Monday, June 24, 2013

India's Hyphenation Debate: India-Pakistan or India-China?

US Secretary of State John Kerry's current visit to India has aroused Indian media's anger with the Times of India  protesting that the secretary has "sought to draw parity between India and Pakistan".

In an article titled “Kerry’s soft line on Pakistan a sore subject,” Indian newspaper The Hindu complained: “Departing from his predecessor Hillary Clinton’s line of commiserating with the victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, he opted to sympathize with the victims of the Uttarakhand flash floods instead.”

Global Poverty Rates 

For the last several years, Indian elites have been quite obsessed about de-hyphenating their country from Pakistan and fusing it with China by inventing such words as "Chindia". However, it's also clear from the Indian media reactions to Kerry's words that India's rivalry with Pakistan inflames far more passion in India than does India's self-proclaimed competition with China.

Robert Kaplan of Stratfor questions the Indian policy elite's obsession with hyphenation with China in a recent piece as follows:

Indian elites can be obsessed with China, even as Chinese elites think much less about India. This is normal. In an unequal rivalry, it is the lesser power that always demonstrates the greater degree of obsession. For instance, Greeks have always been more worried about Turks than Turks have been about Greeks. China's inherent strength in relation to India is more than just a matter of its greater economic capacity, or its more efficient governmental authority.

Kaplan goes on to say the following about India-Pakistan hyphenation:

The best way to gauge the relatively restrained atmosphere of the India-China rivalry is to compare it to the rivalry between India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan abut one another. India's highly populated Ganges River Valley is within 480 kilometers (300 miles) of Pakistan's highly populated Indus River Valley. There is an intimacy to India-Pakistan tensions that simply does not apply to those between India and China. That intimacy is inflamed by a religious element: Pakistan is the modern incarnation of all of the Muslim invasions that have assaulted Hindu northern India throughout history. And then there is the tangled story of the partition of the Asian subcontinent itself to consider -- India and Pakistan were both born in blood together.

It's a rarely acknowledged  fact in India that most Indians are far more obsessed with Pakistan than any other country. But the ruling dynasty's Rahul Gandhi, the man widely expected to be India's future prime minister, did confirm it, according to a news report by America's NPR Radio. "I actually feel we give too much time in our minds to Pakistan," said Rahul Gandhi at a leadership meeting of  the Indian National Congress in 2009.

The rise of the new media and  the emergence of the "Internet Hindus", a term coined by Indian journalist Sagarika Ghose, has removed all doubts about many Indians' Pakistan obsession. She says the “Internet Hindus are like swarms of bees". "They come swarming after you"  pouncing on any mention of Pakistan or Muslims.

Here's a video demolishing the Chindia myth:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's Hostility Toward Pakistan

India-Pakistan Military Balance

BRIC, Chindia and the Indian "Miracle"

India's Twin Deficits and Soaring Imports From China

India Near Bottom on PISA and TIMSS Tests

Poverty Across India


Faqir said...

That is very true Riaz bhai. Indians are really obsessed with Pakistan ....that is why we have Indian members come up and post so often on Pakistani forums

Jay said...

This hyphenation is not due to economic issues. where one thinks of Pakistan as being a regional economic power. If it were, then Bangladesh would be the one to be included. Their economy, foreign investments ( FDI) are on the up. They are much much more stable ...

Riaz Haq said...

Jay: "This hyphenation is not due to economic issues. where one thinks of Pakistan as being a regional economic power. If it were, then Bangladesh would be the one to be included. Their economy, foreign investments ( FDI) are on the up. They are much much more stable ..."

The World Bank brackets India and Bangladesh together with the world's poorest nations mostly from sub-Saharan Africa.

Riaz Haq said...

A billion people were lifted from abject poverty between 1980 and 2010. China accounts for nearly three quarters of these, or 680 million people brought out of misery, by reducing its extreme-poverty rate from 84% in 1980 to 10% now, according to a report in The Economist. The report adds that with "poorer governance in India and Africa, the next two targets, means that China’s experience is unlikely to be swiftly replicated there".

As China's share of the world's extreme poor (living below $1.25 per day per person level) has dramatically declined, India's share has significantly increased. India now contributes 33% (up from 22 % in 1981). While the extreme poor in Sub-Saharan Africa represented only 11 percent of the world’s total in 1981, they now account for 34% of the world’s extreme poor, and China comes next contributing 13 percent (down from 43 percent in 1981), according to the World Bank report titled State of the Poor.

The share of poverty in South Asia region excluding India has slightly increased from 7% in 1981 to 9% now, according to the report.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Haq, you have to live in india to understand our culture. The western way of calculating poverty is deeply flawed and erroneous. Our parents taught us to live in simplicity. We teach our children the same. Contrary to western ideas, gandhi did not wear khadi and live in simplicity because he was poor, but it was a value. Dont be carried away by numbers. If you average the total no of breasts and testicles by the total population of the world, you are likely to end up thinking that every average person will have one breast and one testicle, but in reality there may not even be a single person like that. Eastern philosopy teaches us to live a simple life. Aurangazeb was a king in India who sold caps to make a living. Does that make him poor. Buddha was another example of king giving up his pleasure. Does it mean that he is poor. We should not be afraid to point out flaws in the western culture.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's annual GDP rose to $252 billion (184.35 million pop times $1368 per capita) in fiscal 2012-13, according to Economic Survey of Pakistan 2012-13 estimates based on 9 months data.

By contrast, India's GDP for 2012-13 shrank in US $ terms to $1.84 trillion from $1.87 trillion a year earlier because the Indian rupee from 47.80 to 54. to a US dollar, according to Business Standard.

Anonymous said...

Poverty is an open word and so is luxury. But these things dont have a common basis. Th basis for both these concepts is 'Pampering". You may think that the more you pamper a person he will live a luxurious life. But such papering would make his poorer as he will forget to learn to live within his means.

Food, clothing, shelter etc are physical ways of pampering youself. The more you have the more you want. go Figure

HopeWins Junior said...

Fresh news! Good news!

China has agreed to build an industrial corridor connecting Kashgar in China to Gwadar in our country. This will not only connect Pakistan's economy to China's economy, but also allow China to access the Arabia sea.....

There is one little problem though. NOBODY lives is Western China. There is no economy is Western China. You can see for yourself:

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "There is one little problem though. NOBODY lives is Western China. There is no economy is Western China. You can see for yourself"

First, there's a lot of development going on in Central China away from coastal China. These regions can be supplied from West or East.

Second, the economic corridor through Pakistan is strategic for China. It is intended to establish greater maritime presence at Gwadar, located close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and to build land routes (motorways, rail links, pipelines) from the Persian Gulf through Pakistan to Western China. This is China's insurance to continue trade with West Asia and the Middle East in case of hostilities with the United States and its allies in Asia which could hamper China's sea routes in Asia, particular the Strait of Malacca which is controlled by US allies.


Anonymous said...

I think development work will boost economy of pakistan. But who will pay. I hope not the GOP. GOP is on sustainance money and cannot fund such activities. It should either be a chinese initiative and insured at chinese costs or it should be a private company which invests that money and collects toll for say a period of 30 ~50 years.

Actually if china gives that much money to pakistan for construction of hydel power or for exploiting thar coal, pakistan economy can get some breathing space.

Also if Pakistan needs to see real improvement, then only sincere people can do it. Expat pakistanis should come back to pakistan and help at this difficult time by doing business in pakistan instead of outside. Software companies should be set up in pakistan. Software education should be promoted by these foreign trained professionals. If pakistanis are not intrested in pakistan who else will??

Lip service is never enough

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Hindu newspaper report on Indian corporate foreign debt:

July 8, 2013:
India’s international investment position (IIP) saw significant deterioration in the year-ended March 31, 2013. The country’s net liabilities to other countries rose by $57.8 billion to $307.8 billion over the course of the year. This caused the net IIP to worsen from a negative 14 per cent of GDP to a negative 16.7 per cent.

The International Investment Position compares what India owes to entities located overseas (liabilities) relative to what it is owed by foreign entities (assets). In recent years, India’s liabilities have been expanding while assets have stagnated.


Liabilities have soared on the back of exporters taking more short term credit, and loans and deposits flowing in from overseas. A break-up of the country’s international liabilities indicates that overseas trade credit, loans and deposits extended to India, grew by 13.8 per cent in 2012-13 from 2011-12 levels. This amounted to 18.4 per cent of GDP in March 2013, up from 16.8 per cent in 2012-13.

This was a weak year for inbound foreign direct investments, which grew only by 5.1 per cent. Portfolio investment expanded by 10.4 per cent during the year. This was mainly in the form of equity inflows.

In contrast, Indian companies remained rather cautious about investing across the border. International assets — which capture investments in foreign currency — stagnated at 24.3 per cent of GDP compared to 24.5 per cent a year ago. This was driven by the 0.8 per cent decline in the foreign exchange reserves.

Portfolio investments by Indian companies fell by 6.6 per cent, but direct investments overseas rose by 6.3 per cent. This depicts the value of the country’s direct investment abroad, portfolio investments, equity and debt security investments, trade credits, loans and reserve assets, among others, as a proportion of its cumulative economic output in a given year.

The ratio of net foreign liabilities to GDP is regarded as an indicator of default risk. This indicates that the country’s liabilities to external parties have been rising as a proportion of its economic output.

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "This is China's insurance to continue trade with West Asia and the Middle East in case of hostilities with the United States and its allies in Asia which could hamper China's sea routes in Asia, particular the Strait of Malacca which is controlled by US allies."

This sounds quite grand, but there is a problem with it.

The Persian gulf & the strait of Hormuz is ALSO controlled by the US and its allies. In fact, all the Arab countries play permanent host to the US Navy, Marines & Air force.

So if trouble with the US blocks its east-coast supplies, you can be sure that the US will also block the Gwadar route.

Yes? You have something to say?

HopeWins Junior said...

^^^Anonymous: "Eastern philosopy teaches us to live a simple life. Aurangazeb was a king in India who sold caps to make a living. Does that make him poor. Buddha was another example of king giving up his pleasure. Does it mean that he is poor. We should not be afraid to point out flaws in the western culture"

To Do List:

Job 1) Point out flaws in Western culture

Job 2) Apply for Green Card

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "The Persian gulf & the strait of Hormuz is ALSO controlled by the US and its allies. In fact, all the Arab countries play permanent host to the US Navy, Marines & Air force...
So if trouble with the US blocks its east-coast supplies, you can be sure that the US will also block the Gwadar route."

If you were China, which would you find easier to defend? The long sea trade route through South China Sea or the short land and sea route from Iran to Pakistan to China?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Australian survey summary about what Indians see as key threats and issues:

74% of Indians are optimistic about the prospects for India's economy
80-85% of Indians see shortages of energy, food and water as big threats to their country's security, while 94% consider Pakistan a threat, and 83% consider China a threat
95% of Indians support the democratic rights of fair trial, free expression and the right to vote
96% of Indians think corruption is holding India back

Riaz Haq said...

A crowd of Indian ruling Congress's "youth wing" attacked Pak High Commission building in New Delhi to protest against alleged killing of Indian soldiers in Kashmir. Here's a BBC report on Indian media's reaction to the latest round of LoC tensions in Kashmir:

Media in India are expressing mixed views on whether India should hold peace talks with Pakistan following the killing of five soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir.

India's army on Tuesday accused Pakistan over the incident, saying their troops had "entered the Indian area and ambushed" an army patrol in Poonch in the Jammu region.

A Pakistani military official, however, said "no fire took place" from their side.

The latest incident comes as the two sides are preparing for peace talks, the first since a new Pakistani government took office, to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The Hindustan Times, in its editorial, says that such "grave provocations have to be tempered with pragmatism. At the moment, to be very realistic, India's best bet is to talk to them and at least gauge what measures can be taken to avert such incidents in the future".

The Indian Express, on the other hand, feels that by cracking under pressure, the government has "put dialogue with Pakistan at risk".

The paper adds that "giving vent to aggression will only hurt at a juncture when the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is set to unleash a period of instability".

The Times of India, however, says the killings of five soldiers "needs to be condemned in the harshest terms" and the army must "beef up its preparedness and strengthen its tactics" at the border.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times on India's growing troubles:

...a summer of difficulties has dented India’s confidence, and a growing chorus of critics is starting to ask whether India’s rise may take years, and perhaps decades, longer than many had hoped.

“There is a growing sense of desperation out there, particularly among the young,” said Ramachandra Guha, one of India’s leading historians.

Three events last week crystallized those new worries. On Wednesday, one of India’s most advanced submarines, the Sindhurakshak, exploded and sank at its berth in Mumbai, almost certainly killing 18 of the 21 sailors on its night watch.

On Friday, a top Indian general announced that India had killed 28 people in recent weeks in and around the Line of Control in Kashmir as part of the worst fighting between India and Pakistan since a 2003 cease-fire.

Also Friday, the Sensex, the Indian stock index, plunged nearly 4 percent, while the value of the rupee continued to fall, reaching just under 62 rupees per dollar, a record low.

Each event was unrelated to the others, but together they paint a picture of a country that is rapidly losing its swagger. India’s growing economic worries are perhaps its most challenging.

“India is now the sick man of Asia,” said Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at the financial information provider IHS Global Insight. “They are in a crisis.”


The Indian government recently loosened restrictions on direct foreign investment, expecting a number of major retailers like Walmart and other companies to come rushing in. The companies have instead stayed away, worried not only by the government’s constant policy changes but also by the widespread and endemic corruption in Indian society.

The government has followed with a series of increasingly desperate policy announcements in recent weeks in hopes of turning things around, including an increase in import duties on gold and silver and attempts to defend the currency without raising interest rates too high.

Then Wednesday night, the government announced measures to restrict the amounts that individuals and local companies could invest overseas without seeking approval. It was an astonishing move in a country where a growing number of companies have global operations and ambitions.
The submarine explosion revealed once again the vast strategic challenges that the Indian military faces and how far behind China it has fallen. India still relies on Russia for more than 60 percent of its defense equipment needs, and its army, air force and navy have vital Russian equipment that is often decades old and of increasingly poor quality.

The Sindhurakshak is one of 10 Russian-made Kilo-class submarines that India has as part of its front-line maritime defenses, but only six of India’s submarines are operational at any given time — far fewer than are needed to protect the nation’s vast coastline.

Indeed, India has fewer than 100 ships, compared with China’s 260. India is the world’s largest weapons importer, but with its economy under stress and foreign currency reserves increasingly precious, that level of purchases will be increasingly hard to sustain.

The country’s efforts to build its own weapons have largely been disastrous, and a growing number of corruption scandals have tainted its foreign purchases, including a recent deal to buy helicopters from Italy.

Unable to build or buy, India is becoming dangerously short of vital defense equipment, analysts say.

Meanwhile, the country’s bitter rivalry with Pakistan continues. Many analysts say that India is unlikely to achieve prominence on the world stage until it reaches some sort of resolution with Pakistan of disputes that have lasted for decades over Kashmir and other issues.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Wall Street Journal quoting BRIC coiner Jim O'Neill as saying “If I were to change it, I would just leave the ‘C’:

SAO PAULO–Former Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O’Neill, who coined the BRIC acronym describing four burgeoning emerging market countries, stands by the term he invented more than a decade ago, but admits that three of the countries have disappointed him in recent years.

The acronym created in 2001 groups Brazil, Russia, India and China, and has become a reference for a perceived shift in economic power toward developing economies.

“If I were to change it, I would just leave the ‘C,’” Mr. O’Neill said in an interview. “But then, I don’t think it would be much of an acronym.”

Economic growth in other BRIC countries has been disappointing, and the economic outlook for developing economies in general has changed in the last few years amid the end of a commodities boom and a slowdown in Chinese growth–which nevertheless remains high compared with that of its counterparts.

Meanwhile, signs of a recovery in the U.S and expectations the Federal Reserve will soon reduce its bond-buying program have helped strengthen the U.S. dollar, sucking money out of emerging markets and putting even more pressure on their less developed economies.

It has become “fashionable” to say the developed world is recovering while emerging markets are all slowing down, Mr. O’Neill said. “But what people don’t understand is the size of China,” he added.

The economist said that if China’s economy grows 7.5% this year, as he expects, that would create an additional $1 trillion in wealth, in U.S. dollar terms. “For the U.S. to contribute at the same level, it would have to grow around 3.75%,” Mr. O’Neill said.

Economists currently expect the U.S. economy to expand 1.5% in 2013, down from 2% projected in May, according to a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

From 2011 to 2020, Mr. O’Neill said he has assumed average growth for the BRIC countries of 6.6% a year, less than the 8.5% average in the previous decade. Most of it up to now has come from China.

India has been the biggest disappointment among the BRIC countries, while Brazil has been the most volatile in terms of investor perceptions, the economist said.

“Between 2001 and 2004, many people told me I should never have included Brazil. Then, from 2008 to 2010, people told me I was a genius for including Brazil and now, again, people say Brazil doesn’t deserve to be there,” he said.

Brazil’s economic growth, which reached 7.5% in 2010, has been weak since then in spite of multiple government stimulus measures. The country seems doomed to growth of 2% or so in both 2013 and 2014, according to economists’ forecasts.

Brazil’s rapid growth in 2010 raised expectations, but many people forgot that the country is vulnerable to big moves in commodities prices, Mr. O’Neill said.

Another problem, he said, is that private investment remains a small share of the country’s gross domestic product. Brazil’s investment rate has been stuck at around 18% of GDP, the lowest level of any BRIC country, for a decade.


“They should only worry if there’s a pickup in inflation expectations; otherwise, they should relax,” he said, before the central bank late Thursday unveiled a massive intervention program to provide relief for the currency.

Brazilian inflation is currently 6.15%, close to the 6.5% ceiling of the central bank’s target range for 2013.

Even in the face of weak growth, Mr. O’Neill says he doesn’t plan to add or subtract letters from his famous acronym.

“If, by the end of 2015, there is persistent weak growth in Brazil, India or Russia, then I might,” he said, noting, however, that he expects Brazil to surprise positively in 2015, possibly even in 2014.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story about India's obsession to overtake China:

India's rupee crisis has muted its obsession with overtaking China and with growth halving in recent years, international focus has been drawn to the development challenges in Asia's third biggest economy.

Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate, is a professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard, and this week he wrote in The New York Times that since Indian independence in 1947, life expectancy at birth has more than doubled, to 66 years from 32, and per-capita income (adjusted for inflation) has grown fivefold. In recent decades, reforms pushed up the country’s once sluggish growth rate to around 8% per year, before it fell back over the last two years.

He however acknowledged China's superior capacity to deliver public services and said that almost one in every 5 males and one in every 3 females are illiterate while less than half the children can divide 20 by 5, even after four years of schooling.

China's public spending on health is at 2.7% of GDP (gross domestic product) while India's is at 1.2%.

Sen says the inadequacies in education and health require more democracy not less, rather than moving closer to China's authoritarian system.

Jagdish Bhagwati, the other well-known Indian emigrant economist who is professor of law and economics at Columbia University, is a bitter rival of Sen's and they are each 79 years old.

Bhagwati, is best known for his work on trade and has been critical of Amartya Sen's model of growth, which he says has actually hurt the poor in India by not really supporting the market reforms in 1991 and pushing for a Food Security Bill which would create inflation.

India has a notorious reputation for bureaucratic red tape and Prof Bhagwati has no confidence in the political system delivering a significant improvement in public services.

Last month, 23 children, aged between four and 12, died after eating a lunch of lentils, potatoes and rice cooked at the school in a poverty-stricken village.

Forensic tests showed the meal was contaminated with monocrotophos, a lethal pesticide banned in many countries.

The infrastructure deficit was highlighted last year when there were huge electricity blackouts, affecting 600m people.

Arvind Subramanian, an Indian national, who is based at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC, wrote:

[In Lord Richard Attenborough’s movie Gandhi, an underling of the British Empire heatedly warns his supercilious boss that Mahatma Gandhi’s impending protest march to the sea poses a far greater threat than the Raj realizes: “Salt, sir, is a symbol.” This elicits the memorable sneering put-down from the boss (played by Sir John Gielgud): “Don’t patronize me, Charles.”]

Subramanian asked: is power, or rather the power sector, today’s salt - - emblematic of both the pessimistic outlook and promise of India?...

Riaz Haq said...

Even though it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, religion, or gender, developers and realtors often advertise apartments for rent/sale for certain religious groups or certain castes.

Superstitious parents in India are known to have c-sections, or to plan ahead and induce labor at times that are considered auspicious. Some Hindus believe that being born at a certain time will better a child's future.

India's Delhi metro hired a monkey handler or langurwallah, to chase monkeys off the city's metro trains. Monkey handlers have also been used on the grounds of parliament and in some government buildings to scare off wild monkeys.

A woman named Shaheen Dhada posted a status on Facebook questioning a Mumbai "bandh," or shutdown, after the death of politician Bal Thackeray, known for using various forms of intimidation to achieve political ends. Her friend Renu Srinivasan liked the post. Both were arrested for their actions and the incident sparked a furor about the lack of freedom of speech in India.

Farmers with massive debt burdens have been committing suicide since 1995. Over 250,000 farmers have reportedly committed suicide. Many accuse foreign companies like Monsanto of selling farmers overpriced seeds that are forced on them by the government. The low cost of produce along with poor harvests have often caused farmers to take their own lives as they see it as the only way out of their tremendous debt.

Santosh Kumar Singh fought for nine years to prove that he was alive. His brothers declared him dead and stole his land after he married a woman of a lower caste. False death certificates are frequently issued in land grabs.

Riaz Haq said...

PRI story on Modi and Pakistan:

Growing up in India, I'd sometimes drop my cricket bat in the middle of the game and say to my friends, "I'll be right back. Going to Pakistan."

None of them would raise an eyebrow. They knew I meant I was off to the bathroom.

I grew up with strong feelings about Pakistan. It was my enemy.

My friends and I wished the worst things for Pakistan, and disliked losing to them — on the battlefield, or the cricket field.

Every time a terrorist attack happened in India, we blamed it on Pakistan and wished our prime minister would declare war.

I thought that's how every Indian should feel; the more you hated Pakistan, the more patriotic you were.

Then, 10 years ago, I moved to the United States, and, for the first time in my life, I met a person from Pakistan. Then I met another Pakistani. And then, another.

We spoke the same language, ate the same food, told the same jokes and felt passionate about the same sport. We had so many things in common that I often forgot we were not from the same country.

Right now, a general election is taking place in India. Narendra Modi, the candidate for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is expected to become the next prime minster. He’s the chief minister of Gujarat, the northwestern state bordering Pakistan.

Modi is controversial. In 2005, he was denied a US visa because of his alleged role in the Gujurat riots in 2002, where about 1,000 people died, most of them Muslim.

Some of my friends from Pakistan express concern about Modi and they've asked me what I think of him.

In my previous life, I might have voted for Modi.

But now, he makes me nervous.

Riaz Haq said...

From Newsweek by Julian Assange of Wikileaks:

It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, D.C., including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel.

While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the U.S. State Department, the U.S. State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch. Two years later, in the wake of his early 2013 visits to China, North Korea and Burma, it would come to be appreciated that the chairman of Google might be conducting, in one way or another, “back-channel diplomacy” for Washington. But at the time it was a novel thought.

I put it aside until February 2012, when WikiLeaks—along with over thirty of our international media partners—began publishing the Global Intelligence Files: the internal email spool from the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor. One of our stronger investigative partners—the Beirut-based newspaper Al Akhbar— scoured the emails for intelligence on Jared Cohen.

The people at Stratfor, who liked to think of themselves as a sort of corporate CIA, were acutely conscious of other ventures that they perceived as making inroads into their sector. Google had turned up on their radar. In a series of colorful emails they discussed a pattern of activity conducted by Cohen under the Google Ideas aegis, suggesting what the “do” in “think/do tank” actually means.

Cohen’s directorate appeared to cross over from public relations and “corporate responsibility” work into active corporate intervention in foreign affairs at a level that is normally reserved for states. Jared Cohen could be wryly named Google’s “director of regime change.”

According to the emails, he was trying to plant his fingerprints on some of the major historical events in the contemporary Middle East. He could be placed in Egypt during the revolution, meeting with Wael Ghonim, the Google employee whose arrest and imprisonment hours later would make him a PR-friendly symbol of the uprising in the Western press. Meetings had been planned in Palestine and Turkey, both of which—claimed Stratfor emails—were killed by the senior Google leadership as too risky.

Looking for something more concrete, I began to search in WikiLeaks’ archive for information on Cohen. State Department cables released as part of Cablegate reveal that Cohen had been in Afghanistan in 2009, trying to convince the four major Afghan mobile phone companies to move their antennas onto U.S. military bases. In Lebanon, he quietly worked to establish an intellectual and clerical rival to Hezbollah, the “Higher Shia League.” And in London he offered Bollywood movie executives funds to insert anti-extremist content into their films, and promised to connect them to related networks in Hollywood.


If the future of the Internet is to be Google, that should be of serious concern to people all over the world—in Latin America, East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet Union and even in Europe—for whom the Internet embodies the promise of an alternative to U.S. cultural, economic, and strategic hegemony.

A “don’t be evil” empire is still an empire.

Extracted from When Google Met Wikileaks by Julian Assange published by OR Books. Newsweek readers can obtain a 20 percent discount on the cover price when ordering from the OR Books website and including the offer code word NEWSWEEK.

Riaz Haq said...

United States President Barack Obama telephoned Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday to inform him about his decision to visit India as chief guest of the Indian Republic Day.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had planned to visit Pakistan in September this year just before he had paid his maiden visit to India but had to cancel the trip at the eleventh hour because of volatile political situation in Pakistan.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had made India the destination of his first foreign visit in May 2013 but had proceeded straight to Pakistan after concluding his India visit.
Nawaz Sharif expectedly adopted the me-too approach and asked Obama to visit Pakistan also but Obama did not make any commitment. Sample the quote of the Pakistan Prime Minister's Office: "The President (Obama) also assured the Prime Minister (Sharif) that he would undertake a visit to Pakistan at an early date, as soon as the situation normalizes in the country."
And if Japan promised $35 billion investment in India for the next five years when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Japan in August-September, China too has committed to invest $45.6 billion for economic corridor in Pakistan over the next six years when Sharif recently visited China.
The political message emanating from this is clear: the world is still hyphenating India with Pakistan.
Pakistan may be going through the self-destruct mode with myriads of problems. Top foreign leaders may be avoiding visiting Pakistan for security reasons and political instability and top cricket playing countries may have refused to play cricket in Pakistan for the same reasons.
And yet the fact is that the world is still cajoling Pakistan. The world is careful not to annoy Pakistan while improving relations with India. Why? The world is not much interested in forging trade and economic ties with Pakistan, a $250 billion economy, but deeply conscious of Pakistan's highly strategic location and Pakistan's biggest USP of being the only Islamic nation armed with a nuclear bomb.
One must notice a subtle new trend with regard to Pakistan over the years. When it comes to important foreign officials visiting Pakistan the number of security and intelligence officials is far more than the number of presidents or prime ministers or ministers visiting Pakistan. The reason is obvious. Foreign officials visit Pakistan largely to discuss their own country's safety and security, at risk mainly because of Pakistan's numerous sins of omission and commission.
That's why one would hardly hear about Pakistan attending major world summits like G20, G8 Plus, ASEAN, EAS (East Asia Summit) or BIMSTEC etc simply because Pakistan is not a member. Leaders of Pakistan have been so uni-focal on needling India by raising and nurturing terror machines for decades that they did not realise how much the world has changed and progressed in the past two decades.
For decades, the Pakistani military has indoctrinated its politicians as well as the masses as to how India is the biggest threat to the survival of their nation. What has been happening in Pakistan for the last one decade is absolutely different. Terrorist and fundamentalist outfits, flourishing in Pakistan, have emerged as the biggest threat to Pakistan.
More people have been killed in Pakistan by home-grown terrorists than in all the India-Pakistan wars till date. This is a fact which is now being acknowledged even by the powerful Pakistan Army also.
Against this backdrop, it should be embarrassing for India to be bracketed with a country like Pakistan. But the diplomatic heft which Pakistan had till about 2001-02 is no longer there.
Therefore, Nawaz Sharif may have urged Obama to raise the Kashmir issue with India during his January visit but in the heart of his hearts Sharif would know full well that nothing much is going to happen on this front...

Riaz Haq said...

TOI on India's Pakistan obsession:

NEW DELHI: India may be pounding Pakistan heavily on the border in retaliation to its continued ceasefire violations, but minister of state (MoS) for home Kiren Rijiju feels New Delhi does not need to be hawkish on Pakistan and must let go of its obsession with the neighbour.

Speaking at an event in the capital, Rijiju said India should retain its image of a soft state as that is its strength. He, however, qualified his statement with the caveat that it should, however, be firm in defending itself.

The minister was speaking at the second RV Raju Memorial Lecture organized by National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Speaking after senior journalist Shekhar Gupta, who delivered the lecture titled 'Pakistan and Neighbourhood—A Hawkish Attitude', Rijiju said, "We are a natural soft power. We don't need to be hawkish (vis-a-vis neighbourhood). We should not tinker with our international image of being a soft power."

Speaking on Pakistan, Rijiju said, "I think Indians and Pakistanis should not be obsessed with each other. If we need to be a superpower, we need to let go of our Pakistan obsession."

He, however, said that "our apparatus does not need to be soft" and that India should be firm in defending itself.

Riaz Haq said...

India’s Finance Mnister Arun Jaitley forecast exactly a month ago that the country’s GDP growth rate will be 7.5 percent this year. He attributed this entirely to the dynamism of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi formed after the 2014 parliamentary poll. “During the last few years we had fallen off the radar, our growth had slowed down, our priorities were blurred and the world was accusing us of policy paralysis. Finally people of India decided to bring about a change”, Jaitley said in a thinly veiled condemnation of the previous government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, an acclaimed economist himself, who is credited with piloting the country’s free-market reforms.

“This year we will close at 7.5 percent GDP growth and next year hopefully higher,” Jaitley predicted. Jaitley is a no-nonsense lawyer by profession and is a successful politician. To be sure, as India’s finance minister, his words carry weight within the country and abroad.

They influence even the IMF, which has since acclaimed that India is poised to “overtake” China in growth. That’s a tongue-in-cheek remark, of course, because who doesn’t know that China’s economy has outstripped India’s by four decades or more already and comparing India with China is no more than a folk tale. But then, perceptions form the stuff of our day-to-day life and most of us Indians are not trained economists.

Unsurprisingly, the widespread perception in India today is that the country has finally caught up with China in growth and development. For a country smitten by a keen sense of envy bordering on rivalry vis-a-vis China, this easily transmutes as the stuff of national pride. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi suddenly looks ten feet tall.

Even President Barack Obama took note, which was only to be expected since the lure of the fastest growing market in the world is there on his mind always. The Indian market is important for boosting US exports and creating jobs in America and it could not have escaped Obama’s highly focused mind.

Obama probably thought it will be a clever move on his part to pen a panegyric on Modi. There couldn’t be a better way of flattering Modi, after all. And, believe it or not, amidst all that ugly, exasperating wrangle with the US Congress over the Iran deal, Obama was quietly writing a panegyric on Modi!

But nothing works well for Obama thse days and the Time magazine’s piece by the US president on Modi, which appeared yesterday, however, turned out to an overkill that might even embarrass Modi, who usually likes flattery.

Obama probably thought it pays to cater to Modi’s vanities, since he knows Modi can take arbitrary decisions and that can be useful for promoting American business interests. But he stepped way out of line by bracketing Modi with Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. The point is, like what the famous song supposedly about Sophia Loren says, Obama never looked inside Modi’s head.

Obama’s panegyric most certainly inspired Jaitley to exceed his own month-old prophecy. He now believes that India has the potential to make nine to 10 percent growth rate “a new normal.” He made this prophecy at a US-India business conclave organized by a Washington-based think tank.

If Obama gets to hear what Jaitley just announced, maybe, he will now do an oil painting of Modi. Anything is possible. Obama has a focused mind.

To be sure, Jaitley has proved to be a past master in the ancient Indian rope trick. He has done a masterly job in stringing the public opinion and duping Obama by creating the misperception that under Modi’s magical touch, Indian economy has turned the corner and is zipping ahead.

Riaz Haq said...

New conflict over #India parade in Woodbridge, Edison: #Pakistan group wants one, too via @MyCentralJersey

Several years ago, the annual India Day Parade became an annual source of controversy when dueling Indian-American groups began fighting over permits for the summer festival on Oak Tree Road, a mostly South-Asian neighborhood straddling the border of Edison and the Iselin section of Woodbridge.

The conflict came to a head in 2011, when the Oak Tree Indian Business Association got a parade permit from Edison and the India Business Association got a permit from Woodbridge.

The parades were on the same day, so each group held its parade on either side of the border as many from the sidelines shook their heads in disbelief.

Now comes a new conflict and the potential to further inflame tensions between parade organizers and officials in both townships.

The Edison-based Pakistan-American Council wants to celebrate its own home country's independence from the British. And they want to do it on Oak Tree Road.

India celebrates its independence on Aug. 15, a day after Pakistan. The problem is that Woodbridge has a law banning more than one parade that closes streets within a 60-day period.

Sam Khan, an executive committee member of PAC, says Edison already has granted the group a permit.

"We don't want to make it political," Khan said Tuesday. "There are so many Pakistanis in the community. They want to do an Independence Day celebration, too. What is the reason for this ordinance?"

Township spokesman John Hagerty said the Township Council adopted the rule many years ago on the request of business owners who did not want street closures keeping customers away.

While Khan insists that the parade's 1,000 marchers could be escorted down the road with police escort without having to close side streets, township officials disagree.

"There is no way an event could be held on Oak Tree Road or surrounding streets with that many people without a street closure, without police patrols, without traffic controls," Hagerty said.

Khan said his group planned to address the Township Council during a public meeting Tuesday.

Last month, Edison gave a nine-year permit to the India Business Association so that the group could better organize and market the event.

But Hagerty said Woodbridge will continue to award permits each year on a first-come, first-served basis.

That means the Pakistani group could edge out the Indian parade next year.

"I would hope not," Hagerty said. "That remains to be seen."

Riaz Haq said...

#Facebook tips #India and #Pakistan into NUCLEAR WAR of words … via @theregister

Zuckerberg carelessly wades into political conflict with map of India that ignores Kashmir

Ever keen to flirt with the apocalypse, Mark Zuckerberg has provoked a nuclear flame-war on Facebook by posting a map celebrating the "countries connected" by his controversial project, which features an outline of India which excludes the politically disputed territory of Kashmir.

Kashmir has been the site of political conflict since 1989. The conflict has been violent and its belligerents are the Indian state and an informal coalition of insurgents, some of whom are seeking accession to Pakistan while others promote Kashmiri independence.

The trouble started after Zuckerberg posted an infographic celebrating the Skynet-like reach of his project, which features an outline of India without the political hot-potato province of Kashmir.

One of the first comments on Zuck's post is from an Akhil Dev, saying "Great Job, Please correct the Indian MAP on this Picture, Kashmir is Missing." A later comment offered an updated version of the infographic for Zuckerberg to replace his with.

And then the nuclear flame war began, mostly in the replies to Akhil Dev's comment, all mediated through the beautiful prism of a shared second-language and social network slang.

Raheem Ibrahim offered "With lots of respect Dear Mr. Mark just correct the map otherwise world war 3 will begin from here on wards, .thereafter Planet will become without Pakistan ....#INDIAN."

Asim Mehmood stated "Kashmir is a part of Pakistan.....India had forcefully occupied Kashmir in 1948 against the will of people of Kashmir....India is killing kashmiris on daily basis who r fighting for freedom.....India has kept 8 lac army in Kashmir to depress the FREEDOM MOVEMENT OF KASHMIRIS..."

We will spare you the more vulgar comments.

The project is a partnership between Facebook and several mobile phone companies to provide "affordable access" to specific internet services. It has been criticised for its thorough non-compliance with net neutrality standards. It has also received plenty of criticism for refusing to allow HTTPS connections.

Riaz Haq said...

A black cat passing by the crossroad can stop hundreds of people what a RED LIGHT on traffic signal has failed to do for long time!!

India is a country where, on the streets, everyone seems to be in a hurry, but no one is ever on time.

India is the only country where people fight to be termed 'backward.'

Being one in a million in India means that there are 1241 Indians just like you.

In India , you don't cast your vote, you vote your caste.

The ABC of what sells in India - Astrology, Bollywood and Cricket - in that order.

In India , it's okay to piss in public, but not kiss.

In the West people have sex and hope for a marriage In India people marry and hope for sex.

India doesn't have roads with potholes, but potholes with a bit of road around them.

In India to become rich you have to become a politician, to become a politician you have to be rich.

The most crucial part of a traffic signal in India without which it doesn't work at all, is a policeman.

The four most crucial pillars of Indian Society are – Religion, Caste, Corruption and Hypocrisy.

The only country where the reserved enjoy more benefits than the deserved ones

India is a place where the only rights people get are the last rites.

India is the only country where it takes 15 minutes to reach a place by walking, whereas it takes an
hour by car to reach the same place.

In India , there are two types of roads: Under Construction and Under Repair.

In India , the Capitalists are greedy and the Socialists are envious.

Where people worship Goddess Durga, but kill a girl even after a healthy delivery.

Where an Olympic shooter gets 3,000,000 (crore) rupees for a gold medal, but a soldier who dies getting shot while fighting with another nation gets a mere 100,000 (lakh).

India is a place where rules are made to be broken and roads are built to be dug.

Is your land in danger of being acquired by the government?

Don't worry, keep calm and build a temple there.
India is the only country in the world where more fighter pilots are killed and more fighter jets destroyed during peace than in a war.

In India , any time is a tea time. India is always on a list of developing countries.

In India , you don't drive on the left of the road, you drive on what is left of on the road.

Riaz Haq said...

The Power of Social Media: Emboldened Right-Wing Trolls Who are Attempting an Internet purge -

Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in a “town hall” meeting at the headquarters of Facebook in Menlo Park, California. At the event, Modi answered pre-screened queries from the audience and Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive officer of Facebook. During this conversation, the prime minister heralded the power of social media as a vehicle for democracy and good governence, before adding that it “allows for accountability instantly.” Modi declared, “I ask all world leaders not to avoid social media and to connect to it.” However, in his eulogy to the power of the internet, the prime minister appeared to have forgotten about an aspect of social media that doesn’t lend itself to either a functional democracy or accountability. It is a spectre that has been haunting journalists in India: that of internet trolls.

The internet is no stranger to trolls—users who post inflammatory, threatening or disruptive messages—with Twitter itself having admitted to not having proper policies in place to protect its users from harassment. The Indian Twitter troll, however, is an oddly specific creature. This troll belongs to a motley digital mob comprised of Hindutva converts, misogynists, minorities, Congress baiters and “sickular”—a pejorative portmanteau coined for those percieved as having a secular point of view—haters, all united by their atavistic chest-thumping bhakti—devotion—for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The use of social networking platforms by the BJP demonstrates their agility in using technology for the cause of “Hindu Rashtra.” Behind the apparently toxic rants of the Hindutva troll, there is a method and design. It is interesting to note that Modi hosted the 150 social networkers at his official residence on the occasion of the launch of the Digital India Campaign in Delhi. The prime minister could have easily taken up a digitally-enabled education or health project to kick-start his campaign; instead, he chose to meet people who have become a byword in online terror, hate and misogyny—a symbolism ignored by most, the press and the victims included. With Modi pushing for deepening of digitisation, the size and virtual power of his abusive online army will only increase in the days ahead in its political-ideological battle for a “Congress-mukt” Bharat, cold comfort for the likes of Ravish Kumar, Sagarika Ghose and the rest. -

Riaz Haq said...

#India's strange preoccupation with #Pakistan. India needs to look within for homegrown extremism #Modi via @dwnews

In 2003, on a flight to Hong Kong, I had a Frenchman and an Indian sitting behind me. Both must have been in their 30s, as was I. Their conversation throughout the flight was quite audible, especially when the Frenchman begun to groan about the time that he had spent in Mumbai (in the early 1990s).
He was telling the Indian how he (and his wife) got caught up in a riot that had erupted after mobs of Hindu extremists attacked and destroyed an old mosque in the Indian city of Ayoudhia in 1992.
"It was horrific," he told the Indian. "The rioters were attacking people with sticks and I even saw some of them trying to set a Muslim man on fire."
"The rioters were Hindu?" the Indian asked.
"Well, they were attacking Muslims, so they must have been," the Frenchman replied. "My wife refuses to go back to India now," he added, laughingly.
I concentrated a bit more on the conversation because I was now eagerly waiting for the Indian's response.
And voila: "Usually such riots are funded and instigated by the Pakistanis," came the explanation.
One of my eyebrows went north and I hoped the Frenchman would ask exactly how Pakistan could be involved in starting riots in India.

He didn't. He just went on about his ordeal, and how his wife had made them take the very next flight back to Paris.
"It's worse in Pakistan!" the Indian shot back. "It (Pakistan) is destabilizing the whole region."
"Maybe, but we were in India," the Frenchman reminded him.
I couldn't help but turn around and intervene in the conversation: "Can I just pop in, and speak to my South Asian brother here?" I asked the Frenchman. He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
Addressing the Indian in Urdu (which is quite similar to Hindi), I said: "Bhai (brother), have you ever been to Pakistan?"
He replied in English: "No, but my father went back in the 1970s. Are you Pakistani?"
"Yes," I replied, "and I am flying to Hong Kong to whip up a riot among the Indian community there."
The Frenchman snickered and so did the Indian. I raised my small green can of Carlsberg, and added: "Here's to the usual mutual accusations and counter-accusations between India and Pakistan. And to the freedom of Kashmir and Khalistan!"
This time the Indian did not snicker, but the Frenchman did, knowing well that I was being entirely sarcastic. The Indian raised his paper cup full of white wine and spouted out his own toast: "And here's to Pakistan stopping being such a nuisance and becoming a part of India again."
I smiled: "Well, it all depends on how the Indian community in Hong Kong treats our French friend here after I incite them to burn a mosque in downtown Hong Kong."
The Frenchman laughed out loud: "So, it's true. This is exactly how we (in France) perceive the way Pakistanis and Indians engage with one another."
I agreed: "Absolutely!"

Riaz Haq said...

#Vietnam's high PISA scores cause a stir. #Vietnames kids rank near top; #India kids at bottom on PISA tests …

Vietnam's performance in the latest round of the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) has created a stir among education experts and policymakers around the world. The country's 15-year...

When compared to student performance in India, a country with similar per capita GDP, 47% of grade 5 pupils were unable to subtract even two-digit numbers.

Please credit and share this article with others using this link: View our policies at and © Post Publishing PCL. All rights reserved.

Riaz Haq said...

India's obsession: India defining itself as "Not Pakistan"

Why #Indian identity would collapse without the existence of #Pakistan. #India #BJP #Modi #Hindutva … via @scroll_in

... the very definition of a failed state is an artificial category. Pakistan has failed as a state on many fronts – to curb terrorism, to provide shelter and food to its most vulnerable and to protect the rights of minorities, but then in other categories it was as much a functioning state as any other. Despite the horrible law and order situation, the private sector still survived, schools, hospitals and universities functioned, and people continued to live their lives in an ordinary manner. One could make a similar argument for India if one were to focus on certain aspects of the failures of the state. The Gujarat riots of 2002, farmer suicides, and the law and order situation in the North East and Kashmir are features that could identify India as a failed state. But that does not fit the broader framework of Shining India, of a secular and democratic India, as opposed to a battle-ridden, military-run Pakistan. Terror attacks and bomb attacks in India are perceived as an anomaly in the framework of shining India whereas similar attacks in Pakistan are perceived as fitting a larger narrative of Pakistan failing.

Something similar happened to me when I visited Delhi a year later for a conference. Shashi Tharoor was to make the first speech for this peace conference. It was an immaculate speech which lay the entire blame of India-Pakistan conflict on Pakistan. There was one line that stayed with me. He said, “Pakistan is a thorn on India’s back,” essentially implying that India wants to move on and progress whereas Pakistan is an irritant. I noticed a similar sentiment at the Bangalore Literature Festival that I recently visited. One of the most popular sessions at the festival was by the eminent historian Ramachandra Guha. The historian talked about how there has been a rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India similar to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan. One of the members of the audience asked the question that given that India is surrounded by the “fundamentalist” Pakistan and Bangladesh, isn’t it inevitable that India would become fundamentalist.

Surprisingly, Ramachandra Guha's session also tapped this concept of depicting Pakistan as the “barbarian” other to depict India as “civilised”. I am not asserting that Ramachandra Guha said these words and, perhaps, neither was this his intention, but it felt as if he was unconsciously operating under the same framework in which India tends to look at Pakistan and defines itself as a secular liberal democracy. He was talking about the freedom of speech in India and explaining how that space was diminishing. Then, casually, he mentioned that India, despite the worsening situation, is still much better than Pakistan in terms of freedom of speech.

My intention is not to defend Pakistan or assert that Pakistan has freedom of speech. Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world, where dissenting opinions are often shot down or shut up in other ways. However, there are still various nuances which I feel a lot of intellectuals in India tend to overlook. There is an entire tradition of challenging the state and the establishment in Pakistan that is usually ignored when such statements are made. One needs to visit the work of people like Najam Sethi, Khalid Ahmed, Hamid Mir and Ayesha Siddiqa to understand that there is a space in Pakistan, and has always been, to challenge the establishment. There is no doubt that the situation, like in India, is changing rapidly. But the point that I am trying to make is that Pakistan is not the “barbaric” other that it is usually understood as, compared to India the “tolerant” one. The truth is both countries have more in common than they would like to admit, yet they continue to view the other as its exact opposite.

Riaz Haq said...

#US @StateDept considers re-hyphenation of #India, #Pakistan. The Hindu …
This will be a reversal of the de-hyphenation policy started by Bush.

Seven years after the State Department was restructured to ‘de-hyphenate’ U.S. relations with India and with Pakistan, it is considering a reversal of the move.

De-hyphenating refers to a policy started by the U.S. government under President Bush, but sealed by the Obama administration, of dealing with India and Pakistan in different silos, without referring to their bilateral relations. It enabled the U.S. to build closer military and strategic ties with India without factoring in the reaction from Pakistan, and to continue its own strategy in Afghanistan with the help of the Pakistan military without referring back to India.

‘Active’ consideration

A proposal to re-merge the office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) back with the Bureau of South and Central Asia (SCA) that handles India, the rest of the subcontinent and Central Asian republics is under “active” consideration, senior-level sources told The Hindu.

The re-merger proposal is ostensibly timed with the international troops pullout from Afghanistan.

Ministry of External Affairs officials would not confirm whether they had been informed of the move they described as an “internal” matter of the U.S. government. However, asked about the possible impact of bringing India and Pakistan under one bureau again, the former National Security Adviser, Shiv Shankar Menon, said: “It looks like a re-hyphenation of the India-Pakistan equation that is not in our interest. Our relationship has grown because it stood on its own, as it is important that bilateral relations with India won’t be overshadowed by its relations with the region.”

The de-hyphenation policy of the U.S. was crystallised when the SRAP was set up in 2009 soon after President Barack Obama had taken over, with the appointment of Richard Holbrooke.

At the time, Mr. Holbrooke had hoped to include India in his mandate, and even to discuss the resolution of Kashmir as a means to extract greater cooperation from Pakistan. India had strongly opposed the move.

According to a diplomatic cable published by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks which was accessed by The Hindu, the then External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, had objected to this when U.S. Ambassador David Mulford paid a farewell call on him.

“He expressed his deep concern about a special envoy with a broad regional mandate that could be interpreted to include Kashmir, and shared his hope that the U.S.-India relationship not be viewed through the lens of regional crises,” Mr. Mulford recorded of Mr. Mukherjee’s message. (

Subsequently, Mr. Holbrooke remained only engaged with NATO and Af-Pak affairs until his death some years later, and was followed by subsequent SRAPs. “Even when U.S. officials wanted to discuss the situation in Afghanistan or Pakistan with us, we would insist they didn’t travel to us via Islamabad,” a senior MEA official working on the Americas desk in those years told The Hindu.

Mr. Menon, who was Foreign Secretary at the time, had also repeated the message of de-hyphenating the ties in his talks with the then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, other cables from WikiLeaks record. “We didn’t want to be party to U.S. actions in Afghanistan at the time,” explained Mr. Menon.

“We don’t believe in talking to the Taliban, for example, so how would we manage that conversation.”