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South Asia Security Trends November 2006

North Korea did the inevitable, ending speculation about its nuclear test. The sub kiloton nuclear test by the pariah state led to hectic negotiations and UN sanctions but not a return to the Six Nation confabulations by Kim Jong IL. The test also led to a review of policies by the IAEA as it is felt that despite measures such as NPT, 20 to 30 nations are on the verge of becoming virtual nuclear states over the next few decades increasing the scope of a nuclear holocaust in the future.

India continued its efforts to seek nuclear fuel with a presentation to the NSG during the month, though the North Korean tests have somewhat affected the countries chances of early availability of Uranium from Australia. Iraq continued to be wracked with a low level civil war of increased intensity between the fragmented communities while Sudan and Somalia were in the grips of violence during the past month with no signs of a recession. China’s ambitious progress in technology as well as diplomacy was evident with a fusion test, launching two rockets from one space vehicle and two major foreign policy summits with the African states and the ASEAN.

In South Asia, Sri Lanka continued to remain turbulent with heavy casualties, some sources saying over 1000 in conventional as well as suicide operations. Pakistan surprised many with its strike at a madrasa in Bajaur killing over 80 suspected Al Qaeda terrorists undergoing training. The dual policy of tacit support to Taliban and targeting the Al Qaeda was thus evident. Afghanistan continued to be at the center of Taliban cross hairs as the NATO forces made handsome gains on the counter-militancy fronts but are perhaps losing the hearts and minds battle. In Nepal the efforts to induce the Maoists to give up arms go on and remain the main stumbling block for a lasting political solution. Bangladesh resolved a constitutional crisis when the President Mr. Iajuddin Ahmed took over the reins of the interim government as a precursor to holding elections. However the turbulence is likely to continue in the months ahead.

The contours of India’s defence policy in the future were outlined by the Prime Minister during the Combined Commanders Conference during the month which sees the armed forces as a pillar for greater benign interaction in India’s area of interest. The process of acquiring arms, capabilities and developing doctrines in the Armed Forces continued apace. The IAF has ambitious acquisition plans for up gradation which will enable it to emerge as a dominant force in the region in line with national ambitions.

The militancy and infiltration trends in Kashmir indicate a possible increase in terrorist activities during the winter. The counter terror successes within India showed encouraging signs demonstrating greater police effectiveness. An analysis of surveys of fatalities in the North East reveals that Assam and Manipur was a major cause of concern. The military civic action by the Army and the civil government has succeeded in reestablishing authority of the government in the remote district of Churachandpur. Naxal sway over the economic activities in the affected states was demonstrated by the Chattisgarh government insuring its rice go downs, while Orissa seeking assistance from the Border Roads for road construction. The health threats in India during the monsoons is evident from a survey of statistics over the past few years, its fall out has been a drop in tourism in the country during the past few months. As Saddam Hussien awaits the death sentence we close with a tribute to the American Soldier in Iraq.

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Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal

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Rahul K. Bhonsle is a Strategic Risk and Knowledge Management Consultant and writer with specific focus on defence and security, especially in South Asia.

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