Today's Editorial

25 October 2016

Exhibit controlled aggression



Source: By Air Commodore C S Havaldar: Deccan Herald



I was posted at one of our operational airbases in Jammu and Kashmir during 1984-87. I was involved as senior air traffic control officer in providing air umbrella to our ground troops fighting the pitched battle for regaining the Siachen heights. While Pakistan was at the receiving end, the pro-Pakistan activists in the Valley were only involved in passing information on takeoffs of our air missions.


There was never a gun shot in the Valley or the anti-India frenzy as it exists now. It was the unholy alliance between the Congress and the National Conference led by Rajiv Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah, respectively, and the reported rigging of elections in 1987 that turned the table in favour of Pakistan to exploit the Kashmiri opinion and fuel militancy in the Valley. Militancy did not grow because of the release of terrorist Masood Azhar (which was much later), as stated to the press by Congress leader Kapil Sibal.


I was keenly following the events after the surgical strikes on terrorist camps across the Line of Control (LoC) by India on Sept 28-29, in response to the Uri attack. The BRICS, BIMSTEC and Saarc summits were on the anvil. Our government made diplomatic efforts to tell the world community that the Indian strategic restraint has been tested to its limit and that India has exercised its right to self defence against the terrorist attacks emanating from the neighbour. Most of the European nations and Russia responded with positive statements and backed India. New Delhi has been highly successful in garnering support from the Saarc nations. This was also echoed by BIMSTEC in Panaji.


Russia's calculated stance even after inking arms deal of over Rs 60,000 crore to maintain cautious neutrality is a stark reality in the changed globalised world equation. Russian President Vladimir Putin has found a new market for his arms and for exploiting anti-American sentiments in Pakistan. As an old friend of India, he pacified Modi by stating that his military's joint exercise with the Pakistan army is not aimed at India and was not held in PoK. Interestingly, the US is still playing a diplomatic double game with India keeping its interests in Afghanistan and wanting to checkmate Iran and Chinese bonhomie in Pakistan. The US state department stopped the online signature campaign (over five lakh) to declare Pakistan a terrorist state and issued only a warning to Pak. It has been after Iran with great concern to control and contain their nuclear programme.


In contrast, not a single effort was made to contain and control the Pakistani nuclear bluff. Washington wants the Indian market (including arms) but fears the growing Indian dominance in the region and is scared of the over-invested corporations in China. It is not going to lend its shoulders in our crisis even if we try to lean on it. Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan in July 2015, signing of 51 agreements, promising over $46 bn in aid to build road/rail links, power plants and many other developmental projects, were done keeping in mind the development of a short-distance economic corridor through Pakistan to Kashgar. This is a great turning point for India.


China owns the African market and resources for its starved manufacturing industry, sea route is long and hostile through Malacca Strait and it is desperate to operationalise the Gwadar port and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This economic corridor is the backbone of a sinking Chinese economy and, therefore, Beijing is backing its all-weather friend. China is not only doing business with Pakistan with almost 20% of its GDP, but as many say, is virtually running Pakistan and its security.


China has an interest to keep Kashmir burning through Pakistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Balochistan slogan and the stand on PoK is threatening the CPEC. The Goa Declaration and the Chinese foreign office statement the next day defending Pakistan by saying that Beijing is against linking any country or religion with terror and asking world community to recognise the sacrifices made by Pakistan, are a testimony in this regard. International relations and friendships are dictated by, "How can I benefit by allying? What terrible thing a guy can do to me if I don't ally?" Therefore, are we in a position to do a terrible thing to any country if they don't ally with us? Presently not so, continue to grow stronger economically, diplomatically and militarily.


Integrate all agencies


To fight terrorism, we have to integrate all the international agencies, state police and paramilitary forces and build impregnable security apparatus with bureaucratic accountability. Get the army in only for special operations. Build opinions, unite people and create undeniable single voice within the nation. Kashmir needs to be brought back to the mainstream through concerted efforts. Isolate, watch and control separatists. Keep opportunistic politics at bay. Concentrate on time-bound implementation of developmental programmes. Keep rampant corruption under check and create job opportunity for the youth.


Employ genuine educationists to guide and encourage Kashmiri youth to know the progressive Indian developments by comparing with the kind of regressive environment prevalent in Pakistan and bring back normalcy as early as possible. Talks can never be dispensed with; at best, they may be curtailed or put on hold for a period of time, to drive home a point or as part of a diplomatic strategy. India must review its strategy so as to ensure that it enters the dialogue framework from a position of strength, after calling Pakistan's bluff.

Until then, we must exhibit controlled aggression on curbing terrorist attacks both militarily and diplomatically. This must be brought to bear not only on Pakistan but also on the anti-India brigade in the Valley to ensure that New Delhi resumes dialogue from a position of strength at an opportune time in future with all stakeholders to end this terrible mess.


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