By Ranjit B Rai

(Reproduced from Asian Military Review, Aug 2005 issue)


New Delhi, 29 September 2005

India and Pakistan should place all their CBMs in one incubator or good basket, watch the eggs nurture in it and see that no one kicks it over.”      

APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India, April (17 April, 2005, New Delhi)

“The military option is not an option anymore. Now is the time for conflict resolution”. (18 April 2005, New Delhi)”. “ The issue (Kashmir) can be solved over certain time” 

General Parvez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, (12 June, 2005 Kuala Lumpur)

“The greatest change you will see in the next three or four years is a new American focus on South Asia, particularly in establishing a closer strategic partnership with India . . . If you look at all the trends—population, economic growth, foreign policy trends — there’s no question that India is the rising power in the East. . . . I think you’ll see this as a major focus of our President and our Secretary of state, and it will be the area of greatest dynamic positive change in American foreign policy.” 

US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns (26 May, 2005 Brussels)

With a slew of confidence-building measures and initiatives aggressively put in place by the Indian Government for rapprochement with its neighbours Pakistan and China, and the signing of security cooperation agreements in the littoral region of Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Seychelles and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, the Indian security and defence establishment in the 21st century presents a very different picture to that seen during the non alignment and cold war period. India has also begun to supply military aid to nations and the first consignment of military spares was  delivered by INS Magar to Viet Nam in mid June.

The new face of India is seen in many a field. Fuelled by the internet and computer revolution, it is struggling to transform itself. For the first time, the personnel of the Armed Forces are exposed to the thoughts, philosophies, doctrines and equipment requirements of their counterparts around the world. A new sense of confidence prevails, and changes are evident as nascent Indian defence industries work to deliver. India  has signed R and D agreements with Israel for joint funding in space, and that sector is advancing rapidly, and recently ISRO successfully placed India’s 1600 kg remote sensing satellite CARTOSAT 1 in polar orbit employing the 294 tons PSLV C6 from its Satish Dhawan launch pad in South India.

Structurally however, the Government is yet to see the many changes that have been recommended post the Kargil war of 1999. It has yet to fully activate the National Security Council and   appoint a Chief of Defence Staff, despite a large 300 strong Integrated Defence Staff IDS already in place under the senior most 3-star purple hat incumbent, Vice Admiral Raman Puri. The intelligence agencies still  lack coordination despite realization and efforts by the National Security Adviser M K Narayanan who doubles as the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister. A new technical agency akin to the NSA called National Technical Reporting Oganisation NTRO with aerial assets and carved out of the RAW, India’s CIA is still to settle. The basic structure of the Armed Forces remains unchanged, with the Chiefs of all three Services holding an equal 4-star ranking. The bureaucrats continue to be the decision makers under  the newly scripted  procedures for defence procurement and the political party in power dictates the preference and timing for major purchases. Large pending multi billion dollar orders for submarines  (Armaris Scorpene, HDW and Amur), transport (C 130 and Russian) and maritime surveillance aircraft (PC3 Orions, Boeing P8A and Russian) and 126 fighter aircraft Mirage (2000V, Grippen, MiG 29M2 and F 16) and 155 mm towed and self propelled guns( Bofors and Denel) are being lobbied for, by interested parties, as there are changed equations, within the new congress led one year old UPA Government in New Delhi. Most suppliers appreciate that the ordering procedure in India is dilatory. Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has assured that all $ 7.5 bill will be utilized for capital expenditure in 2005 but from now on it will be mandatory for all foreign arms suppliers receiving contracts worth more than $ 75 mill (Rs 3 billion) to offer  30% of the amount as direct offsets. This is a major change carried out in the defence capital procurement procedure manual released by defence minister in June. The minister said the procurement manual might be further revised once the second part of the Kelkar Committee recommendations were received.

United States Reaches Out To India

A land mark security development took place on 25 March 2005, when after secret deliberations, President Bush phoned PM Manmohan Singh and declared that the US was eager to help India develop as a world power, and offered defence equipment including F 16s. This was followed by a visit by Secretary Condelezza Rice who offered nuclear plant technology and F 18s, with PC 3 Orions and C 130Js already on offer. Since then the PAC 3 Patriot BMD system has also been cleared to India.  In early June at the Asian Security Conference organized by IISS  at Singapore,  Secretary Rumsfeld drew a stark contrast between China and democratic India declaring America is courting India as a counter-weight to the communist nation, with the words, “We anticipate that the relationship with India will continue to be strengthened. With respect to China, it’s not completely clear which way they are going because you have the tension I characterised between the nature of their political system and the nature of their economic system.” These policy turns by USA are of great significance and are shaping and influencing future Indo-Pak, India-China and Indo-US relations. India’s Defence Minsiter Pranab Mukherjee is visiting  USA as a guest of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 25 June and an elaborate programme of meetings for cooperation and visits to high security military establishments, including one to Colarado Springs Missile center  has been drawn up. PM Manmohan Singh is scheduled to visit with President Bush in Washington in July to discuss issues including nuclear technology while President Bush  is slated to visit India later this year. India covets new defence equipment and wishes to strengthen its nuclear energy program and fulfill its ambition to succeed in its expensive nuclear submarine programme, the ATV as this programme is directly under the PM. The United States had prohibited the sale of nuclear technology to India since India tested a nuclear bomb in 1998.A new era in India US security relations is on the anvil, and needs watching to see how far it fructifies.

Pakistan India Equations Witness Changes

Pakistan’s President Musharraf appreciates the new realities and appears to be factoring the changed circumstances to arrive at Pakistan’s future policy towards a more powerful India. Hence the elusive Kashmir issue could resolve with changes along the  Line of Control in due course, which India is pushing for, enumerating the economic gains that can accrue to both nations with normalized relations. Already India’s energy ambitions have led to developments unthinkable just a couple of years ago. India has supported a  $4 billion, 1,600-mile pipeline that would ferry natural gas from Iran across Pakistan to India, in which Pakistan stands to collect handsome transit fees and is being pursued as an international business project. India has signed a $5 bill deal for supply of gas from Iran as a first step. The project could see movement, despite the prospect of Baluchistan rebels threatening to cause disruptions, and USA’s reservations. Another of India’s “fanciful dreams,” as Mr Aiyer India’s Petroleum Minister calls them, is yet another pipeline that would dispatch gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, thence into Pakistan and India. Discussions on resolving the Sir Creek delineation to resolve the international sea boundary and Siachen have also moved forward and PM Manmohan Singh visited Saichen in June and stated the region could be “a mountain of peace”.

Current India-Pakistan Military CBMs

India has proposed 72 CBMs for Pakistan to consider. There is already a hot line between DGMOs of India and Pakistan and for the first time there is good will to ensure the cease fire declared along the LOC in Kashmir in November 2003 is diligently maintained. The laying of optical fibre cable (OFC) has been completed on the Indian side and progress on Pakistan side is awaited to make the hotline failsafe and secure. Presently, the hotline is based on microwave, and only voice communication is available with no data transmission capability. The two DGMOs exchange views on a weekly basis, every Tuesday. Link telephones between Corps/Divisional commanders have been proposed in the list of 72 CBMs. More recently the tempo of CBMs between India and Pakistan has also picked up and the earlier agreements on Advance Notice of Military Exercises, Manoeuvres and Troop Movements, Missile tests, Air Space Violation Restrictions, Prohibition of Attack on Nuclear Installations and Accord on Chemical Weapons have been re discussed and some implemented. Each  party diligently informs the other of the location of their  nuclear installations and facilities on 01 January every year, and whenever there is any change. The scope of this ‘No Attack Agreement’ is even broader than the Geneva Convention’s prohibition against attacking nuclear ‘electrical generating stations’. The India Pakistan agreement prohibits attack against nuclear power and research reactors, fuel fabrication, uranium enrichment, isotope separation and reprocessing facilities as well as other installations with fresh or irradiated fuel and material in any form, and establishments storing sufficient quantities of radioactive material. In August 1999 an Indian Air Force MiG 21 shot down a Pakistan Navy Atlantique and if the will on both sides continues, such an incident is unlikely to repeat in the current atmosphere.

Joint Declaration on Chemical Weapons

A Joint Declaration on the Complete Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was signed by India and Pakistan on 19 August  1992, at New Delhi. The two sides reaffirmed their adherence to the 1925 Geneva protocol on the prohibition of the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases and of bacteriological methods of warfare. They also declared their intent to become original parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which they have since signed. Earlier India-Pakistan military CBMs have been perfunctory with no depth since the basic common goal has not been developed by the two. For CBMs to really succeed, both countries need to enthuse trust. Pakistan had proposed a ‘no war pact’ which was rejected by India, due to lack of trust.

The Siachen Dispute

The Siachen area is acknowledged as  the highest battle field in the world where Indian troops on a high salient known as the Soltoro ridge at 19,000 feet over look the Pakistani troops who are ever ready to shoot upward and have attempted to recapture the salient, including one under then Brigadier Musharraf. The genesis of the dispute goes to the language inked in the 1949 India-Pakistan agreement that concluded the first of three wars in Kashmir. A CFL (cease-fire line) was agreed to run along the India-Pakistan border and then north and northeast until grid-point NJ 9842 on the map. NJ 9842 is situated near the Shyok River at the base of the Saltoro mountain range. Since there was no military presence in the area north of this grid-point in Kashmir, the two sides agreed that the CFL extended to NJ 9842 and “thence north to the glaciers”. India interpreted this to mean the line turned and ran true North geographically at NJ 9842. This was differently interpreted by Pakistan to mean the line carried on as an extension northeast wards and the row became serious in 1983-84. India dislodged the Pakistan Army from the salient now called Bana peak, named after the Junior Commissioned Officer who braved the heroic charge. Since 1984, the two sides have been locked in a conflict where weather, terrain and other climatic vagaries have claimed and maimed more Indian lives than actual combat. Pakistan and India nearly  declared Siachen as “No Man’s Land” in 1989, but is now under discussion for both sides to with draw and respect each others present actual position along the ground. PM Manmohan Singh personally visited the region in June to appreciate the situation. Indian Army has reservations to withdraw from the Saltoro ridge on a  two fold logic. It believes that if, post-withdrawal, the Pakistan army were to occupy the peaks that are in the hands of the Indian troops now, the Indian army will never ever be able to dislodge the Pakistanis. Another is the Siachen Glacier forms the wedge between Pakistan held Kashmir and Chinese Aksai Chin. The Indian army feels that control of the territory would support India’s defence of Ladakh, Jammu, and Kashmir against any threats from Pakistan or China and prevent either Pakistani or Chinese forces from outflanking Indian troops in the Leh and Kargil sectors. Further, controlling Siachen would enable India to monitor the Karakoram Highway and the Khunjerab Pass. The matter will not be easy to resolve unless trust is built up.

Prognosis. The nine Corps Commanders and the large Pakistan Army is the most powerful force within the power troika of Pakistan and the Army has always played a pivotal role even during the Pakistan’s intermittent trysts with democracy in Pakistan’s history. However historically by helping the Taliban and Mujahideens in Afghanistan before 9/11, large sections of the Pakistan Army are still sympathetic to and under the Jehadi Islamist influence. If General Musharraf is serious about attempting to eliminate this influence from the Army by getting rid of the Islamist elements there are good chances the peace process will move forward for resolution in a gradual manner. The generals who staged the coup to propel General Musharraf to power in absentia in October 1999 namely Generals Aziz, Usmani and Mehmud, have all retired or have been successfully eased out by General Musharraf. Indian Foreign Secretary Mr Shyam Saran and his Pakistani counterpart Mr Riaz H. Khokhar had agreed in Dec 2004, to explore CBMs vigorously along the international border and the LOC, and if these are followed up with trust and genuineness from both sides the prognosis looks promising, and USA can contribute by keeping the pressure on Pakistan.

India–China Draw New Roadmap

 India is doing incremental business with China and is aware that is the right thing to do but it also views nuclear China which is arming itself, as its biggest competitor in the region for dominance. It also sees China lining up new energy sources which will have to transit the Indian Ocean, which India sees as its parish. The combined appetite of the two Asian giants is also raising oil prices and putting greater demands on world oil supplies. The armies of India and China, which fought a border war four decades ago, are now burying the past and leaders are doing their bit to resolve the border more or less on as is where basis  along the line of peace and tranquility, with minor adjustments, and mutually working to drop claims. The Indian Navy has exercised with the Chinese Navy off Shanghai in 2004, and recently in end May the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash who is also the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee held talks with visiting Chinese Chief of General Staff, General Liang Guanglie. The visiting Army general’s team included high ranking naval and air force officers of the PLA. The PLA navy has been invited to join in exercises off India and the delegation visited Western Naval Command. Indian armed forces officers have been deputed to institutions in China and many strategic teams have visited each other’s institutions. The general was the guest of Army Chief Gen J J Singh and Indian Army declared it will hold unprecedented joint counter-terrorism and peacekeeping training programmes with China in the near future. One Indian Major General and a team witnessed exercises in China.This is being reciprocated.

Army Chief General Joginder Jaswant Singh discussed many wide ranging cooperative moves with General Guanglie in Delhi. All three services expeditions to Mount Everest have used the Chinese side and the PLA has been most cooperative. The army to army relations on the northern borders have vastly improved and soldiers have gone on joint mountaineering expeditions, played volleyball matches, exchanged gifts and shared meals. In the words of Gen JJ Singh, which he uttered soon after the General left India, “The momentum given by the leaders of our two countries is being enhanced further by the two militaries, where both countries could carry out maneuvers together to counter terrorism or on UN missions and relations assuming strategic relations.” Both Chiefs had  observed that the military Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), agreed on by both sides during the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in May , were very good


India’s security matrix is being built up on mutual cooperation and most nations in the Indian Ocean littorals are signing agreements for joint patrols. In the past India has extended military training assistance to countries, and aid only to Nepal and Bhutan. This is being extended to the littoral and the Indian Navy is being projected as the leading policeman for the region to see it is stable and peaceful. The Indian Navy is being beefed up to attend to the freedom of the seas and safety of the Sea Lines of Communications. India has presented a Fast Attack craft to Seychelles, small ships to Maldives and is due to refit Sri Lanka Navy ships and provide an air defence system to Sri Lanka as the LTTE is building up some aerial assets. Now Viet Nam is on the list and IN’s lead amphibious landing ship tank INS Magar sailed with 900 boxes of spares for Petya and OSA missile boats and in the presence of Vice Admiral OP Bansal delivered them to the Viet Namese Navy in mid June. Japan is in serious discussions with India to see how its interests in the Indian Ocean can be jointly safe guarded. There is more out of the box thinking to be seen in the India’s Security build of the future and this bodes well, as USA looks to interoperability by offering its equipment and support to India.

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