Open sources are reporting that the Russian air base at Khmeimim and Tartus naval facility in West Syria have been struck on 05 Jan 18 by a SWARM of home-made drones. This is the first time that such a coordinated assault has been reported in military action1. Russia says it has identified the launch location from where the SWARM of armed drones began their attack2. Details revealed indicate that ten drones rigged with explosive devices attacked the air base while three others attacked the naval base. Though the attackers are unknown but Russians blames Syrian rebels backed by Turkey for the terrorist attack.
This is a milestone event since it is the first time that the drones in the form of SWARMS have launched a co-ordinated attack on a military base. It has been the opinion of the author that the 'unmanned revolution' is being 'attended' and 'driven' by some of the niche technologies, bringing to the battle field more and more technologically enabled machines. Some of these include stealthy unmanned aerial systems (UAS), morphing UAS, nano UAS and more. Artificial intelligence is at play to accord a degree of near full autonomy to UAS , dwarfing its dependence on the Ground Control Station (GCS). The latest in the line is the teaming of the manned and unmanned in joint operations. SWARM is also a manifestation of the above said enablement of the UAS through emerging technologies. This brief work tries to put the SWARM UAS in the perspective.
SWARM stands for Smart Warfighting Array of Reconfigurable Modules. It is another manifestation of nano-technology application in the UAS that is fast emerging. In this, many a small autonomous UAS are made to fly in a swarm without using the ground control station and delivering continuous co-ordinated information to enhance situational awareness. Individual vehicles in the swarm are so programmed as to communicate and co-ordinate actions of each other and one another to conduct autonomous searches. The data collected is aggregated and relayed back in real time. 3 Small scale UASs functioning as SWARM rely upon each other as migrating birds. They can collect data precisely, navigate through complex and difficult terrain and are continuously kept updated as to their surrounding, status and their inter-se position with respect to the swarm. This is achieved by using evolutionary algorithms.
As a result of the above networking algorithms, if out of a large swarm formation, a few UAS land due to malfunction or have other problems such as engine failure etc., the control system ensures that the other UAS become aware of this and form new formations that allows the rest of the swarm to collect the data which the malfunctioning UAS were supposed to be collecting. This allows the swarm to function as a ‘live mind’ of sorts, making decisions in the autonomous mode.
M/s Boeing is one of the several companies that is developing swarm based technology. The same is based heavily on the communication systems used by animal swarms. Suitable algorithms are being developed for performing variety of tasks such as searching a designated area, mapping it and generating waypoints and generating information which can be relayed to the network in near real time.
SWARM - The Future of Intelligence Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Missions
M/s Ecole Polytechnique Fedarale de Lausanine in Switzerland has developed a ‘Swarm Software’ (called SMAVNET) for use in disaster situations. SMAVNET or ‘Swarming Micro Air Vehicles Network’ (each weighing 420 grams and having a 80 centimetre wing span) is being designed as a communication system relay in disaster situations to aid rescuers. The software uses a gyroscope along with pressure sensors to make decisions as to which flight path is better than the other, the communication abilities mimicking that of the ‘ants’, much like ants, which use pheromones to remember the path they take from their nest to food. The SWAMNET uses similar principle to allow the UASs to paint a path based on remembrance so that these can have a constant communication path to the home base to send information back4. The day is not far when we will see swarms of operationalised UASs, each small vehicle lifted and propelled by rotors (four rotors, making the vehicle a quad copter) and moving like a flock, much like the storks or wasps or ants. Each small vehicle will be tied to the other in the soft mode through yet evolving algorithms which will allow them to operate as a ‘team’. The future of ISTAR mission is here!
And now with the SWARM attack on the Russian Air Base on 05 Jan 18, the 'unmanned revolution' scales itself up by one more notch and counting.
1. http://www.sciencealert.com>first-ever-drone-swarm-attack-has-struck-russaim -military-bases. Accessed on 11 Jan 18. 2. https://wwwcnbc.com>swarm-ofarmed-DIY-dronesattack-russian-military-base-in-syria. . Accessed on 11 Jan 18. 3. http://www.designers.com/another.asp?section – ‘autonomous-UAS-fly-in-swarm’ . 4. http://www.blogs.bn.edn/bioaerial 2012/2012/.../swarming-a-team-sport-for-UASs .
(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)
Drone strikes, as a part of targeted killing campaigns against jihadist militants in various parts of the world (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Syria and more), have always suffered with one common negative end product, i.e., unintended casualties to non-targeted civilians and non-combatants.
There is a lot of resistance world over on the loss of innocent civilian lives over the drone phenomenon. 'Reprieve', an organisation of front line lawyers and investigators in the US and working for people worldwide suffering from extreme human rights abuses at the hands of powerful governments has assessed that for every intended target, an average of 28 innocent (unknown) lives are being sniffed out in drone strikes1. In their 2017 Report titled 'Drones and Assassination', Reprieve has claimed that in one case, to take out one 'targeted person' a total of 76 adults and 29 children got killed in failed attempts to get to the target2.
Why Drone Collaterals are Inevitable - A Technical Analysis
This article attempts to analyse the premise: are collateral damages inevitable given the level of technological sophistication that obtains today in the front-line Unarmed Aerial System (UAS). The details are discussed in the succeeding paragraphs.
Considering the basic setting of Ground Control Stations (GCS) with human pilots and a sensor (payload) operators controlling a UAS remotely for detection, tracking and firing on the intended targets, factors that can cause inaccuracies in the so called 'precision' could be many. Limitations in operator training, delays and inaccuracies in the communications or satellite link between the GCS and UAV, limits of accuracies in the sensors on board the UAS to take an accurate target fix, and finally, technical limitations of the weapons being fired from the UAS. The analysis is focused on each of these factors, less the factor of operator training which is intangible. As a reference, Predator/Reaper class of UAS are considered to drive home the larger issue.
As to communication, data linkages and connectivity’s, normally the entire network is built over High/Very High/Ultra High Frequency (HF/VHF/UHF over voice/data) cellular/landline telephones with hardware connectivity to the satellite communication (SATCOM) terminals. The line of sight (LOS) data link between the GCS and the UAS is based on C Band (4-8 Ghz) while KU Band (11.2-14.5 Ghz) is used for Beyond LOS (BLOS) operations. Sources of inaccuracy begins from here.
The first source of inaccuracy is in what is commanded and what gets inserted in the loop due to an inherent delay between the moving of the joystick by the GCS operator and the UAS receiving the command. In the Reaper UAS, this delay is about 1.2 Seconds as of date3. While it can be contested that once the UAS is on locked track, the few seconds of lag is no issue, the fact that the UAS, given its speed of hundreds of knots (220 knots/390 km/h/108.42 m/s), will be traversing almost to the edge of the human target area in the above time lag, does merit a thought.
The next issue that directly affects accuracy is the capability of the sensors on board the UAS to acquire a target. A typical sensor suit on board a frontline UAS may include visual sensors for targeting, short/mid wave band IR sensors, colour/monochrome daylight TV camera, image intensified TV camera, laser range finder and designator and laser illuminator. Cumulatively, this suit is referred to as Multi-Spectral-Targeting System (MTS). The heart of the MTS in a modern UAS is the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). Much of the accuracy of fire will depend on how accurately the radar is able to distinguish one (target) from the other (implying humans). SAR has a Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) to distinguish between moving and stationery targets and a CCD (Coherent Change Detection) capability to indicate minute changes in two SAR images taken at different times4. Even with the above capability (resolution 0.1 min spotlight mode) on board, the effect on ground invariably does not limit itself to one individual. The reason is that hunter-killer UAS of today are the incarnation of ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) UAS of yesteryears implying thereby, that the hunter-killer (find-fix-finish) role is essentially a retrofit achieved through the weaponisation of the unarmed machines otherwise dedicated for surveillance and reconnaissance.
That brings to notice the type of armaments being fired. The typical arsenal on board the Predator and Reaper UAS are various permutations and combinations of AGM -114 Hellfire Missile, AIM 92 Stinger Missile or AGM -176 Griffin Missile, Brimstone Missile (UK), GBU 12 Paveway II Laser Guided Bombs (LGBs), and GBU 38 Joint Direct attack Munition (JDAM). While AGM 114 Missile is guided by a semi-active laser homing millimeter wave radar seeker, it essentially fires a High Explosive Anti-tank (HEAT) tandem ‘anti-armour’ metal-augmented charge. AIM 92 stinger is a fire-and-forget missile with passive IR focal plane array seeker firing a 3 kg High Explosive (HE) blast fragmentation warhead. The warheads therefore are not perfect for targeting individuals.
Raytheon Griffin is a desired weapon. It is a precision guided munitions (PGM) carrying a relatively small warhead with Laser/GPS/INS guidance on board. The missile is specifically designed for a low collateral damage effect. MBDA (UK) Brimstone is another modern day PGM. Its earlier fire-and-forget version using a millimetric-wave active radar dual-moded with INS autopilot yields an accuracy of sub-1m Circular Error of Probability (CEP). The homing seeker has been adapted to laser guidance providing the firer to pick and choose the target among the frendlies. Its tandem shaped warhead and small blast area reduces collateral damage.
Paveway II is a general purpose Laser-guided bomb. Over a period of time, Raytheon has been able to improve the accuracy of its laser designated guidance bringing down its CEP to a mere 3.6 ft. GBU 38 uses the Boeing standard Mk 82 bomb with JDAM guidance kit converting the dumb to smart munition. While this ‘bolt on’ guidance does improve accuracy, it does has collateral effects. Thus, important points on the question, 'are drone collaterals inevitable.., are as under:-
• Hunter-killer is not an original but a derived concept from its mother platform, essentially designed for ISR . • With the MTS, capable of real-time IR, day TV or laser imagery, becoming more and more technologically advanced, it may be possible to point at a ‘needle’ (intended human target). But the weapon system on board can only hit a ‘haystack’ (collateral damage, albeit continuously shrinking). • Munitions being fired were essentially anti-armour. These are certainly not low-collateral weapons. • Though PGMs have kicked in, not all engagements are with Griffin/Brimstone type of munitions. • Hunter-killer is one of the many roles the UAS are being optimised for today. Case in point is the recent development, wherein live feeds from the MTS of the front-line UAS systems are being thought of as accessories to ground/space based sensors to detect incoming ballistic missile threats, especially in Boost/post-boost phase.
In essence, the analysis reveals that collaterals in the UAS missions are a function of the technological limitations of sensors and munitions of date. Collateral damages in UAS operations are likely to continue (albeit on a reduced scale as compared to yesteryears) so long as hunter-killer missions remain a reality of irregular warfare.
The analysis presented is on technical facts. The same does not account for the attitude of 'couldn't care less' by the GCS operator or the tendency to 'let go' with a view to 'take them all' (vehicles in convoy make 'sweet targets'). Unfortunately such attitude is seen to be quite prevalent among the GCS operators. Such intangibles of human attitude and behavior, though well known, do not obviously lend themselves to any techno-analysis.
This question of collateral damage as enumerated above is a huge negative issue bringing into question the claim to precision of surgery in armed UAS/drone operations. Experts feel that in find-fix-finish type of hunter- killer missions using armed UAS, collateral damages create more militants than it eliminates. It is from here that the felt need for a manned and unmanned capability in joint missions arises, where the brute blindness of the UAS is aimed to be combined with the intellect and decision-making capability of a human pilot.
Somanath temple came in news in a big way again in the recent months. This was after almost three decades when it was in the news because Mr. Lal Krishna Advani started his Rama Janmabhumi temple rathyatra from Somanath. It was a very symbolic gesture in the sense Advani desired to convey that Rama Janmabhumi temple will be built with the participation of people and the government alike; exactly the way Somanath temple was built after the independence.
In the recent times, the Temple came in news again due to Rahul Gandhi’s tours in the wake of Gujarat elections. His visits were meant to convey the people of Gujarat that he was a devotee of Lord Shiva and a janeu-dhari (the sacred thread wearing) Brahmin. When Rahul Gandhi visited the temple and the Congress party took pride in announcing his visit wearing janeu (sacred thread), it declared him to be a Brahmin and a Shiva-bhakta.
Indians in general do know how and who destroyed the famous and venerated Lord Somanath temple but very few know how it was rebuilt and what kind of teething troubles it faced before the sacred ceremony of prana-pratishtha could be performed. This article deals with the issues regarding the rebuilding of Somanath temple. It is a fitting tribute to K.M. Munshi whose 131st birth anniversary falls on 30th December, 2017.
Emotional attachment and psychological feelings in the minds of every Indian regarding the destruction of Somanath temple and its standing ruins have been well explained in an article by K.M. Munshi written in 1922. He writes:
“Desecrated, burnt and battered, it still stood firm – a monument to our humiliation, and ingratitude. I can scarcely describe the burning shame which I felt on that early morning as I walked on the broken floor of the once-hallowed sabhamandap littered with broken pillars and scattered stones. Lizards slipped in and out of their holes at the sound of my unfamiliar steps, and Oh! the shame of it! – an inspector’s horse, tied there, neighed at my approach with sacrilegious impertinence.” 11
The Nawab of Junagarh would just not allow the Hindus to re-built and renovate the crumbling temple which marked the holy spot where Yogeswar Lord Krishna left his mortal remains. However, after the accession of Junagarh to India in October 1947, Sardar Patel and N.V. Gadgil went to Prabhas Patan and visited the ruins of Somanath Temple. While walking along the ruins, N.V. Gadgil requested Sardar for the restoration of the Somanath temple which was immediately accepted by him, and in a public meeting on the same evening Sardar Patel announced:
“On this auspicious day of the New Year, we have decided that Somanath should be reconstructed. You people of Saurashtra should do your best. This is a holy task in which all should participate. That the Government of India has decided to rebuild the temple and install the shrine.”
Junagarh administration and the Jam Saheb gave donation each on the spot. And 5000 acres of land around the temple was marked for the temple and various other projects like a Sanskrit University, Culture Centre, building of monument at the place of Dehotsarga and indeed, development of the town Prabhash which had fallen into neglect.
However, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the then Education Minister and great friend of Nehru, opposed the idea and in one of the Cabinet meetings argued that the ruins should be handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to be preserved in the same ruinous condition as a historical monument. The Minister, however, had not suggested similar measures to be taken for the Muslim shrines and mosques, repairing of which were being done by the ASI under his Ministry. But Sardar Patel was very firm and resolute regarding the rebuilding of the temple and responded with a note stating:
“The Hindu sentiment in regard to this temple is both strong and widespread. In the present conditions, it is unlikely that this sentiment will be satisfied by mere restoration of the temple or by prolonging its life. The restoration of idol would be a point of honour and sentiments with the Hindu public.”3
The Government of India decided that the temple would be constructed by it, as it was being done in the case of Muslim shrines and mosques. Nehru indeed presided over the Cabinet meeting in which this decision was taken. The work began in the right earnest. The whole scheme was discussed with Gandhi ji also who approved of the entire scheme except that the funds necessary for the building of temple should come from public. Thereafter the idea that the Government of India should finance the reconstruction of the temple was given up.
Sardar Patel passed away on 15 December, 1950. After the passing away of Sardar, Nehru started criticizing the whole project and became very hostile not just to the project but to those cabinet colleagues – mainly K.M. Munshi and V.N. Gadgil – who were associated with it right from the beginning. Both N.V. Gadgil’s and K.M. Munshi’s writings bring this out very clearly. As preparations began for the prana-pratishtha according to the shashtras, the President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, was requested to do the ceremony. In the midst of these preparations, once after a Cabinet meeting, Nehru called Munshi and said: “I don’t like your trying to restore Somanath. It is Hindu revivalism.” Munshi not only felt very hurt but took the comments to imply that the things were done on his back and without his knowledge. To this Munshi replied: “I would go home and inform about the things that had happened.”4
On 24 April, 1951, K.M. Munshi wrote a very long letter detailing the entire process regarding Somanath temple. But for this letter, many things regarding the rebuilding of Somanath temple would have remained completely unknown. 5 Munshi writes (for the complete letter may please see Secular Politics Communal Agenda6):
“After the Indian Army was invited into Junagadh by the Dewan of the ex-Nawab, Sardar, Jam Saheb and Gadgil went to Junagadh. Next day, on 13 November, 1947, they went to Prabhas to see the ruins of the Somanath Temple. There they decided upon the reconstruction of the Somanath Temple. It was publicly announced by the Sardar ‘that the Government of India had decided to rebuild the temple and install the shrine.’ Jam Saheb and the Junagadh Administration both gave a donation each on the spot. Junagadh Administration agreed to develop the town of Prabhas and to place at the disposal of the Somanath Temple about 5,000 acres of land for its development. The States Ministry of the Government of India thereafter took steps to implement this decision.
On 13 December, 1947, the Standing Committee of the Public Work, Mines and Power (WMP) Ministry accepted Gadgil’s proposal that the Government of India should reconstruct the temple in the original form and develop roughly one square mile of the surrounding area. I understand that this decision was included in the Weekly Note to the Cabinet. As I learnt from Gadgil, it was also mentioned to the Cabinet. At the time, the decision of the Government was that the W.M.P. Ministry should reconstruct the old shrines and they were so doing in the case of certain Muslim shrines and mosques. The Government of India, thereafter, deputed Government architects to visit Prabhas and prepare a report for the reconstruction of the temple. When the whole scheme was discussed by Sardar with Bapu, he stated that it was alright except that the funds necessary for re-constructing the temple should come from the public. Gadgil also saw Bapu and Bapu gave him the same advice. Thereafter, the idea that the Government of India should finance the reconstruction of the temple was given up … .
On 25 December, 1947, the States Ministry requested the Junagadh authorities to lease out a sufficiently large area surrounding the temple for development on the lines decided upon. The Junagadh authorities thereafter took steps to earmark the area that was to be given for the temple. The matters were discussed at considerable length between the administration of Junagadh and myself who was asked by Sardar to look into the matter. Ultimately, Sardar approved of the area that was to be given to the temple … .
On 23 January, 1949, a Conference was held at Jamnagar attended by Sardar, Jam Saheb, Gadgil, Dhebar, the Chief Minister of Saurashtra, Samaldas Gandhi, Administrator of Junagadh, and the Regional Commissioner. Then the States Ministry had decided to transfer the temple properties to a Somanath Trust to be created for the purpose. At that conference the scheme was finalised. It was decided that the Trust should be executed by the Saurashtra Government; and that the Government of India and the Saurashtra Government should each have two representatives on the Board of Trustees. I was, thereafter, asked by the States Ministry to prepare a Trust Deed for the purpose, which I did … . Several Government servants, including Dr. J.C. Ghosh, Chemist, and the Town-Planning Expert of the Government of India were members of the Committee. The Director-General of Archaeology was appointed the Convener, and in view of my fairly intimate knowledge of ancient history of Gujarat, and particularly of Somanath, I was appointed the Chairman of the Committee. As a Chairman, I took up the implementation of the scheme in closest co-operation with the States Ministry… .
On 18 October 1949, Sardar approved of this Trust. Government of India appointed Gadgil and Rege, Regional Commissioner of Saurashtra, as their representatives on the Board of Trustees; it also nominated Shri B.M. Birla and myself as public men; Saurashtra Government nominated Jam Saheb and Samaldas Gandhi as their nominees. In inviting Gadgil to be a Trustee it was specifically mentioned that in view of the fact that he was the head of the Ministry of WMP, it was appropriate that he should be one of the Trustees.
On 22 November, 1949, the States Ministry wrote to Jam Saheb as follows:
‘Somanath is an ancient heritage of ours, and we have to take every care to see that the temple and its environments are maintained in a manner worthy of their ancient traditions. For this purpose we propose to constitute a Trust. Your Highness will remember that Sardar made an appeal for funds for the Somanath Trust sometime ago....’
The objects of the Trust Deed make it clear that the temple is not only to be open to all classes of Hindu community, but, according to the tradition of the old temple of Somanath, also to non-Hindu visitors; that the area should be developed as a model town; that educational institutions including a university and agricultural farm should be established. The intention to throw open the temple to Harijans has evoked some criticism from the orthodox section of the community… .
Sardar himself was to have not only attended the inaugural ceremony, but actually to perform the ceremony. Unfortunately, the temple could not be completed, and he died in the meantime. Apart from any other sentiment, we all feel that we should help in the redemption of Sardar’s pledge to the best or our ability…. As you will see, the Government of India not only took the initial decision to reconstruct the temple, but formulated and set going the scheme, and created the agency for its further implementation. This will clearly indicate to you the extent of the Government of India’s association with the scheme… .
Yesterday you referred to ‘Hindu revivalism.’ I know your views on the subject; I have always done justice to them; I hope you will equally do justice to mine. Many have been the customs which I have defied in personal life from my boyhood. I have laboured in my humble way through literary and social work to shape or reintegrate some aspects of Hinduism, in the conviction that that alone will make India an advanced and vigorous nation under modern conditions… .
One word more. It is my faith in our past which has given me the strength to work in the present and to look forward to our future. I cannot value freedom if it deprives us of the Bhagavad Gita or uproots our millions from the faith with which they look upon our temples and thereby destroys the texture of our lives. I have been given the privilege of seeing my incessant dream of Somanath reconstruction come true. That makes me feel—makes me almost sure—that this shrine once restored to a place of importance in our life will give to our people a purer conception of religion and a more vivid consciousness of our strength, so vital in these days of freedom and its trials.”
N.V. Gadgil, the then Minister of Urban Development and Rehabilitation (MUDR), has also mentioned this about-turn of Nehru after Sardar’s death. Gadgil writes:
“Another important work I remember is the restoration of Somanath Temple… I prepared a plan and recorded it in the proceedings of the Cabinet. The Maulana said that the site should be preserved as it was. I said that the intention was to restore it to its original state and thus to destroy a silver of distrust between the Hindus and the Muslim…. Earlier it had been decided to undertake the work through the Central Government. [But] On Gandhiji’s advice, it was decided to entrust the work to a Trust which would have one representative of the Central Government.
The Government of India appointed a committee of two engineers and one architect for the supervision of the work. By 1951, the whole of the base of the temple was ready as also the inner altar. We requested President Rajendra Prasad to be the chief participant in the installation of the Lingam…
As is usual with Munshi, he gave the enterprise a grandiloquent turn and wrote to our Ambassador in Peking, Panikkar, to send the waters of Chinese rivers for the ceremony.7 Panikkar, that secular Ambassador, asked the Ministry of External Affairs to what particular head of account the expenses on that could be debited and the letter was placed before Nehru… Nehru expressed the opinion that the President should not attend the ceremony. The Cabinet also discussed the matter… I quoted from the Cabinet reports to prove that Nehru’s charge that the thing was done without informing the Cabinet was not correct. The Maulana and Jagjivan Ram said that the matter was discussed. Government of India had spent about hundred thousand rupees on the work. I pointed out that the Government gave subsidies and grants to thousands of mosques and tombs and there could be nothing objectionable if it spent a little money in restoring a Hindu temple. I understood secularism to mean the equality of all religions… Millions of Hindus are idol-worshippers and not intellectuals like Nehru. Some of us are subject to the weakness of a firm faith…”8
The above two quotations speak for themselves and bring out rebuilding of the Somanath temple was not such a smooth task, after all. Even after the completion of temple building uncertainties remained regarding the installation of deity (pran-pratishtha). The then President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, was requested to preside over the ceremony. Nehru strongly advised the President to desist from going to Somanath for the installation ceremony of Shiva Linga in the temple. However, the President not only ignored Jawaharlal Nehru’s advise, and did go to Somanath for the ceremony. On that occasion he delivered a speech in Hindi which is a master peace of philosophy, culture, history and literature capturing essence of India’s soul.
1. K.M. Munshi, 1922, in East and West. As quoted in ‘Somanath: Fulfilment of a Collegian’s Dream’, Bhawan’s Journal, Jan.1, 1967. 2. K.M. Munshi, 1967, Pilgrimage to Freedom, Appendix 105, p. 560. 3. Ibid. 4. K.M. Munshi, 1951, Pilgrimage to Freedom, pp. 560-64. 5. K.M. Munshi’s letter to Jawaharlal Nehru dated 24 April, 1951. In K.M. Munshi, above. 6. Also reproduced in Makkhan Lal, 2008, Secular Politics Communal Agenda, pp. 150-154. 7. K.M. Munshi had written to all the Ambassadors for the water and soils from the country in which they were posted. This was to be used, as per the provisions of shashtras at the time of Pran-Pratistha and the inauguration ceremony of the temple. 8. N.V. Gadgil, 1968, Government From Inside, Meerut, pp. 185-186;
(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)
वैश्वीकरण ने लोगों की आकांक्षाओं में ही वृद्धि नहीं की है बल्कि वेस्टफेलियन सिद्धांत पर चलने वाले राष्ट्रों की संप्रभुता को भी झकझोर दिया है। जैसे-जैसे देश अपनी क्षेत्रीय सीमाओं की पुष्टि करने के लिए क्षमता बढ़ा रहे हैं, वैसे-वैसे ही अंतरराष्ट्रीय सीमाओं के नजदीक रहने वाले लेाग अपनी पारंपरिक जीवनशैली खो रहे हैं। इसीलिए दैनिक जीवन की उनकी प्राचीन शैली में दीवारें या बाड़, आव्रजन कानून और सीमाशुल्क कानून आड़े आ रहे हैं। परिणामस्वरूप सीमाओं पर मुक्त आवागमन अधिकारों तथा मुक्त व्यापार की मांग राष्ट्रीय राजनीति और अंतरराष्ट्रीय मीडिया में जोर पकड़ने लगी है। किंतु अड़ोस-पड़ोस में बसे देशों में इन मांगों से संदेह उत्पन्न होना स्वाभाविक है क्योंकि उन्हें डर है कि उनके बाजार सस्ते चीनी माल से पाट दिए जाएंगे। जातियों के बीच संघर्ष भी इन सरकारों की हिचक बढ़ा देते हैं। फिर भी सड़कों, रेल मार्ग और समुद्र के जरिये एशिया में सांस्कृतिक संबंधों को पुनर्जीवित करने और क्षेत्रीय संपर्क बढ़ाने की अहमियत आज ज्यादा महसूस की जा रही है। साथ ही वैध वाणिज्यिक यातायात में वृद्धि से अवैध व्यापार में कमी आने का और स्थानीय पर्यटन में मजबूती आने का भरोसा भी मिलता है।
सीमा-पार ‘हाट’ क्षेत्रीय आदान-प्रदान, लोगों में घनिष्ठता के केंद्र बनकर उभरे हैं, जो स्थानीय अर्थव्यवस्थाओं को एक-दूसरे से जोड़ते हैं और सांस्कृतिक संवाद में सहायता करते हैं। भारत-बांग्लादेश सीमा पर मेघालय में डॉकी और अगरतला में हाट पहले से चल रही है। भारत-बांग्लादेश सीमा पर चालीस हाट और खुलने वाली हैं। चटगांव और मंगला बंदरगाहों को हमारे कोलकाता और हल्दिया बंदरगाहों के लिए खोलने की शेख हसीना की घोषणा ने इन गतिविधियों में और तेजी ला दी है। फेनी नदी पर पुल चटगांव और अगरतला को जोड़ेंगे। मेघना नदी पर दूसरे पुल का दोनों देशों के बीच बढ़ते व्यापार पर अधिक प्रभाव पड़ेगा। 2015 में भारत और बांग्लादेश के बीच गलियारों की अदलाबदली ने उत्तर बंगाल और असम की सीमाओं पर सुरक्षा तथा आबादी से जुड़ी समस्याओं पर लंबे अरसे से जारी गतिरोध समाप्त कर दिया था। इसके साथ ही सीमा की निगरानी करने वाले बलों को परेशान करने वाले भूमि कब्जे के मामले भी हमेशा के लिए खत्म हो गए हैं।
भारत-बांग्लादेश सीमा खुली सीमा नहीं है। फिर भी भारत-पाकिस्तान युद्ध के बाद 1971 से 1974 के बीच और शेख मुजीबुर्रहमान की हत्या के बाद 1975 से 1977 के बीच बांग्लादेशी पलायन कर हमारे देश में आ गए। अयोध्या में बाबरी मस्जिद विध्वंस के बाद तीसरी बार घुसपैठ हुई। भारत और बांग्लादेश के सीमावर्ती जिलों विशेषकर उत्तर 24 परगना, नदिया, मुर्शीदाबाद, मालदा, गोलपाड़ा, धुबरी, करीमगंज और सिलचर में आबादी से जुड़ी तस्वीर में कई बदलाव आ गए हैं। फिर भी शेख हसीना के नेतृत्व वाली मौजूदा सरकार के भारत से साथ सबसे मैत्रीपूर्ण संबंध हैं। बांग्लादेश के बॉर्डर गार्ड और रैपिड एक्शन बटालियनों की मदद से हमारी सीमा के दूसरी तरफ मौजूद सभी भारतीय और बांग्लादेशी आतंकवादी शिविर स्थायी रूप से समाप्त कर दिए गए और भारत विशेषकर पश्चिम बंगाल, असम तथा मेघालय में छिपे जमात-उल-मुजाहिदीन ऑफ बांग्लादेश (जेयूएमबी), इस्लामिक छात्र शिविर और अंसारुल्ला तालिबान ऑफ बांग्लादेश (एटीबी) के कार्यकर्ताओं को पकड़ने के लिए बांग्लादेश और भारत की सुरक्षा एजेंसियां साथ में काम कर रही हैं।
नशे, मानव तथा हथियारों की तस्करी तथा अवैध आवाजाही पर अंकुश लगाने के लिए भारत को सीमा पर निगरानी बढ़ानी होगी। सभी जानते हैं कि देह व्यापार के लिए पश्चिम एशिया भेजी जाने वाली बांग्लादेशी और नेपाली लड़कियों को कोलकाता, दिल्ली और मुंबई के रास्ते ही भेजा जाता है। माना जाता है कि जमात-ए-इस्लामी बांग्लादेश और हरकत-उल-जिहाद-अल-इस्लामी की मदद से रोहिंग्या नशे और मानव तस्करी, छोटे हथियारों और गोला-बारूद के अवैध व्यापार तथा सीमा पार से घुसपैठ में लिप्त हैं। इसके अलावा खबरें हैं कि लश्कर-ए-तैयबा रोहिंग्या समुदाय को भारत के खिलाफ युद्ध के लिए भड़का चुका है, जिससे भारत और बांग्लादेश दोनों के लिए खतरा है। पाकिस्तान की इंटरसर्विसेज इंटेलिजेंस (आईएसआई), इस्लामिक स्टेट ऑफ इराक एंड सीरिया (आईएसआईएस) और अलगाववादी तत्व भारत तथा उसके पड़ोसियों को अस्थिर करने के लिए बाड़ और निगरानी रहित अंतरराष्ट्रीय सीमाओं का दुरुपयोग करते हैं। आईएसआई के तत्व पूर्वोत्तर में भी सक्रिय हैं और सांप्रदायिक विवाद पैदा करने के लिए पीपुल्स यूनाइटेड लिबरेशन फ्रंट (पीयूएलएफ) तथा मुस्लिम यूनाइटेड लिबरेशन टाइगर्स ऑफ असम (एमयूएलटीए) की वित्तीय मदद कर रहे हैं। आईएस भी जेयूएमबी तथा एटीबी जैसे स्थानीय चरमपंथी गुटों के साथ मिलकर बांग्लादेश और पश्चिम बंगाल में जोर आजमा रहा है। आईएसआई बांग्लादेश और पश्चिम बंगाल में एटीबी, आईसीबी और तमाम जमातों के साथ मिलकर हिंदू मंदिरों तथा अल्पसंख्यक समुदायों पर हमले की योजना बनाने के लिए कुख्यात है। भारत में पैठ जमाने तथा उत्तर 24 परगना, नदिया, मुर्शीदाबाद, मालदा, धुबरी, गोलपाड़ा, कोकराझार, करीमगंज और सिलचर के सीमावर्ती क्षेत्रों में अपने शिविर चलाने के लिए जमातों तथा जेयूएमबी को जाली भारतीय नोट मुहैया कराए जा रहे हैं। आईएसआई की वित्तीय मदद से और बांग्लादेश नेशनल पार्टी (बीएनपी) की शह पर बांग्लादेश में जमातें शिया स्थलों, शिया मुस्लिम सभाओं और शिया इबादतगाहों पर हमले कर रही हैं। आईएसआई बांग्लादेश में हसीना की सरकार को हटाकर बेगम जिया की सरकार बनवाना चाहता है और लंदन में बेगम जिया के दोनों पुत्रों अराफात तथा तारिक रहमान के सारे खर्च उठा रहा है। जमात ने भारत को उकसाने के लिए 21 फरवरी, 2016 को देवीगंज में संतगौरिया मंदिर के हिंदू पुजारी यज्ञेश्वर रॉय (50) की हत्या कर दी है। आईएसआई द्वारा प्रशिक्षित जेहादियों का बांग्लादेश से घुसैठ कराना हमारी अर्थव्यवस्था के लिए खतरा है।
भूटान और भारत के बीच सीमा खुली है और भारत से मिलने वाली औद्योगिक सहायता विशेषकर जलविद्युत परियोजनाओं के जरिये भूटान की आर्थिक वृद्धि को तेज करती है। भूटान भारत के सबसे भरोसेमंद और पुराने मित्रों में शुमार है। भूटान के साथ मजबूत संबंधों पर लगातार निवेश से भारत को सिलिगुड़ी गलियारे पर चीन का खतरा रोकने में मदद मिलेगी। इसके अलावा भूटान की संवेदनाओं का ध्यान रखने के लिए लोगों और माल के सीमा-पार आवागमन पर स्थानीय प्रशासन को बल देना होगा।
नेपाल के साथ खुली सीमा के विचार को भारत और नेपाल के बीच 1950 में हुई शांति तथा मैत्री संधि के अनुसार बढ़ाते रहना चाहिए। भारत को मधेशियों और पहाड़ों पर बसे बाकी नेपालियों के बीच संतुलित दृष्टिकोण अपनाना चाहिए तथा यह सुनिश्चित करना चाहिए कि नेपाल के साथ सीमावर्ती संवाद हमेशा चलता रहे।
भारत के पूर्वोत्तर में उग्रवाद का कारण घुसपैठ तथा स्थानीय उग्रवादी गुटों का विदेशी चरमपंथियों के साथ संपर्क है। भारत ने अभी तक 39 आतंकी संगठनों पर प्रतिबंध लगाया है और उनमें सबसे ज्यादा असम तथा मणिपुर में सक्रिय हैं। भारत-म्यांमार सीमा पर नेशनलिस्ट सोशलिस्ट काउंसिल ऑफ नगालैंड - खापलांग (एनसीएन-के) पूर्वोत्तर की सुरक्षा के लिए समस्या पैदा कर रहा है। बांग्लादेश द्वारा अनूप चेटिया को भारत के हाथ सौंपे जाने से यूनाइटेड लिबरेशन फ्रंट ऑफ असम (उल्फा) को बातचीत के लिए बाध्य होना पड़ा है। यह बात अलग है कि उल्फा प्रमुख परेश बरुआ इसमें शामिल नहीं होना चाहता। परेश बरुआ के सैन्य प्रमुख विजय चाइनीज ने भारत सरकार के साथ शांति वार्ता का समर्थन कर दिया है। वामपंथी चरमपंथियों के लिबरेशन टाइगर्स ऑफ तमिल ईलम, पीपुल्स लिबरेशन आर्मी, एनएससीएन-के और पूर्वोत्तर के उग्रवादियों के साथ रिश्तों की समुचित जांच की जानी चाहिए और नेपाल, बांग्लादेश, भारत तथा भूटान के सीमारक्षकों को ये कड़ियां तोड़ने के लिए अधिक से अधिक सहयोग करना चाहिए। अपने पड़ोसियों के साथ दोस्ती मजबूत करने के लिए हमें मुक्त सीमा के आरपार व्यापार तथा लोगों और वस्तुओं के आवागमन पर नजर रखनी होगी और उनका नियमन करना होगा तथा सीधी बातचीत के जरिये आधिकारिक बाधाएं दूर करनी होंगी।
बांग्लादेश-भूटान-भारत-नेपाल मंच के जरिये भारत आर्थिक रिश्तों तथा पारस्परिक विकास के लिए प्रतिबद्ध है, जिससे इन देशों में अवैध प्रवासियों की घुसपैठ पर भी परोक्ष रोक लगेगी। इस प्रयास की सफलता सीमाओं का प्रभावी प्रबंधन पर होगी। इसके लिए सीमा पर रहने वालों को साथ लेना होगा और सीमावर्ती क्षेत्र विकास कोषों में वृद्धि कर सीमा पर बुनियादी ढांचे का विकास करना होगा। ‘स्मार्ट बॉर्डर’ की कल्पना तभी साकार हो सकती है, जब सीमा की निगरानी करने वाले बलों तथा सीमावर्ती क्षेत्रों में तैनात अन्य सभी सुरक्षा तथा प्रशासनिक एजेंसियों के बीच गहरा तालमेल हो। इसके लिए साथ उनका लक्ष्य सीमा पर रहने वालों को बेहतर सुविधाएं तथा उनके अधिकार प्रदान करना होना चाहिए। इसके लिए बांग्लादेश के बॉर्डर गार्ड और नेपाल पुलिस के साथ मिलकर संयुक्त गश्त करनी होगी। सीमा पर गायब हो चुके कई खंभों को दोबारा खड़ा करना होगा और क्षतिग्रस्त खंभों की मरम्मत करनी होगी। पिछले कुछ वर्षों से असम के उग्रवादी विशेषकर नेशनल डेमोक्रेटिक फ्रंट ऑफ बोडोलैंड (एनडीएफबी) शरण लेने के लिए भूटान पहुंच रहे थे, जिसे भूटानी सुरक्षा एजेंसियों की मदद से और उनके खिलाफ अभियान चलाकर रोक दिया गया है।
बांग्लादेश के साथ बातचीत के नतीजे आने ही लगे हैं। नेपाल के साथ सीमा पार संवाद पर असर पड़ा है, जिसे मजबूत करना होगा और सभी पड़ोसियों के साथ वस्तुओं का परिवहन आने वाले वर्षों में तेज हो जाएगा। भारत को भूटान, नेपाल तथा बांग्लादेश के सीमावर्ती इलाकों में पनबिजली परियोजनाओं के तकनीकी उन्नयन में भी मदद करनी चाहिए। हम इन देशों से अतिरिक्त बिजली खरीद सकते हैं, जिससे व्यापार तथा वाणिज्य में द्विपक्षीय संबंध मजबूत होंगे। बंगाल की खाड़ी में स्थित और भारत तथा बांग्लादेश को जोड़ने वाले सुंदरवन का पर्यावरणीय तथा तकनीकी उन्नयन करने की आवश्यकता है। भूटान और बांग्लादेश के साथ संयुक्त औद्योगिक कार्यक्रमों को प्राथमिकता दी जानी चाहिए। बांग्लादेश, भारत, नेपाल और भारत के बीच सड़क, रेल और समुद्र मार्ग से सीमा पार आवाजाही बहुत अधिक बढ़ी है। जलवायु परिवर्तन की समस्याएं बांग्लादेश में आम हैं और उनके कारण निचले स्तर वाले इलाकों से लोगों को पलायन पर विवश होना पड़ा है। बांग्लादेश ही नहीं भारत को भी इस पर प्रभावी रूप से काबू करना होगा।
भारत को दक्षिण एशियाई क्षेत्रीय शांति में भी अग्रणी भूमिका निभानी चाहिए। झंझटरहित यात्री एवं माल परिवहन के जरिये मोटर वाहन समझौते को बड़े एशियाई बाजारों में भी पहुंचना चाहिए। इन चारों देशों में साइबर अपराध तथा साइबर प्रशिक्षण पर प्राथमिकता के साथ नजर रखी जानी चाहिए और साझा साइबर नेटवर्क संस्था भी होनी चाहिए एवं साइबर अपराध के विषय में खुफिया जानकारी का आदान प्रदान भी होना चाहिए ताकि अधिकाधिक परिणाम मिल सकें।
सीमावर्ती बुनियादी ढांचे के विकास पर फौरन ध्यान दिया जाना चाहिए और सीमा सुरक्षा बलों को आधुनिक बनाने के लिए रकम भी जारी की जानी चाहिए। सीमा पर रहने वाले लोगों के स्वास्थ्य संबंधी खतरों पर फौरन ध्यान दिया जाना चाहिए और सीमा निगरानी बलों के अस्पतालों को उन लोगों की सेहत संबंधी परेशानियों का निदान करना चाहिए। हमें पड़ोसी देशों के साथ सीमावर्ती इलाकों में शिक्षा, लॉजिस्टिक्स, अर्थव्यवस्था, आवास, भूमि समस्याओं, व्यापार, रोजगार तथा लोगों के बीच संबंधों पर निवेश करना होगा। लोगों और वस्तुओं की अवैध घुसपैठ रोकनी है तो संयुक्त प्रशिक्षण और सीमा पर खुफिया जानकारी के आदान प्रदान के साथ ही आभासी बाड़, टेसर, ड्रोन, रडार, लंबी दूरी तक निगरानी तथा जासूसी करने वाली प्रणालियों, सुरंग खोजने वाले उपकरणों, निगरानी तथा पानी के भीतर काम करने वाले सेंसरों, हवाई क्षमताओं जैसी बेहतर तकनीक प्रदान करने के लिए एक-दूसरे का साथ देना होगा।
अंत में देश के सांप्रदायिक रूप से प्रभावित क्षेत्रों में शांति, जागरूकता, शिक्षा और विकास को बढ़ावा देने के लिए सभी समुदायों के धार्मिक नेताओं को अपने साथ शामिल करना होगा।
(प्रस्तुत लेख में लेखक के निजी विचार हैं और वीआईएफ का इनसे सहमत होना आवश्यक नहीं है)
A wave of strong protests swept across Gilgit-Baltistan recently, after the Gilgit-Baltistan Council, Islamabad, announced the imposition of direct taxes under the Income Tax (Adaption) Act, 2012. The protests were jointly led by Anjuman-e-Tajiran (which loosely translates into Traders’ committee, the word Tajir meaning Traders) and the Awami Action Committee (AAC). A few days ago, protestors even announced a “long march” from Skardu to Gilgit town (roughly 150 kilometer distance) to demonstrate their discomfort with tax imposition, defying the harsh winters the Karakoram region is known for.
Indian media was quick to react to these developments and news channels reported these protests as a pro-freedom movement directed against the state, citing the disputed status of the region. Although Islamabad withdrew the notification under pressure, the emerging developments leave a lot to be discussed on the prevalent mood in Gilgit-Baltistan. Therefore, it becomes important to grasp the underlying dynamic at play especially that of the protagonist AAC, along with the key actors driving it, if one is to understand the prevailing mood in Gilgit-Baltistan and the region’s relationship with Islamabad and the ‘establishment’.
The AAC, a collection of 20-22 religious and nationalist parties was formed roughly four years ago, and became widely popular in 2014, when it led protests after Islamabad withdrew wheat subsidies. Led by a charismatic advocate Ahsan Ali, the then convener, AAC’s outreach to the common people and its mobilization strategies made it highly popular among the masses. In one of its early protests, AAC even coined the slogan “Kargil Chalo” citing the subsidies entitled to Kargilis, the larger issue being the view of the neighboring Ladakh enjoying greater benefits and political representation vis-à-vis Gilgit-Baltistan.
Unfortunately, in 2014 itself, Ahsan Ali was forced to resign from the convener position, following which he founded the Action Tehreek, which lent support to the AAC. On the other hand, the AAC also got a new Chairman, Maulana Sultan Raees, who happens to be a Sunni cleric with close ties to the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), a Deobandi outfit which emerged from the notorious Sipah-e-Sahaba. The Maulana’s closeness with Qazi Nasir Ahmed, the head of Gilgit-Baltistan’s ASWJ wing, is not unknown, yet his oratory skills and the ability to convince the masses won him people’s goodwill.
The Pakistani establishment, by infiltrating Gilgit-Baltistan’s populist movements with pro-Pakistan leaders like Raees has managed to alter mass sentiments in favour of joining Pakistan. A deeper insight into these protests would help explain how the AAC under Raees’s leadership has become instrumental in gaining monopoly in managing the sentiment of masses, but also towing a line the establishment wants it to.
The AAC acknowledges the disputed nature of Gilgit-Baltistan and has time and again taken up issues which directly affect the people. “Gilgit-Baltistan was a disputed territory and imposition of taxes on its citizens was unlawful and unconstitutional. When the government wants to collect taxes from Gilgit-Baltistan people, they are declared citizens of the country, and when they demand equal rights it is said that the region is a disputed territory”, Maulana Raees said in one of his statements. Yet, it believes merger with Pakistan as the panacea to the problems faced by Gilgit-Baltistan.
Nature of Recent Protests: Interpreting “Tax do Huquq Lo”
Immediately after the order was made public, the AAC (along with the Anjuman-e-Tajiran) announced a shutter-down strike across Gilgit-Baltistan when protest marches witnessed an immense show of unity by the people who shunned their sectarian differences to rally for a common cause.
Slogans like “Tax do Huquq lo” and “No taxation without representation” became the rallying calls of the protestors. Here, the term ‘Huquq’ has two broad interpretations. The first one is the majoritarian view that Gilgit-Baltistan should be given representation (seats in the Senate, along with the right to vote in the national elections) and constitutional recognition as the fifth province. The other view, which is of the nationalists (who are in minority), also demands the same rights as described above, but tentatively. In the longer run, the nationalists aspire for independence from Pakistan through UN mandated referendum since they believe that people of Gilgit-Baltistan would opt for independence from Pakistan, provided a fair referendum takes place. According to the nationalists, GB’s Pro-Pakistan sentiment is a result of draconian measures like Section 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
The Indian Angle
Given the widespread coverage by the Indian media, and the issue occurring in a disputed territory, the India factor loomed large as the protests grew. However, paradoxes also emerged.
Firstly, it was only because of the Indian media that the Pakistani media swung into action, as it had been ignoring the protests for the first couple days until reports began to trickle from the Indian side. Yet, the same AAC which got Islamabad’s attention due to the role of the Indian media, organised an anti-India rally in Gilgit city to protest against what they termed as India’s unnecessary attention.
On the one hand, the protestors were branded as Indian agents by Gilgit-Baltistan’s Chief Minister, but on the other hand, these were the same protestors who were mobilised by the AAC headed by a pro-establishment cleric. An alternative theory which could explain this is that the protests could have been organised at the behest of the agencies to test the unity of Gilgit-Baltistan’s residents for the cause of fifth province.
Even though the Pakistani establishment is mindful of the UN resolution mandating Pakistan to commence with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir’s (PoK) de-militarisation as the first step towards the resolution of Kashmir dispute, the message which Islamabad tries to convey to Gilgit-Baltistan’s residents is that their aspiration for provincehood and enjoying full rights is being throttled by India.
The next plausible step, currently being cogitated by Islamabad, is regarding some kind of constitutional arrangement where Gilgit-Baltistan could enjoy a marginal improvement over the 2009 constitutional order on devolution of powers and national representation. The possibility was discussed in the Pakistani Parliament last week, but not much progress was made. On the other hand, New Delhi has remained firm on its stand over PoK, and went as far as boycotting the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (in protest against China’s routing of the Pakistan Economic Corridor through Gilgit-Baltistan), yet a coherent policy on how it plans to handle the Gilgit-Baltistan issue is yet to evolve.
(The Author is a Research Associate with Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi)
(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)
India's relations with Pakistan and China have been deeply troubled for several decades. With Pakistan, this has been the case since its inception, and with China since the 1960's. We have disputed borders with both countries and have been engaged in four hot wars with the former and one with the latter.
These troubled relationships are not of India's making. Indeed, India has left no stone unturned to establish peaceful and harmonious ties with both countries and towards this end has made many concessions.
Some of the notable concessions made to Pakistan by India may be listed as: payment of Rs. 55 crores in January 1948 on account of division of assets even while under attack by the former in Kashmir, non-pursuit of its claims vis-a-vis Pakistan for no- payment of the pre-partition debt of Rs. 300 crores, giving Pakistan 80 percent of the flows of the Indus basin rivers along with over 62 million pound sterling for building canal works under an overly generous Indus Waters Treaty, returning to Pakistan the 5386 square miles of its territory captured in the 1971 conflict without exacting a quid pro quo, obtaining concurrence of Bangladesh for the return of nearly 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war held in India under the joint India-Bangladesh Command, facilitating Pakistan’s re-entry into the Non Alignment Movement (NAM) in 1979 and into the Commonwealth in 1989, unilaterally according Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment to Pakistan, and most recently under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government, giving up its opposition to the European Union’s move to allow duty free entry to Pakistani textile manufactures at the cost of its own textile exports.
As with Pakistan, so too with China India's foreign policy has been excessively conciliatory. Some instances of such an approach that readily comes to mind are the adoption of the ‘One China’ policy and extreme caution exercised in developing ties with Taiwan, ardent promotion for the end of China’s isolation and expansion of its links with the third world, refusal to countenance the possibility of securing a permanent seat in the UN Security Council in the 1950's and insistence that the seat should instead first be given to China, renunciation of India's special rights in Tibet along with the recognition that Tibet is an autonomous part of China, the failure to expose China for its hegemonic tendencies and for its breach of innumerable understandings with us, and the timidity shown in expanding the role of the US, Japan, Australia and India ‘Quad’.
Given the extraordinary moves made by India to befriend Pakistan and China, it is prima facie perplexing that relations with both countries are at such a low ebb. While Pakistan seeks to bleed India though a ‘thousand cuts’ and openly uses terror as an instrument of foreign policy against it, China uses its leverages to undermine India's rise through a variety of means like opposition to our joining the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), pressure on our borders with Tibet by delaying its settlement and making unwarranted intrusions and claims, adoption of a ‘string of pearls’ strategy on our periphery to constrain us, disregarding our legitimate sovereignty concerns by pushing ahead with China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) etc. To make matters even worse, Pakistan and China have been colluding together against us for decades with the former being nothing short of the latter's proxy to keep India in check. In this context, it should not be forgotten that at the core of the Sino-Pak relationship are their military ties and at the core of their military ties is the support provided by China to Pakistan to enable it to emerge as a nuclear armed state.
In devising appropriate policies towards Pakistan and China, it is imperative to understand their respective motivations and why despite all our endeavours they continue to have an adversarial relationship with us.
In so far as Pakistan is concerned, anti-Indianism is a part of its DNA. Having failed to evolve a firmly rooted and unifying sense of identity, Pakistan has found value in anti-Indianism as a glue to hold the country together. This has metamorphosed into a search for parity with India leading it to become a security state with daunting democratic and development deficits. The Pakistani Establishment, with its strong military core, has consistently promoted the demonization of India as a means to perpetuate itself in power, to justify high levels of defence spending to maintain national unity. In these circumstances, no matter what concessions India makes Pakistan will persist with its machinations against it. Indeed, Parvez Musharraf in a speech in Karachi in April 1999 admitted that even if the Kashmir issue was resolved problems with India would persist.
China's approach to India is the product of its past mindset, whereby its norm is a natural dominion over everything under the heavens. Hence its quest for Super Power status. It has already become a regional hegemon unable to countenance multi-polarity in Asia. This, inevitably, places it on a collision course with India with its Pavlovian urge to undermine the latter's rise by all possible means. In these circumstances, China's antagonism to India, though not as deep rooted as that of Pakistan, is nevertheless fundamental and impossible to erase or even mitigate. The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that it disputes our entire border with Tibet and has claims on Arunachal Pradesh. The latter constitutes a part of China's so called "lost territories" like Taiwan or the South China Sea islands which it is committed to recover. Brutally put, until and unless, India does not kowtow to China on all issues of import to it like the CPEC, give up its strategic autonomy, and meekly accept whatever crumbs it is offered in terms of a border settlement, amicable ties with it are not in the realm of possibility.
In view of the foregoing, India's ties with Pakistan and China have a bleak future. Placatory moves are uncalled for and could even be perceived as signs of weakness. India, instead, needs to pursue hard-headed and sustained policies aimed at undermining these countries to the extent possible and deter them from moving against us.
The Modi government is on the right track by pursuing firmer policies vis-a-vis Pakistan and China than those attempted in the past.
With Pakistan, the free hand given to the Army to respond to cross-border infiltration, the surgical strikes, non-resumption of the composite dialogue process, highlighting of human rights violations committed by Pakistan in Baluchistan and elsewhere as well as in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), the sustained and vigorous projection of Pakistan as a terrorist state, the endeavours to move towards full utilisation of Indus Waters in accordance with our Treaty rights etc. are steps in the right direction. The following additional measures could also be considered:-
1. The campaign to project Pakistan as a terrorist state may be intensified so that international sanctions are imposed on it, which inter alia, lead to suspension of military and economic assistance as well as targeted actions against the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and military officials by way of travel and financial restrictions.
2. Confidence Building Measures (CBM) like grant of MFN status to Pakistan must be terminated, not only to hurt Pakistan but to carry conviction with the international community about the depth of our concerns on its export of terrorism.
3. An Act of Parliament may be passed declaring Pakistan a terrorist state, and placing restrictions on our grant of any special facilities to it like the MFN, reducing the size and level of our diplomatic presence in that country etc.
4. While speeding up the maximisation of use in India of the Indus Waters Treaty, notice should be served on Pakistan for renegotiation of the Treaty under which we get only 20 percent of the waters while having 40 percent of the catchment area.
5. Pakistan’s fault lines must be ruthlessly exploited in Baluchistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Towards this end we should carry out a relentless campaign against the human rights violations perpetrated by Pakistan in these areas. We should also evolve a considered refugee policy in keeping with our traditions under which we should provide asylum to all who wish to flee from Pakistani tyranny.
6. We should highlight the atrocities being committed by Pakistan in the areas of Jammu & Kashmir under its illegal occupation and reach out to the Kashmiris residing there.
7. We should not hesitate to resort to covert strikes to take out terrorist elements and their supporters in Pakistan.
8. Contingency plans for surgical strikes should be developed expeditiously so that following another 26/11, which is always a possibility, these can be undertaken within a matter of hours.
The Modi government's firmness in dealing with China is reflected in its exemplary handling of the Doklam crisis and its principled and steadfast opposition to the CPEC. Nevertheless, much more needs to be done. The following are some specific moves that could be considered as a part of a get tough policy vis-a-vis China:-
1. Relentless pressure should be maintained for an early settlement of the boundary dispute, and in particular, on the need to evolve a common understanding on the alignment of the Line of Actual Control.
2. Appropriate counters to Chinese pinpricks such as border intrusions, stapled visas, arming of Pakistan, Peoples Liberation Army’s (PLA) presence in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, opposition to India’s quest for membership of the NSG, and blockage in the UN of the listing of Masood Azhar as an international terrorist should be evolved and exercised.
3. The intensification of our ties with the US and military exercises with it on land, air and sea, as well as with other regional players like Japan, Australia etc. must not only be continued but strengthened as a hedging strategy. Additionally, we should encourage these countries to conduct air and land exercises with our forces in J & K and Arunachal Pradesh. The Quad should be invigorated with regular meetings held at a higher level for an all-encompassing dialogue on security, economics, environment and connectivity related issues. Ties with countries on China's periphery that feel similarly threatened by it, like Vietnam, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia etc., should be assiduously invigorated, including by provision of military assistance.
4. Much as the PM did in his interaction with the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) parliamentarians recently in Delhi, we need to expose the hegemonic and grasping nature of China in juxtaposition to India's cooperative and non-threatening outlook. This should become a regular feature in all our interactions in the region, and extend also to the other harsh truths about China, like its genocide in Tibet and Sinkiang, the environmental degradation that it has wrought and the plans it has on the use of waters to the detriment of the lower riparians.
5. We should also consider playing the Tibet and Sinkiang cards through the prism of human rights. Disaffected elements who seek asylum may be accorded the same. In order to play the Tibet card, it is imperative to maintain close links with the local Tibetan community, to make known our empathy for them, to gradually distance ourselves from our recognition of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) as a part of China, to prepare for the post Dalai Lama situation, and to ensure that the Karmapa is critical of China's moves against Tibetans.
6. Expression of sympathy for the Uighurs who have been victimized by China in much the same manner as the Tibetans is not only a suitable riposte to its role in Kashmir and CPEC, but it would also immeasurably improve India’s standing in the Muslim community at home and abroad. It will also shatter Pakistan’s efforts to project itself as the champion of Islam the world over.
7. Finally, our economic and commercial links with China need to be reconfigured. These currently work in China's favour and are detrimental to our interests at multiple levels. At the most superficial level, our enormous $50 billion trade deficit with China is a drain on our balance of payments situation and is of major benefit to China. Indeed, in just one year it effectively finances the CPEC! The situation is, however, much more insidious. Cheap imports from China are destroying our industries in many areas ranging from active pharmaceutical ingredients to telecom. They are also resulting in an unhealthy dependency on China. In order to reverse this dangerous trend and wean ourselves away from the opiate of cheap Chinese imports, we need to ensure the success of the ‘Make in India’ campaign. This would most effectively be accomplished by the revival of our traditional pride in swadeshi together with a policy designed to speedily create a much more friendly industrial environment which enables our manufacturers to compete with the best in the world in terms of quality and price. Creation of such an environment will demand adoption of policies which promote innovation, technology transfer, lower input costs, and required infrastructural necessities. These remedial steps should be accompanied by the curbing of Chinese imports through a variety of measures where possible like countervailing duties, non-tariff barriers etc. China's investments and projects in sensitive sectors should also be eschewed.
The contention that such a tough approach towards Pakistan and China will provoke retaliation does not hold good as they are already doing their worst. Furthermore, there are limits on how far China would wish to engage in adventurism vis-a-vis India given the fact that this would set it back by decades in its quest for parity with the US which is its overriding long term objective.
In conclusion, it goes without saying that the proposed more muscular approach towards Pakistan and China must be accompanied by a series of measures designed to rapidly upgrade our comprehensive national power.
(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)