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Pakistan's military, mullah, ISI mix

May 09, 2009 10:02 IST
Faultlines (Lancer Publishers, 2009, Rs 495), a compilation of editorials by Bharat Verma, published in the Indian Defence Review, presents to his readers, a single source to access, refer and assimilate his views on the global geopolitical scenario and more specifically of the Indian subcontinent.

In a series of articles published over a span of 11 years, he deliberates upon the impact of the emerging geopolitical situation on the nation's security and well being, analyses their implications and at each time presents assessments which have stood the test of time with the accuracy of their predictions.

He traces the origin of the Indian faultline to the Indian emperor who laid down his arms in victory as he could not stomach violence as also to the ancient policy of Indian rulers who met an invading army not at the frontiers of their kingdom, but close to the seat of power where they remained firmly entrenched with their army. This was akin to allowing an adversary in a soccer match to dominate your half of the field and obviously goals would be scored.

The Indian psyche of abhorrence for violence, which manifested in attempts to absorb, appease or amalgamate the invading armies, put foreign rulers at the seat of power in Delhi with ease. Unfortunately, this mindset continued even after gaining Independence.

Instead of taking a realistic look at the reasons for the country's history of subjugation, the leadership, unable to comprehend the dynamics of military power, delinked the military component from its foreign policy, thus settling for a defensive defence policy. This, despite inheriting an excellent military machine with an offensive orientation under its erstwhile imperial mantle.

The author goes on to describe the threat perceptions to our territorial integrity through the medium of existing faultlines in the country and concludes that the Indian Faultline engulfs most of the eastern half of the Union. These are in the form of export of instability, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, arms, drugs and demographic inversion.

The main culprit is Pakistan through its military, mullah and ISI mix. The Western half is relatively peaceful and generates most of the wealth along with the South. With India predicted to be the third largest global economy by 2025, the result can be imagined if the Eastern half along with Kashmir could be put in order.

He urges that to emerge as a great Asian power the next generation waiting to take over the instruments of power in the near future should erase the Indian Faultline from the map and psyche.

On the other hand, the Pakistani Faultlines present an even grimmer picture. After the break up of Pakistan in 1971, instead of emerging as a more cohesive unit geographically, politically, economically and in orientation, 33 years hence, nearly 55% of Pakistan is witnessing vicious insurgencies which could lead to further vivisection. More than half the country has slipped into anarchy and the remaining may also follow if Islamabad does not carry out a drastic reassessment of its nationhood.

The role of the Chinese is analysed in great detail. China realised that India is the sole Asian power that could frustrate their designs of unrivalled supremacy in Asia. Adopting the Sun Tzu principle, 'To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting', they found a willing proxy in Pakistan to which China transferred for the first time in history, nuclear weapons and missile technology to countervail and further boost its anti-India strategy.

Over a period of time, further proxies were added in the form of Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar which were under the spell of Beijing, thus shrinking India's influence in its own vicinity without having to take recourse to war.

Whilst tackling the global geopolitical scenario and the role of the only superpower, the USA, the following points are highlighted by the author: The grave folly committed by the Bush administration of waging a war against Iraq in the midst of an ongoing war against terrorism in Central Asia. The diversion of resources not only resulted in a stalemate, but also degraded the military power in both sectors. The Iraq takeover should not have been undertaken till the gains in Afghanistan were consolidated.

Post 9/11, the American need for Indian support is greater than ours for them. Also, the unjust war launched in Iraq, rapidly turned into a pitched battle between the American-led coalition forces and the Islamic fundamentalist forces in Asia.

With Asia largely Islamic, American presence in these countries becomes untenable. By declaring China as a strategic competitor, the US has further reduced its manoeverability in Asia.

Rising anti-American sentiments in the Asian Islamic world and the increasing US-China clash, will require the US to have a strategic tie-up with us. American operations in Central and West Asia are unsustainable in the long run without healthy partnerships with think alike powers located in this geographic region as the US conducts them at extremes of its reach.

Therefore, the US need for an alliance with India is far greater than realised. India also holds the geo-economic card to emerge as the largest buyer from the US in the near future.

The strategic advantages which India possesses are highlighted. These are firstly, the geographical location and size which lend it the advantage of both a continental and maritime power and which in turn makes it possible for New Delhi to impact and influence West Asia, Central Asia and South East Asia.

The other strategic advantages vis-a-vis its neighbours are those of having a young, highly skilled population, access to superior weapons technology from the West, Israel and Russia which is unlikely to be available to China and the Islamic countries in the near future and also a large, happening market in Asia.

The author argues forcefully for an offensive pro-active outlook when advocating the future strategies to be adopted by India. These range from the audacious to the most unique and cover a vast spectrum of strategies which include the forging of new alliances, tackling the global menace of terrorism in concert with the US, enhancement of our military might, forging of industrial alliances to leapfrog the technological gaps, skillful use of the media as a force multiplier as well as some corrective internal actions such as repeal of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and reversal of the adverse demographic change of population in Assam and other North Eastern states.

The strategy proposed vis-a-vis Pakistan is highly audacious and considered too radical to find acceptance by the Indian leadership or by the international community.

A fair share of attention is devoted to the country's military power. Despite inheriting one of the finest military machines with a formidable reputation of winning wars in distant lands on attaining independence, lack of understanding of military power combined with naive and utopian dreams on the part of the Indian leadership, has landed the military today with the unenviable burden of undertaking policing tasks internally.

Arguing that the foreign policy of a nation is primarily dependant on the strength of two legs -- economic and military power -- the author calls for the utmost priority in the honing and nurturing of the military power in the national development agenda. Unfortunately, this is not so.

The story of shortages of critical equipment, bungling in acquisitions, bureaucratic red tape, complicated procedures and political incompetence to appreciate the relevance of military power continue to hinder the enhancement of our military prowess.

The other problems are also deliberated upon like the shortage of young officers and the aging military leadership profile and solutions offered. The topic of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), is given due prominence. The advantages to be gained by New Delhi by the appointment of a CDS are highlighted.

Bharat Verma'S editorials produced in his book, Faultlines, display his tremendous grasp and depth of understanding of the global geopolitical environment and their impact on India. He raises many pertinent questions vis-a-vis the nation's security and discusses them threadbare. At each stage, he offers assessments which are uncanny in their accuracy as borne out by subsequent events.

The one drawback of the book is that being a compilation of his editorials published over a span of eleven years, large portions of the articles on similar subjects, though separated by a period of time in their publication, tend to be repetitive in varying degrees, thus lending a touch of monotony in their reading.

Had he reproduced the essence of his editorials in a suitably structured book covering the various subjects in continuity from their inception to the present day, the tedium of repetition would be eradicated and at the same time provide continuity of reading to the reader.

Notwithstanding the above critique, Faultlines, provides an excellent source of reference and education in the field of international relations, strategy and military doctrine as it affects India and its reading is highly recommended for the Indian intelligentsia, personnel of the civil and foreign affairs services, military officers, students of political and military science and most importantly, the Indian political leadership.

Lieutenant Colonel Vijay A Mittal (retired) lives in Pune.

Lieutenant Colonel Vijay A Mittal (retd)