Wednesday, January 31, 2018



        "conveyor belt manufacturers "

           Tackling Pakistani Madrassas 

                  An Uphill Struggle

                            James M. Dorsey

This is an edited version of remarks by James M. Dorsey at the launch in Islamabad on 30 January 2018 of ‘The Role of Madrassas: Assessing Parental Choice, Financial Pipelines and Recent Developments in Religious Education in Pakistan and Afghanistan,’ an extensive study by three Pakistani think tanks backed by the Danish Defense College.

In many ways, the question whether madrassas or religious seminaries contribute to instability in Pakistan and Afghanistan goes far beyond an evaluation of the content of what students are taught and how they are being taught. In fact, it could be argued that the train has left the station and that there are no magic wands or simple administrative and regulatory fixes to address problems associated with madrassas. 

To make things worse, those problems are not restricted to madrassas; they also are prevalent in the public education system.

Irrespective of which of the spectrum of estimates of the number of madrassas in Pakistan one accepts, fact of the matter is that many, if not the majority, of madrassas do not produce graduates who have learnt to think critically. Rote education produces the opposite in a 21st century world in which critical thinking is ever more important.

Moreover, generations of graduates coupled with successive governments willing to play politics with religion and debilitating conflict have helped create a significant segment of Pakistani society that is ultra-conservative, intolerant, anti-pluralistic, and often supremacist.

It is a segment that easily can be whipped up to adopt militant causes as recent protests as well as the popularity of militant groups among both Barelvis and Deobandis have demonstrated. Which raises the question of whether madrassas alleged links to militancy is the core issue, or only part of a far more fundamental issue: the fact that madrassas more often than not teach an ultra-conservative worldview that with a solid grounding and resonance in society is being reinforced and reproduced.

What that means is that the problem is far greater than ensuring registration of madrassas or simply ensuring that include modern science alongside religious subjects in their syllabi. The magnitude of the problem is illustrated in a madrassa in the city of Jhang that has a state-of-the-art computer lab. 

Access to the lab and computer lessons are voluntary, yet only a mere 16 percent of the school’s 300 students are interested or avail themselves of the opportunity in a world in which a baby’s first demand is an iPhone. Visits to other madrassas elsewhere in the country show that at times English lessons that are on the curriculum are just that. They exist on paper rather than in practice. The language classes that do exist often produce anything but English speakers or children with even a rudimentary knowledge of the language.

The question of the context in which madrassas operate is also illustrated by the fact that foreign funding is not what keeps the bulk of the madrassas afloat. Foreign funding is no longer crucial. That is not surprising. Four decades after Gulf states, and to a lesser degree Iraq in the past, and Iran on the other side of the equation, poured huge amounts into ultra-conservative religious education, a world has been created that leads it own life, develops its own resources, and is no longer dependent on external funding and support. It’s the nature of the beast.

PAKISTANI  MADRASA ARE  "conveyor belt manufacturers " OF TERRORISTS - VASUNDHRA

Former Federal Secretary Tanseem Noorani asserted as much as recently as last year when he noted that the number of madrassas was increasing faster in rural areas of Pakistan than regular public schools. There is indeed little doubt that madrassas fill a gap in a country with a broken education system as well cater to a demand for a religious education. And there is no doubt that there are inside and outside of government valiant efforts to fix the system. Hundreds of madrassas have been closed because of links to militancy or other irregularities. But there is equally no doubt that inroads made by ultra-conservatism not only in segments of the public but also significant elements of the bureaucracy cast doubt on the degree to which fixing the system can succeed.

There has been much debate and speculation about Saudi funding. The issue of Saudi funding has much to do with the broader issue of ultra-conservatism as a factor that pervades the discussion of madrassas and more broader trends in Pakistani society. Popular perception is that Saudi funding was focused on Wahhabism, the specific strand of Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism prevalent in the kingdom.

In fact, it was not, despite Saudi links and support to Wahhabi groups like Ahl-e-Hadith in Pakistan. Saudi funding and support focused on ultra-conservatism irrespective of what specific strand of Islam as long as it was anti-Shiite, anti-Ahmadi and anti-Iran. It was that broader focus that allowed the Saudis to, for example, support Deobandis, something that a singular focus on Wahhabism would have precluded.

Not only was Saudi funding broader focused, it also was in a majority of cases hands off. In other words, a majority of Saudi-supported in Pakistan as elsewhere across the globe, were more often than not, not Saudi-managed nor was a Saudi anywhere in sight, even if textbooks, Qur’ans and other materials were Saudi-supplied.

Moreover, official sources will never be comprehensive in documenting funding particularly from foreign sources. That is all the truer in countries where financial controls and their implementation is lax. In the case of Saudi funding of madrassas, this means that money flows are often not transparent and not necessarily recorded and when recorded not made available for scrutiny. As a result, tracking Saudi funding may never produce a comprehensive picture and will often rely on anecdotal evidence or unofficial documentation provided either by the donor or the recipient.

No doubt, far less Saudi funding is available today, but that there is, yet, no indication that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vague notion of a more moderate Islam means a restructuring of the kingdom’s funding targets.

The effort to rewrite Saudi textbooks that are used in the kingdom itself could indicate that change is coming although the extent of that revision remains to be seen. Recent statements by the World Muslim League, a major vehicle of Saudi funding, about the need for inter-faith dialogue and recognition of the Holocaust point in that direction.

Yet, the record of the first three years of the era of the Salmans, King Salman and his powerful son, Prince Mohammed, also has markers that would suggest the opposite. It may be that funding abroad will be more focused on what serves Saudi efforts to confront Iran, which would put Pakistan, with its borders with Iran and the Islamic world’s largest Shia minority, in the bull’s eye. It would also mean that moderation may be less evident in what the Saudis choose to support.

Over the past two decades, repeated efforts have been made to regulate and reform madrassas even if implementation and impact has been lagging. That lag cannot simply be attributed to a lack of resources and/or capabilities.

Reform depends on political will and is obstructed by resistance from powerful and entrenched ultra-conservative circles whose tentacles reach beyond the ulema and the administrators of madrassas. 

With other words, it is the fallout not only of Saudi and Gulf funding but of government and state policies that allowed ultra-conservatism along a broad spectrum to flourish in Pakistan. The issue here is not simply militancy, it is ultra-conservatism that is not by definition or necessarily politically militant.

This is nowhere more evident than in the fact that the problem is not restricted to madrassas but is far more universal. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported as recently as two years ago that Pakistani public school textbooks contained derogatory references to religious minorities.

The report asserted that “in public school classrooms, Hindu children are forced to read lessons about the conspiracies of Hindus toward Muslims’, and Christian children are taught that ‘Christians learned tolerance and kind-heartedness from Muslims.”

It went on to say that “this represents a public shaming of religious minority children that begins at a very young age, focusing on their religious and cultural identity and their communities’ past history.”

The report noted that a review of the curriculum demonstrated that public school students were being taught that 

“religious minorities, especially Christians and Hindus, are nefarious, violent, and tyrannical by nature.”

Addressing the issues at the core of Pakistan’s religious and public education system is going to take out-of-the-box thinking that devises ways of drawing in important segments of the ultra-conservative community rather than alienating them. A turn-around will only truly work if it has buy-in rather than projects a sense of imposition.

For that to happen, government policy and the implementing bureaucracy will have to have a broad vision: one that initiates and manages a broad range of policies and processes that seek to foster values that are at odds with ultra-conservatism such as tolerance, pluralism, and freedom of expression rather than just pay lip service to them. It’s not clear that Pakistan has the political will for this, let alone that the building blocks for such policies are in place.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, 

GEO POLITICS PAKISTAN : Trump's Flawed Pakistan Policy

Source Link

       Trump's Flawed Pakistan Policy 

               Why Islamabad Is Unlikely to Change

                     By Shuja Nawaz

On January 4, the United States announced the suspension of nearly all security-related assistance to Pakistan until Islamabad could prove its commitment to fighting terrorism and cut its ties with militant groups such as the Taliban. This decision came just days after U.S. President Donald Trump had accused Pakistan, on Twitter, of giving “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.” Pakistani leaders responded with a familiar refrain, claiming to have moved against all militant groups without distinction and pointing to the enormous costs in terms of money (over $120 billion) and lives (nearly 80,000 civilian and military dead) sustained by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism since 2001.

For Trump, it may feel good to vent his frustrations about Pakistan, especially now that his administration is desperate to salvage something from the United States’ prolonged and losing conflict in Afghanistan. These new sanctions, however, are unlikely to influence Pakistani behavior, which is rooted in realities on the ground that the United States has little ability to change.  ( KUTE KI POONCH  TEDDY )

Pakistan is a complicated country in a tough neighborhood. Its main strategic concerns are to contain the surging power of its neighbor and rival, India, and to combat Islamist militancy inside its own borders—in particular, it wishes to fight the Pakistani Taliban, which now operates from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. Pakistan launched a military operation in 2014 to clear the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of insurgents, including the Pakistani Taliban, many of whom escaped across the border into Afghanistan. Pakistan, however, is reluctant to please the United States, which it considers a distant and fickle ally, by moving against the leadership of the Afghan Taliban. The United States, for its part, regards Pakistan as a duplicitous partner that is willing to take U.S. funds but unwilling to cut ties with militant groups or eject Afghan Taliban leaders, particularly those affiliated with the Haqqani network, a Pakistan-based faction that has orchestrated high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, particularly in Kabul.Pakistan is reluctant to please the United States, which it considers a distant and fickle ally.

The dwindling and now relatively small amount of financial assistance that the United States currently provides Pakistan is another reason to suspect that its threats will be ineffectual. Pakistani officials have been defiant. Miftah Ismail, the adviser to the prime minister for finance, revenue, and economic affairs, told Reuters,Aid cuts will not hurt us,” since U.S. aid has been “reduced drastically over the years.” (Annual U.S. aid to Pakistan peaked at about $3.5 billion in 2011, before declining to about $1 billion in 2016.)

Pakistan also has its own leverage against the United States. Islamabad could, for instance, threaten to cut off the United States’ air- and ground-based supply routes to Afghanistan. That leverage has been diminished somewhat in recent years, both by Washington’s reduction of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan (thereby lessening its need for supplies) and by the proven efficacy of the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which moves supplies through Russia and Central Asia. In 2011, for example, when Pakistan closed its ground routes to the United States, the NDN allowed the International Security Assistance Force commander, General John Allen, to store nearly six months of reserve supplies inside Afghanistan. Yet Pakistan’s ability to threaten U.S. logistics is still formidable: in 2015, Russia shut down the NDN, and there is always a chance that Moscow could decide to play hardball if the United States sought to reopen it. In 2014, the United States lost the use of its Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan, the last U.S. base in Central Asia, as the Kyrgyz government sought to win favor with Russia. Another option is for the United States to use an Iranian land route moving through the port of Chabahar, but this is likely off the table given the heightened war of words between the Trump administration and Tehran. Depriving the United States of its air routes into Afghanistan, moreover, would end Washington’s ability to conduct air support with Gulf-based fighters and bombers.

The current standoff is further complicated by this year’s electoral calendar. The United States faces midterm elections in November, Pakistan has a parliamentary election in June, and Afghanistan has one in July. India, too, might bring forward its elections, currently scheduled for 2019, to this year.    In all of these countries, then, domestic politics will dominate decision-making for the foreseeable future. Pakistani Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif’s belligerent, rapid-fire Urdu tweets on the U.S. sanctions, which pronounced the death of the alliance, are a good illustration of how this domestic focus could make compromise with the United States difficult. Trump, meanwhile, is anxious to show that the United States is winning in Afghanistan, which might lead him to increase pressure on Pakistan by imposing additional sanctions. (As strategic thinker Harlan Ullman’s recent book Anatomy of Failure maintains, the United States has never won a war that it started.) Meanwhile, Afghanistan and India could support U.S. attempts to influence Islamabad. This would in turn fortify Pakistan’s perception of an international conspiracy against it.

A final obstacle in getting Pakistan to change its policy is the fact that it currently has an ersatz government run by a competent, albeit weak, prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Abbasi has no political clout within his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which still bears the name of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was forced to step down over corruption allegations in July but continues to call the shots. Dynastic politics in Pakistan weaken civilian governance and democratic legitimacy, allowing the well-organized military to dominate policy making and take a strong position against U.S. demands. Since 2001, moreover, the United States has tied itself to successive unpopular, autocratic, and corrupt administrations in Pakistan, including that of the dictator Pervez Musharraf. In doing so, it has failed to build a relationship with the 200 million people of Pakistan, a majority of whom, even at the height of the Afghanistan war and U.S. drone strikes on their country, wished to have better relations with the United States

Against this backdrop, it is unlikely that threats to cut off U.S. funding—or Trump’s inflammatory tweets—will have much effect in terms of changing Pakistan’s behavior. Rather, they will only inflame tensions between the two and worsen the situation in Pakistan. After all, the last time that such a break in ties took place was in the 1990s, in the wake of Pakistan’s development of a nuclear weapon and the United States’ withdrawal from the Afghan theater following the end of the Soviet occupation. Pakistan was left to cope with the aftershocks of the Afghan war on its own. The United States also stopped all U.S.-based training programs for Pakistani military officers, beginning with the Pressler Amendment in 1985 and lasting through the 1990s. This “lost generation” was deprived of contact with its American counterparts, leading Pakistani officers to develop a view of the United States as an untrustworthy ally. Yet today, more than 200 of the brightest Pakistani officers come to the United States for training purposes every year. If the U.S.-Pakistani relations continue to deteriorate, this training program may disappear again. 

Indeed, the current public contretemps will likely produce a train wreck for the U.S.-Pakistani relationship unless meaningful dialogue resumes. It is important that the discussions between the two be led by diplomats, rather than politicians, so that solutions can be found that build on the two countries’ dependence on one another and serve both of their interests. It is important, moreover, for Washington to inform and engage with the people of Pakistan in these exchanges. Washington is right to favor results-based assistance. Why not let Pakistan set attainable targets for aid, and agree with the United States on these before aid is disbursed, rather than quibble over reimbursements, as is the case now? The United States, meanwhile, could use its influence with India and Afghanistan to develop a more sustainable, long-term regional plan to fight terrorism and militancy. If Trump can pull this off, he can declare victory before exiting Afghanistan. If not, the current dispute could portend a messy defeat.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

TIBET : Tibet: An Ancient Threat to Modern China



: An Ancient Threat to Modern China


          Thomas Vien | Stratfor

ON THE WEB, 16 July 2015


                              OF INDIA - VASUNDHRA ]

A Tibetan man (L) in traditional clothing watches as Chinese paramilitary troops in riot gear march along the streets of Guomaying in northwest China's Qinghai province, in a vast region on the Tibetan Plateau known as Amdo.


  • After the Dalai Lama dies, groups within the Tibetan exile community dissatisfied with the Dalai Lama’s moderate position may adopt a militant stance toward China.
  • China will attempt to mitigate the geopolitical threat Tibet poses to the Belt and Road Initiative[1] by intensifying the domestic security presence in Tibet.
  • China will strive to integrate India into the Belt and Road Initiative to improve its leverage over the Tibetan exile community.


On July 10, the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, celebrated his 80th birthday during a visit to New York City. Among those in attendance was Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the Obama administration. Predictably, the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed strong opposition, urging the United States to stop its perceived support for Tibetan independence and to “undo any harm done” by a senior U.S. official meeting with the Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese have called a “devil with a human’s face.” Although to many outsiders this seems like an overzealous response, China has good reason to be anxious about what it sees as a rival state’s support for an uncooperative Tibetan leader.

Mainstream media tends to understand China’s strong grip on Tibet as a function of China’s communist preference for authoritarian rule, driven by intangible factors like nationalism or Han chauvinism. Although these factors are indeed in play, they give an incomplete understanding of why Tibet is important to China. The Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Manchu-ruled Qing Dynasty (1645-1911) and the Nationalist government (1927-1949) all fought to either dominate or pacify Tibet. This history suggests that China’s need to control Tibet is geopolitical and not unique to any single Chinese government or to Han rule.

Stratfor has long emphasized that:
    "China must maintain control of its non-Han border regions in order to protect its heartland, an imperative clearly at work in Tibet. " If Tibet were beyond China’s control, it could threaten key lines of communication to the rest of Eurasia as well as the security of China proper, either independently or by enlisting hostile foreign powers. As China attempts to build up new industrial centers in inland provinces and set up trade routes on the model of the Tang-era Silk Road, the pacification of Tibet and the control of its exile population will become even more important. Examining the Tang Dynasty, which President Xi Jinping has selected as his vision of a powerful China connected to the world by vibrant trade corridors, and its relationship with Tibet sheds light on the geopolitical problem an autonomous or even restive Tibet poses for modern China.

The ancient Silk Road was many routes connecting East and West, primarily for trade.

A History of Conflict

The Tang Dynasty was a cosmopolitan golden age for China’s culture and arts, as well as a high point of Chinese military and economic might. China was an empire in the truest sense, with a colonial presence in non-Han areas spanning the Mongolian steppe to the north, Vietnam to the south, the Korean Peninsula to the east and Central Asia to the west. At that time, China’s center of gravity was not on its eastern seaboard as it is today but in northwestern China in what is modern Shaanxi Province. This made securing the frontier zones west of Shaanxi crucial to both protecting the Chinese heartland and controlling the Silk Road, a network of trade routes running westward from the Tang capital Chang’an (modern Xian) through Central Asia, Persia and Europe. However, another power challenged China’s control of the western frontier: the Tang Dynasty’s most powerful foe, the Tibetan Empire. The two empires fought frequent wars to dominate the Silk Road between the early 7th century and the mid-9th century.

Rooted in this experience, the Tang conception of Tibet was very different from the modern Western vision of a land of peaceful Lamaist monks. Tang chroniclers describe- 

 the Tibetans as horsemen encased from head to toe in chain mail that rendered them impervious to most attacks and underscored their warlike nature by noting that they carried swords even in times of peace. While the Chinese were no strangers to aggressive non-Han enemies, the Tibetans were different, in that they had a well-organized state with administrative institutions as capable as China’s. This made them much less vulnerable to political and military disruption than the Turkic khanates that were the Tang’s earliest foreign threats. The Tibetans were able to compete with the Chinese as peers.

The fierce Tibetans were assisted in no small part by favorable geography: The high Tibetan Plateau, 4,500 meters (2.7 miles) above sea level, made Tibet nearly unassailable from the Chinese-controlled lowlands. Even at the height of the Tang Empire’s military might, the Chinese were never able to advance beyond Tibet’s periphery and seriously threaten its heartland. The Tibetans, on the other hand, could enter the lowlands with comparative ease. The Tibetan Empire controlled the entirety of the Tibetan Plateau — not only the areas that make up the modern Tibet Autonomous Region but also most of modern Qinghai Province and the western parts of Sichuan Province. 
To these original lands, the Tibetans would add their conquests in the Himalayas, Pamir Mountains (in modern Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan), Xinjiang and eventually much of northwestern China at the upper reaches of the Yellow River around the Ordos Loop.

The Tibetan Plateau’s strategic location enabled the Tibetans to threaten Chinese interests at multiple points. East of the plateau, the Tibetans menaced the Sichuan Basin — not a part of the Silk Road, but an economically productive part of China. From Tibet’s northeastern borderlands, the Tibetans could take aim at the Silk Road as it passed through the Gansu Corridor, a strip of oases in northwestern China between the Tibetan Plateau and the Gobi Desert. Sallying north from the plateau or from bases in the Pamir Mountains, the Tibetans could attack the Tang Empire’s hold over its colonial possessions in Xinjiang’s Tarim Basin. Control over Gansu and Xinjiang was necessary to secure the lucrative Silk Road trade and deny it to the enemy. An illustration of the fabulous wealth found along the Silk Road emerges from a Tibetan record of the capture of the Chinese fortress of Guazhou, in modern Gansu: “The many riches of the Chinese being taken out to the Western Regions, after having been amassed in Guazhou, were all confiscated by the Tibetans … even the ordinary people joined in covering themselves with good Chinese silks.”

At the height of the Tang Dynasty, its conflict with the Tibetan Empire was one for economic advantage, not a fight for survival. However, when the power of the dynasty’s central government deteriorated, Tibet became a threat to the Chinese heartland. To check the Tibetans, the Chinese restructured their military from a system concentrating military power in the capital to a system of frontier commands with enormous standing armies, shifting the balance of power from the central government to regional commanders. In the mid-8th century, a rebellion led by a powerful military governor nearly brought the Tang Empire to its knees. In the ensuing civil war, the Chinese Silk Road garrisons in the Gansu Corridor and Xinjiang were withdrawn, and the Tibetans seized most Chinese possessions in the western regions. The front line moved within about 240 kilometers (149 miles) of the capital, and the Tibetans posed an existential threat to the Tang Dynasty until political infighting brought about the collapse of the Tibetan Empire during the mid-9th century.

In Modern Context

Although China’s struggle against Tibet was most intense in the Tang Dynasty, future Chinese governments saw the conflict as an indication of China’s need to bind the Tibetan Plateau to the central government’s will. As long as China needs to protect its western reaches, it will use all means, military and diplomatic, to prevent the emergence of an autonomous Tibet that could threaten China’s western flank or enlist foreign powers to do so. Acting on this imperative, the Manchu Qing Dynasty established a protectorate over Tibet in the 18th century, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s weak nationalist government waged political and military campaigns to curtail Tibetan autonomy, and Mao Zedong’s communist forces conquered Tibet in the 1950s shortly after establishing the People’s Republic of China.

Under Xi, this geopolitical imperative has become more critical. Western China is gaining significance for Xi’s strategic and economic plans. One of the crown jewels in Xi’s grand strategy is the Belt and Road Initiative, a strategy meant to facilitate inland industrialization and secure China against economic disruption through the construction of six trade corridors modeled on the Tang Dynasty’s Silk Road. Many of these corridors are centered on inland rail lines and highways that roughly trace the original Silk Road caravan routes.

These are the same areas that the Tibetans were able to seize from the Chinese in antiquity.

"The six modern 'Belt and Road' trade corridors.[1]

Changes in military and logistics technologies have eroded the geographic advantage the Tibetans enjoyed in the past, enabling the Chinese to control Tibet to a degree unimaginable to their Tang Dynasty predecessors. In recent years, China has expanded rail links in Tibet that have reinforced Beijing’s control over the region and allowed China’s security presence to move deeper into Tibet. But while it is extremely doubtful that Tibet could secede from China and quickly become a military power capable of capturing territory from the Chinese, Tibet is geographically well-positioned to disrupt China’s overland trade routes. 
This disruption could come from restive elements of the Tibetan exile community.

The pro-Tibetan Movement’s Uncertain Future

Divisions along spiritual and political lines have put the direction of the largely India-based Tibetan exile community in question. One of the chief debates within the community concerns whether the pro-Tibetan movement is best served by continued adherence to the Dalai Lama’s nonviolent “middle way” approach to China. Some groups within the movement, such as the nationalist Tibetan Youth Congress, argue for taking a stronger stand for Tibetan independence.

The octogenarian Dalai Lama is the one person able to provide unified leadership to the fragmented Tibetan exile community. So far, he has kept the hawkish pro-Tibetan voices in check, but there is no guarantee that his strategy will continue to prevail after he dies. 

The Dalai Lama can mitigate some uncertainties around his succession by forgoing reincarnation (thus denying Beijing the opportunity to pick his successor) or passing his spirit and the mantle of leadership to a key supporter or group of supporters through the Tibetan Buddhist practice of “emanation.” However, whatever the Dalai Lama’s arrangements, it will be difficult for any successor to attract the same level of support from foreign sponsors that have identified the pro-Tibetan movement with the personality of the Dalai Lama. Furthermore, in the absence of a leader able to command the same level of support as the Dalai Lama, the unified movement could split along ideological lines.

Left unchecked by a strong leader and long frustrated with the Dalai Lama’s nonviolent approach, the exile community’s radical elements could become more aggressive. Difficulties in attracting funding could make Tibetan exile groups relatively more dependent on state sponsorship and give rise to competitive dynamics as the disparate groups vie for support. These dynamics would favor better-organized (and potentially bolder) groups. Beijing is concerned that China’s strategic competitors, such as the United States and India, could recruit these Tibetan groups to rouse their brethren across the border into militancy in an effort to destabilize China. This worry is not baseless; the CIA trained Tibetan exiles as insurgents to do exactly that during the Cold War.

Modern nation boundaries, areas of ancient Tibetan and Tang empires, and the modern Silk Road.

To protect its Belt and Road[1] corridors, China has mixed increased domestic security and surveillance with greater efforts to secure the cooperation of foreign governments in pressuring potential extremist groups abroad. For example, in order to increase security in Xinjiang, Beijing sent domestic security chief Meng Jianzhu to negotiate improved law enforcement cooperation agreements with Central Asian governments (an unspoken objective of which is controlling the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a Uighur militant group). Before that, China pushed for the repatriation of Uighurs abroad — a move that prompted Thailand to extradite 109 alleged Uighur jihadists on July 9.

China will apply this approach to Tibet as well. Although China already subjects Tibet to an intense domestic security presence, the exile community lies beyond China’s reach. Therefore, China will need to persuade India to impose stronger restrictions on the activities and movements of Tibetans in exile. This will be a challenge; India has a much larger economy than most of the states linked into China’s Belt and Road strategy, making India relatively less dependent on China economically. Moreover, India regards the Tibetan exile community as an asset in its underlying competition with China. Therefore, while the Dalai Lama is still alive, China will need to bring India aboard the Belt and Road Initiative and build infrastructure links that integrate India’s economy further with China (such as the planned extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway into Nepal, scheduled for completion in 2020). Deeper ties could make India more receptive to China’s preferences. The Dalai Lama claims that he will live to the age of 113, but China cannot count on having that much time to neutralize the potential Tibetan threat to its new Silk Road.

1 Belt and Road Initiative: A strategy meant to facilitate inland industrialization and secure China against economic disruption through the construction of six trade corridors modeled on the Tang Dynasty's Silk Road.

About the author

Lead Analyst: Thomas Vien
Graphic Design: Mark Blackwell
Production Editor: Robin Blackburn

Friday, January 26, 2018

Honour Martyrs, this Republic Day: A letter to Modi by Armed Forces Veteran


Please Honour Martyrs, this Republic     Day  : A letter to Modi by                                  Armed Forces Veteran                                      By 

              HARSHA KAKAR

I do hope that this prayer would result in positive

 response by you.


Dear Prime Minister,

As a veteran, I would request you to consider directing your bureaucracy to issue a policy to honour martyrs who gallantly lay down their lives battling anti-national elements in various parts of the nation, including Kashmir, Northeast and even Naxal-affected regions.

These are soldiers, from different security agencies belonging to various parts of the country, who are martyred while trying to ensure the safety, integrity and honour of the nation. They selflessly challenged those attempting to disrupt the internal harmony of the nation as also the enemy along the borders.

It is requested that the policy encompasses actions to be taken from the time of his becoming a martyr up to caring for the needs of the family. While the service concerned does honour the martyr prior to dispatching his remains to his place of residence, it is beyond that stage that a common policy is essential.  

The remains of martyrs are conveyed by various airlines to the nearest airport, post which they are moved by road. The basic courtesy that any airline can do is announce the presence of such remains onboard the flight for the information of passengers and request them for a 30-second or a minute silence as a mark of respect.

Details are always available with the pilots, as also the remains are accompanied by a member of the same establishment. A common pattern of announcement would be ideal.

This small gesture would go a long way in making security forces feel that their sacrifices are respected by the common Indian and his honouring them is a sign of national gratitude. This request has been made multiple times to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, however, bureaucratic tangles emanating from the Ministry of Civil Aviation have prevented the same from being implemented.

While most airlines would willingly adopt the procedure, lack of central direction prevents it from being done.

The second aspect of the policy is ensuring that the local civil administration represents the states and Centre during the conduct of final rites. It is presently left to the whims and fancies of the local bureaucrats. This does not auger well for the nation as those belonging to the city or village attend in large numbers. The compulsory presence of local bureaucrats and laying of wreaths on behalf of the state administration would be ideal.

Finally, Mr Prime Minister, is the grant of financial assistance to the bereaved family. Each service has its own norms and rules and hence the grant varies. However, in each case, the soldier has laid down his life for the nation, hence all deserve to be considered on a par. A common factor, the highest grant as of today should be considered as the base line. Similarly, should be the additional grant by states. This again varies state to state, which conveys a wrong message of which party runs the state, a pro-Centre, or anti-Centre, or if elections are round the bend. In the case of martyrs, this should not be the deciding factor and a common figure should be considered.

I'm aware that some parts of the policy may not come under the jurisdiction of the Centre, but be a state subject. However, a letter from your office to all state governments would go a long way in ensuring that a common policy is adopted across the nation. It would also curtail previous incidents, where families have delayed conducting last rites seeking attendance by state representatives and release of grants.

Central grants are announced either by the home ministry or defence. Having different figures convey different messages. It also brings to fore the standing and prestige of the head of the organisation. A common figure would remove this anomaly.

Instructions to airlines have been withheld solely because of a block by the civil aviation ministry. This is directly under your leadership and there should be no hesitation on directions being issued.

I am releasing this request, just prior to Republic Day, a time when the nation’s heart swells with pride witnessing columns of military power marching down the Rajpath. I do hope that this prayer by a veteran would result in positive response by you and directions conveyed to the ministries concerned.


Harsha KakarHARSHA KAKAR @kakar_harsha
The author is a retired Major General.