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Friday, 21 March 2014

From Today's Papers - 21 Mar 2014

 India, Pakistan move closer to power deal

Islamabad, March 20
The long discussed Indo-Pak electricity deal has moved closer to reality with energy- starved Pakistan handing over draft of an initial power trade deal to India.

The move comes as the World Bank has offered to finance the feasibility study and transmission line to import 1,200 megawatts (MW) of power from India.

"Now, the World Bank has also offered to finance a feasibility study along with the (installation of) transmission line to import 1,200 MW power from India," an unnamed government official told the Express Tribune daily. The official said a draft of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was handed over to Indian authorities in a recent meeting held in New Delhi. India would respond to Pakistan after going through the draft of the initial deal, the official said. Indian diplomats said Pakistan and India have constituted technical working groups which would review the aspects of the export of 500 MW of electricity to Pakistan. The Pakistani cabinet had decided in January to import electricity from India. — PTI
 Maj Gen gets disability pension after 13-yr wait
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
Thirteen years after his retirement, a Major General has been granted disability pension. The Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal today allowed his petition challenging an administrative order denying him the pension benefits.

The Bench ordered the petitioner, Maj Gen JS Kapoor, would be entitled to a disability element of 50 per cent. It also ruled that it would be open for the authorities concerned to hold a re-survey medical board to freshly assess the petitioner’s disability, if they so desired.

The petitioner retired in 2001 after putting in 38 years of service, during which he developed hypertension due to stress and strain of military service and later even had to undergo cardiac surgery.

A medical board had earlier assessed his disability as 20 per cent and attributed the same to military service. The medical adviser attached to the Adjutant General’s branch at the Army Headquarters, which deals with medical cases concerning officers, however, had refused to sanction the disability element of pension, saying it was not attributed to military service, without assigning any reason in support of its decision.
 IAF copters roped in to douse blaze near Tirupati temple

New Delhi, March 20
The IAF used its aircraft including two Mi-17V5 choppers with huge buckets to control fire in forests near the Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh, Defence Ministry said today. "Two MI-17 V5 helicopters with 'Bambi buckets' with a capacity of 4,000 litres of water each, reached Renigunta Airport and commenced the task of fire fighting. The helicopters carried out four sorties wherein all forest fires burning near the Temple were extinguished," a ministry release said.

The IAF had also deployed the An-32 and the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for carrying out a recce of the area to get a clear picture about the fire in the forest near the temple.

The Ministry said the Defence Crisis Management Group headed by the tri-services Integrated Defence Staff had deployed assets soon after the state administration requested for help yesterday at around 1500 hours.

The Army also deployed around 150 personnel from Chennai to assist the state administration in handling the crisis. "HQ Integrated Defence Staff is in touch with Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam authorities and continuously monitoring the Armed Forces response. The helicopter operations are likely to continue till tomorrow," the ministry added. — PTI
Pakistan still has to answer questions on Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden is dead. His soul may not rest in peace, and neither do controversies and queries that have followed the successful raid by the US Special Forces in Abbottabad in 2011. How could he have hidden in plain sight a short distance from a major Pakistani army cantonment, without anyone coming to know about it? Did the head of al-Qaida have support from within the Pakistani establishment, if so at what level? Who were the people he was regularly in touch with? The extensive electronic surveillance that preceded the raid and the recovery of a large cache of documents and computer drives gave US intelligence officers some answers, but what they knew has largely been shrouded from the world.

Now an American reporter has levelled the charge that bin Laden did indeed have the support of the intelligence agency. She has named the then ISI chief, Lieut-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, as the person who knew about the hideout. Ironically, Pasha had cordial relations with American officials and was often seen as an anti-Taliban officer. Predictably, both Washington and Islamabad have maintained that there is no evidence that the al-Qaida leader's presence was known at the highest levels of the government in Pakistan.

Even as denials ensue, there are signs that the establishment in Pakistan is re-evaluating the efficacy of supporting terrorist operations as terrorist attacks continue to take civilian lives there. The "strategic depth" police on Afghanistan have brought home terror, further aggravated by ISI-supported organisations that openly work for terrorists who target India. The political leadership and even the military have not been able to reign in the ISI, which has got entrapped in the very game it initiated. Further revelations will, no doubt, show the world the true nature of the internal security agency that supported terrorism. It is time we all realised there are no good or bad terrorists, only mass murderers whose designs must be thwarted by all civilised societies.
 Reading Henderson in historical context
Triggered by India’s ‘forward policy’ and the leadership’s failure to read the Chinese reaction, the 1962 war was lost before it was fought
Zorawar Daulet Singh

THE partial release of the Henderson Brooks Report (HBR) has affirmed a widely held belief among historians and sections of the strategic community that a politicised and incompetent higher defence and intelligence system in Delhi contributed to and adversely affected the outcome on the battlefield in 1962.
To enable a better understanding of the causes of 1962, however, the HBR should also be located in its historical context. A study of Indian perceptions at the highest level is vital to understanding the path to 1962.

The primary objective of the Nehru regime, even as the dispute deteriorated after 1959, was to avoid a frontal collision with China. The central puzzle, therefore, is why did India find itself on the Himalayan battlefield in October 1962? There are four factors that arguably shaped Indian behaviour leading up to 1962:

Contested worldviews

It is useful to appreciate the context that framed India’s geopolitical worldview since this directly influenced the type of China policy adopted. The entry of Pakistan into the Western alliance system in 1954 led to an ideological model of threat assessment where an externally backed Pakistan was deemed as the primary political and military threat. India’s engagement of China and the 1954 Agreement emanated from Nehru’s unwillingness to open a second front.

After 1959, there appears to be one worldview embodied by Nehru and Krishna Menon favouring non-alignment, resisting Pakistan, and avoiding conflict with China, and another worldview from the right calling for an entente with the West, a common defence pact with Pakistan and a more robust policy vis-à-vis China. This was not simply a dichotomy of ideological threat assessments but a real military dilemma since given fixed force levels the challenge was finding an appropriate deployment mix for the Pakistani and Chinese frontiers.

If such a notion of contested worldviews is plausible, it might explain the erratic pattern of India’s policies and posture subsequently. Nehru in trying to placate the Congress right was compelled to make a policy shift and adopt an unyielding posture of no-negotiations and demonstrate resolve through the 1961 forward policy that even though did not intend for conflict with China it inevitably led to it.

India in world politics

After 1959, the Indian government began to perceive both the superpowers’ tilt toward India on the dispute as some sort of restraint on Chinese behaviour. One could view it as ‘soft’ external balancing. In 1959, India made requests to the Soviets to rein in the Chinese. Soviet support via its neutrality, which was expressed in the famous Tass statement of September 9, 1959, while a symbolic gesture could have shaped India’s false sense of confidence in its dealings with China. Although we also now know that Moscow had told Delhi the limits of their influence on Chinese behaviour.

Nevertheless, after 1960, India receiving strategic attention and material aid from both superpowers, even as China was growing increasingly isolated, probably emboldened the Nehru government to overestimate India’s importance in superpower grand strategies. It probably also led to an assumption that Chinese behaviour would be restrained by the international situation and it might also have simultaneously reduced incentives for India to make any concessions on the border dispute.

An interesting anecdote exemplifies this: On October 13, 1962, a week before the war, in an exchange between Foreign Secretary M.J. Desai and US Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith, Desai remarks that there “would be no extensive Chinese reaction because of their fear of the US - ‘It is you they really fear’.” Of course, the Chinese had received assurances both from the US regarding the Taiwan Straits Crisis (June 23 and June 27) and the Soviets (October 13-14), thereby freeing them to focus on the Indian front.

Strategic culture

The HBR reveals that assumptions about Chinese non-use of force had permeated the national security system. The perceptual roots were, however, deeper.

For Nehru, the China threat was a long-range one that could only be dealt with by India’s industrial revival, and, that the “Chinese could not sustain any major drive across the ‘great land barrier’”.

Such a conviction was reinforced by a broader strategic belief that a limited high intensity war had become impossible in a nuclearised bipolar system. India’s calculus was shaped by a one-step escalation scenario: any Chinese use of force would involve an automatic escalation to the global nuclear level, and, such a spectre of a global conflagration would somehow deter a conflict on the Himalayan border.

The contrasting assessments of Nehru and Mao were evident from their 1954 encounter: Nehru argued that the nature of force had undergone a radical shift in a nuclear world and the next war would be truly global in both scope and destruction. Mao’s response was that despite the introduction of nuclear weapons the basic nature of warfare remained unchanged except the casualties would henceforth be higher. The role of force still mattered and could not be ruled out. Clearly, there was a difference in strategic culture and how each side viewed the relationship of military power to politics.

In a December 1961 Lok Sabha speech, Nehru remarked: “One must not go by all the brave words that are said in these communications to us by the Chinese government. But other factors work also.” This miscalculation is captured in Nehru’s view as late as on October 2, 1962: he “had good reasons to believe the Chinese would not take any strong action against us”.

Overestimating Chinese weakness

The economic and ideological crisis after the debacle of the Great Leap Forward led India to overestimate China’s internal problems. The assumption drawn was that given China’s deteriorating strategic and domestic environment after 1959, China would bark but not resort to overwhelming force. The 1961 forward policy of probing disputed pockets and showing the flag up to India’s perception of the border in the western sector probably emanated from this overall geopolitical assessment that was perceived as advantageous to India.

Even on the frontier, most standoffs between 1959 and the spring of 1962 were local, and in most cases the Chinese backed off without attacking Indian posts. These experiences shaped intelligence and military perceptions that the Chinese were not interested in a serious conflagration.

The real reason was that since the end of 1959 China had reduced the intensity of its patrolling and this only resumed in the summer of 1962. After two bloody skirmishes in the eastern and western sectors in August and October 1959, Mao instructed the PLA to cease patrolling in the forward zone within 20 km of China’s line of actual control. Using this limited time range as their reference, the Intelligence Bureau estimated that the Chinese were unlikely to use force against any Indian post even if they were in a position to do so. It was during this phase that the forward policy found expression.

The reality was the Chinese had already accomplished most of their objectives by their own forward policies of 1956-1959, and, by 1960, had established a line of actual control in the western sector (Aksai Chin). They would henceforth adopt a holding pattern until the summer of 1962.

From March 1962 onward the Chinese policy began a process of gradually reacting to India’s forward policy. As one historian writes, these measures included, “…ceasing withdrawal when confronted by Indian advances and adoption of a policy of ‘armed coexistence’, acceleration of China’s own advance, building positions surrounding, threatening, and cutting off Indian outposts, steady improvement of PLA logistic and other capabilities in the frontier region, increasingly strong and direct verbal warnings, and by September 1962, outright but small-scale PLA assaults on key Indian outposts — [but these] did not cause India to abandon its illusion of Chinese weakness.” The HBR shows that the Western Army Command did alert Delhi on Chinese activities during this time but did not receive the resources or a re-appraisal to modify the forward policy.

Politically, there was a renewed attempt by the Nehru government to explore a détente in the summer of 1962. These initiatives, however, were half-hearted and did not explicitly abandon India’s pre-conditions for negotiations: namely, Chinese evacuation of Aksai Chin.

Sleepwalking into conflict

By the summer of 1962, India was in an extraordinary position where the regional commanders did not have the resources should China call the bluff on India’s forward probing. Delhi did not have the policy and intelligence agility to re-appraise the efficacy of the forward policy given renewed signalling by the PLA, and the Nehru regime was unable to lower tensions with China.

India’s no-negotiation stance with China, however irrational in retrospect, was exacerbated by the careless and reckless implementation of the forward policy. It was this latter development that converted what would have probably remained confined to a political argument into a military confrontation with Mao’s China.

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