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Assessing the tragedy of the Pakistan floods August 31, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, Pakistan , comments closed

Mohsin Khan, PIIE and Shuja Nawaz, Atlantic Council, Washington

This article first appeared here in the East Asian Forum on 29 August 2010.

The floods in Pakistan have affected one-fifth of the country (an area roughly the size of England) and engulfed large parts of all four provinces—Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the North West Frontier Province). The vast scope of the damage makes this a truly national disaster with long-term economic and political consequences. With waters still rising, it is far too early to assess the economic costs; a proper assessment will be made in time by the Government of Pakistan, assisted by the UN and the World Bank. But on the basis of early indicators, a preliminary and admittedly impressionistic view of the damage can be formed.

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Policing the national capital: Commonwealth Games, community engagement and the threat of terrorism in Delhi August 5, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Dash, Kamala Kanta, Features, India , comments closed

Kamala Kanta Dash


The Delhi Police are prepared more than ever before to face any terrorist attack. However, to succeed in their initiative to police terrorism they need a sustained community engagement policy. Counter-terrorism at present is facing a twofold challenge; one is the structural challenge that includes appointments, salary, procurement of weapons and high technology based surveillance systems and the second is the ideological challenge that has trapped the police in a repressive colonial model of policing which, in turn, has not allowed the police to develop belongingness with the people. The new amendment in the Delhi Police Act 2010 must target both these institutional and ideological aspects of reform.

“The Delhi Police is making whole-hearted efforts to improve the quality of policing in the city so as to be a model police force for the entire country.” Y. S. Dadwal, Police Commissioner of Delhi

It is both a privilege and a challenge to police a diverse and multicultural community of 18 million people belonging to many faiths, languages and ethnic identities. Policing the national capital has become the toughest job in the recent years given the increasing number of terrorist attacks. Delhi has faced three major terrorist attacks in the last decade and as per the intelligence sources it remains a site of impending attacks. Each attack has challenged the reputation and efficiency of the police, though every time the police have emerged more equipped to handle such a crisis. However, the upcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG) to be held from 3rd to 14th October 2010 will be a real test of the preparation that the Delhi Police have done since last serial blasts on 13 September 2008 and more specifically the cautionary preparation in the post-26/11 Mumbai attacks.

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Clinton ‘reads the riot act’ to Pakistan July 21, 2010

Posted by sandygordon in : Afghanistan, Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

We all know that the US is balancing on a very high wire concerning its South Asia policy, caught between its long-term strategic interests with India and its shorter-term need of Pakistani support for the war in Afghanistan.

Given these circumstances, some of the outspoken comments made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during and immediately after her recent Pakistan visit are interesting.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani

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India’s Maoist threat: ‘state power’ versus state malaise June 8, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, India , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

In 2005, PM Manmohan Singh claimed that the Maoist challenge was India’s “most serious security problem”.  That surprised many commentators at the time, who were fixated on violent jihadi terrorism.

Singh is an economist and would have been keenly aware that the 200-odd Maoist affected districts (out of over 600 – see map) are spread over India’s minerals and energy (coal) provinces and its timber-bearing, broadleaf forests.  In other words, they constitute a ‘dagger at the heart’ of India’s vital extractive industries.

This general co-location of Maoists (also known as ‘Naxalites’) and extractive industries is no surprise.  India’s tribal population (Adiwasis) inhabit the less urbanised and more forested regions where the minerals, coal and timber happen to be.  They have a deep, spiritual relationship with the land somewhat similar to the Australian Aboriginals.  Corruption and incompetence mean that they are often dispossessed by extractive industries with little or no compensation.  This has forced many into the arms of the Maoists.

India’s so-called ‘Red Corridor’.  Source: Wikimedia

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Sport and security: India’s year of living dangerously. March 17, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

India is a rising economic star and also wants to be a world venue for major sporting events.  But violent jihadi groups have a strong incentive to undermine that image.  New Delhi’s Dayal Chand National Stadium, with its glistening new astro-turf, was therefore in complete lockdown for the opening of the Hockey World Cup.  Security was so tight that the President of the Federation of International Hockey, Leandro Negre, was stopped and searched.  Players were confined to their hotels when not playing or training and heavily escorted between venues.  As it transpired, the two weeks of competition went without a hitch from the security point of view.  (And for the record, Australia won).

New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru stadium

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India: Mr Chidambaram’s security ‘revolution’ February 2, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, India , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

In a far-ranging speech on 23 December, the Indian Home Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, outlined his vision for India’s ongoing internal security reforms.  Mr Chidambaram has been in the position just one year.  In the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks now known in India as 26/11, he had been briefed by the Prime Minister to fix up India’s arcane internal security structure in light of its poor performance at the time of the attacks. Since, he has been engaged in strenuous efforts to create a viable internal security architecture out of India’s complex federal structure and Byzantine layers of bureaucracy.

Reforms to date or those planned and announced in the speech of 23 December would amount to a virtual ‘revolution’ in India’s internal security architecture if fully implemented.

The reforms include: (more…)