Motive behind India’s offer?

India’s proposal for talks at foreign sectary level sounds intriguing, because since the dialogue was stalled after Mumbai attacks, Pakistan had been fervently trying to persuade India to start the dialogue, but India took the position that first of all the mastermind of the attack should be tried and executed, evidence or no evidence.

Anyhow, Pakistan has accepted the Indian offer for foreign secretary-level talks with the caveat that it should be a step towards a full engagement on important issues, including Kashmir and terrorism. Analysts and commentators are speculating as to what has made India to change its mind. Is it on American prodding or India has realized that the way to reach Afghanistan and Central Asian republics is through Pakistan? Or in view of forthcoming Commonwealth Games, it wanted to create an atmosphere so that other countries should not feel security concern. Whatever the case may be, Pakistan must insist that the secretary-level meeting should set the dates for resumption of composite dialogue, and that India should stop building dams on Pakistani rivers – Chenab and Jhelum, because it would make Pakistan a wasteland. And it could lead to war between the two nuclear states.

Though India managed to force President Barack Obama to procrastinate his vision on South Asia yet Obama after weighing all the options have made a move in that direction and unveiled his plans in a televised speech from the US Military Academy at West Point stating that his new policy was designed to bring war in Afghanistan to a successful conclusion. The most significant part of Obama’s speech was his acknowledgement that “success in Afghanistan was inextricably linked to Washington’s partnership with Pakistan”. Some analysts were of the opinion that this was a piece of rhetoric, but President Obama had expressed his resolve “to have partnership with Pakistan built on a foundation of mutual interests, mutual respect, and mutual trust”, which is the only way that the US can salvage its position. There is no denying that American leadership takes decisions to advance its global interests, however some change is visible in Obama administration’s policy as compared with former president George Bush’s policy, as the latter had put India on a very high pedestal.

In fact, India understood its place in the international arena, when President Obama and President Hu Jintao met in November 2009 in Beijing. A paragraph in the joint communiqué had welcomed Chinese involvement in South Asia and mentioned about “Beijing’s ability to promote peace, stability and development in the region”. Many analysts in India and elsewhere see India having lost the centrality it enjoyed during the period when former president George Bush was at the helm, who had asseverated to make India not only a regional power but also a world power. Though Chinas has recently expressed its displeasure over the US arms deal for more than $ 6 billion with Taiwan, yet America considers China as an important trading partner and a creditor having invested almost a trillion dollars in US Treasury Bonds and other portfolios. B Raman a former top Indian intelligence official and head of the Centre for Topical Studies in Chennai said: “The ground reality is India at the moment does not count for the US in the same way that China and Pakistan do”. The recent London Conference on the future of Pakistan has ignored India considering that it has no role so far as Afghanistan is concerned.

There is a lot of frustration in Indian leadership hierarchy because international community did not see any role for India in the new policy which was obvious from the communiqué released after the London Conference on the future of Afghanistan attended by about 70 countries. In fact, it was India that had rejected with disdain President Obama’s policy for the region when he announced Richard Holbrooke as envoy for Afghanistan Pakistan and India. Perhaps now it has realized that American presence in Afghanistan is not going to last very long. And Pakistan could become a conduit to the reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban, provided they are ready to give them rightful share in the government. In other words, whatever scenario emerges it does not have any role in Afghanistan. In this backdrop, India will try to sabotage the reconciliation efforts clandestinely using its clout over the Northern Alliance. Nevertheless, it had no choice but to announce its decision to back the efforts for talks with the Taliban to showcase its desire for peace in Afghanistan. There is a perception that India’s initiative is damage limitation exercise in view of Deepak Kapoor’s ‘two front war’ statement. Read more of this post

India vs Pakistan and Threat of War

Before visiting Pakistan, Robert Gates warned from New Delhi that, should 2007 Mumbai like incident occur again, India would attack Pakistan, meaning thereby that the past Mumbai killings have been solely attributed to Pakistan and if such an incident occurred again, responsibility would be that of Pakistan, and in retaliation, India would be perfectly justified to attack Pakistan. In this situation USA would not be in a position to restrain India. Rather it may support this venture.

The message is fraught with ominous consequences and therefore demands a clear assessment of our ability to respond, if such a threat develops. This assessment therefore, is based on existing ground realities, which determine the military power balance between Pakistan and India. No doubt, the Indian armed forces are numerically superior to Pakistan, but they suffer from some inherent weaknesses and, it will take them a long time to overcome these.

Indian armed forces are in the midst of a transition, – replacement of the obsolete Russian weapons system with high-tech American-Israeli-European weapons. India started this changeover in 2005 after signing the Strategic Partnership Agreement with USA and hopes to complete it by the year 2015. Already it has spent about a hundred billion dollars on the new acquisitions. Their entire military system at present therefore, is weak, because they have the old and absolute weapons and about thirty percent of the recently acquired new systems. They suffer from a predicament, similar to what we suffered in early seventies, because, USA bad abandoned Pakistan in 1965 and we had not been able to induct new weapons and equipment from other sources. India exploited this weakness and dismembered Pakistan. Thus, India suffering from such weaknesses, now, is not in a position to wage a full f1edged war against Pakistan.

India faces another serious problem, in that, despite their best efforts of the last forty years, they have failed to manufacture their own tanks, guns, cruise missiles, fighter aircrafts, battleships and submarines. This in essence, constitutes a major weakness of the Indian armed forces, because, the present day war cannot be won with weapons borrowed or purchased from others. And, contrary to the weaknesses of India and cognising the implications of self-reliance, Pakistan has achieved up to ninety percent of indigenisation of weapons and equipment. We have our own tanks, guns, cruise missiles, fighter aircrafts, battleships and submarines as well as we have a stock-pile of war reserves, of over forty days, as compared to just eleven days of war reserves in 1965 and seven days in 1971. Whereas India’s war reserves as of today are limited to 15 days only. Thus, Pakistan in this respect also enjoys a clear edge over India.

Pakistan has achieved up to ninety percent of indigenisation of weapons and equipment.

The third dimensional capability of Pakistan is, in the way of higher military education and superior military and operational strategy, which is the hallmark of our military leadership, and was demonstrated some twenty years back in 1989, during Ex-Zarb-e-Momin. The Offensive Defence concept was practised and over the period, has been actualised as the fundamental doctrine of war. Offensive Defence means that our forces having fixed the enemy, will carry the war into their territory. Compare it with the Cold Start doctrine of India, of fighting a war on two fronts, which is more of a fiction than a realistic military doctrine.

Mr Robert Gates, as well as the Indian military planners, while taking into cognisance the existing military balance between Pakistan and India, must also consider the new phenomenon of the Asymmetric War, which, during the last thirty years, has established the supremacy of Men and Missiles, over the most modern and technologically superior armed forces of the world, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Kashmir. The Asymmetric War, in essence is the name of the Islamic Resistance, with its hardcore resting along the Durand Line. It is our strength. Thus, conventional as well as irregular armed forces, together provide the emerging shape of the Fourth Generation of modern warfare, as Joseph S Nye, the former Assistant Secretary of Defence USA and a professor of Harvard University, defines: “The hybrid wars, conventional and irregular forces combatants and civilians become thoroughly intertwined” to win wars and help establish the new order. In case, war is forced on Pakistan, it would be a long and decisive war, where new geo-political realities would emerge, establishing new frontiers of peace in the region.

Nuclear weapons are not the weapons of war because these have never been used as such. United States used it against the Japanese in 1945, which already had lost the war, nor had the capability to retaliate. American purpose was primarily diplomatic, i.e. to declare to the world that, America was entering the centre stage of world politics, to establish its global primacy and pre-eminence. There are other instances also, where nuclear powers, possessing hundreds and thousands of atomic weapons could not use them, to save themselves from very difficult and embarrassing situations. The Americans lost the war in Vietnam; the Soviets lost their empire in Afghanistan; the Israelis could not cover the shame of defeat at the hands of Hezbollah in 2005; the Americans having suffered defeat in Iraq, now are facing a worse defeat in Afghanistan, yet they find no recourse to use their nuclear capability. Their NATO partners are equally embarrassed, yet they cannot think of using their nuclear weapons to cover the shame of impending defeat. Similarly, India and Pakistan can fight only conventional wars and win or loose, but they dare not use nuclear weapons against each other, because it would destroy everything, leaving nothing but ashes, one could hope to capture and rebuild. And therefore, our people must not carry the wrong notion that Pakistan is powerful because it has nuclear capability. On the contrary, it is the conventional military capability, which provides security and lends resilience to the nation, as of now, and provides space to the po1itical government, to establish good governance.

Nuclear weapons are also great equalizer, between nuclear capable adversaries. “Between India and Pakistan, perfect deterrence exists” – declared George Fernandis, the former Defence Minister of India, after Pakistan demonstrated its capability in May 1998. And that precisely is the function of the weapons of mass destruction. Pakistan’s policy of Minimum Credible Nuclear Deterrence, supported by the Policy of Restraint, together serves the purpose of a stable nuclear deterrence. Nuclear capability also doesn’t compensate for the conventional military capability, and working on this principle the conventional military capability of Pakistan has been so developed as to make it a real symbol of national power, to defeat all aggression from within and outside.

Such are the ground realities, which determine the capabilities of our armed forces which cannot be wiped off by contrived constructs of our adversaries, nor Pakistan can be scared of going to the brink, if a war was forced on it. J F Dulles has rightly said: “If you are scared to go to the brink you are lost.” Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg (Retd)

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India: Triggering Mechanism of Self Destruction

India Fails to contain Internal Freedom Movements, wants to attack the neighbours

One of the major causes that led to the First World War was Emperor William’s ambitions for the German Empire to be a world power. He believed in an uncompromising policy of ‘power or downfall’ which ultimately resulted in the ‘downfall’ of the empire. Similarly, it is the misfortune of South Asia that India has been trying to endanger the region’s peace by aspiring to become a ‘world power’, or at least a ‘regional power’ in wake of modern world trends like renunciation of war, peaceful settlement of disputes and economic development.

Over the years, India has not only been developing its conventional and nuclear arsenals, but is also obtaining latest weapons from the US, Russia and Israel in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In this context, presuming a peace-loving China as an enemy New Delhi often justifies arms accumulation, while in practice India has constantly deployed its forces along the Pakistani border. As regards Indian belligerent approach, it is the result of India’s shattered hope of intimidating other neighbouring countries, especially Pakistan which the former considers a continuous obstacle in the way of its designs.

Under the pretext of Talibinisation, the Indian secret agency, RAW, has well established its tentacles in Afghanistan, and has been running secret operations against Pakistan from its consulates located near the Pak-Afghan border. It has spent millions of dollars in Afghanistan to strengthen its grip in order to get strategic depth against Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gilani and Foreign Minister Qureshi have repeatedly stated: “India supports terrorism in Pakistan, and its evidence will be shown to the western countries at the right occasion.” Indeed, this is in coordination with the statements of the ISPR spokesman Major General Athar Abbas who revealed that during the ongoing military operations huge cache of arms and ammunition had been captured while it was being shifted from Afghanistan.

Perhaps, frustrated in achieving its aims of becoming a world power, and a permanent seat in the UNSC, now the Indian rulers have started openly threatening nuclear powers like Pakistan and China.

In this backdrop, the Indian Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, vocally revealed on December 29 that the Indian army “is now revising its five-year old doctrine” and is preparing for a “possible two-front war with China and Pakistan.”

However in response to New Delhi’s threat, Pakistan’s JCSC chairman, General Tariq Majeed, stated:

“The Indian army chief’s statement exhibits a lack of strategic acumen…[such a path could] fix India on a self-destructive mechanism.”

It is surprising to note that in more than seven states, India itself faces separatist movements which are the result of acute poverty and social injustices. Particularly, Maoist movement that has been raging in West Bengal, and has now expanded to other regions including Maharashtra. At present, it is a popular insurgency by the downtrodden who have massive support of the people for their ideology.(images below)

A Maoist camp in the Nallamala forest in AP



Red hood locals pledge support to Maoists in the jungles of Bastar

Villagers watch as Maoists burn effigies of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh in Dumariya district -Bihar

Maoist rebels at a memorial for those killed in Police encounters in the Nallamalla foresr - South of Hyderabad

Mass rally in Hyderabad organized by Maoists

Naxalite base in Karnatka

Naxalite base in Karnatka

“India’s Maoist rebels are now present in 20 states and have killed more than 900 Indian security officers…India’s rapid economic growth has made it an emerging global power but also deepened stark inequalities in society.” (31st Oct. New York Times)

Thus, by neglecting all these ground realties New Delhi has been advancing towards a self-destructive path.

Notably, USA’s dependence on Pakistan for war against terrorism and for close economic cooperation with China will roll back the Indian clandestine agenda which is part of its regional ambition against Islamabad and Beijing. Nonetheless, like the failed foreign policy of Emperor William II, the Indian policy of ‘power or downfall’ is bound to result in a nuclear catastrophe in the region as ‘nuclear’ Pakistan and China cannot ignore their defence, while their adversary is determined to act upon its aggressive designs.–>modified

Cry for hegemony

“War is the greatest plague that can afflict humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it.”Martin Luther

There seems to be an identical case of variance between the Pakistani and Indian governments. Both civil administrations seem to be looking in different directions as far as their military establishments are concerned. In this country such a difference could be perilous because it generates a debate where a vast majority of the people feel that the brass may intervene and stage yet another coup against the democratic forces of the country. However, in India when the Chief of their Army Staff General Kapoor claims that the Indian army was capable enough to take over both Pakistan and China and bring forth ‘positive results’ within 96 hours it sent alarm bells swinging wildly in all the major capitals of the world. For some the general may have taken a glass too many before he made such a statement, but for others it depicts a serious thought out Indian policy who have been slowly building up on the idea that after the Soviet Union they must be recognised as a major superpower of the world. The recent spending frenzy of $200 billion by the Indians in the name of modernising their obsolete forces is well known to everyone, but still the United States and other major western countries have continued to support Indian designs with their own strategic goals in this region. The Indians are fully aware of the fact that this enormous sum of money that was diverted to their armed forces could have served a much better purpose if it had been spent on the teeming millions of Indians who live below the poverty line. The money could have been spent for the provision of improved health care, education and other social services but their government seems to be in a hurry to dominate South and Far East Asia and in this pursuit has taken certain decisions that have not only annoyed its immediate neighbours but rattled some of them.

This war mongering by the Indian general has come at a time when the Indians are aware of the fact that a major chunk of the Pakistan’s armed forces are busy in fighting an Indian aided insurgency along its borders with Afghanistan. The mere fact that the Indians have calculated to overcome both Pakistan and China in 96 hours is not only poor military strategy, but also a dangerous assessment that is not only incorrect but could lead to a situation that could bring catastrophic results for this entire region. The Indians are fully aware of the capabilities of the first and second strike by Pakistan’s strategic forces in case the situation so called for and the amount of damage they could inflict on the enemy within minutes of a full-scale war. It is a well known fact that the Indian government has been trying to prevail upon the United States that they have the potential to prevail upon China in case the Americans were willing to provide the Indian government with the state-of-the-art military hardware. These weapons the Indians are sure will only result in the modernistion of their armed forces vis-à-vis the Pakistanis and tilt the conventional weapon systems in the favour of the Indian army. The support the Indians squeezed out of the United States in a civil nuclear deal is a part of this new Indian strategy. Without the US support, the Indians could remain 15 to 20 years behind Pakistan in the nuclear weapons and missile programme. However, the Indians are fully aware that they dare not take on the Chinese because their developing economy will suffer irreparable loss and could suffer serious setbacks in case of conflict. Similarly before the outburst General Deepak Kapoor was fully aware of the fact that the Pakistan armed forces were not only prepared but had the essential capability not only to defend their country but also to inflict terrible blows on anyone who tries to take on this country in a foolish state of mind.

The Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Committee General Tariq Majeed has rubbished the Indian General by saying: “General Kapoor cannot be so outlandish in strategic postulates on a self-destructing mechanism or betray lack of strategic acumen by indulging in such rhetoric. The Pakistani general said that the Indians must remember that by hurling threats at this country or telling the world that they are capable of winning in 96 hours is not only strategic stupidity, but also poor policy because war is not the answer to the various problems that are faced by both India and Pakistan. However in case the Indians miscalculated the resolve and the commitment of the Pakistani people to safeguard every inch of their country the Indians could drag not only this region in flames, but would be responsible for the disastrous consequences that would follow any fresh conflict with this country.”

Furthermore, senior defence analysts are of the opinion that 96 hours is a long period of time in a modern day conflict because the doctrine of MAD would ensure that there are no real victors at the end of a war between two nuclear armed nations, neither India nor Pakistan have the capability to mop up the disaster that will come with the war because the entire civil services including clean drinking water and looking after sick people will be overwhelmed to an extent where the entire systems of both the countries would collapse creating more misery than that already inflicted by the war would ensue. According to conservative estimate nearly 100 million people, on both sides of the border, would die in the first 15 minutes of the war and therefore the rhetoric of General Deepak Kapoor could be a madman’s dream and nothing more than that. One wonders as to why the Americans or even the elected government of India has not rebuked its general for issuing such a wild statement that has vitiated the already tense atmosphere between India and Pakistan. The government of Mr Manmohan Singh was feeling the pressure that they must settle the Kashmir issue and should withdraw its support from the insurgents who are fighting a deadly hit and run war along the border areas of Afghanistan. And also stop sending arms, ammunition and financial support so that that normalcy and peace returns to both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The statement of General Kapoor has muddied the waters and as such a quick retract of this statement was expected from the Indian government in case the general was not representing the official policy of the Government of India.—AZAM KHALIL

Dangers of sabre rattling

India is a country with superpower ambitions without presently having the wherewithal that the status requires. It is meanwhile trying hard to acquire and develop the capabilities needed. A report published in the Times of India early this week reveals New Delhi is revising its five-year-old military doctrine to meet challenges of a possible ‘two front war’ with Pakistan and China.

This comes amidst additional reports of the 1.13 million strong Indian army having tested, through several wargames over the last five years, its ‘proactive’ war strategy to mobilise fast and strike hard to pulverise the enemy. This ‘cold start strategy’, under an NCB (nuclear-chemical-biological) overhang, has supposedly been formulated on the basis of lessons learnt during Operation Parakram, generally described as a disaster, where it took army’s strike formations almost a month to mobilise at the border launch-pads in the wake of the December 2001 terrorist attack on Indian Parliament.

This, India thinks, provided sufficient opportunity to Pakistan to shore up its defences as well as enough time to the international community to intervene. Similarly Indian leadership could not proceed beyond giving vent to impotent rage after the Mumbai attacks, which caused a lot of chagrin to those who had developed a perception of India as a mini US.

The Indian army thinks that the lack of clear directives from the Indian government on both occasions only made matters worse. Speaking at a closed-door seminar on Tuesday General Deepak Kapoor summed up the issue in these words: “A major leap in our approach to conduct of operations (since then) has been the successful firming-up of the cold start strategy (to be able to go to war promptly).

According to the report the plan now is to launch self-contained and highly-mobile ‘battle groups’, with Russian-origin T-90S tanks and upgraded T-72 M1 tanks at their core, adequately backed by air cover and artillery fire assaults, for rapid thrusts into enemy territory within 96 hours. Indian plans envisage the ending of the war decisively in New Delhi’s favour within the first 96 hours forcing the other sides into a fast submission of cease-fire.

India is also unhappy about Pak-China military co-operation and has presumably factored in the element in its strategy. Pakistan government has already blamed India for using its consulates, established in a number of small Afghan towns along the Durand Line where there was no real need to set them up, for encouraging, financing and training terrorists to operate inside Pakistan.

Sophisticated weapons, laptops, imported medical supplies like plastic bags with fresh blood plasma for transfusion and canned food items found in areas in Swat liberated by the army from the Taliban also point to the Indian connection. Islamabad has also blamed New Delhi for involvement in the destabilisation of Balochistan.

It is maintained that New Delhi is unhappy with the Gwadar deep-sea port for it gives Pakistan an alternate port out of reach of most Indian bombers. It is also presumably unhappy with the Chinese, who made a major investment in the construction of the port, making use of the facility to access the Middle East markets. Threat perceptions of the type have led General Kayani to respond strongly to the Indian moves.

Maintaining that peace and stability in South Asia and beyond was the logical and fundamental principle underlining the security paradigm of Pakistan, he warned any proponent of adventurism of the dire consequences arising out of it. On Friday he told senior army officers at the GHQ that the army was alive to the full spectrum of threats that continued to exist both in conventional and unconventional domains.

“Proponents of conventional application of military forces, in a nuclear overhang, are charting an adventurous and dangerous path, the consequences of which could be both unintended and uncontrollable,” he said. A day later, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majid came up with a tough reaction to the reported remarks from the Indian army chief that Indian military is ready to battle China and Pakistan at the same time.

In his statement, General Tariq expressed his doubts over the veracity of Indian media report attributed to General Deepak Kapoor, stating that “he [General Kapoor] could not be so outlandish in strategic postulations to fix China on a self destruct mechanism”. General Majid also said: “But if the news report is correct, the uncalled for rhetoric only betrays a lack of strategic acumen”.

While it is not unusual for militaries to review and modify their strategies from time to time, to leak out their details is likely to be interpreted as an attempt at sabre rattling, which is rife with dangerous implications. Both Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons and the required delivery systems capable of being launched from land, sea and air.

Any of the two countries fearful of a strategic and irretrievable set back can be tempted to take recourse to this deadly arsenal with catastrophic effects on both sides. There is a need therefore to seriously undertake the measures required to end all possible causes of confrontation. India has to stop its agencies from supporting terrorists in Fata and Balochistan. It also needs to reciprocate to Pakistan’s continuous overtures to initiate the composite dialogue to resolve mutual disputes particularly the core issue of Kashmir.

—Business Recorder

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