Posts Tagged ‘ New Dehli ’

China Ramps Up Pressure Over Kashmir

By Sudha Ramachandran The Asia Times

BANGALORE – A recent report in the Chinese media describing the Sino-Indian border as being 2,000 kilometers long, roughly 1,500 km shorter than that defined by India, has evoked an alarmed response among sections of the Indian strategic community.

The “missing 1,500 km” from the definition of the Sino-Indian border is seen to be a clear pointer to Beijing’s hardening position, not only on its long-standing boundary dispute with India but also on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). While India holds about 45% of J&K territory and Pakistan controls 35%, China occupies about 20% (including Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam Valley, ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963).

A Beijing-datelined Xinhua news agency report of an official briefing by China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue on the eve of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s recent visit to India triggered the flap. “China and India share a 2,000-km-long border that has never been formally demarcated,” the report said. India describes the border as being 3,488 km.

The different positions were made even more explicit by the Global Times, an English-language newspaper published by the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. In an interview with Global Times, India’s ambassador to China, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, spoke of the “long common border of 3,488 kilometers” between the two countries. But a comment by the editors of Global Times in parentheses said: “There is no settled length of the common border. The Chinese government often refers to the border length as being ‘about 2,000 kilometers’.”

Reports in state-owned media have been describing the border as being 2,000 km for at least a year now.

The roughly 1,500 km-long shortfall in the Chinese perception is believed to refer to the Sino-Indian boundary in J&K. “China apparently no longer treats the line of nearly 1,600 km separating Jammu and Kashmir on the one hand and Xinjiang and Tibet on the other as a border with India,” strategic affairs expert C Raja Mohan wrote in the Indian Express. That is, it does not recognize Kashmir to be part of India.

Beijing is questioning India’s locus standi to discuss J&K’s border with China, observes B Raman, a retired director in India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). In essence, it is seeking to exclude discussion of the western sector of the disputed Sino-Indian boundary with India. The western sector includes the large chunk of Indian territory, Aksai Chin, in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir that China occupied in 1962.

Besides, China “wants to change the format of the border talks in order to keep it confined bilaterally to the eastern and middle sectors and expand it to a trilateral issue involving India, China and Pakistan in the western sector,” Raman wrote recently.

China has become increasingly assertive in its questioning of India’s sovereignty over J&K. Since 2008, it has been issuing visas on a separate sheet of paper to residents of Jammu and Kashmir rather than stamping the visa in their passports, as is the norm with other Indian citizens. In August last year, China also denied a visa to Lieutenant General B S Jaswal – commander of the Indian army’s Northern Command, which includes Kashmir – for an official visit to China, on the grounds that he “controlled” a “disputed area”.

Besides, over the past year, Beijing has been reaching out to the Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella organization of Kashmiri separatist outfits. In March 2010, for instance, Chinese Foreign Affairs director Ying Gang met with Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Geneva on the sidelines of the 13th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Besides questioning India’s sovereignty over Kashmir, China has been endorsing Islamabad’s control over the part of Kashmir it has administered since 1947.

It was with India that the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, signed an Instrument of Accession in October 1947. However, only 45% of the territory of the former princely state is in India’s hands today, roughly 35% remaining under Pakistani administration and another 20% under Chinese control. The territory under Chinese occupation includes Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam Valley that Pakistan gifted to China in 1963.

In the Northern Areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, China is involved in the construction of several infrastructure projects, including roads, hydroelectric power projects, dams, expressways, bridges and telecommunication facilities. During Wen’s recent visit to Pakistan, the two countries signed a US$275 million agreement for repair and expansion of the Karakoram Highway. Earlier in September, Beijing underlined its support to Islamabad’s territorial claims over parts of Pakistan-administered Kashmir when it described the Northern Areas as “a northern part of Pakistan”.

The India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir predates the People’s Republic of China (PRC). India and Pakistan had already fought their first war over Kashmir when the PRC came into being. Initially, China took its cues from the Soviet Union on the issue. It described the conflict as a Western creation and maintained that the US and Britain were hoping to make Kashmir a Western base.
China took a “neutral position” in the 1950s. It opposed foreign arbitration on the Kashmir issue, which pleased India. At the same time, it did not endorse Delhi’s claims over Kashmir. Fraying Sino-Soviet relations and Moscow’s overt support to Jammu and Kashmir as “an inalienable part of the Republic of India”, as well as concerns that its backing of India would push Pakistan into a closer embrace of the US, seem to have prompted it to adopt a more “neutral position” between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

With Sino-Indian relations deteriorating from 1959 onwards, China began tilting towards Pakistan. It signed a border agreement with Pakistan. Since this dealt with areas that constituted Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the agreement amounted to a de facto Chinese recognition of Pakistan’s control over this area. Although it subsequently denied such recognition, describing this as “provisional” and “pending settlement of the Kashmir dispute”, a joint communique issued at the end of prime minister Zhou Enlai’s visit to Pakistan in February 1964 was a strong endorsement of the Pakistani position. It urged a solution of the dispute “in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir”. India is opposed to a plebiscite in Kashmir.

By the mid/late 1970s, China began advocating a status quo on Kashmir. Support for the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination was toned down. In 1976, in his speech before the UN General Assembly, Chinese foreign minister Chia Kuan-Hua omitted naming Kashmir in a list of territories where the right to self-determination had not been exercised. It is believed that China’s own troubles with separatism and improving ties with India prompted its shrinking support on self-determination.

With Sino-Indian rapprochement gathering momentum in the 1990s, China began describing Kashmir as a bilateral matter to be resolved by India and Pakistan through peaceful means. On his visit to India in 1996, president Ziang Zemin called on India and Pakistan to set aside contentious issues and build a cooperative relationship. During the brief Kargil conflict in 1999, China called on India and Pakistan to respect the Line of Control that separates Pakistani- and Indian-administered Kashmir. These were seen as signs of Beijing taking a neutral position on Kashmir again.

China has never accepted India’s sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir, even over the part that is under its control. After all, if it did it would mean giving up the roughly 43,180 square kilometers of territory that is currently under its control. However, it had avoided provoking India on the matter publicly. This has changed in recent years, with Beijing being “deliberately provocative” on Kashmir.

India is not letting the repeated provocations go unchallenged. After all, the territorial integrity of the country is a core concern of the Indian state. A couple of months ago, in his talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, India’s External Affairs Minister S M Krishna did some tough talking. According to officials quoted by the Hindu, for the first time India drew a parallel between “the territorial red lines” of the two countries.

Krishna reportedly told Yang that just as India had been sensitive to its concerns over Tibet and Taiwan, Beijing too should be mindful of Indian sensitivities on Jammu and Kashmir. The message that India is sending is that if China questions India’s sovereignty over Kashmir, India will question Beijing’s sovereignty over Tibet and Taiwan.

Delhi has indicated that Krishna’s warning was to be taken seriously. The joint communique issued at the end of Wen’s visit to India made no reference to India’s commitment to a “one china policy”. This is the first time since 1988 that a summit-level joint communique has made no mention of the policy. Instead, both sides agreed to show “mutual respect and sensitivity for each other’s concerns and aspirations”.

-Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.

China’s Wen, India’s Singh Make Little Progress at Summit

By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Thursday in New Delhi, the main event of a three-day summit aimed at building trust and reducing long-standing irritants. But they announced no substantive breakthrough and little progress on border disputes, access to shared water resources or security issues.

Nor was there any apparent progress on India’s bid to open Chinese markets to its software, pharmaceuticals and farm products. New Delhi also remains wary of Beijing’s regional ambitions and its ties with Pakistan, India’s nuclear adversary.
The two rising Asian superpowers made some modest progress on the economic front, pledging to expand trade to $100 billion by 2015 from $60 billion at present and try to reduce the trade gap. China is India’s largest trading partner, but trade flows are heavily weighted in Beijing’s favor.

The two leaders also agreed to set up a hotline, and both sides spoke about the need for improved ties.

“I hope that my visit will help increase our cooperation in a wide range of fields and raise our friendship and cooperation to an even higher level,” Wen told reporters on leaving a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace.

“A strong partnership between India and China will contribute to long-term peace, stability, prosperity and development in Asia and the world,” Singh added.

But any move to turn the regional cooperation rhetoric into reality will quickly run into roadblocks, analysts said, given the nations’ differences over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, North Korea’s long-standing conflict with the international community and continued warfare in Afghanistan.

China appeared keen to outdo the recent visit to India by President Obama. Chinese officials brought a contingent of 400 business executives, compared with the 250 American business men and women who accompanied the U.S. leader. And they signed $16 billion worth of business deals, compared with America’s $10 billion.

Singh and Wen reportedly discussed many of their nations’ core differences, including Pakistan; divided Kashmir; and the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader based in northern India and considered by Beijing to be a “splittist” enemy of a unified China. But neither side made any significant concessions.

The two nations agreed to keep working on peacefully resolving their lingering border disputes, the focus of a brief war in 1962. Talks have languished for years.

China claims much of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, whereas India wants China to back away from a slice of territory it controls in Kashmir, the disputed region largely divided between India and Pakistan.

“It will not be easy to completely resolve this question,” Wen said in a speech. “It requires patience and will take a fairly long period of time. Only with sincerity, mutual trust and perseverance can we eventually find a fair, reasonable and a mutually acceptable solution.”

In other words, said analysts: Don’t hold your breath. Add it up, they said, and this meeting — the 11th between the two leaders in five years — accomplished relatively little.

“Issues that fuel mutual mistrust, such as Kashmir for the Indians and Tibet for the Chinese, were addressed, but not substantially,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. “The boundary dispute has not been resolved. There’s no road map.”

 

Indian-Pakistan Friendship Blooms Amid Games Chaos

By Amlan Chakraborty for Reuters

India has received support from an unlikely source as it races to finish preparations for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi which start are due to start Sunday.

Following recent concerns about unhygienic athlete accommodation, security and an epidemic of Dengue Fever, in part blamed on stagnant water around unfinished construction sites, sports administrators in neighboring Pakistan are unwavering in their support for the troubled Games.

“When you host something like this, there will be issues but I’m confident it will be a success,” Lal Chand, Pakistan’s deputy chef-de-mission told Reuters by phone.

“We always had very good relation with the Indian Olympic Association and supported them. We will be arriving in full force to spread the message of peace and goodwill,” he said.

Politically, relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors, who have fought three wars, were frozen when Pakistan-based militants attacked the Indian City of Mumbai in 2008, killing 166 people.

However that has not appeared to be the case for sport and Games Organizing committee chief Suresh Kalmadi earlier this year thanked Pakistan for supporting India’s bid to host the October 3-14 event.

“Pakistan supported us to the hilt to get the Commonwealth Games to India. We can never forget their support,” Kalmadi had said in June.

‘TWO-WAY BATTLE’

“We and Canada were locked in a two-way battle for getting the hosting rights and Pakistan supported us in our bid.”

Even when complaints about dirty and unhygienic facilities at the Games Village was drawing flak from all corners, Pakistan hockey player Rehan Butt came out in support for the organisers.

“…I feel that the issue is blown out of proportion in this case. There were problems during the Manchester Games (in 2002) as well where we stayed in a university hostel,” Butt was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.

“That was the worst experience but we did not complain. We, India and Pakistan, never do that.”

Sports historian Boria Majumdar provided a perspective on what brings the bitter neighbors closer in sport.

“I’m not surprised, after all India and Pakistan have inherited the same culture. Historically, they have always put up a united stand in international sport,” said Majumdar.

“Even when politicians were at loggerheads, sports bridged the gap,” he said.

In 1987, then Pakistan President Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq visited India for a cricket match, using the trip to help defuse tensions between the neighbors over a massive Indian military exercise held near the border just months before. The same year, the two countries jointly hosted the cricket World Cup.

The tennis duo of Rohan Bopanna from India and his Pakistani partner Aisam-ul Qureshi were U.S. Open men’s doubles finalists earlier this month.

India’s foreign minister S.M. Krishna has invited his Pakistani counterpart to watch the Commonwealth Games, and said he hoped it could also give them a chance to move on their peace dialogue.

The Next Nuclear Arms Race

By Tim Sullivan and Michael Mazza for The Wall Street Journal

India and Pakistan are the two countries most likely to engage in nuclear war, or so goes the common wisdom. Yet if recent events are any indication, the world’s most vigorous nuclear competition may well erupt between Asia’s two giants: India and China.

Both countries already house significant and growing arsenals. China is estimated to have approximately 450 warheads; India, roughly 100. Though intensifying as of late, Sino-Indian nuclear competition has a long history: India’s pursuit of a weapons program in the 1960s was triggered in part by China’s initial nuclear tests, and the two have eyed one another’s arsenals with mounting concern ever since. The competition intensified in 2007, when China began to upgrade missile facilities near Tibet, placing targets in northern India within range of its forces.

Yet the stakes have been raised yet again in recent months. Indian defense minister A.K. Antony announced last month that the military will soon incorporate into its arsenal a new intermediate-range missile, the Agni-III, which is capable of reaching all of China’s major cities. Delhi is also reportedly considering redeploying survivable, medium-range Agni-IIs to its northeastern border. And just last month, India shifted a squadron of Su-30MKI fighters to a base just 150 kilometers from the disputed Sino-Indian border. An Indian Air Force official told Defense News these nuclear-armed planes could operate deep within China with midflight refueling.

For its part, China continues to enhance the quality, quantity and delivery systems of its nuclear forces. The Pentagon reported last month that the People’s Liberation Army has replaced older, vulnerable ballistic missiles deployed in Western China with modern, survivable ones; this transition has taken place over the last four years. China’s Hainan Island naval base houses new, nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines and affords those boats easy access to the Indian Ocean. China’s military is also developing a new, longer range submarine-launched ballistic missile which will allow its subs to strike targets throughout India from the secure confines of the South China Sea.

No single event has stoked this rise in tensions. China, already concerned about India’s growing strength and its desire to play a greater role in Asia, is even less enthused about the burgeoning strategic partnership between Delhi and Washington. While Beijing has learned to live with American forces on its eastern periphery, the possibility of an intimate U.S.-India military relationship has generated fears of encirclement. The ongoing Sino-Indian border dispute, as well as India’s position astride China’s key maritime shipping lanes, has made the prospect of a Washington-Delhi axis appear particularly troubling.

India’s surface-to-surface missile Agni-II launches off Wheelers island in Orissa state, India, on May 17, 2010.

India likewise feels encircled by China’s so-called “string of pearls”—a series of Chinese-built, ostensibly commercial port facilities in the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. Beijing’s military ties to Pakistan, interference in the Kashmir dispute and references to Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state, as “Southern Tibet” have done little to reassure New Delhi of Chinese intentions. The rapid growth of China’s conventional military might in recent years—between 2000 and 2009, China’s military spending more than tripled—and the lack of clarity as to its intentions, has spurred India to pursue its own military modernization.

These shifts in India’s and China’s nuclear force postures thus represent only the latest and most serious efforts to constrain and convey dissatisfaction with the other’s perceived regional ambitions. But they are more troubling than conventional redeployments.

First, these developments suggest that neither country has confidence in the other’s “no first use” policy. India has good reason for concern: The number of missions attributed to China’s deterrent—responding to nuclear attacks, deterring conventional attacks against nuclear assets, providing Beijing freedom from nuclear coercion and otherwise “reinforcing China’s great power status”—were enough to make the authors of the Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military power last year question the country’s commitment to its “no first use” policy. India, for its part, relies on its nuclear forces to offset gaps and imbalances between its conventional military capabilities and those of China.

Second, there is a point at which efforts to enhance deterrence can foster an arms race. Any attempt on the part of China to increase its own defenses necessarily weakens, or is perceived to weaken, the security of India, thus spurring further defense build-ups; the opposite is true as well. Shifts in nuclear force posture can be particularly disruptive, and have been known to precipitate crises. Upon the discovery of Soviet efforts to deploy missiles to Cuba in 1962, for example, the U.S. responded militarily with a naval “quarantine” of the island, bringing Washington and Moscow as close as they have ever come to a nuclear war.

Finally, the redeployments of India’s and China’s nuclear forces suggest that there is deep-seated and growing discord between the two Asian giants. This is troubling news for a region whose future peace and prosperity depends heavily on continued comity between Delhi and Beijing. It is only a matter of time before the China-India military competition begins to affect neighboring states. China’s nuclear force modernization, for instance, stands to threaten not only India, but also Korea, Japan and other U.S. partners in Asia. A dramatic defense buildup in India, meanwhile, will no doubt leave Pakistan feeling less secure.

Tensions are unlikely to ease any time soon. The two countries appear much closer to the brink of an all-out arms race than they do to any resolution of their differences. While each profits from the other’s economic growth, it is that very growth—which finances military modernization and which is so dependent on potentially vulnerable overseas trade—that creates the conditions for heightened insecurity.

Mr. Sullivan is research fellow and program manager at the American Enterprise Institute’s Center for Defense Studies. Mr. Mazza is a senior research associate at AEI.

China, Pakistan Discuss Another Nuclear Plant

By Jeremy Page for The Wall Street Journal

BEIJING—China’s main nuclear power company announced that it is in talks to build a one-gigawatt nuclear power plant in Pakistan, even as the two countries face U.S. and Indian concerns over their cooperation to build other plants in Pakistan.

Pakistan has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and U.S. and Indian officials worry that nuclear material might fall into the hands of al Qaeda and Taliban militants based near the Afghan border in northwestern Pakistan.

The state-run China National Nuclear Corp. has already helped Pakistan build its main nuclear power facility at Chashma in Punjab province, is completing a second reactor there and has contracts to build two more 300-megawatt reactors.

Qiu Jiangang, vice president of CNNC, told a meeting in Beijing on Monday that the first reactor was operating safely, the second one was now being tested and expected to start formal operations by the end of the year. “Both sides are in discussions over the CNNC exporting a one-gigawatt nuclear plant to Pakistan,” he added, without giving details.

There was no immediate reaction from the U.S. or India. Officials from both countries expressed concern after China signed a deal in February to build the additional two 300-MW reactors. U.S. officials said such plans required special exemption from the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which China joined in 2004, and which is supposed to regulate the global nuclear trade.

Vann H. Van Diepen, the U.S. acting assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, suggested before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in July that the U.S. would vote against such an exemption.

The U.S. and many other NSG members have long had concerns about nuclear proliferation from Pakistan, especially since A.Q. Khan, its top nuclear scientist, confessed in 2004 to selling nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya.

Abdul Basit, a Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman, declined to comment on the one-gigawatt plant, but said Pakistan’s nuclear cooperation with China was for civilian purposes. “The nuclear cooperation between the two countries are in accordance with international obligations and comes under IAEA safeguards,” he said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

China and Pakistan argue that the U.S. set a precedent by sealing a landmark deal to sell civilian nuclear fuel and technology to India in 2006 even though New Delhi had yet to sign the NPT.

That agreement, which lifted a U.S. ban imposed after India tested its first nuclear device in 1974, is seen as the cornerstone of a new partnership with New Delhi designed to counterbalance China’s influence in Asia.

Critics, however, say it undermined the global non-proliferation regime by recognizing India as a global nuclear power, but not Pakistan, even though the South Asian rivals developed nuclear bombs simultaneously.

What Are Chinese Troops Doing in Kashmir?

By Randeep Ramesh for The Guardian

The claim that more than 7,000 Chinese troops have been handed “de facto control” of Gilgit-Baltistan, a northern part of Kashmir, by Islamabad, has set alarm bells ringing in Delhi. India – which, like its nuclear-armed rival Pakistan, claims the entire state – has long been worried that the People’s Liberation Army was working on roads and railway projects in the Karakoram mountains.

What is true is that China plans a massive highway linking western China to the port it is building at Gwadar, Pakistan, on the shore of the Arabian Sea. The benefits are obvious: the journey time from factory gate in, say, China’s wild west, to container ships bound for the Gulf will be cut from weeks to a few days. Eventually it may even become a key energy supply route.

All of this troubles Delhi, which has long asked for China to keep its nose out of Kashmiri affairs. However, the rise of the Middle Kingdom and its need to secure passage through its own troublesome provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet through to Pakistan make this unlikely. But India suspects, too, that China is intent on becoming the hegemon of much of the eastern hemisphere – able to dictate to smaller powers the rules of the game.

In Kashmir this had led to a round of tit-for-tat diplomatic incidents. So when India refuses to allow a Chinese diplomat to visit its troubled north-eastern state of Manipur for a talk, China responds by blocking the visa of a top Indian general because it appears his command includes Kashmir.

The Himalayan state is a piece of real estate whose sovereignty has long been contested. With its demography as varied as its topography, its various peoples have long been imbued with a stubborn streak of independence.

So it may be unsurprising that when heavy rains washed away villages in the Pakistan’s “Northern Areas” and Islamabad’s response was to sit on its hands, the simmering revolt against Pakistani rule flared again. In response Pakistan, so the claim goes, turned to its all-weather friend China, which was more than happy to send boots flying.

All this is dismissed in Beijing but only after referring to Gilgit as a “northern part of Pakistan”, which simply angered Delhi further. While Pakistan’s problem in its part of Kashmir has been of too little government action, India’s rule in its portion of the state has been heavy-handed and self-defeating.

Faced with a largely nonviolent revolt which began in 2008, the Indian authorities have provoked a much larger crisis with a regime of curfews and the killings of teenagers shot dead with nothing but slogans in their mouths and rocks in their hands. It is time for India to admit that its political and military strategy has failed to stabilise Kashmir.

The actions of both Pakistan and India vitiate claims that somehow either could keep the entire state happy. China has little sympathy with separatist claims – and holds sway over large chunks of the former Kashmiri kingdom.

The only way out of this mess is for Islamabad and Delhi to start rebuilding a peace process that will eventually lead to self-governance on both sides of the de facto border and a withdrawal of substantial numbers of Indian, Pakistani and, yes, even Chinese troops from Kashmir.

Crisis in Kashmir

By Ashok K Metha for The Wall Street Journal

A few months ago, Pakistan was virtually begging India to restart the dialogue process between the two governments, suspended after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. Now Pakistani spokesman Abdul Basit asserts that Pakistan will not agree to “any preconditions for resuming the dialogue process.” Why did Islamabad’s attitude change?

The answer lies in two cities: Srinagar and Kabul.

With 62 civilian deaths in the ongoing rioting in the capital city Srinagar and two districts, over the past couple months Kashmir has witnessed a fresh uprising against the symbols of the state. Kashmiris are using every avenue they have—from stones to the Internet—to demand azaadi, or freedom. The mostly spontaneous upheaval involves young men, women and even children. Kashmiris want freedom from corruption, bad governance and the overbearing presence of soldiers.

For decades Pakistan has been trying to wrest Kashmir away from India by sponsoring insurgency. But today, thanks to the ineffective administration in Srinagar, Pakistan doesn’t have to try very hard. After the security forces managed to restore law and order three years ago, India failed to take the political initiative, and frittered away its gains. The result is widespread disillusionment. At a ceremony commemorating India’s Independence Day this month, a local policeman threw a shoe at Omar Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, whose grandfather Sheikh Abdullah ratified the state’s accession to India.

Up until 2008, the state had a lot going for it: several round-table meetings for self rule and confidence-building measures, periodic release of economic packages, annual visits by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, conferences connecting the people and quiet dialogue with moderate and hardline separatist leaders. The ceasefire on the Line of Control was holding, and a four-point formula for resolving the Kashmir dispute hammered out with Pakistan through back channels seemed as good as done.

Indian security personnel beat detained Kashmiri Muslim protesters in Srinagar, India.
Mysteriously, the peace process then ground to a halt. The India-Pakistan dialogue began unraveling soon after Gen. Pervez Musharraf left the scene. The new Pakistani Army Chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, a Fort Leavenworth graduate and favorite of the U.S. establishment, reversed the process of reconciliation. The ceasefire has become shaky, and the Pakistani government’s rhetoric on Kashmir has returned to the rights of the people to self determination and “diplomatic and moral support to Kashmir in their legitimate struggle no matter how brutally Indian forces try to suppress it.”

The reason Gen. Kayani feels emboldened to take a harder line is easy to discern. Tensions deepened after the U.S. elevated Pakistan from “major non-NATO ally” to the linchpin of its Afghan exit strategy, and excluded India from a political solution in Afghanistan. Despite the denials of U.S. Af-Pak point man Richard Holbrooke, the Afghanistan-Pakistan free trade agreement has only underscored India’s irrelevance to Kabul.

Civilian strife in the Kashmir Valley will only strengthen Pakistan’s case that resumption of a dialogue on Kashmir alone will enable a more focused fight against the Taliban on the Western frontier. This is not entirely true, as the Pakistan Army has already redeployed to the west 52% of its offensive and 45% of its defensive forces previously devoted to facing down India.

The priority for Delhi is to stop the stone-throwing in Kashmir. Every death—one recent fatality was a child of eight years old—is fresh cause for protests. On an hour’s notice, 10,000 people will come out on the streets to join the funeral procession of someone they don’t know. Further, Kashmir’s moderate Islam is being radicalized by the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami, which has made even separatist leaders irrelevant. No one is willing to talk unconditionally anymore.

Delhi will have to start from scratch in rolling back alienation by reaching out to youth. Yet Rahul Gandhi, India’s prime-minister-in-waiting and supposedly its youth leader, has not reached out to his favorite constituency in Kashmir. Neither has Congress President Sonia Gandhi or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Srinagar since the troubles began in June. Until a few months back, Kashmir was the most violence-free state in India, as security forces had significantly marginalized insurgent and terrorist groups over the last three years.

Islamabad is not about to take over Kashmir—according to a survey by London-based think tank Chatham House last month, just 2% of the population favors joining Pakistan. But as the cry for azaadi grows louder, no one has a clue when this uprising is going to stop. Even as the faithful observe Ramadan, Delhi needs to do something before U.S. President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit in November.

Drowning Today, Parched Tomorrow

By Steven Solomon for The New York Times

Hard as it may be to believe when you see the images of the monsoon floods that are now devastating Pakistan, the country is actually on the verge of a critical shortage of fresh water. And water scarcity is not only a worry for Pakistan’s population — it is a threat to America’s national security as well.

Given the rapid melting of the Himalayan glaciers that feed the Indus River — a possible contributor to the current floods — and growing tensions with upriver archenemy India about use of the river’s tributaries, it’s unlikely that Pakistani food production will long keep pace with the growing population.

It’s no surprise, then, that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made Pakistani headlines a few weeks before the flooding by unveiling major water projects aimed at bolstering national storage capacity, irrigation, safe drinking water and faltering electrical power service under America’s new $7.5 billion assistance program. In March, the State Department announced that water scarcity had been upgraded to “a central U.S. foreign policy concern.” Pakistan is at the center of it.

This is because a widespread water shortage in Pakistan would further destabilize the fractious country, hurting its efforts to root out its resident international terrorists. The struggle for water could also become a tipping point for renewed war with India. The jihadists know how important the issue is: in April 2009, Taliban forces launched an offensive that got within 35 miles of the giant Tarbela Dam, the linchpin of Pakistan’s hydroelectric and irrigation system.

Pakistan needs to rebuild and overhaul the administration of the world’s largest contiguous irrigation network. For decades, Islamabad has spent far too little on basic maintenance, drainage and distribution canals, new water storage and hydropower plants.

To some extent, these deficiencies have been masked since the 1970s by farmers drilling hundreds of thousands of little tube wells, which now provide half of the country’s irrigation. But in many of these places the groundwater is running dry and becoming too salty for use. The result is an agricultural crisis of wasted water, inefficient production and incipient crop shortfalls.

Like Egypt on the Nile, arid Pakistan is totally reliant on the Indus and its tributaries. Yet the river’s water is already so overdrawn that it no longer reaches the sea, dribbling to a meager end near the Indian Ocean port of Karachi. Its once-fertile delta of rice paddies and fisheries has shriveled up.

Chronic water shortages in the southern province of Sindh breed suspicions that politically connected landowners in upriver Punjab are siphoning more than their allotted share. There have been repeated riots over lack of water and electricity in Karachi, and across the country people suffer from contaminated drinking water, poor sanitation and pollution.

The future looks grim. Pakistan’s population is expected to rise to 220 million over the next decade, up from around 170 million today. Yet, eventually, flows of the Indus are expected to decrease as global warming causes the Himalayan glaciers to retreat, while monsoons will get more intense. Terrifyingly, Pakistan only has the capacity to hold a 30-day reserve storage of water as a buffer against drought.

India, meanwhile, is straining the limits of the Indus Waters Treaty, a 1960 agreement on sharing the river system. To cope with its own severe electricity shortages, it is building a series of hydropower dams on Indus tributaries in Jammu and Kashmir State, where the rivers emerge from the Himalayas.

While technically permissible under the treaty provided the overall volumes flowing downstream aren’t diminished, untimely dam-filling by India during planting season could destroy Pakistan’s harvest. Pakistan, downriver and militarily weaker than India, understandably regards the dams’ cumulative one-month storage capacity as a potentially lethal new water weapon in India’s arsenal.

Now, on top of all this, come the monsoon floods, which have obliterated countless canals, diversion weirs and huge swaths of cropland. Pakistan needs help, and projects like those heralded by Secretary Clinton, while valuable, are not on the scale needed to turn things around.

The best first step is a huge one: for Washington to kick-start progress on the Diamer-Bhasha dam, an agricultural and hydroelectric project on the Indus that’s been on the drawing board for decades. The project, likely to cost more than $12 billion, has languished for want of financing. It has also has run afoul of the developed world’s knee-jerk disfavor of giant dams.

But there is simply no other project that can add so much desperately needed water storage and hydroelectricity — Pakistan is tapping just 12 percent of its hydropower potential. Giant dams, moreover, can be inspiring, iconic projects — the Hoover Dam was a statement of American fortitude at the height of the Depression. Beleaguered Pakistan could use a symbol of progress.

There are other projects, already shown to be successful, that on a larger scale could save more water than building half a dozen giant dams. Managers at one Punjabi canal branch, for example, are working with international experts to replace the traditional supply system called warabandi — in which farmers draw water on a simple rotational basis — with one that requires less overall water but delivers it on a reliable, as-needed basis.

Finally, President Obama should take a lesson from John F. Kennedy. In 1961 President Kennedy and President Ayub Khan of Pakistan established a technical collaboration between American experts and a young generation of Pakistani engineers who, together, largely ameliorated Pakistan’s seemingly intractable problem of waterlogging and soil salinization. Yes, Washington’s interest may have been more related to the cold war than to helping the Pakistani people, but we’ve again reached the point where national security and benevolence align.

The Pakistanis may never come to love us. But as the current spectacle of Islamic jihadists bringing emergency aid to flooded areas warns us, we can’t afford to ignore Pakistan’s looming freshwater crisis.

Steven Solomon is the author of “Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization.”

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