Saturday, April 14, 2012



The US is committing a serious mistake in imposing fresh food sanctions against North Korea for attempting to launch a rocket on April 13,2012, in defiance of international appeals not to do so and in violation of its past commitments not to do so in return for a resumption of food aid.

2.The launch---which the US described as an attempt to test a long-range missile and North Korea projected as an attempt to put a satellite in orbit to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of his grand-father Kim Ul-Sung--- failed. After the launch, the second stage failed to separate from the first and the rocket disintegrated.

3. It was a double humiliation for North Korea, its leaders and people. The first humiliation arose from the failure of the rocket and the second from the fresh food sanctions sought to be imposed on North Korea at the instance of the US for trying to test the rocket.

4. The double humiliation has come at a time when Kim Jong-Un, who succeeded his father as the ruler four months ago, seemed to have consolidated his position. On the eve of the launch, he assumed the posts of the First Secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission and the First Chairman of the National Defence Commission, a newly-created post.

5. North Korea has had rocket/missile failures in the past which it never admitted and instead projected as a success. This time, it had to admit the failure, because, in a rare act of transparency in an otherwise closed society, Kim Jong-Un had about 150 foreign journalists invited for the launch at the risk of any failure becoming public knowledge.

6. This act of transparency seems to have had two objectives. Firstly, to convince the world that North Korea was placing a satellite for peaceful purposes in orbit and not testing a long-range missile as alleged by the US and South Korea. Secondly, to attempt an opening up of the closed North Korean society.

7. This act of transparency required great courage on his part. It should have been rewarded by the opponents of North Korea led by the US in order to encourage him to continue on the path of gradually opening up North Korea. Instead by seeking to strengthen the food sanctions for attempting to launch the rocket, the US is unwittingly proving to the North Korean leadership that its experimenting with transparency was unwise.

8.North Korea may now reverse its experimentation with transparency and any hopes of a wind of change in North Korea under the new ruler will stand belied. By humiliating Kim in the eyes of his people, the US has lost any chance of experimenting with a new policy which would have had the objective of encouraging Kim Jong-Un to gradually come out of his shell. ( 15-4-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )



I have received many queries from my readers asking for my comments on the security implications of normal economic relations with Pakistan.I will categorise them as follows:

LOW SECURITY IMPLICATIONS: Trade in goods. Expansion of bilateral trade in goods can reduce the trust deficit between the two countries and facilitate a forward movement in improving the comfort level. Its security implications will be the least in the form of an increasing flow of Pakistani intelligence personnel and jihadi leaders to India under the cover of businessmen for establishing contacts with leaders of organisations such as the Indian Mujahideen (IM), for funding them and for giving them instructions. These threats could be managed by the intelligence agencies which have a long experience of dealing with Pakistani intelligence activities in Indian territory and have a good data-base on this.Trade in goods would not enable the ISI to destabilise our economy.


Trade in services and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).This could enable the Pakistani intelligence to acquire a key presence in sensitive sectors of our economy such as banking, telecommunications, information technology etc and use the presence to disrupt our economy and collect strategic intelligence regarding our economic deficiencies that could be exploited by them.Our intelligence agencies are not yet in a position to deal with such threats effectively and do not have a good data-base on the likely threats and modus operandi of the Pakistani agencies.Even in the case of China, we went slow in these two sectors and even now our intelligence agencies have strong concerns over the wisdom of our allowing Chinese telecom and internet companies a presence in India. It has taken our intelligence agencies nearly 15 years to build up a data-base on Chinese companies with suspected links to their intelligence.They managed to build the data base because they got a lot of data from the intelligence agencies of Western countries which closely monitor Chinese companies.Such data-sharing will not be possible in the case of Pakistani companies which have a little presence in the economies of Western countries. We should, therefore, go slow and build up the capabilities and data-bases of our agencies before we allow Pakistani companies in these fields.


Foreign Institutional Investments in our stock markets. This has the highest security threat.Allowing either China or Pakistan to invest in our stocks will give them a capability to disrupt our economy through manipulation of their stock holdings.Our intelligence agencies will always be against any FII by either Pakistani or Chinese investors in our stock markets.Should not be allowed.( 14-4-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter @SORBONNE75 )