Tag Archives | Indian Army

Waqt-i-Leaks

Nawa-i-waqt and its ilk must be called out.

The Nawa-i-Waqt Group launched an insidious campaign to malign India, all the while purporting its source to be classified comments made by U.S. officials, now made public through the Wikileaks exposé.  The trouble for the Nawa-i-waqt Group is that The Guardian, which does have full access to the all of the undisclosed Wikileaks content, confirmed that nothing akin to what was being claimed existed in the leaked cables.  In other words, Nawa-i-waqt was making stuff up and passing it off as fact.  And anyone familiar with Nawa-i-Waqt’s body of work will know that the media group has a long and storied tradition in fabricating news.

Until very recently, its English-language newspaper, The Nation, was edited by Dr. Shireen Mazari, a former Director, Institute of Strategic Studies (Islamabad) and columnist for the Jang Group‘s The News, from where she was summarily dismissed, (for allegedly) having pushed propaganda pieces once too often for the U.S.’s liking.  Dr. Mazari was subsequently hired as editor of The Nation, where she ran an editorial accusing a Wall Street Journal Pakistan correspondent Matthew Rosenberg of being a chief operative for the CIA, Blackwater and Mossad, putting his life at risk in the country.  Her editorial campaigns against India are well known to those who have followed Pakistan’s media over the years.  She recently parted ways with the Nawa-i-Waqt group, allegedly over editorial differences.

The Nawa-i-Waqt group’s status as an anti-India propaganda machine is well-documented.  It is chaired by (Spin) Doctor Majid Nizami, who routinely calls for a nuclear confrontation with India, offers vocal support to LeT’s Hafiz Saeed, and hopes one day to see the reunification of Pakistan with Bangladesh.  Dr. Nizami is also chairman of the Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust, whose Advisory Council includes, among others, former DG-ISI Hamid Gul, who openly declares his solidarity with the Taliban and al-Qaeda (he refers to Osama bin Laden as a “great Muslim warrior”).

Even so, the Nawa-i-Waqt Group’s own Wikileaks — the Waqt-i-Leaks — are perfidious and vulgar.  Some statements, purportedly made by U.S. officials about India and senior officers (past and present) of the Indian Army are listed below:

The U.S. has said that India’s Hindu extremist groups are far more dangerous to global and regional peace than al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The Indian Army is involved in supporting Hindu extremist groups, whose objective is to portray their terrorists acts as having been conducted by India’s Muslims, the Pakistani Army and intelligence agencies.  Another U.S. cable indicated that the ISI was not involved in any terrorist acts in India.  [نواےوقت]

Yet another cable suggested that the current Army Chief of Indian General VK Singh was having an aggressive approach and believes that “offense is the best defence”. General Singh has also been described as “Pakistan, China centric”, with an added aggression towards China. The cable mentioned General Singh as an egotist, self-obsessed, petulant and idiosyncratic General, a braggadocio and a show-off, who has been disliked (and barely tolerated) by all his subordinates. An earlier cable described Indian Army in gross Human rights violations in Indian Held part of Jammu and Kashmir while some Lt. Gen HS Panag, the then GOC-in-Chief of the Northern Command of the Indian Army was equated with General Milosevic of Bosnia with regard to butchering Muslims through war crimes. [The Nation]


An earlier cable did rule out any direct or indirect involvement of ISI in 26/11 under Pasha’s command while Mumbai’s dossier, based on prime accused Ajmal Kasab’s confessional statement was termed funny and “shockingly immature”. Another cable confirmed the interception of radio communication by Pakistani and NATO forces in regional Indian languages in the Waziristan agencies [The Nation]

Of course, these could all be rated somewhere along the mildly amusing — hysterically funny continuum, were one not to account for the fact that the Nawa-i-Waqt Group is one of Pakistan’s largest media groups (in terms of circulation) and that half a million people in Pakistan read this propaganda peace, believing most of it. The Guardian coming out to highlight these cooked-up stories is important, but it is equally important for condemnation to come from the Indian media as well.

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The Kabul Park Residence attacks

India’s short term option — don’t flinch.

Today, six Indians died in suicide attacks perpetrated by the Taliban at the Park Residence and other guesthouses in Kabul, Afghanistan.  This included Indian consulate staff, an ITBP constable and two Indian army officers.  At least five other individuals were injured in the attack, including five Indian army officers.

This blog, along with others, has in the past articulated what India must do in Afghanistan to protect its national interests.  In the August 2008 edition of Pragati, Sushant K Singh argued in favor of a larger Indian military presence in Afghanistan and warned of the long term consequences were India to rely exclusively on “soft power.”  In January 2010′s Pragati, I put forth a case for India to train the Afghanistan National Army (ANA), thereby assisting in raising a credible unit to act as a bulwark against the Taliban and Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex.  Commentators like Harsh Pant have opined that India must stop hedging its bets on the US and must work with other actors like Russia and Iran to engage all sections of Afghan society.

However, despite repeated attacks against Indians and Indian interests in Afghanistan, Manmohan Singh’s government appears disinclined to readjust its Afghanistan strategy.  Today’s attack will not likely force a rethink on how to engage with Afghanistan either.  Given India’s self-imposed shackles and the likelihood of continued attacks against Indian soft targets in the war ravaged nation, India has but one option at its disposal in the short term, and that is to not flinch.

Attacks such as these may lead to calls for India’s level of engagement in Afghanistan to be reconsidered.  However, downgrading Indian presence in Afghanistan is the surest way to convey to the military jihadi complex (MJC) that it can force Indian action through terror.  The MJC feels that it is at an advantageous position:  it has outlasted the Americans,  reinserted itself (and the Taliban) into Afghanistan’s political space and the top leadership of the Quetta Shura — despite the capture of Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mohammed Younis — remains mostly intact. The MJC will enjoy a tremendous psychological boost from the notion that it forced the Americans and the Indians to withdraw from Afghanistan.  It will seek to replicate the model by imposing severe costs on India in Kashmir and the mainland.

It is wrong to suppose that India’s involvement in Afghanistan is merely about power projection and easy access to energy rich Central Asia.  India is facing an existential battle and denying the MJC “strategic depth” in Afghanistan is a critical component to India’s own internal security. Therefore, if India insists in not altering its ill-conceived stance vis-a-vis hard power in Afghanistan, it must at the very least maintain its investment profile in the country, while fully expecting to be targeted repeatedly and frequently by the MJC.  Only the Indian government can explain how this is a better alternative to the introduction of Indian hard power in Afghanistan.

It is significant that India’s reconstruction efforts have earned it tremendous goodwill in Afghanistan.  An opinion poll () conducted in Afghanistan in January 2010 by BBC/ABC/ARD indicated a 71% favorable view of India, as opposed to 15% favorable view of Pakistan.  In the meduim- to long run, India must work with the US, regional actors and Afghans across the political gamut and ensure that an effective and credible counterweight to the MJC and the Taliban is sustained in Afghanistan.

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Giving Kabul a leg up: My article in Pragati

In the January 2010 edition of  Pragati, I argue that it is in India’s national interest to invest in training the Afghanistan National Army (ANA).  There are two aspects to this proposition — the first is protective, i.e., denying the Pakistani army and ISI strategic depth in a vassal state to further their ambitions against India.  The second is aspirational — loosening India’s self imposed shackles and allowing it to project its power beyond its own shores, as it must as a regional power.

India must offer to train ANA military personnel through programmes in both Afghanistan and India. India has several COIN schools such as the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) and specialised training centres like the High-Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) in Jammu and Kashmir.

The CIJWS already draws international participation of military
personnel from the United States, United Kingdom and other Central Asian states. Further assistance can be provided by augmenting logistics and communications infrastructure to aid the ANA and providing essential
military supplies to the country.

India can also assist in augmenting ANA’s air defence capabilities. Training can be provided to ANA Air Corps’ pilots; specific requests for training on Mi-35 helicopters (the air corps operates a handful) have previously been made. Indeed, further opportunities for Indian assistance exist even in the medium to long run, as the ANA Air Corps seeks to induct light multi-role attack/air superiority jets by 2015.

Read more about it on Pragati ( PDF; 1.7 MB)

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Indian media discourse on China's 60th

China celebrated the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on October 1, 2009.  It did so with the pomp and circumstance befitting a significant milestone.  Fireworks, aerobatics,  even a  female militia in miniskirt ensemble, and of course, contingents from the world’s largest armed forces.

In India, media coverage was distressingly predictable.  Labeling the military parade China’s “massive display of strength”, the media harped on about how the People’s Republic overwhelms India in military might.  Like this wonderful piece, called China vs India: Military might put together by an “NDTV correspondent” on their website (and also broadcast as a news item on television).

The article gives you a blow-by-blow of China’s relative superiority — 6,000 more “airplanes” in the PLAF, 100,000 more troops.  Run of the mill, factually incorrect observations — like Chinese plans to build and induct an aircraft carrier by 2010.  For those with an eye for the bleeding obvious, 2010 is next year.  And lest the nuclear arena be ignored, the article points out that China’s most potent warhead tested was 4 mT, whereas apparently an Indian nuclear test yielded 50 kT.  The author should have disclosed this a few weeks ago — it would have put an end to this ruccus.

Reading this article, you get the sense that China overwhelms India militarily and that the sanest thing for the Indian army to do under the circumstances is to pack up and go home.  Except, defense and national security aren’t played out on balance sheets or through inventory counts.

Any Chinese military misadventure is contingent on a number of factors, including India’s conventional  military capability, analysis of the impact of war on China’s economy and global standing, prospects of game-altering strategic alliances should war be imposed on India, and of course, China’s definition of “acceptable damage” and its assessment of India’s ability to cross that threshold via a nuclear assault.

Of course, not once was any of this remotely brought to the fore during India’s marathon coverage of China. To do so would be to bore an already disengaged audience about the intricacies of military strategy and international relations.  Why complicate matters when you can shock and scandalize someone and quickly cut to a commercial where Yuvraj Singh tries to sell you a Fiat Grande Punto?

Georges ” le Tigre” Clemenceau once said “war is too important a business to be left to soldiers”.  Disengagement of the public from matters relating to national security has led to very low levels of accountability in the defense of India.  Of the TV news anchors and “on-site” correspondents, not many can talk intelligently on such areas and ask probing questions to defense guests.  Comically, (and speaking of “le Tigre”) this blogger remembers TV coverage of the Kargil War, where one TV-news personality made repeated references to “Tiger Hills”, like it was some dashed hill station.

Today, the only honest, probing and meaningful analysis is conducted mostly by think tanks, whose publications are, unfortunately, only read by other think tanks. The Filter Coffee has long held the position that discussion on the defense of India needs to move away from think tanks and into our living rooms.  It is only then that true accountability can be demanded, both from the system, riddled as it is with bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption, and from the media, who today get a free pass on peddling half-truths and sweeping generalizations on an unsuspecting public.

As it stands today on matters of defense and national security, the media fails the very democracy it says it is protecting.

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