Tuesday, 23 May 2017



The existing higher defence management system of the country continues to be unresponsive and indifferent to the needs of the armed forces and the material state of the military and its operational state remains far from satisfactory. Our modernisation programme suffers from inordinate delays and the goal of self-reliance remains a distant dream. The root cause for this state of affairs is lack of accountability of the political leadership who enjoy all the powers and absence of the military from the decision loop of the security related issues. The indifferent civil -military relations and the poor institutional values are a matter of concern. The various studies on military reforms and their recommendations remain unimplemented. The government needs to move quickly and take some difficult decisions to put the national security issues on track.

Integration of the Service HQs with the MOD is part of the approved reforms by the GOM 2001, subsequent the Kargil Review Report ,already notified by the Government on 23 May 2002 for implementation. The intention of this reform was to enable the SHQ to participate in the decision making and policy implementation at all levels of governance. However, on the ground little has changed except the nomenclature. The purpose of Higher Defence Organisation, as we know, is to evolve a national security strategy for near, middle and long terms perspective, after examining threats and opportunities, thereafter enable employing the total national power to achieve national aims . The Higher Defence Organisation(HDO), should therefore enable the following--
(a) Formulating a Joint doctrine, long term perspective plans for force levels, equipment procurements and technology acquisitions.
(b) Developing medium and long term strategy for national defence for all the spectrums of war.
(c) Providing the command structure to enable the political leadership to exercise control over the nuclear weapons and the strategic forces.
(d) Ensuring a close interface between the uniformed fraternity, civil bureaucracy and the political leadership to expedite the politico-military decision making.

2. The question we need to examine is whether the stated objectives of the HDO are being achieved or not. Has the integration of the SHQ as on now, made any difference? We need to briefly examine the entire issue and the background, before passing a judgement. The erstwhile Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) chaired by the PM, and Defence Ministers Committee chaired by the RM, which were in vogue till late fifties used to provide an integrated decision making and the higher defence control Organisation (HDO). However in 1962, these established institutions were bypassed by the PM/ RM, relying on select individuals for the defence management and direction. Even the then JIC which was a joint mechanism for intelligence assessment became defunct and the Director IB became the sole advisor to the PM. In the absence of DCC, a committee of secretaries under the Cabinet Secretary was formed to make recommendations to the PM, which has served as the Strategic Planning Group (SPG) till today. The Service HQ over a time were reduced to adjuncts of the MOD, which operated as another “tier” between the SHQ and the Minister and were also placed completely outside the ministry, which they could approach through the medium of files. The Armed forces feel that their administrative powers have been steadily eroded and they had to live with a dysfunctional system. Admiral DK Joshi, former Naval Chief, who had resigned, after a number of accidents on naval platforms, due to sheer frustrations on his inability to get the necessary response from the MOD for prompt repairs and essential spares. In his candid observations, he has noted the institutional flaws in the higher defence management system, wherein professional competence, expertise, accountability, responsibility, and authority reside in different spheres or compartments. While professional competence, accountability and the responsibility is with the Service HQ, the authority to approve or sanction or empowerment to obtain something is with the MOD. Thus we have a situation where the service HQ have all the responsibility without the corresponding authority, whereas all the powers and authority rests with the MOD without any accountability. Thus, the politicians and the civil officials enjoy power without any accountability and the military assumes the responsibility with out any, commitment or guidance from the political authorities. It is obvious that the long over due reforms ,in the higher defence management, except a few peripheral ones have not been implemented due to vested interests. The two substantive recommendations of creating a CDS and integrating the SHQ with the MOD have been left out ,despite the repeatedly recommended reforms by the various committees. The Kargil Review Committee and the GOM made substantial recommendations for reforming the National Security system in Feb 2001. Some of the major reforms recommended were as under--

(a) SHQ to be designated as -”integrated HQ of the MOD'' instead of ''attached offices”, so as to be able to participate in decision making and policy formulation.
(b) Financial powers and Administrative authority to be delegated to the SHQ and lower formations to expedite decision making.
(c) As the present COSC was not found effective, a permanent institution of a CDS was approved,which could provide single point military advice to the Government, prioritise the inter-service proposals, provide the joint-ness to the armed forces in planning for operations, surveillance, maritime security and the targeting philosophy. The CDS would also command and administer the nuclear and the strategic forces, besides the other unified commands.
(d) To expedite the procurement process, a new procurement structure, with a Defence Acquisition Council, under the RM, along with a defence procurement board, a defence production board and a defence R&D board were to be established under the respective secretaries, with suitable representation from the services, along with the integrated finance. This reform has been carried out, except that the system is being operated by officials who are not specialists in this field and have the same traditional attitude of fixed minds. The modernisation of the armed forces has not been satisfactory and the decision process continues to be slow.

3. As we are aware the GOM recommendations have only been partially implemented and the more substantive ones like the creation of the CDS and Integration of the SHQ with the MOD have been left out. The recently appointed “Naresh Chandra Committee' has also re-emphasised the military reforms, although these have not been put in the public domain. It is Understood that the CDS has been recommended to be modified as the permanent COSC, in this report, which would be rotational between the Services and the report also recommends creation of a special forces command and the aerospace command, besides examining other aspects pertaining to cyber warfare, indigenisation of defence equipment, self-reliance, DRDO and the management of other defence assets.

4. So far as the integration of the SHQ with the MOD is concerned the government had issued a notification as early as 23May 2002 designating the SHQ as the integrated departments of the MOD and also set up a Chief of integrated defence staff(CIDS) with officials from the three services. This has not brought about any real integration and is only peripheral change. The integration with the MOD implies the basic change in the overall concept of functioning as a team together rather then a “tier” in between the two. It would also imply, cross- posting of defence officers to the MOD and of the civil officials to the selected departments of the SHQ, to evolve and implement integrated plans, after joint evaluation to ensure speedy decision making and reduce wasteful duplication and the delays. However, this has not happened due to mistrust, turf wars and reasons of the cadre management. In fact, the civilian officials who come to the MOD have no first hand knowledge or any military experience. To overcome this the GOM 2001, had approved ,the ''Vohra Committee'' recommendation creating a dedicated pool of trained officers drawn from various streams, who would be permanently seconded in the security management arena. This pool of officers would consist of officials drawn from 'All India Services ' and the technocrats., however this has remained in cold storage.

5 The integration of the SHQ and the MOD, does not mean occupying each others “space” or diluting the importance of the civil officials, but enable teamwork and joint-ness at all levels in evolving solutions for manpower planning, development of weapon systems, procurement of military equipment and setting up infrastructure, logistics management and transportation as being practised in most of the modern militaries. The integration would entail shared responsibility and avoid duplication and wastages even with OFB, DPSUs and the DRDO. There have been instances, which I am aware off, where due to the lack of coordination in the MOD, the same equipment has been purchased by the three services from the same country at different prices i.e. “Searcher”& “Heron” UAVs from Israel. But the problem is the reluctance of the officials of the government to share their powers and protect the exclusive turf. Since the Civilian officials deal directly with the politicians on a daily basis, the politicians also feel comfortable in consulting them, leaving the services out of the loop except in a crisis situation. Another aspect that needs examination is the staffing of the entire security management apparatus i.e. the NSA Sectt. IDS and the CDS by a pool of dedicated cadre officers from the civilian stream and the three Services, whether on a tenure basis or by an integrated cadre. HQ IDS has had considerable experience in the joint -ness within the three services and are ideally placed to identify the specifics for enlarging the examination to suggesting staffing norms for the entire security management apparatus.

6. The integration of the services with the MOD would enable developing joint responsibility for national security instead of engaging in blame games, as experienced during the Kargil operations of which I have the personal experience. Initially it was the intelligence failure with every agency blaming the other and no institutional collective intelligence analysis, followed by the issue of air photos and the satellite imagery. Even the credible “leads” available were not followed up by the IB or shared with each other except in a routine manner. In the operational planning there was absence of agreement on the use of air power and the enlargement of the area of operations beyond the Kargil-Dras-Batalik sectors of the intrusion. The government was indecisive as no institutional 'war gaming' and strategic appreciation had been conducted in the absence of a CDS. The Army was asked to remove the intrusion, without enlarging the area of operations .Permission to use the Air power was approved on the 25 May good two weeks later, as there were differences in the perceptions of the services. The institution of the CDS and an integrated MOD would have enabled a speedier and more balanced response. The equipment of the defence forces was not as per the scaling as the procurement procedures were slow and cumbersome resulting in operational voids. The country was unprepared for a full-scale war with vital shortages in the critical ammunition and the weapons. Frantic efforts were made by the government to obtain the equipment and the ammunition by imports, however, most of the contracts finalised remained in the pipeline, as there is a minimum lead time for defence equipment as these are not available off the shelf. One of the reforms of the Kargil war regarding establishing a Defence Acquisition Cell and the procurement apparatus has been implemented and has brought about integration and speedier decision making, though there are implementation flaws in the system. The procurement board under the Defence Secretary has technical managers of Maj Gen rank from the three services, along with the IFA, who operate as a team, and this is a fine example of integration of SHQ with the MOD and could easily become the model for the rest. The DGQA and the Directorate of standardisation are other examples of integration, which could be tried out in the OFB, DPSUs and the DRDO and the MOD, if there is the political will to do so. The DIA is today staffed by the officers of only the three services, with no representative from the IB and the RA&W, making the intelligence gathering incomplete, although there are the interactive meetings of all the intelligence agencies at the'' multi agency centre''. The directorates of NCC, TA and the logistics management wings of the services also lend for integrated functioning, rather than the layered functioning with the MOD.

7. Lack of integration manifests in the management of the DPSUs, and the OFB. The HAL with its nine divisions is the biggest DPSU and is virtually sustained by the IAF budgetary support , due to assembly and manufacture of the various aircrafts, as its exports are less than 3% of its production. The need for joint-ness and planning for aircraft design and development with the IAF is obvious, yet, the MOD in its wisdom has still not included IAF's Head of Engineering and Maintenance to the HAL Board. The same logic applies to the Naval dockyards, the tank and the BMP factories, the missile manufacturing plants, the EW warfare establishments like the BDL, BEML BEL, ARDE, where service officers as the users need to be posted. In fact the integration has to be extended to all the wings of the Department of Defence production. The specifics can be worked out by a study. In the UK and some other countries, they function with the concept of forming integrated project teams of professionals of various disciplines for development and production of the equipment systems, as we have done for the Brahmos missile system. In the UK the scientific laboratories are not with the DRDO but are part of the production agencies. In France they have the General department of Armament(GDA), directly under the minister consisting of the professionals from various disciplines for development, production and induction of defence equipment in the armed forces.

8. The nuclear weapons further highlight the need for integration between the military, and the civil as the “delivery systems' are held and operated by the Services and the “warheads' are held by the DRDO and the decision making is by the government. For exercising the nuclear option many inputs are required from the various stake holders. Similarly the defence communications need to be integrated. There is a need to make tangible progress in the integration of the MOD and the military in many fields such as training, Air defence, common user items of UAVs, helicopters and human resource management and the logistics management. It is therefore, imperative that the Reforms recommended by the Kargil Committee Report are dusted out and implemented fully.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Gilgit, POK and Baltistan, Have we given them up?

Gilgit, Baltistan and POK - Have we given them up?

Lt. General Chandra Shekhar AVSM PVSM (Retd.)

Boundary disputes have been perennial features of the developing countries, particularly of those who have inherited unresolved borders, due to historical reasons at the time of their independence from colonial rulers. India has disputed land borders with China on our vast Northern mountainous frontier, as a result of the historical legacy of non-demarcated borders, and with Pakistan over the unresolved issue of Jammu & Kashmir after the Indo-Pak war of 1947-48. The Sino-Indian border dispute is a complex issue and has defied a solution in spite of the 16 rounds of talks held at the level of the Special representatives of the two countries. It is a subject of ongoing negotiations while the cooperation in other fields is being sustained.
1. Pakistan used its military in 1947-48 to grab Kashmir once the state acceded to India. Just as we had attained military ascendancy in dealing with Pakistan in J & K and regained control over the bulk of the state, our political leaders held us back and took the issue to the United Nations for settlement. The acceptance of the UN resolution and the consequent cease-fire on the Line of Control, left various territories under Pakistani control in areas- Mirpur-Muzzfarabad (POK) and Gilgit, (Northern Areas). We continue to pay the price for that decision even today, without any acceptable solution in sight.

2. Today, the Kashmir dispute has acquired multiple dimensions and is defined by the complex intersection of an external dispute on the issue of sovereignty and the internal dimension of the Kashmiri people, who are divided between India and Pakistan and either demanding self-rule -“azadi” or joining one of the political parties. These issues have to be examined at the political, diplomatic, military, economic and social fronts between all the stake-holders. Talks have to be revived, so as to arrive at a mutually agreed solution, while cross-border terrorism and fundamentalist forces within the state have to be dealt with firmly. The media, civil society, and the intelligentsia also have a significant role in shaping public opinion and strengthening the nation's will. However, while seeking support from the world community to put a squeeze on the funding and abetment of the cross-border terrorism by Pakistan, we have to ourselves address the problem within the J&K, as also in the territories under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. The international strategic environment, the nuclear factor in the Indian sub-continent, and the changed military equation between India and Pakistan may have relegated military action as the last option. Nonetheless, we need to convey a strong message to all concerned, not in mere words but by actual demonstrated deeds that the policy of restraint should not be misconstrued as a weakness—which appears to have gained ground across the borders due to our undue focus on only political dialogue.

3.The boundaries of J&K state extended to the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan before Independence of India. They were annexed by Pakistan in 1947-48. Gilgit Agency had been leased to the British by the Maharaja of J&K. The lease lapsed on 15 Aug 1947 and the Gilgit Agency reverted to the state jurisdiction. The British agent was pro -Pakistan and was replaced by Brig Ghansara Singh of the J&K State forces, who fought valiantly till the Gilgit garrison was overrun by the Pakistani forces. Baltistan was the western province of Ladakh till it was annexed by Pakistan in 1948. The Gilgit-Baltistan territories, now known as 'Northern Areas', share borders with China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. These are presently ruled directly by the Northern Area Council, which has no legislative powers. The de-facto powers always rested with the rulers in Pakistan and in 2009 Pakistan declared Northern Areas, as its province, which is constitutionally illegal. However, we have not seriously objected to this unacceptable development. Pakistan has further ceded 5100 sq km in 'Shaksgam' valley to China and the 580 km long Karakoram Highway has been built by China to the hinter-land in Pakistan to link the port city of Gwadder. There are reports that the Chinese are upgrading it to an all-weather highway and are also constructing 22 tunnels, besides constructing medium-sized dams to harness electricity.

4.The people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Northern Areas are constitutionally and legally citizens of India, as these were part of the J&K State which acceded to India on 26 Oct 1947. Presently POK is ruled by the so-called “Azad Kashmir Council”, which actually has no legislative powers, and is controlled by Pakistan with the Pakistani Prime Minister as its Chairman. The Council has six elected and six ex-officio nominated members. Although the POK has a figure-head President from amongst the six nominated members, the real power is with the rulers in Pakistan. The elected members are also manipulated by Pakistan, and have no meaningful powers delegated to them.

5. In 1994, both the Houses of the Indian Parliament passed a unanimous resolution reiterating that the entire territories of J&K state have been and are an integral part of the Indian Union and Pakistan must vacate the areas under its illegal occupation. However, we have failed to take any meaningful steps on the ground to regain our lost territories even when the strategic situation was favourable to us. At the political and diplomatic level, India has not projected its case effectively at the international forums, and has not shaped world opinion to force Pakistani withdrawal from the illegally occupied territories.

6. Even on the question of abiding with the UN resolutions, it is Pakistan that has not withdrawn its military from the POK, rather than constantly being reminded by Pakistan and its friends, that India has not fulfilled the agreement. The human-rights violations and the atrocities by Pakistan in the Northern Areas, and the ongoing sectarian strife there, are also hardly ever projected. National interests are paramount and should not be compromised by pursuing weak policies and failing to build capabilities to enhance comprehensive national power. We should emulate China and pursue policies like the Chinese have done for settlement of their boundaries with their neighbours, where they continue to voice their claims without any inhibitions. In fact, they have persisted in their claims to our state of Arunachal Pradesh, purely on historical grounds of Tawang monastery maintaining past linkages with Tibet and it being the birth place of the sixth Dalai Lama , despite there being no other physical presence or Chinese influence on the ground. The Chinese have even denied visas to the residents of Arunachal Pradesh for sports and cultural meets in China, stating that they cannot represent India and protested to the World Bank against release of development funds. We, in contrast, have not protested sufficiently against similar Chinese development activities even in the territories that are constitutionally ours, including those in POK or in Gilgit-Baltistan.

7. As far as the Kashmir valley is concerned, our handling of public opinion and the political situation has been far from satisfactory. We have not only alienated the populace, but our policy of appeasement and soft-peddling has allowed the separatist elements to gain ground. Giving importance to the 'Hurriyat' leadership and allowing them to engage with the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) and Pakistan amounts to encouraging and officially sanctioning anti-national elements. If one was to compare the tough approach of the Chinese to a person of the stature of the 'Dalai Lama', with that of our ready accommodation of the wishes of the Mufti 'Mirwaiz', the contrast is obvious. So far as the situation in the POK is concerned, the absence of development, poor governance and the lack of democracy are hardly ever highlighted either by our Central or the State governments. In fact, as per the constitution of J&K there are a total of 26 seats earmarked for the POK region. The government of J&K has never elected or nominated anyone from the displaced personnel of POK now residing in the Jammu and Kashmir valley, as floating constituencies to keep our claims alive. Similarly, the refugees who fled to Jammu region from Sialkot, Mangla dam, Mirpur and Kotli continue to remain stateless without any rights to acquire any property or qualify for government jobs in the J&K state. The Central government has granted full Indian citizenship to those who migrated from East Pakistan before 1972, whereas similar status has not been granted to people in the J&K region who have been residing in the state since 1947. The discrimination is obviously unjust and unfair.

8. Article 370, provides special status to the state of J&K in the Indian Constitution and the demographic balance is protected by not permitting any outsiders to settle in the state. However, no such balance or fair-play is being maintained by Pakistan for the POK or the Northern Areas. In fact, Pakistan is actively encouraging and even sponsoring settlement by Pakistanis in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, which has a Tibetan heritage and a majority of its population comprising of Shias, have their customs and language more akin to people-of the Kargil region. We need to pursue a more pro-active military and diplomatic strategy. We need to be firm and forthright in projecting our stand on national issues and not weaken our case, just so that we may be seen as 'the nice guys'. In international diplomacy, aggressive posturing for a rightful cause is appreciated and accepted. Silence is taken as acceptance of the status quo. In case the territories under Pakistani occupation cannot be restored, the least that should be done to begin with, is to seriously undertake a realistic reappraisal of their status, taking into account the ground realities, at the highest political level. Or else, we may quite conceivably lose these areas altogether. 

Sino-Indian Relations and Future Prospects


India was the first non-socialist country to recognize the Peoples Republic of China on its founding. It supported China's efforts to join the United Nations and during the Korean war it maintained neutrality. It proposed the famous five principles of Peaceful Coexistence with China in 1954 and called for the spirit of Afro-Asian at Bandung in 1955. China had very cordial relations with India in the 1950s with the mutual exchange of visits of the two premiers till 1957. However, tensions developed from 1959 onwards, along the borders, leading to the 1962 War. The reasons for the war are well known, and the dispute persists even today, due to the disagreements on the validity of the Macmahan Line, despite 17 meetings of the Joint Working Group. Finally the relations were repaired and the two countries exchanged Ambassadors in 1976. Mr Rajiv Gandhi visited China in 1988 and accelerated restoration of cordial relations. PM Shri Narshima Rao visited China and signed the agreement on Peace and Tranquility on the borders, in 1993. When Jiang Zemin reciprocated the visit in 1996, he signed the Agreement on Strengthening Military trust along the Lines of Actual Control and proposed the establishment of a constructive partnership with India. The President of India visited China in 2000 and the misunderstandings after India's nuclear tests of 1998 were smoothened.Mr Atal Vihari Vajpayee made a formal visit to China on 22 June that greatly promoted the Sino- Indian relations.During his visit the two countries issued the Declaration of Principles of Relationship and Overall Cooperation. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao also visited India , primarily to discuss the trade and economic matters.The issue of stapled visa's being issued to the residents of J & K was cleverly ducked by stating that China considers J&K as a disputed territory. The recent visit of the Chinese President to India has been path- breaking and historic. .All the issues were discussed with Mr Modi in an atmosphere of great frankness and cordiality.We reminded them that just as the Chinese are sensitive to the issue of the Tibet so are we to our territorial integrity. China has been aggressive on the entire 4,057 km un-demarcated borders on land as evidenced during the recent Depsang and Chumar stand offs. On the Indian Ocean region the PLA Navy is making more forays ostensibily to make friendly port calls or on rest or refits consequent to fighting the sea pirates in Somalia. The Chinese strategy of 'String of Pearls' by creating naval facilities at Gwadar. Hambantota, Chittagong and Sitwe has provided her ability to make presence in the Indian Ocean or develop the so called silk-route. These developments, security access and the basing facilities in South Asia along with the improved infra structure in Tibet provide her a military capability that has to be taken note off seriously , notwithstanding the increasing trade relations. The recent visit of the Chinese President and his Discussions on all the issues with Mr Modi, were more significant .The Chinese promise of financial investments and infrastructure developments in India are the positives which augur well for the future. However, there are the following important issues which persist and need to be resolved amicably to normalise the relations between the two countries--

(a) The unresolved border issue.

(b) Trade imbalance with India.

(c) Maritime cooperation and Challenges.

(d) The China-Pak military and nuclear collaboration.

The Border Issue.

2. The Sino- Indian border dispute is the most challenging issue, divided into Eastern , Middle, and the Western sectors. The 1914 Simla Agreement between Britain and Tibet is not accepted by the Chinese, and thus the Macmahan line is not recognised by them. The principle the Chinese government applied to the Sino -Indian border dispute, were, that the boundary has never been formally drawn but that there is a traditional boundary line; that the two countries should maintain the status quo and avoid escalation before they reach a solution and should be considerate and tolerant to each other. However on the ground the situation has already been altered by the Chinese in the Aksai Chin sector where they built a road in 1954 and call it, as their own territory. They also entered into a boundary agreement with Pakistan who has illegally acceded the Shaksgham valley in the Pak occupied Kashmir to them. In fact after the 1962 conflict with us, they unilaterally withdrew from the territoriies occupied except in the Western sector, where their have been periodic standoffs in the Depsang, Chumar and Chushul areas. They have an excellent net work of roads and billets. It is highly unlikely that they would ever vacate this region. The Middle sector is the least contentious and lends for an early settlement. The Eastern sector is our State of Arunachal Pradesh which they call as the Southern Tibet.Although other than the Tawang Monastery ,which had religious linkages with Lhasa, the Chinese are never known to have any physical control of this region, yet they claim this region. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Eastern sector generally follows the water shed and approximates to the Macmahan line. We have de facto control over this region and the Indian government and the armed forces would defend this even if the Chinese persist to claim this. The troops on the ground are handicapped as in the absence of a demarcated border; and the personnel from the two sides patrol or make forays in the area leading to frequent protests and diplomatic interventions, to resolve the issue as it happened even during the recent visit of the Chinese president to India. Their have been 17 border Joint Working Group (JWG) meetings without much headway.Although, we have also improved our military capabilities, and can hold our ground, we are not in a position to retake our claimed line due to the superior Chinese military posture and better infrastructure. Military solution is, therefore, not a practical option. Ultimately it would have to be a political solution acceptable to both the sides involving trade -off of the territory, as a package deal which only a strong government in the two countries can deliver, as both sides will have to make a compromise to their stated positions. It is believed that such a plan was even visualized between Chou-en-Lai and Nehru in the early fifties, before the stands hardened .

The Trade Imbalance.

3. Objectively speaking, the Sino-Indian relationship is characterized by both conflicts and the existence of common interests such as trade and economic development for which both need a peaceful environment. The trade with China is nearly touching 80 billion US Dollars, however, their is a huge trade deficit with India. The adverse trade deficit with China is more than 40% of the trade, which can not be rectified unless our exports to China are increased. There are opportunities in the Indian Pharmaceuticals, automobile ancillaries, textiles and IT where exports can be increased provided the Chinese reduce tariff or provide a level playing field, otherwise this would remain a serious problem. The recent promise by the Chinese of investing in India in the infrastructure sector to the tune of 30 billion dollars is a good step in this regard and would reduce the trade imbalance.India's Look East Policy to open up the North Eastern States and develop trade with the neighbours and with China are other welcome developments which should be pursued vigoursly.

Maritime Security and Challenge.

4.China has been modernising its Navy since past two decades into a 'Blue water Navy'. Their submarine forces have modernised with their nuclear submarines going up from 5 to 10.It has also added its first aircraft carrier into the service, along with number of amphibious ships. The stated objective of the Chinese modernisation is the security of its energy and trade routes of communication through the Indian ocean. However, its attempts to convert the South China sea , as its own territorial waters is unacceptable and has been rightly challenged by the West and India, as these are international waters. The development of basing facilities in the Indian Ocean region also provides China presence in the Indian ocean. The development of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka and the Gwadar in Pakistan allows China uninterrupted utilisation as both these countries will not be able to return the loan or the capitol invested in the development of these strategic facilities. India with its unique peninsular shape and the island territories dominates the Indian ocean, however ,the Indian Navy also needs to continuously up grade its capability to retain its edge. We also need to actively cooperate with other important navies in the region ,such as the US, Australia and Japan to dominate the various choke points, in the Indian ocean region that exist from the straits of Hormuz to the Malacca Straits.

Sino-Pak Nexus.

5. China has always been interested that Pakistan remains a strong challenge to India ,so that India is likely to be threatened by a two -front situation. It is also interested that Pakistan continues to retain control of the POK. This not only ensures that its vital interests are protected in Gwadar, but also frustrates India's access to Central Asia. In the 1965 and 1971 wars Chinese announced support to Pakistan and are treating J&K as a disputed state. Their recent policy of issuing stapled visas to the people of J&K residents and conducting of development activity in the POK supports this design. A muted response by India is likely to convey surrender of our claim over POK, The proposed economic corridor to Gwadar would pass through POK, which implies that China has given de facto acceptance of the Pakistan's claim on the disputed area. India must register its strong protests against the development activity in the POK. The other area of concern is the active collaboration of the Chinese in the Pakistan's nuclear assistance, which can only be countered by developing our own capability as all attempts of international pressures have failed. Similarly our efforts to dismantle the insurgent camps in Pakistan, which are used to support the terrorist activity against India have failed to enlist any support from the Chinese. We should be clear that China favours Pakistan and take this as a factor in our strategic calculations.It is ,therefore imperative that we develop a strong military capability and economic potential to deter a two front war. The nuclear deterrence and the missile development, along with the military modernisation is a compelling need to safe guard our national interests, while talking and promoting peaceful environment for the economic growth.


6. This is not to conclude that there are only differences between the two countries, as we do have common interests and values. Among the common points shared by China and India are their similar cultural and historical traditions. Indian Buddhism greatly influenced ancient China.Both countries have opened up to the world and are engaged in the economic development and need a peaceful environment. The two countries have same views on the structure of the multi-polar world politics , on the climate change, WTO and both call for reduction of the nuclear stock piles of weapons. On the human rights the two countries are against the western intervention in the internal affairs of the nations.We are opposed to international terrorism and the sea piracy in the international waters. It is worth noting that India has consistently supported the one China policy and the Chinese Sovereignty in Tibet. How ever we also demand that the Chinese should also be sensitive to our sensitivities in the J&K and and in the Eastern sector. India and China both need to realise that while following different patterns of government and economic development models, the ultimate aims are the same and we need to cooperate rather than compete. To that extent the present policy of pursuing economic development leaving aside the differences on the border settlement to the future generations appears sensible and pragmatic.

Lt Gen Chandra Shekhar

Evolution of the Gorkha Regiments in the Indian Army

The Evolution of Gorkha Regiments of the Indian Army -- 1816 to date.

It was some two hundred years ago that the Gorkhas, under Kazi Amar Singh Thapa had fought the Anglo- Gorkha wars of 1814-15. These wars culminated in a decisive battle with the forces of the British East India Company—the Battle of the ''Malaun Fort''. The Gorkhas had earlier distinguished themselves at the heroic battle of the Kalanga Fort under Bal Bhadra, inflicting heavy casualities on the British, despite their smaller forces and limited fire power. The British were so impressed by the valour, tenacity, and the fighting qualities of the Gorkhas that they allowed Amar Singh Thapa to march out of their forts at Malauan and Taragarh, with arms and colours. They also offered recruitment to 5000 men to serve in the East India Company's forces. These forces were raised in April 1815 (though the agreement itself was signed on 15 May 1815) as the Nassiri (Subathu), Sirmmor ( Dehra Dun) and the Kumaon Provincial (Almora) battalions. Thus, these units became the forerunners of the famous Gorkha regiments, known as the 1st King George V's GR, the 2nd King Edward VII's and the 3rd Queen Alexendra's GR.
A number of Kumaoni and Garhwali troops who fought under the Gorkhas were also enrolled in these regiments. The Treaty of Segauli was ratified by the Nepalese Government on 04 March 1816 to formalise the arrangement. Nepal also agreed to receive a Resident at Kathmandu, while retaining its independence. In 1857, the 4th GR was raised at Pithoragarh (Kumaon hills), and the 5th GR was raised at Abbottabad (NWFP). Soon they were given permanent homes at Dharamsala (1GR), DehraDun (2GR), Almora (3GR) and Bakloh (4GR). During this period a few Gorkhas joined the Sikh Army and the state forces of J&K, though these were not covered in the treaty of Segauli. Gorkha battalions were extensively employed in the Afghan War (1878-80), and saw active service in China (1900). In 1890, an additional regiment in the form of the 6th GR was added, since the British were deeply impressed with the performance of the Gorkha regiments and with their soldierly qualities and loyalty.

A second battalion of each regiment had already been added in 1886, which was followed by raising of the new regiments of the Gorkhas in 1902, consisting of the 7 GR, 8 GR, and 9 GR. In the ongoing reorganization of 1903, another regiment—the 10 GR—was added. To give representation to Eastern Nepal, Rai and Limbu tribes were recruited in the 7GR and 10 GR, whereas the 9 GR had Thakuris and the Chhetris of the Nepalese valley. The remainder of the Gorkha regiments had the Magars and Gurungs. By 1908, the Gorkha Brigade had grown into ten regiments, each regiment of two battalions, a total of twenty numerically numbered. Gorkhas were also being recruited into Assam Rifles, Burma Rifles and Indian Police.

Regimental training centres for the Gorkhas were established in India in 1864, at Dharamsala, Dehra Dun, Almora, Abbottabad and Bakloh. All these Centres except Abbottabad, were treated as the permanent homes in perpetuity of the respective regiments. The Gorkha Regiments were termed as the Rifles, based on the concept of better scouting skills, quicker pace and field craft. They had no colours or ‘guidons', unlike the other units and carried their battle honours on their drums. Here, at the regimental centres, besides training recruits and locating of a battalion after a tenure in the NWFP or abroad, serving soldiers were provided married accommodation and other facilities, like school, bazaar and hospital. They were encouraged to bring their families from Nepal, and after retirement permitted to settle down in and around the Cantonment. Thus, came the concept of the Military Cantonments in India.
Expansion of the Gorkha Units in the Army

During the First World War, the need for additional troops was felt, and 11 GR was raised in 1918, from the existing Gorkha Regiments deployed in the Middle East Theatre. As many as 74,187 India soldiers died in the First World War; many of these Gorkhas. They fought valiantly at Neuve Chappelle, Ypres, Gallipoli, Bagdad, Mesopotamia and Tigris. The contribution of the Indian soldiers in the Gallipoli campaign was significant, though not suitably recognised by the military historians so far, as recently narrated by the Australian military historian Peter Stanley in his book Die in Battle-Do Not Despair. Three Gorkha battalions, 1/5GR, 1/6 GR and 2/7 GR were in the forefront of this campaign.

The first three battalions of the newly raised 11 GR, returned to India in August 1918 and were located at Manmad. They, thereafter, saw action in the NWFP and performed with distinction. The fourth battalion saw action against the Germans and the Turks and returned in 1919 to India after the War, where it was disbanded in 1920. The Depot for the Regiment, (11GR) was established at Nowshera (Pakistan) in 1918, but subsequently moved to Abbottabad in 1920. As the Nepal Durbar did not agree to provide the manpower for these units after the War, the 1st and the 2nd battalions were disbanded in July 1921, followed by the 3rd in March 1922. Thus ended the brief history of XI GR, a regiment which was re-raised in 1948 from the Gorkha troops and which did not opt for service with the British Army post-1947.

During the 2nd World War, nearly 200,000 Gorkha recruits went through rigorous training at the ten training centres for the 45 Gorkha battalions. Out of the 1,12,000 Gorkha soldiers who participated in the War, there were more than 25,000 casualties, including 7,544 fatalities. Besides being selected for the Chindit Operations behind the enemy lines in Burma, a brigade of Gorkhas was formed for operations in Malaya and was taken POW by the Japanese, in Feb 1942. Gorkhas fought bravely in the various regions and out of the 31 Victoria Cross Awards won by the British Indian Army, 12 were won by the Gorkhas. Ten of these were earned in the 2nd World War. After fighting in all the theatres of the 2nd World War, Gorkha units were engaged in operations in 1944, against the communists in Greece, and in clearing the Japanese in Indo-China, Java, and Indonesia.

Although all the ten regiments had four battalions each, a fifth battalion was raised for 1 GR, 2GR, and 9 GR in lieu of their second battalions which were captured in Singapore. The expansion also resulted in raising of five training battalions at the respective training centres. These were 14 GR, 29 GR, 38 GR, 56 GR, and 710 GR. New units designated as 25 GR and 26 GR as garrison units were also raised for the defence of the Corps HQ, along with 153 and 154 (originally 3/7 GR) Gorkha parachute battalions. A large number of Gorkhas were also recruited for non-Gorkha Brigade units, like the J&K State Forces, Assam Rifles, Burma Rifles, Indian Pioneer Corps, Indian General Service Corps, and Indian Medical Corps.

Recruitment and Training Policy For the Gorkha Battalions

To facilitate recruitment and streamline training of the Gorkha Units, a Gorkha Recruitment Depot (GRD) was established at Gorakhpur in March 1886. A subsidiary GRD was established at Darjeeling in 1890, for easy recruitment of Gorkhas from Eastern Nepal, which was relocated at Ghoom in 1901. The recruits were screened and medically examined at the GRD, before despatch to the respective training centres. In 1903, the GRD was shifted to Kunaraghat, its present location. After 1947, recruitment teams were allowed to visit Nepal to select and bring the recruits to the GRD for screening. However, since 1995 full fledged recruitment rallies are allowed to be held in Nepal. GRD, Kunraghat conducts these rallies in conjunction with the District Soldiers Boards, based on the forecasts of vacancies. After initial tests and the medical screening , the inductees are brought to the GRD and put through the written tests. Successful candidates are sent to the respective training centres. GRD, Kunraghat today is a well laid out facility and provides convenient transit for the recruits, the veterans and the leave parties en-route to Nepal.

Final Division of the Gorkha Regiments--Post 1947

After detailed deliberations by the Governments of UK, India and Nepal, it was decided that four Gorkha regiments (eight battalions) will form part of the British Army, while six regiments (twelve battalions) will form part of the Indian Army. The nomination of the regiments was done unilaterally by British, based on their preferences for the selected regiments. The British were keen to retain the two VC regiments, the 2nd and 5th GR with the HMG. They were also keen to have the 9th GR, as they were considered to be more intelligent and better suited for the Corps of Signals and as Gunners in the proposed Gorkha division. To ensure representation of the Eastern Nepal, it was felt that either the 7th or the 10th GR should form part of the HMG. Finally, administrative considerations of economy and logistics, and the future operational employment in the Far East and Malaya became the deciding factors. As 2 GR, 6 GR, 7 GR and 10 GR already had a battalion each deployed in Malaya and the far East, it was convenient to nominate them for transfer to the HMG.

The ' Opt’ Option and the Tripartite Agreement

A Tripartite Agreement was signed between the British, the King of Nepal and the new Indian Government on 09 November 1947, for further employment of the Gorkhas in the respective armies. The three countries agreed to the continued service of the Gorkhas in the Indian Army and the HMG Gorkhas, subject to the individual wish of each man in service being ascertained through a referendum. Accordingly, an option was sought from each regiment to give their preference, including willingly proceeding on release from service. The result of the “opt” was an eye opener, as less than 5000 opted for service with the British Army, and the remainder 70,000 opted to serve in the Indian Army. The ‘opt’ option did not go well for the HMG, as the 1st battalion of 2nd GR and the 2nd battalion of 6th GR declined to serve in the British Gorkhas, en-mass, in spite of these two regiments being selected by the British. This was also true for the 2/7 GR, where only 40 of the soldiers volunteered for HMG. This resulted in raising additional battalions in 5 GR and even a new regiment, 11GR, to absorb them in India. The main reasons for this situation, were that after nearly 4 to 5 years service overseas and the war, the men wanted to be located nearer home. Perhaps proximity of India to Nepal influenced the 'opt'. The delay in announcing the pay and allowances by the British, also created un-certainty. On the contrary India had clearly announced the policy of equating the Gorkha troops, with the Indian Army in all respects, including grant of commissions as Officers to the competent persons.

Posting of Indian Officers in the Gorkha Regiments

The British had deliberately kept the Gorkhas isolated from the Indian battalions, so that the nationalist elements do not influence them. They had also officered them exclusively by the British Officers. During the period of transition, this void was filled by posting officers from the Baluch, Punjab and the Frontier Force battalions, which went to Pakistan. A few officers serving in the Indian regiments like the Jats, Marathas, and Rajput regiments were also selected for posting to the Gorkhas, thus giving a strong foundation to these new units. To make the shortfall of officers, a decision was taken to promote two deserving Gorkha JCOs each, as the Commissioned Officers in all the Gorkha battalions (nineteen).

The Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army have continued to display the highest standards of valour, tenacity and dedication in all the Wars fought by the Indian Army. Their contribution from the time of the independence, in peace keeping, in the active operations, in combating insurgencies, in the various UN missions, and in aid to civil authorities has been outstanding and would require a detailed narration. This is being covered separately. The honours and awards earned for gallantry in the wars, and the distinguished service medals and the citations in various contingencies are truly impressive and a matter of pride for the Indian Army. Post independence the Gorkha regiments have provided three of the Army Chiefs and a galaxy of outstanding senior officers. Notwithstanding the political situation and the periodic turmoil in Nepal, the Gorkha soldiers of the Indian Army have continued to perform their assigned tasks with dignity, loyalty and trust.

Gorkhas in Other Arms and Services

. The only Gorkha Artillery regiment was raised in Oct 1962 at Belgaon and performed creditably in the operations both in1965 and the 1971 Wars. The Gorkhas have now joined all Arms and Services of the Army, as also the Indian Navy and the IAF. Beside the 41 infantry battalions, there are two Rashtriya battalions (15 and 33), one Mech Inf (1/8GR) and a sprinkling of Gorkhas in the Special Forces units. The percentage of personnel in the Gorkha regiments is now 40% Indian and 60% Nepalese domiciled. To ensure post retirement employment of the Gorkhas, the Army has established the Gorkha Resettlement Training Unit (GRTU) at Raiwala for skill development, and extended all other benefits including the ECHS facility to all the Gorkhas of the Indian armed forces in Nepal. We have excellent Pension Payment Camps at Pokhara and Dharan in Nepal, with hostel and other connected facilities and a Sainik Nivas in Kathmandu. Gorkha soldiers are entitled all the grants for gallantry and disability at par with the other soldiers of the Indian army. The Gorkha regiments continue to retain their elan and maintain their glorious military tradition unique in the annals of military history.



Security Situation in Afghanistan

By Lt General Chandra Shekhar (Retd), Indian Army

  1. In Oct 2001, the USA, declared war on Taliban and Al Qaeda and ordered military action in Afghanistan. The Taliban were overthrown, but the movement, the clandestine warfare driven by the religious ideology and terror supported by Islamic leadership of few neighbouring states continues till today. We need to review the present situation, as the US led international security forces have wound down their combat participation, leaving behind only the military assets, and a minimum combat presence of 9800 personnel, which would also pullout in the near future. A minimum of 1000 of combatants are likely to be retained , as part of the Resolute Support Mission. The operational responsibility has been handed over to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), who have not proved their operational effectiveness so far. Although, some improvement has taken place in the security situation through the sustained operations of the US-NATO forces, the Taliban and the Haqqani Net work have not been defeated effectively. The attack on the Afghan Parliament at Kabul on the 22 June 2015, clearly demonstrates the reach of the Taliban and the Haqqani network. The Taliban are still a powerful force in the South and have extended their reach further northwards, as also in the Helmond province, besides the thrust towards Ghor and Herat. The recent Taliban offensive in the Northern provinces of Kunduz, Badakhshan, and Faryab have already resulted in the capture of few districts. The writ of the government is also thin in the rural hinterland and the ongoing unrest is a cause of concern not only for the internal stability and the economic development of Afghanistan, but also for the stability of the entire Cenrtral Asian region due to the danger of spill-over to the bordering countries.

  1. The fighting presently has been bloodiest since 2001; civilian casualties have shot up by 38% to 8700, including 3400 killed by the Taliban and the ANSF has had large casualties (20,000) besides sizeable defections of the militia. Politically, there has been a democratic transition of power from President Hamid Karzai to the new President, Mohammed Ashraf Ghani, by the bformation of a National Unity Government (NUG) with Mr Abdulla Abdulla as the CEO. However, there are structural flaws in the power sharing arrangement and governance. The inability to conduct the scheduled parliamentary elections in April 2015 and to appoint the Governors in most of the Provinces, has put the state institutions into jeopardy. President Ghani has been able to conclude the Bilateral Security Pact with the USA and has been more pro-active in the peace process by seeking the involvement of the USA, China, and Pakistan to negotiate with the Taliban, both at the official and the informal levels. The talks held at Qatar and Doha have not been successful, due to the hard stand of the Taliban, who insist on total withdrawal of the US military and dismantling of base facilities in Afghanistan. They have even demanded a Sharia based new constitution and become more assertive. The Taliban are also using the media to propagate their radical ideology and even engineering defections in the government cadres. Attempts by other influential neighbouring nations such as,Russia, Iran , Pakistan and China to break the dead-lock have, so far, achieved little, although the recent talks, held with the efforts of China and Pakistan do provide hope for the future.


3. The US withdrawal, from Afghanistan is not total and it retains some strike forces. It also has the required air cover, logistics assets and bases, besides training and advisor staff presence. A total force level of 9800, supporting the Afghan troops (ANSF) till 2017, to perform the security role and the US fleet of Drones, is expected to prevent the Taliban and the Haqqani Network from regrouping. To achieve this the USA will need a continued capability even beyond 2017 and the ANSF will need considerable assistance in additional equipment, training and the logistics support . The command and control of the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda based in Pakistan has been badly disrupted, but not eliminated. The US led intervention in Afghanistani, unlike the earlier interventions of the UK, and the Soviets has not been against the Afghan society and the tribal social framework, but against the fundamentalist elements of the Taliban, notwithstanding occassional collateral damages. The Afghan people have supported the US intervention to a large extent and welcomed the stability, economic development and restoration of the basic facilities. Restoration of their elected government has given them the pride and confidence in their nation, however, they need to be given support and help by other major powers and important donor countries. Perhaps a consortium of the donor countries coordinated under a UN Mission is the answer for better synergy.

4. Afghanistan, with its vast mountainous terrain has fertile valleys in most of its 34 provinces. The country abounds in dry fruits, grapes, wheat and minerals, but has poor connectivity and infrastructure. The sectarian strife, extremism, fundamentalism, narco-trade, along with tribal affinities spilling across the borders and the presence of foreign fighters in Afghanistan, have made the security environment fluid and unstable. However, there are new expectations in the country, and ordinary Afghans aspire today to live in peace, harmony and in a politically stable and secure society; make economic progress; reap benefits from their mineral and energy resources, and not slip back into conditions that prevailed during the war and the Taliban regime. They seek and look up to international aid from the friendly countries to invest in Afghanistan and participate in trade, economic reconstruction and development. They want their hard earned politico, social and economic gains to continue. They generally appreciate the US-NATO operations being conducted against the fundamentalist forces in their country and the economic assistance from the various donor countries.

5. Afghanistan borders Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikstan, China and Pakistan and is a gateway to Central Asia. The dominant tribe of “Pashtoons'' are spread on either side of the “Durrand line” into Pakistan, whereas the other major tribes of Hazaras, Tajiks and the Uzbekis are in the North Eastern province. The tribal loyalties, though strong, are subject to the dominating tribe at a given time. Any change in the tribal domination does impact the leadership change in Afghanistan. The developments in Pakistan, Iran and the Central Asian Republic States (CARS) have a bearing on the security and stability of Afghanistan. Similarly, the role of major powers i.e., USA, Russia, China, and the important countries in the region i.e., Saudi Arabia, Turkey and India, besides the major 'donor' countries, i.e., Japan, EU, Australia and New Zealand need to be factored in. A review of the developing ssituation in Afghanistan and future prospects of collaboration is outlined below.


6. USA. The USA, undoubtedly, remains the most important player in Afghanistan. Its cooperation is essential for the stability and successful transition of Afghanistan into a well-knit nation, as also for the conflict resolution of the ongoing insurgency in the Af-Pak region. During the last decade, the USA along with its NATO allies, has primarily focussed on military operations against the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda, to bring about normalcy in Afghanistan. This has met with partial success. However, the equally important aspect of regional engagement for a lasting solution, with India, Russia, China and Iran, for cooperation and dialogue has been somewhat relegated. The USA, despite strong evidence of Pakistan’s duplicity, of giving sanctuary and support to the Afghan Taliban and sheltering Osama-bin-Laden and the other leadership of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, has been soft in condemning Pakistan. This was primarily because Pakistan acts as a conduit for the logistics support for operations into Afghanistan. The USA, however, has been carrying out drone attacks on terrorist targets in Pakistan, based on hard intelligence. The exclusive US focus on military operations,ii resulted in inadequate attention to the economic development and reconciliation.

8. . Taliban continues to remain a potent force and would need to be defeated, before any total withdrawal of the US-led international force is contemplated—if we were not to repeat the mistake the Soviets made in their pullout in 1989. The US military strength and assets remaining in Afghanistan after the draw-down, must have sufficient deterrence capability to remain effective and credible, which does not appear to be so at the moment. The presence of the US forces, though opposed by the Taliban and the other Jehadi forces, is sought by the Afghan Government, and in fact, is welcomed by most of the countries in the region. Even the USA, despite its domestic compulsions, has geo-strategic interests in retaining the bases for possible future options in the Central Asia or Ukraine. The recent resurgence in the insurgency operations by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in West Asia is forcing a rethink on the US strategy in the region, and would warrant a review and enhancement of the US combat mission in Afghanistan.

9. The USA realises that the Taliban forces have varying degree of domination in twenty out of the thirty-four Afghan Provinces and it cannot impose a peace deal on its terms. The US administration has, therefore, decided to open talks with the Afghan Taliban, and has sought cooperation from China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who have considerable influence with Pakistan. The USA, despite its significant leverage with Pakistan—having provided her 27 billion dollars in civil and military aid over the last decade as compensation for the logistics and base facilities for operations in Afghanistan—has not succeeded in her efforts to dismantle the Haqqani Network and eliminate Pakistan's support and encouragement to the Taliban. The annual US Report released on terrorism for 2014, once again called out Pakistan's two-timing on terrorism, detailing the country's patronage of some Afghan terror groups including the LeT, who freely operate in Pakistan. Operations against the Taliban undertaken by Pakistan are only limited to the Waziristan province, that too reluctantly. It is well known that LeT operates against India in the J&K, while the Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network concentrate on Afghanistan; yet the USA is soft on Pakistan.

10. Although, the Bilateral Security Pact (BSA) has recently been concluded, by the USA with the new Afghan regime, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are not fully equipped to take over the military operations, and would need more time to train appropriately. A new strategy needs to be formulated by the USiii military-training teams to train and advise the ANSF field units, just as such a practice is being revived in Iraq for operations against ISIS. Countries like India and Russia, who have had long association with the ANSF, should be gainfully incorporated in such an effort, with the US being in the lead. Finally, peace efforts in Afghanistan should be made more comprehensive by associating countries like Russia, India, Iran, China and Pakistan. In the ultimate analysis, it is winning the ‘hearts and minds' that would become the game changer. Greater efforts need to be made by the USA and its allies for more economic assistance programmes as part of a UN mission, or by larger coordinated participation by donor countries.

11. Russia and the CARS. There are indications of active Russian involvement in the Afghan peace process with talks with the Taliban, the Russians would also like a peaceful and moderate regime in Afghanistan post-US withdrawal. The CARS are moderate Islamic states with past linkages with the Russians and fear the radical ideology of the ISISand Taliban. They have considerable energy and mineral resources which they aspire to develop for their economic progress by retaining friendly relations with Russia and China.iv Russia and the countries of the Central Asia will be wary of a radical regime in Afghanistan that would harm the interests in the CARS, or support the Islamist terrorists in the CARS and in the Russian federations like in Chechnyan province. The Russians have been making the largest contribution to the security of Tajikistan, where they have stationed a rifle Division and accept the continued US presence in Afghanistan—till the Taliban forces are fully defeated—but they would want the US to dismantle bases from Afghanistan and the CARS. Russia is likely to provide assistance to the CSTO and possibly SCO to fight the ISIS/ Taliban influence in the CARS. Russia has had earlier association with the Afghan military and could provide military training and equipment to Afghanistan. The SCO can play an important role in Afghanistan post US withdrawal.

12. China. China has been pragmatic in pursuing its policies with Afghanistan and securing its national interests. It has signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan in 2012 and undertaken economic engagement in the mining and energy sectors. It also shares a border in Xinjiang province and thus, has security interests in the region. It has very cordial relations with Pakistan and is apparently tolerant of Pakistan's support to the Taliban as a strategic compulsion beyond her control, and because of its special relations with her. It shares common goals with the USA and Russia of maintaining stability and economic reconstruction in Afghanistan. The tri-lateral dialogue between China-Afghanistan-Pakistan has tremendous potential for brokering peace with the Taliban. It is learnt that the Taliban have welcomed China's involvement and have sent a delegation to China immediately after President Ghani's recent China (Oct 2014), visit to discuss Afghan related issues. The talks were attended by the Afghan Government Officials , the Taliban and the officials of Pakistan's ISI. However there are elements both in the Afghan Government and the Taliban leadership who are opposed to the talks.

13. China with her economic resources, military potential, diplomatic influence, special relations with Pakistan and a shared border with Afghanistan has significant potential influence and can emerge as a decisive player. However, it needs to shoulder greater responsibility by more active participation in defeating the Taliban, both by military means and political influence. Will it also cooperate with the USA, Iran and India in the economic development of Afghanistan in an integrated effort, is a relevant question? There are other important donor countries, including Japan and India, involved in the economic reconstruction, who need protection and security for their investments and personnel. Will the Chinese assist in ensuring security against the Taliban by joint operations or a UN supported mission? These are pertinent issues to be addressed. A dialogue between China-Afghanistan-USA in the future has tremendous scope to get the Taliban to negotiate a peace deal.

14. Pakistan. Pakistan is the most important neighbour, with a common border, similar cultural and religious affinities, controls access to the sea ports to the land locked Afghanistan. Pakistan considers Afghanistan as her strategic backyard and is part of the Afghan problem by giving sanctuary to the Afghan terrorists on her territory. There are many challenges to Pakistan’s engagement with Afghanistan, especially in how it confronts the Taliban sanctury on its soil and how it deals with the Taliban, LET and the Haqqani Net work. The biggest challenge to Pakistan is the internal insurgency in Waziristan and FATA. This situation has come about by Pakistan indiscriminately arming and supporting the Taliban cadres and the Afghan refugees for terror attacks in Afghanistan. These elements have become heavily indoctrinated, and a restive powerful force. Pakistan Army has belatedly undertaken counter-insurgency operations in her own territory to subdue these forces.

15. Pakistan has also deftly played its cards, both, as an ally of the US operating against the extremists and extracting financial compensation from the US in return, as also clandestinely supporting the Taliban, to secure its future long term prospects of an amenable government in Afghanistan. It sees India's growing presence in Afghanistan and its friendly relations with the Afghans adversely—as an attempt by India to surround it from the rear. There is strong evidence that Pakistan has been actively sponsoring Taliban attacks on Indian aided projects and on Indian facilities. Afghanistan, despite her protests to the Pakistan authorities has found no response, except denials from them.

16. Pakistan does not allow connectivity between India and Afghanistan through its territory. It wants to limit India's influence and make Afghanistan entirely dependent on her, rather than realize the direct economic gains that would accrue to her by trade and transit facilities, being a natural land bridge. A large population of Afghanistan views Pakistan as an impediment to Afghanistan's economic progress since it provides support and sanctury to the Afghan Taliban involved in violence and terror attacks in their country.

17. Recent overtures of President Ashraf Ghani to facilitate, reconciliation and mutual cooperation with Pakistan including joint military operations against the terrorists, with a nudge from the USA, have not resulted in meaningful military cooperation. The recent Pakistani facilitation of the peace talks with the Afghan Taliban at Murree is a good step and need to be followed up.China with her very cordial relations and influence with Pakistan can help to bring about a change in the attitudes and mindset of Pakistan. China can prevail over Pakistan to bring about moderation in the security environment in the region. Pakistan herself is attempting to quell the internal insurgency, as they are causing terror attacks inside Pakistan. Pakistan is also attempting to normalise relations with Afghanistan and re-energise its policy towards the CARS for trade and energy. However, Pakistan is also using the US withdrawal of the combat troops and its fallout, to penetrate Afghan institutions and regain its influence to obtain its aspirations of strategic depth in Afghanistan. A large section of the Afghan population, do not trust the Pakistani leadership, as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network continue to retain safe havens in the Pakistani territory and launch terror attacks in Afghanistan, including the recent attack on the Parliament Building at Kabul on the 22 Jun2015.

18. Iran. Iran is the other important neighbour of Afghanistan and an alternative trade and transit hub. It shares a long border and has cultural, religious, and linguistic affinity. It provides pragmatic support and stands for a multi-ethnic Afghanistan. Like Pakistan, it has more than million Afghan refugees to be repatriated, besides a long standing bilateral dispute (pertaining to the Helmund River) to settle. The Iranian government has been engaging with the international community to bring about a political solution to the long drawn conflict in Afghanistan. Iran has friendly relations with India, Pakistan and China, which if harnessed jointly with the USA, can bring about a substantial transformation in the situation in Afghanistan.

19. It has made significant investments in development of Afghanistan, in areas of Herat and along the western border. It also provides an alternative trade and transit route to Afghanistan, through its road, rail system and access to Sea through its Chabahar port, which is being jointly developed with Indian assistance. The Afghanistan-Iran Strategic Cooperation Agreement of August 2013 is a comprehensive instrument for military cooperation, intelligence sharing and counter terrorism. Iran,with its strategic location, traditional goodwill, economic and cultural linkages with Afghanistan, can help broker a peace agreement in Afghanistan. It should also take greater responsibility for the security of the western Afghanistan and the border areas it shares, against the Taliban attacks, as part of the Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Afghanistan.

The Indian Perspective

20. India has historical, geo-political and strategic interests in Afghanistan and the CARS. The region forms part of its strategic neighbourhood. The rise of terrorism in the region egged on by Pakistan was almost exclusively targeted at India in the initial few years. In the period between 1989-2002, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan launched many Jehadi attacks in India at the behest of their Pakistani masters. The possibility of such a scenario recurring post US withdrawal, will not be in the Indian interest, or in the interest of Afghanistan and the region as a whole. This should not be allowed to happen, for the regional stability and the unhindered development of Afghanistan. As things stand today, the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse and the Islamic Jehadis and the Taliban are steadily increasing their influence. India needs not only to voice its concern, but also to evolve its own strategy to deal with the Afghan fallout, both to protect its investments and personnel deployed in Afghanistan, as well as to prevent escalation of the hostile activities of the LeT in the J&K.v

21. Indian focus in Afghanistan has been on continuing to provide the wherewithal to assist them in their reconstruction and to support the Afghan people in their efforts for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Four land mark projects that have been completed in the infra structure development include the Delaram–Zeranj Highway connecting Kabul, Kandhar, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif to the Iranian port city of Chabahar. The transmission lines have been built by India, to transmit the Ujbek electricity to Afghanistan, besides, the new hydro electric Salma Dam, and the Parliament building in Kabul. India today is the 4th largest donor towards rebuilding of Afghanistan. India is also building hospitals and Steel and Power plants, besides providing them teachers and training the Afghan Security Forces in the Indian institutions.

22. India, firmly believes, that the reconstruction and the economic development should be Afghan led and Afghan owned. Perhaps, for effective coordination and development of infrastructure, there may be a need for a UN mission in Afghanistan. It is further felt that the ANSF be assisted in training, equipment, and operational planning by the USA, and by other important friendly donor nations. The assets being created and the task forces of the countries involved in the reconstruction should be provided security, against the Taliban attacks jointly by the donor countries and the ANSF. There have been instances where the Indian missions and personnel engaged in reconstruction of the infrastructure projects have been targeted, by the radical elements operating from Pakistan. Such acts must not only be condemned, but suitable steps be taken to ensure security of the aid missions under UN cover. India should consider deploying its own security elements for the protection of its assets, if the other efforts do not succeed.

23. In 2011, India and Afghanistan signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement. India has given a Rs 2 billion economic assistance to Afghanistan and has set up medical missions at Kabul, Kandhar , Jalalabad, Herat And Mazar-e-Sharif, treating more than 400,000 Afghans annually. India has offered facilities for Afghan students at the Indian institutions, and sent experts in Communication Engineering, water treatment and for projects in education. The visit of the President Ashraf Ghani to India, in April 2015 has given a fresh opportunity to both the countries to further strengthen the bilateral partnership and to review their relations realistically, particularly, in view of Pakistan's persistent suspicions of India's contribution and role in Afghanistan.vi India being a traditional friend and a major contributor of economic assistance to Afghanistan, enjoys respect in Afghan society. India's security concerns and protection of its assets in Afghanistan have to be given due consideration by the International powers.


24. The re-emergence of the radical forces and extremists in Afghanistan is certainly not in the interest of Afghanistan for its stability and the economic growth. The economy is showing a downward growth; there is increase in unemployment, slowdown in investments and flight of capital outside the country. These insurgents have to be defeated by support from the major powers jointly, with the Afghan Forces. A moderate, stable, and secure Afghanistan is in the interest of the entire region. Islamic radical forces in the past have been targeting India in particular. India would recommend that an international security guarantee be given to Afghanistan, backed by the ''Afghanistan-USA Bilateral Security Pact'', European Union, Russia, China and Iran. China and Iran, in particular, being Afghanistan's neighbours, with a shared border and important regional players need to share the security responsibilities, with the US. The challenge for all, is how to prevent conflict and establish peace in a durable manner, so that socio-economic and human resource development can take place at the desired rate.

25. The economic development, building of the infrastructure, institutions and a democratic polity is a major effort, to be undertaken over a period of time. The two essential pre-requisites for this are to ensure a secure and stable environment free from the external forces, and the other equally important factor of Afghanistan's internal dynamics, by balancing the tribal rivalry and preventing further radicalisation of the Afghan society. The other major essential ingredients are the resource availability, creation of economic assets and the transportation corridors which can only happen with an international effort, coordinated under the UN mission. If this is not done, then the whole effort of ushering a ''decade of transformation'' would remain an elusive goal.

26. Afghanistan also provides an opportunity for regional cooperation between South Asia, Central Asia, China and Iran. In this regard, the Indian model of partnering Afghanistan in the socio- economic development, keeping in mind the best interests of Afghanistan needs to be examined for adoption by other countries. The Chinese initiative of the “New Silk Route'' for creating a transportation corridor and the gas pipe line for energy utilization are other important steps for the regional integration, although,India has concerns with the proposed economic corridor to Pakistan as it passes throug the POK region of the Indian province of J&K. The tripartite agreement between India-Afghanistan and Iran to develop the Iranian port of Chahbahar to facilitate transportation of goods from Afghanistan, as an alternative to Pakistani ports, is another viable initiative for regional integration.

27. As of now, the Afghan government's attempts at reconciliation with the Taliban is unlikely to succeed as the Taliban is attempting hard to strengthen its control over the high ways,and the key cities in the South and the North -Eastern provinces. The Taliban will continue to maintain pressure on Kabul though it is unlikely to come to power. The, USA, and the allies must continue to support the Afghan government, militarily as well as , strengthen the state institutions and assist in the economic reconstruction, along with other donor countries, other wise all the efforts of the past 14 years will go waste.


i The Unfinished War in Afghanistan(2001-2015), Bishal Chandra, Pentagon Press , New Delhi,2015.

iiAfghanistan Beyond 2014, From ' Rhetoric to Reality', An Indian Perspective, Lt Gen PK Singh, USI Occasional Paper, 2014. New Delhi.

iii‘New Strategy Takes Shape’, Harsh V Pant, Deccan Herald, 13 June 2015, New Delhi.

ivAfghanistan Beyond 2014, From ' Rhetoric to Reality', An Indian Perspective, Lt Gen PK Singh, USI Occasional Paper, 2014. New Delhi.

vIndian Strategic Interest In Afghanistan, Wing Cmdr, A Gupta,USI Journal Vol CXL1, No 589 Sep 2012, New Delhi.

viAfghan Peace Talks Fail over Taliban Demands, Praveen Sami ,Indian Express, 06 June 2015 New Delhi.