Friday, March 16, 2018

Indian Military must remind Politicians that it’s Loyal to the Constitution – not the Party in Power


Indian Military must remind Politicians that it’s Loyal to the Constitution – not the Party in Power


Several recent events have contributed to speculation that the military’s apolitical nature is being compromised.

For several years now, a spate of events linked to India’s armed forces, including statements from the highest rungs of military leadership, have cast a shadow on their apolitical character. 

This is distressing even if it is a case of misplaced interpretation, factual ignorance or the shenanigans of individuals on social media. The military’s apolitical nature is a cornerstone of India’s democratic foundation; diluting it could be disastrous. But what are the beliefs that symbolise the nature and character of the “apoliticalism” of the Indian armed forces?

Its unending deployment for internal security in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East has resulted in the military becoming a permanent and key representative of the state’s coercive power in a politically charged atmosphere. Inevitably, most of the military’s actions are politically sensitive and it often finds itself in the midst of political controversies. This is bound to continue as long as the military is deployed in support of civilian authority. But the moot point is that such controversies must be dealt with by the military and civilian authorities acting in unison. What has regrettably become frequent is the military’s stance being in opposition to a state government’s with the central government supporting the military. The military thus becomes an object of Centre-state politics.
The “human shield” incident in Kashmir last April is illustrative. An unacceptable military act was justified in the name of operational expediency and institutionally portrayed as an act of heroism. The military’s stance was supported by the Centre but decried by the state government. The Army was mired in a political controversy and its act was both praised and supported by political parties. It seemed that the Army was taking sides in a domestic political battle and was, therefore, moving away from its apolitical character.

In recent times, the use of the armed forces for spreading yoga mats, spoiling the Yamuna riverbedconstructing railway footbridges and cleaning garbage from mountain tops is exceptionable. The government needs to handle the military with greater care, delicacy and respect. The military also needs to tell the government, behind closed doors, that it cannot be employed for the benefit of a political party or of a religious organisation it supports.
The military’s deliberate leveraging of its operations on the Line of Control for domestic electoral purposes suggests that the armed forces serve the political party in power, like in China. Such a portrayal has given rise to speculation that the military’s apolitical nature is being increasingly compromised.
The Army Chief’s recent comments about a political party, the All India United Democratic Front in Assam, suggested that the Army was taking sides in what is essentially a political battle between the ruling party and the opposition. Some commentators have argued that there is nothing wrong in the Army supporting the central government, which it serves, especially when it comes to matters of security. True, the Army is an executive arm of the government but it owes its loyalty to the Constitution of India and not to the party in power. Indeed, saying that the military is apolitical means that it does not take part in any political argument and even if it wishes to express its views about the impact of political manoeuvring on security, it should convey them behind closed doors. The basis of being apolitical rests on avoiding as far as possible the messy and murky world of domestic politics. Yet, recent incidents and statements put the military under the arc lights for all the wrong reasons.

Former Chief of Army Staff and union minister General VK Singh participates in event of RSS at Meerut in RSS uniform

      General Vijay Kumar Singh, Minister of State – Ministry of External Affairs,                                                        Government of India in RSS Uniform             

                    The Ex-Indian Army Chief Crossed Democratic Line of Control

Away from the limelight

Another important sphere of civil-military interaction is external security. Here again, statements of military leaders about foreign countries have significant impact on foreign relations. It is not unusual to convey signals to other countries through the statements of military chiefs. But such statements are crafted and approved at appropriate levels and reflect the government’s view. It would, therefore, not be incorrect to assume that recent statements of the Army Chief about Pakistan and China reflect the government’s viewpoint. If it were not so, the pronouncements would have been denied or contradicted. Since the statement that China and Pakistan are orchestrating immigration from Bangladesh has come from the Army Chief, we must assume it is true. But does such an accusation have to be levelled by the Army Chief, especially when no other arm of the government has brought it to the public’s notice? Clearly, there is a need to exercise greater discretion while commenting on foreign countries as it affects the sphere of political relations, driven primarily from outside the military arena.
Words are the primary weapon of politicians, not of the military. Although the military may also use words as a weapon, the power of the word in a democracy is better exercised by civilian authorities. The military need not seek the limelight. Instead, it should carry out its duties quietly, contain its views and disagreements on politically sensitive subjects to closed door sessions and let its actions speak for themselves. When it has to express its views, preferably through an official spokesman, the military should be guided by the tenet that one of the greatest values it brings to India’s democracy is not taking sides in the domestic political discourse. It is thus that the military will maintain the distinction of being an apolitical force.
Lt Gen Prakash Menon (retired) is Director of Strategic Studies at the Takshashila Institution and former military adviser to the National Security Council Secretariat.

Sunday, March 11, 2018





Dear Veterans,

1.       Second Hearing in HSC against the NGT Order to 
lift Dharanas from Jantar Mantar has been fixed for 05 
Mar 2018.  Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan is 
representing the case.  We are hopeful of some positive 
order from HSC.

2.       Third Hearing of our OROP Case in HSC has been 
tentatively fixed for 1st week of Apr 2018.  We have 
made Prayers for the Implementation of Actual OROP and 
other related issues as under:-

· Declaring the letter dated 07.11.2015 bearing reference 12(1)/2014/D(Pen/Pol)-Part-II illegal, unconstitutional, and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution;

· Declaring  the Notification dated 14.12.2015 bearing reference No. 12(01)/2014-D(Pen/Pol)-Part-II issued by Respondent No. 1 illegal, unconstitutional, and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution;

· Declaring  the letter of Respondent No. 1 to the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of Air Staff dated 03.02.2016 bearing reference 12(1)/2014/D(Pen/Policy)-Part-II illegal, unconstitutional, and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution;

·Direction in the nature of mandamus to the Union of India directing that the pension of past pensioners be automatically and contemporaneously enhanced, whenever there is any future increase or enhancement in the rates of pension;

·Direction in the nature of mandamus to the Union of India directing that errors in tables prepared by the Central Government indicating One Rank One Pension computation, wherein there are numerous instances of ex-servicemen who retired with senior rank and longer length of service being shown to be eligible for lesser pension that ex-servicemen who retired with junior rank, be corrected to ensure One Rank One Pension;

· Direction in the nature of mandamus to the Union of India directing that fixation of pension must be on the basis of financial year 2014-2015 and not calendar year 2013;

·Direction in the nature of mandamus to the Union of India directing payment of revised pension with effect from 01.04.2014 instead of 01.07.2014;

· Direction in the nature of mandamus to the Union of India directing that Havildars who retired as Hon. Naib Subedar be given the pension of Naib Subedar;

· Direction in the nature of mandamus to the Union of India directing that all soldiers who have been conferred an Honourary superior rank, whether before or after retirement, be given the pension relatable to such superior rank;
·Direction in the nature of mandamus to the Union of India directing that all ex-servicemen of the defence services be given benefit of full per-commissioning service period for pension calculation, regardless of their date of retirement;

· Direction in the nature of mandamus to the Union of India directing that veterans who have retired as Major after 13 years of service be granted the pension of Lt. Colonel;

·Direction in the nature of mandamus to the Union of India directing that veterans who retired prior to 2004 as Lt. Colonel be given pension of Colonel;

· Pass any other or future order(s) as this Hon’ble Court deems fit in the facts and circumstances of the present case.

· 7th CPC  pensions need to be worked out afresh by multiplying the factor of 2.57 to    the Actual pensions as on 31 Dec 2015   and not the pensions of base year 2013.

· 33 years  rule  having been cancelled,  the pensions of Defence Personnel need to be  reworked afresh based on the rank and engagement period.

3.       Meeting of Defence Veterans alongwith the serving 
senior officers chaired by Dr. Subhash Ramrao Bhamre 
Raksha Rajya Mantri (Minister of State for Defence) held 
on 16 Feb 2018 which was well attended.  All 
Organisations gave out their issues.  I attended the 
meeting on behalf of IESM, and raised the following 

 (a)   Implementation of Actual One Rank One 
Pension (OROP).

(b)    Pensions of Defence Widows should be same as 
the ESM Pensions.

(c)    Pensions of Defence Reservists be enhanced to 
equivalent to pension of Sepoy.

(d)    Ensuring Second Career for the early Defence 
Retirees till the age of 60 years through the Act of 

(e)    Improvements in Medical care Scheme ECHS.  
The medical procedures which have been 
introduced in the Country be on ECHS Procedure 
list within, six months of their being operational in 

(f)     Dire need to have Veterans Hospitals on the 
line of other Democracies.

(g)    Need to enhance ECHS Budget to efficiently 
manage Super Specialty Care for the Defence 
Personnel and their dependents.

(h)    Need to have Covenant Act of Defence Forces 
on the lines of UK & other countries.

(j)    Need to expedite construction of Martyrs 
Memorial at India Gate.  Long delays have already 
been caused.

(k)    Need to enhance rates of Disability Pension for 
Defence Personnel.

4.       We are planing to hold a Maha Rally at Delhi in mid March or a week later to resume Relay Hunger Strike across the Country.  Date and time will be communicated shortly.  All ESM are requested to take part in  Mahar Rally at Delhi  and resume Relay Hunger Strike  with intensity at various locations in the Country.

5.       State Conveners and representatives at various locations are requested to hold Meetings, Seminars, Rallies regularly in the Country.  Feedback may please be forwarded to IESM HQ at 543 Sector 23, Gurgaon -122017 (Haryana).

6.       ESM residing in NCR are requested to come to  Jantar Mantar regularly, atleast once a week to strengthen the  Protest Movement.  The Govt continues to deny our due Justice.  Not only we are being denied our dues, we are continuously being Downgraded, Degraded, ill-treated and mistreated. Legal option which has already been exercised, will take lot of time therefore we need to continue our Protest Movement with strength and intensity.

7.       Governing Body Members responsible for various states are requested to constitute committees as under:-

(a) Block Level          -        3 members.
(b) District                -        5-7 members
(c)  Big Cities             -        5-7 members.
(d) State Level          -        9-11 members.

8.       Details of members of the Committee be forwarded to IESM HQ for formalization.  Membership Drive be carried out as an ongoing campaign on war footing.

9.       On 10th March 2018, we will be completing 1000th Day of our continuous Agitation at Jantar Mantar and at other locations across the Country.  All Members of the Defence Family residing in NCR and areas close by Delhi are requested to visit Jantar Mantar from 1230PM to 4PM to commemorate 1000th Day of Protest Movement.  ESM at other locations are requested to assemble at their respective locations, schedule to be decided by local conveners and committees to commemorate 1000th Day to strengthen, our resolve to get “Justice to Jawan”.

10.     Another important issue is health Care of ESM and members of their families.  We are in touch with the ECHS HQ for update and their assistance to resolve our problems and issues.  Requests, where Empanelled Hospitals deny admission in emergency situation are being attended to on priority.  We request that any such difficulty be brought to our Notice.  Col RP Chaturvedi, Mob No 9891279035 and email: ,is our Head ECHS.  We have also  asked the Govt to issue  instructions for all new  medical  procedures be brought on the ECHS  list within six months of their being operational in India.  Efforts are being made to improve the availability of medicines at ECHS Clinics.

11.     We are also keeping close liaison with Veterans Directorate at Delhi Cantt.  We have brought to their notice issues concerning ESM & their dependents.  Copies of our letters to MoD & PMO are regularly being sent to the three Chiefs for their info and action.  We will continue to raise issues with Govt through requests, representations, meetings etc.

12.     We will shortly be starting our Scheme of “Measures for the benefit of Armed Forces Veterans, War widows, their dependents and Veer Naries”.  Soldiers have given supreme, sacrifice for mother land but their families have not got the recognition by the Government which they deserved for the sacrifice given by their husbands.  IESM has been recognized in corporate sector as one of the pioneer organization which is spearheading welfare measures for veterans,  veernaries,  their families and citizen of India.  Corporate houses have started contributing funds reserved as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to IESM for the purpose. Recently, one corporate  has contributed Rs 25 lakhs and to start with IESM  has allotted another  Rs 25 lakhs to make corpus  fund of Rs 50 lakhs for the  purpose.  We hope this fund will increase every year.  We plan to given scholarships to the children of veernaries, veterans and their dependents at School, College and professional level.  We plan to given financial help to veernaries who wish to start their own cottage industry and financial help to old age homes/orphanages out of this fund.  The scheme will be upgraded as we go along.  Detailed SOP is being issued separately.

13.     Lastly, friends, we do need resources to continue our Agitation, May I request all numbers of the Defence Fraternity to contribute voluntarily for the cause.  Efforts be also made to approach corporates, organizations, individuals for their contribution for the cause.  

Yours Sincerely,

                                                                 Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd)

 Advisor United Front of Ex Servicemen & Chairman IESM  
                                                                                                                                         Mobile: 9312404269, Tel: 0124 4110570

Sunday, March 4, 2018

DEFENCE PROCUREMENT : What’s Wrong With India’s Weapons Procurement Process?



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New Delhi:  India's weapons-buying is frequently crippled by "multiple and diffused structures with no single point accountability, multiple decision-heads, duplication of processes, delayed comments, delayed execution, no real-time monitoring, no project-based approach and a tendency to fault-find rather than to facilitate," assesses a damning Defence Ministry report exclusively accessed by NDTV.As a result of these flaws, the government's flagship "Make in India" initiative for the defence sector, launched in 2014, "continues to languish at the altar of procedural delays and has failed to demonstrate its true potential."
The 27-point internal report prepared late last year by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre is a stinging indictment of the way the Defence Ministry functions.Of 144 deals in the last three financial years, "only 8%-10% fructified within the stipulated time period," it says.Significantly, a chart identifies how each step of the nine-stage process of ordering weaponry sees enormous delays. 
The Defence Ministry says the Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard do not work as a system.
From the stage of Request for Proposal (RFP), when the government formally reaches out to arms manufacturers to submit their sales pitch, to the deal-closing clearance given by the Competent Financial Authority, the delays are a whopping 2.6 times to 15.4 times the deadline.The problems begin at the level of the headquarters of the inpidual armed forces, when the demand for new purchases is first raised.
Pointing at a "lack of synergy between the three services", the report says that the Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard do not work as a system, which "puts greater strain on the limited defence budget and as a result, we are unable to meet the critical capability requirements."What's more, different departments of the ministry "appear to be working in independent silos" driven by their interpretation of policy and procedures.Later, once a weapons purchase enters the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage, the average time taken to clear files is 120 weeks - six times more than rules laid down by the ministry in 2016. "The fastest RFP clearance was accorded in 17 weeks while the slowest took a monumental 422 weeks (over eight years)," the report noted.The report points out that the Armed Forces, as eventual users of the weapon systems, "continue to view the Acquisition Wing (of the Defence Ministry) as an obstacle rather than a facilitator". So there needs to be a "tectonic change in mindset of the ministry officials and the need of the hour is assigning responsibility and accountability."At the level of Trials and Evaluation conducted by the Armed forces, "the average time taken is 89 weeks, which is three times more than authorised." The armed forces are a part of the problem here, as they list "ambiguous trial directives, leaving scope for varied interpretation."Dr Bhamre says in his report that the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) stage needs to be done away with altogether. "I am not sure whether any TOC has brought up any relevant issue, and is assessed to be yet another delay in the procurement procedure."The Cost Negotiation Committee (CNC) stage sees delays "about 10 times more than that allowed" because of the inability of the Defence Ministry to benchmark costs with global standards "especially where an item is being procured for the first time or involved Transfer of Technology."Shockingly, even if a weapons system actually makes its way through this bureaucratic quagmire, an acquisition can be shot down when the file reaches the Finance Ministry or the Cabinet Committee of Security since "currently, the MoF or CCS is not aware" of the defence ministry's plans and needs.The report also flags the "raining of numerous queries, a few of them even of a basic nature."In other words, the Finance Ministry doesn't seem to have any idea of what to do with a complex agreement once it is presented by the Defence Ministry for financial clearance so that a contract can be signed.Given the fairly hopeless bureaucratic jumble within the government, the report lists a series of remedies to de-clutter the process, revolving around "accountability" and "ownership", to ensure the purchase of weapons can realistically be expected.But ridding the government of this debilitating red-tape will not be easy.Just last week, 17 years after the Air Force stated a requirement for 126 modern fighter jets, the Defence Ministry shot down a process to build more than 100 of these jets in India under "Make in India".The two main firms competing for this order were America's Lockheed Martin, which offered its F-16 Block 70IN fighter, and Sweden's SAAB, which was competing with its Gripen E/F jet. 
America's Lockheed Martin had offered to build its F-16 Block 70IN fighter in India.
Now, the government wants the Indian Air Force to broaden the scope of this contract to also include multi-engine fighters, a decision taken soon after the controversy over the Rafale fighter deal where the government was accused by the opposition of not being transparent in its handling of the contract with the French government.For the Air Force, which is seeing its squadron strength drastically fall because older jets need to be retired, there is a strange sense of deja-vu about it all.In 2001, the IAF projected its requirement under the Medium Range Combat Aircraft (MRCA) deal for single-engine jet fighters. The scope of the deal changed dramatically when the government said that they wanted to include twin-engine fighters in the IAF's fighter-fly off. Since twin-engine jets are heavier and more capable, "MRCA" warped into "MMRCA," or Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft, a deal which was ultimately scrapped altogether in 2016, after an incredible 15-year process. Finally, in 2016, realising that the Indian Air Force was desperate, the government agreed, controversially, to buy 36 Rafale fighters from France in an off-the-shelf purchase worth more than Rs. 58,000 crores.But there was still a semblance of hope because two years ago, the government had also promised to open a brand new process for single-engine fighters, which would be acquired in significantly larger numbers, made in India and bought at considerably lower per-unit costs.
With the decision to scrap this deal, and given the ministry's own track record, it seems clear that the Indian Air Force will not be inducting any new type of fighter for several years to come other than the indigenous Tejas, which is smaller and less capable than the variants of the F-16 or Gripen the Air Force was looking to acquire.In December, NDTV emailed a set of questions on the report on Defence Procurement to the Defence Ministry's spokesperson, who acknowledged them but offered no answers. Separate reminders through phone messages were also acknowledged but, again, no answers were provided.
This story has not been edited by our staff and is taken from a authenticated official feed. please email us for any query.
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Saturday, February 17, 2018

China’s Rising Profile In South Asia 2018


China’s Rising Profile In South Asia 2018  


                 Dan Southerland*

On the diplomatic front, India has been deepening ties with Southeast Asian nations, many of which have been looking to India to counterbalance China’s growing power and influence.

In order to protect sea lanes, India has bolstered its ties with Australia and Japan while looking to them for assistance. As the Financial Times noted recently, the idea of an “Indo-Pacific” region with India playing a more active strategic role has been endorsed by Australia, Japan, and U.S. President Donald Trump.

But India now faces a crisis in the Maldives islands, located near the southwestern tip of the Indian subcontinent, that should test how forcefully India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is prepared to respond to growing Chinese influence.


The former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, has appealed to India to intervene in the Maldives to deal with the ongoing political crisis there.
It’s no secret that Prime Minister Modi was distressed at the ouster of Nasheed in a coup in 2012. After being jailed, Nasheed was allowed to go into exile for medical treatment and now lives in Sri Lanka.

Modi and the Maldives

India’s sensitivity to Chinese moves in its backyard became apparent early last month when the parliament of the Maldives, the smallest and least populous nation in South Asia, endorsed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China.
The New Delhi-based Indian Express said that the Maldives’ parliament “rushed through” the FTA despite much internal criticism of it.

It was the Maldives’ first such agreement with any country.
On Feb. 5, facing popular unrest, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency. Yameen then sent troops into the streets of Male, the nation’s capital, to maintain control.

Yameen had directed the arrest of two Supreme Court justices shortly after the high court issued a ruling calling for the release of jailed opposition politicians in the Maldives.

The Maldives, an island chain with a population of roughly 400,000 people, is best known for its luxury resorts and coral reefs. But because of its location just southwest of the southern tip of India near vital international shipping lanes, India considers it strategically important.

International Pressure

According to The New York Times, Nasheed had become an international celebrity because of his work to combat climate change. He also happened to be the country’s first and only democratically elected leader. So his words carry weight both in the region and beyond.

On Feb. 2, Nasheed had said that he planned to run again for office. But President Yameen, now ruling under what amounts to martial law, was already making plans to run for reelection later this year. With all of his opponents jailed or in exile, he would be running unopposed.

Nasheed urged India to send an envoy to the Maldives backed by the military,” according to a report from New Delhi by Amy Kazin of The Financial Times over the past weekend (Feb. 10-11).

But it’s not at all clear at this point whether Prime Minister Modi would consider intervening in the Maldives.

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Modi on Feb. 8 to discuss various topics, including the situation in the Maldives. The two “expressed concern about the political crisis in the Maldives and the importance of respect for democratic institutions and the rule of law,” according to a statement issued by the White House.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, meanwhile, described the moves made by Maldives President Yameen as an “all-out assault on democracy.”

China, on the other hand, has come out strongly in defense of the Maldives leader.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told an envoy from the Maldives on Feb. 8 that China believes the Maldives government and people have “the wisdom and ability to appropriately handle the issue facing them and return the country to normal order in accordance with the law.”

China has invested heavily in the Maldives. As The Economist magazine explains in its current issue (Feb. 10-16), China has backed several Chinese projects in the Maldives with loans.

The projects include a hospital, a U.S. $800 million expansion of the airport, and a China Maldives Friendship Bridge between the capital and the airport.

According to The Economist, “There is no public tendering, and no budgets have been published.”

“Diplomats and NGOs suspect costs have been wildly inflated,” the magazine’s “Banyan” columnist says. “Any default, and China can extract concessions, such as a base on the Indian Ocean.”

Meanwhile, everyone assumes that Chinese cash is “lining politicians’ pockets” in the Maldives.

Former President Nasheed has alleged that nearly a quarter of the Maldives’ budget goes to interest payments. Others on the island itself estimate that three-fifths of the debts that the country is amassing are owed to China. Nasheed calls it a “debt trap” that gives China huge leverage over the Maldives.

Worsened Relations

Indian relations with the Maldives have deteriorated since 2012, when the Maldives expropriated its international airport from an Indian company which had a contract to upgrade and operate the airport.

China in recent years has forged closer ties with India’s neighbors, including Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Financial Times reported that in 2015, the Maldives amended its constitution, allowing foreigners to buy land, thus paving the way for Chinese companies to buy islands, which India says have potential military use.

The newspaper also said that two Chinese military ships docked at a Maldivian port last August. Other reports say that it was three ships.

India has long considered the Maldives to be part of its sphere of influence, given its proximity to India as well as the historical ties between the two countries.

In 1988, India intervened in the Maldives with a military force to prevent an attempted coup backed by an armed Sri Lankan separatist group known as the Tamil Tigers.

Now Indian foreign policy hawks and some foreign policy analysts see China’s growing presence in the Maldives as a test of India’s claim to be a rising power capable of maintaining regional security.

In one much-quoted comment, a Rumel Dahiya, a retired Indian Army brigadier general, said that “if India cannot even safeguard its primary interests so close to its mainland, then it can hardly be trusted to become a net security provider for the wider region.”

Dahiya’s comment was published by the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi.

According to Stratfor, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank and consultancy, if India intervenes in the Maldives, it could “tilt the regional political scales in favor of China,” which has already benefited from anti-Indian sentiment in Nepal.

Sending Indian troops into the Maldives, Stratfor says, “would undoubtedly reinforce New Delhi’s image as a domineering hegemon unafraid to use force against its smaller neighbors.”

For decades, the Maldives was considered a model Islamic nation, says Stratfor. Its Muslim majority practiced a tolerant form of Islam. But in recent years its Muslims have leaned toward Salafist and Wahabi forms of Islam. Some of this has come from students who studied these ultra-conservative ideologies in Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia, a supporter of the current government in the Maldives.

The Pakistani Factor

Even as it copes with China, India continues to consider neighboring Pakistan to be a major security threat. India has fought five wars with Pakistan since 1947. Skirmishes between the two sides in divided Kashmir have become routine over the decades.

So it’s obvious that India would be concerned about reports that China is planning to build a naval base close to the Pakistani port of Gwadar.

Gwadar is located on the Arabian Sea only 690 nautical miles west of Mumbai.

Both China and Pakistan deny reports of a plan to build a Chinese naval base at Gwadar. But The Economist notes that construction at the port is planned as part of a $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is intended to connect landlocked western China to the Arabian Sea.

The United States, meanwhile, announced on Jan. 4 that it would suspend most U.S. security assistance to Pakistan, pending a stronger effort by Pakistan to expel the Taliban and enemies of Afghanistan’s government from the Pakistani side of the two countries’ border.

Such a development would have been unthinkable during the Cold War years when Pakistan was considered a staunch military ally of the United States.

The suspension of security aid would cost Pakistan an estimated U.S. $2 billion in aid already budgeted.

But China, describing Pakistan as its “irreplaceable all-weather friend,” seems more than ready to make up for any shortfall in security funding for the South Asian country.

Analysts explain that for Pakistan, Gwadar has the potential to act as a counter to any Indian attempt to blockade the port of Karachi, the most populous city in Pakistan. Karachi’s port handles more than 60 percent of the country’s cargo.
Joel Wuthnow, a research fellow at the U.S. National Defense University, says that “Indian strategists worry that Chinese investments in the Indian Ocean region, such as port development projects in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, will precipitate a greater Chinese naval presence in India’s backyard.”

Dr. Wuthnow spoke at a hearing on China’s Belt and Road Initiative held by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on Jan. 25.

The bottom line: Deep mutual mistrust appears to be the only constant factor in Indian-Pakistani relations. But mutual nuclear deterrence seems to be working.

*Dan Southerland
 is RFA’s founding executive editor.