5 March 2019

India should question legality of Durand Line between Afghan, Pak

Satish Chandra

In a welcome departure from the past, we are beginning to see the evolution of a new get tough policy by the government vis-à-vis Pakistan, designed to impose costs on it for the continued export of terror to India. Some initial indicators of this are the abandonment of the dialogue process, the diplomatic campaign to isolate Pakistan as the fount of terror, highlighting its human rights violations in Gilgit-Baltistan, PoK, Balochistan, Pakhtunistan, and Sindh and the resulting discontent there, the surgical strikes, the effort to maximise the utilisation of the Indus waters, etc. Not only will these moves have to be sustained, but much more will need to be done over the years in order to make Pakistan desist from its use of terror as an instrument of foreign policy against India. An innovative, low cost, and effective step, which can be taken by India towards this end, is to weigh in, at an appropriate occasion, against the legitimacy of the Durand Line.

Established in 1893, through an agreement between the Indian Government and Amir Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan, the Durand Line was designed to demarcate the “respective spheres of influence” of British India and Afghanistan. It is a matter of record that it has, since inception, been mired in controversy.

A New Phase in the Great Game: U.S., Soviets, India, Pakistan vied to shape a new Afghanistan in late 1980s

by Svetlana Savranskaya

U.S. Ambassadors Dean and Raphel warned Washington unconditional support to Pakistan and fundamentalist factions of mujahedin was destabilizing the region

Reagan administration supported India’s active role in connection with Soviet withdrawal, but changed position when Delhi tried to keep extreme fundamentalists from coming to power

Pakistan's nuclear weapons program was major Indian concern in connection with U.S. aid to Islamabad; New Delhi and Washington consulted closely on arms control, cables show

Washington, D.C., February 1, 2019 – Two U.S. ambassadors in the late 1980s warned the U.S. government about potentially detrimental developments in Afghanistan in the wake of a Soviet military withdrawal, according to declassified documents obtained by the National Security Archive at The George Washington University. Ambassador John Gunther Dean in New Delhi highlighted the dangers of unfettered backing for the most hardline rebel factions in Afghanistan, while Ambassador Arnold Raphel in Islamabad pointed out the intent of America’s ally, Pakistan, to exert its influence in this “new phase ... in the perennial great game.”

The Indian Civil Services – Shortcoming and the Course for Reforms

Vinod Rai 

It is widely believed that the original ‘steel frame’ of the Indian civil services is now cracking and the service is not able to deliver up to expectations. Various models and reforms are being considered for its improvement. Whilst anything being considered for its ‘recast’ has been felt and talked about much earlier, it is the implementation of the reform measures that needs to be strengthened. The maladies are the usual and fairly well known: short tenures, political interference, age at entrance, monetary compensation and attraction for political alignment. These maladies have been addressed in the first and second administrative commissions and remedial action was suggested. However, implementation of these suggestions has been lacking. There is a need for ensuring recruitment of officers at a maximum age of about 25 years, providing professional training at higher level, ensuring fixity of tenures, weeding out officers perceived as deadwood and enhanced compensation at the higher echelons

Defence Diplomacy between India and Myanmar: State of Play

Dr Bibhu Prasad Routray 

Although New Delhi reversed its earlier Myanmar policy and started engaging with the military junta in the 1990s, the May 2012 visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the country initiated an era of deeper engagement between the two countries. Singh’s visit focused on bilateral economic relations. It was followed by then foreign minister Salman Khurshid and Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne visiting the country in November-December that year and the January 2013 visit by then Indian Defence Minister, A K Antony and the Indian Naval Air Chief. In early September 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Myanmar during three MoUs with respect to maritime cooperation were signed between both countries. Both countries ‘reviewed the security situation in their immediate neighbourhood and agreed upon the special need for enhancing closer bilateral cooperation in maritime security. 

India’s Media Is War-Crazy


If India and Pakistan ever resolve their conflict, it won’t be thanks to the Indian media.

Ever since a suicide attack in Pulwama, Kashmir, killed more than 40 paramilitary Indian soldiers on Feb. 14, India’s television news networks have been baying for blood, as have ordinary citizens on social media. The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber from the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist group, which India blames Pakistan for harboring and sponsoring.

“We want revenge, not condemnation. … It is time for blood, the enemy’s blood,” thunderedArnab Goswami, a famously aggressive news anchor, the day after the attack. Even the wife of one of the slain soldiers, Mita Santra, was attacked online when she questioned the failure to prevent the attack and advocated peaceful dialogue with Pakistan. Some called her a coward. Others suggested she didn’t love her husband.

The Many Faces of India's Kumbh Mela

By Prabhat Singh

Millions of Hindu devotees and tourists are thronging the historic north Indian city of Prayagraj (previously known as Allahabad) for the Ardh Kumbh, one of the world’s largest religious festivals, celebrated at the confluence of three “holy” rivers, the Ganges, the Yamuna, and a mythical river, the Saraswati.

During the festival, which runs through March, pilgrims from across the country bathe in the river with the belief that it cleanses them of their sins and ends the cycle of reincarnations. Among them, ash-smeared Naga sadhus or Hindu ascetics, naked except for rosary beads and garlands, become a focus of media and tourist attention. Special arrangements are made for their stay, and for the rituals they perform.

However, most of the pilgrims, who do not receive such welcome, come prepared with rations, fuel, and blankets, carrying them on their head as they join the religious mega-event. Pilgrims will take a dip in the river, bow before holy men seeking their blessings, and go back with a pitcher or plastic can full of the river’s sacred water.

The Modi Factor in Indian Foreign Policy

By Harsh V. Pant

Ever since the Narendra Modi government came to power in India in May 2014, there has been a debate in the policy and academic community about its foreign policy. While some argued that Modi is fundamentally altering the trajectory of Indian foreign policy, most disagreed. They talked of how the Modi government’s shift is only about the style and not substance. Yes, Narendra Modi may be a more energetic and visible prime minister on the foreign policy front, but he has only tinkered with the long-held foreign and national security assumptions of India. The Modi government may not have uttered the world non-alignment, but in practice it is balancing between the United States and China. It may have ignored Pakistan, but in practice it has tried to find a modus vivendi with Islamabad. It may have changed the nomenclature from “Look East” to “Act East,” but in practice India’s engagement with East and Southeast Asia remains a continuation of the past. It may want to be a big player on the global stage, but it doesn’t have the ability to project its aspirations adequately. And most significantly, the Modi government may have had a stronger rhetoric against Pakistan and terrorism, in practice, there are limits to what it can do on the ground.

Negotiations Are the Best Way to End the War in Afghanistan

By Barnett R. Rubin

In 2012, while I was serving as senior adviser to the State Department special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, I met in Istanbul with a group of Iranian scholars and former diplomats. After listening to the Iranians protest the United States’ purported plans to establish permanent bases in Afghanistan, I told them that they were worrying about the wrong thing. Their problem was not that U.S. forces would stay forever; it was that, sooner or later, they would leave, and the Iranians and their neighbors would once again be stuck with a problem that they could not solve.

Sure enough, that time is coming. In December, The New York Times reported, “The Trump administration has ordered the military to start withdrawing roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming months.” The U.S. government and the Taliban are reportedly close to agreement on a partial framework of a peace deal. Now it is the turn of strategists in Washington to worry about the wrong thing. They fear that the Trump administration is repeating the mistake made by the United States in Vietnam and the Soviet Union in Afghanistan: negotiating a troop withdrawal that leads to the collapse of the U.S.-backed government or a civil war. Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, for example, described the negotiations as a “surrender.”

Has Pakistan’s JF-17 ‘Thunder’ Block II Fighter Jet Engaged in its First Dogfight?

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Pakistan’s military said on February 27 that it has shot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets that had entered Pakistani airspace, capturing a pilot.

“IAF crossed LOC [Line of Control]. PAF shot down two Indian aircrafts inside Pakistani airspace,” according to Pakistan’s military spokesman. “One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K [Azad Kashmir] while other fell inside IOK [Indian-occupied Kashmir]. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground while two in the area.” The alleged captured IAF pilot, Wing Commander Abhi Nandan, the spokesperson said in a separate statement, “is being treated as per norms of military ethics.”

India confirmed that one of its planes was shot down by Pakistani planes and said a pilot is missing in a statement issued on February 27 by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. “In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force [PAF] fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force,” the statement reads. “The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side. In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action.”

The Afghan Parliament: Constitutional Mandate versus the Practice in the Post 2001

Legislatures or parliaments, as the highest law-making bodies in a country, are seen to manifest the will of their people. They play an important role in the life of a nation by performing three fundamental functions: (1) making, changing and repealing laws; (2) representing and articulating the views and demands of the people in all types of decision-making processes; and (3) overseeing the actions of the executive branch to ensure that the government is accountable to the people. Performing these three core functions successfully requires a strong, effective and efficient parliament.

this research recommends some necessary mechanisms for a viable Afghan parliament and a realistic separation of powers. Changing the electoral system and encouraging the growth of political parties might be useful steps that Afghanistan should take to enrich the performance of the parliament.

US Withdrawal From INF Treaty: Impact on Asia

By Mercy A. Kuo

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into the U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dr. Gregory Kulacki – China Project Manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists – is the 177th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

Briefly explain the U.S. rationale for withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Two main justifications have been offered. The first is a Russian violation of the treaty. The second is that the treaty is antiquated because China is not a party.

Explain the INF Treaty’s strategic relevance in a post-Cold War, post-September 11 world order.

Chinese Hard Power Supports Its Growing Strategic Interests in Africa

By Paul Nantulya

The debate on China-Africa relations has largely focused on Beijing’s massive infrastructure projects around the continent. Less noticeable but no less significant are its security activities, which have grown in scale and scope alongside the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), President Xi Jinping’s signature program to strengthen infrastructure, trade, and investment links in Africa, South Asia, and Europe.

China’s growing military footprint in Africa is part of a policy that has at its core the rejuvenation of China as a “Great Power” or shijie qiang guo. In the past decade, it has pursued an increasingly competitive and assertive foreign policy that made a decisive break with Beijing’s decades-long approach of “hiding our capabilities,” “biding our time,” and “keeping a low profile”—a policy known as taoguang yanghui. According to Xi, “China now stands tall and firm in the East” and should “take center stage” in the world. This theme is echoed in the Diversified Employment of the Armed Forces, China’s defense guidance, which says that a world-class military deployable in a wide range of scenarios is indispensable in pursuing the “Great Rejuvenation of China.”

The New Cold War’s Warm Friends


March 2 marks half a century since Chinese troops opened fire on Soviet border guards on Zhenbao Island, a disputed but strategically irrelevant parcel of land in the Ussuri River, which divides the two countries along their far eastern border. The Chinese assault left several dozen soldiers dead and set off months of hair-trigger alerts and violent clashes along the Soviet-Chinese border.

As wars go, the Sino-Soviet clash of 1969 was mercifully contained, with probably no more than a couple hundred soldiers killed. Yet this small conflict transformed the Cold War. As a result of it, both communist powers decided that they needed to improve ties with the United States to counter each other. Over lunch in Washington, a Soviet diplomat asked a U.S. official how the White House would respond if Moscow attacked and destroyed China’s small nuclear arsenal. China, still reeling from the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, began exploring how to improve ties with the United States as a hedge against Soviet power.

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.

The Era of Two-Party Politics Is Over

Leonid Bershidsky

The emergence of the Independent Group in the U.K. parliament, where 11 legislators from the two dominant parties have broken ranks to form a new centrist entity, poses important questions for the world’s remaining two-party systems: Are these systems still relevant, sustainable and fit for purpose? It’s possible that the two-party mold is obsolete and just needs somebody to wield a hammer resolutely enough.

The Independent Group was born of centrist politicians’ frustration with the demands of partisanship. As a Conservative in the U.K. these days, one must support Brexit even if one doesn’t believe in it – to preserve party unity. As a Labour Party member, one has to accept, if not agree with, leader Jeremy Corbyn’s far-left views as well as what some members see as the party’s anti-Semitic bend. But what if you consider Brexit, especially a hard one, fundamentally stupid and communism a dead end? Is there a political home for you in today’s U.K. apart from the largely irrelevant Liberal Party? A case can be made for a new beginning, just as one could be made in France in 2017, when the hidebound two-party system failed to respond to challenges from the far left and the far right and Emmanuel Macron had to start a centrist force from scratch to score a win for political moderation.

Geopolitics by Other Means: The Indo-Pacific Reality

Axel Berkofsky 

The Asia-Pacific has become the Indo-Pacific region as the US, Japan, Australia and India have decided to join forces and scale-up their political, economic and security cooperation. The message coming from Washington, Tokyo, Canberra and New Delhi is clear: China’s Belt and Road Initiative is no longer the only game in town and Beijing’s policymakers better get ready for fierce competition. Japan’s ongoing and future "quality infrastructure" policies and investments in the Indo-Pacific, in particular, make it very clear that Tokyo wants a (much) bigger slice of the pie of infrastructure investments in the region. China’s territorial expansionism in the South China Sea and its increasing interests and presence in countries in South Asia have done their share to help the four aforesaid countries expand their security and defence ties. Beijing, of course, smells containment in all of this and it probably has a point. Who will have the upper hand in shaping and defining Asian security and providing developing South and Southeast Asia with badly-needed infrastructure: the US and Japan together with its allies or the increasingly assertive and uncompromising China and its Belt and Road Initiative?

Fusion Centres in Six European Countries: Emergence, Roles and Challenges

Renske van der Veer, Walle Bos, Liesbeth van der Heide

This report provides an overview of fusion centres in six European countries, taking a closer look at their roles in the wider security and counter-terrorism landscape and what challenges they face. This publication was produced by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT), with support of the Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV). It is partly based on contributions from experts of the European Expert Network on Terrorism Issues (EENeT), as well as input from a conference organised in October 2018, with representatives of national fusion centres and members of EENeT. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the NCTV or any other organisation.

Read the report.

Failure in Hanoi Doesn’t Mean Peace Is Dead


This week, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walked away from Hanoi empty-handed. Their failure to sign a deal was shocking, given most of the speculation before the summit had focused on what would be in the deal, not on whether one would be signed. The failed summit has undeniably made negotiations more difficult going forward. But the silver lining is that the two sides now have the time to step back and lay the foundations for a sustainable diplomatic track, which is essential given the long road ahead.

The Hanoi summit, according to Trump, ultimately collapsed because the North Koreans wanted all existing sanctions lifted in exchange for dismantling the Yongbyon test site. A few hours later, Ri Yong Ho, the North Korean minister of foreign affairs, held a news conference and countered that his side had only asked for partial, not full, sanctions relief. He specified that out of the 11 total U.N. sanctions, they wanted the five imposed between 2016 and 2017—especially the parts that have an impact on “peoples’ livelihood” and the “civilian economy”—to be lifted.

Sheila Smith on the Politics of Japan's Military Power

By Catherine Putz

How does Japan balance its avowedly pacifist constitution and its technologically sophisticated and growing Self-Defense Forces against rising regional threats? How do Japan’s neighbors, South Korea and China, in particular, view the rearming of Japan? And while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is labeled a right-wing nationalist, what do the Japanese people think about shifting security trends and the future of the island’s defense?

Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the upcoming book Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power, offers answers to some of these questions. Smith emphasizes that in developing its military capabilities Japan is responding to a complex regional situation and an uncertain future.

First Impressions: Understanding What Happened at the US-North Korea Summit in Hanoi

By Ankit Panda

In the lead-up to the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting in Hanoi this week, I took U.S. President Donald Trump’s advice and kept my expectations low. Contrary to the lead-up to the Singapore Summit, where expectations on denuclearization in particular had been set sky-high, Trump worked in the run-up to Hanoi to lower them, emphasizing that he was in “no rush” for North Korea’s denuclearization—that all he cared about was that no nuclear or ballistic missile tests occur on his watch.

At Hanoi, the result came in even below my already low expectations. The two sides were unable to come to any productive agreement. Trump confessed at the press conference following the breakdown that the U.S. had even prepared “papers” for the two sides to sign; the White House had sent around a schedule to reporters prematurely announcing a “signing ceremony” too. All this was changed at the last moment and it increasingly looks like it was because North Korea had to walk out on the United States after it refused to budge on the core issue at the center of the process today—and in the past: sanctions.

Warrior Pose : Building Readiness through Resilience—Yoga and Meditation

Ajit Joshi

The rigors of military service create unique stressors on uniformed Service members and their families. Better mental, spiritual, emotional, behavioral, and physical health may reduce violence and aggression, which can be unhealthy outlets for accumulated stress. Harvard Medical School yoga researcher Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa suggests that yoga and meditation change the perception of what is stressful—the indicators for measuring that are improved emotional and stress reactivity as a function of increased resilience.1 Yoga is one tool, among others, for increasing resilience and readiness. United States Army Captain Enrique Incle observes: Yoga has been a tremendous source of strength to me. It has enabled me to obtain inner peace, and control the memories which caused me anxiety for many years. Yoga is a tool for injury prevention, rehabilitation, and health promotion, and it needs to be championed because our Soldiers deserve every chance to continue to serve and stay in the fight. 



Our adversaries and strategic competitors will increasingly use cyber capabilities—including cyber espionage, attack, and influence—to seek political, economic, and military advantage over the United States and its allies and partners. China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea increasingly use cyber operations to threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways—to steal information, to influence our citizens, or to disrupt critical infrastructure. At present, China and Russia pose the greatest espionage and cyber attack threats, but we anticipate that all our adversaries and strategic competitors will increasingly build and integrate cyber espionage, attack, and influence capabilities into their efforts to influence US policies and advance their own national security interests. In the last decade, our adversaries and strategic competitors have developed and experimented with a growing capability to shape and alter the information and systems on which we rely. For years, they have conducted cyber espionage to collect intelligence and targeted our critical infrastructure to hold it at risk. They are now becoming more adept at using social media to alter how we think, behave, and decide. As we connect and integrate billions of new digital devices into our lives and business processes, adversaries and strategic competitors almost certainly will gain greater insight into and access to our protected information.

Evaluation of the Department of Defense’s Counterterrorism Approach

Full Committee Hearing: Evaluation of the Department of Defense’s Counterterrorism Approach

Honorable Owen West

Office of the Secretary of Defense

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict



Between May and October 2018, we took these scenarios to seven international locations: Palo Alto, Munich, Singapore, Hong Kong, Moscow, Geneva, and Washington, DC. In each location, we organized a workshop with a mix of participants from government, business, civil society, academia, and other domains. We ran similar workshop processes in order to extract reactions and insights that would be roughly comparable. These comparisons are the most important immediate product of the workshops. Though none of the four scenarios will “come true” in 2025, it is very likely that cybersecurity in 2025 will encompass many of the issues and challenges that these scenarios portray. Anticipating reactions in different parts of the world contributes to a forward-looking research and policy agenda that should be more robust, intellectually and practically—and more broadly applicable across countries and regions.


By Rebecca Marlow.

Through the Logistics in War and over the past two years Dave Beaumont has been challenging logisticians to think and write about their profession. It is important to our profession that we have a robust discussion and challenge perceptions and conceptions there may be about our trade. Earlier this year he challenged all logisticians to write, which had me ponder, ‘why don’t we?’ Sounds easy right? We’re all subject matter experts and we have opinions. We also have a wealth of experience. This could have come from a deployment, or as a consequence of serving in the different units and headquarters of the military. Why then is it so hard write? What is it that stops us from tapping away at the keyboard and delivering our hard-won wisdom to the masses?