South Asia

Abu Dhabi Process Parliamentary Dialogue: Joint Declaration

On September 13-14, 2011, Afghan and Pakistani parliamentarians met in Islamabad to discuss relations between their countries as part of the EastWest Institute’s Abu Dhabi Process. The purpose of the dialogue is to seek more parliamentary cooperation between the two countries. With the generous support of the Abu Dhabi government, EWI has facilitated a dialogue between Afghan and Pakistani leaders for the past two years in order to promote trust building between them.

“Good relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are key to ensuring reconciliation in Afghanistan and successful transition until 2014,” said EWI Vice President and Director of Regional Security Guenter Overfeld. “I am encouraged by the determination of the parliamentarians to work towards that goal. Parliamentary support can help the peace process a lot.”

The parliamentary dialogue was hosted by  the National Assembly of Pakistan. Participants pointed to recent positive developments in the evolving bilateral relationship.  But they also acknowledged that as NATO reduces its troop presence and prepares to hand over responsibility for security to the Afghan government by 2014, there will be a need for further efforts to strengthen the Afghan-Pakistani relationship and build mutual confidence and trust.

Three main recommendations came out of the meetings:

  • Enhance parliamentary oversight over both governments to ensure a commitment to the dialogue and to further all aspects of the developing relationship; 
  • Strengthen border management to facilitate cross-border mobility and to combat militancy and organized crime;
  • Intensify reconciliation processes within both countries and synchronize national efforts for reconciliation with regional countries and with the international community.

Participants agreed to establish regular parliamentary contacts and to set up  Afghan-Pakistani parliamentary friendship caucuses in both parliaments. Based on the solid record of the first bilateral peace Jirga—or assembly—in 2007, all participating parliamentarians urged the convening of a second bilateral Jirga. They suggested to the government of the United Arab Emirates that the Jirga be facilitated by the Abu Dhabi Process.

Click here for the full Joint Declaration

India’s Tryst with Terror

How should we interpret the latest terrorist attack in India?

Because it occurred when the Indian prime minister was in Bangladesh charting a new relationship with that country (which, until Sheikh Hasina came to power, had provided a safe haven for terrorists targeting India), the attack could be construed as a reminder that covering our flank does not lessen India’s vulnerability.

Or, it could be that the terrorists were expressing their anger at the Indian justice system that condemned to death Afzal Guru, the co-conspirator of the terrorist attack against the Indian Parliament in 2001. In their eyes perhaps, India’s constitutional justice had to submit to the vengeful dictates of Islamic justice.

Perhaps the terrorists’ idea is to periodically keep mauling the financial and political capitals of India—Mumbai and Delhi, respectively, to keep India off balance, inflame domestic tensions, deepen its domestic fault lines and distract its attention away from its global ambitions and toward the management of its domestic situation.

India’s rise may be welcomed by those distant from India’s shores as a counterweight to the threatening ascent of China, but some of India’s neighbors obsessed by parity with India would hardly be enthused by this prospect and, lacking state capacity to directly confront India, might want to use nonstate actors to flatten India’s rise as much as possible.

Terrorism in India was earlier an instrument of state policy of its western neighbor: Pakistan. Now that country itself is being bled by terrorism, which makes increasingly difficult its policy of fighting one set of terrorists for internal security reasons and supporting another for external security ones (especially as now the U.S. too, as a victim of Pakistan’s dichotomous policies on terrorism, is keeping a watchful eye on that country’s conduct).

Yet, the plague of terrorism has spread so widely in the region that India cannot insulate itself from it. If aggrieved terrorist groups want to settle scores with Islamic Pakistan, non-Islamic India cannot escape their rancor, particularly as Pakistan has nourished for decades feelings of hatred toward Hindu India. The nonstate actors earlier used by Pakistan against India for terror onslaughts have, with Pakistan losing some control, enough capacity to target India autonomously. Even if every terrorist attack against India cannot be laid at Pakistan’s door today, it needs recalling that it is Pakistan that opened wide the doors to terrorist acts against India in the first place.

India is peculiarly vulnerable to terrorism. Its borders are not secure. It has an open border with Nepal and a porous border with Bangladesh; terrorists can infiltrate these borders as well as the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir into India. Its coast is not adequately defended, as the Mumbai terrorist attack tragically demonstrated. Under scrutiny for its terrorist affiliations, Pakistan has been developing the shield of deniability by creating terrorist cells in India, so that when terrorist attacks occur they are attributed to local terrorists and not Pakistanis. This strategy has worked politically, as India now recognizes that there are indigenous Islamic terrorist groups operating in the country to seek redress for local grievances.

India has been trapped by its soft diplomacy toward Pakistan: a policy that recognized that both India and Pakistan were victims of terrorism, and that terrorists should not be allowed to disrupt the India-Pakistan dialogue. With this position India could no longer blame Pakistan directly for acts of terror, as that would entail derailing this policy. From being on the defensive, Pakistan now claims that instead of knee-jerk reactions against Pakistan, India should deal with its home-grown problem of terrorism. This, of course, obfuscates the reality of Pakistan’s policies and the integrated nature of the terrorist threat, which derives from a shared religion, world views, social mores, madrassah education, mosque-based politics, training, and financing.

India’s governance problem is reflected in its inadequate disposition to deal with terrorist threats even now—despite being perhaps the country most lacerated by terrorism over the years. Decision making is slow, acquisition processes are dilatory, and maintenance of the equipment bought is poor. The police forces are understaffed, insufficiently trained, and ill-equipped. The federal nature of the system obstructs a comprehensive overhaul of the policing system as law and order is the responsibility of the state governments. Besides, political interference in police functioning has damaged its professional caliber and capacity.

India’s public places are generally highly congested. The streets overflow with people and all kinds of vehicular traffic, parking is chaotic, posts for public service are always crowded—and so soft targets are plentiful.

On top of it, in a country wracked constantly by terrorism, there is no consensus on framing a tough antiterror law. Politics distorts the debate. For fear of alienating Muslim voters, tougher laws are resisted for fear that Muslims may feel targeted. More divisive feelings are generated by bringing to the fore “Hindu” terrorism as an equal problem.

The Delhi terror attack is a sad reminder that India’s tryst with terror will not end easily.

Click here to read the text on The Daily Beast.

UN Workshop on Nuclear Disarmament

On September 1, 2011, the EastWest Institute and the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the United Nations held a high-level workshop to examine how far the world has come towards eliminating nuclear weapons since 2010. Crowding into a packed room at the United Nations, UN representatives and members of the NGO community took an active role in the workshop, held to commemorate the International Day against Nuclear Tests.

“We need to give the world human security,” said Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to the UN Byganym Aitimova, who delivered the opening remarks. Kazakhstan, which destroyed its cache of Soviet-era nuclear weapons, has been a leader in global disarmament

While largely positive in tone, the speakers said that vast progress still needs to be made to implement the 64 concrete disarmament measures detailed in the May 2010 Nonproliferation-Treaty Review Conference’s final document.

Libran Cabactulan, the Philippines’ Ambassador to the UN and Chair of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, recommended that countries strike nuclear weapons from their defense doctrines and create a convention that makes nuclear weapons illegal. More immediately, Cabactulan said that it is “essential” to hold the Middle East Conference on a nuclear-free zone in 2012 as planned, even though a facilitator has not been chosen. He explained that the conference “may not result in an agreement on a WMD Free Zone outright, but it could be the first step to one.”

Several speakers called for a comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons testing, including the UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte. “A test ban is part of a larger process of delegitimizing nuclear weapons,” he declared.

Annika Thunborg, spokesperson for the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), called for the ratification of the CTBT. She said that  if any of the nine outstanding states, especially those that are nuclear-armed, were to lead the way and adopt the treaty, the "logjam" on on the CTBT would be broken.  

CTBT ratification is a priority of the Obama administration, according to U.S. State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Marcie Ries.

Ries, who delivered the workshop’s most upbeat remarks, called last December’s Senate ratification of the New START a “bright spot” in U.S.-Russian relations, saying that U.S. and Russian weapons inspectors have conducted a total of 15 reciprocal site visits since April. Ries also signaled U.S. enthusiasm for future talks among the P5 and for further multilateral talks to prepare for the 2015 NPT Review Conference.

“We hope that all countries will join in the common effort to increase transparency and build confidence,” said Ries. “Confidence-building at its very core is, of course, a shared effort.”

Global Security Institute President Jonathan Granoff reframed the nuclear weapons debates in terms of human rights. “Nuclear weapons are unworthy of civilization,” he said. “We have to get rid of them.”

A lively discussion followed, with participants speaking about everything from technical measures to chip away at standing nuclear weapons stockpiles to the damage done to Kazakhstan -- and other countries -- by nuclear-weapons testing.

“We need to build political support for eliminating nuclear weapons in countries that, unlike Kazakhstan, have forgotten what nuclear weapons can do,” said EWI Vice President Greg Austin, who moderated the workshop. “We need to take this discussion out of the UN and back into the public sphere.”


Click below to read speakers' remarks:

Ambassador Byrganym Atimova, Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations

Sergio Duarte, the UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

Marcie Ries, U.S. State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance

H.E. Mr. Libran N. Cabactulan, President of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations

Dr. Annika Thunborg, Spokesperson and Chief of Public Information of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)

Jonathan Granoff, President Global Security Institute

Socio-Political Factors and National Security

National security in the traditional sense is connected with the idea of sovereignty; territorial security means freedom from risk of danger of destruction and annihilation by war, physical violence and/or aggression from outside. Traditional threats emanate from inter-state conflict and cross-border aggression. Since the nation state is supposed to have a monopoly of power for protecting the life and property of the members of the nation, they are deprived of power to defend themselves against aggression. The focus therefore previously being on external threats, state security has dominated the national security agenda.

With progressing globalisation, borders have become increasingly irrelevant, thus reducing the probability of external aggression. Conversely threats to a country’s security emanate internally because of lack of economic development, unemployment, failing internal security because of religious, sectarian and/or ethnic strife, shifting of identities in the wake of globalisation, radicalisation of society and growing terrorism thereof being recent additions. It has not been possible in our relatively new nation state to properly work out the national identity and borders, both traditional (external) and internal security threats have started to overlap. Societal security is the prime responsibility of the state; our rulers have generally cold-shouldered this to our lasting detriment, as we can now see on graphic display. Societal threats undermine national cohesion and identification with the state, the resultant radicalisation and extremism results in law and order situations, rioting, rise of criminal gangs and gang wars, due to money-laundering and easy availability of weapons because of the nexus between corruption, organised crime and terrorism.

A credible accountability system is missing, without proper investigation, effective prosecution and delivery of swift, untainted justice is not possible. Perjury is not only rampant but is the order of the day, credible witnesses are in short supply and even they are susceptible to influence, by use of money and/or the force of public office. Our Supreme Court (SC) has become captive to endless bureaucratic manoeuvring, fighting a losing battle against a virtual bag of administrative tricks to defy and/or frustrate their judgments and instructions. Both the NICL and Haj cases are likely to enter the “Guinness Book of Records’, sophisticated filibustering making them into an endless exercise without a likely outcome. Failure to fulfil the main function of maintaining law and order to protect lives and properties of its citizens and ensure impartial, even-handed justice hastens the deterioration of the state and its institutions. The failing identification with the state impacts negatively on the connection between citizen, the government and the army. This dissolution of the Pakistani identity results in growing influence of foreign interests, this spawns intervention and support for secessionist movements like in Balochistan.

Duly fanned by a well-meaning but immature media, paying little attention to core national interests, the vacuum provides a robust platform for promoting radical ideas, readymade for religious exploitation by extreme elements, making an alternative form of a purely Islamic state with all its ramifications resonating with the public. The spread of terrorism is detrimental to economic growth, the bad investment climate and the lack of development is extremely detrimental to the economy. The diminishing value of individual lives makes killing condonable and justifiable (Karachi killing, collateral damage). Despite the so-called truce between the warring political parties within the coalition government, hundreds of people have died during the past month alone. The consequent ugly cycle of unemployment and high inflation leads to stagflation. There is flight of both capital and manpower from the country, weakening the economy further. The failing economy destroys jobs and incomes, creates more poverty and destabilises society leading to fuel riots, electricity riots, water riots, food riots, etc, desperation in the mass psyche of citizens, suicides, destruction of families, etc. This creates favourable conditions for criminals and terrorists, further impacting negatively on the overall security. This diverts the right amount of attention and the material support necessary for external security. A whole process of cataclysmic changes is taking place in the political, economic and social transformation in South Asia. The structures of governance being diversified and differentiated, only lip-service is given to poverty reduction and improving governance. In such conditions corruption is rampant.

The Anna Hazare backlash we are seeing in India was waiting to happen, the more violent form being manifest in the four decades-old Maoist Naxalite movement. With an economic transition in the region, the majority of countries have inculcated globalisation to address their economic crisis. This has accelerated the process of growth but the impact of globalisation has not been accompanied by the reduction in poverty or improvement in human development through the formation of social capital. Increases in population growth is by itself a time-bomb. Pakistan’s security interests can be best served if elements having disruptive potential to our socio-political profile are contained, thereby giving no excuse or opportunity to our detractors and enemies to take undue and adverse advantage. Factors responsible for the declining social and human security and strengthening of extremism have to be identified. The human element remains the biggest resource for Pakistan, the government must utilise this to promote safety of the population and counter the threat of extremism engulfing this nation. The political leadership and all other stakeholders (who have a vital role to play) must agree to cooperate and formulate a national strategy to eradicate this menace. To cope with external threats, Pakistan has to keep up both conventional and nuclear deterrence necessary but should at the same time aim at socio-political solutions for long-term sustainable alleviation of our problems. The army has had increasingly to deal with internal strife instead of securing the borders. Other than drawing crucial reserves away from countering the aggressive defence postures of the Indians, they are forced to devote time and effort to burgeoning internal problems of different dimensions. Fighting against ones own population can put stress on any army in the world, raising adverse perceptions among the populace, extremely dangerous for a country that thrives on glorifying its armed forces.

The international media is fully mobilised against Pakistan’s critical national security assets, but of more serious concern is not only the erosion of local media support, but rather an antagonistic view from some motivated sections. The compromise of the media’s integrity is extremely detrimental to the national aims and objectives. The concerted campaign against the ISI, and by extension the army, is deliberately motivated despite our sacrifices not being matched in the war against terror by all the coalition partners in Afghanistan put together. The unfortunate irony is that an instrument of war – the armed forces – is also the ultimate guarantor of internal peace. One can understand it not being part of the decision-making process where democracy is institutionalised, in less developed countries this is a paradox. This leaves absolute power, at least in democratic theory, in the hands of a pre-modern feudal and agrarian mindset elected through a tainted process on fraudulent votes, as the ultimate arbiters of nation security and societal society, and by default, the destiny of the nation. Who will make the change? (Extracts from Part-II of the Talk on ‘Linkages between Socio-Political Factors and National Security” given recently at the National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad).

Click here to read Sehgal's piece in The News

Iran through India's Eyes

The United States has an “obsession with Iran”. This is the view of UK-based academic, Harsh V. Pant, a graduate of two Indian universities, writing in the “Washington Quarterly” earlier this year.

The approach toward Iran from India is very different from that of the United States. In March 2011, India’s National Security Adviser, Shivshankar Menon, visited Tehran for discussion with his counterpart, Saeed Jalili, who is the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). Menon also met with President Ahmadinejad, the Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, and Speaker of the Majlis, Ali Larijani. In June 2011, the Deputy Secretary of Iran's SNSC, Ali Baqeri, visited India “to attend the joint strategic committee of the two countries”, according to Iran’s Press TV.  In July 2011, India’s then Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao, visited Tehran for the ninth round of formal ministry level bilateral consultations. Topics included terrorism, energy security, the North-South Transport Corridor, developments in Afghanistan and regional security. The two countries have a joint intergovernmental commission that had its 16th meeting in 2010, when six new agreements on a range of cooperative measures were signed.

Not everything is plain sailing of course. To secure its nuclear agreement with the United States, India had to experience humiliating pressure from Washington, including Congress, on how to conduct relations with Iran. The news this week is that unpaid Indian debts on oil imports from Iran will soon be paid in full, following reports several weeks ago that only two-thirds of the debt would be paid. In recent years, India has been Iran’s second or third biggest oil market (the position varies according to source). This is not surprising given India’s growth, its proximity to Iran, and the fact that Iran is the fourth-largest crude oil exporter in the world.

By contrast, the United States bans all trade with and investment in Iran.  In June 2011, India’s representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, made an appeal that is in direct and active conflict with the United States’ position. He said: “All efforts should be made to ensure that legitimate trade and economic activities of Iran and other countries do not suffer while implementing the measures sanctioned by the relevant [UN] resolutions.” (These UN sanctions are limited, in broad terms, to the nuclear-related and missile-related entities and activities of Iran, as well as certain military exports to Iran.)

Military ties between Iran and India have been bothering Washington as well. The parameters of this concern are well laid out by Harsh Pant and include direct military to military dialogue and information exchange. Of special interest though are reports from elsewhere, including U.S.-based Symantec and Russian company Kaspersky Lab, that the Stuxnet worm, understood by many analysts to have been designed in the United States or Israel to attack Iran, had by January 2011 infected many more systems in India than in Iran. Regardless of who invented Stuxnet, India and Iran clearly now have common cause in military strategic defence against cyber weapons – and the US or one of its allies may be on the other side.

This past week, an Iranian-flagged ship of the Iran India Shipping line, held by Somali pirates for 5 months, was rescued by the Indian navy, an ordeal and an outcome demonstrating that certain basic daily realities of security bring Iran and India together. Piracy is of course a lower level of concern than the vital strategic interests that India and Iran share in Pakistan and Afghanistan. India and Iran are good neighbors toward each other, even if India does observe the UN sanctions.  

The contrast between the Indian and American views of Iran could not be more stark. If Pant is right, then the United States needs help to end its “obsessive” behavior toward Iran. Should the United States look to pull back from its position on broad-ranging trade and investment sanctions against Iran? Obsession may not be compatible with effective diplomacy.

To read Austin's piece online, click here and scroll to pg. 5 of New Europe

EWI’s Nuclear Discussion Forum

Report from the forum’s final meeting, held July 28 at the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the UN.

On July 28, 2011, the EastWest Institute, in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan, held the fifth and final meeting of the Nuclear Discussion Forum at the Mission’s office.  Bringing together states with different vested interests, the meeting series aimed to build trust and help surmount political barriers to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  

Eduardo Ulibarri, Ambassador of Costa Rica to the UN, chaired the meeting, which was attended by representatives of 26 permanent missions to the United Nations, as well as representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs and Department of Public Information. 

In the meeting, Amy Woolf, a specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy at the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress, and Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, led a discussion on reducing the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines. 

Woolf discussed “the who and the what of nuclear deterrence,” adding, “Once we establish who we are trying to deter with nuclear weapons and what we are deterring them from doing then we can start thinking about reducing their role. Reducing the list of ‘the who and the what’ would mean reducing the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines.”

Kristensen said that the biggest challenge to reducing the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines is the fact that nuclear-weapon states did not do so at the end of the Cold War. Instead, he added, they  seamlessly transitioned their nuclear doctrines and found new threats to deter against.

Ulibarri stated that changes in the geopolitical environment and the evolution of thinking regarding the role of Nuclear Weapons have forced a reassessment of the position of nuclear weapons in national security policy. The new trends of thinking among academics, states, and international organizations include nuclear de-alert, pledges of no first use, strengthening negative security assurances, and establishing regional nuclear weapons-free zones.

In the Nuclear Discussion Forum, previous meeting topics included overcoming obstacles to a Middle East nuclear weapons free zone, managing and verifying disarmament and providing negative security assurances to Non-Nuclear-Weapon States.

“Our common intent to contribute to these issues has led us to come together despite our political differences,” said Byrganym Aitimova, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations, greeting participants. “Our biggest gain is that we are all now more optimistic that we can work together in this field.”

Overview of the Nuclear Discussion Forum

Over the past seven months, the Nuclear Discussion Forumhas acted as a laboratory for innovative thinking, enabling frank discourse to bridge East-West divides on the roadblocks towards achieving “global zero,” or a world without nuclear weapons. The forum also built trust between states, which is a necessary step for overcoming the political obstacles that hinder bilateral and multilateral efforts towards nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

The forum was sponsored by the government of Kazakhstan, which has been a leader in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. After its independence, Kazakhstan found itself owning the world's fourth largest nuclear arsenal. Ultimately, the Kazakh government made the decision to destroy the Soviet weapons or move them to Russia; the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site in western Kazakhstan was closed; and all intercontinental ballistic missile silos were destroyed. Kazakhstan went on to lead the successful effort to establish the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ).

The Forum, which met five times between February and August 2011, engaged the UN diplomatic and policymaking community, including representatives from nuclear weapon states, non-nuclear weapon states, international organizations, and outside experts. Each meeting featured a speaker and discussant with a specialized area of knowledge relating to disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation. After initial remarks from the speakers, an open discussion followed in an effort to build trust among key states, identify the next milestones towards global zero, and mobilize international political will around concrete and practical actions.

“The topics discussed were the most salient on the international Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation agenda,” said Jim McLay, Ambassador of New Zealand to the UN. He added that he was awaiting concrete recommendation from the final report, which would serve as a roadmap to global zero.

In September 2011 EWI will disseminate a record of proceedings that highlight the main findings from the series. The work and outcome of the Forum will be presented in a panel event at the UN General Assembly First Committee meeting on October 24, 2011.

Pakistan's Stance on Fissile Material

On December 16, 1993, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the “negotiations of ‘a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Since then, negotiations for the FMCT continue to be stalled on various issues.

The US contributed to the stalemate by refusing to accept international mechanisms for verification and insisting that National Technical Means (NTMs) were adequate to ensure compliance. The Obama Administration broke the impasse last year by its pledge to support international verification.

Fundamental differences between the 65 members of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on the purpose and scope of the FMCT has failed to evolve its final draft.  With every member has the right of veto, countries have the right to halt negotiations, if the national interests of any member country is targeted the next stage is not possible.  Many members question whether it would be a measure of nuclear non-proliferation or would address the issue of stockpiles of fissile material possessed by some States through progressive and balanced reduction to promote nuclear disarmament.

Pakistan refuses to sign the FMCT because of its apprehensions that a fissile material ban should cover existing stocks of fissile material instead of simply halting future production, a position backed by several other CD members, primarily from the developing world. Most nuclear weapons possessors, including India, insist on a production cutoff that does not address current stockpiles.

Prohibiting future production would freeze the imbalance between Pakistan and India, making the treaty discriminatory and Pakistan-specific.  Pakistan would be at a permanent disadvantage in the nuclear equation with India because of India’s greater fissile material stockpiles. Attempting to cap Pakistan’s atomic program, the US has tried to stop our enrichment of fissile material, asking us to return the fissile material it had furnished in 1960 (which we could not do having consumed the same as per agreement).

India’s civilian nuclear deal with the US, its growing conventional military superiority over Pakistan, its long-term plans for a ballistic missile defence system and evolving dangerous war strategies such as “Cold Start” puts pressure on Pakistan’s declared goal of maintaining a credible minimum nuclear deterrent. As the Indian war machine acquires more offensive and defensive capabilities, the more Pakistan would need to ensure its own viable nuclear deterrent.

Through the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement and the consequent Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) India can escape the cap on the size of its nuclear arsenal, the waiver allows it to conclude agreements with countries, including Russia and France, to supply it with nuclear fuel, allowing acquisition of hundreds of nuclear warheads. India can increase its fissile material stocks qualitatively and quantitatively and divert most of its indigenous stocks to its weapons programme. It can even abrogate its international understandings in the future to redirect the externally supplied fuel meant for civilian purposes to nuclear weapons development.

India’s pursuit of ballistic missile defence (BDM) for which it seeks help from Russia, Israel and the US and development of a Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) capability will alter the strategic balance in the region. Pakistan has no option but to respond by accelerating its own missile development programme and develop more warheads, for which it will need more fissile material.

Islamabad’s position in the past called for a declaration by the parties of their stockpiles, an agreement on “balance” in stocks (reflecting the requirements of different countries and a reduction in excess stockpiles).  Without verifiable elimination of fissile material stocks and concerned only with stopping future production of nuclear material is inherently discriminatory not serving the purpose of global nuclear disarmament.   Freezing inequalities would place Pakistan at a strategic disadvantage in the South Asian region. The issue of fissile material stocks is important not only for the goal of global zero but Pakistan’s survival as well.

Alternatively the Fissile Material Treaty (FMT) has been proposed. All existing stockpile of fissile material should be disposed off as well as a ban on future production of fissile material. This proposal also reflects US President Barack Obama’s mission of “Nuclear Zero”. Presently this plan of disarmament is only an idealistic theory i.e. first arms control measures (FMCT) must be implemented and only than measures for disarmament taken.

Pakistan’s position was articulated clearly Dr. Shireen Mazari during the debate on FMCT in the CD in Geneva in February this year, to quote "We may accept the FMCT in about five to seven years down the road because by then we will have built up a proportional fissile reserve to India's as a result of our plutonium production picking up”, unquote. She added, “it was time for Pakistan officials to stop being apologetic about their nuclear development, India has been evolving conventional strategies such as Cold Start, pre-emptive war, limited war as well as low intensity warfare doctrines in order to get out of nuclear deterrence stalemate in a way”.

Without seeking to achieve parity with India, Pakistan has to maintain the status quo, by upgrading its non-conventional weapons capabilities i.e. better and more accurate delivery platforms, more plutonium (instead of uranium) based warheads for its ballistic and cruise missiles (because they ensure a better ratio of yield versus weight of the fissile material used per warhead) and ensures second nuclear strike capability by deploying plutonium based warheads on its subs. This does not achieve parity with India but maintains status quo. The delay will enable Pakistan accumulate sufficient plutonium stocks before negotiating over it.

Fazal H. Curmally eloquently summed up that Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has hit a wall, “the World is changing and this change could be a constructive change instead of a destructive change or a change where the acrimony intensifies. It will depend on the wisdom of the leaders who are in positions of power and can influence what the new shape of things looks like. Irrespective of what anyone says, possession of a nuclear weapons programme is your ticket to a world power status. All the pontifications of experts that this is not the case do not alter the situation. You can’t be overlooked ever again. You have become a member of the Big Boy’s Club and will be counted when push comes to shove. The FMCT talks came to a grinding halt in 2010 because according to William Langweische, in his book The Atomic Bazar, “….transformed this runt called Pakistan into something like a runt with a gun,” this delayed the progress in framing an Agenda. New Economic and nuclear realities are rewriting the shape of the Non Proliferation regime of which the FMCT is a part.”

Unless Pakistan is treated at par with other countries and given its due right, Pakistan has no recourse but to continue to block the FMCT that remains intensely discriminatory towards Pakistan’s national interest.

As a measure of our detente with India which has conventional superiority, we have the nukes and the means to deliver them, is it a surprise that the Pakistan Army and the ISI are targetted ad nauseam?  Without “Balkanizing” them, how else would our nuclear assets be “secured” to the satisfaction of our detractors?

Click here to read Sehgal's piece in The News

The U.S. and India

Our transforming relationship with the United States presents major opportunities as well as snares. The increasing attention we receive from the US recognises as well as contributes to our growing international stature. If the US re-evaluates the potential of its relationship with India, others are spurred to do so in their own interest. If the allies and friends of the US are influenced to follow the US lead, those wary of a fortified India-US relationship because of their own differences with the US have good reason to engage India more. The US remains the world's foremost power; the quality of our relationship with it has global significance.

That in courting India the US is pursuing its own national interest should not be a reason for us to recoil from its overtures. Which country, including India, does not give primacy to national interest in formulating its foreign policy? If the national interest of the US impels it now to give depth and breadth to its relationship with India, we need not draw back with doubt and suspicion. We should protect our own national interest, without being too ready to be co- opted into promoting US goals or too cautious in exploring convergences.


Our concern should be the management of an unequal relationship. The US can more easily configure India into its foreign policy jigsaw than we can fit the US advantageously into our diplomatic play. The US is interested in incorporating India into the global political, security and economic arrangements put in place especially since the World War 2. India, a victim in these arrangements in many ways, has all these years challenged them to affirm the principle of sovereignty, equality and non-discrimination.

Our challenge is to find ways to cooperate with the US even as we continue to demand that the present international system reflect contemporay realities and not those of 1945. US and Indian expectations are misaligned here. The US views continuing Indian resistance to its blandishments either as lack of boldness in decision- making or as the toxin of non- alignment still coursing through our political veins, or, yet again, as unwillingness to accept the responsibilities that accompany great power status. The US puts across that with the nuclear deal liberating India from strategic isolation and its G- 20 membership reflecting its rising economic stature, India has already "risen", whereas india remains conscious of its vulnerabilities, is risk- averse and reluctant to involve itself more than necessary in exter- nal distractions, especially if interference in internal affairs, aggressive promotion of human rights and democracy, and the use of force are involved.

The US is most resistant actually to any formal change in global power equations, though it has to accommodate itself to the reality of other power centres emerging and the dilution of its own dominant position. This disposes the US to woo India, especially at a time when India has neither developed the sinews nor the confidence for self-assertion. It therefore offers support to make India a great power, as Condoleeza Rice did, or encourages it to assert itself in its neighborhood, in Central Asia, in West Asia, and, most notably, in the Asia-Pacific region, where China's phenomenal rise has become menacing, as Hillary Clinton did in her recent " vision for India" speech at Chennai. The US would prefer the rise of the next Asian giant to occur within the orbit of its influence.

This new found US enthusiasm for an expanded Indian geopolitical role contrasts with its strategic containing of India through China and Pakistan until now. If the bonds of democracy and shared human values are arguments today for a mutually reinforcing India- US relationship to manage global issues, they mattered little in the past in shaping US policies towards India. It is not easy to comprehend why the US kept a democratic country like India strategically trussed up as much as possible, while shoring up a powerful authoritarian behemoth like China and ignoring its nuclear and missile misconduct at India's strategic expense. Similarly, encouraging an increasingly Islamicised Pakistan to contain a secular, pluralist India and subvert its territorial integrity is not fully explicable even in the Cold War context.


The legacy of these policies remains alive in the US political system. The Indo-US nuclear deal was accompanied by several galling non-proliferation related restrictions that India chose to swallow. If at the non-governmental level powerful lobbies keep pursuing their malign efforts to impose more NPT related constraints on India, at the governmental level the US continues to tolerate Sino-Pakistan nuclear commerce outside the NSG framework while imposing, simultaneously, further disabilities on India in the NSG by tightening restrictions on transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to non-NPT countries.

US hectoring of India on our nuclear liability Bill, with the commercial interest of US nuclear suppliers in mind, as was the case during Secretary Clinton's visit, makes the Indo-US nuclear deal appear less a strategic choice than a commercial one.

The Clinton vision of an economically integrated South Asia- Central Asia region, which could also help resolve the Afghan tangle, takes insufficient cognisance of Pakistan's truculence and the need for tougher policy options to discipline this quasi- rogue state. The US wants to "manage" its divergent India- Pakistan interests by wanting to be a strategic partner of both countries. Its balancing act between India and Pakistan continues. Exposing the ISI links of the head of the Kashmiri American Council in Washington DC should, beyond tit for tat jousting between the CIA and the ISI, lead to a re- working of US's "even-handed" Kashmir policy.


While India should not have illusions about the extent of US strategic munificence towards it, there is much to be gained from engaging it comprehensively. Even if the US is not as yet a trusted friend, it is by no means an adversary. The US itself recognises that India will not be an ally of the US and that policy differences will remain. But it believes there are sufficient common interests to build upon-an approach that we should find congenial. If US interference in our Iran policy is a problem, its renewed Asia thrust to thwart China's hegemonic ambitions is not. Enhanced India-US cooperation in Asean, the East Asia Summit, in protecting the Indian Ocean sea lanes, in developing a new security architecture in Asia, etc is to our advantage, and so is the planned trilateral India-US-Japan dialogue.

India's relationship with the US is uniquely broad- based, covering trade, high technology, innovation, clean energy, agriculture, food security, education, health, counter-terrorism, homeland security, intensive people to people ties etc. The high- powered economic team accompanying Hillary Clinton signalled a desire to move ahead meaningfully. The US, always eager for for quick results, will push for economic reforms that give it more market access in India. We have our own priorities and demands. This normal cut and thrust of building mutualities in relationships should not make us defensive. We may be overplaying the word "strategic" to describe even the banalities of our bilateral agenda, but that our relations with the US have strategic implications for us and the rest of the world is indisputable.

Click here to read Sibal's piece in India Today

The Good News from Mumbai

If there’s one piece of good news that has emerged from the latest terrorist attack in Mumbai, it is that both India and Pakistan appear determined not to allow the incident to derail the ongoing peace talks between them, with the next round scheduled for later this month. Instead of mutual recriminations, the attack was followed by a clear-cut effort to limit the damage to relations between the nuclear-armed rivals on the sub-continent.

On the evening of July 13th, three near-simultaneous blasts shook India’s commercial capital: one explosion in the Zaveri Bazaar, another in the Dadar district in the city centre and a third in the Opera House business district. Twenty-one people were killed and 113 injured.

But in stark contrast to the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks of 2008 that brought peace talks to a screeching halt, both New Delhi and Islamabad worked hard to avoid that outcome this time. India’s Interior Minister P. Chidambaram said India will not blame anyone without any concrete proof, indicating that he was casting a wide net for suspects. “All groups hostile to India are on the radar,” he declared. Similarly, Pakistani leaders condemned the attacks. Foreign Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani vowed that his country and India would “not get deterred by the terrorists’ designs to derail the dialogue once again.”

The recent bomb blasts are the deadliest in Mumbai since November 2008 when ten gunmen launched a three-day coordinated raid that claimed the lives of 166 people and injured more than 700. The gunmen were affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), one of the largest terrorist organizations in South Asia with alleged links to Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). LeT began operating against the Soviets in Afghanistan and soon directed its attention towards Indian-controlled Kashmir.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the latest Mumbai attack, but current speculation has focused on another jihadist group called the Indian Mujahideen. This is a largely home-grown movement, although it has ties across the Pakistani border. A product of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), it was formed in 1977.  In 1986, SIMI called for the “liberation” of India's Muslims and, at some point in the 1990s, evolved into a militant organization with ties to the LeT. SIMI first claimed responsibility for serial bombings in multiple north Indian cities in 2007, and came to prominence after attacks in Ahmadabad in 2008. It has also claimed responsibility for numerous other attacks, including those in Jaipur, Bangalore, and Delhi.

There are clear links between the Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba. LeT provides logistical support and ideological messages to regional jihadist movements--including the Indian Mujahideen. Georgetown University Professor Christine Fair notes that “SIMI/IM appears to be an important vector of LeT infiltration and cultivation of Indian leaders and cadres.”

According to Pakistani and Indian media, the timing of the latest Mumbai attack was anything but coincidental.  Several reports focused on the fact that this attack, just like the one in 2008, was aimed at sabotaging peace talks between the two neighbors. But Indian and Pakistani officials insisted that the foreign ministers of their countries would meet as scheduled later this month.

Despite the reports that the Indian Mujahideen, with its known ties to the LeT, may be behind the attacks, this has not changed the determination of both sides to continue the dialogue. That hardly means that India and Pakistan are putting all their old enmities and suspicions aside. But it does signal a new resolve to talk rather than play the blame game--at least for now. This is a modest but important step forward.


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