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  #1  
Old Friday, March 23, 2012
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The big shift in South Asia
March 22, 2012
Michael Krepon

SINCE the Cold War ended, no region has experienced more shocks or a more significant reorientation in US foreign policy than South Asia. The big shift was enabled by the demise of the Soviet Union and New Delhi’s turn away from Nehruvian economics to market-oriented entrepreneurship.

Then came the 1998 nuclear tests, the Kargil war and the 9/11 attacks on US soil, which served to clarify Washington’s repositioning. Two of these bell-ringers occurred during the second term of the Clinton administration, when the big shift gained traction. After the 9/11 attacks, the subsequent US military campaign in Afghanistan and the US-India civil nuclear deal
during the Bush administration solidified and accentuated Washington’s reorientation.

The end of the Cold War allowed New Delhi and Washington to view each other in a new light, a necessary but insufficient cause for a re-wiring of this magnitude. More consequential were the decisions by prime minister Narasimha Rao and finance minister Manmohan Singh to launch their market reforms in the early 1990s.

With this opening, powerful US interests could be mobilised to support initiatives to improve bottom lines. The rise of China and a far more politically active Indian-American community clearly reinforced economic impulses to improve ties between
Washington and New Delhi.

India’s nuclear-weapon programmes were a major impediment to improved ties with Washington. Until 1998, India was perpetually caught betwixt and between: it couldn’t join global nuclear compacts, but was reluctant to rock the boat. New Delhi’s default position was to champion nuclear disarmament while wishing to join the nuclear club.

The indefinite extension of the Nonproliferation Treaty in 1995 and the negotiation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty a year later forced a long-delayed choice. A new, determined coalition government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, finally pulled the nuclear trigger. Pakistan followed suit, and Washington had to adapt to new realities.

India remained in limbo after the nuclear tests because it chose not to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and couldn’t rewrite the Nonproliferation Treaty. Washington’s cold shoulder lasted until Pervez Musharraf’s dangerous misadventure in the heights above Kargil. Musharraf may have been seeking to exploit Pakistan’s newly overt nuclear capability as a shield while forcing Indian concessions on Kashmir. Instead, he created a significant opening for US-Indian rapprochement.

Desperate for a face-saving exit, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pleaded with President Bill Clinton to take a more direct interest by visiting the subcontinent. By the time he did so, Pakistan was once again under military rule. Clinton spent five days in India and five hours in Pakistan. He then hosted the Indian prime minister and his entourage at a huge gala on the White House lawn.
The reversal of Indian and Pakistani fortunes was in full swing, and about to be accentuated by the incoming Bush administration, which was looking for a counterweight to China.

The 9/11 attacks offered a short-term fillip to US-Pakistan relations in the form of a lifting of sanctions and the influx of military and economic aid. But US-Pakistan relations have foundered over Afghanistan, where interests merge at a level of generality that is repeatedly undercut by specifics. The familiar Pakistani story of betrayal now has a companion US narrative.

Washington’s reliance on drone attacks has mortgaged relations with Pakistan in order to salvage bad decisions in Afghanistan.
At the same time, Rawalpindi’s investments in the Afghan Taliban and outfits to serve as its strategic reserves against India have badly frayed ties with Washington.

These tactics have also accentuated Pakistan’s economic decline, domestic divisions and diplomatic isolation. Bilateral US-Pakistan relations can still be patched up, but not in meaningful ways as long as Rawalpindi’s policies mortgage Pakistan’s future, use the United States as a scapegoat and risk new confrontations with India.In contrast, US-Indian ties will improve, but in measured fashion. Familiar voices in the United States and India will continue to call on Washington to do more and to pick up the pace, even though New Delhi’s performance falls well short of expectations. It’s very hard for two proud and exceptional nations to forge a strategic partnership, especially given the viscosity of Indian bureaucratic and domestic politics. At the end of the day, New Delhi will refuse to be Washington’s junior partner.

After an eventful two decades, Pakistan feels jilted, while the romance of Washington’s new relationship with New Delhi has become routinised. The big shift in US foreign policy towards the subcontinent will not be reversed. But the upswing in US-India ties, like the downward trajectory of US ties with Pakistan, requires managed expectations.

The writer is the co-founder of the Stimson Centre in Washington.
-Dawn
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Asia’s Pakistan problem
March 22, 2012
By: Marvi Memon

As I stare at a graph tabulating Asia’s growth rates from 1700 to 2050, the return of Asian economic power is all evident. If all goes well for our continent, we could be looking at dominating the world by being at 52 percent of the world’s GDP. At this stage, the only question as a Pakistani politician that comes to my mind is where will Pakistan be? The answer lies with us. We could either be steering the demographic dividends or be watching the demographic disasters taking place in front of our very eyes. After all, the Asian share of the population will rise from 21 percent to 45 percent of world GDPs; whereas, the Western share will decline from 50 percent to 29 percent.

At a time when Pakistan is indulged in a self-destructive corruption patronage cycle, we have to step back and give direction. Inaction is suicidal. The foreign policy direction has to be proactive not reactive. In the last four years, we have had a foreign policy made by the establishment and executed half-heartedly by its principals, and we have seen neither satisfied in the process. We have seen the two squabbling publicly over a direction which isn’t even a direction, but a self-serving cyclical tool. We have had screams by Parliament of discontentment on the same, but to-date no initiative by it to take charge of this important task.

There are international relations analysts, who predict that Asia could soon be divided into two camps. One set of grouping of continental nations physically contiguous to and strategically centred on China: North Korea, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. The other grouping consisting of liberal democracies aligned with the US and physically separated by the ocean or mountains from China: Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Singapore, Thailand and India.

Pakistan frankly doesn’t deserve to be solely associated with any camp for its demographic dividend to be realised. It is time Pakistan took a step back from the continental and maritime polarisation leading to a new kind of cold war. Pakistan is geographically blessed with being at the gateway of a lot of strategic theatres. It has simply to realise how best it can reap the dividends of being on the epicentre of all these theatres. It needs to consciously work towards the “epicentre reap model”.

For now, Pakistan has reaped terrorism and played backyard to the games of its neighbours, who are trying to use Pakistani territory for their own aggressive designs. It is time for the tables to turn and for Pakistan to neither look east nor west, but to “look all” as an “Asian potential tiger”. In essence, what this means is that Pakistan needs to position itself at the centre of the compass and engage bilaterally with all directions to bring Asia closer to the realisation of its full potential.

Pakistan needs to follow the Asian economic model of penetrating international markets, developing technology and knowledge-based economy, thereby raising productivity. It is only possible to be the gateway for the Muslim oil-rich countries and the Asian tigers when Pakistan sorts its own house. The priority, therefore, needs to be a rush for “clean up home” strategy before being the compass, which can “look all” strategy.

The foreign policy direction needs to have three prongs: The ‘core’ prong, the ‘layer’ prong and the ‘crust’ prong. The ‘core’ prong needs to be the clean up action of freeing itself from being hostage to the games of all powers. A self-purification prong which gets rid of outside interferences and moves closer to the concept of economic and territorial sovereignty. The ‘layer’ prong has to be the prong, which deals with its immediate neighbours with whom it has borders. Here the focus has to be conflict resolution through international mediation of territorial disputes as a first step. Only then can the economic component of free trade zones or potential tariff unions become meaningful. And finally, the ‘crust’ prong has to engage in meaningful trade relationships with all other powers with whom business can be done. It is all about conflict resolution and then doing business; making the business environment as attractive as possible.

Asia certainly remains divided by ideology, history and lack of experience in regional integration. It has no historic model to bank on a trusted set of arbiters or guarantors. All states have occasionally favoured self-serving mechanisms of influence versus thought of the Asian collective whole.

For Asia to realise its potential, it will need to cut the inequalities within each country, which are currently the biggest impediment for social cohesion. It will need to rationalise the intense competition for finite natural resources. It will need to deal head on with the rising income disparities across its countries before they lead to the destabilisation of the region. It will need to collectively deal with the climate change challenges before its populations get wiped out or food insecure by one brush of a natural calamity. It will need to improve the poor governance structures and institutionalise to full capacity in as short a period as possible.

Whilst Pakistan cannot be part of the engine of the Asian century by being part of Asia’s seven economies, it certainly needs to reduce its drag factor on the engine. Through a focus on core, layer and crust this is a realistic possibility. The vision document, which will provide Pakistan this foreign policy direction, needs a parliamentary sign off so that there is ownership beyond a single term of a political government. This is the very document we are busy building, as per our leadership’s directions. And this is the very document, which will integrate Pakistan into being a truly Asian power with a compass “look all’ focus.

The writer is a former Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan.
-The Nation
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Healing South Asia

April 5, 2012
Shahid Javed Burki

Pakistan is undergoing three transitions simultaneously. How they unfold matters not only for Pakistan, but also for much of the Muslim world, particularly as the Arab Spring forces change upon governments across the wider Middle East. Most Muslim countries were governed for decades by autocrats, who had either emerged directly from the armed forces, or had strong khaki support. That was the case in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and, of course, Pakistan. The Arab Spring drained away whatever spurious legitimacy that style of governance ever had. But, in Pakistan, de-legitimation of military rule had actually occurred three years earlier, and the pressure for change came from much the same source - a restive and mobilised new middle class.

Several decades ago, the American political scientist, Samuel P. Huntington, argued that economic prosperity in developing countries with weak governing institutions would not necessarily lead to political stability. On the contrary, economic growth in such contexts can be - and often is - politically destabilising. That proved to be the case in Turkey and Pakistan in the 1990s and early 2000s, and later in much of the Arab world. Indeed, the rising aspirations of Arab youth in Egypt and Tunisia, the wellspring of the Arab Spring, followed impressive economic growth that had failed to trickle down. And such rising expectations have been visible in all large Muslim countries.
As Huntington suggested, when young people see their economies grow, they begin to demand participation in decisions that affect all aspects of their lives, not just their economic well being. Military-dominated political systems precluded such participation, so, with economic growth, demilitarisation of politics became a rallying cry in all large military-led Muslim states, from Indonesia to the Mediterranean coast.

But demilitarisation means more than transferring power and policymaking from the armed forces to elected parliaments. In their recent book, Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson suggest that elections - even those that are free and fair - do not necessarily move societies from what they call “extractive” to “inclusive” systems. Indeed, extraction of a country’s wealth for use by the elite can occur even in democratic societies when those who dominate the political system face no constraints other than periodic elections. This is where the effort to devise institutional mechanisms to check and balance elite behaviour enters the picture. Indeed, the search for such mechanisms is precisely what is now underway in Pakistan.

In Pakistan, a discredited military dictator was forced by public opinion to withdraw from power, creating political space for elected representatives. They assumed control, but did not govern wisely. While their personal wealth increased, living standards for everyone else either stagnated or, for lower-income groups, declined. So, as Pakistan negotiated its political transition, it experienced significant economic decline. As a result, Pakistan’s judiciary, media, and many civil-society organisations are now engaged in attempts not only to keep the soldiers in their barracks, but also to constrain the political establishment’s rapacious behaviour.

Three cases before the country’s increasingly assertive Supreme Court promise to take Pakistan from the phase of demilitarisation to a system in which meaningful checks can be exercised on those who wield power. One case is an attempt to force PM Gilani’s administration to reopen proceedings in a Swiss court that were examining charges of money laundering and misuse of public funds by President Zardari. In the second case, the Supreme Court wants the intelligence agencies to account for the missing people. The third case opened an old complaint lodged by a politician decades ago against the “troika” - composed of the President, the PM, and the COAS - that then governed Pakistan. The plaintiff alleged that large amounts of funds were channelled to the troika’s favoured candidates to contest the 1990 general election.

Finally, Pakistan is undergoing a transition in which power is moving from the central administration to sub-national governments. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, adopted in 2010, does precisely that, but implementation is being delayed by parties that prefer a highly centralised political structure.
If Pakistan’s transformation of its political system succeeds, it could serve as a model for other Muslim countries that are attempting to move from extractive to inclusive systems of governance. Turkey has already travelled some distance along this path. If Pakistan also advances, demilitarisation of politics elsewhere in the Islamic world might not be far behind.


The writer is a former finance minister of Pakistan and vice president of the World Bank, and is currently Chairman of the Institute of Public Policy in Lahore. The article has been reproduced from the Turkish newspaper, Today’s Zaman, with which TheNation has a content sharing agreement.

The Nation
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South Asia and nuclear safety conference
April 9, 2012
By: Momin Iftikhar

The second Nuclear Safety Summit held in Seoul during March 26-27, 2012, is a sequel to the first such conclave held during 2010 in Washington, which was a ground breaking effort to help implement preventive agenda precluding nuclear-related terrorism. The conceptual framework of the Summit sought to raise the issue of nuclear safety and security and place it on the agenda of global leaders by cutting through the red tape created by bureaucracies that generally tend to be out of step with the urgency imposed by the poignancy of the real and present threat.

According to the Princeton, the New Jersey based international panel on fissile materials, at least two million kilograms of weapons grade nuclear material is stockpiled and any pilferage, however small, can prove disastrous. Even lower level radioactive materials used for a host of medical engineering and agricultural application equipment, once placed in wrong hands can be used in crippling acts of terrorism. The objective of this US-led high-level initiative essentially remains establishing a consensus towards the need for enforcing measures for nuclear security and raising awareness to thwart the threat posed by the spectre of nuclear terrorism; particularly, the threat of ‘dirty bombs’ – a crude device which uses small quantities of radioactive material and is rather simple to fabricate. The forum provides a platform for outlining measures and coordinate global efforts with a deadline that all vulnerable fissile material should be locked down within four years.

The Seoul Communiqué issued on March 27 at conclusion of the 2012 Nuclear Safety Summit did broaden the framework, arrived upon two years earlier, for preventing nuclear-related terrorism. It emphasised the importance of multilateral instruments that address nuclear security and urged the governments to enact legislations binding themselves to international conventions on nuclear terrorism and nuclear material protection. While recognising that the security of highly enriched uranium (HEU) remained high in priority, the summit broadened the agenda by incorporating the relatively lower-powered radiological sources into the high risk category. The communiqué highlighted the need to contain low-level radioactive sources, which are widely used in industrial, medical, agricultural and research applications and can be employed for fabricating dirty bombs, support the creation of a nuclear forensic database, develop nuclear security culture, enforce information security and encouraged countries to share more police data on nuclear smuggling etc.

The forum of nuclear security provides Pakistan with a prominent podium to brandish a sterling record on the safety and security of its nuclear material and assets. These are substantive, commendable and laudatory enough to have been acknowledged by the likes of President Barack Obama, who in the aftermath of the Washington Summit in 2010, expressed confidence in Pakistan’s nuclear security in a press conference. The appreciation is well deserved. Pakistan has shown the capability and capacity to develop and maintain an infrastructure for managing its nuclear capability in a responsible and trouble-free manner. This track record shines and speaks for itself in the face of a voluminous propaganda campaign by a very strong anti-Pakistan lobby. By convention, no individual countries are discussed to prevent the nuclear safety forum from becoming a platform for mudslinging, but when leaders from 57 countries, including the US and Russia, congregate under the glare of global spotlight, it is hard to resist the temptation. India, notwithstanding its glaring lapses towards the security of its nuclear material, assets and personnel didn’t miss the opportunity of conducting a baseless propaganda to malign Pakistan. On the eve of the Seoul Conference, the Indian media fired its salvos questioning the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear materials and maliciously indicating to a non-existent “insider threat”, totally overlooking the prominent string of safety blunders that have haunted the Indian nuclear establishment.

The security at Indian nuclear facilities has been breached time and again, which indicated to the culture of relaxed security, bearing the ominous seeds of a nuclear catastrophe. In November 2000, the Indian Police seized 57 pounds of uranium and arrested two persons for illicit trafficking of radioactive material. Lack of security at the Indian nuclear plants was underscored when on November 25, 2009, some rogue elements at Kaiga Atomic Power Station in Karnataka, laced the drinking water with tritium, contaminating at least 90 employees. The culprits were never traced despite the presence of CCTV. The death of a nuclear scientist under mysterious circumstances at Kaiga in June 2009 further raised the issue of security of personnel at the Indian nuclear establishment.

Indian nuclear scientists and trading firms were engaged in clandestine activities and were repeatedly caught red handed. On September 29, 2004, the US slapped sanctions on two Indian nuclear scientists, Dr Y.S.R. Prasad and Chaudhary Surendar, for illicitly helping Iran in developing weapons of mass destruction. Both scientists were successive heads of India’s nuclear corporation and experts in the production of plutonium. In September 2002, the UK Intelligence Dossier on Iraq, linked NEC, an Indian Engineering Trading Company, to Iraq’s clandestine programme for developing chlorine-based chemical weapons and propellants for long range missiles. Using front companies, phony custom declarations and false documents, NEC exported 10 consignments of contraband materials that the Saddam regime used to develop chemical warfare capability. The exported items needed special approval before export under the Special Chemical Organisms, Material, Equipment and Technologies Provisions of the 1997-2002 Exim Policy. Inexplicably, the Indian government looked aside as shipments to Iraq, valued at approximately $800,000, which took place between September 1998 and February 2001. The discovery of at least nine very powerful Cobalt-60 radiation sources in a scrap shop in a West Delhi industrial area, which fatally infected five people, truly exposed India as a possible source of radiation emitting material that could be used in a dirty bomb by terrorists.

As the threat of nuclear terrorism raises its profile, the world is getting seized with the issue of its prevention. Watertight security of radiological material remains an important component of the overall paradigm of international nuclear security environment. Ever since declaring its nuclear capability, Pakistan has been quick-footed in articulating a watertight regime for the safety and security of its nuclear establishment and the results are self-evident. It has taken concrete measures to evolve elaborate command and control mechanisms under the National Command Authority, which is in place since February 2000; three years ahead of India. Pakistan’s export control mechanisms are judiciously conceived and have effectively plugged all possibilities of export of sensitive technology to unauthorised seekers. It is time to assert its impeccable safety credentials to claim a greater degree of access to nuclear trade and technology as member of the NSG. The next Nuclear Safety Summit, due in the Netherlands in 2014, should be the forum to forcefully make this justified demand.

The writer is a freelance columnist.
-The Nation
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Asia’s new peril
May 3, 2012
Jean-Pierre Lehmann

As Europe dithers and the US nervously watches its unemployment rate, a China-led Asian rise is accepted as the new reality.

Less noted is the anomaly of an Asia increasingly integrated with the Chinese economy and militarily more reliant on the US.

At a retreat in Hayman Island, Queensland, for Australian CEOs, a security expert noted that this is the first time in Australia’s history that its major economic partner is not concurrently major strategic partner – initially the UK followed by the US.

China has become for Australia, as it has for many nations in Asia Pacific and indeed around the world, especially those engaged in commodity exports, its key engine of growth. Yet Australia has been one of the US’s closest strategic and military allies, from World War II to Korea to Vietnam and Iraq. The planned stationing of 2500 US troops in Darwin, reflecting the Obama administration’s tilt to the Pacific, is meant to consolidate these ties. The US and China are not belligerents, yet rivalry is growing. Being between the two is uncomfortable to say the least.

There are many hotspots, perhaps hottest of all the South China Sea, which Beijing has declared to be part of its “core interests” with Washington insisting on freedom of navigation. Besides competing claims to resources, there are disputes over nomenclature. The Vietnamese, for example, whose relations with China are among the tensest in the region, resent the name used by the West and perception of giving in to a Sino-centric perspective. The Vietnamese call it the Eastern Sea. In a recent confrontation between Chinese and Philippine vessels in the Scarborough Shoal area, Beijing claims it as part of its territorial waters in the South China Sea. Manila prefers the West Philippines Sea.

Many in the Asia Pacific region regard the concept of China’s peaceful rise with skepticism. The Philippines has been a longstanding ally of the US, and even Vietnam, erstwhile enemy, increasingly looks to Washington for protection. Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, America’s military presence in Southeast Asia has been, on balance, benign and welcome. At the same time, the region’s economies have become increasingly dependent on China.

At $362.3 billion in 2011 China has recently overtaken Japan as ASEAN’s third biggest trading partner, after the EU ($567.2 billion) and the US ($446.6 billion). However trade between China and ASEAN is growing faster: a 24 per cent recorded increase in 2011. Reflecting this growing relationship, in January 2010 China and ASEAN concluded a free trade agreement – CAFTA. In population terms, it’s the world’s biggest market and, in GDP, third biggest. The actual physical US military presence in terms of troops in the region is concentrated in Korea and Japan, with small numbers in Southeast Asia – the Philippines, 142; Singapore, 163; and Thailand, 142. However, US influence is being strengthened especially through the American naval Pacific Command. Main ties are with Australia, the Philippines and Singapore with upgraded military with Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

Japan’s economic dependence on China, with China having surpassed the US since 2008 in becoming Japan’s biggest trading partner at over 20 per cent and fastest growing destination for Japanese outward investment is deep. Exports to China – mainly capital and intermediate goods as China emerged as hub of Japan’s global supply chain – is a rare dynamic force in an otherwise anemic economy. Japan has also multiple issues with China, including over territory, notably confrontation over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, and in economic matters, a recent example being China’s ban on export of rare earths to Japan required for its high-tech manufacturing industry.

The situation in Asia Pacific is perilous and unsustainable. Under these conditions, it’s highly unlikely that robust regional institutions will emerge in the near future. And the fact that much of China’s economic prowess depends to a considerable extent on the big American market and investment opportunities put additional wrinkles on triangular US-Asia and China relations. With weak global governance and leadership, the Asia Pacific Region for all its economic success keeps floundering on uncertain seas.

Jean-Pierre Lehmann is Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy, IMD, Switzerland, founder of The Evian Group, Senior Fellow at the Fung Global Institute in Hong Kong, and visiting professor at Hong Kong University

© 2012 Yale Center for the Study of Globalisation
Courtesy: Khaleej Times
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CBMs in South Asia — I
May 14, 2012
A R Siddiqi

Two retired service chiefs, General Jehangir Karamat, COAS, Pakistan, and Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tayagi of the Indian Air Force, in a jointly written paper, have suggested a number of steps to implement CBMs in South Asia. Written at the level of two retired service chiefs, the paper makes yet another subtext for peace and stability in the turbulent subcontinent. However, the fate of the two former four-star India-Pakistan chiefs’ peace initiative must depend on the intent and endorsement of the two governments.

The idea behind CBMs is well tested. Military establishments agree to avoid actions that are threatening to the other side to help avoid unintended conflicts. The covert Kargil operation launched by General Pervez Musharraf as army chief early in 1999, was one such to abort the budding Vajpayee-Nawaz peace initiative. Vajpayee’s Lahore Yatra by road, his unprecedented visit to Minar-e-Pakistan to underline India’s unquestioned acceptance of Pakistan and the signing of the Lahore Declaration and Memorandum of Understanding were sabotaged by Musharraf’s Kargil misadventure.

Of course, CBMs are not a panacea. If people want to have a conflict, CBMs will not prevent it. However, CBMs do provide a mechanism whereby states that want to avoid a conflict through accident or misperception, can develop ways to help do so. It is time to develop a framework of such measures, which can help and more systematically address some of the key issues the two sides face as follows:

Discussions should begin on new CBMs relevant in these circumstances. Beyond crisis management, it was agreed by consensus in Bangkok that a CBM should be agreed whereby both sides, including their respective military establishments, should regularly meet to discuss their respective concepts and doctrines with a view to elaborating measures to build confidence in the nuclear and conventional fields.

It is for the very purpose that the University of Ottawa and the Atlantic Council joined hands to initiate the process by inviting senior, mainly three and four star officers and service chiefs, to get together and evolve a framework for enduring peace in South Asia.

The invitees have met twice at Dubai and Bangkok to recommend:

1. That in times of crisis both sides should take no military actions that could be construed as preparations for an offensive, and adhere to existing CBMs. Diplomats and officials of the two sides would get together to resolve the crisis before it spins out of control. 2. A political commitment that the two sides’ diplomats and officials come together at the outset of the crisis for discussions on how to resolve it before it ‘spins out of control’. All too often in South Asia, India-Pakistan, when a crisis erupts, would respond by suspending diplomatic contacts when they should be doing exactly the reverse.

Finally, the question of ‘terror’ was also discussed and its impact on stability. Though terror is not a military issue per se, intelligence sharing is a key issue. The discussion had the following suggestions:

Revival of an effective Joint Anti-terror Mechanism at a higher level; hotlines between the interior ministries on terror issues; military personnel to meet periodically to discuss national experiences on matters relating to war and peace. An effort to revive the SAARC-mandated Integrated Regional Database (IRD) on terror. The IRD discussed at length and adopted in principle certain measures to cope with the crisis following 9/11, but remains practically dormant, yet to be formalised as doctrine.

No matter how wise and rational the CBMs, deeply embedded distrust and the aftershock of partition almost invariably continue to eclipse the enduring values of peace and amity. What might leave one wondering about the substantive value of the exercise is the conspicuous absence of the role of world powers, especially of the United States. Would they allow India-Pakistan to sort matters out between themselves? The US remains so deeply involved in the subcontinent geo-politically and militarily via Afghanistan that it simply cannot stay as a mute spectator to any India-Pakistan peace process on a bilateral basis. Any effort or cooperation between India and Pakistan, along with Afghanistan, without the US would have little or no chance of implementation. NATO’s ISAF may withdraw in 2014, but the US would still be there in Afghanistan, no matter how nominally. It would be entirely for the State Department and the Pentagon to quantify their residual forces in Afghanistan and define their final role and objectives.

How could the US even allow India, its strategic partner, and virtually an occupied Afghanistan, to go it alone with Pakistan? As for India, its corporate obligations and diplomatic compulsions as the US’s conventional and nuclear strategic ally in South Asia would hardly allow it to support any grand peace initiative with Pakistan — the US’s one bad boy in the region.

While taking advantage of the current relatively calm phase in India-Pakistan relations, the authors hope, this can help change quickly the “atmosphere to lock (the two) in beneficial patterns of behaviour”. India and Pakistan have deployed weapons to reduce dramatically the time “available for diplomacy in a crisis…” Evolving military doctrines like India’s Cold Start ‘compress’ the time available for reconciliatory diplomacy and media coverage. India’s experimenting with its missile-nuclear integrated development programme must act as a serious deterrent to an enduring India-Pakistan transparent and sustained peace. A bold approach towards arms acquisition and development must precede any meaningful and durable establishment of peace.

(To be continued)

The writer is a retired brigadier and can be reached at brigsiddiqi@yahoo.co.uk
-Daily Times
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Shock-proofing Asia
May 16, 2012
Noeleen Heyzer

Uncertainty and volatility have quickly become the “new normal” of the global economy. For several reasons, this turbulent external environment poses the most significant threat to Asia-Pacific growth in 2012.

One of this environment’s main features is the ongoing weakness of major developed economies. The expected V-shaped global recovery, from the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, proved short-lived. The world economy entered a second stage of crisis in 2011, owing to eurozone’s sovereign-debt crisis and continuing uncertainty about the economic outlook for the United States.

Mapping the landscape of these threats, forecasting their impact, and presenting a range of policy options to help countries to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth despite the uncertainty, is the focus of the United Nations’ 2012 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific.

Our forecast is that persistent headwinds will slow Asia-Pacific economic growth to 6.5 per cent this year, down from seven per cent in 2011. Reduced demand for regional exports and higher costs of capital, combined with loose monetary policies and trade protectionism in some advanced economies, will contribute to the slowdown.

Nevertheless, Asia-Pacific growth will continue to outpace that of all other regions, acting as an anchor of stability and a new pole of dynamism for the world economy. For example, South-South trade with the Asia-Pacific countries in 2012 will help other developing regions, especially Africa and Latin America, to reduce further their dependence on the low-growth advanced economies.

Moreover, robust growth from the Asian economic powerhouses will continue in 2012, with China likely to grow at 8.6 per cent and India’s growth expected to accelerate from 6.9 to 7.5 per cent. The South-East Asian sub-region is likely to record a slight increase in growth, owing to Thailand’s strong recovery following the 2011 floods, and annual inflation in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole is projected to fall from 6.1 to 4.8 per cent.

The greatest risk to the Asia-Pacific economy in 2012 is a disorderly sovereign-debt default in Europe, or an unraveling of the eurozone. This worst-case scenario could lead to Asia-Pacific export losses of up to $390 billion in one year, with least-developed and landlocked developing countries worst hit — losing as much as 10 per cent of their total exports. Although unlikely, such a scenario could reduce regional growth by as much as 1.3 percentage points, and prevent 22 million people from escaping $2-a-day poverty in 2012.

A second key challenge to Asian regional growth in 2012 is commodity price volatility, together with a long-term rising trend. High prices and persistent volatility are increasingly features of the “new normal,” and both national and regional economies need to adjust to this reality.

The commodity boom that has resulted from higher prices presents both risks and opportunities. Price shifts alter incentives, but the less-developed economies of Asia and the Pacific must resist the impulse towards narrow commodity specialisation. The lesson from the first round of Western globalisation was that natural-resource specialisation, especially in the poorest countries, can delay industrialisation, economic diversification, and the creation of productive capacity.

Another key step in “shock-proofing” Asian economies will be to address the problem of jobless growth, unemployment, and rising inequalities. This needs to be a gradual process of rebalancing, supporting greater domestic consumption as an enhanced engine of growth and productivity, job creation, and income equality.

Other critical economic-policy challenges in 2012 will include managing the balance between growth and price stability — which will require inflation-fighting measures beyond monetary policy alone; coping with capital flows, especially the surge in short-term debt; dealing with exchange-rate volatility; and addressing the impact of extreme weather and natural disasters.

Making the right policy choices — to build resilience and pursue a sustainable pathway to shared prosperity — will prepare Asia and the Pacific to flourish in the context of sustained global uncertainty. That is good news in a troubled and turbulent world.

Noeleen Heyzer is Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

© Project Syndicate
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Asia is yet to lead
May 18, 2012
Ho Kwon Ping

As the European economy teeters on the verge of a second recession and the US recovery wobbles, Asia is brimming with optimism.

For Asian triumphalists attending a recent conference in Thailand – “Reading the Signposts of a Changing Landscape” – the signs are big, clear and point to a happy future.

I’m less sure. The wording on many signposts is confused, with many pointing towards dead-ends or quicksand. In the rush of exuberant expectations that Asia’s time has come, the continent could fall victim to what’s behind many failures in the history of the world – simple hubris.

The rise of Asia is not predetermined, just as the dominance of Western civilisation for the past few hundred years was not preordained. The rise of European imperialism and then American hegemony was not simply due to economic power backed by military might. It was underpinned by innovative, even revolutionary thinking, about the primacy of the rule of law; the separation of church and state; the commitment to an empirical, scientific worldview; and all the institutions that brought about the modern state built on liberal democracy and market capitalism. Much of the intellectual vigour propelling the West to supremacy is now spent. In its place is frustration that the old order is not working, with no vision as to what the new order should be.

So could Asia rise to the occasion and, in the intellectual vacuum, offer new solutions to bankrupt thinking? Is the continent capable of creative destruction of taboos and restrictive mindsets hobbling it during past centuries? Is Asia’s economic growth matched by equally vigorous intellectual innovation?

The regional landscape offers clues.

India, for example, has managed, despite numerous challenges, to remain the world’s largest practicing democracy. But the continuing clash and contradictions between tradition and modernity renders Indian political and social relations almost dysfunctional. And while Indian pride in its scientific, artistic and business achievements is justified, the continuing inability to lift millions of people out of abject poverty remains a sobering and hopefully not insurmountable challenge.

China, the other great and ancient civilisation of Asia, is today to become the second most powerful economy in the world. Its government has, unlike India, lifted teeming masses from abject poverty. Private capitalism thrives alongside the more dominant state capitalism. But the absence of a dynamic civil society – unlike in India – and its opaque political structure, as so glaringly revealed by the Bo Xilai scandal, is possibly unsustainable.

India suffers from a lack of political consensus; China has too much of it. India has a surfeit of democracy and a deficit of economic equality; China has eradicated poverty, but suppressed democracy.

Japan’s social cohesion stands in stark contrast against China and India, but that same homogeneity and social conservatism has left it stranded in genteel decline, with no new thinking to break the country out of its stifling insularity.

South East Asia has largely recovered from the debilitating financial crisis in the late 1990s, which nearly crippled its private sector and brought down its banks. But internal contradictions remain unresolved in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and are, arguably, growing steadily.

While one can’t deny the real achievements of an ascendant Asian civilisation, it’s difficult to accept the facile self-congratulations of the triumphalists who suggest that Asia’s success in this century is inevitable. Even those who believe fervently that Asia’s time has come cannot afford complacency. Asia requires diverse, innovative thought leadership if its economic rise will result in a sustainable, new paradigm for civilisational progress.

In particular, Asia needs to inculcate a virtuous cycle whereby business, political and social leaders interact to create new norms of economic, social and political behaviour and values. One example is the dire need of a replacement for the highly individualistic, American form of capitalism which at its best, enormously rewards risk-taking, but at its worst, creates monstrous inequalities based on speculative gambling of other people’s money. Capitalism is not universally identical; it’s shaped by history and culture, resulting in the Scandinavian variant or the German model. The American model may not be broken, but after recent financial debacles, Asia should not blindly adopt it.

Thought leadership need not be in grandiose or visionary ideas, but can small, practical solutions to real problems. For example, as a tiny country, Singapore has no pretensions of being a global thought leader. It has simply and quietly created solutions to its own set of changing circumstances, setting a model for others.

Singapore’s approach to social security and public housing, launched many decades ago, has been universally hailed as revolutionary. In the field of sustainable resource management for cities, Singapore is probably one of the leading world examples.

Across Asia, there are many more examples of innovative, inspiring thought leadership covering a spectrum of fields. But this is not enough. Asia needs fundamental paradigm shifts, particularly on political and business governance, if it’s to reach the vision of its future. Future generations will either blame or thank the present elite for what they do, or more disappointingly, choose not to do.
Ho Kwon Ping is chairman of Singapore Management University and executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings

© 2012 Yale Center for the Study of Globalisation
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Rediscovering a silk route for a more just world
May 23, 2012
Aijaz Zaka Syed

That the Middle East, with the rest of the world, is looking East is old news. Pundits have been obsessing about the coming shift in balance of power from the West to the East for years now. You’ve got to be blind to miss the ascent of China, India, South Korea, Malaysia and others over the past decade or so.

But even those watching this rebirth of Asia do not seem to realise the pace at which it’s taking place. The Middle East isn’t merely looking eastwards and firming its relations with China, India and other emerging players, both Gulf oil and money are playing a crucial role in the resurgence of Asia.

On the other hand, China, India, South Korea and Japan are investing their expertise and human resources in the continuing development and expansion across the Gulf.

Of course, the frenetic pace of growth and building that had turned much of the Gulf into a buzzing beehive and Dubai the crane capital of the world was slowed down by the sickness that spread from the Wall Street. However, the region has been quick to recover from the shock and awe of the self-inflicted misery of the world’s largest economy. You do not see that many cranes any more in Dubai but it’s evidently back in business.

The Dubai airport is busier than ever as it constantly expands itself, perpetually pouring out a sea of humanity. And the Gulf region finds itself at the global centre-stage and in the thick of action. The US and Europe that between themselves control and run the world economy are still reeling from the 2008 bloodbath. The unravelling of the European Union is only matched by the freefall of its once invincible currency. One mighty EU economy after another collapses like a house of cards.

Even as this happens, a slow but decisive shift from the West to the East is taking place. The West has been bleeding away its centuries-old economic clout and China and other fellow travellers appear to be the beneficiaries.

The Arabs, African and Muslim states are reaching out to China and the extended neighbourhood to revive ties that go back thousands of years. The Arab traders have travelled and traded between the East and West for thousands of years both on land and water.

The fabled Silk Road that connected the Middle East and parts of Europe with Asia used to be the main street of the global bazaar and jugular vein of the world economy. The trade route flourished even more with the arrival of Islam and the Muslim rule stretching to the far corners of the world.

Today, those historic ties are being revived in a myriad of ways as old power centres crumble and new geopolitical and economic realities take shape. Bridges are being built between the East and West, literally.

Turkey’s inimitable Recep Erdogan was in Beijing last month to take an already close relationship to the next level. One of the many Turkey-China projects fast taking shape is a $35 billion high-speed rail network that will connect China with Turkey and beyond – with Europe as far as Britain and Spain, besides many central Asian states on the way.

There are also efforts to revive the pre-World War I Berlin-Baghdad rail link on the one hand and the old Hejaz rail network that once connected Turkey with the holy cities of Islam in a different avatar on the other. Saudi Arabia has been working on the massive railway network that will connect the holy cities of Mecca and Medina with Riyadh and other major cities in the Kingdom, which in turn would later join the GCC rail network.

Connecting the dots, wouldn’t you say the world is indeed undergoing a dramatic transformation? The Middle East of course still remains dependent – perhaps more than the rest of the world – on the US-controlled financial system. Most Gulf currencies remain pegged to the almighty dollar, largely because greenback is the currency in which the world does its business.

However, the region has started looking beyond its traditional partners and ‘allies’ to engage the rising stars of the East. Many from BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and triple AAA (Asia, Africa and Americas) groups, including Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa, are part of the new equation.

Incidentally, the 2012 IMF Outlook projected positive growth for these regions while it warned of negative growth in most European economies. Economic tectonic plates are moving and the possibilities are endless.

The New York Times tried to make sense of the phenomenon in a ‘special report’ this week. The Dubai-datelined report headlined, ‘A modern Silk Road between Asia and the Middle East,’ talks of projects and joint ventures worth hundreds of billions of dollars that have Gulf states working with Asian nations. No wonder hundreds of Asian investment bankers and technical experts have taken residence in Dubai as they calibrate a new Middle East-Asia partnership.

“Traders centuries ago brought silks and other goods from China by overland caravan trails and sea passages plied by sailing dhows. As the West waxed in wealth and China waned, the old routes waned with it. But now the pendulum is swinging back and the Middle East, especially the Gulf, is again growing much closer to Asia,” reports the Times.

In the past decade alone, Gulf-Asia trade has grown 700 percent and more than half of the region’s trade is now with Asia. Clearly, Asia is where the action is. The ever enterprising Dubai is trying to make the most of the new trend as it presents itself as the new global hub and caravanserai between the Middle East and Asia.

The number of Chinese in Dubai has shot up to 150,000, not to mention 2000 Chinese firms. Same is the case with other Asian players including South Korea, which is building four nuclear reactors for the UAE at a cost of $30 billion dollars.

But, as the NYT puts it, it is oil and natural gas from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE (and Iran) that are the glue that binds the Gulf-Asia trade. The Gulf oil is fuelling the fast-growing Asian economies, just as it has fuelled the US and European economies all these years.

Last year, 55 percent of Saudi crude exports went to the Far East against 16 percent for the US and just 4 percent for Europe. Shape of things to come? It’s estimated that oil exports this year could earn $750 billion for Gulf oil producers, thanks to the growing global demand and high prices. Booming trade and surging oil revenues are in turn being invested back in new business initiatives with Asian powers. As HSBC’s Simon Williams puts it, the Gulf is the beneficiary of the restructuring of the world economy and Asian growth.

The world is at tipping point. After centuries of exploitation and being used as pawns in the hands of world powers, the Arab and Muslim nations, like other long colonised and exploited people elsewhere, have a historic opportunity to take charge of their destiny in real sense. They have got nothing but injustice, humiliation and a raw deal for their long years of friendship and alliance with you know who.

It’s time to cut this crippling dependence and endless cycle of exploitation. The Arabs must turn their riches and growing economic relations with emerging players into a more balanced, mutually respectful strategic partnership. The oil will not flow forever. While it does, they must invest it into building institutions and infrastructure that will free and secure their future generations and create a better and more just world.

The writer is a commentator on Middle East and South Asian affairs. Email: aijaz.syed@hotmail.com
-The News
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A South Asian reality
May 28, 2012
Shamshad Ahmad

South Asia was overtly nuclearised 14 years ago. The region perhaps would have been far better off if the famous words uttered by Robert Oppenheimer after he witnessed the power of the Trinity Test, the first nuclear explosion in New Mexico in July 1945, had been given some credence. He was so moved by the spectacle as to spontaneously acclaim that the sight made him think of the lines from the Bhagavad Gita: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendour of the Mighty One: Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

It was India, not Pakistan, that introduced an ominous nuclear dimension into the volatile security environment of this region through its first nuclear test in 1974. It was hailed by the West as a “peaceful” nuclear test. The world then discovered the fallacy of India’s claims, that its nuclear programme had been exclusively for peaceful uses during the Nehru era and that the nuclear weapons programme was initiated by the Shastri government only after the first Chinese nuclear test in 1964. There is incontrovertible evidence now that Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha, the architect of the Indian nuclear programme, had with Nehru’s approval already built a clandestine nuclear weapons development capability within the structural framework of the Indian civilian nuclear programme.

From the very beginning, Indian nuclear pursuits were a source of concern to Pakistan, compelling it to prepare itself and go nuclear in reciprocation. Pakistan faced a double jeopardy. On the one hand we faced India’s nuclear ambitions as a direct threat to Pakistan’s security and survival; on the other, we faced sanctions imposed by our friends and allies in the name of nuclear “non-proliferation.” They even denied us the means of a conventional defence.

In the absence of any security umbrella, Pakistan was left with no choice but to orient its nuclear programme for defence purposes and to develop an indigenous nuclear and missile capability. But we never challenged the non-proliferation regime when the NPT was being finalised in 1968. In fact, we supported its objectives. We did not sign the treaty only because India refused to do so and was adamantly pursuing its ambitious nuclear-weapons programme.

Since the negotiations for the NPT in 1968, every single non-proliferation initiative came from Pakistan. In 1974, Pakistan launched a major diplomatic campaign to prevent nuclear proliferation in our region and presented a series of proposals to spare our region from the spectre of nuclear conflict. These included a nuclear weapons-free zone in South Asia, a joint renunciation of acquisition or manufacture of nuclear weapons, mutual inspection of nuclear facilities, simultaneous adherence to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and IAEA safeguards, bilateral nuclear test ban and a missile-free zone in South Asia.

In June 1991, we proposed a five-nation conference, which was later expanded to also include all permanent members of the UN Security Council, to discuss conventional arms control and confidence-building measures and promotion of nuclear restraint. In 1997, we proposed mutual and equal restraint by Pakistan and India on the development of nuclear and ballistic missiles. All these proposals aimed at establishing an equitable and non-discriminatory regime in South Asia were rejected by India and ignored by the world community.

In April 1998, Pakistan’s prime minister addressed a letter to the G-8 heads of state and government drawing their attention to India’s threatening nuclear designs and the imminence of its nuclear tests under the new BJP government. Our warnings remained unheeded. India’s five nuclear tests on May 11 and 13, 1998, proved us completely right. We did not respond in a tit-for-tat manner, although we had every legal and political right to do so. India misunderstood our restraint and thought we never had the nuclear capability.

For 17 days after India’s nuclear tests, we waited for the world to do something about India’s nuclear threats. Nothing happened. In fact, we were advised to take the high moral ground by not responding to India’s tests in kind and thus forfeit, in the name of non-proliferation, our right to exist as a free people. Meanwhile, our restraint was being misunderstood in India.

The BJP government and its leaders started making threatening statements. Pakistan instantly became the first country in the world to be subjected to nuclear blackmail. Peace was hanging by a slender thread in South Asia. In the absence of any assurances or security guarantees, we had no choice but to take measures to protect our freedom and independence.

Pakistan exploded five nuclear devices on May 28 and followed that up with one more on May 30. Our tests were an act of self-defence; they established our minimum credible deterrence and in fact restored the regional strategic balance, serving the larger interest of peace and stability in South Asia. We had proven our capability. There were no doubts left any more.

No doubt, it was a difficult but inevitable decision guided solely by our vital national interests. We were offered monetary packages but no price was sufficient for the country’s security and survival as an independent state. In reaching that decision, the country’s elected civilian leadership withstood all pressures and inducements and did not trade off Pakistan’s security interests for any monetary package.

As anticipated, there was adverse reaction to our tests from the US and other Western countries. They had not shown the same reaction over India’s tests. The formal reaction of the international community, especially the major powers, to South Asian nuclear tests was set out in the UN Security Council resolution 1172 of June 6, 1998, which inter alia, condemned the tests and called for a rollback by both countries of their nuclear capabilities, signature of the CTBT, progress on the FMCT and restrictions on missile delivery systems.

Most importantly, the Security Council resolution not only recognised that the tests were conducted first by India and then by Pakistan but also in its operative clause (Para 5) urged India and Pakistan to resume their dialogue “on all outstanding issues, encouraging them “to find mutually acceptable solutions that address the root causes of those tensions, including Kashmir.”

For the world community, it is important to understand and recognise the conceptual difference between the strategic policies of India and Pakistan. For India, it is global status, and for Pakistan it is its security and survival. While India’s tests destabilised the security environment in South Asia, Pakistan’s tests restored the nuclear and strategic balance, and also averted the risk of a disastrous conflict that could have resulted from any misadventure by India.

Nuclear weapons in South Asia are a reality now. They constitute an essential element of our security in the form of credible nuclear deterrent. They also constitute a credible nuclear deterrent for India. We cannot even imagine giving up our nuclear option for any reason now. The only option is to remove the causes of instability and conflict in our region.

If there are any lessons to be learned from the nuclear saga in South Asia, the international community must avoid policies that create and widen nuclear disparities in this region and further aggravate the already uneasy India-Pakistan nuclear equation, the only one to grow up in history as an offshoot of a legacy of their outstanding disputes. And at the centre of their problems lies the unresolved Kashmir issue, which must be addressed in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

The writer is a former foreign secretary. Email: shamshad1941@yahoo. com

-The News
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