China is watching India through the window
provided by Pakistan and Bangladesh with which it is developing an
economic and a military equation. Also, China has made major in-roads
into South Asia, which is inhabited by 250 million Muslims. India cannot
ignore the reality that Islamic fundamentalism as well as Islamic
insurgency exists in ASEAN countries. Brig Satish K Issar, VSM, contends
that of the 10 member countries of the ASEAN Club, at least three are
Muslim (Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei), six are Buddhist (Thailand,
Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia) and one is Christian
Brigadier Issar is of the
view that India has to frame its foreign policy driven by its security
(defence) needs. Unfortunately, none of the drafts of the national
policy on security has ever been approved because it would have made
powers that be (politicians as well as bureaucrats) accountable. But it
has to be remembered that there is no political solution alone to
certain aspects of security threats to the country. The Nagaland problem
is one such example.
South Asia has been
classified as an "unstable zone". This means, India cannot
remain unaffected by demographic changes in the region, which can lead
to serious consequences from the angle of security. India is hemmed in
by China in the north, Bangladesh and Myanmar in the east, Pakistan and
Afghanistan in the west and Sri Lanka in the south. Therefore, both land
and sea have not only to be protected and secured against military
attacks but also against trans-border crossings, influx of unwanted
population and smuggling.
To tighten its security,
India must introduce identity cards in the border states, develop a
national security policy that should also shape the country’s foreign
policy and make the defence planning more strategic than just tactical.
Here, India should learn from China’s experience and encourage
indigenisation as well as modernisation, while making the best use of
‘foreign’ technology and know-how. Similarly, a policy on Kashmir
should also be formalised so that India gains a position of strength to
deal with Pakistan and intrusions from across the borders. India’s
security concerns are all the more worrisome because the internal
threats are as pronounced as the external. India has a 744-km-long
border with six countries and out of that one-third is
"disputed". Looking towards the sea, India has nearly 600
islands to guard and protect. With international and national securities
getting blurred, thanks to globalisation, each country now cannot help
but feel insecure and unsafe. The task becomes all the more complex for
India, which also has to fight against internal threats: communalism,
insurgency, terrorism and corruption.
On this aspect of India’s
security, the Punjab Governor, Lt. Gen. J F R Jacob, PVSM (Retd), is
very cogent and forthright. He identifies both terrorism and insurgency,
as overriding priorities, to be tackled in today’s geo-strategic and
geo-political environment. In the global context, these two have evolved
into instruments that can achieve specific fundamentalist and political
goals. To deal with these twin problems, which have communal overtones
as well, special organisations and tactics are required. Military
solution alone will not help, he says.
General Jacob is of the
view that insurgencies and terrorism take deep roots in the
socio-economic traditions; hence, their eradication becomes difficult.
Though these may be suppressed, they have a tendency to resurrect.
must develop interest-based ties with USA & China
"Till last year,
terrorism was a common point of concern for both the USA and India. At
that time it was quite clear that the USA would like to have diplomatic
relations both with India and Pakistan. However, the situation changed
after 9/11. The USA, per force, had to take assistance from Pakistan,
purely because it was totally hand in glove with the Taliban in
Afghanistan. I am sure, the USA was fully aware about Pakistan aiding and
abetting terrorism and terrorists in Afghanistan. That is why the USA only
had to twist Pakistan’s arm a little before General Musharaff became an
ally. Keeping this background in mind, India should not expect much from
the USA, as long as it has an interest in Afghanistan. In fact, we should
be totally independent in handling our problems. We should try and work
policies, which are not dependent on US support. Yet, we should not
undermine the fact that the USA has an extremely important interest in
India, too. Strategically, India plays an important role in establishing
stability in the Indian Ocean, which is like a highway through which USA’s
commercial and naval ships pass.
We also ought to acknowledge
that the USA is not only a Super Power but also exercises
"control" over institutions like the UN and financial
organisations that can be of great significance to any country. Then India
and the USA are the two largest democracies of the world: one is the
richest, the other the biggest. Hence, they share similar democratic
values. However, the USA considers its national interest supreme and to
achieve that it can follow or defy anything. In the modern times, India
has one more position of strength. There are a large number of Indians in
the USA, and these NRIs have a better earning capacity, per person, as
against an average American. Besides, they occupy very important positions
in civil and political life of the USA and play a very constructive role
Historically, the USA has
not supported our case on Kashmir. It has maintained views that have not
fully been in line with our national interest. This is one of the reasons
why India has been against intervention of a third party in its bilateral
relations with Pakistan and others. The only occasion when the USA
supported Indian point of view was during Kargil War, with reference to
the sanctity of Line of Control (LoC).
India, China and the USA
have several interests that are common to them like the jehadi terrorism.
India needs to develop a interest-based relationship with the USA and
China, which would require considerable tightrope walking."
aiding Pak in its proxy war against India"
"Contrary to the general
perception, India is faced with a multi-dimensional threat than a military
threat alone. The security of India is dependent on economic and
technological growth too. In the past, the USSR was pivotal factor for our
security but with its disintegration, India has been left to fend for
Though almost each of our
neighbours has some a problem with us, it is Pakistan that poses the major
and immediate threat. Kashmir had happened within a month or so of
Independence and Pakistan’s obsession with it is because it provides them
a strategic depth vis-à-vis India. That is why in the absence of Kashmir,
Pakistan went for Afghanistan in a big way. Pakistan’s sole aim is to
dismember India, which includes annexation of Kashmir. It is now a very well
established fact that Pakistan Army’s primacy before their own nation
depends upon their confrontation with India. That is why they have always
been excessively aggressive towards us. But it is important to note that
Pakistan Army’s aggression has always been met with successfully by the
Indian forces. However, our forces have been repeatedly let down by our
political leadership for lack of strategic understanding on their part. For
instance, in 1947-48, when the Indian forces were at the verge of vacating
Pakistani aggression and were stopped from doing so because the British
wanted Pakistan for their own strategic requirements in the Middle East.
Whether it was Nehru or any of his successors, all of them have played a
very passive role vis-à-vis Pakistan. They continued to give in to either
international pressures or highly misplaced moralistic stand. Our political
leadership has never involved the armed forces in across- the- table talks
and hence the decisions have cost us heavily. We lost on the negotiating
table what the soldiers had got with their blood.
I call it passivism. But the
world has gone far ahead of us by not opting for passivism. Pakistan has
been pushing us particularly after 1989, when it began indulging in
cross-border terrorism. India has not rebuffed the same with any offensive
to this proxy war. If at all, there has only been political rhetoric, with
the result that the Indian forces have lost three corps in J & K alone.
We should have gone nuclear
much earlier than 1974. However, even after 1974, we were silent for the
next 25 years because of the western pressures on our various governments.
Although, in 1998, India conducted the Pokhran atomic tests but we are now
decades and decades behind China, which has acquired an enviable position by
virtue of its nuclear capability. Even the USA has conceded that it can not
ignore China any more. India is far behind and far too vulnerable.
The threat to India’s
security will worsen as the Chinese come closer to achieving their objective
of being a world power. They are aiding Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar,
besides keeping India engaged in a proxy war with Pakistan. In a way, it is
China’s proxy war too against India."
threats far greater than those from outside"
"We have more of internal
threats to India’s security than immediate external threats, except from
Pakistan. Besides, in modern times, any country’s security is threatened
not only by military invasions but also stunted economic growth,
international sanctions and the character of the nation. To my mind, India’s
internal threats and challenges are far greater than the ones from outside.
Our successive governments in the past 55 years have failed to make India an
internally strong country. For instance, we have earned the tag of one of
the most corrupt nations, which has resulted in ill-governance.
Fundamentalism and communalism in the name of religion is our second biggest
deterrent in paving the way for a secure country.
Over the years, India has
failed to bring about the people of the border- states into the mainstream
of the country. This relates to the whole of the North-East. In addition,
there is a demographic invasion against India. It is literally a war-like
situation where in minimum of 40 million illegal immigrants from Bangladesh
have entered in India. It happened because of the vested interests of the
petty politicians, who pursued their narrow interests by encouraging this
A similar situation is
developing from the Nepal side. Under an agreement, both the countries were
to have an open border. But the reality is that while the Nepalese can come,
seek work and even settle in India, Indians in Nepal, are bound by work
permits. In addition, there is influx of Bhupalis (Nepalese settled in
Bhutan), who have been thrown out of Bhutan and have entered India through
Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Dugri in the east. We would soon have a similar
influx of the LTTE cadre, which has found shelter in Tamil Nadu. These are
self -perpetuating threats that India is today faced with. But for Bhutan,
there is no other country on our border that has good relations with India.
However, there are some
aspects that generate hope. In the first place, India, with its large size
and strategic location, is of immense importance to America. That is why
America has stated its view on strategic relations with India and only
tactical relations with Pakistan. Our geo-strategic position in the Indian
Ocean makes us incomparable. India today is also the biggest market
available to all developing nations. India has the biggest middle class with
purchasing power. China lacks this. Also, let us not forget that India today
is an overt nuclear power. Let us learn from America itself. It perceives
China as the next emerging world power. It also feels threatened by China
because of its nuclear capability. Yet, America is purposefully engaged with
China in every possible way. We should learn this tactics and have every
neighbour’s stake in India. For instance, by buying gas from Bangladesh,
we can help it grow economically, which in turn would checkmate overwhelming
immigration to India. Similarly, if we could engage Bangladesh into a
dialogue over Brahamputra, which ravages areas like Assam, it would be in
our interest. The key today vis-à-vis security is primarily economic growth
and not the overwhelming military interventions."