Friday, August 26, 2022

Indian Diplomat Sharat Sabharwal on Pakistan's "Resilience", "Strategic" CPEC, China-Pakistan "Nexus"

Retired Indian diplomat Sharat Sabharwal in his recently published book "India's Pakistan Conundrum"  disabuses his fellow Indians of the notion that Pakistan is about to collapse. He faithfully parrots the familiar Indian tropes about Pakistani Army and accuses it of sponsoring "cross-border terrorism". He also writes that "Pakistan has shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity".  "Pakistan is neither a failed state nor one about to fail", he adds. He sees "limitations on India’s ability to inflict a decisive blow on Pakistan through military means". The best option for New Delhi, he argues, is to engage with Pakistan diplomatically. In an obvious message to India's hawkish Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he warns: "Absence of dialogue and diplomacy between the two countries carries the risk of an unintended flare-up". Ambassador Sabharwal served as Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan from 2009 to 2013. Prior to that, he was Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad in the 1990s.

India's Pakistan Conundrum by Sharat Sabhrawal Book Cover

In a 30-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire to discuss his book, Sabharwal said it is not in India’s interests to promote the disintegration of Pakistan. “The resulting chaos will not leave India untouched”. He further argued that Indians must disabuse themselves of the belief that India has the capacity to inflict a decisive military blow on Pakistan in conventional terms. “The nuclear dimension has made it extremely risky, if not impossible, for India to give a decisive military blow to Pakistan to coerce it into changing its behavior.”  He said Indians must disabuse themselves of the belief that they can use trade to punish Pakistan. “Use of trade as an instrument to punish Pakistan is both short-sighted and ineffective because of the relatively small volume of Pakistani exports to India.” 

Below are some key excerpts of "India's Pakistan Conundrum" by Ambassador Sharat Sabhrawal: 

Pakistan Not Failed State: 

"In conclusion, it can be said that Pakistan is neither a failed state nor one about to fail in the foreseeable future. Further, so long as the army remains a largely professional and disciplined force, having at its disposal Pakistan’s rapidly growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, the probability of a change in Pakistan’s external boundaries would remain very low. Therefore, a policy premised on the failure or disintegration of the Pakistani state would hinge on unsound expectations. However, because of the various factors examined in the previous chapters, Pakistan will continue to be a highly dysfunctional state with widespread lawlessness". 

Pakistan's Remarkable Resilience:

"Pakistan has shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity – evidenced most tellingly by its recovery following the humiliating defeat in 1971. It has recovered significantly from the terror backlash, which followed Musharraf’s U-turn in the wake of 9/11. Fatalities in terror violence that mounted sharply from 2004 onwards, reaching the peak of 11,317 in 2009 (civilians, security forces personnel and terrorists), were down to 365 in 2019. Similarly, fatalities in suicide attacks, which reached the peak of 1,220 in 2010, were down to 76 in 2019".

China Pakistan "Nexus"

"China too reacted adversely to the above Indian move (article 370 abrogation), accusing India of continuing to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally amending its domestic laws and urging it to be cautious in its words and deeds on the border issue. Subsequently, it repeatedly called for peaceful resolution of “Kashmir dispute” left over from colonial history, based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements, thus echoing Pakistan’s position on the subject.  Pakistan’s questioning of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India and its policy of cross-border terrorism did not stem from the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under the Indian constitution and have outlasted its abrogation. The Pakistani dimension of India’s Kashmir problem and the Pakistani threat to the security of this sensitive region are still very much alive".

Strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC):

"China’s reaction to the Indian move and its subsequent aggressive actions in eastern Ladakh have added to that threat. Keen to ensure the safety and security of its strategic CPEC investment, China could in the normal course be expected to encourage a solution based on freezing the existing  territorial reality between India and Pakistan in J&K. However, with the downturn of its own relationship with India, it may be tempted to sustain and bolster Pakistan’s hostility. Equally, India’s strategic planners may be tempted not to give any comfort to China on the CPEC until a degree of stability is restored to the India-China equation, disturbed seriously by China’s aggressive behaviour in eastern Ladakh. Overall, the external environment for the security and stability of Jammu and Kashmir has worsened. This makes it all the more important for India to address the internal dimension of its Kashmir conundrum. India’s challenge is to ensure peace in J&K, not only in the immediate, but durable peace, for the failure to do so would continue to invite external meddling". 

Consequences of Pakistan's Disintegration: 

"Should India work to break up Pakistan? A body of opinion in India recommends that India should be proactive in causing the disintegration of Pakistan. For the reasons mentioned in Chapter 6, a policy premised on disintegration of the Pakistani state would hinge on unsound expectations. However, let us examine, for the sake of argument, the consequences of heightened turmoil in/break up of Pakistan for India. The unwise policies of Pakistan’s rulers have already resulted in considerable turbulence there. Though the Pakistani state uses terror against India, it is calibrated  by its instrumentalities. Heightened chaos in Pakistan leading to collapse of the state authority will not leave India untouched. Let us not forget that Pakistan has continued to pay a heavy price for having caused instability in its neighbour – Afghanistan – something I repeatedly recalled to my Pakistani audiences. Collapse of the state will also present India with a humanitarian crisis of a gigantic proportion, with the terrain between the two countries offering an easy passage to India for those fleeing unrest in Pakistan. At the height of terrorism in the Pakistani Punjab in 2009–10, some of my interlocutors in Lahore were candid enough to say that in the event of a Taliban takeover, they  would have no option but to run towards India. Break up of Pakistan could lead to a civil war amongst the successor states or worse still among various warring groups vying for influence, as was the case after collapse of the state authority in Afghanistan, entailing the undesirable consequences mentioned above and perilous uncertainty concerning the ownership of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Alternatively, India may be faced with a hostile Pakistani Punjab in possession of nuclear weapons. In either case, it will be bad news for India".

Related Links:

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India-Pakistan Ties: Who's at Fault For Failing to Resolve Disputes?

India: A Paper Elephant?

Jaswant Singh on Indian Foreign Policy's "Strategic Confinement"

Vast Majority of Indians Believe Nuclear War Against Pakistan is Winnable

Kautilya Doctrine Dominates India's Pakistan Policy

US and China Vying For Influence in Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia Vs India-Japan-US

Pakistan Rising or Failing: Reality vs Perception

US DoD 1999 Forecast: "Pakistan Disappears By 2015"

China Pakistan Economic Corridor

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channe


Air said...

". Alternatively, India may be faced with a hostile Pakistani Punjab in possession of nuclear weapons. In either case, it will be bad news for India".

So no different from today. I say let's try it (economic squeeze), what's the harm?

Squeezing pakistan economically is a lot more comprehensive than simply not trading with them... it means negotiating to get them excluded from preferential trade deals, subsidies to industries that directly compete with Pakistani exports, strategic infrastructure building to gain marketshare in countries that would be natural markets for Pakistan, goading Pakistan into a military building that they cannot afford etc etc - all of this is a lot more complex than simply "not trading with Pakistan".

In either case, it's too late now - Pakistan already sealed its fate when it signed the CPEC loan deal. All India can do now is play its part in nudging it over the edge.

Anonymous said...

^ Exactly. A stable USSR with 80,000 nukes wasn’t in the US interest.A stable prosperous Pakistan isn’t in our interest.

My biggest fear though is that some of these RSS idiots actually believe in this Akhand Bharat nonsense.This is our biggest civilisation all threat in 10 -15 years when we are 5-10 times richer than Pakistan these people may actually request for reunion East Germany style.

The fools evidently can’t do basic arithmetic and see that an Akhand Bharat today will be 45%+ Muslim and a Muslim majority within a generation.

Good luck surviving in a Sunni Muslim majority country.Hint look up the fate of Christians in Lebanon after Lebanon went from Christian to Muslim majority.

Multiply that by 10 and that would be the fate of Hindus in South Asia in such an Akhand Bharat!

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts of Sabharwal's book review by Indian Maj Gen Jagatbir Singh, VSM (Retd):

Ambassador Sharat Sabharwal has had the unique distinction of managing complex relations between India and Pakistan at crucial junctures, as he has served there both as Deputy High Commissioner from 1995 to 1999, and as High Commissioner from 2009 to 2013, where he has been witness to various facets of Pakistan—both negative and positive. His book, “India’s Pakistan Conundrum”, published by Routledge is, therefore, written with the knowledge and insight of a practitioner but also with the wisdom of his depth of knowledge and understanding of the multiple dilemmas that shape the relationship. The book, therefore, brings a much needed clarity on key issues that shape this critical relationship.


The book is laid out in two parts, with Part I examining the nature of the Pakistani State and how it impacts India to include chapters on religious extremism, the economy, which depends on an external patron, the Army, which is described as a “state within a state”, the ethnic fault lines, what drives Pakistan hostility towards India and “Whiter Pakistan”.
Part II covers key issues of India-Pakistan relations and India’s policy options. This has chapters on all the major issues to include Jammu & Kashmir, terrorism, trade, other outstanding issues which include Siachen and Sir Creek, our shared heritage, engaging with the real power centre, water, MFN and Pakistan’s fault lines, the nuclear dimension, isolating Pakistan, the issue of dialogue versus no dialogue and the way forward in managing the relationship. Each chapter has been deeply researched with detailed quotes from various sources to back his observations.
Pakistan has defined itself as the antithesis of India. It craves parity with India in spite of the differences in size, potential and comprehensive national power. In this quest it has “turned itself into a rentier state, ready to do the bidding of an external patron, willing to underwrite its ambitions vis a vis India financially and militarily even at the cost of the interests of its people”.
While writing about religious extremism, the author clearly brings out the changes that have taken place in the Constitution, which included declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims as well as the traditional Shia-Sunni divide and the divide within the Sunnis between Deobandis and Barelvis.

The author writes that Pakistan “has shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity” and as long as the Army remains “a largely disciplined and professional force” having at its disposal a rapidly growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, it’s unlikely to fail in the near future.
Part II is the key, covering India-Pakistan relations to include J&K, which is always placed on a higher pedestal in any discussion.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Air

"So no different from today. I say let's try it (economic squeeze), what's the harm?"

I have two questions for you
1: how exactly would you do that?

and more importantly,

2: what color is sky on your planet?

G. Ali

Zamir said...

"Exactly. A stable USSR with 80,000 nukes wasn’t in the US interest.A stable prosperous Pakistan isn’t in our interest"

Actually, India's existence is not in the interest of any
country in South Asia. Just ask little brother Nepal how they feel about India.
G. Ali

Air said...

I have two questions for you
1: how exactly would you do that?

I think FATF grey-listing was a good strategy, it kept Pakistan's non-chinese FDI low (<$2B/yr) in a time when FDI was booming wordwide as supply chains re-oriented away from China. Now they are trying to take Pakistan out of the grey list - we should play some videos of Imran and SMQ praising OBL to remind them who they are dealing with. It was also enough to nearly cause a Forex crisis.

I think getting Pakistan out of the GSP+ arrangement should be the next move, citing blasphemy laws, forced conversions, and state indoctrination against religious minorities. Let's see how long Pakistan's textile exports last in that condition.

Official recognition of the 1971 genocide should be the next priority - along with reparations for the victims.

Other than that - most of Pakistan's issues are self inflicted, India's ability to influence the world is marginal in comparison.

Anonymous said...

.... and exactly who is going to do that? As you said India's influence is marginal.

Also, I am still waiting for the answer to my second question.

G. Ali

Riaz Haq said...

Air: "when we are 5-10 times richer than Pakistan these people may actually request for reunion East Germany style"

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride....

Pakistanis are less miserable than Indians in the economic sphere, according to the Hanke Annual Misery Index (HAMI) published in early 2021 by Professor Steve Hanke. With India ranked 49th worst and Pakistan ranked 39th worst, both countries find themselves among the most miserable third of the 156 nations ranked. Hanke teaches Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Hanke explains it as follows: "In the economic sphere, misery tends to flow from high inflation, steep borrowing costs, and unemployment. The surefire way to mitigate that misery is through economic growth. All else being equal, happiness tends to blossom when growth is strong, inflation and interest rates are low, and jobs are plentiful". Several key global indices, including misery index, happiness index, hunger index, food affordability index, labor force participation rate, ILO’s minimum wage data, all show that people in Pakistan are better off than their counterparts in India.

Given the growing inequality in India, an average Indian will remain poor, unemployed and hungry as he/she is today. Having more billionaires will not help an average India.

In spite of the headline GDP growth figures highlighted by the Indian and world media, the fact is that it has been jobless growth. The labor participation rate (LPR) in India has been falling for more than a decade. The LPR in India has been below Pakistan's for several years, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Even before the COVID19 pandemic, India's labor participation rate was around 43%, lower than its neighbors'. Now it has slipped further to about 40%. Meanwhile, the Indian government has reported an 8.4% jump in economic growth in the July-to-September period compared with a contraction of 7.4% for the same period a year earlier. This raises the following questions: Has India had jobless growth? Or its GDP figures are fudged? If the Indian economy fails to deliver for the common man, will Prime Minister Narendra Modi step up his anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim rhetoric to maintain his popularity among Hindus?

India ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020. Other South Asians have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place.

Riaz Haq said...

India's misery index is 35.8 and Pakistan's 32.5...meaning Indians are worse off than Pakistanis.

India has ranked at 136 in the annual UN-sponsored happiness index, ranking even below Pakistan, which is at the 121 spot.

Anonymous said...

Please stop polluting his mind with facts.

Btw, on his planet wishes are horses.

G. Ali

Air said...

Of course you won't publish my last post where I computed the index for 2022, but here's the 2021 index.
LOL 2021 Misery Index is out: Pakistan 29.6, India at 14.9

But of course course you will use the 2020 data because India had a sharp lockdown there.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi says bhajans (#Hindu religious songs) will cure #malnutrition. Over 35% of #Indian children are stunted, 19.3% wasted & 32.5% underweight.
BJP rule has seen undernourished population increase from 14.9% to 15.5% of population via @TheWireScience

In the 92nd episode of ‘Mann ki Baat’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said conducting bhajans can be part of the solutions to reducing malnutrition.
Cultural and traditional practices are not harmful. But it is in bad faith to make them part of habits that sideline tested and approved solutions to crucial welfare issues.
The statement also distracts from the fact that in Modi’s time as prime minister, India has come to account for a quarter of all undernourished people worldwide

There is much evidence in the public domain that says the availability, accessibility and affordability of good-quality food is crucial to improve the nutritional and health status of India’s people. There is nothing, however, about bhajans.

Many scholars and scientists have often criticised Prime Minister Modi for his irrational claims on many occasions. Reminiscent of his “taali, thali and Diwali” campaign as the COVID-19 pandemic was gaining strength, Modi’s comment on bhajans only distracts from the dire importance of effective public health measures – even as the rate of improvement of some important indicators have slid in his time at the helm.

Cultural and traditional practices are not harmful. But it is in bad faith to make them part of habits that sideline tested and approved solutions to crucial welfare issues.

In his monologue, Modi narrated a story of how people of a community in Madhya Pradesh each contribute a small quantity of grains, using which a meal is prepared for everyone one day a week. However, he shifted the focus at this point to devotional music in bhajan–kirtans – organised under the ‘Mera Bachha’ campaign – instead of dwelling on the role of Indigenous food cultures. This is counterproductive.

More malnourished children

India’s National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) and Comprehensive National Nutrition Surveys have documented the high prevalence of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency among India’s children, adolescents and women. The recently published NFHS-5 results reported a high prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweightedness among children younger than five years and that they have declined only marginally in the last five years.


A public-health approach to malnutrition requires us to pay attention to a large variety of socioeconomic conditions. In this regard, while many of Prime Minister Modi’s other comments in his monologue are well-taken, especially about public participation, neither the need for context-specific interventions nor for evidence-based policies are served by misplaced allusions to bhajans and kirtans.

Air said...

India under Modi also has the world's largest food support program, which is a remarkably effective policy due to self targeting.

The policy provides 10 kg of rice (5kg free, 5kg at highly subsidized rate) and 1 kg pulses to every family in India with a BPL card.

As a result of this policy India's $1.9 poverty line adjusted for foodgrain input was less than 1%, and it's $3.2 PPP poverty line was estimated at 15% in 2019 and 18% in 2020 during lockdown.

Your goal is to simply pull down India and mock Modi rather than learning about the poverty alleviation programs that are genuinely working in the country. And because you never discuss the techniques that work your country never makes progress.

Riaz Haq said...

Air: "As a result of this policy India's $1.9 poverty line adjusted for foodgrain input was less than 1%, and it's $3.2 PPP poverty line was estimated at 15% in 2019 and 18% in 2020 during lockdown"

India's "food energy intake" approach for calculating poverty is outdated and misleading. Humans also have other basic needs like shelter, clothing, transport etc. Pakistan changed its poverty calculation to "cost of basic needs" back in 2009-10.

Riaz Haq said...

Mani Shankar Aiyar: What #India's #Modi Has Not Recognised About #Pakistan: ITS RESILIENCE AND NATIONALISM … via @ndtv

Note: Mani Shankar spent some time in Pakistan posted as a diplomat, serving as India's first consul-general in Karachi from 1978 to 1982. He's a former federal cabinet minister and current member of Rajya Sabha

"unlike numerous other emerging nations, particularly in Africa, the Idea of Pakistan has repeatedly trumped fissiparous tendencies, especially since Pakistan assumed its present form in 1971. And its institutions have withstood repeated buffeting that almost anywhere elsewhere would have resulted in the State crumbling. Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state", Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage, linguistic and regional groups pulling and pushing, sectarian factions murdering each other, but the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge. The disintegration of Pakistan has been predicted often enough, most passionately now that internally-generated terrorism and externally sponsored religious extremism are consistently taking on the state to the point that the army is so engaged in full-time and full-scale operations in the north-west of the country bordering Afghanistan that some 40,000 lives have been lost in the battle against fanaticism and insurgency.

"And yet," as was said on a more famous occasion, "it works!" Pakistan and her people keep coming back, resolutely defeating sustained political, armed and terrorist attempts to break down the country and undermine its ideological foundations. That is what Jaffrelot calls its "resilience". That resilience is not recognized in Modi's India. That is what leads the Rathores and the Parrikars to make statements that find a certain resonance in anti-Pakistan circles in India but dangerously leverage the impact on Pakistani public opinion of anti-India circles in Pakistan. The Parrikars and the Saeeds feed on each other. It is essential that both be overcome.

But even as there are saner voices in India than Rathore's, so also are there saner - much saner - voices in Pakistan than Hafiz Saeed's. Many Indians would prefer a Pakistan overflowing with Saeeds to keep their bile flowing. So would many Pakistanis prefer an India with the Rathores overflowing to keep the bile flowing. At eight times Pakistan's size, we can flex our muscles like the bully on the school play field. But Pakistan's resilience ensures that all that emerges from Parrikar and Rathore are empty words. India is no more able than Pakistan is to destroy the other country"

Riaz Haq said...

As the world lurches through the growing pains of massive geopolitical change, the US’ relationship with India will increasingly take center stage. Washington likes to see itself as providing a geopolitical center of gravity that is inherently attractive to nations like India, especially against regional competitors such as China. As the US is about to discover, however, India and China have a shared ambition about who should dominate the Pacific in the coming century, and it doesn’t include the US. Op Ed by Scott Ritter

On Aug. 19, India’s minister of external affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, gave a speech at a university in Thailand where he stated that relations between India and China were going through “an extremely difficult phase” and that an “Asian Century” seemed unlikely unless the two nations found a way to “join hands” and start working together.

For many observers, Jaishankar’s speech was taken as an opportunity for the US to drive a wedge between India and China, exploiting an ongoing border dispute along the Himalayan frontier to push India further into a pro-US orbit together with other Western-leaning regional powers. What these observers overlooked, however, was that the Indian minister was seeking the exact opposite from his speech, signaling that India was, in fact, interested in working with China to develop joint policies that would seek to replace US-led Western hegemony in the Pacific.

Struggle for Leadership

More than six decades ago, then-US Senator John F. Kennedy noted that there was a “struggle between India and China for the economic and political leadership of the East, for the respect of all Asia, for the opportunity to demonstrate whose way of life is the better.” The US, Kennedy argued, needed to focus on providing India the help it needed to win that struggle — even if India wasn’t asking for that help or, indeed, seeking to “win” any geopolitical contest with China.

Today, the relationships between the US, India and China have matured, with all three wrestling with complex, and often contradictory, policies that are simultaneously cooperative and confrontational. Notwithstanding this, the US continues to err on the side of helping India achieve a geopolitical “win” over China. One need only consider the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” conceived in 2007, but dormant until 2017, when it was resurrected under US leadership to bring together the US, Japan, Australia and India in an effort to create a regional counterweight to China’s growing influence.

There was a time when cooler heads cautioned against such an assertive US-led posture on a regional response to an expansive, and expanding, Chinese presence in the Indo-Pacific region. This line of thinking held that strong Indian relationships with Tokyo and Canberra should be allowed to naturally progress, independent of US regional ambitions.

These same “cool heads” argued that the US needed to be realistic in its expectations on relations between India and China, avoiding the pitfalls of Cold War-era “zero-sum game” calculations. The US should appreciate that India needed to implement a foreign policy that best met Indian needs. Moreover, they argued, a US-Indian relationship that was solely focused on China would not age well, given the transitory realities of a changing global geopolitical dynamic.

The Asian Century

The key to deciphering Jaishanker’s strategic intent in his Thailand comments lay in his use of the term “Asian Century.” This echoed the words of former Chinese reformist leader Deng Xiaoping, who, in a meeting with former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, declared that “in recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view.” Deng went on to explain that unless China and India focus their respective and collective energies on developing their economies, there could, in fact, be no “Asian Century.”

Riaz Haq said...

The Asian Century

The key to deciphering Jaishanker’s strategic intent in his Thailand comments lay in his use of the term “Asian Century.” This echoed the words of former Chinese reformist leader Deng Xiaoping, who, in a meeting with former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, declared that “in recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view.” Deng went on to explain that unless China and India focus their respective and collective energies on developing their economies, there could, in fact, be no “Asian Century.”

While Washington may not have heard the subtle implications of Jainshankar’s words, Beijing appears to have done so. Almost immediately after the text of the Indian minister’s comments was made public, the spokesperson for China’s foreign minister declared that both India and China “have the wisdom and capability to help each other succeed rather than undercutting each other.” The takeaway from this exchange is that while both China and India view their ongoing territorial disputes as problematic, they are able and willing to keep their eye on the bigger picture — the ascendancy of the so-called “Asian Century”.

The fact is that India and China have been working toward this goal for some time now. Both are critical participants in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which envisions the growth and empowerment of a trans-Eurasian economic zone that can compete with the economies of the US and Europe on a global scale. Likewise, India and China are actively cooperating within the framework of the Brics economic forum, which is emerging as a direct competitor to the Western-dominated G7.

While it is possible for India to navigate a policy path balancing the US and China in the short term, eventually it will need to go all in on China if its aspirations for an “Asian Century” are ever to be met. This narrative is overlooked by those in the US pursuing zero-sum policies with India when it comes to China.

Given the destiny inherent in the collective embrace of an “Asian Century” by India and China, the US could well find itself on the outside looking in when it comes to those wielding influence in the Pacific going forward. One thing is for certain — the “American Pacific Century” which encompasses the period between the Spanish-American War and the post-Cold War era, where US military, political, and economic power reigned supreme, has run its course. Whether or not India and China will be able to supplant it with an “Asian Century” is yet to be seen. But one thing is for certain — the strategic intent is certainly there.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer whose service over a 20-plus-year career included tours of duty in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control agreements, serving on the staff of US Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during the Gulf War and later as a chief weapons inspector with the UN in Iraq from 1991-98. The views expressed in this article are those of the author.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s #flood crisis could be an opportunity for real change. Devastating floods have also hit #Florida. Considering the global nature of #climate challenge, at some point #US & #Pakistan must find the courage to work together on "Green Marshall Plan"

This week, Americans are understandably focused on the hurricane-related flooding in Florida, which is causing tragedy for thousands. Yet there is little attention in the United States to the fact that Pakistan has been flooded since mid-June, a catastrophe that is still causing unspeakable suffering for tens of millions.

Both of these crises owe much to the same phenomenon — climate change. But aside from some limited aid, there’s scant U.S.-Pakistan cooperation on long-term solutions. That has to change, according to Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who was in the United States this week pitching his proposal for a “Green Marshall Plan.” In meetings with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and others, Zardari argued for a way those countries most responsible for climate change can help those countries most affected — and, in turn, help themselves.

It’s a big idea, and there are reasons for skepticism. But considering the global nature of the climate challenge, at some point the United States and Pakistan must find the courage to work together. In the process, the two countries might find a way back to being true allies, which would benefit both sides and balance China’s rising influence in the South Asia region.

“We have to find the opportunity in this crisis,” Zardari told me. “There are two ways of us going forward. We can do this dirtier, badly, in a way that will be worse for us and worse for the environment, or we can try to build back better in a greener, more climate-resilient manner.”

Zardari’s call for a “Green Marshall Plan” is meant to evoke America’s historical penchant for pursuing its enlightened self-interest. The idea also plays into President Biden’s own Build Back Better World concept. The theory is that Western government support for private-sector investment in climate-resilient, ecologically sustainable infrastructure in Pakistan would redound to the benefit of Western industry and help mitigate the future climate-related crises that are sure to come.

Florida will have several days of rain. In Pakistan, it rained for more than three months, submerging one-third of the country in a body of water than can be seen from space. The high floodwaters have created a cascade of problems, devastating Pakistan’s agriculture, manufacturing, trade and public health sectors.

Floods are almost a perennial occurrence in Pakistan, but this year’s continuing disaster is uniquely cataclysmic, impacting more than 33 million people (more than Florida’s entire population), including 16 million children and more than 600,000 pregnant women, according to the United Nations.

The flood and its aftereffects also risk throwing Pakistan right back into the economic crisis it was clawing its way out of. Pakistan was already on the hook to pay back $1 billion of the $10 billion it owes the Paris Club by the end of this year. Islamabad also owes some $30 billion to China. Now the country is being forced to borrow billions more to deal with the current situation.

The real question, Zardari said, is not whether the international community will come through with short-term aid and debt relief. The challenge is for the world to realize that Pakistan’s flood crisis won’t be the last or the worst, meaning the international response must take a far broader view.

In a world where covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine war and the worldwide economic slowdown are commanding the attention of policymakers in Western capitals, the bandwidth for new and expensive ideas is narrow. Zardari knows it’s a tough sell.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s #flood crisis could be an opportunity for real change. Devastating floods have also hit #Florida. Considering the global nature of #climate challenge, at some point #US & #Pakistan must find the courage to work together on "Green Marshall Plan"

In a world where covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine war and the worldwide economic slowdown are commanding the attention of policymakers in Western capitals, the bandwidth for new and expensive ideas is narrow. Zardari knows it’s a tough sell.

“I understand that the concept of a Green Marshall Plan might not have many players. But that doesn’t change the fact that I believe it genuinely is the solution,” he said. “We have to pause our geopolitical differences and unite to face this existential threat to mankind.”

The concept of investing in green infrastructure in a coordinated, global way is not new; but under the current plans, it’s not happening. Global promises to invest $100 billion in the Green Climate Fund for developing countries by 2020 have been broken.

And while humanitarian aid is not primarily about strategic competition, it is worth noting that China has its own project called the Green Silk Road, and that Beijing is pushing propaganda in Pakistan claiming it is more generous than the United States (which is not true). The need to counter Chinese influence was a big reason the White House hosted leaders of 14 Pacific Island nations this week, all of which are suffering disproportionately from climate change.

In Washington, Pakistan has become something of a pariah, following years of disagreements over Afghanistan and other issues. But the end of that war provides an opening for a rethink. To be sure, Pakistan’s democracy looks shaky at times — but then again, so does America’s. The two allies still share many long-term interests, and saving the planet should be at the top of the list.

Riaz Haq said...

Book Review by Amit Baruah

Stability in Pakistan will serve India better, argues a former diplomat
Sharat Sabharwal offers a sober and realistic assessment of Pakistan’s trajectory and attitude towards India in India’s Pakistan Conundrum: Managing a Complex Relationship. The book, written by a former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, who had also served as Deputy High Commissioner, is a welcome addition to strategic literature on how to deal with Islamabad.

Sabharwal, who looks at the nature of the Pakistani state in the first part of the book and India’s bilateral policy options in the second, likens dealing with Pakistan as a game of snakes and ladders. Every time you climb a ladder and feel you are making progress, the snake intervenes and you are lower down the rung than before.

The former diplomat believes that Pakistani security agencies and their terror proxies made sure that the relationship hit one of the longer snakes each time the bilateral relationship with India appeared to be looking up. Holding that Pakistan would continue to be a “highly dysfunctional state with widespread lawlessness”, Sabharwal, unlike many of his more hawkish colleagues, rightly feels that the break-up of Pakistan is not in India’s interests.

Points of tension
Increased chaos in Pakistan, the book argues, would not leave India untouched. Pakistan, Sabharwal says, continues to pay a heavy price for having “caused instability” in Afghanistan. A Pakistani state collapse would also present India with a humanitarian crisis of “gigantic proportion”.

Referring to a dossier on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks he received as High Commissioner from the then Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the veteran diplomat points out that the Pakistani government admitted that the Mumbai strikes were planned, financed, and committed by a “defunct” Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). “I often told my Pakistani interlocutors that if a defunct group could commit such a large act of terror, I wondered what a live terrorist outfit based in Pakistan could do,” he writes. Expressing dismay at the way Pakistan enabled the accused in the 26/11 terror strikes to go free, Sabharwal is correct in his diagnosis that there is no “silver bullet” to put an end to terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

Call for vigil
“Therefore, India will have to continue to count on its counter-terror capabilities and deterrence, combined with turning as much heat as possible on Pakistan in conjunction with its international partners,” he says. Sabharwal examines closely the claim that the February 2019 missile strike at a Pakistani “terror camp” called Islamabad’s nuclear bluff and makes the point that the possibility of escalation was built into the Pakistani response. He poses “the” question: can a responsible Indian leader authorise a “consequential conventional military strike” on the assumption that it will not escalate to the nuclear level by accident or otherwise? My answer would be a resounding no. Imagine the Pakistani response if Kargil had been done in reverse.

Sabharwal takes the view that direct engagement with Pakistan’s Army and its leadership would not lead to behavioural change given its hostility towards India. However, this reviewer would argue that maintaining multiple — front and back channels with the Army — would at least provide a window into the thought processes of the day in this key institution. In sum, the book under review provides a practitioner’s insight into tackling a different country and relationship. A must-read for those who follow India, Pakistan and their many challenges.

Riaz Haq said...

How China and Pakistan Forged Close Ties
Though ties between China and Pakistan began in the wake of the 1962 Sino-Indian clash, China did not embrace the relationship. By the mid-2000s, the shift in U.S.-India relations and China's own global ambitions made Pakistan a critical partner for China.

Article by Manjari Chatterjee Miller

On a visit to China almost a decade ago, I had a conversation with a Beijing-based Chinese foreign policy analyst. The subject of China’s relationship with Pakistan came up and the analyst laughed ruefully. Although he acknowledged Pakistan saw the bilateral relationship as a valuable friendship, he implied that was not how China saw it. China was in some ways reluctant, I gathered, even to be seen as cultivating a friendship with Pakistan. At the time, the idea of taoguang yanghui (hide your strength and bide your time) still held sway in China, and the Chinese government was not only wary of being seen as an international spoiler state but also siding with one. China saw no need to trumpet the relationship, and Pakistan needed China more than the other way around.


Pakistan is now an important partner for China. The relationship raises the specter that India may, in the future, face a two-front war, a scenario that would have been implausible a decade ago. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and embassies in South Asia often tweet sympathetically about the relationship—including on topics such as Pakistan’s welcome of the Chinese-sponsored Global Security Initiative, China-Pakistan football matches, China’s flood aid, and pandemic cooperation. At an MFA press conference earlier this year, the spokesperson gushed that, “the bond of friendship and mutual assistance between the Chinese and Pakistani people is stronger than gold, and the two countries’ iron-clad friendship is deeply rooted in the people and boasts strong vitality.”

This is not to say the relationship is problem-free. China’s wariness about Islamist militants in Xinjiang and their links to Pakistani militants, its concern about Chinese citizens working in Pakistan who have been the targets of terror attacks, the sporadic opposition in Pakistan to CPEC projects, and China’s caution about weighing in on Kashmir (despite its recent condemnation of India’s abrogation of Article 370 and Wang Yi’s reference to the territory at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting) all continue to be sticking points. Yet this is no longer just a relationship, but a genuine partnership. India should take note.

Riaz Haq said...

Abhishek Jha
Germany calls for UN's role in Kashmir issue.

German FM

"Germany also has role and responsibility with regard to the situation in Kashmir, Therefore we support intensively the engagement of the United Nation, to find the peaceful solutions in the region."


German call for U.N. role in J&K is injustice to terror victims: India - The Hindu

The government took strong objection to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s call for the “engagement of the United Nations” in the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in response to a question during a joint press conference with Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto in Bonn on Friday. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called such comments a “grave injustice” to victims of terrorism.

In her remarks, Ms. Baerbock said Germany supports U.N. role in resolving the Kashmir dispute, praised the LoC ceasefire agreement of February 2021, and also called for a “political dialogue” between India and Pakistan.

“Germany has a role and responsibility with regard to the situation of Kashmir. Therefore, we support intensively the engagement of the United Nations to find peaceful solutions in the region,” Ms. Baerbock said after bilateral talks with Mr. Bhutto in the German capital, where he said he had raised the Kashmir issue.

“There are tensions as [Mr. Bhutto] described, so we encourage Pakistan and we encourage India to follow the track of the ceasefire, to follow the track of the United Nations, and to intensify the political dialogue, and also the political and practical cooperation in the region,” she added.

Reacting sharply to the wording of Ms. Baerbock’s comments, the MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Saturday said that the “role and responsibility” of any “serious and conscientious member of the global community” was to call out international, cross-border terrorism.

“The Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has borne the brunt of such a terrorist campaign for decades. This continues till now,” Mr. Bagchi said referring to the unfinished prosecution of Pakistan-based terrorists involved in the Mumbai 26/11 attacks. “When states do not recognise such dangers, either because of self-interest or indifference, they undermine the cause of peace, not promote it. They also do grave injustice to the victims of terrorism,” he added.

Agreeing with Ms. Baerbock on the U.N. role, Mr. Bhutto said that peace in South Asia is not possible without the “peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the U.N. resolutions, in accordance with international law,” and even sought to draw a parallel between “unilateral actions in Ukraine” and “unilateral actions in Kashmir”, in reference to the government’s August 2019 reorganisation of the State.

The comments came a day after a speech by Home Minister Amit Shah in Baramullah in Kashmir, where he ruled out a dialogue process with Pakistan, saying the Modi government would not talk to Pakistan, but to “the people of Kashmir” only.

Riaz Haq said...

Riaz Haq has left a new comment on your post "US-Pakistan F-16 Deal: Indian EAM Jaishankar Throws a Tantrum":

German call for U.N. role in J&K is injustice to terror victims: India - The Hindu

Earlier this week, New Delhi had also conveyed objections to Washington over the visit of the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan to Muzaffarabad, and the U.S.’s reference to the area under Pakistani occupation as “Azaad Jammu Kashmir”, indicating concern within the government about global references to the Kashmir dispute. In June, during a visit to Islamabad, Ms. Baerbock had also spoken about supporting the United Nations role, which India rejects, and the need to ensure that “human rights are being guaranteed” in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the MEA had not responded to the comments at the time.

Since the Simla Agreement of 1972, when India and Pakistan agreed to resolve their disputes bilaterally, New Delhi has not recognised the role of the United Nations in Jammu and Kashmir, and the issue has remained largely dormant at the U.N. On August 16, 2019, days after the government’s move to reorganise Jammu and Kashmir and amend Article 370, the U.N. held its first discussion on Kashmir in decades, albeit behind closed doors, where the U.N. Secretary-General had called for “restraint” from India and Pakistan. Ms. Baerbock’s comments on the U.N. role, made twice this year, have hence raised concerns and met with objections from New Delhi.

Riaz Haq said...

Gen Bajwa in DC, US envoy, German FM statements on Kashmir, show why Pakistan can’t be isolated.

By Shekhar Gupta

The US ambassador visits Pakistan occupied Kashmir & refers to it as ‘Azad Jammu & Kashmir’, German foreign minister says UN could play a role in Kashmir & Pakistan’s Army Chief spends nearly a week in Washington. In episode 1093 of Cut The Clutter Shekhar Gupta explains why Pakistan cannot be isolated or ignored and where it stands right now.


Pakistan is our most important neighbor

We must focus on Pakistan

We can not ignore Pakistan in India because the world can not ignore Pakistan

The Western world has an intrinsic relationship with Pakistan which doesn't go away

The West does not see Pakistan as so useful to them today and yet Pakistan can not be isolated

You can see all the indications that Pakistan is not isolated

A lot of (Indian) TV channels say Pakistan is isolated but the evidence doesn;t support it

Pakistan FM has visited Washington and met his counterpart Tony Blinken

Pakistan Army Chief has received a warm welcome at the US Defense Dept and met US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Bajwa matters more than the Pakistan Defense Minister. Nobody knows his name.

US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome, a career diplomat has visited Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and called it Azad Kashmir...Azad means free.

When the chips are down in the region Pakistan is the ally Americans reach out to

The US does not want Pakistan to drift to China

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has spoken about Kashmir...the K word. She has asked for the UN to help solve the Kashmir issue.

Bajwa is not a warmonger. He wants to normalize ties with India. He wants to trade with India. He doesn't want Faiz Hameed to succeed him. He used to be the ISI chief and took credit for the Taliban victory in Afghanistan. Do the Americans have leverage here?

Where does Pakistan's unique power come from? Why can't Pakistan be ignored? Why can't Pakistan be isolated?

The Indian public needs to understand it.

Pakistan is too big in terms of population, too powerful militarily, too Muslim, too nuclear and too well located to be isolated.

Pakistan has the 5th largest population and its population is growing fast. It could soon exceed Indonesia to become the largest Muslim nation in the world.

Pakistan has the 5th strongest military in the world.

In terms of nuclear weapons, Pakistan has the 4th largest nuclear arsenal in the world.

Pakistan is too well located to be isolated. It has geo-strategic location. Pakistan is the western gateway to China. Pakistan opened China's ties with US. And then helped the US defeat the Soviet Union.

The factors that made Pakistan such a strong ally to US still exist. Don't blame the Pakistanis for it.

India is not willing to be commit to an alliance with the US.

Imran Khan tried to change Pakistan's foreign policy to be more like India's but he failed.

Riaz Haq said...

New Delhi Senior serving and retired Indian and Pakistani officials participated in a conference organised recently by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IIS) in Oman with the stated aim of encouraging engagement between the two countries, people familiar with the matter said.

The 15th edition of the Southern Asia Security Conference saw the officials from the two sides participating in “off the record” sessions that were held behind closed doors. The people cited above made it clear that there were no bilateral meetings between the two sides though there were extensive discussions during the various sessions of the conference.

The conference, which was held in Muscat during September 17-18, saw the participation of an Indian delegation that included the external affairs ministry’s pointperson for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, joint secretary J P Singh, and at least two former officials from the external intelligence setup who continue to be active in tracking Pakistan-related issues, the people said.

The Pakistani side was represented by former foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, the special representative for Afghanistan, Mohammad Sadiq, and Brig Zulfiqar Ali Bhatty, the director of strategic communications in Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Haneef Atmar, the foreign minister in the former Afghan government led by president Ashraf Ghani, also participated in the conference, the people said.

Indian officials did not respond to a request for comment on the participation in the Southern Asia Security Conference, which is usually organised by UK-based IISS in collaboration with the Near East South Asia Center (NESA) of the US National Defense University in Washington.

The conference was held at a time when there are virtually no bilateral contacts between India and Pakistan, with relations having plummeted since New Delhi scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August 2019. At the time, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India and sent back the Indian high commissioner in Islamabad.

The joint secretary for the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran desk in the external affairs ministry has participated in past editions of the Southern Asia Security Conference along with serving and retired diplomats and intelligence officials. The conference resumed in 2021 following a hiatus in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

IISS states on its website that its South and Central Asian defence, strategy and diplomacy programme aims to “encourage contact and engagement between the security establishments and strategic communities of India and Pakistan to help resume an India-Pakistan peace process”. It further states that relations between the two countries “hit a 20 year low in 2019 and have been damaged by a decade with no peace dialogue”.

The people said some of the discussions at this year’s conference centred on the possibility of resumption of talks between New Delhi and Islamabad, though some participants thought this was unlikely because Pakistan is expected to go into a national election in 2023 and there will be a leadership change in the Pakistan Army in November.

Issue such as Kashmir, counter terrorism, Pakistan’s support for pro-Khalistan elements and normalisation of trade also came up in the discussions. The participants reportedly noted that the revival of the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) in 2021 had helped improve the security situation, the people said.

Riaz Haq said...

US leverages India-Pakistan differences for its own interest: Sharad Sabharwal

US's recent overtures to Pakistan, seen in Washington's decision to support Islamabad's F-16 fighters, are part of a strategy to play on differences between India and Pakistan, says former Indian envoy to Pakistan Sharad Sabharwal in an exclusive interview to Mint. By pursuing a reset with Pakistan, America is also signalling its displeasure with India's policy on Ukraine. While India and Pakistan will not resolve their differences in the foreseeable future, Sabharwal believes a growing constituency in Pakistan understands the need for a stable relationship with India. Ambassador Sabharwal also speaks of his latest book, "India's Pakistan Conundrum".

How do we make sense of the state of play in the India-Pakistan relationship? And is it a state of affairs that we can live with?

It's a situation that we have seen on some occasions earlier. That is: no war, no peace. After Uri, there had been a sharp decline in the relationship and the ceasefire had almost unraveled on the Line of Control. That was restored in February 2021. Since then, there has been a degree of calm in the relationship. There was an expectation that some more steps may be taken like upgrading the relationship back to high commissioners level or the resumption of trade. However, this has not been possible largely because of the Pakistani side’s position on India’s abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir. Pakistan has painted itself into a very tight corner by asking India to withdraw this move. That's not going to happen and certainly not in response to a Pakistani demand. That's where things stand at the moment.

Your book, India’s Pakistan Conundrum, dives into why Pakistan is the way it is: its ethnic divisions, its failing economy and the dominance of the armed forces in national life. What are the three things Indians must understand about Pakistan’s history but don’t?

I think there is largely a good appreciation in India of Pakistan's history. Sometimes in our justified anger against Pakistan, we tend to exaggerate these things. For example, we in India broadly know how the civil-military equation in Pakistan came about. Indians know Pakistan’s ethnic faultlines, the dominance of Punjabis and religious extremism.

There are one or two things for which there has not been complete appreciation in India. The first is the reasons why Pakistan's economy keeps on breaking down. It's just a matter of satisfaction in India when Pakistan reaches this stage every now and then. What I point out in my book is that this is going to happen time and again, unless Pakistan changes its internal and external orientation. Internally, lots of privileges are given to certain groups while externally, Pakistan has an adversarial relationship with a much bigger and better endowed neighbour in India. On religious extremism, we focus more on terrorism against India. But, we need to realise that this is a phenomenon which has been encouraged actively in Pakistan, both by politicians serving their own ends and by the army.

There is much talk about a US-Pakistan reset. The F-16 sustainment package was one example of Washington and Islamabad working together. Should New Delhi be worried?

The US-Pakistan relationship has been largely transactional, whether it was the Cold War Alliance or Pakistan becoming a frontline state on the War on Terror after 9/11. The Americans needed Pakistan’s strategic location and Pakistan needed an external patron to underwrite economically and militarily, its ambitions vis a vis a much bigger neighbour like India.

Riaz Haq said...

US leverages India-Pakistan differences for its own interest: Sharad Sabharwal

This relationship came to an end when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan and the American left in complete state of disarray. The relationship was then blocked primarily because Imran Khan didn't agree to cooperate with their counterterrorism work in Afghanistan. That seems to be changing with the new government and so another transactional relationship seems to be developing. Americans have all along leveraged India-Pakistan differences to promote their relationship with their own interests in the region.

There are also increasing reports of military supplies, especially artillery shells, from Pakistan to Ukraine. The Americans would be very satisfied with that. There is also the regional angle. One part of this is China and the Americans keep on hoping they can wean Pakistan away from China. However, that's not going to happen. Lastly, it's also a signal to India in the context of India's position on Ukraine and buying more oil from Russia.

Your book does not pull any punches in its description of the challenges facing India and Pakistan. Yet, you see some silver linings emerging in Pakistan. Could you tell us what they are?

These are some positive developments that have taken place in Pakistan over recent years. These are still not strong enough to counter the entrenched interests, especially Pakistan’s security establishment, but we must take note of them. These trends must grow if Pakistan is ever to become a sensible state with which we can have a normal relationship.

First, we must realise that there is a large constituency in Pakistan which realises the value of a stable relationship with India. It's not because they've suddenly come to like India. They simply realise that it's good for their own interest. This constituency includes large segments of the business and industry, who tend to gain in open trade with India. It also includes politicians of major political parties who are capable of winning elections on their own without intervention of the army. It also includes members of the civil society including some sections of the academic community and the media. Second, the national discourse in Pakistan has become far more introspective today than ever before. During the 1990’s, there was too much self-righteousness in their national discourse. That is all gone now. Pakistanis suffered a terror backlash from the forces they reared. I was in the country and saw what was happening to Pakistan at that time.

There is also a very widespread realisation amongst the Pakistanis regarding the growing gap between India and Pakistan and that it is not going to be closed with old policies.

A prominent Pakistani diplomat once wrote a book about India-Pakistan ties and titled it “Why can’t we just be friends?". In your opinion, will that ever happen?

I don’t think it will happen in the foreseeable future. Positive steps can be taken. A ceasefire is already in place and has held since February 2021. At some stage, trade will resume and diplomatic relations may be upgraded back to High Commissioners level.

But we can’t have a completely normal relationship as long as Pakistan is a dysfunctional state. One side of the government tries to improve the relationship while the other side spikes it. My conclusion is that factors like Pakistan’s civil-military imbalance, which cause this dysfunction, are immutable in the foreseeable future. Miracles can always happen but a reasonable assessment would say that complete normalisation is ruled out for now. That doesn't mean we don't try to manage this relationship by stabilising it as much as we can.

Riaz Haq said...

In spite of Modi's best efforts, Pakistani culture still finds a lot of admirers in India.

Although Indian government has banned airing of Pakistani content on Indian TV channels, Pakistani food, fashion, music and entertainment are still popular in India. Examples include Shan masala, dresses by fashion designers like Sana Safinaz, Coke Studio, HUM TV dramas, films like Maula Jatt etc etc.

A lot of Pakistani music and entertainment are available in India and elsewhere via steaming platforms like Spotify and Netflix which younger audiences enjoy.

Pakistani products like Shan masala and women's dresses can be purchased online via Amazon and other e-commerce sites.

Please check out the following:

"Why Pakistan's Shan masalas have a cult following in India"
The Pakistani packaged masala brand has many fans in India, despite a somewhat erratic supply chain. What makes it so popular?

"The Pop Song That’s Uniting India and Pakistan"

"10 landmark Pakistani shows that were hugely popular in India"

Riaz Haq said...

After India vows to wrest back PoK, China vows to help Pakistan protect sovereigntyXi asked Sharif to ensure security of the Chinese in Pakistan, and agreed to advance CPEC with greater efficiency

Read more at:

“China will continue to firmly support Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty, territorial integrity, development interests and dignity, and in achieving unity, stability, development and prosperity,” Xi told Sharif, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese government.


After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in August 2019 initiated the process to strip J&K of its special status and to reorganize the erstwhile state into two Union Territories, China had joined Pakistan to oppose New Delhi’s move and run an an international campaign against India. China also stepped up its aggression along the disputed boundary with India in eastern Ladakh in April-May 2020, resulting in a military stand-off, which has not been fully resolved yet.


India has been opposed to the CPEC, a flagship project of the BRI, as it passes through its territories illegally occupied by Pakistan. Just a day before the Xi-Sharif meeting, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday tacitly reiterated New Delhi’s concerns, stating that connectivity projects should be carried out respecting the sovereignty of the nations. India also stayed away from the BRI perceived as China’s bid to expand its geostrategic influence.

Riaz Haq said...

Optimising CPEC
Muhammad Amir Rana Published November 6, 2022

PAKISTAN is finally getting back on the right diplomatic track. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s successful visits to Riyadh and Beijing have created an air of optimism regarding economic revival in the country. Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s attempts to normalise the country’s relationship with the West using channels in London and Washington are also helping to reduce the external pressure which had been looming over the country for the last several months. That Pakistan is no longer on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) ‘grey list’ is also a good omen.

During the prime minister’s visit to Beijing, China had assured full support for Pakistan’s efforts to stabilise its economy and financial situation. The Pakistani prime minister was the first foreign leader to travel to China since President Xi Jinping won his third term as supreme leader. That has political and strategic significance as well, which is also needed to boost Pakistan’s economic confidence. Earlier, during the prime minister’s visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia reportedly pledged an investment package worth $10 billion for Pakistan. Islamabad is hopeful that the kingdom will resuscitate the mega oil refinery project, which was shelved due to some political complications that had arisen between the two states during the rule of the PTI government.

Gen Bajwa has been successful, for the most part, in repairing the country’s trust deficit with the West, mainly the US, which is essential for generating regional geopolitical balance for Pakistan. These are positive developments which the coalition government and the establishment could use to gain domestic support, as the ongoing political crisis has put them both in a defensive position.

Pakistan had lost its balance in its foreign relations over the last few years. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, and the cipher controversy propagated by former prime minister Imran Khan were the two key events that aggravated that imbalance and caused bitterness in Pakistan’s relationship with the US and the West.

Two other factors caused diplomatic stress for Pakistan. First, Pakistan’s decision to join the short-lived alternative Muslim leadership initiative led by Turkey, Iran, and Malaysia annoyed its friends in the Gulf. Secondly, the Chinese did not like the attempts by the outgoing PTI government to renegotiate the costs of CPEC projects and establish the CPEC Authority. Mr Khan presumed that most of the CPEC projects were scarcely negotiated or done so in a skewed manner. The establishment also believed he could convince China to renegotiate CPEC projects as Malaysia had done the same. However, our power elites ignored the fact that sovereign guarantees were involved in the projects. This reorientation discourse slowed down the CPEC projects.

Mr Khan was not solely responsible for making errors of judgement. It was a collective mistake on the part of the power elites who were overconfident that they could manoeuvre a relationship with their allies in the East and West, despite the country’s weak economy and the crippling impact of the Covid-19 impact on the global economy. The establishment wanted complete control, and Mr Khan joined the venture to remove the tag of PML-N from the CPEC projects.

Riaz Haq said...

China Has India Trapped on Their Disputed Border

Beijing’s military and infrastructure advantage has transformed the crisis and left New Delhi on the defensive.

The widening power gap between India and China—military, technological, economic, and diplomatic—now constrains New Delhi’s options on the border. It also raises tough questions for India’s geopolitical partnerships, such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (known as the Quad), and its aggressive approach toward Pakistan. The border crisis will hang over India’s decision-making for the foreseeable future.

The risk of an accidental military escalation between Asia’s most populous countries—both nuclear powers—has increased significantly since 2020. This will continue unless Modi and Xi find a new modus vivendi. Establishing guardrails in the relationship will require political imagination and an honest appraisal of relative strengths; failing that, New Delhi faces tough geopolitical choices. It has so far eschewed any security-centric step with the Quad that could provoke Beijing, but murmurs from its partners about reticent Indian policy are bound to get louder. Meanwhile, India’s reliance on Russia for military equipment and ammunition now falls under a cloud of suspicion. And an unstable border with China prevents India from targeting Pakistan, a tactic that has proved politically rewarding for Modi.


This marks the third straight winter that around 50,000 Indian reinforcements will spend in Ladakh’s inhospitable terrain in the northern Himalayas, warding off an equal number of Chinese troops stationed a few miles away. Despite intermittent dialogue between the two militaries, Indian Army Chief Gen. Manoj Pande recently confirmed that China has not reduced its forces at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Chinese infrastructure construction along the border is “going on unabated,” he said—confirmed by independent satellite imagery and echoed by the latest U.S. Defense Department report on China. Pande said the situation is “stable but unpredictable.” That unpredictability has become structural.


India’s military and political leaders now confront a reality at the border that should have jolted them into serious action: China has a distinct advantage over India, which it has consolidated since 2020. By investing in a long-term military presence in one of the most remote places on Earth, the PLA has considerably reduced the time it would need to launch a military operation against India. New military garrisons, roads, and bridges would allow for rapid deployment and make clear that Beijing is not considering a broader retreat. The Indian military has responded by diverting certain forces intended for the border with Pakistan toward its disputed border with China. It has deployed additional ground forces to prevent further PLA ingress in Ladakh and constructed supporting infrastructure. Meanwhile, New Delhi’s political leadership is conspicuous in its silence, projecting a sense of normalcy.

Beijing refuses to discuss two of the areas in Ladakh, where its forces have blocked Indian patrols since 2020. In five other areas, Chinese troops have stepped back by a few miles but asked India to do the same and create a no-patrolling zone. This move denies India its right to patrol areas as planned before the border crisis began. The PLA has flatly refused to discuss de-escalation, in which both armies would pull back by a substantive distance. The question of each side withdrawing its additional troops from Ladakh is not even on the agenda. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson rejected any demand to restore the situation along the LAC as it existed before May 2020. The PLA continues to downplay the severity of the situation, instead emphasizing stability in its ties with India.

Riaz Haq said...

Goldman Sachs analysts Kevin Daly and Tadas Gedminas project Pakistan's economy to grow to become the world's sixth largest by 2075. In a research paper titled "The Path to 2075", the authors forecast Pakistan's GDP to rise to $12.7 trillion with per capita income of $27,100. India’s GDP in 2075 is projected at $52.5 trillion and per capita GDP at $31,300. Bangladesh is projected to be a $6.3 trillion economy with per capita income of $31,000. By 2075, China will be the top global economy, followed by India 2nd, US 3rd, Indonesia 4th, Nigeria 5th and Pakistan 6th.


The Path to 2075

Country GDP % Growth Rate by decades 2000-2009 to 2070-2079

Pakistan 4.7 4.0 5.0 6.0 5.9 5.3 4.7 4.0 3.4

China 10.3 7.7 4.2 4.0 2.5 1.6 1.1 0.9 0.5

India 6.9 6.9 5.0 5.8 4.6 3.7 3.1 2.5 2.1

Korea 4.9 3.3 2.0 1.9 1.4 0.8 0.3 -0.1 -0.2

Bangladesh 5.6 6.6 6.3 6.6 4.9 3.8 3.0 2.5 2.0


Country GDP in Trillions of U$ from 2000 to 2075

Pakistan 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.6 1.6 3.3 6.1 9.9 12.3

China 1.8 7.4 15.5 24.5 34.1 41.9 48.6 54.8 57.0

India 0.7 2.1 2.8 6.6 13.2 22.2 33.2 45.8 52.5

Korea 0.9 1.4 1.7 2.0 2.6 3.1 3.3 3.4 3.4

Bangladesh 0.1 0.2 0.4 0.8 1.7 2.8 4.1 5.5 6.3


Country Per Capita Income in thousands of US$ by Decade-ends 2000 to 2075

Pakistan 0.9 1.3 1.4 2.2 4.8 9.0 14.9 22.5 27.1

China 1.4 5.5 10.9 17.3 24.7 31.9 40.3 50.4 55.4

India 0.7 1.7 2.0 4.3 8.2 13.3 19.6 27.1 31.3

Korea 18.7 28.8 33.0 39.3 53.6 67.7 81.8 95.2 101.8

Bangladesh 0.7 1.1 2.3 4.4 8.4 13.5 19.7 26.9 31.0

Riaz Haq said...

China’s frontier aggression has pushed India to the West
Brawling on the roof of the world

The most likely flashpoints in Asia are generally thought to be the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and the Korean peninsula. This week, though, attention turned to the Himalayas and the 3,440-km (2,150-mile) border, much of it disputed, between the world’s most populous powers. News of a high-altitude brawl on December 9th has trickled down from the mountains.

The border disputes date back to the early 20th century when Britain demarcated spheres of influence between British India and Tibet (not in those days under Chinese subjugation). At the western end of the frontier, India claims Aksai Chin, an area under Chinese control in the Xinjiang region. In the eastern sector, China claims the whole of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as a historical part of Tibet: an earlier Dalai Lama was born in its Tawang monastery. Sixty years ago India and China fought a nasty war over the disputed line. It ended with India humiliated by the People’s Liberation Army (pla).

In the decades since, confrontations have often taken place. But thanks to protocols agreed between the two countries—including a ban on using firearms when patrols clash—most have been tokenistic. Until recently, both sides tacitly acknowledged the other’s patrol routes along the contested Line of Actual Control (lac). When rival patrols met, warning banners were raised and sharp words exchanged, but little worse.

That changed in 2020 when the remote Galwan valley, in Ladakh in the western sector, saw a terrible mêlée that left 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers dead. They were the first fatalities along the frontier since 1975. The latest incident was in the eastern sector near Tawang, and resulted in no deaths; yet it appears to have been similar to the one in Galwan. Several hundred pla soldiers—many times the usual patrol size—are said to have charged across to the Indian side of an “agreed disputed area”, in the frontier jargon. They carried tasers and spiked clubs, and were swinging “monkey fists”, steel balls on lengths of rope. Well-prepared Indian troops pushed them back, India claims, but with injuries on both sides. China says the Indians “illegally” crossed the lac and sought to block a Chinese patrol. It was the first clash in the eastern sector in years.

Though the details of such incidents are always contested, and neither side’s account is reliable, the Galwan fracas appeared to represent a direct Chinese challenge to the status quo. It occurred after China had built new roads along the border and reinforced it with troops and equipment. It is now doing much the same in the eastern sector and India, as ever, is scrambling to keep up. “Unpredictability” along the frontier, writes Sushant Singh of the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi, “has become structural”.

To manage the tensions that it has done so much to increase, China may well propose to establish buffer zones in the east, just as the two sides have done in the west. Given that such zones often mean India being shut out of areas that it had previously patrolled, they are tantamount to an Indian retreat. Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, would be extremely reluctant to submit to this. India’s political opposition senses that he is vulnerable on the issue.

Mr Modi once invited President Xi Jinping to his home state to celebrate the Indian prime minister’s birthday. Such chumminess is long gone. China says the border dispute should be isolated from the two countries’ broader relationship. But India considers a peaceful border a precondition for normal ties, says Tanvi Madan of the Brookings Institution, a think-tank in Washington. Since Galwan, India has blocked a lot of Chinese investment and banned Chinese apps. Official visits are curtailed. The two leaders have had one brief exchange in three years, at the g20 summit in Bali.

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Border clashes between India and China ‘regularly covered up’

India is covering up the true extent of border clashes with China to avoid panicking the public, senior Indian Army sources have told The Telegraph.

Several incidents are taking place in the northern state of Arunachal Pradesh every month, the sources said, with soldiers from the two nuclear-armed countries sometimes engaging in violent hand-to-hand combat, often using clubs and other homemade melee weapons.

China seized Arunachal Pradesh during a war with India in 1962 and returned it as part of a peace deal, but Beijing has maintained its claim over the territory ever since. In recent years, Delhi has accused China of stepping up aggression along the border and attempting to gradually seize strategically important territory.

A clash on December 9 in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district, in which at least 20 Indian soldiers were injured, was widely reported. But Indian Army sources said such incidents are commonplace.

“Face-offs with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have become a common feature along the border in Arunachal Pradesh, particularly in the Yangtse area,” said a senior Indian Army officer. “They have happened on average two or three times a month, recently, and the incursions have increased in frequency over the last two years.”

India’s border forces are under strict instructions to keep quiet about the regular clashes between Indian and Chinese troops.

“We get directions from the top not to discuss these incidents and the reason seems to be political. It seems the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to play down the crisis with China,” said the officer.

India’s next general election is scheduled for 2024. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to win a landslide victory but much of his popularity rests on his image as a strongman who can defend India against China and Pakistan.

“Sometimes it’s important to hold back information because rushing out with information complicates the subsequent negotiations,” said General Deependra Singh Hooda, the former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Indian Army's Northern Command.

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"China, Pak Are Together. If War Happens, It Will...": Rahul Gandhi

In a YouTube video on Rahul Gandhi's channel, while interacting with Armed Forces' veterans during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Congress MP said, "China and Pakistan have come together, if there will be any war then it will happen with both, so there will be a major loss for the country. India is now extremely vulnerable. I don't just have respect for you (Army) but also love and affection for you. You defend this nation. This nation would not exist without you."

The Congress leader explained, "Earlier we had two enemies China and Pakistan and our policy was to keep them separate. First, it was said that two front war should not happen then people say there is two and a half-front war going on, that is, Pakistan, China and terrorism. Today there is one front that is China and Pakistan which are together. If the war happens it will happen with both. They are working together not only militarily but also economically."

Criticising the Central government over its policies, Rahul Gandhi said, "Our economic system has slowed down after 2014. In our country there is disturbance, fight, confusion and hatred. Our mindset is still that of two and a half-front war. Our mindset is not of joint operability and of cyber warfare. India is now extremely vulnerable. China and Pakistan are both preparing a surprise for us, which is why I keep repeating that the government cannot keep quiet. What happened at the border the government should tell people of the country. What action we have to take we have to start today. Actually, we had to act five years ago but we did not do it. If we don't act fast, then there will be a big loss. I am extremely concerned with what is happening at the border in Arunachal and Ladakh," he added.

On December 13, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed the Rajya Sabha that China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops tried to transgress the Line of Actual Control in Yangtse area of Arunachal Pradesh Tawang Sector and unilaterally change the status quo but they went back to their locations due to timely intervention of Indian military commanders.

Giving a statement in the Rajya Sabha, the Defence Minister assured the Upper House that "our forces are committed to protecting our territorial integrity and will continue to thwart any attempt made on it".

Singh also displayed confidence that "this entire House will stand united in supporting our soldiers in the brave effort."

Explaining the incident, the Minister said: "I would like to brief this august House about an incident on our border in Tawang Sector of Arunachal Pradesh on December 9, 2022."

"On December 9, 2022, PLA troops tried to transgress the LAC in Yangtse area of Tawang Sector and unilaterally change the status quo. The Chinese attempt was contested by our troops in a firm and resolute manner. The ensuing face-off led to a physical scuffle in which the Indian Army bravely prevented the PLA from transgressing into our territory and compelled them to return to their posts," said Singh.

He further said "the scuffle led to injuries to a few personnel on both sides", and clarified that "there are no fatalities or serious casualties on our side".

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Why Pakistan is not a walkover

FORCE editor Pravin Sawhney explains why India must take Pakistan military seriously. And how it is as professional a force as any. Visit us at

China-India military interoperability is a threat to India.

Professional Military:

1. Clearly defined threat

2. Balance at strategic and operational level.

3. Bring technologies and capabilities to the theater.

Pakistan meets all of the above criteria.

Bulk of India's attention is on Pakistan, not China.

Pakistan used proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir to keep Indian military engaged and to balance India's numerical advantage.

Both strategic and conventional forces report to Pakistan Army Chief.

Pakistan has created a strong air defense network.

Then Pakistan developed tactical nukes and refused to say "No First Use" to maintain ambiguity.

Pakistan has never lost in the western sector.

That's why India has failed to obliterate the Line-of-Control in Kashmir.

Pakistan developed and deployed nuclear weapons delivery system.

Now Pakistan is confident it can take on India.

Why? Because Pakistan and China have developed interoperability.

There is commonality of equipment, timely upgrades, ammunitions and spare parts.

China-Pakistan doctrinal compatibility.

CPEC has added the economic dimension to the relationship.

China now has an economic interest in defending its assets in Pakistan.

China can now shares non-kinetic capability cyber capability with Pakistan.

It makes no sense for Indian military leaders to make tall claims and issue threats to Pakistan.

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Why India and China Are Fighting in the Himalayas

By Ajai Shukla

Mr. Shukla is a strategic affairs analyst and former Indian Army officer.

Soldiers from China and India, nuclear-armed Asian neighbors, have been clashing on their disputed border with an alarming frequency owing to the rise of aggressive nationalisms in President Xi Jinping’s China and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India. Insecurity is also growing in New Delhi and Beijing over intensified construction of border infrastructure by both countries. And mutual suspicion is deepening as China contemplates the increasing strategic cooperation between the United States and India as competition and conflict between Washington and Beijing intensifies.


Throughout the 1960s and the ’70s, India’s military, traumatized by China’s comprehensive victory and fearful of setting off another conflagration, deployed well to the rear of the border, which was covered only by long-range patrols. In the early 1980s, the Indian military leadership came to be dominated by a new generation of bolder commanders and New Delhi greenlighted a move forward, much closer to the Line of Actual Control.


Between 1989 and 2005, the Indian and Chinese sides had 15 meetings and no blood was shed for 30 years. After the Gandhi-Deng meeting, the two sides signed an agreement in 1993 for restraint and joint action on the disputed border whenever Indian and Chinese patrols differed on the alignment of the LAC. It was followed by four more pacts, aimed at keeping the peace on the border.

Minor Chinese intrusions in Ladakh in 2008, 2013 and 2014 were resolved through dialogue. A major escalation followed in June 2017 in the Doklam Plateau in the Himalayas, where India, China and Bhutan meet. The Chinese military was building a road into the area, which is claimed by both China and Bhutan.


The plateau is close to “Chicken’s Neck,” a narrow corridor of Indian territory that connects mainland India to its northeastern states, an area the size of Oregon, where 45 million people live. India saw the Chinese incursion and construction as a dangerous move toward control over the Doklam Plateau, and it reawakened New Delhi’s fear of China cutting off northeastern India in a war by taking over Chicken’s Neck.


For New Delhi, China’s new aggressiveness presents a clear dilemma: Should India continue to build strategic and military relations with the United States and the partnership of America, Australia, Japan and India — known as the Quad — even though Beijing has made it clear it sees the Quad as an anti-China grouping? While the Quad, and its more overtly militaristic version, the AUKUS (Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States) alliance, constitute a viable deterrent to China in the maritime Indo-Pacific theater, India is the only partner that confronts China on its land border.

From New Delhi’s perspective, the Chinese military aggression on the disputed border is the price India is paying for joining hands with the Western alliance. New Delhi takes pains to portray its independence, even turning down an American offer of assistance against China at the time of the 2020 intrusions in Ladakh. New Delhi has restricted Indo-U.S. cooperation to the realm of intelligence and privately asked Washington to lower the rhetoric over China. This is unlikely to change.

Within India, Mr. Modi’s strongman image has taken a dent from the confrontation with China. His insistence that India has not lost territory to China provides ammunition to his supporters, but the numbers of his blind supporters have dwindled. The Chinese military’s most recent aggression shows that Beijing continues to fuel the confrontation, and relations between India and China face a negative spiral without a predictable end. The political cost to Mr. Modi, it seems, will eventually be decided in Beijing as much as in New Delhi.

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For the most part, Chinese news outlets have downplayed the recent clash. Unlike the proliferation of articles about the clash in the Indian news, Chinese media such as Xinhua News Agency, Caixin, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily, and Pengpai have published only a few short articles. These mostly emphasize that the skirmish was quickly resolved in a diplomatic manner and call for the Indian side to work together with China to maintain peace on the border. They also lay the blame squarely on India, claiming that the clash occurred because the Indian army illegally crossed the LAC while the Chinese side was undergoing a routine border patrol. These brief accounts differ from the lengthy coverage in Indian media, which blames Chinese troops as the instigators.

The Chinese media response to the December (India-China border) clash is not surprising when seen in the larger context of how China views India.

While the 1962 war was seminal for India, prompting it to pour money into military modernization, China never saw it as a game-changing moment. Moreover, China’s laser-like focus on the United States means that it often erroneously views India through the frame of U.S.-China relations. For example, a recent op-ed by Tsinghua professor Li Xiguang made the astonishing claim that Himalayan countries (read India) view the Himalayan border and corridor through the eyes of Western analysts and “lack original knowledge production” (quefa zizhu de zhishi shengchan) on Himalayan issues. Professor Li’s prescription was for China to generously offer to rectify this lack and unify the region with its own expansive thinking along with the help of other scholars from the region.

These attempts by China to downplay not just December’s incident but the border dispute as a whole indicate a precarious misreading of the situation and the depth of India’s mistrust of China. In just the past few days, India has inaugurated several infrastructure projects along its border with China, aiming to develop the area for enhanced defense preparedness. These projects include the new Siyom bridge in Arunachal Pradesh, which will facilitate the delivery of rations and military equipment, and the recent purchase of three hundred rough terrain vehicles that can be used for the transportation of loads and casualty evacuations in high altitude areas.

While the risk of uncontrolled escalation on the border is said to be low, these sporadic clashes do nothing to mitigate the mistrust between the two nations, and instead deepen their rift. The ongoing instability is exacerbated by China significantly underestimating the importance that India places on the border and the occurrence of these clashes. For the bilateral relationship to improve, or even to maintain the status quo, China needs to take India’s concerns seriously.

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Ukraine war impacts spare parts supply for Indian military: Army chief

India’s army chief said Thursday the war in Ukraine has impacted the supply of spare parts for India’s military.

Gen. Manoj Pande made his comments to reporters while discussing the border situation with China, which he described as stable but unpredictable. The two countries remain in a nearly two-and-a-half-year standoff in the eastern Ladakh area. He added that the countries were continuing to talk both at the diplomatic and military levels, and that India’s military maintains a high level of preparedness.

“The sustenance of these weapons systems — equipment in terms of spares, in term of ammunition — is one issue that we have addressed,” Pande said, without providing more details.

“We have adequate forces. We have adequate reserves in each of our sectors to be able to effectively deal with any situation or contingency,” he added.

Experts say up to 60% of Indian defense equipment comes from Russia, and New Delhi finds itself in a bind amid the standoff with China over a territorial dispute. Twenty Indian troops and four Chinese soldiers died in a clash in 2020.

The Times of India newspaper reported Thursday that India is having problems transporting back one of its diesel-run submarines after a major refit in Russia, which was hit with sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers (14,672 square miles) of its territory in the Aksai Chin plateau, which India considers part of Ladakh, where the current faceoff is happening.

India says any unilateral change in the border status quo by Beijing is unacceptable.

The Line of Actual Control separates Chinese- and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. India and China fought a deadly war over the border in 1962.

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Pakistan-India pact missed bus, but draft is ready

An India-Pakistan peace pact was ready to be signed by past leaders before they lost power, but it remains alive after the Modi government vetted it, according to a book quoted in a review by Karan Thapar on Saturday.

“By the end of the second term of the UPA government and of Dr Manmohan Singh’s ten-year term, the draft agreement had been approved and was ready for signature,” former ambassador to Pakistan Satinder Lambah says in his book Pursuit of Peace, quoted in The Hindustan Times. It has been published posthumously as the diplomat died in June last year.

“There were 36 meetings of the backchannel from May 2003 to March 2014,” a period spanning two leaders from each side. Gen Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif supported the backchannel from Pakistan, while Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh pressed on with it for India. Most of the agreement was concluded during Gen Musharraf’s time, the book says. Nothing much happened after he lost power, but then prime minister Nawaz Sharif “injected new momentum and urgency into the process”. Unfortunately, by then, “attention in India turned to the 2014 general elections”.

Mr Thapar, a journalist, senses that there were two moments when a deal could have happened. First, in 2007, but it didn’t because of Gen Musharraf’s “internal problems”. The second with Nawaz Sharif before India’s elections diverted attention.

But hopes did not end with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking charge in May 2014.

“There appeared to be an intent to continue the backchannel process,” the book claims. “The file on the subject had been reviewed. I was even once told that no major change was required. A distinguished diplomat was being considered to be appointed as special envoy by Prime Minister Modi. I was asked to meet him.”

But that envoy was never appointed.

The Modi government tried again in April 2017. “A senior official of the PMO came to see me at my house. He said the prime minister wanted me to go to Pakistan to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.”

Sadly, an incident, described by Mr Thapar as “a very Indian development” nipped this in the bud. While Mr Lambah was awaiting “details of the points to be discussed and was asked to give (his) travel documents to enable (him) to travel to Pakistan”, the strangest thing happened. “I saw a news item that a leading In­­dian businessman, who was an emissary, had gone to meet PM Nawaz Sharif, in his personal plane … under the circumstances, it would not be proper for two people to represent the prime minister for the same purpose”.

According to the journalist’s quotes, former Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit had suggested the businessman was probably Sajjan Jindal.

“This was,” Mr Lambah writes, “the last conversation I had on this subject.”

The details in the book corroborate the view that the deal was tantalisingly close to fruition under Manmohan Singh. “My diary recalls I had 68 meetings with the prime minister”.

Those were days when foreign policy was discussed with as wide a range of people as were one way or another involved. “Pranab Mukherjee was kept fully informed of all developments”.

In November 2006, Sonia Gandhi was briefed. Earlier, in 2005, the army chief was involved. What’s more, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, former national security adviser Brajesh Mishra, Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Karan Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad were also kept informed.

Efforts were made to ensure the outcome was in keeping with the Indian constitution, parliamentary resolutions and the constitution of India-held Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Lambah had six meetings between March 2006 and March 2007 with Chief Justice Adarsh Sein Anand. He also met the distinguished lawyer Fali Nariman.

The agreement was based on Gen Musharraf’s four-point formula as well as the three ideas proposed by Manmohan Singh in his Amritsar speech.

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HomeIndia NewsIndia Says Situation With China "Fragile, Dangerous" In Himalayan Front
India Says Situation With China "Fragile, Dangerous" In Himalayan Front

"The situation to my mind still remains very fragile because there are places where our deployments are very close up and in military assessment therefore quite dangerous," S Jaishankar said.

The situation between India and China in the western Himalayan region of Ladakh is fragile and dangerous, with military forces deployed very close to each other in some parts, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday.
20 Indian soldiers died for the country and more than 40 Chinese soldiers were killed or injured.when the two sides clashed in the region in mid-2020, but the situation has been calmed through rounds of diplomatic and military talks.

Violence erupted in the eastern sector of the undemarcated border between the two nations in December but did not result in any deaths.

"The situation to my mind still remains very fragile because there are places where our deployments are very close up and in military assessment therefore quite dangerous," S Jaishankar said at an India Today conclave.

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Civil nuclear energy: Kasuri says China agreed to sign accord with Pakistan way back in 2003

The former foreign minister, who served the country from November 2002 to Nov 2007, also disclosed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked Pakistan to continue the dialogue for Kashmir dispute’s resolution under the famous four-point formula that was mooted in his tenure as foreign minister.

He expressed his happiness at the fact that the recent book, ‘In Pursuit of Peace’ by former Indian ambassador to Pakistan and negotiator for backchannel talks during PM Manmohan Singh’s tenure Ambassador S K Lambah, had comprehensively confirmed that what Mian Kasuri had said in his book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove’ published much earlier that Pakistan and India had agreed to resolve all the outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.

Kasuri expressed his pleasant surprise at Lambah’s revelation that Modi asked him to continue the dialogue in 2014 on the same four-point formula. The former foreign minister said that he was aware that because of the negativity engendered by Hindutva supporters under the Modi government, the relationship between the two countries had become exceedingly tense.

PM Modi, Kasuri said, cannot rule India forever. Even at the best of times, he was able to secure about 37% of the total votes with an overwhelming majority voting for parties who are, by and large, opposed to the current policies of the BJP government on Muslims, Kashmir and Pakistan.

“There was no guarantee that Modi would not change his extremist policies, either before or after elections. After all, Modi had paid a surprise visit to Lahore in December 2015 to meet former PM Nawaz Sharif,” Mian Kasuri said.


Mian Khurshid Kasuri went on to describe the success of the government at that time in establishing close relationship with the US and China, at the same time. A broad-based Strategic Partnership Agreement with the United States was formalised, which aimed to promote cooperation in different fields, including economic development, science and technology, education, energy, agriculture, and a regular strategic dialogue.

Pakistan had the largest Fulbright program for sending students to the US. Additionally, he said that the US agreed to not only sell new F-16s, which it had denied to Pakistan for long, but also agreed to upgrade Pakistan’s fleet of F-16s.

In defence matters, cooperation between Pakistan and China has been comprehensive and it involved joint production of advanced weapon systems, including modern and sophisticated JF-17 aircraft, Al-Khalid main battle tanks and F-22P frigates for the navy. Pakistan paid special attention to its relationship with Muslim states and exceptionally close relationships were forged with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and Iran.

Despite difficulties, there were many high-level visits to and from Afghanistan and trade increased from a mere US$23 million to over US$1.2 billion.

Khurshid Kasuri said that Pakistan forged very close relationships with Britain, France and Germany and despite the fact that Pakistan was a close ally of the US, it vigorously opposed the United States’ proposed attack on Iraq and closely cooperated in this connection with the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Russia.

As a result, the US was unable to get the support of the UN and consequently decided to attack Iraq anyway with the support of the Coalition of the Willing with disastrous consequences for both Iraq and the US.

Mian Kasuri emphasized the need to redress some of Pakistan’s weaknesses, particularly to ensure that there was continuation of policies to ensure economic development. There was also a need for basic agreement between major stakeholders, so that these policies could continue despite change in governments. This could not take place with so much internal disunity.

Riaz Haq said...

Ashok Swain
The US ambassador to India (2017-2021) Ken Juster says Modi even tells the US not to make China angry! How can one expect Modi to confront China. All his bravado comes against Pakistan.


India asked Washington not to bring up China’s border transgressions: Former US ambassador

Kenneth Juster made the statement on a Times Now show when asked why the United States had not made any statement about Beijing’s aggression.

Former United States Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster has said that Delhi did not want Washington to mention China’s border aggression in its statements.

“The restraint in mentioning China in any US-India communication or any Quad communication comes from India which is very concerned about not poking China in the eye,” Juster said on a Times Now show.

The statement came in response to news anchor and Times Now Editor-in-Chief Rahul Shivshankar’s queries on whether the US had made any statements about Beijing’s aggression.

India and China have been locked in a border standoff since troops of both countries clashed in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control in June 2020. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the hand-to-hand combat. While China had acknowledged casualties early, it did not disclose details till February 2021, when it said four of its soldiers had died.

After several rounds of talks, India and China had last year disengaged from Pangong Tso Lake in February and from Gogra, eastern Ladakh, in August.

Juster, who was the envoy to India between 2017 and 2021, had said in January 2021 that Washington closely coordinated with Delhi amid its standoff with Beijing, but left it to India to provide details of the cooperation.

During the TV show, defence analyst Derek Grossman claimed that Moscow was not a “friend” of India, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Beijing Olympics. Grossman told the news anchor that Putin and Xi had then said that their friendship had “no limits”.

He claimed that India’s strategy to leverage Russia against China did not have any effects. “In fact, Russia-China relations have gotten only stronger.”

To this, Shivshankar said that before passing any judgement on India and Russia’s relationship, he must ask if US President Joe Biden had condemned China’s aggression at the borders along the Line of Actual Control or mentioned Beijing in a joint statement with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Grossman said: “To my understanding, the US has asked India if it wanted us to do something on the LAC but India said no – that it was something that India can handle on its own.”

Juster then backed Grossman’s contention.

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T C A Raghavan, India’s former High Commissioner to Pakistan, on the cult of Imran Khan, the role of the Pakistan Army and strategic implications for India.

T C A Raghavan, India’s former High Commissioner to Pakistan, on the cult of Imran Khan, the role of the Pakistan Army and strategic implications for India. The session was moderated by Strategic Affairs Editor Nirupama Subramanian

On political engineering by the Pakistan Army versus the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan

There is a change from the past but former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif also had a very strong following at different points in time but were removed. While Imran Khan’s popularity appears to have a different quality of asserting greater civilian control over political affairs, it’s useful to recall that this is really an older script. What’s different is that unlike the past, when political figures chose to compromise themselves — they would go into exile or agree to a lower profile or simply follow what the military wanted to do — Khan has been defiant. Whether it is good or bad for Pakistan is a different question. He has certainly gotten under their (the military’s) skin and they have got under his.

But this is the surprising feature about Pakistan. Every major political figure who has been built up by the Pakistan military has, at some point in time, turned against it and wanted to act independently. This is as strong an evidence as we will get to show that the civil-military tension or the civil-military dynamic is the real dynamic. There is a political constituency which is constantly seeking to enlarge its space and comes up on this collision course almost once a decade.

On Khan’s future

Khan had a personal charisma, being an iconic cricketer and helming social work, that had been flowering from 2010-2011 onwards. But that flowering had to do with the military’s effort to boost him up. So they put together different components of the party which he led and surrounded him with people who were always close to the military. Many of those now leaving Khan are those who never saw themselves taking on the military as part of the menu when they joined his party. The military is having difficulty dealing with his personal popularity and the kind of iconic status which he has built up as someone who’s trying to create a new kind of politics.

Whether that is so in fact or not is a different matter but most of his followers see him as representing something new, a new political force and that element, while it will become subterranean because of the military pressure, will remain. That really will hold the key to Khan’s future.

But then he also changes his position quite radically. Perhaps when he took on the military establishment, there was an element of wishful thinking on his part, or he had started believing his own propaganda. But now, at least for the short and medium term, his future looks much more difficult.

On whether Khan will be disqualified

Some people in the military establishment feel that they weighed the scales too much in favour of Khan and the playing field has to be levelled again. That can be done in a number of ways, through his disqualification or some grand kind of reconciliation in the future where those who had been disqualified earlier, such as Nawaz Sharif and others, are also allowed to come back into politics. That’s the broad direction as many in the Army feel that they can’t empower one party or one politician so much that they then become a problem, so there must always be countervailing political forces. That’s the way they can manage the system much better – by playing off one against the other. There is shallowness in Imran’s democratic credentials but he has expanded the political space. Now it’s a scrap between different forces trying to maximise their position.

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On weakening of Pakistan Army’s role

Former Army General Qamar Bajwa, during his tenure, was built up as the soldier’s soldier and a far-sighted military statesman but by the time he left, virtually everyone had turned against him, and he was seen as a figure who had been trying to basically further his own interests. Whether this denting of the Army’s image means that there is going to be a structural retreat, in terms of the role the military plays in Pakistan politics, is more difficult to answer. I don’t think we will see an early retreat from the role it has played in the short-term. But there will be a long-term impact.

On a scrap between the power elite and a divided judiciary

Just like the political class and the military, the judiciary has also dramatically shown all divisions within it. These reflect, to a great extent, the larger polarisation in Pakistan itself. There are two Supreme Courts in Pakistan — one headed by the Chief Justice, who is inclined towards Imran Khan, and the other headed by the Chief Justice-to-be, who is inclined towards Nawaz Sharif’s party.

Justice (Qazi Faez) Isa, who’s the second seniormost judge after the Chief Justice, will become the next Chief Justice. The Army realises that it has to choose from a menu of bad options and he is definitely preferable to some other judges. But while the current Chief Justice is in place, there is going to be a great deal of play and different kinds of conflicting judgments. The Supreme Court is split into two as are many of the High Courts. This means that the judiciary has emerged as a player in its own right in Pakistan’s politics over the past decade-and-a-half, since the first decade of this century when Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was sacked. The bar associations have also emerged as a political force and they reflect, to some extent, the polarisation in Pakistan’s politics between different parties. They act as an independent force demanding their own space and are very sensitive to any infringement of their rights.

Audience Questions
On Pakistan’s ‘implosion’ and relations with India

There’s no evidence that Pakistan’s state structures are collapsing or have stopped working or people are deserting their posts at the government machinery. There’s a very intense political conflict which prevents any kind of purposeful policy attention on the economy and other problems that Pakistan faces.

This is something which the Pakistanis have to sort out themselves. I think external intervention will bring Pakistan together, so if you think that this is a time which presents a tactical opportunity for India, that would be wrong. The Pakistani military has a credible unified command structure, so it’s not as if we have suddenly got a better opportunity than in the past. So far, the domestic crisis has had no impact on India. It’s not had much of an impact on the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) and it appears to be holding.

There is a minimal relationship, we have no trade, there are not even High Commissioners in place, and you have very little political or other contacts.

We have to be realistic about our own limitations. Even if India attempts to extend help to them, nobody begins from a clean slate. We cannot simply assume that it will be taken at face value. Dramatic gestures or dramatic changes will not lead to an improvement in relations. It will take a long time and there is no other instrument you have for embarking on that course, except patient, difficult diplomacy.

On resumption of trade ties

Given their economic crisis, Pakistan would be well advised to think of opening up trade with India and, in fact, General Bajwa did try this. But given the extent of political polarisation, it’s a very difficult thing to do just now. Nobody there wants to take a major decision like that on India and be accused by their political opponents of selling out.

Riaz Haq said...

CPEC Results According to Wang Wenbin of China

Bilal I Gilani
CPEC projects are creating 192,000 jobs, generating 6,000MW of power, building 510 km (316 miles) of highways, and expanding the national transmission network by 886 km (550 miles),” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing."

Associated Press of Pakistan: On July 5, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif while addressing a ceremony to mark a decade of signing of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said that CPEC has been playing a key role in transforming Pakistan’s economic landscape. He also said that the mega project helped Pakistan progress in the region and beyond. What is your response?

Wang Wenbin: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a signature project of China-Pakistan cooperation in the new era, and an important project under the Belt and Road Initiative. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of CPEC. After ten years of development, a “1+4” cooperation layout has been formed, with the CPEC at the center and Gwadar Port, transport infrastructure, energy and industrial cooperation being the four key areas. Projects under CPEC are flourishing all across Pakistan, attracting USD 25.4 billion of direct investment, creating 192,000 jobs, producing 6,000 megawatts of electric power, building 510 kilometers of highways and adding 886 kilometers to the core national transmission network. CPEC has made tangible contribution to the national development of Pakistan and connectivity in the region. China and Pakistan have also explored new areas for cooperation under the framework of CPEC, creating new highlights in cooperation on agriculture, science and technology, telecommunication and people’s wellbeing.

China stands ready to work with Pakistan to build on the past achievements and follow the guidance of the important common understandings between the leaders of the two countries on promoting high-quality development of CPEC to boost the development of China and Pakistan and the region and bring more benefits to the people of all countries.

Riaz Haq said...

India may soon be forced to choose between Brics and the West

India has so far managed to stick to its non-aligned policy, but with China’s vision looking to win out in the Brics grouping, it will have to pick a side
If it chooses the West, New Delhi will stand on the wrong side of history, while Brics could benefit from the inclusion of Iran


India’s foreign policy embodies elements of the thought of Chanakya, the philosopher and statesman from 300 BC, whose realist ideals helped create the first pan-Indian empire. His interpretation of human nature often led to a pragmatic but pessimistic outlook on the state’s functioning, one in which the national interest was key.

In his Arathshastra, he elucidated his Rajamandala theory, which sheds light on India’s foreign policy. He recommended forming alliances with countries surrounding the state’s hostile neighbours and preventing them from becoming too powerful and threatening its security.

There are echoes of this approach in Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s statement that, “this is a time for us to engage America, manage China, cultivate Europe, reassure Russia, bring Japan into play, draw neighbours in, extend the neighbourhood, and expand traditional constituencies of support”. He says India’s foreign policy today involves advancing its national interests by “exploiting opportunities created by global contradictions”.


The loss of India may only be a short-term concern as Iran could be a valuable replacement for the “I’ in Brics. Iran shares many of the same concerns as China and Russia as it has borne the brunt of US-led isolationist tactics. Tehran has drawn closer to Moscow and expanded defence and economic ties, making it a key stakeholder for any alternative global framework.
India faces a crucial decision in the next decade: either embrace China’s mutually beneficial approach or risk being caught in a zero-sum game orchestrated by the US. Attempting to have it both ways is not a viable long-term strategy, and following an ancient playbook will relegate it to the pages of history.
Sameed Basha is a defence and political analyst with a master’s degree in international relations from Deakin University, Australia

Riaz Haq said...

Watch: 'Pakistan Is My Second Favourite Country,' Says Mani Shankar Aiyar
Aiyar presents a picture of Pakistan that is not just different to, but almost the polar opposite of, everything Indians have been told about and led to believe of Pakistan.

In an interview to discuss his four years as India’s Consul-General in Karachi, a key part of his recently published autobiography Memoirs of a Maverick, as well as his overall view of Pakistan – a country he has visited 40 times in the last 40 years – Mani Shankar Aiyar says Pakistan is his second favourite country.

In an extensive interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Aiyar presents a picture of Pakistan that is not just different to, but almost the polar opposite of, everything Indians have been told about and led to believe of Pakistan. He shatters the false misconceptions and outright lies that colour the traditional Indian perception of our western neighbour.

This interview is full of the most delightful stories and anecdotes, told with Aiyar‘s riveting sense of drama and laced with his irresistible humour.

Many of his stories will astound Indian viewers because they speak of a Pakistan we know nothing about. They portray a country that far from being narrow and fundamentalist is fun-loving, welcoming of Indians and Hindus and where Islamisation has not impinged on the right of people to drink alcohol in their homes. And, boy, do they!