IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 29th September, 2016
General Studies 3
Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
General Studies 2
India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Solving the Pakistan puzzle
Recent Uri attack by Pakistan-based terror groups has revived again the long-standing debates in the country:
How to deal with its troublesome neighbour, Pakistan?
Whether our ruling party’s policy towards Pakistan is coherent?
Let us deal with the (2) first –
Whether our ruling party’s policy towards Pakistan is coherent?
Analysts have alleged that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s policy towards Pakistan is incoherent – characterised by a consistent lack of nuanced understanding of the art of diplomacy, and the costs of war.
A detailed analysis of the ruling party’s Pakistan policy reveals an inherent desire for quick returns from what is arguably India’s most difficult bilateral challenge.
While New Delhi does not have an imaginative Pakistan policy, Islamabad is clearly an unreliable neighbour.
Islamabad continues to be unwilling to check in its anti-India rhetoric, keep its promises on basic bilateral courtesies, and stop the terror masterminds from plotting and waging their covert wars against India.
Pakistan needs to show some seriousness if it is keen on improving the relationship — it can’t be a one-way street.
How to deal with its troublesome neighbour, Pakistan?
There is relentless clamour for a military retaliation against Pakistan, however, Indian strategic community (which includes retired commanders of the Indian military) has viewed that military option or coercion may not be a feasible option vis-à-vis Pakistan, for a variety of reasons.
A military response against Pakistan including on the terrorism front would invite massive damage on our country.
Policy-makers need to carefully consider if they want to risk a potential nuclear exchange in response to a terror strike.
Hence the unacceptable costs of winning a war with Pakistan should persuade us to think beyond the military option and look for other strategies of dealing with it.
“War,” after all, “is not an act of senseless passion.” – Clausewitz
If we rule out the coercive options, how do we then deal with a Pakistan that is seemingly uninterested in winding down its terror machinery against India?
Doing nothing can’t be a policy either, although that has been the preferred option all this while.
The way ahead:
New Delhi needs to view and deal with Pakistan within its larger grand strategic scheme.
Quick-fix solutions and like-responses will only get us into an ugly dogfight with Pakistan which are not in consonance with India’s global ambitions and developmental goals.
In the grand strategic scheme of things, Pakistan is an irritant, not a strategic threat: so treat it like it, and focus on the real strategic threats.
‘India can survive’ reality – however unpopular it might sound and however painful they are, the reality is that we can, as a nation and state, survive these attacks.
Every terrorist attack directed against India continues to weaken the Pakistani state and nation: its sovereignty, economy and character.
Pakistan’s 28-year-long Kashmir campaign has not only not managed to wrest Kashmir from India, it is today on the verge of self-destruction primarily due to its misguided Kashmir policy.
It is time we learn to defend ourselves better
Better equipment for our forces, a better fence on the Line of Control and the International Border, more army-Border Security Force deployment on the vulnerable areas of the fence, and by adopting more efficient and technologically sophisticated border management practices.
Uri is a traditional infiltration route and there was intelligence about a possible strike. It is the failure of Government too.
Uri attack and Kashmir dispute has shown that India needs a long-term strategic policy on cross border terrorism as well as have a comprehensive national policy to deal with domestic militancy.
The modernisation of India’s military has been slow, denying it the ability to stage precision operations. Moreover, the Central government has cut funding for police modernisation, and the intelligence services are short-staffed — denying it the capacity to soak up retaliatory blows. In addition, the army should analyse the reason for such incidents and lacunas present.
Dealing with Pakistan
Engaging a hydra-headed Pakistan requires creative statecraft and for this New Delhi needs to think outside the traditional modes of diplomacy.
The most important actor that matters in Pakistan’s policy towards India is the Pakistan Army.
It is important to note that Pakistan’s Army is driven by strategic choices and politico-economic rationale which the decision-makers in New Delhi need to analyse and understand, and then reach out to the generals in Pakistan accordingly.
New Delhi needs to engage the ‘enemy’, the Pakistan Army, by perhaps opening discreet negotiations with it. It’s time to convey the message directly and address Rawalpindi’s pay-off structure.
India needs more nuance and guile(subtle difference in speech/expression and deceitful intelligence) in engaging stakeholders in Pakistan’s power structure.
Address Kashmir issue in first place
If Kashmir is what forms the sole important reason for Pakistan’s proxy war against India, India should first successfully deal and address Kashmir in the first place.
So far as Kashmir is on the boil, Pakistan will not give up on its claims. It will inevitably try and take advantage of the situation there.
Therefore, India can and should effectively deal with Kashmir which will necessarily weaken Pakistan’s Kashmir claims.
Instead of blaming the Kashmir unrest on Pakistan, India should quell the anger/agitation in the Kashmir Valley. So far, New Delhi’s policies have been a failure on both fronts.
Every time we link Pakistan to Kashmir by blaming Islamabad for the protests in the Valley, we are only helping Pakistan’s Kashmir cause. The argument here is not that Pakistan is not engaged in a proxy war in Kashmir, but that the government’s intellectual and political inability to pacify Kashmir should not be excused using the Pakistan bogey.
It is time that the ruling party’s incoherent Pakistan policy needs more nuance and guile (subtle difference in speech/expression and deceitful intelligence) in engaging stakeholders in Pakistan’s power structure.
It would be useful for the ruling government to take on board Chanakya’s perceptive advice in Arthasasthra:
“A ruler with loyal people accomplishes his task even with a little help because of their cooperation.”
Connecting the dots:
Despite the relentless clamour for a military reprisal against Pakistan, thinking beyond the military option and looking for other strategies of dealing with Pakistan is right policy option. Do you agree? Substantiate your view.
India and Pakistan relations were already nose-diving and Uri attack has further worsened the situation. How should India react? Critically analyse.
What in your opinion will be the suitable policy options to solve the Pakistan puzzle?
TOPIC:General Studies 2
Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
India-Russia: Time to rebuild the ties
With conduct of joint exercise between Russia-Pakistan, it raised concerns over India’s relation with Russia. Now the time has ripen to address the common concerns of both countries and revive India’s old friendship with Russia for better global positioning.
Under President Putin, Russia has shown assertiveness in international affairs.
It has taken a clear position on opposing Western intervention and militarist regime-change policies in Iraq and Libya and now in Syria.
Russia has used counter-force in the fight against the Islamic State in backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
It retook the province of Crimea that it had gifted Ukraine in 1954 due to (Soviet) historical reasons.
This invited unilateral sanctions on Russia from the U.S. and the European Union.
Because of troubled relation with west, Russia became a strategic partner of China as they have significant convergence of interests.
India and Russia- Still stable relation?
There are real and perceived shifts in Indian armament policies where Russia dominated for years.
Now, India as an emerging power has developed strategic partnership with USA. It has also opened up to France, Israel and USA who are gradually edging out the Russians in some sectors.
It is disheartening that Russia-India trade has not grown to great heights despite the encouragement of both states.
Yet, India has been supportive of Russian positions and has a careful and calibrated response to all Russian actions — in Chechnya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.
On the other hand, Russians have dutifully supported Indian position on Kashmir and also share Indian concern on terrorism.
Russia has continued with deep collaborations by providing sensitive technologies, military equipment, nuclear power engines and energy partnership to India.
Yet, as Russia is dependent on arms and energy exports, it is constantly looking for new market. Pakistan is an option and planned exercises were an extension of this search.
Russia’s Chinese concerns
Being a multipolar world where countries are building multiple alliances, there is constant interdependency, contradictions, compromises and pressures.
It is perceived that USA is trying to ‘contain’ China, yet China managed to get its yuan accepted as world currency by the International Monetary Fund. It also designated the New York branch of Bank of China as the clearing house for the Chinese official currency, the renminbi.
Thus, china is leveraging its economy and relationships to build a hegemony (G-2) with the U.S. where both can share international financial domination.
This has risen concerns with Russia about the Chinese dominating Russian markets, exploiting Russian resources, and not backing Russian security concerns.
One Belt, One Road has plans to develop huge new linkages and develop trade routes. For this, China is alluring many countries, including Russia and its satellite state Pakistan. Thus, Russia has concerns about Central Asia vis-à-vis China and Pakistan.
Encashing on such circumstances, India has to rebuild on its strengths and common concerns with the Russia by revitalising their earlier agreement on sharing intelligence for a joint strategy on terrorism.
India is concerned with state-sponsored terrorism from Pakistan while Russia is concerned with direct and indirect backing given by states to terror groups in West Asia and Central Asia.
Thus, India will have to be forthright in condemning the states that on the pretext of regime change or local geopolitics, they are allowing the growth of terror groups in West Asia.
Balancing the old with new
India and Russia share anxiety over terrorism and common position and concerns on Afghanistan. However, in a setback to their policy of isolating all terrorists, it saw compromise and rehabilitation of mujahideen “butcher of Kabul” and India hater Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, by Afghanistan. This deal which was backed and welcomed by USA and Pakistan, is step towards label of ‘good taliban’.
Hence, India and Russia together have to converge on anti-terrorism strategy and bring about some positive outcome.
Also, India now needs to deepen its scientific and technological relations with Russia.
The Russia-India investments in the oil and gas sector and exports to third countries need to be energised and joint manufacturing needs to be planned. This is required because often agreements are signed amidst bilateral rhetoric and are not sufficiently followed up.
India and Russia are engaged in several multilateral efforts that are greatly favoured by Russia such as the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
The upcoming BRICS meet will give a great opportunity for the leaders of these countries to further deepen their engagements.
On the other side, it is necessary to take into considerations the recent developments where India signed logistics agreements with USA which can eventually give them access to Indian naval bases. But, India and Russia still don’t have that arrangement. However, India has assured that this access will not jeopardise Russian interests considering growing U.S.-Russia hostility.
Russia had proposed a Russia-India-China (RIC) forum. But India is hesitant about this because of the unresolved issues with China.
For this, India should put forward the argument that if China can have compromises and contradictions with the U.S., then why not with India?
Thus, India should use creative means to build an RIC alliance and make stones in the way a stepping stone for larger role at global forum.
India should always remember that US will have dual approach to India and Pakistan because it needs both
However, Russia will not have dual approach and will support India.
Thus, India has to actively ensure that and not take this strategic partnership for granted.
Russia is an all-weather friend
Though it might appear that there is some strategic shift with regards to Russia, but in reality, it has been pushed into that position. It knows that India is still its most reliable ally.
With India, it has no conflict of interest or anxiety as it does about others.
In the creation of multipolar international system, India has played a constructive role. This has benefited both India and Russia, as well as china.
Thus, India and Russia need to be active strategic and economic allies to retain it. However, constant efforts for the same will be the key.
India has to now move on in the international system. In some areas it is moving forward but in some it is going backwards.
India’s foreign policy is only an extension of its domestic politics. Thus, India has to fix its domestic issues to further social cohesion and make special efforts to build bridges between communities.
India’s domestic politics has to move towards inclusive democracy, non-militarism, rights and the rule of law. This will give it an edge in the international system and any dilution would damage it deeply.
Indian foreign policy should focus on its strengths of working with the global South, opposing militarist interventions, building norms and depending on multilateralism.
Thus, it has to leverage the multilateralism for its best interests.
Connecting the dots:
Discuss significant developments between India and Russia since India’s independence.
Why Russia is considered India’s strategic and stable ally? Evaluate citing few specific instances.
India’s outreach to multiple nations to increase its defence capabilities should not undermine its relation with Russia. Critically analyse the fallout of decreasing India-Russia relationship.