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    A generic essay on the essentials of Pakistan’s strategic security policy and how this needs to be countered by India


    There is an interesting anecdote about the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. It is said that when the first Chief Justice of Pakistan was appointed he decided he would rather function from New Delhi than any future capital of Pakistan. The assumption obviously was that there was nothing serious about the creation of Pakistan and the situation would probably retract in a few years, if not a few months.  The lesson – even those at the apex level, involved in Pakistan’s foundation, remained unconvinced about the new state. That unfortunately has remained the situation with Pakistan; never has it been able to come to terms or picked itself up to seriously set goals and achieve tenable aims to create peace for its people and give them an honorable national identity. Much less populous than India and far less diverse in terms of demographics it continues to remain beset with ethnic, sectarian and ideological issues which have threatened to tear it apart. True democracy eludes it, although regular elections have been held for the last two decades or so. Its Army has never detached itself from political power which it exercises on the back of its direction of the nation’s foreign and security policy. Lessons from the Indo Pak Conflict of 1971 and the loss of its former eastern half never seem to have dawned on it. Instead of launching into a campaign of nation building it has preferred to remain mired in a self-defeating game with intent of seeking retribution against India who it blames for its loss of face, dignity as a nation and half its territory and population.

    Retribution drives Pakistan’s India policy; more correctly retribution drives the Pakistan Army’s approach towards India. While civil society in Pakistan does harbor traditional animosity it is willing to move on for the sake of the nation and future generations; the Pakistan Army is not. From the memory of 1971 is drawn the energy for retribution which helps keep the Army center stage in the complex social and political labyrinth of Pakistan. That contributes to power and at the end it’s only a power game which drives Pakistan’s relations with India. Joining the Army in its policy of using India as prop for its power are willing politicians and the judiciary besides retired generals, diplomats, bureaucrats and two of Pakistan’s most powerful entities – the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Inter -Services Public Relations (ISPR). This conglomeration often referred as the deep state also has a clutch of radicals and terrorists all designated as friendly to Pakistan’s interests. Some of the strangest perceptions of national security prevail in the Pakistani nation and the core center of the perceived threat remains India. It is around this threat that Pakistan has built its entire security policy.

    The Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) issue helps drive the agenda of antipathy against India. If generational change and civil society’s natural progression and aspirations tend to dilute this antipathy, J&K helps exacerbate it. It needs to be remembered the Pakistan Army adopted the strategy way back in 1977 and thence onwards whereby it accepted its incapability to challenge India in the conventional battlefield. However, it aimed at reducing and virtually negating the asymmetry through adoption of a nuclear weapons program; this it achieved through the Eighties but used various ruses of alternating denial and acceptance, until transparency finally emerged in 1998 when it went overtly nuclear. The central aspect of its policy was and has been to place itself firmly as a core Islamic power and draw the international economic and emotive support from that linkage. To do that it needed to pursue the internal promotion of Islamization. It was supposed to be a calibrated approach to draw maximum strategic advantage that went completely awry.  Alongside this it has followed a policy of exploiting India’s various fault lines, the prime being the communal one. The belief remains that India’s minorities must not be allowed to be mainstreamed and their Islamic fervor enhanced such that they perceive isolation and persecution within. The J&K proxy conflict controlled from Islamabad provides the dual adrenaline of attempting to wrest that state and exacerbating divisiveness within India.

    Significant Aspects of Pakistan’s Geo-strategic  Importance

    Pakistan’s occupies a geographical location which gives it an automatic strategic importance. Five different civilizations surround it, each with a mutual set of interests resting within its territory or its people. With Iran in virtual international pariah status it is Pakistan which provides access to Heart of Asia and outlet from the latter to the oceans.  No sustained and major operations can be fought in Afghanistan without access from Karachi port to the Afghan heartland; the feasibility of such operations through an airhead in the Central Asian Republics (CARs) is militarily impossible. The long and troubled border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is in itself a battleground of no mean proportion and Pakistan considers Afghanistan its natural ‘strategic depth’, a term which has been differently interpreted by different analysts. The aspect of accessibility to the oceans plays out most significantly in the context of China’s One Belt One Road   (OBOR). The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of OBOR, with an investment of 62 bn USD, which Pakistan wishes to make the major binder for an even more profound strategic relationship with China.

    Pakistan’s current cockiness in foreign policy may appear a brave front to minimize US coercion to pry maximum cooperation in Afghanistan. It is playing out its strong equation with China and the obvious advantages of its geostrategic location to set up its own significance and attempt to gain maximum from the international community, including possible concessions on J&K and its relationship with India.

    Among major vulnerabilities is its lower riparian status in the regional drainage of waters from the catchment areas in the north; with the upper riparian being India the status of the Indus Waters Treaty assumes greater significance especially if India is continuously needled in other domains which impinge on its security.

    Pakistan’s Strategic Security Priorities   

    Perceiving an existential threat both on the borders and within, Pakistan’s current priorities for its strategic security are as follows (not in any order) :-

    • Besides its Islamic linkages the partnership with China forms the bedrock of its foreign policy. From it Pakistan draws tremendous support and a degree of freedom from coercion from larger and stronger countries such as the US and India. However, security policy framers in India need to be aware that the economic relationship between China and Pakistan is not based on aid but on loans which are reasonably expensive. The effect of repayment of loans is yet to be fully comprehended or analyzed with difference of opinion more rampant than any single view.
    • It is seeking fresh partnerships with countries such as Russia on basis of mutuality of interests in a world now examining different equations. However, a set of military cooperation exercises and sale of a few helicopters does not spell a new strategic equation.
    • It seeks to secure a major part of the strategic space vacated by the US and the INSAF in Afghanistan, through proxies such as Taliban and the Haqqanis and deny that space more specifically to Indian influence.
    • In the pursuance of the stabilization of the internal security scenario within Pakistan its security forces have suffered a major toll. In recent times it has executed two major operations – Zarb e Azb, to establish internal domination in the restive areas along the western front where the ‘bad terrorists’ (as against the friendly ones focused against India) have had a long run, and Radd – ul – Fassad, an operation to clean out areas in its hinterland by neutralizing the ‘bad terrorists’ and sectarian elements. 
    • It follows the continuation of proxy conflict in J&K using ‘friendlies’ and by default in other parts of India where it seeks to cause instability through disturbance of social cohesion. This gains major priority each time a trigger is either available by circumstances or successfully set up by the ‘friendlies’ primarily represented by the United Jihad Council (UJC). The possibility of such triggers in the near future becomes more relevant considering the wide open political space in Pakistan in its run up to the elections which are due in Jul 2018. With mainstream political parties largely weakened there are elements such as Hafiz Sayeed’s Jamat ul Dawa (JuD) (with a brand new political party – Milli Muslim League, to boot) and other friendly terrorist groups who could attempt to morph into political entities to garner credibility. Most of these groups follow a radical Islamist line and the political color they adopt is perceived to receive a fillip by a more strident anti India stance. The latter could result in attempts to execute high profile violent actions on Indian soil. 
    • Lastly, the pursuance of nuclear weapons is a very significant strength Pakistan possesses. Sanctions on the proliferation of its program were laid to rest as soon as it regained ‘frontline status’ for the US in its fight against radical jihadi elements in Afghanistan. The potential of the nuclear weapons falling into Jihadi hands as a result of a possible implosion of Pakistan remains an abiding concern among big powers. It offers scope for continuous impingement of this notion on the international community through effective Indian communication strategy.
    • Pakistan now boasts of having developed tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) as it claims, to counter India’s offensive thrusts which could be a part of the latter’s pro-active strategy on the western front. It does not yet have an answer to the feasibility of the employment of such TNWs crossing the rubicon of India’s declared No First Use policy in the employment of nuclear weapons as weapons of war fighting.

    One of the subsets of Pakistan’s strategic security strategy which it has developed and refined is communication strategy, the art of effective propaganda and perception management. It appears to have partially borrowed this from China’s doctrine of ‘war under informationized conditions’. It is learnt that Pakistan is avidly studying India’s successful handling of the Doklam standoff with China. What can be expected in future is greater collusion between Pakistan and China in the approach to India and the disputes that exist with it.

    Lastly, J&K still rules the roost as far as immediacy is concerned. Pakistan has been surprised by the speed with which Indian security forces (SF) have regained dominance in the Valley. However, as long as alienation among the populace in the Valley runs high the scope to overturn the situation in favor of Pakistan sponsored anti-national elements always remains. In a situation where Pakistan’s control over turbulence in the Valley is only marginal it is violent exchanges at the Line of Control (LoC) which becomes the symbol for projection of the J&K issue to the international community; keeping it in the focus, so to say.

    India’s Counter Strategy

    Considering the takeaways from the strategic security priorities of Pakistan India can ill afford not to have an updated view of the threats that are likely to be at play in 2018 and beyond. A counter strategy would already be under evolution as work in progress under the National Security Adviser (NSA). The possible areas on which such a strategy may focus are analyzed in succeeding paragraphs.

    There are some assumptions and truisms we need to keep in mind while considering such a counter strategy:-

    • War is not an option to resolve issues but coercion of different kinds and different levels backed by credible deterrence remains one of the key elements in diluting threats.
    •  The world is undergoing change in terms of strategic relationships. Past foes can be friends and vice versa with no dogma of history of antipathy attached to future dispensations.
    • Partnerships between nations or membership of groups today are important and contribute to greater security as complexities and inter linkages within strategic situations have enhanced.
    • Communication strategy and narrative dominance are equally important tools in dealing with adversaries and grappling for advantage. Nations which lack this capability suffer from the perception they cannot evolve in favor of their own cause, in terms of justification of stands taken.
    • Diplomacy is usually of the structured kind, conducted upfront by a nation’s official diplomatic corps. However, narrative dominance is more likely to be achieved by under radar diplomacy conducted through employment of a corps of competent former diplomats, scholar warriors, bureaucrats and intelligence officers. Pakistan has itself mastered this art.

    Indian Strategic Approach.  With the above truisms and assumptions in mind we may outline a broad strategy to tackle security issues thrown up by India’s overall standoff with Pakistan:-

    • India should no longer look upon Pakistan in isolation. That is the difference 2017 made. While threats from China and Pakistan have often in the past been viewed in tandem the tendency has more often been to view each in isolation. China and Pakistan are likely to assess avenues of cooperation which can place India at disadvantage. For example in the field of cyber capability China’s greater assistance to Pakistan will bring to bear a modern element of warfare along an enhanced front. India must therefore seek ways of countering this through counter cyber warfare techniques and systems.
    • India must continue to seek strategic partnerships with important countries on the basis of context of threats it faces. In the specific case of the collusive Sino-Pak threat the emerging Indo-US strategic partnership is the most significant. There may be occasions when India may have to re-examine its current interests and not be guided by the past. The apparent dilution of the Indo-Russian relationship must be kept in focus and ways to retract and recover it need to be considered. In the post ‘post-cold war’ world to expect that an Indo-Russian relationship will be based on the threat perceptions of the pre-cold war period is unrealistic. However, there is enough convergence of interest, probably well identified. The emergence of a Russian-Pak relationship must be viewed from an angle of new equations with no major compromise on the Indo-Russian relationship.
    • There appears to be a negative narrative created around India’s current military capability. Besides low budgetary allocations, and procedural inefficiency in procurement of weapons and equipment a very awkward civil-military relationship has eroded India’s deterrent capability vis-à-vis Pakistan. The solution lies within and how it needs to be done is the subject of another analysis.
    • The world is increasingly looking at the hybrid form of conflict which encompasses below threshold covert operations, economic warfare, resource threats such as those based on water, terror, separatism, sabotage and subversion. The range of hybrid threads can be many times more manifold and do not remain the purview of one nation. ‘Two can play the game’ – still remains a truism as everything thing can be paid back in kind and that includes 28 years of tolerance for Pakistan’s one sided hybrid aggression. There is every possibility that Kulbhushan Jadhav was kidnapped from Chahbahar to brand and project Indian espionage and subversive activities in Baluchistan.  It was also contrived to send a message to India’s intelligence leadership that Pakistan had a measure of control over the intelligence space. This must not dissuade India from setting up its own proxies in Pakistan, especially Baluchistan and cultivate its capability beyond the usual niceties between neighbors.
    • The J&K issue makes India vulnerable, takes away out of proportion focus of officials and the strategic community and needs out of the box handling to strengthen India’s stand. Military domination is important but equally important is the strategy evolved and executed to dilute alienation, take the population on board and involve it in nation building. While it may be easier said than done the efforts towards that end need to be seen as sincere and holistic. For this India needs to develop its overall communication strategy capability to counter Pakistan’s nefarious agencies and have its own versions of storytelling.
    • Storytelling is an essential part of communication strategy. There is much to learn from Pakistan in this regard and better it through willingness to adopt change. Our capability of outreach to important international institutions, think tanks and simply the right circles which matter, through unofficial diplomacy supported and briefed by the Government, is a must. The Indian narrative on all contentious issues must be heard and be absorbed.
    • Embassies and high commissions abroad have their hands full and are under staffed. India’s diplomatic corps is insufficiently large to undertake a full scale official diplomatic offensive. Hence the need for supplementing it with academics, army officers and others who show proficiency in understanding strategic affairs. On matters of core concern for India, such as J&K or Doklam (at the height of the crisis), the ability of our missions abroad to sell the Indian narrative needs to be progressively enhanced.
    • The oldest phrase and probably the most appropriate in all matters concerning Pakistan is –‘setting our own house in order’. If internal harmony between communities is in place no power can weaken India but the moment political interests override national interests we open ourselves up for exploitation.
    • Economic strength will override all other capabilities in the future. Pakistan is expecting to reach a figure of 7 percent GDP growth in the next three to four years on the back of the perceived CPEC benefits. Although economists are all skeptical about such expectations India’s GDP growth must outmatch Pakistan to allow the truth to sink in. Managers of India’s economy need to be mindful that apart from social parameters which are affected by economic growth so is projection of capability and power.
    • There is a certain position of respect acquired by India over years on the basis of its democratic and secular credentials and indices of human freedom and free media. This is soft power that India carries over and above its military and economic capability. It lends out of proportion credibility and enhances comprehensive national power which too is a deterrent for rogue nations undertaking adventurism against India.
    • Pakistan is unlikely to be coerced by US in the usual ways adopted thus far. If it has to be pulled back from the activities it is indulging in India and the US need to be in much more consultation. The US will have to be prepared to go the full mile and refrain from stopping mid-way and resorting to sops. In the short term it is unlikely to happen as historical US and particularly the US Military’s support to Pakistan will not wane overnight.
    • India’s risk propensity for undertaking one off punitive operations against Pakistan and its surrogates has to increase. There can be no perfect situations and solutions; much imperfection and a degree of crudity have to be accepted. It is only then retribution capability will increase. This should be left to the Army to handle with no encumbrances just as has been demonstrated at the LoC through 2017.
    • The experiment with countering terror, separatist and other financial networks has been a runaway success. Much more time and energy needs to be invested in this field as it has immediate effect. With reasonable success in the J&K theatre we now need to expand our counter finance operations to other states where the jihadi scope runs high.
    • In terms of the nuclear field India’s relative silence and maturity has somehow given Pakistan an erroneous perception of its (Pakistan’s) decided superiority in this field. Subtle correction of perception may be necessary to allow deterrence to take more effective shape.

    The recent NSA parleys at Bangkok have been met with confused signals even from well informed circles. The truth remains that even at the height of standoff in relationships a window remains open. It may not be a process in place but one off meets to take stock and examine feasibility of changing course. Given the political events in the offing in both India and Pakistan in 2018-19 major initiatives for peace may not be forthcoming even in the absence of any major tensions. However, in the context of the times things can change overnight if bold initiatives are taken by political leaders. Inevitably such initiatives will need to come from India in view of the light political leadership in Pakistan and its guidance under Army control. The spoilers will remain the ‘good guys’ who deliver Pakistan’s perceived interests with regard to India. Pakistan needs to get this clear that its stance on talks and more talks has to be matched by sufficient initiative to ensure future talks if at all, are not sabotaged at the hands of maverick ‘good boys’.

    Lastly, the feasibility of Doklam 2 looms large and in that are opportunities for Pakistan which it will not forego. India has to be more than ever mindful that lower intensity two front situations without the full spectrum being unleashed could well be on the cards; a kind of test of collusion for the future. Its strategic partnerships must ensure that India is not isolated in the event of such testing. It will need much support and that support will equally set the stage for future   standoffs.


    Concerns of the Indian Army by Lt Gen Ata Hasnain

    Indian Army

    In 2005 the Indian Armed Forces very zealously adopted the concept of ‘transformation’, a term borrowed from the lexicon of the US Armed Forces. Essentially it meant ‘a very big change’; that change was essential in the sphere of war fighting due to the way various technologies, with information technology (IT) at the core, were rapidly demanding a move well beyond the military capabilities of the Cold War period.

    Fresh from its then recent experience of ‘Operation Parakram’, which involved massive mobilisation against Pakistan, the Indian military attempted to explain to the political and bureaucratic authorities how it was looking at the future even as ‘transformation’ was underway in various countries. Its enthusiasm found few takers and support for its ambitious projects was halfhearted. Although the 11th and 12th Plans did cater for incremental manpower needs the wherewithal just could not materialise. ‘Transformation’ died a natural death around 2011, buried under the mountain of neglect, lack of perception and inability to financially support the change which was being sought.

    It’s due to the history of this neglect that finally the Army’s Vice Chief, Lt Gen Sarath Chand was recently forced to inform the Parliamentary Committee on Defence Affairs on the lack of preparedness and severe glitches in the Army’s modernisation program, a position equally applicable to the Navy and the Air Force. Most reports on this important issue affecting India’s national security have focused on the details of the failure of financial backing and the inability to remove bureaucratic hurdles. However, a simple summary projected by most of these reports conveys the message without the attached details. In an adequately prepared war machine 30% of weapons and equipment should fall in the state of the art (SOA) category, 40% in current and 30% in vintage category. The existing state of the Indian Army brought to the notice of the Committee is 8% SOA, 24% current and 68% vintage category.

    With existing and emerging threats arising out of China’s consistent efforts at domination of the continental and maritime domains, exchanges on the LoC, the possibility of collusion between China and Pakistan and sponsored terrorist actions which could cross the threshold of India’s tolerance, the possibility of armed standoff against both adversaries remains live. While most analysts agree that all out conventional war is still a remote contingency this cannot be used as a dictum for the state of the nation’s military preparedness which should never be sub optimum.

    Unfortunately, the idea does not seem to find favour with those who control the purse strings, that being optimally armed, equipped, trained and motivated is half the battle and sends appropriate messages of deterrence or dissuasion, as the case may be. No doubt there are competing domains for the share of national resources but the element of risk that is involved in remaining underprepared in the military domain must overshadow all other considerations. The perceptions that emerge from the military leadership cannot be dismissed lightly and trust in its professional judgment is only prudent.

    It needs to be recalled that in 1965 Pakistan’s adventurous plans were based on its perception that any delay in attempting to capture its claimed areas would be risky as the Indian military was reforming and equipping itself but was then not fully prepared for war. Assumptions of military weakness tempt adversaries.

    The Army’s current leadership has unnecessarily been under fire for making public utterances from time to time. The Army Chief, Vice Chief and a few Army Commanders have expressed their frank opinion about perceptions of threats and preparedness. In earlier years, the Army leadership was content with transparently placing its observations and concerns to the government through its annual reports and theme papers; these were never made public and rarely acted upon. Providing answers to parliamentary questions still adhered to what the government wished to reveal. It is the annual presentation to the Parliamentary Committee which was always considered an appropriate forum to be realistically transparent. Much depended upon the members of the committees of the past, their level of understanding and perceptions about security affairs.

    The present committee’s better grasp has obviously been the trigger for the current expression of concern. It too has realized that 1.49% of the GDP at Rs 2.79 lakh crore which forms the defence budget cannot hope to meet both the revenue and capital needs of the defence services. In strong words the Army Vice Chief stated, “The 2018-19 budget has dashed our hopes; the marginal increase hardly caters for inflation…allocation of Rs 21,338 crore for modernisation is insufficient even to cater for committed payment for 125 on-going schemes, emergency procurements, and 10 days worth of ammunition at intense rates”.

    What is also revealing is that gaping holes in perimeter security of major army camps remain unaddressed as the much touted allotments for this are within the existing budget. Coupled with the huge expenditure on meeting the needs for response at Doklam, it is reliably learnt that the Army’s current transportation and some other budgets ran out of funds a couple of weeks ago, well before the end of the financial year.

    What is going to be the result of this transparency? Will it help in better appreciation of the grave deficiency in defence capability and capacity which is becoming more and more apparent? What the Army needs to do is to continue speaking about this and let the public perception on the deficiency become more realistic. There are ways of being transparent without upsetting any rules. In functional democracies like ours its ultimately public perception which pushes governments to adhere to norms of as basic a requirement as national security.

    The writer commanded the 15 Corps in Jammu & Kashmir. The views are personal

    Is Enforced Army Service for Civil Service Aspirants Necessary?by Lt Gen SYED ATA HASNAIN

    The Parliamentary Committee on Defence is reported to have recommended five years of compulsory military service for anyone who wants subsequent employment with the state or the central government. The committee apparently wants the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to prepare such a proposal and take this to the Centre.

    On the face of it, the perception and recommendation of the Committee reflects the core feelings of most Indians that a dose of compulsory military training for ‘all citizens’ will only do good for the people and the nation. It is reflective of the deep reverence the nation has for its armed forces, their basic value system, discipline, training, sense of duty, and patriotism.

    However, on the outset it is necessary to explain that executing such a desire is impractical given the sheer size of our recruitable male and female population (gender equation being a compulsion too). Examples of nations such as Israel, Singapore, Switzerland or the Nordic states, which follow such a system, cannot be taken as a model. Their population bases and nature of threats are altogether different. However, giving the Parliamentary Committee its due, there is nothing such as conscription in the recommendations set out.

    All that the committee has done is that it has sent a broad proposal concerning only aspirants for government service and that too for only gazetted ranks. Five years compulsory service in the armed forces will, as per its perception, achieve two things:

    • First, it will instil in the civil services (aspirants) an inherent discipline that the men in uniform follow, along with their regimentation, ethics, morals and values.
    • Second, it will help overcome the acute shortages that continue to persist, especially in officer ranks, the army in particular.

    (Photo: Reuters)

    Also Read: Nagrota Attack: Anti-Terror Training Is the Chink in Army’s Armour

    Advantages of the Proposal

    Some more advantages can be perceived with a closer examination of the proposal. Among them is the likely progressive improvement in civil-military relations as more civil services officers having undergone military service reach higher ranks of bureaucracy or police services.

    This is an aspect of functioning in India which has drawn much negativity. In future years, the bond of the uniform, the respect for camaraderie built in the ranks, essentials of regimental bonding and much more will come forward to overcome traditional rivalry.

    No one is denying that rivalry may still exist but denting it will help the system.

    There can be no doubt about the fact that the proposal will need many summers before it can be approved, and refinement will include experimentation and lessons, besides a full look at terms of service for each type of personnel.

    But the issue it will impact in full is the shortage of officers; there is no need to address shortage of soldiers as that is self-corrective, being an issue of exit and entry statistics at a given time.

    The armed forces are always accused of having a pyramidal system for the officer cadre where wastage is extremely high. This is because the majority joins the ‘main cadre,’ thus becoming aspirants for long service and higher rank. This makes competition intense. Existing alongside is a ‘support cadre’ – those in service for a shorter duration and not aspiring for long service and higher selection rank.

    Army chief Bipin Rawat.
    Army chief Bipin Rawat.
    (Photo: The Quint)

    Also Read: Soldier Speak: How the Army Upholds Unity in Linguistic Diversity

    Bolstering Support Cadres, Overcoming Deficiency

    Ideally every service of the armed forces should have a large officer based ‘support cadre’ and a lean ‘main cadre’ so that the force remains young in profile with quicker promotions and less competition. In India, however, it’s the other way around. Any reversal of this cannot happen in isolation.

    Those exiting also have to be taken care of, by side stepping them into other services that don’t require stringent standards of physical fitness. In India, no other service accepts them despite a Cabinet-approved proposal of 2004, on what is called the ‘peel factor’ (employing those peeling off from the cadre at different stages).

    The induction of civil service aspirants will obviously be to the ‘support cadre’ to strengthen that and overcome the problem of deficiency of officers. Both men and women aspirants can join the support cadre through a short service commission for five years or so.

    Stringent medical and physical fitness standards will need to be adopted and can be anticipated as one of the obstacles to the final clearance of this proposal.

    In addition, there can be consideration for ante date seniority for those who do military service and then join the civil services; that is if the civil services cadre could have acceptance with a dual intake pattern, combination of those who serve the armed forces and those who come in directly. All these details will obviously be examined with a fine tooth comb, and the DoPT is adept at evolving cadres with varying terms and conditions.

    The Indian Army stands for discipline and rigour.
    The Indian Army stands for discipline and rigour.
    (Photo: The Quint)

    What the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee do not deserve is outright rejection as some kind of a hare-brained idea. It needs to run the gamut of serious examination followed by short-term experimentation. If successful, it will have achieved much, but a conclusive decision appears to be a good distance away.

    (The writer, a former GOC of the army’s 15 Corps, is also former commander of the Uri-based Kala Pahar Brigade. He is now associated with Vivekanand International Foundation and Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies. He can be reached at @atahasnain53. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

    Don’t reward Islamabad for its lies

    Pakistan’s vulnerability to US­led sanctions is apparent from its struggle to stave off a default
    Debt-ridden Pakistan is very vulnerable to Western sanctions, yet it is unclear whether US President Donald Trump’s administration is willing to squeeze it financially in a way that could help reform its behaviour. Washington also seems reluctant to strip Pakistan of its status as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) or target its military for creating transnational terrorists.

    The main driver of Pakistan’s nexus with terrorists is its powerful military, whose generals hold decisive power and dictate terms to a largely helpless government. With the military’s rogue Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) rearing terrorists, Pakistan has long played a double game, pretending to be America’s ally while aiding its most deadly foes that have killed or maimed thousands of US soldiers in Afghanistan. Pakistani forces only target terrorists that fall out of line or threaten Pakistan itself.

    The recent media attention on the multilateral Financial Action Task Force’s planned action against Pakistan obscured that country’s success in preserving its status for another two years under the European Union’s preferential trading (GSP+) programme. Pakistan is the number one beneficiary of the GSP+ programme, which grants Pakistani exporters, especially of textiles, tariff-free access to the EU market in exchange for the country improving its human rights and governance. In effect, GSP+ rewards a sponsor of terror whose human-rights record has only worsened.

    Trump’s suspension of most military aid to Pakistan is unlikely by itself to force a change in the behaviour of a country that counts China and Saudi Arabia as its benefactors. Only escalating American pressure through graduated sanctions can make Pakistan alter its cost-benefit calculation in propping up militant groups that have helped turn Afghanistan into a virtually failed state, where the US is stuck in the longest and most expensive war in its history. The US failure to take the war into Pakistan’s territory has resulted in even Kabul coming under siege.

    Yet, swayed by geopolitical considerations, the US has long been reluctant to hold the Pakistani generals accountable for the American blood on their hands. Indeed, Washington for years funded the Pakistani military and turned Pakistan into one of its largest aid recipients.

    Even when the US, after a 10-year hunt, found Osama bin Laden holed up in a compound next to Pakistan’s main military academy, it did not abandon its carrots-only strategy. Such an approach has only helped the military tighten its grip on Pakistan, thwarting any movement toward a genuine democratic transition.

    Worse still, the US has dissuaded India from imposing any sanctions on Pakistan. If anything, India has been pressured to stay engaged with Pakistan, which explains the secret meetings the national security adviser has had with his Pakistani counterpart in Bangkok and elsewhere. The recent launch, with US backing, of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project illustrates why it is difficult for India to impose even diplomatic sanctions on Pakistan.

    To be sure, the Trump administration is searching for a new strategy on Pakistan. Yet it is an open question whether it will go beyond the security aid suspension, which excludes economic assistance and military training. Aid suspension in the past has failed to change Pakistan’s behaviour.

    With Washington loath to label Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, it must at least strip that country of its MNNA status, an action that will end its preferential access to US weapons and technologies and deny it the financial and diplomatic benefits associated with that designation.

    To force Pakistani generals to cut their nexus with terrorists, American sanctions should target some of them, including debarring them and their family members from the US and freezing their assets. Among the half a million Pakistanis living in the US are the sons and daughters of many senior Pakistani military officers.

    Pakistan’s vulnerability to potential US-led sanctions is apparent from its ongoing struggle to stave off a default. Despite China’s strategic penetration of Pakistan, the United States is still the biggest importer of Pakistani goods and services.

    US financial and trade sanctions extending to multilateral lending, as well as suspension of military spare parts, can force Pakistan to clean up its act.
    To end Pakistan’s double game on terrorism, Washington will have to halt its own double game of rewarding or subsidising a country that, in Trump’s own words, has given the United States “nothing but lies and deceit”. To address a self-made problem, it is high time for US policymakers to put their money where their mouths are.

    Can tackle China’s J-20 jet: IAF

    NEW DELHI: China’s new J-20 fighter jet is not stealthy enough and the Indian Air Force (IAF) has the capability to tackle the threat posed by it, said a senior air force officer familiar with Beijing’s military modernisation plans.

    GETTY IMAGES■ China announced last month that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force was in the process of inducting J­20s.

    “With the S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems being bought from Russia and our existing medium-range surface -to- air missile systems, we are quite capable of shooting down the J-20,” the officer said and added that the J-20 was not a true fifthgeneration fighter as “neither is the aircraft’s design stealthy, nor can it supercruise with the existing WS-10 engines”.

    Supercruise is a mode of flight that makes detection harder as it allows stealth fighters to fly at supersonic speeds in combat configuration without kicking in fuel-guzzling afterburners.

    China’s ministry of national defense announced last month that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force was in the process of inducting J-20 stealth fighters. India’s plans to build a fifthgeneration fighter aircraft (FGFA), however, remain on the drawing board.

    “I will go with the IAF’s assessment that India can tackle the J-20 threat,” said Air Marshal KK Nohwar (retd), additional director general of the Delhibased Centre for Air Power Studies and a former IAF vice chief.

    As reported by HT on March 17, a multi-billion dollar programme to produce a stealth fighter with Russia is in peril, with the IAF voicing its reservations as it believes the platform lacks the desired stealth characteristics and is inferior to the US-made F-35 and F-22 jets.

    India is in talks with Russia to buy five advanced S-400 missile systems, capable of destroying jets, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at a range of 400km, in an almost ₹39,000crore deal.

    Discussions on the proposed deal are likely to take place during defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Russia in April. “Cost is the biggest worry…We will be posing some questions to the Russians on the S-400,” a defence ministry official said on the condition of anonymity. “It’s an expensive platform but packs a tremendous punch,” said another IAF officer tracking the air force’s modernisation. At present, the central government is finding it hard to reconcile two contrary points of view on FGFA .

    Mobile CSD unit at Bangana sought

    Our Correspondent

    Una, March 19

    Ex-servicemen of the Bangana subsivision have raised their demand for a mobile unit of canteen stores department (CSD) at the subdivision headquarters. The demand was raised at the quarterly meeting of the district Sainik Welfare Board here.According to an official communique, a non-official member of the district-level committee of the Sainik Welfare Board said there were about 5,000 ex-servicemen and their families besides scores of other families of serving defence personnel in Bangana, who had to travel to the Una district headquarters or to Badsar in Hamirpur district for CSD facilities.The ex-servicemen have demanded that the mobile CSD unit visit Bangana at least twice a month so that the ex-servicemen and their families could purchase grocery and other items. Demands for a community building for ex-servicemen at the Una district headquarters and demarcation of land for a proposed Army cantonment in Gagret developmental block were also raised.Additional DC Kritika Kulhari, while presiding over the meeting, directed the officials concerned to take appropriate action with regards to the demands. She informed that the financial assistance for the marriage of daughters of ex-servicemen had been raised from Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000, adding that during the last quarter, 33 such cases had been forwarded to the Director of Sainik Welfare.Their plea

    • There are about 5,000 ex-servicemen and their families in Bangana
    • They have to travel to the Una district headquarters or Badsar in Hamirpur district for CSD facilities
    • They have demanded that the mobile CSD unit should visit Bangana at least twice a month

    After facing 9 bullets in gunfight, Cmdt Cheetah is back on duty

    After facing 9 bullets in gunfight, Cmdt Cheetah is back on duty
    CRPF commandant Chetan Kumar Cheetah after getting discharged from AIIMS in New Delhi. File Photo

    Tribune News Service

    Jammu, March 20

    Central Reserve Police Force commandant Chetan Kumar Cheetah, who won the battle against death and survived after receiving nine bullets, is again ready to defend the nation and face the challenges on the ground. He resumed duty at the CRPF Headquarters in New Delhi last week.On February 14, 2017, during an anti-insurgency operation in the Hajin area of Bandipora in north Kashmir, Cheetah had received nine bullets on his body and was critically injured. He had to undergo multiple surgeries and it was miraculous that he survived the bullet injuries.“I want youth to give their 100 per cent to the country — that is what I have done. The duty which I had… I could have escaped, but I faced the bullets,” Chetan Cheetah said in New Delhi.The braveheart’s survival is becoming a motivational story for the security forces personnel, especially those working in Jammu and Kashmir. “Chetan Cheetah’s story and bravery, especially his fight against all odds and resuming duty within a year of the incident, are an inspiration for the entire force. It was his internal strength which enabled him to get back in action,” said Ashish Kumar Jha, Public Relations Officer, CRPF, Jammu.Cheetah is still undergoing physiotherapy to improve sensation in his hand. For his bravery, Cheetah received Kirti Chakra, the second highest peacetime gallantry award.Once the brave commandant is fully fit, the CRPF is planning to bring him back to Jammu and Kashmir and use his experience in the militancy-torn state. “Chetan Cheetah is already a motivational force for all. We want to bring him back to the state and motivate the youth to join the force,” Jha said

    Four militants killed in Kupwara

    Four militants killed in Kupwara
    Army men take position near the encounter site in Kupwara on Tuesday. Tribune Photo: Amin War

    Our Correspondent

    Kupwara, March 20

    Four unidentified militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in Kupwara district on Tuesday, a defence spokesman said.“Four militants have been killed in the Arampora operation in Kupwara district. The operation is in progress,” the defence spokesman said.The encounter broke out in the Arampora area of Kupwara as security forces launched an operation after militants opened fire on an Army patrol, an Army officer said. He said the soldiers reacted swiftly and launched an operation to track down the militants.“Around 3.30 pm, a gun battle broke out between the militants and security forces,” he said.Senior Superintendent of Police, Kupwara, Shamsher Hussain Kupwara said: “The ongoing operation may continue throughout the night and may even extend till tomorrow as the militants are responding to the firing cautiously and intermittently which is an indication that the operation may last longer.”The operation was launched by men of the Army’s 41 Rashtriya Rifles, CRPF’s 98 Batallion and Special Operations Group of the J&K Police following inputs about the presence of six militants in the forest area.(With inputs from PTI)

    Won’t cede an inch, ready for bloody battle, says Xi

    Won’t cede an inch, ready for bloody battle, says Xi
    Xi Jinping. Reuters file

    Beijing, March 20

    China will not cede a “single inch” of its territory to others and is ready to wage a “bloody battle” to assume its due place in the world, a belligerent President Xi Jinping, now enjoying a life-long tenure, asserted on Tuesday.In a 30-minute fervently nationalistic speech at the close of the National People’s Congress, the Communist nation’s rubber-stamp Parliament, Xi said, “Since modern times, rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation has become the biggest dream of our nation.”“The Chinese people and the Chinese nation have a shared conviction that is not a single inch of our land will be and can be ceded from China,” Xi said, addressing the closing session of the NPC, the first by a President in recent years.Though Xi made no mention of any territorial issues, the country has been involved in a number of disputes with its neighbours.Besides the border dispute with India, China claims rights over the disputed islands in East China Sea under the control of Japan and vast stretches of the South China Sea where it is firmly asserting its control.Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter-claims over the strategic South China Sea. Xi said China has the capability to take its due place in the world. — PTI

    Discusses ties with Modi over phone

    • PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping over phone on his re-election
    • The two leaders discussed efforts by both countries to enhance high-level exchanges and deepen bilateral cooperation
    • Modi is perhaps the first foreign leader to have spoken to Xi as the Chinese President began his second term
    • The two held a telephonic conversation at Modi’s invitation, a day after he congratulated Xi on Chinese social media

    Rs 50,000 reward for IMA, NDA entrants from Uttarakhand

    Tribune News Service

    Dehradun, March 16

    Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be in Uttarakhand on March 25. She will be distributing cash awards to students of the state, who have been recently selected by the Indian Military Academy and the National Defence Academy. The award ceremony nomenclatured Shaurya Diwas was aimed to encourage young generation in the state to take up career in defence forces. Uttarakhand State Minister for Higher Education Dhan Singh Rawat presided over a high-level meeting to make the award ceremony a success.A cash award of Rs 50,000 will be given to the student, who has been selected in the IMA or the NDA recently. In case of absence of a student during the ceremony, his parents will be accepting the award. The award scheme is an initiative of the Uttarakhand Education Department.