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




21 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.

Riaz Haq said...

Globalization of #Pakistan Army. It has global diplomatic footprint including defense diplomacy, conflict resolution, peacekeeping, international education and last by no means lest – #military sales and #defense cooperation. #pakistanarmedforces @TRTWorld https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/the-internationalisation-of-the-pakistan-army-25300

The Pakistan Army is making a concerted effort to relieve itself of its dependency on the US, and it might be working.
As the recent National Day military parade shows, the Pakistan Army now has a global diplomatic footprint that is turning into a multi-faceted force that includes defence diplomacy, conflict resolution and peacekeeping, international education and last by no means lest – military sales and defence cooperation.

It is a sharp contrast to September 11, 2001 – when under pressure and isolation threats, the then Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Musharraf buckled under American pressure. Almost two decades on, the Pakistan Army has become one of the most international armies in the world – more than three dozen militaries from around the world from Latin America to Australia are undergoing training in Pakistan’s various service staff colleges, and defence cooperation with emerging BRICS powers is at an all-time high.

The diversification also underpins the new geopolitical realities of the army – unlike 2001 – it has nothing to fear as its allies and strategic outreach diversifies beyond an old dependence on American equipment and financial aid.

The legacy of American dependency

After September 11, 2001, one could hardly blame Musharraf as he realised the limitations of the army’s fighting position – after a decade of US sanctions following the Pressler Amendment, Pakistan’s military was in bad shape and could not challenge any American threats.

The Pakistan Air Force and the two dozen F-16s were hardly in a serviceable condition - its force was almost wholly just trained to fight on its eastern border rather than a counter-insurgency on the Afghan border as the Americans were demanding.

The US has been blackmailing Pakistan for almost three decades on the sale of F-16s, even the ones that Pakistan paid for were not delivered – and only after Pakistan agreed to take part in the global war on terror did F16s start arriving after two decades.

Even then Pakistan had to go to Turkey and Jordan for the delivery as a more reliable partner albeit with American permission. Pakistan is also yet to take delivery of Bell AH-1Z helicopter – the first batch was meant for delivery in 2017.

As of last autumn, it was reported that these latest sales are being blocked and kept in storage after Trump’s cancellation of military aid. It is here where American foreign military sales—while still in demand—are no more a considerable nuisance for Pakistan. Over the last decade, Pakistan has firmly moved away from dependency on American military equipment and towards new international partnerships and self-reliance through an indigenous weapons program.

Pakistan’s international training program

Just as the US announced last year it would cut Pakistani military participation in its elite training institution, the Russians signed a historic first welcoming Pakistani officers at their top military academies and colleges. Not only is this a complete reversal of Pakistan’s Russia policy but also a new era of Pakistan’s defence diplomacy. Similarly, the two have now set up regular training exercises, and Pakistan has bought attack helicopters.

Beyond just being at the receiving end of training, Pakistan had become the first non-Western army to have a platoon commander at the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst, when Major Uqbah Hadeed Malik became the first Pakistani instructor at the world’s premier defence academy. Under Uqbah’s command the finest British officers and international cadets went on to graduate – subsequently Uqbah’s successor, Major Umar Farooq won the prestigious Sovereign Platoon, the best-trained unit at Sandhurst.

Riaz Haq said...

High Res #Satellite Imagery Suggests #India's #Balakot Airstrike a 'Very Precise Miss'. Images acquired by #European Space Imaging day after the strike suggests that buildings at the camp were not visibly damaged or destroyed. #Pakistan https://thewire.in/security/balakot-airstrike-miss-satellite-imagery via @thewire_in

Indian news media outlets have cited unnamed ‘senior military officers’ as saying that the Indian Air Force used the Israeli SPICE 2000 weapon to target four buildings at a terrorist camp in Balakot. The SPICE 2000 is the Israeli analogue of the US JDAM (joint direct attack munition), the weapon that has become the mainstay of coalition airstrikes in the Middle East. The SPICE 2000 is essentially a strap-on guidance kit that can transform a 2,000-pound ‘dumb’ bomb into a very precise way to deliver more than 400 kilograms of high explosives at a range of up to 60 kilometres. The weapon can be both GPS- and electro-optically guided. A 2,000-pound bomb causes substantial damage to structures.


Controversy has raged over whether India hit its intended targets. The Indian narrative has insisted that the strikes did hit their targets, ‘killing a large number of terrorists’. Indian Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa remarked, ‘If we plan to hit the target, we hit the target.’

The Indian narrative has also suggested that the strike used a SPICE 2000 variant with a reduced amount of explosive and the ability to penetrate through several floors of a building and even underground before detonating. This argument claims that such a weapon would only create a small entry hole and, while it would kill all occupants, it wouldn’t destroy the target building.

However, publicly available imagery acquired by European Space Imaging the day after the strike suggests that buildings at the camp were not visibly damaged or destroyed (see image below). This imagery, which is of a higher resolution than that available previously, shows conspicuously undamaged roofs that are not consistent with either a SPICE 2000 strike or a strike with other munitions. We believe that even a weapon with reduced explosive fill would cause damage to buildings that would be identifiable in the satellite imagery.

Riaz Haq said...

When They Want #War, #India and #Pakistan Will Always Have #Kashmir. This year, it was Pakistan, rather than India, that came out looking like the adult on this occasion. #Balakot #PulwamaAttack https://www.thedailybeast.com/when-they-want-war-india-and-pakistan-will-always-have-kashmir?ref=scroll

The essentially violent nature of Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, has now been laid bare by events. Countless Kashmiris in other parts of India spent most of late February avoiding lynch mobs—many of them helped by activists like Shehla Rashid, who you will hear from later in this series. Many gruesome scenes that recalled the 2002 Gujarat riots, which left countless people, mostly Muslims, dead.

The Indian media, up to and including ostensibly liberal journalists like Barkha Dutt, devolved in the wake of the Pulwama attack into an unthinking, bloodthirsty rabble. Bollywood actors, who have only ever played at war, became all-too-willing mongers for it.

Hindutva Twitter—which has long made MAGA Twitter look quaint—seethed with denunciations of “traitors” and “Pakapologists” and writhed with demands for ever greater violence. The extent to which Modi’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has entered the Indian mainstream—its bloodstream—seemed scarily absolute.


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On February 14, an Indian-born Kashmiri named Adil Ahmad Dar drove 300 kilograms of explosives into a convoy of Indian military vehicles in Pulwama, a district of Indian-administered Kashmir. In addition to himself, Dar killed 40 Indian soldiers, rendering the attack the deadliest in decades. A Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed responsibility for his actions, and the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quick to allege Pakistani involvement. Pakistan denied the charge.

A quickly escalating game of tit-for-tat followed. Indian jets crossed the infamous Line of Control and, according to official statements, bombed a terrorist training camp on Pakistani soil. Pakistan denied this, too, saying the planes hadn’t destroyed much of anything and certainly hadn’t killed any terrorists.

Meanwhile, Pakistan sent its own planes across the LoC in response. For the first time since the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan engaged in dogfights over Kashmir. When an Indian plane was shot down on the Pakistani side of the LoC, its pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured. He was returned to India on the first day of March in a move that Pakistan described as a “gesture of peace.” The stand-off has largely been limited to cross-border shooting and shelling since. A number of Kashmiris on both sides of the LoC have been killed.

Bill Clinton once described Kashmir as “the most dangerous place in the world.” Christopher Hitchens once described the LoC—from a vantage point on the Pakistani side—as “the near-certain flash point of a coming war that could well become an Asian Armageddon.”

For the moment, that war appears to have been averted. Cross-border shelling is business as usual in this part of the world.

But Hitchens would have been surprised to learn that it was Pakistan, rather than India, that came out looking like the adult on this occasion. Then again, Hitchens, who wrote his dispatch in 2007, had long been convinced that the U.S. alliance with Pakistan was a form of geopolitical self-harm, and Hitchens died before Modi came to power in India in 2014. He did not foresee the rise of an Islamophobic nationalist government in Delhi and couldn’t have guessed at the manner in which that government would wind up radicalizing a whole generation of Indian Kashmiris through its militarization of the region and the brutality it would inflict on its citizens there.


Riaz Haq said...

LESSONS FROM THE BRINK
Ejaz Haider Updated March 10, 2019

https://www.dawn.com/news/1468744


India thought — and many experts agreed — that there was a band in which India could act militarily and punitively. That, if India were to play within that band, it would make it extremely difficult for Pakistan to escalate to the nuclear level because such escalation would be considered highly disproportionate and would draw international opprobrium and consequences. The argument was that the certainty of international diplomatic and economic isolation would force Pakistan to stay its hand and not escalate to the nuclear level.

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The banal equivalent of such a situation would be someone punching another person in a crowded bazaar and the victim, instead of keeping the fight to fisticuffs, chooses to draw and fire a pistol. Not only would such a person lose the sympathy of the crowd, he would also invite the full coercive and normative weight of the law.

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The interesting assumption in all this, and one that should not be missed is this: the first-round result. Every subsequent assumption flows from what India could achieve militarily in the opening hand.


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It is precisely for this reason that the opening round is so crucial for the aggressor, in this case India. To recap, as noted above in the list of assumptions, every subsequent assumption flows from the success of the opening round.

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what is important is not whether Indian planes came into Pakistan (original claim), whether they struck in a stand-off mode (i.e. when aerial platforms are used from a safe distance, away from defensive weapons, and use precision munitions such as glide bombs to attack a distant target without actually coming upon the target and swooping down for a bombing run) or even whether they could or could not make a hit. The important and crucial point was that India had challenged Pakistan and Pakistan needed to put an end to the “new normal” talk. Pakistan chose its targets, struck to show resolve and capability and then also won the dogfight.

Later, we are told that India had thought of using missiles to hit nine targets in Pakistan. But Pakistan readied its missiles and informed India that it will hit back. That forced India to back off. If this is true — and it comes to us from a briefing by Prime Minister Imran Khan — then it seems that Modi had nursed the idea of playing a very dangerous hand, which he couldn’t because that would have meant exchange of missiles between a nuclear dyad — a development which has remarkable escalation potential. Missilery between nuclear powers is a big no. There’s no known technology in the world that can determine whether the incoming missile has a tactical or a strategic (nuclear) warhead and that can lead to response miscalculation.

The two sides are back to the ‘old normal’ — artillery and small-arms duelling across the LoC. The attempt by an Indian submarine to enter Pakistan’s territorial waters was also deftly picked up by Pakistan Navy, with the sub forced to return. It could have been sunk but Pakistan, in keeping with its policy of not escalating, chose not to make a hit.

From here on, there’s nothing more for India but to understand the imperative of positive engagement through a sustained dialogue. The framework for such engagement is already in place. There is no alternative to talking and walking that talk. But that will not happen until we see the electoral contest in India and its results.

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At the same time, Pakistan must not underestimate India based on these limited rounds. While India could not coerce Pakistan militarily at this moment, if the growth differential between Pakistan and India continues to grow, the technological asymmetry will increase to the point where strategies of coercion could kick into play. That scenario could see very different results on the ground. For instance, India will possess the anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) S-400 system by 2020.

Riaz Haq said...

"Despite official figures #India’s economy slowed sharply due to #Modi's mis-steps while promised #jobs and #investments have not materialized...India has gone backwards under him. He is lying about the #GDP numbers....#Indian MBAs are working as waiters" https://www.ft.com/content/14baecba-56c5-11e9-91f9-b6515a54c5b1

Mr Modi swept to power in New Delhi in 2014, pledging to bring acche din, or good times, for India, with accelerated economic growth and millions of new jobs. But his record of delivery on these promises is highly contentious. 

The prime minister insists India’s economy has grown faster under his leadership than ever before, with an average annual GDP growth of 7.3 per cent, compared with an annual average of 6.7 per cent under the previous Congress-led government. But many economists have questioned the credibility of official data, amid perceptions of unprecedented political interference. Even by New Delhi’s own numbers, India’s GDP growth slowed to 6.6 per cent in the three months ending December 31, its slowest pace in five quarters. 

New Delhi has also suppressed a major report which apparently indicated rising joblessness among youth. In a Pew Research Center survey of 2,521 Indians last summer, 76 per cent cited lack of employment opportunities as a major concern. “The gap between the hype and the promises was clearly wide and clearly visible,” Mr Varshney says. 

Farmers have been squeezed hard as part of the effort to curb once rampant inflation, their anger displayed in a series of large-scale protests. “We are very unhappy”, says Lakshman Ram, a 61-year-old farmer at the Jodhpur spice market, where he was selling a mound of fragrant cumin seeds to traders. “He has killed us farmers. He has finished us. I’m just waiting for Congress — they think about us.”

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The Zomato and Swiggy delivery boys, however, brim with enthusiasm for Mr Modi, especially his recent authorisation of a missile strike on an alleged terrorist training camp in neighbouring Pakistan. Their excitement is mirrored by Akshay Bhati, 25, whose father supplies milk to the shop. 

“The power of the nation has gone up,” the younger Mr Bhati says. “Before, any enemy country would come and attack India and just get away with it — India would not do anything. Now, we will enter your house and kill you.”

The divergent views among the evening crowd at Pokar’s reflects the deep faultlines among India’s 900m eligible voters, as they gear up for what has become an unusually personality-driven general election contest. The voting will serve as a national assessment of how well the charismatic populist Mr Modi has lived up to the high expectations he raised of a “New India”, when he took power in 2014 after 10 years of disappointing rule by the Congress party. 

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The premier’s Bharatiya Janata party, with its deep pockets and sophisticated political machinery, is urging India’s voters to give Mr Modi another five years in power to continue his efforts to remake India. 

Fragmented opposition parties — including the BJP’s arch-rival Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, and a diverse array of smaller regional parties — are trying to counter by accusing Mr Modi of failing to live up to expectations, and inflicting unnecessary misery on the population, while simultaneously taking potshots at one another. Results will be known only on May 23, as voting is spread over six weeks.

“It is undoubtedly a referendum on Mr Modi,” says Ashutosh Varshney, director of the Center for Contemporary South Asia at Brown University, of the contest. “It’s a very presidential style election.” 

Riaz Haq said...

#Russia Competes With #China for #Arms Sales to #Pakistan. Total bill could top $9 billion with likely purchase of Russian heavy and medium fighter #jets, medium and short-range air defense systems, combat helicopters, tanks, and warships. https://www.theepochtimes.com/russia-competes-with-china-for-arms-sales-to-pakistan_2885710.html via @epochtimes

or years, Beijing has been the biggest arms supplier to Islamabad, with defense purchases as a key element of their close ties. Now, Russia is looking to make inroads into the Pakistani weapons market.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported on April 15 that Pakistan has expressed interest in making a huge purchase of Russian military hardware, citing comments from Konstantin Makienko, deputy director of the Moscow-based defense think tank Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

The total invoice could top $9 billion, according to Makienko, who added that Pakistan would likely purchase Russian heavy and medium fighter jets, medium and short-range air defense systems, combat helicopters, tanks, and warships.

Makienko named two types of Russian military hardware that would likely be on Islamabad’s shopping list: the new Russian fighter jet MiG-35 and the heavy transport helicopter Mi-26T2.

Pakistani authorities haven’t confirmed this planned purchase, nor have Pakistani media reported on it thus far.


But Makienko noted that given the low-competitive nature of the military market in Pakistan, which is dominated by China, Russia would likely receive extremely favorable terms on the purchase contracts.

He added that Pakistan has not made requests such as technology transfer or localization of production as terms for any purchases.

China supplied weapons worth over $6.4 billion to Pakistan from 2008 to 2018, making it Pakistan’s biggest supplier, according to data from the independent arms research institute SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), followed by the United States with $2.5 billion, and Italy with $471 million worth of weapons.

Currently, Chinese-made jets make up the bulk of Pakistan’s fleet of fighter jets: the Chengdu J-7, and JF-17 Thunder. The former was modeled after the Russian jet MiG-21, while the latter was developed jointly by the Pakistani state-owned aerospace company Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and China’s state-owned Chengdu Aircraft Corp.

In 2016, one of the biggest arms deals between China and Pakistan was signed, with the sale of eight Chinese diesel-electric attack submarines manufactured by state-run China Shipbuilding Trading Corporation, to be delivered to the Pakistan Navy by 2028, according to Pakistan’s English-language newspaper The Express Tribune.

Aside from arms sales, there have been other recent signs that Russia and Pakistan plan to enhance their military ties.

On March 24, Russia’s Federal News Agency (FAN) reported comments by Pakistani Major General Asif Ghafoor about expanding defense cooperation between Moscow and Islamabad. Ghafoor said that there could be more military contracts between the two countries, as Pakistan had just received its orders of Russian attack helicopters Mi-35, a purchase made in 2015.

A week later, on March 30, unnamed senior officials at Pakistan’s foreign ministry told local English-language daily newspaper The Nation that Islamabad and Moscow had agreed to exchange high-level visits more frequently, with defense being the main component of growing ties between the two countries.

Russia and China are competing for customers for their military equipment worldwide. Russian news agency TASS, in an editorial published on March 29, noted that China was a market competitor in the sale of submarines, citing the case of Thailand’s navy choosing to buy submarines from China over shipbuilders in Russia, South Korea, and Germany.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian defense analyst Pravin Sawhney: Fighting tactical battles for one-upmanship. #Rafale and #S400 would certainly help Indian Air Force, but would not tilt the operational level balance in #India’s favor in conflict with #Pakistan https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/fighting-tactical-battles-for-one-upmanship/760082.html via @thetribunechd

The issue, thus, is about tactics and operational level of war. The Pakistan military, learning from the Soviet Union, has always given importance to the operational level. This is why in the 1965 and 1971 wars, despite being more in bean-counting of assets, India never won in the western sector. Proof of this are the ceasefire line and the Line of Control, which otherwise would have been converted into international borders.

The situation, regrettably, remains the same today. Separate doctrines of the Army and the Air Force, and with each service doing its own training is evidence that no amount of modernisation would help if the focus of service chiefs remains on tactics. For example, after the Balakot operation, a senior Air Force officer told me that the PAF would not last more than six days. He believed in tactical linear success. What about the other kinetic and non-kinetic forces which impact at the operational level?

This is not all. Retired senior Air Force officers started chest-thumping about the Balakot airstrike having set the new normal. Some argued that air power need not be escalatory, while others made the case for the use of air power in counter-terror operations like the Army. Clearly, they all were talking tactics, not war. Had India retaliated to the PAF’s counter-strike, what it called an act of war, an escalation was assured. It is another matter that PM Narendra Modi had only bargained for the use of the IAF for electoral gains.

Talking of tactics, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa spoke about relative technological superiority. Perhaps, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman would not have strayed into Pakistani airspace if his MiG-21 Bison had Software Defined Radio (SDR) and Operational Data Link (ODL). The SDR operates in the VHF, UHF, Ku and L bandwidths and is meant to remove voice clutter. The ODL provides the pilot with data or text, in this case from the ground controller. The officer, separated from his wing-man, and without necessary voice and data instructions, unwittingly breached the airspace and was captured by the Pakistan army. There are known critical shortages of force multipliers in addition to force levels in the IAF. Surely, the IAF Chief can’t do much except keep asking the government to fill the operational voids. But, he could avoid making exaggerated claims since his words would only feed the ultra-nationalists, and support the Modi government’s spurious argument of having paid special attention to national security.

The same is the case with Rafale and S-400. These would certainly help, but would not tilt the operational level balance in India’s favour. For example, the IAF intends to use S-400 in the ‘offensive air defence’ role rather than its designed role of protecting high-value targets like Delhi, for which it was originally proposed. For the protection of high-value targets, the Air Headquarters has made a strong case to purchase the United States’ National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS). This is ironic, because while S-400 can destroy hostile ballistic missiles, NASAMS can’t do so. It can only kill cruise missiles and other aerial platforms. The thinking at the Air Headquarters is that since there is no understanding on the use of ballistic missiles — especially with Pakistan — both sides are likely to avoid the use of ballistic missiles with conventional warheads lest they are misread and lead to a nuclear accident. So, NASAMS may probably never be called upon to take on ballistic missiles.

Given the direction of the relationship between the India and Pakistan, this assumption may not be the best to make when procuring prohibitively expensive high-value assets.

Riaz Haq said...

Author Ashutosh in"Hindu Rashtra" talks about call to arms for #Gandhi’s #Hindus . “#Hindutva has an infinite appetite to quarrel with the past” under #Muslim rule. #Modi wants “masculine and martial nationalism” aimed at “#Kashmir, #Pakistan and #Islam” https://www.asianage.com/books/210419/a-call-to-arms-for-gandhis-hindus.html

As time moves forward, Hindu Rashtra will take its rightful place as a well-researched attempt to explain the unfolding of the Modi years. Review by Mani Shankar Aiyar

Ashutosh takes the reader by the hand, as it were, through the beginnings of Hindutva: the invention of this hitherto unknown word by V.D. Savarkar, its elaboration by M.S. Golwalkar, and its being put into political practice by the current icon of “masculine and martial nationalism”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Hindutva,” the author observes, “has an infinite appetite to quarrel with the past”. The past is seen, in Savarkar’s words, as “millions of Muslim invaders from all over Asia (falling) over India century after century with all the ferocity at their command to destroy the Hindu religion, the lifeblood of the nation”. Savarkar held that in this the Muslim invaders succeeded only because the Hindus had become “weak and cowardly” by upholding the “perverted virtues” of “compassion, tolerance, non-violence and truth”. The answer lay in recasting the Hindu as “masculine and martial”, the very qualities that Mr Modi seeks to embody. Ashutosh continues: “Modi epitomises Hindutva nationalism, which is founded on an adversarial attitude towards Muslims and believes that India’s history is one of Hindus being tortured in their own homeland for thousands of years because of the ruthlessness of Muslim rulers”.

But why continue this quarrel with the past even unto the 21st century, well after India, albeit a partitioned India, gained her Independence? M.K. Gandhi laid down the fundamental parameter of our contemporary nationhood in the following terms: “The assumption that India has now become the land of the Hindus is erroneous. India belongs to all who live here”.

Golwalkar held in direct contrast that the coming into being of Pakistan “is a clear case of continued Muslim aggression”. This led Nathuram Godse to justify assassinating Gandhi as, “Gandhiji was himself the greatest supporter and advocate of Pakistan… In these circumstances, the only effective remedy to relieve the Hindus from the Muslim atrocities was, to my mind, to remove Gandhiji from this world.”

This meshes seamlessly, as cited by Ashutosh, with Vinay Katiyar, several times BJP MP from Faizabad, asserting in an NDTV interview on February 7, 2018: “Muslims should not stay in this country. They have partitioned the country. So why are they here? They should go to Bangladesh or Pakistan. They have no business being here in India”. And that explains the conflation of “Kashmir, Pakistan and Islam” which Hindutva enjoins as “the duty of every Indian to fight”.

It is from such beliefs, argues Ashutosh, that have arisen the horrors of lynching and murder in the name of gau raksha and “love jihad”, assault and assassination of “anti-nationals”, the undermining of the institutions of democracy, and the nurturing of a new breed of “right-wing television channels that have become platforms for the propagation of Hindutva ideology: muscular nationalism; warmongering; militarism; bashing of Islam, Kashmir and Pakistan; and ridiculing and condemning liberal and secular values”.

The writer goes into each of these, and more, linking them to the ideology that inspires such hate and prejudice. The basic dream of Hindutvavadis, he shows, is “to make Hindus ruthless and masculine as they assume Islam did to its followers” by “effectively us(ing) state power to spread religion”.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's Air Force making excuses for failures against #Pakistan Air Force. Claims #tech failures in aerial battles with Pakistan. #IAF says Pakistan “has been consistently enhancing its air defense and offensive capabilities.” #Balakot #Kashmir – https://www.rt.com/news/457701-iaf-report-admits-failures-pakistan/

Airstrikes against ‘terrorist’ targets in Pakistan and subsequent aerial battles with Islamabad’s warplanes would have been more successful if India had better technology, a service report cited by local media admits.
The Indian Air Force’s ‘lessons learnt’ assessment primarily covered February’s retaliatory airstrike on a suspected jihadist training camp in Balakot, Pakistan, resulting in a military flare-up with its neighbor. It found that IAF warplanes would have been able to do serious damage to their Pakistani adversaries – if they had access to weapons capable of doing so in the first place.

The wording of the report was somewhat careful about admitting this fact openly, suggesting that they would have been able to compete with their opponents more effectively if they had possessed “technological asymmetry.”

A litany of technical issues was found to have hampered the IAF’s combat prowess. On top of problems integrating new weapons with the available hardware, one of the fighter jet’s missiles apparently failed to deploy from the aircraft altogether due to issues with its navigation system. The same issue had featured in an earlier embarrassing report which suggested that India had likely shot down its own helicopter with a malfunctioning missile while attempting to target encroaching enemy craft.

The latest review also noted that since 1999’s Kargil War, Pakistan “has been consistently enhancing its air defense and offensive capabilities,” demonstrated in the recent clashes by their use of F-16 fighter jets, giving Islamabad an edge. India’s hardware, meanwhile, has become increasingly outdated.


“We felt we could not punish the adversaries appropriately. So we need to bolster technological asymmetry so that the enemy does not even dare to come close to the border,” one source told India’s Economic Times. While things didn’t go exactly as expected, the report reminds readers that “no battle plan ever survives the first contact with the enemy.”

India also maintained that it carried out the assault into Pakistani airspace in order to strike a training facility used by the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which had carried out an attack in Pulwama, killing 40 Indian troops. However, Pakistan has consistently denied the existence of such camps, and said that the raid had merely destroyed some trees.

Riaz Haq said...

Military expenditure in Asia and Oceania has risen every year since 1988. At $507 billion, military spending in the region accounted for 28 per cent of the global total in 2018, compared with just 9.0 per cent in 1988.

In 2018 India increased its military spending by 3.1 per cent to $66.5 billion. Military expenditure by Pakistan grew by 11 per cent (the same level of growth as in 2017), to reach $11.4 billion in 2018. South Korean military expenditure was $43.1 billion in 2018—an increase of 5.1 per cent compared with 2017 and the highest annual increase since 2005.

‘The tensions between countries in Asia as well as between China and the USA are major drivers for the continuing growth of military spending in the region,’ says Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI AMEX programme.

https://sipri.org/media/press-release/2019/world-military-expenditure-grows-18-trillion-2018

https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/Data%20for%20all%20countries%20from%201988%E2%80%932018%20in%20constant%20%282017%29%20USD%20%28pdf%29.pdf

https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/Data%20for%20all%20countries%20from%201988%E2%80%932018%20as%20a%20share%20of%20GDP%20%28pdf%29.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

"#Modi is campaigning as a strongman with the character to stand up to #Pakistan .. sending warplanes to bomb #India’s nuclear neighbor earlier this year was not so much an act of strength as recklessness that could have ended in disaster"https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/05/04/under-narendra-modi-indias-ruling-party-poses-a-threat-to-democracy via @TheEconomist

When the Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp) won a landslide victory in India’s general election in 2014, its leader, Narendra Modi, was something of a mystery. Would his government initiate an economic lift-off, as businessfolk hoped, or spark a sectarian conflagration, as secularists feared? In his five years as prime minister, Mr Modi has been neither as good for India as his cheerleaders foretold, nor as bad as his critics, including this newspaper, imagined. But today the risks still outweigh the rewards. Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election (see article), would be better off with a different leader.

Mr Modi is campaigning as a strongman with the character to stand up to Pakistan for having abetted terrorism. In fact, sending warplanes to bomb India’s nuclear neighbour earlier this year was not so much an act of strength as recklessness that could have ended in disaster. Mr Modi’s tough-guy approach has indeed been a disaster in the disputed state of Jammu & Kashmir, where he has inflamed a separatist insurgency rather than quelling it, while at the same time alienating moderate Kashmiris by brutally repressing protests.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian Navy forgot to close the hatch on $3 billion #submarine #Arihant, caused extensive damage that almost sunk it. #India #IndianNavy

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/india-did-major-damage-new-3-billion-submarine-leaving-hatch-open-52292

The modern submarine is not a simple machine. A loss of propulsion, unexpected flooding, or trouble with reactors or weapons can doom a sub crew to a watery grave.

Also, it’s a good idea to, like, close the hatches before you dive.

Call it a lesson learned for the Indian navy, which managed to put the country’s first nuclear-missile submarine, the $2.9 billion INS Arihant, out of commission in the most boneheaded way possible.

The Hindu reported yesterday that the Arihant has been out of commission since suffering “major damage” some 10 months ago, due to what a navy source characterized as a “human error” — to wit: allowing water to flood to sub’s propulsion compartment after failing to secure one of the vessel’s external hatches.

Water “rushed in as a hatch on the rear side was left open by mistake while [the Arihant] was at harbor” in February 2017, shortly after the submarine’s launch, The Hindu reports. Since then, the sub “has been undergoing repairs and clean up,” according to the paper: “Besides other repair work, many pipes had to be cut open and replaced.”

It’s hard to articulate how major a foul-up this is, but Kyle Mizokami does a good job at Popular Mechanics: Indian authorities ordered the pipe replacement because they “likely felt that pipes exposed to corrosive seawater couldn't be trusted again, particularly pipes that carry pressurized water coolant to and from the ship’s 83 megawatt nuclear reactor.” For context, a submarine assigned to Britain’s Royal Navy narrowly avoided a complete reactor meltdown in 2012 after the power sources for its coolant system failed.

The incident is also quite an embarrassment — and strategic concern — for the Indian Armed Forces. A Russian Akula-class attack sub modified to accommodate a variety of ballistic missiles, the Arihant represented a major advance in India’s nuclear triad after its completion in October 2016. (India in 1974 became the 6th country to conduct a successful nuclear test.) Indeed, the Arihant’s ability to deliver K-15 short-range and K-4 intermediate-range nuclear missiles was envisioned as a powerful deterrent against India’s uneasy nuclear state neighbor, Pakistan.

“Arihant is the most important platform within India’s nuclear triad covering land-air-sea modes,” the Hindu reports. Well, it’s important if it works — and it probably helps to make your submarine watertight.

This is just some sloppy, dangerous seamanship, and the Indian Navy better get its act together fast. Either that, or perhaps follow the Royal Navy’s lead and install the 2001-era Windows XP as an operating system on all your most vital vessels. That way, you can blame the blue screen of death instead of “human error” for the next critical foul-up. Although even outdated software probably knows enough to dog down on all the hatches.