3 March 2019

Why Do India and Pakistan Keep Fighting Over Kashmir?


Two nuclear-armed siblings with a long history of armed conflict. Two prime ministers facing public pressure for military action. And a snowy, mountainous region that both nations have coveted — and occupied with troops — for more than 70 years.

It was almost inevitable that fighting would break out again between India and Pakistan.

On Wednesday, Pakistani and Indian fighter jets engaged in a skirmish over Indian-controlled territory in the disputed border state of Jammu and Kashmir. At least one Indian jet was shot down, with Pakistan capturing its pilot.

Pakistan And India Visits by Saudi Arabia Crown Prince- Analysed:

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia visited Pakistan and India - February 2019 with a further follow-up visit to China. Saudi Arabia’s underlying strategic objectives in clubbing these visits make an interesting analysis as the India visit stands out apart strategically in relation to Pakistan and China.

Pakistan has had historically a vassal-state relationship with Saudi Arabia in that Saudi Arabia for reasons more than one has repeatedly bailed out Pakistan from its ‘state-failure propensities’. The predominating impulse of Saudi Arabia in doing so is not that Pakistan as a large theocratic Islamic Republic enjoys commonality of Islam as the State-religion with Saudi Arabia. It has a lot to do with the fact that Saudi Arabia has a call on Pakistan’s military machine and its nuclear weapons arsenal for its security requirements as a quid pro quo for Pakistan’s dependence on Saudi munificence in terms of financial doles and free oil to sustain Pakistan.

Indian Retaliatory Strikes on Pakistan signals end to ‘risk aversion’ Strategies.

By Dr Subhash Kapila

India with its pre-emptive Indian Air Force strikes on Pakistani terrorist bases on February 26 2019 marks a significant signal under PM Modi’s leadership that India has finally dispensed with its ‘Risk Aversion Strategies’ and will not shirk upholding India’s ‘National Honour’ in face of repetitive provocations by India’s military adversaries- Pakistan to be more precise in instant case.

Dispensing with ‘Risk Aversion Strategies’’ followed by past Prime Ministers could not have been an easy decision for the Indian Prime Minister as it has in attendance the challenges of Pakistan climbing the ‘Escalation Ladder’ in response. But should that deter India which today counts geopolitically high in global power calculus be deterred by Pakistan’s constant needling.

Pakistan has in the past been emboldened by the political timidity of past Prime Ministers and also countries like China presently and the United States in the past ego-massaging of the Generals in Pak Army HQs in Rawalpindi that Pakistan is the ‘Strategic Equivalent’ of India. In the process India’s ‘National Honour’ was being besmirched by Pakistan with impunity.

Beggar-Thy-Neighbor: The Effects of Revoking Pakistan’s MFN Status

By Ubaid Mushtaq

Trade has been a crucial driver for the growth and development of many countries. With an increase in trade and trade-related activities the world has become increasingly integrated and multipolar. The large and expanding economies of developing countries dictate their policymakers to expand their bilateral trade relationships and penetrate markets offering comparative advantages and similarities in demand structures. Over a period of time, rising South-South trade has been viewed positively and as a sign that developing countries could provide a significant impetus in the growth of each other.

India and Pakistan, being two populous and large economies and sharing a larger and more accessible common border, also offer some of the biggest gains from trade in the entire South Asian region. However, recent events in Kashmir followed by India’s decision to revoke Pakistan’s non-discriminatory “most favored nation” (MFN) status and increase custom and tariff duties by 200 percent will significantly dent Pakistan’s economy and worsen its economic problems.

A Looming Peace for Afghanistan’s Long Hard War?

Robert M. Cassidy

During the last week of January, the news was awash with stories covering the current administration’s ostensibly unprecedented progress with Special Envoy Khalilzad’s recent talks with the Taliban and their Pakistani sponsors in Qatar. In a statement that the U.S. Embassy Kabul released on the last Monday in January, Khalilzad stated that the peace talks had made progress on important issues and that the negotiators had agreed on a framework for further talks in February. In the eighteenth year of a long and stalemated war, there are reasons to be sanguine about these developments, to some degree, simply because this seems to have been the most talk about peace among the belligerents yet in this long hard war. And Mr. Khalilzad is indeed one of the best people to be the U.S. envoy leading the talks given his Afghan origins and years of experience as ambassador in Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, there are also reasons for much caution and some alarm about the current progress and the potential for peace in Afghanistan since the deliberations and decisions about many previously intractable issues still require prudence and patience. These details may potentially augur the gravest consequences for Afghanistan, its neighbors, and the U.S. Several things of great importance have yet to be worked out. There is still much uncertainty in what outcomes these talks will result in, and looming yet elusive peace also brings up questions and concerns about the Taliban’s and their sponsor’s true intentions.

Taliban: Afghan Peace Talks With U.S. Heading in 'Right Direction'

Ayaz Gul 

Special Envoy of the Qatar FM for Counterterrorism and Mediation, Mutlaq Bin Majid Al-Qahtanithe, U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Deputy Commander of the Taliban Movement for Political Affairs, Mulla Abdul Ghani Berader, hold talks in Doha, Feb. 25, 2019.

American and Afghan Taliban officials have temporally paused ongoing peace talks in Qatar to consult with their respective leaderships before returning to the table on Saturday.

A spokesman for the insurgent group said Wednesday, during an uninterrupted debate for two days, the "technical groups" from both sides focused entirely on issues related to "complete withdrawal" of U.S.-led foreign forces from Afghanistan. They also focused on the Taliban giving guarantees that prevent terrorists from using Afghan territory for attacks against other nations in future.

'Break for Internal Consultations'

A Looming Peace for Afghanistan’s Long Hard War?


During the last week of January, the news was awash with stories covering the current administration’s ostensibly unprecedented progress with Special Envoy Khalilzad’s recent talks with the Taliban and their Pakistani sponsors in Qatar. In a statement that the U.S. Embassy Kabul released on the last Monday in January, Khalilzad stated that the peace talks had made progress on important issues and that the negotiators had agreed on a framework for further talks in February. In the eighteenth year of a long and stalemated war, there are reasons to be sanguine about these developments, to some degree, simply because this seems to have been the most talk about peace among the belligerents yet in this long hard war. And Mr. Khalilzad is indeed one of the best people to be the U.S. envoy leading the talks given his Afghan origins and years of experience as ambassador in Afghanistan and Iraq.

How Pakistan Navigates the Saudi Arabia-Iran Rivalry

Soon after taking office last summer, the new Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan confronted mounting economic challenges and the prospect of a balance of payments crisis. The government has delayed accepting an International Monetary Fund bailout and sought additional sources of financial assistance from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among others. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman recently visited Pakistan to finalize agreements on new projects in the energy sector and other areas, which solidified a $20 billion Saudi investment in Pakistan’s economy to match the scale of China, Islamabad’s principal ally. Pakistani military cooperation with Saudi Arabia has also remained strong, with the former Pakistani chief of army staff Raheel Sharif now heading a Saudi-sponsored military coalition.Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, center left, with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in Islamabad. Photo courtesy of Pakistan’s Press Information Department via The New York Times.

China’s Pursuit of Semiconductor Independence

While China has made immense investments in science and technology, and while these are producing results, it is still dependent on Western technology. This is particularly true for semiconductors. China’s dependence on foreign semiconductors has worried Beijing for decades. China suspects that Western semiconductors contain “backdoors,” intentional vulnerabilities that can be exploited for intelligence and military purposes. In 2016, President Xi Jinping said, “the fact that core technology is controlled by others is our greatest hidden danger.” Vice Premier Ma Kai said at the 2018 National People’s Congress, “We cannot be reliant on foreign chips.”1 China intends to end this dependence, but despite 40 years of investment and espionage, it is unable to make advanced semiconductors. Along the way, there have been embarrassing frauds and expensive failures.

Mistaken Expectations

Since 1979, China has used hefty state investments in infrastructure, education, and research, along with technology acquisitions and supportive business policies, to produce incredible economic growth. Western companies were happy to take advantage of the Chinese market and for many it became essential. Expectations that concessions made to China would be only temporary, needed only until it became a market economy, were a serious miscalculation. No one objects to China’s growth and modernization. The problem lies with the means the Chinese government uses to achieve this, including espionage, intellectual property (IP) theft, coercive joint venture requirements, trade barriers, and aggressive mercantilist policies.
China Is a Net Tech Importer

China’s Get-Rich Space Program

By Namrata Goswami

2049 is an important year for the People’s Republic of China (PRC). That year, the PRC (established in 1949), will celebrate its 100th birthday. Consequently, past and current Chinese leaders have set two interrelated centennial goals: By 2021, the year the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding, China will aim to become a “moderately prosperous society in all respects,” and double its GDP per capita from its 2010 level ($7,924). By 2049, China will be a “fully developed, rich and powerful” nation, leading in outer space, artificial intelligence (AI) and innovation. President Xi Jinping has specified that China’s space program, part of the national rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, has a critical role in achieving these two interrelated goals.

Unlike NASA, which is aimed at space exploration and space science missions, China’s space program is aimed at long-term wealth creation for the Chinese nation, by utilizing a space-based economy. The global space economy today is worth $350 billion but is predicted to be worth $2.7 trillion by 2040. Added to this is the significant economic potential from future space mining. Scientists infer that a small platinum-rich asteroid, just 200 meters in length, could be worth $30 billion. Asteroid 2011 UW158, which sailed at a distance of 1.5 million miles from Earth in July 2015, was worth an estimated $5 trillion in platinum.

Has the ‘Free Tibet‘ Movement Fizzled Due to China’s Rise?

By Robert Farley

Where has the “Free Tibet” rallying call gone? Resistance to the Chinese occupation continues within Tibet, but the visibility of that resistance in the West seems to have declined markedly since the 1990s. This has come even as relations between China and the United States have deteriorated, and as attention to China’s behavior in Xinjiang has drawn greater international criticism. Why has attention dwindled? There are several connected reasons why the volume of the Free Tibet cry has become so muted over the last decade. Altogether, it has much to do with changes in activist networks, as well as coordinated pushback by the Chinese Communist Party.

The visibility of the Free Tibet movement depended upon a few key activists. As Massoud Hayoun points out, while Richard Gere has not renounced his support for Tibet, his attention has shifted to other issues, including HIV research. Similarly, the illness and eventual death of Adam Yauch (MCA of the Beastie Boys) made it more difficult for Free Tibet activists to reach broader audiences through the music community. Moreover, the Dalai Lama himself has decided to adopt a relatively moderate tack towards Beijing in the last decade.

Looking Beyond Syria and ISIS: America’s Real Strategic Needs in the Middle East

By Anthony H. Cordesman

When Secretary of Defense James Mattis left the Pentagon, he was quoted as describing Washington as a "strategy free zone." Secretary Mattis was all too accurate in noting the lack of effective United States strategies and strategic planning. However, he misstated the core problem that has affected virtually every key aspect of U.S. strategy since the end of the Cold War.

Washington has always had something that at least masqueraded as a strategy, even if it has almost always been little more than a broad concept or goal tied to short-term efforts that only addresses a fraction of the key issues involved. Washington's real problem is not that it is a "strategy free zone." It is rather that is has become a "wrong strategy zone."
Washington as a "Wrong Strategy Zone."

Another Step Forward Toward ‘Sovereign’ Russian Internet

By: Sergey Sukhankin

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov talked with Russian journalists on Wednesday, February 27, following news reports in the United States claiming that US Cyber Command had actively hacked and briefly taken offline the St. Petersburg–based Internet Research Agency. The US cyber strike on this entity, often referred to as the Kremlin’s “troll farm,” occurred on Election Day, November 6, 2018, in an effort to disrupt Russian attempts to disrupt the midterms. Peskov asserted that, while he could not corroborate the story’s authenticity, it nonetheless illustrated the threat to Russia from foreign cyberattacks. He added, “…given these potential threats, legislative procedures are being carried out to pass legislation like the so-called sovereign Internet bill” (TASS, February 27).

The White House and Defense Department unveiled AI strategies. Now what?

By: Megan Lamberth 

The White House and Department of Defense made major strides this month in artificial intelligence policy by unveiling two key strategy documents.

On Feb. 11, President Trump signed an executive order enacting the “American AI Initiative,” identifying AI as a priority for government research and development. The Initiative signals a shift within the executive branch, and lawmakers should seize this opening and allocate enough resources to support an enduring national AI strategy. The next day, the DoD released its own AI strategy, positioning its newly created Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) at the forefront of its efforts. The DoD has long grappled with the transformative impact of AI and this plan attempts to formalize the Pentagon’s deployment of AI-enabled technologies. While these documents hold promise, the details of their execution and funding are noticeably absent. Without persistent vocal and financial support from the White House, Congress, and the DoD, these strategies will struggle to evolve from vision to reality.

The Hanoi summit shines a light on the “Vietnam model” of development

David Dollar

Countries are different, and it doesn’t work to simply copy-and-paste. But countries can learn from each other, as I wrote in a 2015 study. Vietnam has been a remarkably successful developing country. The best metric for this is the decline in extreme poverty, from 53 percent of the population in 1992 to 3 percent today.

The “Vietnam model” can be interpreted in various ways. I am going to focus on the economic model, and then comment on other aspects at the end. As a longtime World Bank official, my first assignment was giving policy advice to Vietnam during 1989-95. I was based in Washington but made 25 trips, some as long as six weeks. My experiences in Vietnam had a big effect on how I think about development and foreign aid.


Vietnam launched doi moi (renovation) at a party meeting in 1986, but the main reforms were introduced beginning in 1988-89. Many ingredients go into success, so there is a risk of over-simplification. But it’s worth emphasizing three important changes introduced at this time, which interacted in a powerful way: opening up space for private initiative; opening the economy to foreign trade and direct investment; and stabilizing the price level and the exchange rate.

Quibbling Over the Number of U.S. Forces in Syria Misses the Point

by Robert Moore 

The magic 8-ball that is the Trump Administration’s foreign policy sent Washington and world leaders on another whipsaw last week, this time announcing the U.S. would leave 200 troops in Syria. Not even two months ago, President Trump announced the military mission to liberate ISIS-held territory was (nearly) complete and that it was time to bring American forces home.

Some national leaders applauded the decision and others disagreed; while most Americans likely shrugged their shoulders knowing that whatever they thought, there was little that could be done about it. That’s because quibbling over 200; 2,000; or 20,000 troops in Syria misses the more important point: Congress has never authorized a U.S. military presence in Syria, and an overall justification that reflects American national security priorities has never been established more than half a decade since we became involved in the civil war.

The $32 Trillion Push To Disrupt The Entire Oil Industry – Analysis

By Cyril Widdershoven

Global oil and gas companies are increasingly facing an uphill battle as global warming policies are taking their toll. Most analysts and market watchers are focusing on peak oil demand scenarios, but the reality could be much darker. International oil companies (IOCs) are likely to face a Black Swan scenario, which could end up being a boon for state-owned oil companies (NOCs).

Increased shareholder activism, combined with global warming policies of institutional investors and NGOs, are pushing IOCs in a corner, constricting financing options for oil companies.

The first signs of a green revolution in the shareholder-investors universe are there, as investors have forced Dutch oil and gas major Shell to officially change its strategy, investing in more renewable energy and energy storage. The Dutch IOC wasn’t forced by to do so because of mismanagement or a lack of reserves but due to a well-orchestrated investor/stakeholder offensive. Several other peers, such as BP, ENI or Total, are expected to experience comparable situations.

Why Creating an Indigenous LTE Chipset is Such a Big Deal

Ashish Chhibbar

Speaking at the Chennai International Centre’s first Business Visionaries Series talk on February 09, 2019, Vembu Sridhar of Zoho Corporation declared that: “We have developed a 4G LTE Modem in stealth mode. 50 engineers worked for eight years, and it taped out just last week in Taiwan. 5G is on its way. India must have its own LTE chip for national security.”

With these many words, the Indian Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry came of age and shattered the glass ceiling by developing and manufacturing indigenous high end chipsets. The news comes in quick succession to another such remarkable achievement i.e. Project SHAKTI of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, which in August 2018 announced the development of a family of six types of microprocessors with the initial batch of 300 chips of Class C processor called RISECREEK being manufactured free of cost by Intel Corporation at their facility in Oregon.

Development of indigenous microprocessors not only opens up immense business opportunities in the ICT space but provides a very high degree of security and assurance to strategic cyber systems ranging from space, infrastructure and navigation to power, defence and nuclear. The next step in becoming a true power house in the ICT arena would be development of indigenous systems and technologies covering the entire gamut of ICT ecosystem ranging from high end servers and routers to last mile modems and smart phones.

The New Contours of Cyber Conflict

By Paul Rosenzweig 

An American military unit used offensive weapons against a target inside Russia. And nobody is noticing.

Let that sink in for a second. As the country (understandably) focuses on matters like Michael Cohen's testimony; the president's self-described friendship with a murderous dictator; and the House vote to negate the president's declaration of a national emergency (all notable issues to be sure), it seems as though something exceedingly significant has happened and ... just disappeared under the radar.

To repeat: The Washington Post is reporting that U.S. Cyber Command conducted offensive cyber operations against the Internet Research Agency. The IRA is located in St. Petersburg, Russia and is a well-known proxy for Russian information operations. As the Post puts it:


Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI), or machine learning, have the potential to revolutionize how humans interact with technology. Rather than merely responding to direct inputs in predefined ways, systems that can sort through vast amounts of data and refine their network structures are rapidly improving their ability to predict and categorize. These advances are driven primarily by the massive quantity of information that can be captured and correlated. The more data that is integrated, the more precise the model becomes—whether it is driving patterns on city roads, overhead imagery of farm fields or medical scans of disease-prone organs. AI also has broad military applications, ranging from cybersecurity to aviation maintenance diagnostics to higher echelon military intelligence analysis. Its potential in military applications, however, is sharply limited by the rarity of war. Lacking real-world data to train on and unable to draw from historical cases, AI-enabled land combat systems may be severely limited in their effectiveness, especially in the critical opening phases of war. 


Buried deep in Carl von Clausewitz’s On War is the Prussian general’s ruminations on the differences that exist between limited and total war. Clausewitz argues, “We can thus only say that the aims a belligerent adopts, and the resources he employs, must be governed by the particular characteristics of his own position; but they will also conform to the spirit of the age and to its general character.” The astute scholar of war should pause at this statement and ponder what it means for both contemporary and future war. Specifically, what are the peculiarities of modern war, and what are the divergent effects of those idiosyncrasies? 

One can proffer many causal reasons for the increased relevance of proxy warfare, to include everything from the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons to the precision of today’s technocratic weaponry and ethos. Nevertheless, restricted warfare has overtaken the major land wars of yore. This is not to say conventional land warfare has gone anywhere but rather that the method in which land warfare is conducted has evolved to be more covert and oblique. Although the world’s major powers occasionally flirt with the idea of war with one another, the conditions governing war have severely eroded overt interstate war. As a result, nations large and small have found utility in outsourcing warfighting. Proxy warfare has become the predominant form of modern war. 


During the 2017 U.S. Army Maneuver Warfare Conference, the commanding general (CG) of the Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCOE) asked who among the audience had any boxing experience. An officer raised his hand, and the CG asked him to share one of the most important factors that a boxer must consider when studying an opponent. The officer replied “reach.” The CG concurred, affirming that the boxer with greater reach has standoff, can strike first and has more options. This exchange underscores the Army’s intent to transform and extend its “reach” in the land warfare domain to regain tactical overmatch against near-peer adversaries. 

Recognizing the decades-long dominance of U.S. land forces in the conventional close fight as demonstrated in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, near-peer adversaries have embraced evolving technologies and tactics in pursuit of tactical standoff against these formations. In the more than 17 years since 9/11, the U.S. Army has been heavily focused on waging counterinsurgency and counterterrorism campaigns against low-tech but lethal forces. 

The US Army wants to turn tanks into AI-powered killing machines

By Justin Rohrlich

A new initiative by the US Army suggests “another significant step towards lethal autonomous weapons,” warns a leading artificial-intelligence researcher who has called for a ban on so-called “killer robots.”

The Army Contracting Command has called on potential vendors in industry and academia to submit ideas to help build its Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS), which a Defense Department solicitation says will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to give ground-combat vehicles autonomous targeting capabilities. This will allow weapons to “acquire, identify, and engage targets at least 3X faster than the current manual process,” according to the notice.

Stuart Russell, a professor of computer science at UC Berkeley and a highly regarded AI expert, tells Quartz he is deeply concerned about the idea of tanks and other land-based fighting vehicles eventually having the capability to fire on their own.

Military Deception: A Handbook

by Steven Aftergood

Military tacticians use deception to induce an opponent to act against his own interests, or to refrain from acting when it would be advantageous. The theory and techniques of military deception were detailed this week in a new Army publication for military planners that also implicitly illuminates the role of deception in other contexts.

In one form, deception may increase an adversary’s uncertainty so as to hinder decision-making. In another form, it may decrease uncertainty to encourage the adversary to make a decision that is mistaken.

“Ambiguity-increasing deception is designed to generate confusion and cause mental conflict in the enemy decision maker. Anticipated effects of ambiguity-increasing deception can include a delay to making a specific decision, operational paralysis, or the distribution of enemy forces to locations far away from the intended location of the friendly efforts,” the Army manual said.

Movement and Maneuver Culture and the Competition for Influence Among the U.S. Military Services

by S. Rebecca Zimmerman

What cultural characteristics, primary goals, and competitive strategies and tactics are exhibited by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and U.S. Special Operations Command? How might each of the services and U.S. Special Operations Command adapt and respond if it faced major policy shifts in the future, specifically in the Asia-Pacific?

This report analyzes the current character of competition between the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and examines how culture impacts the ways the services posture themselves to gain resources, authorities, access, and influence. The report identifies cultural characteristics, primary goals, and competitive strategies exhibited by the military services and USSOCOM. Further, it explores the current modalities of competition and tactics of competition employed by each service. The authors evaluate whether the cultures of the services have changed substantively over time and whether the services wield as much influence as they did before the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986. Finally, the authors assess how each service might adapt and respond if it faced major policy shifts in the future, focusing specifically on contingencies in China and North Korea. The authors make three essential arguments: