Monday, May 17, 2010

Shaping the new decade

The first decade of the millennium faded into eternity with the world witnessing unprecedented violence from the expanding global footprint of ‘jehadi’ terrorism, grave political instability in parts of the globe, economic upheavals caused by a severe recession and, deepening chasms among the world community to in the management of the world’s environment and climate. Through all this turmoil, the UN stood a mute spectator and also helpless to the unwarranted nuclear ambitions of some nations besides not being able to thwart unilateralism of the most powerful.

Nevertheless, for India, the last decade was one of promise an ‘India Unbound’, as Gurcharan Das writes in his book of the same name, on its way to realise its vast potential. Though we have miles to go to wipe out, as the Mahatma had ordained, ‘tear from each eye’, India unmistakably stands at the threshold of its long awaited destiny. However, not much can ever be achieved or sustained in these highly violent times if India does not accord adequate attention to security. In recent years government has been pussyfooting on security matters, with the minimum acceptable combat profile of our Armed Forces slipping to alarmingly low levels in relation to our potential adversaries. This aspect has to be addressed by the government with the urgency it deserves, for capital acquisitions and military capabilities take a very long time to develop. A basic security imperative, the Indian Armed Forces have to maintain a reasonable capability to cater to a two-front threat in a nuclear overhang in the ‘worst case scenario’.

Last year, fortunately, in the areas of Internal Security and Intelligence, under a determined Home Minister, some overdue steps were initiated which need to be followed up with vigour to combat not only the formidable terror threats from outside our borders but also the alarming Maoist/Naxal threats from within the Indian heartland where out of our 619 districts, nearly 220 have been grossly affected. The gruesome massacre of 74 CRPF personnel in Dantewada last fortnight by the Naxals is a grim reminder of the serious void in our internal security preparedness. The Indian police and importantly the para-military forces in the country need to gear up to counter the internal security threats through a motivated leadership, penetrative intelligence at grassroots levels, adequate prophylactic measures and innovative tactics against. Though internal security is certainly not the Indian Army’s primary operational role, just like in J&K and the North-East, it must proactively contribute to nip the evil in the bud before it’s too late. Anyway, it is being asked to do so!

Rashtriya Rifles units specifically trained for counter-insurgency roles, instead of regular battalions, could be suitably employed in specific sectors. The synergy of Army, police and para-military operations will have a positive outcome in our internal security endeavours. An excellent example is that of the Indian Navy now overseeing anti-terrorist operations in concert with the Coast Guard and the new Coastal State Police, a model that may be replicated in the hinterland. Since 2009 has not seen any major terrorist strikes, all those across our borders who have been masterminding terrorism, are surely plotting to do their evil biddings this year with greater ferocity. Precisely for this reason alone, Pakistan’s notorious ISI with their henchmen from the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen have gone into an overdrive since January this year, especially in J&K. Also in concert with its sleeper cells in India, they masterminded the recent Pune blasts which are reminiscent, albeit in a smaller scale, of the 26/11 Mumbai blasts. Foreigners, tourists, international gatherings, sporting events and Jewish establishments apart from many other soft targets will continue to be targeted by the merchants of death from Pakistan. Though the Centre does send various intelligence advisories from time to time, state police forces must become more professional and thorough in their operations. The security of our countless strategic assets, critical infrastructure and institutions in India has to be fully buttoned up.

Meanwhile, the government must also speedily implement the major recommendations of the various national commissions on police reforms to energise the police and para-miltary forces. With ten years having elapsed since the last major Security Review (post Kargil), the government may wish to carry out an all encompassing Security Review to look at all challenges to the country in the coming decade including the military, internal security, nuclear and space dimensions. Thus establishing a National Security Commission to look into all these critical aspects is called for.

As we endeavour to strive for a multi-faceted relationship with a now friendly Bangladesh, notwithstanding Bangladesh’s old linkages with Pakistan armed forces and the ISI, India must establish professional relationships with that country’s security organs.

A nuclear armed Pakistan, despite the danger of imploding and becoming dysfunctional by the day, refuses to see reason and continues to be the incubator and exporter of terrorism to India, Afghanistan and the world over. Till the ISI and Pakistan Army desist from using their erstwhile ‘strategic assets’ namely the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqanni network, pro-Taliban warlords like Gulbuddin Hekayatmar and homegrown terrorist organisations like the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Sipahe-e-Sanghvi , peace and stability will never return to Pakistan. India, therefore, has to be vigilant 24/7. The US continues to reward Pakistan with generous doles in financial and military aid despite its continuing delinquent acts in the sub continent and thus Pakistan remains selective, duplicitous and on a high horse in the war against terror in this region. India needs to categorically make it clear to Pakistan that we will, come what may, continue with our humanitarian and developmental aid to Afghanistan and if the Pakistanis wish to resume the Composite Dialogue, they have to display sincerity in curbing terrorist activities against us both in India and Afghanistan. As in the past, Pakistan will only acknowledge a message if it comes from a strong and resolute India. Meanwhile India must, politically and economically, venture out to frontiers, yet significantly untapped, with South American nations, East and Central Asia and the European Union. The Prime Minister’s highly successful visit to Brasilia last week to attend the meeting of the four powerful and emerging economies of the world namely the BRIC grouping( Brazil, Russia, India and China) followed by the meeting of the IBSA( India, Brazil and South Asia) heralds the multi-polarity in future global structures which also requires India’s effective contribution.

Notwithstanding the siege within and myriad external challenges in its march forward, India stands to play an increasingly significant role globally in the years ahead.

Article by:
Lt Gen Kamaleshwar Davar
PVSM, AVSM (Retd) was the first chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA)

Credits for the Article to Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)

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