Do the Owaisi brothers have a pan India potential?


“Maen na kehta tha ki mut dair o haram ki raah chul?
Ab yeh jhagra hashr tak Seikh o Barahman mein raha.”

(Did I not warn you, not to tread the path of the mosque and the mandir? Now this conflict between the Brahmin and the Sheikh will continue till Judgement Day.) — Mir Taqi Mir (1723-1810)

The two successes of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen of Hyderabad in recent elections in Maharashtra may not affect government formation in Mumbai but reverberations will be felt in the nation’s politics for a long time.

Victories in Aurangabad and Byculla were awesome, ofcourse, for a first time entrant. Equally impressive was the fact that the MIM felt emboldened to field twenty four candidates. Of these, three came second and seven impressive thirds. In the last election, BJP and Shiv Sena had won seven seats. The MIM entry in the contest demolished the Congress totally and the BJP and Shiv Sena picked up 14 seats.

The Congress taunt is: look, you helped the BJP-Shiv Sena. That this calculated risk was taken by muslims, shows how irredeemably low the Congress has sunk in the community’s esteem. Time was when the BJP, under Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s leadership, would have been embraced by a community desperate to discard the Congress habit. But the Narendra Modi establishment has been indifferent to the muslims. It does not wish to come in the way of party president Amit Shah’s tactic of polarizing votes by targeting them. This method of building Hindu nationalism will remain in play so long as voters are required to be polarized in elections from state to state. Even as unlikely a state for communal politics as Tamil Nadu has not been spared the effort. An obscure terrorist module has been located even in this state to fuel the polarizing game.

The minorities are determined not to vote for the Congress, the NCP and are increasingly averse to the Samajwadi party and the Bahujan Samaj Party also. The BJP is equally resolute in building Hindu nationalism by targeting them. So, which way must the Muslims turn? There is nothing on the horizon which can threaten the BJP by an infusion of the Muslim vote. But the Muslim can be targeted for greater Hindu consolidation.

At their wit’s end, Muslims are unlikely to dream up grand strategies for the future. In a daze, they will stand still and acquiesce in the politics of the ghetto. In this mood, the bold rhetoric of the Owaisi brothers will captivate them.

Over the past decade the national mood has been determined by whatever choices the 24X7 channels make for highlighting on their prime time shows. These choices differ vastly from the fare available to the Urdu newspaper readership. Asaduddin Owaisi and Akbaruddin Owaisi are frontpage material for this audience, ofcourse. But even though the mainstream media ignored them, their lethal speeches have been carried extensively on the social media. Two parallel tectonic plates are moving. They may clash.

One of the factors behind the Samajwadi Party’s rout in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections were a barrage of deadly speeches by Asaduddin Owaisi carried on the social media after he was stopped from addressing a rally in Azamgarh on 1 February, 2014. The MIM had taken the Akhilesh Yadav government to task for a spate of communal riots in UP during the build up to the Parliamentary elections. He accused the SP as equal partners with the BJP in profiting from communal politics. While the BJP sought Hindu consolidation, said Owaisi, the SP tacitly encouraged an atmosphere of insecurity so that the Muslim voters turn to SP for protection.

Returning from the Dhule riots, 150 kms from Aurangabad in January 2013, I was surprised to hear Akbaruddin Owaisi’s speeches being played by young men on their mobile phones at a wayside tea stall. Owaisi brothers, it seemed, were like pop stars among Muslim youth.

The substance of Akbaruddin Owaisi’s speeches do cross red lines and are intemperate. Asaduddin is more composed. But together the two brothers represent an explosive style of oratory which went out of fashion since the days of the Parsee theatre.

In a mixed crowd their combative style could lead to violence. But they maintain their infectious tempo from behind the fortification of their Hyderabad ghetto. The social networks carry their oratory far and wide.

And now, encouraged by the market, the Owaisis are planning to open offices in UP, Bihar and West Bengal. Who knows, the potential for a dangerous politics may be developing, with the MIM orators knitting together hopeless Muslim ghettos, rather like a series of Bantustans, ensuring Muslim exclusion and, for that reason, explosive.

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

Collapsing credibility of Western media: An opportunity for India


Even the skeptics now agree that India shall be a power in the Asian century. To insure this rise to the top India must maximize all its assets. One asset for which it has a reputation is a lively media, a function of a relatively stable democratic order since Independence.

If information is power, it must follow that we start taking steps towards some minimal control over the sources of information. The liveliness of our media, bordering on license, exhausts itself primarily on issues of a local nature. BJP, Congress, dalits, minorities, rape, riots, corruption inflation and so on.

Major powers have to be seen regionally and globally too. This does not mean that we change our style of diplomacy, have ready-made statements on ISIS, the battle for Kobane, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Beijing, Ukraine, SAARC, the sharp right turn in European elections, the dream and reality of shale gas.

New Delhi must not make pronouncements each day, but the country must appear to be engaged in these developments. The impression that these are games only for the Imperial, big league, stultifies us under the colonial canopy. It is interesting that countries without a tradition for a free press – Russia, China, Iran – are making efforts to put across their points of view on International affairs. Iran’s Press TV, China’s CCTV and Russia’s RTV and a host of others are building up a reputation as credible sources of information. They tend to break the monopoly of the global electronic media. Fortunately for these new networks, this precisely is the time when the world is looking for alternative sources of news.

This quest is because of a straightforward reason: diminishing credibility of the Western media barring exceptions. Ironically, their credibility was higher during the cold war.

When war breaks out, the first casualty is always the truth. Since the West has been perpetually involved in conflict beginning with Operation Desert Storm in 1991, a year after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the media has had to do so much of drum beating that it has lost credit in the information market place.

The Emir of Qatar has always been contrary to Saudi interests. During Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in October-November 2001 and the occupation of Iraq in April 2003, Qatari owned Al Jazeera channel was bombed in Kabul and Baghdad for speaking the truth inimical to the House of Saud. Al Jazeera’s viewership grew exponentially.

Neither the West nor the Saudis had a media with sufficient credibility to mobilize the region during the Libyan operation. “The Arab Spring will blow away all the monarchies in the region unless we hang together”, screamed the Saudi King Abdullah. Qatar fell in line. But Al Jazeera had to tell so many lies during the Syrian civil war that Al Jazeera’s stock also sank.

This is the state of affairs in the global media when the world is riveted on ISIS, Ukraine, Boko Haram, Afghanistan and Ebola. These issues appear more incomprehensible by the day. The field is wide open for alternative channels.

Last week I received a puzzling call from Baghdad. The caller, whom I had met during my visit to Iraq two years ago, wanted my insights on the ISIS. He had read my syndicated column which had the sort of information the Iraqi media did not have.

Neither the government sources in Baghdad nor the resourceful clerics in Karbala and Najaf had any idea of what was happening in the ISIS controlled territories in Syria and Iraq. The local media was the government’s doormat. CNN and BBC could not be trusted.

In this state of affairs, independent news is a priceless commodity.

Western and Arab sources suffer from lack of credibility on any West Asian story. The West has vested interests protecting its version on Ukraine and Hong Kong. These versions are challenged by Russian and Chinese sources which, in their turn, are not free from angularities either.

It quite beats me that New Delhi has never recognized the enormous respect in which it is held globally. This is not because of its economic or military clout. It is because of its democratic institutions like the Election Commission. Its early commitment to non-alignment may have gone down badly with Josh Foster Dulles, but among the world’s intelligentsia, its image has been of neutrality. In my interaction with the world’s media, I have always found a ready acceptability for an Indian point of view.

Doordarshan had for a few months organized a comprehensive coverage of the occupation of Iraq in April, 2003. Its credibility had won record TRP ratings. Ministry of External Affairs had received word that Secretary of State Colin Powell had expressed a desire to appear on the programme.

In his first six months, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown considerable interest in foreign affairs. A multimedia outfit with a strong foreign affairs team, would raise Indian prestige enormously. And this, surely is the right time to start.

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

Erdogan scripting his last act in Kobane


It was a toss up between Brazil’s President Lula da Silva and Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. In fact, compared to Lula’s two terms as President, Erdogan completed three glorious terms as Prime Minister.

With the downturn in the global economy in 2009, Turkey towered above regional economies. One comparison was particularly galling for the West. Greece, the mother of Western civilization was on its knees while the “Turk”, a despised figure in Western literature, was towering over it.

Remember how tersely Valery Giscar d’Estaing dismissed Turkey’s application for membership of Europe: European civilization is Christian civilization. For a leader like Erdogan there was sympathy and admiration. He looked like a transformed leader who had come out of his narrow, provincial Islamism, outgrown his Madrasa roots. But alas it turns out that he had only disguised his strong Akhwan ul Muslimen, Muslim Brotherhood background. My disappointment is that he pretended to be something he could not play out to the end.

To explain the tragedy of Erdogan, the backdrop is important. Mustafa Kemal Pasha Ataturk disbanded the Caliphate and thereby Islamism in 1924 and imposed a secular constitution. The Turkish army became a jealous guarantor of this constitution. Turkey remained a quasi police state during the cold war. Even during the rule of Itruk Ozal, who was feted as a great libertarian, you could not stand on the Bosphorus bridge without a man in a long coat appear from nowhere, demanding your papers.

The end of the Cold War came riding on the wings of the global 24X7 media, which brought Operation Desert Storm into our drawing rooms. Saddam Hussain’s rout divided the world: Iraq’s defeat came across to the Muslim world as Muslim humiliation. Turkey was no exception. For the West, it was triumphalism.

The two Intefadas also impacted on the world’s Muslims and non-Muslims in a diametrically opposite way. But what affected Turks the most were the brutalities of the Bosnian war played out on live TV over four years. Balkans are part of the Turkish historical memory. Sarajevo derives from the Turkish word “Sarai”. Turkish Islamism was reignited. Refah party came to power under Necmettin Erbakan. Tayyip Erdogan and Abdullah Gul were his under studies then.

When the army ousted Erbakan, the Refah party discarded its Islamic garb. Demonstrating practical sense, the party reinvented themselves as the Justice and Development party and rode a crest of anti Americanism when they refused the Americans the right of passage for their troops to Iraq in 2003. There has been no looking back for Erdogan, Prime Minister for a record three terms. He had arguably exceeded even Ataturk’s popularity.

There emerged a regional contrast which was something of a status reversal for the West. In the wake of the global financial crisis, Greece was out on the street with a begging bowl. Turkey meanwhile had zero problems with neighbours, a booming economy. To create a constituency in the Arab street, Turkey stood upto Israel on several issues. This was drastic change from the days of Ozal, when Turkey and Israel coordinated all their policies.

The Arab Spring in 2011 coincided more or less with Erdogan’s last term as Prime Minister. The Turkish constitution does not permit a fourth term. As Erdogan began to dream of a larger democratic role in the Arab world, the Syrian civil war opened up for him an option. So he thought. He faced a contradiction. Turkish constitution demanded that he remain on the secular straight and narrow. But a greater role in Syria and Libya, where he turned up for prayers in the Tripoli square, dictated a reversal to his Muslim Brotherhood past. He is in the process of falling between two stools.

A Turk who supports an Arab cause is welcome from a distance. But a Turk casting himself in a regional role, scares the Arab as a potential Ottoman. That is where Erdogan is stuck at the moment. His maximalist aspiration to play a larger regional role will be challenged by the Arabs. His minimalist position to keep internal order by keeping the Kurds under his jackboot will lead to civil unrest. His instinctive support for the Brothers component in the IS will bring him into conflict with the Americans. In brief, he is in trouble. This is without taking into account the restless Alawis, who are an eruption waiting to happen.

A metaphor for all his woes is the Syrian enclave of Kobane abutting Turkey. He is aching to weaken Syrian and Turkish Kurds by any means, even by enabling ISIS to win. The internal situation is by no means stable. Already 40 Kurd protesters have been killed in police firing. It may one day soon be said of him: nothing became him less than the leaving of it.

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

Why ISIS should torment Omar Abdullah?


On October 10, masked men hoisted the ISIS flag in Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid. This incident followed the Friday prayers. A similar incident had taken place on October 6, wherein some youth waved the ISIS flag after Eid prayers. Three months earlier on June 27, some youth were seen carrying the same flag on Friday prayers.

In Kashmir the linkage between Friday prayers or religious gatherings, and demonstration of ISIS flags is, therefore unmistakable.

Despite these incidents or show of solidarity with the idea of Islamic Caliphate in the Kashmir Valley, on no less than three occasions in five months, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Mr Omar Abdullah maintains that there is no ISIS in Kashmir, and all the reports and visual footage is a hype created by the media. Significantly, the Chief Minister made comments to this effect as he emerged from the Union Home Minister’s office.

Mr Abdullah should be very concerned that the last two incidents took place even as the State is struggling to recover from the most devastating floods in the history of that land. During these floods, the Indian Armed Forces put their own families and lives at stake to provide rescue, relief and rehabilitation to the affected, which includes the ‘separatist leaders’. The same separatist leaders who after being rescued, tried to hijack relief material once the situation abated.

Mr. Abdullah, the young Chief Minister of J&K, should be disturbed at the abysmal dehumanization of elements within the population. They are only confined to the Kashmir Valley of the State. No floods and no outreach by the Union could wean these elements from the path of religious radicalization. How diabolical?

The entire country rallied behind the flood affected in Kashmir. Goodwill and resources flowed and continue to flow. The per capita expenditure by the Union government has always been highest with regard to Kashmir. These elements in the Kashmir Valley have defied the oft repeated logic that development unites. Even after the floods, the separatists continue to clamour for Pakistan, which was created as a homeland for Muslims. The Ahamadiyas and Shias find this homeland veritable hell. The violence against Shias and Ahamadiyas, leave alone the barbarism against Hindus and Christians, have deflated all the pretentions of Pakistan being secular in governance.

Do these separatists by inviting the ISIS want to purge the Shias in J&K in their desire to join the failed state of Pakistan? It appears so, because the ISIS that they support is rabidly anti-Shia. In fact, the ISIS speaks of Sunni supremacy. The Islamic caliphate that they envisage has only a subsidiary and subordinate status for Shias.

The ISIS spokesperson Abu Mohammad al-Adnani has spoken about transforming Iraq into a living hell for Shias and called for destruction of Nazaf and Karbala. In fact, the guiding philosophy of ISIS is not ‘anti-Westernism’ or ‘pan-Islamism’, it is patently and unequivocally ‘pan-Sunnism’.

No jihadi discourse has elicited as much support as ISIS. There has been unprecedented support from even Western countries. Youth, both male and female, have joined the ranks of the ISIS from Britain, Australia, France, Belgium, Denmark etc. In India, there have been reports of few youth hailing from Maharashtra, fighting on behalf of the ISIS. There have been also reports of youth from Hyderabad moving all the way to West Bengal on their way to Bangladesh with the ultimate objective of joining the ISIS. Does the Burdwan incident, wherein bombs accidentally detonated during manufacture, have any links with the ISIS? It is plausible, given the anxiousness displayed by the culprits and some collusive state government officials to remove the vestiges of the conspiracy and network! There is increasing evidence that following the crackdown on jihadi outfits in Bangladesh by Sheikh Haseena government, West Bengal has emerged as the new terror epicenter. These relocated fundamentalist organisations and jihadis are considered to be politically useful! Some youth from Tamil Nadu flaunted a group photograph with all of them sporting Islamic State emblem T-shirts. Two men were arrested for ordering these ISIS T-shirts.

Some analysts are of the view that the strong emotional appeal of ISIS, or its capacity for online indoctrination is because unlike other global jihadi movements in the past, this is predominantly rooted in anti-Shia discourse. In other words, anti-Shiaism or pan-Sunnism has triumphed over pan-Islamism. It can be therefore inferred that historically and inherently the Shia-Sunni divide therefore runs deep and wide.

Mr Omar Abdullah should be concerned that this pan-Sunni discourse of ISIS may engender deep divide between the Shias and Sunnis, not only in his state but also in other parts of the country. The Times of India (August 2, 2014) highlighted the unease of Valley’s Shia population and attributed a statement by one resident of old city in Srinagar, Mirza Hussian: “We fear this may put our lives at risk since the ISIS leader is targeting the Shias, besides Islamic shrines and monuments”.

The reverberations of the ISIS discourse have been felt in other parts of India. In June this year, the call to arms by Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for protection of Shia religious shrines in Iraq, did galvanize segments of the Shia population in India. The anti-Shia discourse of the ISIS has also provoked clashes between Shias and Sunnis in old parts of Lucknow city.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister of J&K should be concerned by the transcripts of communication (Indian Express report dated 13 October 2014, attributed to NIA) between the jihadis based in Pakistan and India. It is clear from these communications that the various jihadi groups like Al Qaeda, Taliban, LeT and ISIS may be in competitive mode but are certainly not adversarial. It emerges that career choice is being made by the jihadis in choosing the various jihadi groups depending on their proclivities and convenience. The Chairman of the United Jihad Council, Syed Salahuddin, has sought help from Al Qaeda and other transnational organizations like the ISIS for liberation of Kashmir. Various jihadi groups based in Pakistan, like Sipahi-e-Sabha, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), and a splinter group of Taliban Tahrik-e-Khilafat have openly expressed support for the ISIS.

Is the ISIS, therefore, Mr Abdullah, a convenient organization for the separatists to be used as a subterfuge and for the purposes of deniability?

And finally, Hon’ble Chief Minister, it should worry you that the map of the Islamic Caliphate envisaged by Mr Baghdadi includes Kashmir. You should be a worried man Mr Chief Minister and so should be all politicians in the Kashmir Valley. If it is not so, then it can be assumed that there are anti-nationals and separatists in many political shades as well. The term, ‘soft separatists’, is no doubt gaining currency.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

Pakistan was designed for proxy war


Indians must be surprised at the sudden escalation between India and Pakistan on the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB). Many theories are being advanced for Pakistan’s provocation, most of them very simplistic. Most Indians have been inured to the vicissitudes of proxy war waged by Pakistan since 1947. It is increasingly becoming difficult to decide whether Pakistan was created as a homeland for Muslims or designed for proxy war by powers that be. This very form of warfare engineered by US-Pakistan combine engendered the end of Cold War. Pakistan has since been expanding the scope of proxy war.

Any flare-up between the two countries spawns host of ‘defence analysts’ on both sides of the border. The Pakistani self-declared analysts have no clue of the vitiated geopolitical environment created by Pakistan in its neighbourhood i.e Afghanistan and Iran and in the wider context Central Asia and South Asia. They reduce the debate to Kashmir with anti-Hindu overtones. The Indian self-declared ‘defence analysts’, euphemistically speaking, become fugitives when invited to participate in debates on India’s other neighbours. Maldives, the smallest and religiously most rapidly radicalizing country, gives them the biggest scare. They have absolutely no idea about the Pakistani footprints and machinations in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives, therefore, their geopolitical vision is also limited to Kashmir and the ‘military balance’ between the countries. The wider geopolitical and strategic discourse on Pakistan has become the exclusive preserve of the Western writers.

Sadly the images of Pakistan being fed to Indians are overwhelmingly sourced from Western media. This Indian tunneled vision has suited only the Western countries who have no qualms in selling arms to both India and Pakistan. Manipulation of India-Pakistan and India-China discourse is in the core interest of global arms suppliers. It is for this reason India-Pakistan Track II abroad are funded by Western sources. More than indigenization of arms industry, indigenization of threat calculation is therefore the crying need for India.

In the debates on India-Pakistan, there are voices of threat and caution. There are also elements exerting desperately to balance proxy war by Pakistan. Sharm-al-Sheikh and fabrication of Hindu terror are two glaring examples. No analyst in India has been able to explain that why Lashkar-e-Taiba, David Headley and some Indians were desperate to portray 26/11 as an act of Hindu terror. Say if an Indian David Headley had planned a terror attack on American soil, the US would have browbeaten India for his custody or not?

Recently, there were political voices which argued that ceasefire violations have been on increase under the new dispensation. They get away with these nonsensical observations without even specifying their notion of ‘cease-fire violation’ or the source or whether the comparison is with the preceding period or the corresponding period. The insinuation appears to be that the new government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has either been inviting ceasefire violations or has been too scared to punish Pakistan. It is the same constituency, which decried the new dispensation for calling off talks with Pakistan on the ‘issue of Hurriyat’. The decision was criticized on the specious imperative of ‘diplomatic maturity’. Their nervousness over the cancellation of talks is understandable, because it is this very constituency, and a formidable one, that had been using ‘talks with Pakistan’ as an oxygen to the seemingly eternal proxy war being inflicted on India. Too many vested interests had been created for perpetuating this unremitting aggression on India. These interests motivations can be financial or political inducements, or fallen prey to blackmail.

Many reasons can be ascribed for Pakistan’s recent bluster on the border, the foremost being India’s decision to cancel the official talks as long as terror persisted. This went against the very nature and method of proxy war. The package of proxy war inflicted by Pakistan on India comprises infiltration, militancy, terrorist attacks, subversion, sabotage, counterfeiting of Indian currency, hawala operations, drug trafficking, and destabilization activities from neighbouring countries. This entire chain has so far been punctuated with ‘talks’. Each official talk, each Track II meet has served as impetus to proxy war.

Use of irregulars and jihadis against India, as is generally believed, was not Zia’s brainwave. This has been part of Pakistan’s strategic thinking since its inception. In a review of the book, ‘Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru’ (1 May-31 July 1957, Second Series, Volume 38, edited by Mushirul Hasan), A G Noorani says that Jawaharlal Nehru had referred to a pamphlet written by the former Chief of General Staff of Pakistani Army in his address to the Cabinet’s Defence Committee meeting on the issue of the irregulars. Nehru had said: “There was the pamphlet issued by ex-Major General Akbar Khan, wherein he defined his line of action. This was to have large-sale sabotage within Jammu and Kashmir State and at the same time trouble along the ceasefire line and attempts to push large numbers of people across that line.”

Choosing a passage from a report by a senior official of Ayub Khan’s intelligence and research outfit, the Bureau of National Reconstruction entrusted with the task of identifying and recommending solutions to Pakistan’s security problems – Hussain Haqqani in his book ‘Pakistan between Mosque and Military’ quotes:

“In its manpower, Pakistan is very fortunate. In some of the regions people have long traditions of irregular fighting. Now, they have got a homeland and a State based on their ideology… Then, why not train irregular fighters…? Irregular warfare can help in spreading out prolonging action… Lack of military formalities in the eyes of military experts seems to detract from the respectability of irregular warfare. But actually, it is the lack of formal logic and system, which is making it increasingly important in the age of missile and nuclear weapons…”

Is it, therefore surprising that Pakistan has arrived at the equation: Proxy War = Nuclear Capability. It is the lack of military formality, which seduced the unsuspecting political leadership to fall prey to the ‘terror and talks’ cycle. But the real villains are professionals, who in service or post-retirement have been advocating this line. These are the subverted lot. Even 26/11 did not deter them.

By putting an end to the ‘terror and talk’ cycle, the new dispensation in India has rendered Pakistan’s proxy war strategy in disarray. The Pakistan military-intelligence establishment, therefore, felt that by displaying hostility on the borders it could compel the new government to ‘talks’ in order to perpetuate proxy war.

The spectrum of India-Pakistan conflict has proxy war and nuclear capability at the two ends. All along, military planners in Pakistan have derived unmitigated comfort in the fact that proxy war could be conducted in the shadow of nuclear capability, thus obviating conventional conflict. India’s superiority in manpower, tanks, submarines and air power has been to them of no consequence. India’s existing nuclear doctrine did not deter them from waging low intensity conflict or proxy war or sub-conventional conflict. The new government, it is learnt, has now decided to address the three points of conflict spectrum, i.e. proxy war, conventional warfare and appropriate nuclear doctrine, simultaneously. In other words, India has decided to comprehensively neutralize Pakistan’s proxy package with its own package.

In the last few months, it has clearly emerged, that the military-intelligence establishment of Pakistan is desperate to see the last of Nawaz Sharif. It has used various means to undermine his position. There has been acrimony between the two over military action against Pakistan-Taliban(TTP). Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of Punjab (Pakistan), are known to have political conduits to the TTP. Even more intractable is the differences between Nawaz Sharif and the military over treatment to Musharraf. With regard to Musharraf, the Pakistan Army has categorically indicated that under no circumstances he is to be held accountable for the coup in 1999. This goes against the very grain of the Pakistan Army. It may be mentioned that every coup by the Pakistan Army has been upheld by the judiciary on the basis of ‘doctrine of state necessity’. It is also pertinent to note that all coups in Pakistan have been bloodless. Therefore, Musharraf is not viewed as much of a villain. On October 06, 2014, Musharraf popped out of nowhere to issue a warning to Indian Army that India should stop testing the Pakistani Army’s ‘patience and resolve’. The resurgence of Musharraf is believed because of the robust backing from the Pakistan Army. General Raheel Sharif, the Pakistan Army Chief, is considered to be a protégé of Musharraf.

There are also reports to suggest that there have been differences between Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Military over nuclear warheads earmarked for Saudi Arabia. The significant increase in the number of warheads of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, as reported by western sources, is attributed to the Saudi demand, which had overwhelmingly financed Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Nawaz Sharif, is known to enjoy excellent rapport with the Saudi dispensation, as he spent his period in exile in that country. Saudi Arabia enjoys formidable financial and religious leverages over Pakistan.

The Pakistan military is also not too happy with Sharif for his policy on India and Afghanistan, due to which it reckons that Pakistan’s strategic space has much diminished and proxy war in the two countries is suffering. The Pakistan military-intelligence establishment attacked the Indian Consulate at Herat, when Sharif was in the Indian soil to attend Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. When this failed, and Sharif survived politically, the military-intelligence establishment attempted a soft coup by unleashing Imran Khan and Qadri. Again failing to dislodge him, the military-intelligence establishment activated the Indian LoC and IB, with twin objectives of escalating the situation to a point where Nawaz Sharif becomes untenable and at the same time Indian dispensation pleads for ‘talks’. The swift and massive response by the Indian Forces put paid to the misconception of the Pakistan Military with regard to the resolve of India. This misconception for some years has been nurtured by vested interests within India as well.

India, therefore, cannot allow itself to be a victim of the internal dynamics of a country, which is the epicenter of terrorism, and hovers between ‘failed state’ and ‘a failing state’.

Many analysts considered the Kargil War to be the apotheosis of low intensity conflict waged by Pakistan. Its refusal to accept dead bodies of soldiers reflected the degeneration of Pakistan Army from its overt institutional status to a covert bigoted and mercenary instrument of politics and war. Kargil was hardly the apotheosis and the slide of degeneration has continued. It acquired the form of 26/11 and now the ‘ceasefire violations’. Self-declared defence analysts, therefore need to consider the multi-faceted, manifest and non-manifest dimensions of the proxy war perpetrated by Pakistan. The perpetrators are in Pakistan but the proxies in diverse forms are in India. Pakistan is more than a military challenge.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

But for China!


The decade of 50s was characterized by romanticisation of communism in India. Such was the romance that many leaders of the post-Independence dispensation, most of who claimed to have made huge sacrifices for India’s Independence, hailed the Communist takeover of China. It may be underscored that India was the first non-communist country to accord diplomatic recognition in January 1950 to China consequent to the establishment of Mao’s rule.

Amongst the exceptions, who did not romanticize and saw the writing on the wall very clearly, was Sardar Patel. In his letter dated 7 November 1950 to Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel wrote:

“… outside the Russian Camp, we have practically been alone in championing the cause of Chinese entry into the UNO… it (China) continues to regard us with suspicion and the whole psychology is one, at least outwardly of skepticism perhaps mixed with little hostility… it looks as though it is not a friend speaking in that language but a potential enemy…” Further Sardar Patel warned of a two-front situation after the disappearance of Tibet as a buffer country. He said: “Thus, for the first time after centuries, India’s defence has to concentrate itself on two fronts simultaneously. Our defence measures have so far been based on the calculations of superiority over Pakistan. In our calculations, we shall now have to reckon with Communist China…”

How prescient!!!

Why did the dispensation ignore Sardar Patel’s warning? Why did the dispensation, which prided itself in having achieved independence only by Satyagraha, did not find it abominable that the Communism was foreign ideology and had traveled from Russia to China after murder of more than three million and two million people in the respective countries. Finally, when it arrived in India, the same worshipers of non-violence were so indulgent with the Communism and the Communists!

The communist leadership in India were not ideologically and physically bred in underground manner. Nor did they go through the hardship of jungles. Most of them were privileged lot, who received their education in Oxford and Cambridge in UK. It is here that they were indoctrinated by the erstwhile British masters and returned to India as die-hard Communists. These so-called Communists were perfectly married to the British agenda in the pre-colonial period. Left-liberalism was the perfect tool to legitimize the colonial rule as it robbed Indians of any sense of pride in India’s past. This phenomenon was not confined to India alone.

Post Cold War, the mantle of patronage to Left Wing extremism has gradually shifted to European countries which are using it as leverage to pursue their economic and religious agenda.

Later, these very communists, who abused Indian history, religion and Indian social structure captured academic institutions and intellectual space in India.

Educational institutions in Bengal, which at one time produced such brilliant scientists, began to churn out purposeless graduates steeped in denial and negativity. Communism, in fact, robbed Bengal of its scientific and productive temper and intellectual capital. Such was the momentum of communists that hardly any university in India was left un-impacted by their diabolical onslaught. Even a newly established university like the JNU, far from promoting pioneering research, sunk into leftist cynicism and sterile pseudo -intellectualism.

The 50s, therefore also witnessed massive inroads by Communists in all spheres of activity and governance in India. The then government had its share of Communists or Communist sympathizers. VK Krishna Menon was more than just left leaning. Some of the declassified documents of that period are not very charitable about his international linkages. This period was also characterized by great Soviet-China communist bonhomie, and bitter and fierce Cold War.

Concomitant with the communist (ideological as well as physical) and Pakistan threat was a concerted move by the Indian dispensation to humiliate and degrade the armed forces. There were defining geopolitical developments during the period. Pakistan had joined the CENTO and SEATO, whose architect was none other than the US. The ideological fissures in the subcontinent became deep and sharp. It had military manifestations as well. The two-front situation – further exacerbated. But the left oriented leadership continued to treat the Indian Army as colonial instrument. It is another matter that they themselves had been nurtured as colonial instruments to serve British interests. The Soviet Union which spearheaded the international communist movement therefore did not find it difficult to subvert and recruit the Indian leadership. Indian Generals during this period were trifled with. An Army Chief was told that it was none of his business to bother about China. A Prime Minister went to the extent of saying that he does not need the Army and could do without it. Discussions were held in parliament about employment of Army in agriculture. Those who supported these moves in the parliament include some unthinkable names. With little effort these names can be ascertained.

In the 50s the ruling party did not have any insecurity on account of political opposition. There were however unfounded rather purely imagined suspicions vis-à-vis the Indian Army. No geopolitical development and no threat were strong enough to outweigh these apprehensions of the ruling class. During that period, Ayub Khan in Pakistan, Sukarno in Indonesia and King Mahendra in Nepal, abandoned Western pattern of multi-party democracy and opted for ‘grassroots democracy’. The victim of the insecurity of the Indian leadership was the Indian Army. It was perceived as a potential villain, a perception no less fueled by the bureaucrats, who still basked in colonial hangover, wherein Oxford and Cambridge became the ultimate destination for their loved children, only to be replaced by the US later.

This sin perpetrated by the leaders on their own army, was bound to recoil, and it did in 1962.

The myopia of these thankless leaders did not extend beyond exigencies of office. They undermined the role of INA and the Naval Mutiny in securing India’s Independence, a fact authenticated by Clement Attlee. They deliberately ignored that the India, they were presiding over, was put together by none other than the Indian Army – if 1947-48 war in J&K, if Operation Polo in September 1948 and if the Liberation of Goa in 1961, was of any consideration.

Pakistan, meanwhile, had bridged the Cold War fissures with China. Our leaders bereft of strategic sense failed to realize the significance of 1947 Indo-Pak war towards creating geographical contiguity between the PoK and China. By managing to retain a certain portion of occupied territory (PoK) in Kashmir after the ceasefire, Pakistan became a direct geographic interlocutor with China. Pakistan without the PoK would have had little strategic value for China. It would not have been able to cede 5000 sq km territory of PoK to China and 1300 Km Karakoram Highway that connects Islamabad with Kashgar in Xinjiang. Without this territory the envisaged ‘Economic Corridor’ linking China with Gwadar port would have also not been possible. The fact that border negotiations between Pakistan and China had begun in 1961 and the broad principals were agreed upon within months after Indo-China war in 1962 does raise suspicion about some sort of understanding between the leadership of Pakistan and China about the Indo-China War.

These geopolitical developments when seen through the Communist or left – liberal prism in India, was not a matter of concern and priority. The nexus between Pakistan and China meant nothing to them.

India therefore deserved the rude blow from China. But for this, let us consider what would have happened.

  • The destruction of the Indian Armed Forces from within would have continued and by 1965 may have rendered a situation by which there would have been nothing to stop Pak forces to Delhi.
  • The Communists, who had infiltrated every organ of the State, would have in all probability taken over major portion of India. The 1962 War did politically contain them but yet they managed to retain their influence in West Bengal and Kerala. The Indian communists remained a force despite some of them openly siding with China in the 1962 War. These communists had no qualms about China even as it supported the Naxalites and the insurgents in India’s northeast. They had no qualms about the strategic partnership between Pakistan and China. Their heart continued to bleed for both these countries.
  • The Indian Armed Forces, despite 1965, 1971, 1999 and years of counterinsurgency, are still struggling to find its place of honour and dignity. But for 1962, its condition by now would have been pathetic, a condition that many left liberals and bureaucrats wanted it to be in.
  • But for 1962, there would have been unbridled propensity to couch criminalization as political revolution. Even now, communists use all their leverages in India and abroad to dub their criminal and anti-national activities as ‘revolution’. The Indian romance about the ‘Red Flag’ at the cost of all other flags of productivity and progress though waning, is far from over.
  • But for 1962, left-liberals would have promoted jihadi terrorism as ‘revolution’ with uninhibited fervor.
  • But for 1962, China’s Cultural Revolution would have served as an example for our expanding communists.
  • But for 1962, ‘Binayak Sens’ would have been ubiquitous.
  • But for 1962, communist takeover of India was a distinct possibility. The closest India came to that was by way of an extra-constitutional authority called the National Advisory Council (packed with communists)whose principal effort was to further the communist agenda of their benefactor. This benefactor had acquired communist ideology by upbringing. There were however opposing forces capable of extracting their own price. It seemed as if Cold War had re-invented itself within the Indian ruling establishment.

Despite 1962 there has been steady supply of elements within the Indian polity, policy-makers and academia whose agenda has been to allow China to steal the march and dwarf India in international stature and prowess. It is this lobby that sabotages indigenous defence production and ensures that our foreign policy becomes hostage to vicissitudes of arms imports. It is this lobby that that advocates that talks with China’s client Pakistan continues at all costs. This lobby rather thrives on India’s adversarial relationship with China. This lobby is loathe to any equal cooperative mechanisms between the countries. But for 1962, this lobby would have placed this country under “one party rule”. 1962 may as well have prevented communist takeover of India.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)