Written By: Prof. Sharif al Mujahid

On the occasion of 49th death anniversary of Fatima Jinnah that falls on July 8

History has an inscrutable way of recognizing great souls, even if they are ignored in their own times. Those who serve humanity in one way or another, those who dedicate themselves to advance the cause of liberty, justice and public good, come to be appreciated, sooner or later.


For the moment, they may be chastised, penalized, called all sorts of names, or even simply ignored. But when the time for reckoning comes, it is not the men in power that find an assured niche in the hall of fame, unless they have used their authority for public good. Rather, it is those daring and dedicated souls who have helped their countrymen or humanity at large in creating order out of chaos, towards promoting peace and harmony, towards discovering a new integration, and towards creating a better world, that do. That is precisely the reason why we don’t remember Ghulam Muhammad (1895-1956), Iskander Mirza (1899-1969), or in some aspects even Ayub Khan (1907-1974), except in a negative sense. And that is also the primary reason why we do recall, almost religiously, year after year, the singular services rendered by Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah (1893-1967).

What, then, is Fatima Jinnah’s claim to our admiration and reverence? The answer was provided by Malik Ghulam Jilani. In a telling tribute on her death, when he said, inter alia:


fatimahjinna.jpg“She had her hour of loneliness, her hour of despair and her long hour of distress and yet her courage never failed her. Her voice never faltered. Her spirit was never taken by wariness. She had the strength of those who live for the great principles, silent endurance of those whom the world needs.”

And what were the great principles she had lived for and strived after? In a word, she had stood for democratic norms and principles. She had strived to get the people their inalienable democratic rights. She had stood for justiceable fundamental rights, for a free press, and for the rule of law. And all this continuously for almost twenty years following the Quaid’s death.

But, then, what equipped her for this historic role? Her apprenticeship under the Quaid whose sister and life-long companion she was for some twenty years. That, above all, equipped her to become the foremost symbol and advocate of the cherished principles for which Jinnah had stood for and struggled all along. And by then she herself had stood resolutely, with courage and determination, till her rather tragic end – whatever were the circumstances, whatever the disabilities, whatever the consequences!
Thus, during the 1950s and the 1960s the one figure that had carved for itself an enduring place in our national pantheon was Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah. What she had stood and worked for, and what she had accomplished, constituted, as it were, a part of our national heritage. And it beckons us to the pristine principles that had impelled the Pakistan demand, inspired the strivings and sacrifices in its quest, and enabled the beleaguered nation to establish it, despite hurdles galore and almost impregnable.

Till Jinnah’s death, Fatima Jinnah was content to live under the lengthened shadow of her illustrious brother, unassuming, somewhat cloistered except when she accompanied him wherever he went. But she worked behind the scenes: nursing and tending him when he was sick, looking after his comforts, and sustaining him during the ongoing onerous struggle for Pakistan. Of course, she had played some role in organizing the women’s wing of the Muslim League during the 1940s – as Vice-President of the Women’s Wing of the All India Muslim League, and as President of the Muslim Girl Students Conference at Delhi in 1942 (which gave birth to the All India Muslim Girl Students Federation. But, generally speaking, she had scrupulously shunned both politics and publicity: She had abstained from assuming public roles. Actually, during the period several other Muslim women leaders, such as Begum Mohamed Ali (Delhi-1944), Begum Habibullah (Delhi), Begum Jahan Ara Shahnawaz (Punjab) (1896-1979), and Begum Aijaz Rasul (UP) (1909-2001), were more widely known. They also outshone her on the political platform and in public life. Thus, unlike the latter day politicians’ wives, sisters, daughters, and other close relatives, she was averse to capitalizing on her relationship with the Quaid, to project herself during his life-time, or to claim the Quaid’s mantle after his death, as a “blood-line” right.

But, despite Fatima Jinnah’s cloistered approach and low-key profile for over a decade, the nation was able to discover in her a leader in her own right, after she emerged from the Quaid’s towering shadow. Thus, in the post-Jinnah period, she donned the role of a supreme guide and became the foremost symbol and advocate of Jinnah’s cherished principles. Thus, in a real sense, leadership came to be thrusted on her. Indeed, she had to don the leadership role, whether she liked it or not.

Although she assumed a sort of low-key political leadership in the 1950s, the leadership qualities in terms of independence and willpower, the capacity for hard and sustained work and for decision-making had been there all the time, translating themselves in the monumental decisions she took on her own in respect of her education and career. Much against the family, Khoja and Muslim tradition, she went to a convent school, stayed at a boarding house, worked for a diploma or degree in a professional field (dentistry) in far away Calcutta, opened a dental clinic on Abdur Rahman Street, a Muslim locality in Bombay, and worked simultaneously at the nearby Dhobi Talau Municipal clinic, on a voluntary basis. Inter alia, this indicated her penchant for social welfare activities and social and economic upliftment of the downtrodden and poor womenfolk. This also indicated the progressive streak in her thinking in those days. A streak that required women to take to the professions and make themselves useful to the community and country at large, instead of wasting their talents and frittering away their energies, just sitting at home and engaging themselves in routine domestic chores and idle pursuits. Even in those days she believed that women should take part in nation building activities – a view she propagated repeatedly, later.

Fatima Jinnah’s role in causing awakening among Muslim women, albeit indirectly, was yet extremely crucial. It is not usually realized that by merely accompanying Jinnah wherever he went during the late 1930s and the 1940s, Fatima Jinnah had served as a role model: she had psychologically prepared the Muslim women, by her own conduct and demeanour, to stand shoulder to shoulder with men during the freedom struggle. Numerous pictures of the period show Fatima Jinnah walking alongside Jinnah, not behind him. The message was loud and clear – the message that both, the brother and the sister, wished to convey to the nation. And by 1945-46 the message had sunk deep enough.

Since the early 1950s, she took upon herself a minatory role, serving as a guide and warner. This, now and then, brought her in clash with the powers that be, but was appreciated by the public at large. Donning the role of a warner and guide was by no means an easy task. But for this critical role she was eminently suited, playing it out with courage and conviction. This was made possible only because of her strength of character and her steadfast attachment to the lofty principles she had imbibed from her distinguished brother. If the people listened and responded to her, it was not primarily because she was the Quaid’s sister – but, chiefly, because, amidst the wreckage of ideals all around she alone represented certain ideals and values which they cherished themselves and which hundreds of thousands of them had staked their lives for, in the years gone by.

And her minatory role and simmering political activism finally climaxed in her entry into active politics when she accepted the Combined Opposition Parties (COP) nomination on September 16, 1964, in the ensuing presidential elections. For now, she had decided to take on Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan, despite his being a formidable candidate and an entrenched President on all counts, under his own incumbent-oriented system. Though seemingly unexpected, this decision was not uncongenial to her previous role and her mettle. In a sense, it signified but an extension, indeed the culmination, of her erstwhile role.

Fatima Jinnah “lost” the 1965 presidential elections of course, as she was bound to – but not without sending out a message. And the message, at once loud and clear: the country wanted to engage in critical debate and discussion rather than subscribe to the cult of docile conformism, and that without such a dialogue and the requisite climate for various ideas to compete for people’s allegiance in the free market place of ideas a la Milton, democracy would be utterly meaningless. Indeed during the 1960s she alone could help to keep the torch of democracy aflame and aloft.

Liberty, said Burke, doesn’t come down to a people; they must rise themselves to liberty. Likewise, democracy is never given or ensured for the mere asking; it calls for sincerity of purpose and sacrifices on the part of both the leaders and the people. And to the cherished memory of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, the sacrifices the people have made in the quest for democracy over the decades represents the most fitting tribute.

But the journey continues in search of destiny!

The writer is HEC Distinguished National Professor, and the recipient of several awards including that of the President’s Award for Best Books on Quaid-i-Azam for 1940 to date, the writer has recently co-edited UNESCO’s History of Humanity, Volume-06, Part-II & The Jinnah Anthology (3rd edn, 2011), and edited In Quest of Jinnah (2007), the only oral history on Pakistan’s Founding Father.

Written By: Saima Jabbar

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

On June 6, 2016 slogan of Khalistan Zindabad echoed in different cities of the United Kingdom, Canada, America and India. From 3-8 June Sikhs all over the world marked the 32nd anniversary of Operation Blue Star against Sikh hostages in the Golden Temple, Amritsar, (Indian Punjab).

A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism, a monotheistic religion which originated during the 15th century in the Punjab region of the subcontinent. Sikhs constituted 1.4% of Indian population and the number rose to 1.72 % in 1951 as many Sikhs migrated from Pakistan to India after partition. More than 77.9% population of Sikh community lives in Indian Punjab while major Sikh concentrations outside the Punjab are in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.


thestruggle.jpgAt the time of Partition of India in 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah offered Sikhs a sovereign Sikh state comprising the areas lying in west of Panipat and east of left bank of River Ravi with the understanding that it would be advantageous to Sikhs if this state confederated with Pakistan. But Sikh leader Master Tara Singh rejected this offer and opted to go with India instead.

Hindu’s top leaders Nehru and Gandhi promised Sikhs before the independence that they would be given full rights in India and that no law would be passed without consulting Sikhs. "...in future, the Congress shall accept no constitution which does not meet with the satisfaction of the Sikhs" (The Lahore session of the Congress Party, December 31, 1929). And Gandhi even stated that "You [Sikhs] take my word that if ever the Congress or I betray you, you will be justified to draw the sword as taught by Guru Gobind Singh."

But soon after partition, Sikhs realized that Hindus betrayed them as they were not willing to accept them as a minority. Although Article 25 of the Indian Constitution of 1949 considers Sikhs as part of Hindu religion, not separate or distinct. Article 25, 2 (b) says (b) Providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.

Explanation I. The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion.


thestruggle1.jpgExplanation II. In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.

Sikhs continuously protested and agitated against this article but Indian Government declined to amend this offensive miss-categorization of the Sikhs. Also all states were created on language basis in India but the Punjab was not declared a ‘Punjabi State’. After 1965 war between India and Pakistan, the loyalty of Sikhs was tested and Indian government decided to create a Punjabi state but divided the Punjabi majority area into three divisions: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Punjab. The other two parts became Hindi states and the Punjab was declared a Punjabi state. Indian government also divided the Sikh army into many battalions.

Moreover, Punjab's capital Chandigarh was made the capital of Haryana. The Punjab had no high court and no control over its water, electricity and dams which contributed to another point of difference between Indian Government and Sikh minority. Ultimately all those injustices resulted in a Sikh movement for a separate and autonomous state.

The Sikh empire was one of the biggest powers in subcontinent from 1799 to 1849 under Maharaja Ranjit Singh who was the founder of Sikh empire based in the Punjab Region. Following the death of Ranjit Singh, the empire was weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement. As a result of conflicts between the British East India Trading Company and the Sikh empire, Anglo-Sikh wars took place in 1840s and finally the empire was dissolved in 1849. Sikh freedom movement remained somehow alive since then as Sikhs never accepted the defeat in their hearts.

Dal Khalsa was the name given to Sikh Army that operated in the 17th and 18th centuries (1660-1780) in Indian Punjab. The primary objective of Dal Khalsa was to achieve independence of Sikhs through democratic means in order to have a sovereign Sikh state, Khalistan. Dal Khalsa was not only active in India but its international units also existed in the U.S., Canada and UK etc.

Khalistan (means land of pure) movement was active since partition but it reached its peak in the 1970s and 1980s, under the leadership of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Bhindranwale developed differences with Indian Government on the issue of amendments in Article 25 of the Constitution. He urged the government to accept Sikhs as a separate minority rather than including them in Hindu religion. Indian government refused all such amendments and did not negotiate; instead a military crackdown was started against Sikh freedom movement. As a result many Sikhs with Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale took refuge in the Golden Temple.


thestruggle2.jpgGolden Temple or Sri Harminder Sahib is a holy place of Sikhs known as Gurdwara which is located in the city of Amritsar. The Akal Takht, one of the five takhts (seats of power) of the Sikh religion is located in the Golden Temple complex where Sikhs took refuge.

Indira Gandhi, Indian premier at that time, ordered a military operation to evict the Sikhs from the Golden Temple. The operation was named Blue Star in which thousands of Sikhs were killed. Surprisingly the Indian Army was led by a Sikh, Lt Gen Kuldip Singh Brar. The operation lasted from June 3 till June 8, 1984. This operation had resulted in anguish among Sikhs in India. Just after four months, two Sikh bodyguards of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh assassinated her on October 31, 1984 in Delhi.

Assassination of Indira Gandhi resulted in anti-Sikh Riots in the country. Indian Police watched silently while anti-Sikh mobs kept on brutally killing Sikhs in New Delhi. Within three days more than 3000 Sikhs were murdered.

In 2011, according to Human Rights Watch report, India had yet to prosecute those responsible for mass killings in 1984 during anti-Sikh Riots. Mass graves were discovered in Haryana state and Human Rights Watch reported that anti-Sikh attacks in Haryana were revenge attacks.

Operation Blue Star was not the only military operation against Sikhs but two other similar operations were conducted later on. A series of two operations under the name of Operation Black Thunder took place to evict the remaining Sikh freedom fighters from the Golden Temple.

Operation Black Thunder took place on April 30, 1986 when about 300 National Security Guard commandos stormed the Golden Temple, along with 700 Border Security Force (BSF) troops and captured about 300 Sikh fighters. Operation Black Thunder II began on May 9, 1988 in Amritsar.
On April 29, 1986, an assembly of separatist Sikhs at the Akal Takht made a declaration of independent state of Khalistan. At present Khalistan Movement is revived by Sikh separatist groups operating from many countries including USA, Canada and UK.

Although a large number of Sikhs are settled outside India but a clear sense of attachment is found among Sikhs to their culture and religion. They are persistently demanding justice for the Sikh victims targeted unjustly during the Khalistan movement.

The U.S.-based Sikh group, ‘Sikhs for Justice (SFJ)’ has planned Referendum-2020, in support of the separate state of Khalistan. A historical resolution was passed by Ontario Gurdwara Committee (OGC), a Canadian based Sikh organization in support of holding referendum in the Punjab State arguing that ‘self-determination is the right of Sikh people as guaranteed by the UN Charter’.

Khalistan 2020 is turning into a major movement in some western countries such as Canada, U.S., Australia and UK. Sikh Federation in UK also presented three major objectives mentioned in their manifesto that includes:

• Independent public inquiry into the actions of the UK government in the lead up to and after the June and November 1984 Sikh genocide, including restrictions imposed on British Sikhs following pressure by India.
• Call for the UK government to recognize the events of June and November 1984 as a Sikh genocide, and backing for a UN-led inquiry into the atrocities committed by the Indian authorities.
• Call for the UK government to recognize and support the application for self-determination to the Sikhs for an Independent Khalistan.

Two years ago, on the 30th anniversary of Golden Temple siege and killings of 10,000 people, thousands of Sikhs held a large demonstration in front of the United Nations on June 7, 2014. Independence was their main slogan as the demonstrators waved anti-India placards.

Khalistan is not the only freedom movement in India. There are dozen other freedom movements existing in India. These freedom movements indicate fragility of Indian state on the one hand and also depict rule of a Brahmin minority through state oppression on other ethnic/religious minorities. However, there can be ups and downs in any freedom movement like Khalistan but these can never be suppressed forever. It is evident from assembly of thousands and thousands of protestors including youngsters in and outside India chanting the slogan of Khalistan Zindabad.


The writer is an associate producer in a private TV channel.

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Written By: Rear Admiral Kaleem Shaukat

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1951, Pakistan and China have – over the period of time – strengthened mutual cooperation in all spheres, especially diplomatic, economic and military. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project with investments worth U.S.$ 46 billion and Gwadar Port as its lynchpin would give further fillip to the already strong bonds of friendship between the two countries and bring prosperity to the entire region. It will not only help integrate Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East, but also resuscitate Pakistan’s enfeebled economy. However, there are intrinsic challenges to any project of such proportion both onshore and at sea which need to be guarded against. Cognizant of these challenges, Pakistan Army has raised a Special Security Division to guard against these challenges ashore along the CPEC route while Pakistan Navy is according high priority to the security of Gwadar Port, its approaches and the sea lanes leading to and from the port.

Since oceans link countries far and wide and provide easy access, mankind has used the sea for commerce and trade for more than 3,000 years. Battles have also been fought at sea to protect and deny this trading privilege and project military power ashore, which had a significant impact on geo-politics and shaped the world as we see it today. Coastal regions, those less than 80 km from the sea, hold two thirds of the world’s population. Thus 90 percent of intercontinental trade is sea-borne and is served by over 4000 major ports and approximately 89,464 plus commercial ships. Sea is the most economical mode of transportation and also provides valuable mineral and sea food resources. It is important to highlight that transportation of freight by sea is approximately 10 times cheaper than rail, 45 times cheaper than road and 163 times cheaper than air.


rolepnin.jpgAccording to the Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, more than 80 percent of the world’s seaborne trade in oil transits through Indian Ocean choke points; with 40 percent passing through the Strait of Hormuz, 35 percent through the Strait of Malacca and 8 percent through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. Half of world’s container traffic passes through Indian Ocean, the ports of which handle about 30% of world trade. In addition, 55% of known world oil reserves are present in the Indian Ocean, and 40% of the world’s natural gas reserves are in its littoral states. The dependence of world energy demand on the Indian Ocean littoral states makes it imperative to maintain freedom of navigation and maritime security in the Indian Ocean so that the life blood of global economy keeps running. The dependence of industrialized world on Gulf oil is enormous, hence any interruption of this traffic will have devastating effects on economies of developing as well as the developed countries and may create global energy crisis. In this backdrop, developing a port at Gwadar makes economic sense for China. Its oil and cargo from the Persian Gulf has to travel 10,000 kms over sea and 4600 kms over land to reach Western China, while the Gwadar-Kashghar route shortens this distance to 2500 kms. Strategically, China’s shipping has to pass through the choke point of Malacca Strait which remains under the watchful eyes of the Indian Navy. Hence, developing a port and utilizing the Gwadar-Kashgar route is both strategically and economically important for China.

In line with China’s “One Belt, One Road” plan, CPEC and Gwadar Port project would provide a most economical route for trade connectivity between China and the rest of the world over land and at sea. The CPEC (3,218 km route) will connect Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang region to the port of Gwadar and by doing so, this corridor will not only facilitate the trade between Pakistan and China, but will also provide a path to regional and global connectivity.

Further, Gwadar Port and CPEC will also provide better connectivity to the energy rich Central Asian Region (CAR). CPEC is, therefore, the gateway to China’s Silk Road and Gwadar Port is the linchpin, which will not only become a transit and trans-shipment port for the Central Asia, but can also be used as a hub port for the Gulf States. Presently, heavy shipping has to transit through the Strait of Hormuz to reach the Gulf States; after full operationalization of Gwadar Port, bigger ships could offload their cargo at Gwadar Port, which could be transported to the destinations in Gulf through “feeder” vessels. This arrangement would be feasible for both the shipping community and the trading states. Therefore, Gwadar would be the hub of the regional economy benefitting the entire region.

The role of CPEC and Gwadar Port towards integration of regional economies in particular and global economy in general is widely acknowledged. These projects will inevitably integrate the economies of the entire region. The integration of regional economies would promote shared interests, which would contribute towards the overall regional security environment by bringing the regional states together for common objectives.

Indian opposition to the project is considered unwarranted as the CPEC and Gwadar Port project would benefit India as well. The current trade between China and India is estimated around U.S.$ 80 billion. CPEC through Gwadar provides a shorter route from China to the Indian western coast. Therefore, the transportation cost and time of the trade between China and India, carried through CPEC and Gwadar, will be reduced, which will open up new avenues of trade between the two countries.

The success of the CPEC and the Gwadar Port project is linked to the safe and secure maritime environment in the Indian Ocean region in general and in the Arabian Sea in particular. Pakistan Navy has adopted a multipronged approach to deal with the prevailing challenges such as beefing up security of Gwadar Port, conducting security patrols and coastal exercises, enhancing Maritime Domain Awareness and engaging in Collaborative Maritime Security with regional and extra-regional navies. It is pertinent to mention that security of Gwadar Port, its infrastructure, Chinese personnel working within port and harbour defence responsibility have been entrusted to Pakistan Navy. The Navy has deployed a Force Protection Battalion (FPBn) of Pak Marines along with requisite assets and equipment, both afloat and ashore, to ensure security of the Port and the Chinese personnel. This deployment will be further augmented with the proportionate increase in trade and associated activities on the port.

To safeguard against any asymmetric threat to Pakistani ports and coast, Pakistan Navy is regularly conducting Coastal Security Exercises involving all stakeholders with special focus on seaward security of Gwadar Port in the wake of the upcoming CPEC project. An important strand of seaward defence and security is keeping maritime area of interest under continuous surveillance and monitoring. In this regard, a network of radars, electro-optic sensors and pickets are being set up to plug the gaps in our surveillance. This would help mitigate threats from non-state actors and help generate a timely and well-coordinated response.

Pakistan Navy is playing the lead role in strengthening maritime and coastal security setup through establishment of Coastal Watch Stations and Joint Maritime Information Coordination Centre (JMICC). The JMICC acts as the nerve centre for collecting and collating information related to Maritime Security in order to synergize responses of multiple agencies undertaking operations in maritime domain. At present, JMICC is coordinating actions amongst 35 organizations within Pakistan and a number of international organizations.

Considering the nature of martime challenges, no nation has the wherewithal to handle them alone. Pakistan Navy therefore regularly engages with regional and extra-regional navies to improve interoperability and deal with maritme crimes. In 2004 Pakistan Navy joined the US-led multi-national Task Force-150 which is aimed at countering maritime terrorism and other illicit activities. PN’s participation in the Task Force has been one of the highest among the participating navies, second only to the United States Navy. Besides these, PN regularly undertakes regional engagements with all the littoral states of the IOR. Navies world over are an essential appendage to state’s foreign policy and significantly contribute in development of interstate relations. PN, being fully conscious of the fact, strives to foster stronger relations with regional and extra-regional navies to support our foreign policy objectives. As part of continuous development process, PN is building maritime infrastructure all along our coast, which will further enhance poise and sustained reach in the area.

Needless to say that, CPEC project will integrate the economies of the entire region. China will benefit from shortest access to the Indian Ocean to reach the markets of Middle East, Africa and Europe. The landlocked Central Asian Region will also be linked to the rest of the world through CPEC, Gwadar Port and the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. The integration of regional economies would promote shared interests, which would contribute towards the overall regional security environment by bringing the regional states together for common objectives. The forces inimical to the regional integration would, however, endeavour to disrupt the development of CPEC and Gwadar Port for which Pakistan would continue to maintain its guard.

Pakistan is located at a geo-strategic location and this benefit can only be fully exploited to our advantage through the development of a strong Navy for effective seaward defence and acting as a source of security for national and international trade plying off our coast. The Navy can thus be instrumental in translating the strategic location of our country into meaningful effects and promoting the national cause. Seaward security of Gwadar Port and the CPEC is of greater significance due to its strategic and economic implications. Through effective implementation of Pakistan Navy’s envisioned plans and strategies, Pakistan Navy will continue to protect the nation’s maritime interests and maintain required deterrence.


“Organised force alone enables the quiet and the weak to go about their business and to sleep securely in their beds, safe from the violent without or within.”

(Alfred Thayer Mahan)


Written By: Brian Cloughley

On May 12, 2016, Mr. Sartaj Aziz, the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, told the Senate, “even though the U.S. State Department has been consistently underlining the importance of good relations with Pakistan, there are broader geo-political issues which must be kept in view.” He spoke in the context of the negative attitude displayed by many members of the U.S. legislature concerning the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan, but the government has obviously been examining all aspects of U.S.-Pakistan relations, especially in the light of the Washington-Delhi defence cum commercial nexus.

India is seeking membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which is “a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through implementation of two sets of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.” One of the NSG’s main stipulations, adopted in 1994, is that any supplier of nuclear-associated material or technology “authorises a transfer only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

It could not be clearer that this international agreement forbids provision of nuclear expertise or material to a country that has not ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which the U.S. State Department describes as “the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime.”


theneuclera.jpgBut even cornerstones can be undermined, and that process began when President George W. Bush started negotiations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July 2005 to produce a U.S.-India nuclear cooperation agreement. It took considerable effort by both sides to come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement whereby India would have access to nuclear material and technology consistent with the primary U.S. aim of entry to the potentially large Indian market for nuclear power stations. The commercially-based Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of India concerning Peaceful uses of Nuclear Energy of August 2007 is known as the 123 Agreement because it was necessary to amend Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act 1954 which governs ‘Cooperation with Other Nations.’ India declined to abide by the Act’s specification that “non-nuclear-weapon states [e.g. India] partners [which India has now become] must have full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, essentially covering all major nuclear facilities,” because this would involve inspection of defence-related establishments.

The modified Act seemed to clear the way for nuclear collaboration on a major scale, but in spite of seemingly generous terms in the Cooperation Agreement there has been no involvement by U.S. nuclear plant manufacturers, mainly because they do not want to be held financially responsible for a nuclear accident at a power station which they designed or built.

It is accepted worldwide that national nuclear plant operators are accountable in the event of accidents, but India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010, and Rule 24 of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules, 2011, provide for the right of recourse, pursuit of which would involve foreign enterprises, be they suppliers or operators, being held liable for damages. In spite of lobbying by U.S. President Obama during his visit to India in 2015, which was much praised as having achieved a “breakthrough” in removing the liability barriers which India’s parliament strongly supported, there has been no radical change that would encourage U.S. firms to seek major contracts. (The Westinghouse Electric Company, generally thought to be American, which is negotiating to build six nuclear plants in India, has been owned by Japan’s Toshiba since 2006.)

In February 2015 India’s Ministry of External Affairs stated that the Civil Liability Act “channels all legal liability for nuclear damage exclusively to the operator” — but Clause 17 of the Act specifies that operators are permitted to seek financial recourse from suppliers after paying compensation for “patent or latent defects or sub-standard services,” which are, naturally, open to legal interpretation in the event of a disaster.

It is notable that on May 19, 2016 it was reported in the U.S. that after a 26-year legal battle 15,000 homeowners in Colorado had succeeded in obtaining a $375 million settlement because plutonium leakage from a nuclear weapons plant had adversely affected their health and devalued their property. Rockwell International Corporation and Dow Chemical Company “agreed” to pay the money after fighting the lawsuit for over a quarter of a century. The media noted that “after a $7 billion clean-up that took 10 years . . . the most heavily contaminated area remains off-limits to the public” which is no doubt being borne in mind by India’s legislators who have not forgotten the 1984 disaster at the Union Carbide pesticide plant at Bhopal that killed and maimed many thousands of people. (Dow Chemical now owns Union Carbide. In 2012 it was revealed that Dow had engaged the intelligence company Stratfor to obtain information about the personal lives of activists engaged in seeking redress for negligence.)

While there have as yet been no commercial benefits to the U.S. from its nuclear agreement with India, there have been other effects, including some that are less than desirable in the context of “proliferation of nuclear weapons” which is condemned by the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The Arms Control Association states that “In September 2008, in a move led by the United States, the Nuclear Suppliers Group eased long-standing restrictions on nuclear trade with India by the group members. NSG rules generally forbid the sale of nuclear goods, such as reactors and fuel, to non-NPT countries.” Before this ‘easing’ of international constraints, India had been unable to import uranium and was therefore entirely reliant on its own mines, which although producing only low-grade ore are extensive and in the long term capable of providing fuel to any number of nuclear facilities, civilian and military.

As a result of annulment of the international stipulation requiring its adherence to the NPT before being permitted to import nuclear fuel and technology, India negotiated nuclear cooperation arrangements with eleven nations, including the holder of the world’s largest uranium deposits, Australia, whose government’s 1977 Uranium Export Policy had specified that “customer countries must at a minimum be a party to the NPT and have concluded a full-scope safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.” But profit beats morality, and, as noted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, “Australia was the last domino to fall when it created an exception for India to its export policies in December 2011.” The agreement was tied up in November 2015 and a parliamentary committee noted that it could increase export revenues by $1.7 billion. (Canada’s current uranium contract is valued at $350 million; there is little public information concerning financial arrangements with other suppliers.)

Countries involved in nuclear cooperation with India are expected to observe similar rules to those of Australia which specifies that its uranium “may only be exported for peaceful non-explosive purposes,” and it is almost impossible that any foreign-supplied uranium could be used to produce nuclear weapons. These are manufactured at installations using India’s abundant indigenous ore which is no longer needed to fuel civilian nuclear power stations.

Following the U.S.-India 123 Agreement the President of the Federation of American Scientists, Charles D. Ferguson, wrote in Arms Control Today that, “by granting India access to uranium, the deal allows India to divert its indigenously-mined uranium to military applications without detracting fuel from the civilian program” — and that is the crux of the entire affair.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group, at the urging of the United States, approved a measure that encourages India to produce nuclear weapons more economically. The “cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime” has been dealt a massive blow. Although the U.S. Hyde Act of 2006 governing U.S.-India nuclear cooperation requires, inter alia, that the President must inform Congress of non-compliance with “the provision of nuclear fuel in such a manner as to facilitate the increased production by India of highly enriched uranium or plutonium in unsafeguarded nuclear facilities”, it is impossible for the U.S. to certify publicly that this is not taking place because there is no provision for on-site verification.

India regards membership of the NSG as a major foreign policy goal, and the U.S. support for its ambition was indicated in a joint statement on January 27, 2015, by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi which “committed [them] to continue to work towards India’s phased entry” in to the Group.

There are 48 nations in the NSG, and their attitude to accession by India varies from most supportive (U.S., France, UK, Australia) vis the majority who are fence-sitting and non-committal, to those opposed which include Ireland, Sweden, Pakistan and China.

Pakistan’s application for accession, officially submitted on May 18, 2016, notes that the NSG needs to “adopt a non-discriminatory criteria-based approach for NSG membership of the countries that have never been party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.” It is considered, however, that this was more a record of protest than a reasoned bid to join an organisation whose amendment of basic principle to permit international supply of uranium to India was an indication of ethical flexibility.


theneuclera1.jpgOn May 13, 2015, the U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby was asked about India’s bid to join the NSG and he replied, “I’d point you back to what the President said during his visit to India in 2015, where he reaffirmed that the U.S. view was that India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for NSG membership.”

The U.S. has made it clear that it will continue to support India’s efforts to achieve its objective, and that it will attempt to influence NSG members accordingly, as it did before succeeding in having them exempt India from the condition that there must be no nuclear cooperation with countries that have not acceded to the NPT. It is not surprising, therefore, that Mr. Sartaj Aziz observed that in Pakistan-U.S. relations there are “broader geo-political issues which must be kept in view.”


The writer is a France based retired officer of Australian Army and is an expert on South Asian affairs. He is also author of various books, and contributes extensively in international media.

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Following the U.S.-India 123 Agreement the President of the Federation of American Scientists, Charles D. Ferguson, wrote in Arms Control Today that, “by granting India access to uranium, the deal allows India to divert its indigenously-mined uranium to military applications without detracting fuel from the civilian program” — and that is the crux of the entire affair.


While there have as yet been no commercial benefits to the U.S. from its nuclear agreement with India, there have been other effects, including some that are less than desirable in the context of “proliferation of nuclear weapons” which is condemned by the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
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