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Thursday, 5 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 05 Nov 2015

Containing China
India will have to work with both littoral and non-littoral powers
PAKISTAN recently announced that it had finalised a deal for acquiring eight submarines from China, with four of them being built in Karachi. It currently has five French-designed Agosta submarines. This Pakistan-China deal is meant to more than double Pakistan’s submarine fleet. It follows a deal to acquire four Chinese frigates. It is no secret that as a result of Chinese assistance, Pakistan now possesses plutonium-based, miniaturised tactical nuclear weapons, enabling it to develop “full spectrum” nuclear capabilities against India. Likewise, Pakistan’s missile programme, capable of targeting population centres across India, is almost entirely based on Chinese designs and technology. The JF 17 fighter, which is the main workhorse of the PAF, is a replica of the Russian MiG 29, reverse engineered by China.

Pakistan has served as the primary instrument of Chinese policies to contain and surround India. Beijing has not hesitated to use Pakistan internationally, to thwart Indian ambitions regionally and globally. It has backed Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in the UN, by opposing and delaying moves in the UN to place international sanctions on Pakistan- based terrorist groups and individuals. China has also repeatedly thwarted attempts for India to get permanent membership of the UN Security Council and membership of international non-proliferation groupings like the Nuclear Suppliers Group. It remained hostile to Indian efforts to widen its regional ties with ASEAN. It blocked moves by India for membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), insisting on Pakistan’s simultaneous admission. It will use Pakistan’s simultaneous admission, to undermine India, within the SCO.

China has been hyperactive in cultivating India’s South Asian neighbours. The intention is to get these neighbours to embarrass and isolate India, by insisting that Beijing should be admitted to SAARC, as a full member. Liberal offers for arms supplies to SAARC countries like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have been periodically made. More ominously, China is making a concerted effort to develop strong lobbies in political parties in countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka, while discreetly “facilitating” individual politicians and parties. Eyebrows have been raised at the number of senior Chinese officials, including foreign minister Wang Yi, who visited Nepal, in the months preceding the adoption of the new constitution, by the Constituent Assembly. Notice has also been taken of Chinese links with some of their “fraternal” contacts, in sections of their Maoist brethren in Kathmandu.

Chinese diplomatic efforts are not always successful, despite the economic assistance and “goodies” offered. Project loans offered by China are often not as “concessional” as they made out. The Colombo Port City Project, which was enthusiastically welcomed by the Rajapakse dispensation, was soon found to be a white elephant. In Myanmar, a number of projects, including pipelines, copper mines and hydroelectric power, have been put on hold, or rejected. Moreover, the Mandarins in Beijing and Yunnan have behaved crudely, by permitting armed ethnic groups to operate across the Sino-Myanmar border in the Shan and Kachin states. Likewise, in neighbouring Bangladesh, the Chinese are finding that some of their proposals for investments in port and power facilities may well be rejected, as Japan has stepped in with far more attractive offers for port development, power plants and an energy terminal.

India and others face challenges from an increasingly assertive China, now prepared to use force, to reinforce its maritime territorial claims coercively. China is rapidly strengthening its navy and expanding its naval presence across the Indian Ocean. Its aggressive behaviour in enforcing its exaggerated maritime territorial claims, has led to differences with South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines are taking proactive measures to counter Chinese unilateralism. Manila has challenged Chinese maritime claims in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. It has also joined Vietnam and Japan in bolstering defence capabilities by cooperation with the US. Even Russia is strengthening Vietnamese defence capabilities. Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo is embarking on an ambitious programme of naval expansion.

Beijing’s naval power across the Indian Ocean is being steadily augmented, with a Chinese nuclear-powered attack submarine being spotted in the Indian Ocean last year. Using the excuse of participating in anti-piracy operations, China has moved into the Gulf of Aden. It has sought berthing facilities in Aden, Djibouti and Seychelles. It has obtained exclusive rights for mineral exploration in 10,000 sqm in the Indian Ocean. New Delhi was caught by surprise when President Rajapakse allowed a Chinese submarine to berth in Colombo where he was proposing to lease land to China, twice last year.

While Pakistan and China claim an eternal friendship “deeper than the oceans and higher than the heavens”, the experience of countries like Sri Lanka and Myanmar has shown that working discreetly, India can and should balance and even roll back Chinese influence, across its Indian Ocean neighbourhood. The growth of Chinese power has caused concerns not only in western capitals, but also in regional countries like Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. There is, therefore, need for India to work for a broad consensus across what is now called the “Indo-Pacific” region, extending from the western Pacific to the south-western Indian Ocean to challenge Chinese “assertiveness” on territorial and other issues.

Balancing Chinese military power is even more complex, as it involves building up our own defence and defence production capabilities. We are now regularly holding joint military exercise with the US and Japan.  Our maritime ties are expanding with littoral countries, ranging from Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Seychelles, to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has recently spoken of strengthening his country’s naval potential in the wake of maritime boundary issues with China.

India will now have to strategically fashion a “string of pearls”, extending from across the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea, together with both littoral and non-littoral powers, if Chinese power is to be balanced and contained. We will have to shed earlier inhibitions, by significantly expanding defence ties with Vietnam. If China supplies missiles, frigates and submarines to Pakistan, India should not be inhibited from supplying weapons and equipment like cruise missiles to Vietnam. Cooperation with and containment of China should reciprocally go hand in hand.
India raises concerns over South China Sea, again
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 4
Almost a year after India first mentioned the South China Sea dispute in an official document, Delhi has yet again expressed concern over the activity in the Sea and has sought a peaceful resolution, as agreed upon in an existing framework, to the issue.

Delhi is concerned over freedom of navigation as almost all of its two-way trade with countries to its East passes through these waters.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, while speaking at the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, today expressed hope that all parties to the disputes in the South China Sea region will ensure a peaceful resolution of disputes. Parrikar said the situation in the South China Sea and the recent developments in the area had attracted interest and concern. “This is natural as freedom of navigation in international waters — the right of passage and over flight, unimpeded commerce and access to resources in accordance with recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea — are of concern to all of us,” Parrikar was quoted as saying.

He also hoped that talks under the 2002-signed Code of Conduct on the South China Sea would be concluded at an early date by consensus. The ADMM has defence ministers of the 10 ASEAN countries and also eight other countries, including India, Russia and China, as observers.

In October, 2014, the South China Sea was mentioned for the first time by India in an India-US joint statement released after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama in the US. China claims the South China Sea in entirety and is locked in dispute at the UN with Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
Photos of LeT recruits on social media sends forces into tizzy
Suhail A Shah

Anantnag, November 4
Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Valley on November 7, the police and other security agencies are on a high alert as pictures of fresh Lashkar-e-Toiba recruits are doing the rounds on social media.

Police sources say the young men, believed to have infiltrated from across the border a month ago, were ferried to south Kashmir by slain LeT commander Abu Qasim, days before his death.

Qasim was killed in Khandipora village of Kulgam district on October 29.

The highly trained militants are believed to be in their late teens or early twenties.

“The information regarding infiltration and subsequent ferrying of these militants to south Kashmir had been with the police all along,” said a senior police officer from Pulwama district.

While the police is still groping in the dark, the pictures are being circulated on social media sites, including Facebook and WhatsApp.

“Pictures of at least nine armed men, clicked in the woods, are doing the rounds,” the police officer said.

Apart from ascertaining the veracity of the pictures, the police have stepped up the hunt to nab them, he added.

The police do not know the names of these highly trained, young, foreign men. Sources in the police said the militants had been distributed across south Kashmir in smaller modules.

The addition of the nine fresh recruits has strengthened the Lashkar in south Kashmir from three surviving foreign members to 12.

“The killing of Qasim was a major setback to the Lashkar in south Kashmir. However, addition of nine new faces will be a fresh challenge to security establishment,” said the police officer.

Meanwhile, the police and other security agencies have gone into an overdrive to hunt down the militants ahead of the PM’s visit.

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir zone, SJM Gillani, said the situation was under control.

“The pictures have been doing the rounds for quite a while now. We are verifying the veracity of these pictures.” said the IGP. “The police are not yet sure whether Qasim was the man behind smuggling these militants to south Kashmir or this was an older module that it is thought to be,” he added.
How Indian army broke the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba chief in Jammu and Kashmir

Srinagar, Nov 4: With each militant group in Jammu and Kashmir claiming supremacy over one another, the security agencies have plenty to smile about. There is a major rift in the militant ranks today and the ongoing battle for supremacy between the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and the Hizbul Mujahideen is doing more good than harm. Abu Qasim, the operations chief of the Lashkar in Jammu and Kashmir was recently killed by Indian security forces. He had been as wily as a fox in the past five years as a result of which he managed to dodge the police and also the Indian army.

This mastermind of the Udhampur attack however walked right into a trap which resulted in his death. How Qasim walked into a trap The death of Abu Qasim who has masterminded more than one attack against the Indian army came as a major relief. He was gunned down a week ago by the Indian armed forces following an intense gun battle. [Why the death of Udhampur attack mastermind Abu Qasim is a major achievement?] After the Udhampur attack, the hunt for Qasim had been stepped up. In fact, it was Mohammad Naved, the Pakistani terrorist caught alive in connection with the Udhampur attack, who provided vital information regarding Qasim's whereabouts or hideouts. Following a lead on one such operation, the Jammu and Kashmir police almost got to Qasim. However, this time Qasim had proper leads from his local sources and in the encounter that took place, he gunned down a heroic officer Altaf Dar. This however did not stop the army from pursuing its hunt for Qasim. The army began putting out information about a possible operation against Qasim which led him to moving out of his stronghold. He walked into a base at Khulgam which is a stronghold of the Hizbul Mujahideen. [Udhampur attack mastermind Abu Qasim killed in encounter] The Hizbul which wants the Lashkar weakened in Jammu and Kashmir leaked information about Qasim's specific location. Qasim during the encounter with the army found that he was lacking the crucial local support that he always relied upon. This led to the army getting the better of him and in the encounter Qasim was killed.

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