Wednesday, August 31, 2011



Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari has been in Urumqi, the capital of the Chinese-controlled Xinjiang province, with a high-power ministerial and official delegation since August 30,2011. He has gone to Urumqi to attend the inauguration of the China-Eurasia Expo being held there from September 1 to 5. This is Zardari’s seventh visit to China since taking over as the President in 2008 to study the economic development of different regions of China.

2. Miss Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Miss Aseefa Bhutto Zardari are also accompanying the President. Bilawal Bhutto, Zardari’s son, who is the President of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), is separately travelling to China later this week to attend an international political conference.

3. Among others accompanying him are Foreign Minister Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Defence Minister Ch. Ahmed Mukhtar, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Dr. Asim Hussain, Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah, Prime Minister of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) Chaudhary Abdul Majeed, Chairman Board of Investment Salim H. Manviwala, President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Senator Haji Ghulam Ali and spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar.

4.This is the second time the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan has accompanied Zardari on one of his China visits. Syed Mehdi Shah had accompanied Zardari to Guangdong in China to attend the inaugural function of the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou in November last year. He was extended VIP treatment by the Chinese authorities on par with the other members of the Pakistani delegation.

5. Mehdi Shah was invited for a welcome banquet hosted by State Councillor Madam Liu Yangdong for the foreign dignitaries, who had come to participate in the inaugural ceremony of the Asian Games. He was also a member of the Pakistani delegation headed by Zardari which held bilateral talks on Sino-Pakistani relations on November 12, 2010, with a Chinese delegation headed by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

6. While briefing Pakistani media personnel on Zardari’s talks with Chinese Vice-Premier Li Kequang on August 31, Farhatullah Babar claimed that Vice-Premier Li made a special mention of the inclusion of the Chief Minister of GB in Zardari’s delegation and described it as a gesture.

7.The lack of any Chinese reservation over the inclusion of the heads of Government of the POK and GB in Zardari’s delegation and over their participation as members of the Pakistani delegation in the talks with the Chinese delegation underlines once again that the Chinese no longer consider the POK and the GB as disputed territory whereas they continue to look upon Jammu & Kashmir as a disputed territory.

8. It is doubtful whether the Chinese would similarly welcome and accept the inclusion of any leader or official of the Government of J&K in an official delegation from India.

9.During the three days that Zardari has spent in Urumqi before the inauguration of the Expo, he has had three levels of talks. The first was with a delegation of leaders and officials of the Xinjiang provincial Government and Communist Party headed by the Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xinjiang, Zhang Chunxian. The second was with a delegation from Beijing headed by Vice-Premier LI. The third was with a delegation of heads of Chinese companies assisting Pakistan in various infrastructure projects.

10.Four major themes figured in these discussions:

( a). Continuing Sino-Pak co-operation in counter-terrorism in general and in dealing with the activities of Uighur dissident/ terrorist elements operating from Pakistani territory. While assuring the Chinese authorities from Beijing as well as Xinjiang of continued Pakistani co-operation in this regard, Zardari was also reported to have thanked China for standing by Pakistan during the controversy with the US regarding the sincerity of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism track record after the death of Osama bin Laden in a US commando raid at OBL’s hide-out at Abbottabad on May 2.

( b) .Sino-Pak strategic relations: Zardari reportedly described China as Pakistan’s life-line. He told the Xinjiang delegation: “We offer our territory and ports for Chinese trade.” He was quoted as having told Vice-Premier Li that the two countries needed to expand existing maritime cooperation into a more comprehensive strategic maritime partnership. There was no clarification forthcoming from the Pakistani delegation as to what Zardari meant by this. Was he referring to more structured co-operation against piracy, which might involve Pakistani ports being used regularly by Chinese ships on anti-piracy patrols or was it a reference to Pakistan’s need for Chinese naval assistance in the wake of the gaps revealed by the success of some terrorists in attacking the headquarters of the Pakistan Naval Air wing (PNS Mehran) at Karachi in May? There was also a discussion on possible Sino-Pak co-operation in helping Afghanistan in the field of economic development.

( c ). Chinese assistance for infrastructure development projects in GB. In this connection, reference was made to three on-going projects for repairs to and upgradation of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), the construction of the 4500 MW Diamer Bhasha Dam and the 7000 MW Bunji Dam and the construction of a dry port at Sost on the KKH by SinTrans, a Chinese construction company, which has an equity stake in it. It was stated by Pakistani officials that the Government of Pakistan has accepted a proposal of the China Reconstruction Bridge Corporation (CRBC) for the construction of 13 kms of new route and rehabilitation of 22 kilometers of existing sections of KKH by lowering the water level in the lakes in the region.

( d ).A review of Chinese assistance for infrastructure development in the rest of Pakistan. The focus was on Chinese assistance for the development of mineral resources, for the expansion of Pakistan’s power production and transmission capacity and the construction of a new city in Sindh to be called Zulfiquarabad. There has been no reference to possible Chinese assistance for the construction of a railway line from Xinjiang.

11.Pakistan’s total trade with China is estimated at US $ 8.7 billion. Out of this, its trade with the Xinjiang province is estimated at about US $ 400 million only.( 1-9-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Tuesday, August 30, 2011



Dear Mr.Prime Minister,

At a time when even the Chinese have realised the soft power of the media and been trying to understand it, speak its language and make it a national asset and not a national vulnerability, it is disquieting that your Government is reported to be thinking of setting up a small group to deal with issues concerning the accountability and regulation of media in the light of the way the media covered the recent fast of Anna Hazare.

2. The Government seems to feel that the media---particularly the electronic one--- was one-sided in its coverage creating in the minds of the people a larger-than-real-size image of Anna and giving Anna’s movement a projection that was far removed from reality. Many seem to feel that the media also became an unwitting tool of the leaders of the movement for projecting the Government and the political class in negative colours that were unwarranted.

3. In the beginning, I myself used to think that the media was playing a pernicious role in providing oxygen ---- as Mrs.Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, used to call it--- to anti-Government and anti-political class elements for commercial reasons.

4. After a half a day spent in the Ramlila Maidan on the afternoon of August 25,2011, I realised that barring certain channels which, in my view, consciously sought to give the movement a distorted projection to the detriment of the Government and the political class, the majority of our TV news channels and print media were largely objective in their coverage.

5. The milling crowds of young people were there for all to see. Their ras-le-bol (fed up) with corruption feelings were there for all to sense. Their admiration for Anna and their disgust with the political class were palpable. Their patriotic fervour was reminiscent of the fervour that I, as a young student, had experienced while attending meetings and rallies addressed by Mahatma Gandhi before 1947.

6. Anna is definitely not another Mahatma Gandhi, but the atmosphere that prevailed during the 12 days of his fast brought to one’s mind the atmosphere that used to prevail at the meetings and rallies of Gandhiji. The disgust of large sections of the youth with the Government and the political class for dragging their feet on the issue of action against corruption played as great a role as their admiration for Anna in galvanising them into uniting against corruption.

7. Large sections of the media did nothing but project this atmosphere marked by disgust for the Government and the political class and admiration for Anna . Yes, the media did use unwarranted hyperboles in its coverage instead of restricting itself to a factual, unvarnished reportage. But the use of hyperboles did not detract from the fact that the ground reality of large sections of the youth in revolt was something historic, the like of which the country had not seen for some years now.

8. It was an electrifying and ennobling atmosphere. Anna and his team of media advisers---many of them whiz kids from the world of the IITs and IT companies--- rose to the occasion and took advantage of the new soft power of the media for giving their movement an extra boost.

9. The Government, its spokespersons and Government- controlled media such as All India Radio and the Doordarshan totally failed to harness the new soft power of the private media outlets to correct an one-sided projection of the movement. If the Government’s version remained untold, the fault is not that of the media. Its commercial machinations alone cannot be blamed for the negative colours in which the Government and the political class appeared.

10.The Government and the various political parties have shown a total disinterest in learning and mastering the various dimensions of the new soft power--- the print media, the private TV news channels, the social media world and the expanding community of netizens--- and harnessing them for correcting the projections to the people--- either of the Anna movement or of the Government and the political class.

11. The fast-expanding soft power of modern media came out loud and clear during the movement. This power needs to be understood, appreciated and suitably harnessed. Instead of learning the right lessons from the role of the media during the 12 days that electrified large sections of India and its youth, the Government’s ill-advised focus seems to be on how to regulate the new soft power of the media. This will be a retrograde step, which needs to be strongly discouraged and deplored.

12. Mr.Prime Minister, instead of remaining confined to an inaccessible shell, get out of it, plunge into the world and sea of the media, learn to speak their language and idiom, interact with them vigorously and encourage them to interact with you and your spokespersons. Media interaction is no longer a one-way street. It is a multi-lane road. Learn to use that road with self-confidence and without complexes.

13. Start today, Mr.Prime Minister. Don’t wait for tomorrow. (31-8-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Monday, August 29, 2011


( This is the final edited version of a chapter on Pakistan contributed by me at the request of the Brookings Institution of the US for an edited volume on Pakistan being brought out by them. The volume will have contributions from selected analysts in India,Pakistan and the US )

Bahukutumbi Raman

The religious extremism encouraged by the Pakistan army has turned into a double-edged sword. To some extent it did hurt the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s and India after 1989, but it now hurts Pakistan more than India.

The consolidation of the presence of al Qaeda and its associates; the deepening of the roots of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistani territory; the growth of the Pakistani Taliban, called the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in Pakistani Punjab and the tribal belt; and the ideological Talibanization of India-specific terrorist organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba LeT(LET [au: or LeT, as below?]) and of growing sections of youth in the tribal belt and Punjab are the outcome of the army’s encouragement of religious extremism. The army used extremism as an operational asset to achieve its strategic objectives of forcing a change in the status quo in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), retaining the Pakistani presence and influence in Afghanistan and countering India’s presence and influence.

The growth of religious extremism has made Pakistan a state of great concern not only to India (as it has always been), but also to other countries of the world. Al Qaeda and its associates, which have global ambitions, have established de facto control over north Waziristan. The noticeable surge in strikes by U.S. drone aircraft since President Barack Obama came to office in January 2009 might have weakened al Qaeda and its associates to some extent—as claimed by the United States—but the weakening has not significantly affected their ability to operate globally. They may no longer be able to conduct a 9/11-style terrorist strike, but they are still in a position to operate in a larger geographical area than they could before 9/11, although on a smaller scale.

What al Qaeda and its associates have lost by way of well-motivated and well-trained Arab and other foreign cadres has been made good to some extent by the increase in the number of motivated cadres and capabilities of Pakistani organizations such as the LeT. In the past, the LeT was essentially an asset of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)—raised, motivated, trained, and armed for use against India and against Indian nationals and interests in Afghanistan. While continuing to play the India-focused role assigned to it by the ISI, the LeT has gravitated into an organization with global ambitions and a global reach capable of compensating for the weaknesses of al Qaeda and its associates.

The TTP, which started essentially as an organization indulging in reprisals against the Pakistani security forces following their raid of the Lal Masjid of Islamabad by Pakistani military commandoes in July 2007, has developed a larger agenda. It now assists the Afghan Taliban in its operations against NATO forces in Afghanistan and assists homegrown jihadis in the United States and other Western countries by training them in the areas its controls in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The Pakistan army’s policy of using the extremists and terrorists as operational assets where it can but countering them as adversaries where it should has created a dichotomy in its counterterrorism policy, thereby weakening the fight against terrorism emanating from Pakistani territory. While the Pakistan army can be expected to keep up its sporadic operations against the TTP, which poses an internal threat, it is unlikely to act effectively against the LET and other India-specific terrorist organizations and against the Afghan Taliban. It has been avoiding action against al Qaeda due to lack of confidence in its ability to eradicate the group and fear that al Qaeda might indulge in acts of reprisal terrorism in Pakistani territory.

The internal security situation in Pakistan, already very bad, has been made worse by the activities of Sunni extremist groups such as the Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) against the Shias, who constitute about 20 per cent of the population, against non-Muslim minorities, and against the liberal elements in the Sunni majority. The latter have taken up the cause of the minorities and advocate changes in the blasphemy law in order to prevent its misuse against minorities.
The religious parties that campaign in elections generally receive less than 15 percent of polled votes. There is no reason to believe that their number has increased. What has happened is that the terrorism-prone elements in these organizations (as well as in the general population) have moved toward the terrorist organizations for various reasons, including anger over the commando raid at the Lal Masjid and civilian casualties from drone strikes. Since the terrorist organizations do not run candidates in elections, it is difficult to quantify the support that they enjoy in the general population. However, the fact that they continue to have a regular flow of volunteers for suicide terrorism would indicate significant support for them, particularly in Punjab and other areas such as the Khyber-Pakhtunkwa province and the FATA.

It would be incorrect to conclude from all this that there has been a radicalization of Pakistan as a state and society. What we are seeing is the radicalization of sizable sections of the population—particularly in certain areas of Punjab and the Pashtun belt—that have come under the influence of destabilizing ideas and are posing a threat to peace and security in Pakistan as well as the South Asia region and the rest of the world.

Despite pessimistic assessments by many analysts, I do not see any danger of radicalization of Pakistan as a state and a nation in the short and medium term. The army plays an important role in the governance of Pakistan—either directly, by taking over the reins of power, or indirectly, by having a say in matters concerning national security when duly elected political leaders are in power. There has been an increase in the number of radical elements in the army since the days of the late General Zia ul-Haq (1977–88). One finds an increasing number of students from the madrassas in the armed forces and other government departments. They are more prone to be influenced by radical ideas than students from nonreligious institutions.
Such radical elements are found mainly at the lower and middle ranks; the presence of radical elements at the higher command level is rare. However, there have been exceptions, the most prominent of them being General Zia himself, who was a devout Deobandi, and General Mohammed Aziz Khan, who retired some years ago. General Aziz Khan, who belongs to the Sudan tribe of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), was considered a hard-core fundamentalist, in thought and action. Since his retirement, there have been no votaries of radical or fundamentalist ideologies at the level of lieutenant-general and general

Despite the presence of radical elements at the lower and middle levels, the Pakistan army is not a radical institution in a religious sense. While the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, which consists largely of military officers, have no compunctions about using radical elements in society for achieving their strategic objectives, they have ensured that their institutions do not get infected with radical ideas at the senior level. During the war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the ISI, in collaboration with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), used radical ideologies to motivate Afghan, Pakistani, and Arab volunteers to fight against Soviet troops. At the same time, it saw to it that those ideas did not affect the army as an institution. This is equally true in the case of the air force and the navy.

There are three destabilizing ideological influences in Pakistan: Wahabized Islamic extremism, trans-ummah pan-Islamism, and countrywide anti-Americanism. Wahabized Islamic extremism calls for the transformation of Pakistan into an Islamic State ruled according to sharia and the will of Allah, as interpreted by the clerics. It asserts that in an Islamic State, Allah will be sovereign, not the people . Trans-ummah pan-Islamism holds that the first loyalty of a Muslim should be to his religion and not to the state; that religious bonds are more important than cultural bonds; that Muslims do not recognize national frontiers and have a right and obligation to go to any country to wage a jihad in support of the local Muslims; and that Muslims have the religious right and obligation to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in order to protect their religion, if necessary. Anti-Americanism identifies the United States as the source of all evils afflicting the Islamic as well as the non-Islamic world. While religious anti-American elements look on the United States as anti-Islam, the nonreligious elements look on it as anti-people.

The geo-religious landscape in Pakistan is dominated by two kinds of organizations— fundamentalist parties and jihadi organizations. Fundamentalist parties have been in existence since Pakistan became independent in 1947 and have run candidates in elections although they are opposed to Western-style liberal democracy. Their total vote share has always been below 15 percent. They reached 11 percent in the 2002 elections, thanks to the machinations of the Pervez Musharraf government, which wanted to marginalize the influence of the nonreligious parties that opposed him, such as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of Nawaz Sharif. In his overanxiety to cut Bhutto and Sharif down to size, Musharraf handed the tribal areas on a platter to the fundamentalists and the jihadis, thereby—more unwittingly than consciously—facilitating the resurgence of the neo-Taliban and al Qaeda.

So-called jihadi organizations misinterpret the concept of jihad and advocate its use against all perceived enemies of Islam—internal or external, non-Muslim or Muslim—wherever they are found. Their call for jihad has a domestic as well as an external agenda. The domestic agenda is to set up an Islamic Statedemocracy in Pakistan ruled according to sharia and the will of Allah. The external agenda is to “liberate” all so-called traditional Muslim lands from the “occupation” of non-Muslims and to eliminate the influence of the United States and the rest of the Western world from the ummah.

The jihadi organizations were brought into existence in the 1980s by the ISI and Saudi intelligence at the request instance of [au: meaning?] the CIA to be used against the troops of the Soviet Union and the pro-Soviet Afghan government. Their perceived success in bringing about the withdrawal of the Soviet troops and the collapse of the Najibullah government convinced the organizations that jihad, as waged by them, was a highly potent weapon that could be used with equal effectiveness to bring about the withdrawal of the Western presence from the ummah, to “liberate the traditional Muslim lands,” and to transform Pakistan into an Islamic fundamentalist state. The Pakistan army and the ISI, which were impressed by the motivation, determination, and fighting skills displayed by the jihadi organizations in Afghanistan, transformed them after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops into a new strategic weapon for use against India to annex J&K and in Afghanistan to achieve a Pakistani presence .

The aggravation of anti-U.S. feeling in the Islamic world after 9/11 has resulted in dual control of the Pakistani jihadi organizations. The ISI tried to use them for its national agenda against India and in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda used them for their global agenda against “the Crusaders and the Jewish people.” The jihadi organizations are now fighting on three fronts with equal ferocity—against India, as desired by the ISI; against the United States and Israel, as desired by al Qaeda; and against the Pakistani state itself, as dictated by their domestic agenda, to establish an Islamic state. The growing Talibanization of the FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KP) and the Taliban’s spread outside the tribal areas are the result of their determined pursuit of their domestic agenda. The acts of jihadi terrorism in Spain and the United Kingdom; the thwarted acts of terrorism in the United Kingdom; the unearthing of numerous sleeper cells in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and other countries; and the resurgence of the neo-Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan are the result of their equally determined pursuit of their international agenda. Members of the Pakistani diaspora in the Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates[au: which one?] and the Western countries have been playing an increasingly active role in facilitating the pursuit of their international agenda.

The international community’s concern over the prevailing and developing situation in Pakistan has been further deepened by Pakistan’s status as a nuclear weapon state. The Pakistan army has repeatedly assured the United States and the rest of the international community that the security of its nuclear arsenal is strong and that there is no danger of its falling into the hands of the jihadi terrorists. Despite its reassurances, concern remains, due to various factors.

First, it is admitted even in Pakistan that extremist elements have infiltrated every section of the Pakistani state apparatus—the armed forces, the police, paramilitary forces, and the civilian bureaucracy. It is inconceivable, then, that Pakistan’s nuclear establishment would not have been penetrated.

Second, the fundamentalist and jihadi organizations are strong supporters of a military nuclear capability so that the ummah can counter Israel’s alleged nuclear capability. They consider Pakistan’s atomic bomb not merely a national asset but an Islamic asset. They describe it as an Islamic bomb, whose use should be available to the entire ummah, and so support Pakistan’s sharing its nuclear technology with other Muslim countries. In their eyes, A. Q. Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, committed no offense by sharing nuclear technology with Iran and Libya because both are Muslim states—or with North Korea as quid pro quo for its sharing its missile technology with Pakistan. They look on Pakistan’s sharing its nuclear technology and know-how with other Islamic states as an Islamic obligation and not as an illegal act of proliferation.

Third, while scientists may be prepared to share technology and know-how with other Muslim states, there has been no evidence of a similar willingness on their part to share them with Islamic nonstate actors such as al Qaeda. However, the dangers of such sharing with nonstate groups were highlighted by the unearthing of evidence by U.S. intelligence after 9/11 that at least two retired Pakistani nuclear scientists—Sultan Bashiruddin Chaudhury and Abdul Majid—had been in touch with Osama bin Laden after their retirement and had even visited him at Kandahar. After being taken into custody and questioned, they admitted their contacts with bin Laden but insisted that their dealings with him were in connection with a humanitarian relief organization that they had founded after their retirement. Many retired Pakistani military and intelligence officers have been helping the neo-Taliban and Pakistani jihadi organizations, the most well-known being Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, director-general of ISI during Benazir Bhutto’s first tenure as prime minister (1988–90). Are there other retired nuclear scientists who have been maintaining similar contacts with al Qaeda and other jihadi organizations?

The Pashtun belt on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border will continue to be under the de facto control of al Qaeda, the neo-Taliban, and Pakistani jihadi organizations. Neither the Pakistan army in Pakistani territory nor the U.S.-led NATO forces in the adjoining Afghan territory will be able to prevail over the terrorists in an enduring manner. NATO forces will not be able to prevail in Afghan territory unless and until the roots of jihadi terrorism in Pakistani territory are initially sterilized and ultimately destroyed. The Pakistan army has so far exhibited neither the willingness nor capability to undertake that task. Its lack of willingness arises from its perception that it will need its own jihadis for continued use against India and the neo-Taliban for retrieving the strategic ground that it lost in Afghanistan. Moreover, the army fears that any strong action that it takes against the jihadis operating in the Pashtun belt could lead to a major confrontation with tribal groups, which contribute a large number of soldiers to the army. Next to Punjab, the largest number of recruits in the Pakistan army comes from the KP and the FATA.
The army’s incapability arises from the fact that ever since Pakistan was born in 1947, the FATA has remained in a state of isolation and utter neglect, with no worthwhile development of its economy and infrastructure. It should be possible to root out the terrorist infrastructure in the area through NATO operations mounted from Afghan territory, but neither the current government nor any future democratically elected civilian government is likely to agree to that as it could aggravate anti-American feeling across the country and the entire political spectrum, discrediting the government in power at Islamabad. If the Pakistan government, including its military leadership, does not take vigorous action in time, there is the danger that jihadi extremism of the Taliban kind will spread from the tribal areas to the POK and to those areas of Punjab bordering the Pashtun belt. There are indications that it has already started to happen.

India and Afghanistan will continue to face the immediate impacts of the uncontrolled activities of extremists and jihadis in Pakistan’s territory. Jihadi terrorism in India’s territory will ebb and flow, depending on the effectiveness of India’s security forces and counterterrorism agencies in dealing with it. Occasional outbreaks of spectacular acts of terrorism will be followed by long spells of inactivity. In the first few years after terrorism broke out in J&K in 1989, it almost assumed the shape of a sustained insurgency. But the political, counterterrorism, and counter-infiltration measures (building of border fences) taken by Indian authorities have dented the terrorists’ ability to sustain a wave of attacks. The total elimination of sporadic acts will not be possible until the state of Pakistan gives up the use of terrorism as a strategic weapon.

There will be continuing instability in Afghanistan, with the danger of Afghanistan reverting to its pre-9/11 position. Narcotics control measures and all measures to dry up the flow of funds to different terrorist groups will remain ineffective. The flow of funds from the international community to Afghanistan will not result in any significant economic development or improvement in the people’s standard of living. On the other hand, there is some danger that those funds will leak into terrorist coffers through government sympathizers. The newly raised Afghan security forces and the civilian administration have been penetrated by the neo-Taliban.

The phenomenon of angry individuals in the Pakistani and other Muslim diasporas in the West taking to suicide terrorism and emulating al Qaeda’s modus operandi will continue. Strong measures taken by Western governments against their own Muslim population as well as Muslim visitors to their country will add to the feelings of alienation and anger in the Muslim diaspora. That will hamper the integration of Muslims and aggravate the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims. Acts of reprisal terrorism against Western nationals and interests will continue to take place. A repeat of 9/11 in the U.S. homeland cannot be ruled out, however strong the physical security measures. A vicious cycle—more terrorism followed by more physical security measures and restrictions against Muslims followed by more alienation and anger—will continue unbroken.

The fire of jihadi terrorism started in the Afghan-Pakistan region. It can be extinguished only through appropriate measures in the region where it started, particularly in Pakistan, where the heart of the fire is located. Doing so requires a mix of immediate and long-term measures. The immediate measures would include pressuring Pakistan to stop using terrorism as a strategic weapon, effectively putting an end to the terrorist infrastructure created by the ISI, and to arrest and prosecute the leaders of jihadi terrorist organizations. Although those measures would weaken the Pakistani jihadi organizations, they would not end al Qaeda. It could be neutralized only by joint international action. The international community has not been successful because of lack of cooperation from Pakistan, which must be made to cooperate through carrot-and-stick policies. Another immediate measure required is a change in the current overmilitarized counterterrorism methods of the United States, which are causing considerable collateral damage and driving more Muslims into the arms of al Qaeda.

Long-term measures must include heavy investment in education in Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to make modern education available to the poorer segments of society at an affordable price. The madrassa system also must be reformed in order to make the madrassas serve the genuine religious and spiritual needs of the people without seeking to make jihadi terrorists out of them. Western countries should seek to erase the perception in their Muslim populations that Muslims are a targeted community. To do that, they must improve the interactions of intelligence and security agencies with Muslims. How can they be firm without seeming to be harsh? How can they avoid creating feelings of humiliation in Muslims under questioning? These are questions that need attention, immediately and in the medium and long terms. Eradication of the roots of terrorism will be a long, drawn-out process. It needs to be handled with patience and understanding of the feelings of Muslims. The economic development of the tribal areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border also needs attention.

India must be a frontline state in the political and ideological campaign against extremism and terrorism in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. The threat originating from this area will continue to confront India, Afghanistan, and the international community as a whole for at least another ten to fifteen years. It has to be gradually diluted and the terrorist organizations demotivated before one can hope to see jihadi fatigue set in. Demotivation of the terrorism-prone sections of the population should be the first objective. Better education, better medical care, better infrastructure, better governance, and greater economic prosperity are important factors in any effort to achieve demotivation.

Nonetheless, attention to those factors alone will not achieve the level of demotivation required to roll back the jihadi threat. It is equally important to work simultaneously to change the motives of Pakistan’s military leadership, whose reflexes are still largely influenced by memories of the defeat of the Pakistan army by the Indian army in 1971 and by fears of a possible repeat of 1971. The army’s reflexes are governed not only by feelings of insecurity arising from fear of what India might be up to but also by the conviction that Jammu and Kashmir belongs to Pakistan and needs to be wrested from Indian control. Fears of India regaining its past influence in Afghanistan are another strong influence.

There is no possibility that India will hand Jammu and Kashmir over to Pakistan. No amount of terrorism and no increase in the strength and capability of the Pakistan army can shake India’s control of J&K and its determination to fight for the territorial status quo. The recent attempts by Pakistan to bring China into Pakistan in a big way are an indication of its realization that it cannot achieve its strategic objectives against India through the use of terrorism alone. Pakistan also realizes that the United States is unlikely to help it achieve those objectives.

Having realized the likely futility of using either the jihadi card or the U.S. card against India, Pakistan is once again trying to use the China card by inviting Chinese troops into the POK and the Gilgit-Baltistan area and by encouraging China to diversify its economic and military stakes in Pakistan. China, which has been concerned over the implications for its status and security of the relationship between India and the United States, is showing greater willingness than before to let itself be used by Pakistan to buttress Pakistan’s feelings of security vis-à-vis India.

In this web of geopolitical complexities, what are the policy options before India? Should it keep adding to Pakistan’s feelings of insecurity and instability or take the initiative to lessen Pakistani concerns? Is it possible to lessen those concerns and help Pakistan rid itself of its anti-India reflexes without changing the status quo in J&K and without giving up India’s growing links with Afghanistan?

Any exercise to demotivate the Pakistani state and help it to rid itself of its fears—which are seen by its army as real and by India as imaginary—has to start with frequent and sustained interactions between the institutions of the two countries: political parties to political parties, parliament to parliament, army to army, intelligence agencies to intelligence agencies, Foreign Office to Foreign Office, and Home Ministry to Home Ministry. Increasing institutional contacts are is as important as increasing people-to-people contacts to dispel the two countries’ imaginary fears of each other.

How should India and Pakistan increase their institutional interactions with each other? That is the basic question to be addressed, and it should be addressed in the context of an overall vision statement agreed to by the two countries. The imaginary fears are more in Pakistan’s mind than in India’s mind. India’s prime minister should take the initiative by visiting Pakistan to set the ball rolling toward an agreed common vision.

Sunday, August 28, 2011



In military lingo, a retreat is a temporary withdrawal from a confrontation in order to give oneself time to recoup losses and plan a new strategy.

2. In the olden, pre-modern days, battles used to be fought from sun rise to sun set. At sun set a Retreat used to be sounded, signalling an end to the day’s fighting. The two sides will withdraw in order to rest, attend to the injured, repair the damaged weapons and plan the fight for the next day.

3. A Retreat has been sounded in the epic anti-corruption battle between the followers of Anna Hazare and the Government. The two sides have staged a momentary withdrawal from the confrontation and are now busy assessing their gains and losses thus far and planning the next phase of the battle.

4. The public perception at this stage of the battle is that the victory thus far belongs to Anna and his followers, but in reality it may turn out to be a victory of mixed proportions.

5. It is also the public perception that the Government stands humiliated because of its mishandling of the crusade, but in reality, after having badly mishandled the beginning of the battle due, partly, to the lack of a political finesse, the Government has retrieved some of the lost ground towards the end through its manoeuvring skills in the Parliament and by exploiting the confusion in the BJP leadership caused by the diktat for a volte-face from the RSS headquarters in Nagpur.

6. The flow of youth power to Anna’s side caused an alarm in the Congress (I) as well as the BJP/RSS. The two sides reacted to the alarm in different ways. The Congress realised that by failing to bring its Generation Next headed by Rahul Gandhi into the battle, it has totally failed to mobilise its youth power in its support. The RSS realised that the flow of the youth power to the Anna team might weaken the future flow of youth to the ranks of the RSS.

7. There was a similar alarm in Anna’s camp due to his failure to make an impact on the minds of the Muslim and Dalit youth, who looked askance at Anna and his team. They looked upon Anna’s youth army as largely drawn from the English-educated new middle class of the mega cities consisting of passionate recruits belonging to the so-called upper castes. The participation of Muslim and Dalit youth was minimal notwithstanding the electrifying support of Amir Khan, the Hollywood actor, to Anna and his Jan Lok Pal Bill.

8. It was at this stage that the Crusaders on the one side and the mainstream political class on the other started searching for a temporary compromise to persuade Anna to end his fast in terms, that would be mutually acceptable and mutually exploitable as victory.

9. The initiative for a compromise came from Anna who tactically gave up his demand for a time-bound primacy to the consideration and eventual adoption of his Jan Lok Pal Bill by the Parliament. Instead, he offered to accept a face-saving, mid-term formula under which the Parliament would unanimously endorse three of his suggestions for covering the entire bureaucracy through the proposed anti-corruption mechanism, the setting up of similar mechanisms in the States and a citizen’s charter for good governance.

10. Both the Congress (I) and the BJP pounced on his offer because it enabled them to end Anna’s fast, which was becoming increasingly worrisome and gave them time to examine new strategies to reverse the increasing flow of the youth power to the Anna side. The result: the sense of the House resolution endorsing Anna’s three suggestions, its communication to Anna by the Prime Minister and the end of his fast.

11. Anna himself has conceded that it was only a partial victory for his side. The fast has ended, but the battle for the Jan Lok Pal Bill continues. The Government is not in a position to celebrate any victory because there is none, but it is heaving a sigh of relief over the way it managed to retrieve at least partially the lost ground before the Retreat was sounded.

12. The two sides now have a better measure of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The Government had under-estimated the strengths and intelligence of the Anna side. Many of its initial blunders like arresting Anna on the basis of a police report and not a medical report and sending him to Tihar were due to this under-estimation aggravated by political crudity.

13. The Anna side had over-estimated its ability to prevail by using the weapon of the fast in order to sharpen the confrontation. The mainstream political class came out strongly against its rhetoric and methods. The spectacular impact of the Anna campaign was largely confined to Delhi and Mumbai. In the rest of India, the impact was much less spectacular.

14. Two lessons clearly stand out from the battle so far. First, the Government can no longer afford to drag its feet on the question of the creation of a Lok Pal mechanism. Second, the Anna Team will not be able to have its diktat for the adoption of its Bill enforced on the political class.

15. A new substantive compromise has to be found which will accommodate some more of the provisions of the Jan Lok Pal Bill and at the same time take into account some of the reservations and concerns of the Government and the rest of the political class. If the search for a new compromise has to be successful, there is need for a sustained multi-partisan engagement with new dramatis personae on both sides.

16.Shri P.Chidambaram, the Home Minister, and Shri Kapil Sibal, the Minister for Human Resources, have damaged their credibility by the way they handled the Anna Camp and forced it to take up arms against the Government in a battle that the Government was not in a position to win.

17.Kiran Bedi, the former IPS officer, has damaged her credibility by her antics on the stage which looked like what in Tamil we call a Therukoothu ( street play) and by her fulminations against the political class and the Parliamentarians. Taking advantage of the hospitality offered by Barkha Dutt in her We The People Programme on the NDTV on August 28, Kiran Bedi tried to rationalise her antics by projecting them as a game-changer. She would not have carried conviction to many people. The time and the importance of the occasion of the fast called for dignity and restraint in conduct on the part of the leaders of the movement. Ms.Bedi failed to exhibit both.

18. Shri Arvind Kejriwal, the other member of the brains-trust of the Anna Team, conducted himself with greater dignity and restraint than Kiran Bedi, but he came out rightly or wrongly as an uncompromising individual with whom it is difficult to negotiate.

19. The Government as well as Team Anna need a new team of advisers. The entrance on to the stage of the Generation Next of the Congress was a welcome development. Generation Next of the Congress projected a better image of themselves than Generation Next of the BJP, but unfortunately, Shri Rahul Gandhi failed to rise to the occasion. He could have utilised the opportunity to project himself as a new statesman on the horizon, by confining his initial intervention in the Lok Sabha to making a statesmanlike appeal to Anna to end his fast and to sending a message to the youth of the country that their cry of anger and anguish for a corruption-free India has been heard by him and the Congress and they will act accordingly.

20. He failed to do so. He came out as a thoughtless and not a thoughtful leader. The ultimate victory in the crusade against corruption is going to be decided by the youth of the mega cities. It is a badly alienated lot today Team Anna has made some progress in winning many of them over to its side. The BJP has not been able to because of its forced penchant to look at the scene and the events through RSS eyes.

21. The Congress has many promising youth leaders and cadres, but there is none in the party capable of galvanising them and using them to catch the imagination of the youth of the country.

22. An uncertain and unpredictable next phase of the battle lies ahead. As the Reveille is sounded, the Anna Team will resume the battle with greater energy and greater sense of reality. One cannot say the same thing of the Govt and the Congress.

23.If the Congress has to win over the youth of the country it has to convince them that it is sincere in its determination to end corruption. It is the perceived lack of sincerity in the Congress that is driving more and more youth into the arms of Anna. The days of dragging the feet are over. The youth demands action against corruption here and now. The Congress is unable to hear and understand the message. It continues to nurse illusions that it can finally prevail with patchwork ideas and solutions through its manoeuvring skills. It will not be able to ( 29-8-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. E-mail: .Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Wednesday, August 24, 2011



The whole nation is watching with a mix of feelings TV visuals from the Ramlila Grounds and other places in India regarding the epic anti-corruption struggle being waged by Anna Hazare and his followers from different age groups and different strata of society.

2. It is not the Arab spring. Nor is it a Jasmine Revolution. It is a cry of anguish and anger from large sections of the Indian people over the repeated failure of successive Governments to take sincere and meaningful steps to reduce, if not end, corruption which has besmirched public life and made us seem unworthy inheritors of the Gandhian legacy.

3. We are all supporters of Anna’s epic struggle today. We are all his Crusaders against corruption. We are all admirers of his team of dedicated and passionate advisers. We endorse his campaign against this evil wholeheartedly.

4. Many of us feel that this worthy campaign should not have been allowed to assume the shape of a confrontation between the State and a group of concerned citizens that could be detrimental to our democratic structure and traditions. There have been faults and lack of finesse on both sides, but this is not the time to apportion blame. This is the time to let wisdom prevail on both sides, enabling them to resume the search for a democratic compromise.

5. For wisdom to prevail, it is important that Anna lives. His glorious life as a perennial crusader has given strength and leadership to this movement. His death will have unpredictable consequences and may make it wither away. Death in a fast may be tactically glorious, but strategically pointless and unwise. Imagine what might have been the course of Indian history if Gandhiji had died prematurely during one of his fasts.

6. Team Anna and his other followers have a moral obligation to ensure that he lives to continue to lead this crusade. They should persuade him to accept drips being administered on the spot---even if he is not willing to be shifted to a hospital--- so that he can continue to lead the struggle without endangering his life.

7.The Government too has a moral obligation to take note of the support enjoyed by this crusade. It should have the moral courage to admit that its Lok Pal Bill has very little credibility in the eyes of large sections of the public. It should not stand on false prestige. It should discard the Bill and request a team of two eminent judges enjoying the confidence of both sides to prepare a new draft incorporating the acceptable and feasible suggestions emanating from the Government, Team Anna and others.

8. The Prime Minister should give a moral commitment to the people of this country that he would ensure that the entire process of re-drafting and adoption by the Parliament is completed within a reasonable time.

9.Let wisdom prevail. Let Anna live to lead the movement. Let the search for a compromise be resumed with sincerity on both sides. (25-8-11)

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

Saturday, August 20, 2011



The civil war-like situation in Karachi continues without respite. Seventy-three persons belonging to different communities and religious sects were reported to have been killed---many of them in targeted shootings and some kidnapped and tortured to death--- during four days of fresh violence between August 16 and 19. The level of violence considerably came down on August 20.

2. The victims in the four days of fresh violence were mainly Mohajirs supporting the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Altaf Hussain mainly representing Mohajir migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (Haqiqi) mainly representing migrants from Bihar, Pashtun supporters of the Awami National Party (ANP), Balochs without political affiliation and Barelvi Sunnis of the Sunni Tehreek.

3.The number of victims in the Sindhi community, which supports the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of President Asif Ali Zardari and the various Sindhi nationalist parties, and in the Punjabi community, which supports the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of Nawaz Sharif, has reportedly been low, but exact figures are not available.

4.The deterioration in the situation has been partly the outcome of the alleged action of the Government in releasing the leaders and cadres of the anti-Altaf Hussain MQM (H) who had been arrested and jailed by Pervez Musharraf when he was the President as part of a secret deal with Altaf under which the MQM observed restraint in Karachi in return for the jailing of Altaf’s opponents in the Mohajir community.

5. The MQM of Altaf sees the release of Altaf’s Mohajir opponents by the PPP-led Government as a revival of Benazir Bhutto’s policy (1988-90 and 1993-95) of pitting the MQM (H) against the MQM in the streets of Karachi .

6. The present spell of violence, which started as business and smuggling related clashes between the Barelvi Mohajirs of the MQM and the Deobandi Pashtuns of the ANP, has since assumed a wider dimension with Mohajirs killing Mohajirs. The ethnic and sectarian strife, which one saw at the beginning of the present spell of violence, has been aggravated by gang warfare between rival Mohajir mafia gangs.

7. It is pure and simple criminal violence not motivated by any political ideology or religious goal. The violence is about who controls the mafia economy of Karachi. There have been increasing demands for Army intervention since none of the groups involved in the violence has any confidence in the police, which is controlled by Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister belonging to the PPP.

8. The demand for Army intervention has come from the Mohajirs of the MQM, who allege that there has been Taliban infiltration into Karachi under the cover of the ANP, the Pashtuns of the ANP, who look upon the violence as the result of the Mohajir mafia warfare, the Balochs, who find themselves caught in the violence between the Mohajirs and the Pashtuns, the Barelvi organisations and all major business organisations.

9. The only organisations not in favour of an Army intervention are the PPP, the Sindhi nationalist parties, the MQM (H) and the PML (N). The Army, while expressing its concern over the continuing violence, has said that it is for the civilian Government to deal with the situation.

10. The Army is unlikely to intervene unless there are targeted attacks on military, Air Force and naval personnel in uniform performing duty or on military, Air Force and naval establishments or the Karachi port.

11. The latest round of violence has targeted the Police . A bus carrying police officers in mufti was attacked killing four of them. The death of an Air Force employee has also been reported, but he was reportedly on a private visit to Karachi. The Army, the Air Force and the Navy have not so far been targeted. The attack on PNS Mehran, the headquarters of the naval air wing in Karachi in May, was not related to the ongoing ethnic and sectarian violence. It was a pure and simple terrorist attack in which the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was suspected.

12. Sections of the Pakistani media have carried highly pessimistic accounts of the situation in Karachi---with the “Dawn” of Karachi even saying that Pakistan is unravelling.

13. Pakistan is not unravelling. The cycle of violence in Karachi---sometimes up, sometimes down—will continue, but none of the contending parties is likely to force a strategic confrontation, which could lead to the destabilisation of Pakistan. Periodic tactical confrontations will continue till the policing of Karachi improves and the criminal-politician and criminal-police nexus is broken. That is not for tomorrow. ( 21-8-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter : @SORBONNE75)


"Somewhere Only We Know"

( "Somewhere Only We Know" composed and played by English alternative rock band Keane.It became one of the greatest hits of 2004 worldwide.)

I walked across an empty land
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand
I felt the earth beneath my feet
Sat by the river and it made me complete

Oh simple thing where have you gone
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you're gonna let me in
I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

I came across a fallen tree
I felt the branches of it looking at me
Is this the place we used to love?
Is this the place that I've been dreaming of?

Oh simple thing where have you gone
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you're gonna let me in
I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

And if you have a minute why don't we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go
Somewhere only we know?

Oh simple thing where have you gone
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you're gonna let me in
I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

So if you have a minute why don't we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go
So why don't we go

This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go
Somewhere only we know?

Friday, August 19, 2011



1.From "Dawn" of August 20,2011 on Karachi: "Anchors are seizing on it all, flogging the machinations to shore up flagging ratings.”

2. "Anything will be discussed, anything is fair game, as long as it doesn’t add up to informed or meaningful debate.”

3. " Informed, meaningful debate isn’t good for ratings."So says "Dawn" on TV coverage of Karachi.

4. Equally valid for Indian TV coverage of the Anna Hazare (AH) movement. A well-known columnist has compared the TV coverage of AH to its coverage of the Kandahar hijacking in 1999.

5. Creating illusions and street hysteria. Karan Thapar pointed out last night that Times Now reported that there were over 100,000 outside Tihar whereas the number could not have been more than 20,000.There is a need for a more critical focus on the role of the TV.

6. Unfortunately, Doordarshan (DD) has not risen to the occasion & made an impact as a public service TV channel.

7. DD has totally surrendered the field to private channels. DD's coverage of the parliamentary debate was the best, but nobody noticed it.

8. PM & others should make greater use of DD to disseminate their point of view and project their ideas & let private channels pick up from DD.

9. Govt should set up a group of journalists for a critical analysis of the role of the TV.

10. Twitter should be extensively used by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to disseminate Govt's views. Start today. Start Now.

11. We neglected media during Kandahar. Paid a price. Repeating the mistake now. Shed the diffidence. Choose the right persons as spokesmen.

12.Interact with media freely, frankly, trustingly & without complexes. Distrust begets distrust. (20-8-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter @SORBONNE75 )

Thursday, August 18, 2011



“It has to be admitted that there is considerable public support for Anna Hazare’s proposed fast because large sections of the public are not convinced of the sincerity of the Government’s proclaimed determination to end corruption. The executive responsibility of the Government to maintain law and order has not been matched by an exercise of its moral responsibility to convince the public of the sincerity of its determination to end corruption. It is important for the Prime Minister even at this last moment to address the public on the issue of corruption through the electronic media and through a press conference devoted exclusively to public concerns over corruption. An over-focus on the executive dimensions of the problem while neglecting the moral dimensions of it will maintain and exacerbate the existing tensions on this issue. “

---Extract from my article of August 14,2011, titled “ANNA HAZARE’S PROTEST AGAINST CORRUPTION” at

With the Government and Team Anna Hazare reaching a reasonable compromise on Anna Hazare’s right to protest through a public fast on the need for a strong Jan Lok Pal Bill, the venue of the fast is expected to shift on August 19 from inside Tihar Jail, where Anna is presently fasting, to the Ramlila grounds.

2.The issue of the right to protest on which the public debate and concern had been concentrated since the unwise arrest and detention of Anna in the Tihar jail on August 16 has thus been sorted out with the Government conceding that while no right is absolute no curbs can be arbitrary. The issue of the Jan Lok Pal Bill will now regain prominence in the public debate in the days to come as Anna fasts in public. The focus of the public attention and concern will shift to the substantive issue of setting up a strong institutional mechanism to deal with the investigation and prosecution of complaints of corruption.

3. The debate on this substantive issue has till now been handled by the Government and the Congress (I) with a worrisome lack of finesse in thinking, an insensitivity to the public mood----particularly to the mood of the youth--- on this subject and an inadequate Prime Ministerial leadership and initiative in responding to the mood and expectations of the public.

4.All initiatives---often negative--- have so far come from individual Ministers of the Cabinet such as Shri P.Chidambaram and Shri Kapil Sibal, with the Prime Minister hardly visible, articulate and leading the debate. The result: A totally negative mood in the country and a spreading disenchantment with the Government due to an impression that it is not serious on the substantive issue.

5. The large public support for Anna is an outcome of this negative mood and disenchantment. Meaningful and effective action against corruption is not just a political issue involving only the political class and the law-makers in the Parliament. It has become an important moral issue with the involvement of growing sections of the public in the debate and in the movement for action against corruption here and now spearheaded by Anna and his team. It is not the media, but public activism which has given strength to Anna and made him a contemporary icon.

6. This moral issue cannot be and should not be handled by purely smart and cunning tactics. A moral issue calls for a moral leadership, moral arguments, a moral perspective and a moral courage to take note of public expectations and respond to them to the extent possible.

7. The longer the Government and the Prime Minister give the impression of dragging their feet, the worse the issue and the atmosphere in the country is going to become. It is time for the Prime Minister to shed his reticence and fear of assuming leadership and take over the responsibility for responding to public expectations.

8. The atmosphere in the country, which is depressingly negative, has to be converted into positive. One cannot do so unless one starts looking upon those calling for action against corruption not as political adversaries acting at the behest of the ill-wishers of the Government, but as moral allies in the campaign to rid the country of this evil.

9. There is need for a new strategy, which will have a judicious mix of the political and the moral. This strategy should make an immediate impact on the minds of Team Anna and the sections of the public supporting it and restore the political and moral initiative to the Prime Minister.

10. For this purpose, it is important for the Prime Minister to announce the withdrawal from the Parliament of the Jan Lok Pal Bill submitted by the Government in view of the dissatisfaction with it by large sections of the public and the initiation of renewed consultations with Team Anna as well as others in order to find ways of accommodating their demands to the extent possible and reasonable.

11. The Prime Minister should also announce that this will be a time-bound exercise to produce results satisfactory to the public and not delaying tactics to continue to avoid action. Since the Parliament is now in the midst of its monsoon session, the Prime Minister cannot make this announcement in public. He has to do so before the Parliament.

12. Even while taking these initiatives, the Prime Minister should have a post-mortem of the mishandling of the issue of the right to protest which has undoubtedly caused a loss of face for the Government. The post-mortem will most probably bring out that the various options available to the Government in the face of the determination of Anna to go on fast and their legal, political and moral implications were not examined in detail by the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs and the Secretaries Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary. The whole issue was handled in a shockingly casual and lackadaisical manner resulting in the present loss of face for the Government.

13.The lessons drawn from the post-mortem should be accepted without reservation and care taken to ensure that similar mistakes are not committed in future. The present style of political management has been marked by a lack of transparency and wide consultations and a reluctance to share with the public the Government’s perceptions and views on issues of national importance. It is also characterised by a distrust of the media.

14. This style has to change and this distrust has to be discarded. All these call for bold decisions from the Prime Minister. ( 19-8-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )



I underwent the 8th quarterly evaluation of my cancer at the hospital on August 18,2011.The conclusions are as follows:

(a).All the test results are normal.The tests undergone included blood tests for sugar,thyroid function, lipid profile, kidney function, liver function, total PSA, free PSA and percentage of free PSA to total PSA.

(b).My BP is normal.

(c) My weight has remained constant at 87-88 kilos for the last two years---though I am overweight by 8 kilos.

(d).My appetite, sleep pattern and energy level are normal.

(e)My urine output is normal.

(f).My body has been tolerating and responding to the therapy quite well.

2. The next quarterly evaluation (9th) is due on November 18,2011.My doctor said that if my test results continue to be as good three months hence as they are today, he might start reducing the therapy from November 18 onwards.

3. I will keep my fingers crossed. (18-8-11)

Monday, August 15, 2011



Reportedly angered by the Chinese curbs on the celebration of the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama last month, Tsewang Norbu, a 29-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk from the Nyitso monastery in the Dawu town of the Sichuan Province of China, has committed self-immolation on August 15,2011.

2. China’s official Xinhua news agency has confirmed the incident, saying “It was unclear why he had burnt himself.”

3. Reliable reports from Tibetan sources in the Sichuan province say that he committed self-immolation after shouting slogans condemning the suppression of the Tibetans by the Chinese and praising His Holiness.

4.According to the Tibetan sources, he committed self-immolation outside a building housing local Government offices. Subsequent reports say that the Chinese security forces have surrounded the monastery and have been demanding that the monks in the monastery should hand over his dead body to the police for investigation and that the monks have been refusing to do so. This would indicate that before the Police could intervene, the other monks had probably managed to take the remains of the monk inside the monastery.

5. This is the second incident of self-immolation by a Tibetan Buddhist monk reported from the Sichuan province this year. In March last, a monk of the Kirti monastery committed self-immolation to protest against the Chinese rule. His self-immolation led to a long confrontation between the Chinese security forces and the inmates of the monastery. The security forces accused some of the monks of visiting prostitutes or inviting prostitutes inside the monastery. About 300 of the monks have since been kept in a military-run detention centre where they are subjected to “re-education” classes.

6. The Chinese authorities have repeatedly rejected the appeals of international human rights organisations for permission to visit the detention centre to enquire about the welfare of the detained monks. ( 16-8-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. E-mail: .Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )



Recent events in the port city of Dalian in north-east China where public protests forced the local Government to accept a demand for closing down a chemical plant following an accident and for re-locating it elsewhere show a new style of political management. This new style is marked by sensitivity to public opinion and a willingness to respond to reasonable public pressure instead of trying to suppress it as used to be done in the past.

2. The plant produces paraxylene (PX), a petrochemical used for the production of polyester film and fabrics. Last week, huge waves caused by a storm breached a dike built to protect the plant from floodwaters. Residents were concerned that a flood could damage the plant and cause it to release toxic chemicals.

3.Details of the breach and the dangers that could be posed to the environment of the city and the lives of its residents by any damage to the plant were disseminated by many netizens through Weibo, a Chinese microblog service similar to the Twitter. This led to a large number of residents ---about 12,000 according to one estimate--- demonstrating in the streets and outside the local municipal office on August 14, demanding that the plant should be immediately shut down and re-located elsewhere.

4. Instead of seeking to suppress the demonstration as they would have normally done, the local authorities accepted the public demand for shutting down the plant to prevent any damage and eventually re-locating it elsewhere. Initially, the authorities did try to prevent the dissemination of the information about the breach and the call for demonstrations through Weibo, but subsequently gave up the attempt.

5. In a refreshing departure from past practices, the Government-controlled Xinhua news agency itself disseminated details of the breach and the demonstrations in an apparent attempt to prevent the circulation of exaggerated rumours. There was a greater transparency in the coverage of the incident and the public demonstrations and a greater willingness on the part of the authorities to accept the reasonableness of the public expression of concern and to respond to it.

6. Commenting on the way the local authorities dealt with the incident, the Party-controlled “Global Times” wrote as follows on August 15:

“The Dalian incident indicates social progress, as it shows the public has more opportunities to be heard. In Dalian, their opinion was treated with respect. But it is worth mentioning that while there are more channels for individuals and groups to express their opinions, it is essential that a distinction be made for rational opinion. There should also be channels for other voices to prevent a single opinion from being regarded as the mainstream.

“The incident showed that the demands of the public are taken seriously by the Chinese government. The pace of information disclosure and releasing of the official statement may not have been quick enough, but the adjustments that the government made were swift. Both the public and the government have begun adapting both their language and actions to a more democratic time.

“It should not be simply seen as a victory of a "protest." In fact, in China, reasonable public appeals will eventually be accepted by the government. New technological tools, such as Weibo, have strengthened communication between the public and the government. Protest, as a means of expressing opinions, will not likely become the main way Chinese people will make their voices heard.

“China's reform is being advanced by various minor incidents, and this reform has, in turn, created more room for understanding and tolerance.

“What the Dalian incident has shown is China's adaptability and problem-solving capability, not the risk that it may flounder over an emergency.”

7. In a report on the increasing role of microblogs in mobilising public opinion in China disseminated on August 14, the Xinhua said:

“ A decade ago, the most favoured medium for Chinese people to air their complaints was perhaps through the state-owned China Central Television network.

“However, the Internet has superseded television as the most popular means for the airing of discontent, with microblogs leading the charge.

“Microblogs came to prominence in China just two years ago, but have exploded in popularity. Sina Weibo, one of the country's most popular microblog providers, has allowed the country's citizens to supervise - and criticize - China's government in ways that were never thought possible before.

“In comparison to microblogs, traditional media entities face technical and systematic restrictions in their efforts to observe and supervise the government. The Internet and its vast number of microbloggers are now able to make up for this deficiency, according to Zhan Jiang, a professor of journalism at the Beijing Foreign Studies University.

“Microblogs make it easy for people to speak their thoughts in real-time, essentially making their public voices louder, according to Professor Zhan.

“Sina Weibo was launched in August 2009. Since then, it has attracted more than 140 million registered users, with the number expected to exceed 200 million by the end of this year, according to the company.

“Microblogging services enjoyed "explosive growth" in the first six months of this year, with the number of registered microblog users surging by 208.9 per cent to reach 195 million, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

“A 2010 report quoted by the Beijing-based newspaper International Herald Leader said that more than one-fifth of the 50 most-discussed public events in 2010 were first reported on by microbloggers.

“Traditional media outlets have blind spots in performing their role as "society's watchdog." However, microblogs have allowed ordinary citizens to fill in these gaps.

“The general offices of the State Council, or China's Cabinet, and the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee have issued a circular stating that information on major emergencies and items of public concern, such as government efforts and the results of official investigations, should be released to the public in an "objective and timely manner."

“The People's Daily, the CPC's flagship newspaper, has urged officials to answer questions from Internet users in a timely and accurate fashion and to brush up on their online communication skills in a recent article titled "How to Speak in the Microblog Era."

“The article encouraged officials to address public concerns through online platforms and not to shy away from answering thorny questions. "Online performance reflects an official's all-around capability."

8.While adapting themselves to the role of netizens as watchdogs and supervisors of the performance of the Government, the Chinese authorities have at the same time noted with concern the role played by social media networks in facilitating anti-Government mobilisation in Egypt and in helping those who violated law and order during the recent riots in the UK in exchanging information with each other in matters such as the deployment of the police.

9. The fear that the mushrooming of the netizen community and the emergence of a new wired civil society may result in a dilution of the control of the Communist Party and its leadership role and lead to political destabilisation is palpable. How to use the microblogs in the interest of public welfare and better governance without letting them become detrimental to political stability and public order is a question that has been engaging the attention of the authorities. They still do not have a satisfactory answer to this.

10. Political and social activism by netizens is slowly changing China in ways unanticipated even a couple of years ago and could pave the way for a greater democracy through the Net instead of through the ballot box. ( 15-8-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: and Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Saturday, August 13, 2011



The announced plans of Anna Hazare, the social activist, to go on a fast unto death from August 15 in support of the demand of the anti-corruption movement headed by him for a stronger Jan Lok Pal Bill than the one introduced by the Government in the Parliament pose an executive and moral dilemma to the Government of Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh.

2. The executive dilemma arises from the fact that an attempt to commit a suicide for whatever purpose is a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code and the Government is legally bound to act against the threatened fast, if necessary by arresting Anna Hazare either before or during his fast in order to save his life and to prevent a public disorder. The executive dilemma is enhanced by the danger that the act of saving his life might be interpreted as a violation of his right to protest and might lead to an even greater public disorder.

3. The moral dilemma arises from the fact that a fast unto death as a form of protest has been an accepted weapon since the days of Mahatma Gandhi. He used the threat of fast unto death on some occasions against the British rulers because he was left with no other way of expressing his protest over the failure of the British to concede his demands. It was a unique non-violent weapon used by Mahatma Gandhi under unique circumstances when India was under foreign rulers and did not have a democratic set-up which permitted dissenters to adopt various forms of ventilating grievances in a democratic manner without resorting to the ultimate weapon of a fast unto death.

4.Anna Hazare and his followers have been carrying on their protest in an independent and democratic India where various forms of democratic mobilisation and advocacy are available to them. They have been making use of these forms in order to educate the public on their demands and to bring moral pressure on the Government to accept the legitimacy of their demands. If the Government has not accepted the legitimacy of some of their demands, it is because it thinks that it will not be in the national interest to accept them and that those demands could be counter-productive.

5. A democratically-elected Government has the right to decide what is workable and what is not and what is in the national interest and what is not. If one is not in agreement with the views of the Government, one has the right to continue with the campaign of mobilisation and advocacy in the hope that the Government might be made to relent in its stand.

6. But one does not have the right to intimidate the Government into conceding one’s demands by threatening to use a weapon which might have been morally justifiable under the then existing circumstances during the British rule, but is no longer so under an independent and democratic dispensation. The Government has a legal obligation to prevent any attempt to commit a suicide and this obligation cannot be diluted because of the moral force of the demands of Anna Hazare and his followers for stronger action against corruption. Even a morally justifiable demand cannot be sought to be achieved through legally impermissible means.

7. Under our Constitution and our laws, every citizen has a right to protest, but not by adopting any means. While protesting, the existing laws have to be observed and any attempt at seeming intimidation avoided. The Government has to exercise its legal responsibility by preventing Anna Hazare from carrying out his threat to die through fasting. Whether that obligation should be exercised by arresting him before he starts his fast or by allowing him to fast for some time to satisfy his conscience and then arrest him is a matter for the Government to decide on the basis of its judgement regarding likely dangers to public order under different options.

8. It has to be admitted that there is considerable public support for Anna Hazare’s proposed fast because large sections of the public are not convinced of the sincerity of the Government’s proclaimed determination to end corruption. The executive responsibility of the Government to maintain law and order has not been matched by an exercise of its moral responsibility to convince the public of the sincerity of its determination to end corruption.

9.It is important for the Prime Minister even at this last moment to address the public on the issue of corruption through the electronic media and through a press conference devoted exclusively to public concerns over corruption.

10. An over-focus on the executive dimensions of the problem while neglecting the moral dimensions of it will maintain and exacerbate the existing tensions on this issue. ( 14-8-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and , presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Monday, August 8, 2011



Seven officers of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US and an officer of the Jordanian Intelligence related to the royal family of Jordan were killed in a suicide attack launched on December 30, 2009, by Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a 36-year-old Al Qaeda sympathiser from Zarqa, Jordan, in the Khost area of Afghanistan.

2. It was seen as a joint operation by the followers of the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and the Pakistani Taliban followers of the late Baitullah Mehsud to jointly avenge the death of Zarqawi in Iraq and Baitullah in South Waziristan. They blamed the CIA for the death of their leaders.

3.In an operation reminiscent of the catastrophic Khost attack on the CIA by Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban has managed to carry out a catastrophic attack on a US helicopter on August 5,2011, carrying 30 US troops including 22 Navy SEALS, belonging to the same unit which had killed Osama bin Laden in a raid at Abbottabad in Pakistan on May 2 ---killing all of them. It is the largest fatality in a single incident ever suffered by the US during its military operations in Afghanistan launched in 2001 and the largest fatality ever suffered in a single incident by the Joint Special Operations Command, which controls the operations of the Navy SEALS since the JSOC was set up. Seven Afghan troops and an interpreter also died in the incident.

4. Latest reports indicate that the catastrophic incident, which has been greeted with shock and disbelief by the JSOC and the Navy SEALS, was the outcome of a trap successfully laid by the Afghan Taliban, which has claimed responsibility for bringing down the helicopter.

5. Afghan authorities seem to suspect that the attack was in retaliation for the successful raid by the Navy SEALS on the hide-out of Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad in Pakistan on May 2, which resulted in his death, but the Taliban itself in its claim of responsibility, has not so far projected the attack as in retaliation for the death of OBL. It was not even clear whether the Taliban was aware of the presence of Navy SEALS from the same unit that killed OBL in the copter that it brought down

6. The Agence France Presse (AFP) has reported as follows on the trap:

“ The Taliban lured US forces into an elaborate trap to shoot down their helicopter, killing 30 American troops in the deadliest such incident of the war, an Afghan official said on August 8.

“A total of 38 people -- 30 US troops, many of them special forces, plus seven Afghan commandos and an interpreter -- were killed when their Chinook came down during an anti-Taliban operation late Friday ( August 5).

“The crash marked the biggest single loss of life for American and NATO forces since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan toppled the Taliban in late 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks.

“The senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity that a Taliban commander, Qari Tahir, lured US forces to the scene by tipping them off that a Taliban meeting was taking place.

“He also said four Pakistanis helped Tahir carry out the strike.

"Now it's confirmed that the helicopter was shot down and it was a trap that was set by a Taliban commander," said the official, citing intelligence gathered from the area.

"The Taliban knew which route the helicopter would take," he added.

"That's the only route, so they took position on either side of the valley on mountains and as the helicopter approached, they attacked it with rockets and other modern weapons. It was brought down by multiple shots.

“The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to discuss the issue, also said President Hamid Karzai's US-backed government "thinks this was a retaliation attack for the killing of Osama bin Laden."

“The Taliban themselves did not make such an assertion on claiming responsibility for the attack, which took place in the Taliban-infested Sayd Abad district of Wardak province, just southwest of Kabul.

“US media has reported that the dead included members of the Navy's SEAL Team Six, the secretive unit behind the daring raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan in May.

“US administration sources interviewed by AFP said the casualties did not include anyone who took part in the bin Laden raid on May 2.”

7.The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement that the CH-47 Chinook helicopter was fired on "by an insurgent rocket-propelled grenade while transporting the US service members and commandos to the scene of an ongoing engagement."

8.According to the statement, the operation had begun when ISAF troops searching for a Taliban leader in the Tangi Valley, surrounded by rugged mountains in central Maidan Wardak province about 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Kabul, were fired on by insurgents.

9.Several of the insurgents were killed before assistance was requested. "As the insurgents continued to fire, the combined force on the ground requested additional forces to assist the operation," the ISAF statement said.

10."Those additional personnel were in-bound to the scene when the CH-47 carrying them crashed, killing all on board."

11.US media has quoted a spokesman of the Naval Special Warfare group as saying: “There’s no precedent for this. It’s the worst day in our history by a mile.” Of the 22 Naval Special Warfare members killed, 17 were SEALs and five were direct support personnel.

12.Since the US military action began in Afghanistan in October, 2001, this is the second time that the Taliban has brought down a US helicopter. In an earlier successful strike by it in the Kunar province on June 28,2005, eight SEALS and eight other military personnel were killed when their copter was brought down by the Taliban. Another three SEALs were killed during a firefight on the ground.

13. An estimated 383 foreign troops have been killed so far this year, almost 50 of them in the first week of August. The catastrophic attack underlines the undamaged capability of the Afghan Taliban to take the NATO forces by surprise and inflict heavy casualties on them and its determination to make the US withdrawal from Afghanistan a humiliating retreat and not a successful withdrawal. ( 9-8-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter : @SORBONNE75)



The Chinese, who have already been annoyed by the meeting of President Barack Obama with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House during His Holiness’ recent visit to the US, have reasons to be further irritated and concerned over the directive on July 20 by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee to the US Secretary of State that China should not be allowed to open any more Consulates in the US until Beijing allowed the US to open a Consulate in Lhasa.

2.The Foreign Relations Authorization Act Fiscal Year 2012 passed by the Committee said: "The Secretary shall seek to establish a United States consulate in Lhasa, Tibet, to provide services to United States citizens traveling in Tibet and to monitor political, economic, and cultural developments in Tibet, including Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces and, until such consulate is established, shall not permit the establishment in the United States of any additional consulate of the People’s Republic of China".

3.There is reportedly a pending request from the Chinese Foreign Office for permission to open Chinese Consulates at Atlanta and Boston. Now, these two may not materialise unless and until Beijing allows the US to open a Consulate at Lhasa.

4.India should emulate the US and should not allow Beijing to open any more Consulates in India until it permits India to open a Consulate in Lhasa. We have a much stronger case than the US for a Consulate in Lhasa.

5.Non-Governmental supporters of His Holiness in the US have organised an exhibition in the US to educate the public about the Panchen Lama. They also intend to start a movement to ensure that the Chinese do not disregard the Tibetan traditions in imposing their own Dalai Lama on the Tibetan people when His Holiness is no more. The Chinese interference in the traditional religious practices of the Tibetans in order to impose their own Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama on the Tibetan people could become an important issue in the future interactions between Washington and Beijing relating to Tibet and His Holiness.

6.While passing the resolution on a US Consulate in Lhasa, the House Foreign Affairs Committee also expressed serious concerns over the increasing suppression of religious freedom in Tibet and directed representatives of the United States Government to call for a cessation of all interference by the Government of the People's Republic of China in the reincarnation system of Tibetan Buddhism during exchanges with officials of the Government of the People's Republic of China.

7.The Panchen Lama nominated by the Chinese authorities after arresting the Panchen Lama selected by the representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was to tour in Tibet during July to attend functions held in Tibet to mark the 60th anniversary of the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. According to latest reports from Tibet, he did not undertake the tour which was deferred indefinitely without giving any reasons.

8.The Nepalese Police arrested on August 5,2011, Thinley Lama, the new volunteer coordinator of the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office in Kathmandu, after he had held a news conference in which he called for the protection of the human rights of the Tibetan refugees living in Nepal. There has been intense pressure on the Nepalese Government by Beijing to ban what is projected as the anti-China activities of the refugees. In the first week of July, the Nepalese Police, under pressure from the Chinese Embassy, tried to prevent the refugees from celebrating the birthday of His Holiness. Thinley Lama is a Nepal resident and acts as the representative of His Holiness in Nepal.

9. Human Rights groups have condemned the action of the Nepal Police in detaining Thinley Lama and appealed to the international community to intervene to stop the persecution of Tibetan refugees by the Nepalese authorities under pressure from Beijing.

10.They allege that the Chinese Embassy has been more aggressive in urging Nepal to take action against Tibetan refugees since last month when a new Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Yang Houlan, assumed office. China says there are no Tibetan “refugees,” but only illegal immigrants.

11. It has been reported that as a quid pro quo for curbs on the activities of the refugees by the Nepalese authorities, Beijing has offered financial assistance for the development of the tourist infrastructure in Nepal, including for the development of the infrastructure at Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha.

12. In the meanwhile, reliable reports from Tibet say that the Chinese authorities refrained from taking any action against about 5000 Tibetan monks, who defied the orders of the authorities and held a meeting at Lithang Gonchen in the Sichuan Province from July 15 to 24, for discussions to promote Tibetan cultural values and national unity. Initially, the Chinese authorities tried to prevent the meeting, but when the monks expressed their determination to go ahead with it, they did not intervene.

13.All the proceedings were held in the Tibetan language and all the participants were required to dress typically like Tibetans. There were discussions not only on religious, social and cultural issues, but also on the need to preserve the Tibetan language and the unity of Tibetans living in Tibet’s traditional three provinces of U-Tsang, Kham, and Amdo—all now occupied by China. The monastery of Lithang Gonchen, which hosted the meeting, had sent invitations to over 100 other monasteries—both in Kardze and in neighboring prefectures—to take part. About a half of them participated.

14.Representatives also came from the Kirti monastery, in Kardze, from where about 300 defiant monks were arrested and moved to re-education camps in March this year following an incident of self-immolation by a young monk to protest against the Chinese rule. The Chinese have continued to reject requests from international human rights organisations for permission to visit the detained monks of the Kirti monastery. ( 8-8-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )