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.

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the au­thor.

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?

LT GEN­ERAL (RETD) P.C. KA­TOCH

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