The genesis of the Indian fault line can be traced to many centuries of foreign domination. Its scars are deeply etched in our psyche. It inhibits us from developing a cogent strategy for the nation. Notwithstanding the large resources, genius, skills, young population profile and an imposing geographical location in Asia, this limitation manifests in creating multiple fault lines across the national canvas. To develop a successful strategy, a nation must primarily take into account its own characteristics prior to incorporating other elements. For example, a military expert recommended demilitarisation of Siachen glacier with two riders. First, he suggested that there should be a role model treaty like the Indus Water Treaty to ensure Pakistan did not commit treachery in occupying the areas vacated by us. Second, even if it did so, we should make it clear that there will be serious repercussions on other frontiers with the concomitant collateral damage. As a military man he was acutely aware, it will be nearly impossible to regain the territory lost on the glacier given the adverse terrain and climatic conditions. Right? No. Wrong on both counts.
First, Indus Water Treaty is not a role model arrangement for the simple reason that hypothetically, if the direction of water flow were from Pakistan to India, this treaty would never have materialised in the first place! Indus Water Treaty survives because of our magnanimity. Second, New Delhi does not boast of any instinctive characteristic of military retribution ever, except in the case of 1971 conflict. Also, the Indian Fault Line disallows our elders to comprehend or scan the bigger picture. If they do indulge in such an exercise, they would be strategically prudent in not offering demilitarisation of Siachen in isolation to other negative elements that are intrinsic to Pakistan'soverall game plan. The tendency to create their own make-believe world convinced many of our countrymen that the invasions from our land frontiers for centuries could be ignored as India assimilated the invaders in the existing society. How misplaced and erroneous, a perception. Invaders from the Northwest/Central Asia ruled over the locals by edge of the sword and forced their assimilation. Our helpless, bewildered ancestors with their petty bickering were left with little choice and therefore, tried to make a virtue out of consistent defeats. It persists in the Indian mind. No wonder; the terrorists across LoC ignore the fancy Cold Start Doctrine!
However, with generational change sweeping the entire spectrum of the Indian society, certain assertiveness is finally creeping in. The generation next is extremely focussed, capable of comprehending the entire strategic picture swiftly, and displays a fine balance between tolerance and aggressiveness simultaneously. The key question, in my mind, has always been whether India will be a surrogate or a ?great power?. Fortunately, the generation next is impelling India towards the great power status. It is not a status quo generation, but remains confounded with New Delhi'sinability to define clear strategic objectives.
In a discussion held recently, I asked a former prime minister what our national strategic objectives were? It took him good one and a half hour that included a lunch tuck-in to respond that the national objectives were to have a peaceful neighbourhood! Even if one agrees with that generality, than what exactly was the strategy to achieve it? It did not elicit any answer.
Our national objective should be to promote India as an eminent power in Asia by 2020 by developing it as the alternative geo-economic hub that integrates and influences our extended neighbourhood through economic and military diplomacy. India as a benevolent power is suitably placed and conveniently located, geographically, culturally and otherwise to play this role effectively. Equipped with the most powerful Free Media in Asia that can be intelligently utilised as a weapon platform to further national interests, it needs to develop strategies that influence Central, West and Southeast Asia. India is a democracy worth emulating that checks formation of a medieval jehadi Caliphate that the terrorist organisations in our vicinity intend to create. It is the only power in Asia that is eminently poised to extend a helping hand to restore a debilitating situation in its surroundings; balance the negative fallouts from an authoritarian regime of China in the region, even as we enhance our multi-faceted cooperation with the dragon. Our strategy in the present unfolding favourable geo-political scenario should be to further strengthen the relationships with the existing friends while adding new strategic partners to the list.
However, it is imperative that the implications of the fault line are understood and erased as the generation next gradually takes over the instruments of governance. Even as we embark on expanding our influence on global scale, we need to resolve the adverse situation prevalent internally and on our land frontiers as explained with the help of a map along side.
India is ringed by failed or failing states. Pakistan (land boundary with India 3310 kilometers) in the northwest. Nepal (land boundary with India 1751 kilometers) in the north. Bangladesh (land boundary with India 4095 kilometers) in the southeast. Myanmar (land boundary with India 1463 kilometers) in the northeast. India'sinternal turbulence is inter-linked with external factors. On our North, in addition, we face China (India shares borders spanning 3440 kilometers) from whom we not only face conventional, nuclear and missile threats but it is also the guru that influences or uses as proxy other countries mentioned earlier in every possible way to weigh India down. In a nutshell, India's14,058 km long land frontier is impacted by hostile or semi-hostile environment. Failed or failing states export instability, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, arms and drugs. Further, in the context of strategy, capabilities are more important than perceived intentions, as China has demonstrated not only to India but also to the world. It has intelligently diverted international focus away from itself to North Korea, Pakistan and countries like Iran through proliferation of sensitive technologies, even as it conveniently works to achieve a super power status by solidifying its status as the ?Asian top dog?. For example, in the six country nuclear talks with North Korea, it is Beijing that calls the shots. It can switch on or off the negotiations at its will to derive the maximum strategic mileage. In comparison, New Delhi continues to remain in ?also ran? category.
If China is the guru than in Pakistan it has found a suppliant disciple. Pakistan desires to be the Sarpanch of the subcontinent! The territory was given to it with an understanding that the entire Muslim community will transfer itself to the so-called land of pure. It was only approximately 15 per cent which accepted the idea and made Pakistan their homeland. Others displayed great wisdom in choosing to remain in India with its liberal philosophy and where the prospects of prosperity were far greater. The community continues to produce presidents, generals, diplomats, ambassadors, business tycoons etc. who served or serve the country with great distinction. Overall, the community'scontribution to India has been enormous.
Since the majority refused to exit, as speciously argued by Pakistan founders, Islamabad should return the excess land given to it. Instead, since its creation, Pakistan has perpetually been resorting to war and export of terrorism to appropriate more Indian territory on one pretext or the other. The irony is that it has not been able to bring prosperity to the territory it holds. The only widely known export worldwide from Pakistan is terrorism. While India'sgeneration next profile is positive, Pakistan faces a negative profile of indoctrinated and unemployed youth trained in Islamic terror factory. The profile becomes more worrisome because of Islamabad'sethnic cleansing of minorities, that were 12.5 per cent in 1947 but are only two per cent today. Thus the voice of moderation has become feeble over the years. Besides, Islamabad'smilitary junta'sagenda to undo India, helps them to retain power. The obsession to harm us ultimately allured Pakistan to become rent-a-state country. It lives on others money. It not only carried out ethnic cleansing of its own minorities but created situations in J&K through terrorism to force the exit of minorities from there.
(The writer is editor, Indian Defence Review.)