Thursday, August 8, 2013

Will India Never Learn?

For the umpteenth time, Pakistan committed cross-border violation by ambushing an Indian Army Patrol deep inside Indian territory resulting in the death of five troopers. The question is will India ever learn from the lessons that Pakistan continues to teach or will it continue to pursue a foolhardy policy of "peace talks" at any cost?

Pakistani troops attacked an Indian post along the Line of Control in the Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir late on the night of August 5, killing five Indian soldiers.

According to defence sources the Pakistani soldiers intruded into the Indian territory well past midnight on August 5 and ambushed the Sarla post on the Indian side of the LoC. Five Indian soldiers were killed in the attack which took place at around 2 am, deep inside the Indian side of the LoC. According to army sources, “The ambush was carried out by the Border Action Team (BAT) of the Pakistan army, which comprises commandos of 801 Mujahideen, three ISI officials besides the dreaded terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba outfit. The attack was carried out by 801 Mujahid regiment of Pakistan army.”

They said, “One of the terrorists involved in this ambush has been identified as Mohammed Anwar, who was also involved in beheading of Indian soldiers in Poonch area on January 8, 2013. Mohammed Anwar is believed to be specialist in such operations and executing such strategies. The BAT operation was chalked out and carried out by 801 Mujahideen with technical support of Lashkar-e-Taiba.”

According to sources, the ambush was carried out at Narol area between Cheta and Hathi posts in Chakkan-Da-Bagh area in Poonch sector along the Line of Control (LoC).

They said that intelligence agencies had given inputs earlier that Mohammed Anwar was on the job to execute a BAT action in Poonch district in the month of Ramzan but they had specified target as Sawjian area.

Army said, “A group of six jawans was patrolling between Cheta and Hathi posts in Naol area along LoC near Chakkan Da Bagh at around 1.30 AM near forward post No l. Entering 450 to 500 metres inside Indian territory, a heavily armed ambush party of Border Action Team (BAT) of 801 Mujahideen and few dreaded militants of Lashkar-e-Taiba, total around 18-20 in number, were waiting for patrolling party guarding our fence. When they reached near post No l, BAT teams opened indiscriminate fire on them causing death of five Indian troops while a trooper of 21 Bihar was injured in the firing.”

“Every jawan had 10–30 bullet injuries which caused on the spot death of all five troops. After getting information, the injured troop and dead bodies were immediately shifted to Military Hospital Poonch where autopsy of the bodies were conducted,” they informed.

After carrying out the attack the BAT team went back unchallenged inside the Pak territory while some media reports claimed that the group of heavily armed militants might have infiltrated inside the Indian territory.

Pakistan Army denied that there was any cease fire violation by their troops and also any involvement in the killing of five Indian soldiers at the Line of Control in the Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir.

The incident could cast a shadow on the resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue process expected later this month. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are slated to meet in New York next month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.

The incident came hours after a BSF jawan was injured in firing from across Indo-Pak border in Samba district of J&K.

"There was sniper firing from some persons at around 15:55 hours from Pakistan side along the international border (IB) at Narainpur border out post (BOP) area in Ramgarh sector," a senior BSF officer said.

On July 27, another BSF jawan was injured when Pakistani troops violated ceasefire twice in the space of 10 hours by targeting Indian posts along the Indo-Pak border in Poonch and Kathua districts.

The Pakistani troops had used mortars, RPGs and heavy machine guns leading to heavy firing exchanges.

On July 3, Pakistan violated ceasefire when it fired on cops, who had gone to LoC in Sabzian, Poonch to collect the body of a Pakistani intruder killed in an IED blast on July 1.

Pakistani troops fired on troops trying to evacuate injured porters after two were killed in IED attack by Pakistani militants along LoC in Poonch on July 8.

On July 12, Pakistani Rangers fired on Indian forward posts in Pindi belt along international border (IB) in Jammu district.

Pakistani troops opened small arms firing on Indian posts in forward area along LoC in Poonch district on the night of July 22.

The increase in cease fire violations by the Pakistanis seems to be following a pattern. The unprovoked Pakistani attacks must not be viewed in isolation; it must be seen in the context of incursions carried out by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control. There appears to be some kind of understanding between the two all-weather friends on Kashmir. Since April 2013, it must be noted that the personnel of the PLA have repeatedly intruded across the LAC stepping up pressure on India and the Indian Army. Strangely, though these eyeball-to-eyeball confrontations have not resulted in a firefight till date, it is anybody’s guess whether this restraint will continue. In the past few months, China and its generals both by words and action have been provoking India. On the Western front, the perennial delinquent Pakistan has been in the habit of violating the cease fire across the Line of Control for the past more than eight months with considerable regularity.  Pakistan’s obsession in wresting Kashmir by force since 1947 has ended in failure every time. The axis of evil (China and Pakistan) seems to have embarked on a concerted plan to achieve their independent objectives, namely, to alter the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and of taking Kashmir by optimal use of force. This is a likely scenario considering the fact that Pakistan’s infiltration of terrorists into Kashmir have not succeeded and China is wary of India rapidly developing infrastructure facilities along the LAC and the raising of a Mountain Strike Corps.

The other possibility is the K – Plan of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. According to reports, as soon as Nawaz Sharif became the Pakistan Prime Minister, he asked his most trusted intelligence agency, ISI, to devise a plan for the troubled Indian state of Kashmir. The recent attack on Indian posts in Poonch are said to be a small part of this devious plan, named- K-Plan or Kashmir-Plan.

It should also be noted that there has been unprecedented rise in violence in Kashmir Valley and numerous incidents of infiltrations and cross-border fire on LoC, since Nawaz Sharif came to power after the elections held in May, this year. So much so, the new PM wants a special cell of the plan to be situated inside his office. As per the report, cell will try to implement the Pakistan’s Kashmir-policy with renewed vigour. 

ISI has been asked to instruct militants to re-group and revive its proxy war in Kashmir. The aim is to bring Kashmir back on international radar, while Pakistan denies its role completely.

The second and the most important part of this plan is 'high voltage propaganda'. ISI has already activated its propaganda cells in Kashmir, Brussels, London, Washington, Toronto and New York. According to the plan these cell will not be operated by High Commissions, diplomatic missions or even the Pakistani intelligence agencies. They will be looked after by Non Governmental Organisations (staffed probably with ISI officials) and support groups based across the globe that support secession of Kashmir from India.

Given the above scenario, apart from political bickering among the political parties in India there does not seem to exist a coherent policy vis-à-vis Pakistan and China. The Indian foreign policy establishment apparently suffers from policy paralysis. After every act of cease fire violation by Pakistan and/or incursions across the LAC by China, the political class of this country adopts the Standard Operating Procedure of condemnation and issuing of strong verbal messages that these attacks or incursions would not be tolerated and followed importantly by total inaction on the ground. The political dispensation in Delhi by its inaction is sending a message not only to the two delinquent neighbours but to the international community as a whole that India lacks the political will to take concrete action in the form of reprisals. The framers of Indian foreign policy, if at all a policy exists, need to be told that one of the important determinants of foreign policy is public opinion; today the public mood certainly does not favour any talks with the two all-weather friends given the nature of their recurring acts of violence and transgressions. Again infinite rounds of talks with these two countries have yielded nothing till date – one keeps the LoC hot and the other keeps pushing the LAC. Talks at any cost or talks for the sake of talks satisfy only the fringe elements of our polity who reiterate on having uninterrupted and uninterruptable dialogue with the rogue states like Pakistan. Noted Strategic Affairs expert Dr. Subhash Kapila has very aptly put it thus: “This is the classic degenerated ‘peace at any cost’ dictum which is being bandied around by US-apologists in India and India’s ‘bleeding hearts’ who advocate the Pakistan-India peace process should ‘not be interrupted or be interruptible’ without reference to the situation on the Pakistan-India borders and proxy disruptive activities inflicted on India.”

Another basic but important aspect is for India to have a foreign minister trained in the art of diplomacy unlike the present incumbent who suffers from a foot-in-the mouth disease. Given below are some of the statements given in an interview to a news channel.

“We are vigilant. We are awake. We are conscious. We are watchful,”

 “We have a categorical commitment from Pakistan that they will not allow their territory to be used for attacks on India,” Khurshid said. “We expect them to deliver on this commitment.”

“Neighbours have to find a way of talking to each other,”

“We can’t proceed as if nothing has happened. We have taken some steps. Let’s see what the response to those are.”

These are standard lines of this Minister, not to forget his ‘acne comment’ made in the context of the Chinese army incursion in Ladakh in April 2013. One needs to ask the minister how many times in the past, have the Pakistanis given such categorical commitments and violated them without any compunction. The minister alone may be able to explain what he meant by “neighbours have to find a way of talking to each other”. This can be interpreted to mean that India is more than keen on having a dialogue with Pakistan. And what “steps” does he refer to having been taken by India for which he is awaiting a response. Pakistan has denied the incident and warned India against making baseless allegations which could undermine the ‘peace process’. The Minister must be reminded that short of being declared as a terrorist state by the international community, Pakistan for all practical purposes is an international pariah.

The options for India have always been very limited. The harsh reality for India is that neither can it wish its two neighbours away being a geographical reality nor can it expect them to mend their ways through mere talks and agreements. Agreements for the dragon in the north and the rogue in the west are meant to be observed in the breach. The Pakistanis and Chinese have scant regard or respect for agreements.  The Panchsheel and Shimla Agreements were probably consigned to the dust bins even before the ink had dried. The harsher reality is that for them power flows out of the barrel of a gun. If at all then if India needs to talk, then it needs to do so at the local level, at a functional level; not at the level of Heads of State or Government. India while talking to its two perennial foes must rapidly develop its military capability, a capability that will enable it to engage effectively two nuclear neighbours. Only and only if India works and develops its hard power capabilities as opposed to soft power can it force the two delinquents to behave in a civilized manner.

In conclusion, it must be emphasized that irrespective of the fact that whether the political class, particularly the party in power wants talks or not with Pakistan, the public perception is that the government has been too weak in dealing with threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity from across the border and the only message by which a country like Pakistan can be made to see reason is through the language of force. The peaceniks in the Indian establishment have undermined the nation's interests for far too long. It is time to give the hawks a chance. Israel could enter into a peace treaty with Egypt (Camp David Accords) largely due to the hawkish Prime Minister Menachem Begin's leadership backed by Israel's superior military power and capabilities.  There is no reason why India cannot emulate the Jewish State with a hawkish leader at its helm.