MORE MONEY FOR PAKISTAN — There was good news for Pakistan and bad news for India from Washington this week. Pakistan, which has done a poor job of suppressing Taliban and al-Qaida incursions into Afghanistan at a cost of American and NATO lives, is likely to have an extra $5 billion of the U.S. taxpayers’ money lavished on it in extra aid. This one-time grant would be in addition to the $1.5 billion annual package over ten years now awaiting passage through congress. Meanwhile, the Indian media has interpreted a statement in President Obama’s first address to Congress on Tuesday […]

India’s Carrier Ambitions

India announced it would begin building a homegrown aircraft carrier. Given the porous state of India’s defense procurement system, I’ll believe it when I see it. The rule of thumb with carriers is that having one means having none, due to the downtime during scheduled drydocks. India already has one, which means they need a second one to shore up their invesment. This could just be a negotiating ploy in its ongoing dispute with Russian over a refitted Russian carrier. If not, look for China, which has been making noises about building a carrier for some time, to respond in […]

South Asia’s Regional Democracy

Meanwhile, with all the gloomy news out of South Asia, 2point6billion flags a significant milestone: For the first time, all of the region’s governments — India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives — have been democratically elected. Check back in tomorrow to see if Pakistan and Bangladesh stay on that list. But it’s certainly something to be celebrated while it lasts.

Good News, Bad News, Pak-India Edition

The bad news is that, a) the Pakistan Supreme Court has barred former prime minister and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif from office, heightening tensions in Pakistan’s already fractious and fragile political landscape; and b) the success of American counterterrorism operations in the FATA has probably redirected the terrorist threat towards Pakistan. The good news is that, a) Indo-Pakistani relations seem to be thawing after the Mumbai attacks, with a side meeting scheduled between the two countries’ foreign ministers at an upcoming Sri Lanka conference; and b) this is the last Pakistan–related post of the day. (I promise.)

Of foreign policy’s dirtiest words, which do Americans least like to hear: war or state-building? That is the question the Obama administration now has to ask itself about Afpakia, the most volatile swath of South Asia. Afghanistan, the world’s largest opium producer, is a failed state. Pakistan, chronically unstable, possesses dozens of nuclear weapons. India, the regional power, would typically stabilize all of this, but it has been at war with Pakistan, on and off, for the last six decades. As the new administration in Washington contemplates an Afpakia strategy, at first glance nearly everyone seems to agree on the […]

Russia’s foreign arms sales recently had another banner year, breaking all post-Soviet records, causing Moscow policymakers to celebrate. Meeting with the Commission for Military-Technical Cooperation with Foreign States on Feb. 10, President Dmitry Medvedev reported that the value of Russian weapons exports in 2008 exceeded $8.35 billion, up from $7.4 billion in 2007, also a record. On Feb. 12, Alexander Fomin, deputy director of the Federal Service on Military-Technical Cooperation, said that Russia planned to export $8.5 billion of arms in 2009. On Feb. 16, Nikolai Dimidyuk, special programs director for Rosoboronexport, Russia’s arms export monopoly, announced that the company […]

NEW DELHI — In the wake of last November’s Mumbai terror strikes, which revealed weaknesses in India’s homeland defense capacity, India’s inability to fight a full-fledged war is now being increasingly exposed. Years of political neglect, corruption, red tape and indecisiveness have left the Indian Army (and to some degree the Navy and the Air Force) without the wherewithal to fight a protracted war against neighbor Pakistan, let alone more powerful China. Problems with India’s defense modernization program — valued at more than $50 billion over the next five years and to include new fighter jets, nuclear submarines and war […]