[he Indian Army deploying M-777 ultra-light howitzers i Tawang District]
National security expert Bharat Karnad, emeritus professor of national security studies at the Centre for Policy Research is not surprised at the Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat’s comments on the precarious security situation on both our northern and eastern borders.
Prof. Karnad spoke out to Rediff.com‘s Senior Contributor Rashme Sehgal about how the Chinese have now turned their focus towards our eastern border.
The first of a two-part interview:
Why has General Rawat stepped into troubled waters by contradicting the US department of defence report highlighting that China is building a 100 house civilian village in Arunachal Pradesh?
Apparently, General Rawat is unable to resist his urge to rise to every media bait, rather than refer the question, as he should have done, to the MEA which articulates the country’s responses on all external-related issues.
ISRO satellites would have confirmed to our military intelligence wing by now whether this construction has taken place on the ground?
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday that India had taken note of the DOD report and that this was not unexpected since China had undertake similar construction activities.
Even if this construction is taking place to accommodate their military, this is akin to a warning signal for us.
Yes, Indian satellites have enough resolution to identify encroachments by the Chinese even in mountainous areas and, over time, to pinpoint the structures that have come up.
Such information would have been available to the Defence Image Processing and Analysis Centre (DIPAC) and hence to the military, defence ministry, MEA and the rest of the government as soon as the first ingress was made by the PLA many years back.
This much is evident from the Pentagon report’s mentioning that ‘these infrastructure development efforts’ had occasioned ‘consternation’ in the Indian government, and the subsequent MEA statement that such illegal buildup by China has been ongoing for several ‘decades’ which, in fact, is a damning indictment of the government as much as of the army, and the Indian military, generally.
This is not the first time this has happened. We were witness to the strange drama where Prime Minister Modi said on June 19, 2020 that there ‘is and has been no intrusion by the Chinese’ which contradicted the press note issued by the MEA on June 17 after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had spoken to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the Chinese had crossed the LAC and erected a structure there?
This is obviously a case — all too frequent in the Government of India, of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, and the brain of this entire organism — the PM and the PMO, not being sure what the immediate response and the longer term policy should be and therefore unable to coordinate positions taken by the PM, MEA, and the armed services.
The PLA occupies 1,000 square kilometres of our land.
We appear to have agreed to their terms in Hot Springs and the Depsang Plains.
What effect will this have on our army commanders when they go for talks with their Chinese counterparts on this contentious issue?
India may have agreed to keep talking and, presumably, negotiating with the Chinese for the restoration of the status quo ante, which Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has repeatedly said is the prerequisite for return of normalcy to bilateral relations.
Except, by withdrawing from the Kailash Range heights held by the Special Frontier Force units in return for minor pullback by the PLA from terrain features Fingers’ 3 and 4 on the Pangong Tso, India not only lost the army several important vantage points, but the Modi government the negotiating leverage to obtain the PLA’s withdrawal from the Y-Junction on the Depsang Plains.
And, it has permanently unsettled India’s negotiating strategy, assuming there is one, by accepting, ipso facto, the Chinese annexation of the area proximal to the Karakorum Pass of national security interest to India.
What will the repercussions of this be for India given that there are 23 such ‘areas of differing perception’, be along the entire length of the India-China boundary stretching from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh to the east?
Why wouldn’t so strategically-minded an adversary, such as China, not militarily exploit to the maximum Indian timidity, stupidity, and cupidity all along the LAC and legitimate, as it has done so often in the past, the fait accompli of incremental territorial grabs which, by the way, is its strategy and policy as implemented on the ground?
Already, after 13 rounds of talks, it appears as though India has conceded Hot Springs and the Depsang Plains to China, so it should come as no surprise that the Chinese are now asserting themselves in the Eastern Sector?
Having secured their western flank by first pushing and then freezing the Indian forward line in Ladakh, the PLA are now begining to concentrate their attention on Arunachal Pradesh they call ‘South Tibet’ to acquire which is Xi Jinping’s dream end-state.
Interview, Part Two:
Why Xi Is In A Hurry About Arunachal Pradesh
November 17, 2021, Rediff News,
‘Xi is keen that the remaining three territories still outside the Chinese ambit — Taiwan, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Senkaku Islands in the East Sea — be absorbed by the Communist regime by the time the centenary of the revolution rolls around in 2049.’
- General Rawat made a very strange statement at the Times Now Summit where he has said, ‘Locals (in Kashmir) are giving information about terrorists. Now they are saying they will lynch the terrorists which is a very positive sign that is coming in. If there is a terrorist operating in your area, why should you not lynch him?’
Don’t confuse two separate issues. If the locals, suffering from collateral damage of anti-terrorist actions by the army and state police are fatigued enough to be driven to ‘lynch’ a terrorist in their area, that is their business and, in a sense, not preventable.
Had General Rawat advocated open lynching of such miscreants, then that would be an objectionable thing for the CDS (Chief of Defence Staff) to do. But that is not what Rawat said.
India and the US already have a military intelligence sharing agreement. How successful has this proved in the past?
The intelligence-sharing arrangement has been there for some twenty years now.
The trouble is that while the US secures ‘raw intelligence’ from us, what we get in return is ‘processed’ intelligence that is run throuh several filters by the US agencies keeping in mind American national interests and policy vis a vis, say, China and Pakistan, before it is passed on to Indian intelligence.
This is neither particularly helpful nor equitable.
For instance, the US government had prior information about the 2008 seaborne strike on Mumbai but gave no inkling of it to New Delhi.
Rahul Gandhi tweeted that ‘our national security is unpardonably compromised because the government has no strategy.
It is natural for Opposition leaders to make hay while the sun of misreading China and the attendant policy discomfiture shines on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
With Xi Jinping set to remain in power for life, will we see an increase in the aggressive policies being pursued by China?
Xi has just had the Communist party plenum declare him ‘the helmsman’.
The last beneficiary of this title was Deng Xiaoping, who singlehandedly guided China into becoming an economic and trading powerhouse and the fairly wealthy country that it is now.
Xi, it turns out, is only a wannabe Deng, but without any of the foresight shown by that genuinely great Chinese leader in realising for China its supposed old imperium.
Xi is keen that the remaining three territories still outside the Chinese ambit — Taiwan, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Senkaku Islands in the East Sea — be absorbed by the Communist regime by the time the centenary of the revolution rolls around in 2049.