Saturday, October 30, 2010




( Based on open source information )

Q.What materials for assembling an improvised explosive device (IED) have been recovered by the authorities of the Dubai airport and the East Midlands airport of the UK from the cargo planes of the FedExpress and the UPS respectively which were searched on a reported tip-off from the Saudi security agencies?

A.Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) - an explosive favoured by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). PETN belongs to the same chemical family as nitroglycerin. Explosives experts have been quoted by the media as saying that six grams of PETN are enough to blow a hole in the fuselage of an aircraft. The AQAP had used the same explosive in its failed attempt to have an American North-West Airlines plane bound for Detroit in the US blown up on Christmas Day last year through a Nigerian student Abdul Mutallab. That attempt had failed because an alert passenger intervened and overpowered the Nigerian before he could cause the explosion. The CNN affiliate ITN has quoted Col. Richard Kemp, former Chairman of the UK’s COBRA intelligence group, as saying that ‘the quantity of PETN in these devices was about five times the volume used at Christmas.” Abdul Mutallab was alleged to have been carrying about 80 grams of PETN.The Dubai Police told WAM, the local official news agency, that the explosive materials were "professionally" loaded and connected using an electric circuit to a mobile phone chip tucked in a printer cartridge. According to the CNN, the device was packed in a toner cartridge of a laser printer and designed to be detonated by a cell phone. The package found at the East Midlands Airport contained a "manipulated" toner cartridge and had white powder on it as well as wires and a circuit board. The media has quoted a source associated with the investigation as saying that the detonating substance was Lead Azide, a standard substance in detonations.

The CNN quoted Olivier Clerc, described by it as a hardware application engineering manager for a large U.S.-based cell phone parts manufacturer, as saying as follows on the basis of a study of the images of the neutralized IED carried by the media: “ The electronic component visible in a law enforcement image of an intercepted suspicious shipment from Yemen appears to be a printed circuit board from a disassembled cell phone. This size and the shape of the PCB (printed circuit board) are typical to a handset cell phone type device. The component on the top right part of the device seems to be a digital camera sensor. The area with a rectangular grey material [held] a display that was removed. On the left of the device, under the two metallic shield cans are most likely the baseband processor or the display controller. A baseband processor is critical to the function of a digital cell phone. There is as well a coin type cell (which) is a backup battery, and 2 Board to board connectors. On one of these connectors is plugged a keypad that was as well removed. Another metallic component on the top left of the electronic board (partly hidden under a screw) seems to be a small vibration component, used on cell phones (when vibrate mode is enabled). So this board is very likely to be the main electronic board of a cell phone device."

The CNN further added: “A Google search for the numbered markings on the printed circuit board produced several links to the Bird D736 mobile phone. The D736 is a similar shape to the circuit board. The D736 is a Chinese-brand GSM two-band phone that allows the unit to work in most countries in the world, including the United States. Clerc cautioned, however, that "it was not obvious that this board is the D736 phone." In the law enforcement photo, the cell phone circuit board is crudely mounted with screws, metal and plastic fragments to what appears to be a stout metal case. Wires lead from the circuit board out of the frame. Sources familiar with the investigation tell CNN that the suspicious shipments from Yemen contained computer printers. The metal case on which the circuit board is mounted would be consistent with the frame of a laser printer.” ( My comment: It is not clear whether the printer cartridge modified to conceal an IED was dispatched alone to the synagogues or whether it was in a printer in a consignment of printers sent to the synagogues. Was or were the printers ordered from Yemen or Dubai by the synagogues? If so, was the cartridge of one of the printers in the consignment modified to conceal an IED? Answers to these questions are not available )

Q.Were the IEDs designed to explode mid-air or on reaching the two synagogues in Chicago to which the packages were addressed?

A.There are contradictory versions in answer to this question. According to the British Prime Minister David Cameron as quoted by the BBC: "We believe the device was designed to go off on the aeroplane. We cannot be sure about the timing when that was meant to take place. There is no early evidence that that was meant to take place over British soil, but of course we cannot rule it out." According to the CNN: ”Officials weren't certain whether those behind the plot, who likely would have used cell phones to trigger the devices, wanted to detonate them while the planes were in the air or at their destinations, two synagogues in Chicago, Illinois.” CNN reported that UK Home Secretary Theresa May said authorities do not believe the perpetrators would have known the location of the device had they detonated it.

Q.Are there previous instances of planes being blown-up mid-air using mobile phones?

A.On August 24, 2004, there were two explosions on board two aircraft which had taken off from a Moscow airport which led to the disintegration of the planes and the death of 90 persons, including all the passengers and the members of the crew. The Russian authorities claimed to have established that two Chechen women from Grozny had a role in the explosions. It was suspected that they had checked in their baggage containing IEDs with mobile phones as triggers and traveled by the flight and that the IEDs were activated after the planes had taken off by sending mobile signals. Please see my article of September 6,2004, titled TERRORISM: THE RUSSIAN ORDEAL at

Q.What has been the progress of the investigation so far?

A.According to the BBC, security forces in Yemen have arrested a female medical student suspected of posting bombs found on two cargo jets in Dubai and the UK. She was held at a house in the capital, Sanaa, after being traced through a phone number left with a cargo company. According to the AFP news agency, the unnamed young Yemeni woman, described as a medical student and the daughter of a petroleum engineer, was arrested at a house on the outskirts of Sanaa. Her mother was also detained but was not a prime suspect, the arrested woman's lawyer said. ( My comments: It is possible she was used as an unconscious cut-out by the AQAP. If she was a conscious cut-out who was aware of the nature of the contents, she might not have left her correct telephone number with the courier company )

Q.Any additional security precautions required for the forthcoming visit of President Barack Obama to India the coming week?

* Trace all packages that might have been received in India from Yemen in recent weeks and have them examined. Question their recipients.
* Suspend all parcel movements from Yemen till the visit is over.
* Suspend all flights from Yemen to India till the visit is over.
* Step up surveillance of Yemeni and Nigerian nationals studying in India .
* Strengthen physical security for all Jewish establishments in India. If Obama plans to visit the Jewish establishment in Mumbai which was attacked by the Lashkar-e-Toiba during the 26/11 terrorist strikes, strengthen physical security for it. ( 31-10-10)

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

Friday, October 29, 2010




From the sketchy details available so far regarding two packages containing materials for explosive devices found on October 29,2010, on two cargo flights reportedly emanating from Yemen and bound for Chicago via Dubai and East Midlands airport in the UK, the following preliminary observations are possible:

• Normally, courier companies do not accept closed packages. The packages have to be kept open at the time of handing them over so that their contents could be checked for any suspicious material. The fact that the suspicious materials were not detected at the time of handing over the packages would indicate the possible complicity of some employees of the two courier companies.
• It is not clear whether the materials for the two explosive devices had been assembled and made ready for detonation at the targeted places. It has been reported that the two packages were meant to reach two Jewish places of worship. The explosive devices----if the assembly was complete---- were not meant to explode during the flights. The effect would have been limited since the two were courier aircraft with no commercial passengers. The terrorists do not appear to have intended to cause mass casualty incidents during the flights similar to the explosions on board an aircraft of Air India (Kanishka) off Ireland in 1985 and an aircraft of Pan Am off Scotland ( Lockerbie) in 1988.
• Presuming the packages had reached their destination in Chicago undetected, how did the terrorists intend to activate them? Were they meant to explode through spring action or other such device as the packages were being opened or did they intend causing an explosion through a mobile telephone before the packages were opened?
• It has been reported that the Saudi authorities had alerted the security agencies of the UK and the US about the presence of the suspicious packages and that was how these were detected and deactivated. How did the Saudi authorities come to know about it? Through moles in Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), whose hand is suspected or through informants in the courier companies, who had knowledge of the packages?
• The AQAP seems determined to carry out a terrorist strike directed against targets associated with the US. It is likely that the focus of the attention of the Indian security agencies, which would be responsible for making security arrangements for the forthcoming visit of President Barack Obama to India, would be on likely threats from India and the Af-Pak region. It is important to pay equal attention to likely threats from Al Qaeda elements outside the Af-Pak region such as the AQAP, Al Qaeda in Somalia and Al Qaeda in Maghreb.

2.This may please be read in continuation of my following articles:

(a). Article dated July 7,2010, titled Singapore and Al Qaeda: International Terrorism Monitor --- Paper No. 662” at

(b). Article dated December 29,2009, titled “Obama: Al Qaeda Comes Home Calling - International Terrorism Monitor --- Paper No. 597” at

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



How to co-operate effectively with both India and China without seeming to favour the relationship with one at the cost of the relationship with the other?

2. That will be one of the main strategic objectives of President Barack Obama’s forthcoming Asian tour during which he will be visiting India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea. His observations during his visit to China in November last year had given rise to an impression in India that his administration had downgraded the importance attached to the USA’s relations with India by his predecessor George Bush and had started viewing India as a sub-regional power not on par with China.

3. Correcting this impression without adding to Chinese fears of an attempt by the US to use India against China will be one of the objectives of his forthcoming visit to India and his subsequent meeting on November 11 with President Hu Jintao of China in the margins of the G-20 summit in South Korea. The policies of the Bush administration had given rise to fears in the Chinese mind that it was seeking to use India and Japan to encircle China. Obama’s attempts to play down these fears had created suspicions in India’s mind that he did not accord the same importance to the USA’s relations with India as Bush had done.

4. Obama is keen to remove the impression in India that its importance vis-à-vis China had been downgraded by him while at the same time reassuring China that it has nothing to fear from closer Indo-American relations. A preview of how he intended doing this has been available from the remarks of Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, during her current tour of East and South-East Asia.

5. She has been quoted as saying as follows in a speech during her first halt at Honolulu on October 28,2010: "The relationship between China and the United States is complex and of enormous consequence but we are committed to getting it right. There are some in both countries who believe that China's interests and ours are fundamentally at odds. They apply a zero-sum calculation to our relationship, so whenever one of us succeeds, the other must fail. But that is not our view. In the 21st century, it is not in anyone's interest for the United States and China to see each other as adversaries. In a crowded field of highly dynamic, increasingly influential emerging nations, two stand out: India and China. Their simultaneous rise is reshaping the world and our ability to cooperate effectively with these countries will be a critical test of our leadership."

6. This strategic objective of finding ways of co-operating effectively with both India and China is expected to be the main theme of his discussions with the Indian leaders in New Delhi and his meeting with Hu Jintao in Seoul on November 11 as well as of the meeting on October 29 of Hillary Clinton with Chinese state councillor Dai Bingguo in Hainan.

7.From the various background briefings given by officials of the White House and the State Department at Washington DC on the eve of Obama’s visit to Asia, it is fairly clear that his visit to India will have a much larger strategic canvas than what one had seen during the visit of Bush in 2006. It will not have a single point focus. There will be no flagship issue. The larger strategic issue of the US, India and China in Asia will be the defining theme of his visit. Other subjects such as the implementation of the civil nuclear co-operation agreement, removal of the names of some Indian establishments from the so-called list of entities barred access to US technology, Indian purchase of US military equipment etc are likely to be discussed in the margins of this defining theme, but at the sub-summit level by the officials of the delegations without Obama himself devoting too much attention to it.

8. However, counter-terrorism co-operation will continue to be an important subject on the summit agenda in view of the importance attached to it by Indian public and political opinion and the continuing negative impact of terrorism on India’s relations with Pakistan. What contribution the US can make to removing the distrust between India and Pakistan will be a subject next in importance to the role of the US, India and China in Asia.

9. The question of US support to India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council will be a tricky issue. There is no question of the US working for it unless it is certain that Japan and Germany too get in. Even in the unlikely event of China changing its present opposition to India becoming a permanent member, there is no question of its supporting Japan now or ever.

10.Obama’s visit will have a mix of symbolism and substance. The symbolism will be seen in Mumbai where he will demonstrate his solidarity with India in its fight against terrorism and pay a tribute to the resilience of Mumbai and its business community in the face of repeated terrorist strikes in this business city. He has deliberately chosen Diwali for the start of his visit to underline his confidence that ultimately good will prevail over evil. The substance will be seen during his talks with the Indian leaders in New Delhi and in his address to the joint session of the Parliament.

11. Next to his visit to India, his visit to Indonesia, with the largest Muslim population in the world, will be of major significance. He is expected to address the Islamic world from Indonesia in continuation of his address from Cairo last year. He is expected to focus on the thinning down of the US military presence in Iraq, his keenness for a similar thinning down in Afghanistan and the goodwill of the US to the Muslims of the world even while carrying on its fight against Al Qaeda and its associates. ( 29-10-10)

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010



As the Asian Games scheduled to be held in the city of Guangzhou (formerly known as Canton) in the Guangdong province from November 12 to 27 approach, the Tibetan students’ protests against the introduction of Mandarin as the medium of instruction in the Tibetan schools have spread from the Qinghai province where they started last week to the Gansu province. Thousands of Tibetan students demonstrated in different parts of the Gansu province on October 25 and 26,2010.

2. Supporters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in different countries of the world have called upon the members of the Tibetan diaspora to hold demonstrations in solidarity with the protesting students of Qinghai and Gansu.

3. In a statement, Tenzin Choekyi, the General Secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), which organized protest demonstrations against the Beijing Olympics of August 2008 in different cities of the world including New Delhi, has stated as follows: "The Tibetan language is intrinsically linked to Tibetan culture and identity. Denying Tibetans the right to learn in their own language is denying them the right to exist as a people."

4.In another statement disseminated on October 26, the TYC called China the biggest colonizer of modern times and appealed to the international media covering the Asian Games to highlight the Chinese violation of the human rights of the Tibetans. It has announced plans for a protest rally on cycles from Dharamsala to New Delhi on November 12. The demonstrators will carry a freedom torch and banners reading : "Welcome Future: Future for Tibetan Youth, Youth for Independence", mocking China's Asian Games slogan "Welcome Future".

5. The TYC’s statement said: “China lacks the "moral right" to hold such an important international sporting event.
Generally the spirit of any international games represents friendship, solidarity and promotion of peace and freedom. The Asian Games in particular is about helping weaker countries, helping them rehabilitate and develop an understanding of mutual friendship and cooperation. A country hosting such an important event essentially should respect these principles”.

6. It said further that China should not have been given the right to host the Asian Games and added: “Instead of promoting peace and friendship, China continues to use its military and economic might to stifle smaller and weaker countries.
So long as they do not end the occupation of Tibet, words such as freedom, truth and peace for the Chinese government is just another rhetoric. Therefore China has no moral right to host such an important sporting event."

7. The TYC said: “The slogan for the games 'Welcome Future' targeted at youth development and promising future is only appropriate if Tibet is free. The biggest obstacle for Tibetan youth development is the continued occupation of Tibet and, oppression and denial of fundamental rights of the Tibetan youth.” The TYC has described the Asian Games as another charade of lies and deceit.

8.The Chinese authorities, who are deploying about 12,000 security forces personnel to prevent any breach of security during the Games, have taken some extraordinary security measures such as directing the occupants of buildings in the vicinity of the main stadium to shift from their residences during the duration of the Games. They have also reportedly moved from Guangzhou all Tibetans and Uighurs living in the city to prevent any demonstrations by them.

9. One of the principal guests of honour at the opening ceremony of the Games is expected to be President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, which has been helping the Chinese authorities in maintaining a watch on the Uighurs.( 27-10-10)

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



Citing the People’s Liberation Army Daily, the “People’s Daily” of China controlled by the Communist Party of China reported as follows on October 26,2010: “Near the foot of the snowcapped mountains on the Tibetan Plateau at an altitude of over 4,700 meters, the Tibet Military Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducted its first air-ground live ammunition drill recently. Troops of air force, armor, artillery and electronic warfare divisions participated in the exercise. They overcame the effects on their physical and mental health caused by coldness and oxygen deficits and finished the first joint training and exercise. It will have a very significant role in exploring training patterns in mountainous and cold areas as well as improving combat capabilities.”

2. The “People’s Daily” has carried some photographs of the drill at

3.According to an undated report disseminated by the Xinhua news agency, “transport authorities in remote China's Tibet Autonomous Region will invest heavily in highway construction for the next five years to provide better access to its rural townships. Almost 50 billion yuan will be earmarked for highway construction during the 2011-2015 period, a spokesman with the Tibet Autonomous Regional Transport Department said. The total length of highways will be extended from the current 58,000 km to 70,000 km by 2015 in the plateau region, the spokesman said. All rural townships will be connected by highway, he said. Currently, about three quarters of townships have highway links. In the past five years, China has invested heavily in building transport infrastructure in Tibet, pouring money into construction of highways, railways and airports. On July 1 this year, Tibet's fourth civil airport opened in its far west Ngari area, shortening a trip to the regional capital Lhasa to one and half hours from three or four days by car.” (27-10-10)

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010



Has Arundhati Roy, the well-known writer and social activist, committed the offence of sedition against the Indian State by her recent speeches and statements which have expressed sympathy and understanding for the separatist movement in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) ?

2. One of the important components of the offence of sedition is causing disaffection against the State. It is a fact that there is disaffection against the Indian State in some sections of the Muslim population of J&K for nearly four decades. It is this disaffection that led to the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Lahore in 1971, to the kidnapping and murder of an Indian diplomat in Birmingham UK in 1983 and to many acts of terrorism in J &K since 1989----directed against the security forces as well as innocent civilians.

3. The indigenous separatist groups in J&K indulged in not only sedition and terrorism against the Indian State, but also treason by seeking the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for their movement involving sedition and terrorism.

4. Wikipedia says as follows on sedition and treason: “Sedition is the stirring up of rebellion against the government in power. Treason is the violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or state, giving aid to enemies, or levying war against one's state. Sedition is encouraging one's fellow citizens to rebel against their state, whereas treason is actually betraying one's country by aiding and abetting another state.”

5.Arundhati Roy is not the originator or instigator of the acts of sedition, treason and terrorism indulged in by some elements in J&K. What she has done is to take note of the disaffection against the Indian State in J & K, draw the attention of the rest of India to the disaffection, analyse the causes for the disaffection such as alleged human rights violations and express her understanding and sympathy for those in J&K who have taken to arms against the Indian State.

6. The case against her from the point of view of sedition is a difficult one to decide. She is not one of the originators of the separatist movement. She is not an active participant in the movement. At the same time, by expressing her sympathy and understanding of the movement and its objective of freedom she has given moral support to the movement.

7. Should a person, who extends moral support to a movement involving sedition, treason and terrorism, be treated as an active participant or at least instigator of the movement and arrested and prosecuted under the laws relating to sedition?

8. It needs to be underlined that she has not tried to cause or spread disaffection against the State among the non-Kashmiri segments of the Indian population unless one treats her support to the Maoists as amounting to causing disaffection against the State among the tribals.

9.Should someone, who takes cognisance of the movement in J&K without having been one of the organisers of it and calls for action to address the causes of the movement, be treated on par with someone who is among the dramatis personae of the movement?

10. Acting against people like Arundhati Roy, who take what they look upon as a moral stand on such issues on the ground that their perceived moral stand adds to the existing disaffection against the State, would prove counter-productive and add to the difficulties already being faced by us in dealing with the situation in the State.

11. Her campaign against the State, however provocative, should be handled through counter-arguments which would carry conviction to public opinion in J&K and outside and not by arresting and prosecuting her.

12. We should avoid ham-handed action. ( 26-10-10)

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



After having failed thus far to pacify protesting Tibetan students in the Qinghai province who are angry over the introduction of Mandarin as the medium of instruction in the Tibetan schools, China’s Ministry of Public Security has started identifying and arresting the leaders of the protest movement.

2. What has alarmed the Chinese authorities is that the protest movement which started spontaneously is now showing signs of being co-ordinated through the Internet and text messages. Despite the arrests of about 30 Tibetan students in the Qinghai province, the protest movement continues to spread.

3. The latest protest demonstrations were reported on October 24,2010, from high schools in the Chentsa (in Chinese, Jianzha) county, in Qinghai's Malho (in Chinese, Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. For the first time, local Tibetan teachers, many of whom have been replaced by Han teachers because they cannot teach in Mandarin, joined the students in their demonstrations. Local monks also participated.

4. On October 25, police reinforcements were rushed to the affected areas from the Sichuan province and deployed outside all educational institutions. They have been directed not to allow any more demonstrations.

5. It has been reported by Tibetan exile sources that a group of elderly, retired, and respected Tibetans associated with education matters in Qinghai sent a letter to the provincial Department of Education on October 24 calling for an independent panel of education experts to study the language policy.

6. The letter reportedly said: "We would like to appeal to make sure that the issue of Tibetan language may not be used as a political tool to undermine the harmonious relationship among the nationalities and compromise the security of China. The illegal practice of imparting education to Tibetan students by using only the Chinese language should be stopped.”

7.The letter called for a "deep, healthy relationship between Chinese and Tibetans" and sought respect for and implementation of "the charter of autonomy for minorities and the Constitution of China."

8. Separately, about 300 teachers in Qinghai have sent a letter to the authorities appealing to stop the implementation of the introduction of Mandarin as the medium of instruction. The teachers pointed out that Article 4 of the Chinese Constitution guarantees to all ethnic groups the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages and to preserve or reform their own culture and customs.

9. Radio Free Asia has quoted Beijing-based Tibetan writer Woeser as saying that she had heard that hundreds of Tibetan students had once more taken to the streets in Qinghai at the weekend. She said: "I know about [Saturday's] protest. It's not that they are against being taught Mandarin; Mandarin is the main language now. But they are against Tibetan being relegated to second-class status. Perhaps fewer and fewer people in future will speak Tibetan. So the students want to come out in support of Tibetan, and of more rights for the Tibetan language. The campaign in support of the Tibetan language is similar to that mounted in the southern province of Guangdong in support of Cantonese. It would be unfair of the Government to take reprisals against any students because of their involvement in these demonstrations.”

10. In his first comments on the students’ unrest over the language policy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is now on a visit to Canada, said on October 23 that the Tibetan language is vital for the survival of Tibetan Buddhist culture which has a strong following in China . He asked China to learn from the Indian experience where preservation and promotion of India’s linguistic diversity is being done without that being seen as posing the risk of separatism.

11. To love and cherish one’s mother tongue is not separatism or splittism. This is the message that the protesting Tibetan students are spreading across the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China. They are not against Mandarin as a language, but they are against Mandarin being imposed by the State to replace Tibetan as the unifying language of the Tibetan people. The new language policy is one more step taken by the Government and the Communist Party of China in the Han colonization of the Tibetan areas. (26-10-10)

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

Monday, October 25, 2010



I have been in receipt of the following comments from a reader of Indian origin based abroad of my articles on the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I agree with him that academic and intellectual exchanges between the PRC and other countries in East and South-East Asia have been increasing while exchanges between India and these countries, including China, have been stagnating. Despite our continuing differences with China on issues such as the border dispute and their support to Pakistan, it should be possible to promote academic and intellectual exchanges with the PRC. There are hardly any exchanges between India and the South-East and East Asian countries more due to lack of Indian interest than the other way round. Continuing suspicions of academic and intellectual exchanges with China stand in the way of Chinese scholars being able to get visas to attend seminars in India. It is easy to organize a national seminar on China, but not an international seminar involving the participation of Chinese scholars from abroad----whether from China or from other countries. It should be a common core interest of India and China to find ways of promoting such exchanges and encouraging transparency in policy-making. One of the reasons for the misunderstandings between India and China is the lack of transparency in policy-making for which both the countries have to share the blame----B.Raman



First of all, thank you very much on your thought provoking articles on PRC. Let me provide a different perspective to PRC related issues from an academic point of view.

Due to my professional /academic activities I visit Taiwan (ROC) and SE countries frequently, and it is really astonishing to see how PRC is binding these countries through numerous educational programs. It is amazing to see educators, researchers, planners from the top universities of these other countries are visiting PRC on a regular basis, and PRC scholars are reciprocating by visiting these countries too. Looks like PRC is setting aside a dedicated amount of money to woo scholars from the neighboring countries under various regional conferences, meetings, exchange programs, etc.

Irrespective of whatever political differences there may exist between PRC and ROC, the academic exchange programs between these two countries are growing exponentially. Though the current ROC President Ma Ying Jeau is soft toward PRC,
even during the time of more apparently hostile past President Chen Shui Bien, academic exchanges were cozy between these two countries. The flow of business visitors and tourists between PRC and ROC too is eye popping. My Taiwanese colleagues
say that they regularly coordinate regional/international academic meetings in consultation with their PRC counterparts. All the major hotels in Taipei (especially the Grand Hotel, once owned by Madam Chiang-Kai Shek) have huge boards
placed near the main entrances welcoming visiting delegates/tourists from different provinces of PRC. And this is going on year-round. Overcoming the strong opposition from DPP (Chen Shui Bien's party), ROC govt has now opened the door for PRC students to attend ROC universities. Without this, many ROC
university officials say, they can't survive financially.

Nearly similar things are happening with Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore and Indonesia. My colleagues from Thailand go to conferences and meetings held in PRC, but not to those in India. What's wrong with us? I don't see India's foot print matching even 10% of that. Needless to say, this will have a long term effect in favor of PRC at the cost of India.



Bill Clinton came to India in 2000 a year after the impeachment proceedings against him in the US Congress in the Monica Lewinsky case had failed. The scandals in which he was involved in the US did not affect his popularity in India. His popularity in the Indian political class was high as seen from the roaring success of his address to the joint session of the Indian Parliament. He was surrounded by the admiring Members of Parliament. Everybody wanted to shake his hand and be seen on the TV shaking his hand.

2.The Indian hero of the Clinton visit was not Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Indian Prime Minister. It was Chandrababu Naidu, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, who had managed to convince many US businessmen that Naidu’s was the political face of the future. The focus was Cyberabad as Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh came to be called.

3.Naidu was projected as the epitome of the new Indian leader---IT savvy, more a CEO than a traditional politician. Clinton made it a point to visit Hyderabad at the suggestion of US businessmen to see the emerging new Indian leader, who had won the admiration of the American business community. Where is Naidu now? Where is Cyberabad? A businessman of Andhra Pradesh, who played a key role in bringing Clinton to Hyderabad and making Naidu the toast of the US journalists who came with Clinton, is now in jail fighting allegations of business fraud.

4.The second focus of the Clinton visit was on the computerisation of Indian villages. He was fascinated by the so-called advance of IT into the Rajasthan villages. He was shown on the TV admiring the way little-educated villagers of Rajasthan were operating computers and running the village affairs. What happened to them? What happened to those computers?

5.The focus of the George Bush visit in 2006 was on how the Indian Muslim has kept away from Al Qaeda and the international jihad. What happened to that picture of India which is as true and as valid today as it was when Bush came? Why that picture is not being projected today as Barack Obama gets ready to visit Mumbai and to recall Indo-US counter-terrorism co-operation. If the Americans and Obama are wise they will try to learn from the Indian civil society as to how the Indian Muslim has kept away from Al Qaeda and its associates. Obama chose the Al Azhar University of Cairo last year for his famous address to the Muslims of the Arab world. His advisers should have suggested to him to choose Mumbai for an address to the moderate Muslims of India and their co-religionists in South-East Asia. They should have told him that Indian Islam is different from Pakistani and Arab Islam. It is soft Islam, which has influenced the culture of the Muslim communities in India and in the countries to the East of India. Westerners are still fascinated by the fact that the Mumbai Muslims refused to bury the nine Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists killed in Mumbai during the 26/11 strikes. The focus should have been on how the Indian Muslim continues to be different from the Muslims in the rest of the world. He is angry---even more than in the past, but refuses to fall into the trap of Al Qaeda and its allies.

6.Obama’s agenda has been prepared by the bureaucratic establishments in the two countries without imagination, without a sense of history, without understanding the benign face of Indian Islam totally different from its face in Pakistan and the Arab world.(25-10-10)

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

Sunday, October 24, 2010



The third US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue for the year 2010 concluded at Washington DC on October 22,2010. The two sides fielded high-power delegations for the dialogue as they had done for the first two rounds held earlier this year in Washington DC and Islamabad. The US delegation was headed by Mrs.Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, and included, among others, Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary. The Pakistani delegation was headed by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and included among others Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff.

2. Apart from the formal talks at the delegation level, where hype pushed the cruel ground realities under the carpet, there were other opportunities for frank interactions which the Americans utilised to tell the Pakistanis what they really thought and expected of them.

3. To quote from the "Dawn" of Karachi of October 22: "Pakistan’s Ambassador Husain Haqqani later told the Pakistani media that President Obama’s decision to ‘drop in’ during a meeting of the ‘core group’ of Pakistani officials with the incoming US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon was “not pre-announced but it was pre-planned”. He described it as “the best ever” meeting between a US President and a Pakistani delegation during which President Obama conveyed his “unequivocal support to Pakistan and its democracy”. President Obama, he said, regretted the mistakes the US had made in the past while dealing with Pakistan and assured the Pakistani delegation that Washington would not repeat those mistakes. The US media, however, gave a different version of this meeting. Foreign Policy, a prestigious online magazine for global issues, reported that President Obama “personally delivered the tough love message that other top administration officials have been communicating since the Pakistani delegation arrived”. Earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropped in unannounced at another meeting between Special Representative Richard Holbrooke and Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. She delivered “the message that Washington’s patience is wearing thin with Pakistan’s ongoing reluctance to take a more aggressive stance against militant groups operating from Pakistan over the Afghan border”, the report said. “A similar message was delivered to Gen Kayani in another high-level side meeting on Wednesday morning at the Pentagon, hosted by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm Michael Mullen,” the magazine said. “The message being delivered to Pakistan throughout the week by the Obama team is that its effort to convince Pakistan to more aggressively combat groups like the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba will now consist of both carrots and sticks,” the report added. “But this means that the US administration must find a way to incentivise both the Pakistani civilian and military leadership, which have differing agendas and capabilities,” the report added, “The Obama side is calculating that Pakistan’s military can deliver on subjects important to the US but doesn’t want to, while the civilian leadership in Pakistan wants to, but isn’t able,” said one high-level participant who spoke with the magazine in between sessions. "

4. It is apparent from the reports on the dialogue that came out of Washington DC that the US has not been able to find a way of making Pakistan act to destroy the GHQ (General Headquarters) of Al Qaeda led and inspired terrorism located in the Pakistani territory. One is increasingly confused as to where this GHQ is located. Previously, one thought it was located in North Waziristan. The fierceness of the retaliatory action by the Pakistan Army in response to a recent strike by a NATO helicopter in the Kurram area has created suspicions that at least part of the GHQ may be located in the Kurram Agency. There have been other reports speculating about the possibility of its location in the Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province.

5. Wherever it may be located, one thing seems certain---- the Pakistan Army knows where it is and is not prepared to act against it. The Pakistan Army uses the Punjabi Taliban against India in an attempt to force a change in the status quo in Jammu & Kashmir. It has been using Al Qaeda, the Pashtun Taliban and their global jihadi allies for extracting money out of the US by dangling the threat of another 9/11 over the US head if it does not pay protection money to the Pakistan Army.

6. Despite the blunt words reportedly used by Obama, Mrs.Clinton and Gates in more restricted interactions, more protection money was forthcoming in the form of a five-year commitment (2012-16) of US $ 2.29 billion in military aid euphemistically called counter-terrorism assistance. This will be in continuation of the allocation of US $ 1.5 billion provided by the George Bush Administration in 2005 and of the civilian aid of US $ 7.5 billion over a five-year period already being provided by the Obama Administration since last year under the Kerry Lugar Act.

7.According to the “Dawn”, Pakistan also receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year from the so-called Coalition Support Fund, which reimburse Pakistan for its military operations against militants. The US reimbursed Pakistan $1.3 billion between January and May for Pakistani operations conducted in 2008 and 2009, but has not yet paid for operations in 2010. Announcing the military aid package, Mrs. Clinton said that the US had full confidence in Pakistan’s commitment to the anti-terrorist fight.

8. The ambivalence in the US policy marked by blunt speaking in restricted sessions and the failure to follow it up with punitive action to make the Pakistan Army act as it frequently promises to has convinced the Pakistan Army over the years that US leaders may warn privately regarding its transgressions but will not act against it. So long as this conviction does not change, Al Qaeda and its associates will remain where they are and will continue to plot and act against US nationals and interests.

9. More money was not the only carrot that Pakistan got during the dialogue. It made other gains in the form of the US commitment to uphold Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan, the promise of a separate visit to Pakistan by President Obama next year and an invitation to President Asif Ali Zardari to visit the US. With the carrots continuing to flow from the US in spite of its inaction against Al Qaeda and co., why should it act against the terrorists?

10. Unless and until the US picks up the courage to tell Pakistan “thus far and no further. Either you act or we act”, things are not going to change. The pathetic apologies from the US for a recent raid by a NATO helicopter into Pakistani territory to neutralize terrorists who had attacked NATO positions in Afghanistan have shown to the Pakistan Army the Achilles Heel of the US----- its dependence on Pakistan for logistic supplies to the NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan.

11. The confidence of the Taliban that the US would not act against it for sheltering Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders in Afghan territory contributed to the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US. The present confidence of the Pakistan Army that the US will not act against it for its inaction against Al Qaeda and its allies now sheltered in Pakistani territory will encourage more acts of terrorism against the US and other NATO countries in their respective homelands.

12. The Pakistan Army literally blackmailed the US before the Strategic Dialogue by stopping the logistic supplies to Afghanistan. Instead of teaching it a lesson for its blackmailing tactics, the US not only apologized, but followed it up with more favours for Pakistan. This is not the way the US is going to prevail over Al Qaeda, the Talibans and their allies. ( 24-10-10)

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

Saturday, October 23, 2010



The Governmenment-controlled Xinhua news agency of China has admitted instances of unrest in the Tibetal student community over the introduction of Mandarin as the medium of instruction in Tibetan schools. In a dispatch from Qinghai, it has said that Tibetan students had "expressed their dissatisfaction" in at least four Tibetan prefectures in Qinghai since October 17, 2010.

2. Citing an open letter issued by the Qinghai provincial government to all teachers and students on October 22, it said that the goal of the new policy is to bridge the education gap between China's various ethnic groups and promote development in ethnic minority areas. It quoted Wang Yubo, Director of Education in the Qinghai province, as saying that changes won't be forced in areas where "conditions are not ripe." Authorities will respect the viewpoints of students and their parents before carrying out the new policy , it said quoting Wang.

3. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as the party chief in 2012 and as the President of China a year later, has stressed the importance of nurturing cadres from ethnic minority groups to help in the Government's drive to develop regions inhabited by ethnic minorities. He said that efforts should be made to cultivate outstanding cadres with political integrity and professional competence from ethnic minorities, while addressing a symposium marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of a training course for Tibetan cadres at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at Beijing on October 21. He said Party schools should play a key role in training and nurturing cadres from ethnic minorities, who possess both political integrity and ability, particularly among young people and those who are from grass-roots levels. ( 23-10-10)

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

Friday, October 22, 2010



The continuing unrest among Tibetan students in the Qinghai province over the introduction of Mandarin as the medium of instruction shows no signs of subsiding, though it has not taken a violent form and the number of those involved in different protest demonstrations is less than 10,000. As a precautionary measure, to prevent any outbreak of violence, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, which is responsible for internal security, has moved police reinforcements from the adjoining provinces to the Qinghai province.

2. There were reports of two demonstrations on October 22. About 1000 Tibetan students took out an early morning procession in the Gepasumdo (in Chinese, Tongde) county of the Qinghai province. There was also a peaceful demonstration by about 400 Tibetan students studying in the National Minorities' University in Beijing.

3.The Uighur students in Chinese-controlled Xinjiang have not joined the demonstrations so far even though the order introducing Mandarin as the medium of instruction applies to Uighur schools also. However, there have been reports of protests in the local mosques over orders issued by the Ministry of Public Security recently banning the sporting of beards by men and the wearing of veils by women. The local authorities have allegedly threatened to withdraw the licences of shops and other small and medium business establishments if their Uighur owners and staff do not comply with their instructions in this regard. All Uighur Government servants have also been told to comply with this ban.

4. In the meanwhile, there is a cause for worry to the Ministry of Public Security even from the majority Han community. The advocates of genuine political reforms to dilute the dominating role of the Communist Party and ensure respect for freedom of speech have been circulating through the Internet texts of the recent interview of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, when he was in New York in September, to the CNN emphasising the importance of respecting the freedom of speech. This interview has been blacked out in China by the Ministry of Public Security---an amazing instance of a Department of the Government blacking out an interview of its own Prime Minister.

5. It has been reported that some dissident elements are trying to start a Chinese version of Wikileaks to upload secret government and party documents. A report on this subject carried by the "South China Morning Post" of October 22 is attached. ( 23-10-10)

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


( Report dated October 22,2010, of the "South China Morning Post " )

Chinese dissidents plan their own WikiLeaks

By Choi Chi-yuk

A group of Chinese dissidents plan to launch their own version of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks to expose central government secrets and promote democracy.

The organisers have signalled their intentions through social networking sites such as Twitter. They aim to launch "Government Leaks" on June 1 next year and they are calling on people to upload confidential government information to their database.

"I think by making government secrets open we can promote democracy in China. This is a fight against the dictatorship, and to return the right to information to the people. I believe it will advance China's political reform," said the founder of the website, who identified himself as "Deep Throat" when talking to the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) .

Deep Throat said a team of professionals had been aseembled to run the site, including journalists, editors, lawyers and hackers - who would help defend against possible cyberattacks.

The founder said he was inspired by Watergate, the US scandal of the 1970s, and the success of WikiLeaks, which gained worldwide recognition after it published a massive trove of US intelligence documents relating to the war in Afghanistan, a move that infuriated the Pentagon and energised opponents of the war.

Ironically, the founders of WikiLeaks include some Chinese dissidents, according to its website, and it has recently launched a Chinese language version. The Chinese WikiLeaks has not so far published any sensitive information on the Beijing government though.

Deep Throat said at first he tried to form a partnership with WikiLeaks. "I sent them a letter on October 1, to all three e-mail accounts listed by WikiLeaks. I told them that I wanted to co-operate with them. But the e-mails never went through as their system was always down. I ended up with three undelivered e-mails in my box," he said.

"Government Leaks has no relations with WikiLeaks, but you can call us the copycat version of WikiLeaks in China," he said.

Unlike WikiLeaks, which is based in Europe where the freedom of speech and rights to information are guaranteed by the European Union's constitution, Government Leaks would inevitably anger the central government.

Many technology-savvy net activists on the mainland feel Government Leaks is too open in its approach. They say the idea is naive and dangerous. Some fear it could become a trap for the authorities to round-up whistle-blowers.

John Kennedy, the Chinese language editor of Global Voices Online, who is more widely known in China by his pseudonym Feng 37, described it as "a blind man riding a blind horse" - a Chinese idiom of things doomed to fail.

Kennedy, a Canadian national, said five out of the seven e-mail service providers of Government Leaks are based on the mainland - meaning they would be subject to severe surveillance by the authorities. "No one would send them anything, except those stupid guys," he said. He also criticised the website for lacking encrypted links to protect informers.

Another mainland net activist, calling himself Zola, also questioned if the security technology of Government Leaks could provide enough protection to whistle-blowers. "In the worst case, the informer could be prosecuted for illegally possessing state secrets," he warned.

He cited the example of mainland journalist Shi Tao, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2005 for leaking state secrets. Shi was incriminated by the central government after the authorities obtained a secret document he sent to an overseas website through a mainland-based Yahoo China server.

Deep Throat said informers' safety would be treated as the most important issue. Government Leaks would not use normal e-mail accounts to communicate with informers. It is also studying encrypted technologies to receive reports. "We will also keep contacting WikiLeaks and see if they can help," he said.

Another challenge for the website is verifying information and fact checking. Deep Throat said he would invite well-known public figures to help authenticate documents.

"We are not formally launched yet. But once the site is up, we will definitely run things through them before publishing them."

Since making the open call for information a few months ago, Deep Throat said Government Leaks was receiving four or five documents on average each week.

But he said most of the information would hardly be considered classified. "Some are out-dated. Some is actual information that is available on the internet. So far we have got only one document that really fits the bill."

Zola said he would not send any sensitive information to Government Leaks unless he was 100 per cent certain about safety.

He does not suspect Deep Throat's motives and background, but he is sceptical over Government Leaks' ability to overcome the daunting technological and legal challenges it faces.

"They have got to have the right mentality in terms of the seriousness of security in the first place. Then they have a chance of being in full command of the network technology. Only then, can privacy and, hence, the safety of both the website operators and potential informers be secured."

Thursday, October 21, 2010




( To be read in continuation of my article of September 18,2010 titled “HAQQANI NETWORK IN PARACHINAR” at )

“The US, while targeting the Haqqanis, is pursuing the ‘hammer and anvil approach’. Alongside the spike in the drone attacks, US Special Forces have launched an intense operation against the group in eastern Afghanistan, killing a number of its ‘commanders’. The Haqqani network has been the focus of US action for the past two years. However, after the Dec 2009 suicide attack on the Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, a key facility of the CIA, the network again came under renewed focus. In this unprecedented intense bombardment by drones, military officials see a shift in US policy in Afghanistan from counter-insurgency to counter-terrorism.” ---“Dawn” of Karachi of September 16,2010


The US has been carrying on Drone (pilotless plane) strikes against suspected members of Al Qaeda and its associate jihadi organizations in North and South Waziristan for nearly four years. These strikes have been stepped up since President Barack Obama assumed office in January last year. There has been a further escalation of the strikes since the beginning of September following reports of an Al Qaeda-inspired plot to carry out Mumbai—26/11 style terrorist strikes in the UK, France and Germany.

2. These strikes have killed many known and identified senior cadres of Al Qaeda, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other associate organizations of Al Qaeda. They have also killed some European recruits to Al Qaeda such as Rashid Rauf of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, who was a British citizen of Mirpuri origin, and German recruits to the Islamic Jihad Union. However, they have not had any success in locating and neutralizing Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, his No.2, Jalalludin Haqqani and his son Serajuddin. The US information seems to be that they are probably in North Waziristan. Hence, the largest number of Drone strikes in that area. The US suspicion has also been strengthened by the reluctance of the Pakistan Army to undertake operations in the North Waziristan area.

3. If it is true that these prized assets of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are in North Waziristan, the Pakistan Army must have been highly concerned over the stepped-up Drone strikes in that area and reacted strongly against them. But it did not show signs of any such concern. It did protest pro forma against the Drone strikes, calling them a violation of Pakistani sovereignty and calling upon the US periodically to stop them. Beyond that, it did nothing. The presumption in Pakistan is that these strikes are being carried out with the nod of the Pakistani Army.

4. The same Army, which has avoided any retaliatory action against the US for the Drone strikes, reacted vehemently against a helicopter strike by a NATO helicopter on a ground position in the area of the Kurram Agency, in which two soldiers of a para-military unit of the Army were reportedly killed. The Pakistan Army not only protested strongly against the attack, but even retaliated on the ground by stopping the flow of logistic supplies to the NATO forces in Afghanistan through the Torkham area. The US was so concerned by the impact of this on the logistics position in Afghanistan that it asked its then Ambassador in Pakistan, Anne Patterson, to publicly apologise to the Pakistani authorities for this incident. Other apologies from the Pentagon followed. Only then, did the Pakistani Army relent and allow the resumption of logistic supplies.

5. Why did the Pakistan Army retaliate so vehemently against one copter strike in the Kurram area, whereas it had closed its eyes to dozens of Drone strikes in the two Waziristans? According to well-informed Pakistani police sources, this was because the NATO helicopter, which bombed a position in the Kurram Agency, had unwittingly gone very close to the area where the prized assets of the ISI are sheltered. Fears that the US intelligence might have come to know of the presence of these elements in the Kurram area created panic in the GHQ of the Army. It decided to retaliate by stopping the flow of logistics in order to prevent any more strikes by the NATO copters in the area.

6. The “Dawn” Karachi of October 21 has come out with a report on the ground situation in the Kurram area, which explains the importance of Kurram for the Haqqani network and others in the following words: “The most important among all the agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Kurram borders Afghanistan’s Khost province in the south, Paktia in the southwest and Nangarhar in the north, while Kabul is 90 kilometres west of Parachinar. In fact, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, all the major groups of ‘Mujahideen’ had bases in the area. The Haqqani group is active in Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Ghazni and Wardak, which is close to Kabul. And especially as Waziristan has become vulnerable for the network in the wake of frequent US drone attacks, the Haqqanis are desperate to find safe locations outside the agency. Kurram would prove ideal for them and this is why they are trying to reconcile with the tribes in its lower and upper parts. They are not the first to find Kurram’s proximity to Afghanistan attractive. In fact, Taliban first came there in 2006 when they moved to Orakzai Agency and some parts of Kurram from Waziristan after signing peace deals with the government. Baitullah Mehsud, the late chief of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban, Pakistan had deputed Hakimullah Mehsud to oversee Kurram, Khyber and Orakzai. Another reason the Taliban shifted activities to Orakzai and Kurram was that North and South Waziristan were being closely watched by the International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan and they were facing difficulties crossing the border from there. “

7. The text of the “Dawn” report is annexed.( 22-10-10)

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

ANNEXURE ( Report carried by “Dawn of October 21,2010)

Haqqani’s two sons mediating in Kurram

By Our Correspondent
Thursday, 21 Oct, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The three-year fragile and ineffective efforts for peace between warring sectarian tribes in Kurram Agency have received an unexpected boost in the shape of the controversial Haqqani network which is now trying to play peace broker.

This has been confirmed by more than one source from among the key players involved in the peace process.

The entry of the Haqqanis in the Kurram peace talks, which date back to 2007, has surprised many. After all, the network is usually mentioned in terms of its war theatre in Afghanistan and its base in North Waziristan. The US has been pressurising the government for months to dislodge the Haqqanis from North Waziristan.

Khalil and Ibrahim, sons of the network’s founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, have reportedly been meeting tribal elders from the Kurram in Peshawar and Islamabad to end the hostilities between the local tribes and bring peace to the area which has witnessed some of the worst clashes in its history over the past three years.

The last round of talks was held in Islamabad on Oct 10. “They first turned up at a meeting held in Peshawar in the first week of September,” a tribal elder told Dawn.

This account is corroborated by another elder who adds that the two brothers were also present at the second meeting in the provincial capital on Sept 16 and then at a subsequent one in Islamabad.

It is expected that elders and mediators will put their heads together in the next few days yet again to ensure sustainable peace in the area.

Although the ongoing spate of violence dates back to 2007 and the peace efforts to 2008, the Haqqanis have been in contact with the rival tribes since early last year.

In the early phase, Haqqani’s senior ‘commanders’ negotiated with all the groups in Kurram on his behalf. But the talks remained inconclusive.

Now he has nominated his two younger sons which shows how important the region has become for the group.

However, the people of the violence-wracked Kurram are apprehensive of the aims of the mediators.

Not only are they wary of those involved in fighting in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but also because they think that the involvement of the Haqqanis may not be possible without the tacit approval of the military which is reported to enjoy links with this group of Afghan militants.

Such suspicions gain credence against the backdrop of reports that members of the Haqqani clan visited Peshawar and Islamabad for the talks.

Some reports suggest that the Haqqanis have sought full authority and ‘machlaka’ (bond) from rival factions before unveiling a new peace agreement. The proposed deal will be binding on all parties.

However some groups are reluctant to give full authority and machlaka to the ‘mediators’.

Instead, they are stressing that the Murree/Islamabad agreement signed by all tribes be implemented.The government had brokered the agreement in Murree that was signed on Oct 16, 2008.

Under the agreement, the rival tribes deposited Rs20 million to the local authorities as guarantee that they would refrain from fighting in the future.

But the five-point agreement which covers all major issues could not be implemented.

Tribesmen blame a lack of interest on the part of the state organs for this.

According to some reports, the tribesmen have sought the release of the people kidnapped during an attack on a convoy on the Thall-Parachinar road in July.

The Haqqanis’ interest is not linked to the welfare of the residents of Kurram but to the tribal agency’s strategic position. The most important among all the agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Kurram borders Afghanistan’s Khost province in the south, Paktia in the southwest and Nangarhar in the north, while Kabul is 90 kilometres west of Parachinar.

In fact, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, all the major groups of ‘Mujahideen’ had bases in the area.

The Haqqani group is active in Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Ghazni and Wardak, which is close to Kabul. And especially as Waziristan has become vulnerable for the network in the wake of frequent US drone attacks, the Haqqanis are desperate to find safe locations outside the agency. Kurram would prove ideal for them and this is why they are trying to reconcile with the tribes in its lower and upper parts.

They are not the first to find Kurram’s proximity to Afghanistan attractive. In fact, Taliban first came there in 2006 when they moved to Orakzai Agency and some parts of Kurram from Waziristan after signing peace deals with the government.

Baitullah Mehsud, the late chief of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan had deputed Hakimullah Mehsud to oversee Kurram, Khyber and Orakzai.

Another reason the Taliban shifted activities to Orakzai and Kurram was that North and South Waziristan were being closely watched by the International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan and they were facing difficulties crossing the border from there.

However, the militant groups’ move to Kurram was opposed locally. The residents of the upper parts of Kurram opposed the movement of armed men through the agency. Eventually the agency plunged into bloody clashes in April 2007, leaving over 3,000 people dead, according to unofficial estimates, while hundreds of families were displaced.

Property worth millions of rupees was destroyed in clashes and the people suffered immensely because of prolonged closure of the Thall-Parachinar road.

Unfortunately, scrappy media coverage of the clashes gave them a sectarian colour and the involvement of the Taliban was ignored, although the government did acknowledge on some occasions the involvement of a third party.

For a number of reasons, the Taliban since then have not been able to enforce their writ in Kurram. And this is why they have been forced to negotiate peace, a process which the Haqqanis have joined. Meanwhile, the residents of Kurram remain sceptical about the new initiative. DAWN 21-10-10



Protests by Tibetan students against the introduction of Mandarin as a medium of instruction in Tibetan schools spread to new areas on October 20,2010. However, the protests have remained peaceful.

2. In an attempt to pacify the protesting students, Party and Government officials have been meeting the students to explain the new language policy. At different places, different explanations have been given by the officials. At some places, the students have been assured that the introduction of Mandarin as the medium of instruction would not mean the downgrading of the importance attached to the study of the Tibetan language. At some other places, the students have been told that they will have the option of choosing either Tibetan or Mandarin as the medium of instruction, but those choosing Mandarin will get a higher credit. The students have not been satisfied by these explanations.

3. About 8,000 students held protest demonstrations on October 20 at various towns in the Tsolho (in Chinese, Hainan) Tibet Autonomous Prefecture in the western Qinghai province. (21-10-10)

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010



Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh will be visiting Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia for six days from October 24,2010.He has to attend the ASEAN summit at Hanoi. He is combining it with bilateral visits to the three countries.

2. China is not expected to be a major issue during his discussions with the Malaysian leaders.Though Malaysia is one of the parties to the dispute with China over the question of sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea, it has been favouring a non-confrontational approach to solving the differences among the countries involved without encouraging the interests or involvement of outside powers such as the US.

3. China would be an important issue during the discussions of Dr.Manmohan Singh with the Vietnamese and Japanese leaders. The leaders of all the three countries have valid reasons to be concerned over the increasing assertiveness of the Chinese Navy in projecting its territorial claims in the South China and East China Seas and the Army against India in India's Arunachal Pradesh area, which the Chinese call southern Tibet.In the territorial disputes, the status quo favours India (in Arunachal Pradesh), Japan and Vietnam. The Chinese have been wanting to change it by strengthening their Navy and their military capability in Tibet.They have started extending their railway line in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region towards the border with Nepal and Arunachal Pradesh and have plans for railway link-ups with Kathmandu and Chittagong. They have launched new projects for upgrading and expanding the highway networks in Tibet and are giving their Air Force, which till now enjoyed less attention than their Navy, a strategic reach beyond their borders as seen during the recent joint exercises of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) and their bilateral joint exercises with the Turkish Air Force in Turkish air space with refueling facilities provided by Pakistan and Iran.

4. The Chinese have also been increasing their strategic presence in the Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) in order to strengthen their hold in the Chinese-controlled Xinjiang province and to confront India with a new strategic front with China. They seem determined to go ahead with their plans to supply at least two more nuclear power stations to Pakistan disregarding the opposition from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

5. The over-active Chinese Navy has been harassing Vietnamese fishing and oil/gas exploration vessels in the areas of the South China Sea legitimately belonging to Vietnam and the continuing dispute with Japan over the ownership of the Senkaku group of islands in the East China Sea highlights their determination to challenge the status quo by using their growing naval power. Following Japanese action in capturing a Chinese fishing trawler which trespassed into Japanese territorial waters, they have launched a war of nerves against Japan, started sending military vessels to escort their trespassing fishing trawlers and stopped the export of rare earths to Japan on which Japanese electronic industries are vitally dependent.

6.These are not sporadic developments of a tactical nature. These are evidence of a calculated Chinese strategy to enforce their territorial claims and expand their strategic presence and influence. The port construction projects undertaken by them in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar and proposals for a similar project in Chittagong in Bangladesh are part of the same long-term strategy to expand their strategic frontier. A wake-up call about the Chinese attempts to expand their strategic frontier was recently sounded by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a talk in Washington DC.

7. As the countries most threatened by the Chinese strategy, India, Japan and Vietnam should put their heads together as to how to deal with it without unnecessarily creating a confrontational situation. This subject should be discussed by Dr.Manmohan Singh during his forthcoming visit to Japan and Vietnam. Among the options that could be considered are forming a Hanoi Co-operation Organisation (HCO) similar to the Shanghani Cooperation Organisation (SCO) floated by China and Russia with some Central Asian countries some years ago. The main objective of the SCO was defined as protecting the member-countries from the three evils of terrorism, extremism and splittism. The main objective of the proposed HCO could be promoting co-operative ways of monitoring and assessing threats to regional security from state and non-state actors and helping each other in strengthening their respective capacities.

8. The US, as the major naval power of the region with concerns over the Chinese naval assertiveness and the increase in its activities in the Indian Ocean region, should be an additional member of this organisation along with South Korea which has similar concerns. Initially, the founding membership of the organisation should be confined to these five countries----India, Vietnam. Japan, South Koprea and the US. After it gets going satisfactorily, proposals for its expansion could be considered.

9. India should take advantage of the forthcoming visit of President Barack Obama to New Delhi to discuss this with him in the light of the Prime Minister's discussions in Hanoi and Tokyo. ( 20-10-10)

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



In the wake of the first Xinjiang Work Conference held at Beijing from May 17 to 19, 2010, to draft a blueprint for the Chinese-controlled province's economic development until 2020, the Chinese authorities had embarked on a campaign in Xinjiang, which de-emphasised the Uighur ethnic identity of the province and highlighted the Government's plans for its rapid economic development in order to bring it on par with other Chinese provinces. Following the conference, 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 calling for 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. Following this, the Chinese authorities have initiated a policy of introducing Mandarin as the medium of instruction in the Uighur schools of the province. Under this policy, while Uighur is taught as a second language in the Uighur schools, all teaching in other subjects has to be in Mandarin. This has added to the anti-Han resentment in the Uighur community, which looks upon the new policy as meant to destroy the ethnic identity of the Uighurs and integrate them with the Hans.

2. A similar policy has now been extended to the schools in the so-called Tibetan Autonomous Region and other Tibetan-inhabited areas. While Tibetan continues to be taught as a second language, Mandarin is being made the medium of instruction in other subjects. As in the case of the Uighurs, the objective is to destroy the ethnic identity of the Tibetans and integrate them with the Hans. This has caused considerable resentment in the Tibetan student community. This resentment led to a spontaneous demonstration by about 7,000 Tibetan students in Rebkong [in Chinese, Tongren] in the Malho [in Chinese, Huangnan] prefecture in the Chinese-controlled Qinghai province on October 19,2010. The demonstrations remained peaceful and there are no reports of any violent incidents.

3.The student demonstrators, who belonged to six schools in the area, carried banners, written in both Tibetan and Chinese, which said “Equality Among Nationalities” and “Expand the Use of the Tibetan Language.” Monks from the nearby Rebkong Rongpo monastery joined in the demonstration. The demonstrators said that at a recent meeting convened by the Education Department of Qinghai province, the local Communist Party Secretary and Chairman ordered that the language used in textbooks should be changed to Chinese.Similar protest demonstrations were earlier reported from the Tibetan schools in the Chinese-controlled Gansu province. According to Tibetan exiles, many Tibetan teachers who cannot teach in Mandarin have been sacked and replaced by Han teachers.

4.This may please be read in continuation of my article of June 3,2010, titled "China to De-Emphasise Uighur Identity of Xinjiang" at .

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2010



Indo-US co-operation in counter-terrorism has the following components:

* Assistance in capacity building in traditional counter-terrorism: Started in the early 1980s during the administration of Ronald Reagan when some officers of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) were sent initially to the UK and then to the US for training in matters like dealing with hostage situations. Aviation security to prevent and deal with hijacking was an important initial area of US assistance in capacity-building. This has since expanded to cover other areas such as forensic examination of explosive devices.
* Assistance in capacity-building in non-traditional areas: Started in 2001 during the administration of George Bush at the initiative of Richard Armitage, the then US Deputy Secretary of State. Cyber security was the initial area of US assistance. This was extended to other areas such as maritime security in ports and container vessels, prevention of catastrophic acts of terrorism involving the use of weapons of mass destruction material etc.
* Assistance in strengthening the physical security of vulnerable establishments and sectors such as urban transport: Started during the administration of George Bush after the explosions in some Mumbai suburban trains in July,2006.
* Mutual legal assistance in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases: Started during the second term of Ronald Reagan when the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was sought by India for the investigation of the assassination of Gen.A.S.Vaidya, retired Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), by some Khalistani terrorists in Pune in 1985. The co-operation declined during the administration of Bill Clinton. The US agencies were only partly helpful when their assistance was sought in the investigation and prosecution of the Mumbai blasts of March,1993. The co-operation has improved under the George Bush and Barack Obama Administrations. Under the Obama Administration, the FBI was helpful in the forensic examination of the intercepts during the 26/11 terrorist strikes. For the first time, FBI officers testified before the trial court through video-conferencing. In the past, the FBI's policy was not to allow its officers to testify before an Indian court.
* Intelligence-sharing: This is the most unsatisfactory aspect of Indo-US counter-terrorism co-operation. Before 26/11, the US had hardly ever shared with India any worthwhile preventive intelligence. However, in 2008, during the Bush Administration, the FBI was reported to have passed on to Indian agencies three fairly specific bits of information about the plans of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) to launch a sea-borne attack on some seafront establishments in Mumbai including the Taj Mahal hotel. This information cannot by any means be described as vague or non-specific. If the Indian agencies had promptly acted in strengthening physical security as a follow-up to this, 26/11 might have been prevented. Despite this instance, intelligence-sharing from the US has generally been unsatisfactory due to the following reasons. Firstly, the large, prosperous and politically active Sikh community in the US prevented their Governments from co-operating fully with the Government of India in dealing with Khalistani terrorism. Secondly, all US administrations have as a matter of policy refrained from sharing with India intelligence relating to terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir. Thirdly, the US agencies are allowed to share with India only preventive intelligence relating to planned acts of terrorism by jihadi organisations in Indian territory outside J&K. Here too, the agencies are required to share the intelligence in such a manner as not to implicate Pakistan and not to add substance to India's case against Pakistan for the sponsorship of terrorism in Indian territory. There have been exceptions to this such as the reported US warning to India about a planned terrorist strike against the Indian Embassy in Kabul by terrorist elements instigated by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). So long as the US continues to attach importance to counter-terrorism co-operation from Pakistan for dealing with the situation in Afghanistan, its intelligence-sharing with India and co-operation with India against Pakistan will be half-hearted.
* Mutual assistance in the interrogation of arrested terrorist suspects, sharing of the produce of the interrogation and opportunities for the examination of captured documents: Another highly-unsatisfactory area of co-operation due to the US keenness to protect Pakistan from the consequences of its using terrorism against India. It was reported that after the US troops entered Kabul in 2001, the US response to Indian requests for the interrogation of some suspects and for the examination of some documents relating to the Kandahar hijacking of 1999 was unsatisfactory. So was its much-delayed response to Indian requests for the prompt interrogation of David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the LET who had visited India five times for collecting targeting information for the LET. While the FBI did share with India information relating to the planned terrorist strikes in Mumbai (the dates were not known), it did not share with India collateral information which might have enabled India to unearth the LET network in India. Fears that if it shared the collateral information with India, its agencies might arrest and interrogate Headley thereby exposing his links with the US agencies seem to have stood in the way of this sharing. The recently reported disclosures of two ex-wives of Headley----one living in the US and the other in Pakistan---about their alerting an FBI Task Force in New York and the US Embassy in Islamabad regarding Headley’s terrorist links with the LET could have embarrassing legal consequences for the US Government. The LET was designated by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) under US laws in 2000. It is criminal for any US national to maintain contacts with an FTO or to assist it in any way. The alerts of the two ex-wives showed that Headley had violated US laws relating to contacts with an FTO. He should have been immediately detained, investigated and prosecuted. The FBI did not do so. He continued to maintain his contacts with the LET and we have an instance of an American national helping an FTO in killing some US nationals in Mumbai without the FBI taking any action to stop this. If the relatives of the Americans killed in Mumbai take the State Department, the US Embassy in Islamabad and the FBI to court for this, they could face difficulty in defending themselves.

2. Before 2000, there was no institutional mechanism for facilitating and co-ordinating Indo-US co-operation. The co-operation was handled informally at the level of the intelligence and investigative agencies of the two countries. During their meeting in London in January 2000, Jaswant Singh, the then Indian Foreign Minister, and Strobe Talbot, the then US Deputy Secretary of State, agreed to set up an institutional mechanism in the form of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism. This was followed by the setting up of an Indo-US Cyber Security Forum as suggested by Armitage in 2002. The Forum ran into controversy following Indian suspicions that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had misused it for penetrating the National Security Council Secretariat. During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington DC in November last year, the two countries launched what was described as a Joint Counter-Terrorism Initiative to strengthen counter-terrorism co-operation in different fields such as forensics, megacity policing etc. This was formalized into a Memo of Understanding in July,2010. It is not clear which institution co-ordinates and monitors its implementation. The Headley case illustrates deficiencies in its implementation.

3. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, India and the UK set up what was called Indo-UK Back Channel For Counter-Terrorism Co-operation, which at that time was mainly directed against Khalistani terrorists. This consisted of hot lines connecting the chiefs of the intelligence agencies of the two countries and periodic co-ordination meetings between the counter-terrorism experts of the countries. It worked very well because the trust level between the Indian and British agencies was high.

4. The trust level between the Indian and US agencies leaves much to be desired. The US anxiety to protect Pakistan adds to the distrust. How to improve the trust level and what should be the institutional mechanism for improving co-operation are important questions which should be discussed by our Prime Minister and President Obama during their forthcoming meeting in New Delhi next month. ( 20-10-10)

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

Monday, October 18, 2010



Someone is using the Japan Card in China to keep up the tensions between the two countries over the recent incident in the East China Sea involving the capture and subsequent release of the crew of a Chinese fishing trawler by the Japanese Coast Guard. The trawler was intercepted by the Japanese Coast Guard because it had allegedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku group of Islands. The Chinese reject Japanese claims of sovereignty over the group and claim it as their own. They have been demanding an official apology by Japan and payment of compensation for the allegedly wrongful action of the Japanese Coast Guard. Tokyo has fIrmly rejected this demand.

2. Despite the continuing differences over the legality of the action of the Japanese Coast Guard and over Tokyo's refusal to apologise and pay compensation, there were indications of an attempt to cool the tensions while maintaining their respective stand on the islands. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who reportedly refused to meet his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan in September when the two were in New York to attend the UN General Assembly session, subsequently met him briefly in the margins of the Asia-Europe summit in Brussels in the first week of October. This was followed by a meeting between the Japanese Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie on October 11 in Hanoi where they had gone to attend a meeting of the Defence Ministers of ASEAN Plus Dialogue Partners hosted by Vietnam.It was reported by the media after the meeting that the two had agreed to set up a liaison system to try to avert future maritime confrontations.

3. There was a positive assessment of the meeting from Tokyo. Yoshito Sengoku, a Japanese Government spokesman, said in Tokyo on October 12: "Continued positive developments are creating an environment to pave the way for a bilateral summit.Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who met informally in Brussels last week, could hold an official summit at a meeting with Southeast Asian leaders this month." It was reported subsequently that a team of Japanese officials would be going to Beijing to prepare the ground for the summit.

4. When the tensions thus started showing signs of beginning to subside, there was a sudden flare-up of orchestrated (through the Internet and the People's Forum of the People's Daily) anti-Japanese emotions in some cities of China in the form of public demonstrations against Japan and the Japanese. These demonstrations followed an anti-China demonstration in Tokyo on October 16 believed to have been organised by conservative militarists.

5. Following the anti-China demonstrations in Tokyo, SMS and Internet messages flashed across China calling for demonstrations against the Japanese. Anti-Japanese demonstrations during which there were attacks on the properties of Japanese companies have been reported so far from Chengdu, Xian, Zhengzhou and Wuhan. The fresh tensions have been exacerbated by Chinese perceptions of a new anti-China assertiveness in Japan. In this connection, Chinese analysts have drawn attention to what they regard as the anti-China statements of the Japanese Foreign Minister, Seiji Maehara, who has been projected in the People's Forum columns of the "People's Daily " as a China hawk, "who has been known to warn against China's increased military presence in the region, saying in a 2005 speech to fellow members of parliament that "We can control (China's) expansion in its force only if we act firmly and resolutely." He has called China "a threat," saying that the country has developed missiles capable of reaching Japan and conducted maritime surveys around the Japanese waters. He has also said that deciding whether to establish friendly relations with China would be "Japan's major diplomatic test."

6. The Chinese have also been angered by a reported speech of Japan's conservative former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Washington DC last week in which he accused China of following a modern-day policy of "lebensraum" with its growing assertiveness over disputed territories. He accused China of trying to expand its strategic frontier.He has been quoted by the media as having stated as follows in Washington DC: "This very dangerous idea ( Lebensraum) posits that borders and exclusive economic zones are determined by national power, and that as long as China's economy continues to grow, its sphere of influence will continue to expand. Some might associate this with the German concept of 'lebensraum.'

7. Intriguingly, the demonstrations and the orchestrated campaign against Japan have coincided with the plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, which was held in Beijing from October15 to 18. The Chinese authorities themselves seem to have been taken by surprise by the virulence of the anti-Japan campaign and demonstrations.

8. Were the campaign and demonstrations provoked by the anti-reformists to oppose demands for a faster pace of reforms by pointing out that at a time when the Japanese ill-will and threat to China seems to be increasing it will be unwise to loosen political controls? A search for an answer to this question needs attention. ( 19-10-10)

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



The four-day fifth plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party concluded in Beijing on October 18,2010, without any surprises relating to personalities or political or economic policies.

2.It appointed Xi Jinping, Vice-President, as the Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission, thereby strengthening his chances of succeeding Hu Jintao as the party chief in 2012 and as President the following year. Xi was promoted to the powerful nine-member standing committee of the party's political bureau in 2007 and was named China's Vice-President the following year. That was generally seen as an indication that he would succeed Hu. His appointment as the Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission is in the natural order of things and hence not a surprise. It would have been a surprise only if he had not been appointed to this post.

3. His bio-data as disseminated by the Xinhua news agency is attached. What would be of interest is his stand in the on-going debate in China on the need for political reforms.No indication of this is available. The recent comments of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on the need for political reforms and on the importance of respecting the freedom of speech had given rise to speculation that his vehement remarks on the subject were probably addressed to some sections in the party who might be opposing political reforms and relaxation of the restrictions on the freedom of speech. If this was so, it has not been possible to identify those who might be opposing political reforms and relaxation.

4. A study of the writings in the Chinese media before the plenary of the Central Committee indicated that the debate was probably between those who advocated gradual political reforms without weakening the primacy of the Party and those who were in favour of a faster phase of reforms. As expected, the views of the gradualists appear to have been endorsed by the Central Committee. A communique issued at the end of the meeting said that the leadership of the Communist Party of China will be the "fundamental guarantee" for China to achieve the goals of economic and social development plan for the next five years. It added that work for improving the CPC ruling capacity and maintaining the Party's advanced nature should be strengthened to promote the Party's competence in leading the country's economic and social development. What this means is that the main objective while undertaking political reforms will be to improve the quality of the leadership exercised by the party. There is no alternative to the Party, but what China needs is a party better led and better functioning.

5. The main item on the agenda of the plenary was laying down guidelines for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) . The communique issued at the end of the session said that efforts should be made to ensure and improve people's livelihoods, and gradually complete a sustainable, basic public service system that suits China's situation and covers both urban and rural areas. The party vowed to improve employment, construct "harmonious labor relations" and reasonably adjust income distribution. It added: "The share of personal income in the distribution of national income should be increased, and that of work remuneration in primary distribution should also be raised.The social security system covering both rural and urban regions should be strengthened and the pace of medical reform and development should be quickened.Improving basic public services will be a key task for China in the next five years.Building a comprehensive and sustainable fundamental service system that worked in line with China's overall situation would help improve people's lives.The system should cover urban and rural areas, and promote equal fundamental public services.Concrete measures to sustain social harmony and stability should also be taken". ( 18-10-10)

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


Biodata of Xi Jinping as disseminated by the Xinhua news agency

Xi Jinping, male, ethnic Han, native of Fuping, Shaanxi Province, born in June 1953. He joined the CPC in January 1974 and began working in January 1969. Xi graduated from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Tsinghua University, majoring in Marxist theory and ideological education. He holds an LLD degree through an on-the-job postgraduate education program.

Xi is now a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, vice president of the People's Republic of China, vice chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission and president of Party School of the CPC Central Committee.

1969-1975 Worked as an educated youth sent to the countryside at Liangjiahe Brigade, Wen'anyi Commune, Yanchuan County, Shaanxi Province, and served as Party branch secretary

1975-1979 Student of basic organic synthesis at the Chemical Engineering Department of Tsinghua University

1979-1982 Secretary at the General Office of the State Council and the General Office of the Central Military Commission (as an officer in active service)

1982-1983 Deputy secretary of the CPC Zhengding County Committee, Hebei Province

1983-1985 Secretary of the CPC Zhengding County Committee, Hebei Province, first political commissar and first secretary of the Party committee of people's armed forces department of Zhengding County

1985-1988 Member of the Standing Committee of the Municipal Party Committee and vice mayor of Xiamen, Fujian Province

1988-1990 Secretary of the CPC Ningde Prefectural Committee, Fujian Province, first secretary of the Party committee of Ningde Sub-Military Area Command

1990-1993 Secretary of the CPC Fuzhou Municipal Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the Fuzhou Municipal People's Congress, Fujian Province, first secretary of the Party committee of Fuzhou Sub-Military Area Command

1993-1995 Member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee, secretary of the CPC Fuzhou Municipal Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the Fuzhou Municipal People's Congress, first secretary of the Party committee of Fuzhou Sub-Military Area Command.

1995-1996 Deputy secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee, secretary of the CPC Fuzhou Municipal Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the Fuzhou Municipal People's Congress, first secretary of the Party committee of Fuzhou Sub-Military Area Command

1996-1999 Deputy secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee, first political commissar of antiaircraft artillery reserve division of Fujian Provincial Military Area Command

1999-2000 Deputy secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee and acting governor of Fujian Province, vice director of commission for national defense mobilization of Nanjing Military Area Command, director of Fujian Provincial commission for national defense mobilization, first political commissar of antiaircraft artillery reserve division of Fujian Provincial Military Area Command

2000-2002 Deputy secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee and governor of Fujian Province, vice director of commission for national defense mobilization of Nanjing Military Area Command, director of Fujian Provincial commission for national defense mobilization, first political commissar of antiaircraft artillery reserve division of Fujian Provincial Military Area Command (1998-2002 Studied Marxist theory and ideological education in an on-the-job postgraduate program at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Tsinghua University and graduated with an LLD degree)

2002-2002 Deputy secretary of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee and acting governor of Zhejiang Province, vice director of commission for national defense mobilization of Nanjing Military Area Command, director of Zhejiang Provincial commission for national defense mobilization

2002-2003 Secretary of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee and acting governor of Zhejiang Province, first secretary of the Party committee of Zhejiang Provincial Military Area Command, vice director of commission for national defense mobilization of Nanjing Military Area Command, director of Zhejiang Provincial commission for national defense mobilization

2003-2007 Secretary of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the Zhejiang Provincial People's Congress, first secretary of the Party committee of Zhejiang Provincial Military Area Command

2007-2007 Secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee, first secretary of the Party committee of Shanghai Garrison

2007-2008 Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, president of Party School of the CPC Central Committee

2008- Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, vice president of the People's Republic of China and president of Party School of the CPC Central Committee

Alternate member of the Fifteenth CPC Central Committee, and member of the Sixteenth CPC Central Committee. Member of the Seventeenth CPC Central Committee, member of the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee, and member of the Secretariat of the Seventeenth CPC Central Committee. Xi was elected vice president of the People's Republic of China at the First Session of the 11th National People's Congress.