Monday, 22 April 2019

Congress report: Rivalry with China certain, proposes measures to manage it

“Can give China access to Indian ports, if it accommodates our core interests”

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 22nd Apr 19

A new report on national security that the Congress Party released on Sunday in Delhi provides an insight into how key relationships with China and Pakistan will be managed if a Congress-led government comes to power next month.

“Future strategic rivalry between China and India is a certainty, and a successful trading partnership cannot overcome the reality of this competition,” says the report, titled “India’s National Security Strategy” and authoredby Lieutenant General DS Hooda, former army commander in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).

To break the deadlock in border talks, the report suggests: “Ongoing border talks are achieving no major breakthroughs and focus of negotiations must shift to accurately defining the Line of Actual Control (LAC). This too is a complicated task but if successful, will go a long way in preventing the occurrence of (extended patrol clashes) like Depsang, Chumar, and Dokalam (sic).”

In fact, Beijing has steadfastly resisted defining the LAC. It has dragged its feet even on the preliminary step of exchanging maps marked with each side’s perception of the LAC’s alignment.

The report cites areas of cooperation with China, including shared development goals, increased trade and common environmental concerns. It proposes that, depending upon China’s “willingness to show an understanding of our core interests”, India could some day “offer access to China through Indian ports [to the Indian Ocean].”

This would constitute a major reversal of New Delhi’s current unwillingness to participate in, or even discuss, the Belt and Road Initiative with Beijing.

On Pakistan, the report appears to back the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s tough line, stating: “The events following the Pulwama bombing have established new redlines”, and that “India must be prepared for unilateral, limited military actions against terror groups in Pakistan.”

However, discussing the report after its release, Congress leader P Chidambaram dismissed the “drum beating and chest thumping” that had come to characterize all discussions about Pakistan. “War is not an option. Anyone who says otherwise is misleading the Indian people. We build strong armies not to win a war but to avoid a war,” he said.

Chidambaram said the war-talk that one hears in Delhi is “far removed from the radar of rural India.” He said: “There are limits to our economic capacity and that has to be carefully apportioned between defence of India and development of the people.”

While not ruling out talks with Islamabad, Chidambaram said: “We must find a way to normalise relations with Pakistan. If we need to change behaviour of Pakistan we need to change our behaviour towards them.” 

Asked what changes he would propose, Chidambaram admitted “We have tried pretty much everything, but that does not mean we do not go on trying.” He said the two sides had already come close to solutions on the Sir Creek and Siachen disputes, while the “most difficult” J&K dispute could be tackled at the end.

On Afghanistan, the Congress will continue New Delhi’s unbending opposition to the Taliban, even though the US and Russia are now in dialogue with the insurgent group. “India has always supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of peace and reconciliation… [but] must not compromise on its position and get drawn into supporting the Taliban,” says Hooda’s report.

To tackled the J&K insurgency, Hooda argued for simultaneously addressing its two distinct “centres of gravity”: the Pakistan sponsored dimension and internal Kashmiri alienation.

We have had separate military and political strategies. We need a combined and comprehensive politico-military strategy. There must be a well-crafted information campaign [to overcome the] feeling in Kashmir that the state is at war with its own people,” said Hooda.

Asked whether the NDA government had never communicated a political objective to the army in Kashmir, Hooda said: “We have never had a clear political objective, and if there was one, it has not been transmitted to the troops on the ground.”

5 comments:

Kannan said...

Whoever wrote the Congress manifesto should read Dickens' David Copperfield more than once. China is Uriah Heep personified. Any quarter given will ALWAYS be interpreted as a sign of weakness not conciliation. Alas it is beyond INC to understand that simple fact (case in point, the Shimla Agreement). As far as the current dispensation goes, to use them in the same sentence as "understand" will betray a deep lack of understanding.

Nothing on CDS or higher defence reforms I suppose? Ajai, even accounting for your political beliefs, one would have hoped that you will highlight this strongly! C'est la vie, I guess.

Shubham Sahai said...

Strange that they did nothing when the String of Pearls strategy was being consolidated from 2004-14. Extremely reactionary.

Anonymous said...

Did Gen Hooda pursue his own recommendations when he was in command?
Hooda writes there must be “an information campaign” to inform the Kashmiri people that the Indian State is not at war with them.
So these Kashmiri people merely need to be informed of this fact for the problem to be resolved?
As a former Prussian chief of staff once said. There are four types of Army officers: the clever and lazy, the clever and diligent, the stupid and lazy, and the stupid and diligent. No kudos for guessing the category of officer Gen Hooda fits into.
Gen Mussharaf had a Corps Commander who being of the clever and lazy type, had plenty of time to think about Kashmir and other problems and proposed this solution.
1. Demilitarization or phased withdrawal of troops
2. There will be no change of borders of Kashmir. However, people of Jammu & Kashmir will be allowed to move freely across the Line of Control.
3. Self-governance without independence
4. A joint supervision mechanism in Jammu and Kashmir involving India, Pakistan and Kashmir

Anonymous said...

If the Kashmir issue is resolved then we can improve relations with Pakistan.
Close Indo Pakistani friendly relationship will have a dramatic effect on the economy, politics and culture in South Asia, it will effect our relationship with China.
The vision of an economic zone with free trade and movement of people be between India, Pakistan, Bangladeshi, Siri Lanka and Bhutan, we must start with Kashmiri issue with a approach to compromise, this will take political will.

Iz said...

Anonymous Anonymous said... "If the Kashmir issue is resolved then we can improve relations with Pakistan. Close Indo Pakistani friendly relationship will have a dramatic effect on the economy, politics and culture in South Asia, it will effect our relationship with China. The vision of an economic zone with free trade and movement of people be between India, Pakistan, Bangladeshi, Siri Lanka and Bhutan, we must start with Kashmiri issue with a approach to compromise, this will take political will."
>>>> Maybe should you start reading Koran, especially the 9th Surat, to understand the typical Muslim mindset.
Sri-Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, even Myanmar may not be issues.
Bangladesh+Pakistan? Unless they go radically secular, close all madrassas, replacing these by real schools and ban the teaching of Koran on children under 18y old and pronounce a total separation of state and religion whilr preachers are monitored, in case of Pakis, trash sharia, purge the army and ISI from militants...
Be aware abut it : Koran CLEARLY says that ALL "infidels" must convert or... die! Islam HATES all other religions, it's NOT a religion of peace, it was created by a warlord, jihad is even more mandatory than the hajj pilgrimage.
When a Hindu becomes religious, he becomes a sadu and does yoga until he passes, when a Buddhist becomes religious, he/she goes to a monastry and meditates for the rest of his life. When it's a Christian, he becomes a missionary and moves to the 3rd world to help the poorest people on Earth (think about Mother Theresa). When a Muslim becomes religious, he engages into jihad!

If you want a free market, consider Taiwan, S-Korea, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia has a Muslim majority but is secular, maybe Malaysia (but I'm not sure, it should be studied), but do not even think about countries like Pak or Bangladesh with tens of thousands madrassa teaching their 'students' all infidels, especially the polytheists, must be killed!