An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 07 February 2002

IDC received the following piece from a Mr Peo Nathan from the United States and from the name Nathan, we assume that he is from India. We have said in the past that Indians are emotional and not proactive. Since 1200 AD when the Mughals dominated us and then the British, we have not been our own masters and are unlikely to be so for quite some time. Our Bhraministic culture tends to be dominated and as the writer has said it is USA for the present post the WTC attacks.

Khuswant Singh has just released his autobiography telling us how full of straw our Leaders were including Pandit Nehru and Mrs Gandhi, whom he rates as the best. Today IDC can say with confidence that India is a regional power and can become a major player in the world in the next two decades if it produces real Leaders in the political arena. Indian leaders’ mind set must accept that India is a powerful regional player and they must behave accordingly.

Peo Nathan has given a view from America and we offer it on our site as it has inputs on how India can behave.

War on Terrorism –– a Paradox for India
by Peo Nathan

India has to look at its long term strategic interests in South Asia under the light of current India-Pakistan standoff and the larger US presence in South Asia, in the pretext of fighting a war on terrorism wherever it breeds. A billion people democracy has to play an active role at least in South Asia for the betterment of people of South Asia that would set ways for playing a major role globally in the future. India had come a long way in all major sectors since its independence 50 years ago, from education to military preparedness, but, failed to assert its presence in the global arena; a billion people democracy doesn’t have permanent membership in the so called global body United Nations. It may not be too late however if India begins to be assertive while the global power game is at its doorstep. Failure to show its strengths now would probably contain it within its territorial limits for at least another decade. Global influence is not a status symbol; it is rather a prelude to economic viability in the world of countries that are increasingly dependent on each other from infrastructure building to consumer commodities.

Every country would have to act in its own national interests, however, nobody can deny that humanity is the broader spectrum that transcends national boundaries. United States’ war on terrorism after September 11th terrorist attacks on its soil was justified. It would be right to say that America’s fight against terrorism was a justification to implement its national interests. Its determination to assert its right to disintegrate its newly declared enemy so called “terrorists” was nothing less flamboyant than its war for oil against Saddam Hussein a decade ago. It then proved to the rest of the world that it had the will and the means to implement its interests even if it means fighting a former ally instrumental in checking Iran’s Islamic revolution. Persian Gulf war resulted in the permanent military bases in Saudi Arabia. However, if anyone were to slice and dice the war in Afghanistan, pros are more than cons; Afghans were liberated from outside rulers and terrorists that they failed to liberate themselves. Global community is helping rebuild the country from its two decades of conflicts and occupations. But at the same time the global community should not fail to remind themselves that destruction of Afghanistan was the legacy of cold war era.

There was a major flaw in the first sentence of this article in wrongfully saying Afghanistan was the breeding ground for terrorists. Pakistan’s Madarsas were the breeding grounds for Islamic terrorists and not Afghanistan. Instead of taking its fight into Pakistan, US decided to call Pakistan as its ally in the fight against terrorism. If one were to question that logic, it would become obvious that US was acting on its national interests. US worked hand-in-hand with Pakistan in creating today’s Islamic fundamentalists that served its purpose in extraditing the Red Army out of Afghanistan in early 80’s. US would not abandon its old ally Pakistan for India when the latter showed its vociferous willingness to join US in its fight against terrorism after September 11th. A former CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) station chief in Pakistan had been quoted as saying “…never mind that the only country in South Asia that always did what we asked was Pakistan". India does not have to take the burden of proving to US beyond what was already obvious to world that Pakistan had a policy of encouraging and involving itself in Islamic fundamentalism, a foundation to Islamic terrorism.

Suddenly New Delhi has become a busy stopover for US diplomats when India mobilized its troops to its border with Pakistan after December 13th attack on its parliament. If deployment of troops by India along LOC (line-of-actual control) was merely to get the attention of the big brother US, India has to go a long way in understanding geo-politics. Today’s India had strategically countered China by going nuclear in 1998 and by developing short and long-range missile systems. By maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent, India and China could resolve their border disputes that exist in the form of Chinese occupation of Aksai Chin, a strategic point for China against India in an event of conflict in northern sector with Korakoram highway strategically built across Korakoram Pass connecting to Chinese supply lines.

United States is supposedly pressurizing General Musharraf’s Government to lease 20,000 acres of land for military base in Baluchistan, south of Afghanistan in the light of straining relations between US and Saudi Arabia. An ideal ground to guard the proposed pipeline outlet to Arabian Sea from Caspian basin believed to be the Persian Gulf of the 21st Century estimated at more than 225 billion barrels of oil reserves. The pipeline would have to come across Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Southern Pakistan. By building the Caspian basin pipeline, United States would effectively neutralize upper hand of Persian Gulf oil and the growing dominance of Russian oil.

The military base in southern Pakistan would eavesdrop more on India than it possibly does on China. Except for the far fetched scenarios to rapidly deploy US ground troops against China in an event of a military conflict to protect Taiwanese independence, this base would not strategically affect China as it would affect India. It is imperative to point out that China’s irritant is already the huge US naval presence in Taiwan Straits. Also the proposed military base would be in the Arabian Sea unlike Diego Garcia in Indian Ocean. US naval power in Arabian Sea would be a greater hindrance to vastly active Indian Navy than Chinese Navy that has zero presence in Arabian Sea. America would achieve three major objectives with this base other than the economical gains from the Caspian pipeline. Firstly, counter Indian military dominance in South Asia and effectively contain India within its territory. Secondly, evict Chinese influence out of Pakistan thereby effectively terminating Chinese military alliance in South Asia. Thirdly, US will have absolute control over the “Islamic bomb”- the nuclear weapons of Pakistan that would cohesively continue to counter and intimidate India.

India has two options, either ignore the geo-politics that are taking shape in its backyard or stand determined to assert its influence in South Asia by going beyond mere troops deployment. India’s troop deployment as is being thought in some circles in New Delhi was to force Pakistan to act against terrorists would be a short-sighted and an expensive measure for both India and Pakistan that would bring little results. One thing for sure hardliners in New Delhi understood that assertiveness commands attention and respect.

Cleaning up terrorism in Pakistan is a humongous ordeal that would not happen overnight. If it is true as was stated by Indian leaders that de-escalation will occur only when cross-border terrorism ends, then it would turnout exponentially expensive and quite an impractical ordeal to India. The reasons are simple; more pressure on Pakistan from India over prolonged time would work out favorable to US, as Pakistan would find asylum in signing the proposed military base in southern Pakistan. When US and Pakistan enter such an agreement, India was bound to loose in its pressure tactic, as Pakistan would have assurances from US to be protected from any kind of aggression from India. US in Pakistan would be more interested in preventing further terror strikes on its interests and soil but would have no interest in stopping cross-border terrorism in India. As a matter of fact it would be more attractive to US to mediate Kashmir issue directly or indirectly between India and Pakistan to effectively subdue India if its presence in Pakistan were permanent. With Kashmir issue for India and Taiwan independence for China, the two major South-Asian powers balance each other and would be under the scrutiny of international community influenced by United States.

It is in the best interest of South Asian neighbors to seek out their differences and to control and manage their assets without bringing a mediator. Pakistan and India have more in common than the rest of the world. But Pakistan consistently tried to internationalize Kashmir dispute in spite of tolerance showed by India in the last decade even after Kargil incursion into India by Pakistan in 1999. No feasibility to resolve Kashmir dispute bilaterally puts India to explore a hypothetical solution to its terrorism and sovereignty issues. Should India unilaterally act by attacking terrorist camps along LOC that would preclude further attack on terrorist camps deeper inside POK or go further by implementing its 1994 resolution of declaring Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) as an integral part of India? Either of these hypotheses would assert India’s position in the international arena and discourage US presence in the Asian Subcontinent. In such events, US and the rest of the world would have no moral right to object democratic India’s action in defending itself against violent terror attacks on its interests and its people emanating from POK. Such military actions would drive the world powers on to the negotiating table with India as there would be a lot at stake for everyone in the region in the event of a full-scale war between India and Pakistan. This would open up the opportunity to address the fate of loosely controlled Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, the proposed US base in southern Pakistan and the Caspian pipeline as well, which are of strategic and economic importance to India.

China, military ally of Pakistan, showed apathy to embroil itself in the Indo-Pakistan anti-terrorism conflict while it faces fundamental Islamic terrorism uprising in Xinchiang province coming from POK and from earlier Taliban Afghanistan. China would view India’s military action in POK to its benefit as such an action could discourage US in establishing permanent bases in Pakistan. Russia do have means to work with India as well owing to its own interest in co-operating with its former Soviet Republics in Caspian Sea region in exploring oil in Caspian Sea basin.

Reports suggest that considerable efforts that were made by some top leadership in New Delhi to lean towards signing joint military alliance with Washington had been averted by hardliners in New Delhi. It would be oxymoronic to have US base in southern Pakistan and for India to indulge itself as an ally to US in the superstitious war against terrorism and a military partner in South Asia. In addition to loosing strategic upper hand in South Asia, India would not only lose the trust of its once trusted friend Russia that thwarted every effort by the West to interfere in Kashmir dispute by its veto in United Nation, but also the future of itself as a major shaper of world politics that has immense economic benefits. Some might argue that such a military alliance between India and US would help India’s long-term technological and economical interests. Such an argument has no basis or fact whatsoever. India attracts foreign investments owing to its size irrespective of whether it exhibits its loyalty to the West or not. Economic liberalization that began since early 90’s by India has and would take its course in attracting major foreign investments. India and US, the two largest democracies, have lot to contribute to the betterment of humanity across the globe, however, they have to evolve along their own lines of national interests.

Implementing the 1994 resolution to integrate POK to India or attacking terrorist camps in POK are bloody affairs that would cost lives and livelihood of thousands of people across the LOC in both Pakistan and India. With poverty on one hand and slowing economy on the other, the Government and the people of India are in the better position to make that judgment.

Peo Nathan


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