Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pardee Center Holds Experts Panel on South Asia 2060

Professor Mattoo called for a change in focus from the territory of Jammu & Kashmir to the people of Kashmir to find a lasting and sustainable peace in the conflict-ridden valley. Speaking at a panel discussion in the 12th Sustainable Development Conference organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad he said that efforts should be directed at fostering organic institutions across the Line of Control (LoC), warning that heavy militarization was severely undermining the political space needed for reconciliation. He was optimistic and argued that the LoC can be converted into a Line of Peace (LoP) but also cautioned, "We are at a tipping point.We could go in the direction of paradise or descend into hell."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Book Review: Wisdom of the East

There is no other living leader, it can be comfortably asserted, who has played a greater role in shaping his country's destiny as has Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore is, with its abundance of good, a little bad, and traces of the ugly, LKY's vision translated into reality. Whatever title he may hold, prime minister, senior minister or minister mentor, LKY has greater influence on this "tiny dot" in the Indian Ocean than any other elected or nominated official in the country. During an interaction once with university presidents, LKY disclosed that he had a simple objective for his country once it separated from Malaysia in 1965: to convert it into a first world oasis in a third world desert. And he did succeed. LKY also held a vision for India and for the bilateral relationship. In this, however, success was achieved after nearly 40 years of frustration, disillusionment and even anger. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray's Lee Kuan Yew's Mission India is a masterly chronicle of the India-Singapore relationship built on the grand old man's vision and persistence. The USP of the book is clearly the eight conversations that Ray was able to have with LKY himself.
Why did LKY believe in India long before Indians began to believe in themselves? He always believed that Southeast Asia needs India to deal with China. In the 1960s, the focus was on India militarily balancing China, but today the focus is on economic cooperation. ASEAN, he believes, cannot alone "contend with China's growing might" but the ASEAN plus India "commands impressive weightage". But as Ray points out, "Like Manmohan Singh, however, Lee believes that Asian stability demands competition and cooperation, not confrontation, between the two giants… leading to an arc of advantage and prosperity across Asia and an Asian economic community." In a conversation with JRD Tata in 1974, he had warned that if India did not emerge, Asia would be submerged. In his geostrategic thinking, Lee was greatly influenced by the great Indian historian, K.M. Panikkar, who coined the term Southeast Asia for what had been known until then as Farther India.
For many years, Lee was rebuffed by India and Indians. In the '60s, he had called for a military partnership. Indeed "within moments of proclaiming" Singapore's independence, he wrote to Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri "seeking military assistance". India, predictably, ignored the appeal. Singaporean fishing vessels were routinely arrested for straying into Indian territory; the request to use the Nicobar Islands for training was rejected. LKY saw India's descent into socialist autarchy and corrupt governance with dismay. His prescription called for "clean politics, secular egalitarianism, a unifying language… economic opportunities, and an honest, efficient and impartial administration". For decades, this never happened. And LKY began fearing that an enfeebled India shackled by a Hindu rate of growth and wracked by caste and communal conflict would never match the grandeur of his dreams. It was only after the Narasimha Rao Manmohan Singh combine brought back the region into focus that Singapore became New Delhi's first stop on the road to America. Today, India and Singapore share one of the closest bilateral economic, military and societal relationships. And in many ways, this is a deserving tribute to LKY, and Ray's fine book brings this out with great finesse.

(Source: India Today)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Treaty To Nowhere

Almost every week for the last few months, a star-studded international conference has been organized to garner support for the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The venue of the conference may change (New York, Helsinki, Amman, Vienna or Beijing) but the message is the same: the NPT is needed to prevent an apocalyptic nuclear nightmare. The reason for this flurry of activity is simple. In May 2010, the NPT will be reviewed by its nearly 190 members, and there is growing apprehension within the NPT-approved nuclear-weapon states (N-5) that a revolt is waiting to happen. After 40 years of submitting themselves to the double standards, bad faith, arm-twisting and even humiliation by the United States of America, Russia, the United Kingdom and, more recently, France and China, a critical section of the non-nuclear weapon states may finally have had enough. And even the charisma of President Barack Obama and his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons may not be enough to save the treaty.
But the plot is getting more curious. Late last month, at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel, the American secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, delivered the second Dean Acheson Memorial lecture sponsored by the US Institute of Peace. Much of the lecture on nuclear non-proliferation was predictable, but it was towards the end of the programme — during the question and answer — that she threw the audience of largely non-proliferation ninjas off balance. She declared that President Obama’s administration was looking forward to working with India to come up with a 21st-century version of the NPT. Whether Clinton had carefully thought over this idea or had merely let her passion for India take over, the reality is that the secretary of state had underlined a significant reality.
The NPT, as it stands today, is an illegitimate entity born of a secret liaison between Moscow and Washington. The NPT is out of tune with world realities and has failed its own charter, and any attempt to resuscitate it will only further erode the objectives of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It is time to think of a new nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament architecture and it is critical that India takes the lead in this venture.
The NPT was, in essence, created in a rare moment during the Cold War when the Soviet Union and the US got together to prevent those outside the N-5 from acquiring nuclear weapons. They presented a fait accompli to the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (the designated multilateral negotiating forum on arms control, and a precursor to the Conference on Disarmament) and put into force a treaty that reflected their interests and their view of global stability. The NPT divided the world, almost permanently, between nuclear ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.
The NPT rested on three pillars, and all three are on the point of collapsing.
The first pillar is non-proliferation. Nuclear-weapon states, party to the treaty, committed themselves not to supply nuclear-weapon technology to non-nuclear states. And non-nuclear states pledged not to acquire nuclear weapons. This is a farce. China supplied nuclear weapon technology to Pakistan, even after signing the NPT. The US, at the very least, benignly allowed Israel to acquire nuclear weapons. North Korea, a member of the NPT, had a clandestine nuclear weapons programme, and withdrew from the treaty once it was discovered. And Iran is arguably even today moving towards nuclear weaponization even while being a member of the treaty. And, of course, because the NPT refuses to recognize — due to its arbitrary cut-off date — that India, Israel and Pakistan are nuclear weapon states.
The second pillar was civilian nuclear energy. Non-nuclear weapon states had an inalienable right to research, develop, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Further, the treaty declared that the peaceful applications of nuclear explosions would be made available to non-nuclear-weapon states on a non-discriminatory basis. The treaty has failed even on this count, with non-nuclear weapon states getting virtually no access to the civilian benefits despite the so-called nuclear renaissance. Moreover, because the popular low-cost light nuclear power station uses enriched uranium fuel, states must be able either to enrich uranium or purchase it in the international market. Neither is being allowed. In addition, NPT countries are being virtually coerced to accept additional safeguards.
The third and arguably most important pillar was nuclear disarmament. Each of the parties to the treaty undertook to pursue negotiations in good faith for cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and for nuclear disarmament. Despite considerable cuts in Russian and US nuclear arsenals since the end of the Cold War, and Obama’s desire to move towards a nuclear-free world, the fact is that there seems to be no real commitment on part of the N-5 to truly move towards a Global Zero, to use a term popularized by a nuclear disarmament campaign. It is believed that the nuclear posture review being conducted by the US scientific and defence establishment will ensure that nuclear weapons remain an integral part of American security plans.
What, however, has inflamed many of the NPT members, including those in Latin America and the Middle East, is the impunity with which assurances, decisions and resolutions arrived at in previous review conferences have been disregarded. The NPT initially entered into force for 25 years in 1970. It was reviewed and extended indefinitely in 1995 only after a series of commitments were given, including on negative security assurances and especially explicit assurances over the Middle East. None of these commitments has been kept. In 2000, a series of 13 steps was agreed upon, but progress on many of these steps has been tardy. In 2005, there was uproar at the review conference, but not a rebellion. In 2010, however, as said earlier, a revolt is waiting to happen.
Not surprisingly, at a recent meeting in Beijing, all three chairmen of the NPT review conferences in the past, the ambassadors Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka, Serge Duarte of Brazil and Muhammad Shakhar of Egypt, felt betrayed by the manner in which the treaty was undermined, primarily by the US and other nuclear-weapon countries. The time has come now to push the treaty to where it rightly belongs: the dustbin of history. The time is also ripe for New Delhi to take the lead in suggesting a new nuclear architecture that will accommodate the nuclear realities of the world, create a better balance of rights and obligations between nuclear and non-nuclear states and address the most dangerous possibility of non-state actors getting access to nuclear technology and weapons. This framework should, of course, be founded on a larger credible plan for nuclear disarmament which builds on the action plan for nuclear disarmament put forward by the former Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in 1988.
 (The Telegraph, 2/12/09)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy: A review of B.Raman's new book

For nearly 20 years, it was Jammu and Kashmir which was the principal theatre of violence and asymmetric warfare that was injected from Pakistan. Acts of terrorism in the state, after a decade or so, no longer made headlines or attracted public attention. In a perverse way, violence was seen as part of the diabolical game between India and Pakistan over the region. November 26, 2008 was the game changer. Outside Jammu and Kashmir, it was the first attack of a fidayeen suicide squad on Indian territory. It was also the first attack on foreigners, including the first on Israeli citizens. It was the second attack in which all the perpetuators were Pakistani nationals (the first being the attack on the Indian Parliament) and the second one on India's economic infrastructure. It was an attack in which the victims were both the super elite and the ordinary men and women on the street. Not surprisingly, 26/11 will not be easily erased from the nation's memory.
Long before 26/11 and even 9/11, for nearly 15 years now, one man has been fighting a lonely war against terrorism from his small bachelor apartment in Chennai. Since 1994, B. Raman has been tracking terrorism and terrorists, and warning of "what is to come" and the need for pre-emptive action. Not surprisingly, Raman has himself become an institution. A former spook who headed the counter-terrorism division in India's external intelligence agency, R&AW, Raman's reputation as the foremost Indian analyst on terrorism is, in reality, a function of his retired life. Almost every day, he churns out words of wisdom, in article after article (on the Net and elsewhere) which become the gospel truth for terrorism watchers across the world. The details that he provides seem to suggest that he gets a daily briefing from R&AW, Mossad and the CIA. I once asked a senior R&AW officer if the agency briefed Raman. His answer was revealing: "We don't brief Raman. He briefs us." The truth is that Raman has demonstrated that there is a mine of information available in the public domain that few have the patience to access.
Mumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy is a book written in Raman's staccato style: short pungent sentences delivering heavy punches. On December 8, 1941, the American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt described the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as a day of infamy. The surprise and "treacherous" attacks were planned and executed even while the Japanese were holding peace talks with the United States. For Raman, 26/11 was, more than 60 years later, another day of infamy: December 1941 changed the history of the world. But for Raman, India's day of infamy has changed very little. Neither has it changed the history of the subcontinent, nor has it "created the fear of god in the minds of Pakistan and its terrorist surrogates", and nor has India's reactions made it certain that there will not be another 26/11.
Raman, of course, offers a 22-point charter of corrective action. These include the need to revive and strengthen the covert action capability of R&AW, the importance of creating a common database on terrorism for all the agencies, and to make the Multi-Agency Centre of the Intelligence Bureau effective. He also highlights the importance of strengthening the National Security Advisory Board and to stop using the National Security Council Secretariat as a dumping ground for retired officers. And, finally, Raman would want to strictly enforce the privileged direct access to the prime minister of the intelligence chiefs.

Published in India Today

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Perfect combination for school education

It was exciting to be present last month at EducationWorld’s celebration of India’s Most Respected Schools 2009 in Delhi. As a former vice chancellor, I know how important higher education and research are to nation building, and for the emergence of India as a major global player in the 21st century. Yet it is school education that is fundamental to building a nation, and shaping the India of tomorrow. And here, unfortunately, we are still in a mess! That is why it’s important not just to celebrate school education, but to laud all those who make a difference.
Attaining the goal of total literacy is, of course, crucial to ensure that the demographic dividend of our youthful population does not turn into a demographic nightmare. Fortunately, the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008, passed by both houses of Parliament and enabled by the newly-inserted Article 21-A of the Constitution of India, guarantees free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of six-14 years.But, let us face it, one cannot legislate illiteracy away, because law enforcement rather than the existence of laws is the major problem in India.
Consider this: despite huge investment in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (‘Education for All’) programme and other literacy campaigns, one-third of India’s population is illiterate. This means that at least a quarter of our children are still not capable of reading and writing. We need to devise real incentives for parents to send their children to school wherever they exist, create new ones wherever needed, and ensure that there is real learning happening within them. Only then will the constitutional amendment which created Article 21-A have real meaning.

The annual learning outcomes surveys, for instance, of the Mumbai-based NGO Pratham provide evidence of big learning gaps in primary education. Much more needs to be done by government and by all of us in the non-government sector who believe that India can only be great if education is truly inclusive. And one of the most important indicators of inclusiveness is that all citizens are at least literate. Yet schooling means much more than mere familiarity with the 3Rs.
In my opinion, too much emphasis is given to infrastructure development even in the Right to Education Bill. I know of schools in Jammu and Kashmir which have better infrastructure than most Delhi schools and yet produce the most aggressive, intolerant young adults. For instance one particular school promoted by the biggest criminal ‘don’ in Jammu has the best infrastructure I have ever seen — air-conditioned classrooms, swimming pools, tennis courts, advanced computer labs, wi-fi, and science laboratories. But a few days ago the Don’s son was arrested for murdering a young rival in broad daylight, and arrest warrants are out for both father and son. The reputation of the father, however, is so bad that the school gets boarders only from militancy hit regions of the state, who perhaps have no other choice. What kind of education awaits those trying to flee from violence in this ‘world’ school remains to be seen.
In 21st century India, we need not just capable and skilled young men and women but people who are upright, honest, tolerant and at ease with the country’s diversity. Therefore, in addition to the 3Rs, we need to introduce what I term the ‘3Ss’.
The first ‘S’ is for sensitivity. This is more important than is usually acknowledged. Sensitivity implies an aesthetic capacity to appreciate beauty in all its forms and to be considerate of differing points of view. Sensitive education also injects compassion and humanism in students.
The second ‘S’ is security, and freedom from fear. Only when children are free from the fear of punishment and competition will they be able to excel. Geniuses are born not in the rat race but out of self-motivated races for perfection. Security is also freedom from stress, where children are neither burdened by too much academic work nor peer pressure.
And finally we need our children to develop their spiritual and scientific temper — the third ‘S’. On this, I would prefer to extensively quote my favourite teacher, Jiddu Krishnamurthi (1895-1986). In one of his lectures he said: “The spirit of science has nothing to do with individual conditions, with nationalism, with race, with prejudice. Scientists are there to explore matter, to investigate the structure of the earth and of the stars and the planets, to find out how to cure man’s diseases, how to prolong man’s life, to explain time, both the past and the future.”
In another of his many insightful lectures, he stated: “The religious mind does not belong to any group which calls itself religious. The religious mind is not the mind that goes to churches, temples, mosques. Nor is it a religious mind that holds to certain forms of beliefs, dogmas. The religious mind is completely alone… not being nationalistic, not being conditioned by its environment, such a mind has no horizons, no limits. It is explosive, new, young, fresh, and innocent.”
The challenge, therefore — in government and private schools — is to ensure that the 3Rs are taught in tandem with the 3Ss. In that freedom let the country awake!

(Source: Education World, 10th Anniversary Special Essays)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Liberating India from Pakistan

As finance minister of India, Manmohan Singh led the process of economic reforms, which liberated India from the autarchy that had caged it to the Hindu rate of growth. In his first term as Prime Minister, Singh risked the survival of his government by agreeing to a nuclear deal with the US. By freeing the country from the regime of technology-related sanctions, India also mainstreamed itself as a nuclear power. It is now clear that the Prime Minister intends to use his current term in office to free India from the heavy burden of its 60-odd-year-old belligerent relationship with Pakistan. In this view, India-Pakistan reconciliation alone will ensure durable peace in Jammu and Kashmir, and will truly heal communal relations in the sub-continent.
All those who believed that the political backlash after the India-Pakistan joint communiqué at Sharm-el-Sheikh would deter the Prime Minister, clearly failed to recognise the grit and determination of Manmohan Singh. His visit to the valley has demonstrated convincingly that no matter how heavy the odds, New Delhi will move proactively to engage Pakistan, while ensuring that the aspirations of the people of J&K are fulfilled.
What is the logic behind this policy? Clearly, the Prime Minister believes that Pakistan hangs like a millstone around India. A disproportionate portion of its military and diplomatic resources have been absorbed in the enmity with Pakistan. Moreover, will India really be taken seriously as a great power if it is not even capable of settling its own backyard? Reconciliation with Pakistan, therefore, would enable India to play, with much greater robustness and strength, its rightful role in international relations. But for lasting peace with Pakistan, it is also vital to arrive at a settlement in J&K.
This view is not born out of naivety. It has been clear for some years now that India is unable to fully comprehend or address the complexities of a changing Pakistan. Not surprisingly, New Delhi’s policies have floundered, if not failed. Strident debates in the Indian media—frightening in their Manichaean simplicity—reflect a lack of appreciation of the intricacies of the Gordian knot of bilateral relations.
Unlike much of the establishment, however, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh—by pinning Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to a joint statement at Sharm-el-Sheikh and then by warning the chief ministers of Indian states of the dangers of a terrorist attack from Pakistan-based groups, and by reaching out to the people of Pakistan from the Kashmir valley—may have addressed part of the core problem: there are multiple Pakistans all of which demand Indian attention. Robust if differentiated, focused but flexible, multi-track responses need to define India’s policy towards Pakistan’s fragile and fragmented political and social structure.
At a time when it has become risky to invoke Mohammad Ali Jinnah, it is still important to recall his original design for the state: Muslim, moderate and modern. It is this Pakistan that an Indian strategy must work towards constructing. And this must combine at least three elements. First, India needs to build strong defensive and offensive capabilities to deter ‘asymmetric’ attacks by non-state actors, which may have the backing of elements of the Pakistani establishment. Nuclear weapons, at the end of the day, will only deter nuclear weapons and, at best, a full-scale conventional war.
Secondly, India must reach out and strengthen all those who have a stake in better India-Pakistan relations and an interest in regional stability through unilateral gestures that do not demand reciprocity. These would include specific initiatives for civil society actors, as well as many others within the business and political community. The Prime Minister made this vital distinction in Kashmir between the people of Pakistan and the state of Pakistan.
Thirdly, India must systematically seek to weaken, delegitimise and isolate those who are enemies of a moderate Pakistan and, by implication, of a stable subcontinent. This can be done unilaterally or in conjunction with allies. It is unfortunate that sub-continental Islam, built on an ethos of multiculturalism and tolerance, has not been projected with the robustness needed in these difficult times. This ‘soft power’ of South Asian Sufi Islam remains the best weapon against extremism.
While seeking to help stabilise Pakistan, the process of building peace in J&K must clearly continue with speed. This is only possible through a dialogue with all stakeholders in the state, including separatists, and by resuming the back channel on Kashmir.
The challenge through these dialogues is to arrive at a consensus on devolution and decentralisation of power. An important working group of the Prime Minister on J&K dealt with Centre-state relations, but it was unable to arrive at a breakthrough. This does not, however, mean that we have arrived at a cul de sac. There are many proposals on the table, including those on autonomy, self-rule, self- governance and achievable nationhood. A sincerity of purpose, together with an imaginative and creative play with many of these ideas, should make it possible to arrive at an agreement amongst the main stakeholders in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh on the quantum of political space needed, at every administrative level, for true empowerment of all the people of the state, as well as on the institutions and mechanisms needed to support this architecture.
These internal discussions must flow into the back-channel, which can then attempt to work out a non-territorial India-Pakistan settlement on J&K—based on providing a similar political architecture on both sides of the Line of Control, while working towards converting the LoC into a line of peace that allows for the free movement of people, goods, services and ideas. Cooperation in areas of mutual interest like water, transport, agriculture and education will require the gradual creation of trans-LoC mechanisms and institutions. The implementation of such an understanding should create the conditions for a win-win solution, without needing to address hard issues of political sovereignty. This seems to be the template of the Prime Minister’s policy. With determination, and a little luck, he may just succeed where others have failed.

(Source: The Financial Express, 02/11/09) 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lost in the valley

Almost everyone who has the slightest interest in American policy towards South Asia knows of Ambassadors Howard and Terisita Schaffer. Between them, this Washington-based power couple, have more than 50 years of diplomatic experience in dealing with South Asia. And both "Howie" and "Tazy" have a special interest in Kashmir; an interest which was nurtured, in the post-diplomatic years, as leading members of the Kashmir Study Group (KSG), sponsored by a New York-based expatriate Kashmiri businessman. The KSG recommended that Kashmir be reconstituted as a "sovereign" entity but without an international personality, which expectedly made New Delhi a little wary of the group's activities. The Schaffers combine old world charm with incisive analytical skills, and The Limits of Influence is a book that only Howard B. Schaffer could have written. It blends personal insight with declassified archival material and a passionate conviction that the US has a role in resolving the conflict, to produce an impressive narrative of American interests and policies towards Kashmir.
Remember that the US did have a deep interest in the future of Kashmir during the Cold War. In the 1950s, suspicion about American policy on Kashmir had reached such a level that in 1953, Sheikh Abdullah was dismissed. This, after he had a couple of luncheon meetings in Srinagar with Democratic Party leader Adlai Stevenson, who was touring Kashmir, and private discussions with American Ambassador Loy Henderson, where the option of independence was apparently mooted.
Suspicions about official American thinking on Kashmir were resuscitated in the early '90s, after the end of the Cold War. This time, however, there were no great strategic interests at stake. It was, however, the bleeding-heart liberals of the new Clinton administration who-it seemed-were deeply disturbed by the new troubles in Kashmir. What made things worse was the presence of Robin Raphel-the first-ever assistant secretary of state for South Asia-in the first Clinton administration.
At one of her first off-the-record briefings as assistant secretary, Raphel set the Ganges on fire by stating that the official position of the US was that "the accession of Kashmir to India was disputed". India's suspicions seemed to be confirmed: the liberal trail for an independent Kashmir ran from Adlai Stevenson to Robin Raphel.
What, then, is the position today? Clearly, the surest way to diminish American leverage is through explicit involvement on Kashmir, given Indian suspicions. The most prudent way is for Obama to continue exercising pressure on Islamabad to clamp down on the terrorists and extremists, and then gently nudge India to resume bilateral talks. Once New Delhi is persuaded of Islamabad's real intent to end terrorism as an instrument of policy, the back channel on Kashmir can be resumed. The understanding between Pervez Musharraf and Manmohan Singh can then become the basis of a real win-win solution in Kashmir. Fortunately, Obama is a pragmatic realist, and has little time for either the Adlais or the Robins of the Democratic party. This, of course, is a point on which Schaffer would strongly disagree.
 (Source: India Today, 29/10/09)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Four D's For A New Kashmir

The prime minister's visit to Jammu & Kashmir provides a unique opportunity for New Delhi to build on the vision of Naya Kashmir outlined Manmohan Singh during his earlier tenure. Kashmir is the ground zero of the India-Pakistan relationship. A signal from Singh on India's willingness to engage its troubled neighbour - in spite of its recalcitrance would generate tremendous enthusiasm within Kashmir. The Kashmiri people know through their own traumatic experience how essential India-Pakistan reconciliation is to ensure durable peace in the state. 
For all Kashmir's apparently complex problems, there are in reality only four principal challenges that need to be addressed. First is the issue of the three dialogues that are vital to rebuild the culture of mutual respect, tolerance, accommodation and faith in peaceful conflict resolution. Last winter, we witnessed one of the most inclusive elections in the state's history. Yet only the myopic will suggest that popular alienation has ended or separatist sentiment is dead. The challenge is to ensure a larger dialogue with separatists and even former militant groups which need not delegitimise the elections or undermine elected representatives. 
This should not be difficult to engineer if there is clear political will and the task of interlocuting is not left to intelligence operatives or retired babus. Dialogue must be unconditional and continuous and should address both political and humanitarian issues that could build confidence and trust (including the issue, for example, of the release of political detainees and ensuring a stricter enforcement of human rights).
Internally, it is also vital to build, through talks, a process of reconciliation between Ladakh, Kashmir and Jammu and the sub-regions. There has been growing regional and communal polarisation, which needs to be urgently addressed. The dialogue within should be complemented by restarting the New Delhi-Islamabad backchannel on Kashmir, to ensure that Pakistan has no incentive to subvert the internal track. This should, of course, take off from precisely where previously designated special envoys had paused in their discussions. 
The second challenge is to arrive at a consensus on devolution and decentralisation of power. An important working group of the prime minister on J&K dealt with Centre-state relations, but it was unable to arrive at a breakthrough. This does not mean that we have arrived at a cul-de-sac. There are many proposals on the table, including those on autonomy, self-rule, self-governance and achievable nationhood. Sincerity of purpose, together with a creative play with many of these ideas, should make it possible to arrive at an agreement amongst the main stakeholders in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh on the quantum of political space needed, at every administrative level, for true empowerment of all the people of the state, and on the institutions and mechanisms needed to support this architecture. 
These internal discussions must flow into the backchannel, which can then attempt to work out a non-territorial India-Pakistan settlement on J&K based on providing a similar political architecture on both sides of the Line of Control while working towards converting the LoC into a line of peace that allows free movement of people, goods, services and ideas. Cooperation in areas of mutual interest like water, transport, agriculture and education will require the creation gradually of trans-LoC mechanisms and institutions. Implementation of such an understanding should create conditions for a win-win solution without needing to address hard issues of political sovereignty. 
An issue that is both controversial and essential to building peace is demilitarisation. Militarisation must not be confused merely with withdrawal of troops. It is a culture that legitimises use of violence and force, rewards machismo and physical aggressiveness, patronises intolerance and repression and is contemptuous of marginal groups. No one actor can be held responsible for J&K's militarisation, particularly over the last two decades, and no one action will change this reality. In many ways, militarisation is, to use Ashis Nandy's classic phrase, an "intimate enemy". All stakeholders, state and non-state, have an obligation to recreate a demilitarised culture of peace. What is required is deep introspection, a changed mindset and, of course, a change of heart and policy. A truth commission would be an ideal starting point. Symbolically, the withdrawal of troops from the main cities will send an immediate signal of the government of India's sincerity of purpose. But much will also depend on Pakistan's actions in ending sponsorship of violence as well as the ability of Kashmiris themselves to resist attempts that legitimise violence and force them to abandon once again their distinctly non-violent historic identity. 
Finally, of course, is J&K's development, a central part of the prime minister's vision for the state. Other than improved connectivity and infrastructure, it is essential to give J&K's youth a greater stake in the country's booming knowledge economy. Given the geography of the state, and its growing endowment of skills, electronic exports of services may play a more significant role in its beneficial economic integration than the export of apples and handicrafts.
(Source: The Times of India, 27/09/09)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The new axis of evil

SEEDS OF TERROR, How Heroin is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, Gretchen Peters, Thomas Dunne Books
A shepherd from Afghanistan's Nimroz province, Haji Juma Khan or HJK, it is believed, had 200 houses in Pakistan and Afghanistan and "palatial residences" in four other countries. Even by the most extravagant of lifestyles, HJK was a rarity. Three wives, scores of girlfriends, a lover of music and dancing and a connoisseur of "alcohol-drenched parties hosted by Russian and Turkish prostitutes", and a keeper of the "most handsome boys", HJK's citadel in Zaranj (the otherwise barren capital of Nimroz), guarded by dozens of armed men, "dwarfed even the provincial governor's mansion across the street".
HJK was the "kingpin" of the Afghan drug empire, trading as much as $1 billion a year in opium and heroin. Similar in his excesses to Pablo Escobar, "the Colombian kingpin who packed jetliners with cocaine and maintained a private zoo", HJK was different in at least one respect: he was the principal source of funding, for several years, of the vanguard of the Islamic jihad. These included the most puritanical and fundamentalist Islamic movement led by the Taliban, the most deadly global terrorist organisation, the al Qaeda, and the ruthless Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
According to General Ali Shah Pakitiwal, a senior Afghan police official, "Juma Khan's forces are terrorists. He pays them to protect his drugs. Mullah Omar, Tahir Yuldeshev, Osama bin Laden. They all work for him." Omar is, of course, the one-eyed supreme leader of the Taliban, Yuldeshev is the "radical mullah" who founded the IMU with Juma Namangani ("a former Soviet paratrooper in Afghanistan who defected to the Mujahideen") and Osama is, well, Osama. And all of them have, over periods of time, been linked to and been supported by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate of Pakistan. It is in establishing this "new toxic mix of jihad and dope" (to use the words of journalist David Kaplan), with hard evidence and credibility, that Gretchen Peters' frightening and fascinating story counts for more than reports emerging out of interior ministries the world over.
Journalists, some self-indulgent hack once said, produce the first draft of history. In reality, most reporters write books that have the life of an untreated wooden shelf ridden with termites. Peters, an ABC News reporter, in contrast, has produced a painstaking account that blends brilliant investigative reportage with serious research. Seeds of Terror is not a perfect book, the prose could have been crisper; the references clutter the main arguments; but this is a book that will be read and re-read as much by concerned citizens as by spooks in intelligence agencies, even as it sends chills down our spine and we fear, as did Peters, for the future our children will inherit.
Unearthing this "axis of evil" between drug traffickers, terrorists, and powerful elements within the establishments in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Gulf that backs them, demystifies as much the so-called jihad in Afghanistan, but it is an equally strong indictment of American follies in Afghanistan. While in the early years of the Mujahideen resistance against the Soviet Union, the Americans just didn't care about narcotics in Afghanistan, the Bush administration recognised the need to end drug trafficking only much much after 9/11. But "instead of intensifying efforts to go after the traffickers and money-launderers behind the insurgency, the Bush administration pushed for a broad scale aerial spraying of poppy fields". Unfortunately this played "into the hands of traffickers and terrorists", as it drastically increased the prices of opium and increased profits for the drug dealers and the Taliban.
Indian readers will have a special interest in particularly one section of the book. It was in a Dubai café, "drinking cappuccinos" with one Riaz that Peters learnt, "how the boss of South Asia's underworld launders millions of dollars in Afghan drug money". This "undisputed crime lord" is Dawood Ibrahim, and Riaz laundered money for him for over a decade. Dawood, wanted in India for the 1993 Mumbai blasts and accused in narcotics smuggling, has the dubious distinction of being the only person Washington has designated both a "global Terrorist Supporter" and a "Foreign Narcotics kingpin".
After the 1993 blasts, he took refuge in Karachi "reportedly under the protection of the ISI". It was then that the D-company began working in the region's opium trade. Dawood travelled to Afghanistan "under the protection of the Taliban" and brokered a "financial arrangement to share smuggling routes with bin Laden". A former senior CIA official told Peters, "If you want to understand what Osama bin Laden is up to, you have to understand what Dawood Ibrahim is up to."
According to Riaz, all that the D-company does now is "launder drug money" through front companies established in the UAE. For less than $20,000, Riaz could set up a totally fabricated company which would move millions of dollars into the UAE every year. These earnings would then be pumped into the stock market, where they come out clean. Another place to launder money was probably the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE). For instance, in 2006, "$120 billion was pumped through the KSE, a year when the country's economy totalled only about $130 billion" and Dawood is believed to be "spending most of his time behind the high walls of a Karachi mansion", probably monitoring the KSE.
As Peters concludes, "Eight years after 9/11, the greatest single failure in the war on terror" is not that bin Laden is at large or that the Taliban may come back to power or "that the al Qaeda is regrouping in Pakistan's tribal areas and probably planning fresh attacks on the West, it is the spectacular incapacity of Western law enforcement to disrupt the flow that is keeping their networks afloat". Remember it cost al Qaeda only $500, 000 to finance 9/11. These days, terrorist groups, as Peters reveals in her extraordinary book, earn that from dope in about a week.
 (Source: India Today, 19/09/09)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Inside the terror lab

THE Al-QAEDA CONNECTION, The Taliban and Terror in Pakistan's Tribal Areas,Imtiaz Gul, Viking
The British Empire had only one answer for the problems of the tribal areas of the North West Frontier: leave them alone, as much as possible. A political agent, with a minimalist agenda, relied on the malik and occasionally the mullah to ensure that the tribal agencies were virtually sovereign within, but insulated from much of the outside world.
The combination of Pakhtunwali (tradition) and Shariah (Islamic laws) that prevailed was documented by serious anthropologists in research studies and civil servants in imperial gazetteers and often alarmed liberals. But until recently, the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) were a no-go zone, a Wild West. Until the implosion in these areas, few even in India’s strategic elite knew of the complexities of the FATA.  
Gul’s masterly account is important not just for sketching in fine detail the manner in which Al Qaeda found a fertile ground in many of these areas, but also for profiling each one of the seven agencies of FATA and six pockets known as the Frontier Regions. The agencies are, of course, North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Khyber, Kurram, Bajour, Mohmand and Orakzai. And the regions are Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Lakki, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan. So for all those instant Pakistan experts, here is a chance to read Gul’s book and become a real expert. 
Gul documents, with painstaking detail, how many of these areas fell victim to the Al Qaeda and the Taliban after the latter were forced out of Afghanistan. A combination of big money, the
seductive power of radical Islam and the de facto
patronage of elements of Pakistan’s establishment created the conditions for Al Qaedism to find roots in FATA.  
But there are three other parts of Gul’s extraordinary study which demand attention. First is the growing nexus between most militant groups operating in Pakistan and Kashmir with the Taliban and the Al Qaeda. It is the tribal areas which serve as a perfect sanctuary. For instance, after Lashkar-e-Taiba came under pressure in Punjab, they moved a number of their camps to Waziristan and Mohmand agencies, “where they lived close to the compounds of the Arab Al Qaeda, whose ideological leanings — the Sunni Wahabist version of Islam — they shared.” 
Gul’s book also examines the continued linkages between the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and many of these groups, including the Taliban.
As is well known, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the ISI used American and Saudi money to train and motivate many of these groups. But even after 9/11, the relationship is far from over. The ISI, many believe, is convinced that the West will abandon Afghanistan in a few years,
and then these “strategic assets” will need to be reactivated.  
For instance, as Gul states: “after their retreat from Afghanistan, the majority of foreigners had settled down in the North and South Waziristan and Bajaur region, where networks operated by Afghan war veterans Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbudin Hekmetyar became instrumental in securing shelter for bin Laden’s surviving fighters. Haqqani and Hekmetyar also acted as the umbrella group for the reorganisation of the Al Qaeda.” Both Hekmatayar and Haqqani are still considered to be ISI’s important assets with the latter blamed for the bombing of the Indian embassy in Afghanistan.  
Finally, Gul documents, somewhat sketchily, the game being played by other powers, including by the Americans, the Saudis and the Indians. 
But what is the way out? Can Afghanistan be stabilised as a precursor to stabilising the tribal areas? King Nadir Shah of Afghanistan said in 1931: “In my opinion, the best and most fruitful policy that one can imagine for Afghanistan is a policy of neutrality. Afghanistan must always entertain good relations with its neighbours as well as all the friendly powers that are not opposed to the national interest of the country. Afghanistan must give its neighbours assurances of its friendly attitudes while safeguarding the right of reciprocity. Such a line of conduct is the best one for the interests of Afghanistan.” In other words, the only way out is for Afghanistan’s neighbours and the great powers to guarantee its neutrality.
As Karl Inderfurth wrote a few months ago: “Such a package would give all the participants something of value. Pakistan would secure Afghan recognition of its border and assurances that India would not be allowed to use Afghan territory to pressure or destabilise Pakistan’s volatile border regions. India would be free to pursue normal relations with Kabul, including direct trade and commercial ties. Iran would receive assurances that the international community recognises its legitimate interests in Afghanistan and that the US military presence on its eastern border is not permanent. The United States and its allies would be able to depart, leaving behind a society at peace with itself and its neighbours.”
But until that happens, Imtiaz Gul’s frightening and fascinating book, which blends reportage with genuine scholarship, is essential reading for all those who care for the region.
 (Source: The Indian Express, 05/09/09)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The New Fizzle Debate

The nuclear debate in India, after a brief lull, promises to become stormy over the next months. The contest is once again, after over a decade, in essence over the merits and demerits of India signing the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty or CTBT. A former senior official of the Defence Research and Development Organisation has proved to be the catalyst and a whistle-blower. At a closed-door seminar in the capital, where the Chatham House Rules were flouted with impunity, the official declared that the thermonuclear test India conducted in 1988 was a fizzle. A fizzle, in nuclear jargon, is another term for a test that has not delivered, at least not in terms of the expected yield. The implication was clear: India should not consider signing the CTBT because we still need to conduct further tests to ensure the credibility of the country’s nuclear deterrent. While the government has sought to distance itself from the controversy, it is clear that this is an issue that cannot be swept under the carpet. What is needed, therefore, is an independent panel of scientists and analysts who can address the issue of the thermonuclear test and the wider implications for India, its nuclear deterrent, and its engagement with the CTBT. All this needs fleshing out.
The CTBT was adopted by the United Nations general assembly in September, 1996. About 150 States have ratified the CTBT and another 32 States have signed but not yet ratified it. But the treaty cannot come into force unless the 44 States listed in Annex 2 of the treaty have ratified it. Nine of these States have not ratified the treaty, including India, China, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States of America. During the Bush years, the CTBT was not an issue: the Republican administration believed more in direct action than in multilateral arms control, and the treaty was pushed into cold storage. The Obama administration is, however, different.
At Prague in April, Obama committed himself to radical steps on arms control and disarmament; it seems his administration has decided to make the ratification of the CTBT a cornerstone of its foreign policy. In other words, Washington will begin exercising serious pressure on the non-signatories, even as they build a consensus on ratification domestically.
The India story, however, is, as usual, more intriguing. On September 10, 1996, at the UN general assembly, India’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Arundhati Ghose, and a bhadramahila with a greater spine than most Indian diplomats, said: “Mr President, I would like to declare on the floor of this august assembly that India will never sign this unequal treaty, not now, nor later.” The reasons, on the face of it, were simple: India had been included in Annex 2, without its consent, the draft had been negotiated outside the conference on disarmament (where India blocked a consensus) and that the treaty was not explicitly linked to a plan for disarmament which India had demanded. But there was a deeper, less diplomatic, reality. India needed time: to be able to conduct nuclear tests at an opportune time when the international backlash could be contained, so essential to build a credible nuclear posture. This happened less than two years later.
On May 11 and 13, 1988, India conducted five nuclear tests at Pokhran. All the tests were then declared totally successful. Recall the statement issued by the official spokesman on May 11: “The tests conducted today were with a fission device, a low yield device and a thermonuclear device. The measured yields are in line with expected values. Measurements have also confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere.”
India quickly declared a unilateral moratorium on further testing, and New Delhi’s back channels seriously discussed signing the CTBT (as a way of normalizing relations and getting sanctions, imposed in the wake of the tests, lifted) with their American counterparts, but the Clinton administration was beset with its own problems. Then came the trouble-free Bush years. In March this year, however, the prime minister’s special envoy, Shyam Saran, said at a conference at the Brookings Institution at Washington: “It is also our conviction that if the world really moves categorically towards nuclear disarmament in a credible timeframe, then India-US differences over the CTBT will probably recede into the background.” Why are we then witnessing this hullabaloo? For at least three reasons.
First, many consider thermonuclear or hydrogen weapons essential for building a credible deterrent. While this is debatable in terms of Indian nuclear deterrence strategy, there has always been scepticism about the thermonuclear claim. Days after the test, both the Central Intelligence Agency and the international scientific academic community expressed reservations. The well known nuclear-seismologist, then at the University of Arizona, Terry C. Wallace, openly rubbished India’s claims on the basis of detailed seismic analyses. In India, P.K. Iyengar, a former chief of the department of atomic energy, also doubted the official claim.
In response, the Indian atomic science establishment published its findings. Key figures of the atomic energy establishment, S.K. Sikka, Falguni Roy. and G.J. Nair, argued - in a referred paper — rather naïvely it now seems — that large variations in the seismic magnitude were because of the “cancellation and superimposition of signals from these explosions separated in space by about 1 km”. The DRDO official’s assertion implies that Sikka et al were, at the very least, magnifying their achievements.
But we must not overlook the traditional rivalry between institutions and individuals. All nuclear States have had rivalries within driven by personal idiosyncrasies and institutional loyalties. The famous rivalry between Edward Teller (the father of the hydrogen bomb) and J. Robert Oppenheimer (the leader of the Manhattan Project which produced the first atomic weapons) is legendary and irretrievably divided the two main American nuclear labs: Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore. When Oppenheimer opposed the hydrogen bomb, Teller accused him of being a Soviet spy.
In India, the rivalry between the atomic energy establishment and the DRDO is well known. Raja Ramanna openly expressed his uneasiness at the elevation of a well known rocket scientist to a high position. In the Atomic Energy Commission itself, nuclear scientists have looked down upon nuclear engineers — the traditional innovators’ contempt for mechanics. Two chairmen of the AEC, Raja Ramanna, a nuclear scientist, and Homi Sethna, a nuclear engineer, had always had an uneasy relationship.
Finally, of course, there are institutional interests. No organization will seek to undermine its own raison d’être. In the US, when the Clinton administration sought the support of the nuclear laboratories for the CTBT, they had to be almost bribed. As the physicist, Richard Garwin, described it: “What could they get? Sandia got the microelectronics research center, which had minimal relevance to the CTBT. Los Alamos got the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility. Livermore got the National Ignition Facility— the white elephant eating us out of house and home.”
The fact is that we need oversight by an independent authority. In the US, there were at least two panels which, in recent years, addressed issues related to the CTBT and inter-institutional rivalry. In 1995, an Energy Advisory Board Task Force on Alternative Futures for the Department of Energy National Laboratories was set up. The panel concluded that while some of the finest scientific research in America was done in the national laboratories, “the current system of governance of these laboratories is broken and should be replaced with a bold alternative”. An earlier committee, which remains a model, is the bipartisan JASON committee, consisting of top research and industrial scientists. One of its most important reports was on safety, reliability, and performance margins of nuclear weapons in the wake of a possible CTBT. We need to recognize that the nuclear question is too important to be left to scientists or the armed forces alone. It concerns us all.

-Co-authored with Rajive Nayan, IDSA
(Source: The Telegraph, 03/09/2009)

Pakistan policy: Sharm-el-Sheikh and after

It has been clear for some years now that India is unable to fully comprehend or address the complexities of a changing Pakistan. Not surprisingly, New Delhi’s policies have floundered, if not failed. Strident debates in the Indian media — frightening in their Manichaean simplicity — reflect a lack of appreciation of the intricacies of the Gordian knot of bilateral relations. Unlike much of the establishment, however, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — by pinning Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to a joint statement at Sharm-el-Sheikh and then by warning the Chief Ministers of Indian states of the dangers of a terrorist attack from Pakistan-based groups — may have addressed part of the core problem: there are multiple Pakistans all of which demand Indian attention. Robust if differentiated, focussed but flexible, multitrack responses must now define India’s policy towards Pakistan’s fragile and fragmented political and social structure.
Not only the deep cleavages within Pakistan’s society but also — surprisingly — the overwhelming popular desire now for better relations with India are revealed in two recent surveys of public opinion in that country, conducted by Gallup Pakistan and by the Pew Research Centre’s Global Attitudes Project which included 24 countries (including Pakistan) and the Palestinian territories. The findings should also serve as a warning to New Delhi of the dangers of “outsourcing” its Pakistan policy to Washington.
Three findings from both surveys stand out. First, as expected, is the high level of anti-Americanism among the Pakistanis. In the Pew survey, 68 per cent of the respondents have expressed a negative opinion of the U.S. Only 16 per cent have a positive view, and 64 per cent consider the U.S. more an enemy than a friend. American President Barack Obama receives the lowest ratings in Pakistan among all 25 nations surveyed as part of the Pew project. The Gallup Poll too reveals the all pervasive nature of Pakistani sentiment against the U.S. Fifty-nine per cent consider the U.S. the greatest threat to the country. Not surprisingly, American policy in Afghanistan receives very little support.
Secondly, both surveys suggest that there is a strong public desire for better relations with India even among those sections which consider their eastern neighbour a major threat. The Gallup Survey suggests that only 18 per cent consider India the greatest threat, and interestingly the figure is the highest among those likely to vote for either the MQM or the ANP and lowest among Sindhi speakers. Women are more likely to be anti-American than anti-India. According to the Pew survey, 69 per cent of the respondents do consider India a major threat, but two-thirds believe it is important for relations between Islamabad and New Delhi to improve. Over a third of those polled believe that having good relations with India is very important. Apprehensions about India are the highest in Punjab, where 70 per cent cite India as the greatest threat to the country, while a majority in Sindh and the NWFP consider the Taliban a bigger threat.
Finally, it seems that there is a process of deep churning within Pakistan’s multiple “societies,” which seems to translate, at the moment, into almost schizophrenic responses on key issues of identity. This is most clearly reflected in attitudes towards the al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and “severe laws” associated with these groups. For instance, in the Pew survey, there is little support for the Taliban and the al-Qaeda. Fifty-seven per cent consider the Taliban and 41 per cent consider the al-Qaeda a serious threat to the country. Forty one per cent in the Gallup poll support military action against the Taliban. And yet there is also considerable support for the harsh punishments imposed by these extremist groups. Seventy-eight per cent favour death for those who leave Islam; 80 per cent support whipping and cutting hands for theft and robbery; and 83 per cent favour stoning adulterers. And yet, 87 per cent of Pakistanis believe that it is equally important for boys and girls to be educated, in contrast to the Taliban’s thinking. The poll finds that support for suicide bombing remains very low. In terms of credibility of institutions, the army, the media and the judiciary receive high approval while the Inter-Services Intelligence, the police and the national government get much less support.
These findings need to be studied carefully but if they are indeed reflective of real trends, they suggest what has always been intuitively obvious: India’s Pakistan policy has not succeeded because, while remaining a prisoner of past dogmas, it has been unable to respond to the multiple political and social forces in Pakistan that need to be understood and addressed.
The strategic community in India has traditionally been overwhelmingly in support of a policy of aggressively countering Pakistan. These are the Subedars. Only a minority, the Saudagars, has wanted to ignore and benignly neglect Islamabad or integrate it economically. A microscopic few, however, want New Delhi to be proactive in promoting peace, even to the extent of making unilateral concessions. These are the Sufis.
But these strands cannot afford today to remain in opposition to one another. The need of the hour is for the Subedars, the Saudagars and the Sufis to come together and shape a new Pakistan policy. At a time when it has become risky to invoke Mohammad Ali Jinnah, it is still important to recall his original design for the state: Muslim, Moderate and Modern. It is this Pakistan that an Indian strategy must systematically work towards constructing. In the present scenario, Indian policy must have at least the following strands.
First, India needs to build strong defensive and offensive capabilities to deter “asymmetric” attacks by non-state actors which may have the backing of elements of the Pakistani establishment. Nuclear weapons, at the end of the day, will only deter nuclear weapons and, at best, a full-scale conventional war. Doctrines like Cold Start will, however, remain in cold storage until they are able to explicitly demonstrate that diplomatic, political and military benefits outweigh the costs.
Secondly, India must reach out and strengthen all those who have a stake in better India-Pakistan relations and an interest in regional stability through unilateral gestures that do not demand reciprocity. These would include specific initiatives for civil society actors, as well as many others within the business and political community. For instance, New Delhi should consider constructing a preferential trading regime that offers Pakistan’s handicrafts and other local products almost unfettered access to the Indian market. Such a gesture, with some short-term costs, could have far-reaching long-term benefits for India and the region. Similarly, New Delhi could begin by offering a thousand scholarships to young men and women in Pakistan willing to study the humanities or social sciences in India at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Thirdly, India must systematically seek to weaken, delegitimise and isolate those who are enemies of a moderate Pakistan and, by implication, of a stable subcontinent. This can be done unilaterally or in conjunction with allies. It is unfortunate that sub-continental Islam, built on an ethos of multiculturalism and tolerance, has not been projected with the robustness needed in these difficult times. This “soft power” of South Asian Sufi Islam remains the best weapon against extremism.
Fourthly, Indian policies must be carefully distanced from the present American role in Pakistan or the larger U.S. Af-Pak policy. In the Pew survey, more Pakistanis expressed a willingness to trust Osama bin Laden rather than Mr. Obama to do the right thing in world affairs. Ultimately, we need to understand that India-Pakistan relationship, over the last 62 years, has been about almost everything that matters: history, memory, prejudice, identity, religion, sovereignty, ideology, insecurity, betrayal and much, much more. Ironically, a troubled Pakistan, confused about its identity and its place in the world, may offer a real chance to move beyond conflict and towards real reconciliation. It is an opportunity to finally cut the Gordian knot; a chance India cannot afford to miss.

(Source: The Hindu, 03/09/09)