30 July 2014

STRATEGIC MISTAKES - Rightwing Indian Arab policy is founded on a misconception

K.P. Nayar 

If Sushma Swaraj believed that television images beamed to Gulf countries of the external affairs minister seated next to Najma Heptullah during the Rajya Sabha debate on the Gaza violence would make up for the perception among Indians, from Oman to Saudi Arabia and beyond, that the Narendra Modi government was unduly tilting towards Israel, she could not have been more mistaken. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s core constituency mule-headedly wants India to be tied to Israel by an umbilical cord. But Arab countries expect the new government to break from stereotypes like the Heptullah-Swaraj image in mollycoddling them. Meaningless symbols have substituted substance in India’s Arab policy for far too long.

Swaraj, as a consummate politician, should have realized that Modi’s minister for minority affairs is a left over from that kind of past which the 2014 general election campaign promised to bury and turn over a new leaf. The external affairs minister should have known better than to assume that the Arab world is so gullible about India as to be taken in by her image spin of proximity to another of those self-styled representatives of Indian Muslims that heads of state or government and foreign ministers in West Asia are truly tired of.

The Rajya Sabha debate on Gaza was a chance to articulate a new Indian vision on West Asia, but the Modi government simply blew that chance. Perhaps it was only to be expected because the Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge handicap in dealing with Jews and the Jewish diaspora is that the party’s understanding of Israel and its policies, especially of Tel Aviv’s India policy, has no relation to ground realities. Worse, the present government grossly underestimates India’s strength in dealing with Israel. That was abundantly in evidence in Parliament’s treasury benches throughout the debate on Gaza.

For years, the BJP has carried a curious diplomatic baggage on Israel and it has now brought that baggage into the government: that baggage is an albatross in the form of a poorly informed belief that New Delhi and Tel Aviv have a shared view on nuclear issues simply because neither country has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. For several decades, Israelis in senior positions in their governments and in high standing outside their governments have told me that beyond a common refusal to sign the NPT, the two countries do not share anything or see eye to eye on nuclear proliferation. India has refused to sign the NPT because it believes that the treaty is discriminatory and that nuclear non-proliferation as an issue must be addressed globally. Successive governments in New Delhi have rejected a notion that the “big five” nuclear powers have attempted to promote and pressure India with: that proliferation in South Asia must be addressed regionally between India and Pakistan or, at a stretch, including China as well — recognizing, of course, that China has the ‘right’ to possess nuclear weapons under the NPT.

For Israel, which takes a diametrically opposite position, nuclear proliferation is a regional issue. Israel has no problem — unlike India — with the United States of America or the United Kingdom having nuclear weapons and preventing countries other than the “big five” from benefiting from advanced nuclear technology, even for peaceful purposes. The day Israel is assured that no Arab country can have access to bomb-making technology it will sign the NPT as many times as the international community demands of it.

But many Indians have never understood this critical difference. Of course, the Israelis have cleverly obfuscated on this issue because it eminently suits them to do so, misleading or confusing Indian public opinion by fostering the myth that their two countries stand shoulder to shoulder on nuclear matters. In the process, Tel Aviv has taken gullible Indians in public life, including several BJP Rajya Sabha members who spoke on Gaza in Parliament, for a nice little ride over this subtlety.

A small news item in several newspapers a few days ago ought to have opened the eyes of BJP stalwarts who want Modi and Swaraj to change India’s policy towards Israel and the Arab world: they appear to have no qualms that the changes they are championing would reduce New Delhi to a poodle of Tel Aviv and the Jewish lobby in America. The news item in question was about the Israeli embassy in the capital cancelling its iftar that was scheduled for July 24. “Iftar? At the Israeli embassy?” one BJP leader wondered in complete and genuine innocence, in a conversation with me the day after newspapers carried the story.

Every politician is not — and need not be — an expert on foreign policy or international affairs, so this BJP leader and a legion of others like him in the party may be excused for not knowing that Israel has a large Arab population as its full-fledged citizens and that many of these Arabs are Muslims who freely practice their religion, which has more in common with Judaism than with Hinduism or any faith with similar customs or traditions.

Unknown to many BJP faithfuls, Jews relate to Islam much more than they relate to Hinduism if only because the former two faiths have the same roots. Now that the BJP is in government and is likely to be in power for at least five years, it is imperative that, minimally, its legislators, and others who are tasked to talk on issues like the Arab-Israeli conflict, are tutored in some basic facts about Israel: more importantly, the crux of where India’s real interests lie in dealings with the Jewish state.

During multiple visits to Israel — including Track II visits — in the last two decades since New Delhi established full diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv, I have been told by many Israelis — including rabbis, strategic thinkers and those who shape public opinion in that country — that Indians are under a great delusion about Israeli policy. That delusion is that Indians wrongly assume that Israelis are anti-Muslim. Scratch any Israeli Jew and he is anti-Arab or, at least, suspicious to the point of being ambivalent about Arabs, including Israeli citizens of Arab descent. That is significantly different from being anti-Muslim. True, the Arabs want to wipe Israel off the map, but many of these Arabs are Christians, Druze and followers of faiths other than Islam. In fact, in the 1970s, when the Palestinians were a thorn on the side of the Jewish state with a greater ferocity than in later years, the Christian groups among the Palestinians did greater damage to Israel in real terms than any Muslim outfits.

Like the nuclear issue, this is a subtle distinction that is lost on BJP leaders, including some of those who spoke in the Rajya Sabha on the Gaza debate. During the 1990s, when I lived in New Delhi, one Israeli ambassador told me that he had made it his mission to befriend at least one new Indian Muslim family every month. In their blissful ignorance about Israel, that is perhaps more than what can be said about some vocal BJP leaders who now want the Modi government to tilt categorically towards the Jewish state.

It is true that changes have taken place in Israeli attitudes to Islam since the September 11 terrorist attacks that transformed the world. But those changes have been forced on Israeli policies largely by radical Islamists: fundamentally, the attitude of the Jews towards Islam remains unchanged and is at variance with that of the BJP, which mistakenly assumes, at various levels, that Israel and India ought to share a common hostility towards Islam.

As in the nuclear issue, Israel has found it expedient to let BJP leaders and fellow-travelers live with the notion that New Delhi and Tel Aviv are natural allies in a common cause against Islam. It eminently suits the Jewish lobby to foster such a mistaken notion. Unless the Modi government is alive to the dangers of such misconceptions India will come a cropper in protecting its vital interests in West Asia. The Rajya Sabha debate on Gaza was a warning to educate right-wing opinion on this critical issue. 

Attack Helicopters: Should India Have Them?

27 Jul , 201
The Attack Helicopter has value for money in a relatively benign environment for short, swift Special Operations where the opposition has restricted ability to interdict the AH. Other countries have huge air arms for each Service, some of which are now closing down. There is no justification for India to mimic defunct, untried and indeed failed strategies developed for European and Middle East scenarios. This approach may mislead us into a weapons procurement minefield. Thereafter, wasteful expenditure will hamper us from getting what we really need for India’s safety and security.

Attack Helicopters in support of huge mechanised attacking or defending armies have never been tested against any enemy…

It is with much trepidation that one reads about acquisition of Attack Helicopters (AH) for the Armed Forces. Ground Force commanders have always demanded dedicated air borne offensive fire power placed directly under their command as they are convinced these are indispensible for victory. The commander equates airborne firepower with armour, artillery, combat engineers that are under command and integral to the Division or Corps. He believes, incorrectly, that under-command airborne fire, he will win the land battle. He ignores the inherent flexibility of airborne weapons which precludes limiting that firepower within restricted areas. Why squeeze that flexible and swiftly re-locatable capability?

The Indian Air Force (IAF), on the other hand, appears to be averse to let airborne weapons systems be with anyone except themselves. Their fear is that when one such weapon system goes outside their command and control, there will be an exodus of other similar airborne weapons. Precedents are awful to deal with.

Foreign Doctrines

Over the last few decades as Indian Army strategists were exposed to American doctrines of warfare in Europe, the desire to acquire ‘under-command’ air power became paramount. The Indian Army’s battle theories against Pakistan became copies of NATO hypotheses to thwart the ‘Soviet Steamroller’ overwhelming Western Europe. Strike formations with terrific mobility became the bedrock of fighting concepts in India’s Western theatre. Many actually believed that such bold plans would succeed and they conducted exercises and rehearsals culminating in Operations such as Operation BRASSTACKS and Operation PARAKRAM.

Deducing that a mobile and fluid battlefield would emerge with mechanised and armoured forces covering great distances, concepts for airborne firepower to support these forces emerged in the form of the AH. Regrettably, the concept is intrinsically flawed and the question arises whether it will fructify in India.

The Indian Air Force appears to be averse to let airborne weapons systems be with anyone except themselves…

Without bias and rancour, one can deduce the true utility of Attack Helicopters in India – these expensive flying machines have limited value and poor effectiveness and acquisition of the AH may be a seriously flawed concept.

Strategies for Defence Modernisation and Self-Reliance

 28 Jul , 2014

In defence parlance, modernisation may be defined as relevant upgrades or improvement of existing military capabilities through the acquisition of new (imported or indigenously developed) weapon systems and supporting assets, the incorporation of new doctrines, the creation of novel organisational structures and the institutionalisation of contemporary manpower management and combat regimes1. Although Indian Army embarked on the path of modernisation more than a decade ago, it faces challenges with capability acquisition and dealing with obsolescent equipment and technologies, and in syncing the manpower and organisational structures to support these capabilities.

The hollowness in the Indian Army capability, which has grown over the years, should be arrested to adversely impact on our operational capabilities and regional aspirations.

Strategy for Modernisation of the Indian Army

Assessment of the Requirement: First and foremost we need to identity the criticalities, existing voids and slippages of previous plans, in keeping with the Strategic Defence Planning Guidance, which is a summation of the mission specific desired military capability in each strategic theatre and the sensitivity analysis for pragmatic parameters of financial allocations for defence2. These should then be reviewed in relation to contemporary technologies and the capabilities of our adversaries, as also the capabilities that we wish to create as a nation in the regional and global context. The hollowness in the Indian Army capability, which has grown over the years, should be arrested to adversely impact on our operational capabilities and regional aspirations. Induction of state-of-the-art technology in the Army is a capital and time intensive proposition and relevant factors influence our policy.

Focus Areas for Modernisation Plan : To meet the challenges of a collusive and multi-spectral threat, as also the slippages of the previous plans, the major thrust areas are maneuver operations, infantry and special forces operations, integrated fire power, integral aviation support, integrated theatre based air defence, out of area contingency (OOAC) capabilities, enhancing night fighting capability and battle field transparency, asymmetric and sub conventional warfare, build up capability for intelligence acquisition, its processing and real time dissemination including ‘HUMINT’, proactive measures to counter technological threats, especially in the cyber warfare, information warfare and electronic warfare domains, CBRN capabilities, UN peacekeeping operations, exploitation of space based assets towards execution of C4I2SR operations at all levels, making up equipment voids, augmentation of logistic capacities and restructuring of existing logistic organisations and infrastructure upgradation to meet the emerging requirements. Sustenance has today emerged as a cornerstone of capability due to reduced mission reliability and sub-optimal serviceability of critical equipment initially procured less the lifecycle support as part of the acquisition contract. It will therefore be necessary to include long term lifecycle sustenance support to capability we acquire, at the initial stages of acquisition itself.

The New Indian Authorities Know Russia Firsthand

JULY 24, 2014


New figures are at the helm in India. An outside observer might think that some of them have little foreign policy experience. Some may call Narendra Modi’s international relations’ expertise into question.

In reality, Modi and his associates do have foreign policy experience. This experience will guide them toward a balanced policy in which Russia will play one of the key roles.

Narendra Modi has given Russia special attention more than once. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin became only the second foreign politician to be seen by the new Indian prime minister on June 19 (Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was the Prime Minister’s first guest on June 9).

Last week Narendra Modi met with President Vladimir Putin in the course of the sixth BRICS summit that took place in Brazil. The heads of states discussed the whole spectrum of India-Russia relations, including military-technological cooperation and collaboration on peaceful uses of atomic energy.

Meeting the Russian President and Deputy Prime Minister was not Narendra Modi's first exposure to Russia. In fact, back on June 6, 2001, President Putin and then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee signed a protocol of cooperation between the Astrakhan Region and the State of Gujarat (Narendra Modi as a member of the Indian delegation at the time). The protocol was renewed in 2006 during the visit of the delegation headed by Narendra Modi to the Astrakhan Region. In recent years, the relations between the Russian region and the Indian state have developed rapidly. Astrakhan and Allahabad became sister cities. In October 2009, Narendra Modi made his third trip to Russia—this time to participate in the International Energy Week.

As for the Prime Minister’s inner circle, the legendary figure of the National Security Advisor Ajit Kumar Doval looms particularly large. This post cannot fit all of his famous exploits, and many pages of his biography still remain classified. But even the known facts testify to his knowledge of Russia and a long record of cooperation with this country. As a head of the Intelligence Bureau’s operation wing in the 1990’s—the post he had held for ten years, Ajit Doval was involved in organizing the effort to assist Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance, which was supported by Russia, India and Iran. It is clear that he had numerous contacts with the Russian side in the course of the three country’s cooperation on this issue.

The above examples demonstrate that the new Indian authorities know Russia, understand how to work with it and are willing to develop India-Russia relations.

Deterrence against proxy wars

By Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch

We need to establish credible deterrence against irregular warfare. We need a comprehensive policy to deter proxy wars and protect ourselves from being victims of international terrorism.

The explosion of terror in the Middle East has engaged the attention of the world, not that similar terrorism and radicalisation is not engulfing other regions of the world, what with Pakistan’s so-called offensive against the TTP and Haqqanis in Northern Waziristan and China’s crackdown in Xinjiang to subdue the increasingly volatile ETIM in particular and Uighurs in general. The more significant fact is that powerful nations are indulging more and more in using terrorism as the currency of power in furtherance of national interests as part of geopolitical gaming.

John Pilger in his article titled ‘In Ukraine, the US is Dragging Us Towards War with Russia’, dated May 14, 2014, published in The News it writes, “Every year the American historian William Blum publishes his ‘updated summary of the record of US foreign policy’ which shows that, since 1945, the US has tried to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democratically elected; grossly interfered in elections in 30 countries; bombed the civilian populations of 30 countries; used chemical and biological weapons; and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders”. He adds, “In many cases Britain has been a collaborator”.

Proxy forces have been used in all this. The fact that Saudi Arabia is funding terror globally is no secret, as is the fact that Saudi Arabia also supplies money to US politicians. Then is the age-old Shia-Sunni rivalry being capitalised by the West to manipulate oil and gas rich regions—as is happening in the Middle East. USA and NATO having burnt their fingers in Iraq and Afghanistan have replaced the policy of ‘boots on ground’ by the policy of ‘proxy boots on ground’. So you see terrorist organisations that they fought for years, like Al-Qaeda and Taliban, being ‘used’ by them to manoeuvre regional and global level powerplay.

In recent times, the West has been employing its Special Forces for regime change as a new asymmetric option/policy. The combination is information warfare (IW), intelligence agencies, Special Forces and air power applied in the last stages. If media reports are to be believed, US engages in asymmetric war by any means in national interest; recent reports indicate US used Al-Qaeda in Libya and is doing similarly in Syria in conjunction USSF, NATO, Turkish and Qatari Special Forces mixed with rebels/opposition. Paul Joseph Watson, wrote in 2012 that just as Al-Qaeda terrorists were used to oust Gaddafi, hundreds of Libyan rebels with Al-Qaeda willing members were being airlifted into Syria to aid opposition in carrying out attacks against government forces. This implies USSF using willing captured Al-Qaeda cadres including detainees from Guantanamo prison. This was no different from World War II where the US OSS (Office of Strategic Services), predecessor to USSF, utilised members of a German dissident group who had fled to France as refugees for unconventional operations against the German Army in conjunction with OSS. The philosophy of the then OSS Chief General Donovan had been, “Use them as long as they kill Nazis”. In October 2012, Mitt Romney, US presidential candidate vowed to arm Al-Qaeda in Syria, responding to which Paul Joseph Watson, editor ofPrisonPlanet wondered whether America shares its values with terrorist. In her recent book Hard Times, Hillary Clinton says that she would have preferred to arm ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels in a much earlier time frame.

*** The Role of Nuclear Weapons in National Security

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review

This article was provided by Marco J. Lyons, an Army strategist. The views expressed here are the author’s alone and do not reflect those of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense or any other organization of the U.S. Government.


The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)—mandated by Section 1070 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110–181)—was a comprehensive review of the role of nuclear weapons in national security policy, deterrence strategy, and force structure out to 2015–2020, completed between 2009 and 2010 under the direction of the Obama administration.[1] The NPR was designed as a whole–of–government effort to set policy, strategy, force structure for five to ten years and set conditions for follow–on negotiations to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), and align policies, strategies, and programmatics with current nuclear policy goals.[2] The Obama administration’s April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) report is not a strategy—it made specific posture recommendations and one of its purposes was to guide nuclear weapons policy—it is a review of nuclear posture, but it may be seen as the closest thing to a national nuclear strategy.[3] How did the 2010 NPR inform U.S. nuclear strategy? As declaratory policy, the 2010 Obama administration NPR was significant in shaping nuclear weapons strategy, plans, and programs, but its successes should be understood against a backdrop of significant continuity in policy and posture since the last NPR.[4] This analysis will assess the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review key decisions and the primary public debates related to the role of nuclear weapons in national security.
Key Decisions—Role of Nuclear Weapons—Purpose

U.S. President Barack Obama waves after speaking at Prague Castle

The new Obama administration and the president’s April 2009 Prague speech reignited interest and refocused attention on nuclear strategic issues, according to Jeffery Larsen and Polly Holdorf of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, but the administration’s approach quickly revealed itself as “cautious.”[5] Called for by Congress, the NPR was executed by the Department of Defense with Department of State and Department of Energy over approximately a year. Public law directed a comprehensive review of the role of nuclear forces in U.S. military strategy, planning, and programming, and the relationship among U.S. nuclear deterrence policy, targeting strategy, and arms control objectives, focusing on key objectives of nuclear weapons polices and posture, and policy guidance “for implementing President Obama’s agenda for reducing nuclear dangers, while simultaneously advancing broader U.S. security interests.”[6] At a background briefing announcing the start of the NPR, a senior defense official described the broad framework of the NPR. The NPR would link the president’s Prague speech with specific policy steps to advance nonproliferation goals, seriously consider unilateral arms reductions, while maintaining a safe, secure, and effective strategic deterrent with respect to forces and infrastructure.[7] In his forward to the final NPR report, Secretary of Defense Gates suggested that counterterrorism and counterproliferation would be overriding goals, while the report also intended to describe how the United States would reduce force levels and the role of nuclear weapons.[8] Among the key decisions of the 2010 NPR, the report called for a major adjustment to the prioritization of ends (elevating terrorism above other more traditional deterrence goals), and a strong re–affirmation of the goals to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and pursue arms reductions. These two last goals were not essentially new, but the level of presidential emphasis was unusual. The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review report will be analyzed for its key decisions relating to reducing the role of nuclear weapons and strengthening Negative Security Assurances (NSAs). This is an analysis of the NPR report and the public debates it sparked—the emphasis here is on declaratory policy—what posture changes were actually made are a secondary focus.

Deterrence, Second Strike and Credibility: Revisiting India’s Nuclear Strategy Debate

Rajesh Basrur

The past few years have produced considerable debate over India’s nuclear strategy and posture. Much of it has revolved around the credibility of India’s nuclear arsenal (Chari, 2014; Global Security Newswire, 2009; Joshi, 2014; Koithara, 2012; Menon, 2014; O’Donnell and Pant, 2014; Prakash, 2012; Prakash, 2014; Rajaraman, 2014; Saran, 2013; Saran and Sharma, 2013). This is an important question because it goes to the heart of India’s capacity to deter its adversaries. Is the Indian deterrent properly organized? Are its capabilities enough? What makes a deterrent credible? The on-going debate has produced three broad positions: that India’s nuclear weapons are inadequate for deterrence; that they are sufficient to meet the requirements of minimum deterrence; and that weapons development is reaching for excessive capabilities. But to resolve such a debate, it is first necessary to know: how does deterrence work? For all the differences aired, there is remarkably little or no disagreement on the meaning and fundamental requirements of minimum deterrence. Everyone seems to agree that the central principle of deterrence is “assured/secure second strike capability.” From this flow the criteria for assessing the effectiveness of an arsenal: the survivability, reliability and accuracy of weapons, plus an efficient system of command control. The needs of the arsenal – its hardware (weapons systems) and software (organization) are determined by these canons of deterrence.

Where do these tenets come from? Essentially, they are derived from the Cold War era, when strategists grappled with the question of what it takes to deter. More precisely, they are drawn from American writings of that period about the requirements of nuclear deterrence (Soviet writings were not readily accessible). But it seems odd that we should place so much reliance on a mode of thought that produced more than 30,000 nuclear warheads in the United States alone. It could be argued, of course, that the number of weapons produced has little or nothing to do with the assumptions and logic of deterrence thinking, but that was manifestly not the case. The entire edifice of American nuclear weapons doctrine and practice was built around very clear-cut thinking that was logically connected to judgments on the requirements of an effective deterrent force. To deter, so it went (and still goes), one has to survive a first strike and be sure to retaliate sufficiently well to create large-scale damage.

Deterrence: Indian Theorizing

Indian theorizing about the requirements of deterrence, drawing heavily from American strategic literature, rests almost entirely on an uncritical acceptance of this edifice. It is time to take a closer look. The foundational concept of assured second strike capability and its derivatives emerged from a series of seminal writings that emanated from the American strategic establishment in the 1950s and 1960s, notably from the RAND Corporation. Though a number of thinkers were involved, no one better represents the intellectual bedrock of American nuclear doctrine and strategy than Albert Wohlstetter, whose 1958 paper on the “Delicate Balance of Terror” – more widely disseminated in a Foreign Affairs article in 1959 – presents the core precepts of deterrence as he saw them (Wohlstetter, 1958; Wohlstetter, 1959).

Indian Ratification of the Additional Protocol: Mischievous Reports Miss its Significance

 21 July 2014 
Manpreet SethiICSSR Senior Fellow affiliated with the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) 

On 26-27 June 2014, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) held its plenary meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The discussion on India’s membership was reportedly on the agenda. Meanwhile, on 23 June, India announced its decision to ratify the Protocol Additional to the Agreement between the Government of India and the IAEA for the application of safeguards to Civilian Nuclear Facilities (AP). India has been progressively, and on schedule, been implementing the Separation Plan accepted in 2006 as part of the process of India’s exceptionalisation and conclusion of the India–United States Civil Nuclear Agreement. Ratification of the AP was one of the last few major commitments, even though the document itself had been expeditiously concluded in July 2009. The conclusion of this formality too now marks the end of India’s fulfillment of its promises in exchange for its entry into international nuclear commerce.

The idea and logic of India’s exceptionalisation, however, has still not been accepted by many non-proliferation hardliners in the US and other Western capitals, irrespective of the myriad steps that have been taken by India. Not surprisingly, therefore, mischievous reports on India’s nuclear activities surface at opportune times. Expectedly, just before the NSG meeting that was to consider India’s membership, IHS Jane’s sprung an article alleging that India was “expanding a covert uranium enrichment plant that could potentially support the development of thermonuclear weapons.”

The timing and content of the report was mischievous on two fronts: first, from the point of view of the impending consideration of India’s NSG membership; and second, from the point of view of drawing attention away from the import of the ratification of the AP by India.

India's uranium enrichment plant at Rattenhalli, Mysore, is not covert. It has been well known for decades and is meant to meet the low enriched uranium fuel requirements of nuclear powered submarines. India’s nuclear doctrine, based as it is on the threat of assured retaliation, requires a sea-based deterrent capability to support a credible no first use. This, in fact, is a requirement much greater than the need for a large arsenal of thermonuclear weapons. It is the assuredness of retaliation to cause unacceptable damage that is necessary to deter, and even non-thermonuclear weapons can wreak such damage given the density of population in this part of the world. Therefore, India's enriched uranium requirements are of greater criticality for assuring survivability through a credible SSBN fleet, than for building an arsenal of thermonuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, the Indian ratification of the AP is not an insignificant development. Since 1997, when the AP was first concluded as a tool for strengthening the IAEA safeguards system in the wake of the suspected weapons programmes in states of proliferation concern, the AP has been ratified by 123 countries. It is considered a necessary confidence building measure in providing assurance on the exclusively peaceful nature of a national nuclear programme. The US has been amongst the forerunners seeking its universalisation as a pre-condition for civilian nuclear cooperation.

There are three types of APs – the Model AP with Non-nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) that accept comprehensive safeguards; Voluntary Offer Agreements with Nuclear Weapon States (NWS); and a version of the Model AP with other States prepared to accept measures provided for in the Model AP. India is the only ‘other State’ that has offered to accept an AP tailored to its specificities but that would pursue safeguards effectiveness and efficiency.

How Successful Has the Pakistani Military’s Waziristan Offensive Been So Far?

Reza Jan
AEI Critical Threats Project
July 25, 2014

Gauging the Success of Pakistan’s North Waziristan Operation

Mechanized troops patrolling outside the cordoned area in North Waziristan Agency. 

The Pakistani military launched its long-overdue offensive against militants in North Waziristan on June 15 with much fanfare. Public support for the operation, titled Operation Zarb-e-Azb, remains high, with many people in Pakistan believing this to be the operation to end all operations. The Pakistan Army touted the fight as Pakistan’s own, as opposed to one undertaken at the behest of the U.S., and as one being prosecuted against militants of all stripes, both foreign and domestic. If the hype is to be believed, the Pakistani military offensive in North Waziristan is in the process of striking a crippling blow against militants operating in the region, particularly the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its foreign allies such as al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

While there have surely been successes so far—and the mere fact that the operation is taking place at all is a marked improvement over Pakistan’s previous policy of allowing one of the world’s most dangerous militant safe havens to fester unmolested—the reality on the ground appears somewhat less optimistic. The ground phase of the operation in North Waziristan is progressing at a cautious pace; most militants fled the main combat zones far in advance of the operation; the government is facing a humanitarian crisis on a scale it is grossly underprepared for; and Pakistani policies of favoritism toward certain militant groups do not appear to have changed. Whether Pakistan has learned from the lessons of its previous military operations and is prepared to do what’s necessary to make its gains in North Waziristan permanent, remains to be seen.

The Progress So Far

Pakistani military aircraft began Operation Zarb-e-Azb on June 15 with a series of punishing airstrikes on militant strongholds in the Mir Ali, Degan, and Boya areas of the district.[1] The Pakistan Army, which has long maintained a garrison in the militant havens of Mir Ali and Miram Shah, the headquarters of North Waziristan Agency, finally deployed its troops outside the protective walls of its bases en masse and surrounded both towns in an attempt to prevent militants from fleeing the area.[2] The military imposed a curfew on the Agency, preventing the civilian population from fleeing, fearing that an exodus would allow militants to flee the conflict zone hidden among internally displaced persons (IDPs).[3] While airstrikes continued to hit suspected militant hideouts for several days, primarily in and around Miram Shah and Mir Ali—the military claimed to have killed over 280 militants in the first week and inflicted no civilian casualties—no major ground action had taken place thus far.[4]

On June 18, four days after the operation commenced, the military loosened the curfew on North Waziristan in order to allow civilians to evacuate prior to the commencement of ground operations in the Agency’s main urban areas.[5] The easing of the curfew set off a flood of people clamoring to flee North Waziristan. Nearly 30,000 people fled the Agency on the first day and, by the time the military finally launched the ground phase of its operation on June 30, the number of registered IDPs had reached over 450,000.[6] The number is even higher when counting the dozens of thousands that fled west to Afghanistan instead of east, where the Pakistani government has established camps for IDPs.[7]

The mass evacuation of local populations prior to the start of military operations is now a well-established facet of Pakistani counterinsurgency doctrine.[8] The army prefers to fight in environments devoid of civilians since it frequently employs heavy arms including bombers, artillery and armor in support of infantry forces moving through urban areas.[9] The evacuation of civilians was also undertaken prior to the start of major operations of a similar scale in the Swat valley and South Waziristan Agency in 2009.[10]

When ground troops finally joined the fray in earnest on June 30, their primary tasking was to collapse back onto Miram Shah, the town they had deployed from, and conduct a systematic sweep of the town for lingering militants, booby traps, and enemy infrastructure.[11] Sporadic clashes continued with militants attempting to plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or to flee the security cordons around Miram Shah and Mir Ali, but the primary action that took place elsewhere in North Waziristan while troops cleared Miram Shah continued to be airstrikes by jets and helicopter gunships on suspected militant locations.[12]

Will the Islamic State Spread Its Tentacles to Pakistan?

Despite talk of Pakistan militants swearing allegiance, so far at least the threat seems overstated. 

By Arif Rafiq
July 28, 2014

The shocking spread of the Islamic State group (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) over Sunni dominated areas of Iraq and its declaration of a caliphate last month has sparked speculation that the group will replace al-Qaeda as the vanguard of the global jihadist movement. Indeed, there is concern that Pakistani jihadist groups, especially the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, the principal anti-state jihadist group), could pair up with the rising ISIS, rejuvenating itself as an insurgent force. But such concerns, while not completely unfounded, are exaggerated.

To recognize the caliphate of the Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the TTP would have to defect not only from al-Qaeda’s ranks, but also sever its nominal (but important) ties with the Afghan Taliban. The costs of such a shift for the TTP currently outweigh the benefits. Though Al-Qaeda has been weakened in Pakistan by U.S. drone attacks and Pakistani military and intelligence operations, it remains an anchoring force for local anti-state jihadist groups, providing them with a broader strategic vision as well as technical expertise. Al-Qaeda has an established supply line of Pakistanis from outside the tribal areas, including urban areas, built over the course of more than a decade. It has effectively fused with elements of the anti-Shia Lashkar-e Jhangvi, which is deeply tied to the TTP. The Islamic State has yet to even remotely approach what al-Qaeda can offer Pakistani jihadist groups.

The indications so far are that Pakistani jihadists are wary of getting involved in the dispute between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Earlier this year, a prominent Pakistani jihadist forum shut down a discussion thread on the Islamic State’s clashes with al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. And in early March, a contributor to the forum claimed that he spoke with Adnan Rashid – a senior TTP commander since arrested – who allegedly said that his group supports neither the “fitna”(internecine strife) in Syria nor the Islamic State group.

According to the Telegraph, the Tehreek-e-Khilafat, a previously unknown jihadist group supposedly based in Karachi, said that it swore allegiance to Islamic State’s al-Baghdadi. But the story has little credibility. It was reported by a journalist with a tabloid bent and has gained little traction in Pakistan’s Internet jihadosphere.

Like al-Qaeda members, the TTP and other Pakistani Taliban factions claim fealty (bay’ah) to Mullah Muhammad Omar, whom they refer to as amir al-mumineen or commander of the faithful – a quasi-caliph status. Importantly, the TTP derives its legitimacy from its association with the Afghan Taliban and inspiration from the group’s five-year rule over Afghanistan, which is seen as an idyllic period.

Afghanistan: Awash in Guns, as Well as Narcotics

U.S.-supplied weapons like these M-16s in Kandahar, Afghanistan, often lack proper accounting by both U.S. and Afghan authorities, according to a new investigationSIGAR
Contrary to law, U.S. military lacks data on nearly half the weapons delivered 

The bad news out of Afghanistan this week is that the U.S. military’s accounting for the arsenals the Pentagon is giving to Afghan security forces is plagued by “incompatible inventory systems” that generate “missing serial numbers, inaccurate shipping and receiving dates, and duplicate records,” according to a new report from the top U.S. government investigator inside Afghanistan. 

The worse news? The problems become “far more severe” once the weapons are in the hands of the Afghan forces. “Given the Afghan government’s limited ability to account for or properly dispose of these weapons, there is a real potential for these weapons to fall into the hands of insurgents, which will pose additional risks to U.S. personnel, the Afghan National Security Forces, and Afghan civilians,” according to John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. 

Sopko and the U.N. have made clear in recent years that the production of opium in Afghanistan is growing with every passing year. Sopko’s latest report, released Monday, makes clear that Afghanistan is also awash in undocumented American-supplied arms. 

As the U.S. pulls its combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of this year, proper accounting and tracking of the arms become critical for Afghan forces to battle the Taliban — and to keep those weapons out of enemy hands. “Taliban fighters are scoring early gains in several strategic areas near the capital this summer, inflicting heavy casualties and casting new doubt on the ability of Afghan forces to contain the insurgency as the United States moves to complete its withdrawal of combat troops,” the New York Times reported Sunday. 

Total Recount in Afghanistan: What Next?

July 26, 2014

As per the compromise agreement worked out by the US Secretary of State John Kerry on July 12, both the leading Afghan presidential candidates, Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, have agreed to a fresh and total audit and recount of “every single ballot,” about 8.1 million, cast in the June 14 run-off election. Kerry’s diplomacy for now has partly succeeded in averting a major political crisis by addressing the key technical issue of auditing and recounting of votes and collation of final results in a transparent manner under wider international supervision. However, his proposal that the two presidential contenders, irrespective of the final outcome of the run-off vote, must come together to form a “national unity government” and subsequently work towards changing the political system of the country, might open up several larger issues which are bound to have huge social, political and security implications for Afghanistan and the region. 

There is a lot of ambiguity in the Kerry-brokered agreement, the text of which is still not available for public scrutiny, and both Abdullah and Ghani are interpreting its various aspects in their own ways. Perhaps, the agreement leaves a lot of room for speculation, leading the two leaders and their sympathisers to draw their own inferences keeping in view their interests in the emerging scenario. While the UN and Afghan election officials in Kabul struggle to make the two contending group of election observers agree on a standard auditing criteria for validation-invalidation of votes, it is important to understand the shifting or the evolving socio-political equations within the country. Basically, what changed between April 05, when then first round of voting was held, and the June 14 run-off election. 

Complete Reversal

Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, who emerged as top two contenders from among the eight all-Pashtun presidential candidates from the first round of vote, had to go for the second round of vote or the run off election on June 14 as neither had secured absolute majority or the mandatory 50 per cent vote required to win the election. As per the final results of the first round of vote held earlier in April, Abdullah had emerged as the leading candidate securing 45 per cent votes, a solid 13 per cent lead over Ashraf Ghani, who came second with 31.56 per cent votes. The preliminary result of the June 14 run-off election, which was declared on July 07, was a complete reversal of the outcome of the first round of vote: this time it was Abdullah who had lost to Ashraf Ghani and by almost the same margin. Ghani had secured 56.44 per cent votes while Abdullah trailed behind at 43.56 per cent votes.

In quite a contrast to the first round of vote held in April, the second round of vote was marred with reports of massive rigging of votes in parts of the country and the partisan role of the election commission, from ground officials to the secretariat in Kabul. Within hours of the run-off election, Ashraf Ghani was being projected as the final winner. Abdullah, who has throughout been sceptical of the role of the government-appointed members of two key electoral bodies – the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) – and especially that of the incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his close aides in influencing the outcome of the electoral exercise, was quick to boycott the whole process and call for international intervention. Soon audio tapes alleging the direct involvement of the head of the IEC Secretariat, Zia-ul Haq Amarkhel, in rigging of votes reportedly in favour of Ashraf Ghani appeared, and he had to subsequently resign. There were reports of stuffing of ballot papers at several polling booths, often facilitated by the local election staff and biased administrative machinery. At many places, particularly in the east and north, the total number of votes cast far outnumbered the registered voters in the area. The IEC had to later acknowledge that several irregularities were noted in the conduct of the second round of vote on June 14.

How Will This War End?

By Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, U.S. Army retired

The primary metric in war is attaining one’s strategic aims. In the post-9/11 war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, who is winning? Both the U.S. and al Qaeda have done a lot of killing, but attrition alone is not decisive. The U.S. is now on its third strategy in this war. This strategy seems as unlikely to attain America’s strategic aims as the previous two.

Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, but it was not their first attack against us. The December 1992 bombing of two hotels in Yemen that had housed U.S. troops in transit to Somalia was the first. In February 1993, an al Qaeda-trained truck bomber attempted to bring down New York’s Twin Towers. Al Qaeda-trained Somalis brought down a U.S. helicopter in October 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia. In August 1996, Osama bin Laden publically declared war against the U.S., and in August 1998, al Qaeda bombed the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The USS Cole was attacked by suicide bombers in October 2000. These were the major attacks that succeeded; there were others that were foiled.

These attacks were not isolated acts; they were tactical actions, part of campaigns designed to attain strategic aims. Al Qaeda’s campaign objectives are:

- Conduct “bleeding wars,” wars intended to defeat Western powers in Iraq and Afghanistan by causing their withdrawals, and attacks on Europe and the U.S. intended to further bleed the West’s will.

- Establish safe havens and franchises throughout the rest of the Islamic world, the ultimate franchise being Palestine, with the intent to create bases for future operations as well as cadres of leaders and fighters who can take advantage of local situations as opportunities arise.

Al Qaeda’s three strategic aims are:

-  Drive the U.S. from the Muslim world.

-  Destroy Israel.

-  Create a jihadist caliphate along the lines of the Ottoman Empire at its height.

The U.S. should understand by now that al Qaeda’s aims are to control land and peoples. Al Qaeda may use irregular forces, employ terrorist, guerilla and insurgent tactics, and be a network rather than a nation-state, but its strategy is a classic offensive one: conquer, defeat and control.

Though pushed out of Afghanistan in 2001, al Qaeda has retained its safe haven in Pakistan, from which it threatens that country’s government and seeks to return to Afghanistan once the U.S. departs. Al Qaeda has taken advantage of the civil war in Syria and established itself as a main contender for power. It is on both sides of the Gulf of Aden, the southern entrance to the Red Sea: in the Arabian Peninsula (on the Yemen side) and in East Africa and Al Shabab (on the Somali side). Another group, al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, is active in Algeria, Mali, Niger and Mauritania, and it has links to other terrorist and criminal organizations. An al Qaeda affiliate, the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus, operates in North Caucasus, Chechnya and the surrounding areas. These are the main affiliates; there are other associates, supporters and sympathetic organizations. The Army of Islam operating in the Gaza Strip, for example, is inspired by al Qaeda, even if it is not yet a fully recognized affiliate. The network is dynamic and complex, and names change as do leaders; the threat does not.

From Fergana Valley to Syria—the Transformation of Central Asian Radical Islam

JULY 25, 2014

Following the end of the Soviet Union, a couple of Islamic organizations emerged in the Uzbek city of Namangan in the Fergana Valley, like Islam Lashkarlari (Islam’s solders) or Adolat (Justice). Repressed by the new Uzbek regime, some of them managed to escape and join the United Uzbek Opposition in neighboring Tajikistan. When the Tajik peace agreement was signed between the different factions, ending the civil war, Uzbek Islamists decided not to join it but to set up their own organization, the O'zbekiston Islomiy Harakati, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, or IMU. A little bit more than twenty years after it first appeared, this movement has changed considerably in its tactics as well as in its ideology and objectives. This on-going transformation has made this movement and more broadly, Uzbek jihadists, less and less connected to their original homeland, Central Asia, and more and more involved in a global jihad, first in Waziristan, and now in Syria.

Before its founding by Tohir Yoldashev and Juma Namangani, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was an informal religious association interested first of all in the spiritual awakening of the local population in the Fergana Valley. Its initial successes right after Uzbekistan's independence and the state’s harsh repression encouraged the IMU to develop more political ambitions, a politicization strongly fought by Uzbek authorities. Consolidated in Tajikistan, where it had benefited from the chaos of the civil war from 1992 to 1997, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan then took refuge in Afghanistan after a peace truce conciliated the different Tajik factions in 1998. In Tajikistan, the IMU’s main objective was to topple the Uzbek regime and to install an Islamic state in Uzbekistan. However, after this movement took refuge in Afghanistan, with the support and the hospitality of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, it gradually started to abandon its Uzbek objectives, adopting the priorities of its hosts. The U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan eliminated its two leaders—Juma Namangani in 2001 and Tohir Yoldasshev in 2009—and forced the Uzbek jihadists to move into Waziristan. The IMU's strong cooperation with the Taliban and Al Qaeda contributed to a certain degree to its assimilation by these two protectors. In Afghanistan, IMU objectives moved away from their initial goal of ousting the Uzbek government and establishing an Islamic regime in all Central Asia, becoming more and more involved in a global jihad. In terms of actions, we saw an IMU more and more involved in attacks against Pakistani, Afghan, and U.S. military targets. It seems that even its ethnic composition has considerably changed—a lot of non-Uzbeks started to be active in the IMU. A good illustration of how the IMU has diverged from its Central Asian objectives was the Karachi airport attack that was perpetrated with a very strong involvement by the IMU. According to several sources, the IMU was the most important mastermind of the attack. Last, but not least, an analysis of IMU leaders' discourse on YouTube and on its website shows that it has largely abandoned its tirades against Central Asian regimes in favor of a passion for a global jihad.

India's Centrality in South Asia

By Kazi Anwarul Masud

Centrality of a nation in its region or beyond depends on the insecurity of adjoining nations from aggression or threat of destabilization by adversaries. Since the end of the second World War when communism stood as an alternative to Western capitalism as a viable alternative development model it was embraced by many developing nations recently freed from the yoke of colonialism.

Colonialism was broadly seen as a method to extort colonized countries for the furtherance of the interests of the colonial masters at the expense of taking away resources of the colonized to the mother country from the periphery. Another interpretation of colonialism was the duty of the white man to "civilize" people in other nations who were materially underdeveloped but with inferior morality while the superiority of the white man's morality to the "uncivilized" remained questionable.

The White Man's Burden popularized by Rudyard Kipling exhorting the colonizers to "send forth the best ye breed" remains open to questions. One view proposes that whites have an obligation to rule over, and encourage the cultural development of people from other cultural backgrounds until they can take their place in the world economically and socially. The term "the white man's burden" has been interpreted by some as racist, or possibly taken as a metaphor for a condescending view of "undeveloped" national culture and economic traditions, identified as a sense of European ascendancy which has been called "cultural imperialism".

An alternative interpretation is the philanthrophic view, common in Kipling's formative years, that the rich (whites) have a moral duty and obligation to help "the poor" (coloureds) "better" themselves whether the poor (coloureds) want the help or not(Wikipedia). It would be a fallacy to project lack of morality in the peripheries as Joseph Conrad in the Heart of Darkness demonstrated through his central character in the book--Kurtz-- "this place nor the natives are the true "heart of darkness", but it is himself and his European contemporaries.

The reader recognizes that the Congo is not the "heart of darkness", but it is actually the heart and soul of every human. One learns that the natives in their primitive and brutal ways are actually more pure and good, than the Europeans and their greed. Conrad uses Kurtz, an ideal human of remarkable mettle and impervious morals, and demonstrates what lies beneath all men, the evil that is present and waiting in all of us. 

Despite the moral incontestability of the center and the periphery on grounds of lack of modern technology by the colonized the justification of colonialism has been difficult to sustain. Besides the ruthless exploitation of the resources of the periphery and their forced transfer to the center brought alongside the practice of slavery that existed of decades contributed to the prosperity of the center. Harriet Beecher Stow's Uncle Tom's Cabin and many other literary gems brought to the fore the brutality of colonialism and consequent movement for autonomy and later for freedom by the colonized.

The world today has progressed far from the days when Australian settlers' weekend game was celebrated by wages made on the basis of how many aborigines the settlers could shoot in a given period. Though the New Zealand has apologized to the Maoris and the Australians to the aborigines for the wrongs done to them the fenced communities constructed for them and the "facilities" given to them still mark them out as distinct species in their homeland.

The domination of less developed nations are no longer determined by blood and sword as in the Roman era. It is determined by the superior (and sometimes ulterior) use of scientific knowledge of the West. An example is the British aid to Botswana in which the recipient country was obliged to export major part of its diamond to England that more than made up for the amount of "aid" that England gave to Botswana.

HADR and US-China Military Cooperation

By Jen Pearce
July 28, 2014

It is time for the two powers to work together on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. 

The United States has been a significant contributor to humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HADR) in Asia. The geographic region known as the Ring of Fire, which stretches from Christchurch, New Zealand up to the Bering Strait, down the Pacific Coast of the United States, and to the southern tip of Chile is disproportionately prone to natural disasters. The Southeast Asia region of the Ring, in particular, is beleaguered annually by typhoons, volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. The United States has offered various forms of humanitarian assistance to the nations of the Asia-Pacific for decades; however, it was not until after the end of the Cold War that United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) began to conduct large-scale HADR missions. Since 1989, the United States military has led the charge in nearly every major disaster in Southeast Asia.

China is geographically the largest country in the Asia-Pacific region. It is also home to the world’s second largest economy and the world’s third most powerful military. As it expands its regional and global influence, it rattles the nerves of its neighbors. In recent years, many in the leadership in China have expressed desire for a bipolar world, with the United States controlling the West and China managing the East. However, there is a gap in how China perceives itself and how it projects itself. A greater presence on the world stage also demands a larger and more comprehensive responsibility toward global affairs.

When arguing for China’s increased participation in disaster relief efforts, it should be stressed that the United States should not scale back its own capabilities in the Asia-Pacific. In addition to providing first-responder capabilities in times of crisis, the United States military also serves as a constant presence that encourages regional stability. Tensions in the region are arguably higher than they have been in decades, with skirmishes over territory occurring often and increasing in frequency. Preemptively, the United States positioned air and naval assets in and around the South China Sea long before China became a regional power. These assets, many of which have been in place since World War II, have been a fairly effective deterrent to regional conflicts. However, greater cooperation and shared responsibility for humanitarian assistance/disaster relief in the region would be to the benefit of all countries involved. An increased role by China would serve to benefit China, the United States, and its neighbors.

Recent history has had no shortage of large-scale natural disasters in Southeast Asia. In December 2004, a tsunami ravaged the northwest coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, killing more than 275,000 people and leaving nearly 10 million homeless. It remains one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in modern history. Within two days, the United States military stood up Operation Unified Assistance to respond to the crisis. The U.S. government provided more than $950 million in aid and nearly 13,000 military personnel were devoted to the relief effort for nearly two months.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, resulting in nearly 7,000 casualties. It was the largest typhoon ever to hit the country. The United States responded in less than two days, deploying troops and delivering relief aid and supplies to affected areas. In addition to the more than $86 million in cash donated by the U.S. government, the military operation known as Damayan cost the United States more than $14 million dollars just in its first two weeks.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also has proven HADR capabilities. It has been actively engaged in domestic HADR efforts since its inception in 1949. In a country where flooding, drought and earthquakes have occurred with relative frequency for centuries, the PLA has become adept at reacting to these events. And in recent years the PLA has altered its doctrine with regards to HADR efforts, giving it an even larger priority in its mission. Historically viewed as a sideline task of the army, the PLA now classifies natural disasters as a non-traditional security threat. China’s overall military budget stands at approximately $115 billion a year (the conservative official government figure) and in March 2014, Premier Li Keqiang announced a 12.2 percent budget increase over the next year.

India Should Carefully Weigh China’s Strategic Intentions

By D. S. Rajan

(The writer of this article is Mr D. S. Rajan, Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies, India. He dedicates this article to late Mr B. Raman, a strategic analyst par excellence and one of the founders of the C3S who passed away on 19 June 2013.

Fluent in Chinese and Japanese languages. Portions of the article are based on the writer’s Public Talk delivered on invitation on the subject of “China’s Rise and India’s Strategic Choices”, organised by the Sam Nunn School of International affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA, on 7 April 2014, Email: director.c3s@gmail.com - C3S)

All indications are that Prime Minister Modi government in India is going to continue its predecessor’s policy of ‘engaging’ the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Within a short time of taking over, it has taken initiatives to improve bilateral political, military and economic relations with Beijing; they have led to certain positive results; notable are the prospects that have emerged for establishment of Chinese industrial parks in India during the late June 2014 visit to Beijing of an Indian delegation led by Vice-President Ansari and for increased military contacts between the two sides at the time of the trip to Beijing of the Indian Army chief, Bikram Singh in early July 2014. Modi has met the Chinese President Xi Jinping at the sidelines of Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) summit held in Brazil in mid-July 2014. On its part, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) lost no time in sending its Foreign Minister Wang Yi to meet India’s new leadership; this taken together with a reported proposal for a visit to India by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September this year , has signaled PRC’s priority to strengthen contacts with the new regime in India. 

There are reasons to believe that the present bonhomie with Beijing as only a tactical phase in which the two sides find their interests, especially economic, converge. India seems to be far away from fully developing a strategic vision for itself, while China’s future outlook already stands concrete and well documented. In any case, one cannot miss the divergence between India’s long term view seen so far and the already firm and well documented China’s postulates set to determine its future world position.

Looking from India’s point of view, the task for it to begin crafting a sound long term strategy towards China capable of handling such divergence, thus, assumes priority, noting the increasing contradictions in Chinese foreign policy and the emerging uncertainties in regional geopolitics, especially as an offshoot of the impending US withdrawal from Afghanistan. It needs to be acknowledged that New Delhi has already shown signs of change with respect to its China policy.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gave a hint to a revamping of China policy, when it, during the poll campaign, charged the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime of having been soft towards Beijing and the BJP leader Modi called upon China in his one of his poll speeches (Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh, 22 February 2014) to shed its “expansionist mindset”. But was the previous UPA government really soft on China? At the best, it can be said that its China strategy has been subtle; as an indicator, former Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh combined his belief that India and China ‘have enough space to flourish’ with criticism (Washington, late 2009) of “certain amount of Chinese assertiveness” towards India. The UPA government also made some beginning in improving border military infrastructure. The new Indian administration can build up the tempo set by its predecessor.