Friday, November 28, 2008

After Mukherjee, Chinese Foreign Minister plans visit to Nepal

Source : Hindustantimes

Within hours of Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee’s successful visit to Nepal, China on Thursday announced its Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi’s visit to the Himalayan nation.
Mukherjee returned to New Delhi on Wednesday afternoon after a three-day visit to Nepal. He held series of meetings with the leaders of political parties in Nepal and described his visit as “highly satisfactory”.
Confirming the report, Suresh Prasad Pradhan, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal told Hindustan Times that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is likely to reach Kathmandu on December 2.
“The entire programme of his (Yang’s) has not been finalized as yet,” Pradhan said, adding that he is scheduled to leave for Myanmar on December 4.
During the visit, Yang is scheduled to meet Nepal’s Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav, Prime Minister Prachanda, president Ram Baran Yadav and senior leaders of different political parties.
The Foreign Ministry officials in Nepal described Yang’s visit to the Himalayan nation as a routine tour. However, the opposition parties have been accusing the Maoist-led government of trying to befriend China.
Interestingly, Mukherjee on Wednesday had said that New Delhi had no problems with Nepal’s growing proximity with China.
In response to media questions on the growing Nepal-China friendship, the Indian external affairs minister had said that it was natural for every sovereign country to develop friendly relationships with other countries.
Before taking over as Prime Minister, Prachanda had claimed to maintain “equidistance” with India and China. But, after the formation of the new government, the Maoists started getting closer to Beijing.
The media had also trained guns at Prachanda, as he, within hours of taking over the reigns of the country, had undertaken his maiden foreign visit to China. Traditionally, every new PM of Nepal embarks on their foreign trips with a visit to New Delhi.
Moreover, several other Maoist ministers and party members have also undertaken visits to China during the last couple of months.

Indo-US nuclearism and Black market

Kashmir Watch, November 28

By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

Today India, a regional terrorist country, opposes the Iranian nuclear program and sides with USA, the global terrorists’ nation to vote against Iran and stop its legitimate uranium enrichment activities forcefully. India seeks every thing for itself, but denies the same to others, if necessary forcefully, and blocks others genuine interests and concerns.
India always boasts itself of a Mr/Ms. Clean in nuclear dealings. Good at public image on international arena, India always has had a double-face. Both a humble and innocent and also an arrogant and state terrorist. India is not just a bluffer on issues but also a perpetual terror in Kashmir killing thousands of defenseless Muslims there; it also has secret dealings in nuclear field as well.
New Delhi pretends to be a decent and honest nuclear user, but the facts and reality show the opposite.. Ever since it eyed on nuclear weapons’ facility at part with the then nuclear weapons states , Indian government began charting strategies to gain access to global nuclear supplies to boost its nuclear program against the IAEA rules. Though India had close nuclear contracts with USSR almost on a permanent basis, it also forged indirect links with many other countries by secretly dealing with them. USA, UK, France, Israel and other nuclear sponsored states intermittently supported the Indian causes while officially opposing it for being an ally of Communists. Thus India continued to enjoy the shielding of opposing camps citing Islamic Pakistan and Kashmir and surged ahead with its nuclear program.
Indo-US nuclearism is only an open deal on nuclear collaboration culminating the long time secret dealings between them, but USA getting the Indian head within its beaks. Recent studies have unearthed some significant Indian features about its nuclear double-speak and false image building efforts internationally. Under Indo-US nuclearism deal, India has committed to certain principles. In the past, the Indian government had made similar commitments with the US and had provided written assurances to the US that it will not obtain or use licensable items in contravention of the US export control laws and regulations. US sources have evid3ence that New Delhi has conducted black market nuclear trading and has exercised poor control over key technology designs. Before 2003, India had been procuring large quantities of TBP from China. However, after China enacted new end-user requirements, India’s subsequent attempts to procure TBP from China remained unsuccessful. Subsequently, India utilized an array of Indian trading companies to procure TBP secretly from suppliers in Germany and Russia. In fact India got the Soviet supply of fuels almost free of cost.
Against all claims by India that it has proven itself a responsible actor with respect to the export of sensitive technologies. India is a unique in that it is the only country in the world that remains outside of any legally binding non-proliferation arrangement, and refuses to accept even the ‘customary’ obligations taken upon by the five major Nuclear Weapon States. Ironically, the NSG has now been coerced into according an India-specific exemption. India is keen to advance its own unipolar diplomacy ahead.



The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security has, in a recent report, questioned the adequacy and implementation of India’s export control and nuclear classification procedures. The report states that India’s illicit procurement of dual-use nuclear-related items for its un-safeguarded nuclear program belies its recent commitments to the international community which paved the way for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to grant India-specific exemption and allowed it to enter into civil nuclear commerce with NSG members-states. India has been procuring Tributyl Phosphate (TBP), a dual-use chemical used in nuclear programs to separate plutonium from foreign entities. The report also alleges that Indian entities were procuring sensitive centrifuge-related items from the open market for its secret gas centrifuge uranium enrichment plant.. India Rare Earths, a sub-entity of India’s Department of Atomic Energy, procures sensitive materials and technology for a secret gas centrifuge uranium enrichment plant, codenamed “Rare Materials Project”, located outside Mysore. By using trading companies to procure TBP oversees legitimate, India has violated the spirit of the NSG. The revelation made by ISIS about India’s illicit procurement of sensitive centrifuge components suggests that its centrifuge enrichment activities are moving at a much faster pace with the assistance of the international nuclear black market.
Fraud, malpractices and manipulations are the hallmark of Indian policy both at home and abroad, especially the near-abroad. Since USA wants to control the entire world, kill and torture Muslims and subordinate Arabs by engineering regime changes and controlling their energy resources, it even supports India. India uses soft diplomacy with all powerful USA, terror diplomacy with both Pakistan and Kashmir and coercive diplomacy with Bangladesh, Nepal and other less powerful ones.
India is clearly a black-market agent in nuclear materials and spare-parts. Why should the leaders of Ram’s or Raman’s raja create such illusions about India being a great nation “truthfully” pursuing its national interests when it uses the underground methods to advance its nuclear pursuits? Why the UN, UNSC, NSG and IAEA close their eyes on Indian secret dealings? That being the case, why should India object to Iran’s nuclear ambitions? Why the US, UN and EU did snot protest when India claimed using Kashmir to showcase its latest nuclear-abled weapons in Kashmir which has been under its illegal and terror occupation since 1947?
The author is Delhi based Research Scholar in International Studies and can be reached at abdulruff_jnu@yahoo.com

Thursday, November 27, 2008

China's foreign minister to visit Nepal, Myanmar

The Associated Press
Published: November 27, 2008

BEIJING: China said Thursday it supports international efforts to help military-ruled Myanmar achieve national reconciliation as it prepared to send its top diplomat to visit the Southeast Asian nation.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi would visit Nepal and Myanmar from Tuesday to Saturday. Qin did not give the exact dates of Yang's visits to each country, but said the minister planned to meet with his counterparts in both countries as well as their leaders.
China has large economic interests in Myanmar, an impoverished country whose ruling generals have been under international pressure to embrace national reconciliation following the violent suppression of massive, anti-government protests in Yangon last year.
China is Myanmar's most important ally, providing economic, military and other assistance while Western nations shun the military-ruled country because of its poor human rights record and failure to restore democracy. China objects to Western criticisms of Myanmar's junta, saying conditions in the Southeast Asian country have improved since its violent crackdown on peaceful protests last September.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed deep frustration at the failure of Myanmar's military junta to agree to efforts aimed at reforming itself.

"China, as a friendly neighbor of Myanmar, hopes to see that all parties in Myanmar will promote reconciliation through dialogue and greatly realize democracy, development and stability," Qin said during a regular news briefing. He said Beijing continued to support the efforts of the U.N. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional bloc, to mediate.
Ban has been trying to encourage Myanmar to take real steps to include opponents led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has been under house arrest since her party overwhelmingly won a general election in 1990 but was not allowed to take power by the military. The military has held authoritarian power in Myanmar since 1962.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why India's China policy needs a change of gears

Saurabh Shukla

New Delhi, November 24, 2008
Source : Indiatoday
Dalai Lama's statement that India is overcautious about Tibet issue, should wake up the foreign policy establishment in South Block from its slumber.
It is a telling statement about the frustration setting in the Tibetan leadership over India's stand on the Tibet issue.
Even though the Tibetan spiritual leader would want a proactive stand from India on the Tibetan issue, South Block officials are quick to distance themselves from the statement and maintain that India will not want to get involved.
While at no point has the Dalai Lama been uncharitable to his hosts, the fact remains that India has cheaply surrendered the leverage it had with China on the Tibet issue, while China continues to dispute Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Indian territory, India has continued to provide it the certificate about Tibet Autonomous Region being a part of China.
While the proponents of the current policy may argue that it would not serve any objective to take on China.
But in diplomacy since most policies are guided by reciprocity it would have served the Indian objectives better by keeping Beijing on the tenterhooks by little posturing on the Tibet issue.
While New Delhi ensures that it keeps the Tibetans on a tight leash in India, asking them not to step out of line, Beijing continues to prick India through military help to Islamabad and by putting New Delhi on its toes in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar in the region.
By New Delhi's own internal reports there have been close to 200 intrusions by the Chinese People's Liberation Army into Indian territory in the last one year, and token protests that India has lodged with China have fallen on deaf ears.
Recently when the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee spoke his mind about potential threat from China. At the first instinct the officials in South Block were quick to deny the minister's remarks and maintained that it was blown out of proportion.
The problem is not of India chickening out on the Tibet issue alone, the root cause is the mindset in the ruling establishment which needs to change urgently.
The problem is that the China policy is dictated by the old foggies in South Block who still suffer from the vanquished mindset of the war of 1962, when China defeated India.
So in the current context too when India handles its foreign policy it carries the baggage of the past.
With China it does not act as a robust power of the 21st century, but like a weak nation forever on a back foot.
India requires a change of gears on its China policy, while it should continue to engage China, it has to stop being on a defensive each time.
It should cooperate with China wherever possible but should not shy away from criticising when the need arises.
What is pivotal is not being apologetic about statements about China; it should not shy away from the Tibet issue but should embrace it. The bottom-line is about developing a spine in its China policy which it currently lacks.

Water Crises - South Asia on War


By Zaheerul Hassan
Source : Alrab online
The world seems standing at the brink of another world war because of failure of emerging weak role of UNO and uni-polar system. The power relations are defining the world as an ‘overruling cleavage’ of the international system. The unfair race of economic growth in terms of capturing natural resources, unequal division of wealth, global wave of organizational and state terrorism, selfish policies of super power, craving smaller sates, current financial global crunch and the collapse of the Soviet Empire are the factors which are accelerating the time so rapidly that destruction of world seem to be very nearer. The dramatic political and strategic changes of Asia related to South Asian region in latter half of the twentieth century has further deteriorated the world peace. The main characters of prevailing insecure environment and regional instability are, India, US, Afghanistan’s puppet government, America, Israel and some of European allies. The capturing of natural resources for enhancing economic growth is basically a power thirst of US and her Police Watch Man (India). According to Indian philosophy wealth obtaining and power seeking are interlinked and two sides of the same coin. The Indian unflinching quest of grabbing natural particularly water resources are seem to be putting devastating effects on her neighbours, Pakistan , Bangladesh and Nepal , thus pushing South Asian Region into war. Peter H. Gleick at the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security has further confirmed the root causes by identifying the seven categories or types of conflicts as regards to water sources. First, Control of Water Resources: (state and non-state actors): where water supplies or access to water is at the root of tensions. Second, Military Tool (state actors): where water resources or water systems themselves are used by a nation or state, as a weapon during a military action. Third, Political Tool (state and non-state actors): where water resources, or water systems themselves, are used by a nation, state, or non-state actor for a political goal. Fourth, Terrorism (non-state actors): where water resources, or water systems, are either targets or tools of violence or coercion by non-state actors. Fifth, Military Target: (state actors): where water resource systems are direct targets of military actions by nations or states. Sixth, Development Disputes: (state and non-state actors): where water resources or water systems are a major source of contention and last but not the least dispute in the context of economic and social development. But if we apply all these factors now it encircles whole South Asian Region instead of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. The major cause of prevailing insecure environment is Indian desire of expansionism and grabbing natural resources by using unfair means. Apart from disputes over international Water of South Asia, the Indo-Pakistan dispute over the Wular Barrage (The Indus Waters Treaty) and Bugliar Dam, Indo-Bangladesh water dispute over the Farakka Barrage (The Ganges Water Treaty) and the Indo-Nepal dispute over the Mahakali River are the glaring ones and endangering to the regional peace. It is notable here that India always used water as tool against Pakistan Nepal and Bangladesh. The Indian rulers exploit this natural resource through blocking the flow of rivers which originate from the Indian controlled territories and claiming their rights of using Nepalese Origin Rivers too. Indus Basin Water Treaty between India and Pakistan was signed in September 1960 as result of mediation of the World Bank. As per the agreement, waters of three western rivers of Indus, Jhelum and Chenab will be used by Pakistan while India has given rights over eastern rivers of Ravi, Sutlej and Beas. But India has always dishonoured the accord from time to time to create economic crisis in Pakistan. It is worth mentioning here that Indus Basin treaty over distribution of water resources was concluded after 23 years of Pakistani struggle but once again after 23 years or so controversy rose up in 1984 when India violated the laws of the agreement and started construction of Wuler Barrage over River Jhelum without consulting, informing and showing the design to Pakistan. The issue put the two nation’s dagger drawn to each other. Pakistan launched strong protest. India though stopped the construction but after some period again started the work and completed it. According to sub-paragraph 8(h) of the Indus Waters Treaty, India is permitted to construct an ‘incidental storage work’ on Western rivers on its side: only after the design has been scrutinized and approved by Pakistan; admits storage capacity should not exceed 10,000 acres feet of water. Whereas the Wular Barrage’s capacity is 300,000 acres feet, which is thirty times more than the permitted capacity. According to the Treaty, India is only allowed to construct a small hydro plant with a maximum discharge of 300 cusecs through the turbines which are insufficient to generate 960 Megawatts of electricity as planned by India.In the mid 1990s India started another violation by constructing the Baglihar dam on the Chenab River. Pakistan asked World Bank’s to intervene for stoppage of construction but the Bank allowed India to go ahead with the project after a few minor modifications, yet it did not permit the interruption of the agreed quota of water flow to Pakistan. Indian act to reduce the flow of water is a deliberate violation of the Indus Basin Treaty. Though President Zardari, Prime Minister Gllani has risen the issue with Indian Prime Minster Menmohan Sing but still mater persist due to the inflexible attitude of New Delhi. On October 26 Indus Water Commissioner (IWC) Jamaat Ali Shah while talking to newsmen at New Delhi Air Port prior to his departure to Pakistan showed dissatisfaction over discussion regarding Chenab water with Indian counterpart since two rounds of talks amongst them ended inclusively. He revealed that Pakistan will approach the World Bank again and receive compensation from India for obstructing water flow from the Chenab River and defects in the design of the Baglihar Dam. Prior to construction of Baglihar Dam the flow use to be 55000 cusec daily which decreased at 8000 to 9000 level at Marala Head Works. Indian snatched 200,000 cusec water in the month to September and damaged Pakistani Kharif crops, adding to the miseries of the farmer’s community. Jamaat Ali Shah has also visited the district Dooda of Occupied Kashmir and found several defects in the Baglihar Dam. The implications of constructed dams for Pakistan are , controlling of Rivers Jhelum and Chenab by India which will pose direct and serious threat to Pakistan economy , withhold the water over an extended period, especially during the dry season and thus converting and magnifying the risks of floods and droughts in Pakistan. The Mangla Dam on River Jhelum, which is a source of irrigation and electricity for Punjab, would be adversely affected. India will be having a strategic edge, during a military confrontation, enabling it to control the mobility and recoil of Pakistani troops and enhancing the maneuverability of Indian troops.Bangladesh has serious conflict over water sharing issues of two prominent rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra which comes out from Himalayan river systems. India violated the norms and treaty through constructing a barrage at Farakka, 18 kilometers upstream from the border resulted into reduced flow of water which caused both immediate and long-term effects including lower agricultural and industrial production, diminution of ground water reserves, affecting soil moisture and its structure. The long-term effects involve changes in the ecology of delta basin, changes in the hydraulic characters of its rivers and reduced navigation depth. Similarly, India again involved in water Sharing conflict with Nepal too. The Mahakali River is originating in Nepal and flowing into India. 21 Nepalese rivers have a marvelous potential ability to generate 83000 MW electricity through hydro can be exported to neighbours, but lack of funds and technology Nepalese are unable to launch large projects. Indian power deficit in northern India is around 9,500 MW. The shortfall can be completed through construction of power projects over Nepalese rives but Nepalese have some serious reservations over India and very rightly feel that they have not been treated equitably under the various water-resource development agreements with India, including Sarada (1920), 24 Kosi (1954) and Gandak (1959).25As we all knew that China and the East Asian region are major center of ‘expanded reproduction’ as well as a major center of world money despite the current world financial crises. Washington in collaboration with India is on the policy of capturing oil rich central Asian Regions, containment of China, suppressing Iran , capturing Asian Market to boost her economy and supporting Israel on Palestine Issue . Her Police Man (India) increased the insecurity in the context of state collapse, terrorism, fundamentalisms, humanitarian disasters in South Asia, Regional Water conflicts, economical and finical crises are going to be catastrophe for the people and likelihood of a serious inter-state armed conflict over water resources will be soon. To avoid disaster UNO should interfere and should devise some regional policy of using natural resources. At the same time, there is a need to condemn the Indian nefarious hegemony design to enhance the regional economic growth and prosperity.

Joint Statement of Pranab Mukherjee

The following Joint Press Statement was issued today at the end of the Official Visit of
His Excellency Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of External Affairs of India, to Nepal:


"The Minister of External Affairs of India His Excellency Mr. Pranab Mukherjee paid an official visit to Nepal from November 24-26, 2008 at the invitation of Hon. Mr. Upendra Yadav, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal.

"2. During his visit, the Minister of External Affairs of India called on Rt. Hon. Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, the President of Nepal, Rt. Hon. Mr. Parmananda Jha, the Vice President of Nepal, and Rt. Hon. Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', the Prime Minister of Nepal. The Minister of External Affairs of India also called on the Rt. Hon. Chairman of the Constituent Assembly, Mr. Subas Chandra Nembang and held an interactive session with leaders of parties in the Constituent Assembly. During his visit, the Minister of External Affairs of India held official talks with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal on all issues of mutual interest. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal hosted a dinner in honor of the Minister of External Affairs of India. The Minister of External Affairs of India undertook an aerial overview of the Kosi area and also visited Birgunj.

"3. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal extended a warm welcome to the Minister of External Affairs of India. The two Foreign Ministers shared views on aspects of the bilateral relationship, which is characterized by close, cordial and extensive interactions at the government as well as at the people to people levels. They expressed their commitment to further consolidate the relationship in future.

"4. The Minister of External Affairs of India noted that this was the first high level visit from India to Nepal after the elections to the Constituent Assembly of Nepal and expressed India’s continued support to Nepal in its transition to multiparty democracy.

"5. The two Foreign Ministers recalled the official visit by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' to India in September 2008 as well as the bilateral meeting between the two Prime Ministers earlier this month on the margins of the BIMSTEC Summit in New Delhi. The two Foreign Ministers also noted with satisfaction that this was their fifth meeting after the assumption of office by a new government in Nepal in August 2008. They recognized that bilateral interactions at high levels have imparted new dynamism to the relationship between the two countries in tune with the changing realities of the time as well as the wishes and aspirations of the peoples of both countries

"6. The Ministers reviewed implementation of actionable points in the Joint Press Statement on the official visit of the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal to India from September 14-18, 2008. It was noted with satisfaction that several decisions had been implemented, such as:

(i) Meeting of Home Secretaries of the two countries in New Delhi on October 31-November 1, 2008 which agreed on further steps to enhance cooperation in dealing with cross-border crimes and addressing shared security concerns.

(ii) The Joint Committee on Water Resources at the level of Water Resources Secretaries of the two countries met in Kathmandu from 29 September- 1 October 2008 and reviewed all aspects of bilateral cooperation in the field of water resources in a forward looking and mutually beneficial framework.

(iii) The Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) at the level of Commerce Secretaries met in Delhi on 19-20 October 2008 and discussed steps to bolster and develop bilateral trade and to conclude the revision of the Treaty of Trade at the earliest.

"7. It was acknowledged that the recent high-level meetings of existing bilateral mechanisms have reactivated bilateral relations in key areas. The two Foreign Ministers stressed the need to continue this process and implement relevant decisions taken at these meetings.

"8. Both Ministers discussed steps to promote cooperation in the hydro-power sector. With a view to work towards realisation of Government of Nepal’s target of generating 10000 MW over the next 10 years, both Ministers agreed that existing and future projects in this area should be pursued expeditiously.

"9. The two Ministers reviewed ongoing works to rehabilitate the breached portion of the Kosi embankment and stressed the need to expedite work so that it is concluded by March 2009.

"10. The Nepalese side appreciated the removal of ban on the export of some essential commodities to Nepal by the Government of India. The two sides agreed to review Nepal’s requirements from time to time. While taking note of the removal of some of the barriers to trade, both Ministers agreed to hold regular discussions to further facilitate bilateral trade between the two countries.

"11. The Minister of External Affairs of India pointed out that concerns remain about the business environment in Nepal affecting existing Indian investments and joint ventures. He requested that these issues be addressed urgently and effectively. The Nepalese side reiterated the commitment of the Government of Nepal to take necessary measures for the promotion of an investor-friendly business environment to encourage Indian public and private sector investments in Nepal.

"12. The two Ministers discussed issues relating to management of the open border between the two countries. It was agreed that necessary steps would be taken to have effective institutional and other mechanisms to address cross-border crimes and shared security concerns based on agreements reached at the recent Home Secretary level talks.

"13. The two Ministers noted that Joint Technical Committee on the boundary had completed scientific strip mapping of about 98% of Nepal-India border and agreed to take further necessary steps for signature of the agreed strip maps at an early date. They also directed the officials concerned to expeditiously resolve the outstanding issues relating to the boundary.

"14. The Nepalese side expressed its sincere appreciation to the Government and people of India for the generous assistance that India has been providing over the years in various fields of development activities in Nepal. In continuation of this process, both sides would study the feasibility of railway projects in Nepal. The Nepalese side appreciated Government of India’s support for Terai Roads Project. It was decided that necessary preparatory work for undertaking this project would be expedited.

"15. The Indian side reiterated the commitment of the Government of India to continue assisting the Government and people of Nepal in its democratic transition and economic development.
"16. The External Affairs Minister of India handed over a formal invitation from the President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil to Rt. Hon. President of Nepal Dr. Ram Baran Yadav to visit India at an early, mutually convenient date."
Ends

No: Kat/69/2008
Date: 26th November 2008


U.S.–India Relations: The China Factor

By Lisa Curtis

Source : www.heritage.org

With the completion of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement earlier this year, Washington's ties with New Delhi stand on the threshold of great promise. China's attempt to scuttle the agreement at the Sep­tember 2008 Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting was evidence for many Indians that China does not willingly accept India's rise on the world stage, nor the prospect of closer U.S.-India ties.

As the relationship between the world's oldest and the world's largest democracies develops, Washington will need to pay close attention to the dynamics of the India-China relationship. The future direction of rela­tions between China and India, two booming econo­mies that together account for one-third of the world's population, will be a major factor in determining broader political and economic trends in Asia directly affecting U.S. interests.

While on the surface Indian-Chinese relations appear to be improving (trade has increased eightfold in the last six years to almost $40 billion), both sides harbor deep suspicions of the other's strategic inten­tions. Signs of their deep-seated disagreements have begun to surface over the last two years and it is likely that such friction will continue, given their unsettled borders, China's interest in consolidating its hold on Tibet, and India's expanding influence in Asia. China has moved slowly on border talks and conducted sev­eral incursions into the Indian states of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh since January 2008.

Some Indian analysts believe that China is pursu­ing a two-pronged strategy of lulling India into com­placency with greater economic interaction while taking steps to encir­cle India and undermine its security. China is strengthening ties to its tradi­tional ally Pakistan and slowly gaining influence with other South Asian states. Beijing is developing strategic port facilities in Sittwe, Burma; Chit­tagong, Bangladesh; Hambantota, Sri Lanka; and Gwadar, Pakistan, in order to protect sea lanes and ensure unin­terrupted energy supplies. China also uses military and other kinds of assis­tance to court these nations, especially when India and other Western states attempt to use their assistance pro­grams to encourage respect for human rights and democracy.

Tibet and Border Tensions

Despite improvements in economic ties and trade relations, border dis­putes continue to bedevil Chinese- Indian ties. India accuses China of ille­gally occupying more than 14,000 square miles of its territory on its northern border in Kashmir, while China lays claim to more than 34,000 square miles of India's northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. India is a long-term host to the Dalai Lama and about 100,000 Tibetan refugees, although the Indian government for­bids them from participating in any political activity.

Out of concern for Chinese sensi­tivities, the Indian government placed restrictions on Tibetan protesters in India last spring during the uprising in Tibet, and Beijing praised New Delhi for preventing Tibetans from march­ing to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The Indian political opposition, however, criticized Indian Prime Minister Man­mohan Singh for appeasing the Chi­nese and for not defending Tibetans' human rights. Renewed tensions in Tibet would likely put pres­sure on New Delhi to show greater solidarity with the Tibetan people. China has recently started to raise the issue of the Dalai Lama's status in India in diplomatic talks for the first time in several years, indicating its increased concern over the issue.

The two sides have achieved little in the ongoing border talks that opened in the early 1980s. In 2003, each side appointed "special representa­tives"--a national security adviser for India, a vice foreign minister for China--to upgrade and regu­larize the border discussions. New Delhi has tried to reassure China that it respects the Chinese position on Tibet by recognizing the "Tibetan Autonomous Region" as part of China, while the Chinese Foreign Ministry in 2003 recognized the trade route through the Nathu La Pass on the Chinese border to the Indian state of Sikkim and stopped listing Sik­kim as an independent country on its Web site, implicitly recognizing it as part of India.

Nevertheless, China's increasing assertiveness over the past two years has led to a near freeze of the border talks. The 12th round of the special-repre­sentative talks held in mid-September in Beijing ended without any specific agreements, and with both sides merely stating they would fulfill the guidelines of their leaders and negotiate a "fair and reasonable" solution.
The Chinese have recently toughened their posi­tion during border talks by insisting that the Tawang district--a pilgrimage site for Tibetans in Arunachal Pradesh--be ceded to China. The Indi­ans refused the demand and reiterated their posi­tion that any areas with settled populations would be excluded from territorial exchanges. In what could be an attempt to pressure the Indians on the issue, the Chinese have been strengthening their military infrastructure along the border and establishing a network of road, rail, and air links in the region.


Beijing also stirred controversy in May 2007 when it denied an entry visa to an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) from the state of Arunachal Pradesh on the grounds that he was from territory the Chinese officially recognize as their own, prompting India to cancel the visit of the entire group of more than a hundred IAS officers to China for a training program.
India has recently begun to reinforce its own claims in the border areas that are in dispute with China. New Delhi is augmenting forces in the east­ern sector along the border of Arunachal Pradesh. It also re-deployed elements of its 27th Mountain Division from Jammu and Kashmir to the 30-km-wide Siliguri corridor at the intersection of India, Tibet, and Bhutan that links India with the rest of its northeastern states. The area, referred to as the Chicken Neck, is a vulnerable point of the border-- losing control of it would separate India from its entire northeast region.


The Indian army is also planning to raise a new mountain strike corps for Arunachal Pradesh. Prime Minister Singh visited Arunachal Pradesh in late January 2008 and announced development plans for the region, including construction of a highway connecting the controversial Tawang dis­trict with the city of Mahadevpur, underlining India's non-negotiable stance on maintaining Tawang within its boundaries.

India is also taking steps in what is referred to as the Western Sector (in the state of Jammu and Kash­mir), such as building roads and re-opening air bases along the borders. India re-opened an airstrip in Daulat Beg Oldie in the Ladakhregion in June and may re-open another in eastern Ladakh close to the Line of Actual Control (the de facto border), which would help supply troops posted in the area.

Indian Lessons from the 1962 Sino-Indian Border War

The history of events leading up to the Sino-Indian border war of 1962 and the severe Indian disillusionment with the Chinese in the aftermath of that conflict provides a useful context for assessing current developments in Chinese-Indian relations. Even after China invaded and annexed Tibet in 1950, India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, believed that India should seek a close relationship with China. Nehru was convinced that an India-China friendship could be the basis of an Asian resurgence. Nehru apparently wanted to give the Chinese the benefit of the doubt since they were, like the Indians, also emerging from the colonial era. Many fellow Indians, including members of Nehru's cabinet, believed otherwise. They cautioned Nehru to view the event as a sign that China could pose a danger to India's own territorial integrity and that India should, therefore, begin to prepare its defenses accordingly.

Nehru's trust of China cost India dearly in 1962 when the Chinese simultaneously invaded the eastern and western sectors of their shared borders. The Indian parliament accused Nehru of turning a blind eye to Chinese construction of a road through what was then Indian territory in the Aksai Chin. After the invasion and defeat by the Chinese, Nehru declared that China had revealed itself as "an expansionist, imperious-minded country." A feeling of betrayal from a country that they had supported in the international arena permeated the Indian psyche for years to come.

Indian strategic analysts, remembering the 1962 border war, now warn Indian officials not to make the mistakes of the past by downplaying Chinese border aggression. They argue that if New Delhi publicly downplays provocative Chinese actions in the border areas (as it did with construction of the road through the Aksai Chin in the early 1960s), the Chinese will interpret the silence as a sign of weakness and exploit it.

At the same time that border tensions are sim­mering, however, the two countries are beginning to conduct joint military exercises. Holding even minor joint military exercises--as long as they are reciprocal in terms of exposure--can help build confidence and increase transparency between their militaries, helping to keep border tensions in check. Last December, for example, 100 troops from each country engaged in a joint anti-terrorism military exercise in China's southwestern province of Yunnan.

Civil Nuclear Deal Brings Out India-China Competition

Increasing U.S. attention paid to India over the past five years--especially Washington's decision to extend civil nuclear cooperation to New Delhi-- surprised Chinese policymakers and caused them to reassess their policies toward India. Chinese offi­cials have developed a more serious policy toward India and now acknowledge that India is becoming a major Asian power.
China's apparent attempt to scuttle the U.S.- India Civil Nuclear Agreement at the September 2008 NSG meeting was evidence for many Indians that China does not willingly accept India's rise on the world stage. The Chinese--buoyed by the unexpected opposition from NSG nations like New Zealand, Austria, and Ireland--threatened the agreement with delaying tactics and last-minute concerns signaled through an article in the Chinese Communist Party's English language paper, The Peo­ple's Daily. The public rebuke of the deal followed several earlier assurances from Chinese leaders that Beijing would not block consensus at the NSG.
Indian observers claim the Chinese tried to walk out of the NSG meetings in order to prevent a consensus, but that last-minute interventions from senior U.S. and Indian officials convinced them that the price of scuttling the deal would be too high, forcing them to return to the meeting. Indian strategic affairs analyst Uday Bhaskar attrib­uted the Chinese maneuvering to longstanding competition between the two Asian rivals. "Clearly, until now China has been the major power in Asia," said Bahskar. "With India entering the NSG, a new strategic equation has been introduced into Asia and this clearly has caused disquiet to China." In a recent speech, Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, citing China's position within the NSG, said that, "From time to time, China takes unpredictable positions that raise a number of questions about its attitude toward the rise of India."


China is also wary of the potential for stronger U.S.-India military cooperation. India has em­barked on an ambitious military modernization ef­fort and is increasingly looking to the United States to purchase advanced weaponry. The completion of the civil nuclear deal will likely raise the confidence of the Indian defense establishment in the U.S. as a reliable supplier and, therefore, set the stage for a much broader and deeper defense relationship be­tween the U.S. and India over the next several years. Following are some major milestones in the U.S.-India defense trade relationship:

The recent sale of six C130-J Hercules military transport aircraft worth $1 billion is the largest U.S. military sale to India to date.

In 2006 the U.S. Congress authorized the trans­fer of the USS Trenton amphibious transport dock to India.

U.S. firms are also competing with Russian and European firms to fulfill an Indian request for 126 multi-role combat aircraft worth close to $10 billion.

U.S. companies are bidding to supply 197 light observation helicopters and 22 combat helicop­ters to the Indian Air Force and the Army Avia­tion Corps at a cost of about $1.5 billion.
In 2005, India and the U.S. signed a 10-year defense framework agreement that calls for ex­panded joint military exercises, increased defense-related trade, and the establishment of a defense and procurement production group. The U.S. and India have conducted more than 50 military exer­cises since 2002, demonstrating how far the mili­tary partnership has progressed in a relatively short period.


One of the most significant of these exercises was held in September of last year and involved three other nations--Japan, Australia, and Singapore--in the Bay of Bengal.This exercise raised concern in Beijing about the development of a democracy axis aimed at countering China's influence. To reassure the Chinese of its intentions, the new Australian government led by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd backed away from a diplomatic quadrilateral initia­tive begun in 2007 among the U.S., Australia, Japan, and India.

Other Areas of Potential China-India Conflict

Energy is also increasingly becoming a source of friction between China and India. They are two of the world's fastest-growing energy consumers, with China importing about 50 percent of its energy needs and India importing 70 percent. China has consistently outbid India in the competition for energy sources, and these bidding wars have inflated energy prices, prompting the two countries to agree to joint bidding on certain contracts. The Chinese provide monetary and diplomatic entice­ments to secure energy-supplier contracts and largely ignore international concerns over issues like human rights and democracy.

Energy competition between India and China is also reflected in the two countries' assertions of naval power. As India reaches into the Malacca Strait, Beijing is surrounding India by developing strategic port facilities in Sittwe, Burma; Chittagong, Bangladesh; Hambantota, Sri Lanka; and Gwadar, Pakistan, to protect sea lanes and ensure uninter­rupted energy supplies.
Water also has the potential to become a divi­sive issue in India's bilateral relations with China. New Delhi is concerned about the ecological impact that the Chinese plans to divert the rivers of Tibet for irrigation purposes in China will have on India. With China controlling the Tibetan plateau, the source of Asia's major rivers, the potential for conflict over increasingly scarce water resources remains a concern.


China's Relations with Other South Asian States

China is strengthening its ties to India's historical rival Pakistan and slowly gaining influence with other South Asian states that border India. The South Asian nations view good ties with China as a useful counterweight to Indian dominance in the region. China uses military and other assistance to court these nations, especially when India and other Western states try to use their assistance programs to encourage respect for human rights and democracy.

Pakistan: Pakistan and China have long-stand­ing strategic ties, and China is Pakistan's largest defense supplier. China transferred equipment and technology to Pakistan's nuclear weapons and bal­listic missile programs throughout the 1980s and 1990s, enhancing Pakistan's strength in the South Asian strategic balance. Stephen Cohen, an expert on the Indian and Pakistani militaries, describes China as pursuing a classic balance of power by supporting Pakistan in a relationship that mirrors the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.[16] The most significant development in China-Pakistan military cooperation occurred in 1992 when China supplied Pakistan with 34 short-range ballistic M-11 missiles.

China has helped Pakistan build two nuclear reactors at the Chasma site in the Punjab Province and continues to support Pakistan's nuclear pro­gram, although it has been sensitive to international condemnation of the A. Q. Khan affair and has cal­ibrated its nuclear assistance to Pakistan accord­ingly. In the run-up to Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Pakistan in November 2006, media reports speculated that China would sign a major nuclear energy cooperation agreement with Pakistan. In the end, however, the Chinese provided a general pledge of support to Pakistan's nuclear energy program, but refrained from announcing plans to supply new nuclear reactors. During Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to Beijing in mid-October 2008, Beijing did come through with a pledge to help Pakistan construct two new nuclear power plants at Chasma, but did not propose or agree to a major China-Pakistan nuclear deal akin to the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement.

China is also helping Pakistan develop a deep-sea port at the naval base at Gwadar in Pakistan's province of Baluchistan on the Arabian Sea. The port would allow China to secure oil and gas sup­plies from the Persian Gulf and project power in the Indian Ocean. China financed 80 percent of the $250 million for completion of the first phase of the project and reportedly is funding most of the sec­ond phase of the project as well.

Nepal: Nepal occupies a strategic location along the Himalayan foothills dividing China and India. China provided military supplies to Nepalese King Gyanendra before he stepped down in 2005 while India and the U.S. were restricting their military assistance in an effort to promote political reconcil­iation within the country. Nonetheless, it does not appear that Nepal's new prime minister, Prachanda, holds a grudge against the Chinese for their previ­ous support of the king. Prachanda's Maoist move­ment patterned itself after Mao Zedong's "people's war" principles, and upon his assumption of power in August, Prachanda promptly paid a visit to Beijing where he met President Hu Jintao.

Over the past two years, Nepal has begun to crack down on Tibetan refugees on its territory in an apparent attempt to appease the Chinese. Last spring, Nepal's government ordered a raid on a cen­ter for Tibetan refugees and deported one of them shortly before the visit of China's Assistant Foreign Minister to Kathmandu. The center, funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, acts as a transit point for Tibetans fleeing to India. In 2005, Nepal closed down the Tibetan Welfare Office in Kathmandu, which had been established in the 1960s. About two to three thousand Tibetans travel through Nepal every year. During the wide­spread unrest and demonstrations in Tibet from March to June 2008, the Nepalese banned all pro­tests and heavily patrolled their border with Tibet.

Sri Lanka: Chinese assistance to Sri Lanka has increased substantially over the past year and may now even eclipse that of Sri Lanka's longtime biggest aid donor, Japan. The Chinese are building a highway, developing two power plants, and con­structing a new port facility at Hambantota harbor. Chinese analysts say the port is strictly a commer­cial venture, while Indian analysts warn it could be used as a Chinese naval base to control the area.

China wants to expand political and security ties with the countries of the South Asia-Indian Ocean region to ensure the safety of Chinese sea lines of communication across the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka, for its part, needs Chinese assistance--especially military aid--as it fights a civil war with Tamil insurgents with whom it recently officially broke a six-year cease-fire. The U.S. and India have cur­tailed military supplies toSri Lankabecause of human rights concerns, and Chinese aid to Sri Lanka comes with no strings attached.

Bangladesh: Total trade between China and Bangladesh was around $3.5 billion in 2007, up about 8.5 percent from the previous year. China is an important source of military hardware for Bang­ladesh and increasingly is investing in Bangladesh's garment sector. With natural gas deposits in Bang­ladesh estimated at between 32 trillion and 80 tril­lion cubic feet, Bangladesh has gained strategic importance for both China and India as a potential source of energy. Bangladesh turned down India's proposal for a tri-nation gas pipeline with Burma.

India's Relationships with Southeast Asian States

India established a "Look East" policy in the early 1990s, but it has only recently begun to build polit­ical and economic ties with the states of Southeast Asia, which generally welcome India's involvement to balance growing Chinese influence. Most coun­tries in the region that are wary of China do not have the same apprehensions toward India.

India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity agreement on November 11, 2004, marking a significant step in the development of relations between India and the countries of Southeast Asia. India became a full dia­logue partner of ASEAN in 1995, joined the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1996, became a summit partner of ASEAN (called ASEAN Plus One) in 2002, and became a member of the East Asia Sum­mit in December 2005.

In another step toward building its economic relations with the region, India will sign a free trade deal with the ASEAN countries in December 2008 after four years of talks. New Delhi says it wants to raise two-way trade with ASEAN to $50 billion by 2010, up from its current level of $38 billion.The India-ASEAN free trade agreement will reduce or eliminate import tariffs on 96 percent of items traded between the two starting in January 2009. India has also enhanced its naval profile in South­east Asia to strengthen its Look East policy and to disrupt the flow of arms across the Bay of Bengal to insurgents in India's northeast and to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

In addition to integrating with the multilateral institutional structures of Southeast Asia, India has focused on building stronger bilateral relationships in the region, especially with Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and Indonesia. India holds periodic naval exercises with these countries and participates in a biannual gathering of regional navies, called the Milan. India has also entered into bilateral defense cooperation agreements with Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, and Indonesia.

Burma: India is particularly concerned about growing links between China and Burma, with which it shares land and maritime borders. New Delhi in recent years has de-emphasized its support for democracy there in order to build ties to the mil­itary junta, a policy that is causing friction between New Delhi and Washington. India was a strong pro­ponent of the democracy movement in Burma throughout the 1980s and gave sanctuary to thou­sands of Burmese refugees following the military junta's assumption of power in 1988. India changed its position, however, to one of "constructive engage­ment" when it sought Burmese cooperation against insurgents across their porous frontier in the mid-1990s and has more recently sought to counter growing Chinese influence and secure oil and gas deals with Burma to fulfill its growing energy re­quirements.[22] In the fall of 2007, attempts of the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and other Indian companies to tap Burmese oil and gas were thwarted by Chinese pressure on Burmese authorities.

In response to the September 2007 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, India placed arms sales to Burma under "review," halting them at least temporarily. Prime Minister Singh hosted the second-in-command of the military junta General Maung Aye in New Delhi six months later, however, and announced a deal to refurbish the Sittwe port as part of a larger project to allow sea access to India's northeastern states.

What This Means for U.S. Policy

As China and India rise politically and economi­cally on the world stage, it is natural that they com­pete with one another for influence. Although China's economic rise will continue to be faster than India's, Beijing may seek to counter New Delhi's political and geo-strategic influence. Rivalry between the two nations will be fueled especially by each country's efforts to reach into the other's tradi­tional spheres of influence, for example, China in South Asia and India in Southeast Asia. China's will­ingness to overlook human rights and democracy concerns in its relations with the smaller South Asian states will at times leave India at a disadvan­tage in asserting its power in the region, as was seen recently in Nepal and Sri Lanka.

China is wary of U.S. plans to support India's position in Asia and will seek to blunt Washington's overtures toward New Delhi. Beijing may discuss in private and public forums the importance of simul­taneous development of both China and India to try to show it welcomes India's rise. New Delhi, how­ever, will pay closer attention to Beijing's actions along the disputed China-India border to gauge Chinese overall strategic intentions toward India. China's unhelpful stance at the recent NSG meetings on the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement was a reminder that Beijing remains uncomfortable with India's growing global role.

The U.S. should:

Continue to build strong, strategic ties to India by encouraging India to play a more active political and economic role in the region. To help India fulfill that role, Washing­ton should continue to seek a robust military-to-military relationship with New Delhi and enhance defense trade ties. Washington should also develop an Asian dialogue with India to dis­cuss developments in the broader Asia region more formally and regularly.

Encourage India's permanent involvement in values-based strategic initiatives like the U.S.-Japan-Australia trilateral dialogue. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had proposed that Japan, India, Australia, and the U.S. formalize a four-way strategic dialogue. The new government in Canberra led by Kevin Rudd, however, has since backed away from the initia­tive. Washington should convince Canberra of the benefits of reviving and elevating a quadrilat­eral forum focused on promoting democracy, counterterrorism, and economic freedom and development in Asia. In the meantime, Washing­ton should continue to build the bilateral com­ponents of such a grouping--U.S.-Japan, U.S.- India, and U.S.-Australia relations--and work on a meaningful trilateral agenda among the U.S., Japan, and Australia that can accommodate additional partners down the road. The U.S. can also pursue U.S.-Japan-India trilateral initia­tives, especially in the areas of energy and mari­time cooperation, and through the institution of regular dialogue on Asian security issues. Indian- Japanese relations have been strengthening in recent years, as demonstrated by Prime Minister Singh's late October visit to Japan, where he signed a joint declaration on security coopera­tion and accepted a $4 billion Japanese loan commitment for infrastructure projects in India. The security agreement was the third such pact Japan has ever signed, including one with the U.S. and one with Australia.
Collaborate more closely with India on initia­tives that strengthen economic development and democratic trends in the region and work with India to counter any Chinese moves that could potentially undermine such trends in order to ensure the peaceful, democratic development of South Asia and Southeast Asia. This will require close coordination on developments in both South and Southeast Asia and increasing mutual confidence between India and the U.S. on each other's strategic intentions in the region. The U.S. should, for example, encourage India's role in helping Afghanistan develop into a stable democracy by encouraging Indian assistance for strengthening democratic institutions in Afghanistan, deepening U.S.- Indian exchanges on developments in Afghani­stan, and ensuring that India has a role in any regional efforts to stabilize the country.


Help India strengthen its cooperative activi­ties with the International Energy Agency to coordinate response mechanisms in the event of an oil emergency. The U.S. has a major stake in how India copes with its increasing energy demand and how it pursues competition with China for energy resources. The U.S. should work closely with India as it develops its strategic oil reserves to ensure that the major energy-con­suming countries are prepared to cooperate to resolve any potential global energy crises.

Avoid any potential India-China military conflict over unresolved border issues given the U.S. interest in ensuring stability in the region. Washington should watch their ongoing border talks closely without trying to medi­ate. The two sides are unlikely to reach any breakthroughs in their discussions in the near future, but Washington should remain watchful for any signs that tensions are ratcheting upward.

Conclusion

As the relationship between India and the U.S. develops, Washington will need to pay close atten­tion to the dynamics of the India-China relation­ship and be smart about its approach: Even though Washington and New Delhi share similar concerns regarding China, Indian officials will balk at any U.S. overture that appears to use New Delhi to con­tain or directly counter Chinese influence. Tensions between the two Asian giants could increase, espe­cially over their disputed borders and as they com­pete in each other's regional spheres of influence. But there are other, positive trends in Sino-Indian relations, such as improving economic ties, closer coordination on some common global political interests, and more frequent diplomatic exchanges. India and China have a long history and a compli­cated relationship. Any misstep by the U.S. that puts India in an awkward political situation has the potential to damage overall U.S. interests in the region and limit the prospects for the U.S.-India relationship.
]
Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Indian diplomat’s car attacked during Kathmandu bandh

KATHMANDU: On Thursday, S K Joshi joined the ranks of nearly one and a half dozen car owners whose vehicles were attacked by protesters in Kathmandu
since growing public anger the day before following the recovery of the bodies of two young men suspected to have been murdered by the Maoists. However, the difference was that Joshi is the head of chancery at the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu whose diplomatic status entitles him to safety and right of passage even during general strikes and other disturbances, along with ambulances and UN vehicles. Though the number plate clearly indicated that the Maruti belonged to a diplomat, it was pelted with stones, shockingly in an area of Kathmandu known as the diplomatic enclave, housing several other western embassies, including the British, French and Danish. Joshi, who was driving the car himself, luckily did not sustain any injury though his window panes were shattered. With the attack, India now joins the American Embassy that had a car stoned during an earlier bandh nearly two years ago and the pelting of the American ambassador’s car in eastern Nepal. The incident underlines the growing anger against India ahead of external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Nepal next week. There has been resentment after the flood caused by the Kosi river in August, that is regarded as due to Bihar’s negligence to repair the embankment on the river and suspicion over Maoist prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s two formal visits to India after assuming office. The attack on Joshi was part of a series of violent incidents in the capital Thursday during a general strike ostensibly called by a civil society group but deriving its muscle from the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), a ruling party in the Prachanda coalition, as well as the main opposition party, former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress. Mobs of youngsters halted traffic, kicked motorcycles down and hurled stones at offices and shops while tyres burned before college campuses. The bandh was called to pressure the Prachanda government into punishing his guilty cadres after the bodies of two UML activists, Nirmal Pant and Pushkar Dangol, were found buried in Dhading district Tuesday following their abduction in October. Though the Young Communist League (YCL), the pit bull of the professedly armed Maoists, is denying any hand in the killing, its office was attacked in Balaju in the capital Thursday, a day after another office was vandalised in the Kalanki area Wednesday. Demonstrations and chakka jams were also reported in Dhading, Chitwan and Dolakha districts Thursday with the demonstrators warning they would continue the disruption till the guilty were punished and the victims’ families compensated. Besides the attack on Joshi’s car, Thursday saw another serious cause for Indian concern with home minister Bam Dev Gautam saying that Nepal would ask for Chinese participation in talks to resolve Indo-Nepal border disputes. Gautam, who is also the deputy prime minister, met a visiting high-level Chinese military delegation led by Major-General I Huzeng. The delegation, which also met defence minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, has asked Nepal to regulate its 1800km open border with Nepal to prevent the easy entry and exit of Tibetans. Nepal, on its part, is asking for Chinese help to resolve the Kalapani border dispute. Kalapani, about 75 sq km area in farwest Nepal’s Darchula district, was occupied by Indian troops since the 1962 Sino-Indian war. Nepal is now saying that since it is the meeting point of China, Nepal and India, all three governments should sit together for dialogue to resolve the dispute.

Friday, November 21, 2008

India, Nepal set to review Friendship Treaty on Pranab’s visit

New Delhi, Nov 21: India and Nepal are expected to review the Friendship Treaty when External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee travels to Kathmandu on November 24, marking the first high-level visit from this country to the Himalayan country after the Maoist-led government assumed office in August. The two countries will also discuss ways to enhance trade and cooperation in power sector, sources said here today. Mukherjee will hold talks with his counterpart Upendra Yadav and meet Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda'. He will also meet leaders from other political parties.

Nepal wants China to help in Kalapani border dispute with India

Kathmandu, Nov 21 (PTI) Nepal has sought China's help in resolving its border disputes with India, including the issue of Kalapani, a strategic border stretch on the tri-junction of the three countries, a media report here said.The Kalapani Border dispute could be resolved through a trilateral understanding among Nepal, India and China, the Kantipur daily quoted Deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam as having told a visiting Chinese military delegation led by Major General Ei Hujeng yesterday.The paper claimed that Kalapani, a 75 sqkm area in Nepal's Darchula district bordering the hill districts of Uttarakhand, is in Indian control since the 1962 Sino-Indian war."The discussion took place on border management," Home Secretary Gobinda Kusum was quoted as saying. "We wanted to settle all issues through dialogue," he added.However, Home Ministry spokesman Navin Ghimire told PTI that the meeting was just a courtesy call and denied having any information about the issue being raised in the talks.The joint technical team between Nepal and India has been actively engaged in resolving disputes at various border points. However, Nepal has asked India to involve China in resolving the Kalapani border dispute as the area is in tri-junction of the three countries, the paper said.The paper claimed that Nepal had drawn the attention of Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee towards the issue of Kalapani and Susta borders during Nepalese Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav's recent visit to India to participate in the BIMSTEC Summit.The issue is likely to figure during Mukherjee's visit to Nepal starting from November 24. The Chinese delegation also met Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa "Badal" and discussed several issues including border management, according to the Kantipur daily. PTI

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Prachanda on second trip to India

Kathmandu, Nov 10 (PTI) Nepalese Prime Minister Prachanda will undertake a second trip to India with a likely aim of boosting bilateral ties and to discuss issues like terrorism, trans-border organised crime and illegal drug trafficking.Prachanda is scheduled to arrive in India on Wednesday on a three-day visit leading a Nepalese delegation to the second BIMSTEC Summit being held in New Delhi starting from November 13.The second such summit is to deliberate on the different areas of cooperation under the framework of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), Foreign Ministry sources said.Leaders from all the member countries-India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar and Thailand- will also take up the issues related to combating of global terrorism.The establishment of BIMSTEC Secretariat as well as some BIMSTEC centres specialising on issues like energy, weather, climate and cultural industries will also come up during the summit and some regional agreements are also likely to be signed.Prachanda will also meet leaders of other BIMSTEC member countries on the sidelines of the summit and hold talks on matters of bilateral and regional interests.He will meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 12 and discuss various matters of bilateral interests between the two countries.Prior to the summit, Minister for Foreign Affairs Upendra Yadav will lead the Nepalese delegation to the 11th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting to be held on November 12 and Foreign Secretary Gyan Chandra Acharya will lead a delegation to the 13th Senior Officials Meeting of the group. PTI

Prachanda begins second trip to India

Source : The Hindu

Kathmandu (IANS): Nepal's Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda Wednesday began his three-day visit to India, the second formal trip to the southern neighbour since September.

Heading a 12-member delegation, the former guerrilla chief left for New Delhi on a Nepal Airlines flight to attend the second summit of regional grouping BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation).

On the evening of his arrival, the Maoist leader will hold bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He is also scheduled to have one-to-one talks with Thai PM Somchai Wingsawat after the BIMSTEC meet Thursday.

On Friday, Prachanda will visit Dehradun, the capital of India's Uttarakhand state, to see the Tehri Dam. The visit is regarded as a bid by the Indian government to assuage Nepal's fears about the construction of the high dams that are part of mega India-Nepal hydropower projects.

The prime ministerial delegation includes Water Resources Minister Bishnu Poudel, chief secretary Bhojraj Pokhrel and the PM's foreign affairs adviser Hira Bahadur Thapa.

After growing criticism at home about the inclusion of his wife Sita Poudel and son Prakash on his entourage while travelling abroad on official work, this time the other members of the first family have not been included.

Nepal's Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav is already in New Delhi to attend the BIMSTEC meet.

On the eve of his India visit and meeting with Singh, Prachanda averted a domestic crisis Tuesday by agreeing to fulfil the demands made by the main opposition party, former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala's Nepali Congress (NC).

The NC had threatened to obstruct Nepal's interim parliament from this week if Prachanda had failed to appease them.

Soon after his return home, Prachanda faces another stiff challenge.

The Maoists will hold a national convention of their top leaders from Nov 18 where Prachanda's leadership is expected to be challenged by the hawks in the party.