NSAs will talk

Writing early morning with all kinds of trend-stories carried by Indian media with newspapers hinting at breakdown before the talks get underway. The fact is the Modi regime will ensure the Sartaj Aziz-Ajit Doval talks will happen tomorrow — how the conversation ends and with what results is more difficult to predict considering there’s a basic disagreement even about what was agreed upon at Ufa by way of an agenda for the NSAs’meet — because the Indian PM has invested far too much in initiating a thaw as building block for his ambitious “Look West, Act West” policy. He apparently understands more than most people that while Pakistan is not indispensable to gaining access to Central Asia with Iranian port of Chahbahar in sight, it will help to bring Pakistan into the mix for two important reasons: (1) to address the sentiment of the Obama Admin that India’s not doing enough to normalise relations with Pakistan, thus keeping the security situation in the subcontinent on the boil, and (2) moderate to the extent possible the effects of a too close China-Pakistan nexus by offering the Nawaz Sharif govt an Indian channel for trade and commerce as path for economic prosperity.

I am also not convinced General Raheel Sharif and the Pakistan Army is the problem. The Pak COAS has time and again talked of the greater threat to his country from the extremist Islamic quarter and the Taliban in its two avatars — Afghan and Pakistani, not to mention the looming possibility of the dreaded IS putting down roots, and the need to concentrate Pak military resources in defeating this menace. For this. Raheel needs the eastern border with India to be quiet. Rather, I think it is elements in the Nawaz Sharif coterie who may be advising against de-prioritising the Kashmir issue, for fear of its domestic fallout.

Instead of making such big noise about Aziz meeting the Hurriyat leaders, wouldn’t it have been easier to simply put them under house arrest as soon as they landed in Delhi, and release them as soon as the Pakistani departed? There may be a negative effect but the onus would be on Pakistan to cancel the talks or sabotage them. Very different thing to happen than for GOI to gather opprobrium for ditching the talks.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Asian geopolitics, Central Asia, civil-military relations, domestic politics, India's Pakistan Policy, indian policy -- Israel, Iran and West Asia, Indian Politics, Internal Security, society, South Asia, Terrorism, United States, US.. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to NSAs will talk

  1. Vishak Bharadwaj says:

    But Christine Fair argues in her book that the Pakistani army will never look at India as a smaller threat than anything else. So the conflict is irreconcilable.

  2. How does that matter? India’s size — its intentions aside — would ensure Pak Army’ s being on guard.

  3. Hari sud says:

    I believe Gen Harbaksh singh’ s account of Khemkaran battle better than your run of the mill explanation. You are a critic hence your view, any account of the battle, who lead the battle etc. is with coloured glasses on. It was General Harbaksh idea that Patton tanks have to be denied the main roads for ingress into India, hence mined these. It was him who ordered to cut the Nullah to flood the area from where, if roads are denied, then Patton tanks would use fields to advance into India. Pakistanis merrily overconfident came into the slush fields and were shot at with anti tank recoiless guns. General had anticipated all this and had arranged the forces available (4th and Grenadier) in “U” formation that once the tanks are stuck in the mud, then fire upon them from all sides. You Mr. Bharat Karnad and many other critics instead of being proud have phoophooed the bravery and tactic of this battle. Pakistanis abandoned their ranks because in Islam, death in fire does not send you to heavens. You do not get 72 hoors. Patton were petrol driven and would catch fire when hit, so they abandoned the tanks while still running.

    You should read Israeli commentator Leo Heiman’s account of the battle written in 1966 edition of the American magazine Military Review. Until Leo Heimen wrote about the tactics of the battle and ill educated Pakistani tankers, who had difficulty using electrical cum analog computer controlled guns, nobody accurately knew what happened at Khemkaran. Pakistanis were lied about the battle. It is only after that the American military officials visited Khemkaran and saw for themselves the blown up Pattons.

    Hence your view point that India had no tanks to face off with Pakistani tanks at Khemkaran is pure fabrication. The tactics were such that Indian tanks were not needed for this battle. Had the Indian tanks were their they would have similarly been bogged down in the mud.

    • @hsud — Am a great admirer of Gen Harbhakhsh. He always felt he was denied Lahore by the machinations in Delhi. No question that the breaching of the nullah was a master stroke and so justly celebrated. The short point about Khemkaran I meant to make was the recognition not accorded CO, Deccan Horse, in the initial action that stalled the Pakistani drive before the reinforcements firmed up the line.

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