A.P. Venkateshwaran Former Foreign Secretary
Peter Sinai IFS (retd)
Gen (Retd.) Ravi Eipe
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and its impact
Rahul Bhonsle (Retd)
Way Forward" by
S K Lambah, IFS (Retd)
Defense Modernisation: Implications for India
of Chinese Forces- Implications
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of the situation of Iran: India's strategic interests and options
"A Historical Perceptive" by
Amb. Akbar Mirza Khaleeli
Strategic perspective" by
P J Jacob
Media perspective" by
security relations: Measures to improve trade and economic ties
Col. R Hariharan
Dr Sayed Ali
Shri T P
Developments in Nepal:
impact on India
Current Scenario" by
K V Rajan, IFS (Retd)
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Gen (Retd. Ashok K. Mehta
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developments in Nepal and their impact on India's security
Political Scenario" by
of Political events" by
for India" by
Gen (Retd.) Dipankar Banerjee
Analysis and Opinions
Gen (Retd.) Ashok K. Mehta
Crisis in Pakistan" by
Alok Bansal, IN
security assessment" by
K Bhadrakumar, IFS (Retd)
Pakistan?" by Lt
Gen Satish Nambiar (Retd)
strategic relations in the new world order
Vision and Reality" by
Shri Rajiv Sikri (Retd)
" Historical Perceptive and Current Realities"
Madhavan, IFS (Retd)
"Defence Cooperation Aspects" by
Air Marshal N Menon
contours of Indo-US
"A strategic review" by
" A historic perspective"
Krishnan, IFS (Retd)
"India's options in the global senario" by
Gen S. S Mehta
"Indo-US core interests" by
to India's Look-East
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" India's Look-East Policy: Vision and Reality" by
Shri C.V Ranganathan (Retd)
" Impediments to India’s Look-East
Policy – China’s Reservations and Suggested
"Maritime Aspects of our Look-East Policy" by
Admiral (Retd) P J
Realities and Measures to Safeguard
’s Security Interests
by Shri A Madhavan, former
ambassador of India and a current member of Asia Centre;
IAS officer’s Association, # 1, Infantry Road, Bangalore -1
Asia Centre has been conducting a series of seminars and
discussions to review India’s Security environment in the
Sub-continent. As a final
leg of this of Series, a
seminar was held on 30 May 2009 from 9 A M to 1:30 P M on the topic
“Whither Pakistan? Emerging Realities and
Measures to Safeguard
’s Security Interests” at the I A S Officers’ Institution, # 1 Infantry
Road, Bangalore. The seminar was presided by Shri A P Venkateswaran,
former Foreign Secretary and chairman of Asia Centre.
presentations were followed by a lively discussion session. Nearly
45 Asia Centre members and invitees drawn from retired officers of
Indian Administrative Service, Foreign Service & Defense
Services, and academics attended the seminar.
The following distinguished speakers addressed the seminar: -
Crisis in Pakistan"
Alok Bansal, IN,
Fellow at IDSA,
and Security Analyst.
security assessment" by
S Gopal, Retired
Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of
K Bhadrakumar, IFS (Retd),
Career Diplomat who has served in
, Turey and Former USSR.
Gen Satish Nambiar (Retd),
Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Former Commander of UN Forces in Former
This report summarises the
essence of the presentations and the discussions that followed.
A.P. Venkateswaran, Chairman of Asia
Centre, opened the seminar
with a brief comment on the new Indian government formed after the
recent election, calling it a blend of youth and experience.
This was, he said, a good opportunity to consider past
mistakes and take corrective measures, especially those relating to
Gen. (Retd.) Ravi Eipe, Director of
He observed that the present period is
one of flux, with developments which aggravate the Taliban challenge
to Pakistan as a state. It
affects India too. We
should assess possible Indian responses.
Pakistan nurtured the Taliban to gain a strategic asset in
Afghanistan. Now it is
posing a threat which can destroy Pakistan itself.
How serious is this challenge?
countering the Taliban, Pakistan is attacking selected factions.
Pakistan’s military planning is centred on India as the
main and constant adversary, with Kashmir as the highest prize.
But in the face of the new challenge from within, will
Pakistan reset its priorities or cling to its anti-Indian priority?
armoury of nuclear weapon is a major concern for all nations.
Are there serious fissures in the Pakistan Army regarding
their anti-Taliban policy? Does
it impinge on their nuclear weapon security?
Pakistan sincere in its cooperation with the US in its Af-Pak
policy? Will it settle
for compromises with those sections of the Taliban that are
considered supportive of Pakistan’s policies?
US has asked China to help Pakistan in its crisis of stability.
This indicates an alignment of the US and China as regards
Pakistan’s future and viability.
How will it affect India?
Crisis in Pakistan
Captain Alok Bansal, IN
faces four major crises.
1) The economic crisis arising from a large deficit in reserves of
foreign exchange has been tided over due to three relieving factors:
i) Liberal foreign aid by the West and the IMF.
Significantly, not much aid has come from the OIC or even
Lower oil prices have given
a respite from the depletion of its foreign exchange.
iii) Due to
recession, many overseas workers who had been laid off have returned to
with their savings. But the
overall economic picture remains grim.
Agricultural output in sugarcane and cotton has lagged because of
structural problems and limited irrigation.
The textile industry, which employs most factory workers,
has declined along with exports.
The trade deficit is 9%, the fiscal deficit 7.4%, the inflation
rate is 20%. With lower investment now and lesser remittances,
faces deficit from high defence expenditures.
2) Sectarianism. The
Two Nation Theory that Muslims cannot co-exist with non-Muslims is an
ideology of exclusion. It also
excludes some sects in the Islamic fold, since there is no unanimity on
determining who is a Muslim. Even
in among the Sunnis, there are sub-divisions.
Deobandis clash with Barelvis, and among Shias, Athna Asharis
consider Ismailis apostates.
3) Rising ethnic
aspirations. This trend is
evident after the elections of February 2008.
The nationalistic aspirations of the Baloch people constitute the
strongest challenge to the Pakistani nationalism and state identity.
Sindhi nationalism has also risen, but has been checked by the PPP
. Sindhis oppose the influx of
Pashtuns into Sindh. Mohajirs
are trying to link up with Sindhis and Balochis;
they are in the forefront of opposition to Talibanisation and the
movemnt of Pashtuns into urban Sindh.
this, there is an emerging Seraiki nationalism in southern
after the last elections. Pashtun
nationalism is latent, but has failed to consolidate itself as a counter
to Islamic fundamentalism.
This process dates back to 1947, when
bagan promoting an all inclusive Islamic identity subsuming the different
ethnic identities. The Taliban
was promoted in order to facilitate a pro-Pakistani regime in
in quest of “strategic depth”. Attempts
to accommodate Taliban representation eased the spread of the movement
from South Waziristan to North Waziristan, and from there to other parts
of FATA, NWFP and lately to Punjab and
. The Taliban has joined
the sectarian war against Shias. The
current operations to defeat Talibanisation are unlikely to solve the
problem. Three milllion people
have been displaced. Most are
unhappy with the military operatons. The
refugees are also exacerbating ethnic tension.
The Taliban has succeeded in rousing a fear psychosis among the
people. State authority is
eroding faster than anticipated. Of
the two possible developments, Lebanonisation or Balkanisation of the
country, the former could be catastrophic for
and should be prevented, even at the cost of seeing Pakistan Balkanised or
are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.
It was created as a separate nation on the basis of religion, a state
that has been functioning on the principle of hostility to
; it has fallen victim to the very
fundamentalists whom the state used for terrorist attacks against
was in danger of being swamped by Islamic fundamentalism and ruled by perverse
interpretations of an old faith.
’s nuclear weapon capability renders the situation more serious.
More than 60 years after
, half of which under military rule, it remains a feudal society where ryots
fall prey to fundamentalist propaganda. Civilian
governments have been transitory, weak and corrupt; they were from the fuedal
class mostly. Benazir Bhutto’s
regime, with her husband Zardari into money laundering, was notoriously
corrupt and arraigned by Swiss authorities and EU investigators, apart from
government itself. Lack of social infrastructure drove people to despair and
bred the jihad mentality. During
military rule, a claque of politicians, businessmen coveting state-owned land
and armed forces elements amassed wealth and
entrenched their priveleged status.
Islamic radicalism found fertile ground.
’s most difficult and explosive issue is social and economic inequality.
This is partly due to the lack of state-aided education, a condition in
which the poor seek madrassas to educate their children.
Lack of basic health care has exacted a toll on them.
There are about 20.000 madrassas in
. They are free-board Koranic
schools to propagate militant Islam, turning out about 2 million teenage boys
a year from the rural areas. Some
find employment in mosques. With
training dominated by memorising medieval texts, they are products of ‘an
ossified knowledge’, attracted to militancy as a career.
In result a joyless and stern Saudi-inspired revivalism (Wahabi)
dominates the lower middle classes. It
was Gen. Zia ul-haq who began using Islam as an instrument of state policy 25
years ago. Sectarian differences
were aggravated to the disadvantage of Barelvis and Shias, who were treated as
non- Muslims. Even in the
relatively liberal Pakistan Punjab, the fundamentalist line taken up by the
Taliban has begun to make inroads into the legal system.
After the Soviet withdrawal from
receding from the scene, the region was full of jobless muhahideens.
Many were guided towards
, the ground for the ISI’s proxy war. Al
Qaeda, urged by Taliban, financed and trained Islamist youths, especially
anti-Shia types, in
. It had penetrated Kashmiri and
Pakistani groups active in Kashmir in the 1990s in order to target
. Al Qaeda branded
along with the
as enemies of Islam. After the
in 1997 with Paksitani help, they had set up common training camps in
. But after the
in 2001, the militants moved to
where they re-established bases. Lal
became a symbol and transit facility. More
than a hundred of militant Islamists were captured from Lal Masjid, but later
released by the Musharraf regime in 2008 under media pressure.
They have dispersed to other provinces to plot their revenge for the
Lal Masjid attack. There were
suicide attacks on an army mess, an ordnance factory and the police in the
After the 9/11 attack on the
the American ‘war on terror’ ousted the Taliban regime in
, but the remnants of both the Taliban and Al Qaeda found shelter in the
border region of the NWFP in Paksitan. The
into joining the war. The Pakistani fundamentalists joining hands with the
Afghan Taliban and stymied Gen. Musharraf’s efforts to remove them from
. Army action inevitably cost
civilian casualties and displacement, making the Musharraf regime more
unpopular. He was himself targeted
in assassination attempts. The
army was not motivated to fight Taliban militants in the early stages.
Thus the Zardari government gave in and approved the agreement of the
Taliban and Tehrik-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi with the NWFP government for
imposing the Sharia law, a reactionary code which allowed atrocious
punishments by the tribal militants on helpless victims for minor
transgressions in their perception. The
militants defied the constitution and federal judiciary to enforce their law.
When Taliban militants occupied Buner, about 60 km from
, the government and army swung into action to thwart the security threat to
the nation. The Taliban rebels may retaliate with suicide attacks like the one
office of the ISI. Baitullah
Mehsud, commander of the Tehrik-i-Taliban
(TTP) claimed responsibility for the March 29 attack on a police acadamy in
. Earlier, the attack on Marriott
(September 2008) was probably masterminded by Mehsud, who was also a key
suspect in the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team on March 3 in
. He had warned of more attacks to
drone strikes in FATA. On March 5,
there was a bomb attack on the mausoleum of a revered Pashto poet.
A new ethnic and religious identity building in the northwest region.
The Sufi tradition of revering dead saints is heresy to the Salafists,
whose version of Islam excludes any intercession with Allah by saints or even
on the unswerving support of the
and the West during the cold war for its weaponry and finances.
Now it is again allied to the West, which sustains it in the war on
terror. On April 17, the
and allied countries pledged more than $ 5 billion to stabilise
’s shaky economy and help it in the anti-Taliban drive. The
has already pledged $ 1.5 billion p.a. in aid for the next five years.
The IMF has also committed $ 7.6 billion to rescue
from its balance of payments crisis. Interestingly,
only $ 900 million out of about $ 10 billion in aid to
since 9/11/2001 has gone to its development expenditure, the bulk of it having
been channelled to the military.
The urban terrorists are mostly Punjabis from the south.
They belong to groups training for jihad in
. When Gen. Musharraf curbed these
groups, they turned to Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban in FATA.
Thus the terrorist network now stretches from Bajaur in the north to
in the south. It comprises at
least 17 foreign nationalities and includes Punjabis, Pathans and Afghans.
Civilian governments in
have been transitory. The
military, the top bureaucracy and the intelligence services have been the
permanent features of the state. The civil government enjoys little autonomy.
The military is unlikely to relax control of ‘structural’ missions
, and nuclear weapons. The army
chief of staff has command and control of the intelligence services, though
the ISI is in form answerable to the prime minister.
expanding its nuclear arsenal are most disturbing, since it can fall into the
hands of Taliban or a fundamentalist government.
is increasing its plutonium capacity. It
has dispersed its nuclear weapns in the country to reduce risks.
Jihadis are using the internet and other means to gain control of the
arsenal, perhaps co-opting sympathetic ministers.
But the Army has confidently declared that it is secure against
both face a terrorist threat and mutual conflict.
The mentality of the Pakistani people is worrying.
Until they free themselves from Wahabi inspired violence which
envelopes the coutnry, the threat to Paksitan’s stability will continue.
needs a dialogue with the
military and the liberal sections of society is to disabuse them of any threat
from our side and to convince them of the urgency of joint action by both
countries against the common danger. But
the adversarial attitude to
by the Paksitani establishment and the military is a serious obstacle.
has to keep its defence strength alert and ready to face possible conflict.
Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar
The Pakistani power structure shows little evidence that the return
to democracy means the supremacy of civilian government.
The permanent establishment remains in place: namely, the military,
top echelons of the bureaucracy and the intelligence agencies.
The army continues ot be in the driver’s seat on foreign and
defence policy, internal security and nuclear policy.
It is a fallcy to look for “rogue elements” within the ISI or
assume that it is “a state within a state”.
It is under military control and serves as the military’s
instrument. It may have
operational freedom but it cannot act against military interests.
The military functions as a coherent organisations, without
Among the political parties, the PML and the PPP still remain
acutely polarised. Islamic
parties are handmaidens of the establishment.
We should not exaggerate the influence of the civil society.
The military’s corporate interests are to preserve its political
and economic prerogatives it
enjoys as the vaunted custodian of the state.
To what extent does the military (including the ISI) covertly
support the militants? That is
the key question. The military
will probably continue to support militant groups that serve
’s regional interests. It
will deal harshly with groups that threaten the nation’s territorial
integrity. Clearly it will not
tolerate secessionist tendencies. It
visualises the jihadi groups that serve its interests are ultimately
subject to its control.
The military’s animus against
will not diminish. It sees the
situation through an anti-Indian lens.
It has a deep-rooted suspicion about
’s intentions. This has been
compounded by fears of US-Indian collusion or such a strategic alliance,
acute insecutiry over
’s arms purchases, suspicions over perceived Indain influence in
and Indian agencies meddling in
’s domestic scene. Such
fears will grow. This points
to a compelling reason why the military will not give up its reliance on
jihadi groups in the foreseeable future.
The Taliban is a strategic asset to the military, especially in the
event of American forces abruptly quitting
. Quite apart from growing
Indian presence in
has legitimate interests in that country.
priority is to expand its leverage over
, given the American dependence on Pak cooperation in the Afghan war.
President Obama has proffered a new civil and
military aid programme, to strengthen
in the medium term. He has
also shown extra willingness to accommodate Pakistan’s regional
perceptions and legitimate concerns such as restraint in recognising
India’s pre-eminence in the region, greater attention to Indo-Pak
tensions, persuading India to
resume “the composite dialogue” with Pakistan, and more room for
Pakistani interests in Afghanistan by urging India to lower its profile
Furthermore, Obama is encouraging other states like
and the EU to help stabilise
in this regard has far-reaching implications.
has misgivings about the Pakistani political elite in dealing with the
Taliban crisis and its capacity to rise above sectarian politics, it
depends overwhelmingly on the Pak military to deliver and is quite
unlikely to impose conditionalities in its military aid.
will not follow a containment strategy towards
as “the epicentre” of international terrorism, as some Indians hope.
, there is a stalement: The Taliban cannot capture power, nor can NATO
defeat it. Defence Secretary
Robert Gates has said that the Afghan Taliban has the upper hand now.
, facing a war-weary public opinion, is unlikely to push for unqualified
victory. The next year
or so will be very crucial. The
major NATO powers have no wish to increase their force contributions.
must conduct the bulk of the fighting.
The “surge” strategy involves increasing pressure on the
Taliban in southern
and pushing the militants eastwards to the Pak border, while the Pak
military applies the squeeze from the other side.
Alongside, a “political track” will hammer the
“irreconcilables” while segregating the “reconcilables”.
This is similar to the pattern of “the Awakening” strategy in
, which built up a “bottoms-up” approach province by province.
Meanwhile, there is a separate track, unacknowledged by the
, for negotiating with the hardline Taliban leaders like Gulbuddin
Hekmatyar. President Karzai
pursues his own contacts with the Taliban.
The outcome of the different strategies is unclear.
The Saudis, the ISI and British intelligence are all involved in
them. Obama has mentioned
regional initiatives, but there are uncertainties over US-Russian
oppose NATO expansion in
. The US-Iran standoff is in
animated suspension. Indo-Pak
tensions have spilt over into the
. Geopolitical energy
rivalries complicate the picture.
There are pluses and minuses. Among
the adverse factors are 1) that the
policy is a replay of past approaches, relying on military aid to enhance
its leverage with the Pak army. 2)
Such aid boosts
’s military capability. 3)
It is premature to assume a basic change in the mind-set of the
Since the priorities of the
military and the
diverge, the efficacy of the “AfPak” stategy is doubtful.
involvement in the region alienates Pak opinion and generates more
militants; a core issue which the
disregards. The Afghan war has
a bearing on
’s stability. The longer it
goes on, the greater the turbulence in
A creeping ‘Islamisation’or radicalisation in Pakistani
attitudes and lifestyles is noticeable.
7) Ethnic divisions are
surfacing in Pak society. A
trend towards Balkanisation of Pakistan will be catastrophic for Indian
This may prompt the
to address its increasing need to intervene in Indo-Pak relations in order
to appease the Pak military. 9)
wants a roll-back of Indian presence in
may accommodate Taliban representatives in the Afghan power structure,
despite Indian opposition. 11)
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke has sought
’s help, which could augur a Sino-US understanding concerning the
is being drawn into the Western alliances such as NATO and OSCE.
13) Obama’s policies
belie Indian expectations of being recognised as the pre-eminent power in
the region. A de facto
is apparent in US policies. This,
with the broadening US-China ties during the current global economic
crisis, puts in doubt any Indian role as a “balancer” in the emerging
plus factors for
’s response to terrorism is under international scrutiny, which could
lessen ISI activities against
would be stabilised, its military would become less anti-Indian in focus,
and also sever links with militant groups.
military, when increasingly involved in fighting Taliban militancy in the
border area, would be less liable to foment tensions in J & K.
needs to energise its moribund regional diplomacy.
have lost their elan. Greater
attention should be paid to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
has much in common with its members in combating terrorism, religious
extremism and separatism, apart from promoting regional stability.
should factor in
’s increased strength in the last two decades.
The CCP has even signed an MOU with the RSS for an institutional
constructively on regional issues like
instead of being fixated on the dubious theory of a Chinese “string of
pearls” which was floated by an American analyst?
Chinese policies need not be seen as centred on isolating
in the region.
His presentation was based on
’s identity crisis, its religious indoctrination, and the role of the
Army. He then outlined
Pakistani developments as viewed by the West,
and South Asian countries, with his observations on Indo-Pakistan
Citing an American columnist, he explained that
is at once a politically weak state, ethnically restive and a master of
plausibile deniability to avoid urgently needed action.
The problem is that
began by defining itself negatively as “not
”. It is an Islamic Republic
with different ethnic stocks, Punjabis, Pashtuns, Kashmiris, Balochis,
etc. with their Muslim identity in common.
This explains the reluctance of the Pakistan Army to deploy forces
on the western front, since it would go against its founding reason.
The Army began fighting the Taliban only after the latter attacked
an army convoy. It is likely
that another compromise with the Afghan Taliban will be reached if it
withdraws its intrusion and targets only those refusing to follow Shariat.
For three decades
was being culturally pulled away from the subcontinent towards the Arab
sought to exchange its South Asian identity for an Arab-Islamic one.
As Prof. Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani physicist has written, the stern
ethos of Wahabism is replacing the gentler faith of the Sufis and saints.
It frowns on all forms of seeking innocent pleasure and wants to
control the education system.
Islamic radicalism or extremism is spreading fast in schools, both
urban and rural. Liberals
worry that this madrassa
indoctrination will breed a generation unfit to coexist with anyone
outside its own kind. Islam is
for them a complete code of life. This
mindset becomes paranoid about threats to Islam everywhere.
It will produce human drones which could be detonated at a command.
Since religion is a touchy matter, nobody wants to criticise this
abuse of children by mullahs.
The Pakistan Army is professional, and proud of its tradtions and
work culture. It continues to
reflect the feudal structure of Pakistani society.
It is comfortable with being detached from governance, being aware
of the multiple problems which are now the responsibility of the civil
adminstration. But it will
mark lines to bound the political leaders, particularly as regards
cooperation with the American coalition at war in
. It knows that the US and
NATO forces will eventually withdraw from
, leaving the field to be dominated by
for it to gain “strategic depth” vis-à-vis
. For the Army this makes the
Taliban a strategic asset, though the Pakistani Taliban is another matter.
Whether the ravanchism of the army mindset after the 1971 defeat by
will be abated when a new generation takes command is
a speculative matter. Much
depends on the tussle between the moderate and extreme elements.
This also depends on the degree to which the Army has been
“Islamised” since Zia ul-haq.
One American expert has stated that the risk of an Islamist
takeover is a myth invented by the Pakistani military to consolidate its
hold on power. It is the Army
that has made use of Islamic organisations for its goals, not the other
’s association with the
and the West since the Cold War has continued, when it bacame a bridge
between the Islamic world and
. All regimes in
have exploited this indispensable linkage of Pakiatan between
. It was predominant during
the 1980’s when the
was pitted against the Soviet presence in
accorded favoured treatment to
even in nuclear matters by condoning the deals facilitated by A.Q. Khan
and other countries. Currently,
is designated as the epicentre of international terrorism,
receives special favours, as it needs to combat Al Qaeda and Taliban.
This American line is unlikely to change and must be factored into
our security calculations.
has consistently supported
since the 1960s as a hedge against the rise of
in the region. We have
contributed to this effort by always hyphenating
on political and military matters. This
was a blinkered policy which should be corrected.
The Sino-Pak relationship is “an all-weather” phenomenon which
is beholden to
for providing the bridge to the
that enabled the latter to recognise it and endorse the “One China”
policy. It also contributed to
the permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
This is another vital factor in our security calculations regarding
is seen by our other neighbours as the only country that can challenge
’s military strength, especially as it has nuclear weapon capability.
So they tend to gang up with
to counter Indian regional dominance.
becoming an observer in SAARC, the situation is worse for
. We have to encourage these
neighbour countreis to cooperate with
in sustained regional economic growth.
India needs to initiate moves for improved relations with Pakistan,
with some international help, but we must bear in mind the following:
(a) Significant sections of Pakistan’s leadership still believe
in the notion of “the unfinished agenda of Partition”, of which the
Kashmir issue is a manifestation; some
Pakistanis even believe that they are destined to rule over India.
We cannot ignore this security threat.
(b) The Pakistan Army is still smarting from its defeat in 1971 by
and the loss of credibility in the Kargil misadventure.
We have to assess whether it will be able to move out of its
revenge mentality under Gen. Kayani. (c)
’s success in consolidating its democracy and in socio-economic
development is viewed with some envy by Pakistanis.
Extreme sections there will work to damage
’s credentials and progress, using nuclear blackmail and terrorist
attacks. We can only hope that
the liberals will prevail in
. We could perhaps coax the
West to help such a change by supporting Pakistanis who oppose extremism
For the immediate future, we can at best expect an
adversarial relationship rather than one of enmity.
If democratic governance takes stronger root in
, and economic growth brings
more benefits, the relationship could become more tranquil and stable.
lively discussion that followed the four presentations, several issues and
questions were raised. The
main ones are given below.
On China-India relations, is there an asymmetry when
liberal access to its markets and
does not? When
supports Nepal Maoists (Prachanda) when they act against Indian interests,
gives weapons and aid to the Sri Lankan forces and weakens Indian
influence with the Sri Lankan government, can we put our trust in
Bhadrakumar (to whom this was addressed) replied that
would figure in
regardless of our wishes. It
is better to ‘engage’
rather than to go for a stand-off.
has had some moderating influece on
: for instance, in the aftermath of the Lal Masjid action.
Sino-Pak relations should not be interpreted as being always
has been aiming to secure the passage through Malacca Straits, which is
good for world shipping and trading..
in its quest for oil and gas from
has a strong interest in regional stability.
The so-called “string of pearls” theory which Western
commentators have projected to show up
’s naval ambition to dominate the
should not guide our viewpoint. Without
being paranoid, we should probe the concerns we have about
’s policies. In trade, it
to be liberal. As for
, its stability is in the common interest of both
. Engagement is more in our
interest than exclusion.
A member pointed out that the problem for us is to determine whom
we should engage with on the Chinese side, and how we should make them
indebted to us. Gen.
Nambiar said that
’s security being paramount, we could have talks with
where our interests converge.
would do business with us if they see
gaining in economic and defence capability.
There is little prospect of a conflict starting with powers like
, the EU and
, the border problem or
could ignite a conflict.
should pursue peaceful competition with
, keeping its powder dry. Shri Venkateswaran regretted Nehru’s unreciprocated gesture of
for the permanent seat in the UNSC; the
had even thought of
for that seat in preference to communist
when the UN was formed.
has, however, opposed
’s bid for the UNSC membership. In
, we need not shy away, but should remain careful to safeguard our
essential interests. Shri Bhadrakumar said that the
had also recently stood against
’s membership of an expanded UNSC. We
have to get the Chinese to value us. Shri
Venkateswaran added that we Indians must respect ourselves.
The Chinese regarded their country as “the Middle Kingdom” on
’s revolution won out in 1949,
was lagging behind
in industry and other sectors. But
now it has forged far ahead. Shri
Gopal contended that
could hardly treat
as a friend. Its goal is to
. So too is
’s. The two countries will
continue to act against
Ambassador Eric Gonsalves intervened
to say that, without being obsessed by the Pakistan Army,
should make better use of its soft power in our neighbourhood.
He regretted that the Indian Prime Minister had not visited
in recent years, when it was going through critical times.
He believed that
should not be regarded as a monolith.
There are possibilities of building up improved trade and
understanding, as for instance through the “
initiative”, in which he had taken part.
Ctn. Bansal, reverting
, said that Taliban had created a fear psychosis among the people.
Many policemen in the area where the Taliban militants had
encroached in the western borderland deserted in the face of militant
action. Quoting Stephen Cohen,
he explained the Army’s influence in the state.
It remains the main prop of the state.
But 23 % of its soldiers are Pashtuns.
They were removed from the Army operations in Swat.
A lady member suggested that culture could be used as a bridge
, since it is a human softener that can improve mutual understanding.
The economy of
with its growing service sector was mentioned.
An observer remarked that the Army, which was estimated to number
some 3.5 lakhs, is set to increase to five lakhs, while the
has shrunk. Its impact on
should be studied.
Gen. Nambiar took up his
point about the Pakistani mentality which harped on “the unfinished
agenda of the Partition”. Some
chauvinists dreamt of flying the Pakistani flag on Red Fort in
. This mindset has to change.
A member looked to the longer term mega-trends which would
strengthen the logic of convergence between
. A lady member deplored the
contrast between the Chinese and the Indian diaspora as contributors to
the development of the home country. When
a member mentioned
’s projected pipeline, Ctn.
Bansal said that Jundullah, which is Pakistan-based, is dead set
against the Shias. It is a
militant group exacerbating sectarian relations within
, where the Baloch people are mainly Shia.
Sectarian violence could endanger the proposed gas pipeline from
Bhadrakumar dwelt on the geopolitical tussle between the West and
for control over the new and planned energy piplelines out of
is a key factor for the Nabucco project of the EU in its quest to
diversify its energy sourcing away from
’s Gazprom has offered to contribute to the financing of the
gas pipeline to
wants Iranian gas to be channelled eastward rather than westward, as the
and the EU wish to see. Ambassador Khaleeli added that
gas pipeline is a very important project and that
’s opposition to
at the IAEA is an adverse move which Iranians will not forget.
He agreed that in
it is theArmy that is of greater consequence than either Zardari or Sharif.
He also spoke of the Wahabi antagonism to Sufis, but believed that
the latter could be militant, if provoked.
Another member raised the possible refugee problem from
across the Indian border, which was discounted by Ctn. Bansal. He added
’s immediate economic difficulty has been assuaged by Western aid, and
that a growth rate of 2.8% has been forecast for the economy.
Will the American bid for
’s joining the anti-Taliban campaign be taken up by us?
Unlikely. Shri Gopal pointed out that
has a stake in
and is engaged in its development and the build-up of its infrastructure.
has no call to support the
. He added that terrorist
cells acting from
posed more serious problems for us.
wondered why Islamic
authorities have not condemned terrorism in the region forthrightly.
Regarding Sino-Indian relations, he agreed with Amb. Bhadrakumar
that the two countries have intersecting interests, which should be
managed and developed by interaction rather than left to fester.
were engaged in discussions on sharing maritime vigilance which could
benefit others too. He
, he suggested, should engage with
, but carefully and watchfully.
Summing up the discussion, the Chariman, Sri
Venkateswaran pointed out
that the US drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan result in
“collateral damage”, not only in terms of killing civilians,
destroying property and driving out native people, but also in political
terms, provoking anti-American passions.
When Obama became president of the
, there was a glimmer of hope for a saner policy, but he too is obliged to
depend on the CIA, which has used torture in deplorable forms against
prisoners. In truth, he
concluded, , the West continues to retain power and influence in our
entire region, while the governments have a semblance of being in charge.
seminar comprehensively reviewed the salient recent developments in
and their consequences for
. Basically, the Taliban’s
revival as a militant Pashtun network is endangering
’s very existence as a nation-state while at the same time undermining
the US-backed Karzai regime in
. This affects not only these
two countries but
too, which is the target of terror attacks by Pakistan-sponsored radical
Islamic groups intent on subverting our national integrity.
is severely strained by the rift among its ruling classes: namely, the
Army, the civilian democratic government with two rival political leaders,
President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif at loggerheads, and the mullahs who
hearken to the radical Islamist call of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Pakistan’s ethnic divisions show widening cracks, particularly
because the Pashtuns find more in common with their kith on the Afghan
side of the notional Durand Line border than with fellow Pakistanis.
drone attacks on pinpointed targets, intensified under President Obama,
continue to kill civilians, damage their property and uproot them by the
thousand, stirring deeper and stronger anti-US sentiments among
Pakistanis. Their anger is
hardly mitigated by the billions of dollars that the
is pouring into
’s Army and government. Now
that the Pakistan Army has been pressed into the anti-Taliban offensive,
Pakistanis are resentful that their country is bamboozled into fighting
’s war when the
has treated it shabbily.
Obsessed with securing Pakistan as a reliable ally in its war
against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the US has expediently overlooked
Pakistan’s blatant misuse of massive aid no less than its duplicity in
seeming to combat the Taliban militants while covertly encouraging them to
gain “strategic depth” in Afghanistan.
Worse still for us, the
has acquiesced in, if not condoned,
’s sponsorship of terrorist groups like the LeT and the JuD which target
Indian cities through trained and armed agents, as in the horrifying
strike against Mumbai on 26/11/2008. Further,
under Obama has taken up the Pakistani cause for a negotiated bilateral
settlement of the Kashmir issue, with Kashmiri preference factored in,
which is simply a coded phrase for multilateral diplomatic pressure on
to make concessions to
on the future of Jammu & Kashmir as an integral state of the Indian
Union. The Obama
administration has lately lent its weight to the specious argument that
could thin out its forces in Kashmir so as to embolden
to divert some of its troops to the western border.
has even suggested that
could close down its Afghan consulates in towns near the
border and reduce its presence in
to assuage Pakistani fears of Indian instigation of Balochi rebels and
other under-cover operations. The
has decidedly gone soft on
’s recalcitrance in bringing to book the planners and controllers of the
jihadi agents who perpetrated the 26/11 attack on Mumbai and other earlier
attacks. Ominously for
has recently urged
to join it in buttressing
’s fragile nationhood through funding and materials, while the Americans
for their part are transferring sophisticated war materiel
which will obviously be
instead of the Afghan Taliban.
’s nuclear arsenal and its security have triggered urgent concerns in
and among major powers. The
nuclear weapons may be safeguarded from Taliban and other raiders, but
’s bravado about increasing its nuclear weapon capability and its
indulgence to A.Q. Khan as a popular hero have alarmed American experts.
But this alarm may prompt the ‘anti-proliferation’ zealots of
the West to pressurise
to accept discriminatory international agreements which curb
’s strategic defence and deterrence capability.
’s policy towards
, apart from its multiform assistance to
, including the military, is a mix of belligerence and calls for mutual
react by cooling towards
and refusing to talk or should it engage with
in areas where our interests converge with theirs, while keeping a
watchful eye on our basic interests and security and quietly strenghening
our defences? The seminar
favoured wary engagement, since both countries want the subcontinent to be
a stable and peaceful region for sustained growth during the current
global economic recession and since both can well expand their economic
cooperation while reserving the disputed issues for longer term solutions.
’s problematic future will depend on developments relating to the
contested Iranian presidential election in June and
under the re-elected President Ahmedinejad, who is backed by the Supreme
Leader, Ayatollah Khameini. Popular
discontent cannot be indefinitely suppressed, and the spillover effects
can affect political and security relations in the whole swathe of
Since this seminar at the end of May, developments in
have confirmed its main conclusions, but also thrown up new trends which
need our careful attention. The
Pakistan Army under General Kayani has lately been energised to give
battle more earnestly to the Taliban militants who were threatening to
take over Swat valley and parts of
in a dangerous movement against the military as well as the federal civil
authorities. Though the Army
claims advancing success, the Taliban could yet melt away from Swat and
reappear another day. It has
shown enough tactical strength to dominate the northwest, and could
threaten to shake up and subvert the Pak federal structure by pandering to
the public disillusionment with the government and sectional
sympathy for Islamism. The
Afghan Taliban now has a Pakistani branch, the TTP, with its leader,
Baitullah Mehsud still nefariously active.
This unholy linkage was initially encouraged the Army and the ISI
to shoot poison arrows against
. But the strategem has
, in a series of terror attacks in hitherto safe places like
. The Army has belatedly
realised that the Taliban unchecked will turn against the state and its
institutions, including security forces, the politicians and the people.
The violence and cruelty which
Taliban militants have inflicted on their victims the name of the
Sharia law and Islam have revolted public opinion and led to the massive
displacement of Pathan civilians, aggravating
’s parlous situation.
What policy should
adopt at this juncture? Paradoxically,
’s global prestige as a democracy and as a potentially buoyant economy
has gone up, while
’s international profile has gone down because of its perceived
diffidence in safeguarding its interests in as a regional power on the
has to leverage its advantages in defence preparedness and anti-terrorist
capability while speaking up for its key interests without seeming either
assertive or subdued. With
it is undoubtedly difficult to fashion a rigid formulaic policy, since
’s crisis-ridden economy, polity and society can wreck our own plans in
needs international support, without over-reliance on one power or set of
powers. This calls for
diplomatic energy in presenting the dangers of
’s resort to terrorist groups to further its anti-Indian ravanchism.
should not give the impression of being fixated on Pakistani obduracy or
malignancy, since that would self-circumscribe our scope as a regional
power. But both
are victims of terrorism now.
is unique as the one country which is both victim and sponsor of
terrorism. It is on course to
self-destruct, unless the Army controls the gradual encroachment of the
country by alien militants who have an indigenous constituency.
to resume the suspended “composite dialogue”, but the periodical
reassertion of its coded version of the Kashmir issue and its inability or
unwillingness to dismantle the terror camps which spawn the jihadi strikes
are serious impediments. But
to close the door to the discussion chamber is no solution.
This is broadly accepted by diplomatic observers and commentators.
At the summit of the SCO and BRIC at Yekaterinburg in
in mid-June, President Zardari and our Prime Minister resumed bilateral
contact, but to move on to negotiations must depend on
’s ability to deracinate jihadism, both external and internal, from its
soil and to address issues realistically.
This message the Indian government has adequately conveyed to
and the West.
The Army and the ISI have a decisive role in
. They may be more amenable to
inducements than to bilateral dealings with
or other nations. Indo-US
relations, built up in the Bush era to a new high, need to be
re-established under Obama. His
attitude so far has encouraged a relapse or regress to the previous
American mindset on
in nuclear matters, apart from Indo-Pakistan bilateral relations.
The relapse is covered up in words of high esteem and appreciation
and its place among nations, but flattery will not substitute for actions,
as our government knows. We
are witnessing the phase of US in slow decline, but it is still a
preponderant global power, a power which is embroiled in the crisis-prone
region to our west. Its
capacity for actions benign and malign is known.
must impress its point of view convincingly to the political and military
centres of power in the
, so that it does not leave
to clear up the debris of misadventures in the ‘PakAf’ terrain.
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