27 September 2016

*** Doing what is necessary - Understanding the Kashmir problem

Surendra Munshi 

What needs to be done is a question that cannot be even raised meaningfully without paying close attention to what has happened. We need to ask first: in nearly 30 years since 1987, what has been lost?

The loss of Kashmiri Hindus needs to be emphasized as it is often overlooked. An entire community has been thrown out of their original homeland and made refugees in their own country. This is not to overlook other losses. The actual deaths during the period are likely to be less than 1,00,000, including those of security personnel, but the number is certainly very large and growing. Deaths, injuries, tortures, abuses, rapes, missing persons - these human miseries have caused havoc for individuals and families. Common Kashmiri Muslims have suffered much. Women bear the brunt of such a massive upheaval.

There have been major economic losses as well due to the insurgency. According to an estimate, just the ongoing unrest in Kashmir has already caused a loss of Rs 6,400 crore to the economy of the Valley owing to curfews and strikes. More depressing is the cost of missed opportunities. A peaceful state of Jammu and Kashmir could have opened up opportunities at all levels for benefiting from new technologies. A software and hardware hub, pharmaceutical industry, service industry with digital support, revitalized traditional economic activity such as tourism - all these come readily to mind.

Less tangible but more damaging is the change in mentality. If the social landscape of the Kashmir Valley has been changed, the mental landscape is being changed too. A key word that must be considered now is kashmiriyat, a word that has special reference to Kashmir.

A brief reference to the past is relevant here. Kashmir is known to have been an abode ofrishis, the inspired saints or ascetics of ancient times who sang hymns for the welfare of humanity. Nobody illustrates this tradition better than Lalla, born in the first half of the 14th century, seen as a Shaivite as well as a Sufi mystic. Lalla influenced the poets who followed her, notably Sheikh Nur-ud-din, revered by Hindus and Muslims alike, called Nunda Rishi by the Hindus. There are many legends about these mystic aspirants, notably how Lalla nursed the infant Nur-ud-din when he refused milk from his own mother. These were the expressions of the coming together of Shaivism and Sufism in the local context of Kashmir. This coming together was moved by the spirit of 'peace with all' which had its influence on the social life of the common people.

*** Solving the Pakistan puzzle

Army jawans take positions near the Army base which was attacked by militants in Uri. Photo: Nissar Ahmad 

160926 - Oped - Kashmir - Happymon Jacob Illustration: Keshav 

Special Arrangement

Happymon Jacob — Photo: Special Arrangement 

The confusion that characterises the aftermath of the Uri attack is a reminder that India needs more nuance and guile in engaging stakeholders in Pakistan’s power structure.

The terrorist attack on an Indian Army base in north Kashmir’s Uri by Pakistan-based terror groups has rekindled a long-standing debate in the country on how to deal with its troublesome neighbour, Pakistan. At the same time, it has called into serious question the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s incoherent policy towards Pakistan, characterised by a consistent lack of nuanced understanding of the art of diplomacy, and the costs of war.

A cursory analysis of the BJP-led government’s Pakistan policy reveals an inherent desire for quick returns from what is arguably India’s most difficult bilateral challenge which goes to indicate how historically unsound the thinking behind the BJP’s Pakistan policy has so far been. After the initial reach out during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing in, the year-long military stand-off on the international border in Jammu stalled progress between the two sides. The quiet parleys between the two National Security Advisers thereafter brought some semblance of normalcy back into the relationship, which was further cemented by Mr. Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore in December, something that has apparently become a millstone around his neck today.

Pakistan’s inability to keep promises

*** How to punish Pakistan

September 22, 2016

In the aftermath of the Uri attack, the government faces a clamour of heated opinion, demanding retribution for Pakistan's most recent transgression. India is not without the means to answer its neighbour's provocations. But it also has much more at stake. We weigh the options. 

In his hour of crisis, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi decides what 'punishment' Pakistan deserves for crossing the threshold of Indian tolerance with the Uri attack-in which 19 army personnel were killed-he could do with some age-old wisdom that would also sit well with his party's Hindutva moorings. 

Some 2,500 years ago, ancient India's foremost strategist, Kautilya, in his seminal treatise, the Arthashastra or the science of politics, discussed in detail how to deal with enemy nations. Like his predecessor Sun Tzu, Kautilya was not an advocate of rushing into war but of weighing all options carefully before proceeding. Kautilya declared: "If there is equal advancement in peace or war, one should resort to peace." 

Like the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz centuries later, Kautilya believed war was only a continuation of politics by other means and considered it the last option. According to him, the key to winning was not military might alone but perspicacious judgement, comprehensive intelligence and a deep grasp of politics. 

As Modi confronts his defining moment as prime minister, just like his predecessors did - Atal Behari Vajpayee during the 1999 Kargil intrusions and 2001 Parliament attack, andManmohan Singh during the 2008 Mumbai attacks - he would be wise to heed such sagacious advice and learn from history. 

The course Modi decides to take in the coming weeks and months will not only decide whether the prime minister emerges as the statesman he so wishes to be seen as, but will also affect 1.4 billion Indians, if not the world. 



by John Shipp
September 22nd, 2016 

Australian Army officers perform a Tactical Exercise Without Troops (TEWT) for Unit PME

The Problem – the ‘Fire Hose’ Approach to Education

As the recent Ryan Review noted, the Australian Army’s current system of Professional Military Education (PME) is not broken, but needs reinvigoration.

There are long stretches between officer promotion courses when immersion into the profession of arms is sporadic and incidental. Professional development can be diminished against urgent collective training requirements and unit administration. The urgent often pushes out the important.

All ranks know the feeling of “drinking from the fire hose” and “data dumping”. The former refers to intensive study, often by rote, committing material to memory just long enough for an assessment. The latter refers to the period that follows, when students inevitably forget most of what was learnt.

During the long stretch of time between courses, we often struggle to recall hazy memories of past studies. If we are destined to forget so much of what we learn during PME, and don’t use it during daily duties, what is the point of learning it in the first place?

Perhaps there is another way. The things we learn during residential courses could be reinforced, even augmented, during the long years in between.

A Solution for the Connected Age: Massive Open Online Courses?

To maximise the Army’s human capital and maintain the cognitive edge over Australia’s rivals, we must develop new ways to enhance PME.

* Pakistan will have to Pay a Price for Irresponsible Conduct

By Amb. Hardeep Singh Puri
26 Sep , 2016

Absent good advice, democratically elected leaders are capable of making serious mistakes which have far-reaching repercussions on the future of their country. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s address to the high-level section of the UN General Assembly (GA) on September 21 will go down in the history of Pakistan as a monumental error of judgement and an example of delusional politics. Pakistan has been battling allegations of being a state sponsor of terror for nearly three decades. Its track record and the brazen manner in which it has used terrorism as an instrument of policy should have led to its designation in any list of terrorist states that could be so compiled. That Pakistan has escaped doing so is largely a reflection of a certain measure of success by its diplomacy in using its status as a front-line state for counter-terrorism purposes and the leveraging of its relationship with the US to escape such designation. Luck seems to now be running out.

What has changed? The mistakes made by the West in Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, and the ongoing horrific violence in Syria have altered the narrative. Many countries are arming rebels and Pakistan perhaps believes it is not the only one. There is, however, a crucial difference. The rise of the ISIS, the unwanted child of failed and neglected interventions, has driven the fear of God into Western establishments. Pakistan was already on the brink as a result of harbouring Osama Bin Laden in the military cantonment in Abottabad. For the Prime Minister of Pakistan to describe a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, seeking to establish an extension of the Caliphate, as a victim of an ‘oppressive state’ is incredulous beyond the point.

Raja Mandala: Get real on Russia

C. Raja Mohan 

As it draws closer to Pakistan and China, India must stop taking it for granted.

“Every school child in India knows Russia is India’s best friend.” That was the essence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks when he first met the Russian President Vladimir Putin at the margins of the BRICS summit two years ago in Brazil. Although Modi was on his very first diplomatic assignment outside the Subcontinent, he had got the popular Indian sense of Russia just right.

As Russia conducts its first ever military exercise with the Pakistan Army this week, Delhi has to reckon with the prospect that Russia might not necessarily remain India’s “best friend forever”. Rethinking Russia’s position in India’s strategic calculus will be heart-wrenching for many in Delhi. Moscow’s new warmth towards Pakistan may have, wittingly or unwittingly, begun to nudge India towards a relationship with Russia that is founded in realism rather than inertia.

Inside, outside

Ashutosh Varshney 

Any response to Uri must factor in the Pakistani state’s relationship with non-state actors.

The Uri attacks have returned India-Pakistan relations to an old and familiar groove. India blames Pakistani terrorists. Pakistan denies the charge, instead proposing that India’s oppression in Kashmir fuelled the attack on the army camp. This clash of narratives is unlikely to end. But as India contemplates its response, it may be worthwhile to look at how the world of scholars is analysing the relationship between the Pakistani state and its non-state armed groups.

For a long time, it has been observed that many states defy Max Weber’s theory that modern states seek a monopoly over the means of coercion and do not allow non-state groups to use violence. We know that states often don’t crush armed organisations, even if they can; or they liquidate some groups while protecting others. In light of this larger problem, the key puzzle about Pakistan is: Should Pakistan’s relationship with non-state terror groups be viewed as simply an illustration of a larger problem that many states encounter, or is Pakistan sui generis with few relevant comparisons?

Shed blinkers on Pak ‘revenge’ plan

Shankar Roychowdhury

The incomprehension and sheer ignorance of India’s political class, specially liberal ‘soft-liners’, about the situation in the Valley and the true nature of the enemy was visible during the after-visit conclave of the all-party delegation.

“Grab ‘em by the *****, their hearts and minds will follow.”
— An American soldier, Vietnam, circa 1960s

The CRPF havildar on unbroken picket duty for almost three months in Habba Kadal or Jama Masjid in central Srinagar, grimly watching hate-filled, “azadi” mobs darting in and out of the warren of alleyways and bylanes, targeting him with stones and the occasional petrol bomb, who couldn’t respond due to compulsions of “minimum force”, might be forgiven if thoughts similar to that of the US soldier in Vietnam in 1965 crossed his mind as well.

A stint on urban pacification duty in Srinagar’s alleys during the “Burhan Wani riots” can be tedious, boring, tense and deadly. Also, the ongoing separatist agitations in south Kashmir and on Srinagar’s streets must be understood for what they actually signify — a strategic variation of pace by Pakistan in its proxy long war with India. This is also accompanied by a switchback to the tactics of violent civil disobedience of yesteryears, of the street-fuelled Moi-e-Muqaddas riots of 1963, and the smokescreen of the 1965 Hazratbal agitations to cover the stealthy concentration of fidayeen infiltrated into Srinagar as part of Pakistan’s “Operation Gibraltar”.

Sharif & Army-ISI: A sordid saga

Abhijit Bhattacharyya

Gen. Musharraf’s 1999 coup proved the unsaid and unspoken reality of Pakistan: that both the Army and the office of Prime Minister are not only unstable, but both are treacherous entities that have led Pakistan down the garden path

After hearing the Pakistan PM’s ramblings on Kashmir at the UN General Assembly last week, one began to wonder how “sharif” (civil or civilised) Nawaz Sharif could possibly be, with or without official position and status? This when he appeared so edgy and nervous and totally at a loss to utter anything other than “prepared” parrot-like lines scripted by backseat-driving hardliners in his country’s India-obsessed Army-ISI establishment.

Indeed, such was the visible agony of this “ad hoc” chief executive that one couldn’t help but delve deep into the Sharif brand of politics, to examine the evolution of his psyche and worldview as the 21st century beleaguered PM of terrorist-infested Pakistan. One can almost pity the plight of the occupant of the PM’s chair in that country, with his induction, rise, fall and rise again at the whims of the Army-ISI duo.

It’s hardly a secret that every aspect of Mr Sharif’s political journey so far has been guided, aborted or thwarted by the Army and ISI. Having arrived in the post-1971 Pakistan cauldron of chaos and anarchy, the Punjabi leader was propped up by the Army’s fundamentalist chief, Zia-ul Haq, as a counter-civilian politician to “khandani” Benazir Bhutto, the lanky Sindhi lass from Larkana, as the “ghost” of the Bhutto “gharana”.

Panchsheel: It is right for Our Country, for Asia and for the World or Born in Sin?

By Claude Arpi
25 Sep , 2016

The ‘Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India’ was signed April 29, 1954 in Beijing.

It has remained (in) famous for its preamble, containing the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence; the Agreement became known as the Panchsheel Treaty (from Pali, panch: five,sheel: virtues)

Soon after the signature one could hear the refrain: “The Government of India found its old advantages in Tibet (military escorts, trade agencies, trade mats, dak bungalows, telegraph lines, etc..) of little use and in any case the Chinese exercised full control in Tibet.”

For P.N. Kaul, who was one of the Indian negotiators, India was just getting rid of her colonial past: “But, more important was the fact that they were vestiges of imperialist domination and violated the principle of equality, Nehru’s policy was not a replica of British policy and he did not want any irritants of no practical value.”

Tibet had been an independent nation for nearly 2000 years; in one stroke India was given away the Land of Snows’ independence under the pretext that India’s presence in Tibet was an imperialist remnant.

However for Nehru, it represented for “an attempt, the first in post-World War II history, to put bilateral relations between the two big countries of Asia on a principled basis. Its success would depend on the intentions and motives, the national aspirations and interests, the leadership and implementing machinery on each side.”

When the Prime Minister presented the ‘Agreement’ in the Parliament he was in his revolutionary mood; he proclaimed: “Now we must realise that this revolution that came to China is the biggest thing that has taken place in the world at present, whether you like it or not.”

In the same speech Nehru spoke described the content of the Agreement Panchsheel: “Live and let live, no one should invade the other, no one should fight the other… this is the basic principle which we have put in our treaty.”

He had forgotten that China had invaded Tibet three years earlier.

The ‘Lost’ Operation Against Pakistan in Chorbat La

By Lt Gen HS Panag, PVSM, AVSM (Retd.)
Date : 26 Sep , 2016

After Kargil, India secured an important peak and outwitted Pakistan. But officially, this operation never happened

When the Line of Control was demarcated after the Shimla Agreement, it was done with a “thick pen” on a small scale map – 1/4 inch to a mile or one centimetre to 2.5 kilometre scale. Once interpreted on a large scale map – one inch to a mile or one centimetre to 500 meters – the differences become glaring, with claims and counter claims by both sides on the ground. This problem came to the fore post-Kargil War as most of the area that was being secured now, was earlier not physically held by both sides.

In the Batalik-Yaldor-Chorbatla Sector, which was under the command of my brigade, we had four such tactical features that needed to be secured. All of them were on the formidable Ladakh range and heights varied from 5,200-5,300 meters or 17,000 to 17,500 feet. Post the Kargil War, these features were not secured by either side due to initial errors of judgment and the onset of winter. Out of the four, three features that were in the Batalik and Yaldor Sub Sectors were not a cause for concern as the approach from our side was easy and extremely difficult from the Pakistani side. Chorbat La Sub Sector had one feature, Point (Pt) 5310, which posed a peculiar problem. Pt 5310 was covered by the ‘thick pen’ used while demarcating the LOC, but the approach to it (particularly in winter) was arduous. The LOC beyond Pt 5310 took a ‘U’ turn of two kilometer towards us.

After that, the LOC ran along the base of the ‘U’ for six kilometres before turning north towards the Pakistani side for two kilometres. The area of the ‘U’ was known as Karubar Bowl (a nullah is known as a ‘bar’ in this area and a ‘bowl’ is the military term for a small valley) and a road from its northern end connected it to Siari on the Shyok River, opening an avenue to cut off Pakistani defences opposite the Turtok Sector. The feasible approach for us was over a glacier at the southern end of Karubar Bowl, but it involved a movement of two kilometres through Pakistani territory. Whoever controlled Pt 5310 also controlled the 12 square kilometres of Karubar Bowl – which meant that if we secured Pt 5310, we would also ‘tactically’ control 12 square kilometres of Pakistani territory. Domination of this area also threatened the Pakistani posts opposite Turtok Sector from the rear.

In this sector, posts can only be held and sustained in winter if adequate

No Signs of Peace in South Asia: Reflections from Uri Terror Attack

By Indrajit Sharma
25 Sep , 2016

The Global Peace Index (GPI), 2016 identifies South Asia as one of the least peaceful regions in the world. Out of the nine regions (in the world) South Asia positions at eighth. Globally, India ranks at 141 and 5 in South Asia. According to GPI, 2016 “India’s scores for ongoing domestic and international conflict and militarization have deteriorated as the country remains vulnerable to acts of terror and security threats at its shared border with Pakistan”.

The proxy war from Pakistan poses serious implications for India’s internal security stability. The data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal till September 11, 2016 shows that there have been 165 casualties in terrorist related violence…

The terror attack on the army base in Uri (closely located near Line of Control) in Kashmir that killed 17 Indian security forces, made it clear that peace is still a distant prospect for South Asia’s most volatile frontier –Kashmir. The Uri attack was carried out by Fidayeen militants and is considered to be the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades. The attack reflects that prospects for peace and an improved or stable security situation continue to deteriorate.

Over the years, the number of deaths caused by externally organized terror strikes has risen indicative of the fact that South Asia’s most volatile frontier –Kashmir does not reflect any signs of peace which is durable and lasting. And such incident (Uri attack) has nothing but pushed India – Pakistan relation which is already under a strain due to previous attacks on Indian side.

What India Can Learn From Israel, US On Strengthening Its Border Defence

September 23, 2016

The attack at Uri, Jammu and Kashmir, raises questions about our border security.

India can adopt best practices, especially from countries like Israel and US who have been successful in protecting their borders.

Strengthening our border defence is the best way to pay homage to our brave soldiers who are laying down their lives for the country.

A group of Jaish-e-Mohammed fidayeen attacked an Indian infantry installation at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in the wee hours on 18 September 2016, in which 18 army jawans were killed and several others critically injured. The four attackers were also neutralised by the armed forces in the counter operation. The initial reports suggested that these terrorists had infiltrated to India from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Unfortunately, terrorist attacks are not new to India as they occur with monotonous regularity. In the current geopolitical circumstances, there is not much hope of the number of such attacks reducing in the near future. However, our collective response to terrorist attacks is ridden with cliché, repetitive and, sometimes, pathetic. The usual condemnation, evidence of Pakistan’s hand, intelligence failure, martyrdom and xenophobic outbursts fill up the social media and newspaper space on subsequent days before things turn business as usual.

Every time there is an attack, we hear a collective clamour for retributive action against the perpetrators. But amidst this hullabaloo, we lose sight of the first and foremost aspect of devising new preventive measures against such attacks. Where are the tactical rethinking and course correction measures to counter them?

The Rafale deal is a perfect case study in what is wrong with India's defence planning and purchases

Contradictory claims about costs and objectives aside, the IAF is now looking at a nightmare from the logistics point of view. Image credit: Reuters

There are few air forces in the world that have such a diverse inventory of aircraft as the Indian Air Force. After the Indian and French Defence ministers signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement for the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft on Friday, the IAF is now staring at managing one of the most complex fleets in history.

At the bottom of this purchase is another tale of how badly India manages its strategic planning and defence acquisitions. Already burdened with ageing aircraft, the IAF will now have to deal with multiple kinds of aircraft sourced across three continents. The bulk of the IAF’s inventory still comprises Soviet/Russian aircraft – the MiGs, Sukhois, AN-32s, IL-76. Add to this the British Jaguars, French Mirages and Rafales, American C-130s and it starts to look like a circus that picked up every new act that was available to it.

But the nearly Rs 58,000 crore that India will pay for 36 aircraft comes at a steep cost, and ensures there won’t be money to buy the 126 aircraft that it originally needed. Where the balance 90 aircraft will come from and how much they will cost remains unclear.

Some have claimed that the Indian government managed to bring the price down significantly to about Rs 58,000 crore. But different figures have been provided by the defence minister. The original price for 126 aircraft was pegged at Rs 90,000 crore, he said in an interview toDoordarshan on April 13, 2015. He revised this figure to Rs 1.3 lakh crore in a subsequent interview to PTI. How this figure was escalated by the defence minister has not been explained.

However, if the earlier figure of Rs 90,000 crore is correct then the 36 aircraft are nearly double the cost of the original deal to buy 126 of them. The claim of Rs 90,000 crore, incidentally, was made by the defence minister to the very person who has now written that the government managed to reduce the price.
Conflicting claims

Provoked and Patient

23 September 2016

India has not revealed all its options 

THE AGEING DEODARS, firs and other conifers in the hills of Uri wore a weeping look, thanks to branches that droop as the trees grow taller. Insects and birds hummed loudly, their sounds breaking through the thick foliage on the autumn morning of 18 September. But the stillness was shattered by gunshots and a volley of grenade explosions that killed 18 soldiers, as a group of terrorists with well-trimmed hair and in military fatigues found their way using GPS devices into the 12th Brigade headquarters of the Army at Uri in northern Kashmir, barely 7 km from the Line of Control (LoC). Fed on chocolates and energy bars as they crossed over to India from Pakistan, these young terrorists, masquerading as Army personnel, managed to hoodwink the sentries. They threw hand grenades and opened fire, setting a few tents ablaze and locking up the cook’s room where scores of soldiers perished in the flames. Four terrorists were soon neutralised by the Army’s response, their bodies riddled with 169 bullets in all. 

For all the scenic beauty of the mountains and woods around Uri, says a military officer who has worked in the area, it is a harrowing place to be posted. The Army employs many locals here, from porters to pony riders who carry supplies from its administrative base to remote locations, where soldiers hold vigil against Pakistani forces as well as militants crossing over, but amid the turbulent political climate of Kashmir—violence has gripped the Valley since the 8 July killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani—large numbers of them have been turning hostile towards it. “Eighteen soldiers getting killed is a tragedy and an unending shame for one of the biggest armies in the world, as the terrorists breached the LoC it guarded and also its own base,” says the officer, “I am sure the Indian Army’s carelessness may have astonished even the Pakistani attackers. They would not have even remotely expected anything of this magnitude. Our boys got martyred in the fire, but no such thing should have happened there because the Uri base, measuring 400 metres in length and nearly 200 metres in width, is meant to be well guarded.” He calls the border area a ‘grave’ war zone. Another senior Army officer says he, too, like many colleagues he has been in touch with since the incident, is alarmed that militants from across the border could breach the Uri base’s security cover to wreak such devastation. “Worse, there were hard intelligence inputs,” says this officer. 

Why abrogation of Indus Waters Treaty sucks

Yashwant Sinha, dissident par excellence in Bharatiya Janata Party, seldom misses an opportunity to embarrass the Narendra Modi government. And the fact of the matter is that he not only has an erudite mind and is articulate but also has the wit to spot the Achilles heel of our besieged prime minister at any given time.

Sinha, unsurprisingly, takes the most hawkish position conceivable on how India ought to retaliate against Pakistan over the attack on army base in Uri. His opinion piece in Indian Express two days ago espousing ‘jaw-for-tooth’ will delight RSS and Hindu nationalist constituency but hits Modi where it hurts, who is of course in the unhappy position of being accountable for his fateful decisions, some of which can even cause the loss of a million innocent Indian lives.

Amongst Sinha’s hard-hitting suggestions to teach Pakistan a lesson, he suggests: 

While the military response is being worked out the government should… abrogate the Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan with immediate effect… Treaty terms are observed between friends, not enemies. Pakistan is an enemy state of India… India will, therefore, be fully justified in abrogating the Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan. 

To be sure, having been India’s External Affairs Minister, Sinha isn’t unaware why South Block never pursued such a bright idea to ‘punish’Pakistan.

But our ‘hawks’ of the Sangh Parivar with their tunnel vision may not know that although Indus Waters Treaty is, strictly speaking, a bilateral covenant, it was negotiated behind the scenes by a third party – United States – which even today takes pride that the covenant survived the ravages of time in the subsequent tortuous 55-year history of our subcontinent, since it was signed in Karachi in 1960.

The sharing of waters between India and Pakistan was an idea that originally occured to a brilliant American mind, David Eli Lilienthal, who once headed the Tennessee Valley Authority in the US (which was created by FDR during Great Depression for comprehensive development of the Tennessee Valley, especially for creating jobs through public investment.) Suffice it to say, Indus Waters Treaty showcased US’ commitment to assist the modernization of agrarian societies.

India's security forces desperately need an overhaul

It is well-known that peace can be sustained with certainty only if the ability to conduct war is well-appreciated by the enemy.

The defence of our lands is in the hands of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. We have a million-strong Army, and a sizeable Air Force and Navy. The Army is a professional force, with rigorous selection and training procedures. It is not very modern in its weapon systems and the reasons are too well known to bear repetition. For years, committee after committee has lamented the lack of modern equipment, and for years we have been trying to get an unimpeachable procurement system, but it never gets implemented.

The command and control structures have been well documented and peace time Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) well laid down. During war time actions, there are well-known limitations on its strike capability, primarily as a consequence of its armament supply chains.

Army soldiers carry the coffin of martyr Sanjeevan Singh Rana, who was killed in terrorist attack in Pathankot, during his funeral at his native village Siyunh near Shahpur in Himachal Pradesh. Photo credit: PTI 

Perhaps, 30 years ago, this force composition would have been adequate in numbers. Today, we have to be operationally ready on a real-time basis. Given our geo-political compulsions, we have to be in a state of "armed peace", because our western borders are perpetually hostile and the eastern borders are not yet friendly.

Kashmir Crisis Poses Major Test for India’s Leader, Narendra Modi

SEPTEMBER 21, 2016 

Protesters clashed with Indian security forces in the Indian-controlled area of Kashmir in August. India and Pakistan have been locked in a nearly 70-year feud, beginning with independence from Britain in 1947. 

NEW DELHI — Escalating tension over the contested Kashmir region is presenting a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, who needs regional peace to reach his principal goal of economic revival there. But Indian citizens have been clamoring for a response to what they say is a provocation by Pakistan.

The tension reached a boiling point on Sunday when militants attacked an army base in the Indian-controlled side of Kashmir and killed, at last count, 18 soldiers, setting off a war of words between the two nuclear powers, which have fought three wars in recent decades. India accuses the militants of having links to Pakistan.

The situation not only risks economic growth but could also send two nations skidding into a nuclear war.

“It could happen, and it would be catastrophic for both countries,” said Stephen P. Cohen, the author of “Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum.”

India and Pakistan have been locked in a feud — it began nearly 70 years ago with their independence from Britain — mainly over the Himalayan valley called Kashmir. The dispute over its control, which has led to two wars, had appeared to be relatively dormant since 2010 as tourists returned to the scenic region and turnouts in elections were large. That led the Indian government to believe that the turbulence of recent decades might be over, says Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of the northernmost Indian state, Jammu and Kashmir.

A climatic disaster - An alternative explanation of the crisis in Syria

Ashok V. Desai

Syria is a daily staple of television; pictures of bombed-out homes and mountains of rubble occupy hour after hour. As the scattered briquettes and the straight lanes show, Syria was once prosperous. As the absence of humans on those streets shows, those who are not dead or have not escaped are huddled indoors, hoping to escape the next bullet or bomb. For explanation, we have the choice of two narratives. The Russian narrative is that terrorists armed and financed by the West have been trying to bring down the Assad regime. The Western narrative is that Assad is a vile dictator, and that his entire populace is in revolt against him.

Not all of it. A few escaped across the border to Turkey and are stranded in terrible refugee camps. Some paid boatmen to take them across to Greece, and then sought their way across the Balkans to that European El Dorado, Germany. But soon the Greeks and East Europeans caught them out and fortified themselves to keep them out. In Germany, right-wing politicians have turned the few lakhs of hapless refugees into the second invasion of Europe by Mohammedans. Angela Merkel gave refuge to them, but consequently, she has been isolated; she may well lose power in the next election.

The Indus Waters Treaty: Can India Inflict Significant Damage By Abrogating It?

September 23, 2016

Several projects that India had planned for the western rivers had been stalled due to Pakistan’s objections. All these projects are in the state of J&K.

India’s proposed outreach, aimed at the ‘diplomatic isolation’ of Pakistan, is essentially codespeak for strategic inaction.

While abrogation of the IWT does not constitute an immediate existential crisis for Pakistan, it allows India to build infrastructure for storage on the western rivers.

To counter Pakistan’s constant support for anti-Indian terrorist activities, New Delhi has hinted that it plans to revisit the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).

“There are differences on the treaty. For any such treaty to work, it is important there must be mutual trust and cooperation. It can’t be a one-sided affair,” spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, Vikas Swarup, was quoted as saying.

Noted strategic affairs expert, Brahma Chellaney, also exhorts in a recent article that Pakistan can be easily and effectively punished by India through the abrogation of the treaty.

Will the abrogation of the IWT help India inflict punishment on the rogue state of Pakistan for its continued export of Islamist terror?

A quick backgrounder of the treaty is in order.

In aiding Balochistan, India must be careful about where it leaves its fingerprints

Sep 21, 2016 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mere mention of Balochistan in his Independence Day speech probably caused more flutter than any actual Indian policy ever has. An earlier reference to the western Pakistani province by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval at the 10th Nani Palkhivala Memorial Lecture in February 2014 had already set the tone — in rhetoric, at least — of the Modi administration towards misadventures from its western neighbour.

In the wake of the terror attack in Uri, these comments have acquired greater salience among the public.

To be sure, these utterances represent some bold and out-of-the-box thinking by anyone in the Indian government. However, supporting an insurgency — in whichever country — is a complicated and messy affair that cannot be dismissively relegated to a mere talking point. There is interest in many quarters about the feasibility of Indian support to Balochistan, especially since it appears at first glance to be analogous to the situation in Kashmir. Yet appearances can be deceptive and if Modi and co are serious about the option, there are some questions they must first consider.

Henry Kissinger is famously said to have asked, "Who do I call if I want to call Europe?" The same is true for Balochistan. Whom does the prime minister — or his NSA — call if he wants to call the Balochi rebels? The Balochi struggle, such as it is, remains deeply fractured and it is difficult to identify one clear leader or even someone who could potentially unify the different factions against their common oppressor. Needless to say, Islamabad would have picked off such a person at the earliest, had one emerged.

Uniting factions in service of a common cause is not easy as even the US with its several carrots found out in Syria. Even supporting the two or three major factions is a recipe for disaster as intra-faction fighting can quickly sap international sympathy and India's patience.

Seven powerful ways India can attack Pakistan – without crossing the border

Sep 22, 2016

War is too serious a business to be left to TV anchors, socialites and politicians.

In this crowded space when many Generals & other accomplished security experts, like television anchors and page 3 socialites, are offering security advice, in the aftermath of the Uri attack, when cross-border militants killed 18 Indian soldiers, here are some steps that just might help strategically.
1. Stop jingoism designed to play to the gallery

"Covert" Ops are not announced like TV programs, though TV channels undoubtedly want to be the “First to announce” "Covert" attacks.

These operations based in TV studios are designed to get them Television Rating Points and celebrity status. Most TV anchors, politicians & some Generals will fight until the last drop of your blood.

Doesn’t help strategically or even tactically.

Keeping the enemy on tenterhooks is far better than a few skirmishes. It forces the Pakistani Army to stay on high alert (huge cost & stress on formations) and forces dilution of troops in their Western border with Afghanistan – thus easing Pakistani pressure on pro-India factions in Afghanistan, allowing them time and space to consolidate and gain momentum.

Keeping Pakistani troops committed in their Eastern border for months, awaiting the anticipated retaliation, is far worse for them than actually carrying out a few raids.
2. Recognise that there are three Pakistans: Pakistani Army, Pakistani politicians & Pakistani people

Devise three different strategies for each faction.

Is Al Qaeda’s Presence in Afghanistan Growing?

Bill Roggio
September 25, 2016

US military is hunting al Qaeda in at least 7 Afghanistan provinces

The US military’s top commander in Afghanistan said yesterday that American forces are hunting al Qaeda leaders and members in at least seven Afghan provinces. General John W. Nicholson Jr., who leads NATO’s Resolute Support and US Forces Afghanistan, listed the provinces in response to a question about how many senior al Qaeda leaders remain in eastern Afghanistan. He specifically mentioned the provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, Paktika, Ghazni, Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar.

In October 2015, Gen. Nicholson reminded reporters, “there was an operation conducted down in the Shorabak District of Kandahar where…Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda [in the] Indian subcontinent were present” in a “training base that was destroyed.” After the Shorabak raid, General John Campbell, then the commander of Resolute Support, said the al Qaeda base was “probably the largest training camp-type facility that we have seen in 14 years of war.” At approximately 30 square miles in size, it is easy to see why this is true.

“We…see them [al Qaeda] in the east, stretching from you know, to Zabul, Paktika, Ghazni area in the Southeast and then up in the areas to the Northeast which you are familiar with, Kunar, Nuristan, Nangarhar, there’s some very mountainous area which — which lends itself to a sanctuary,” Gen. Nicholson explained. Al Qaeda and affiliated groups, including jihadist organizations that draw members from neighboring countries in Central Asia, are operating in other provinces as well.

US and Afghan forces have conducted multiple raids against al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan over the past year. In addition to the operation against the al Qaeda camp in Shorabak, Gen. Nicholson mentioned another raid that took place in Paktika province. “The raid in which we rescued Haider Gilani, the son of the former Pakistani prime minister, that was…against an Al Qaeda target, and so Al Qaeda was holding that individual hostage,” Nicholson said.

After he was freed, Gilani told the press that al Qaeda was attempting to trade him for Ayman al Zawahiri’s daughters, another al Qaeda widow, and their children. Al Qaeda claims the women were freed in early August under murky circumstances.

Racing to the finish line, ignoring the cliff: The challenges after Mosul

September 19, 2016 

The campaign to liberate Mosul—Iraq’s second largest city—has been in the works for months and, depending on who you ask, is in some stage of ramping up or is already underway. The military campaign is still far from finished, but it is becoming increasingly likely that the present coalition of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Peshmerga, Hashd ash-Shaabi (or Popular Mobilization Units), an assortment of local militias, and a generous dose of Western assistance and support will recapture the city. Indeed, even Islamic State spokesmen have acknowledged the precarious position of their territory.

However, the growing push to retake the city threatens to replicate an unfortunately common American experience in the region: catastrophic success. There is widespread awareness of the impending humanitarian and political crises that could follow liberation, but too little has been done to minimize—much less resolve—these inevitable challenges. The near singular focus of the United States on destroying the Islamic State is unfortunately obscuring a potentially graver threat to U.S. regional interests: the renewal of civil war in Iraq.


Will the US-Russia Deal on Syria Hold?

By Ranjit Gupta
Date : 25 Sep , 2016

The war in Syria is still raging after over five and half years since its outset. Several initiatives have been undertaken to try and end it – first through the Arab League, then Geneva I, Geneva II and the Vienna Process, where even a calendar of steps for bringing peace to Syria was laid out. Obviously, partisan efforts by Western countries and their Arab Gulf allies in the UN Security Council (UNSC) were defeated by Chinese and Russian vetoes.

Finally, in February 2016 the US, Russia and 19 other countries met in Munich, preceded by intensive negotiations between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and an agreement for a ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Syria’s civil war was announced. On 26 February, the UNSC endorsed this initiative through Resolution 2268. Special Envoys Kofi Annan and Lahkdar Brahimi had toiled without success and resigned; Stefan de Mistura continues his efforts. Despite all this, the situation within Syria has continued to steadily worsen. Given the complex ground realities, a meaningful improvement is nowhere on the horizon, let alone being imminent.

After another round of marathon negotiations conducted secretly between Kerry and Lavrov, a new deal was announced on 09 September, to bring about a ceasefire with the deal coming into effect at 7:00 pm on 12 September. Kerry outlined the main features of the deal at the press conference while announcing the same.

An Overview of the Deal

The Syrian regime and the opposition will cease all attacks against each other including aerial bombardments and shall not attempt to gain additional territory at the expense of each other; both sides will agree to provide unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to all besieged and hard-to-reach areas including, in particular, in and around Aleppo; non jihadist opposition groups are expected to sever connections with Fateh al Sham (earlier called Al Nusra Front – an al Qaeda outfit); after seven continuous days of adherence to the cessation of hostilities and increased humanitarian access to the besieged civilian populations, Russia and the US will begin working together to defeat Fateh al Sham and the Islamic State (IS) jihadist groups; after a “period of reduced violence” the US and Russia “will facilitate a political transition which is the only way to bring about a durable end to this war.”


Biden Demands the Impossible of Ukraine: End Corruption

By George Friedman

Sanctions against Russia aren’t working and the U.S. is forced to consider a new approach.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has said that unless Ukraine overcomes its problems with corruption soon, the United States might have no choice but to abandon sanctions against Russia, Reuters reported yesterday. He pointed out that five unnamed European countries were opposed to continued sanctions and that any one of them could veto sanctions by the European Union. Given that sanctions have to be renewed by the end of the year, this doesn’t give Ukraine much time to abandon a very old national tradition.

The problem for the United States is that it supported replacing the old Ukrainian regime precisely because it saw the old regime as corrupt. Whether the United States really expected a change depends on who you spoke to. From my point of view, corruption was so deeply embedded in Ukrainian culturethat it could better be called a way of life than a criminal deviation. But it was the major justification for backing demonstrators against the old regime and defending the new regime against Russia’s reaction.

The United States has a moralistic streak that manifests in odd ways. There are regimes the United States will not cooperate with because of corruption. There are also regimes where it will intervene in some way to make them less corrupt. And it will pass laws against Americans doing business with some of these regimes. Along with corruption, the U.S. opposes regimes that display brutal oppression. The United States intervened in Libya to end brutality and corruption. It is not obvious that the situation has improved. It is rare to find a situation where the U.S. has intervened in a country and achieved the desired outcome. Ukraine isn’t one of them.


SEPTEMBER 23, 2016

On June 28, three suicide bombers entered the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, where they killed 45 people and injured 229. Although only one of the terrorist was from Russia (the other two were Uzbek and Kyrgyz), it is almost certain that that their last words to one another were in Russian. It is estimated that between 5,000 to 7,000 Russian-speaking jihadists have made Russian the second most popular language of ISIL, after Arabic.

The Changing Demographics

That Russian should be the lingua franca of jihadists from the former Soviet territory is surprising. Many, perhaps most, younger Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Uzbeks (judging by the gastarbeiters from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan) do not know Russian well or even at all. That Russia is becoming widely-spoken is indicative of the explosive internationalization and the vastly expanded recruitment patterns of what might be called the Russian Jihad based in Russia and former Soviet Central Asia.

With an estimated 2,400 of its citizens fighting with ISIL, Russia is surpassed only by Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in the number of its nationals in the extremist group’s ranks. It is far ahead of the top four European suppliers of ISIL soldiers: France with 1,800 fighters, Britain and Germany with 760 each, and Belgium with 470. Russian language graffiti has been spotted in Darayya, Syria (“We will pray in your palace, Putin! Tatars and Chechens, rise up!”), and there is an Univermag grocery store in the “Russian” district of ISIL’s de-facto capital of Raqqa, alongside Russian-language schools and kindergartens.

Behind this development is a confluence of broad demographic, religious, and political trends that have swept across Russia and post-Soviet space in the past two and a half decades — and that continue to be present today.