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Monthly Archives: March 2016

What and how of nuclear security

According to an Indian Express report (March 21), an anonymous tip-off has helped the Indian Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to bust a mineral smuggling racket that involved exports of beryl — an atomic mineral ore of Beryllium. Six persons were arrested in end-January and about 31 tonnes of atomic mineral was recovered; the US, Canada, Russia and Brazil are the recipients. Extracts of beryllium from the mineral ore are used in atomic power plants, space technology and scanning equipment. Beryl is one of the “prescribed substances” notified by the DAE under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962. Prior to the latest operation, a 20-tonne consignment of beryl is learnt to have possibly been smuggled to Hong Kong from Kandla Port in Gujarat in October 2015. The is alarming as India being a party to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 Amendment, is duty-bound to prevent the smuggling of atomic minerals of all kinds. The emergent global nuclear order is focusing on a greater role for India’s nuclear weapon status, transfer of nuclear technology and materials especially massive import of Uranium. Despite India’s poor track record, the US and its nuclear camp followers are trying to evolve an India specific criteria to upgrade India’s NSG waiver into a full-fledged membership. The DG IAEA has recently expressed his satisfaction over implementation of the agency’s safeguard measures in the country, while appreciating the nuclear safety and security record of Pakistan; even then Pakistan is being subjected to the renewed pressure to freeze its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile capabilities. Pakistan attaches highest significance to its nuclear safety and security and is fully compliant of all international and domestic obligations. With the summit event coming to a close, there is a question about successor organization. The most popular, and likely to be accepted, idea is that of the IAEA taking over the role. In July 2013, the IAEA had organized an international conference on nuclear security that was attended by 125 states and 21 organisations. By comparison, the NSS have been attended by only about 50 odd countries and 4 organisations. Nuclear security is a global concern. Securing nuclear materials is a perpetual journey sans an assured destination. To succeed, international nuclear regimes have to come out of biased attitudes and selective applications.

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Complexities of Afghan conflict

Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Mr Nicholas Haysom, has emphasised that the Afghan Government must manage its difficult transition, as the Security Council extended the UN mission there for another year, on March 18, 2016. He highlighted five major hurdles including a contracting economy, an intensifying insurgency, an increasingly divided political environment, significant medium-term financial demand, and the need to achieve progress towards a sustainable peace. “For 2016, survival will be an achievement” for the Government, he said. “Some may criticize this benchmark as being low, but survival does not mean inaction, or merely ‘treading water,’ but it means active engagement in confronting the five challenges,” he added.Heavy fighting has continued over the winter from Helmand in the south to Jowzjan province in the north, while suicide attacks have been launched in the capital and other urban centres. In a rare exception this time Taliban continued their tactical attacks even during harsh winters; earlier, each year they used to take a break from fighting from November to March. Taliban’s recent success on the battlefield inside Afghanistan has changed the equation. They have little incentive to step off the battlefield now, given recent gains and those likely to come in the next few months.War in Afghanistan was a willful creation, albeit a wrong one. Afghans are urging an end to this needless war. For the well-being of future afghan generations, comity of nations owes to Afghans a responsible end to this war.

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Dialogue of the unequal!

Pakistan-US strategic dialogue is important from the point of view of contents; it covers almost all essential domains. It is mutually beneficial to both sides. However, every round of dialogue gets overshadowed by American obsessions with Pakistan-India relations and Pakistan’s nuclear programme. The US perception has it that onus of maintaining good Pakistan-India relations rests on Pakistan; and that irrespective of its strategic calculus with India, Pakistan should unilaterally rollback its nuclear programme. American media is often keen to link Pakistan’s nuclear programme with its external debts and makes offers for bartering Pakistani-nukes with write off of these debts. Most of the factors, which determine a good economic health are poorly addressed in Pakistan. The human development report yearly issued by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) shows Pakistan at a lower level; 146 out of 187, countries. Also, there has been persistent low per capita income rate. From 2008 to 2015, the average growth has been around 3.5 percent, which is quite low—certainly not an enviable benchmark. The last five years of Pakistan’s economy were highly inflationary. This was a major hurdle in the way of development. Rather than attracting, foreign direct investment (FDI), even local Pakistani investors left the country, in numbers, for investing in neighbouring countries. Both, nuclear programme spanning full spectrum deterrence and robust economy, are vitally important to the existence of state and well being of the people of Pakistan. Even though economy is improving, it needs to be looked at from all aspects, and above all, unless requisite structural reforms are put in place, state of economy shall continue to be unstable.

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Kashmir conflict: unfinished agenda of partition

All Parties Hurriyet Conference leader Syed Ali Geelani has recently commented from his hospital bed in New Delhi: “British government played a key role in creating Kashmir issue”. Any historic scrutiny into origin of Kashmir conflict leads to culpability of the British Crown representatives in India. Who would know better than Hammond that Kashmir dispute was wilfully engineered through machinations of the last Viceroy Lord Mountbatten, who supervised the “Great Divide”. On pretext of fake and fabricated accession letter from Maharaja of Kashmir, Viceroy authorised air lift of Indian troops to mercilessly supress the popular uprising against the Indian intent to annex Kashmir by arm-twisting the Maharaja.Kashmir shall always be on the agenda of Pakistan-India dialogue, whenever it takes place. It is Kashmir that defines parameters of Pak-India relationship and gives it forward movement. One has to be a Pakistani to read between the lines on India’s Pakistan policy. Pakistan really doesn’t need British foreign secretary telling how to conduct relations with India! Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is keen for normalisation of relations with India on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest, and is pursuing this policy with seriousness of purpose. Pakistan seeks uninterruptible and uninterrupted dialogue. Neither war nor disengagement is an option. Globalised world calls for active cooperation to address common challenges. Road to peace is always strewn with many impediments and requires courage to take difficult decisions. Peace is in mutual interest of Pakistan and India. However, it takes two to tango; and India cannot be given the right of veto over what should and should not be discussed.

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Afghanistan between mysteries and realities!

Two suicide attacks one each in Kabul and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan and prompt claiming of responsibility by the Taliban could be another conspiracy to derail the upcoming direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. May be someone else is acting as Taliban. Afghan conflict often throws up events that remain shrouded in mystery.This type of environment is quite intriguing. Afghanistan should have been keen for restoration of peace and tranquillity in the country that has suffered so much and for so long because of turbulence and turmoil triggered by a host of factors. Earlier, Afghanistan and some of its friends in the West had been complaining that peace process was not moving ahead because of lack of required support by Pakistan; however, over the last two years, Pakistan has been making hectic endeavours to help forward movement of peace process. Pakistan’s keenness has been widely acknowledged by the international community. Pakistan is deeply interested in speedy resolution of the Afghan crisis as unending conflict has badly damaged it in different ways including missed economic opportunities, deteriorating security situation and continued presence of millions of Afghan refugees that are adding to the socio-economic problems of the country.

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