US military/intelligence bases in India?

A recent report by an influential US thinktank has recommended establishing American military and intelligence facilities on Indian soil.

The report titled ‘Reorienting US Pakistan Strategy: From Af-Pak to Asia’ by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) states:

“In light of Pakistan’s geographic location, India is the obvious U.S. alternative to Afghanistan. In recent years, Washington and New Delhi have taken steps to expand their counterterror cooperation with the intention of building defenses against future attacks like the Lashkar-e-Taiba strike on Mumbai in November 2008. However, given persistent terrorist threats and Pakistan’s clear lack of capacity (and, in some cases, will) to tackle them, Washington would need to ramp up its efforts in India considerably, perhaps even to the point of establishing military and intelligence facilities on Indian soil.”

The report, authored by Daniel S. Markey (CFR senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia) recommends:

“Starting with the national security adviser to the prime minister of India, senior U.S. national security officials should begin to discuss options for significantly expanded counterterror cooperation with their Indian counterparts, up to and including the possibility of basing U.S. military and/or intelligence operatives in India to address Pakistan-based terrorist threats in a post-Afghanistan context. These conversations would be politically sensitive, so they should begin only after the next Indian government is elected in the spring. If diplomatic discussions make progress, the Pentagon should work with members of the U.S. intelligence community to develop specific implementation plans for on-the-ground operations in India.”

But the report also states that the plan may not actually work given the reluctance of the Indian political leadership to get into any “binding alliances”.

“Yet any such plan would immediately run up against India’s lingering ambivalence about tighter ties with the United States. A declared U.S. military/intelligence presence in India, even if directed against Pakistan-based security threats, is for now a political nonstarter in New Delhi, where Indian leaders jealously guard their freedom from binding alliances,” the report states.

The report recommends that: “To prepare for a likely scenario in which neither Afghanistan nor India offers adequate basing opportunities for U.S. military and intelligence operations directed against Pakistan-based security threats, the Pentagon and CIA should identify and develop alternative sites, most likely on the Arabian Peninsula and at sea, where such efforts can be sustained and expanded as necessary over the long run. The cost of these bases, while considerable, would be less than retaining facilities in a violence-plagued Afghanistan and less likely to arouse Pakistani fears than bases in India.”

Click here to read the entire report

Canary Trap had already pointed towards a possibility of proposed US bases in India in a post last year. Click here to read that post.

Pakistan's strategic forces develop world's smallest nuclear weapons

Flag - PakistanOver the past few years, Pakistan’s strategic forces, responsible for the country’s primary deterrence program, have been doing extensive research into the design and development of smart weapons i.e. nuclear weapons that have a dynamic and compact form, and which can easily be transported from one location to another.

Although a variety of warheads already exist, especially in northern Pakistan, these enhanced productions are considered a landmark in strategic deterrence, owing to their size and power. Sources for Terminal X revealed that Pakistan has taken the term ‘special degree’ one step ahead by developing what they call, “the world’s smallest nuclear weapons”.

Reportedly, these special weapons are about the size of a tennis ball (which can easily be hand-picked). Officials familiar with the development said that Pakistan’s Strategic Forces Command made it clear it has not signed any treaty preventing it from taking an aggressive reaction (in defence, when provoked or attacked by a hostile enemy). It was said that if any mistake was made to initiate force aggression against Pakistan, then these ball-sized nuclear weapons will also be distributed across the Muslim world’s armed forces.

In addition to these smart weapons, sources said that the Pakistani military has developed plutonium-based anti tank bullets which can prove very lethal for enemy armored vehicles, especially those of neighboring India.

TX has received information that a clandestine transfer protocol has been put into place for the past few years after discussions with a few allies, according to which, if in case Pakistan is attacked in the near future, threats of which are in increasing abundance, then the country’s strategic forces will initiate a plan-of-action by which the aforementioned smart weapons will be distributed among friendly armed forces in Africa, the Arab world and South Asia. Of interesting note in this regard is the claim that this entire process of “emergency transfer and armed protocol” can be completed from start to finish within 8 hours.


Sardar Patel’s letter to Girja Shankar Bajpai on Tibet

Letter from Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to Secretary-General of External Affairs Ministry Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai in 1950 on Tibet.

4 November 1950

My Dear Sir Girja,

Thank you for your letter of the 3rd November 1950. I am sending herewith the note which you were good enough to send me. I need hardly say that I have read it with a great deal of interest and profit to myself and it has resulted in a much better understanding of the points at issue and general though serious nature of the problem.

The Chinese advance into Tibet upsets all our security calculations. Hitherto, the danger to India on its land frontiers has always come from the North-West. Throughout history we have concentrated our armed might in that region. For the first time, a serious danger is now developing on the North and North-East side; at the same time, our danger from the West or North-West is in no way lessened. This creates most embarrassing defense problems and I entirely agree with you that a reconsideration of our military position and a redisposition of our forces are inescapable.

Regarding Communists, again the position requires a great deal of thought. Hitherto, the smuggling of arms, literature, etc. across the difficult Burmese and Pakistan frontier on the East or along the sea was our only danger. We shall now have to guard our Northern and North-eastern approaches also. Unfortunately, all these approaches-Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and the tribal areas in Assam-are weak spots both from the point of view of communications and police protection and also established loyalty to India.

Even Darjeeling and Kalimpong area is by no means free from pro-Mongolian prejudices. The Nagas and other hill tribes in Assam have hardly had any contact with Indians. European missionaries and other visitors have been in touch with them, but their influence was, by no means, friendly to India and Indians. In Sikkim, there was political ferment some time ago. It seems to me there is ample scope for trouble and discontent in that small State.

Bhutan is comparatively quiet, but its affinity with Tibetans would be a handicap. Nepal (we all know too well, a weak oligarchic regime based almost entirely on force) is in conflict with an enlightened section of the people as well as enlightened ideas of the modern age. Added to this weak position, there is the irredentism of the Chinese. The political ambitions of the Chinese by themselves might not have mattered so much; but when they are combined with discontent in these areas, absence of close contact with Indians and Communist ideology the difficulty of the position increases manifold. We have also to bear in mind that boundary disputes, which have many times in history been the cause of international conflicts, can be exploited by Communist China and its source of inspiration, Soviet Russia, for a prolonged war of nerves, culminating at the appropriate time, in armed conflict.

We have also so take note of a thoroughly unscrupulous, unreliable and determined power practically at our doors. In your very illuminating survey of what has passed between us and the Chinese Government through our Ambassador, you have made out an unanswerable case for treating the Chinese with the greatest suspicion. What I have said above, in my judgment, entitles us to treat them with a certain amount of hostility, let alone a great deal of circumspection. In these circumstances, one thing, to my mind, is quite clear; and, that is, that we cannot be friendly with China and must think in terms of defense against a determined, calculating, unscrupulous, ruthless, unprincipled and prejudiced combination of powers, of which the Chinese will be the spearhead. There might be from them outward offers or protestations of friendship, but in that will be concealed an ultimate hideous design of ideological and even political conquest into their bloc. It is equally obvious to me that any friendly or appeasing approaches from us would either be mistaken for weakness or would be exploited in furtherance of their ultimate aim. It is this general attitude which must determine the other specific questions which you have so admirably stated. I am giving serious consideration to those problems and it is possible I may discuss this matter with you once more.

Yours sincerely,


Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, I.C.S.,
Secretary-General, External Affairs Ministry,
New Delhi.

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India-Pakistan border clashes and two news reports

The recent clashes between the Indian and the Pakistani armed forces in the Kashmir region and the beheading of two Indian soldiers have raised tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours. The news of the brutal killing of Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh has outraged people in India and there are already calls for a military retaliation.

But amidst all the jingoism, two newspaper reports have suggested that the latest clashes may have been provoked by the Indian Army.

Praveen Swami, in his report in The Hindu on January 10, writes that:

“Indian bunker construction on the northern reaches of the Line of Control — initiated after a grandmother crossed into Pakistan-administered Kashmir to be with her sons — sparked off a spiral of violence which culminated in the brutal killing of two soldiers in an ambush earlier this week, highly placed military and government sources have told The Hindu.”

Saikat Dutta, in his report in DNA on the same day, writes:

“As New Delhi raged over the attack by Pakistani troops claiming the lives of two Indian soldiers on Indian soil, and the mutilation of the bodies, the Union ministry of home has received inputs that suggest that Indian army units in the Uri sector could have provoked the incident. While there was sporadic firing exchanged in some parts of the LoC, a cross-border raid by the ghatak (commando) platoon of the 9th Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) in the early hours of Sunday could have been the provocation.”

Both the reports have been written with inputs from military and government sources. The journalists who have written the reports have also been accused of committing treason by filing stories that challenges the official Army version. But Canary Trap believes that the motive of these sources mentioned in both the reports is to make the government stand a little distance away from the Indian Army. This to convey that:

  • Indian Army takes local operational decisions.
  • Therefore, the Pakistani retaliatory action must also be taken in light of this context. But the articles, based on inputs from sources, are trying to localize the issue to decision of the respective local commanders.
  • Therefore, immediately removing the context of conflict of Kashmir away from mainstream India-Pakistan political agenda.
  • This is finely etched strategy to isolate Kashmir from the India-Pakistan agenda.
  • Therefore, anything that happens in Kashmir or related to Kashmir is now a local issue to be sorted out locally.
  • Over time this principle will settle down in the minds of people.
  • It gives both India and Pakistan enough space to take a contrarian point of view and chastise the army if it does anything wrong.
  • This gives enough space to India and Pakistan to take their armies out of the conflict resolution equation.
  • This creates space to settle Siachen. First issue to be settled will be Siachen
The next set of strategic pointers are based on our assumptions:
  • The broad strategic contour is to map a position which goes back to Musharraf’s four-point proposal, which found broad acceptance in both Pakistan and India.
  • Both armies (Indian and Pakistan) support the above mentioned proposal.
  • Eventually Imran Khan comes to power on this agenda with Musharraf as the President.

Remembering a crisis as Pak sinks into another


President Bill Clinton’s five day visit to India in 2000 followed by a five-hour stopover in Islamabad convinced New Delhi that the world order had changed. Relationships were to be shaped by the new post cold war realities, not old loyalties.

But quite as abruptly, this order was once again re-fashioned by President George W. Bush, post 9/11. Pakistan became a frontline state all over again.

Oh, the praise that was lavished on President Musharraf, mornings and evenings, by President Bush as “our most reliable ally”. This “most reliable of allies” kept a plausible manner in fighting the American war on terror as its very own. This entailed a shrewd selection of enemy targets: which target to hit so as to minimize the blowback. That this was an impossible circus act, soon caught up with Musharraf. There were those deep differences with President Hamid Karzai who repeatedly pointed out Pakistani fingerprints on Taliban activity in Afghanistan

A regular pattern emerged in which Musharraf and Karzai accused each other of being “soft” on Taliban on the other side. This mutual recrimination implied an absence of concerted action against the Taliban. This suited Pakistan to the extent that it kept Pushtun nationalism on both sides of the Durand line from flaring up uncontrollably. In Kabul this has never been much of a concern. It does not recognize the Durand line.

Contemporary international politics these days is sometimes not determined so much by ground realities as by the manner of their projection on Washington’s late night serious talk shows. These shows began to focus excessively on Musharraf’s “double dealing” in the war on terror. This at a time when the war in Iraq was by now an unmitigated disaster.

Republicans were proceeding towards the 2009 elections in a daze, with reversals in Iraq being compounded by the mess in Afghanistan. Noises in the US became more shrill by the day that Musharraf was either unwilling or unable to wage effective war on terror.

To still some of these noises, large scale US and Pak military action in Swat and Waziristan were launched  with predictable consequences. The blow back shifted from Afghanistan to the Pak side of the border. The entire Pushtun belt along the border was in a state of rebellion.

Lal Masjid in Islamabad had flared up occasionally since 2001 but in 2007, Ghazi Rashid and Maulana Aziz raised their decibel levels against Musharraf “fighting America’s war” against terrorism. Followed assassination attempts on him. Military action on Lal Masjid coincided with the lawyer’s agitation. Chief Justice Iftekhar Chaudhry began to press for he missing persons cases, something that would have brought the Army’s participation in the nasty “renditions” under the arc lamps at a time when the Army’s reputation was the lowest in living memory.

Removing Musharraf at this juncture would have meant going soft on the “war on terror”. Also, President Bush could not be seen to be dumping his “most reliable ally”, particularly when the “ally’s” neck was on the line.

It was then that a formula was devised to have a troika consisting of a President, Prime Minister and Army Chief replace the lonesome figure of Musharraf. The troika, not just Musharraf, would be exposed to the ever stronger blowback from the war on terror.

Such was the wave of anti Americanism that when Benazir Bhutto landed in Karachi, after having recklessly promised a fight to the finish on terror and allowing nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan to be interrogated, that she became easy prey for determined assassins. Asif Zardari is, therefore, an unintended consequence of a deal that was struck between the Americans, Benazir and the Army.

As Pakistan proceeds towards a new scenario which includes fresh elections, a few facts from 2008 elections: Nawaz Sharif untainted by American and Army affiliations, came up trumps in the Punjab. And, something I will never forget about that campaign: neither India nor Kashmir were mentioned even once. A common refrain in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi was: an enmity and a friendship have cost us dear. But that was many moons ago even though optimists may like to keep their fingers crossed as preparations are under way for the Commerce and External affairs Minister to visit Islamabad.

(Saeed Naqvi is senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

Remembering Vajpayee at Manmohan’s moment in Mohali


It is easy to over-analyze Mohali, Thimpu, UN General Assembly, Agra and arrive exactly where we had started. When it comes to Indo-Pak relations the devil, sometimes, is not in the detail. It is in the mind – on both sides.

The dossiers on Mumbai, the FBI’s role or non role, reference to Balochistan, Qasab, Aseemanand, etcetera etcetera can, all of them, singly or together, be tossed as the monkey wrench in the wheel. But these are not the reasons for relations being in disrepair.

These niggling details are the stuff that politics feeds on. To amplify the politics of pettiness is the function of the contemporary media in frenetic pursuit of ratings.

Statesmanship consists in rising above the petty politician and the panting, puffing media, to seize upon the moment, something Manmohan Singh is perfectly positioned for. I can see jaws drop: how can the Prime Minister be in a position for anything positive after the continuous mauling at the hands of the opposition through two sessions of Parliament? But we must not forget the Prime Minister too has seen the bruised and the wounded on the other side of the aisle. Who knows, Mohali may turn out to be his moment, provided he can plug his ears for insulation from that section of the media which aims to influence foreign policy by going ballistic, at deafening decibel levels.

Manmohan Singh must take a leaf from the Atal Behari Vajpayee book. Remember how he was stung at Kargil by Pervez Musharraf after his bus journey to Lahore. But he persisted. He was willing to go some distance even at Agra in July 2001; the hardliners in his own party pulled him back.

Remember Agra? Prevez Musharraf at the head of a large rectangular seating arrangement? Seated on three sides are God’s gift to Indian media, including the noisy one mentioned above. One by one they stand up to sing paeans of Musharraf in full throated melody. But, once the summit fails, they press “rewind” and over a period, “unsing” their songs, note by note.

But Agra or no Agra, knowing Vajpayee’s tenacity, I am sure he would soon have picked up the thread and resumed his peace commitment. But, alas, within two months 9/11 happened, providing grist to the hardline mill.

Then, in sequence, came the December 13 attack on Parliament, setting the scene for the February 2002 Gujarat pogrom. The hardliners were on top.

But did that stop Vajpayee from searching for the right opening?

Americans, by now deep in Iraq, began to lobby for Indian troops to administer northern Iraq, the Kurdish area. The armed forces salivated as did those of the BJP who liked the analogy of their looking after a “sector” of Iraq exactly as the “big powers” administered “sectors” of Berlin after the war. Yes, the establishment had all but bitten the bait.

Then on April 9, 2003, Vajpayee watched on TV Saddam Hussain’s statue being pulled down from the square at Palestine hotel. He kept his counsel.

On April 18, on a visit to Srinagar, Vajpayee the statesman, startled the world, most of all, his own party. Eyeball to eyeball confrontation between Indo-Pak armies notwithstanding, he offered his hand of peace to Pakistan. An awesome power has arisen, making regional quarrels a self defeating waste, he said. This led to the January 6, 2004 statement in Islamabad where Pakistan agreed that its territory would not be used against India. Manmohan Singh followed up and went further for peace than any Prime Minister. Then 26/11 happened.

The Vajpayee moment presents itself again. Manmohan can see an incoherent, inconsistent West groping for strategy in Libya. There never was and never will be any altruism in their moves. It is in our self interest to have the best of relations with each and every member of the currently quarreling West.

But it is in our paramount interest to compose our regional differences, to be able to cope with an unstable, unpredictable and a frightfully self seeking world. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, by their very presence, provide him with support he needs. The two Home Secretaries have cleared some thicket. There will be road blocks, terror attacks. But a variation on the Biblical dictum says: he who is willing to lose, shall win!

(Saeed Naqvi is senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)