[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] P [/yt_dropcap]akistan’s military has sentenced an Indian Naval officer to death on charges of espionage and sabotage. In a statement, the army said Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was arrested in March 2016, was an Indian intelligence official who aided and financed “terrorist” activities in the southwestern Balochistan province and the southern port city of Karachi.
“Today, the Army Chief of Pakistan, General Qamar Javed Bajwa has confirmed his death sentence,” a military statement said on Monday, 10th April 2017, without stating when the execution would take place. Pakistan’s Army has also released a video shortly after his arrest in which he confessed to have spent years sowing unrest in Pakistan and being tasked by India’s intelligence service with planning, coordinating and organizing espionage and sabotage activities in Balochistan in an aim to destabilize and wage war against Pakistan. On the contrary, India has labeled the Pakistan’s decision to hand death sentence to alleged spy as ‘premeditated murder’. While the two governments have been trading barbs over the issue since Monday, it is important to analyze the reasons and the implications of the death sentence handed out by the Islamabad to alleged Indian spy.
First, it is important to note that Jhadav has been convicted by a military tribunal. The military courts that operate under the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Branch of the Pakistan Army were established soon after the December 2014 massacre of more than 150 people, most of them schoolchildren, at an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar. In January 2015, Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Husain signed the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill 2015 and the Pakistan Army Act 1952 (Amendment) Bill 2015 into law to make the military courts function till January 2017. The purpose of these military courts is to conduct speedy trials of the 34000 terrorists “who claim, or are known, to belong to any terrorist group or organization misusing the name of religion or a sect”. In March 2017, the lower house of Parliament of Pakistan voted to renew the mandate for military courts to try civilian “terrorism” suspects for a further two years. Since the renewals of the mandate, the death sentence of Jhadav has been considered as the most controversial decision by the Pakistan’s military courts.
While the speedy trials of terrorists through military courts in Pakistan have been considered pivotal for culminating terrorist activities, the role of new Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa has been considered equally crucial in this. Bajwa, who was appointed as Chief of Army Staff in November 2016, is considered to be stringent towards terrorists and seems to believe in the concept of the “purge” of terrorists and militants. The latest examples of these are, the killing of ten terrorists including the Lahore’s Mall road blast main facilitator Anwarul Haq in an encounter with Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel in Manawan earlier this month. What interesting to note is that Haq had been under CTD custody since February and was being taken to the suburban area of Lahore for recovery of explosives when nine of his accomplices ambushed the CTD team. There might be a chance that this whole incident is an apocryphal act set up to kill Haq in order to avoid the lengthy trial procedure to convict him as a terrorist. Another incident from the first week of April that is worth noting is the killing of most wanted terrorists in another encounter with CTD at Sukkur. These terrorists are said to be the members of Naeem Bukhari faction of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and was involved in several militant attacks including the ones on Karachi airport, Mehran Base attack and the killing of SP Chaudhary Aslam. Again the on-spot killing of these terrorists rather than the conviction through the trial process has been indicating the new mindset of the Pakistani Army.
Not only this, the concept of the operation “Radd ul Fassad”, initiated by General Bajwa to extricate the terrorism from not only North Waziristan but also from Punjab and Sindh etc. reflects the very thinking of the belief in speedy trials and purge concept by the current Pakistan Army’s officials. So, the current decision of the military courts to execute the alleged Indian spy has also been a representative of the same mindset of the current top army administration of Pakistan.
However, this is not the first time in the history of Pakistan, that an Indian national has been alleged as a spy and is sentenced to death. Sarabjit Singh (alleged to be Manjit Singh by Pakistan) was an Indian national convicted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for a series of bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad that killed 14 bystanders in 1990. After the trial in the Lahore High Court (later directed to the Supreme Court), he was condemned and sentenced to death in 1991, but the sentence was repeatedly postponed by the Government of Pakistan. Therefore, General Bajwa might want to be sure that their criminal gets the penalty this time.
The protagonists of the Jhadav’s death sentence in Pakistan, links it to the Ajmal’s Kasab’s death sentence, explicating and endorsing the same fate of a traitor no matter in which country he/she transgresses. It might be the case that this bold step has been taken to retribute the killing of an alleged spy with the same act. However, an important thing to notice is that despite the striking similarity between both the cases, there are two very substantial differences that disparate both the cases; first, India has accepted that Jhadav is an Indian national, whereas, Pakistan never accepted Kasab to be it’s national and didn’t respond to Indian decision of hanging Kasab even after his execution, positing its non-affiliation with Kasab, and nonchalance to his execution. Second, it has been repeatedly stated in Indian newspapers these days, that despite the vastitude of hatred towards Kasab in India, Indian courts gave a fair and lengthy trial to him while Jhadav is not even given consular access to communicate the allegations convicted against him by the Pakistani authorities.
Another important reason for the death sentence has been Pakistan’s efforts to adumbrate the presence and involvement of Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in the restive and underprivileged province of Balochistan and to militarize the Baloch rebels in a bid to destabilize the key province of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. But Pakistan knows that it’s protests on different international platforms about Indian interventions in Balochistan have always been shrouded with Indian cutting retorts of Pakistan’s role to militarize the Kashmiri people in Kashmir against India. So, chances are that with Jhadav’s death sentence, Pakistan has not only claimed to register the presence of malignant foreign interventions in Balochistan but has also given a strong signal that such activities will not be tolerated by the country. Now, with the conviction of death sentence of Jhadav, India has not only to save its citizen from death penalty but also has to its image of not being the meddlesome actor in Balochistan.
Since the announcement of the death sentence of Jhadav, the newspapers in India and Pakistan have been brimming with the headlines of the implications of the death sentence in enfeebling the India-Pakistan subtle relations. While there is no Foreign Relations Minister of Pakistan to comment on the matter, Sartaj Aziz, the de facto Minister of Foreign Affairs has said that this incident will have precarious consequences for the India-Pakistan bilateral relations. The two-days late response on the hot issue by the Government of Pakistan in the form of State Minister of Information, Maryam Aurangzeb’s Press Conference highlights the shirk of responsibilities by the government. While Miss Aurangzeb endorsed the court’s conviction of death sentence, she failed to give an unequivocal answer to the question of the role of this conviction in minatory endings to the bilateral relations. India’s refusal to repatriate a dozen of Pakistani prisoners following this conviction is the first inclination that the hope of improved relations between both the countries is wilting away.
Various Foreign Policy experts like Lalit Mansingh and Shashi Tharoor considers that this decision by the Pakistan’s army is to insinuate India that it is in a bellicose mood. These inimical policies might imbue India to take these signals seriously and to prepare for the war. They also believe that by handing down a death sentence to Jadhav, Pakistan’s powerful military has sent a message to the civilian government that it should restrain from forging closer ties with India.
The current torrid situation between both the countries is a serious challenge for Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi who vowed three years ago to bury the hatchet and steer their countries on the path of mutual cooperation and trust. Modi made the first move by inviting Sharif to attend his oath-taking ceremony in New Delhi. Sharif reciprocated Modi’s friendly gesture and went to the Indian capital in May 2014 with a “message of peace.” Experts said it was an unprecedented step by a Pakistani leader to engage with a Hindu nationalist like Modi on such a high-level.
There were high hopes for the improvement of bilateral relations between the nuclear-armed South Asian countries. Like Modi, Sharif, too, had business interests in mind, and he believed that friendly ties with a country set to become an economic giant in the next ten years would also boost Pakistan’s failing economy.
But after Uri-attack and the recent Jadhav’s death sentence, it will be more difficult than ever for Modi and Sharif to defuse tension and engage in peace talks again. But peace activists in both countries say the two premiers need to de-escalate tension and not let the Jadhav sentencing harm ties. If they fail, the hawkish elements in their countries would succeed.
Behind Indo-Pacific Vision
Mike Pompeo’s recent speech titled, ‘America’s Indo-Pacific Economic Vision – at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum’ at the US Chamber of Commerce, Washington DC has been carefully observed across Asia. Beijing has understandably, paid close special attention to it. Pompeo emphasized on the need for greater connectivity within the Indo-Pacific, while also highlighting the role which the US was likely to play (including financial investments to the tune of 113 Million USD in areas like infrastructure, energy and digital economy). The US Secretary of State while stating that this vision was not targeted at anyone, he did make references to China’s hegemonic tendencies, as well as the lacunae of Chinese connectivity projects (especially the economic dimension).
The Chinese reaction to Pompeo’s speech was interesting. Senior Chinese government officials were initially dismissive of the speech, saying that such ideas have been spoken in the past, but produced no tangible results.
An article in the Global Times ‘Indo-Pacific strategy more a geo-political military alliance’ response is significant. What emerges clearly from this article is that Beijing is not taking the ‘Indo-Pacific vision’ lightly, and neither does it rule out the possibility of collaboration. The article is unequivocal, in expressing its skepticism, with regard to the geo-political vision of the Indo-Pacific vision. Argues the article:
While the geopolitical connotation of the strategy may lead to regional tensions and conflicts and thus put countries in the region on alert
It is optimistic with regard to the geo-economic dimension, saying that this would be beneficial, and would promote economic growth and prosperity. What must be noted is that, while the US vision for ‘Indo-Pacific’ has been put forward as a counter to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the article also spoke about the possible complementarities between the US vision for ‘Indo-Pacific’ and China’s version of BRI. While Mike Pompeo had spoken about a crucial role for US private companies in his speech, the article clearly bats in favor of not just between Indian, Japanese, Chinese, US governments as well as companies. This is interesting, given the fact that China had gone to the extent of dubbing the Indo-Pacific vision as the foam on the sea” “that gets attention but will soon dissipate”
While there is absolutely no doubt, that there is immense scope for synergies between the Indo-Pacific vision, and BRI especially in the economic sphere. China’s recent openness towards the Indo-Pacific vision is welcome, but one of the propelling factors is the growing resentment against the economic implications of some BRI projects. While in South Asia, Sri Lanka is a classical example of China’s debt trap diplomacy, where Beijing provides loans at high interest rates (China has taken over the strategic Hambantota Project, since Sri Lanka has been unable to pay Beijing the whopping 13 Billion USD). Even in ASEAN grouping, countries are beginning to question the feasibility of BRI projects, Malaysia which shares close economic ties with Beijing is reviewing certain Chinese projects (this was one of the first steps undertaken by Mahathir Mohammad after taking over the reigns as Prime Minister of Malaysia).
Second, that while for long the Indo-Pacific Vision has been dubbed as a mere ‘expression’ and one of the criticisms has been a lack of gravitas in the economic context (and even now 113 Million USD is not sufficient). Developments over recent months, including the recent speech, indicate that The Department of State seems to be keen to dispel this notion that the Indo-Pacific narrative is bereft of substance. Here it would be pertinent to point out, that Pompeo’s speech was followed by an Asia visit (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore).
Countries which are key stakeholders in the Indo-Pacific narrative need to keep in mind the following:
US needs to walk the course and apart from investing, more it needs to think of involving more countries, including Taiwan and more South Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the Indo-Pacific partnership.
Second, the Indo-Pacific speaks in favor of democracy as well as greater integration, but not only are countries becoming more inward looking, even their stand on democracy, and Human Rights is ambiguous. Japan is trying to change its attitude towards immigration, and is at the forefront of promoting integration and connectivity within the Indo-Pacific. Neither US, nor India, Japan or Australia have criticized China for its excesses against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang province.
Finally, there is scope for China to be part of the Indo-Pacific, but it needs to look at certain projects beyond the rubric of the BRI. A perfect instance is the Bangladesh China, India Myanmar BCIM Corridor which India was willing to join, but China now considers this project as a part of BRI.
In conclusion, Beijing can not be excluded from the ‘Indo-Pacific’ narrative, but it can not expect to be part of the same, on its own terms. It is also important, for countries like US and India to speak up more forcefully on issues (within their domestic contexts, as well as external) pertaining to Freedom of Speech, Human Rights and immigration issues, given that all these are essential for a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’
Chimeras and Realities of the Indo-Pacific Partnership
The new American initiative for the creation of the Indo-Pacific Partnership (IPP) has grabbed the spotlight in many political discussions of late. Although the idea to set up such a forum was proposed at the end of 2017 and to this day has been no more than a general slogan, now the Trump administration seems set to stake on it. Why?
As a reminder I would like to point out that on May 30 the US Secretary of Defense announced the renaming of the Pacific Command into the Indo-Pacific Command (although the Command’s responsibility zone a priori included the Indian Ocean waters).
A few days later, at the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) conference in Singapore, the idea of IPP was spelled out by the American side, with an emphasis on the aspects of regional security. When commenting on the change of the name of the American command, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi remarked that for India the unification of the Indian and Pacific oceans into a single geographic array looked “natural”.
The practical implementation of the IPP strategy will most likely be carried out both through the strengthening of US bilateral relations with countries of the region and through the creation of multilateral cooperation formats. The most important of these cooperation initiatives is the so-called. “Quadro”, which is designed to bring together the four “democracies” of the Indo-Pacific region – the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
It is believed that the United States, Australia, Japan and India, united in the Quadro, will consider the two oceans a single strategic space. Since 2016, the United States, India and Japan have been conducting joint naval exercises “Malabar”. Washington is clearly giving New Delhi ever more attention, counting on India as one of the future regional security poles, along with Japan, Australia and its other allies.
The feasibility evaluation of IPP was proposed in the concept of “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy”, FOIP). And the recent report of the US National Security Strategy states that “in the Indo-Pacific region, there is a geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of the world order.”
Apparently, this is about China. Therefore, the idea of IPP, which is motivated by the value and geostrategic approach, did not cause immediate enthusiasm from the American allies in the region.
Assessing the US initiative to establish IPP, Japanese experts, for example, say that Japan has no objections in principle to such an initiative as long as it is “transparent and inclusive”. To this, they add that this initiative can play a role in the development of interregional relations involving East Asia, South Asia, Africa and Eurasia; the main thing is that it should not be directed against China, since Japan is interested in China’s sustained development and Japan-China relations.
In response, South Korea argues that it is too early to suggest a full approval for the IPP as this initiative has been put forward in the form of a general slogan. Seoul has yet to understand what it is and needs more time to examine it in more detail. If it turns out that the initiative aims to deter China, participation in it of the Republic of Korea will be a “difficult choice” to make.
According to experts of the US Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Indo-Pacific region may account for half of the global economy within decades, but this requires investments of almost $ 26 trillion. Now it is obvious that from the point of view of trade and economic cooperation, the IPP is set to replace the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), which Donald Trump chose to reject, and offer an alternative. US Secretary of Commerce William Ross explains in this respect that TPP agreements require too much effort to conclude and too complicated: “With such major geopolitical phenomena as the TPP, it is impossible to carry out a controlled experiment.”
Verbally, Washington welcomes China’s contribution to regional development, emphasizing that IPP will not be aimed at containing China or opposing China’s Belt and Road Initiative. At the same time, the emphasis is put on the need to adhere to “international standards of transparency, the rule of law and sustainable financing”.
However, in practice, the main reason underlying IPP is the attempt to conduct a “controlled” geostrategic and geoeconomic experiment, by constructing a partnership framework artificially, in the American interests, without taking into account the interests of potential partners who are not interested in political or economic deterrence of China
Supporters of conventional geopolitical approaches say that the creation of IPP means the advance of the US into Eurasia still further from the east to the west by strengthening ties with predominantly “naval” powers in the eastern and southern peripheries of the Eurasian continent (from South Korea to countries of the Arabian Peninsula) and with island states of the Pacific (from Japan to New Zealand). The main purpose of the IPP is the political and military-strategic deterrence of China, the creation of a rigid “framework” that would prevent Beijing from assuming a dominant position in the region.
Whatever the case, American attempts to artificially “patch together” the IPP “from the material at hand” indicate the need for the Russian diplomacy to boost efforts to cement the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership by developing security mechanisms and fostering cooperation in the land areas of the Eurasian “heartland”.
In the first place, such mechanisms involve the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), measures towards linking the Eurasian integration and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and the consistent implementation of the Russian initiative to establish the Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP).
India’s participation in these organizations and initiatives is a matter of special concern, while the three-party consultative arrangement Russia-India-China needs further strengthening as well.
First published in our partner International Affairs
Afghanistan and the issue of Transnational Conspiracy
Author: Ajmal Sohail, Contributor: Nicolas Böhmer*
The deplorable statistics of drug addicted people in Afghanistan exceeded one million and the poppy growth almost doubled, since the international community call for counter-narcotics. The most outrageous in this context is, that one third of the Afghan GDP looms from drug trafficking. The large portion of profit comes from drug trafficking flowing into the pockets of Governmental circles. This lethal-killing machine takes its toll on the vulnerable and defenseless population of the country. And the new reports of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) illustrate Afghans have become a much relevant consumers of their own opium causing hundreds deaths a year – also because they can afford the lowest quality heroin only.
Afghanistan opium, at the international level, has created a drug market worth $65 billion, catering to 15 million addicts causing thousands deaths every year. Consequently, drug trade has becoming a most welcomed business for the Afghan Government, members of the parliament, local power brokers and the insurgents (Taliban and ISIS). That is why the Government time and time turns blind eyes to the appeal of the international community to chunk all land and air portals towards the passage of drug luggage and containers. Sources close to CIA say that transnational anti-crime and counter drug activities of South/West Asia depict the enormous drug cartels with tons of drugs making their way to Central Asia, South Asia, South West Asia,South East Asia, Middle East and Europe and America unimpeded. It also serves to resupply the organized crime groups with weapons of war coming into Afghan territories. Furthermore, the required chemicals for the heroin production – such as acetic anhydride – is entering the country without control e.g. from Germany down the Balkan Route.
It gives the impression, that either there is a meaningless inspection or it is not existing at all. Score of sources have proven and there is no doubt that several ministries,e.g. responsible for the borders and tribal affairs, MOI, MOD, custom security, police, etc. are engrossed in bribery, intimidation, murder, kidnapping and ransom in conjunction with some part of the organized crime and illegal narcotics industry.
To be candid, the entire illegal drugs and narcotics manufacturing goes through the hands of Afghan government officials. Covert operations against organized crime rarely happen or happen with alerts to the organisations in focus, thus allowing narcotics industry to flourish. There are avers, since NATO forces are full of zip in Afghanistan, mutually drug cultivation and trafficking have two-folded. Conversely around 15’000 foreign troops help manage security in the country.Moreover, 4’000 regular soldier from NATO forces and 11’000 US and other special operations forces make up the balance. However, there is significant resistance from so-called Taliban, ISIS, independent local warlords, drug lords particularly in the areas where poppy are cultivated, drugs and narcotics are processed and trafficked.
There is no rule of law at the bordering areas, connecting Afghanistan and Pakistan. Amid Afghanistan and Iran and the central Asian countries, there is barely bullet rule, which in turn disrupts counter-narcotics efforts of the US Coalition. Furthermore, most senior leaders [presidents], secret services and law enforcement agencies of all countries surrounding Afghanistan, through Russia on the northern distribution route, are complicit in allowing the Afghan Government and its cronies to carry on narcotics allotment.
To be frank, there are little or no genuine inspections on the borders of Afghanistan, inside the country and in adjoining countries, allowing 90% of all global heroin being commonly free distributed from Afghanistan. It is safe to say that presidents and political pundits of all surrounding countries in the entire region are engaged to consent to this conspiracy to be persisted. All leaders of all countries know where the problem comes, but refuse to act. All of these leaders are complicit with the drug mafia in propagating this portion of major transnational criminality. They are complicit in creating massive addictions and in killing children and adults around the world.
Drug trafficking has become a pleasurable industry to the presidents and political authorities of the intact region. Very unfortunately, when they address the innocent citizen of the countries, they dub for counter-narcotics efforts but behind sagacity they co-operate with such a plot to keep on. When they are brazen out with the public, they spin and articulate that it is impossible to protect all Afghan borders. Yet most of all narcotics and other black market materials out of Afghanistan, along with war formulating stuff into Afghanistan, comes through, bought and paid for, by organized crime established borders and airports.
To be blunt, this is one of the prevalent shocking international transnational conspiracies, in all history of Afghanistan and the entire globe. This in turn dents democracy, interrupts free markets, depletes national assets and skills to be connected to criminality and kills or addicts innocent Afghans. As it is said, that transnational crime networks often pick on failed states, states like Afghanistan. In order to tackle down such conspiracy proper inspections need to be placed on all portals of Afghanistan – knowing this being difficult to be implemented and causing interferences on many levels.
According to Louise I. Shelley, Director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Centre at George Mason University:“Transnational crime is a defining issue of the 21st century for policymakers – as defining as the Cold War for the 20th century and colonialism was for the 19th.”
In accordance with Yuri A. Voronin,professor of Criminal Law, Ural State Law Academy Ekaterinburg Russia:“Transnational criminal rings are becoming more and more powerful and universal and their mobility is growing. The means and resources of any state are not enough to seriously harm them”.
Therefore, participation of the US Coalition for further investigation at airports and borders of Afghanistan is indispensable. Otherwise, transnational organized crime results in disrupting peace and stability of nations worldwide and a huge part of it originating from Afghanistan. And to solve their drug problem at home, the heroin consuming countries certainly should be interested in law and order in Afghanistan.
*Nicolas Frank Böhmer
Co-Founder and Co-President of the Counter Narco-Terrorism Alliance Germany; consulting, research, communications specialist and entrepreneur; develops strategies and subsequent concepts for economy, communications and politics; information gathering; analyst, translator, writer and content developer, industry4.0/IoT/digitalisation / innovation strategist; international experience in industry, technology, media tech, research and education institutes, governmental entities, politics, the UN and more
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