^^ Gen KT Patnaik - the army has already announced preparations for over a year for the Lashkar offensive that is coming. Shishir sounds like he is quoting a civvie who isn't well versed on such matters.
Very similar position to an article posted in March 2013 and my position I said in 2011!Why J&K attacks show India needs a strong Afghanistan policy
by Praveen Swami Aug 6, 2013
For over an hour, the mangled body of one of the men who’d tried to blow up the Indian consulate in Jalalabad lay on the street, surrounded by a sullen crowd of local residents. Nine small children had died in the explosion, which took place while they were walking down the street on their way to religious studies classes in the local mosque. “Everyone was staring”, a witness recalls, “as if they wanted to will the dead man back to life, so they could beat him to death again”. Then, a little boy in a a light-blue shalwar-kameez emerged from the crowd, and calmly walked up to the dead body. He undid the drawstrings on his trousers, and urinated on the corpse. The crowd cheered.
Three hours flight-time away from Jalalabad, United States diplomats are trying to hammer out a peace deal with Taliban negotiators at the plush Four Seasons Hotel on Doha’s upmarket Corniche. Last month, the Taliban shut down their new political office in Doha, following furious Afghan protests. But the talks have quietly continued. India’s government, following the western lead, has been betting they’ll lead to a peace deal before the United States draws-down its forces in Afghanistan next year.
Last night’s murderous ambush in Poonch, where Pakistan army irregulars are thought to have organised the ambush which claimed the lives of five Indian soldiers, shows that hope is self-delusion. The Poonch attack is among the first gusts of the storm brewing across the Hindu Kush to touch home.. The attack on the Indian consulate served notice to New Delhi that Afghanistan’s future is more likely to resemble the Jalalabad street than the Doha Corniche. For India, the choices it now makes in Afghanistan will have critical consequences, especially in Kashmir— but the government is shutting its eyes, and hoping it all turns out to be a bad dream.
AFP Afghanistan policemen walk at the site of a suicide attack in front of the Indian consulate in Jalalabad. AFP
For the first time since the near-war of 2001-2002, as Firstpost recently reported, losses of Indian security force personnel have risen relative to the precious year. The underlying reason is simple: as the United States prepares to pull out of Afghanistan, it is less less able to push Pakistan to rein-in jihadist groups operating against India. For its part, the Pakistan army has good reason to resume low-grade hostilities against India, hoping to regain some legitimacy with elements of the jihadist movement who have turned against it in recent years. It hopes to install a client government in Kabul, evict India from the picture and resume its efforts to use covert warfare as a tool to tie down its increasingly powerful neighbour.
In December, Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed told members of the secessionist All-Parties Hurriyat Conference that he intended to revive operations once the United States was out of Afghanistan. He publicly warned, in February, that “just as America had to run away, then India, you will have to leave Kashmir”.
For weeks before the Jalalabad attack, government sources have told Firstpost, there had been multiple intelligence warnings on Indian diplomatic facilities in Kabul, Kandhahar and Jalalabad. Earlier this year, India Today‘s Saurabh Shukla has reported, a high-level Indian delegation led by Deputy National Security Advisor Nehchal Sandhu suggested enhanced security measures for new ambassador Amar Sinha.
Indian and Afghan investigators believe the attack on the consulate only failed because of poor planning and reconnaissance. The three suicide bombers, driving an explosives-laden Toyota Corolla car, were stopped at an Afghan police checkpoint some 30 metres from the consulate gate. Two of the men emerged from the car, and began to walk towards the checkpoint. Even as they moved forward, though, the suicide-bomber inside the car detonated the vehicle —setting off the suicide vest on a second attacker. Police at the checkpoint opened fire, killing the third.
In several recent strikes, jihadist assault teams stormed their targets taking advantage of the shock and confusion caused by the initial attack— among them, the July attack on a DynCorp-run guest house which claimed the lives of Indian nationals John Martis, Sandeep Jilaji, Naveen Kumar Gurudi and Kaushik Chakraborty. Near-identical tactics were used to strike Central Intelligence Agency offices and the Presidential palace in June— even as President Hamid Karzai was holding a press conference. For reasons we don’t know yet, the Jalalabad attackers didn’t get it right.
Like the two past attacks on India’s embassy in Kabul, there are even odds that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence was involved: a murderous attack in 2008, the New York Times’ Mark Mazetti and Eric Schmitt reported, was directly facilitated by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, while Afghan authorities blamed the 2010 strike on it.
In each of those past instances, India itself remained quiet, choosing not to make Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s pursuit of a grand peace bargain with Pakistan contingent on terrorism.
The strategy has failed— but there are things New Delhi can do to exert pressure. First as Firstpost revealed recently, President Karzai has given New Delhi a lethal-weapons shopping list, calling in Afghanistan’s entitlements under the Strategic Partnership Agreement the two countries have signed. Afghanistan wants 105 millimetre artillery, as well as helicopters and transport aircraft— all second-hand equipment India can supply at a relatively low cost. India has so far denied the requests, fearing it will complicate the relationship with Pakistan and the United States. Instead, it has granted $100 million in economic aid to Afghanistan, in addition to $2 billion already committed. The aid has won friends— ordinary Afghans often tell visitors that while Pakistan gives them suicide bombers, India is giving them hospitals. Yet, beefing up Afghanistan’s armed forces will send Pakistan an important signal of intent.
Then, India needs to make clear it won’t tolerate a peace deal with the Taliban that undermines Afghanistan’s constitution and democracy. In 2014′s presidential elections, the likely candidates of the major opposition blocs, the National Front and National Coalition, will likely be figures friendly to India— ranging from former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah to Hanif Atmar. Karzai-linked candidates are more sympathetic to Pakistan —but more Indian military aid will lock them into the relationship.
Finally, India can adopt a more muscular posture on the Line of Control. Estimates suggest about a third of Pakistan’s 500,000-strong army is committed to counter-terrorist operations in its North-West. Indian troops have given at least as good as they’ve got on the Line of Control, staging several eye-for-an-eye raids across the Line of Control to punish Pakistani attacks. The government’s been loath, though, to up the stakes, for fear for the ceasefire falling apart. If India reconsiders that strategy, though, it can threaten to make Pakistan more vulnerable to domestic terrorism by forcing it to pull troops eastwards.
The one option India doesn’t have is to do nothing. For a decade now, India has ridden on the back of historically-anomalous geo-strategic springtime: the restraining presence of the United States, a war between Pakistan and the jihadists it long patronised, and a favourable international climate, driven by record economic growth. Now, events suggest, a harsh winter could again be descending.
Similar to below articleMission Afghanistan
ANANTH DURAI 15 March 2013 Subjects:Afghanistan India Security in South and Central Asia Peacebuilding Policing Bordering on Peace?
India must take on a global leadership role, providing both economic and military aid together with regional/global partners, in support of the Afghan government.
The recent visit of Afghan president Hamid Karzai to India has highlighted the strong and growing cooperation between the two countries. Since the toppling of the Taliban regime in 2001, India has offered close to $2 billion in mostly economic and humanitarian aid. The signing of a strategic partnership agreement in 2011 paved the way for deepening bilateral relations. The Indian government's Public Sector Units (PSU) consortium won a large mining concession in Hajigak, an investment that will lead to the construction of a steel mill – and that some estimate in the region of $8 billion. India has also paid in blood for the stability and support of Afghanistan, most recently in an attack on Indian Army doctors.
But what exactly is India’s game plan in Afghanistan? To answer this, we need to understand the regional picture.
All quiet on the northern front
India has had tremendous success in eliminating terrorists inside Jammu and Kashmir state (J&K) over the last five years with intelligence reports appearing to indicate frustration among the ranks of the terrorists at the lack of support by the Pakistani authorities for their war in Kashmir. Terror attacks are at an all time low and have been low in the last three years in J&K. Tourism to the state has reached record levels (9 million visitors as of October 2012) and progress is being made economically in the lives of ordinary citizens in the region.
During 2012, Indian police received over 1000 amnesty applications from youths who had crossed over to Pakistan at the height of the insurgency from J&K for arms training, wishing to return to India and rebuild their lives. This has been encouraged by cutbacks in Pakistani funding for Kashmiri organisations, as well as the futility of terrorist activity.
Unfortunately all this success cannot be attributed to Indian diplomacy, so much as to the regional geopolitical situation. Evidence arising from the interrogation of terrorists under arrest supported by intelligence reports suggest that the Pakistani establishment appears to be encouraging Kashmiri groups to turn their gaze towards fighting US/ISAF troops in Afghanistan. This is supported further by numerous arrests and intelligence reports from the ISAF in Afghanistan. It is no secret that Pakistan continues to provide support/sanctuary to the Taliban and its allies such as the Haqqani network.
We can conclude as a result that Pakistani efforts and priorities appear to be lie in securing its ‘backyard’ and ensuring that the ISAF/US forces vacate Afghanistan, paving the way for the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, post 2014.
But why? The main reason appears to be to put a stop to Pashtun nationalism thereby also ensuring that the current Afghan security establishments don’t become a further tool to be used against Pakistan, forcing them to deploy their armies in the defence of two borders.
So what is India doing to prevent a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan?
India is following a three-fold approach:
- Training Afghan National Security Forces to fight the Taliban.
- Encouraging economic investment in the Afghan government to enable them to raise tax revenue to fund the fight against the Taliban.
- Helping support the functioning of the Afghan government in a variety of ways – training officials, building the National Parliament building and many other programmes designed to deliver effective governance to the people of Afghanistan.
India has already trained hundreds of mid-level Afghan military officers according to analysts, and this now appears to be escalating. India has agreed to train 600 officers every year since the visit of President Karzai, and in addition will also help train companies (100 men) of ANA soldiers in order to develop the cohesion of ANA units.
In addition to this, Indian Air Force pilots will help train their counterparts in the ANSF to support operations. Efforts will only increase over the next few years to ensure that a viable and sustainable government stays put in Kabul. But India can and needs to do more in Afghanistan.
Solutions for a global problem
A return of the Taliban after 2014 will mean that jihadis battling US/ISAF troops will now look around for a new focus and this is likely to be regional hotspots – J&K, Chechnya, Iran, Xinjiang amongst others. Of most concern to India is obviously J&K. Thankfully our security establishment is preparing for such a flare up post 2014. However, an escalation in J&K or at the Indian Line of Control will mean all the hard work of improving the economy and weaning away jihadists over the last ten years could go to waste. Perhaps another Kargil could be planned by Pakistan, in which thousands of lives and billions of dollars are spent on fighting each other which could be devoted to improving the lives of citizens.
However, India at the moment has chosen a bilateral approach together with Russia and Iran to discuss Afghanistan at a National Security Council level. But it is important to remind security establishments worldwide that a Taliban return is a problem for everyone. India has an opportunity to lead a regional and even global partnership effort to support the Afghan government. This will have to involve economic and military aid.
The Pakistani position is that India’s close relations with Afghanistan stems from India’s ambition to encircle Pakistan. But it’s never too late to remind the Pakistani’s that they continue to support terrorist acts in India and have used Afghanistan as a base for attacks against India. Nations have two choices – cooperation or conflict. Despite the continued acts of terrorism supported by the Pakistani military – India has made every attempt to seek cooperation –as is proved by the Sharm El Sheikh agreement delinking terror from bilateral relations (despite lack of support for this from the Indian public). Despite these efforts, we look across the border and we see the terror infrastructure largely intact. To date, the Pakistani Army has not revised its doctrine of ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan – a view we share with the US and its allies.
During the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan years, Pakistan left their northern borders largely undefended while a major proportion of Pakistani military resources were used to support their military on the borders with India.
Eventually, India will be forced to take the view that the continued support of terror by Pakistan will have to be met with a longterm response. That response is likely to involve supporting the Afghan government with military supplies (thus far India has refrained from doing so despite Afghan requests in the hope that Pakistan will maybe opt for cooperation instead of conflict) and even a military presence that ensures that Pakistan will have to guard their northern borders. Guarding their northern borders will mean deploying their meagre resources towards developing new infrastructure, more weapons and leaving the southern borders much less defended. This will make Pakistan vulnerable. This weakness is likely to result in Pakistan having to stop their terror support activities due to lack of resources and also to the absence of resources enabling their defence against any Indian military retaliation.
To conclude, India is likely to revisit their decision not to supply the ANSF with offensive weapons in 2014, if Pakistan continues to support terrorism on Indian soil. In the coming year, the PM of India, Manmohan Singh should also consider having a serious dialogue with the military leaders of Pakistan offering a no-war agreement in exchange for total cessation of support for terror.
This can only be secured with the support of Pakistan’s close allies – the GCC, China and the USA. This is precisely the reason why Indian strategists have done well to open a good line of communication between these three parties. Whether Pakistan will agree to such a proposal remains to be seen. The ball is in Pakistan’s court: will Pakistan decide between cooperation or conflict?
India must also take on a global leadership role, providing both economic and military aid together with regional/global partners in support of the Afghan government. A failure to do this could cost citizens in the region very dearly.