September 02, 2014

Maoist War Against India: Time for United & Strong Response

Ajit Doval, KC - Former Director, VIF

The May 25th extremist attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh was one of the depredations that hit India. But, more tragic is what follows – delayed tactical response, leadership confusion and helplessness, scripted statements carrying no conviction and even ministers looking for opportunities to derive political mileage. In the world of security what happens is important, but what decides the end game is how the governments respond to them. While the former is not always and fully in their control, the latter is a matter of their conscious choice. The tragedy of what they fail to protect and prevent is compounded by the wrong or inadequate response that guarantees perpetual failures.

There is a predictable pattern of discourse that follows major attacks. Political statements and counter statements, Centre versus State blame game, accusations of intelligence and security failure, all relevant, but leading nowhere. There is no clear and unequivocal message to the perpetrators, enunciation of a new national policy and strategy, initiatives towards capacity building and pressing into action innovative tactical plans.

Prevention of this obfuscated discourse necessitates clarity on the fundamentals. Left wing extremists are enemies of the nation – their ideology, political goals, trans-national linkages, strategic plans all make it amply clear. Their history of siding with the Chinese during the 1962 war, supporting Pakistan Army's genocide in East Pakistan and dubbing Indian intervention as imperialist, aligning with Kashmiri separatists and supporting North-East insurgents leave no doubt about their intentions. Their putting in place an 18,000 plus guerrilla force, nearly 16,000 sophisticated arms, weapon procuring and manufacturing infrastructure, fund raising abilities and an effective propaganda apparatus clearly indicate their burgeoning capacities. Misled by the rhetoric of them being social activists or crusaders for the poor, we should not underestimate their intentions and capabilities. There is no room to treat them anything other than being enemies of the state who have to be fought, vanquished and neutralised.

The second point that obfuscates the discourse is its political dimension. The message that goes out to the Naxalites is that the government is confused and weak, dishonest and insincere, lacks the gumption to take the battle to its logical end, and wilts under the pressure of media, local level political workers, extremist linked NGOs, etc. The political cross-fire between the Centre and the States only gladdens their hearts. There is a need to make the message to the extremists loud and clear that the state will use all its power to protect its sovereign rights. In the instant case, the Congress leaders were wrong in trying to give it a political colour and advance possible conspiracy theories. There is no ambiguity whatsoever about the role and responsibility of the Centre and the States. Article 355 of the Constitution unequivocally affirms that "It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance". Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is no more a "public order" issue, and falls well within the innermost circle of what Justice Hidayatullah calls "three concentric circles" of threats. In the judgement in Ram Manohar Lohia vs. State of Bihar (1965), the Supreme Court asserted that when a threat transcends limits of public order and threatens internal security, the overriding responsibility lies with the Union government. However, to make it happen, the Prime Minister needs to be strong to have his writ run both at the Centre and in the States.

The next requirement is strong laws with an efficient criminal administration system to administer them. The threats, internal or external, that threaten the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India, require a different jurisprudence than ordinary criminal laws and must empower the state to deter and neutralise the enemies. The front organisations, masquerading as NGOs and think tanks, who skilfully assist the extremists in exploiting discontent and subvert them to take recourse to the gun must be made accountable. Those who provide them intellectual and ideological space by projecting them as social revolutionaries are as guilty as the gullible people who take to arms. It is also necessary that the justice system functions with speed, fairness, transparency and honesty. To bring down the crisis of legitimacy, any illegal police action or efforts to frame the innocents should be dealt with an iron hand.
The state police forces, due to their superior knowledge of terrain, language and customs of the local people. are best suited for counter-LWE operations. There is an urgent need to increase their strength, provide them better leadership, training, weapons and equipment. It is pertinent to note that Naxalism has assumed deep roots in States where the number of policemen available per one lakh population is amongst the lowest and much below the national average of 135. This situation should be corrected immediately and minimum of 200 policemen per lakh population must be made available to the Naxal affected states. Not just quantity, but quality equally matters. What India requires is, as the Padmanabhaiah Committee advocated, a "highly motivated, professionally-skilled, infrastructurally self-sufficient and sophisticatedly trained police force."

The availability of real-time actionable intelligence is critical for launching surgical operations against the Naxal leadership and guerilla armies. For this the operational capabilities of state intelligence, right up to the police station levels must be bolstered for undertaking tactical operations. A good intelligence often has made the difference between victory and defeat, and life and death. We have to develop a totally different set of capabilities to cater to our rapidly changing intelligence requirements. This needs to be done at several levels—from our training modules to doctrines to equipment. This transformation has to be across the spectrum of our intelligence capabilities and operations. Concerted efforts to choke Maoists' sources of finance and channels of procuring weapons also deserve high priority.

The war is difficult but winnable. The need is for capacity building both at the Central and State levels and right leadership to convert plans into realities on the ground. They have started the war; it will be finished by us.

Is Pakistan On Way from Failing to Failed State? 

Sushant Sareen, Senior Fellow, VIF

A theatre of the absurd is on display in Islamabad with the street-fighters of Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri breaching the barricades to storm the Parliament and lay siege to the Prime Minister's House. The denouement of this clear collapse of state authority in the face of a marauding mob is not yet clear. What is clear is that democracy has been grievously damaged, the civilian government has been reduced to a mockery and the political and administrative system has been brought to the verge of a meltdown. The question is no longer about whether or not Nawaz Sharif survives, but of what sort of a caricature he will be reduced to if he survives and what will replace him if he doesn't survive. Even more important will be the impact of the political implosion underway on the security, stability and economic viability of Pakistan.

To be fair to Nawaz Sharif, neither Imran Khan nor Tahirul Qadri have a real case against him. Nor for that matter do they have a cogent and coherent plan on how to run Pakistan, if indeed they manage to force Nawaz Sharif out of office and take over power. Sloganeering is one thing, fixing a broken down country like Pakistan quite another. Given the brainlessness, belligerence and anarchic demagoguery on display, both Imran Khan and Qadri don't inspire any confidence whatsoever that they are up to the job. Their main demand for now is to see the back of Nawaz Sharif. Chances are that if they achieve what they want, it will be a pyrrhic victory, one in which they will also be left out in the cold.

The single most dangerous trend that both these people have unleashed is that they have crafted a new template on how to make and break governments in Pakistan. Anyone who can now manage to gather a committed crowd of 10-20 thousand can hold a government hostage and even pull it down by causing chaos and anarchy in the seat of government. What Imran Khan and Qadri have done today, some other political party or even religious party can do tomorrow, making governance by a political government next to impossible. To an extent, this template of political terrorism or mobocracy has been on display in other parts of the world – Egypt (Tehrir Square), Ukraine, Georgia etc. come to mind. Even in India, the AAP tried something similar when they decided to besiege the PM House some months back. The AAP's antics on Raj Path on the eve of the Republic Day parade were also somewhat similar to what Khan and Qadri have done in Islamabad. But while India's mature polity snuffed out the AAP's anarchist approach to politics, Pakistan is being put through a political churning that could easily escalate into a political implosion which at the very least will deal a body blow to the fledgling democracy in that country.

What is most shocking is how things have reached such a pass in just over an year since Nawaz Sharif won a resounding verdict in the 2013 General Elections. Although Imran Khan's main grouse against Nawaz Sharif is that he stole the election – Khan has deluded himself into believing that he had won the elections – the fact remains that it was by and large a clean election and Nawaz Sharif was always the front runner. In other words, Imran has absolutely no case as far as the elections go. Imran Khan's screaming and shouting over the elections hasn't received much traction except among his die-hard supporters. While there is some merit in some of the criticisms (coming from Imran Khan's foul-mouth, these are more invectives than criticisms) that Imran has made of the Sharif brothers – their style of governance, the rampant nepotism, allegations of deal making on mega projects etc. – there wasn't anything like a mass upsurge against the Sharifs. In the one year and more that he has been in office, Nawaz Sharif hasn't exactly worked any miracles in terms of putting the economy back on the rails, ending the crippling power shortages, creating jobs, reining in prices or any of the other tall promises he had made during the election campaign.

Although there was disillusionment with the Nawaz Sharif government, there was no simmering anger waiting to burst that Imran Khan and Qadri have harnessed. It is not as though the scenes being witnessed in Islamabad had been playing out in other cities and towns around the country and it all snowballed into a massive protest in the capital. If anything, except for a few well attended rallies held by Imran Khan in a couple of cities during the build-up to his Azadi march, there were practically no signs of such protest at the mass level. By all accounts then, this is a manufactured protest aimed at putting pressure on Nawaz Sharif to either quit or else accept subordination to the military establishment on issues ranging from defence and security to foreign and economic policy. In other words, the military wanted to restore the dyarchial system in which it called the shots on all matters of state and the civilians were allowed to run municipal functions. Nawaz Sharif, however, was quite ready to play ball and enjoy powers of the chairman of a municipal corporation with the rank of Prime Minister. Imran Khan and Qadri thus became instruments in the hands of the army to fix Nawaz Sharif.
However, as things developed, it wasn't long before the army too lost control of the plot. It is one thing to manipulate politics through court intrigues and quite a different ball game to manipulate things through street protests. The former can be controlled; the latter have a nasty habit of going out of control because of the sheer number of moving pieces involved. This is precisely what seems to have happened in the current case. Imran Khan and Qadri ratcheted up the rhetoric to a point where they left no wriggle room for themselves to retreat. Backing down from the demand of the resignation of the Sharifs – the other five demands relating to electoral reforms, audit of elections etc. had been conceded – would have meant the end of their politics. Even the army seemed to be unable to make them back off. The grapevine is that when the duo decided to storm the barricades on the night of August 30, they were given a wink and a nod by the military which probably came to the conclusion that the only way they could retain some control over their instruments was by unleashing them.

On its part, the government seemed all at sea on how to handle the protests in Islamabad. Everything it tried – cajoling Imran Khan by initiating the process of electoral reforms, trying to drive a wedge between Khan and Qadri by treating them differently, trying to scare off the protestors by handling control of vital installations in Islamabad to the army, trying to block the path of the protestors resorting to placing of containers all across the province and making preventive arrests, giving in by and by to the demands of both Qadri and Khan – failed. Initially, they used the traditional methods – tax notices, anti-encroachment drives, arrests – to browbeat Qadri into submission. But this backfired when the police resorted to firing to quell a violent mob protesting against an attempt to demolish illegal structures around Qadri's Lahore HQs. 14 people died and nearly 100 were injured. To compound the disaster, the political government in Punjab washed its hands off the affair and put the blame on the policemen. This demoralised the police, something that proved expensive when the push came to shove in Islamabad. Despite anything between 30-40,000 policemen in Islamabad, a crowd of around 15-25000 was able to overwhelm them! This in itself is an unmitigated disaster and signalled the complete collapse of government authority.

Already on the back-foot because of the Lahore firing, the government forbid the police from using firearms to control the crowd. Part of the reason for this was that the government had come to the conclusion that the only way Khan and Qadri would succeed in their objective of ousting the government was through the cynical exploitation of the politics of dead bodies. In other words, if some 20, 30 or 50 people were killed in police firing, it would cause such a furore that the military would step in, or else there would be widespread revulsion against the government which would make its survival untenable and impossible. This situation the government wished to avoid at all costs. The very fact that the military has been watching the unfolding drama from the side-lines seems to vindicate the government's thinking. Given the scenes of anarchy and chaos in the heart of Islamabad, it was widely expected that the military could step in. That it didn't for more than 24 hours could be either because it is waiting for the bodies, or else because the military suddenly realises that it too is caught in a terrible bind and has become a victim of the conspiracy of circumstances which are now beyond anyone's control. In either case, it means that while the military retains the ability of destabilising a political government, it isn't very confident about its own power or political capital to displace, replace or take place of a legitimate political government.

With matters reaching a head, there are now no easy answers for any of the players, even less so because constitutionally there is absolutely no way to get rid of Nawaz Sharif unless he himself decides to throw in the towel, something that he has flatly refused so far. Some analysts are of the view that the FIR filed in the Lahore firing case against the Sharif brothers might come in handy to force them out of office. Asides of the fact that merely being named in an FIR doesn't mean a thing, there is also the issue of the constitutional maintainability of an FIR against a sitting chief minister and Prime Minister for some action he may have taken in the discharge of his duties. If such a precedent was set, then it would make any sort of governance impossible because tomorrow a chief minister or prime minister can be booked for any and every act of any government servant, regardless of whether or not he sanctioned that act.

As things stand, therefore, there are broadly four possible outcomes of the present fracas. The most likely is that the storm will blow over but will have left Nawaz Sharif so weak that he will be reduced to the Mayor of Islamabad and the army will call the shots on all issues of any importance. The second most likely scenario is that the army forces Nawaz Sharif out of office either by mutilating the constitution (the Pakistani genius for this is unlimited) or by violating it. This would however mean that the army will have to run the country directly. It may appoint some proxies (technocrats) for some time and promise fresh elections, but no one can say with certainty when or if these elections will be held because once it takes over, the army will also once again try to clean the Augean stables, a mission which will take a few years at the very minimum.

The third possibility, one which is very slim, almost non-existent, is that Nawaz Sharif survives and instead of becoming weaker actually becomes stronger by taking advantage of the domestic and international complications and compulsions that follow if the military overthrew a legitimate government. In other words, once the limits of how far the military can go against the civilian government are established, Nawaz Sharif could use the space available to recover lost ground. The final possibility is also very slim but also very scary from Pakistan's perspective. The protests could spiral out of control and spread to other parts of the country with all sorts of forces and characters exploiting the situation for their own benefit. This would make the country ungovernable and cause a political implosion that is beyond the control of anyone in Pakistan. This is the doomsday scenario in which Pakistan graduates from a failing to a failed state. Regardless of the scenario that unfolds, one thing is certain. Pakistan is likely to be in the throes of prolonged political instability.

Japan’s white paper on defence: An overview

Naval Jagota

September 01, 2014
Japan released its annual white paper on defence on August 5, 2014. The document attempts to shift Japan's approach from being predominantly China-oriented towards a broader role in enhancing regional stability. The 2014 white paper evaluates Japan's strategic thoughts and takes stock of its military activities in the Asian region along with other military forces, both regional and extra regional. The white paper also highlights Japan's alliance relationship and brings out the internal structural changes to address future challenges in the region.

The security concerns of Japan, as detailed in the paper, "has become increasingly severe, being encompassed by various challenges and destabilizing factors, which are becoming more tangible and acute" as well as "Opaque and uncertain factors such as issues

of territorial rights and reunification remain in the vicinity". The "grey zone", as it is referred to, emphasises on the adverse geopolitical and military developments originating from North Korea and PRC (Peoples Republic of China). The "grey zone" indicates an appreciation of increased challenges in tackling and resolving territory, sovereignty and maritime economic interests in the region with the US as the countervailing force. The white paper acknowledges the emergence of a multipolar world through economic development and political influence of China, Russia, India and some other countries.

The dominant challenges for Japan remain North Korea and PRC. North Korea's shake-up in the military leadership indicates consolidation of power of Chairman Kim Jong-un and a muscular external policy. The white paper expresses concerns on the launching of multiple ballistic missiles in March, June, and July 2014 towards the Sea of Japan along with the possibility, for the first time, that the North Koreans may have "achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and acquired nuclear warheads" since its nuclear test in February 2013. Statements against Japan in March and April 2013 that it is within the range of North Korean missiles find a prominent mention.

The white paper assessment of China highlights Japan's concerns on its increasing defence budget, strengthening its "asymmetrical military capabilities", not clearly stating the purposes and goals of the military build up, transparency concerning its decision making process on military and security matters and rapidly expanding and intensification of its activities in the maritime and aerial domains in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. China's "coercive measures" to change the "status quo" of the disputed islands (Senkaku/Diaoyu islands) and the nine dash line are mentioned with deep concern. The white paper details the number of incidents in the maritime and aerial domain over the preceding year and Japan's response to it, thus indicating an increase in its military response.  

The white paper, not surprisingly, emphasises on Japan's relationship with the US. It underlines the security arrangements with the US as a cornerstone in Japan's security outlook, its global and regional foreign policy formulations and as well contributing towards "peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region". The US relationship is described as a pragmatic one in which Japan acknowledges the challenges as well as the limitations that its ally, the US, is undergoing both domestically and internationally. Given the constraints in the relationship, Japan is now investing materially and politically to the alliance and hoping to raise it to a new level. The white Paper finds frequent references and reiterations to the 1960 Japan-US security treaty and its validity to the Senkaku islands along with the rebalance to Asia. The white paper describes in detail the ongoing and expected redistribution of US military assets as well as the role of these assets.

Reflecting inwards, the white paper highlights the internal changes in the strategic decision making architecture in order to synchronise and seamlessly address the external security environment. During the period of the report, important changes have occurred in the strategic affairs decision making. The first such being to establish the National Security Council (NSC) in December 2013, which functions as the 'control tower" for foreign and defence policy. The NSC in turn deliberated and approved the National Security Strategy; Japan's first-ever document defining a basic policy on national security in December 2013. The other two documents approved by the NSC were the National Defence Program Guidelines (NDPG) and the Medium Term Defence Program (MTDP), thus streamlining Japan's current and future requirements. Another important step was the Japanese cabinet decision (July 1, 2014) on the interpretation of article 9 of the constitution which now interprets an attack on a country that is in "close relationship" with Japan as an attack on its people's right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. As a case of "self defence", military resources thus can be used. An important follow up to this was the cabinet decision on "Development of Seamless Security Legislation to Ensure Japan's Survival and Protect its People". This decision is to legislate ways and means of employing the SDF (Self Defence Force) and under what circumstances.

The white paper brings out in no uncertain terms the intentions of the Japanese Prime Minister Abe. While centring on the Japan-US alliance, he would equally like to promote a broad-based trilateral cooperation between Japan, US and the ROK; Japan, US and Australia; and Japan, the US and India. 

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India

India’s Revised Defence FDI Policy

Laxman K Behera

September 01, 2014
On 26th August, the government formally notified the revised defence FDI policy, which was first announced in the defence and finance minister's budget speech in July. Coming with immediate effect, the revised policy increases the benchmark FDI cap from 26 per cent to a composite level of 49 per cent under the normal approval route with a further provision that FDI beyond 49 per cent (26 per cent under previous policy) could be allowed if such investment results in access to 'modern and state-of-the-art technology'. Apart from increasing the FDI cap, the revised policy also deals with numerous other aspects. The commentary examines the key provisions of the revised FDI policy and the likely impact on flow of foreign funds to Indian defence industry.

With increase in the FDI cap, the government has also made a change in the kind of foreign investments permitted in Indian defence industry. It is to be noted that under the earlier policy, the foreign portfolio investment in Indian defence industry was either banned, or capped at an arbitrary level for certain companies, causing a lot of dissatisfaction among several listed Indian companies which had pleaded their genuine helplessness in controlling such investments given their nature of flow. The revised policy takes cognisance of this problem and allows all kinds of foreign investments within a composite cap of 49 per cent. These investment include besides Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Foreign Institutional Investment (FIIs), Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPIs), and investments by Non Resident Indians (NRI), Foreign Venture Capital Investors (FVCI) and Qualified Foreign Investors (QFI). However except for FDI, all other foreign investments which are considered 'hot money' are capped at a maximum 24 per cent. This is to ensure that such money does not influence the key decision making power of the company as stipulated in the Indian Companies Act.

It is also to be noted as per the revised policy, the portfolio investment is permitted through automatic route, meaning that no prior government approval is required for such inflow of funds. But for the non-portfolio investment, the government has retained its right to decide on each proposal.  For up to 49 per cent, the approval body is the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) constituted in the Department of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Finance. However, if the total investment within the limit of 49 per cent exceeds Rs. 1200 crore, it would be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).  FDI beyond 49 per cent - a possibility which the revised policy does not lose sight of – is to be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), provided such investment leads to India's access to modern and state-of-the art technology. However, like the previous policy, the revised policy is also silent as to what is modern and state of the technology.

Apart from increasing the FDI cap, the government has also made a subtle change in the provision of ownership and control of the joint ventures (JVs) to be set up through the revised FDP cap. The change is brought by omitting the term 'defence' from the paragraph 4.1.3(v)(d) of the extant Consolidated FDI Policy that requires, for the purpose of ownership and control of JVs in defence and information and broadcasting (I&B) sectors, a minimum 51 per cent equity stake by the single largest resident Indian shareholder. It is to be noted that such condition was a nightmare for many companies – especially those listed in the stock exchanges - which despite having a control of the management of their entities did not have 51 per cent equity on their own. However, to fulfil the earlier requirement they had to go through a lengthy legal process of getting other Indian stakeholders to act as a single unit. The revised policy frees them from the unnecessary burden and allows them to attract FDI as long as they control the management of the company

Apart from the above, the revised policy has also made number of other changes. The membership of the FDI licensing committee has been enlarged to include the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The MEA's membership seems to be an attempt to obtain inputs, from the security point of view, on the true intention of external investors. To safeguard against the leakage of sensitive information, the revised policy makes a new provision that the Chief Security Officer of the JVs, irrespective of the FDI limit, must be a resident Indian. Making a departure from the previous policy – under which permission for FDI (of any limit) could be sought by either Indian company or its foreign collaborator – the revised policy stipulates that permission for FDI up to 49 per cent must be sought by Indian partner only. However FDI beyond 49 per cent, both the Indian partner and its foreign collaborator are allowed to apply.

Having made all the above mentioned changes in the defence FDI policy, the big question now arises as to what would be likely impact on the flow of foreign funds to Indian arms industry. From the foreign companies' point of view, the increase in the benchmark FDI cap to 49 per cent does not still give them management control of JVs, which is key to transfer proprietary technology. This is also the main reason why the previous policy did not succeed in attracting big investment. The foreign companies would also be appalled for getting no clarity on what constitutes modern and state of art technology based on which the CCS would take decision for allowing FDI beyond 49 per cent. These two factors are likely to weigh heavily on foreign companies' decision to make big investment in Indian defence sector. This is however not to indicate that investment scenario post revised FDI policy would remain as subdued as it was earlier. On its part, the government is quite confident that the revised policy would be successful. Such is the confidence that it has removed the earlier provision of mandatory 3-year lock-in period for any inward investment before it can be transferred. The confidence seems to be rooted in government's policy shift towards indigenisation. With the Defence Procurement Procedure 2013 (DPP 2013) prioritising domestic procurement over direct import, the foreign companies have very little choice other than partnering Indian companies for doing defence business India. In other words, the compelling factor would ensure that Indian companies can attract foreign investment without giving management control to the overseas collaborators. However, the extent to which the Indian companies can succeed depends on the government's willingness to stick to its articulated policy on indigenisation.   

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India