Wednesday, June 30, 2010



"It should be a matter of concern---but not yet of alarm---- that the fedayeen attack by a group of two terrorists---- apparently from Pakistan --- in the Lal Chowk of Srinagar on January 6, 2010, has come at a time when emotions are once again being whipped up in Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. The fedayeen attack resulted in a 22-hour confrontation between the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the terrorists, who managed to entrench themselves in a local hotel before they were killed.

"The whipping-up of emotions has the following objectives:

* To divert attention away from the domestic challenges faced by Zardari and the PPP-led Government.
* To placate the Army due to fears that the Army might get involved in any conspiracy to force the exit of Zardari.
* To placate the Punjabi jihadi organisations, which have been itching for renewed action in J&K, in order to bring about a divide between them and the anti-Army Pakistani Taliban.

"As a result of an improvement in the ground situation during the last two years, the Government of India, with the co-operation of the Government in Srinagar, had embarked on a policy with the following components:

* A calibrated withdrawal and/or re-deployment of the Army troops in order to give the J&K Police and the CRPF a greater responsibility for maintaining peace and law and order in the State.
* Maintaining on the ground the confidence-building measures already agreed upon with Pakistan before the bilateral dialogue came to be suspended following the 26/11 terrorist strikes by the Lashkar-e-Toiba in Mumbai.
* Maintaining the momentum of the dialogue between the Government and representatives of different political formations in the State in order to work out a political solution to their demands which are considered legitimate.

"The first fedayeen attack since 2007 need not call into question the wisdom of continuing this strategy. At the same time, the danger that a besieged Zardari-led Government might try to undermine this strategy by stepping up jihadi terrorism in the State has to be constantly studied, analysed and assessed by our intelligence agencies, the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). "

--------- From my note of January 8,2010, titled " Terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir" at


The latest spell of unrest in Jammu & Kashmir ( J&K) involving clashes between stone-throwing and curfew-breaking mobs and the security forces has resulted in some fatalities----many of them allegedly young people. According to available accounts, the unrest has been partly spontaneous and partly orchestrated by elements suspected to be associated with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in the Sopore area. The exploitation of the unrest by the LET and its subsequent aggravation should not be a matter of surprise. The unrest, if it can be kept sustained, gives the LET and other Pakistan-based jihadi organizations an opportunity to turn the international focus back to J&K without incurring any international criticism. While the West has come out against jihadi terrorism of Pakistani origin in hinterland India outside J&K, it will be inclined to close its eyes to the role of the Pakistani jihadi organisations in the latest spell of unrest in J&K and focus only on the manner in which the Indian security forces have been dealing with the unrest.

2. In Mumbai and the rest of hinterland India, the focus was and continues to be largely on Pakistan, but in J&K it will be considerably on India. This makes it important for us to adopt a mix of firmness in discouraging violence and avoiding over-reaction in responding to acts of violence----particularly by young people. There is a need for a verbal restraint from all sides. Lionisation of the security forces by some political parties and praising their valour in facing the violent mobs would be as inadvisable as their demonisation by others. Similarly any attempt by the Governments in the State and at the Centre to demonise the Kashmiri youth participating in the demonstrations against the security forces would be unwise. Even if the Government has concrete evidence of the involvement of the LET in provoking and stoking the unrest, it should avoid for the time being any over-projection of the external involvement since this could further provoke the younger elements.

3. The immediate objective should be enforcement of law and order without letting ourselves be provoked into using more force than necessary and at the same time diluting the anger through interactions with the civil society and seeking its co-operation in discouraging violations of curfew and mob violence directed against the security forces. The Government has done well to advise the security forces to use restraint in dealing with stone-pelting mobs. It is an advice easily given, but difficult to carry out, but one has to find ways of doing so if there are a large number of children in the mob.

4. Remarks by political leaders on both sides of the political spectrum which lend themselves to misinterpretation by sections of the people that the political class and the security personnel are insensitive to the deaths of young people allegedly at the hands of the security forces add to the anger and tend to make the situation even more uncontrollable than it has been.

5. We cannot treat our Kashmiris as no different from the Pakistanis of the LET and other Pakistan-based organizations even if they let themselves be used by the Pakistani organizations. The Government has an obligation to ascertain their grievances and address those which seem to be legitimate. Perceptions of Government’s indifference to dialogue unless it is forced to talk through mob violence add to the violence and create fresh spells of unrest.

6. The Government of Pakistan, its Army and Inter-Services Intelligence cannot ask for anything better than a confrontational situation between the security forces and sections of the people of Kashmir. Confrontational situations play into the hands of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists and would enable them to keep J&K boiling again.

7. In the training of our security forces in mob control, we have to stress the importance of a balanced response and not getting easily provoked by a mob.

8. The coverage of the unrest in J&K by some of our TV channels has been unfortunate. This has been particularly so in the case of Shri Arnab Goswami, the Editor and Anchor of the Times Now Channel, who has converted his channel into an electronic Hyde Park. In a programme on the evening of June 30, he had invited a representative each of the Congress (I) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau, and two Kashmiri leaders who are not on the same wavelength as the Governments in Srinagar and New Delhi. Since the Kashmiris are the aggrieved people, one would have expected him to give adequate opportunity to the two Kashmiri leaders. Unfortunately, he allowed most of the discussion to be monopolized by the Congress (I) and BJP leaders, who fought in an unbecoming manner. The two Kashmiri leaders were hardly able to give vent to their feelings. The fact that Mr.Goswami is a man of many prejudices came out clearly. (1-7-10)

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



The Chinese Foreign Ministry has announced that at the invitation of the Chinese Government President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan will be visiting China from July 6 to 11,2010, for talks with President Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and other Chinese leaders.This will be his second official visit to China at the invitation of the Chinese Government. His first visit was in October,2008, shortly after he took over as the President. In fact, after assuming office as the President, he chose China for his first official bilateral visit to emphasise the importance attached by him to his country's relations with China.

2. He had announced during his first visit that he would be visiting various Chinese provinces once a quarter to learn from the Chinese experience in economic development. In pursuance of this, he had visited China thrice last year. These visits were not undertaken at the invitation of the Chinese Government. He visited a number of Chinese provinces and discussed with the local officials and businessmen about their experience in developing their provinces. He also discussed with them prospects for co-operation between their provinces and Pakistan. During these visits, he did not go to Beijing. The Chinese Foreign Minister flew to one of the provinces being visited by Mr.Zardari and called on him. Before leaving for Pakistan, he spoke with Mr.Hu and Mr.Wen over telephone.

3. The most productive of his visits so far has been his visit to Hang Zhou in the Zhejiang province and Guangzhou in the Guangdong province from August 21 to 24, 2009. During this visit, he sought Chinese participation in the development of hydel, thermal and solar energy projects, irrigation and fisheries and mobile telephone networks and in creating facilities for higher technical education, including the setting-up of a telecommunications university and research complex. Among the concrete results from this visit were:

* The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote cooperation in river fisheries and related technologies by representatives of the Indus River Fresh Water Fisheries Research Institute and the Pearl River Fishery Research Institute of Guangzhou.

* The signing of an MOU for the construction of a dam at Bunji in the Astore district of Gilgit-Baltistan by officials of Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power and China’s Three Gorges Project Corporation. The Chairman Board of Investment Saleem Mandviwala and Li Yang’an of the Chinese corporation signed the MoU. The dam, one of the eight hydel projects short-listed for construction by the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), will have a capacity of generating 7,000 megawatts of electricity.

* The signing of an MOU on cooperation in drug regulation and production of hepatitis B and C vaccines.

* The signing of another MOU between the Sindh Agricultural University in Tandojam and the South China Agricultural University in the Guangzhou province for cooperation in agricultural research, plant protection and animal husbandry.
* The signing of two separate MsOU by the Board of Investment of Pakistan with the China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Guangdong province and the Guangdong Sub Council of CCPIT.

4.Mr. Zardari attended a presentation on small and medium sized dams, water conservation and irrigation by the Zhejiang Design Institute of Water Conservancy and Hydroelectric Power. Li Yueming, the President of the institute, said they had carried out feasibility studies of a couple of medium-sized dams in the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK).Shakeel Durrani, Chairman of the WAPDA, who was present on the occasion, said that Chinese companies were already working on a number of hydel projects in Pakistan, including Neelum-Jhelum and Gomal Zam and the raising of the height of the Mangla dam in the POK. He said the institute would be invited to bid for the construction of 12 small dams. Five of these dams were to be built in Balochistan, four in Sindh, two in Punjab and one in Khyber-Pakthoonwa.

5.In a report carried by the "News" of August 18, 2009, before Mr. Zardari's visit, Mr. Kamran Khan, its journalist, alleged that without inviting open bidding from interested companies and investors, the Pakistan Steel had signed a non-transparent secret MoU with the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) for a $2.2 billion expansion programme to raise its current production capacity of 1.1 million tons to five million tons. According to him, contrary to relevant government rules and regulations as well as basic norms of transparency, the Pakistan Steel didn’t place any advertisement in the local and international press to seek the best international offers before entering into secret negotiations with the Chinese company, which was long seeking to clinch this deal. He said: "The most shocking element of this MoU, available with this correspondent, which will bind Pakistan with an additional foreign loan of $2.2 billion, is a clause that requires complete secrecy of this understanding. Clause 6.1 of this MoU states: “This MoU and any discussions related to it shall remain strictly confidential between the parties and no public announcement shall be made without written consent of both parties.” Kamran Khan quoted a Pakistani official as saying: “This was not our requirement but the Chinese company asked for this secrecy clause and we agreed.”

6. During his interactions with local officials and businessmen in the course of this visit, Mr.Zardari kept pointing out that the Western regions of China now being developed were closer to Pakistani ports than to Chinese ports and invited ideas and proposals for developing rail and road communications between Pakistan and Xinjiang. Since taking over as the President, he has reportedly been pressing the Chinese for early implementation of the ideas mooted by Pakistan when Gen.Pervez Musharraf was in office for the construction of gas and oil pipelines between the Chinese-constructed port of Gwadar and Xinjiang and for the construction of a railwayline between Pakistan and Xinjiang. Pakistan had also mooted with Beijing the idea of China purchasing part of the gas which will be coming into Pakistan from Iran when the proposed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is completed.

7. The Chinese have not yet shown much interest in the proposal for pipelines between Gwadar and Xinjiang because of the bad security situation in Balochistan and in the proposal for the supply of gas from Iran to Xinjiang because of the difficulties which this project is expected to face due to the threatened US sanctions against foreign companies collaborating with Iran in energy projects. However, the Chinese have agreed to conduct a feasibility study on the proposed railway line between Pakistan and Xinjiang. Two MsOU were signed on October 28, 2009, and March 6,2010, between the Railways Ministry of Pakistan and China Railway Group Limited on the feasibility study. The progress made in this regard is expected to be discussed during Mr.Zardari's forthcoming visit to Beijing.

8. Despite the public controversy in Pakistan over the poor quality of the railway engines and other rolling stock supplied by Chinese companies to the Pakistan Railways, Mr.Zardari has reportedly been keen to seek Chinese help for improving management practices and maintenance facilities in the Pakistan Railways. He has also been pursuing the idea of a private railway company run by the Chinese which can use on payment the tracks of the Pakistan Railways.

9. Mr.Zardari's visit will be taking a place less than a month after the China Nuclear Industry Fifth Construction Company (CNIFCC) and the China Zhongyuan Engineering Corp, which specialises in foreign nuclear projects, signed at Shanghai on June 8, 2010, an agreement to work together on the third and fourth nuclear power plants at the Chashma complex. A Chinese language announcement regarding the signing was made on June 8 on the website of the Construction Company. China also reportedly informed the Nuclear Suppliers' Group during its recent meeting at Christ Church, New Zealand, of its decision to go ahead with the supply of Chashma IV and V to Pakistan. Pakistani sources say that while there were questions raised as to on what basis the Chinese claimed that these additional projects are not subject to NSG restrictions on the supply of nuclear equipment and technology to non-signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), there were no formal objections to the Chinese move.

10. All formalities for the inauguration of the construction, including arrangements for a soft Chinese loan to fund the construction, have been completed on the Chinese side, but a formal agreement between the Governments of China and Pakistan under which Pakistan will agree to place Chashma III and IV also under the safeguards and supervision of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency is still to be signed. This will be similar to the earlier agreements about Chashma I and II. The signing of this formal agreement is likely to be discussed during Mr.Zardari's visit.

11. Recent comments by Chinese officials intriguingly indicate that China now projects not only the proposed Chashma IV and V, but even the wider agreement between the two Governments for civil nuclear co-operation as beyond the purview of the NSG as it was reached before China joined the NSG in 2004. This interpretation, if it prevails, would mean that China considered itself free to supply not only Chashma III and IV, but also four other nuclear power stations, not part of the Chashma grandfather project, which Musharraf had requested for. Musharraf, a Mohajir, as well as Mr.Zardari, a Sindhi, have been keen that at least one or two Chinese-aided nuclear power stations must be located in Karachi, the capital of the Sindh province, which has been going through a severe power crisis for some years now affecting local industrial production. Mr.Zardari is expected to press this issue further.

12. The Chinese will face difficulty in discussing nuclear matters with Mr.Zardari because the Pakistan Army does not trust him in nuclear matters just as it didn't trust Mrs.Benazir Bhutto when she was the Prime Minister. This lack of trust in Mr.Zardari became evident on November 27,2009, when Mr.Zardari gave up the chairmanship of the Nuclear National Command Authority and transferred it to Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani. Though this was made out as a decision taken by Mr. Zardari at his own initiative, it was believed to have been prompted by the Army.

13.But, even in the case of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto, the Army did not allow its distrust of her to come in the way of using her services during her second term as the Prime Minister for reaching a secret agreement with North Korea on the acquisition of North Korean missiles and related technology. It is therefore, unlikely to have any objections to Mr.Zardari using his friendships and contacts in China for facilitating an agreement for the construction of more Chinese nuclear power stations in Pakistan.

14. Mr.Zardari's forthcoming visit will coincide with the third joint counter-terrorism exercise between the armies of the two countries. The Chinese Ministry of National Defence announced on June 24 that the third joint counter-terrorism exercise will be held at Qingtongxia in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from July 1 to 11. The first exercise was held in 2004, in Xinjiang's Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County bordering Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. About 200 soldiers from both countries participated. The second exercise was held in 2006 in the Abbottabad area of Pakistan. About 400 soldiers from both sides participated. The third exercise was to have been held in China in 2008, but was postponed for unexplained reasons. According to Uighur sources, the authorities of the two countries were probably concerned that a joint exercise in the wake of the anger over the Chinese role in the Lal Masjid raid in July 2007 could lead to fresh attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan.

15.Though no joint exercise has been held since 2006, the close co-operation in counter-terrorism continues at two levels---between the two armies and between the Interior Ministry of Pakistan and the Ministry of Public Security of China. Mr.Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, had visited China in 2009 and again earlier this year to discuss counter-terrorism co-operation, including exchange of intelligence.

16.Replying to the debate on the budgetary demands of the Ministry of the Interior in the National Assembly on June 24, 2009, Mr.Malik said: “Due to the efforts of the President and the Prime Minister, the Chinese Government has provided $290 million for capacity building of our security forces.”

17. The decision of the Chinese authorities to assist Pakistani capacity-building in counter-terrorism was officially conveyed to Mr.Malik when he visited Beijing and Shanghai from June 9 to 12, 2009. The visit was preceded by the Pakistan Government’s handing over to the Chinese of 10 members of the Uighur diaspora in Pakistan despite objections from the Amnesty International, which feared that these Uighurs might be executed by China without proper trial, The Pakistani authorities, who officially revealed the handing-over on June 5, 2009, as reported by the "News" of June 6, claimed that these Uighurs, who were rounded up during the Pakistan Army's counter-insurgency operations in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), belonged to the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

18. The "News" of June , 2009, reported as follows: "According to some sources in Islamabad, the Chinese militants were extradited despite opposition by the Amnesty International. In March 2009, Tim Parritt, Deputy Director of the Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme, had observed that whatever these militants were accused of, the risks posed to them were extremely grave, if forcibly returned to China. He had maintained that under the international law, states were obliged not to expel, return or extradite any person to a country where they risk torture or other ill-treatment. However, the Pakistani authorities insist that all those who had been extradited to Beijing were involved in terrorist activities both in China and in Pakistan and had also developed links with al-Qaeda network in the tribal areas of Pakistan. They said the fact that the ETIM militants had extended their network of terrorist activities to Pakistan was evident from a threat they had conveyed to the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, saying they intended to kidnap Chinese diplomats and consular officers stationed in the Pakistani federal capital with a view to highlighting their cause. The Chinese mission subsequently informed the Pakistani authorities in a letter that some members of the ETIM had already reached Islamabad and planned to kidnap their staffers from the federal capital. The letter reportedly pointed out that terrorist groups located in Pakistan, including al-Qaeda, had been providing support to the ETIM activists for the likely kidnappings. Subsequent investigations had established that the anonymous threat was issued by none other than the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and that the would-be kidnappers had first travelled to Jalalabad in Afghanistan to finalise their plans."

19. During his stay in Beijing, Mr. Malik met State Councillor and Minister for Public Security Meng Jianzhu, the Communist Party of China Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkong and the Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, who hosted a dinner for him. There were no reports of any meeting with President Hu Jintao or Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Talking to pressmen at Beijing, Mr. Malik said: "We have signed a number of agreements to build the capacity of our law enforcing agencies. We have signed agreements worth $ 300 million to acquire state of the art equipment to combat terrorism. The first consignment of these most needed equipment would be reaching Pakistan within three weeks. We want to ensure that our law enforcing agencies are well equipped, so that they could thwart with full force militancy. The equipment Pakistan needed included most modern mobile scanners that can detect hidden explosives and drugs. Initially, we would start employing these equipment in the metropolitan cities under threat of terrorism, like Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi and then gradually we plan to cover the entire country. "

20. On June 12, 2009, a blogspot of the "People's Daily" of China devoted to military issues had the following commentary: "Will China play a more "direct" role in both the Pakistan and Afghanistan conflicts? During the past two days, both Afghanistan and Pakistan are sending envoys to China to ask for China’s "direct" help in their fight against militants. The previous attempts to draw China into the conflicts by both NATO and US met with little success as China preferred to stay in the background and aid only in forms of financial and hardware support. China’s previous rejection to joining the military coalition is understandable as others have noted; while China does not view NATO/US missions in Afghanistan with suspicion compared to other Shanghai Co-operation Organisation states but allowing a military alliance to use China as a military supply route seem to undermine the Chinese Security-Umbrella that took 60 years and four wars to build. In addition, such an act violates China’s core foreign policy doctrine of non-interference in others' internal affairs. At the same time, the core Chinese military doctrine is changing with the release of the new “Outline of Military Training and Evaluation” which for the first time placed focus on Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW) role for the PLA outside of China’s borders and anti-terror operation is considered part of the MOOTW. China is hosting the first “Non-traditional Security Forum of Armed Forces of ASEAN, China, Japan and ROK , something unthinkable just a few years ago. Maybe China is ready to move out of the “hide my capabilities and bide my time” phase to the “make some contributions” phase to be in line of what Hu coined the “harmonious world” (a.k.a, making the world safe for Confucianism) in his “Go Abroad” policy shift. It is also noted that both the Pakistan and Afghanistan’s request is coordinated and without "US/NATO involvement" which makes the request a bit more politically acceptable in China and the statement by Rehman Malik that "Pakistan has handed Chinese nationals accused of insurgent activity back to China and will continue to do so" is clearly aimed at audiences in China. Judging from China's Foreign Ministry Press Release, China might be ready to take a more direct role. China is ready to further expand and deepen our cooperation in various fields on the basis of mutual benefit so as to push forward our comprehensive partnership of cooperation."

21. Recent media reports emanating from the US about the existence of large mineral deposits in Afghanistan have given rise to speculation in Pakistan about the prospects of joint Pakistan-China projects for the exploration and exploitation of these minerals. China is already involved in the development of copper mines in Afghanistan. Its likely interest in the other minerals would make it receptive to suggestions in this regard from Pakistan. In the calculation of Pakistani officials, bringing in China in a big way for assisting in the economic development of Afghanistan would be one way of having the Indian role limited and ultimately reduced.

22.Why the recent indications of an enhanced Chinese interest in Pakistan? What role has the People's Liberation Army (PLA) played in it? On March 31, 2010, the China Studies Division of the Center for Naval Analyses of the US had hosted a half-day roundtable to discuss China’s relations with and activities in Pakistan. Among its conclusions were the following: "China-Pakistan relations have a strong military component, which some participants alleged makes the PLA a key player in China’s decisions involving Pakistan. Bilateral military cooperation ranges from naval cooperation, to past nuclear assistance, to arms sales, to combined military and anti-terror exercises.Roundtable participants held that PRC leaders much prefer the military-led governments of Pakistan’s past and appear less confident about the capabilities and effectiveness of the current, democratically elected civilian government in Pakistan. The United States and China share important existential concerns in Pakistan. Both view stability in Pakistan as an important policy goal, and both see their interests better served by secular government rule in Pakistan rather than by the ascension of a hard-line or fundamentalist regime. Close U.S.-China coordination on many issues involving Pakistan was assessed as likely to remain difficult given Beijing’s predilection for bilateral action. Moreover, while the United States and China at this juncture share common interests in Pakistan on an existential level, Washington and Beijing have neither the same threat assessment nor the same hierarchy of priorities that could facilitate robust coordinated action.
Even without close U.S.-China cooperation, participants felt there are good possibilities for complementary U.S. action, aid, and investment in Pakistan. It was suggested that the United States could capitalize on China’s aid and infrastructure investments in Pakistan by making complementary investments that would serve U.S. interests in Pakistan." A detailed report on the Round Table put out by the CNA is available at (30-6-10)

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

Monday, June 28, 2010



( To be read in continuation of my earlier article titled " Hu Proposes, PLA Disposes)

There are apparent moves made by the US as well as China to de-escalate tensions due to Chinese objections to the prposed joint US-South Korea naval exercise in the Yellow Sea in which the nuclear-powered US aircraft-carrier USS George Washington was reportedly to participate.

2. The "China Daily" has inter alia reported as follows on June 29,2010: "Large-scale, anti-submarine drills were set for earlier this month in the ROK, but were postponed to give the US more time for preparations. They had been rescheduled for this week, but were delayed again and may take place in July. "If they insist on holding the drills under the current circumstances, it would only further escalate tensions in the region," said Zhai Dequan, deputy secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association. "The US and ROK should continue to postpone or cancel the military drills," Zhai said. "

3.The " Global Times", published by the "People's Daily" group of the Communist Party of China, has reported as follows on the morning of June 29: "The planned US-South Korean military drill was postponed until July because the schedule remains unfinished, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said Monday ( June 28)."

4. With the postponement of the proposed US-South Korea naval exercise, there has been an apparent attempt by Chinese circles also to play down the earlier interpretation of the live-ammunition exercise of the People's Liberation Army's Navy in the East China Sea as in response to the proposed US-South Korea naval exercise. Some Chinese commentators are now claiming that the dates for the Chinese drill were fixed sometime ago and that the Chinese drill was not connected with the US-South Korea exercise.However, while the US and South Korea have postponed their joint exercise, the PLA Navy is going ahead with its exercise as scheduled from June 30. It will continue till July 5.

5. While the "China Daily" coninues to display on its web site the hard-hitting article against the proposed US-South Korea joint exercise, the "Global Times" has come out with a little more balanced article on June 29 written by one Huang Jingjing. It says inter alia as follows:

"A public announcement saying that the Chinese navy will kick-off a six-day exercise tomorrow in the East China Sea that will feature live ammunition has stirred speculation about the timing of the drill.

"A fleet under the PLA will take part in the drill from tomorrow to July 5 in waters off Zhengjiang's east coast in the East China Sea, according to a notice published Sunday (June 27) on the local Wenzhou Evening News at the request of the fleet.

"The drill will be held from midnight to 6 pm every day. All irrelevant ships are prohibited from entering the region during the drill, the notice said.

"The notice gave no more details. However, many military observers and experts interpreted the drill in different ways.

"Some see it as a response to the joint military drill by the US and South Korea, which was originally set to begin Monday (June 28).
The drill reportedly includes US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington and was supposed to be held in waters off the west coast of South Korea, or the Yellow Sea, the waterway leading to China.

"It is reported that if the aircraft carrier enters the Yellow Sea, China's territorial sea, the entire North China region and the Liaodong Peninsula would be within its range, which was deemed a provocation to China, according to Hong Kong-based Ming Pao daily.

"The location of the Chinese drill is set to be held in the East China Sea, which would make the foreign navies entering the Yellow Sea uneasy," Song Zhongping, a military analysis for Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV, said on his blog on people. Monday (June 28).

He said the East China Sea is the only way into the Yellow Sea. He said it would be easy to form a favorable war situation for the Chinese navy to "shut the dogs up and beat them."

"However, the planned US-South Korean military drill was postponed until July because the schedule remains unfinished, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said Monday.

"Some other military experts said the Chinese drill is just a routine exercise.

"The drill was planned early. It's a coincidence that it falls near the joint drill by South Korea and the US," Li Jie, a naval expert with the Beijing Naval Research Center, told the Global Times. "It's not only an exercise to improve defense ability, but a military action to coordinate with foreign policy."

"Song Xiaojun, another expert, did not think that China is holding the drill in response to the US-South Korea. China already fixed the date for its drill while the other drill's date has not been set, Song said."

6. At the same time, Chinese circles have expressed displeasure over the reported remarks of President Barack Obama at Toronto that while he understood President Hu Jintao's need to show restraint over his neighbor and ally, "there's a difference between restraint and willful blindness to consistent problems."

7.In an editorial on the subject, the "Global Times" of June 29 has stated as follows:

"US President Barack Obama groundlessly blamed China for "blindness" to North Korea's "belligerent behavior" in an alleged attack on the South Korean navel vessel the Cheonan while speaking at the G20 summit Monday (June 28).

"His words on such an important occasion, based on ignorance of China's consistent and difficult efforts in pushing for peace on the peninsula, have come as a shock to China and the world at large.

"As a close neighbor of North Korea, China and its people have immediate and vital stakes in peace and stability on the peninsula. China's worries over the North Korean nuclear issue are by no means less than those of the US.

"The US President should have taken these into consideration before making irresponsible and flippant remarks about China's role in the region.

"The facts speak for themselves, and very clearly so: China has made tremendous efforts in preventing the situation on the Korean Peninsula from getting out of control, including in the aftermath of the Cheonan incident.

"Without China's involvement, there would not have been the Six-Party Talks, and the outbreak of yet another Korean War might well have been a possibility.

"It is thus not China that is turning a blind eye to what North Korea has done and has not done.

"Instead, it is the leaders of countries such as the US that are turning a blind eye on purpose to China's efforts.

"The US President made the remarks only because China has not acted in accordance with the requests made by some countries. But those are unreasonable and irrational requests."

8. The controversy between the US and China on North Korea continues, but in politically measured tones to underline that the Chinese political leadership commands policy-making. ( 29-6-10)

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



As President Hu Jintao took a series of steps to repair relations with the US which have come under a strain following the decision of the Barack Obama Administration earlier this year to sell a new arms package to Taiwan and the meeting of His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Mr.Obama in the White House during his visit to Washingtom DC, the goodwill sought to be re-generated between the political leaderships of the two countries is under threat of fresh dilution as a result of measures taken by the People's Liberation Army of China (PLA).

2. Among the measures taken by Mr.Hu to repair relations with the US were the Chinese support for sanctions by the UN against Iran on the nuclear issue, the Chinese decision to let the yuan float slightly in relation to the US dollar and Mr.Hu's acceptance of an invitation extended by Mr.Obama during their meeting in the margins of the G-20 summit at Toronto to pay a State visit to Washington DC later this year. According to all accounts, the meeting between Mr.Obama and Mr.Hu at Toronto went off cordially though the Chinese did not come out with a decision to lift the suspension of exchange of visits by military and defence officials of the two countries, which was imposed by them in protest against the sale of the arms package to Taiwan.Recently, they had refused to lift this suspension and extend an invitation to Mr.Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, to visit China after his visit to Singapore to attend an Asian Security Conference. It was reported that while Mr.Hu readily accepted the invitation from Mr.Obama to pay a State visit to Washington DC, he did not respond positively to a suggestion from Mr.Obama for a visit by Mr.Gates to China.

3. The interpretation by many China analysts that the strong line taken by Beijing on military-related issues after the announcement of the arms sales to Taiwan must have been on the insistence of the PLA leadership is likely to be further strengthened by the strong Chinese reaction to the proposed participation of the nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier USS George Washington in a joint naval exercise with the South Korean Navy in the Yellow Sea. This exercise and the participation of the US carrier in it were reportedly decided upon by the Obama Administration as part of a series of cautionary measures in the wake of the incident in March in which a South Korean Naval vessel sank after being hit by a torpedo allegedly fired by a North Korean ship. A number of South Korean naval personnel were killed. China has so far avoided supporting any move for economic sanctions or other punitive measures against North Korea in this connection.

4.A wave of criticism in Chinese blog spots and internet chat rooms of the proposed naval exercise in the Yellow Sea and the participation of the US carrier has been followed by an announcement by the PLA on June 28 that the PLA would be conducting live ammunition exercises in the East China Sea from June 30 to July 5. Sections of the Chinese media have made no secret of the fact that these exercises are in response to the US-South Korea naval exercise and the participation of the US carrier in it. A strongly worded commentary under the title "US Military Presence in the Yellow Sea" by one Huang Xiangyang uploaded on the web site of the " China Daily" on June 28, stated as follows:

"In a terse news release, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) announced on Monday that it will conduct live ammunition exercises in the East China Sea from June 30 to July 5. No reason was given for this seemingly unusual military arrangement--the last time the East China Sea was turned into a shooting ranch was in March 1996, when the PLA conducted ballistic missile exercises by firing surface-to-surface rockets from the mainland to sea targets to deter then-Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui from his political stunt of seeking the island's independence.

"Anyone with basic knowledge on geopolitics and military strategy would get the message behind the timing of the announcement. It is definitely not total coincidence that such sensitive news is made public on the same day that a joint military drill by the US and South Korean navies is scheduled to start in the Yellow Sea, citing threats from North Korea.

"But the Yellow Sea is no common place where a country can flex its muscles. It is historically China's front yard. In 1894 the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) fought a sea battle here with Japan in a vain attempt to retain the empire's fast-fading influence over the rest of Asia. For Chinese, the Yellow Sea has no less military significance to China's sovereignty and national security than the Gulf of Mexico has to the United States.

"Despite repeated complaints from China, the Pentagon has shown no signs of refraining from testing the country's strategic bottom line by going ahead with the plan to show off its military force. With the nuclear-powered aircraft USS George Washington set to participate in the joint exercise, China's key cities such as Beijing and Tianjin, as well as parts of its economically prosperous eastern coast are exposed under direct military threat from US forces. Given that the Pentagon has a history of dropping "missed bombs" on a country's embassy, such worries are by no means baseless.

"There is a Chinese saying that even a rabbit--meek and gentle though it may be--will fight back when cornered. It is justified that a wave of public outcry and vehement calls for tit-for-tat military arrangement has emerged in countless online chat rooms in response to the US military adventure at China's doorstep. We see the US ignoring Chinese security concerns as an act meant to cause humiliation. And the latest announcement of the firing practice, to some extent, helps assuage simmering sentiment.

"Because of the US policy toward Taiwan, characterized by continuing arms sales to the island, which has hurt China's "core national interest," the PLA has put its military contact with the Pentagon on hold. The sense of enmity has not eased, although US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has "stated for the record that the United States does not consider China as an enemy but as a partner." This is because Chinese culture values action over words. The US military presence in the Yellow Sea regardless of China's concerns, in addition to its never-ending reconnaissance activities along China's coastline, only reinforces Chinese impression of Uncle Sam as a double dealer.

"In 1996, the US sent two aircraft carriers near the Taiwan Straits--in the first act of American coercion against China in nearly four decades--to countermeasure Beijing's missile tests. It has been considered a provocative move to trample on China's dignity. Compared with the United States, China is still weak. But to emerge as a great nation in the world community, China has to stand up to the United States militarily, especially near its own shores."

5. It will be interesting to find out whether Mr.Hu raised the issue of the joint naval exercise in equally strong terms with Mr.Obama at Toronto. If not and if it is the PLA which has reacted strongly, it will be a clear indication that the Chinese political and military leaderships are not on the same page with regard to the relations with the US.( 28-6-10)

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




In an interview to ABC TV channel’s “This Week” Programme on June 27,2010, Mr.Leon Panetta, Director of the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is reported to have stated as follows: “ Osama bin Laden remains in very deep hiding but consistent pressure will flush him out. While hard data on him has been slight since the 2001 attacks, the CIA and US forces have killed or captured at least half the leadership of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. We took down the No. three in their leadership (Mustafa Abu al-Yazid) a few weeks ago. We continue to disrupt them. We continue to impact on their command and control. We continue to impact on their ability to plan attacks in this country. Al Qaeda’s depleted numbers had shrunk dramatically. The pressure is definitely on bin Laden and Al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri. I think at most, we’re looking at maybe 50 to 100 (Al Qaeda members), maybe less. If we keep that pressure on, we think ultimately we can flush out bin Laden and Zawahiri and get after them. President Barack Obama had made going after Al Qaeda the fundamental purpose of the Afghan military mission. We’ve got to disrupt and dismantle Al Qaeda and their militant allies so they never attack this country again. bin Laden remains in very deep hiding in a tribal area in Pakistan surrounded by tremendous security. The terrain is probably the most difficult in the world. It has been years since the United States has had good intelligence on the whereabouts of bin laden, although he is thought to be in Pakistan.”

2.It is nine years since the US intelligence agencies and military forces in the Af-Pak area started their hunt for Osama bin Laden after he was believed to have escaped into Pakistan’s tribal areas through the Tora Bora area of Afghanistan. They have had no success in getting at him. At least in the case of al-Zawahiri, his No.2, there was a report in January 2006 of a near miss in the Bajaur agency, but in the case of bin Laden there have been no reports of even a near miss. Neither the periodically enhanced cash reward offers nor stepped-up attacks by the Drones (pilotless planes) of the CIA have got him. The Drone strikes---helped by improved human and technical intelligence--- have been increasingly successful against leaders and cadres of the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan and the Punjabi Taliban organizations. There have been some successful hits against other leaders of Al Qaeda too, but not against bin Laden.

3. The Drone strikes have been largely confined to North and South Waziristan and occasionally the Bajaur agency. If bin Laden is in one of these agencies, he is most likely to be hit one of these days if the US keeps up its Drone strikes because Al Qaeda and its alles do not have a wide choice of hide-outs. The fact that there has not even been a speculation that bin Laden was anywhere near the areas which have so far been hit by the Drones would give rise to questions as to whether he could be in one of the Waziristans, where he is often placed by the US intelligence. Other likely tribal areas of his hiding are in the Chitral area of Pakistan and in the Nuristan area of Afghanistan. There has been no concrete indication from those areas either.

4. The announcements of huge cash rewards for information leading to his capture or death amounting to millions of US dollars have been widely disseminated all over the tribal areas in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and in its Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa province (formerly known as the North_West Frontier Province ). The absence of any leads about him from the Pashtun areas could be attributed to the loyalty of large sections of Pashtuns to him and to their aversion to helping the US in getting rid of him. But not all Pashtuns like bin Laden or are loyal to him to that extent. The Shias among the Pashtuns particularly in the Kurram Agency of the FATA and in parts of Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa and the Pashtun members of the Awami National Party, which is a member of the ruling coalition in Islamabad and is the head of the coalition in Peshawar, dislike him. They have no interest in protecting him.

5. The fact that neither the interested reward-seekers nor the CIA Drones have been able to get any inkling of the whereabouts of bin Laden would once again bring to the fore the question which I had raised from time to time in the past. That is, is he really hiding in the tribal areas as assessed by the CIA or is he hiding in the non-tribal areas with the help of Pashtun migrants in those areas. The Drones cannot reach him in the non-tribal areas. There will be many non-tribals interested in the huge cash rewards, but they may not have access to information about him. It is easier to get information in the sparsely-populated tribal areas than in the densely-populated non-tribal areas. In the past, some top-guns of Al Qaeda were found hiding in the non-tribal areas---- Abu Zubaidah in Faislabad in Punjab, Ramzi Binalshibh in Karachi and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in Rawalpindi. Many Afghan Taliban leaders were found hiding in Karachi and other places and not in Balochistan as used to be assumed.

6. While continuing to maintain the present hunt for bin Laden in the tribal areas, it is, therefore, important to extend it to the non-tribal areas too. Karachi, which has more Pashtuns than even Peshawar, needs attention. So too Quetta in Balochistan, which has a large Afghan refugee population, who have given shelter to the leaders of the Afghan Taliban. The strong-holds of the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) in the Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan are other areas calling for search. Of all the Punjabi Taliban organizations, the LEJ and the JEM are the closest to Al Qaeda.

7. The question of Drone strikes in the non-tribal areas does not arise. The CIA cannot expect the Pakistani intelligence and Police to co-operate in the search in the non-tribal areas. The CIA has to organize its own search operations with the help of anti-Al Qaeda communities such as those of the Mohajirs in Karachi, the Balochs in the Quetta area and the anti-LEJ Shias in Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan. ( 28-6-10)

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

Saturday, June 26, 2010



Mr.P.Chidambaram, our Home Minister, has exhibited refreshing firmness during his talks with Mr.Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, in Islamabad on June 25 and 26,2010. He had gone to Islamabad to attend the SAARC Home Ministers' meeting, which was held after a gap of more than two years and availed of this opportunity to hold detailed bilateral discussions with Mr.Malik on terrorism-related issues.The focus of the discussions between the two and of their media briefings was on terrorism in general and Pakistani action against the Pakistan-based perpetrators of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai in particular. He had gone to Islamabad determined to show that the willingness of the Government of India to resume the bilateral dialogue on various contentious issues would not mean a dilution of the focus on terrorism.

2. In his remarks in Islamabad, Mr.Chidambaram took care not to directly blame the State of Pakistan for the acts of terrorism in Indian territory committed by the Pakistani organisations, which are now collectively referred to even by Pakistani analysts as the Punjabi Taliban. However, he did not hesitate to highlight directly or indirectly the inaction or unsatisfactory action of the State of Pakistan against the anti-India terrorists in general and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in particular.

3. While keeping up an unrelenting pressure on Pakistan for action against the LET and its perpetrators of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, including Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JED), the political wing of the LET, he saw to it that his observations and pressure did not spoil the current cordial atmosphere in the bilateral relations and would not come in the way of meaningful , forward-looking discussions during the visit of Mr.S.M.Krishna, our Minister for External Affairs, to Islamabad next month.

4. Keep up the pressure on Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, but at the same time don't allow justified concerns over terrorism stunt fresh thinking on other issues. That seems to be the new motto of the Government of India. It is apparent Mr.Chidambaram shares this motto despite his ill-concealed disappointment with Pakistan for failing to do all that it can and should to bring to book the Pakistan-based perpetrators of 26/11.

5. However, despite the refreshing firmness of Mr.Chidambaram, one felt disappointed to notice an apparent lack of adequate attention to questions of importance like the establishment of a networking relationship between India's Intelligence Bureau and its Pakistani counterpart, which comes under Mr.Malik, between the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan both of which are the central investigation agencies for terrorism-related cases and frequent interactions between senior police officers of the two countries. Mr.Malik did speak of the FIA and India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which already interact with each other during INTERPOL meetings, jointly investigating the 26/11 case. No elucidation on this was forthcoming from Mr.Chidambaram, who appeared to be over-focussed on the 26/11 case --- rightly so--- but under-focussed on the need for a web of institutional relationships between the intelligence collection and investigating agencies of our Home Ministry and Pakistan's Interior Ministry.

6.Mr.Malik suffers from professional and political handicaps as compared to Mr.Chidambaram. de jure, Mr.Chidambaram is the political head of only the IB and the NIA, but de facto, in counter-terrorism matters, all agencies of the Indian intelligence community----whether civilian or military---- report to him, keep him informed and carry out his instructions , even if they come under the control of the Prime Minister or the Defence Minister. Mr.Malik, an ex-police officer, is the political head of only Pakistan's FIA and IB, which has only limited powers and resources as compared to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and other military intelligence agencies.

7. In India, the military intelligence agencies play a role in counter-terrorism and in counter-insurgency only in the border areas. In the rest of the country, it is Mr.Chidambaram as the Home Minister, who is the czar of counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence. In Pakistan, the ISI and other military intelligence agencies, which have more powers and resources than the institutions of the Interior Ministry, do not recognise the overlordship of Mr.Malik in counter-terrorism. They do not always keep him informed of all the intelligence coming to their notice and carry out his instructions. The heads of the military intelligence agencies avoid attending meetings convened by him.

8. Additional problems arise in Pakistan because the Army and the ISI do not look upon the LET as a terrorist organisation. The LET is the virtual covert action division of the ISI and its operations in India and Afghanistan against India are viewed as covert actions in Pakistan's national interests. If Mr.Malik wants to take effective action against the LET, he cannot do so due to the perception of the LET as the covert action wing of the ISI.

9. Despite these limitations of Mr.Malik and his Interior Ministry, we must build up our contacts with them and the Pakistani police and encourage other countries such as the US and those of the European Union to do so in order to contribute in the medium and long-term to building up the status and powers of the Interior Ministry in Pakistan's internal security management. In the years after Pakistan's independence, the Internal Security Ministry used to be the overlord of internal security management. After losing control of East Pakistan in 1971, the Army and the ISI have taken over this responsibility, reducing the Internal Security Ministry to a virtual non-entity.

10.The present civilian Government in Pakistan is trying to re-empower the Internal Security Ministry. This is a process which all democratic Governments should encourage. China has been doing so. It has given the Ministry over US $ 300 million for capacity-building. It had invited Mr.Malik twice to China to discuss counter-terrorism co-operation. It has two programmes for counter-terrorism co-operation with Pakistan---one between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Pakistan Army and the other between China’s Ministry of Public Security, which is responsible for internal security and intelligence, and Pakistan’s Interior Ministry.

10. It is hoped that Mr.Chidambaram would adopt this objective and work for it in the months to come.(27-6-2010)

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



(Written for the “Times of India” at their request. A slightly edited version of this has been carried by them at )

Indian intelligence agencies are good in crisis management after a threat to national security has materialized, but inadequate in preventing a crisis.

Their often-demonstrated failure to prevent a national security crisis can be attributed to a lack of quality control in their internal management. This poor quality control is evident in their outdated recruitment procedures, which tend to presume mistakenly that police officers naturally make good intelligence officers and their poor man management which often leads to internal frictions.

Poor team work which affects their ability to co-ordinate and the tendency to treat the intelligence profession like any other government job where seniority prevails over merit are also an outcome of this. So too is their failure to keep pace with developments in science and technology which are adding to the threats and the over-focus on short-term tactics and the under-focus on a long-term strategy to foresee, forestall and control a national security crisis.

Unlike other countries, techniques of national security and intelligence management have not received in India the attention they deserve either in the agencies themselves, or at the senior levels of the general bureaucracy or in the political leadership. The result: The agencies tend to drift from crisis to crisis, from failure to failure and from surprise to surprise. The poor techniques are reflected in the low standards of our intelligence training schools and in the poor quality of research on national security and intelligence management in our think-tanks and academic institutions.

National security and intelligence management is not treated as a science to be constantly developed, but as an esoteric subject beyond the understanding of the generalists and hence better left to the intelligence careerists.

Intelligence careerism stands in the way of our agencies coming up to national requirements and expectations. It also thwarts professionalism. We have many intelligence careerists, but not that many intelligence professionals. One finds professionals in increasing numbers in foreign agencies, but not in India.

Our political class, which sees intelligence as an exploitable instrument of political survival and not as an indispensable instrument of national survival, has also contributed to this state of affairs.

Our agencies are not without good points. Our intelligence officers may be poor collectors of preventive intelligence, but make good analysts of the limited intelligence they collect. Foreign intelligence officers are good collectors, but poor analysts.

The John Major Commission of Canada, which enquired into the blowing-up of the Kanishka aircraft of Air India by the Babbar Khalsa in 1985, has highlighted how the Canadian officers failed to analyse adequately the flood of intelligence reports available.

Crisis management comes to us instinctively. Despite being taken by surprise initially, we manage to prevail at the end. We saw this during the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and the Kargil conflict of 1999, and in the way we prevailed over the Mizo National Front, the Khalistani terrorists in Punjab and Al Ummah in Tamil Nadu. Even in Kashmir, though taken by surprise in 1989, we have retrieved lost ground after what appeared to be a hopeless situation in the 1990s.

Despite these good points, our agencies have failed to come up to expectations because there has been no continuous, independent and transparent evaluation of their performance. Our agencies continue to be evaluators of their own performance whereas in foreign countries, particularly in the West, their performance is regularly subject to external evaluation by the parliament as well as other bodies of experts not necessarily from the profession.

Detailed enquiries like those into the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, the London blasts of July 2005 in the UK and the recent Kanishka enquiry in Canada are more an exception than the rule in India. Our Parliament does not even know how much it is voting for the intelligence budgets and how that money is being spent. The intelligence allocations are concealed in the general budgets of other Ministries and Departments and are voted without independent scrutiny.

Intelligence agencies and chiefs can do no wrong. They are manned by honourable men who will not transgress laws and rules of propriety. So it used to be assumed before the Second World War, but no longer so. The post-Watergate enquiries in the US brought out that there are as many incompetents, opportunists and even law-breakers in the intelligence profession as in any other public service. The result: The opening-up of intelligence agencies to the extent possible due to security considerations to external evaluation. India is one of the very few democratic countries where the agencies continue to be closed houses not open to an external performance audit. Unless this changes, our intelligence management will not change for the better.

Past threats came more from state than non-state actors. Post-Second World War threats come as much from non-state as state actors. Before the World War, the intelligence profession was admired. It was seen as a profession of anonymous patriots of the highest order. The public considered it their duty and privilege to co-operate with them.

The intelligence profession is now tolerated as necessary, but it is no longer admired because of its seeming helplessness against the plethora of non-state actors. Public co-operation has consequently decreased. This has had a negative impact on the flow of human intelligence. Our ability to collect intelligence through gadgets has been improving, but not our ability to use human resources for intelligence collection.

How to deal with the new situation we are facing, which is marked more by threats to internal than external security? This is a question which needs attention. (25-6-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi. E-mail: )

Friday, June 25, 2010



The visit of Mrs.Nirupama Rao, India's Foreign Secretary, to Islamabad on June 24,2010, for preparatory talks with Mr.Salman Bashir, Pakistani Foreign Secretary, could not have gone better than it did. Those, who had seen the bad vibrations which marred the atmosphere during Mr.Bashir's visit to New Delhi in February last for the first meeting with her, would have been taken by surprise by the good vibrations which were to the fore during her entire stay in Islamabad and her official discussions with the Pakistani Foreign Secretary and courtesy call on Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Pakistani Foreign Minister.

2. During Mr.Bashir's visit to New Delhi in February, the two Foreign Secretaries could not even agree on a joint press conference. They held separate press conferences----Mrs.Rao in the Indian Foreign Office and Mr.Bashir in the Pakistani Chancery. They projected two different versions of what transpired during their discussions. Mrs.Rao's version was balanced and devoid of polemics. Mr. Bashir's was polemical. He was even sarcastic regarding India's concerns over terrorism and couldn't resist ridiculing India's case for action against Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET).He insisted on India accepting a so-called road map, which Pakistan had given for resuming the dialogue process. India saw no merit in the so-called road map.

3.Within four months, one saw on the TV the two Foreign Secretaries addressing a joint press conference and projecting cordial images of themselves----- persons of reason looking for ways of narrowing the divide between the two countries instead of aggravating it as was done in February. One could be certain that this change for the better would have been preceded by intense back channel discussions and informal interactions to prevent a repeat of what happened in February. A choreography as impressive as what one saw could not have been spontaneous or the product of the goodwill of the moment. It had been prepared beforehand.

4.Mrs.Rao's emphasis was still on terrorism----but terrorism in general, but not terrorism in specific emanating from territory under the control of Pakistan and used by the State of Pakistan against India in an attempt to force a change of the status quo in Jammu & Kashmir. When Mr.Atal Behari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, the emphasis was not on any terrorism, but on terrorism of Pakistani origin emanating from territory under the control of Pakistan and sponsored by the State of Pakistan. This emphasis found mention in the formulation accepted by Gen.Pervez Musharraf during his talks with Mr.Vajpayee at Islamabad in January 2004.

5. Since taking over as the Prime Minister in 2004, Dr.Manmohan Singh had been veering away from this formulation, slowly but steadily and this process was taken one step further during the just-concluded meeting of the two Foreign Secretaries. Will India's apparent gesture to Pakistan, which spares Islamabad the dilemma of having to cut off the links of the State with the LET and other like-minded Punjabi Taliban organisations, help in India's 30-year fight against terrorism sponsored by the state of Pakistan---- initially in Punjab, then in J&K and subsequently in the rest of India?

6. Dr.Manmohan Singh seems to be hopeful and even confident that it will. If it does, one may see a turn for the better in the bilateral relations. If it does not, it will not only add to the prevailing public distrust of Pakistan, but could even discredit Dr.Manmohan Singh and embarrass his party.

7. There are two questions involved in matters relating to terrorism. Should India continue to link the question of a resumption of the dialogue to Pakistan satisfying Indian expectations even before the talks begin? Our past policy of linkage, justified till now, has started yielding diminishing returns with no fresh ideas coming up. One can, therefore, justify the delinking of the terrorism issue from the question of a resumption of the dialogue. But Dr.Manmohan Singh has gone one step further by delinking the terrorism issue from the issue of the Pakistani sponsorship of it and from the progress on the ground during the process of the dialogue. What we have agreed to is a "comprehensive, sustained and substantial dialogue" irrespective of the progress on the question of Pakistani action in discarding terrorism.

8. Mr.Bashir's emphasis was strill on the dialogue process in general and the Kashmir issue in particular. He seemed inclined to give up expressions such as "a comprehensive dialogue", a "road-map" etc with which India seemed to be uncomfortable. Pakistan is still determined to achieve its objectives ( terrorism plus more river waters) relating to J&K -----through talks if possible and through terrorism, if necessary.

9. We have to keep the dialogue going. We have to continue the exercise for reducing distrust. At the same time, we have to ensure that our national interests are not jeopardised as a result of unwarranted concessions to Pakistan The talks can create an enduring partnership between the two countries only if they lead to a total Pakistani break with the use of terrorism as a State weapon and with a change in Pakistani focus from territory-related issues to questions having a bearing on the mutual economic and other interests of the people of the two countries.

10. How to conduct the dialogue in such a manner as to promote these objectives? That is the question which needs to be examined lucidly before our Foreign Minister goes to Islamabad on July 15 to meet his Pakistani counterpart in the next stage of the dialogue process. Mr.P.Chidambaram, our Home Minister, who arrived in Islamabad on June 25 for the SAARC Home Ministers’ meeting and bilateral discussions with Mr.Rehman Malik, the Pakistani Interior Minister, has kept a laser sharp focus on the terrorism issue even while welcoming the dialogue process. (26-6-10)

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



According to reliable sources in the Uighur diaspora in Pakistan, the authorities in some of the towns of the Xinjiang province have made it mandatory for all religious sermons to be approved in advance by the local officials of the Ministry of Public Security, which is responsible for internal intelligence and security. Prior permission of the Ministry is also required for holding any religious gathering. Members of the Communist Party of China have been banned from attending religious congregations.

2.Earlier, a directive issued by the Religious Affairs Department of Shayar county in the Aksu Prefecture of the Xinjinag province in April had stated as follows: " All religious groups must register with the village branch of the Religious Affairs Department, allow monthly inspections of religious sites and special meetings by authorities, and obtain prior approval of the content of any religious services. Before village members gather for worship, the Religious Affairs Department must review the content of the texts in question. An information officer for religious activities will verify the content of the texts and must be advised of the specific situation in which the texts will be used in worship."

3.According to the same sources in the Uighur diaspora of Pakistan, due to pressure from the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan's Ministry of the Interior has ordered the closure of the Omer Uighur Language School in Rawalpindi. The Chinese authorities have accused the school of having links with the Munich-based World Uighur Congress (WUC). The Chinese Embassy has advised the members of the Uighur diaspora in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad area that in future they should send their children to a school at Rawalpindi set up earlier this year by the Chinese Embassy.

4. In July 2007, the Chinese authorities had exercised pressure on the Government of Gen.Pervez Musharraf to organise a commando raid into the Lal Masjid and its two madrasas in the Islamabad area following the kidnapping of some Chinese employees of beauty parlours by the students of the madrasas. It was anger over this raid which led to the formation of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the wave of terrorist strikes by the TTP and other jihadi organisations. There were also attacks on some Chinese working in the Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa province and Balochistan.

5. In the past, the Chinese Embassy was insisting on action only against Uighurs in Pakistan suspected of supporting the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan (IMET), an associate of Al Qaeda.Now, they are insisting on action against Uighur supporters of the WUC too.

6.The Chinese Ministry of National Defence announced on June 24 that the third joint counter-terrorism exercise between the Chinese and Pakistani Armies will be held at Qingtongxia in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from July 1 to 11. The first exercise was held in 2004, in Xinjiang's Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County bordering Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. About 200 soldiers from both countries participated. The second exercise was held in 2006 in the Abbottabad area of Pakistan. About 400 soldiers from both sides participated. The third exercise was to have been held in China in 2008, but was postponed for unexplained reasons. According to the Uighur sources, the authorities of the two countries were probably concerned that a joint exercise in the wake of the anger over the Chinese role in the Lal Masjid raid could lead to fresh attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan.

7.Though no joint exercise has been held since 2006, the close co-operation in counter-terrorism continues at two levels---between the two armies and between the Interior Ministry of Pakistan and the Ministry of Public Security of China. Mr.Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, had visited China in 2009 and again earlier this year to discuss counter-terrorism co-operation, including exchange of intelligence. China is reported to have pledged assistance amounting to more than US $ 300 million to enable Pakistan strengthen its counter-terrorism capacity.

8.The "Los Angeles Times" reported on May 25,2009, that the Obama Administration had appealed to China to provide training and even military equipment to help Pakistan counter a growing militant threat and that Mr.Richard C Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, had visited Beijing in this connection for talks with the Chinese authorities. According to unconfirmed reports, Abdul Haq Turkestani, the Amir of the IMET, was reported to have been killed in a US Drone (pilotless plane) strike in the North Waziristan area in February last. During his visit to China earlier this year, Mr.Rehman Malik claimed that this information was correct, but neither the US nor the IMET nor the Chinese have confirmed his reported death so far.

9. In December last, a mixed group of 20 Muslim and Christian Uighurs, helped by a Macau-based Christian organisation, had managed to reach Phnom-Penh in Cambodia from Xinjiang and sought political asylum from the local office of the UN High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR). Before the UNHCR office could intervene, the Cambodian authorities had them arrested and deported to China. Three Muslim members of this group have since been projected by the Chinese authorities as terrorists, who were members of the IMET.

10.Mr.Wu Heping, a spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, told a press conference at Beijing on June 24 that the authorities of the Ministry had arrested a group of over 10 Uighurs belonging to the IMET. The details of the arrested persons given at the press conference indicated that the terrorist cell which the Chinese claimed to have broken up included three Muslim members of the group which had sought political asylum from the UNHCR office in Phnom-Penh in December 2009. It is not known what happened to the other 17 handed over by the Cambodian authorities.

11. Two persons were killed in an explosion in an oil storage tank in the Midong area of Urumqi on June 22,2010. According to the local authorities, the explosion took place when some welding work was going on. However, they have stated that it has not yet been established whether the welding caused the explosion. ( 25-6-2010)

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2010



(To be read in continuation of my article of September 27,2009, at titled "Obama's Af-Pak Troika Fails To Deliver" )

Gen.Stanley McChrystal, the US and NATO Commander in Afghanistan, arrived in Kabul in the early months of the Obama Administration with the roar of a tiger. He disappeared like the tail of a snake on June 23,2010, when President Barack Obama fired him and replaced him as the US and NATO commander in Kabul by Gen.David Petraeus, the present head of the US Central Command.

2. President Barack Obama had been justifiably angered by the irreverent remarks of Gen.McChrystal and some of his aides during a series of discussions with a journalist of the "Rolling Stone" magazine. An article carried by the magazine in its latest issue based on their irreverent remarks caused considerable embarrassment in the Pentagon and the White House. The dismissal of the General was an inevitable outcome.

3. Even before the sacked General landed himself in an inexcusable position due to his irreverence amounting to insubordination, the halo with which he had taken over command of the NATO forces in Afghanistan last year had disappeared because of his failure to come out with a strategy which could enable the NATO forces to prevail over the Taliban. Ever since the General took over in Kabul last year, the operations of the Afghan Taliban, from sanctuaries in Pakistani territory, had increased in daring and success. Mr.Obama's hopes of the beginning of an exit with grace from Afghanistan from the middle of 2011 are in the process of being belied due to the failure of Gen.McChrystal to work out an effective strategy against the Taliban and its Pakistani mentors.

4. What worked for the General during his previous posting in Iraq----his skills in special operations and his ability to divide and prevail over Al Qaeda and its ex- Baathist allies from the disbanded army of Saddam Hussein---- did not work in Afghanistan. The Taliban in Afghanistan is a united force, which has successfully resisted US-inspired attempts to create a split between the so-called Good and Bad Taliban. In Iraq, Al Qaeda with its volunteers from outside---mainly from Saudi Arabia---- was in the forefront of the battles. It was easy to create a divide between the outsiders in Al Qaeda and the native Iraqis, who hated the Saudis of Al Qaeda as much as they hated the Americans. They were prepared to temporarily swallow their dislike of the Americans and collaborate with them against the outsiders of Al Qaeda.

5. In Afghanistan, the native Pashtuns of the Taliban have been in the forefront of the battles against the NATO forces. The role of the outsiders of Al Qaeda in the battles waged by the Taliban against the NATO forces has been minimal. Conditions for a successful divide and prevail strategy did not exist in Afghanistan and do not exist even today. Moreover, in Iraq, the role of Iran, despite its aversion to the US, was beneficial to the US operations against Al Qaeda and its associates. In Afghanistan, the role of Pakistan, while seemingly beneficial, has really been detrimental to the US war efforts.

6. In Afghanistan, a different mix was required----better conventional capabilities in Afghan territory, better covert capabilities in Pakistani territory to target the Taliban sanctuaries and rear bases and the political will to call Pakistan to order and to force it to stop playing its strategic games in Afghanistan. Instead of devising such a strategy, McChrystal followed a strategy largely based on illusions------- illusions of a coming split in the Taliban, illusions of a diminution of public support for the Taliban and illusions of Pakistani co-operation in dealing with the Taliban.

7. The illusions proved his undoing. His reported decision to postpone the much-trumpeted offensive against the Taliban in the Kandahar area scheduled for later this year spoke volumes of his failure to come to grips with the situation on the ground. A General minus the acquired-in-Iraq halo committed the sin of speaking disparagingly of his own political and professional superiors and has paid the price for it. His irreverence enabled Mr.Obama to rid himself of a General on the brink of battle failure on grounds of misconduct instead of on grounds of battle failure which could have reflected on Mr.Obama’s political and professional judgment.

8. It was easy to get rid of McChrystal. It is going to be difficult to turn the tide of the war in favour of the NATO. Gen.Petraeus, whom Mr.Obama has chosen for this purpose, had also acquired a halo in Iraq. The halo has become dimmer since he took over as the Commander of the Central Command. As the Commander, he has to share the responsibility for the set-backs in Afghanistan and for the failure to make headway against the Taliban.

9. As General Petraeus gets going in his new assignment, he has to tell himself repeatedly that Afghanistan is not Iraq, that the Pashtuns are not Iraqis or Saudis, that the Taliban is not Al Qaeda or Saddam’s ex-Baathists, that Pakistan is not Iran. He will have a new set of foes unlike any he had known and encountered in Iraq. In Sunni Pakistan ,he will have an Islamic State more devious and more dissimulating than a Shia Iran.

10. He will need a new strategy which will weld together the Pashtuns owing loyalty to President Hamid Karzai and the Tajiks and other non-Pashtuns loyal to the leaders of the old Northern Alliance. India understands the mindset of a Pakistani Sunni better than many other countries in the world. He will benefit by a share of the Indian wisdom. ( 24-6-10)

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

Tuesday, June 22, 2010



In the wake of the first Xinjiang Work Conference, a joint conference of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee and the State Council, China’s cabinet, held at Beijing from May 17 to 19, 2010, to draft a blueprint for the region’s economic development until 2020, the Chinese authorities have embarked on a campaign in Xinjiang, which de-emphasises the Uighur ethnic identity of the province and highlights the Government's plans for its rapid economic development in order to bring it on par with other Chinese provinces.

2. The various documents and statements emanating from the conference, which was inaugurated by President Hu Jintao, underlined the plans of the Government for what was described as a leap-frog economic development of the province, but were silent on the Government's plans to protect the Uighur ethnic and Islamic religious identities of its Uighur population. However, subsequent comments by Chinese experts have indicated that the Government would follow a two-pronged policy based on rapid economic development and closer social integration in order to reduce Han-Uighur tensions which led to a serious outbreak of violence in July last year.

3.The "China Daily" of June 4,2010, quoted Prof.Qiang Shigong, Director of the Research Centre on the Rule of Law at Peking University, as saying as follows in an interview with a local journal called "South Wind Window", or "Nanfengchuang" after the Xinjiang Work conference:
"We need to adjust our Xinjiang policy according to the changes of social environment and approach the problem under the context of globalization.The economy’s development, although important, cannot create ethnic unity without the support of other polices, and on the contrary it may lead to social polarization and ethnic tensions because people of different ethnic backgrounds differ in their capability of adapting to the market. The ethnic integration in Xinjiang should not be understood as assimilation of non-Han Chinese. The Government should be sensitive to cultural diversities, and protect ethnic groups’ rights according to the law. "

4.He urged measures to weaken the identity of ethnic groups in policy-making, such as closing ethnic schools to promote more communication between different ethnic groups. He also said the promotion of Mandarin in ethnic regions could benefit local people in the current market economy environment. "To develop the economy and improve people’s lives doesn’t mean only helping people out of poverty. Instead, their education level and competitive capabilities should be enhanced fundamentally.The Han Chinese should take responsibility for the integration, and Han people should make more sacrifice and contribution to the goal," Qiang said. In his view, as the Government sends officials from other regions to work in Xinjiang, it should also encourage officials in Xinjiang to work in other regions.

5.The Xinjiang authorities have launched a door-to-door campaign to explain the new policies of the Government for the economoic development of the province to the people on the eve of the forthcoming anniversary of last year's outbreak of violence. According to Mr.Li Yi, head of the publicity department of the regional office of the Communist Party of China,over 9,000 officials and scholars would explain the Government's policies in schools, government departments, communities, villages, families and mosques across Xinjiang.

6. The Chinese authorities mistakenly seem to think that the feelings of alienation in the Uighur community are only because of the economic disparities between the Uighurs and the Han settlers. They do not seem to realise that these are more due to the unhappiness of the Uighurs over the failure of the Government to respect their ethnic and religious rights. (23-6-10)

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



Under the heading "China may finance Pakistan reactors", the "China Daily" has reported as follows on June 23,2010::

China will likely go ahead with financing the construction of two nuclear reactors in Pakistan despite concerns from other countries, say Chinese experts.

China is expected to announce its plans to build the reactors in Punjab province at a Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting in New Zealand on Thursday. Meanwhile the United States, with heavy lobbying from India, is reportedly raising doubts over the legitimacy of the deal.

One of the concerns is that Pakistan, as well as India, did not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and therefore is technically not restricted from transferring the technology to a third party, posing a potential threat to the international community.

"This is not the first time China has helped Pakistan build nuclear reactors, and since it will be watched by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the deal is not going to have any problems," said Zhai Dequan, deputy secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

Zhai said the US will not pressure China too much as it previously struck a deal with India. In 2008, the NSG - which represents the 46 countries that control the world's atomic trade - made an exemption allowing Washington to sell civil nuclear technology to New Delhi. Pakistan has stressed many times it wants the same recognition as India on civil nuclear usage.

"Pakistan is also fighting a war on terror for the US as well as for itself, and the country's loss is greater than the US and the other 42 coalition nations combined. The economic aid it has received is too little compared to its loss. Pakistan has an urgent need for more civil energy and that need should be looked after," said Zhai.

The US asked China to clarify the details of the deal last Wednesday, after intense urging from India, but stopped short of publicly opposing it. On Thursday ( My comment: Tuesday?) China said the reactors are for peaceful purposes, and will accept the IAEA's inspection. China joined the NSG in 2004 but has already built one reactor and started a second at Chashma, Punjab. The latest two reactors in the region will generate 650 megawatts each.

Although the deal is not likely to attract strong opposition, NSG members still do not want to see the transaction go forward, according to Mark Hibbs, nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Policy in Washington. However, Hibbs said the US-India deal set a precedent.

"There was no real agreement between the members about how to proceed," the Australian Radio quoted him as saying.

Fan Jishe, a scholar of US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, argues that the nature of the Sino-Pakistani deal is different from that of the US-India deal.

"We do not need an exemption from the NSG, as requested by the US, since the deal was reached before we joined the group," Fan said.

Monday, June 21, 2010



Between June 24 and July 15,one would be seeing three important bilateral interactions, not amounting to a resumption of the composite dialogue, between India and Pakistan.

2.On June 24, Mrs.Nirupama Rao, our Foreign Secretary, will be in Islamabad, for talks with her Pakistani counterpart. During her stay, she will be, inter alia, preparing the ground work for the visits to Islamabad of Mr. P.Chidambaram, the Home Minister, and Mr. S.M.Krishna, the Foreign Minister, which are to follow.

3. Mr. Chidambaram, accompanied by a team of senior officials from his Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs, will be in Islamabad later this week to attend the meeting of the Home Ministers of SAARC under the chairmanship of Mr.Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, and a trusted confidante of President Asif Ali Zardari. Closer co-operation in counter-terrorism and the improvement of traditions of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters by the member-countries, both of which are presently more an exception than the rule, will be on the top of the agenda for the SAARC conference.

4. Media reports indicate that smaller countries such as Sri Lanka and the Maldives are unhappy that the SAARC, in its preoccupation with issues raised by India and Pakistan, has not been paying adequate attention to other regional security issues which are of greater interest to them such as regional co-operation in maritime counter-terrorism and counter-piracy. Being island countries, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have legitimate expectations that terrorism and law and order problems emanating from the sea and across the seas should receive greater attention than they have received in the past. This is an important subject. Its importance has been further enhanced by the Lashkar-e-Toiba's (LET) sea-borne attacks in Mumbai from November 26 to 29,2008.

5. Mr. Chidambaram will be utilising his stay in Islamabad for bilateral interactions with Mr.Malik and other important Pakistani leaders, including the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Mr.Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Comments emanating from different sources in Pakistan ----governmental as well as non-Governmental--- indicate that the Pakistani authorities are aware of the important position occupied by Mr.Chidambaram in the Cabinet of Dr.Manmohan Singh and the confidence reportedly reposed in him by Dr.Singh as well as Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the Congress (I). As the Minister in charge of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, the perceptions of the post-26/11 Pakistani mindset, attitudes and policies formed by him during his visit to Pakistan would have an important role in influencing a decision by India on "What next?"

6. There is, therefore, a discernible keenness in Islamabad to see that Mr.Chidambaram's bilateral innteractions proceed smoothly without any jarring note. Such a jarring note could come either in the form of a new act of terrorism by jihadi elements from Pakistan either in Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir or on Indian nationals and interests in Afghanistan, committed before, during or in the days following his visit. Even if there be no fresh act of terrorism, even highly provocative and instigatory anti-India statements during this period by jihadi leaders such as Prof.Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the Jammat-ud-Dawa, the political wing of the LET, could derail the exercise undertaken by Dr.Singh and Mr.Yousef Raza Gilani, the Pakistani Prime Minister. for creating an atmosphere of trust in the bilateral relations as a prelude to a resumption of a comprehensive dialogue on various issues bedevilling the relations between the two countries.

7. Trust-building will be the main objective of the interactions of Mr.Krishna in Pakistan from July 15. The meeting between Mr.Chidambaram and Mr.Malik the plans for which were drawn up long before the decision taken by the two Prime Ministers for a trust-building exercise in the margins of the SAARC summit in Thimpu, Bhutan, in April has acquired an added importance in the context of the visit of our Foreign Minister. How Mr. Chidambaram's visit proceeds would have an important bearing on the subsequent visit of Mr.Krishna.

8. If Mr.Chidambaram comes back with a feeling that the Pakistani political and military-cum-intelligence leadership continues to be as negative as ever in matters relating to counter-terrorism in general and counter-LET in particular, public and political pressures against any fresh diplomatic initiatives vis-a-vis Pakistan could increase thereby tying the hands of Mr.Krishna.

9. The Pakistani authorities are aware of this danger too and are hoping that the visits of Mr.Chidambaram and Mr.Krishna would not at least add to the current distrust, even if they don't result in winds of change and trust beginning to sweep across the sub-continent. Both Mr.Malik and Mr.Qureshi have been avoiding negative-seeming comments. One saw this during the recent summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at Tashkant, which was attended by Mr.Zardari and Mr.Krishna as observers. Mr.Malik had accompanied Mr.Zardari.

10. Both Pakistan and India find themselves prisoners of self-created formulations, which hamper the search for a way out of the current darkness of distrust.By making any progress in sorting out other issues a hostage to the Kashmir issue, Pakistan has denied itself any room for policy flexibility. India has created a similar dead-end for itself by making progress in other issues a hostage to the issue of sincere Pakistani action against the jihadi terrorists in general and the LET in particular.

11. Breaking these self-created prisons is not going to be easy. It will be time-consuming. It will require a long spell of incident-free relations. Within this reality, are there ways of taking measures which could create trust? That is the question to be addressed during the visits of Mr.Chidambaram and Mr.Krishna. Distrust between India and Pakistan has three components--- the distrust between the general bureaucracies of the two countries, the distrust between the security bureaucracies, including the Army and the intelligence community and the distrust between the political leaderships.

12. The distrust between the political leaderships will be easier to break, provided the distrust between the bureacracies can be reduced. But,there is a vicious circle to be broken. The distrust between the political leaderships cannot be reduced unless that between the bureaucracies is addressed. The distrust between the bureaucracies cannot be reduced in the absence of trust between the political leaderships.

13. This calls for a beginning in the establishment of a network of relationships at various levels---political and bureaucratic---between the two countries. We have established such a network with China despite the continuing border dispute and despite our continuing distrust of the People's Liberation Army of China. There has not even been an attempt to build such a network between India and Pakistan. Is it possible to build such a network? If so, how to go about it?What role the Interior Ministry of Pakistan and the Home Ministry of India can play in this exercise as the starting blocks? These are questions which should be discussed during the forthcoming interactions.

14. Our insistence on Pakistani action against the LET and Sayeed is legitimate and should be continued. But we shoulde not allow this to become an over-obsession which nullifies all ideas and intitiatives of a positive nature. Over-obsession with certain issues has become the bane of Indo-Pakistan relations. If the two countries, their leaderships and bureaucracies could rid themselves of these over-obsessions, they may realise that a strategic relationship for mutual benefit between the two countries is not such a stupid idea after all. ( 22-6-10)

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