India-Pakistan Relations

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  • Strategic Importance of Radio Kashmir in Countering Pakistan's War of Words against India

    Like any other government-owned media institution, Radio Kashmir has historically been entrusted with a mission to safeguard the territorial integrity of India and help in guarding its vital strategic interests. It acts as an agency that bridges the gap between the government and the people and creates a favourable opinion of India as a strong, modern and secular democracy in a region where fundamentalism and military ambitions have created rogue states.

    March 2013

    Gaurav Gupta asked: Why has India rejected proposed neutral investigation into the recent incident of mutilation of Indian soldier’s body, to name and shame Pakistan?

    Satish Nambiar replies: It is difficult to answer this question with any degree of credibility as one is not privy to the decision making apparatus within the government now. However, on the basis of one’s experience, it is possible to speculate. Whereas the Government of India dealt with the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) since the Cease Fire Agreement of January 1949, it did not recognise a role for this UN mission subsequent to the Shimla Agreement of 1972 on the grounds that the latter Agreement provided for the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute on a bilateral basis. To that extent, while Pakistan which took the position that the role for the Mission continued, and therefore carried on registering so-called cease-fire violations after 1972 with the UNMOGIP, the Indian side did not recognise any role for the mission, except to the extent of continuing to provide it with facilities and support for its offices in New Delhi and probably Jammu and Srinagar. It is difficult to comprehend why the Government of India took what was a valid position, but did not seek closure of the UNMOGIP which had no role to play in Jammu and Kashmir.

    Having taken a position that there was no role for an international “third party” in so far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, it was probably problematic for the Government of India to take the issue of atrocities like “mutilation” of the bodies of our soldiers in incidents on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, to international bodies like the Human Rights Council, etc. Therefore the real answer to the question is that it is not possible to “have the cake and eat it”. That is the problem that confronts the establishment.

    Karthik Shetty asked: After the recent tension between India & Pakistan, would China be conducting joint military exercise with India? How serious is China about these exercises?

    Mandip Singh replies: The India-China military exercises are a part of confidence building measures (CBMs) that contribute towards a peaceful, just and fair settlement of the India-China border dispute based on historical evidence and international law. These CBMs were signed in 1993 and 2006 and continue to be revisited to further improve the understanding and engagement between the two militaries. The first naval exercises between the two countries were held in 2003, off the coast of Kochi, and in 2005, in East China Sea. The first army exercise code named 'Hand in Hand' was held in Kunming in China in 2007, and the next year in Belgaum in India.

    Military relations were disrupted after China denied visa to India's Northern Army Commander, Lt General B.S. Jaswal. It was only during the visit of China's Minister of Defence, Liang Guanglie, to India in September 2012 that there was a thaw in the relations. At the 5th Annual Defence Dialogue held at Beijing on 14-15 January 2013, it was agreed to resume the exercises between the two militaries of all three services - Army, Navy and Air Force. At no time has Pakistan been an influence in this relationship. The engagements between the two militaries have nothing to do with India’s relations with Pakistan, nor are these exercises relevant to China-Pakistan relations.

    The fact that China and India have moved ahead with resumption of these military exercises, unconditionally, and with no caveat is an indicator of the mutual understanding between the two countries to carry forward the engagement and dialogue to the next level. There is no reason to believe and no indications to suggest that China may not be ‘serious’ to go ahead with these exercises. It may be prudent to recount that, besides political dividends, such exercises develop understanding, foster goodwill and assist in establishing standard operating procedures between two militaries when operating jointly in humanitarian and disaster relief missions.

    Abhinav Upadhyay asked: In the backdrop of recent skirmishes along the LoC, how can India create strong disincentives for such hostile actions by Pakistan?

    Vivek Chadha replies: India faces a challenging environment on the LoC. It is important to understand it, before looking at the means of neutralising or at least minimising the threat. First, there is near parity in force levels. Therefore, any talk of doing a US kind of operation has its challenges. Second, India faces a dual threat of infiltration by terrorists and LoC violations by regulars. This forces the army to deploy for both contingencies. This is not the ideal way of deploying in the area, as the method attempts to do both the tasks well, which is not possible. On the other hand, Pakistan does not face similar threats from India. Third, the geography of the area makes manning the LoC very difficult, especially during bad weather. Fourth, the LoC does not run in a straight line. Its curvaceous nature leads to creation of avenues for easy infiltration. Fifth, Pakistan continuously attempts to maintain instability on the LoC, as it is a convenient sub-conventional advantage it has.

    In view of these circumstances, the following can be done to create disincentives for Pakistan. First, there should be a declaratory policy of measured response to any violation of ceasefire on the LoC. This will create caution against misadventures. Second, the retaliatory action should be punitive and a lesson for future. Third, a clear escalation ladder should be war-gamed to ensure that actions remain within it. Fourth, the threat of border actions, infiltration and raids must be as probable for Pakistan as it is for India to keep opposing forces unstable. Fifth, our forces should be equipped and maintained with the best technology and weapons to create an edge on the LoC.

    India and Pakistan: Getting Along with the Peace Process

    Even as it presses for action against the people responsible for beheading of Indian soldiers, India should take care not to disengage from the process of dialogue.

    January 18, 2013

    Assessing Pakistan’s Transgression on the Line of Control

    The declining domestic standing of the Pakistan Army is likely to be bolstered through military tensions on the LoC, social upheaval in Jammu & Kashmir and religious hysteria within Pakistan as a prelude to adopting a more proactive role in Kashmir.

    January 16, 2013

    The Aggressor Will Always Get Away

    Instant, hard and yet calibrated military, diplomatic and political response is needed since mere warnings and protestations have proved grossly inadequate to change Pakistan’s behaviour.

    January 10, 2013

    A Siachen Resolution: Why Now?

    India should put Pakistan on parole and watch its behaviour for 20 years before even beginning to think of any concessions in Siachen or elsewhere.

    November 08, 2012

    Jaya Pradeep asked: What were the major signposts of the Simla Agreement of 1972? What is its relevance in the present scenario?

    Ashok K. Behuria replies: The Simla Agreement signed between India and Pakistan on July 2, 1972 was a signpost in the sense that it involved a commitment from Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues with India bilaterally. The text of the Agreement (clause ii) clearly stated:

    “That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them. Pending the final settlement of any of the problems between the two countries, neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation and both shall prevent the organization, assistance or encouragement of any acts detrimental to the maintenance of peace and harmonious relations.”

    Until then, Pakistan emphasised on external mediation, either by any powerful country or by the United Nations. Therefore, it was regarded as a diplomatic victory for India following Pakistan's conclusive defeat in the 1971 war that led to its division and formation of Bangladesh.

    However, there is a strong view that India squandered away an opportunity to resolve the issue of Kashmir and, as is clear from the memoirs of diplomats and journalists covering the Simla summit, Bhutto displayed rare diplomatic ability to sway the negotiations in Pakistan's favour, and walked away with a verbal commitment to work sincerely towards converting the Line of Control or LoC (until then it was called ceasefire line or CFL) as the international border between India and Pakistan. It was not too long after the Agreement was signed that Bhutto, in a public speech, repudiated the Agreement and reportedly stated that as a Muslim he was not bound by the terms and conditions of an Agreement that he had signed with a Kafir.

    While Simla Agreement has been invoked by India on several occasions to remind Pakistan of its commitment to resolve outstanding issues bilaterally through peaceful means, Pakistan has violated the spirit of the Agreement not only by raking up bilateral issues in international fora, but also by using terror as an instrument to interfere in the internal affairs of India ever since. The decade long militancy (1989-1999) in Kashmir, the armed intrusion in Kargil and the ongoing Pakistani efforts to revive militancy in the Kashmir Valley demonstrate Pakistani intentions not to abide by the terms of the Simla Agreement. This is worrisome.

    However, the Indian efforts to engage Pakistan in a constructive dialogue, despite Pakistan's penchant for using terror as an instrument of its policy vis-à-vis India, may go a long way in reinforcing the spirit of the Simla Agreement and reaping international goodwill which may pressurise Pakistan to behave responsibly in future.