By S. M. Hali
India’s defence planners have been obsessed with enhancing its force levels at the cost of starving its teeming millions. Indian penchant for force is turning it into a bully towards its neighbours. India’s jingoism and hegemonic tendencies foment trouble for all its neighbours. India has gone to war with Pakistan on three occasions, invading Kashmir in 1947-48; usurping a major portion of it, in 1965—which ended in stalemate and in 1971, when India severed Pakistan’s eastern wing, “liberating” Bangladesh. Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal and Bhutan have all tasted Indian wrath while Sikkim, an independent nation, was annexed. Simultaneously, India has been on the verge of conflict with Pakistan on numerous occasions. Since 1998, when both countries crossed the nuclear threshold, India has not dared to engage Pakistan in a large scale conflict but has not dithered from hit-and-run operations and limited skirmishes, only to appease its voracious appetite for flexing its muscles.
2013 has been a bad year for its neighbours, since Indian adventurism has generated fracas with both China and Pakistan, two countries perceived by India as bitter rivals.
It is difficult for Indians to appreciate the spirit of mutual co-existence hence it continues to give vent to its inner desire of dominating others. Indians understand the language of force only. They keep playing games even against China, a regional power.
Recently Indian political rhetoric stressed the need to develop infrastructure along international border in Ladakh. As Chinese withdrew from Depsang, Indian troops constructed fortifications in Chumar Sector. Chinese quick response resulted into Sino-Indian standoff in Ladakh. Remember the depressing consequences of India’s year-long eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with Pakistan in 2001-2, when India was forced to retreat. Indian military planners deduced that they could not afford a prolonged faceoff, hence they requested for a flag meeting to resolve the issue. China maintained its principled stance, pressurizing Indian Army to accede to its principled demands.
Indian leadership cleverly created an impression for Indian audiences that standoff with China in Ladakh ended unconditionally as Chinese troops withdrew without posing any conditions on India. Actually Chinese troops withdrew only after halting patrolling by Indian troops in the area, consenting to India’s removal of all fresh fortifications, and the assurance that in future it will not construct any fresh fortifications. Indian leadership and Army high command accepted all conditions imposed by China at the cost of demoralizing their troops.
Since the beginning of this year, India has indulged in violating the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir and Pakistan’s international boundary. A number of Pakistani soldiers have been martyred, while India makes false claims of having lost a few Indian soldiers too.
It is ironic that while Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was extending felicitations to his newly anointed Pakistani counterpart, Indian forces were breaching Pakistani positions and attacking local population and soldiers on this side. To add insult to injury, India claimed that a Junior Commissioned Officer of the Indian Army was killed in heavy firing with automatic weapons and rockets from the Pakistani side of the LoC in Poonch sector and to justify its own contravention of international norms, India unleashed unprovoked firing.
An incident occurred barely two days after Nawaz Sharif; a peacenik took oath as Pakistan Prime Minister. While last week, a Pakistani girl was killed and nine people were injured when Indian troops resorted to unprovoked small arms and artillery firing at the LoC in Rawlakot district.
It is evident that India understands only the language of force. In the recent Sino-India standoff at Ladakh, India backed off in the face of stern warnings from the Chinese military, remembering the sound thrashing its forces had received in 1962 at the hands of the Chinese forces and its military had suffered ridicule at the hands of Indian masses for their cowardice. This time around, Indian defence planners chose to hide the facts from their own public, lest a vibrant and open Indian media catch on to its moment of weakness and take Indian military commanders to task.
It is manifest that despite its lust for acquiring weapons, expending scarce resources for acquiring weapons of mass destruction and conjuring Pakistan-specific “Cold Start Doctrine”, Indian military is full of hot air. Whenever it resorts to jingoism and saber-rattling with Pakistan, we should call their bluff. If we look them squarely in the eye, Indians are bound to cow down and restrain their hawks despite their penchant for force. That is typical behaviour of all bullies and India is no exception.