August 04, 2012
What are the chances of success and what are the factors of risk in the new round of talks between the Iranian government and the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (“P5+1”) about Iran’s disputed nuclear programmed? These questions will draw much attention by political decision-makers and business executives and students of international affairs in the coming weeks, in particular, given that the Persian Gulf region will ultimately be facing the risk of war should the negotiations fail again.
The following study contains a tool for assessing the strategic risk factors which will impact upon the nuclear talks with Iran. The added value of any strategic risk assessment consists in informing decision-makers about the major risks that affect the process of achieving the envisioned outcome of a mission or project. Thus, strategic risk assessment is not a static but dynamic practice of monitoring the development and change of critical risk factors, and, eventually, of identifying options for mitigating the most severe risks as the process unfolds.
Strategic Risk Assessment
Reaching progress and a sustainable outcome in the nuclear negotiations requires a number of success criteria to be fulfilled. If these criteria are met, they will interact positively and lead to the generation of a negotiated solution. In contrast, if these critical conditions are not met, they turn into sources of risk, and might create risk scenarios which would jeopardize the successful outcome. Therefore, risk scenarios are identified by asking ‘how might it happen’ that a particular set of success criteria may not be achieved. Moreover, it is important to realize that risks are often interconnected; an existing risk in one dimension might impact on the success criteria in other dimensions. The relevant dimensions will be elaborated in more detail in the main body of the study.
Outcome optimism vs. process risks
There is no shortage of feasible blueprints for a negotiated solution in the nuclear dispute with Iran. Following extensive research in the matter, the author has selected a study submitted by one of the leading organizations in the field of nuclear security, the “Federation American Scientists” (FAS). As will be displayed later, its proposal hints at the relevant elements of a success scenario, and it represents what appears to have emerged as a common understanding of what a deal would look like if the P5+1 and Iran were able to finalize the negotiations.
In order to avoid wishful thinking regarding a positive outcome of the talks, it is expedient to be aware of the manifold process risks lurking on the way to a hoped for agreement. Two possible agreements with Iran have failed before, not because the factual issues remained unsolvable, but because domestic and international factors derailed a previous settlement. Valuable time has gone by since then, and the parameters of the negotiations have changed considerably regarding Iran’s much more advanced nuclear program today.
Diplomats involved not only face a complicated conflict over nuclear issues, but also a serious conflict over regime status and regional dominance. Such status conflicts are marked by historical burdens, cognitive biases, and psychological attributions, which complicate the communication between the parties and may block an agreement, even if there is a feasible compromise in sight.
Applying the Strategic Risk Assessment Tool is meant to enable the user to identify and prioritize possible risk scenarios and monitor their manifestation throughout the diplomatic process. The tool is suited to reflect the complexity and dynamics of the process, and aims to give the user the means to aggregate new information to form a clear picture of the state of affairs at any given time in the forthcoming negotiations
The study can be downloaded here!
For further information regarding the application of the risk assessment tool, please contact the author via email.
Saturday, August 04, 2012
The breakup of Pakistan would not have taken place if the Pakistani state had not unleashed a reign of terror on Bengalis after its refusing to accept the results of the 1970 general elections. There is no point blaming an external force when conditions are deliberately created for foreign interference to become inevitable. Some such drama is being enacted in Balochistan. The story of Baloch deprivation goes back to 1948 when Qalat was invaded in contravention of the agreement that had been reached with the Khan of Kalat. From then on, it is a lamentable account of a state which seems bent upon forcing its will on a population it has never taken into confidence.
The death of Nawab Bugti added a dangerous dimension to the Baloch demand for independence. The Pakistani state began to use terror as its principal weapon of repression. Kidnappings, torture and killings became the weapon of choice. How could the US or its proxies stay aloof when so much is at stake? The US interest in the area is obvious. The Baloch also have slices of territory in Iran and Afghanistan. All three countries are of tremendous interest to the US for different reasons. Then there is the China factor. Gwadar, a port developed with China’s assistance, could link China to the Arabian Sea. This could significantly enhance China’s clout and importance in the Indian Ocean area. Besides, the opening of trade routes would provide China with enormous economic leverage.
For obvious reasons, the US would not be happy if its arch adversary acquires strategic foothold in an important region. The natural resources of the area are another factor. Balochistan sits on huge deposits of copper, gold, gas and many minerals. The province’s proven vast mineral reserves, coupled with its strategic location and its ports and related infrastructure have the potential of converting the region into a powerful economic hub for the Gulf and the Middle East, as well as Central Asia and South Asia.
US interest in Balochistan goes back at least two decades. But now the United States clearly eyes an opportunity which the Pakistani state is inadvertently providing it. The insurgency has got to be seen in this broader perspective. The fact that the Balochistan-Iran border is infested with clandestine operatives is a matter of common knowledge. These are ominous signs for Pakistan, which seems to be oblivious to the impending gathering storm. Admittedly, independence for Balochistan is a far cry considering its small population and the fact that any attempt at secession will be firmly put down by the Pakistani state using all its resources.
But the continued existence of an insurgency supported by external forces will certainly keep the area perennially destabilised. The Pakistani military establishment must not be comforted by the assumption that Balochistan cannot break away like the former East Pakistan. Instability in an area as crucial to Pakistan’s economy as Balochistan could spell disaster for the country. Such a situation of chaos and mayhem in Balochistan could create powerful ripples of discontent in many other parts of a fragile country that plunges into crisis after crisis because of weak institutions, corruption, power outages, self-inflicted insurgency and the country’s accepting the role of a US mercenary in the area.
The solution lies in withdrawing the security forces completely from all duties in relation to security and law and order, and empowering the civil armed forces like the Levies to assume responsibility for security. The provincial government and its own forces should be strengthened and better equipped for duties which fall into their domain. The withdrawal of the military will take the steam out of the insurgency and a climate would be created for genuine engagement with the Baloch in order to mainstream them into the country’s politics. That would then set the stage for mega-developmental projects to be undertaken, like the IPI gas pipeline from Iran.
The writer is a former chief secretary of the NWFP and has served as ambassador in Kabul.
While advocating a strong counter-terrorism strategy towards Pakistan, including the selective use of covert action against the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and other Pakistani terrorist organisations operating against India from Pakistani territory, I have been suggesting for over a year now greater contacts between the policy-makers of the two countries so that they know each other in flesh and blood instead of assessing each other on the basis of media and intelligence reports.
2. Among the suggestions I have been making in this regard is a no-frills,no-emotions visit by the Prime Minister to Pakistan in response to the visit to India by former Prime Minister YousefRazaGilani last year and President Asif Ali Zardari earlier this year.I have also been suggesting an exchange of visits by the chiefs of the Army and the intelligence agencies of the two countries.My hope is that such personal interactions at the political, military and intelligence levels could lead to a gradual change of the present strategic mind-set in the policy-making circles in Pakistan, which is based on feelings of insecurity arising from the war of 1971, suspicions and hostility.Without a change of mindset, the various bilateral problems will continue to defy a mutually satisfactory solution.
3.I have even been saying that a visit by our Prime Minister should be without expectations of a break-through and without any pre-conditions.In this context, I welcome the invitation reportedly extended by President Asif Ali Zardari to Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh to visit his native village in Pakistani Punjab and worship at the Sikh holy shrines in Lahore and nearby areas.The visit could also be availed of for renewing contacts with the political leaders of Pakistan, who are engaged in a confrontation with their Supreme Court over the question of the supremacy of the Parliament elected by the people in a democracy.
4.People’s sovereignty is sacred for the survival of democracy. Till recently, the concept of people’s sovereignty was being challenged only by the religious fundamentalists who argue that in an Islamic State Allah and not the people is sovereign and it should be ruled according to the will of Allah as interpreted by the clergy. That is why they are against liberal democracy.
5. Now, the application and operation of this concept is sought to be restricted and distorted by the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhury in the name of the supremacy of the Constitution as interpreted by the judiciary.In their own different ways, the religious fundamentalists and the Supreme Court have been conducting themselves in a manner which wittingly or unwittingly seeks to dilute the sovereignty of the people and their will as expressed during the elections.
6. While it is not for India to interfere in the internal affairs of Pakistan, it is important that we do not fight shy of political gestures which would lend strength to the votaries of liberal democracy based on the sovereignty of the people in Pakistan. A goodwill visit by our Prime Minister will be one such gesture.
7. While welcoming Mr.Zardari’s invitation, I am at the same time disturbed by his suggestion, apparently made in good faith, that the Prime Minister visit the Sikh holy shrines in and around Lahore in November coinciding with the birth anniversary of Guru Nanakdev. A visit to the Sikh holy shrines ,specially to the Nankana Sahib, in November is the dream and desire of every Sikh. I could, therefore, understand the attraction which such a proposal could have for Dr.Manmohan Singh.
8. Unfortunately, November coincides with the anniversary of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai organised by the LET whose headquarters are based at Muridke, near Lahore. To visit Lahore in November, even in fulfilment of a religious obligation, could be seen as an act of disrespect to the memories of the over 160 innocent civilians and members of the security forces killed by the LET and an act of insensitivity to the feelings of grief of the relatives and their outrage over Pakistan’s failure to act against the Pakistan-based conspirators of the terrorist attack.
9. Instead of creating goodwill between the people of the two countries, such an unwise and insensitive visit in November will shock large sections of Indian public opinion and add to the rigidity of the mind-set towards Pakistan in India. A visit in November could prove counter-productive.
10. I would, therefore, strongly urge the Prime Minister to plan his visit either in October or December. If he decides to go, he has to go this year. From January, the Pakistani leaders will get busy with the next general elections to their National Assembly due next year.
11. It is hoped that the Prime Minister and his advisers will realise the likely negative implications of a November visit and decide on a visit in October or December.He could still visit the Sikh holy shrines though it can’t coincide with the birth anniversary of Guru Nanakdev. ( 5-8-12)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )
Saturday July 07, 2012, 04:12 PM
This is a follow-up of the earlier blog and I will only focus on poverty. Inequality is a separate issue and one can turn to that later. Inequality is relative, poverty is absolute. In other words, to determine poverty, there is a poverty line and one computes what percentage of population is below the poverty line.
There are data issues, because one needs data on income distributions. National accounts only give us aggregate measures, not distributions. Distributions come through NSS (National Sample Survey) and NSS large samples occur at infrequent intervals, an average of once every five years. The last large NSS samples were in 2004-05 and 2009-10.
There are three issues that we can mention and forget about, because they are irrelevant for present purposes. First, NSS does not collect data on income. It collects data on consumption expenditure, so what we are talking about is expenditure poverty, not income poverty. Second, there is an increasing gap between consumption data collected through NSS and aggregate consumption data obtained through national accounts. Third, there are other dimensions to poverty also and people have worked out multi-dimensional approaches towards measuring poverty. However, the discourses, including Planning Commission-generated controversies, are about expenditure poverty. Let’s stick to that.
Why does poverty decline? There is growth and it trickles down. The composition of growth is important. Since most poverty is rural, what’s happening to agriculture is critical. Growth may be such that it alters the underlying expenditure (or income) distribution, leading to transfers from upper deciles to lower deciles. The government has anti-poverty programmes and plenty of money is poured into these. Perhaps the efficiency of these improves. What’s been the Indian experience since 1991? That poverty declines are fundamentally because of growth, not the other possibilities. This is a point made by several people, World Bank, UNDP, Planning Commission. In other words, to expect poverty declines, we need growth.
Hopefully, the earlier blog has disposed off unnecessary controversies about the Gujarat growth story. What’s the growth story? 12.9% during 8th Plan (1992-97), 2.8% during 9th Plan (1997-2002), 10.9% during 10th Plan (2002-07) and 11.2% during 11th Plan (2007-12). Debates about poverty occur on the basis of 2004-05 and 2009-10 NSS data. The relevant period thus is 9th, 10th and 11th Plans. And there wasn’t much growth during 9th Plan.
That 2004-05 survey was 61st round of NSS and was conducted between July 2004 and June 2005, with some questions pertaining to 2003-04. If there was limited growth during 9th Plan, it seems to me obvious that one ought not to expect significant poverty declines in Gujarat in 2004-05. The test should be in 2009-10, not 2004-05.
But perhaps it is not that obvious a point. Here is a quote from the India Human Development Report 2011, brought out by Institute of Applied Manpower Research and Planning Commission. “To sum up, it appears that the high growth rate achieved by the state over the years has not percolated to the marginalized sections of society, particularly STs and SCs, to help improve their human development outcomes.” Since this is based on NSS 2004-05, it is a strange and odd statement and somewhat irresponsible too, because impressions are formed on the basis of such statements. I will turn to the SC/ST issue in a subsequent blog.
For the moment, let’s focus on overall poverty. However, on human development of SCs/STs, growth is a function of time. To determine whether growth has had an impact on human development outcomes of STs and SCs, what would any academic do? He/she would look at the human development outcomes of STs/SCs over time. But that’s not what this report does. It compares Gujarat’s performance on human development outcomes of STs/SCs with all-India averages at a single point in time and deduces growth has had no effect on improvements in these. The incremental improvement or deterioration in human development outcomes of STs/SCs is irrelevant. That’s an odd kind of logic. However, let’s ignore that report.
Based on NSS 2009-10, we have poverty numbers courtesy Planning Commission. Based on the comparable Tendulkar methodology, these show that in 2004-05, Gujarat’s poverty ratio was 31.6% overall, 39.1% in rural Gujarat and 20.1% in urban Gujarat. In 2009-10, Gujarat’s poverty ratio was 23.0% overall, 26.7% in rural Gujarat and 17.9% in urban Gujarat. This shows a significant reduction in poverty, especially in rural Gujarat. Just so that we have the perspective right, the all-India reductions were by 7.3 percentage points, 8.0 percentage points in rural India and 4.8 percentage points in urban India. One can understand an argument that poverty ratios are still high and should decline faster.
One can also understand inter-State comparisons, which I have stayed away from. But I do not understand this impression that growth has had little impact on poverty reduction in Gujarat. Perhaps people do not bother to check for themselves and blindly believe what they read.
August 03, 2012
Joel Bowman, reckoning today from Paris, France...
Joel Bowman Da-da, da-da, da-data... What, if anything, does it all mean?
Dow down 92...Crude holding tight at $88...Gold hovering around just below $1,600 an ounce...Ten-year Treasuries retesting historical lows, at 1.46%...Dollar index up half a smidge, to 83.5...
Muddle along...muddle along...muddle along...
What are the markets telling us, Fellow Reckoner?
In a word: Nothing.
As investors are fast coming to realize, the markets couldn’t tell us anything even if they wanted to. Mr. Market has a gag in his mouth, his voice muffled by the price fixers. And we don’t just mean LIBOR-rigging bankers in The City. We’re wagging fingers at the real fixers...the Feds.
It’s something we heard again and again at last week’s AF investment symposium in Vancouver. “Prices are broken,” noted Dan Denning, the big, bright mind behind the Aussie Daily Reckoning. “They are not to be trusted.”
Dan spoke candidly about the mechanisms behind the curtain:
“How can anyone possibly take Ben Bernanke seriously? He told the Senate Banking Committee that the Fed's unconventional policies have been, ‘effective in easing financial conditions and promoting strength in the economy,’ and that, 'Large-scale asset purchases have also contributed to economic growth.’ He added that the Fed is ‘prepared to take further action as appropriate to promote a stronger economic recovery.’
More action. More fiddling. More distortion. And more restraints on Mr. Market’s ability to communicate real world prices, real world information, real world demand. So, where do we go from here?
“We are at the absolute frontier of monetary policy,” wrote Dan in a recent Aussie DR. “The Fed can't 'promote growth' when households are reducing debt. It's telling that Bernanke said the government needs to get fiscal policy in order (spending), in order for consumers and businesses to be more confident about taking risk. But it's as if the Fed and its mainstream lapdogs are completely unable to imagine their set of tools not working on the economy.
“Bernanke said the Fed has three tools left in the box to promote growth. He can reduce the rate the Fed pays on reserves banks deposit overnight with the Fed. He said the Fed can communicate its intentions differently. And he said further asset purchases could happen.”
Da-da, da-da, da-data...
Continued Dan: “Does anyone really think the US and world economies aren’t growing because the Federal Reserve isn’t communicating effectively? Maybe it’s because the Fed has destroyed rational decision making by wrecking the system of price discovery through the manipulation of money.”
The Dow is up over 600 points year-to-date. But 600 points of what? Thanks to their ongoing commitment to institutional-level counterfeiting, money just ain’t what it used to be. How, then, can we measure what it buys? Simply, we can’t. Not honestly anyway.
“The Fed IS the problem,” concluded Dan, “not the solution.”
Unfortunately, the financial markets are not the only sector of society laboring under the crushing weight of the state. As Jeffrey Tucker, executive publisher of Laissez-Faire Books, explains in today’s guest column, the Leviathan is growing both in measurable...and, more frighteningly, immeasurable...ways. Look out below...
The Daily Reckoning Presents
Government Is Shrinking?
Jeffrey Tucker In today’s political climate, the more implausible the claim, the more likely it is to stick. One that seems to be sticking now is that government today is small by historical standards and constantly shrinking.
Run that one by the man on the street -- looted by the tax man, harassed by police, hounded by regulators -- and he will scoff. Now comes the highbrow journalist with a nuanced view to correct him, citing all kinds of complex data.
The highbrow in this case is Catherine Rampell, writing in The New York Times. Her claim seems apodictically certain. “Government has been shrinking steadily for two years,” she says, “and compared to the size of the overall economy, government is actually slightly smaller today than it has been on average in the postwar era.”
Huh? Well, she provides data of “the percentage change in total government spending and investment” as compared with the change in the GDP. She shows GDP rises and government falls. Wow, amazing.
Not so fast. You can always know that when people claim that government is small, it will always appear small by comparison to the GDP, which is to say that anything looks small by comparison to anything (in the words of economist Roger Garrison).
Moreover, it is a peculiar presumption that government should always grow in proportion to the wealth of society (presuming that GDP does measure that). Why? If government is providing essential and minimal functions only, it should get smaller in proportion to economic growth. Should the thief keep coming back for more when his victim grows wealthier?
Also, shrinking by comparison to everything else doesn’t mean that it literally gets smaller. It should only constitute a smaller portion of the total.
But that’s only the beginning of Rampell’s statistical antics. If you compare federal government spending as a percentage of GDP, it comes in at 24.3%, which is the highest in postwar history. In fact, it is the same as 1942, the year American troops landed in Europe.
So what is she talking about? Is she just making stuff up? Not exactly. She carefully says that she is looking at “the percentage change in total government spending and investment.” More precisely, she is examining something called “government consumption expenditures and total investment,” one of the ways that you can slice and dice national income accounting. This is the figure among many options that best makes her case. Piles of data had to be thrown in the trash can to generate the result she wanted.
As AmosWEB points out, this figure is the only one that completely excludes transfer payments, which are defined (arbitrarily) as not investment and not consumption, and includes all those things that (arbitrarily) fall into a specific category.
It’s a bit like saying that a giraffe is a horse if you exclude the neck.
Rampell even took the manipulation one step further to look at quarterly change in the data, and not the actual figure. Therefore, if government spends a trillion on a stimulus now and that stimulus runs out next year, it would seem to show a crash in spending. Surprise, that’s exactly what happened!
Despite her rhetoric, then, we can see that she had to engage in three levels of distortion to come up with the claim that government is shrinking.
Let’s say that we look at what most normal people would consider government spending, by which I mean... the dollar figures on how much government actually spends. And let’s add a column on debt so we can see the total unfulfilled commitments in the year in question too. There is nothing fancy pants here, just the raw truth, year by year.
Now, I ask you: Does this look like steady shrinking to you?
In other words, the man of the street is exactly right. Think about these numbers when you hear pundits and politicians over the next months tell you how dramatically government is shrinking.
Of course, spending alone doesn’t measure government size. If your front door is being broken down by feds, if you are jailed for violating regulations, if you are prevented from starting a business or if you can’t hire new workers because of the high costs, government is effectively totalitarian from your point of view. In the last 10 years, this is the largest change we’ve seen, from big government to police state. In the end, this is a change that no data set can quite capture.
for The Daily Reckoning
The first meeting between the head of the Central Intelligence Agency and his new Pakistani counterpart was labeled "substantive, professional and productive" by a senior U.S. official.
CIA Director David Petraeus and Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam met Thursday at CIA headquarters in suburban Washington in an effort to bring the contentious relationship back on track.
The U.S. knows little about Islam, who rose through the ranks of the Pakistani military before being appointed to head the ISI in March by Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
The Pakistani government has been reassessing its relationship with Washington after a number of high-profile incidents last year, particularly the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, of which the Pakistanis had no prior knowledge, and the accidental killing of Paksitani soldiers operating along the Afghanistan border by U.S. airstrikes in November.
The missile strikes by CIA-operated drones against suspected terrorists in the tribal areas has also irked Pakistani officials who publicly say the country's sovereignty is being violated and there are too many civilian casualties associated with the attacks. The U.S. has rejected the accusations.
According to a senior Pakistani intelligence official, Islam was expected to urge the U.S. to end its drone strikes and provide the Pakistanis with target information so that their forces can hit suspected terrorists.
The senior U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions would not comment on the specifics of the meeting, but said the discussions between Petraeus and Islam "provided an opportunity to discuss a number of proposals for how we can enhance our joint efforts against terrorism."
The official added, "Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work together to counter the terrorist presence in the region that threatens both U.S. and Pakistani national security."
Last week, a U.S. official told CNN the United States "supports the Pakistanis taking more responsibility for ridding the tribal areas of al Qaeda and its militant allies."
Without getting into specifics, the official said there were actions Pakistan could take to get rid of al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, a Pakistan-based militant group that launches strikes against U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
During a trip to Afghanistan in June, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Pakistani government needs to do more to root out the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network. Panetta emphasized U.S. frustration with attackers crossing the border from Pakistan and called on Pakistan to stop "allowing terrorists to use their country as a safety net in order to conduct their attacks on our forces."
"We have made that very clear time and time again and we will continue to do that, but as I said, we are reaching the limits of our patience," Panetta said.
The U.S.-Pakistan relationship has improved somewhat since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized last month for the airstrike that killed the 24 Pakistani soldiers last year.
The Pakistanis responded by reopening the supply routes to Afghanistan that they had closed down in retaliation for the deaths.
CNN's Nasir Habib contributed to this report.
ISI chief holds talks in Washington on policy issues
From the Newspaper | Anwar Iqbal | 23 hours ago
WASHINGTON, Aug 2: ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam had an important policy meeting at the State Department on Thursday with President Barack Obama’s special coordinator for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Lt Gen Douglas E. Lute.
US Special Envoy Marc Grossman also attended the meeting. “Both sides stated their positions on various issues,” said an official source, “expressing their desire to rebuild this important relationship”.
The ISI chief arrived in Washington on Tuesday for talks with CIA director David H. Petraeus and other senior US officials. His meeting with the CIA chief began late on Thursday afternoon.
On Wednesday night, Gen Islam met CIA deputy director Michael J. Morrell at the residence of Pakistan’s Ambassador Sherry Rehman. This was his first meeting with a senior CIA official before the formal talks with Gen Petraeus at the CIA headquarters.
“Both sides are focusing on increasing intelligence cooperation between the United States and Pakistan,” said an official source when asked what was discussed in these meetings.
The dinner at Ambassador Rehman’s residence also attracted congressional heavyweights including chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein and the House Intelligence Mike Rogers. Ranking members of the two committees were also present.
Senator John Kerry, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also dropped in for a long pre-dinner conversation, despite a prior engagement.
Since lawmakers and officials from the intelligence fraternity outnumbered other guests, the discussion focused on mutual challenges the countries faced in promoting greater cooperation between their intelligence agencies.
They also discussed various options for dealing with joint concerns in the war against terror.
There were no discussions on operational details as the two intelligence chiefs were dealing with such details at their closed-door meeting at Langley, the CIA headquarters in Virginia, sources said.
“Broad strategic issues, and opportunities for new beginnings,” said the official source when asked about the main subjects that the conversations revolved around.
Although details of Gen Islam’s meeting with US officials on Thursday were not released, the Pakistani side is believed to have asked for an end to drone strikes in Fata.
Official sources said the Pakistanis wanted “a clear understanding on the drones, no wink and no nod”.
The Pakistanis argue that the strikes had become counter-productive because they also killed a large number of civilians. The Pakistanis also argue that the strikes are increasing anti-American feelings in their country, and thus are not helping in “winning over hearts and minds”, the stated main objective of the war against terror.
Commenting on the talks between the two intelligence chiefs, the official Voice of America radio noted that “little is expected to come out of the latest closed-door discussions on anti-terrorism cooperation”.
Underlining the differences between the two sides, the official US radio reported that “Washington refuses to stop using drones against militants in Pakistan or share the technology with Islamabad. At the same time, US officials continue to pressure
Pakistan to go after militant safe havens in its territory”.
“Common ground may be harder to find… at a time of American frustration and distrust toward the ISI,” The New York Times observed.
But the BBC noted that the general’s Aug 1-3 visit was “just the latest indication of a thaw in relations” that have shown signs of improvement since Pakistan reopened Nato supply lines last month.
August 02, 2012
by Ramtanu Maitra
July 31—As thousands of Sunni terrorists from Britain, the Arab world, the Maghreb, and South Asia converged on the outskirts of Syria’s most populous city, Aleppo, planning a violent confrontation, the Syrian military was poised to counter the terrorist offensive. According to some analysts, the battle for Aleppo is a decisive one for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is visiting the region and is known for mouthing what the White House wants him to say, told reporters aboard a military plane en route to Tunisia, that “if they [the Syrian military] continue this kind of tragic attack on their own people in Aleppo, I think ultimately it will be a nail in Assad’s coffin.”
Major players in this conflict are already planning a post-Assad Syria. Reuters reported on July 31, citing a statement from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office in Ankara, that a 36-minute phone call took place between Erdogan and U.S. President Barack Obama on July 30. The two heads of states discussed “how they could work together to speed up political transition in Syria,” the statement said. “In the talks, they took up the co-ordination of efforts to accelerate the process of political transition in Syria, including Bashar al-Assad leaving the administration and the meeting of the Syrian people’s legitimate demands.”
However, unlike what Erdogan or Obama would like to consider a done deal, the Syrian conflict is heading towards chaos, which could lead to full-fledged war in the region, posing even a threat of thermonuclear war. The reasons are the following:
First and foremost, the strategic goal of the Anglo-American puppet-masters who are stoking the war has nothing to do with Syria per se, but with destroying national sovereignty as the fundamental principle of world relations. This is the stated goal of the British monarchy and its hangers-on internationally. The target is not so much the small nation of Syria, with its 22 million people and few resources, but superpowers Russia and China.
Out of Control
It is widely accepted around the world that most of the “Syrian rebels” are not Syrians at all. They are a contingent of Sunni terrorists, some of whom belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, while others come from a mish-mash of terrorist groups, spawned and nurtured since 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
These terrorists, who have been bunched loosely under the banner of al-Qaeda, are funded by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, and a few other nations, and are being used by Britain and the United States. The groups’ primary objective is to establish a Wahhabi extremist variety of Sunni Islamic rule, even an Islamic Caliphate, throughout the Islamic world, from northern Africa to Russia’s northern Caucasus.
Those, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, who are funding these terrorists, are doing so primarily for two reasons. The first is the elimination of Shi’ite power, led by Iran’s political influence, on the Arabian peninsula. The second objective is to protect their fragile monarchies, which are coming increasingly under attack from their own citizens. By sidling up to the old colonials, such as Britain and France, and the most powerful protector of the colonial powers, the United States, these fragile regimes are clinging to the hope of maintaining their decrepit monarchies. In order to meet these colonials’ needs, as a quid pro quo, the Saudis, Qataris, and Kuwaitis are infusing their oil-generated surplus cash into the bankrupt colonial powers of Europe.
This policy has sharpened the Shi’a-Sunni conflict, a conflict that remained dormant within Islam for centuries, and has been exploited ruthlessly during the last century by Britain, in particular, to expand its Empire, which needed cash and control of waterways vital for its global maritime trade and troop movements.
As a result, Iran has been isolated, and the Arab world, with the exception of Syria and Iraq (particularly when Saddam Hussein was in power) has abandoned what was previously the burning issue: the occupation of Palestine by Israel. In essence, the Saudis, Qataris, and Kuwaitis have become the local supporters of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Iran, the world’s leading Shi’a nation, along with Syria and Iraq, became the primary backer of the Palestinians, invoking the fury of the colonial nations and the United States.
This means that Iran and the Shi’as in the region consider the Syrian conflict an existential threat posed to them by the West and its bag-carriers in the Arab world. Some analysts openly say that the road to Tehran goes through Damascus: that the forces that are adopting terrorist means to destroy Syria will pounce upon Iran once their present objective is attained.
Why Russia Will Resist
Two other global powers besides the United States—Russia and China, Russia in particular—may oppose such a takeover, by meeting the challenge using full force, including their nuclear arsenals. There are reasons why Russia will be left with no choice but to use force.
To begin with, Syria had long been a Russian ally, defying the colonial powers’ designs. In 2007, Moscow announced that its Navy would be revived and that it would build up a constant naval presence throughout the world’s oceans. This was reaffirmed by then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Feb. 20, 2012, when he vowed to restore Russia’s “bluewater Navy.” Once one of the world’s most powerful forces, the Russian Navy now has few ships regularly deployed on the open seas. In this context, the Russian interest in Syria is vital.
Under a 1971 agreement during the Soviet era, Russia maintains Syria’s Mediterranean port of Tartus. The port, which has been in serious disrepair since 1992, is Russia’s only access to the Mediterranean. Moscow has plans to modernize Tartus to accommodate heavy warships after 2012. In February 2010, Russian Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky told RIA Novosti news daily that “Tartus will be developed as a naval base. The first stage of development and modernization will be completed in 2012,” adding that it could then serve as a base for guided-missile cruisers and even aircraft carriers. According to Russian Navy experts cited by RIA Novosti, the facility is being renovated to serve as a foothold for a permanent Russian naval presence in the Mediterranean.
Moscow is aware that one of the objectives of the colonial forces, and the United States, is to prevent Russia from developing this important naval base. On July 26, the news agency DNA reported that Syrian rebels had threatened to attack Russia’s naval base. The British- and French-backed Free Syrian Army, whose soldiers are mostly non-Syrians and terrorists from various nations, issued a threat: “We have a warning for the Russian forces: If they send any more weapons that kill our families and the Syrian people we will hit them hard inside Syria.”
Secondly, Russia does not want to see Syria used to re-route the energy corridors in the Caspian Basin and the Mediterranean Basin. If Syria were to fall to the Saudis, Qataris, and others who are avowed enemies of Iran and Russia, these routes would be changed to reflect a new geopolitical reality. At the expense of Iran, oil from the Persian Gulf could also be rerouted to the Mediterranean, through Lebanon and Syria.
Moreover, Russia is already a victim of the Saudi/British-promoted extreme form Islamism inside Russia. The current decade-long war in Afghanistan, brought about and deliberately prolonged by the United States and NATO, has enhanced the jihadi threat in Russia’s southern flank, as well as in the Northern Caucasus. Now, the Islamic threat has raised its head even in the Volga region, a very important economic area of Russia.
A full-fledged takeover of Syria by the jihadis will further increase the jihadi threat not only to Russia, but also to China. These guerrillas—trained, armed, and sustained by their controllers through “charities” and drug banks such as HSBC—have been shifted from one area to another (from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria, etc.) to meet their controllers’ requirements; they will no doubt be unleashed in and around Russia and China. This is a serious threat that neither Russia nor China can ignore, and it has been reflected in some of the recent deliberations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian organization led by Russia and China.
The ‘Turkish Delight’
The Syrian conflict is taking place, of course, in a region where things are already particularly unstable. Take Turkey, for instance. Unlike the savory “Turkish delight,” what Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayiip Erdogan will taste soon, if Assad falls, will be most unsavory.
It is likely that Erdogan, driven by his dreams of revival of a neo-Ottoman Empire and Turkey becoming the leader of the Islamic world, has been blinded by the “realities” that have been implanted on the ground. The ingredients that concoct the most unsavory aspect of those realities point clearly to wide-ranging regional warfare, which could lead to the dismemberment of Turkey in the not-too-distant future. And, that future could be most brutal. Erdogan’s Greater Turkey dream may lead to a Lesser Turkey. This is the reality that Erdogan fails to see and that his recently acquired friends in the West, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, will never tell him.
While Erdogan has resorted to sending more troops, armored personnel carriers, and missile batteries to the Syrian border to satisfy the terrorists, whose on-the-ground controllers operate from within Turkey, the Kurdish groups in Turkey, some of which are downright terrorists; plus a large number Kurds from Iraq working under the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK); and the pro-Assad Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) in Syria, have begun to coordinate preparations to launch their demand for a separate nation of Kurdistan. Their demand will include a chunk of Iraq and Turkey, and a part of Syria bordering Turkey. The terrorism and bloodshed that would ensue from such a campaign could also lead to a worldwide war.
As we observe the goings-on in Syria, Erdogan’s Air Force continues to bombard the Kurds in Turkey. None of that draws the media’s attention, but it means one thing for sure, which is the hardening of the Kurds’ resolve to hit Turkey whenever they can.
The problem that Erdogan and his Saudi-trained banker-President Abdullah Gul face is that they, and their party, the AKP, have been intensely involved in trying to undermine the Kemalist ideology in Turkey, which has predominated since the secular rule of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1923-38), the founder of the Republic of Turkey. In order to fulfill their dream of reestablishing an Eastern-oriented Ottoman Empire, as opposed to Atatürk’s efforts to move Turkey toward the West and keep it a secular nation, the first target of Turkey’s neo-Islamists (of which Erdogan is one) was the military. If, indeed, Erdogan achieves the goal of weakening the military, it is a foregone conclusion that Kurdistan will come into existence, sooner or later.
And, to his surprise, Erdogan will find that the “friends” he aligned with in order to dismantle the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and spread chaos all around, are in the front line, pushing the cause of an independent Kurdistan.
July 31, 2012
Contributor: Richard de Silva
Posted: 07/18/2012 12:00:00 AM EDT | 0
Back in 2007, the Indian Army signed an agreement to be supplied with Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) standard secure radio systems, manufactured in partnership with Finmeccanica and the indigenous Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).
BEL has also had a hand in India’s Army Radio Engineered Network (AREN) tactical area communications system that has been supplying ground forces with a secure capability since the early 1990s. This has involved the provision of a truck-mounted shelterised trunk exchange that allows up to 192 digitised voice, 256 teleprinter and 32 data channels, but can no longer cope with the huge growth in demand for high-grade information.
AREN is to be replaced with the Tactical Communication System (TCS), while the Army’s Automatic Message Switching System (AMSS) is being ousted by the Army Wide Area Network (AWAN)., connecting all services and installations within India.
Modernising the System
A large-scale plan to include the TCS programme into F-INSAS should see the development of a digital network connecting soldiers in the battlefield to command posts anywhere in the world. As AWAN seeks to integrate communication between all Indian services, the potential scope to build in interoperable allied partner networks is also being studied.
TCS will consist of “trunk nodes such as the key bandwidth carrier connection points, terminating at access nodes for Brigade-level communications”. This will then extend to command posts at Company level.
In 2010, it was reported that TCS would cost around £1.3billion, with India consulting with major IT firms to develop not only a system that incorporates mobile technology and equipment sensors, but one that is secure enough to protect highly sensitive data.
At that time, the government was looking to stoke competition between indigenous companies – including L&T, HCL Infosystems, Tata Power's Strategic Electronics Division, Wipro Technologies and Rolta India – with the winning contractor providing up to 80 per cent of the manufacturing within India and footing 80 per cent of the development bill.
Aiding TCS development is India’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), which has launched “preliminary R&D”. Recent CAIR communication products have included Wireless Message Transfer Unit (WMTU) that enables transmission of IP packets over wired and wireless media using Mil Std 188-220 A protocol, and Programmable Communication Interface Unit (PCIU) that provides interconnectivity between a formation HQ LAN and a battlefield-wide WAN. The latter provides facilities for interfacing to Fibre optic modems, HDSL modems and Synchronous/Asynchronous modems.
Seeing the Big Picture
Palmtop devices are likely to be rolled out with the new networking measures, offering GPS navigation and friendly force tracking. Some reports indicate that this technology is also being considered as a wrist mounted version so as not to encumber the troops and to minimize the risk of misplacing the device.
Aside to this, the fusion of the new technology with an innovative helmet-mounted display (HMD) will also presumably improve communications, offering direct data and voice to the soldier on the battlefield. Soldiers may be able to look towards a mountain range, for example, and be able to automatically feed their point of view instantly by video to another unit, which can in turn assess for anomalies or targets, and rapidly communicate this information back to the tactical unit in order for the soldier to make an active decision.
The HMD will not only include thermal, chemical and biological sensors, and night vision, but will offer the wearer the equivalent perspective of two 17-inch display screens.
In addition, a 2012 RFI was released to fill a gap in fibrescope technology, issued under the observance of several directorates including the Directorate General of Infantry. Once a special operations technology, the fibrescope is essentially an optical wire that can be inserted through 10mm gaps in doors and other obstacles, relaying the image on the other side without detection. The scope is intended to be INFRARED capable, capturing and recording up to 10 hours of footage or up to 1000 black and white photos, which can be simply uploaded to a computer via a USB connection.
Learning from Allies
India may well be looking at the interesting advancements in the US Army where the Signal Corps is developing its Micro-Cyber programme in an effort to deliver cheaper, lighter and more easily deployable communications devices, much of which is being based on COTS based SMART technology, such as tablet PCs.
The US is also integrating communication networks into a single network, which should, according to the Chief Information Office, reduce the risk to data leaks by establishing a much smaller digital footprint.
Considering the growing volume and rate of data needed in the field, all militaries of the future will have greater requirements than we are seeing today, and virtualisation is being factored in. In other words, while soldiers will have standard data packages on their personal equipment, such as maps and GPS, they will have access to the majority of information on a cloud server.
Cybernetics is an area still in its infancy, but France’s FÉLIN system provides computerised audio conferences while on the battlefield, reducing the limitations of single network radio. The long-term future may well see efforts to allow voice command of remote units.
July 31, 2012
In the most dangerous turn of events in the South China Sea, on July 23, China’s military body, the Central Military Commission approved the deployment of the People’s Liberation Army to guard the islands claimed by it. Earlier in June, China’s State Council had raised the administrative status of the seas to the level of a city, which it calls Sansha and which is located in the disputed Paracel Islands. These two moves indicate Beijing’s growing aggressiveness and unilateralism, which clearly go against the spirit of the 2002 DOC (Declaration of Conduct of parties), a multilateral political document agreed upon by the ASEAN and China that calls for resolution of ‘territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat of force.’
The main hindrance to the resolution of the South China Sea dispute is, of course, China’s aversion to any multilateral solution to what is in effect a multilateral dispute arising out of the competing territorial claims of China, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. From the beginning China has insisted on bilateral negotiations with individual Southeast Asian countries. In fact, the Chinese government held that ‘major regional security issues related to territorial dispute is best handled by bilateral negotiations rather than by multilateral means’. Although Beijing accords multilateralism a more central place in Chinese foreign policy, it however subordinates it to the principle of sovereignty. This was palpable during the 1995 Second ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting, which laid out three stages of development of regional security cooperation: confidence building; preventive diplomacy; and, conflict resolution strategies. While adhering to the first stage, the PRC has displayed serious reservations about the second and third stages since the preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution processes conflicted with China’s sovereignty issues. Needless to point out, the bilateral mechanism allows China to keep the multiple claimants divided and confused about the territorial resolution and offers Beijing greater manoeuvrability in the negotiating process. In other words, resolution of the South China Sea dispute has been crippled from the beginning on account of China’s limited and pretentious multilateralism and its strong emphasis on the principle of national sovereignty. To add to the present crisis, China has unilaterally gone ahead and laid claim to almost the whole of the South China Sea. This has clearly rendered China’s multilateralism as a completely farcical foreign policy formulation.
Indeed, China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea have rendered multilateralism a mere sham. Multilateralism, in the Chinese understanding, emerged essentially as a strategic tool to oppose US hegemonic and unilateralist policies. It was also meant to achieve an equitable international political and economic order by allowing Beijing a larger share in the decision making process. Further, it was also aimed at diminishing the ‘China threat theory’ and building an image of a responsible China among the Southeast Asian countries. But by going unilateral on the South China Sea, China has, in effect, acted not any differently from the United States.
Beijing’s unilateralism in the South China Sea also invalidates its theoretical proposition of the New Security Concept (NSC), out of which evolved China’s own understanding of multilateralism. Ironically, the NSC was explained at the ASEAN’s 30th anniversary in December 1997 by the then Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen as China’s cooperative security model opposed to the US hegemonic unilateral model. It set out the principles of international relations based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination. NSC also claimed to offer “an alternative system for managing relations between countries which differ in their social systems, values and developmental levels.” In the subsequent period, riding on the principles of the NSC, the formulation of peaceful rise was made, which now lies shattered under the impact of China’s unilateral measures in the South China Sea and which are threatening to push the region into a war-like scenario.
China’s motivation of national aggrandizement couched in the peaceful altruistic notion of the NSC is in reality not an alternative model of international relations. When the Chinese leadership speaks of ‘setting aside dispute and pursuing joint development’ in the South China Sea, it means four things:
“the sovereignty of the territories concerned belong to China; when conditions are not ripe to bring about a territorial solution, discussion on sovereignty may be postponed; the territories under dispute may be developed in a joint way; and, the purpose of joint development is to enhance mutual understanding through cooperation and create conditions for the eventual resolution of territorial ownership.”
Embedded in this Chinese perspective on resolution of disputed territories are two issues: First, China’s retention of the sovereignty prerogative despite the competing claims; and second, its aversion to multilateralism in conflict resolution. Clearly, China’s ideas of multilateralism and sovereignty are based on the Westphalian model of state building and do not in any manner offer an alternative system.
Thus, multilateralism is basically a farce in Chinese foreign policy. For China, the South China Sea dispute is merely a sovereignty issue in which it brooks no interference of external forces. It opts to settle the issue on its own terms rousing nationalism, constructing false historiography and displaying military muscle. Paradoxically, on the one hand it upholds ‘joint development’ of disputed areas, but on the other it criticizes the US for upholding freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and for displaying a ‘Cold War mentality’. In the ultimate analysis, on territorial and sovereignty related issues, China is likely to increasingly display unilateral tendencies. This is commensurate not only with China’s growing power but also with the relative decline of the United States.
Abanti Bhattacharya is Associate Professor at the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi.
Khanete of Kalat was a princely state located in the territory known as Balochistan today. It was illegally occupied by Pakistan in 1948.
Mir Suleman Daud, the 35th leader of the defunct Kalat Royal Family, lives in exile in London following threats by Pakistani forces.
He is now fighting for the sovereignty of the Baloch nation.
"As far as negotiations with Pakistan are concerned we want third party intervention to resolve the issue, as we are an occupied territory. The issue is different from that of Kashmir. We were forcefully occupied (by Pakistan). This is the ground reality. In Balochistan we have a fort every 30 miles, from where the region was ruled. But, you will not find anything like this in Pakistan. This is evidence that Pakistan has colonized us. And, with the grace of god, we will soon be free from this colonization." says KHAN OF KALAT MIR SULEMAN DAWOOD
Though Balochistan has been facing problems for decades, the situation took a turn for the worse in 2005.
Pakistan forces are brutally suppressing the people of Balochistan, targeting the educated youth, political leaders and activists.
Cases of enforced disappearances are common, and everyday mutilated and bullet-riddled bodies of abducted Baloch people are found.
Mir Suleman Daud says the Baloch have no choice but to fight back.
"They (Pakistani spy agencies) are abducting our educated youth, torturing them and dumping their bullet-riddled and mutilated bodies in isolated places. We have no choice. We are doing this to protect ourselves. We have not occupied anyone’s territory and have no intention of doing so. But, if they (Pakistan) continue to carry out atrocities against us, then, Punjab (province) will have to face the consequences." says KHAN OF KALAT MIR SULEMAN DAWOOD
The rising Chinese presence in Balochistan –civil and military – is criticised by the Baloch people.
The Khan of Kalat calls it a conspiracy of Punjabis, who have traditionally dominated the polity in Pakistan.
"The bilateral ties between Pakistan and China are improving significantly in terms of defence and nuclear capabilities and business. But, as far as Balochistan is concerned we do not want anyone to come here with the help of Punjabis (people of Punjab province)." says KHAN OF KALAT MIR SULEMAN DAWOOD
The Baloch leader is confident that Balochistan has enough resources and manpower to survive as an independent nation.
"When East Timor can survive, South Sudan can survive and countries like Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE and Oman can survive, then Balochistan can also survive as a country." says KHAN OF KALAT MIR SULEMAN DAWOOD
The Khan of Kalat is part of the Baloch national movement, which has gained momentum in recent years.
These are the original tribes on Assam who have been living in the hills there for ages without damaging environment, instead, making our culture rich with their wonderful art, music, dance, paintings & simple eco-friendly life-style. For the past many years Bangla Deshi infiltrators invaded Bharat from North Eastern borders, encroached upon these Tribes’ lives, lands & livelihood pushing them more & more away. Govts for obvious vote politics reason helped the Bangla Deshi infiltrators & left the Original Tribes from Assam in the lurch. To hide the truth from the nation Govts tried to paint this crisis as Bodos Vs Muslims, but it is Non-Muslims (including Hindus, Christians, Tribes etc) Vs Bangla Deshi infiltrators whom Govt use as big vote bank.
The attacks on these tribes & Hindus had been happening since past 10 years but in such a way that they were not allowed to be publicized. Today the entire situation has gone out of control & over 50 such tribes there & Hindus are on the verge of collapse only due to Muslim invasion of Bangla Deshi infiltrators. Karbi Anglong, Khasi, Bodo, Dimasa, Jaintiya & many such Tribes are worse affected, many lost their bread earners in attacks. Old people are without medicines. Children without even a drop of milk. Shelters that are started by the Govt are housing Muslims who claim to be homeless while they are infiltrators. Tribals & Hindus have nowhere to go & staying in some relief camps with no help available.
Gogoi is expected to meet with top officials of the police and District Adminstration and will take stock of the situation.
Meanwhile with thirteen columns of the Army deployed across Western Assam, there have been no fresh incidents of violence reported in the last few hours. Curfew has been relaxed in Kokrajhar town, for people to be able to buy essential amenities.
11.00am : The influx of villagers into relief camps is increasing, despite the army taking control of the the restive Kokrajhar and other districts that have been witnessing increasing violence in the last few days.
Relief workers said on Wednesday morning they had enough rice and lentils to last in the camps for about a week, but that may change with more people streaming in for shelter.
Officials lifted a 24-hour curfew in the area for a few hours to allow people to collect food.
Officials say that at least two lakh people have already fled to relief camps, and the number is only increasing. Panic-stricken villagers are fleeing to relief camps or wherever their ethnic or religious group is in a majority.
One woman who had gone into early labor was taken by her husband in a pushcart to a camp, where she gave birth to a girl on Sunday. Later, she learned her home had been burned down.
“I am just happy my baby is OK,” said 25-year-old Ela Brahma said Wednesday in the camp, where some 1,000 people were sheltering from the violence.
9.45am : Curfew in the riot hit Kokrajhar district has been relaxed for a few hours, allowing locals to purchase essential amenities. Curfew in the area was relaxed from 8.30am, but will be re-imposed from 12 noon.
Media reports say that the situation in the area is still tense, but no incidents of fresh violence have been reported in the last few hours. The army is conducting flag marches in the area along with a district magistrate.
Meanwhile an all party delegation from the state will visit the riot hit area of Dhubri later in the day.
9.30am : Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is set to visit relief camps that are housing tens of thousands of people who have fled their homes in the restive Bodo territories in Western Assam.
Meanwhile despite a massive increase in military personnel who have been trying to maintain law and order, the death toll has gone up to 40, with the recovery of eight more bodies. Roving bands of rioters are continuing sporadic attacks, ripping apart homes and setting them on fire.
Five more bodies were recovered from Bijni in Chirang district and three from worst-hit Kokrajhar where shoot-at- sight orders and indefinite curfew were in force, police said.
Thirteen columns of the Army were deployed in Kokrajhar, Chirang, Dhubri and Bongaigaon where they staged flag marches accompanied by a magistrate. Defence spokesman Colonel S Phogat said the Army units had identified a number of sensitive and hyper-sensitive areas in the four districts to enable them to better patrol them.
Meanwhile North Frontier Railway spokesman Nripendra Bhattacharjee said passenger and goods trains services had partially resumed as of afternoon and the stalled trains would resume their journey with the ‘improvement’ in the situation.
More than 30,000 passengers, who are still stranded in New Bongaigaon, Kamakhyaguri and New Jalpaiguri stations of the NFR section, have complained of a massive food and water crisis.
"13 columns of troops have been mobilised to enforce peace in violence-hit areas of Kokrajhar, Chiranguri, Dhubri and Bongaigaon in Assam. The troops are also carrying out flag marches in these areas and no incident of violence have been reported since yesterday," Army said in Delhi.
These 13 columns have been equipped with riot control gear to meet all eventualities, the officials said.
"Three columns have been put on reserve to meet any eventuality," they said.
Besides conducting anti-riot drills, Army troops are also carrying out regular and routine counter terrorism and counter insurgency (CI/CT) operations in these areas.
"Most of these areas are infested with terrorism and insurgent groups are still active there. We have to ensure that the situation does not escalate there while keeping out CI/CT drills intact," they said.
Round-the-clock curfew with shoot-at-sight orders have been clamped in several areas of Assam after 41 people were reportedly killed in the violence. On the sixth day of the ethnic violence, the number of people packed into relief camps reached 180,000 even as train services resumed in the disturbed areas.
Early on Wednesday, rioters fired on a group of people, killing three. Apart from this, three bodies were found in Chirang district and two in Kokrajhar.
However, in Chirang no fresh outbreak of violence was reported through the day, showing signs of some improvement in the law and order situation.
An estimated two lakh people from these four districts have fled their homes following ethnic violence during last few days.
Over 120 relief camps have been established by the state government in several areas for around 70,000 people who have left their villages in search of a safe place.
These camps are being guarded by central paramilitary force (CPMF) personnel round the clock to ensure the safety of people there.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is likely to visit Kokrajhar relief camps today.
Several meetings were being conducted by the state government to assess the situation in these areas and security forces have been asked to remain on high alert.
A Times Now report from one of the relief camps noted that there were no medical facilities available despite there being a number of ill people present and also said that there was still a sense of insecurity amongst the people there since there were no security personnel on hand available to protect them.
11.07am : Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has accepted full responsibility for failing to protect the people of both the Bodo and Muslim communities in Western Assam, but has ruled out any possibility of stepping down.
“Do you think I should run away? I am a general fighting in a war. I am the last man to resign. If I resign I have to do so subsequently, not now”, said Gogoi in comments to CNN IBN.
Earlier Gogoi accepted that he had failed to provide full protection to the people in the state, but said that he expected the situation to improve in another three to four days. “This is a temporary setback. I will restore full confidence in me. I have done it before”, he added.
10.25am : Six Border Security Force companies are now in Assam and were scheduled to reach the Kokrajhar district in a couple of hours. However troops are reportedly finding it hard to proceed due to heavy rainfall. An additional 14 companies dispatched to the state by the Ministry of Home Affairs are expected to get to Assam by evening.
Apart from the Border Security Forces, the Home Affairs Ministry has sent in an additional 15 companies of other paramilitary forces comprising roughly 3500 men in total. Troops already deployed in the restive areas have commenced flag marches in three of the worst affected districts in the Bodo territories.
Meanwhile the state government has set up 151 relief camps to facilitate the tens of thousands of people who are leaving their villages to escape violence.
10.14am : Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has said that he does not expect any food shortages in Assam despite the fact that the violence has severed road and rail links connecting the narrow neck of the northeast to the main body of India.
Meanwhile troops have killed five people who were believed to be engaged in rioting. “We have decided to tackle the riots with a firm hand,” Gogoi said.
Gogoi said earlier that some rioters were using firearms.
Meanwhile RS Moosahary, a Bodo who is governor of nearby Meghalaya, said his hometown in Assam was set on fire during the violence.
“I’m deeply anguished,” he said.
9.33am : With communal violence in Assam leaving some 25,000 train passengers stranded, the central and Assam governments have been urged to provide security so that train services can resume.
A total of 37 trains have been halted at various states due to clashes between Bodo tribals and Bengali speaking Muslims.
Officials said efforts were on to arrange for food and water for the stranded passengers.
Railway Minister Mukul Roy has made a request for additional security to Home Minister P Chidambaram and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, an official statement said.
Roy said the train services had been crippled on a 54-km stretch between Srirampur and Salakati railway stations in Kokrajhar district.
According to the ministry, 26 trains have been cancelled with another 37 halted at various stations.
9.15am : A delegation from the Ministry of Home Affairs has reached Assam, even as escalating violence has claimed 11 more lives in the restive Bodo territories. The Special secretary internal security, and additional secretary MHA, Northeast, have reached the Kokrajhar district which has witnessed the worst violence so far.
An All party delegation of Assam are also scheduled to visit affected areas in Kokrajhar later in the day.
Meanwhile 13 columns of army troops have been conducting a flag march in 3 districts of the state from 8.30am.
The violence has spread in and around the Kokrajhar district all the way to the Bengal border, forcing the Centre to rush 1,500 more paramilitary personnel to control the unrest that has claimed 32 lives so far.
Seven more bodies were recovered in the Kokrajhar and Chirang districts.
Police firing has also claimed four lives. “Four persons were killed in police firing this morning when they were indulging in violence in Rampur and Chaparkata areas of Kokrajhar,” IGP, (BTAD), S N Singh told PTI
As new areas came under the grip of the ongoing clashes that began last week between Muslim immigrants and Bodos, the state government sounded alerts in Sonitpur, Baska, Kamrup (rural) and Darrang districts, official sources said.
Nineteen people have lost their lives in worst-hit Kokrajhar district and nine in Chirang in the clashes while four have been killed in police firing in Rampur and Chaparkata areas of Kokrajhar.
One body was recovered from Odlaguri, the home village of Meghalaya Governor Rajendra Prasad Mooshahary, under Gossaigaon sub division of Kokrajhar district while another was found from neighbouring Chirang.
At least 26 trains were cancelled and 31 stopped at different stations, prompting Railway Minister Mukul Roy to seek enhanced security from the Home Minister for the safety of over 30,000 passengers stranded midway.
Yesterday, shoot-at-sight orders were issued in Kokrajhar district and indefinite curfew clamped while night curfew was in force in Chirang district.
In an attempt to assuage the situation, at least 13 columns of the Army have started conducting flag march in Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Chirang and Bongaigaon.
Troops are finding at difficult to move because of heavy rainfalls there.
All party delegation of Assam assembly has started visiting the affected areas. A MHA team has also reached the state.
Nearly 1.5 lakh people have been rendered homeless in ethnic clashes that started between Bodos, who are tribals, and Bengali-speaking Muslims in Kokrajhar district of lower Assam on July 19. There is no official word on what triggered the violence, but dispute over land may have been one of the reasons.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi held a late night meeting of cabinet and alleged that the incident was a "part of political conspiracy" to malign his government.
A worried Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had urged Home Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister AK Antony to rush more paramilitary forces and troops to end the savagery.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi called up Gogoi to know the latest situation. An estimated 40,000 people have fled their homes looking for safer areas.
"The Prime Minister has directed him to do everything possible to control the situation and for relief and rehabilitation of the affected," a PMO spokesperson said.
On Tuesday, security forces gunned down four miscreants in Kokrajhar, pushing the death toll in the two districts to 32, authorities said.
"Four persons were killed in police firing this morning when they were indulging in violence in Rampur and Chaparkata areas of Kokrajhar," IGP, (BTAD), S N Singh said.
As new areas came under the grip of the ongoing clashes that began last week between illegal immigrants and Bodos, the state government sounded alert in Sonitpur, Baska, Kamrup (rural) and Darrang districts, official sources said.
Shoot-at-sight orders and an indefinite curfew have been imposed in the worst-hit Kokrajhar district. In Chirang, a night curfew has been clamped from 6 pm to 6 am.
Miscreants continued to set fire to houses left vacant by thousands who have fled to safer areas. The fire brigade and security forces struggled to put down dozens of fires.
"Incidents of violence are taking place mainly in the interior areas of the districts. About 60 villages, mostly abandoned, were burnt by miscreants in the two districts," said another official.
The violence has also spread to Dhubri district bordering Bangladesh. The police opened blank fire there on Tuesday to contain unrest.
In Dhubri, curfew has been imposed in some "sensitive areas" including Gouripur, Golakganj, Bilasipara and Chapar.
The three districts - Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri - share a contiguous landscape. While Dhubri is bounded by Bangladesh in the south, Kokrajhar and Chirang border Bhutan.
More than 40,000 people have abandoned their homes and taken shelter in relief camps set up by the district administration.
According to official sources, the violence started July 19 after gunmen attacked two student leaders in Magurbari Thursday.
Following this, four former Bodo militants were shot dead.
Both the communities then began attacking each other, accusing each other of orchestrating ethnic cleansing.
Assam's Parliamentary Affairs Minister Nilamoni Sen Deka and Revenue Minister Prithibi Majhi were deputed by Chief Minister Gogoi to visit the troubled spots.
Director General of Police Jayanta Narayan Choudhury yesterday reviewed the security scenario with police officials.
Railway officials said the running of several trains had been severely affected. All inbound and outbound trains were halted at various stations between Guwahati and Alipurduar.
This has left thousands of train passengers stranded in the state.
At least 26 trains were cancelled and 31 stopped at different stations, prompting Railway Minister Mukul Roy to seek enhanced security from Chidambaram for safety of over 30,000 passengers stranded midway.
Some miscreants attacked the Guwahati-bound Rajdhani Express at Gosaigaon Tuesday, forcing the authorities to take the train back to Alipurduar.
On Tueday, the railways cancelled 11 express trains from Guwahati to Delhi and other parts of the country. All trains from Guwahati to other parts of the country have to pass Kokrajhar, as the station is located on the strategic Guwahati Delhi main railway line. This is also true for any train coming into Guwahati.
This route, a section of which branches out to Kolkata beyond Assam, is the only one that connects Guwahati to the rest of the country. The only other way for passengers, is to take unaffordable flights, or to travel by roads.
At the Guwahati railway station, the assortment of those spending the night is unique. From Naga students who were heading to Bangalore for jobs, to groups of CRPF Jawans who were heading to Delhi to report to their new companies after a transfer, all of them now face the prospect of endlessly waiting at the Guwahati station till train traffic is restored.
Assam has had had a history of ethnic clashes with the worst being witnessed in the nineties in Lower Assam and the North Bank of Brahmaputra that saw more than two lakh people from all communities being displaced. While some have returned to their homes, others are still languishing in relief camps.
In 2008, violence erupted again, with inter-community clashes claiming lives and destroying property
“I appeal to all people in general to maintain peace and calm. After all this might be a conspiracy to divert attention from the recent molestation case in Guwahati,” Gogoi told reporters in New Delhi.
8.17pm : Bijni Sub-Divisional Police Officer resigned from office saying that he was unable to control riots.
6.37pm : Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to Times Now
“It is a serious concern. I have asked security forces to deal with the miscreants firmly. We have received no confirmation on involvement of any militant group in the violence so far,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told Times Now in Guwahati.
Explaining the reasons behind the clashes, Gogoi said, “Clashes are happening due to clash of interest. It is not an infiltration issue completely.”
5.19pm : BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman on Assam violence
“The violence in Assam is completely communal. The prime minister being a MP from Assam should immediately issue a statement. It is a problem of illegal migrants. No minister has reached the affected areas. The ministers are being biased to a particular community. Congress should bury its communal agenda. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is trying hard not to call the violence communal but we know it is so as informed by our team vising the state today,” Sitharaman told a press conference in New Delhi.
“Thousands have people have been rendered homeless and facilities in the temporary camps are inadequate,” she said.
5.00 pm : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday spoke to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi asking him to “monitor the situation closely” and to “ensure safety of people”.
4.30pm : One of the two ministers, Assam Agriculture Minister Nilamani Sen Deka who was rushed this morning to the Bodo areas to take stock of the violent situation in BTAD has been obstructed by thousands from entering the area.
4.25pm : The national highway – 31, which connects the North East India with rest of the country is blocked by thousands at Bartala in Chirang district affecting traffic.
4.04pm : Activists from the All Bodo Students’ Union have blocked railway tracks at Kojkrajhar in Assam. Many trains are stopped at different stations for security reasons.
3.10pm : The Centre as per the request from the Assam government has issued orders for more army deployment in the violence affected areas.
3.05pm : A 300-strong minority group is demonstrating in front of the Assam Bhavan in New Delhi demanding the scrapping of the BTAD. The group is also shouting slogans against Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
3.00pm : The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked for the additional deployment of 24 troops to Assam’s Kokrajhar district. Reports just coming in say that the MHA has commissioned a further 24 companies, which translates to 2400 additional men. The troops will be deployed to the towns of Dhubri and Chirang which saw violence erupting overnight.
Meanwhile a BJP delegation led by Vijay Goel will visit Assam to see the situation for themselves. Will report to BJP High Command on Kokrajhar
2.55pm : Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi says that the state is monitoring the situation, and confirmed that nearly 50,000 people had fled their homes in the restive Kokrajhar district. “We are taking the situation very seriously. Troops have been deployed”, he said.
However Gogoi also expressed confidence that the situation would be brought under control in another 2-3 days.
2.45pm : Home Secretary RK Singh has assured the Assam government that the centre would help maintain law and order in the state. He said that the MHA was in touch with forces and lawmakers in the state. Singh added that he had also spoken to the leaders of Bodos and Muslims in the state.
Meanwhile at least 18 trains are stalled at various stations across the state, and in North Bengal because of security concerns. Trains would have to pass through the restive region in order to pass through the state.
2.30pm : Bodoland Territorial Council chief Hagrama Mohilary said that minority people from outside are creating tension in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts.
“Muslim migrants are crossing the Brahmaputra from different places like Dhubri, Bilasipara, Golakganj and even from Bangladesh and entering the BTAD areas,” Mohilary said.
“There might be extremists elements. We definitely need more forces. Army presence is a must or even BSF or SSB,” he said.
1.30pm : The DGP of the Assam police Jayanta Narayan Choudhury says the situation is under control.
“The situation is tense but under control. Forty companies are already are here. Fourteen are on the way. Force is not a problem. The Central government will provide us with as much force we need,” he said in an press meet.
The riot situation was building up gradually in the ethnically sensitive Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts (BTAD)—Kokrajhar, Baska, and Chirang barring Udalguri in Assam—since the beginning of July. The police were slow to anticipate trouble and still slower initiating action to quelling the flare-up. Nineteen people have lost their lives so far and people are still fleeing their homes for safety.
“On 6 July two persons from the minority community were killed. Again on 19 July, another two persons people from the minority community were found dead. These two incidents were indicators of what would follow. Yet in both the cases, police failed either to identify or nab the culprits,” Pramod Boro, president of All Bodo Students’ Union, told Firstpost in a telephonic conversation.
12.00pm : The Guwahati-bound Rajdhani Express was stone pelted at Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar district damaging four coaches, though there was no casualty or injuries, North East Frontier Railway sources said in Guwahati.
The train was taken taken back to Kamakhyaguri station bordering West Bengal, and may be taken to Coochbehar.
Guwahati (Assam) : At least 20 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the eastern Indian state of Assam over the weekend in clashes between indigenous Assamese Bodo tribes and Muslim immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
The disturbances have also led to an estimated 50,000 people fleeing their homes from the state’s western Kokrajhar district to take refuge in relief camps.
The violence reportedly erupted on Friday night when four youths of the Bodo tribe were killed by persons unknown -- in retaliation, armed Bodos attacked Muslims, which led to a spiraling of bloodshed between the two groups who have long been in conflict. In the carnage, cars were overturned and burned, and houses and schools were set ablaze.
"The situation is tense, and more security forces are being sent to far-flung areas," Assam's Inspector General of police S.N. Singh told the Associated Press.
"There are fresh reports of houses being set ablaze in several places in Kokrajhar district. Reinforcements have been rushed to the areas, and the situation is gradually coming back to normal.”
Assam, located on the extreme northeastern edge of India, is home to some 300 tribal and ethnic groups, with many segments of the population agitating for separatism. In this volatile mix is unwanted Muslim migrants from impoverished Bangladesh.
The Bodos are one of Assam’s largest indigenous tribes -- they have fought not only with Muslim migrants, but battled the state of India in a bid to gain an independent state through a decades-long insurgency.
Illegal immigration from overcrowded Bangladesh presents challenges for all of eastern India, which shares a porous border with the smaller nation.
Since the 1971 war of independence that created the state of Bangladesh, millions of Bangladeshi immigrants (the vast majority of them illegal) have poured into neighboring India.
While the Indian government has tried to deport some of these immigrants, their sheer numbers have made such an enterprise impossible.
Assam-Bangladesh Border Fence.
In subsequent years, the bulk of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh were Muslims seeking to escape poverty.
India's Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran said last summer that almost 1.4 million illegal Bangladeshis have migrated to India over the past decade alone.
Ramachandran described the illegal immigration from Bangladesh as a "big problem" and that the government is dealing with it.
Indian Army in Assam
India’s army moved in to stop armed clashes over land between settlers and local villagers that have killed at least eleven people in India’s remote northeast over the past two days, police said Sunday.
Two days of battles between the ethnic Bodo community and Muslim settlers also injured at least 10 people in Kokrajhar district, nearly 250 kilometers west of Gauhati, the state capital, said S.N. Singh, a police inspector-general.
The clashes in Assam state began Friday after assailants killed one person. As the violence spread to more than half a dozen villages in the region, nearly 7,000 people fled their homes and took refuge in state-run relief camps, Singh told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Native Bodo Children of Assam
The soldiers have been patrolling the violence-hit region, Singh said.
Animosity and accusations of land-stealing have long simmered between Bodos and the thousands of mostly Bengali Muslim settlers, many of whom came from the former East Pakistan before it became Bangladesh in 1971.
The two groups have clashed sporadically since 1990s and burned each other’s homes and property, state officials said.
Source : Internation Business Times
The fighting was between indigenous tribes people and Muslim settlers in the state's Kokrajhar district.
There have been tensions between indigenous groups and Muslim Bengali migrants to Assam for many years.
The state is sandwiched between China and Bangladesh and is only joined to the rest of India by a 22km corridor.
Officials in Kokrajhar district told the Reuters news agency that about 50,000 villagers fled their homes in riot-affected areas to take shelter in nearby relief camps.
He said that 37 camps had been set up to help displaced people and more would be opened if needed.
Police say that the clashes began when unidentified men killed four youths on Friday night in Kokrajhar district, an area dominated by the Bodo tribe.
They say that armed Bodos attacked Muslims in retaliation, suspecting them to be behind the killings.
Soon afterwards unidentified groups set houses, schools, and vehicles ablaze, police said, firing indiscriminately from automatic weapons in populated areas.
The violence is reported to have spread to other areas, including nearby Chirang district.
Police told the AP news agency that they had discovered some bodies with machete wounds that had been left in the jungle or along roadsides or river banks.
"The situation is tense and more security forces are [being] sent to far flung areas," Assam's Inspector General of police SN Singh told reporters.
Businesses, offices and schools were closed on Monday, and streets were deserted.
Source : BBC