Tuesday, May 3, 2011

India's America Envy

Since Osama Bin Laden's death in Pakistani town of Abbottabad on May 1, 2011, I am seeing a dramatic increase in cyber activity by many Indians manifesting itself as a constant stream of anti-Pakistan hateful commentary being posted on almost all major news discussion forums.

But, amidst all the usual venomous babble, the following fantasy by an Indian blogger Prashant Agrawal published in the Wall Street Journal stands out in particular:

India’s prime minister greets the Mi-25 helicopters carrying Indian Navy MARCOS commandos. He shakes hands with the returning troops, congratulates and thanks them. For the photographers, he holds up his thumbs, “Mission Accomplished”-style. The MARCOS are returning from Pakistan where they took out some of India’s, and the world’s, most wanted terrorists.

That was the story that didn’t happen yesterday or the week before or the month before or the year before or the decade before that. It’s the story that some, perhaps many, Indians have wished to read. It hasn’t happened but the chances of it happening have gone up slightly.

How interesting!

This reminds me of what Indian author and journalist Pankaj Mishra wrote some years ago. Here's an except from his article:

Gung-ho members of India's middle class clamor for Israeli-style retaliation against jihadi training camps in Pakistan. But India can "do a Lebanon" only by risking nuclear war with its neighbor; and Indian intelligence agencies are too inept to imitate Mossad's policy of targeted killings, which have reaped for Israel an endless supply of dedicated and resourceful enemies.

Prior to this latest episode of wishful thinking, I had heard of India’s “Israel Envy”, a phrase coined by former Indian minister Sashi Tharoor immediately after Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

Now it seems that gung-ho Indians like Prashant are also suffering from India’s “America Envy”.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Usama's Death in Perspective

India's Israel Envy-Haq

Can India Do Lebanon in Pakistan?

India-Pakistan Military Balance

India's Israel Envy-Tharoor

ISI Rogues-Real or Imagined?

India's Missile Shield and Israel Envy Threaten Pakistan

Gaza Compared With Nazi Concentration Camps

Gaza Bombing Witnesses Describe Horror


Anonymous said...

I sincerely suggest you spare a few words for what is now going to happen in Pakistan when CIA/US extracts vengence for harbouring OBL for 10 years.

To add to the fun TTP and others have also sworn revenge.

Ever heard of caught between a rock and a hard place?

If India has dreams of launching US/Israel style operations Pakistan also has dreams of conqoring India like Islamic rulers after whom it names its missiles.So delusions of grandeur is hardly an exclusively Indian problem...

Data Cruncher said...

My personal view is that at least elements of Pakistan's security and intelligence apparatus were involved in Osama's protection. It is inconceivable that a massive security compound can be purpose built - in a small garrison town where everyone knows everyone else and outsiders are scrutinized, near the country's premier military academy of all places - without anyone in the national security establishment not knowing its purpose or its inhabitants. If I am right, this event will wreck whatever credibility was left of Pakistan's commitment to war on terror. Rather, it will confirm Pakistan's reputation as Terroristan, where the primary activity of the state is support and nurturing of terrorists. If I am wrong - that is, Osama did not have official protection but just got lucky - it will shed equally bad light on the gross incompetence of country's intelligence agencies and military leadership. Either way, Pak is in a deep mess.

Sgt. Catskill, El Segundo said...

"..the mission was carried out by the US Navy Seals ALONE!.."
The half-truth and conspiracy theorists are coming out by the hordes.

I am in the armed forces and our briefing says it all. No help from the Pakistanis was asked or needed due to intel leaking out.

It should be highly embarassing for Pakistan, who has ALWAYS denied Osama was on their soil. All his loyal couriers were Pakistani!

Pakistan cannot be trusted .. ever

Ismail Sengupta said...

As long as Pakistanis like yourself have this mindset, Pakistan will always be distracted by India.

Indians do not care as much. Yes, because Pakistan is our neighbour, we are trying to assimilate what is going on overthere. Trust me though we have more important things and problems to focus on.

Many Indians, like myself, see no value in focusing on Pakistan unless it deals with security. Economically, Pakistan has no value for India.

Pakistan may be a great happy nation with shiny infrastructure with it's population ever so healthy in mind and body but wouldn't everyone in the world know that. If you have keep repeating that in your blog maybe one day it will spontaneously happen.

Today, however, the world has a different view of Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Catskill: "All his loyal couriers were Pakistani!"

I think you are a fanatic Indian hiding under a pseudonym.

And you are either ignorant or lying when you say "All his loyal couriers were Pakistani!"

The one name that has come out is the name of a Kuwaiti, Abu Ahmad, who served as UBL's courier. He was tracked by the ISI and his ID and whereabouts were given to the CIA by ISI.

Riaz Haq said...

Sengupta: "Indians do not care..."

You got be to kidding. No other nation is as obsessed with Pakistan as Indians.

Here are a few more India newspaper headlines to ponder:

1. Pakistan ahead of India on human development indices: UN report


2. Doing business? India lags behind Pakistan!


3. India trails Pakistan, Bangladesh in sanitation


4. India worse than Pakistan, Bangladesh on nourishment


5. India is worse than Pakistan on gender equality


The fact is that most Indians are obsessed with Pakistan, and India's crown prince Rahul Gandhi confirmed it last year, according to news by America's NPR Radio:

"I actually feel we give too much time in our minds to Pakistan," says Rahul Gandhi of India's ruling Congress Party. He thinks it's time for attitudes to change.

His mother, Sonia Gandhi, is the party's president. His grandmother was former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the assassinated daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister.

Rahul Gandhi, who many observers believe will one day lead India, would like to see his nation spending much less time obsessing about Pakistan.


Sgt. Catskill, El Segundo said...

Couriers were 30ish Urdu speaking Pakistanis with families restricted to living in the compound. These LOYAL(emphasis) were needed to run errands without getting undue attention.

Abu Ahmad al Kuwaiti is a management operative of Al Qaeda, who was followed by intel. However, some in the media have incorrectly misidentified him as a courier.

"CNN has been unable to confirm with U.S. officials the identity of the courier, but several factors point to al Kuwaiti as the courier who inadvertently led the United States to bin Laden's hiding place: al Kuwaiti's reported history with the organization, his access to senior leaders, his description in the Guantanamo assessment as a courier, and the fact that he was never captured.

CNN has been unable to establish whether he was at the compound when U.S. forces staged their raid or whether he was killed in the operation."

Thank you for giving me a new identity. You are right in a way. I am part Seminole Indian!

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting comments by Jeremy Scahill, a journalist who has researched and written extensively about CIA and JSOC, as published on Democracy Now website:

Also, on the issue of the helicopter, I mean, we understand that it was what’s called a Little Bird helicopter, which is a very lightweight helicopter that Blackwater types and JSOC types have often used in Iraq and, to an extent, in Afghanistan. The reports are that it was then destroyed by the U.S. forces after it went down. And the official line is that it was a mechanical failure. There are other reports that say that it was brought down by some kind of arms fire from within the compound, and we probably won’t know that. I would concur with what Mosharraf is saying. I mean, the idea that U.S. Special Ops forces are operating in Pakistan without the knowledge of the Pakistani government is, in fact, ludicrous. And that’s why, when this deal was originally brokered by Musharraf and McChrystal, the public posture had to be that the Pakistanis would deny it.

Let’s remember, too, that this killing of Osama bin Laden takes place just months after Raymond Davis, who was a man who straddled the world of both the CIA and Special Operations forces, killed two men in Lahore, Pakistan, and then, after weeks of controversy, was eventually taken out of the country after payments were made to the families of his victims. One of the things that Raymond Davis is suspected of having done inside of Pakistan was having communications with people in the tribal areas, but also potentially targeting Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is a terrorist organization behind the Mumbai bombings that has been designated by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism and that the U.S. accuses of having very close ties to the ISI. So, the timing of this operation coming as soon as it did after this epic scandal with Raymond Davis, perhaps the most serious crisis between Pakistan and U.S. governments in a decade, or maybe even since the ransacking of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad in 1979, is curious, to say the least.

But I think there’s two questions here. Were the Pakistanis giving sanctuary to Osama bin Laden in this town that Mosharraf has just described, a heavily populated town with big military presence? And what was the full role of the Pakistani government in ultimately killing Osama bin Laden? Because it was Special Ops forces and not the CIA, it would indicate that there had to have been very high-level discussions between the U.S. and Pakistan about this, but the Obama administration says no intelligence was shared with any government, including the Pakistani. So this mystery, I think, is going to continue to deepen.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report about Indian Army chief VK Singh claiming the ability to do what the US Navy Seals reportedly did in Abbottabad:

LUCKNOW: Indian Army Chief General V.K. Singh said on Wednesday that India’s armed forces were competent to carry out an operation similar to the one conducted by the US in Pakistan against Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

“I would like to say only this that if such a chance comes, then all the three arms (of the military) are competent to do this,” Gen Singh told reporters, according to the Press Trust of India. The general was asked whether the Indian armed forces could successfully carry out an operation as the US forces conducted against Bin Laden in Abbottabad.

In reply to another question, Gen Singh said: “Whether the US sought permission or not (from Pakistan) has to be asked from them.”—Online


MK said...

The Indian television channels - and you could expect them to look at this more closely than anyone else considering India's hostility with Pakistan - have been interviewing various Indian intelligence officials and the refrain has been uniform: The Indians beleve that Pakistan was actively supportive of the operation but that it requested that Its name be kept out of the whole thing because Pakistanis are at a much greater risk of reprisals by AQ and Taliban sympathizers than Americans are. Considering information coming out that the compound DID have internet connections, that there were cell phones avail;able and the subsequent interview given by OBL's daughter telling Pakistani intelligence that they were not at the location continuously and that this time they had been there for eight months, and the Pakistani role as well as the desire to keep Pakistan's name out of the operation become easy to understand. While there have been knee-jerk anti Pakistan messages from some US legislators and rabble-rousers like Bill O'Reilly on Fox television, it has to be noted that the two people who would have the final say in US - Pakistan affairs, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, have been complimentary on the whole.

This is not going to reduce pressure on Pakistan to act harder against possible terrorists hiding out within the country both from the USA as well as from Pakistanis who are opposed to these groups. That said, a lot of the conspiracist nonsense that is being bandied about is not likely to make any concrete difference in US - PAkistan relations as far as I can see from what is happening at the moment. To underline this, B Raman, a former No 2 man at RAW in India has been screaming on every television show that he goes on that India's job is likely to become more difficult because of a possible "secret deal" between the USA and Pakistan which saw OBL handed over for some unmentioned rewards.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on the raid in Abbottabad:

....The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad talks to intelligence officials to find out more.

"The first we knew they were coming was after they had crossed the Durand line," Ayaz says, referring to the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Ayaz - not his real name - works for Pakistani intelligence. He spoke to me a few days after the killing of Osama Bin Laden by US Navy Seals in north-west Pakistan.

"There were four helicopters coming in very low and the protocols set in. Jets were being scrambled, but they were called back in as the US then informed the High Command.

"They gave us a grid and told us that they were going there after "a high-value" target. There are certain protocols when that happens - we take care of the outer security, while they go in and do their work.

"We certainly didn't know who exactly was in there."

Ayaz dismisses claims that the Americans jammed Pakistan's radars.

"These type of helicopters - if they fly really low - have no real signature. But they can be sighted visually - which they were - and this led to the alert."

Ayaz said that Pakistani officials believed that the Americans were going to raid a hideout in the mountains near Abbottabad.

"We didn't think it was going to be right in the city."

That is something that everybody has focused on - how Osama Bin Laden could have been right under the noses of the intelligence agencies, as the authorities claim, without their knowledge.

Pakistani security officials say it was an intelligence failure - but many people find that hard to believe.

The intelligence officials I spoke to thought the compound a poor place to hide someone.

"If he was living there, it wasn't for very long," says Mahmud, another security operative.

"Anybody who has tracked Osama knows that he would never stay in one place for more than a few weeks.

"That was the cornerstone of his security - eventually people talk and information about him would get out."

Ayaz agrees - and then points out that an even bigger issue was the choice of hiding place.

"Just look at the house - it sticks out like a sore thumb from a mile off. You've been to Abbottabad - you know how these small towns are.

"Everybody knows everything about everybody, and secretive people are routinely investigated, especially by the police.

"If anybody wants to know about the house, they should just ask the local thana [police station]."

In addition, if Osama was with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), this was the last place anybody would put him in, Ayaz argues.

"If you wanted to keep him in an urban area - we have much better protected and discreet safe houses than these.

"Theoretically speaking, if the ISI had Osama and he was being kept here, the officer responsible should be court-martialled."
'Conspicuous place'

Both men, and other intelligence and security officials, also point out there are many discrepancies in the American version of how Bin Laden was located.

"They say he was living here for such a long time - then he must have been to local hospitals," says Ayaz.

"He was not a very well man - he had kidney problems and other medical issues.

"You figure it out yourself - if he was living here for so long some news would have been filtered out."

Then there is the break in pattern. All intelligence officials say Osama Bin Laden would never wander so far from the Afghan border.

This is corroborated by senior members of a leading Taliban faction, the Haqqani network - one of whom says he met Bin Laden near the town of Chitral two months ago.

iqbal singh said...

Pakistan's world image has sunk spirally downward. All the talk about blaming India US or Israel will not work.

Riaz, after all this time, you still found a way to put down India even after UBL was found in Pakistan!

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Paul Craig Roberts poking holes in the US admin's story of the raid in Abbottabad:

The US government's bin Laden story was so poorly crafted that it did not last 48 hours before being fundamentally altered. Indeed, the new story put out on Tuesday by White House press secretary Jay Carney bears little resemblance to the original Sunday evening story. The fierce firefight did not occur. Osama bin Laden did not hide behind a woman. Indeed, bin Laden, Carney said, "was not armed."

The firefight story was instantly suspicious as not a single SEAL got a scratch, despite being up against al Qaeda, described by former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld as "the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth."

Every original story detail has been changed. It wasn't bin Laden's wife who was murdered by the Navy SEALs, but the wife of an aide. It wasn't bin Laden's son, Khalid, who was murdered by the Navy SEALs, but son Hamza.

Carney blamed the changed story on "the fog of war." But there was no firefight, so where did the "fog of war" come from?

The White House has also had to abandon the story that President Obama and his national security team watched tensely as events unfolded in real time (despite the White House having released photos of the team watching tensely), with the operation conveyed into the White House by cameras on the SEALs helmets. If Obama was watching the event as it happened, he would have noticed, one would hope, that there was no firefight and, thus, would not have told the public that bin Laden was killed in a firefight. Another reason the story had to be abandoned is that if the event was captured on video, every news service in the world would be asking for the video, but if the event was orchestrated theater, there would be no video.

No explanation has been provided for why an unarmed bin Laden, in the absence of a firefight, was murdered by the SEALs with a shot to the head. For those who believe the government's story that "we got bin Laden," the operation can only appear as the most botched operation in history. What kind of incompetence does it require to senselessly and needlessly kill the most valuable intelligence asset on the planet?

According to the US government, the terrorist movements of the world operated through bin Laden, "the mastermind." Thanks to a trigger-happy stupid SEAL, a bullet destroyed the most valuable terrorist information on the planet. Perhaps the SEAL was thinking that he could put a notch on his gun and brag for the rest of his life about being the macho tough guy who killed Osama bin Laden, the most dangerous man on the planet, who outwitted the US and its European and Israeli allies and inflicted humiliation on the "world's only superpower" on 9/11.....

Krishnan, India said...

In a country of 1 billion people, there would be some fringe elements seeking India to do "extract" a few targets. However, Indian politics is too responsible to permit armed forces to take up any such irresponsible action. As the Indian home minister clarified:
1. Pakistan is a nuclear weapons state. You do not trigger an irresponsible action against a nuclear weapons state that can cause harm all around.
2. The Eastern border of Pakistan is more secure than the Western border because of Pakistan's threat perceptions.
3. Pakistan and India do not have any prior understanding of toleration of presence of Indian troops in Pakistan soil. Pakistan and US have such a prior understanding. A wandering by a US force would get benefit of doubt. A wandering by an Indian force would not get that benefit of doubt.
4. Since Pakistan and India share a border, Pakistan's ability to execute a swift retaliation against India is far higher than its ability to execute a swift retaliation against US.
5. Pakistan thrives on US aid of approx $ 3 billion per year. Pakistan would not start a fight with US so easily. Pakistan does not depend on India financially.

Given all these, the probability of Indian polity permitting such an action is too low.

Right now, the mood in India is to not make the situation more difficult for Pakistan by increasing the decibels; and let the situation unwind itself without compromising India's views on terrorists harbored outside India.

Riaz Haq said...

It is alleged that Pakistan learned from the American BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile that crashed in Pakistani territory during a US attack on Bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998. Now there are reports of US helicopter stealth tech in Pakistani hands after the Abbottabad raid:

Despite the crash of one of the U.S.'s Black Hawk stealth helicopters, the aircraft which had previously been a well-kept secret may have been key to the success of the raid that led to Osama bin Laden’s death.

One of the helicopters was blown apart during the assault, but photographs of the tail section that remained in Pakistan show modifications to quiet noise and reduce chances of radar detection.

The New York Times reports that people in the helicopter industry said the rear section looked nothing like the tail of a regular Black Hawk helicopter. They said it looked like the Black Hawk had added some of the features of the proposed stealth helicopter Comanche, which was canceled by the Pentagon in 2004.

Another reported that the downed helicopter had five or six blades in its tail rotor, as opposed to the usual four in a Black Hawk. That may have permitted operators to slow the rotor speed and reduce the familiar chop-chop sound made by most helicopters.

Daniel Goure, a defense specialist at the Lexington Institute think tank, said the helicopter crash may have been caused by the unusual aerodynamics which came from the aircraft's modifications.

"It could be much more difficult to fly at slow speed and landing than you would expect from a typical Black Hawk," Goure said to the Huffington Post.

It had been thought that the Navy SEAL teams in the attack had used modified MH-60 Black Hawk or Sea Hawk helicopters in the raid of the compound.

Mail Online reports the Black Hawk has a crew of three or four and can carry 11 soldiers prepared for combat. It first began flying in 1978.

It has been alleged that during the killing of bin Laden, the SEALS involved were able to use the Air Force's secretive RQ-170 pilot-less drone, which has been known as 'The Beast of Kandahar'.

Ismail Sengupta said...

The US is focused on Pakistan. Pakistanis are opposed to the US.

Islamic Fundamentalists do not want women to get an education and want minorities aka infidels subdued.

The Pakistani Taliban wants to blow up the Pakistani Government.

The Pakistani Military is fighting the Pakistani Taliban but supporting the Afghani Taliban.

The ISI likes the Islamic Fundamentalists supports the Afghani Taliban and doesn't care what the US wants.

Most of all, all Pakistanis hate India more than they like one another.

iqbal singh said...

Why shouldn't people in India rejoice and gloat. Rejoice because of killing the "king of terror" by the US and gloat because "we told you so" the US can never really trust Pakistan.

As time goes by, however, India does believe that it is in her best interest to have a democratically stable Pakistan.

It is better for India politically and economically.

Anonymous said...

As time goes by, however, India does believe that it is in her best interest to have a democratically stable Pakistan.

It is better for India politically and economically.

Nope just like a stable and prosperous USSR was not good for US.We should also work towards balkanizing Pakistan USSR style.80,000 nukes couldn't save the USSR,80 won't save Pakistan.

Though for all we know the US may have already denuked Pakistan covertly.Operation Geranimo clearly shows it has massive links within the Pak establishment.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Pankaj Mishra's review of Anatol Lieven's "Pakistan: A Hard Country", as published in The Guardian:

Pakistan, Anatol Lieven writes in his new book, is "divided, disorganised, economically backward, corrupt, violent, unjust, often savagely oppressive towards the poor and women, and home to extremely dangerous forms of extremism and terrorism". It is easy to conclude, as many have, from this roll call of infirmities that Pakistan is basically Afghanistan or Somalia with nuclear weapons. Or is this a dangerously false perception, a product of wholly defective assumptions?

Certainly, an unblinkered vision of South Asia would feature a country whose fanatically ideological government in 1998 conducted nuclear tests, threatened its neighbour with all-out war and, four years later, presided over the massacre of 2,000 members of a religious minority. Long embattled against secessionist insurgencies on its western and eastern borders, the "flailing" state of this country now struggles to contain a militant movement in its heartland. It is also where thousands of women are killed every year for failing to bring sufficient dowry and nearly 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in the previous decade.

Needless to say, the country described above is not Pakistan but India, which, long feared to be near collapse, has revamped its old western image through what the American writer David Rieff calls the most "successful national re-branding" and "cleverest PR campaign" by a political and business establishment since "Cool Britannia" in the 1990s. Pakistan, on the other hand, seems to have lost all control over its international narrative.

Western governments have coerced and bribed the Pakistani military into extensive wars against their own citizens; tens of thousands of Pakistanis have now died (the greatest toll yet of the "war on terror"), and innumerable numbers have been displaced, in the backlash to the doomed western effort to exterminate a proper noun. Yet Pakistan arouses unrelenting hostility and disdain in the west; it lies exposed to every geopolitical pundit armed with the words "failing" or "failed state".

Such intellectual shoddiness has far-reaching consequences in the real world: for instance, the disastrous stigmatisation of "AfPak" has shrunk a large and complex country to its border with Afghanistan, presently a site of almost weekly massacres by the CIA's drones.

Pakistan's numerous writers, historians, economists and scientists frequently challenge the dehumanising discourse about their country. But so manifold and obdurate are the clich├ęs that you periodically need a whole book to shatter them. Lieven's Pakistan: A Hard Country is one such blow for clarity and sobriety.


Riaz Haq said...

Abbottabad and PNS Mehran are giving pause to Indian security establishment to think how they would deal with similar situation. Here's an Indian blogger Sudip Mukherjee:

1. What If India Is Attacked In Operation Geronimo Style?

Josy Joseph Times Of India Article
If someone were to sneak in and carry out a special forces raid, like the Americans did in Abbottabad to take out Osama bin Laden, the Indian response may not be very different from that of Pakistan, sources in the security establishment said.
In the wake of such a disappointing realization, the government has begun discussing ways to improve India's response mechanisms, including designating 'first responders' for such eventualities.

The Abbottabad raid is now under intense scrutiny by the security establishment at the highest levels, and by individual organizations such as intelligence agencies and the military. Each of them is studying it from their own perspective, but collectively their inputs "would help improve Indian security architecture", a senior official said.

Government at the highest levels is "seized of the reality" that Indian security response would not be very different from that of Pakistan, and is setting in motion reviews at various levels to improve its response mechanisms, a senior official involved in the exercise told. While the overall architecture of defence against intrusions is known, such as the role of IAF and Army, there are still huge gaps. What is not clear is "who would respond how and when if an Abbottabad-like intrusion" were to happen, he said.

Another official pointed out that the details of response of various agencies as soon as first shots were fired in Abbottabad are of great value to the security establishment. While the Kakul Military Academy and other security installations tightened their own security as soon as the gunshots rang out from the Abbottabad compound, there was no designated agency that was meant to reach the particular spot to take on the "intruder", the official said. Josy Joseph Times Of India Article
If someone were to sneak in and carry out a special forces raid, like the Americans did in Abbottabad to take out Osama bin Laden, the Indian response may not be very different from that of Pakistan, sources in the security establishment said.
In the wake of such a disappointing realization, the government has begun discussing ways to improve India's response mechanisms, including designating 'first responders' for such eventualities.

The Abbottabad raid is now under intense scrutiny by the security establishment at the highest levels, and by individual organizations such as intelligence agencies and the military. Each of them is studying it from their own perspective, but collectively their inputs "would help improve Indian security architecture", a senior official said.

2. India Prepares To Pre-empt Terror Attack On Its Air bases

'The (May 22) terror attack on Pakistan Navy air base at Mehran in Karachi was a wake-up call. In light of the incident, we are taking measures to improve security at all air bases across the country on top priority,' the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, told reporters here on the margins of a conference here.

As the world's fourth largest air force after the US, Russia and China, the IAF has 60 operational air bases across the country under seven commands, with 170,000 personnel and 1,600 aircraft of different types, including fighters, transports and helicopters.

Riaz Haq said...

There was an article in Forbes magazine issue of March 4, 2002, by Steve Forbes titled "India, Meet Austria-Hungary" which compared India with the now defunct Austria-Hungary. Here is an excerpt from the text of that article:

Influential elements in India's government and military are still itching to go to war with Pakistan, even though Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has taken considerable political risks by moving against Pakistani-based-and-trained anti-India terrorist groups. Sure, Musharraf made a truculent speech condemning India's ``occupation'' of Kashmir, but that was rhetorical cover for cracking down on those groups. Washington should send New Delhi some history books for these hotheads; there is no human activity more prone to unintended consequences than warfare. As cooler heads in the Indian government well know, history is riddled with examples of parties that initiated hostilities in the belief that conflict would resolutely resolve outstanding issues.

Pericles of Athens thought he could deal with rival Sparta once and for all when he triggered the Peloponnesian War; instead his city-state was undermined and Greek civilization devastated.

Similarly, Hannibal brilliantly attacked Rome; he ended up not only losing the conflict but also setting off a train of events that ultimately led to the total destruction of Carthage. Prussia smashed France in 1870, annexing critical French territory for security reasons, but that sowed the seeds for the First World War. At the end of World War I the victorious Allies thought they had dealt decisively with German military power. Israel crushed its Arab foes in 1967, but long-term peace did not follow.

India is not a homogeneous state. Neither was the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It attacked Serbia in the summer of 1914 in the hopes of destroying this irritating state after Serbia had committed a spectacular terrorist act against the Hapsburg monarchy. The empire ended up splintering, and the Hapsburgs lost their throne. And on it goes.

Getting back to the present, do Indian war hawks believe China will stand idly by as India tried to reduce Pakistan to vassal-state status? Do they think Arab states and Iran won't fund Muslim guerrilla movements in Pakistan, as well as in India itself? Where does New Delhi think its oil comes from (about 70%, mainly from the Middle East)? Does India think the U.S. will stand by impotently if it starts a war that unleashes nuclear weapons?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Op Ed by Indian diplomat and parliamentarian Sashi Tharoor on his recent visit to Pakistan:

I write these words in Lahore, in the midst of a brief but hugely interesting visit to Pakistan. As one who has always advocated hard-headed realism in dealing with our neighbour, while greatly respecting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s vision that the highest strategic interest of both countries lies in development and the eradication of poverty rather than in military one-upmanship, I have begun to think of how much we could both gain if we replaced our current narrative of hostility with one of hope.
What is the way forward for India? It is clear that we want peace more than Pakistan does, because we have more at stake when peace is violated: we cannot grow and prosper without peace, and that is the one thing Pakistan can give us that we cannot do without.
By denying us the peace we crave, Pakistan can undermine our vital national interests, above all that of our own development. Investors shun war zones; traders are wary of markets that might explode at any time; tourists do not travel to hotels that might be commandeered by fanatical terrorists. These are all serious hazards for a country seeking to grow and flourish in a globalising world economy.
Even if Pakistan cannot do us much good, it can do us immense harm, and we must recognise this in formulating our policy approaches to it. Foreign policy cannot be built on a sense of betrayal any more than it can be on illusions of love. Pragmatism dictates that we work for peace with Pakistan precisely so that we can serve our own people’s needs better.
So we must engage Pakistan because we cannot afford not to. And yet — the problem of terrorism incubated in Pakistan will not be solved overnight. Extremism is not a tap that can be turned off once it is open; the evil genie cannot be forced back into the bottle. The proliferation of militant organisations, training camps and extremist ideologies has acquired a momentum of its own. A population as young, as uneducated, as unemployed and as radicalised as Pakistan’s will remain a menace to their own society as well as to ours.
Let us show a magnanimity and generosity of spirit that in itself stands an outside chance of persuading Pakistanis to rethink their attitude to us.
The big questions — the Kashmir dispute and Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument of policy — will require a great deal more groundwork and constructive, step-by-step action for progress to be made. But by showing accommodativeness, sensitivity and pragmatic generosity, India might be able to turn the bilateral narrative away from the logic of intractable hostility in which both countries have been mired for too long.
The joker in the pack remains the Pakistani Army. Until the military men are convinced that peace with India is in their self-interest, they will remain the biggest obstacles to it. One hope may lie in the extensive reach of the Pakistani military apparatus and its multiple business and commercial interests.
Perhaps India could encourage its firms to trade with enterprises owned by the Pakistani Army, in the hope of giving the military establishment a direct stake in peace.
The world economic crisis should give us an opportunity to promote economic integration with our neighbours in the subcontinent who look to the growing Indian market to sell their goods and maintain their own growth. But as long as South Asia remains divided by futile rivalries and some continue to believe that terrorism can be a useful instrument of their strategic doctrines, that is bound to remain a distant prospect. If India and Pakistan can embrace an interrelated future on our subcontinent, geography can become an instrument of opportunity in a mutual growth story and history can bind rather than divide. It is a future worth striving for, in the interests of both our peoples.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP story on Indian Army chief's leaked memo:

India’s tank fleet lacks ammunition, its air defences are “97 percent obsolete” and its elite forces lack essential arms, the country’s army chief wrote in an explosive letter leaked Wednesday.

The letter to the prime minister dated March 12 – widely reported by the Indian media – lists the shortcomings of the armed forces in embarrassing detail in a blow to the government and the Asian giant’s military prestige.

Its publication also ups the stakes in a public battle between army chief General VK Singh and the government which began with a dispute over Singh’s retirement earlier this year.

“The state of the major (fighting) arms i.e. mechanised forces, artillery, air defence, infantry and special forces, as well as the engineers and signals, is indeed alarming,” Singh wrote in the letter, DNA newspaper reported.

The army’s entire tank fleet is “devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks”, while the air defence system is “97% obsolete and it doesn’t give the deemed confidence to protect… from the air,” he wrote, according to DNA.

The infantry is crippled with “deficiencies” and lacks night fighting equipment, while the elite special forces are “woefully short” of “essential weapons”.

Singh also told The Hindu newspaper this week that he had informed Defence Minister A.K Antony of a $2.8 million bribe offered to him in 2010, leading to embarrassing questions as to why the government did not order an enquiry.

Antony told parliament on Wednesday that he was aware of the letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and he would reply appropriately.


Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts of an MIT doctoral thesis by Christopher Clary on future India-Pakistan conflict:

Conventional wisdom suggests that India has gained sufficient conventional superiority to fight and win a limited war, but the reality is that India is unlikely to be able to both achieve its political aims and prevent dangerous escalation.

While India is developing limited options, my analysis suggests India's military advantage over Pakistan is much less substantial than is commonly believed.
Most analyses do not account adequately for how difficult it would be for the navy to have a substantial impact in a short period of time. Establishing even a partial blockade takes time, and it takes even more time for that blockade to cause shortages on land that are noticeable. As the British strategist Julian Corbett noted in 1911, "it is almost impossible that a war can be decided by naval action alone. Unaided, naval pressure can only work by a process of exhaustion. Its effects must always be slow…."7 Meanwhile, over the last decade, Pakistan has increased its ability to resist a blockade. In addition to the main commercial port of Karachi, Pakistan has opened up new ports further west in Ormara and Gwadar and built road infrastructure to distribute goods from those ports to Pakistan's heartland. To close off these ports to neutral shipping could prove particularly difficult since Gwadar and the edge of Pakistani waters are very close to the Gulf of Oman, host to the international shipping lanes for vessels exiting the Persian Gulf. A loose blockade far from shore would minimize risks from Pakistan's land-based countermeasures but also increase risks of creating a political incident with neutral vessels.
The air balance between India and Pakistan is also thought to heavily favor the larger and more technologically sophisticated Indian Air Force. While India has a qualitative and quantitative advantage, the air capabilities gap narrowed rather than widened in the last decade. The Pakistan Air Force has undergone substantial modernization since 2001, when Pakistan exited from a decade of US-imposed sanctions. With purchases from US, European, and Chinese vendors, Pakistan has both dramatically increased the number of modern fighter aircraft with beyond-visual-range capability as well as new airborne early warning and control aircraft. Meanwhile, India's fighter modernization effort has been languid over the last decade. India's largest fighter procurement effort—the purchase of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft—began in 2001 and has been slowed considerably by cumbersome defense procurement rules designed to avoid the appearance of corruption.
The ground forces balance has received the most attention from outside observers, in large part because the Indian Army has publicized its efforts at doctrinal innovation, most often referred to under the "Cold Start" moniker. However, India's ground superiority is unlikely to be sufficient to achieve a quick victory.
The net result of this analysis is to conclude that India's limited military options against Pakistan are risky and uncertain. Pakistan has options to respond to limited Indian moves, making counter-escalation likely. At least in the near-term, Pakistan appears to have configured its forces in such a way as to deny India "victory on the cheap." Therefore, India might well have to fight a full-scale war that could destroy large segments of Pakistan's army to achieve its political aims, which would approach Pakistan's stated nuclear redlines. Such a conclusion should induce caution among Indian political elites who are considering military options to punish or coerce Pakistan in a future crisis. ...


Riaz Haq said...

Does Pakistan Have Any Countermeasures?
This begs the question- what strategies and weapons does Pakistan have in its arsenal to counter the S-400s?


Peshawar-based journalist and editor of Global Conflict Watch, Farzana Shah told The EurAsian Times that the “S-400 acquisition by India is a continuation of Delhi’s drive to project her military power in the region. This system will boost Indian air defense capabilities. However, this acquisition was planned and so Pakistan was aware of it.”

Shah said that as an answer to India’s acquisition of this system, Pakistan has inducted a system of similar capability in the form of HQ-9B. “Pakistan Air Force is also evaluating another high-altitude long-range SAM system. S-400 is an expensive ABM system so using it as SAM will be expensive and counterproductive,” she opined.

Mid-October last year, Janes had reported that the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistani military, had issued a press release stating that the Pakistan Army’s (PA) Air Defence forces had inducted a variant of the Chinese-made HQ-9 SAM system in their service.

The HQ-9/P is capable of operating as part of an integrated air and missile defense network. The ISPR noted that the system would be used to “significantly enhance” the ‘Comprehensive Layered Integrated Air Defence (CLIAD)’ along the frontiers of Pakistan.

This system’s engagement range against cruise missiles and aircraft is over 100 kilometers with a claimed high “single-shot kill probability.” However, it is believed that this range actually applies only to aircraft. Engagement ranges against cruise missiles and other such targets are thought to be close to 25 km.

Pakistani journalist Syed Ali Abbas, Managing Editor of Global Defense Insight, said that while Pakistan cannot afford to buy a costly missile defense system like S-400 due to economic constraints, the country already has the tools to counter India’s S-400 acquisition in its inventory.

“For instance, Pakistan’s missiles have the capability to penetrate the S-400; MIRV technology can have a substantial impact on S-400. Moreover, with drones coming to assist on the battlefield, and proving to be notably effective in neutralizing various air defense systems, Pakistan also has the option of the Pakistan Air Force acquiring Turkish Bayraktar drones, coupled with its indigenous armed drone inventory,” he explained.

In July last year, it was reported that Pakistan was looking to acquire armed drones from Turkey, while simultaneously seeking to deepen the already strong bilateral cooperation with Ankara.

Shah highlighted other strategies that the PAF has to deal with the S-400. “Options range from suppressing S-400 radar using stand-off jamming capabilities to taking it out using saturated drone attacks. The system’s radar can pick hundreds of targets but each regiment has only a limited number of interceptor missiles.“

Another weapon that Pakistan could potentially use to deal with the S-400 is the ZF-1 stealth drone. This drone was made specifically to attack heavily defended targets. The drone was promoted at Pakistan’s biennial arms exhibition IDEAS in 2018 by UAS Global.

According to some experts, Pakistan might also benefit indirectly by holding joint military exercises with friendly countries, which already possess the S-400, such as China and Turkey. Such drills might assist in helping Pakistan identify the system’s strengths and weaknesses.