STRATEGIC SUICIDE : A VIEWPOINT
India only believes in internalised perception management as in the instant case. Withdrawal from Siachen dilutes the 1994 Parliament resolution that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.
The unthinkable has happened. India has gone ahead and signed on the dotted line to demilitarise Siachen, committing the biggest strategic blunder of the 21st century. The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has committed the very same mistake in trusting the Pakistanis as Nehru did in trusting the Chinese in 1960s. Nehru did it of his own volition whereas Manmohan Singh has allowed himself to be misled by his coterie and the West.
Strategic suicide through strangulation has been initiated with the India-Pakistan Track II signing the agreement at Lahore last month despite grave reservations by at least three Indian members — a former ambassador, a three star rank officer each from army and navy and even a former R&AW special secretary.
The decision was obviously taken at the political level disregarding strong objections by successive Army Chiefs including the present one. Government briefing of Track II Team prior to departure merely reinforced the Army plea that “any further talks be taken up after ground positions of both sides were authenticated on ground” but the eventual agreement deviously went all the way. Members query why we should demilitarise were not answered. Strategic importance of the Saltoro especially in relation to Gilgit-Baltistan and in particular the Wakhan corridor was obfuscated by an orchestrating media.
Government and gullible TV channels (Nira Radia tapes leverages included) were utilised and selected former officers (shunted out by Army or given the option to resign or face legal action) put up on TV shows to morph perceptions that Siachen has no strategic significance and one even wrote India is ‘holding’ Karakoram Pass – a blatant lie. National dailies refused to print articles highlighting enormous strategic disadvantage of demilitarisation. The Track II was also told that it is as good as Track I.
The Northern Army Commander, opposed to demilitarisation, was offered Southern Command prior to his superannuation, to get someone more pliable, but he refused. Members of the Track II Team were carefully chosen – not one has served in Siachen, not a single infantry officer and the team never even visited Siachen. At least two are politi- cally connected and will be well rewarded for their blind support.
The aim apparently is to get a Nobel peace prize at ‘any’ cost. Government officials unofficially say they never thought Pakistanis would agree to authentication of ground positions. Jehangir Karamat, heading the Pakistani team, an ex-DGMO and Army Chief, understands the strategic significance of Saltoro too well. Not only did Pakistan agree to authentication, they extracted the full works: establishing a joint commission to delineate the line beyond NJ 9842; present ground positions to be jointly recorded; determination of places to which redeployment will be affected; disengagement and demilitarisation with mutually acceptable time frame; cooperative monitoring and agreement on demilitarised zone assuring transparency. Atlantic Council of Canada promptly put the agreement on the Net. Shuja Nawaz, heading the Atlantic Council of US and close confidant of General Kayani, Pakistan’s Army Chief, was in close touch with the Atlantic Council of Canada and attended most meetings.
India only believes in internalised perception management as in the instant case. Withdrawal from Siachen dilutes the 1994 Parliament resolution that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. New defence lines and additional troops (up to two Divisions) will require lakhs of crores of rupees that will eat into modernisation funds of the Army. Floodgates of infiltration into Ladakh will open with Pakistan denying culpability on plea of ‘non-state-actors’. This will be concurrent to Pakistan orchestrating communal tension in Ladakh using Indian-based terrorists; something we tasted in recent times. Hundreds of additional police and CAPF battalions will be required to fight terror and insurgency. Pakistan has been nurturing Shia terrorist organisations precisely for this purpose. It is not without reason Musharraf warned of “many more Kargils”. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may have his glory moment with the peace prize but posterity will surely curse him. The nation needs to know what exactly has Pakistan done to earn such trust?