Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bush policy or Obama policy?

By Adnan Gill

Despite what some American foreign policy hawks, like Kim Holmes (Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies) suggest, Obama-Biden team was spot on when they set “Restoring Our Standing” to be one of the prime objectives of formulating the American foreign policy. Thanks to almost a decade long coercive Bush-era foreign policy; today, America is viewed as a maverick on war path. Survey after survey shows a global decline of American popularity among both friends and foes. Even an association with Bush policy cut short political fortunes of many. British Prime Minister Toney Blair and President Pervez Musharraf are among the few who were sidelined for toeing Bush policy.

With the exception of few successes, like Libyan pledge to denounce terrorism and reverse its nuclear program, rest of the Bush policy is fraught with disasters. Iraqi invasion was a direct manifestation of failed Bush Doctrine. The invasion cost America hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands in human lives. Indian nuclear deal is another example of shortsighted Bush foreign policy. It envisioned a one time Soviet and now Russian ally India to be its linchpin.

Now, some pro-India American hawks are aggressively lobbying the Obama Administration for an extension of Bush policy. They argue: to check the rise of China and the common democratic values make India a natural American ally. Though in reality, India is more of a pseudo-socialist democracy; a far cry from the Jeffersonian democracy. The lobbyists go as far as, wanting to share American national security jewels, like nuclear technology and the land-based laser defense system with India.

At the same time, a concerted effort is in full swing to change Obama’s Pakistan policy. They insist on de-hyphenating India from Pakistan; which will remain a pipe dream as long as India and Pakistan remain entangled over one or the other issue. Most experts believe the two will remain in a belligerent relationship till the root cause of their rivalry, the Kashmir issue, is amicably resolved.

India’s huge population with equally impressive middleclass makes it an attractive trade partner. However, neither its humongous population nor its growing economy is meaningful enough to qualify it to become a strategic ally; especially at the cost of its time tested ally Pakistan or its largest trading partner China. In 2008 India imported only $17.4 billion worth of goods from the US. In contrast, China with far better human rights record and business friendly government imported $67.1 billion worth of goods from the US. In addition, American business giants like Walmart and Boeing are impatiently waiting for Obama administration to reverse the restrictive sanctions Clinton administration placed on China.

Even in the 21st century, India is frequently cited for the worst religious persecution and gross human rights abuses by the human rights organizations and US State Department. In fact, Indian record is far worst than what is attributed to China. Indian conservative cum nationalist parties like BJP have been charged for aiding and abetting the religious extremists in caring out communal violence. These parties openly campaign on anti-minority and nationalist slogans. Their ‘akhand Bharat’ (larger India) rhetoric dominates their political ideology. India is one of the few notable countries that still hold border disputes with virtually all of its neighbors. India’s neighbors accuse its intelligence agency RAW for malicious interference in their internal affairs.

The Indio-US nuclear deal was widely criticized even within the Bush Administration. India has a well known nuclear proliferation record, especially in vertical and onward proliferation. In a 2003 interview, the former Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed his reservations over the deal, “We also have to protect certain red lines that we have with respect to proliferation.” However, former Secretary Condoleezza Rice was the driving force behind the hurriedly concocted nuclear deal. It was a brainchild of Secretary Rice’s counselor and longtime colleagues Philip Zelikow and (Bombay-born) Ashley Tellis.

Experts like David Albright, President of Institute for Science and International Security, in a 2005 testimony before the US House Committee described Indian proliferation, “India’s extensive military and civil nuclear programs are often connected, sharing personnel and infrastructure. In addition, some facilities currently have both a military and civilian purpose.” Indian scientist Raja Ramanna also confirmed, India diverted plutonium from the American-Canadian supplied civilian nuclear reactor (CIRUS) for its first nuclear device.

Again, in an October 26, 2005, testimony before the House Committee Dr. Albright warned,

“This [nuclear deal] could pose serious risks to the security of the United States. If fully implemented, it could catapult India into a position as a major supplier of both nuclear and nuclear-related materials, equipment, and technology. With a weak and poorly enforced export control system, [Indians] could become major suppliers [of] the nuclear weapon programs [for the] adversaries of the United States.”

Why India will not violate its obligations this time around should be a matter of great concern for the Nuclear Supplier Group, especially for the Obama Administration.

Simple facts like dubious Indian nuclear proliferation record and its substandard democratic credentials hardly justify seamless continuation of Bush policy. On the other hand, it would be a colossal mistake to unwind American alliance with its nuclear armed strategic partner of 60 years. Pakistan sits on the crossroads of Middle East and the future Middle East, the landlocked Central Asian States; which is sitting on larger oil reserves then the Middle East. Historically, Pakistan had shown greater tolerance for the State of Israel than other Muslim states. Pakistan has also played a lynchpin role in establishing ties between the US and China, and between the US and the Muslim world. Pakistan stood shoulder to shoulder with America to defeat and ultimately dismantle the Soviet empire. Time tested alliance speaks for itself.

Despite serve criticism, Pakistan is still the front-line state in war against terror. Pakistan has lost more men and material in the war than rest of the countries put together. World is still trying to recover from the blowback of premature American departure from Afghanistan after the Communist Soviet Union was defeated. The departure left both Afghanistan and Pakistan high and dry to fend for themselves. Consequently, the resulting vacuum was filled by the religious extremists, Taliban; who in-turn provided sanctuaries to the terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda.

Post 9/11 invasion, instead of filling the Afghan vacuum with a political solution punctuated by military muscle, the Bush Administration chose to stay in Afghanistan with guns blazing. Even worst, instead of seeking Pakistan’s advice or heading to their concerns, the NATO installed an anti-Pakistan and pro-Indian Northern Alliance government in Afghanistan. If that wasn’t bad enough, under the garbs of nation building, NATO permitted massive Indian buildup in Afghanistan. The buildup deepened Pakistani fears of Indian encirclement, which resulted in reassembling of the Pakistani proxy, also known as Taliban. Pakistan viewed the eleven Indian consulates dotting its western border as command-and-control centers to destabilize and possibly fracture Pakistan, yet again. It goes without saying, a fractured Pakistan runs the risk of loose nukes in the hands multiple players. If true, India might be playing an extremely dangerous game of global consequences.

Instead of heeding to shortsighted calls of continuation of failed Bush policy, Obama administration should immediately reverse the Bush policy. To begin with, it needs to advice India in no uncertain terms, hands off Pakistan. America should also cease the arbitrary drone attacks that account for overwhelming civilian casualties and results in a severe anti-American backlash.

Obama policy should add political and monetary dimensions to the strategy of winning the hearts and minds of highly alienated Afghans and Pakistanis. Finally, it needs to bring both India and Pakistan to the table to hammer out a long lasting solution to the satisfaction of Kashmiris too. A Kashmir solution reflecting the true aspirations of Kashmiris will go a long way in confidence building and normalization of overwhelmingly contentious Indo-Pak relationship.

MQM, Racism and PCO

Once again, MQM has lived up to its reputation. As usual, on March 15 too MQM stood with the ruling clique. This time too, Punjab was the victim of its racially charged attacks. They hoped to create a rift between Punjab and other provinces, like when they tried to stoke racial tensions over the desecration of Ms Bhutto's shrine. Predictably, MQM's unsubstantiated accusations were followed by empty threats to quit the alliance. By now, everyone and their grandmother knows, if not within the same hour, MQM would retract the hollow threats within 24 hours; as MQM's lust for ministries always trumps its so-called principals. Just like MQM supremo Altaf Bhai, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman too specializes in opportunistic politics built on the foundations of racial hatred. He also desperately tried to marginalize the Lawyers' Movement through whipping up racial tensions.

It's hard to speculate on their true intentions or to say who their P.R. advisors are, but somehow these gentlemen always manage to line themselves with the rulers and on the wrong side of the history.

On a separate note; I would dare to give the latest round of political standoff to Mr. Zardari. He shrewdly managed to legalize Dogar appointment. Forced Lawyers' Movement to conclude without giving an inch to the resolution of Punjab crisis. Belligerent Punjab governor is still in the driving seat, and no heads have rolled over the flagrant misuse of the state power. PML-N is forced to roll back its street power, and the legislators are still nowhere even close to clipping dictatorial powers of Zardari. Even worst, it's anyone's guess, the makeup of the Supreme court Chief Justice Chaudhri will inherit, or if there are any strings attached to his restoration? To a layman like I, anything short of a complete reversal of November 3, 2007, PCO should be unacceptable.

Adnan Gill

Mumbai Evidence!

I don't want to speculate on the alleged Pakistani culpability in the Mumbai attacks. However, I am astounded over the nature of the evidence presented by the Indian investigators. In light of the supposed evidence, one is left with only possibilities; either the terrorists were downright nincompoops, or the Indian propagandists need a refresher course in concatenating evidence.

What kind of terrorists on a suicide-mission carries their national ID cards with them? They might as well have carried their birth certificates too. What kind of terrorists leaves behind evidence/supplies, like a bag of flour, that could be traced back to its origin? They must have been hardcore nationalists who consumed only Pakistani products.

What kind of terrorists on a suicide-mission carries toothpaste and shaving cream with them? They must have been hygiene conscious suicide terrorists! After all, who doesn't wish to look well-groomed for his funeral?

What kind of terrorists stealthily sneak into India on a bright yellow rubber dinghy? Perhaps, they were safety conscious terrorists who didn't want to be accidentally run over by a larger vessel. The 10 terrorists must have been dwarfs with novelty weapons and supplies. Because fitting 10 fully armed men and tons of supplies on a 10x4 ft rubber-dinghy is nothing short of mathematical improbability.

In fact, I am surprised they didn't carry notarized confession letters with them. Even better, videos of in-advance confessions, taped in the presence of the Indian embassy officials in Islamabad!

Adnan Gill

Indian Bluff

By Adnan Gill

Will India launch punitive strike(s) against Pakistan? Highly unlikely. India would have already struck if it had a choice। It doesn’t have a choice for two major reasons: 1. Indians know, they can start a conflict, but where and how the war ends will not be in their control. 2. By tangling themselves in a war, they run a too realistic risk of delivering a mortal blow to their service-based economy, which may not even survive the brinksmanship Indians are engaging in.

Arguably, Indians suffer from the ‘white man’s complex.’ Urbanite Indians love to mimic the American way of life. They imitate the ‘goras’ in ways ranging from their attire to their manner of speech. So much so, they have named Bombay film industry after an American icon, namely the Hollywood. Somewhere during the last decade or so, Indians became so engrossed with the ‘gora complex’ that they began imagining India to be an economical powerhouse and military superpower equating the Americans. Perhaps, it’s this complex which sullied the better judgment of Indian urbanites and their media in demanding punitive strikes against Pakistan.

Nevertheless, after the initial hysteria will ware down, at least some sane Indians will question, if India could afford such an arrogant behavior? That’s when the reality will hit them like ton of bricks that neither India is America nor Pakistan is Afghanistan.

Despite the ferocious appearance of the Indian military, largely on paper; the fact remains, over 80% of its obsolete hardware is a carryover from the Soviet-era. Indian handicap of obsolete hardware was highlighted during the 2002 India-Pakistan standoff. It was a humiliating experience for the Indians. Operation Parakram cost India about $2 billion in cash and 798 in human cost, and that too without a single shot fired from the Pakistani side.

It was also a disastrous Indian deployment, because even after one year of hostile posturing, they could not cross the border, fearing an all out war ending in a nuclear exchange. That is when India truly lost its supposed conventional superiority over Pakistan. The humiliating pull back effectively closed the doors on India for any future conventional war endeavors; because Pakistani nuclear arsenal was here to stay। During the same time Pakistanis were modernizing its arsenal through the rapid induction of modern weaponry like JF-17 fighters and precision weapons like the Hatf-8 cruise missiles.

Since then, India has dabbled with nonstarters, like ‘cold start’ doctrine. The idea was to catch Pakistan off-guard by sending a comparatively smaller but highly mobile force across the border at a moment’s notice. It was a nonstarter because of Pakistani equalizer (its nukes); plus the Indians realized they would still have to deploy a considerable amount of logistics and men at the front positions, where they would have remained juicy sitting-ducks for the preemptive PAF air strikes.

The other reason India cannot afford a war with Pakistan is, its economy is too young and still too small to survive through a round of war। Regardless, the havoc it will run on the already distressed Pakistani economy, the war will for sure spell an end to the largely service-based Indian economy, which depends on the foreign investments; and the foreign investments inherently depend on peace driven stability.

A brief look will abundantly expose the facade of the Indian economy; which will collapse at the first signs of uncertainty or instability। In 2008, its external debts balooned to around $221 billion. In 2007, Indian exports stood around $145 billion, while imports were around $217 billion; a deficit of $72 billion in a single year.

Its factory output account for 27.6% of the GDP and employs 17% of the total workforce. Rest of the workforce is largely dedicated to the agriculture sector. According to a 2008 World Bank report, 75.6% Indians live on less than $2 per day. It suffers from higher rates of malnutrition than Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 70% its population is either illiterate or educated below the primary level. Indian tourist industry is 1/6 of Las Vegas.

Recently, Standard & Poor's announced, India risk a downgrade from BBB-minus rating to the lowest investment-grade rating। Clearly, Indians are hardly in a financial shape to even contemplate on waging a war.

Indian service industry accounts for over 55% of its GDP. Bangalore is called the Silicon Valley of India. A large number of Information Technology companies are located in the city. It is the largest contributor of India's $33 billion IT exports (2007). IT giants like Infosys and Wipro are headquartered in Bangalore. Other undertakings headquartered in Bangalore are Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to name the few.

Bangalore is also called the world's call-centre capital। Foreign IT giants like the IBM, Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Apple and Cisco have also heavily invested in the city by opening call centers there. These call centers bring in major amounts of service-generated foreign revenues. Their 24/7 operations provide the customer-support on a global scale. An interruption of operations for even for a single day could mean loss of millions of dollars for the foreign investors.

As ugly as it may sound, but that’s what wars are, brutal and ugly. Imagine: far short of nuclear strike, only a couple of bombs or Shaheen-II (with an accuracy of 200m) armed with conventional warheads are dropped on the outskirts of Bangalore। Will even a single foreign company think twice before closing their operations for good? Would they stay around to see if they will get lucky through the second round too?

Feel-good slogans like ‘shining India’ don’t help the arrogance clouding the good judgment of war-mongering Indians. They can try to start a war on their terms, but it will definitely not end at their terms. Unless India has somehow overcome their fear of far-superior Pakistani nuclear arsenal, or they have found a way to move whole India under kilometer deep nuke-proof shelters, it will not dare to start a war.

It’s All In The Perception!

By Adnan Gill

Recently, the Indian Prime Minister Dr। Manmohan Singh labeled Pakistan to be the ‘epicenter of terrorism’. Is it true or a deliberate campaign to manufacture negative perceptions is in full swing? One way to answer the question is through a rhetorical question: do all the terrorists hold Pakistani identity cards, or are trained in Pakistan? Not at all! If the Indians choose to suffer from selective amnesia over their self-indulgences in terrorism (including state terrorism) then a brief introspective look should joggle their memories.

Since Mumbai attacks, Indians are crying, the ‘sky is falling.’ As deplorable as the attacks were, they pale when compared to the Indian state terrorism and the pogroms regularly carried out by the Hindu extremists; which are arguably much worse than the isolated cases of terrorism. But God forbid if even a single crocodile tear is wasted on the victims of Indian sponsored terrorism, both within and outside India. Could it be true that India also has many skeletons in its closet that needs to be exposed too? At the forefront of Indian terrorism is its infamous intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

But before visiting the memory lanes, it might be prudent to familiarize ourselves with the definition of terrorism. The Webster’s dictionary defines ‘terrorism’ as: “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.”

Following are some of most glaring examples of Indian terrorism:

1. In 1971, at the cost of thousands of deaths, India maliciously severed Pakistan.

2. In June 1984, during the Operation Blue Star, Indian army massacred over 7,000 Sikhs.

3. In November 1984, in New Delhi well over 3,000 Sikhs were cut to pieces by the Hindu terrorists.

4. In 1992, Hindu terrorist groups, such as VHP and Bajrang Dal, demolished the 500 years old Babri Masjid.

5. Since early 1990s, the Indian military systematically exterminated close to 80,000 Kashmiri Muslims.

6. During the last 20 years alone, thousands of Christians are butchered by the Hindu terrorists. A gruesome example of such atrocities stood out when Bajrang Dal’s terrorists burnt alive the Australian missionary and his two young sons.

7. In 2002, Hindu terrorists slaughtered some 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat. Sickening confessions of the VHP's leaders (e.g. Babu Bajrangi’s), responsible for the attacks, are available on the YouTube.

8. In 2007, over 60 Pakistanis were burnt alive in India. The gruesome massacre was the handy work of Bajrang Dal’s terrorist Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit.

9. A brainchild of terrorist RAW, the globally known terrorist organization Tamil Tigers/LTTE was founded in 1972. To this day Tamils are funded, trained and armed by RAW. Its cadre are trained and provided safe-heavens in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

10. Just last September, VHP terrorists destroyed dozens of Christian churches. They also set a Christian orphanage on fire, and burned to death a 20-year-old Christian teacher.

Pick any of US State Department report on the Religious Freedom in India; one realizes, religious minorities in India had been systematically persecuted far worse than in rest of the world put together. The reports squarely blame the Hindu terrorist groups, like BJP, RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal for gross human rights violations of the minorities (including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Dalits). If that’s not terrorism, then what is?

Since 1968, RAW had been intimately involved in everything that could be considered as terrorism. Its dirty deeds include, but not limited to: drugs trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking, coup d'etat in foreign nations, subversive activities, assassinations, nuclear proliferation, and downright recruiting, funding and training of exporting terrorists.

Some of feathers in RAW’s cap are: Creation and support of Mukti Bahini. Mujibur Rahman's assassination. Subversive activities and flagrant spread of terrorism in Sri Lanka. Subversive activities in the Raj of Sikkim. Could it be mere coincidence that dozen or so Indian consulates dot the Pakistani border with Afghanistan? RAW established terrorist training camps in Afghanistan to spread terrorism in Pakistan in general, and in specific to infiltrate terrorists in Balochistan and NWFP. Cultivated, nurtured and armed Burmese terrorist groups like the Kachin Independence Army. Subversive activities in Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Nuclear proliferation activities include smuggleing of flow meter units, and feed & withdrawal equipment for the nuclear centrifuge cascades. CIA mole in RAW, Rabinder Singh, who defected to the US with documentary evidence, confirmed RAW’s infatuation with terrorism.

Some Indian Chanakyas are working overtime to capitalize on the Mumbai tragedy by manufacturing a supposed war of civilizations. They want to divide the civilized world between the so-called murderous Muslims and a hapless troika of Hindus, Jews and Christians. If the objective of the Mumbai terrorists was to take on the besieged troika, they must have been out of their minds to spend so many resources to take on the Christians and Jews in India when they could have easily killed many more in Afghanistan, where all the help and resources are readily available.

Ironically, despite the bloodletting of hundred of thousands of minorities and foreign nationals, not a single Hindu or RAW terrorist could be found on UN’s, EU’s or even on US lists of terrorists. Conspicuously, not a peep could be heard from the so-called fair and balanced Indian and Western media, neither over the export of terrorism or the genocides that routinely take place in India.

During the last three decades, Pakistan has experienced more acts of terrorism than rest of the world put together. More Pakistanis had fallen to the terrorist attacks then rest of the world together. More Pakistani soldiers have sacrificed their lives fighting the terrorists (on RAW’s payroll) then all the NATO put together. Naturally, one has to wonder, is the bad reputation systematically forced upon Pakistan: a reality or a perception hyped by the enemies of Pakistan; especially, when their own record is arguably much worst?