Isha khan’s Weblog

Asoka Chakra, Chanakya and RAW
September 28, 2008, 9:02 am
Filed under: Bangladesh, India, SubContinent

Asoka Chakra, Chanakya and RAW

By Janaka Perera

In all probability those who caused the horrifying bomb explosion at the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad and those behind the bomb blast in several Indian cities this month share the same extremist politico-religious objectives even if they are not members of the same group. The nature of the explosions – especially the one at the Marriot clearly reflect the technical expertise that only a mafia gang like the LTTE can provide – may be on payment because the Tigers seem to be running short of funds nowadays.

At the same time there is no question that Prabhakaran is plotting and dreaming of doing a ‘Marriot’ in Colombo, even as the Security Forces are moving towards the gates of the last remaining town of his mythical Tamil Eelam.

During this year’s SAARC summit Indian delegates agreed on the urgency on combating terrorism. If they are sincere then they cannot afford to pick and chose but go all out to convey a clear message not only to terrorists of all hues who are deliberately and willfully targeting unarmed civilians and non-combatants but also to their ardent supporters within and outside India. And these terrorist-sympathizers include the Norwegians whose dubious peace-making India too endorsed, although it lost all credibility among the Sinhalas.

The majority of Sri Lankans therefore do not want to hear Delhi’s or any other government’s pontifications about the need to win over the Tamils and ensure their safety in the Wanni before dealing with the Prabhakaran’s terrorist outfit. Perhaps by the same token Pakistan has every right to tell India to ensure the security of India’s Muslims against periodic Hindu extremist violence – before going after Muslim zealots for blasting bombs there.

We however need to recall here that the Sinhala majority by and large had a great regard for India in the years before Indira Gandhi got the bright idea of ‘disciplining’ Sri Lanka with the LTTE ‘rod’ which eventually turned out to be a viper. Even today Hindi movies, music, songs and dances are popular among the Sinhalas far more than Tamils. North Indian languages like Bengali have close ties with Sinhala.

As a school boy I witnessed the very warm welcome that large crowds gave Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru when he arrived at the then civilian airport of Ratmalana in 1962 during Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s first term as Prime Minister. Contrast it with the visit of his grandson Rajiv Gandhi in 1987 when he was nearly hit on the head with a rifle butt by an enraged Sri Lankan sailor. Eventually the PM was destined to die at the hands of a group which his mother nurtured.

It appears that since 1983 Delhi has caught a Tiger’s tail which it cannot now let go lest the animal turns around and attacks – especially because the Tamil National Alliance and Tamil Nadu jingoists are riding the brute. Even when GOSL is trying to convince India to let go off the tail she is hesitant to do so. In this context in if ever President Mahinda Rajapaksa succeeds in handing over a captured Prabhakaran to India it would be no surprise if he is not put on trial, after all the Gandhis (Sonia and Priyanka) seem to have slowly developed – perhaps for political expediency – a soft corner for Nalini and other convicts who plotted Rajvi’s assassination.

Delhi’s mistake has been to imagine that Kautilyan methods would always work in India’s favour in the region. Kautilya alias Chanakya was Indian Emperor Chandragupta’s Chief Minister who developed a strategy of destabilizing and weakening neighbouring states around 320 B.C. His methods proved advantageous to both Chandragupta and his successors including Emperor Asoka (who later gave up wars of expansion after embracing Buddhism and adopted the Dharma Chakra as the State symbol).

India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW ) subsequently researched, developed and used these Kautilyan methods for expanding Delhi’s power in the region including Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In fact this is the Indian Government’s real reason to adopt the Saranath Lion Capital and the Asoka Chakra or Dharma Chakra as India’s National symbol – which appears on her national flag – more than out of respect for a great Buddhist Emperor and his religion as many Buddhists believe, according to Bangladeshi writer and Barrister M.B.I. Munshi (The India Doctrine published by Bangladesh Research Forum)

Isha Khan


Who Is Behind the Bombing in Islamabad?
September 27, 2008, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Who Is Behind the Bombing in Islamabad?
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“What we cannot escape,” one Pentagon policy planner told us, “is a confrontation with Pakistan. Pakistan holds the key to success for us in Afghanistan.”
Afghanistan: How Does This End?, Swoop, Sept 20, 2008

If one wants to make sense of the big bombing that hit the Marriott hotel in Islamabad yesterday, one has to look at the bigger strategic picture.

If you believe the usually ‘western’ media, the U.S. is still an ally of Pakistan and India is still a neutral country. In reality the U.S. and India are allied in a war against Pakistan and China.

Foreign policy elements in India and the in U.S. see China as their respective big strategic enemy. But both want – for now – avoid an open conflict. The center of gravity in this silent war against China are the hydrocarbon reserves in Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa and the transport routes for these.

The war in Afghanistan and the war in Pakistan can be seen as proxy wars between these three big powers over the energy issue.

China is developing the port of Gwader in Baluchistan on the south coast of Pakistan and transport routes from there into its mainland. The port will allow energy flow from Africa and the Middle East to China without Indian naval interference.

Just like China is in a strategic alliance with Pakistan, India is in a strategic alliance with Afghanistan. It is developing a road connection from Herat to a port in south Iran. While Pakistan supports some Taliban groups in their war against the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, India and the U.S. support other Taliban groups within Pakistan in fighting Islamabad.

The current aim seems to be to splinter Pakistan into smaller pieces.

Oh, that is not what the media say? The above is all baloney?

Attached is a collection of excerpts of recent news pieces and strategic papers. Skim through them with the above in mind.

From the U.S.:
The Pashtuns, concentrated in the northwestern tribal areas, would join with their ethnic brethren across the Afghan border (some 40 million of them combined) to form an independent “Pashtunistan.” The Sindhis in the southeast, numbering 23 million, would unite with the six million Baluch tribesmen in the southwest to establish a federation along the Arabian Sea from India to Iran. “Pakistan” would then be a nuclear-armed Punjabi rump state.
Drawn and Quartered, New York Times op-ed, Feb 1, 2008

From India:
If ever the national interests are defined with clarity and prioritised, the foremost threat to the Union (and for centuries before) materialised on the western periphery, continuously. To defend this key threat to the Union, New Delhi should extend its influence through export of both, soft and hard power towards Central Asia from where invasions have been mounted over centuries. Cessation of Pakistan as a state facilitates furtherance of this pivotal national objective.

With China’s one arm, i.e. Pakistan disabled, its expansionist plans will receive a severe jolt. Beijing continues to pose primary threat to New Delhi. Even as we continue to engage with it as constructively as possible, we must strive to remove the proxy. At the same time, it is prudent to extend moral support to the people of Tibet to sink Chinese expansionism in the morass of insurgency.
Stable Pakistan not in India’s interest, Indian Defence Review, Sept. 2008

From Pakistan:
Pakistani policy analysts are convinced that United States has been a duplicitous ally during the past seven years, using the sincere Pakistani cooperation on Afghanistan to gradually turn that country into a military base to launch a sophisticated psychological, intelligence and military campaign to destabilize Pakistan itself.

The objective is to weaken the control of the Pakistani military over geographical Pakistan and ignite an ethnic and sectarian civil war leading to changing the status of Balochistan and NWFP, possibly even facilitate the break up of both provinces from the Pakistani federation.
Pakistan Reverses 9/11 Appeasement, Ahmed Quraishi, Sept 13, 2008

Various sources:
Mere rhetorical response to the mounting American gangsterism is no answer, when this adventurism has very deeper diabolical motivations to it.

It is for the failure of the retired general, who loved playing a slave to American warlords, to demand this action from the coalition forces in Afghanistan that our tribal region has become the lair of foreign-sponsored militants, who on the bidding of their masters have turned our once-peaceful tribal belt into a violent place and the rest of our country their killing field.
Mullen’s betrayal, The Frontier Post, Peshawar, Editorial, Sept 19, 2008

India is buying armaments that major powers like the United States use to operate far from home: aircraft carriers, giant C-130J transport planes and airborne refueling tankers. Meanwhile, India has helped to build a small air base in Tajikistan that it will share with its host country. It is modern India’s first military outpost on foreign soil.

“There seems to be an emerging long-term competition between India and China for pre-eminence in the region,” said Jacqueline Newmyer, president of the Long Term Strategy Group, a research institute in Cambridge, Mass., and a security consultant to the United States government. “India is preparing slowly to claim its place as a pre-eminent power, and in the meantime China is working to complicate that for India.”
Land of Gandhi Asserts Itself as Global Military Power, NYT, Sept. 22, 2008

Armed with a permit for global nuclear trade, India’s prime minister leaves next week for the United States and France hoping to seal atomic energy deals and discuss cooperation in defense and counter-terrorism.
Atomic trade high on India PM’s U.S., France tour, Reuters, Sept. 19, 2008

Senior Chinese military official Guo Boxiong pledged on Monday to further strengthen military exchanges between China and Pakistan.

In his meeting with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq PervezKiyani, Guo, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, appreciated the fruitful cooperation between both sides over the years.

China highly values its all-round strategic cooperative partnership with Pakistan, Guo said, vowing to join hands with the country to boost bilateral ties to a new level.

In response, Kiyani said his country treasures its traditional friendship with China and is ready to further boost cooperation with China. China eyes closer military exchanges with Pakistan, Xinhua, Sept. 22, 2008

Taliban insurgents have attacked an Indian construction project in the western Afghan province of Herat, killing 11 Afghan policemen and wounding several others on a weekend that saw most fighters lay down their weapons for U.N. Peace Day.
Indian construction project targeted by Taliban, Globe and Mail, Sept. 21, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Two local intelligence officials say troops and tribesmen opened fire when two U.S. helicopters crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan.
Intel officials: US copters cross Pakistan border, Reuters, Sept. 22, 2008

Pakistani military forces flew repeated helicopter missions into Afghanistan to resupply the Taliban during a fierce battle in June 2007, according to a U.S. Marine lieutenant colonel, who says his information is based on multiple U.S. and Afghan intelligence reports.
U.S. Officer: Pakistani Forces Aided Taliban, Defense News, Sept. 19, 2008

This U.S. media campaign has been going hand in glove for the past eighteen months with a wave of terrorism inside Pakistan targeting Pakistani civilians and government. The blame for these acts was laid at the doors of something called ‘Pakistani Taliban’ which is, in major part, a creation of Indian and Karzai intelligence setups inside Afghanistan.

But the situation between Islamabad and Washington does not have to come to this. Islamabad can help tip the scales in Washington against the hawks who want a war with Pakistan. Not all parts of the U.S. government accept this idea and this must be exploited. Pakistan must make it clear that it will retaliate.

The only way to entrap Pakistan now is to either orchestrate a spectacular terrorist attack in U.S. and blame it on Pakistan, or to assassinate a high profile personality inside Pakistan and generate domestic strife that will make it impossible for the military to resist U.S. attacks.
Pakistan Reverses 9/11 Appeasement, Ahmed Quraishi, Sept 13, 2008
Who could be/is responsible for yesterday’s big bomb in Islamabad?
May China have, beside Taiwan, additional conditions for the big bailout that relate with Pakistan?

Isha Khan

India’s Options in Kashmir
September 26, 2008, 8:59 pm
Filed under: India, Pakistan, SubContinent
India’s Options in Kashmir 
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By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

First, the good news for Kashmiris. To the credit of the freedom leaders it must be stated that for the first time in Independent India, a few mainstream newspapers, academicians, public figures and even political parties have expressed their solidarity with freedom struggling Kashmiris and they support an independent Kashmir. That is the biggest asset the poplar uprising has earned since 1947 when conservative India quite tactfully annexed Kashmir and will help in ushering in a free Kashmir at the earliest.

Any spontaneous struggle by people has a lot of historical significance and Kashmir uprising for sovereignty sent out that message to the world loud and clear. Finally, the world has realized it is no more any “terrorist’ adventure by few Kashmiris or Pakistan sponsored “cross-border-terrorist act” as India thus far claimed in international forums and propagated in world media, but it is indeed the popular freedom struggle being waged by Kashmiris on all-Kashmir basis. And, conservative India can no longer call the freedom fighting Kashmiris since there are no guns, grenades or any other weaponry in the hands of people here. They are protesting peacefully. However, India is using brute force against the unarmed protestors. They are firing bullets and teargas shells on them, torturing them and killing them.

The spectacle of hundreds of thousands marching and protesting in both regions needs an explanation. Brutal murder of innocent Kashmiris who protested peacefully requires an explanation. Yet, Indian government, diverting the global attention by keeping alive a non issue like nuclearism which mean nothing to India and famous terror acts, still keeps criminal silence over surrendering sovereignty back to the struggling Kashmiri masses. US should use nuclearism flirting of India to make Kashmir free form India.

The Kashmiri population feels that their homeland is essentially occupied, and harbors a deep sense of oppression over several decades and generations by Indian governments. This powerful sense of unmitigated grievance was triggered by yet another ‘slight’ – the decision to transfer land without any consultation with the valley’s people. The Jammu agitation caused disruption to traffic on a highway running from Srinagar to Jammu and beyond that is the valley’s lifeline. In August over 30 Muslims died there when Indian security forces opened fire on large marches.

Hindu Atrocities in Kashmir

Oppression, suppression, torture, genocide are the hallmark of the Indian occupation in Jammu Kashmir. It appears the strategists in New Delhi are trying to split Jammu Kashmir to carve out a separate state for Hindus in Jammu as Kashmir becomes an independent nation. Kashmir Muslim leaders have seen through the Indian tricks and are determined to pursue their legitimate struggle to achieve freedom form occupying India. True, India is scared of the peaceful but massive demonstrations for freedom.

The recent trouble started when the state government said it would illegally grant 99 acres plus (40 hectares plus) of forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board. The allocation of land was aimed at altering the demographic balance in the area. The government said the board needed the land to erect huts and toilets for visiting pilgrims. But following days of protests, the government rescinded the order, prompting Hindu groups to mount violent protests of their own and creating havoc for the Kashmir Muslims.

India continues to cause deaths to Kashmiris. Recent Mehraj’s death caused by Indian terrorist strategy highlights how youth are being treated in Kashmir. Mehraj’s death highlights how youth are being treated in Kashmir. On arrest of protesters, authorities have got no justification in arresting the peaceful and unarmed protestors. As it is known, India has zero tolerance for any opposition Indian occupation of Jammu Kashmir. Just as the Britishers used to do, the Indian forces have employed brute force against the peaceful demonstrators.

At some places Indian forces are intimidating the women folk by marching naked before them. The Hurriyat (G) chairman Geelani said this is an extreme measure of war crime against humanity. Geelani said United Nations should constitute a war tribunal in Kashmir to ‘investigate worst form of human rights violations, use of brute force and killing of unarmed protesters’ by Indian troopers. According Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, one of Kashmir’s main pro-independence politicians, “Such repressive measures will not work. We will emerge stronger and more vibrant”. India seems to be keen to make Kashmiris “terrorists” by dirty provocative strategies like flying nuclear enabled jets in Kashmir, but the Indian colonizers will have to learn the lessons properly.

Talks and ceasefires

Recently several secret grave yards were discovered in Kashmir which is under Indian occupation. News about Kashmir is every where these days, making the Since its “discovery” in the mid-19th century by UK, the cave-deity has attracted masses of “Hindutva pilgrims” every summer from India. This May, the government of Jammu Kashmir decided to illegally transfer 100 acres of land on a mountain route leading to the shrine to a Hindu religious trust controlled by JK governor and central government. These sparked widespread protests in the valley through June, and six civilians were killed. The decision was then rescinded in early July, and this in turn triggered a large-scale and sustained protest campaign in the Hindu-majority districts around the city of Jammu. The Kashmir valley, though overwhelmingly Muslim, has an ice-formation located inside a remote cave that is regarded as a manifestation of the god Shiva. Indians must feel vulnerable and concede guilty of decades of genocides in militarized Kashmir.

Kashmir last dominated world headlines in 2002, when India and Pakistan mobilized a million troops on the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border that divides the territory, contested since 1947, and on the international frontier between the two countries. Cold blooded massacres in Kashmir have snot made the Hindus panicky. But a stand-off was precipitated by using a “suicide raid” in December 2001 on India’s parliament in New Delhi and a massacre in May 2002 of families of Indian soldiers near the city of Jammu, Hindu-majority south of Kashmir. Prior to that, the Indian and Pakistani militaries fought a two-month war in the summer of 1999 on a stretch of the LoC in the remote Himalayas, in Ladakh’s Kargil district, after the LoC there was infiltrated by Pakistani army units. That conflict too threatened to escalate into a wider war between countries which had tested nuclear weapons just a year earlier, in May 1998. In late 2003, on the LoC took hold, and since 2004 relations between India and Pakistan have seen a thaw. But four years later, it is clear that the thaw has not developed into a serious peace process, and that a settlement to the Kashmir dispute is nowhere on the horizon. In April 2005, a fortnightly cross-LoC bus service was launched between Srinagar, the capital of the Kashmir Valley and the largest city in Indian-administered Kashmir, and Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Subsequently, there was no progress in the India-Pakistan dialogue on substantive aspects of the Kashmir problem, even on such relatively peripheral issues as the de-militarization of the Siachen glacier on the northern fringes of the territory. The paralyzed nature of the talks seemed bearable since the insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir since 1990 ebbed during these years.

But in fact the past few years of relative calm represent a major missed opportunity for India to engage all communities and factions in Kashmir in a genuine and credible – as distinct from an illusory and vacuous – peace process. Kashmiris had been looking forward to getting back their sovereignty from India, however, India always takes a peaceful atmosphere to push further its hegemonic and colonial and imperialistic rule in Jammu Kashmir. Any notion that the Kashmir conflict has been successfully put in cold-storage has been exposed as a delusion during the summer of 2008.

Indianization & Decline of Muslims in Jammu

Discovery of secret grave yards in Kashmir has sent up cold waves across Kashmir about possible secret genocides of Muslims in Jammu as well. It is a known strategy of colonizers to “import” their own people to settle down in colonies annexed so as to keep the legitimate inhabitants are pressurized and subjugated and punished. Indian Doctrine of containment of and unleash subversive agenda in its neighbors Since 1947 India has harped on this hidden agenda quite vigorously by inciting violence in Kashmir. Indian strategists even now believe that the only way they can preserve their identity and avoid being swallowed by the huge Indian population is by retaining control of their land. Kashmiris have to some extent resisted the Indian designs, but the militarization has overpowered the innocent Kashmiris. India wants Kashmiris encircled by Hindus and their culture so that Kashmiris, like Indian Muslims, “socialize and Hinduize partially”. Shri Amarnath illegal land deal is a part of the scheme.

India added more and more Hindus in Kashmir through militarization and other nefarious designs. In 1982, while Sheikh Abdullah governed the state, his National Conference party brought out a red book titled “Conspiracy to reduce the majority community in Jammu and Kashmir into a minority”. Other Kashmiri leaders have also, on many occasions, voiced their concern over what they say is the steady decline of the Muslim population in the Jammu region. They have blamed this on people from neighboring states settling down in the region.

India has strenuously tried to make Hindus infiltrate into Kashmir and settle down with military protection. Several “Indian entrepreneurs are encouraged by India to buy land and promote Indian hidden agenda last year, Kashmiris effectively forced the state government to withdraw a proposal to allow non-Kashmiri investors to bid for plots of land on which to build hotels at the tourist resort of Gulmarg and other places.

Every thing for Hindus in Indian Secular state

Hated and contained by the Hindus at all levels, Muslims in India feel neglected since 1947 and now they are treated as undesired “terrorists: and suspected ones in the country. There is a perception among Hindus in Jammu that they wielded little power in the state of Jammu and Kashmir as the minority population – and what leadership they did have was remote and inaccessible.

India follow not just “first Hindus” policy, but more atrociously, “Benefits only for Hindus”. Hindus in Jammu are very particular that similar things don’t happen to Hindus in Jammu Kashmir and a second capital was made out of Jammu where government functions one half of year. The predominately pro-India media managed by Hindus do the talking and guiding part of the Hindu agenda for JK. Congress party chose a leader form Jammu region, Gulam Nabi Azad, who is known to be feeling comfortable more with Hindus than Kashmiris and never even visited his partly office dung his tenure as JK chief-minister, to head the collation ministry so that Hindu interests are held supreme and effectively taken care of as governments in India effectively do by cheating the Muslim voters.

With an imperialistic view to retaining Jammu Kashmir under its custody, since 1947 New Delhi engineered techniques to split the Kashmiris and Kashmir along regional and religious lines. The current turmoil in Kashmir has exposed that Indian strategy beyond doubts. Religious and regional conflicts have surfaced quite openly and Kashmiri Hindus encouraged by India seek the intervention of India in some measures. Also, pro-and anti-Kashmir groups have been engineered among Muslims and Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh are, albeit in different ways, hostages to the frozen-yet-simmering disputes.

Ever growing Indian frustrations over Kashmiri resolve for independence could well be gauged form the military operations in Kashmir recently. Jammu region created economic terrorism for Kashmir Muslims, along with human terrorism unleashed from Indian terror forces, but authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have imposed an indefinite curfew throughout the Kashmir Valley. It comes amid continuing protests by the Muslim majority population – with a major rally planned for the region’s main city, Srinagar.

The valley is already paralyzed by strikes called by freedom groups who want an end to Indian rule. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims took part in a protest rally called by freedom leaders in Srinagar. Reports suggested police had carried out raids on freedom leaders’ homes overnight. The strike comes amid continuing freedom movement in the region. Fifteen people died in a gun battle between militants and the authorities near the Line of Control – the de facto border dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

Imperialist Repressions: Kashmiri resentments

Obviously, Indian Government wants to create a rift between the regions and stop Jammu Hindus from joining a new free Kashmir state. Observers are almost unanimous that the land row is an effect rather than a cause of antagonism between the two regions, Kashmir and Jammu. They say the simmering discontent dates back to the ending of the monarchy in Kashmir in 1947. The monarch, Maharaja Hari Singh, was a Hindu who belonged to the main ethnic Dogra community of Jammu. When the monarchy ended, handed over Kashmir to India under secret agreements and a popular government were installed under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah. Since then India systematically created a pro-India contingent of Kashmiris, killing many regularly.

Today the same feelings of resentment are still evident. Hindus and their media and governments talk ill of Kashmiris and, indirectly, also Indian Muslims for not opposing Kashmiris. They are not considered as citizens, let alone second or third class ones. But the Hindu specialists are there to defend the Jammu Hindus against Muslims. “It’s ironical that Kashmiris who don’t even consider themselves to be Indians are getting all the blessings of the government, while the people of Jammu are always treated as second class citizens,” said one Hindu in Jammu.

The current ferment in the Kashmir Valley is a throwback to the turbulent winter of 1963-64, when the theft of what Muslims believe to be a hair of the Prophet Mohammad from Srinagar’s Hazratbal shrine ignited massive protests in the valley. Although the trigger was ostensibly a religious issue, the unrest resulted from pent-up resentment at a decade of Delhi’s Kashmir policies – which included the removal from office and incarceration of Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah, the de facto scrapping of Indian-administered Kashmir’s self-rule powers, and the use of police methods to repress protest and silence dissent. Kashmiris hate India. But there is no precedent to both the major regions in Indian-occupied Kashmir simultaneously plunging into turmoil. Kashmiris want sovereignty.

India refuses to address the core Kashmir issue. After almost two decades of separatist violence, the situation in the Kashmir valley had improved in the past few years. Violence was on the decline and hundreds of thousands of tourists had returned to the valley, rekindling hope that Kashmir may be on the path to peace once again. But the latest violence by Hindus and Muslims seems to have dashed that hope.

India supports separatism of Hindus in Jammu. Encouraged by Hindutva forces in New Delhi, the Hindu groups in India and Jammu have always demanded abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution which gives special status to the valley. The Hindu groups twice vetoed offers of autonomy for Jammu – first by Sheikh Abdullah in the 1950s and again in 1996 by Farooq Abdullah – because they have opposed the special status of the valley. The Jammu agitation is reminiscent of 1952-53, when the same areas in the Jammu region’s Hindu-majority south were convulsed by a Hindu movement calling for full integration of Indian-administered Kashmir with the Indian Union, meaning the cancellation of Indian-administered Kashmir’s autonomous status, recognized in India’s constitution and re-affirmed in 1952 in talks between India’s prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the Kashmiri Muslim leader Sheikh Abdullah.

Peaceful Movement for Sovereignty

Indian strategists have every right to imagine. They think, once Kashmiris continue to be peaceful, India can go on militarizing Kashmir and occupying the alien land so long as USA does not offer an ultimatum to India on Kashmir sovereignty. Colonial minded Indians are terribly mistaken. In order to create obstacles to Indian support for the Kashmir freedom move they now cry loud that Kashmiris want to join Pakistan. How doe sit matter to them; Business of terror master India is to surrender sovereignty back to the struggling Kashmiris.

Kashmiris feel they are systematically tortured, terrorized and killed by Indian forces. Like Muslims in India, Jammu’s Hindus have long felt bypassed and neglected as a minority in Indian-administered Kashmir. They viewed the subsequent revocation of the transfer as yet another cave-in to the valley’s more numerous Muslims, and reacted with raw anger. The competing mass mobilizations have precedents. Jammu Hindus are no different form those in India. Many in the valley argue that these groups have a barely concealed anti-Muslim agenda.

Perhaps, for the first time world media blasted the Indian atrocities in Kashmir in 2008, after so many years of Indian occupation of that part of the world. It is for the first time that Kashmiris are awakened to demand sovereignty back from India. The row over whether to allocate land to Amarnath Trust by New Delhi “Hindu specialists” in Muslim Kashmir, now under Indian occupation and hectic militarization, is unprecedented and has potentially caused the state to fragment along communal lines. Now it is no exaggeration to say that India is managing the state to be heading towards a communal meltdown, before the final settlement of Kashmir issue.

The conflagration was a setback for the Indian government which had made much of several years of relative calm in the Kashmir region and was under the impression that Kashmiris have compromised and recoiled to he Indian projects in Kashmir. India has tried to conclude that Kashmiris are finally over-powered by military threat and secret grave yards as there has been a decline of military exchanges with Pakistan across the Line of Control (LoC).

The message from Kashmir for India and other oppressor nations is candid and clear: Frozen conflicts don’t stay frozen for too long and they cannot be put down with iron hands howsoever the power tries to suppress the freedom movement. Kashmiris now demand sovereignty peacefully and India has to concede. USA will certainly agree with this.

Sense of oppression: Kashmir shall be Free !

Discovery of secret grave-yards in Kashmir reminds the world of Indian gray policy for freedom seeking Kashmir and remains the ugliest display of inhuman misadventure on innocent Kashmiris. If India showcases the graveyards as the peaceful place for freedom fighters, it is terribly mistaken. Historic Significance of Kashmir Uprising cannot be belittled by Indian strategists and leaders.

Like the USA, India is keen to punish Muslims, kill them mercilessly. The turmoil comes at an uncertain time for India-Pakistan relations. Last month, there were localized ceasefire violations on the LoC, militant bombs killed 50 people in India’s Gujarat state, and India’s embassy in Kabul was attacked in a deadly suicide-bombing. Armed freedom groups in Kashmir have been lying low since the post-2004 thaw, but they remain present and dangerous. The lesson is frozen conflicts don’t stay frozen, and windows of opportunity to make real progress towards solutions don’t come often. Stalling on such opportunities can be perilous.

Under the prevailing freedom circumstances, India is keen to implement its pet and illegal Amarnath land deal by hook or crock and JK governor is dying to persuade the Kashmir leaders to convince the masses to “oblige’ the New Delhi masters. While many Kashmiris are kept under brutal custody in Indian jails, JK Governor N N Vohra had said that the administration was ready to hold talks with Jammu and Kashmir Coordination Committee (JKCC), which is spearheading the agitation in Kashmir.

Of course, JK Governor should to talk to the freedom fighters, their leaders like Syed Geelani, but the agenda of any such future talks should be on Kashmir sovereignty and announced before hand so that there are no embarrassments for him and the freedom leaders. However, freedom leaders clearly smell a rat in the invitation extended recently by Vohra for talks; they see the New Delhi’s dirty hand stained with Kashmiri blood in new maneuverings and coercing the freedom leaders to agree to Indian Hindu demand for illegal land deal for Amarnath shrine. In stead, India should rebuild Grand Babri Mosque that was destroyed in 1992 by Hindu Al-Queda militants.

Rather, Vohra should invite the freedom leaders to discuss the sovereignty issue and formation of an independent nation with their own constitution, currency and flag for Kashmiris. It is for them to decide if they would eventually join Pakistan or Afghanistan. History tells that Kashmiris would prefer an independent nation with good relations with Islamic nations. That is quite natural.

Unfortunately, Terror India is dying hard to hold “democratic” polls in JK to see its agents come back to power and put a full stop to freedom struggle. No, that would be unwise and first of all, a peaceful atmosphere has to be created by promising the Kashmiris of independence following the polls. Find out how many Kashmiri Muslims have been murdered by India recently. Leave the polls to an independent Kashmir.

Indian media had harped on releasing the detainees in Pakistan before any poll was to be held in that Islamic state, but in Kashmir India has a different face to show; many innocent protests are behind bars and many are being killed on a day to day basis, but Indian media want elections immediately so that Kashmiris are forced to forget about their agitations, and freedom from Indian yoke.

But Kashmir is now under curfew, people are on the streets and Indian jails for peacefully demanding freedom from occupying India. But JK Governor and Indian government are focused on the dirty illegal land deal, unmindful of the ghastly deaths of Kashmiri Muslims, both in the streets and jails. Yes, Governor, first of all, a peaceful environment has to be created for any meaningful dialogue and jailed Kashmiris should be released unconditionally.

It is high time India woke up to face the reality and boldly announce independence of Kashmir. The issue at dispute is Kashmir is not part of India and Kashmiris never like the idea of becoming Indians. Decades of Indian atrocities including regular genocide have not made the freedom seeking Kashmiris bend even a bit. India cannot refuse to address the key Kashmir issue any more? Surrendering the Kashmiris their sovereignty!

Since Kashmiris have decided to get back sovereignty from India by all means and have shed violence against deadly Indian provocative methods, time is quite ripe for conservative New Delhi to consider, equally seriously, surrendering sovereignty back to them without delay and without once again tricking them into “terrorist” path. One hopes India will shed its “innocence” symptoms and come out to face the emerging reality when Kashmiris are together now and international community is on their side. In stead of behaving like a tight lipped or close mouthed rogue, India must talk, as before when they slammed Kashmiris, now about Kashmir sovereignty; after all fanatic New Delhi is not a shy guy.

Trade and contacts across the Line of Control (LoC) should lead to joining of the both parts of Jammu Kashmir. The same could be better achieved by returning sovereignty back to Kashmiris. Both India and Pakistan should come forward to uniting the Kashmir as a sovereign nation at the earliest

Colonizers and imperialist strategists in Terrorist India should keep in mind Jammu Kashmir will be free form Indian yoke, all Indian leaders including military terrorists will be tried in special tribunals set by the UN and punished in due course. India has to answer for each and every Kashmiri Muslim lost life for their sacred cause of freedom form occupying India. Yes, India should stop fooling Kashmiris!

Researcher in International Affairs,
South Asia

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Isha Khan

The Implanted Radio-Frequency Identification Chip
September 11, 2008, 12:00 pm
Filed under: USA
The Implanted Radio-Frequency Identification Chip: “Smart Cards” in a Surveillance Society : RFID tags implanted in physical objects or human beings

Nuclear India
September 2, 2008, 11:19 am
Filed under: India

Nuclear India at the Crossroads

Rajesh M. Basrur

Five years after first publicly testing nuclear weapons, India stands at a critical point in its strategic path. It faces today a crucial choice between maintaining a minimal deterrent and expanding its arsenal so as to sustain a Cold War-style posture toward its nuclear adversaries. Two factors are likely to shape its decision: its selection of a deterrence “model” based on two very diverse experiences with China and Pakistan and, more crucially, its own ability to comprehend and articulate the assumptions and ramifications of “minimum deterrence.”
The 1998 tests broke with a history of leisurely, covert, and often hesitant weaponization and forced on Indian leaders important issues relating to doctrine and organization. Yet, the Indian government has truly to grapple with these concerns. The Draft Nuclear Doctrine floated in 1999 was widely debated but yielded no detailed follow-up. After a long gap, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s government in January 2003 released a short statement reiterating its commitment to “building and maintaining a credible minimum deterrent.” (See ACT, January/February 2003.) It emphasized that India will not be the first to use nuclear weapons (except against biological or chemical weapons) but promised massive retaliation in response to a nuclear attack to inflict “unacceptable damage” on the enemy. It also announced the existence of a Nuclear Command Authority under civilian control and the appointment of a commander-in-chief of the Strategic Forces Command as the apex military decision-maker.1 Apart from gradual organizational consolidation, India has demonstrated its deterrent capabilities in two ways: through the range of tests carried out in 1998 and through the array of missiles undergoing various stages of development and induction into its forces.2

Still, India’s nuclear doctrine has yet to crystallize fully in the form of a clearly thought-out and articulated posture. On the one hand, there is a strong element of restraint in the fact that nuclear warheads have not been deployed on missiles but are stored in an unassembled state. On the other, the quest for a triad of launch platforms invites a continually expanding arsenal. As the organization of India’s nuclear assets proceeds, pressures to stretch capability beyond the confines of minimum deterrence—or simply to redefine “minimum” to encompass more—are likely to increase. The persistence of high-level threat perceptions will also encourage an expansionary process. Which path will India’s leaders take? Its relationships with China and Pakistan offer very different possibilities.

India and China: Oligopolistic Competition

It is often forgotten that India faces not one but two nuclear adversaries: China and Pakistan. With both rival nuclear powers, India must contend with territorial disputes, a history of war, and perceptions of nuclear threat. Yet, its relations with China and Pakistan are very different in tenor. India’s stable relationship with China is conducive to a relaxed and minimalistic nuclear posture; its tense and crisis-ridden confrontation with Pakistan facilitates a volatile and expansionary one.

The China factor was central to Indian nuclear strategic thinking from as far back as 1964, when China tested its first nuclear bomb just two years after it had inflicted a serious military defeat on India. The war left unsettled a territorial dispute over their long border that still engages the two countries in endless talks. It also left Indians distrustful of the Chinese for having “betrayed” their friendship. The threat of a Sino-Indian war has since arisen on more than one occasion, most significantly in 1986-1987 in the Sumdorong Chu valley in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, an area which China to this day does not recognize as part of India. China threatened to “teach India a lesson,” and both sides mobilized several divisions.3 Eventually, a political compromise was reached, although full withdrawal of forces took place only in August 1995.

China was a primary cause for India’s decision to go nuclear, even though from the Indian standpoint, the Chinese threat was not direct or immediate. New Delhi viewed evidence of China’s assistance to Pakistan’s missile and nuclear programs as strong indication of less-than-benign Chinese intent.4 In a 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton, Vajpayee justified his decision to test a nuclear weapon openly by pointing to the threat from China, which Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes more bluntly characterized as “potential threat number one.”5 Indian concerns about China’s nuclear aid to Pakistan and the larger issue of its efforts to contain India (through an enhanced presence in Myanmar, for example) are yet to be assuaged. Chinese concerns about India’s steadily expanding missile reach are likewise growing.6

Despite the persistence of sources of tension, India and China have managed their relationship remarkably well. The border problem has been kept in abeyance through the mechanism of annual talks since the early 1980s, and a Joint Working Group was established in 1988. Meanwhile, other aspects of the relationship have flourished. Trade grew from $1.1 billion in 1995 to nearly $3.5 billion in 2001.7 In April 2003, Fernandes visited China and expressed “a deep sense of satisfaction and the conviction that this visit will be the beginning for drawing a road map for the near future.”8 In July and August 2003, a confrontation between border patrols at the Line of Actual Control in the region of Arunachal Pradesh was met with a diplomatic rather than a military response.9

The overall picture that emerges is akin to “oligopolistic competition,” in which large rivals compete but do so in a stable market. India and China appear to have reached an understanding that their persistent differences on the border and on the nature of the Chinese-Pakistani relationship should not be allowed to prevent the stabilization of their strategic relationship as a whole. A measure of this stability is India’s disinterest in attempting to catch up with China’s nuclear arsenal either in qualitative or quantitative terms, although there is an ongoing effort to ensure its ability to reach additional Chinese targets through the development of the Agni-III missile, which has a range of more than 3,000 kilometers.10 Notably, while Indian and U.S. critics have fretted that the planned U.S. ballistic missile defense system will have a “cascading” effect on China, India, and Pakistan, generating expanding arsenals and consequent tensions, Indian officials have expressed no such fears.

India and Pakistan: Spiraling Hostility

The Indo-Pakistani relationship stands in stark contrast. The rising tensions accompanying the process of nuclearization have fed on a history of violent partition in 1947, which was followed by three wars in 1947-1948, 1965, and 1971. During the 1980s, the covert development of nuclear weapons by both countries brought increased tensions and what some have termed the “stability-instability paradox”—the persistence of low-level conflict between the two South Asian nuclear rivals.11 Pakistan encouraged the militant Khalistan movement in India’s Punjab state, and major crises involving the amassing of troops on both sides of the border occurred in 1986-1987 and 1990. An insurgency in the Indian-held portion of Kashmir obtained Pakistani support, and tensions escalated in the 1990s.

The 1998 nuclear tests, besides confirming a process of weaponization already well under way, ratcheted up tensions still further. Like other nuclear rivals before them, India and Pakistan attempted and failed to gain advantage over each other through coercive diplomacy.12 In 1999, Pakistan’s clandestine seizure of several mountain peaks in the Kargil region of Kashmir brought a short, sharp military clash that many regard as a war. Persistent terrorist violence in Kashmir culminating in an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001 generated a fresh crisis. Indian leaders, blaming Pakistan for supporting the militants, responded with a massive mobilization of conventional forces, threatening an unspecified form of “limited war.” The crisis subsided only after a prolonged confrontation that endured until October 2002. Both events aroused global pressures for peace but brought no bilateral concessions. Rather, they left the belligerents dissatisfied, intimating the possibility of more to come.

In contrast with the Indo-Chinese case, the Indo-Pakistani relationship has been marked by a secular trend of rising confrontation, although interspersed with high-level attempts to negotiate (the summits of 1988, 1999, and 2000). Despite some successes in the past, such as the 1960 Indus Water Treaty and formal and informal nuclear confidence- building measures agreed on in 1988 and 1999, the trend has not been positive.13 Tit-for-tat nuclear and missile testing and contentious rhetoric have remained the most striking feature of the relationship. Trade links are marginal, cultural exchanges have all but dried up, and regional collaboration has suffered. The outlook for positive change is uncertain at best. Neither India nor Pakistan has a strong government or is likely to. Power will likely continue to be distributed between groups jostling uncertainly for control. With the religious right on the rise in both countries, there is much skepticism as to whether the most recent effort to cut the Gordian knot will yield results. The scope for compromise on Kashmir, which would require substantial concessions by both sides, seems limited. In contrast with the Indo-Chinese relationship, the Indo-Pakistani one presents a picture of spiraling competition, with the prospect of crises and arms racing ever hovering in the background.

India’s choices about the path ahead are likely to be pulled in different directions by the two kinds of strategic relationships it faces. New Delhi’s relationship with Beijing encourages a combination of restrained competition and limited but growing cooperation. The relatively smooth ties between the two countries will allow India to maintain a fairly stable nuclear force even if the Chinese force expands, while resisting arms racing, fears about vulnerability, and the risk-taking that tends toward recurrent crises. The Indo-Pakistani “spiral model,” on the other hand, is inherently unstable. It is highly competitive; thrives on a zero-sum view of the adversary; and encourages arms acquisition, concerns about vulnerability, and the direct or indirect manipulation of nuclear capability for coercive diplomacy.

At present, the Indian posture lies somewhere in between these two approaches. India has chosen not to have its nuclear forces deployed for immediate launch and has not expressed many public worries about the balance of forces vis-à-vis China. Also, the aggressive nuclear rhetoric in which India and Pakistan have periodically engaged has not been paralleled by threat and counter-threat in terms of deployed strategic forces. At the same time, in other ways, India has favored an expansionary nuclear weapons policy, supporting open-ended development of its nuclear force, notably the long-term drive for a diversely constituted nuclear triad. New Delhi has also continued to try to practice coercive diplomacy under the nuclear shadow. Should this dichotomy persist, the “realist” outlook of those who press for an expansionary nuclear policy is likely to prove triumphant, as it is hard to resist the apparent security of greater numbers and technological sophistication in an environment of high tension. The redirection of nuclear strategy by India in this way would almost inevitably be followed by a replication by India and Pakistan of Cold War postures and politics on an “affordable” but still risk-laden scale.

The key question then is, How might such a shift be prevented? There are two ways in which this could be done. India’s and Pakistan’s bitter competition could be transformed into a more manageable relationship like the one New Delhi enjoys with Beijing. If that does not prove possible, restraint and stability might still be induced by means of a clearer understanding of minimum deterrence and its basic assumptions. In the first case, the United States can play a valuable role. In the second, it cannot.

Common Interests and Behavioral Restraint

One key to tamping down nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan is to focus on vital interests that are common to both countries. In a nuclear relationship, nothing can be more vital than the necessity of preventing war and nuclear catastrophe. India and Pakistan have to arrive at the understanding that, although Kashmir might be central to their respective identities as nations, avoiding nuclear conflict comes first. This means separating the dispute over Kashmir from the larger nuclear relationship so as to maintain a broad stability in the way that India and China have done.

India needs to comprehend that large-scale mobilizations such as the one it carried out during 2001 and 2002 significantly raise nuclear risks. The fact that war did not break out is hardly reassuring, because one could just as well occur in the next crisis, and although Pakistan might view supporting terrorist groups active in India as a low-cost strategy, it is actually counterproductive to Islamabad’s broader security interests. Many of the “freedom fighters” of Kashmir have links with al Qaeda and the larger objective of global Islamic revolution, which includes overthrowing the Pakistani state.14 In addition, they have already come close to triggering a subcontinental war through the attack on India’s parliament. Their capacity to do so again remains undiminished, particularly by means of an act of nuclear or radiological terrorism.

Maintaining the present posture of deterrence without active deployment of nuclear weapons is in the interests of both countries. If India and Pakistan choose to deploy their weapons, tensions would inevitably rise. The possibility of an accidental war triggered by a false alarm of nuclear attack would go up sharply. Nuclear weapons are also targets for terrorists. A terrorist attack on either side’s nuclear forces could be misinterpreted as an enemy assault, which would further raise the risk of nuclear war. The coexistence of terrorism and nuclear infrastructures on both sides of the border creates a common interest between the two states, because neither would like the region’s terror groups or al Qaeda to acquire nuclear capability. A strategy of minimum deterrence also has a built-in advantage if an arsenal is kept down to small numbers. The smaller the number of weapons, the less the likelihood of “normal accidents,” and the fewer the targets for terrorists.15

The United States has played both a catalyzing and a dampening role in the complex nuclear politics of the region. U.S. intervention has reduced the likelihood of an actual war, but its propensity to intervene in the continual conflicts of the region has enabled India and Pakistan to employ a novel strategy: the generation of crises to invite U.S. intervention and put its adversary under pressure. This has worked in part; the Kargil conflict, although a serious diplomatic reverse for Pakistan, did give Kashmir a prominent place on the global agenda of the United States. Similarly, although India did not succeed in ending cross-border terrorism in Kashmir, it did place Pakistan under an intense and diplomatically disadvantageous spotlight. The United States has astutely avoided becoming entangled in an attempt to resolve the Kashmir issue, but it could do more to separate the political problem of Kashmir from the military-strategic problem of nuclear instability.

Unlike the United States and the Soviet Union, India and Pakistan have shown an inclination for arms control fairly early in their development as nuclear powers. As far back as 1988, Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto agreed to exchange lists of nuclear facilities annually and promised not to attack them in case of war. Soon after the 1998 nuclear tests, under the 1999 Lahore Memorandum of Understanding, India and Pakistan agreed, among other things, to notify each other of impending missile tests. By and large, they have adhered to these agreements even at the height of tension and crisis. The key is to persuade them to go further.

The United States can play a significant role in at least three ways. First, its active presence in the region acts as a restraining factor in times of high tension. Second, it can promote organizational “best practices” in weapons safety and security during storage and transportation. Third, electronic systems such as permissive action links (PALS) to prevent unauthorized launch or sabotage can be offered. The most common objections to providing such assistance are that it would violate the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), that it will amount to “rewarding” proliferators, and that the possession of electronic safety locks will encourage active deployment and increase the element of risk. The first argument misinterprets the NPT. Article I of the treaty, which obliges its signatories not to “transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly,” cannot be understood to proscribe anything which contributes to its own stress on the dangers of nuclear war to “all mankind” and the “need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war.” The term “control,” within the meaning of the treaty, clearly refers to enabling functions, not restrictive ones designed to prevent war. The second argument rests on the facile assumption that states’ decisions to proliferate are affected by the prospect of reward. There is no evidence to support this. The third fails to weigh the benefits of more effective command and control against the risks, undoubtedly real, of false confidence derived from technical sophistication. In volatile situations involving armed confrontation amid a high level of terrorist activity, the former should take precedence.

Understanding Minimum Deterrence

At the same time, the concept of “minimum deterrence” has not been adequately spelled out and hence might be undermined by pressures emanating from perceived threats or by groups with vested interests. For instance, India’s stress on the “credibility” of deterrence reflects a lack of clarity as to what exactly constitutes deterrence. Because of the enormity of their effects, nuclear weapons need not be certain to inflict massive damage. Even a small risk of large-scale devastation suffices to deter. Beyond creating that risk, an emphasis on credibility serves only to try and reassure oneself that one’s weapons will “work.” If we go a step further and consider that any decision to go to war presumes the weighing of potential costs against potential benefits, then it becomes very difficult in most cases, including the Indo-Pakistani case, to consider war as rationally desirable: it is hard to conceive of potential benefits that might outweigh even a small risk of nuclear attack.

In short, deterrence is sufficiently “credible” if it creates a small risk in the adversary’s mind. This central assumption generates a wide array of strategic rules: a few nuclear weapons are adequate for deterrence to be effective; deployment is not necessary except under conditions of grave threat; numerical balances or imbalances are meaningless; one “leg” of a potential triad is enough to deter; and the risk of escalation makes a counterforce-countervalue distinction irrelevant. Missile defense is not problematic for two reasons: minimum deterrence is tolerant of numerical imbalances in forces, and the risk of some missiles penetrating a defense shield can never be eliminated.16 Above all, second-strike capability, which is the basis of stable deterrence, does not require large, invulnerable forces that can certainly strike back. A small force that might be able to strike back creates a sufficient risk in the mind of the adversary to deter a first-strike decision.

This implies that, even if strategic relations with a particular adversary take a turn for the worse, there is no need for a change in nuclear posture. A rational adversary will invariably try to avoid nuclear conflict, even when threatening it. A study of Indo-Pakistani conflicts shows just this. In Kargil, Pakistan bore the humiliation of retreat; in 2002, India accepted failure by eventually “redeploying” (read, withdrawing) its troops. Neither wanted to risk war when the other responded with the threat of force. Likewise, President John F. Kennedy did not risk a strike on Cuba, where the “balance” of forces appeared to be tilted overwhelmingly in his favor. The last is a striking example of how minimum deterrence actually operates even under a very different doctrine and force posture. Logically, even if Pakistan were to develop a sizably larger force than India, this would not change the strategic equation between them. It would be no more significant than the numerical “imbalance” between Indian and Chinese forces.

Yet, Indian thinking in many ways contradicts the rules of minimum deterrence. Apart from the unnecessary emphasis on credibility, the officially stated threat of massive retaliation against a first strike is superfluous, because the adversary cannot know where India will strike and with what result but must assume as much because of the scale of the risk. Similarly, the quest for a triad is an exercise in superfluity. The risk of massive damage posed by any leg of the triad is sufficient to deter. The Indian emphasis on being able to target Beijing in order to deter China effectively is also hard to fathom. It assumes that the Chinese would tolerate the loss of thousands of their citizens residing in smaller cities. The simple test of assessing the requirements of minimum deterrence is to ask, What would it take to deter me/us? The requirements for credibility are quickly brought down.

In this sphere, the role of the United States is at best negligible, at worst seriously problematic. U.S. doctrine, still struggling to divest itself of the Cold War doctrine of assured destruction, provides no basis for a stable minimum deterrence posture. On the contrary, it might actually be a hindrance to stability in the region. For instance, although minimum deterrence allows large quantitative and qualitative gaps of the kind that exist between India and China, American thinking would tend to focus on the vulnerability associated with such gaps. Indian strategic thinkers would do well not to think like most of their American counterparts.17

Room for Optimism

What, one might ask, if Pakistan does not respond appropriately? So far, Pakistan too has shown a mix of the two strategic models outlined above. It has shown caution in the deployment of its conventional forces and in the nondeployment of nuclear weapons. On the other hand, it has demonstrated risktaking and belligerence in its clandestine Kargil operation and in its support for terrorists operating in Kashmir. The possibility of inducing a shift in Pakistani thinking lies in the diplomatic realm—in persuading it of the risks associated with its current strategy and of the minimal loss involved in a gradual shift to negotiation on nuclear issues without backtracking on political commitments. This would be more feasible than attempting to devise a full solution when the political ground for it is infertile.

A little appreciated aspect of the Indo-Pakistani relationship is that Indians and Pakistanis think and behave in remarkably similar ways. Both have minimalistic strategic cultures characterized by long, slow, and covert weapons development; a history of military targeting in war that eschews indiscriminate destruction; an unwillingness to be overly exercised by numerical differences in nuclear weaponry; and a belief that deployment is not a prerequisite for deterrence to be effective.18 Above all, both countries tend to treat nuclear weapons more as political instruments than as military ones. A disadvantage of this is their tendency to generate crises in order to obtain strategic benefit. A positive aspect is that arms control is likely to be much easier to accomplish, unburdened by the operational minutiae that dogged negotiators during the Cold War.

Indian diplomacy needs to focus on transforming the Indo-Pakistani relationship into something resembling the Indo-Chinese one. The Vajpayee government’s sustained commitment to its current peace initiative in spite of a series of terrorist assaults provides ground for optimism. Even if Pakistan were to balk, an Indian commitment to minimum deterrence in the sense described here would in no way affect the strategic relationship to India’s fresh disadvantage. Equally, a sizeable expansion of India’s nuclear arsenal would not benefit India because it would bring economic and political costs, not to speak of strategic risks. Minimum deterrence is an absolute concept, not a relative one. India would do well to shape its deterrence posture accordingly and avail of its benefits while minimizing its costs and risks.


Table 1.
150 km/ 1,000 kg
250 km/ 500 kg
Dhanush/ Prithvi-3
350 km/ 1,000 kg
Agni-1 Variant
725 km/ ~1,000 kg
1,500 km/ 1,000 kg
Serial Production
2,000+ km/ 1,000 kg
3,000-5,000 km/ ?kg
5,500+ km/ 2,000 kg Indigenous/Russia
Sagarika (SLBM)
350 km/ 500 kg
Note: Some uncertainty in range estimates are inevitable given the direct relationship between range and payload for ballistic missiles. For example, reductions in payload can increase range.

Sources: ACA, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, U.S. Department of the Air Force, National Air Intelligence Center, U.S. Department of Defense


1. Indian Ministry of External Affairs, “The Cabinet Committee on Security Reviews Operationalization of India’s Nuclear Doctrine,” January 4, 2003,

2. Anthony H. Cordesman, The India-Pakistan Military Balance (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 2002), pp. 27-34. India’s missile program includes short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles utilizing land-, air-, and sea-based platforms, although the last are in a relatively early phase of development.

3. V. Natarajan, “The Sumdorong Chu Incident,” Bharat Rakshak Monitor, 3, no. 3 (November-December 2000),

4. John W. Garver, Protracted Contest: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Twentieth Century (Seattle & London: University of Washington Press, 2001), pp. 324-331.

5. Ibid., pp. 336-337.

6. Jing-dong Yuan, “India’s Rise after Pokhran II: Chinese Analyses and Assessments,” Asian Survey 41, no. 6 (November-December 2000), pp. 978-1001.

7. Indian Ministry of External Affairs, “India-China Trade Statistics, Table 1: India-China Trade (1995-2001),

8. “China, India Should Enhance Ties: Jiang Zemin,” Times of India, April 26, 2003.

9. Amit Baruah, “Indian, Chinese Foreign Ministers to Meet Later This Year,” Hindu, August 8, 2003.

10. The Agni-III is scheduled for initial test launching in 2003. “India Preparing to Test-fire Agni-III: Fernandes,” Times of India, April 6, 2003.

11. Michael Krepon and Chris Gagné, eds., The Stability-Instability Paradox: Nuclear Weapons and Brinkmanship in South Asia (Washington, DC: Henry L. Stimson Center, June 2001).

12. Verghese Koithara, Coercion and Risk-Taking in Nuclear South Asia (Stanford University: Center for International Security and Cooperation, March 2003).

13. The Indus Water Treaty provides for the sharing of the waters of the transborder Indus river basin. For a detailed review of confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan, see Michael Krepon et al. A Handbook of Confidence Building Measures for Regional Security, 3rd ed. (Washington, DC: Henry L. Stimson Center, March 1998), pp. 129-200.

14. Rohan Gunaratna, Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), pp. 208-209.

15. Scott D. Sagan, The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents and Nuclear Weapons (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 28-45.

16. In addition, India need not worry about an expansionary Chinese response to U.S. missile defense; that would take the form of a larger inventory of long-range missiles, whereas China targets India with intermediate-range missiles.

17. There are certainly powerful arguments in American writings that are in accord with minimum doctrine, but these are largely ignored by the policy-making community.

18. On India, see Rajesh M. Basrur, “Nuclear Weapons and Indian Strategic Culture,” Journal of Peace Research, 38, no. 2 (March 2001), pp. 181-198.


Rajesh M. Basrur is Director of the Center for Global Studies in Mumbai, India. At the time he wrote this article, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

Isha  Khan

A Nationalist Agenda for Bangladesh
September 1, 2008, 12:18 pm
Filed under: Bangladesh

A Nationalist Agenda for Bangladesh


By MBI Munshi  Bar-at-Law 


The installation of the Caretaker Government after the proclamation of emergency on January 11, 2007 by military fiat provides an excellent opportunity for the conscientious citizen to thoroughly reappraise and also reassess our political ideals and national objectives prior to the return of democracy. While the political parties have been striving to reestablish their credibility and relevance to a disillusioned and apathetic public the issue of what ideological principles the nation should rest upon has been largely set aside although this is the most important question of all for the nation to tackle.


This article is intended to provide an intellectual framework upon which nationalist debate may take place and covers the political arena occupied by the BNP, Jatiya Party and Jamaat-i-Islami and to some extent the now defunct Freedom Party and other smaller nationalist entities such as Gen. Fazlur Rahman’s newly established nationalist formation.


What is common to all these parties (except that of Gen. Fazlur Rahman which has only begun operations in Bangladesh) is that they have all failed miserably to uphold the nationalist ideal. The obvious reason for this failure is that there is no single accepted document or formal expression of the terms of the nationalist agenda for the 21st century (although there exists many outdated opinions on the subject) and the majority of the general public has largely relied on intuition to determine a party’s nationalist credentials in the modern era. There are several important books on the subject of Bangladeshi nationalism but they tend to over intellectualize the concepts and the basic principles put forward appear contradictory after closer examination. More often than not they involve matters that are subsidiary or ancillary to the main tenets of the ideology. This vagueness and ambiguity has allowed scope for the corrupt, opportunistic and mediocre to thwart and misuse the ideals of nationalism in favour of self-interest and greed.


The main cause or reason behind this lack of ideological commitment is the absence of an objective standard or criterion for determining the legitimacy of decisions or actions approved by the party hierarchy when set against the requirements of nationalist ideology. A major consequence of this is that there exists an absolute minimum in ideological content and understanding within the party and an over reliance on charismatic leadership for guidance, however, misguided or irrational it might actually turn out to be for the country as a whole. It is due to this ideological failure that the Freedom Party and Jatiya party both fractured and then collapsed in quick succession during the early 1990’s and is also the cause of the BNP’s dramatic downfall after the 1/11 takeover by a military-civilian conglomerate.


The terms of the nationalist ideal according to this author may be explained through the use of the following four broad tenets or core elements of Bangladeshi nationalism–


1.   Honouring the nation’s independence and sovereignty achieved through immense struggle, blood and sacrifice in the 1971 Liberation War.


2.   Non-interference in the Islamic values and beliefs of the people as enshrined in the constitution [Art. 8 (1A) – Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah shall be the basis of all actions]. The emergence of Bangladesh is a direct consequence of the Two Nation Theory and the Lahore Resolution. The war of 1971 was not intended to negate either of these ideas. Bangladesh remains a majority Muslim nation and the nationalist creed requires the respecting of Islamic values with particular emphasis on the virtue of tolerance which is a peculiar characteristic of the people of this region who generally abhor all forms of fanaticism. It is for this reason that compared to the secularist approach the non-interference method can accommodate Muslims, non-Muslims and even people of no faith since none will be interfered with provided that all practice tolerance towards each other and adopt the policy of mutual respect [i.e. Art. 2A – The state religion of the Republic is Islam, but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in the Republic] (see below).      


3.   Adherence to the inclusiveness of Bangladeshi nationalism which is based on territorial exclusivity rather than on ethnic exclusivity. In other words, a Bangladesh national should be appropriately described as Bangladeshi [i.e. Art. 6 (2) – The citizens of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangladeshi] rather than a Bengali which tends towards territorial inclusiveness with West Bengal which is a part of India and where the Bengali identity is subservient to the superior and universal Indian one. A Bangladeshi can never accept his identity to be subsumed into a larger Indian one which is an entirely separate nation as per the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 into three separate territorial parts and two political entities (India and Pakistan). This separate consciousness of Bengali Muslims began during the 1905-1911 partition of Bengal which was vehemently opposed by the upper-class Hindu landlords whose power and influence over their Muslim tenants dwindled during this period but Hindu dominance again reasserted itself once the partition was rescinded seven years later and the Muslims were returned to their former slavish existence. 


4.   Aggressive promotion and advancement of the national interest and an uncompromising attitude to national security.


While all the parties claiming to uphold the nationalist agenda have been more or less consistent in protecting Islamic values this has often been done opportunistically or exploitatively. All that this condition requires is non-interference as opposed to the ‘excessive’ or overt promotion of Islamic values which tends to have a negative effect (a major reason why Islamic parties do badly in elections) on public sentiment which is still very much influenced by the secularist/Indian propaganda about the 1971 war which illogically views Islam as responsible for the atrocities committed by the Pakistan army. Bangladeshis are by nature and temperament moderate in outlook and sentiment and are equally tolerant in matters personal and so a too rigid approach on religion normally gets a negative or unfavorable response.


Non-interference in Islamic values is the least onerous of the conditions in the nationalist agenda since it is a negative requirement requiring virtually no action to implement. This is not the same as the secularist agenda favoured by the AL and other leftist parties since they have promoted interference in the Islamic values of the people with the objective of eroding religion from society and rendering the state totally neutral in matters of faith and have even gone so far as to undermining Islam through propaganda and ill-motivated government policies – this is the complete opposite of non-interference and is widely resented by the general public.


The third condition has usually been a problem for the anti-nationalists such as the Awami League party as the notion of Bengali nationhood became untenable when West Bengal showed no signs of seceding from India after 1971 and even more importantly – from a nationalist perspective – after the CHT insurgency when the tribal groups refused to adopt Bengali customs even after the vocal and uncompromising demand of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that they do so. This issue was resolved when President Ziaur Rahman amended the constitution and designated all citizens of Bangladesh as Bangladeshis emphasizing the territorial rather than the ethnic aspect of our nationhood.


It is, however, in the area of national interest and security that sharply differentiates the nationalists from the other ideological inclinations. In the past, too much emphasis has been placed on the dichotomies raised by faith vs. secularism or Bengali vs. Bangladeshi but these are only indications of attitude and the real test is whether a party is prepared to assert the national interest and aggressively ensure the security of the nation and state. If the answer is in the positive in both cases then by necessity the party in power is advancing the majority faith and Bangladeshi nationalism as well.


All the nationalist parties (BNP, Jatiya and Freedom) were established on the twin pillars of national interest and security. The events of 1975 (both 15th August and 7th November) were attempts to reassert the national interest against encroachments and interference from India (this statement is not intended as approval or disapproval of either of these events but simply of their occurrence as a factual and important part of our history.  The question, however, needs to be posed whether the nationalist agenda could have reasserted itself so forcefully without these violent incidents having taken place. Similarly the ruthless suppression of communist revolutionary forces after Gen. Ziaur Rahman ascension to power could be described as a dire necessity since Indian infiltration into Bangladesh had been so extensive and pervasive that a lesser response may have been easily defeated)  and Ershad is claimed to have wanted to establish another army division to thwart any possible invasion by Bangladesh’s big neighbour.  It is the AL and other leftist parties that have continually compromised on the national interest and security in order to serve their real masters in New Delhi


The national interest and security involve by implication the most complex political, social, economic and military questions. It is for the country’s political leadership to determine which economic or political system best serves the national interest or which social policies should be implemented to advance overall national well-being. There is no easy answer to these questions but what is needed is a set of practical policies that can produce a dynamic and fast growing economy that will sustain an educated and healthy workforce and in turn finance the internal and external security needs of the country. Sectional interests must not be allowed under any circumstances to become an obstacle or hindrance to national development and economic prosperity.


Gen. Ziaur Rahman, Gen. H.M. Ershad and Col. Syed Farook Rahman when they formed their political parties had these objectives in mind but gradually overtime the ideological elements of their party program became diluted and the pursuit of money became more important. While Gen. Ziaur Rahman and Col. Syed Farook Rahman were personally incorruptible their followers and the subsequent generations of leaders were far less inclined to follow this lead and became addicted to the pursuit of wealth and indirectly compromised on the fourth tenet of nationalism – national interest and security. It was with this new generation (especially in the case of the BNP) which saw the sidelining of committed nationalists and the promotion of the most disreputable and corrupted elements of the party and this is the surest sign of internal decay and clearly indicates the disintegration of the party as a united political force.  


In conclusion one should evaluate where Bangladeshi nationalism stands today and especially in the light of the 1/11 change over. It is grievously unfortunate that even without the anti-nationalist parties (i.e. AL, JSD, Workers Party etc) at the helm of power Bangladesh has drifted very far away from all the four core principles of Bangladeshi nationalism. The most obvious failure of the caretaker administration in securing our national objectives appears to be the appeasement of India and the adoption of their foreign policy as our own. This assimilationist agenda has adversely affected our national interest and security and must be reversed if Bangladesh is to remain an independent nation.


It is in the area of national security that Bangladesh must concentrate and policy-makers should not be fearful of offending India (which will naturally be the target of any security policy) since India has no qualms about offending Bangladesh which it often describes as a sponsor of terrorism and a threat to its security. The countering of Indian propaganda will also necessarily take a high priority in Bangladesh’s security policy but New Delhi’s canards against its neighbour has unfortunately been embraced by anti-nationalist parties such as the AL, JSD and Workers Party who have described the country as a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism and an exporter of terrorism.


Bangladesh has yet to devise a security strategy even after almost 37 years of independence which is quite astonishing and at the same time completely unacceptable. One of the principal tasks of a government is to ensure the security of the nation from external threats and this can be best achieved if those responsible for the defense of the nation have a detailed security policy to guide them. National security in this broader sense refers to the requirement to maintain the survival of the nation-state through the use of economic, military and political power and the exercise of diplomacy. This may be accomplished on several different levels and should include the following –

  • using diplomacy to rally allies and isolate threats
  • maintaining effective armed forces
  • implementing civil defense and emergency preparedness measures
  • ensuring the resilience and redundancy of critical infrastructure
  • using intelligence services to detect and defeat or avoid threats and espionage, and to protect classified information
  • using counterintelligence services or secret police to protect the nation from internal threats


To implement these features effectively in Bangladesh would require a National Security Strategy to be devised. The first step would be to set up a National Security Council which will bring together in one place all the relevant agencies, bodies and experts on this vital issue. This would include the President, Chief Executive, Chiefs of the army, navy and air force, intelligence heads, other security officials belonging to law enforcement, diplomats and experts from various fields who will be called in as the need arises or be allotted to an advisory board attached to the NSC. The NSC would be assigned the responsibility for coordinating policy on national security issues and advising the chief executive on matters related to national security. At regular yearly intervals the NSC would prepare a National Security Strategy document that will guide all elements of our defence, security and intelligence apparatus and also influence the manner and conduct of our foreign policy.


The advantages to such an approach would be consistency and comprehensiveness in our national security outlook. While I have tended to concentrate on the defence aspects of security the NSS would give equal priority to strengthening economic security, expansion of trade and investment, and promoting economic development. The NSS would provide guidelines and proposals on economic security, energy security, transport security and terrorism finance. This would involve the business community as stakeholders in the nation’s security with direct input in policy formulation. 


Probably the only reason that a National Security Strategy and NSC have yet to be established in Bangladesh is the apprehension of the adverse reaction it might generate in New Delhi. A truly nationalist party would disregard such considerations and put the nation’s interest and security first. India has never compromised on its national security requirements which usually targets Bangladesh so there should not be any hesitation on this side of the border in doing the same in regard to our own defense needs. Critics may argue that this would undermine democracy and put too much power in the hands of the military. This ignores the fact that political parties have continuously undermined the national interest requiring occasional interventions by the army.


To prevent such occurrences this paper argues for the institutionalization of the nationalist agenda so that each arm of the state apparatus and machinery works to fulfill that objective. It would, however, only work effectively under a democratic system as the people will be the final arbiters in determining if any particular government is actually living up to the nationalist ideal. An extended military role in state affairs should not be considered since the present army is not the same as the army of Gen. Ziaur Rahman, Col. Syed Farook Rahman and even Gen. H.M. Ershad which actually fought a war and understood the meaning of the words national interest and security (this statement will probably seem unpalatable to many because of certain actions taken by these individuals but those unfortunate but necessary incidents of our history constitute the basis of Bangladeshi nationalism and also its defence.


There is some dispute whether the Jail Killing incident of November 3, 1975 falls into this category since many suspect that this was orchestrated by RAW to prevent a strong leadership emerging around Tajuddin Ahmed. The acquittal of 12 accused in the case by the High Court lends credence to this view). The present army although describing itself as modern and democratic is actually more a peacekeeping force having the mentality of compromisers. The army’s approach to the national crisis since 1/11 has been superficial and wholly unprofessional (What is the objective and plan for this intervention and where is the exit strategy?). Rather than seeking the advice of committed nationalists and experts they have resorted to taking assistance from various individuals of dubious backgrounds and qualifications. A democratic political party representing the nationalist ideal would serve the nation better provided the top leadership remains incorruptible and appoints statesman to the helm of government affairs rather than amateurs and opportunists.

Posted by Isha Khan, who can be reached at