Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Modi's India: A Paper Elephant?

"Desh ka bahut nuksaan hua hai", acknowledged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his military's recent failures against Pakistan in Balakot and Kashmir. This marked a major shift in Modi's belligerent tone that has been characterized by his boasts of "chhappan inch ki chhati" (56 inch chest) and  talk of  "munh tor jawab" (jaw-breaking response) and "boli nahin goli" (bullets, not talks) to intimidate Pakistan in the last few years.  The recent events are forcing India's western backers to reassess their strategy of boosting India as a counterweight to China.

Balakot and Kashmir:

Indian government and media have made a series of false claims about Balakot "militant casualties" and "shooting down Pakistani F16".  These claims have been scrutinized and debunked by independent journalists, experts and fact checkers. There is no dispute about the fact that Squadron Leader Hasan Siddiqui of Pakistan Air Force (PAF), flying a Pakistan-made JF-17 fighter, shot down Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of Indian Air Force (IAF) flying a Russia made MiG 21. Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan and then released to India.

Western Narrative:

The widely accepted western narrative about India and Pakistan goes like this: "India is rapidly rising while Pakistan is collapsing". In a 2015 report from South Asia, Roger Cohen of New York Times summed it up as follows: "India is a democracy and a great power rising. Pakistan is a Muslim homeland that lost half its territory in 1971, bounced back and forth between military and nominally democratic rule, never quite clear of annihilation angst despite its nuclear weapons".

India-Pakistan Military Spending: Infographic Courtesy The Economist

India: A Paper Elephant?

In an article titled "Paper Elephant", the Economist magazine talked about how India has ramped up its military spending and emerged as the world's largest arms importer. "Its military doctrine envisages fighting simultaneous land wars against Pakistan and China while retaining dominance in the Indian Ocean", the article said. It summed up the situation as follows: "India spends a fortune on defense and gets poor value for money".

After the India-Pakistan aerial combat over Kashmir, New York Times published a story from its South Asia correspondent headlined: "After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its Military".  Here are some excerpts of the report:

"Its (India's) loss of a plane last week to a country (Pakistan) whose military is about half the size and receives a quarter (a sixth according to SIPRI) of the funding is telling. ...India’s armed forces are in alarming shape....It was an inauspicious moment for a military the United States is banking on to help keep an expanding China in check".

Ineffective Indian Military:

Academics who have studied Indian military have found that it is ineffective by design. In "Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy Since Independence",  the author Steven I. Wilkinson, Nilekani Professor of India and South Asian Studies and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Yale, has argued that the civil-military constraints that have helped prevent a coup have hurt Indian military effectiveness and preparedness in at least three important ways:

(1) the weakening of the army before the 1962 China war;

(2) the problems caused for defense coordination and preparation by unwieldy defense bureaucracy, duplication of functions among different branches and lack of sharing of information across branches and

(3) the general downgrading of pay and perks since independence which has left the army with huge shortage of officers that affected the force's discipline capabilities.

Summary:

India's international perception as a "great power rising" has suffered a serious setback as a result of its recent military failures against Pakistan which spends only a sixth of India's military budget and ranks 17th in the world, far below India ranking 4th by globalfirepower.com.  "Desh ka bahut nuksaan hua hai", acknowledged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his military's recent failures in Balakot and Kashmir. This marked a major shift in Modi's belligerent tone that has been characterized by his boasts of "chhappan inch ki chhati" (56 inch chest) and  talk of  "munh tor jawab" (jaw-breaking response) and "boli nahin goli" (bullets, not talks) to intimidate Pakistan in the last few years.  The recent events are forcing India's western backers to reassess their strategy of boosting India as a counterweight to China.

Here's a discussion on the subject:

https://youtu.be/tEWf-6cT0PM




Here's Indian Prime Minister Modi making excuses for his military's failures:

https://youtu.be/QIt0EAAr3PU




9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Awesome analysis so when is operation Gibraltar 2 taking place ?:)..

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "so when is operation Gibraltar 2 taking place"

The key objective of Operation Gibraltar was to start an indigenous insurgency in Kashmir.

This objective has materialized with a full blown, home grown insurgency in Indian Occupied Kashmir.


Pulwama attack has confirmed what many have known for sometime: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mishandling of Kashmir issue has intensified homegrown insurgency in Indian- Occupied Kashmir. During the 28 years of Kashmir under Armed Forces Special Powers Act, an entire new generation of Kashmiris has grown up. This generation, represented by tech-savvy youngsters like Burhan Wani, has seen nothing but repression and violence committed by the Indian military against the people in Kashmir. They are more determined than ever to defy and defeat the illegal and immoral military occupation of their land by India.

https://www.riazhaq.com/2019/02/modi-faces-full-blown-home-grown.html

Riaz Haq said...

#NYTimes editorial board: "As long as #India and #Pakistan refuse to deal with their core dispute — the future of #Kashmir, India’s only #Muslim-majority state — they face unpredictable, possibly terrifying, consequences." #Balakot #PakistanStrikesBack https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/07/opinion/kashmir-india-pakistan-nuclear.html

The current focus on North Korea’s growing arsenal obscures the fact that the most likely trigger for a nuclear exchange could be the conflict between India and Pakistan.

Long among the world’s most antagonistic neighbors, the two nations clashed again last week before, fortunately, finding the good sense to de-escalate. The latest confrontation, the most serious between the two nations in more than a decade, gave way to more normal pursuits like trade at a border crossing and sporadic cross-border shelling.

But this relative calm is not a solution. As long as India and Pakistan refuse to deal with their core dispute — the future of Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state — they face unpredictable, possibly terrifying, consequences.

The current crisis dates to Feb. 14, when a Kashmiri suicide bomber killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary officers in the deadliest attack in three decades in Kashmir, a region that Pakistan has claimed since partition in 1947. The militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad, which seeks independence for Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan, took responsibility. While it is on America’s list of terrorist organizations and is formally banned in Pakistan, the group has been protected and armed by the Pakistani intelligence service.

Last week, India sent warplanes into Pakistan for the first time in five decades. Indian officials said they had struck the group’s “biggest training camp” and killed a “very large number” of militants, although those claims have been called into doubt. Pakistan counterattacked, leading to a dogfight in which at least one Indian jet was shot down and a pilot was captured by the Pakistanis.

The situation could have easily escalated, given that the two countries have fought three wars over 70 years, maintain a near constant state of military readiness along their border and have little formal government-to-government dialogue.

Adding to the volatility, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, is waging a tough re-election campaign in which he has used anti-Pakistan talk to fuel Hindu nationalism.

With Pakistan’s army most likely shaken by the Indian raid and unwilling to slide into protracted conflict, Prime Minister Imran Khan returned the pilot to India, in what was seen as a good-will gesture, called for talks and promised an investigation into the bombing. Mr. Modi took the opportunity to back off further escalation.

The next confrontation might not end so calmly.

Riaz Haq said...

Alison Redford: For too long, #Pakistan’s actions have been unreasonably characterized as aggressive. #India’s tactics have been increasingly violent, leading to more international criticism of its conduct and occupation of #Kashmir. #Modi #Hindutva https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-this-not-the-same-old-india-pakistan-conflict/

First, in media reports, India refers to 40 years of terrorist attacks against India by Pakistan without equal mention of terror attacks perpetrated by India on Pakistani soil, as recently as three months ago in Karachi, or India’s support for independence insurgents operating in the Northwest of Pakistan over the past 10 years.

Second, although in the past there have been allegations that Jaish-e-Mohammed has been supported by Pakistan, the organization has been banned in Pakistan since 2002 and support for its operations and training activity was withdrawn. Yet, India continues to assert this position, without providing evidence to support it.

Third, it is against the fundamental principles of international law to launch a military attack on civilian targets, which can be considered an act of war. In those circumstances, one can argue that Pakistan had the right to defend itself and that its response was both measured and reasonable.

On the Kashmiri question, Pakistan has called for United Nations mediation, but India has refused, saying that it is an internal issue, while violently suppressing a growing, and younger, local insurgent movement. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized India for using excessive force in 2017. More than 500 people, including 100 civilians, have been killed in 2018.

In recent months, India’s tactics have been increasingly violent, leading to more international criticism of its conduct and occupation of Kashmir, including most recently by British parliamentarians, and two resolutions at the OIC this past weekend condemning its violent actions in Indian-occupied Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also faces criticism domestically from Indian opposition leaders such as Rahul Gandhi, for manipulating these events to bolster Mr. Modi’s political support in an election year.

There have been times when both countries have been accused of being involved in unwarranted actions against the other and the international community is quick to ignore the complicated dynamics in the region and rely on history. Instead, each incident should be assessed on its own merits to avoid dangerous rivalries from being perpetuated. With a real nuclear risk, we cannot afford to be complacent.

Riaz Haq said...

Ex #Indian Official's advice to #Modi:"Sub-conventional war with #Pakistan is the only option.The recent events, post-#Pulwamaattack, have amply demonstrated the limited utility of launching a conventional war with Pakistan." #BalakotAirStrike #Kashmir https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/blogs/et-commentary/sub-conventional-war-with-pakistan-is-the-only-option/

Covert operations by an intelligence agency are unlike the acts of terror groups, i.e., acts of mindless violence meant to terrorise the peopleand render the governments helpless against such asymmetrical acts of warfare. They are designed to create and promote disaffection against the governments and generally play up the existing fault lines and have long term devastating effects.

First and foremost, we should revive our support to the groups in Baluchistan fighting for their independence. Secondly, we should extendsupport to the Shia minority groups in Gilgit- Baltistan that have been ruthlessly suppressed by the Pakistan Army for the last 4 decades. Significantly Prime Minister Modi made a dramatic reference to their long-standing struggles in his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort on 15th August 2016 and much hope was raised in both quarters. That however proved to be illusory as there was no follow up action.

Thirdly, we should support other disaffected groups such as the Mohajirs in Sindh, the Saraikinationalist movement in Punjab, and the non-Taliban Pakthuns in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that have suffered untold misery in the hands of the majoritarian Punjabi army and the ISI who haveruthlessly murdered or caused disappearances of its leaders.

It is noteworthy that we don’t even have to waste time in creating well -trained and highly motivated terror groups or ‘fidayeens’. They are all there in Pakistan and in plenty. A cursory count indicates that there are over 65 terrorist organizations in Pakistan that have been banned from August 2001 to mid -2017 and are in diverse states of disarray and at least over 50 must be totally starved for funds. All we need is to pick up a handful of them, province wise and start funding. They will certainly work for anyone if the money is right and if channeled through the right sources, say a Saudi billionaire. Tehrik e- Taliban comes right on top of the list because of its excellent track record in targeting Pakistan’s military and air-force installations and security agencies including the ISI.

And surely, this entire effort will cost less than one Rafale aircraft and the damage it will do, could equal the efforts of a squadron.

Cyber operations

The most effective low–cost, high- impact tool of modern warfare is offensive cyber warfare and this is one area that needs immediate and utmost attention. The fact that a handful of computers in the hands of highly skilled hackers could cause untold havoc to the critical infrastructure of the target country is, by now well understood by our policy makers. Unfortunately, the existing set-up the NTRO created for this task is woefully inadequate for the challenges. It is therefore urgent that we involve the huge IT and IT enabled services of the private sector, on a selective basis, to outsource the jobs that the NTRO is unable to do.

In most countries in the West, not every security related job is done by government agencies but by private firms that have core competence in the required field. Outsourcing jobs to them after vetting their security clearances and embedding them with government agencies is the utmost need of the hour. Since we are already handing over defence contracts to private entrepreneurs, there should be no problem in involving them in Cyber operations, as long as the choice of targets, nature of attacks and the timing and location of it are cleared at the highest levels of government so that the responsibility for the impact and possible retaliation rests with them.

Riaz Haq said...

Praveen Sawhney: Little Cause to Cheer the Balakot Airstrike and its Aftermath

https://www.thekashmirmonitor.net/little-cause-to-cheer-the-balakot-airstrike-and-its-aftermath/


The Modi government might still win the war of perception within India, but India’s conventional deterrence has been compromised. Its war-fighting capabilities – pivoted on air power – have been blunted without a fight. This will have implications for the on-going proxy war by Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan maintained credibility of both its first combined civil-military government and its air power.

" It was evident that the operation was meant for publicity. A case in point, unsubstantiated media reports claimed that 300 to 350 Jaish terrorists in Balakot were eliminated by IAF strikes, a claim that has since been questioned by the international media, which was allowed by Pakistan to visit the target site. Subsequently, other media reports have emerged claiming that the IAF fighters did not actually cross the Line of Control. Instead, Balakot was attacked using stand-off weapons. Hence, deliberate confusion continues."

"Since the war was neither on, nor imminent, it would have taken any professional air force (PAF is no exception) minimum 10 minutes from detection to reaction and interception. Moreover, the PAF did not have its airborne early warning aircraft in the air (AWACS cannot stay more than 24 hours in air), and the time was such that observers manning the Ground Based Air Defence System (GBADS) could not have been vigilant (it is not possible to remain on high alert 24×7 in peacetime)."

" Pakistan was faced with the dilemma of how to avenge India’s unprecedented action: to use or not to use the PAF. It was decided that the PAF too would breach Indian airspace while calling it a non-military strike. Unlike the IAF, the PAF strike would be done with menacing force in broad daylight ensuring that Indian military installations close to the Line of Control were not damaged enough to compel India to raise the ante."


https://youtu.be/YX4qXrR34PI

Riaz Haq said...

Nadir in the valley: #India’s #Modi government is intensifying a failed strategy in #Kashmir. The conflict has claimed 50,000 lives since the 1980s. https://www.economist.com/asia/2019/03/09/indias-government-is-intensifying-a-failed-strategy-in-kashmir?frsc=dg%7Ce via @TheEconomist

uns have slipped back into holsters and diplomats behind their desks; the Samjhauta or “Concord” Express has resumed its reassuring bi-weekly chug connecting Lahore Junction and Old Delhi Station. Relations between India and Pakistan are returning to the normal huffy disdain after a week of military brinkmanship. For the divided and disputed border region of Kashmir, there is relief. Yet in the Kashmir Valley, a fertile and densely populated part of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, this comes tempered with weariness. For its 7m inhabitants, most of them Muslim, a return to normal means a large and growing pile of frustrations. Some, such as bad government services and a deepening shortage of jobs, are familiar to all Indians. Others are unique to the valley.

Pakistan views the valley’s Muslims as sundered citizens; its constitution prescribes what should happen not if, but “when”, Kashmiris vote to join Pakistan. And since independence in 1947, Pakistan has never ceased trying to hasten this moment by sending guerrillas over the border to stir up jihad—although this week it claimed to rounding up such militants. India, for its part, says that Kashmir was lucky to fall to a secular, democratic country at partition and not to its violent, narrow-minded neighbour. But Indian governments turn deaf the moment people in the valley speak of greater autonomy, let alone azadi (independence). Their efforts at counter-insurgency have been disturbingly bloody. The conflict has claimed 50,000 lives since the 1980s.


Riaz Haq said...

Nadir in the valley: #India’s #Modi government is intensifying a failed strategy in #Kashmir. The conflict has claimed 50,000 lives since the 1980s. https://www.economist.com/asia/2019/03/09/indias-government-is-intensifying-a-failed-strategy-in-kashmir?frsc=dg%7Ce via @TheEconomist

Guns have slipped back into holsters and diplomats behind their desks; the Samjhauta or “Concord” Express has resumed its reassuring bi-weekly chug connecting Lahore Junction and Old Delhi Station. Relations between India and Pakistan are returning to the normal huffy disdain after a week of military brinkmanship. For the divided and disputed border region of Kashmir, there is relief. Yet in the Kashmir Valley, a fertile and densely populated part of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, this comes tempered with weariness. For its 7m inhabitants, most of them Muslim, a return to normal means a large and growing pile of frustrations. Some, such as bad government services and a deepening shortage of jobs, are familiar to all Indians. Others are unique to the valley.

Pakistan views the valley’s Muslims as sundered citizens; its constitution prescribes what should happen not if, but “when”, Kashmiris vote to join Pakistan. And since independence in 1947, Pakistan has never ceased trying to hasten this moment by sending guerrillas over the border to stir up jihad—although this week it claimed to rounding up such militants. India, for its part, says that Kashmir was lucky to fall to a secular, democratic country at partition and not to its violent, narrow-minded neighbour. But Indian governments turn deaf the moment people in the valley speak of greater autonomy, let alone azadi (independence). Their efforts at counter-insurgency have been disturbingly bloody. The conflict has claimed 50,000 lives since the 1980s.

Anonymous said...

War, Hindu fundamentalism and jingoism is big big business for the Hindu political complex in India. Worse today as the Gujarati Industrial Cancer has firmly taken hold of every facet of monetary life in that country. Each crashed plane, tank or even an army truck spells countless dollars for these crooked politicians and arms-dealing businessmen. There is a Hindu blogger who has claimed that Indian Air Force planes are deliberately sabotaged and crashed - never mind dead pilots and crew - so that replacements can be ordered and pockets lined.
All sane voices in India calling for a resolution of the Kashmir issue are dubbed "anti-National" even by elements in the supposedly balanced Indian mainstream media.
Most Indians were not even born at the time of the Partition, yet they have been/ are being groomed by unscrupulous politicians into senseless Hindu fundamentalism by the constant raising up of the Pakistan bogeyman.