India’s Border Defence Deficit
Lt Gen PC Katoch, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SC (Retd) *India’s border defence deficit could not be requiring more national focus both along the Line of Control (LC) and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) facing Pakistan and China respectively. Much was thought about Nawz Sharif’s offer of making a new beginning till it was realized this was a statement of May 2013 after which there have been deliberate cross border raids by Pakistan, killings and beheadings, not to talk of continuous violations of ceasefire and infiltration bids. So what is new about ‘make a new beginning offer’ by Nawaz Sharif? How many times have Pakistani politicians made such farcical offer while Pakistan brazenly denied all backstabbing. Nawaz Sharif is no exception. His constituency, Pakistani Punjab, officially gives millions to terrorist organizations, he does nothing to punish the 26/11 perpetrators, Naik Sule Khnadan gloats in a televised Pakistani show how they killed Captain Saurabh Kalia and his patrol, Pakistani denial of all cross border actions and instead his government blames India for ceasefire violations. Now there is a Pakistani resolution showing diplomatic and moral support to Kashmiris while the Pakistani military continues to supply arms, drug money, fake money to terrorists and insurgents and is infiltrating the brainwashed scum of the earth into our territory. Despite all this, the exercise in building public opinion to hold talks with Pakistan appears unending. There are suggestions we must talk to Pakistani military. Did we not talk with Musharraf? So how do you think Parvez Kayani is going to be better than Pervez Musharraf when the former presides over the Pakistani military-private business-corporate complex last pegged in 2007 at US$ 20.7 billion, is responsible for all the cross border actions and engineered the 3rd August 2013 attack on the Indian Consulate at Jalalabad through the LeT, as disclosed by Afghan intelligence officials.
Which 2003 ceasefire with Pakistan that we are talking about when all along it has been a one sided one – rigidly enforced by India and repeatedly violated by Pakistan? It is this very policy that has led to the soft state syndrome, which is being exploited by Pakistan brazenly. Despite numerous incidents violating national sentiments and security, ironically there has not been a single statement by the Prime Minister. Talking to Nawaz Sharif on border issues is pointless when he neither has the power nor the inclination to shut down the 42 terrorist camps in POK. All that he can do is give empty assurances and sing the song composed by Musharraf that there is no terrorist on Pakistani soil and that Pakistani territory will not be permitted to be used for terrorism. So, you can continue having more frameworks, consultative committees with photo sessions and much publicity but the end result will be naught. It is not without reason the recent study titled “Pakistan: Dynamics of a Failing State Theory’ by the South Asian Inter-Scholastic Association (SAISA) describes radicalization of Pakistan Army, common recruitment areas for the Army and LeT, tilt in balance from the military to the jihadis and expresses fears that the situation can become “disastrous in a three to seven years time window should Pakistan find another Zia-Ul-Haq in the Army. But what has not been mentioned is that this increase in radicalization is highly institutionalized and overseen by the military. The fact is that Nawz Sharif and his administration are puppets dancing to the military and jihadi tunes. Then the Pakistani military is being propped up both by China and Pakistan in their own national interests.
India-Pakistan border management has been looked at the in past many times including sharing intelligence, joint surveillance and what have you. The whole exercise is stupid when Pakistani military lives, breathes and breeds terrorism and hold Pakistani democracy to ransom under the façade of brazen denials. The crux of the problem is that with great strategic forethought both China and Pakistan have developed unconventional capabilities which they are optimizing knowing full well India’s conventional and even nuclear capabilities are useless against these forces. What is India when unconventional forces have successfully defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan and the US in both Vietnam and now Afghanistan? Unless and until India does not take steps to rectify this asymmetry there is no way India can live in peace and will keep getting subjected to thousands of cuts and repeated humiliation. In case of Pakistan, MK Dhar, former Joint Director IB wrote in his book ‘Open Secrets – India’s Intelligence Unveiled’, “I continued to advocate for an aggressive and proactive counter and forward intelligence thrust against Pakistan. My voice was rarely heard and mostly ignored. The Pakistani establishment is a geopolitical bully. The best response to blunt such a bully is to take the war inside his home. India has allowed itself to be blackmailed by Pakistan even before it went nuclear. The sabre rattling of “coercive diplomacy”, which is nothing but sterile military power, cannot convince the Islamist Pakistani Establishment that India can take the border skirmishes inside their homes and hit at the very roots of the jaundiced Islamist groups.”
It is about time India must acknowledge that mere diplomacy and conventional force has not succeeded against Pakistan and as her terrorism factories enlarge into post 2014 Afghanistan and with the Chinaman sitting in Kayani’s backyard, Pakistani military’s mischief is only going to increase. The US will only look the other way, happy with Pakistan Taliban’s newly opened office in Syria to assist the opposing forces, while busy packing their own bags from Afghanistan. However, while we build our unconventional capabilities, what do we do in managing the border with Pakistan? Certainly, letting the Army retaliate is no solution. This is hardly what may be construed as giving a free hand. The situation should be left to be dealt with at the Command and Corps level. Where a clear message is required to be given, whether in retaliation or in pro-active fashion must be explicitly permitted. Then there is also the need of examine establishing a no man’s belt own side of the border where any movement would invite fire. This had been an issue that has focused been ignored because of politics at the J&K State level and therefore sparse habitation and isolated houses in proximity of the LC are used as staging posts by Pakistani infiltrators provided shelter under fear of the gun barrel.
As regards India’s border defence deficit along the LAC, India has much more to blame itself. Are we sure whose responsibility is the LAC in the area where the Chinese intrusions are taking place? The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) deployed in these areas is not placed under command the Army and the Home Minister has no clue as to under whose jurisdiction these areas fall. China’s border infrastructure has come up in meticulous and deliberate fashion while the Indian side is totally neglected. This gives China great advantage both at tactical and strategic levels to mobilize much faster. Moreover, India has also been totally complacent about any border management. The draft for the newly proposed Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) came from Beijing which recommended freezing of any infrastructure development and activities like patrolling in border areas. These recommendations were naturally rejected by India. However, what is emerging in the media is that the new proposals include that patrolling by any side will not be followed up / shadowed by the other side. What can then be expected is that Chinese patrols can happily come to any area, camp there and make a post, calling it perhaps temporary halt and India is not to retaliate as per the BDCA Agreement. We should refrain from walking into such trap. What is needed is that the entire LAC must be brought under the direct operational control of the Army, placing all Para Military Forces and Central Armed Police Forces under the Army. Neither the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) nor the MHA have the expertise to handle such issues. Development of our border infrastructure must be done post haste with additional forces deployed to protect their development as required.