Monday, August 3, 2009




Though there have been no reports of any violent incidents in the Xinjiang province of China for over three weeks now, the Chinese
authorities are taking no chances with internal security and law and order in the province.

2. The army units, which were inducted into the province after the violent disturbances from July 5 to 8,2009, in which over 190 persons, the majority of them Hans, were killed, continue to be in over-all charge of security and law and order. In recent days, President Hu Jintao has been travelling in the Yunnan province which has sizable Tibetan and Uighur populations and a number of other non-Han minority tribal communities. The Chinese media has projected the purpose of his visit to Yunnan as to study the economic situation there and the action taken by the local authorities to deal with the difficulties of the people.

3. While this may be so, there is a strong possibility that another purpose could have been to re-assure the non-Han minorities that Beijing was sympathetic to their problems. Last year, before the Olympics, there was an explosion in a bus in Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan province. Even though the Chinese authorities did not give any details of the subsequent investigation, the suspicion was focused on the local Tibetan and Uighur population. There are no indications that Hu went to Xinjiang from Yunnan.

4.The Chinese have been shaken by the recent disturbances in Urumqi, but they are not prepared to concede that the Uighur anger was triggered off by their discriminatory policies towards the non-Han minorities. They see no need for any change in their policy relating to the ethnic minorities. In other words, they see no need for re-visiting their present policy of encouraging the Hans to settle in the minority areas in large numbers. They believe that the Hans have the right to settle down and live in any part of the Chinese territory, including in the areas which are looked upon by the minorities as their traditional homeland, just as the Tibetans, the Uighurs and other non-Han minorities have the right to settle down and live in any part of China. They do not accept the argument that the Hans moving into non-Han areas amounts to a Han colonisation of these areas. They have thus totally ruled out any change in their present policies, which are viewed by the minorities as meant to change the demographic composition of the non-Han areas.

5. There are strong indicators from independent sources in the Uighur diaspora in Pakistan that the disturbances in Xinjiang in the first week of July were initially externally-instigated by the Munich-based and US-funded World Uighur Congress (WUC) headed by the US-based Rebiya Kadeer and subsequently exploited by the North Waziristan (in Pakistan) based Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan (IMET), which operates in tandem with Al Qaeda as a member of its International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish
People formed in 1998.

6. The Chinese have been greatly concerned over threats purported to have been disseminated by the IMET through the Internet calling for opportunistic acts of reprisal against Han Chinese wherever found. The Chinese diplomatic missions in Pakistan and Turkey have cautioned their citizens working in these countries to cut down their movements to the absolute minimum that is necessary. The Chinese Foreign Office has also issued advisories to its citizens to avoid traveling to Turkey for some time till the anti-Chinese anger in Turkey subsides.

7.The Chinese concerns over the security situation in Tibet and Xinjiang have been increased by the forthcoming 60th anniversary of the October Revolution, which they plan to observe in a big way all over China . While there are no reports at present of the likelihood of any fresh violence in the Tibetan areas, Chinese security authorities do not rule out the possibility of fresh acts of violence by the Uighurs in China itself as well as in other countries. They have stepped up preventive arrests in Xinjiang. Nearly 1900 Uighur suspects are estimated to be in preventive custody in jails in Xinjiang itself as well as in Sichuan.

8. The Chinese are closely monitoring the movements of Rebiya Kadeer, who has gone to Australia after a visit to Japan and is expected to go to Turkey. Despite strong opposition from Beijing, the authorities in Japan and Australia issued her a visa. The Chinese have been gratified by media reports that India declined her request for a visa.

9. Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan have been closely monitoring the activities of various pro-Al Qaeda groups operating in Xinjiang, the Central Asian Republics (CARs), Chechnya and Dagestan in Russia. Recent reports indicate that the Uzbecks, Chechens and Uighurs trained in Al Qaeda training camps in North Waziristan have started moving towards their home bases in order to step up their jihad against the Governments of these countries and to disrupt the movement of logistic supplies to the US and other NATO troops through their territory.

10. It is the assessment of well-informed Pakistani Police sources in the Pashtun areas that during the last two weeks there has been a decrease in the activities of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan because trained TTP elements have been moving into Afghanistan to help the Afghan Taliban in its operations against the US-UK offensive in the
Helmand province of Afghanistan. The TTP cadres are going in replacement of the Uighurs, Uzbeks and Chechens who are being moved towards Central Asia, Xinjiang and Chechnya. This also suits the Pakistan Army since it relieves pressure on it.

11.An upsurge in acts of terrorism in this region is apprehended. Russia cannot afford to be complacent over the situation in Chechnya and Dagestan. As the fighting in Afghanistan escalates, reprisal attacks by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations in areas such as South-East, South and Central Asia and in the Muslim majority regions of Russia is a possibility to be reckoned with. (4-8-09)

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



The “News”, the Pakistani daily, has reported on August 3,2009, that the Barack Obama Administration has decided to appoint Robin Raphel, who was a Counselor for Political Affairs in the US Embassy in New Delhi from 1991 to 1993 and subsequently became the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs in the Bill Clinton Administration, as a member of the team of Richard Holbrooke, the Special Representative to the Af-Pak region.

2.According to the paper, she will be based in Pakistan and will co-ordinate the implementation of the plan for non-military assistance to Pakistan. She is expected to arrive in Pakistan on August 14,2009. Her bio-data as taken from the Wikipedia is annexed.

3. During her posting in the US Embassy in New Delhi, she was actively interacting with the various anti-India groups in Jammu & Kashmir and it was reportedly on her advice that the Hurriyat, as an umbrella organization of these groups, became very active.

4.After Bill Clinton assumed office as the President in January,1993, she joined the State Department as the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of South Asian Affairs under Warren Christopher, who was the Secretary of State. It used to be said that she knew the Clintons from her younger days and this gave her easy access to the President despite her junior position in the State Department. She exploited this to prevent Pakistan being declared as a State sponsor of terrorism after the Mumbai blasts of March,1993.

5. It was during her tenure as the Assistant Secretary of State that the Clinton Administration declared Jammu & Kashmir as a “disputed territory” and started calling for the resolution of the dispute between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. This refrain has once again been taken up by the Obama Administration.

6. Towards the end of 1993 , during a non-attributable discussion with some Indian journalists in Washington DC she reportedly defended this formulation and contended that the US considered the Kashmiri territory transferred by Pakistan to China in 1963 when Ayub Khan was the President also as disputed territory, whose future was yet to be decided.

7. The “Times of India” prominently carried this story on the front page without identifying the official of the State Department who had talked to the Indian journalists on the Kashmir issue. Enquiries made by the Government of India identified the official as Robin Raphel.

8. It was during her stewardship of the South Asian Affairs portfolio in the State Department that the Taliban under Mulla Mohammad Omar came into existence in 1994 with the joint support of the Pakistan and US Governments. The Taliban was prepared to support the construction of an oil and gas pipeline by UNOCAL, an American oil company, from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan and she had met Mulla Mohammad Omar in this connection. This period also saw Osama bin Laden shift from Khartoum to Jalalabad in 1996 without any objection from the US. The Taliban later shifted him to Kandahar.

9. Even after she left the State Department and joined the faculty of the National Defence University, she reportedly maintained active contacts with anti-India elements in J&K.

10. The “News” has correctly described her as “one known to be Pakistan’s friend”.

11.She is.

12. The text of the “News” report is also annexed. (3-8-2009)

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



Robin L. Raphel is a career diplomat who served as Ambassador to Tunisia and Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs during the Clinton administration. In this capacity she managed U.S. relations with the newly formed Taliban government in Afghanistan. She also served as a member of the Iraq Reconstruction Team during the Bush administration.

She began her career as a lecturer in history at Damavand College in Tehran, Iran. She first worked for the United States Government as an economic analyst for the CIA from 1973 to 1975. She then moved to Islamabad, Pakistan where she worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development as an economic/financial analyst. She then joined the State Department.

Upon her return to Washington, DC in 1978, Ambassador Raphel worked in the Office of Investment Affairs in the Economic and Business Bureau; on the Israel Desk; Staff Aide for the Assistant Secretary for the Near East and South Asian Affairs Bureau; and as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs. In 1984 she was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in London where she covered Middle East, South Asia and East Asia, and Africa.

She served as Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria (1988-1991), and at the U.S.Embassy in New Delhi (1991-1993). In August 1993, she was named the first Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs. She retired
from the State Department in 2005 after 30 years of service.

Ambassador Raphel received a B.A. in history and economics from the University of Washington. She pursued graduate studies in history at Cambridge University and earned an M.A. in economics from the University of Maryland. Her foreign languages are French and Urdu. She was at one time married to the late ambassador Arnold Lewis Raphel, but they divorced prior to his death in 1988.

She is currently the Senior Vice President at Cassidy & Associates, a firm that works on consultancy in international relations. She was responsible for the lobbying for Pakistan in the State Department and the firm had a $1.2 million contract with the Govt of Pakistan. This contract was withdrawn by the firm due to the martial law in Pakistan. ( My comment: Not martial law, but the state of emergency)



Robin Raphel gets key job in Pakistan

Monday, August 03, 2009
By Qudssia Akhlaque

ISLAMABAD: The Obama administration in an astute move has decided to appoint former US assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, Robin Raphel, an old South Asia hand and one known to be Pakistan’s friend, as coordinator for non-military assistance to Pakistan, it was learnt.

Appointed as a key member of Obama’s Pakistan team, Ambassador Raphel’s mandate will be to coordinate the effort to determine, in consultation with the Pakistani authorities, how best to allocate the increased US funding for non-military assistance, informed diplomatic sources in Washington and Islamabad told The News.

Raphel will be a new member of the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke’s expanding team and she will be based in Pakistan.

Holbrooke was appointed Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan by the Obama administration in January to coordinate US government’s efforts in the region. Raphel will be reporting to Holbrooke in Washington, and at Islamabad to the US ambassador. A formal announcement about her appointment is expected shortly.

In her new position she is expected to cohesively carry together the different strands of non-military US engagement with Pakistan — economic, development, political and civilian security. Ambassador Raphel will be “also overseeing the ramp up of US civilian assistance effort in anticipation of the final passage of the Kerry-Lugar Bill 2009,” an insider explained.

The passage of the Kerry-Lugar bill means approval of tripling of civilian US aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion per annum for each of the next five years in a key part of a strategy to combat extremism with economic and social development. The $1.5 billion in annual funding includes money for schools, judicial system, parliament and law-enforcement agencies in Pakistan.

As Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs during the Clinton administration in the 90s, Raphel had a similar role within the region. She particularly played an important part in managing US relations with the newly formed Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Robin Raphel is currently the senior vice-president of a Washington-based lobbying consulting firm Cassidy & Associates that provides counselling to multinational corporations, foreign countries and other organisations to advocate their US-based interests in Washington, and US corporations to meet business challenges abroad.

Raphel will be coming here on August 14 for initially a couple of weeks for consultations with the top political leadership after which she will go back to Washington, sources told The News. She will then return around mid September and be stationed here for one whole year.

This is not the first time that Raphel will be based in Pakistan. In mid 70s she was here in Islamabad working as an Economic and financial analyst for the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Ambassador Robin Raphel is generally considered to be very sympathetic towards Pakistan and enjoys goodwill in the country’s civilian as well as military circles. Even after her retirement from the State Department in 2005 after 30 years of service, Ambassador Raphel has been in touch with Pakistan through participation in seminars and conferences.

More recently she was responsible for lobbying for Pakistan in the State Department and her firm had a $1.2 million contract with the government of Pakistan. However, this contract was abruptly terminated by the firm following the declaration of emergency rule in Pakistan by President Gen (retd.) Pervez Musharraf on Nov 3, 2007.