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from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan and its nuclear weapons loom large over Obama administration

Pakistan and its nuclear weapons are back in the centre  of the U.S. foreign policy frame as a steady stream of reports from think tanks and newspapers build the case for President-elect Barack Obama to recognise and act urgently with regard to the potential threat from the troubled state.

The New York Times Magazine in an extensive article  headlined Obama's Worst Pakistan Nighmare says the biggest fear is not Islamist militants taking control of the border regions. It's what happens if the country's nuclear arsenal falls into the wrong hands. And it then takes a trip to the Chaklala garrison where the headquarters of Strategic Plans Division, the branch of the Pakistani government charged with protecting its growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, are located and led  by Khalid Kidwai, a former army general.

"In the second nuclear age, what happens or fails to happen in Kidwai's modest compound may prove far  more likely to save or lose an American city than the billions of dollars the United States spends each year  maintaining a nuclear arsenal that will almost certainly never be used, or the thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars we have spent in Iraq and Afghanistan  to close down sanctuaries for terrorists," writes David E. Sanger, author of a forthcoming book: "The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power".

The article quotes a Bush administration official as saying there were two ways Pakistan's weapons could fall into the wrong hands. One was when the Pakistani military was moving its tactical weapons closer to the frontlines when it could be much more vulnerable to seizure by militants. A time of heightened tensions with India, as is the situation now following the attacks in Mumbai, would be a top reason for Pakistan to begin moving its weapons.  Could that be one of the objectives of the Mumbai attacks, the New York Times asks.

from Global News Journal:

Half-baked men, hooligans and other insults from North Korea

By Jon Herskovitz

The end of the Bush administration will likely bring an end to one of my favourite guilty pleasures of reporting on North Korea, which is the verbal battle between Washington and Pyongyang. Prickly North Korea will undoubtedly fire rhetorical volleys at Barack Obama's team but it may be hard to match the vitriolic language it has levelled at the administration of outgoing President George W. Bush, which in North Korean parlance is "a bunch of tricksters and political imbeciles who are the center of a plot breeding fraud and swindle".

The Bush administration came into office pledging to take a tough line toward Pyongyang to force it to end its nuclear weapons programme, stop threatening its neighbours with ballistic missiles and halt human rights abuses that are regarded as some of the worst in the world. North Korea bristles at any criticism of its leaders or its communist system. It unleashed its first insults directed at Bush weeks into his presidency in 2001, after his team labelled the North a dangerous state.   

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India, Pakistan and covert operations. All in the family?

Do read this piece by Gurmeet Kanwal, the head of the Indian Army's Centre for Land Warfare Studies, about how India should respond to the Mumbai attacks with covert operations against Pakistan.

He says that "hard military options will have only a transitory impact unless sustained over a long period. These will also cause inevitable collateral damage, run the risk of escalating into a larger war with attendant nuclear dangers and have adverse international ramifications. To achieve a lasting impact and ensure that the actual perpetrators of terrorism are targeted, it is necessary to employ covert capabilities to neutralise the leadership of terrorist organisations."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Zardari says ready to commit to no first use of nuclear weapons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari says he would be ready to commit to a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, in what would be a dramatic overturning of Pakistan's nuclear policy. Pakistan has traditionally seen its nuclear weapons as neutralising Indian superiority in conventional warfare, and refused to follow India's example of declaring a no first use policy after both countries conducted nuclear tests in 1998.

Zardari was speaking via satellite from Islamabad to a conference organised by the Hindustan Times when he was asked whether he was willing to make an assurance that Pakistan would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

It’s coming, I can see the nuclear glow!

The actual caption for this news photo says this officer is "guarding the railroad track..." I am not making this up.

Now, I hate to criticize the practices of a police force, but I'm not sure his position is considered the very best for guarding tracks. If you've ever seen a Looney Tunes cartoon, you can pretty much see this one coming.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan, India and the rise and/or fall of the nation state

When the British left India in 1947, they bequeathed what was arguably a European notion of the nation state on a region for which the very concept was alien. I say "arguably" because anything one writes about Partition or the nation state is open to dispute. And until the financial crisis, I relegated this argument to the realm of historians -- a subject that interested me personally, but did not seem relevant today.

That was until I noticed a new debate bubbling up on the internet about the future of the nation state. Will it become more powerful as countries scramble to protect themselves from the financial crisis as George Friedman at Stratfor argues in this article?  Or does the need for global solutions to the crisis sound a death knell for the nation state, as John Robb suggests here?

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India, Japan in security pact; a new architecture for Asia?

While much of the media attention during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan this week was focused on a free trade deal the two sides failed to agree on, another pact that could have even greater consequences for the region was quietly pushed through.

This was a security cooperation agreement under which India and  Japan, once on opposite sides of the Cold War, will hold military exercises, police the Indian Ocean and conduct military-to-military exchanges on fighting terrorism.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Is Pakistan’s war against militants India’s too?

Time was when every time militants set off a bomb in Pakistan, India's strategic establishment would turn around and say "we told you so". This is what happens when you play with fire ... jihad is a double-edged sword, they would say, pointing to Pakistan's support for militants operating in Kashmir and elsewhere.k2.jpg

Not any more. When India's opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party -- which has consistently advocated a tougher policy toward Pakistan -- tells the government to be watchful of the fallout of the security and economic situation in Pakistan, then you know the ground is starting to shift.    

from Oddly Enough Blog:

What’s the danged deal on this thing, anyway?

Blog Guy, I rely on you for most of my news on international relations.

That's probably not a great idea.

bush-signing-face-160.jpgAnyway, I saw today that President Bush just signed something called the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act. What in the heck is that about?

Well, simplified, it's an act designed to enhance the nuclear approval of non-proliferation cooperation between the U.S. and India...

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India-US celebrate nuclear deal;China, Pakistan ask questions

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice  will be in New Delhi this weekend to celebrate a hard-fought nuclear deal that to its critics strikes at the heart of the global non-proliferation regime by allowing India access to nuclear technology despite its refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT)  and give up a weapons programme.

China and Pakistan are not amused although both stepped aside as they watched an unstoppable Bush administration push the deal through the International Atomic Energy Agency and then the Nuclear Suppliers Group in one of its few foreign policy successes.

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