Looking the other way

The coming months are going to be full of tension for the Indian forces. They will again be forced to go alone as has been the culture as both China and Pakistan are putting pressure on them. The video that was recently shown in a leading English news channel says it all. China is setting India up while the political class has failed to provide any civil military leadership. The strategic culture is also showcased by other events in which civil military leadership is almost cast in stone in India.
Recent events showcase the lack of strategic culture which in turn gives rise to lack of policy directions.

Thus, higher military leadership needs to smell and feel the situation rather than get clear directions. The higher military leadership too has not been able to prove itself, barring aside a few odd cases. If  Indian political class does not educate itself of the military, its dream of becoming a super power will forever remain unfounded. A nation cannot grow on soft power alone, they need to be strengthened with hard power.

Its common knowledge that citizens of a country do not go to a militarised area at midnight for picnic except with the connivance of security forces. They operate themselves to inflict casualties’ including severing of heads, thus the furor in the Parliament. The Parliament is an august body and in its wisdom it has decided to pass a resolution that sounds more like an election rhetoric and not a foreign policy statement.

Both Pakistan and China have signed the Economic Corridor Accord on 5 July 2013, which involves setting up of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and a highway from Kashgar in China to Gwadar port in Pakistan. Their militaries are acting in concert while their respective civilian governments are speaking coercively in one case and adaptably in another.

They wish to put pressure to settle the dispute in their favour. Coercive diplomacy is being applied which needs a befitting civil military reply. The Indian Army must react as all armies do and the political class must prevent war, keep the dialogue open, settle the dispute and give a protracted eight per cent growth. All this requires the two to act like a team.

For a nation that saw most masterful treatise like the Bhagwad Gita, a thousand century old military tradition, state craft of Chanakya, how much we valve our rich past. The errors made during the post-Independence era needs to be recapitulated as the military is always placed in a disadvantageous position. The war which Pakistan initiated in 1947 saw the raiders capture small parts in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

The Army stabilised the situation and was in a position to throw out the intruders. Wisdom prevailed and India took the matter to the United Nations but unfortunately the issue still remains unresolved. 1962 was a war which started with the forward policy of India throwing out the aggressor and creating Dhola post on Thagla ridge, diplomatically an intransigent attitude towards China in 1959-1961 as per records. 1965 saw India capturing Hajipir with sheer guts and glory and in 1971 India liberated Bangladesh which under the previous government was a launch pad for ISI.
India had 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war capable of influencing public opinion in Pakistan, yet could not solve the J&K problem and most shockingly there are reportedly 54 Indian prisoners of war in Pakistan! Isn’t it strange?

The period of 50s and 60s also saw insurgencies which arose out of grievances not being addressed. The rise of the Maoist in the heart land is not linked to any external threat. It is an Indian problem that was due to mismanagement of resources. It affected one-third of the nation and the prime minister once said that it is the gravest danger. But the question remains, what is its origin? Answer, misgoverned areas in short.

SriLanka was a wrong war for the wrong cause at the wrong time. How many wrongs got right is sheer mastery and Kargil saw the foundation of tactical teaching spin on its head. It is taught and continues to be taught even today, post Kargil, with no change in doctrine that in high altitude a position is reinforced and not counter attacked, as it gives the commander the unique distinction of killing more Indians than enemy.

To appease the international community, India did not capture the territory and exchanged the same. Fortune favours the brave. Luckily the casualties were not very high but all commanders would still choose to reinforce a position. Parakram saw the Army deployed on the border for eight months only to be followed by a strategic withdrawal. Five Chinese tents and a lot of border violations have seen the two-year-old mountain strike corps being sanctioned.
With politics becoming a family business and a few families nationally having all the powers, regional parties say pollster’s have an edge  and the divide will further grow. But all this will come at a huge national cost.

External threat is too serious a business to be left to the forces, the bureaucrat, or the political class alone. It needs the effort of all sections of society.
War is too serious a business to be left to generals or politicians alone. It therefore, summarises that all those in the family business of politics either get trained militarily or forces become part of the decision loop.
The author is a retired brigadier
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