In recent years, American and Israeli fears of nuclear proliferation have focused on Iran. The consequences of an Iranian bomb could be grave indeed: a chain reaction of nuclear armament among Arab countries, some of whom are threatened by, or may collaborate with, jihadists. It is unlikely, however, that Iran would start a nuclear war: its regime has a return address, and Israel could annihilate them. That is why nuclear terrorism by non- state actors like Al Qaeda is the West’s ultimate nightmare and why Pakistan, not Iran, is the most dangerous place on earth. Imagine this: Three jihadist groups in Pakistan—Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba (“LET”)— forge an operational alliance to steal a nuclear bomb from the Pakistani arsenal in order to destroy a major Western city. Pursuant to the plan, LET—which carried out the Mumbai attacks— destroys the Taj Mahal and attacks the Indian Parliament, precipitating a state of nuclear alert between India and Pakistan, whose intelligence agency is the chief sponsor of LET. When a Pakistani convoy moves a bomb from its secret storage facility to an Air Force base near the border, a group of Pakistani Taliban—directed by Al Qaeda and tipped off by a military insider— attacks the convoy and steals the bomb. From there, Al Qaeda has several routes for smuggling the bomb to America, Europe, or Israel. This is not a Bondian fantasy. What is so frightening about this scenario is its realism: every detail is of grave concern to the national defense and intelligence communities. But almost as disturbing is how little most Americans know about this threat. There is no country with more active terrorists than Pakistan, and few with more nuclear weapons. The spur for nuclear armament is Pakistan’s bitter rivalry with India, focused on the violent sixty-year- old dispute over Kashmir. The unintended consequences could be lethal: a jihadist capture of nuclear weapons or materials for use against the West. This could happen in several different ways: the clandestine acquisition of nuclear materials; seizure of a nuclear facility by a rogue military officer; a jihadist takeover of the Pakistan government; and the theft of a nuclear weapon. Underlying these fears are serious questions about the security of the Pakistani arsenal. We don’t know where all the weapons are stored. The people who do—the military and the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI—include highly- placed jihadist sympathizers, typified by a former head of the ISI who has said, “The same nuclear capacity that can destroy Madras, India, can destroy Tel Aviv.” The weapons themselves may lack American-style security systems— which operate like a sophisticated ATM—to prevent accidental or unauthorized use. The tension between Pakistan and India poses the constant threat of a nuclear alert. And nuclear weapons are never less secure than when they are moved from one site to another. Al Qaeda has long been obsessed with nuclear weapons, and Pakistan has always been its focus. Just before 9 /11 , Bin Laden met in Afghanistan with a Pakistani nuclear scientist and an engineer, drawing up specifications for an Al Qaeda bomb. And after 9 /11 , Bin Laden announced Al Qaeda’s intention to kill four million Americans to “balance” the Muslim deaths he attributes to the United States and Israel and issued a fatwa calling for the use of nuclear arms against the West. We are certainly vulnerable to this. A Pakistani bomb carries enough HEU to destroy New York, but can travel in a container the size of a coffin. Its total weight is between 200 to 300 pounds, which means that a few men could put it in a van, truck, boat, cargo container, or private plane. Such a weapon could easily be smuggled through the ports in Long Beach or New York, where we inspect roughly 2 % of all cargo containers. From there, a small aircraft could deliver a nuclear weapon to any city in America. For example, let’s take Washington, D.C. In theory, we’ve got a fifteen mile no-fly zone around the capital, enforced by surface-to-air missiles and jets at Andrews Air Force Base on a five- minute alert. But thousands of aircraft fly within fifteen miles of the White House—if one crosses the line going 300 miles an hour, five minutes won’t be enough. Though the government won’t say so, multiple planes fly over the capital every year, and we don’t spot half of them until it’s over. There’s a more than fair chance that Al Qaeda could turn the White House into the epicenter of a nuclear blast. A strike against Washington, D.C. or New York could be economically, politically, and psychologically shattering. Terrified of Al Qaeda, Americans would be thrown into a panic while they wait for the next city to disappear. This would threaten our own belief in our government, our system of civil liberties, or even our future as a democracy. As for Israel itself, the impact could well be fatal. A recent poll revealed that one-fourth of Israelis would consider emigrating if Iran develops a bomb. Imagine, then, the impact of a strike on Tel Aviv that annihilates hundreds of thousands of Israelis, destroying the heart of their infrastructure, their economy, and, most fundamental, the belief that they can survive as a nation. One likelihood is that Israel would become a Masada state, populated by a cadre of religious fanatics prepared to watch their families die rather than yield an inch of their atomic wasteland. The result would be unspeakably sad—the end of Israel as we know it. So how realistic is a scenario in which Al Qaeda links with other jihadists to steal a nuclear weapon from Pakistan? Very. But to grasp this, one must understand the links between jihadist groups, and the ties between these groups and the most powerful forces within Pakistan—the military who controls the nuclear arsenal and, in particular, the ISI. The ISI is at the heart of Pakistani jihadism. It helped create the Taliban to fight the Russians in Afghanistan, and introduced its leaders to bin Laden. It created LET to fight a guerilla war against India in Kashmir. The military, the ISI and LET all recruit among the Punjabi, Pakistan’s dominant ethnic group, creating familial ties between all three. With the ISI’s protection, LET—despite Mumbai—trains hundreds of jihadists every year. And the ISI is so marbled with jihadist sympathizers that joint operations with the CIA are often next to impossible—witness its current demand that we withdraw hundreds of intelligence and Special Operations personnel, a fresh expression of antipathy that weakens our intelligence, strengthens the militants and exacerbates Pakistan’s nuclear danger. As for the Taliban and LET, according to leading experts they are now allied with Al Qaeda against the West and planning further attacks on America and its allies at home and abroad. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have safe havens in Pakistan—including, most believe, Bin Laden—and Benazir Bhutto’s murder was most likely their joint operation. As for LET, Al Qaeda helped to fund it, and after 9 /11 some of its leaders took refuge in LET safe houses. U.S. intelligence officials believe that LET’s targets now include America, Israel, and Europe. And all three groups are Sunni and, increasingly, share Al Qaeda’s goal of jihad against the West. So what do we do about Pakistan itself? Cutting off aid would only destabilize the country further. Instead, we must pursue the undramatic but essential work that any hard situation requires: engagement, patience, consistency, prudent intelligence work under hard circumstances, and smart diplomacy. We must engage civilian leaders, encourage the development of civil institutions, fund greater aid earmarked for universal education, increase military-to-military contact; and quietly work for a rapprochement with Indian and Pakistani acquiescence in the international regime governing nuclear proliferation. Obviously, there are no simple answers. But protecting ourselves against disaster requires the willingness to look ahead for decades, not weeks or months or even years. The foreign policy of a great nation in a nuclear age does not shy from complex challenges— it embraces them.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Red flags rose among many Nepalese politicians and the pro- China lobby in Kathmandu last week, when Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal, who is also the President of CPN (UML), appointed Lhar Kyal Lama as the Minister of State for Finance in the UML-UCPN (Maoist) government. It was curious that only a fortnight before Lhar Kyal Lama’s appointment, a 15- member high level Chinese military delegation led by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Chief, Gen. Chen Bingde had visited Nepal and met President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Khanal, Nepal’s army Chief Chatra Man Singh Gurung and other defence officials. The delegation announced an aid of 30 million Yuan to the Nepali army’s non-defence projects. The composition of the delegation and what Gen. Chen told his Nepali interlocutors was very pointed. It was Tibet’s security. He made it very clear that China would not tolerate the “involvement of (any) third party in bilateral aspects of Nepal-China relations”. Interpreted, Nepali leaders were warned against giving any avenues to the US and some European Union (EU) countries to use Nepal’s soil to launch destabilizing operations in Tibet using Tibetan refugees in Nepal or the larger Tibetan diaspora. China’s concern about the political situation in Tibet has gone up even higher after the Dalai Lama announced his retirement from politics a month earlier. They are afraid that without the Dalai Lama’s restraining hand, activities of the new political leaders of the Tibetan government-in-exile could become more militant and the US could exploit them. Even more curious is the fact that the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, according to the Nepali media, lodged an “ informal” protest with Prime Minister Khanal and others in the UML on Lhar Kyal Lama’s appointment. This was astounding, given the fact that the Chinese government and its Kathmandu Embassy came down like a ton of bricks on a small demonstration by the Tibetan refugees. Nepal even disallowed Tibetans recently from voting for the Tibetan government in-exiles’ election of Kalong Tripa, or Prime Minister. And here was the Lama who held high the banner of the Free Tibet Movement backed by the Chinese, with a large wink. The Chinese machinations in Nepal and the betrayal of the Nepali people was exposed by the local newspaper the Kantipur (Apr. 20) when it dug into the activities of this Lama. He was a well cultivated Chinese source embedded both inside the Free Tibet Movement and Nepali politics. As the Minister of State for Finance, he would be able to influence in China’s favour and also report on the government’s internal policies and thinking. He was a professional source of the Chinese Military Attache’s office in the Embassy, according to the report. Lhar Kyal Lama was known to be close to Jhala Nath Khanal. His appointment as a Minister soon after Gen. Chen Bingde’s visit was not surprising as Khanal is also known to be close to China. Therefore, Lhar Kyal, with a controversial background being catapulted to this high position suggests Khanal-China shaking hands behind the back of the Nepali people. The Maoist leadership’s mute stand in this case suggests their selling out the country to China. According to the Nepali newspaper Republican, which found out the background of the Lama, he holds a Nepali passport in the name, an Indian Passport issued from Guwahati on June 12 , 1998 in the name of Khenso Chime Tsering, and a Tibetan refugee identity card issued from Mysore, India in 1969 , in the name of Lama Chime Tsering. This Lama is also reported to have been involved in several questionable activities including cheating. He was an appropriate candidate to become an intelligence source! China’s silent warfare strategy of implanting agents in an opponent Kingdom’s court goes back to around the 6 th Century A.D. This strategy is popularly known as the “Assassin’s Mace”. It has a significant meaning – the assassin is the agent imbedded in the opponent’s nerve centre; the mace is a silent weapon, that is, the agent works silently merging into the ambience. In Nepal, China’s one Assassin’s Mace has been exposed. How many more are there is difficult to say, but one may be assured China does not depend on only one. The other Chinese ancient strategy states that the enemy’s enemy is a strategic friend, and must be aided. This is a disturbing note for China’s neighbours that Beijing want to weaken. After the Mao Zedong era, China’s pre-eminent leaders and the father of China’s modernization, Deng Xiaoping openly declared Mao’s strategy of supporting people’s revolution in other countries was wrong, and was being discarded. True to Deng’s declaration the Maoist methodology was discarded. But the core of Mao’s strategy was transformed into a more sophisticated strategy. This strategy has been revealed with Chinese military support with arms, ammunition and communication equipment to Indian insurgents like United Liberation Front of Assam, the Naga Separatist (NSCN- I/M) and various other insurgent groups in North East India. Hard evidence is available now. But China has worked, in intelligence parlance, through “Cut outs”. Then “Cut outs” have been, Pakistan’s ISI, anti-India governments in Bangladesh and Chinese arms trading companies about whose activities China can deny knowledge. There were major questions if China really did have an inimical relations with Maoist when the latter went underground to fight against the monarchy? The pace with China and the Nepali Maoists, especially the Prachanda-Vaidya group, worked together to form a virulent anti-India constituency suggests Beijing kept a discreet but close relationship with the Maoists. Ousted King Gyanendra of Nepal may be realizing now that the Chinese have also betrayed him. Or, is China keeping a line open to him now? Like the Maoist of Yore, Gyanendra now travels more in India, and has no overt contact with China. It needs no elaboration how China plays and had played games in Nepal. It is, therefore, quite likely that China may be maintaining a deniable contact with the Indian Maoists using the Nepali Maoists. The cross-netting by the Chinese intelligence has placed the Nepali Maoists in such a position that they cannot get out of the Chinese net without losing all credibility with the people. The Maoists now stand to be seen by the Nepali people as selling the country to China. That includes strong pro-China elements in the UML including Jhala Nath Khanal. The Nepali army is, perhaps, the only institution in Nepal that the Chinese are finding difficult to penetrate. Prime Minister Khanal tried to help this Chinese endeavour. But in an unprecedented move, Nepali army Chief Gurung went on a two-week tour to the United States immediately after the Chinese military delegation's visit to Nepal. China is trying to signal to India that its current concern in Nepal is not India, but the US and EU. Outgoing Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Qiu Guohang, decided to meet (Apr.06) Maoist Vice Chairman Dr. Baburam Bhattarai to convey that trilateral relations between Nepal, China and India should be “developed in a unified manner”, and cautioned that to run a government and pursue development activities a “ restrained behavior is needed most”. Bhattarai is widely known as a top Maoist leader who advocates an amicable relationship with India. Ambassador Qiu’s message to the hard line anti-India Maoists that a vitriolic anti-India programme was not opportune at the moment. But it is unlikely that this fine Chinese advice will sink into the minds of the anti-India constituency in Nepal. At the moment, China has realized that they themselves have instigated a situation in its eastern neighbourhood which has only bought distrust, and a stronger US led coalition against China’s threatening behavior. India must remain alert to these complicated developments in Nepal, which South Block and PMO would have to contend with. But it would be a major setback if India reposed trust in China’s signals. The Central Kingdom’s strategic net does not inspire a simple response.
Tamil Tiger Terrorists [LTTE] – Recruited by RAW, Trained by Indian Army For years, a Government of India has hid from a adults as well as a International Community how it was deeply concerned in harboring, financing, defending as well as precision a world’s many dangerous militant organization, a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam [LTTE] or Tamil Tigers as they have been some-more notoriosly known. India currently accuses a neighbors Pakistan as well as Bangladesh for being ‘ terrorist’ havens & ancillary militant groups when this nation has itself bankrolled a little of a many henous crimes committed opposite humanity; corroborated up by India’s brute outmost comprehension group called, RAW [ Research as well as Analysis Wing]. To behind it up, India sent in a supposed ‘peacekeeping force’ a IPKF to Sri Lanka though which force committed a misfortune atrocities [including rape, murder, extortion] opposite bad Sri Lankan civilians, both Sinhalese as well as Tamils whilst pang complicated casualties opposite LTTE. It was India’s greatest unfamiliar process mess though something today, many Indian politicians as well as pro-India experts wish to brush underneath a rug. It is time for Indians to arise up from their doze as well as take a mount opposite their supervision for stuff oneself them lies over a decades.
Japan’s nuclear disaster has fueled fear and uncertainty among all of the world’ s producers of nuclear power. For India, an energy-starved country, much is at stake. That fear factor has two main causes. Although nuclear power ranks as a “clean” source of energy, it is accompanied by the terrible shadow of nuclear war, which emerged from Japan’s last reckoning with nuclear catastrophe, 65 years ago at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and which lends it an automatic association with mass destruction and death. Moreover, the secrecy that attends all things “nuclear” has left people not knowing enough to feel confident. The fear inspired by the Fukushima Daiichi disaster will be reflected in soaring costs for nuclear power worldwide, largely owing to demands for improved safety and the need to pay more to insure the potential risks. Indeed, nuclear plants are prone to a form of “panic transference.” Should a reactor of one design go wrong, all reactors of that type will be shut down instantly around the world. India’s dilemma is this: it has 20 nuclear plants in operation, with an additional 23 on order. With the country desperately short of power, and requiring energy to grow, concerned citizens are asking if nuclear is still the answer for India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cautiously announced that a “special safety review” of all plants will be undertaken. “Not enough,” say roughly 50 eminent Indians, who at the end of March demanded a “radical review” of the country’s entire nuclear-power policy for “appropriateness, safety, costs, and public acceptance.” The group also called for an “ independent, transparent safety audit” of all nuclear facilities, to be undertaken with the “involvement of civil-society organizations and experts outside the Department of Atomic Energy.” Until then, there should be “a moratorium on all…nuclear activity” and “revocation of recent clearances.” This is as explicit as opposition can get. How have other countries reacted? France, which is around 80 % dependent on nuclear energy, and is a big exporter of nuclear-plant technology, initially avoided most of the global anti-nuclear concerns. But now it, too, is promising to draw the necessary lessons from the Japanese experience and upgrade its safety procedures, including a reassessment of the potential effects of natural disasters on nuclear-plant operations, conceding that the occurrence of more than one natural disaster simultaneously had not been considered previously. China, which has 77 nuclear reactors at various stages of construction, planning, and discussion, has said that it will “review its program.” Though Russia has formally announced that it will go ahead with its program, former President Mikhail Gorbachev – on whose watch the Chernobyl meltdown occurred 25 years ago – is not so sanguine. While the US is the principal exporter of reactors, it currently has just two under construction on its own territory. Denmark, Greece, Ireland, and Portugal are strongly anti-nuclear, and Switzerland has stopped all nuclear- power projects. All of this will lead to cost evaluation and escalation. According to a study conducted by the former Indian government minister Arun Shourie, the price of uranium could rise to $140 per pound, close to its record high. A change of much greater consequence concerns the price of reactors. Pre- Fukushima, a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT), “The Future of Nuclear Power, 2003 ,” as well as a study by researchers at the University of Chicago, established that nuclear energy was 50-100 % more expensive than energy from coal or gas. The report of the Working Group on Power of the Planning Commission of India puts the cost of energy from the country’s coal-based plants at about one-third lower than nuclear power, with gas 50 % cheaper. Energy security and public safety should be of equal importance in determining future policy on nuclear power. Indeed, experts like C. M. A. Nayar have said that the Fukushima accident “could have happened even if there was no tsunami.” Nayar suggests that it has long been known that the reactor’s design contained basic flaws, though only the Japanese authorities can verify this. So, what is to be done? Clean energy at a time of global warming is obviously necessary. But so is the safety and security of humans, animals, and plants. India has set itself on a path of virtually doubling its nuclear-power output. This is deeply troubling, for India’s supply of nuclear fuel, technology, and reactors is almost entirely dependent on imports from manufacturers who refuse liability for any malfunction. There is, of course, no single correct response that would simultaneously and uniformly deal with resource scarcity, fossil-fuel depletion, climate change, and the risks of nuclear power. A choice will ultimately need to be made about how to meet India’s energy demands. At a minimum, a thorough reexamination and full public debate must precede the construction of any new nuclear plant. But the current emphasis on nuclear power must be objectively reassessed, and dependence on it thereafter reduced. With nuclear safety suddenly becoming a global imperative, the costs are simply too high to do otherwise.
"Whatever is Sin for a Nation, could be salvation for another" Fakir Lalon Shah The choice by default of people with a cultural bent of mind prior to any national elections is to vote for the ruling Awami League, for no other reason than its ' commitment to secular pluralism' which on surface and devoid of deceits - translates to tolerance of minority views, ideas, beliefs and lifestyles. Yes, we have managed to drive out the BNP-Jamaat nexus of Islam pasand bigots as also a Military backed 'Caretaker Government' – but is our new found spirit of Freedom and Democracy any indicator that we have been able to wrestle control, or enlarge the very constricted liberal space that overrides our collapsing cultural canopy? For instance, there have been absolutely no 'big noise' from our so-called 'Cultural Activists' when it concerns recent spate of looting, theft and ransacking of deities in Shonaton Temples all across the country, nor has there been any ' protest' to decry the forceful eviction, usurping of their land housing religious sites, or the intermittent violence against the community. The reasons are understandable: all of these are happening during apparently ' secular' times when we bask in complacency of having been able to marginalize the Mollahs at long last. Our 'Cultural Activists' therefore do not want to embarrass the Government of the day – and in our Bangaliana have even turned a blind eye to continued racist oppression of other communities including Adivasis – our Indigenous Peoples. In focus: the incident in Pangsha, Rajbari on 5 th April where 28 members of the Baul fraternity were attacked, their long hair and beard shorn by a local Imam and other cohorts, later forcing them to a nearby Mosque to utter 'Tawba' ( repentance). Their crime? They were holding a yearly 'Shadhu Shongo' (Conclave of the Wise) which the fanatics branded 'un- Islamic' – are deeply disturbing signals. The incident went unreported until about the 8 th of April and was limited to the vernacular press. Other newspaper joined in begrudgingly, and had it not been for Mohammad Fakir ( the Shadhu who called the Conclave) lodging a case in the nearby police station – it would have been brushed under the carpet. The attempted suppression of this news became all the more obvious when the facts went public. Surprise of all surprise - it wasn't our 'known and sworn' enemies – the 'fun-da-mental-ist' who launched the attacks. Turns out, the attackers including the Imam were either Awami League leaders or/are involved with the ruling party politics in the area. Belatedly exposed to the faux pas the local Awami League MP Zillul Hakim was seen expressing his ' regrets' on TV and that the issue has been 'mutually and peacefully resolved'– with the Bauls apparently 'agreeing to a solution'. End of the story? No, there were no apologies offered to the Bauls, the Court case was bypassed and it only confirmed that our 'secular, plural and progressive forces' were the real perpetrators, possibly even the instigators of the attack. Later reports suggest the Bauls were coerced into the 'agreement' prior to the meeting with the MP. Asked why an agreement was arrived on an issue of such seriousness especially when it is in Court, private video footages quoted the MP as saying –"even murder cases are resolved in my constituency in like manner" ! Bauls and their music are not only our national wealth they are listed in the UNESCO declaration of 2005 as ' Masterpieces of Oral Intangible Heritage of Humanity' and while two Baul Saints, the Late Khoda Buksh Shah of Chuadanga and Late Karim Shah of Sunamganj, Sylhet were awarded Bangladesh's highest Civilian Honor Ekushey Padak , members of the agnostic fraternity continue to eke out an existence in the periphery and are largely ostracized. It is nonetheless heartening that the Baul Movement has built up enormous urban followings since the mid 90 's and on Facebook there was an outcry – with some aficionados calling for a 'counter Shadhu Shongo' at Pangsha later in the month. My immediate reaction was to point out that a Shadhu Shongo is not meant for tit-for-tat reprisals or a forum for protest or expression of irate sentiments. These conclaves are essentially limited to discourses into the music, life and teaching of the many Saints who sought to illumine the majority of our people. Further, a Shadhu Shongo is called by a Baul Shadhu ( practitioner) and those sending out the Facebook invites – did not necessarily fit into the category – nor did anybody have a clue that Shadhu Shongo's are not held in the month of Boishakh ! Why? Again it is best left for the Shadhu's to explain – however from my very limited knowledge on the subject; one has to study esoteric Indian Cosmology to get the drift. Same reason, the month of Boishakh is not thought to be auspicious even for marriages. In any event – good sense prevailed and it was left to Mohammad Fakir of Pangsha to send out a new invite – asking people to 'assist him complete the incomplete Shadhu Shongo' . With hundreds of eager enthusiast with no knowledge of either the Baul way of life, or the regimes associated with the belief system imminently set to descend upon Pangsha to 'right the wrong', one hopes this does not degenerate into a photo-op cultural picnic! Any escalation and/or law and order situation will lead to more outrages on the Bauls and result in unwanted intrusion and curiosity on their belief – which while acknowledging the 'omniscient Maker', rejects all religions, temples, mosques, rituals and symbolism – a belief and life style of our people for over two thousand years. I also find it very hard to accept the blasé synonymity drawn between Bauls and Fakir Lalon Shah , which has been much the case in the Media this time around as in the past. Lalon never claimed to be a Baul, and the Baul movement indeed predates him by centuries. Therefore not all Bauls are 'Lalon devotees' – or vice versa . One may hold Fakir Lalon Shah In the highest of reverence, be inspired by his message – but it goes contrary to Baul belief if we are to propel any man to a pedestal for worship. Lalon in his lifetime abhorred and resisted such inclinations. While shearing off long hair and beards of a Baul is condemnable – it is not a 'sacrilegious' act at any rate, rather a criminal attack, humiliation of the worst kind and a violation of an individual's sovereignty. Sporting long hair or beard does not necessarily make one a Baul, as much as skull caps, beards and dresses denoting the so-called 'Islamic identity' of the Mollah any affirmation of a pukkah Muslim either! It is time that we move forward than get bogged down by trivialities which border on the tokenistic. Cultural cohesion can only be achieved by thorough knowledge and understanding of our inherent strength – our folk philosophies and philosophers – and without a doubt Lalon stands out as the greatest Master we as a Nation have been blessed with. To end, a Baul greeting – Joi Guru – 'Long Live the Great God in Man'.