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Saturday, 19 January 2013

From Today's Papers - 19 Jan 2013







http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130119/edit.htm#4
Looming Taliban threat India, Pakistan should revise their strategy
by Kuldip Nayar

WITH America's announcement to withdraw troops from Afghanistan even before 2014, the date that it had itself fixed, it becomes imperative that Pakistan and India should revise their strategy and face the new development. Both have no option except to be on the same page because the Taliban, Al-Qaida's front, has neither been decimated as Washington claims, nor has it been deterred from the fixation to capture the Pushtu-speaking areas, the North-West Front Province (NWFP), now called Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa.

I do not know how President Barack Obama has come to the conclusion that Al-Qaida has been finished and that America's purpose has been served. The entire terrorism in the area is because of Al-Qaida's inspiration. It does not matter whether it comes in the forefront or not. The outfit is working under different names and on different fronts. President Obama may be in a hurry to withdraw his forces to placate the American opinion, but Washington and its drones have not wiped out the Taliban, the promise which it gave when it started carpet bombing in certain parts of Afghanistan.

After America's exit, the Taliban and the warlords would try to divide Afghanistan among themselves, not a difficult proposition when Kabul's forces are in the midst of modernisation and training. Even otherwise, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has been negotiating with the "good Taliban" to suck them into the administration so as to divide them.

Islamabad knows, like other countries in the world, that it would be hard for Afghanistan to stay sovereign without America's support and that it would be a matter of time before the Taliban would overrun the country. They would leave the warlords to govern their fiefdoms. Sturdy and determined, the Taliban activists have dispersed themselves over high mountains to await the time when the forces of America and NATO would quit. How to ensure Afghanistan's safety is the issue that faces the world.

Policies of America and India coincide since both want democracy to take roots in Afghanistan and become militarily and economically viable to stand on its own legs. Things would have worked smoothly between Delhi and Islamabad if the latter were to give up its insistence on treating Afghanistan as a country within its sphere of influence.

In fact, such a policy has been in the way of Delhi and Islamabad forging joint action against terrorists, the Taliban's real face. No doubt, Pakistan is trying to defeat the Taliban with the support of America, which provides it with arms and money. Yet the Taliban factions have spread themselves all over Pakistan. The fight is not confined to Afghanistan and the Waziristan border but inside Pakistan where the Taliban groups have joined hands with the fundamentalists to fan terrorism.

The ideal arrangement would be if Kabul and Islamabad could join hands to fight against the Taliban and other such forces which would become active after America's withdrawal. The biggest obstacle in the way is Pakistan's policy to have Afghanistan as its strategic depth. The late Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, tried his best to sell Kabul a status which would ensure Afghanistan's autonomy under the protection of Pakistan's armed forces. No self-respecting nation, much less the one comprising Pathans, can accept to be a satellite state. Karzai knows it and has often criticised the ambition of "elder brother", the title he has given to Pakistan.

Indeed, there was a time when Islamabad flirted with the Taliban and considered them to be part of its combative strength. Pakistani rulers, including the late Benazir Bhutto, welcomed them as their "children". Pakistan went to the extent of recognising the government of Taliban at Kabul as long as it lasted, not very long.

Islamabad realised its mistake of building up the Taliban only when they occupied the Swat valley and the adjoining areas, part of Pakistan's territory. The first order they issued was to close girls' educational institutions and then ban music. Although the Pakistanis were Muslims, the Taliban had a hatred for them because they were not fanatics, a cultural influence of the subcontinent.

Islamabad has pushed the Taliban back after seeing their real face of terrorism. But the danger it cannot avert is that nearly one-third of Pakistan's population — including the army — has come to adopt the Taliban philosophy. Otherwise, it is difficult to understand why the killer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was hailed as a hero and honoured. Taseer's fault was that he opposed the blasphemy laws. His son is still under the Taliban's detention.

Sooner or later, New Delhi will have to join Islamabad to fight against terrorism which the Taliban are fomenting internally and externally. Both countries have to chalk out a joint action plan against the Taliban who can pose a threat to India's tranquillity. Pakistan is a territory lying between the Taliban and our country.

If Islamabad falters or gets weakened in its fight against the Taliban, India would have to deal with them directly. They have already announced that they would interfere in Kashmir. This is a dangerous scenario. The withdrawal of American forces from Kabul would only create a vacuum which both New Delhi and Islamabad ought to fill. But they are mostly at loggerheads and, therefore, the success of the Taliban is on the cards.

http://www.eurasiareview.com/14012013-comments-on-pakistan-armys-actions-in-jk/
Comments On Pakistan Army’s Actions In J&K

By: SAAG
January 14, 2013

By Col R Hariharan

[Here is a summary of my comments made to print media and on TV on the India-Pakistan standoff after two Indian soldiers were killed by Pakistani troops on 8 January 2012.]
On the killing and mutilation of soldiers

This is not the first time Pakistan army has indulged in barbaric acts like beheading captured Indian soldiers, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, it has become a part of the Pak military culture while handling Indian soldiers taken prisoner. They had carried in such inhuman acts before. Captured soldiers were blinded and pushed back alive to the Indian lines during the 1971 War. The torture and mutilation of Lt Saurav Kalia before killing him in the Kargil War in 1999 is well documented. In 2009 they did this again; and now this is one more such gruesome incident.
Why does the Pakistan army do such things?
We should not see this as a standalone action of some misguided soldiers. Pakistan army for long has nursed a grudge to avenge its decisive defeat in 1971 War at the hands of Indian army. Even the Kargil War has its roots in this mentality. And in the eyes of average Pakistani the unresolved Kashmir issue provides sufficient grounds to ignore such aberrations of Pakistan army. Pakistan army has exploited this attitude and the latent fear of India to perpetuate its existence as a powerful extra constitutional authority to control the way ‘democracy’ operates in the country.

In this respect Pakistan army is totally different from Indian army which functions under the elected government. So we cannot expect Pakistan army to behave like its Indian counterpart.

Pakistan had been facing a terrorist attacks mainly from two groups: the Tehrik –e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), popularly known as Pakistan Taliban and the Lashkar e Jhangvi (LJ), an anti-Shia Jihadi terrorist group. The TTP, a predominantly Pashtun group, aims to destabilize Pakistan state and establish an Islamic government based on Sharia and operates from bases in Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) along Afghan border. It has been attacking government and military installations with considerable success. The LJ, a predominantly Punjabi outfit with Taliban connections, has mainly targeted the Shia population. It has claimed responsibility for the 10 January 2013 bombings in Quetta and in northern Swat Valley, killing in all 125 people and injuring 270. Pakistan army is currently carrying out operations against these two organizations. In addition to this, since December 2012, the army has been intensified its operations against Baloch nationalists fighting for an independent Baluchistan.

Perhaps this has generated recent reports of Pakistan army considering terrorism as the number one threat to the country. While this sounds plausible as terrorism is becoming an existential threat to Pakistan, qualitatively counter-terrorist operations and conventional military operations are different as chalk and cheese. So the question of Pakistan army relegating India, which has nuclear capability, to the second place in its strategic threat perception does not arise.

Whatever that be, the Pakistan army’s reported change of its stance against India has come under severe criticism from fundamentalist right-wing political groups as well as terrorist brain trusts masquerading as humanitarian and social organizations in Pakistan.

As J and K is a perennial and popular hate symbol, Pakistan army could be indulging in some violent acts in J and K to divert the flak it has been facing from fundamentalists. This gains credibility when we see in December 2011 as many as four terrorist infiltration attempts were neutralized in J and K and 11 terrorists were killed.
On Pakistan government’s response to the incident

There are two aspects in the response. First, Pakistan Foreign minister has flatly denied the involvement of Pakistan army in the incident across the LoC. Second, she has offered to get it investigated by the UN Military Observers Group (UNMOGIP) in Kashmir.

The reaction is not surprising. It is typical of Pakistan. Pakistan has denied its involvement in every attack where terrorists based in Pakistan, supported by the Inter Servies Intelligence (ISI) and trained by the army have been involved. Despite strong evidence Pakistan had been dragging its feet over prosecuting the Pakistani culprits who masterminded the 26/11 Lashkar attacks in Mumbai.

The Foreign Minister’s offer to get the incident investigated by UNMOGIP is at best specious and at worst mischievous. She knows fully that India’s firm stand against outside intervention in bilateral issues between the two countries. She may also be hoping to revive the UN interest on the Kashmir issue, which had faded from UN agenda quite some time ago.

An Indian media commentator has indirectly suggested that the building of a border check post by Indian army on the line of control (LoC) in J and K was objected to by Pak army as it violated the 2003 Ceasefire Agreement. And they opened fire when Indian troops went ahead with the construction. The whole chain of events followed from that, he has added. This is simplistic.

India’s defence ministry has denied this conjecture. Bases of jihadi terrorists continue to exist in Pakistan occupied Kashmir across the Indian border. Troops deployed there remember the lessons of Kargil War and are duty bound to prevent infiltration by these terrorists.

Unless Pakistan removes the terrorist camps and disband the outfits, Indian army’s priority will be to ensure all actions are talem to prevent infiltration across the border.

India must tell Pakistan that it should also conform to the letter and spirit of the ceasefire agreement when it talks about it. And India has to take adequate measures to safeguard the sanctity of its borders.
Should India break off peace initiatives?

India and Pakistan share not only geographic borders but common historical, cultural, religious, and social experience as well. They have to exist in peace and amity lest they fritter away their common assets. This is the reality. Unfortunately the wounds of Partition have left deep scars in the psyche of both countries.

In Pakistan, the lingering suspicion about India not reconciling with the existence of Pakistan has conditioned its politics and thinking of large sections of the people. In India, a strong antipathy to Pakistan permeates thinking both in political and public sphere.

However, after both countries acquired nuclear capability, both countries seem to be aware of the dangers of escalating military confrontation to full scale conventional war. So there is greater realization among the people and mainstream political parties that building better relations is the only option for the good of both the nations as well as the region.And both countries have embarked on building peaceful relations between them.

The need for such win-win relationship has become urgent as changes in the strategic scene in Af-Pak region looks imminent when American and NATO forces pull out from Afghanistan 2013-14. In all likelihood Taliban-led jihadi groups could stage a comeback and become more aggressive. In view of this, both India and Pakistan have strategic imperatives in ensuring that this does not affect their national interests.

There had been a number of roadblocks coming up now and then in the peace building process mostly due to the strong military influence in Pakistan’s body politics and terrorist forays on India emanating from Pakistan. So there are always periodic up and down swings in peace moves.

Despite these setbacks, both countries have invariably bounced back. Now also this process is on and some progress has been made in lifting trade restrictions for Indian goods, and in adopting more liberal visa policies. Pakistan cricket team has visited India after a long time; and an Indian team is scheduled to tour to Pakistan. However, these initiatives have not been allowed to bloom in full due to persistent parochial and security considerations.

India-Pakistan relations have security, political and international dimensions. It is essential that any incident affecting in one of these dimensions is assessed in its own context before any precipitate action is taken that would stall the peace building process.

However, this does not mean India adopting a soft approach when its soldiers have been meted out barbaric and inhuman treatment. We should strongly react and send a clear message that India would not tolerate such conduct from Pakistan.
Is India’s response soft?

India has always avoided a knee jerk reaction to border confrontations. But this is not a run of the mill incident; it is an inhuman act by Pak troops. As has become the common practice, the prime minister has maintained his silence. Defence Minister Antony has come out with a strong statement. The Army Headquarters has also reacted promptly to set the record straight. Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and Air Chief, has warned that the country might have to look at “some other options for compliance” if Pakistan breached the 2003 Ceasefire Agreement.

But if past experience is any guide, this does not mean Indian army would be allowed to respond fittingly to discourage such Pak adventurism. After all, in the case of Saurav Kalia’s, the Indian government responded so weakly that even 13 years after the incident his father, a veteran soldier, has to come on public media and appeal to the prime minister for action. Still Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs is playing round robin on the Kalia issue.

One can see the continuing lack of coordination even in the response to the current incident. Even as the Defence Minister made a strong statement, Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid made it clear India would not be “pressured by wild calls for revenge” over the killing and mutilation of two Indian soldiers. Of course, he tried to mellow it down by making a statement sympathetic to the dead soldiers. This proves that the priorities of foreign policy are not inclusive of defence sensitivity and at best comes in a lower order.

Thus even the ‘strong statement’ would appear to be a tepid response at best. But that is business as usual as far as defence matters are concerned in this country, where we have a unique system where civilians take decisions on strategic security issues with the service chiefs only on listening watch. As the government ethos appears to be guided by Rudyard Kipling who wrote the duty of the soldier was “not to reason how and why but to do and die” soldiers are just doing that. And that is the tragedy.
Future course

The LoC continues to be restive in J and K. Firing across the border continues; in military terms that would indicate probably cross border infiltration attempts are continuing. The terrorist activity has started again in Kashmir. This time they appear to be choosing soft targets like village sarpanchs. They have been threatened with death if they do not resign. Already two sarpanchs have been killed by terrorists.

The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is completing its full five year term. Cashing on the public anger at civilian casualties due to American drone attacks on Pakistani terrorist targets, Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), has gathered huge popular support. He could threaten the successful return of PPP as winners in the coming elections. So the PPP government will probably be cautious in dealing with India as the election nears.

The army is an important external factor that conditions Pakistani response to India. The army would also like to avoid being branded as going soft on Indians, particularly when it continues its counter terrorist against some of the jihadi terrorist groups outside its orbit of control.

Given this complex scene across the border, we can expect more local skirmishes along the J and K border. However, we need to handle such incidents dispassionately and with greater alacrity; there is no need to bend over backwards to appease Pakistan. Instances of intrusions by Pakistan army or terrorists should be dealt with firmly keeping in mind national security considerations.

Indian government will have to work out its Pakistan policy afresh taking into consideration the dynamics of impending changes in Af-Pak region. It has to take into confidence all major political parties in evolving this.

The credibility of the government and political class is increasingly being questioned by the public who are impatient with the sloth and indifference in governance. So while responding to any India-Pakistan security standoff, the government has to show greater sensitivity and spruce up its act in communicating to the public.

(Col. R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, is associated with the South Asia Analysis Group and the Chennai Centre for China Studies. E- mail:colhari@yahoo.com Blog: www.colhariharan.org)

http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/item/53244-%E2%80%98right-messages%E2%80%99-went-from-indian-army.html
‘Right messages’ went from Indian Army
 India-Pakistan relations have come under severe stress over the past week after Pakistani troops crossed the LoC (line of control) and killed two Indian soldiers. Unfortunately, the New Year has begun with outbreak of violence in Kashmir since India and Pakistan agreed a ceasefire nearly a decade ago. The situation has deteriorated further because the bodies of Indian soldiers have been found mutilated and a “barbaric” beheading of one the Indian soldier has taken place. After this incident there has been a huge outcry in the country. In a tough message to Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that there cannot be business as usual with Pakistan any more.

Tension along the LoC has been building since the firing and the death of the Pakistani solider on January 6. It all started few months back with the two sides exchanging sporadic firing. The beheading of the Indian solider has further complicated the issue.

In order to narrow down the differences, a Brigade-level flag meeting between Indian and Pakistani authorities at Chakan-da-Bagh near the LoC in Poonch was held on January 14, but nothing much was achieved. There are ceasefire violations along the LoC. The need of the hour is to make efforts to defuse the situation as fast as possible. The two nuclear neighbours have already fought three and half wars in the past and there is no need to aggravate the situation now.

The Indian military leadership has given the right messages after the “warming” of LoC. They have made is clear that they are ready for any eventuality and are prepared with multiple options.

In short, they have mentioned that they know what their job is and how to do it. At the same it has been made clear that they would maintain the ‘sanctity’ of the LoC. Unfortunately, in certain other quarters there appears to be a lack of responsibility while addressing this issue.

Media hysteria

Quite a few uncalled-for and unnecessarily hawkish statements have been issued. Some sections of India’s 24X7 electronic media are found trying to compete not only with each other for the TRP, but are perceptibly trying to recreate the Sunny Doel brand of machismo patriotism.

The time has come to issue these hotheads a reminder that it was their over-enthusiasm which on several occasions in the past had resulted in queering of diplomatic pitches and even complications in security responses. Media overkill during the Kargil operation led to quite a few valuable losses for the Indian Army. The experience in Mumbai, while operations against the 26/11 terrorists were still on, is still alive in people’s collective memory.

India’s civil society is one more agency which feels that they can make a difference in the process of resolving the Pakistan quagmire. It is important to appreciate the limitations of civil society to resolve Indo-Pak crisis. Just because civil society manages to get disproportionate media attention it does not imply that their solutions are anything more than the ordinary. Civil society is essentially a fair weather creature. Some of them are committed while some are page three performers.    

There is a demand for India to adopt an offensive diplomatic posture to deal with Pakistan now. Initiatives like “people to people contact” have significant limitations. Many Pakistani artists and sportspersons are keen to visit India not for changing hearts and minds but mainly for publicity, fame and money. They are essentially news creators and do provide the ‘feel good factor’. But, they lack much of a say in their own country. Pakistan is mainly controlled by the military, ISI and Taliban. To resolve any issue with Pakistan what is most important is to engage the kingmaker (military/ISI). There is need for a direct and proactive contact between Indian and Pakistani militaries.

It is important to address the issue with Pakistan at different diplomatic planes. India has been trying with a range of diplomatic options for quite some time now. A range of issues and options are under discussion. Apart from the age-old border dispute and water issues what probably works on Pakistan’s mind is their defeat in the hands of India during 1971 war. Some of them are scared that India could do it again by using different means to separate may be Baluchistan.

Because of such perceptions they are unhappy about India’s presence in Afghanistan. Some ambitious Pakistanis also feel that to avenge 1971, the target should not be only Kashmir but also some portion of Punjab. Under such circumstances there is a need give them a confidence that India has no interest in changing the political boundaries of Pakistan. At the time Pakistani military needs to be coerced and told in no uncertain terms that India would not accept any nonsense. For all this there is a need to use military diplomacy effectively. Also, there is need launch an economic offensive to increase the inter-dependence of both the states.

Resolving Pakistan issue is a huge challenge and involves very many geopolitical and geostrategic complexities. Vitiating public opinion in both the states by making provocative statements and media running the story like a soap opera is not in the interest of both the nations. War or no-war is an extremely serious business and there is a need to allow the policy makers and generals to do their job fearlessly. 

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/loc-deaths-designed-by-indian-army-for-propaganda-says-musharraf-593878.html
LoC deaths: Designed by Indian Army for propaganda, says Musharraf
In an interview to Times Now, Gen Pervez Musharraf fought tooth and nail to defend the Pakistan Army’s stand dismissing allegations that the Indian soldier was beheaded by their Army with help from militants.

A visibly aggressive Musharraf, in turn, heaped the blame of deteriorating relations with India on the latter, saying that there has been no effort from India to maintain civilised relations.

Pervez Musharraf. Reuters.

“Beheading a soldier and sending back his body is inexcusable. However, knowing the Pakistan Army, I can say for sure that it is not in our culture to do something as horrific as that. No disciplined army would do that,” said Musharraf.

When grilled further about the Pakistan Army’s nexus with militants like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a visibly agitated Musharraf said: “We are not mad people. Stop painting us as rogues when you yourself are not prepared to admit all the cruelty that you inflict on us. Let alone LoC, what is the logic behind kicking our singers out, sending back our hockey players?”

The former President of Pakistan went on to add that India has always had an inclination to be hysterical about everything. “The politicians, media everyone in India have a tendency to be hysterical about everything,” he added.

http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2013/01/16/344-Mining-at-border-is-part-of-Pakistan-s-strategic-plans-say-defence-experts.html
Mining at border is part of Pakistan's strategic plans, say defence experts
New Delhi, Jan. 16 (ANI): Terming the act of planting landmines in the border areas in Jammu and Kashmir from the by Pakistan Army, as illegal and a part of their tactical plan, defence experts cautioned Indian Army to take the issue seriously.

Bharat Verma, a renowned defence expert, said that the recent activities from Pakistan are motivated to reactivate the border and internationalise the Kashmir issue.

'Pakistan knows that Kashmir is sleeping from their hands, and in order to reactivate and internationalise the area, it is doing all these things. America will say nothing to Pakistan at present, because Pakistan Army will escort their soldier from Kabul to Karachi during their convoy exit in near future. So, they and especially their outgoing Army Chief General Kiyani are taking the benefit of the situation," said Verma.

"The act of planting landmines is absolutely illegal. After the war in 1971, both sides had decided that mining would be not done. The problem with mining is that due to the snow the mines shift, which may cause injury to either side. Pakistan is slowly moving towards internal conflict and the whole acts of ceasefire violations are to divert the attention towards India and destabilise New Delhi," he added.

Another eminent defence expert and Lieutenant General (Retired), P. N. Hoon also put similar thoughts, saying that India will have to focus on Pakistan's 'tactical planning'.

"Pakistan has to something regularly in Kashmir. We will have to think that why they are mining the border areas, when neither they nor we can move thereafter. They may be securing their selves that we could not attack them, and they can come in easily from anywhere else," said Hoon.

"It is a very serious situation. Mining is done to stop someone from entering or crossing a particular area, so we will have to find out their strategy. Now, we must prepare for long-term readiness plan," he added.

Earlier today, he welcomed Pakistan Supreme Court's order to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, and predicted that the Islamic nation was again headed for a military coup.

Meanwhile, Indian Army has released pictures of landmines manufactured at the Pakistan Ordinance Factory, which were recovered from the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC).

The mines are anti-personnel and their pictures were given to the Pakistani army officers during the flag meet on Monday. (ANI)

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/army-chief-visits-martyr-sudhakars-family/1061360/
Army Chief visits martyr Sudhakar's family
Army Chief General Bikram Singh today visited Dhadiya village here and met the family of Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh Baghel, who was killed in an attack by the Pakistani Army along the LoC last week.

"I have come here to salute the sacrifice of brave soldier Sudhakar Singh Baghel," General Singh told reporters after he met the martyred soldier's family during his two-hour visit.

The COAS met Baghel's wife, Durga Singh and told her that her husband was a "lion" and wished that their son joined the Army.

The General also told Durga she could approach him directly anytime if she faced any problem. He also brought along with him a job appointment letter for Sudhakar's elder brother Satyendra Singh in the Jaypee Cement factory here.

Asked why the Indian Army was not taking any retaliatory action against the Pakistani Army, the General said he did not want to answer any political questions.

"I am fully satisfied that the Indian Army is deployed with full alertness along the LoC," he said.

Baghel's family has so far received around Rs 65 lakh out of which Rs 44 lakh has been given by the Army, Rs five lakh by the Minister of State for Defence, Jitendra Singh and Rs 15 lakh from the Madhya Pradesh government.

The Army Chief said a recruitment rally in the name of the soldier will be held in Sidhi district in July this year.

Earlier, the Army Chief was received at Sidhi by Lt.Gen Anil Chait who is the Commanding Officer of Central Zone, Lucknow and Sidhi Superintendent of Police (SP) Dharmendra Choudhary among others.

On January 8, Pakistan Army regulars had infiltrated inside Indian territory in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir and killed and mutilated the bodies of Lance Naiks Sudhakar Singh and Hemraj Singh.

http://www.eurasiareview.com/18012013-cooperation-between-indian-and-myanmar-armed-forces-analysis/
Cooperation Between Indian And Myanmar Armed Forces – Analysis
January 18, 2013

By Gautam Sen

India and Myanmar have been maintaining relations at an adequately high level between their Defence forces and particularly between the Indian Army and the Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw). Relations between the two armies have been substantive especially since the early 1990s. This was but natural considering geographical contiguity, the 1463 km long land boundary, the sensitivity of the security situation in India’s northern eastern states of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur that border Myanmar, and China’s expanding economic and military links with Myanmar.

India has also had an arms-equipment supply-based relationship with the Myanmar armed forces. After 1992, a radical change in this respect was discernible when India started supplying weaponry and equipment including 105 mm guns, T-55 tanks, light helicopters, transport planes, artillery ammunition and some naval craft. However, during the NDA regime in India, counter-espionage authorities at the behest of the Defence Minister George Fernandes had ham-handedly and without suitable precautions supplied some quantity of infantry and artillery weapons to the Tatmadaw. The outcome was evident recently, when, some of these weapons having `batch numbers` from the lot exported by Sweden to India, fell into the hands of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), leading to adverse international publicity and consequent embarrassment for New Delhi.
Myanmar (Burma) - India Relations

Myanmar (Burma) – India Relations

Ewa Bjorling, Sweden’s Trade Minister, has confirmed to the Swedish Parliament that Swedish Carl Gustaf M-3 anti-tank rifles and related ammunition originally exported to India have ended up in the hands of the Myanmar Army, which is using them in its operations against the KIA. Consequent to the above and related media coverage, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has had to respond to this revelation during his recent visit to Myanmar. He indicated that a suitable enquiry would be carried out on the matter. A more cautious and supervised military assistance process to the Myanmar Army during the NDA regime could have averted this embarrassing incident.

India’s political relations with the Tatmadaw-dominated regime in the post-Ne Win period had a logic of its own. The northern tribal region of Myanmar has been neglected and been in ferment for more than two decades. The Nagas of India have some of their ethnic stock in north-western Myanmar. In this milieu, insurgents from India’s north-east had tried to exploit the ferment in north-western Myanmar. Even now, the NSCN (Khaplang) maintains regrouping areas and rear bases in this region. India justifiably had to build up a relationship with the Myanmar junta to neutralise the operational facilities Indian insurgents have tried to develop in Myanmar’s territory. The Myanmar Army did place some curbs on hostile Indian insurgents in its territory, but could do so only up to a degree keeping in view its own political priorities as well as material limitations.

India’s posture in the matter of defence cooperation with Myanmar now needs to be tempered, keeping in view the realities of ethnic turmoil in that country, the breaking down of the 17-year ceasefire between the Tatmadaw and the KIA (which had held till September 2011), periodic violence between the majority Buddhist Burmans and the minority Muslim Rohingyas in the south-western Rohingya province and a manifestly negative human rights record of the Myanmar Army. While India has supplied arms and equipment quite selectively, the outcome, which was expected to serve India’s interests, has not been commensurate. India has now, perforce, to be extra cautious while supplying material resources including warlike items to the Myanmar Army when more than 260 of its own 340 Army battalions are de facto deployed in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations.

While India may maintain a measured relationship with the Tatmadaw, it should work towards facilitating a rapprochement among the Burmans and the other ethnic groups. Such an approach will also harmonise with Myanmar’s national consolidation and progress towards further democratisation. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had stated in the recent past that China supports Myanmar’s efforts in maintaining its national stability while promoting ethnic groups. India’s message may be similarly nuanced and should not be viewed as being on the wrong side of either the ethnic population or of democratic political forces like the National League for Democracy and their allies.

India’s cooperation with the Tatmadaw may be more in the realm of training military personnel in Indian establishments and training facilities in as broad-based a manner as possible, i.e. including some minor component of non-Burman personnel but without causing diplomatic or political irritations. Joint operations between the Assam Rifles who are responsible for the first-level security of the India-Myanmar frontier and their Myanmarese counterparts are a necessity apropos India’s interests and may also be organised more effectively with adequate political supervision. These approaches may be attempted rather than direct arms and equipment supplies to the Myanmar armed forces, where end-use may not always be assured in tandem with New Delhi’s interests
January 18, 2013

By Gautam Sen

India and Myanmar have been maintaining relations at an adequately high level between their Defence forces and particularly between the Indian Army and the Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw). Relations between the two armies have been substantive especially since the early 1990s. This was but natural considering geographical contiguity, the 1463 km long land boundary, the sensitivity of the security situation in India’s northern eastern states of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur that border Myanmar, and China’s expanding economic and military links with Myanmar.

India has also had an arms-equipment supply-based relationship with the Myanmar armed forces. After 1992, a radical change in this respect was discernible when India started supplying weaponry and equipment including 105 mm guns, T-55 tanks, light helicopters, transport planes, artillery ammunition and some naval craft. However, during the NDA regime in India, counter-espionage authorities at the behest of the Defence Minister George Fernandes had ham-handedly and without suitable precautions supplied some quantity of infantry and artillery weapons to the Tatmadaw. The outcome was evident recently, when, some of these weapons having `batch numbers` from the lot exported by Sweden to India, fell into the hands of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), leading to adverse international publicity and consequent embarrassment for New Delhi.
Myanmar (Burma) - India Relations

Myanmar (Burma) – India Relations

Ewa Bjorling, Sweden’s Trade Minister, has confirmed to the Swedish Parliament that Swedish Carl Gustaf M-3 anti-tank rifles and related ammunition originally exported to India have ended up in the hands of the Myanmar Army, which is using them in its operations against the KIA. Consequent to the above and related media coverage, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has had to respond to this revelation during his recent visit to Myanmar. He indicated that a suitable enquiry would be carried out on the matter. A more cautious and supervised military assistance process to the Myanmar Army during the NDA regime could have averted this embarrassing incident.

India’s political relations with the Tatmadaw-dominated regime in the post-Ne Win period had a logic of its own. The northern tribal region of Myanmar has been neglected and been in ferment for more than two decades. The Nagas of India have some of their ethnic stock in north-western Myanmar. In this milieu, insurgents from India’s north-east had tried to exploit the ferment in north-western Myanmar. Even now, the NSCN (Khaplang) maintains regrouping areas and rear bases in this region. India justifiably had to build up a relationship with the Myanmar junta to neutralise the operational facilities Indian insurgents have tried to develop in Myanmar’s territory. The Myanmar Army did place some curbs on hostile Indian insurgents in its territory, but could do so only up to a degree keeping in view its own political priorities as well as material limitations.

India’s posture in the matter of defence cooperation with Myanmar now needs to be tempered, keeping in view the realities of ethnic turmoil in that country, the breaking down of the 17-year ceasefire between the Tatmadaw and the KIA (which had held till September 2011), periodic violence between the majority Buddhist Burmans and the minority Muslim Rohingyas in the south-western Rohingya province and a manifestly negative human rights record of the Myanmar Army. While India has supplied arms and equipment quite selectively, the outcome, which was expected to serve India’s interests, has not been commensurate. India has now, perforce, to be extra cautious while supplying material resources including warlike items to the Myanmar Army when more than 260 of its own 340 Army battalions are de facto deployed in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations.

While India may maintain a measured relationship with the Tatmadaw, it should work towards facilitating a rapprochement among the Burmans and the other ethnic groups. Such an approach will also harmonise with Myanmar’s national consolidation and progress towards further democratisation. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had stated in the recent past that China supports Myanmar’s efforts in maintaining its national stability while promoting ethnic groups. India’s message may be similarly nuanced and should not be viewed as being on the wrong side of either the ethnic population or of democratic political forces like the National League for Democracy and their allies.

India’s cooperation with the Tatmadaw may be more in the realm of training military personnel in Indian establishments and training facilities in as broad-based a manner as possible, i.e. including some minor component of non-Burman personnel but without causing diplomatic or political irritations. Joint operations between the Assam Rifles who are responsible for the first-level security of the India-Myanmar frontier and their Myanmarese counterparts are a necessity apropos India’s interests and may also be organised more effectively with adequate political supervision. These approaches may be attempted rather than direct arms and equipment supplies to the Myanmar armed forces, where end-use may not always be assured in tandem with New Delhi’s interests

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