Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Blame For Uri Attack Doesn’t Lie With Pakistan, But The Indian Government Too - by Dr Ajai Sahni

The boastful talk of retaliation, precision strikes, “giving a befitting reply”, in the wake of the latest terrorist outrage in Uri will soon fizzle out for the simple reason that there is no strategic context or foundation to these assertions. This should surprise no one. We have been here before, and each attack – recall Pathankot at the beginning of this year – has been followed by exactly the same threats and imprecations. Narendra Modi and prime ministers before him have made many threats of retaliatory action in the wake of major terrorist attacks in the past, and have then done little to keep their word.

The fact is, you cannot go from a situation where you’ve put all your eggs in the “talks basket” and then suddenly believe you have an entire menu card of tactical and military options. The latter have to be developed over an extended period of time, and for this a clear policy, sustained over the long term is necessary. Far from a policy, the Indian establishment is not even clear about what its end objectives are with regard to Pakistan.



The 17 soldiers killed in the attack on an army camp in Uri on Sunday | Source: PTI

Strategy is a function of capacity, and there can be no radical shift in the former unless the latter has been manifestly altered. Unfortunately, the present government – like its predecessors – has done precious little to address the endemic crisis of capacities in India’s defence and security sectors. Indeed, there have been several cuts in operational funding in these sectors, though the government has sought to draw attention away from these by trying to shift the focus on a handful of high value acquisitions – most of which remain in an extended and delayed pipeline.

India spent just 2.4 per cent of GDP on Defence (including pensions) in 2014-15, and 2.26 per cent in 2015-16, down from 3.42 per cent in 1988. It must be abundantly clear that this is simply not sufficient to meet India’s external and internal defence needs. There is a similar crisis of funding and capacities in all internal security organisations, all of which have a fraction of the resources, manpower and technological backup that is minimally required. Unless these deficits are met on a war footing, all talks of changing our strategies and policies is nothing by wasted hot air.

But even before the issue of resources can be addressed, the issue of a strategic consensus within government is necessary. What are our objectives? What is the end state we seek? Are we still trapped in the paradigm that dominated India’s defence thinking for decades – that India seeks “defensive parity” with Pakistan, a country one-eighth its size? Unless issues of strategic posture are addressed, augmented expenditures can only be random and fitful, and are unlikely to secure any coherent strategic objectives.

Further, jingoism isn’t going to help. What is needed is a true “all of government” approach, taking all instrumentalities of power, military, intelligence, economic, political, diplomatic - both overt and covert - and focusing them to the issue of a response to the challenge of Pakistan-backed terrorism. 

There is a lot of noise in the media regarding such an approach today, but the reality is that an “all of government” approach is simply impossible within the framework of administration – the exclusive silos that various departments function within – that currently prevails. For all the talk of “holistic” and “multi-pronged” approaches that government reports are full of, the reality is, we have no institutional capacities to deliver on such an approach. 

Indeed, operational coordination and cooperation between various security and defence agencies only occasionally meets acceptable standards, and relationships between forces are often fractious. Worse, at the very apex of administration, the Indian bureaucracy appears to seek nothing beyond the perpetuation of its own privileges, and seems to be at war with all other arms of government. No great power can ever emerge from such pettiness and chaos.

Our internal political management and the restoration of constitutional norms is an imperative on which all other success will develop. Kashmir is an acute case in point. Everyone is focusing on the “escalation” of street mobilisation in the past two months, and now on the incident in Uri and the limited escalation in terrorism-linked fatalities, particularly security force casualties. What is missed, however, is that the security forces have more than done their job again and again, even though they have often fought with one hand tied behind the back.They have restored conditions of relative stability in the state after more than a decade-and-a-half of high intensity conflict, creating tremendous opportunities for the political leadership and administration to consolidate the peace. It is these sectors that have failed to deliver.

Indeed, the relative peace in J&K between the stone pelting campaign of 2010 and 2016 saw no sustained effort of politics to address pressing issues of governance and grievance redressal, and the administration remains riddled with corruption and has little credibility with the population. Worse, the last two-and-a-half years have seen a steady stoking of communal fires by Valley-based parties on the one hand, and by the Hindutva lobby with its stronghold in Jammu, on the other. When this boils over into overt violence, there are hysterical initiatives to “talk to all stakeholders” – with the separatist lobby literally, and predictably, slamming the door on a Parliamentary delegation. And when Pakistan sees in this chaos an opportunity to intensify terrorism, everyone begins to talk about all sorts of solutions, retaliation, strategies and what not.

The truth is, India’s worst enemy is not Pakistan; it is its own leadership. And, election after election, regime after regime, there appears to be no cure for this canker.

(Ajai Sahni is Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management & South Asia Terrorism Portal; Editor, South Asia Intelligence Review)

(SOURCE- FWD VIA GP E-MAIL BY BB GHAI, VET)


9 comments:

  1. Problem is that for smallest thing people want to give credit to PM...undermining every body else who matters in chain. Today a job silently to be done and can easily be done by a L/NK is done by NSA for wah wah...and media calls him james bond 007 ( hieght of stooching)...worst still the very serious security concerns have been linked to vote banks....ie BJP did this...Congress failed in last 60 years and blah blah....for surgical strike...( god knows what the truth is) such a hype was created as if Rawalpindi is under us and that whole world is in our feet. This hype has been manufactured by all time bending media...they are just doing every thing as told...all channels without exceptions start doing the same thing for days long without break driving people mad...even lies start appearing truth....This nation is in grip of lies and chest thumping for nothing. We must stop this nonsense and come to mother earth. Individuals and parties are nothing in front of nation and each one of us are nation.

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  2. Pakistan is a contentious bone thrown in front of India. We plan, spent all resources for this small country, a bone. This is a strategy played by the actual perpetrators, big brother China. The real flesh is with him. our GDP vise expenditure for Defense should be increased to meet the bigger challenges.its understood that China wants to access Arabian Sea, through the proposed China -Pakistan economic corridor. They will do anything to achieve it. And slowly part of Kashmir they will occupy.

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  3. karunakaran a ex havildarOctober 4, 2016 at 1:42 PM

    author has clearly indicated the weakness of our unsuccessful democracy, wherein babus and politicians are giving priority to their own plan, completely discarding the defense infrastructure not only pay and allowances but also procurement of weaponry and safety precautions. this is the result of this attack whereby my jawans are meaninglessly killed

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  4. These type of surgical strikes are common at battalion level and sometimes at the company level in operations as and when warranted. Same is executed now at national level and the RM is making mountain out of a mole. A simple military tactic has become a great national strategic move.

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  5. Strong armed forces , foreign policy and internal stability are fundamental and paramount .
    Firm actions or so called strikes at destroying terror camps deep into enemy territory have to be handled with competent and mature leadership.jingoism is poor reflection .
    Armed forces and war is serious national matter.no jingoism and no cheep publicity.
    National defence and in event of war- must have proper institutional capacity with coordination of military leadership with competent CDS.How can a DM ( from CM post & experience of a small state )with babu's of finance , def accts & police as advisers manage a war -with nuclear dimensions.?
    Retrospection and proper constitution of NDC is pre requisite before further actions.

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  6. War Operational Head is Barkha Dutt,everyday she briefs, in NDTV, about surgical operations along with dhoti clad defence experts.The spineless and puppets are mere spectators.

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  7. The Blame For Uri Attack Doesn’t Lie With Pakistan, But The Indian Government Too - by Dr Ajai Sahni- Yes Dr Ajai Sahni please ask in the same tone,What happened to that BSF general who shamelessly talked in public that the Army jawans knew before joining defence that they are destined to die like that...Was he on casual leave when terrorists attacked in Uri?

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  8. Sir,

    I left akhnoor that was my last posting in my service in the year 1990, I have seen so many unprovoked firing on line of actual control, that is the order of the day , a company commander is capable of dealing the LOC firing with the assistance of his juniors, but company commander never claimed credit to the victory, it is the concerted effort of all who contributed and worked hard. the only BJP particularly RM is blowing out of proportion of every incident, give us free hand we will pacify the situation . the modus operandi of operation should not be disclosed in the media, it is very helpful for the enemy to take counter measure. he openly stated the method of operation in miyanmar nullifying the terrorists camp , it is the serious breach of security. The present RM is not permanent occupier of indian defense, in the next election definitely the BJP is thrown out of government. some one will come in lieu of him, but we indian army soldier must maintain our country security. our country is first and foremost

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  9. NOW EVEN A SIMPLE STEP TOWARDS NATIONAL SECURITY, IS LIKE HEROISIOM IN B GRADE HINDI FILMS, THE HEROES ARE OUR POLITICIAS,EVERY VICTORY IS THE PRODUCT TO BE SOLD IN ELECTIONS FOR VOTE. BUT WE ARE FORGETTING TWO OF THE BASIC THINGS. HOW THE TERRORISTS ARE KEEP COMING AND ATTACKING OUR ARMY CAMPS. AND VERY EASILY WE HAVE FORGOTTEN THE TIGERS , THE MARTYRS OF PATHANKOTT AND URI. we are ready to glorify the paper tigers, the politicians , and betray our own soldiers, who still live under tents, with lowest quality food, cheapest wage revision and ULTIMATELY SUB STANDARD WAR EQUIPMENTS. its time to chant BARATHPOLITICIANS KI JAI

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