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Archive for Author – Rajshree Jetly

Ongoing Militancy in Pakistan

Posted by: | January 3, 2011 Comments Off |

Rajshree JetlyRajshree
Research Fellow, ISAS

The year 2010 ended on a grim note for Pakistan with a deadly suicide attack in Bajaur, which killed 47 people and injured over a hundred.  Bajaur is one of the seven tribal agencies in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that have emerged as the hotbed of terrorist activity in the last few years.  The attack, which took place on 25 December 2010, was reportedly carried out by a Burkha-clad woman who blew herself up close to a World Food Programme (WFP) distribution centre in Bajaur’s main city of Khar.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. According to the Taliban spokesman, the attack was directed against the Salarzai tribesmen who had formed a vigilante force to combat the Taliban with the Pakistan government’s support. This attack is also significant for its use of a woman suicide bomber, which is rare for the Taliban with its conservative views on the role of women.

The FATA and border areas have long been hubs of terrorist activity and are believed to be a sanctuary for Al Qaeda/Taliban leadership. To curb the rising influence of the TTP, Pakistani forces ran a military operation in Bajaur in 2008, followed by a failed peace deal with the Taliban. Another anti-Taliban operation was carried out in early 2010 and the Pakistan Army prematurely declared Bajaur a “conflict free zone” by April. Despite some positive signs with several militants surrendering, skirmishes have continued and the TTP has vowed to carry on with their fight in Bajaur against the United States and the Pakistani state.  This coupling of the United States and Pakistan as common enemies of the TTP shows the extent to which the radicalised elements within Pakistan have turned against the state.

Pakistan is in an unenviable position.  Routinely blamed by the international media and analysts as an exporter of terrorism, it has now become the world’s biggest victim of terrorism. The 2009 figures show that well over 2,000 civilians and just over 1,000 security personnel were killed.  A 2009 Government report revealed that the cost of militancy in FATA to the Pakistani state exceeded US$2 billion.  The broader social and economic costs are far greater in magnitude.

There is also mounting pressure from the US for Pakistan to provide more assistance with respect to the US war on terror in Afghanistan and crack down on militants that are using the border areas as sanctuaries. India and Afghanistan have added to that chorus.  By taking military action against these militant groups, or permitting US drone attacks on its soil, Pakistan is making itself the prime target for terrorist attacks.  The Pakistani government is also severely weakened as its apparent support of US military actions and its own actions against its citizens come at a huge political cost.  But no war against terrorism is going to be won without political cost, and no political cost can be as great as the human cost that Pakistan is currently paying.

We welcome all comments and feedback at isasblog@nus.edu.sg.

under: Author - Rajshree Jetly, Cluster - Security, Country - Pakistan
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Desperate for Energy

Posted by: | October 29, 2010 Comments Off |

Rajshree JetlyRajshree
Research Fellow, ISAS

The recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Japan from 24-26 October 2010 was a significant step in the advancement of India-Japan relations. Whilst the talks covered a range of issues from security cooperation, economic agreements, to joint infrastructure projects, a key objective of India was to seek civil nuclear energy cooperation with Japan. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated this unequivocally when he said, “Our nuclear industry is poised for major expansion and there will be huge opportunities for the global nuclear industry to participate in the expansion of India’s nuclear energy programme. We would like Japan to be our partner in this initiative.”

India desperately needs energy and is looking to nuclear energy to significantly boost its energy capacity. India achieved a significant breakthrough in 2006 when it successfully persuaded the US to sign a civil nuclear energy agreement with it, lifting a three-decade US moratorium on nuclear trade. This agreement opened doors for India to gain access to the much needed fuel and reactors to alleviate its growing energy needs. Not to be left out of the lucrative Indian market and the potentially, mutually beneficial cooperation in nuclear energy, many members of the global community also began to engage India. This resulted in a spate of civil nuclear energy agreements being signed between India and countries such as Russia, France, Canada, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Argentina, Namibia and Britain for the much wanted fuel and technology. India is now eyeing a civil nuclear agreement with Japan as part of its ongoing quest for nuclear energy.

However, India faces a major challenge with Japan; unlike the other countries which have signed nuclear agreements with India, Japan is one country that carries a heavy historical burden.  The nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 have left a deep scar on Japan and shaped its own policies on nuclear energy.  It is strongly committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which India is not a signatory to.  Instead, India points to its ‘impeccable’ record on non-proliferation, and its commitment to maintaining a ‘unilateral and voluntary’ moratorium on nuclear testing. Given that India is unlikely to sign the NPT, the question is whether Japan will adopt a pragmatic approach largely for economic and strategic reasons and move ahead with a civil nuclear energy deal with India.

There are some factors that favour a pragmatic solution.  Japan remains in an economic crisis and desperately needs to stimulate its economy. The Indian civil nuclear market provides enormous opportunities for Japanese companies. The fact that so many other countries have entered into civil nuclear deals with India means that the longer the Japanese wait, the more the market share of India’s civil nuclear energy sector will be lost to other companies.  There is also a potential geopolitical dimension as Sino-Japanese relations are at a low as a result of recent tensions and disputes over territorial claims. It may well be in Japan’s interest to strengthen its ties with India as a counter to China.

India seems prepared to wait, in the hope that there is sufficient political will on both sides to take the matter forward. A third round of talks is expected to take place in the third week of November 2010.  If Japan decides to follow the other countries and enter into a civil nuclear deal with India, it would be a huge political victory for the Indians, both in terms of securing nuclear energy supplies and getting further international endorsement as a responsible nuclear power.

We welcome all comments and feedback at isasblog@nus.edu.sg.

under: Author - Rajshree Jetly, Cluster - Multilateral & International Linkages, Cluster – Economics & Trade Policy, Country - India
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IPL Controversy: Indo-Pak Relations On A Sticky Wicket

Posted by: | January 28, 2010 Comments Off |

Rajshree JetlyRajshree
Research Fellow, ISAS

Cricket, the great sport of South Asia, is at the centre of a controversy that threatens to further strain relations between India and Pakistan. The controversy arose when no Pakistani player was selected to play for any team in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Cricket tournament. This comes as a shock to cricket lovers, as the Pakistani team is the reigning T-20 World champions, and their talent cannot be doubted.

Pakistan sees the non-inclusion of its players as a deliberate snub and conspiracy on India’s part to humiliate Pakistan. It feels that it was disingenuous of the IPL to include Pakistani players in the bidding process, and then not choose even a single player for the tournament. The IPL franchise owners argue that this was a business decision; they could not guarantee the security of the Pakistani players, much less be assured of their availability in an inclement political climate. According to the Chairman of the IPL, Lalit Modi, even the Australians weren’t picked up along with many other players and it was unfair to focus only on the exclusion of Pakistani players.

Unfortunately, given the tenuous nature of Indo-Pak relations the matter has also spilled into the political domains and drawn in the respective governments. Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that ‘India or any other country that does not give respect to Pakistan will be treated the same way by us. If there is a desire to improve the Indo-Pak friendship, respect should be given to Pakistani sportspersons.’ The Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram, criticised the IPL decision as a disservice to cricket but stated that the Indian government had not influenced the outcome in any way.

But whatever said and done, this is a matter for the respective Cricket Boards and the IPL to resolve. The argument regarding the security of the Pakistani players is shaky. Relations between the two countries have been on the downside since the Mumbai attacks of November 2008 and the IPL franchise owners must have been aware of the security concerns surrounding the Pakistani players. These concerns should have been carefully weighed and deliberated upon by the IPL with the Pakistan Cricket Board before the Pakistani players came to India. The security issue should thereafter not have come in the way of the selection process, thereby allowing the IPL franchise owners to select the players in a non-partisan manner.

It bears no reiteration that India-Pakistan relations are fragile and need careful nurturing. At a time when relations are at a low point, both governments must exercise restraint so as to not inflame the situation further. It is unfortunate that cricket, the favourite national sport of both nations, with the greatest potential to harness the goodwill between the two countries, has fallen prey to a needless controversy. To spout an old cliché, at least from Pakistan’s perspective, India’s cricket action was just not cricket.

We welcome all comments and feedback at isasblog@nus.edu.sg.

under: Author - Rajshree Jetly, Country - India, Country - Pakistan
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