the PML (N) together win a two-thirds majority required for removing the constitutional amendments and paving the way for Musharraf's removal. Despite US pressure not to rock the boat, the PPP will find it difficult not to go along with Nawaz in his moves against Musharraf.

10. In the eventuality of Scenario No.1 or 2 materialising, the Army may not intervene. If Scenario No.3 materialises, the Army may intervene, with the blessings of the US, the UK and Saudi Arabiia, for ensuring that Musharraf's exit comes about in a manner which protects his honour and is not seen by the jihadis as a humiliation for him because of his co-operation with the US in the war against Al Qaeda. Any perception that he had to quit in humiliation because of his co-operation with the US would be detrimental to the campaign against Al Qaeda.

11. The US and the rest of the Western world----despite their disenchantment with Musharraf's failure to act effectively against terrorism---- would want him to continue as the President since they still have confidence in his ability to ensure the security and safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. They would work hard for a co-habitation arrangement, with Musharraf continuing as the President with his powers relating to the nuclear arsenal and the fight against terrorism intact, but his other powers reduced. Such an arrangement might be possible with the PPP, but difficult to achieve if the PML (N) becomes an important member of the ruling coalition.

12. The US has realised that its open support for Mrs.Benazir Bhutto and her statements of unqualified support to the US made her a target of the jihadi terrorists. It is now playing a low profile role using the UK and Saudi Arabia as intermediaries.

13. Whether Pakistan moves from bad to worse or from bad to not-so-bad would depend on the outcome of the forthconing elections and their sequel. The entire international community, including India, will be watching the elections closely with their fingers crossed. (16-2-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Tuesday, February 12, 2008



There are indications of a more assertive policy by India in Arunachal Pradesh. These have come in the wake of disaapointment and concern in New Delhi over the failure of the border talks between the Special Representatives of the two Prime Ministers to make progress mainly because of what India considers as the adamant Chinese claim to Arunachal Pradesh. While Chinese officials have given no inkling of any willingness on their part to dilute this demand, non-Governmental Chinese experts have been hinting for over a year now that China might be inclined to dilute this demand if India agreed to transfer the populated area of Tawang to China in return for China giving up its claim to the rest of Arunachal Pradesh.

2. When Prime Minister Wen Jiabo visited New Delhi in April,2005, the two Prime Ministers had agreed that any border settlement should not affect populated areas. Indian hopes that this probably presaged a Chinese willingness to give up their claim to the Tawang Tract have since been belied. The Chinese have gone back on this agreement and have been insisting on the transfer of Tawang to China despite its being a populated area.

3. India has also been concerned over the perceived Chinese reluctance to make a de jure renunciation of their past position challenging Indian sovereignty over Sikkim. When Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, the Chinese had stated that Sikkim was no longer an issue affecting Sino-Indian relations. Indian assessment that this probably presaged a de jure recognition by China that Sikkim is an integral part of India has been belied so far. Reported protests by China last year over Indian troop deployments in the area and over the alleged construction of some structures by the Indian Army in Indian territory in Sikkim have given rise to legitimate concerns that just as they went back on their commitment relating to non-transfer of populated areas, they are preparing the ground for going back on their acceptance of the status quo in Sikkim.They are apparently wanting to link Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh, that is, making their acceptance of the status quo in Sikkim conditional on India agreeing to transfer the Tawang Tract to China.

4. India's premature gesture to China in the past in formally accepting Tibet as an integral part of China without insisting on a quid pro quo by China in the form of accepting the status quo in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh has left India without any cards in its negotiations with China. In its over-anxiety to maintain good relations with China, India has been making one gesture after another to China without any of these gestures being reciprocated by Beijing.

5.India's uinilateral recognition of Tibet as an integral part of China has come in the way of India's expressing concerns or protesting over Chinese activities in Tibet such as strengthening the infrastructure not only in interior Tibet, but also in areas adjacent to the border and extending its well-developed rail and road links to the border areas. There is also a talk of extending them into Nepal at the request of the Nepalese authorities. How can India protest over Chinese activities of military significance in Tibet when India itself has recognised it as Chinese territory?

6. China, on the other hand, by not recognising Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh as Indian territory, has reserved to itself the right to protest over Indian activities in these areas such as construction of defensive structures in Indian territory in Sikkim, the visit of Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, to Arunachal Pradesh on January 31 and February 1,2008, etc---- the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to this area in two decades after the last visit by the late Rajiv Gandhi. India had even refrained from strengthening the road and other infrastructure in the Arunachal Pradesh area to match the Chinese infrastrcture in Tibet, partly due to concerns that this could create tensions in the bilateral relations at a time when the economic relations between the two countries were improving and when the Special Representatives of the two Prime Ministers were discussing the border issue and partly due to misgivings that the road links constructed by India might be used by the Chinese Army in the event of another military confrontation between the two countries as had happened in 1962.

7. Concerned over the persistent Chinese claim to Arunachal Pradesh, its going-back on the past agreement between the two countries to find a solution to the border problem which would not involve any transfer of populated areas and the more activist policy of the Chinese Army across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and across the Sino-Bhutanese border, India has belatedly realised that it cannot bank on China's good intentions while formulating its border management policies in this region. Though belated, there is now a welcome realisation that the time has come for India to be more active and assertive in this region and to undertake a crash programme for strengthening the road and other infrastructure in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. During his visit to Sikkim in December last year, Shri A.K.Antony, the Defence Minister, had announced a crash programme for strengthening the infrastructure in the Sikkim region. A similar programme for Arunachal Pradesh has now been announced by the Prime Minister.

8.During his visit to Arunachal Pradesh, he announced the intention of the Government to spend Rs.10,000 crores on the development of the area and laid the foundation stone for six of these projects. More than a half of this amount (Rs.5,500 crores) is to be spent on the construction of a trans-Arunachal Pradesh Highway connecting Tawang with Mahadevpur and the construction of a four-lane highway to Itanagar, the capital of the State. Even though the Prime Minister did not visit Tawang, apparently in deference to the Chinese sensitivities on the issue of its future, his announcement of the plan to construct a highway to Tawang hopefully underlined the Government's determination not to give in to the Chinese demand for the transfer of the Tawang Tract to China.

9. The projects for which he laid the foundation stone were for the construction of a 3000 MW hydro-electric power station at Dibang----which, when completed, will be India's biggest hydel station--- and a 110 MW power station at Pare, the construction of a new Secretariat building at Itanagar to house the offices of the Arunachal Pradesh Government, the construction of a 45-km railway line between Itanagar and Harmuti in Assam and water supply projects at Itanagar and Naharlagun. He also announced plans for a daily helicopter service between Tawang and Guwahati, the capital of Assam, a new airport at Itanagar and improvement of the airfields at Pasighat, Along, Daporijo, Ziro and Tezu. The announcement of the decision to undertake these projects will convey a clear message to the Chinese that India is not prepared to accept Chinese claims to any part of this territory.

10. The Prime Minister also said at Itanagar: "Arunachal Pradesh is the easternmost State of our country and the sun kisses the country here first. That is why for the country, it is the land of the rising sun. Arunachal Pradesh was a favourite of two of our beloved leaders---Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. If Indira Gandhi created Arunachal Pradesh, Rajiv granted Statehood to it." The infrastructure projects for the strengthening of the road,rail and air connectivity between Arunachal Pradesh and the rest of the North-East would not only benefit the people of the State, but would also strengthen the capability of the Army to defend this territory in the event of any future confrontation with China. Equally significant has been the posting of Gen.J.J.Singh, who retired as the Chief of the Army Staff towards the end of last year, as the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh.

11. While the new assertiveness displayed by the Prime Minister is to be welcomed, the most important thing is to ensure a rapid implementation of the various projects announced by him. The experience of the people of the North-East has been that the grandiose plans for economic development and the strengthening of infrastructure announced by visiting Prime Ministers had remained either unimplemented or inadequately implemented with enormous delays in implementation. One had seen this repeatedly happen in Nagaland and Mizoram. We just cannot afford to let this happen in Arunachal Pradesh. It is hoped that the former COAS, who is now the Governor and who will understand the importance of infrastructure matching that of the Chinese in Tibet, will not let this happen and will push these projects through.

12. The Chinese reactions to the Prime Minister's visit and statements in Arunachal Pradesh have come in two phases. In the first phase, there was no official reaction either in the Government-controlled media or from Government spokesmen. The initial reactions were mainly from ostensibly non-Governmental analysts with close links with the Chinese Government.Sun Shihai, Deputy Director at the state-run think-tank, Institute of Asia Pacific Studies, was quoted by the media as saying as follows:"The two countries will continue with the border negotiations with the help of special representatives. Both sides must maintain calm and not arouse nationalist sentiments in order to create proper environment for the settlement of the problem.Arunachal Pradesh is a disputed area. This is why we have negotiations. If there was no dispute, we would not have had negotiations.Manmohan Singh is viewed in China as an honest man who could be relied upon for settling the border dispute and taking the Sino-Indian relationship to greater heights.I do not think Prime Minister Singh was trying to connect his visit to China ( in mid-January,2008) to his trip to Arunachal Pradesh. I am sure he sees them differently.Domestic politics should not come in the way of settling the border dispute. But sometimes politicians and the media may try to relate domestic politics with international relationships.Yes, this issue about populated areas is one of the clauses of the 2005 agreement. But that ( My comment:that is, China's agreeing in 2005 to the clause about non-transfer of populated areas) does not mean China has changed its stand on Arunachal Pradesh." What he apparently meant to convey was that the earlier Chinese agreement not to insist on the transfer of populated areas did not apply to Arunachal Pradesh, which was a stand alone case not affected by the 2005 agreement.

13. Subsequently, a week after the Prime Minister's visit, an unidentified middle-level official of the Chinese Foreign Office was reported to have told an interlocutor in the Indian Embassy in Beijing that the Prime Minister's visit to Arunachal Pradesh and his statements there were inappropriate at a time when the Special Representatives of the two Prime Ministers were trying to find a solution to the problem. Though some sections of the Indian media projected it as an official Chinese protest, it was not. It was a verbal, somewhat low-key expression of unhappiness without letting it create an unneecessary cloud in the bilateral relations and spoil the feel good feeling after the recent visit of the Prime Minister to China.

14. It would appear that the Chinese themselves did not make an official disclosure of this verbal communication of their unhappiness. One got the impression that this was leaked out at New Delhi. Shri Pranab Mukherjee, India's Minister for External Affairs, came out with forthright remarks in response to queries from the media about the reported Chinese unhappiness. He was quoted by the media as saying as follows: " “Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of our country. We are having regular representation in our Parliament elected by people of Arunachal. Therefore, it is obvious that the Prime Minister will visit any part of the country."

15. China has not yet reacted officially to a report carried by the "India Today" (February 11,2008) about India agreeing to let a team from the US search for the remains of some US Air Force personnel, who went missing in action in the Arunachal Pradesh area during the Second World War.According to the journal, the Intelligence Bureau had objected to it on the ground that under the existing policy foreigners are not allowed to visit Arunachal Pradesh, but its objection was over-ruled and a special exception was made to facilitate the American search.It is intriguing that this issue should have come up after so many years at this time when the future of this area has become a matter of increasing concern to India. The Chinese are likely to see an ominous significance to this. (12-2-08)

(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: seventyone2@gmail.com )